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Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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Steadfast Hope

October 22nd, 2016

I am resending this devotional, “A steadfast Hope,” because I have added the last paragraph, as well as a personal note from Gayle and I, and our family. I hope you will take the time to read the devotional again and note our family news at its end. Your prayer is especially appreciated in these next days.

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With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “steadfast hope.”

The concept of hope is much misused and misunderstood. People use the word inaccurately, when referring to something they wish to happen but are not very sure it will. Many people live life wistfully, hoping what they wish could be true. Wishes don’t come true; faith does. Biblically, the word conveys a radical certainty which is the foundation for all you believe to be true now and in your future. Most people assume that, “seeing is believing.” Incorrectly, we require incontrovertible evidence before we venture into faith.  Contrary to every assumption, the Bible teaches that “believing is seeing.”

Paul reasoned, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25 NKJV. True hope begins, rests, and thrives in this truth, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV. Contrast that with life before your heart was at rest in Christ. “At that time you were separate from Christ . . without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:13 NIV. With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain. “[We who] take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NIV. Biblical hope rests, “firm and secure,” upon the clarity of God’s Word to you and the surety of Jesus Christ’s work in you.

Hope is akin to love and faith, not a weaker version of either. Paul affirmed the Thessalonian Christians, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV. He similarly encouraged the Christians in Corinth, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV. Biblical hope deserves more priority than is usually given.

“Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep His promise.” Hebrews 10:23 TEV. Paul prayed for the Roman church, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV. You experience overflowing hope as you fill your thoughts and heart with God’s Word. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

When things aren’t working out as expected, choose hope anyway. Losing hope for your marriage or family? Place your home in God’s hands. God can mend hearts, restore love, and heal a marriage. Giving up on yourself or someone else? God can change a life. Struggling with finances? God is the Lord Who provides. As long as there is life there is hope. “Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NKJV. The Resurrection is God’s way to show that nothing is impossible.

Considering that day of Christ’s return and our glorification, Paul wrote of the Blessed Hope that awaits us, “Live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  See Titus 2:11-14 NIV. We look with even more anticipation for that glorious day.

A PERSONAL NOTE. After I had written and sent this devotional, we received a call that our grandson – just twenty-one years old two weeks earlier – had died in an automobile accident that morning. The news was devastating. Yet these words about steadfast hope were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends. Allen and Gayle Randolph

Today, I pray for you to experience hope that is undiscourageable and steadfast.

Christian Communications 2016

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Live Passionately

September 12th, 2016

Spiritual life weakens when passion lessens.

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Mark 12:30 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you, “live passionately.”

Life is best lived passionately. A marriage fails when priority is misdirected. Friendship suffers as time and activity together grows less important. Achievements decline where passion diminishes.

More importantly, spiritual life weakens when passion lessens. I don’t think anyone intentionally chooses that cooling of ardor, but without care, it just happens, in the smallest of ways without intent or notice. Actually, a person’s passion is often more misdirected than reduced, misplaced on other things rather that where it should have remained.

I have felt challenged by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to “keep it real” in my daily walk with God.  Such a holy passion is not normal to your nature or mine, nor easy to sustain in the surrounding culture. But that is the only way you will truly know God in a depth of experience that is releasing and transforming.  Choose to live passionately about Jesus.

Jesus cautioned the church of the ancient city of Laodicea that He would prefer they were “either hot or cold.” Luke warmness is never a viable, tolerable option. How could this have happened to these loving, Christ-followers in contrast to what had previously been true of them? Their passion waned because they envisioned themselves as, “rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” foolishly content and self-satisfied. Revelation 3:14-22 NKJV.

Writing to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praised their zeal for matters of righteousness, but judged their loss of passion in their love for God. “You have left your first love . . this is what I have against you: you do not love me as you did at first.” Revelation 2:4 NKJV/TEV. That happens more easily than you know and more quickly than you may realize, always with tragic result. Revelation 2:1-7 NKJV. Jesus’ words are clear.

Wholehearted love for God is non-negotiable. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NKJV. Notice the absolute inclusiveness of Jesus’ commandment to love God with everything you are and have in every area of your personal resources, priorities, and ability. Your love for God must be supreme and entire. Don’t dumb down your passion for God.

There were seasons in my life when I allowed lesser passions to compete for my focus and energies. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, my passion for God, our marriage, family, ministry, and friendships are increasingly more important. But the great and holy passion of my life was, and still is this: “That I may know Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10 -11 NKJV. Let Your great and holy passion be to know Jesus intimately. Anything less is insufficient and unworthy.

Today, I pray for you to have a real passion for Jesus that inspires and excites others.

Christian Communications 2016

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Lost Things

March 2nd, 2016

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV.

A lost soul is the worst and unrecoverable loss of all.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “lost things.”

Everyone misplaces something at some time. Eventually, you may even be unsure where or when it was lost. And if too much time passes before realizing your loss, that item is more likely to remain lost. Upon realizing you have lost something, you determine if the value of the absent item is worth the time and effort of replacing it or looking for it. Sometimes it is more than an item that was lost. Marriages and families are lost by distraction and inattention. Friendships are lost by neglect or busyness. Opportunities are forfeited by procrastination or aversion to risk and failure. At such times, inaction is costly.

Jesus was a great story-teller. The Gospels are replete with stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. His stories were practical and helpful, revealing truth and providing instruction to the wise. Among the best, most familiar, and beloved of those, Jesus told multiple stories about a single theme – lost things. Read Luke 15:1-31 NKJV. The theme is appropriate to the Savior who understood His calling and commission, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV. See John 3:17 NKJV. As is true with lost things, people can’t find themselves; they have to be found.

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ stories, a wandering sheep was lost, a valuable coin was lost, a prodigal son was lost, a valuable opportunity was lost, and importantly, irreplaceable years were lost. In all but one instance, Jesus’ stories conclude with festive celebration and rejoicing.

In the first example of the lost sheep, neither the neglect of the shepherd nor the intention of the sheep is at fault. That one sheep simply wandered, not knowing it was lost nor finding its way home. Endangered and defenseless, the sheep was dependent on the shepherd, who spared no time or effort in finding and returning the straying sheep to the safety of the fold and the company of the flock. Vs. 4-7.

In Jesus’ next story, a single coin of minimal value was misplaced. Though nine other coins remained, extensive effort was made to find an otherwise insignificant coin, yet valued by its owner. She made every effort, searching relentlessly until it was found. Vs. 8-10.

In the final story, something more valuable than sheep or coins was lost; a valuable inheritance was squandered by a young son. In that process, a cherished son was lost whose heart drew him far away from his home and family where he misused and lost all that he had been given. Vs. 11-16. Jesus’ question is haunting, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. A lost soul is the greatest, unrecoverable loss of all.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. When the Prodigal came to his senses, he went home to his father. I love Jesus’ words, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Vs. 20. I love the image of the Father running to meet and envelop the returning prodigal with loving, joyful embrace. His reception even exceeded the regret of the penitent son. I am reminded of Poet Robert Frost’s perceptive description of home. “Home is the place where when you go there they have to let you in.”  Ultimately, Jesus’ story is about coming home in humility and repentance where you will find forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and rejoicing. Vs. 17-24. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV.

But not to be overlooked, Jesus’ story is also about the immense loss a father suffered by the failure of both of his sons to understand and value their father’s immeasurable love and generosity. “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31 NIV. Our Heavenly Father’s heart remains unchanged, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know the enduring love and faithful care of the Good Shepherd.

Christian Communications 2016
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A Place for You

February 27th, 2016

A place for you Puzzle

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek.

My thoughts and comments are about, “a place for you.”

Too many people spend a lot of life looking for the right place. Some eventually succeed; many never find that place however long and hard they have looked. They never find the friends they wanted, the marriage they assumed would be theirs, the city they love, or the job for which they dreamed. If you look for the wrong things, you invest a lot of time and energy on a fool’s errand. Some look for right things but in wrong places.

My friend, Dick, describes the Gospel this way, “Jesus left His place, to come to your place, to take your place, to take you to His place.” To His worried disciples Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there shall you be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV. God’s plan has not changed; God has a place prepared for His people, and that begins here and now as well. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

Here’s some special things about that sacred, secret place in God. There you will find, “a large place [of deliverance]” Psalm 18:19 KJV, “a hiding place” Psalm 32:7 NIV, “a place [of abundance]” Psalm 66:12 NIV, “a broad place [without fear]” Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV, “a place [of one accord]” Acts 2:1 NKJV, and “a place of inheritance” Hebrews 11:8 NIV. Is there any better place? Find the place God has just for you. He knows the spouse to complement you, the friends you need, the job you’ll love, and where you will find the greatest joy and fulfillment. Before God created Adam, He prepared a wonderful, perfect place for him, a garden of beauty and plenty. Read Genesis 2:8-17 NKJV. He would not do less for you.

If you know all that is good that is in God’s place for you, why would you look for sustenance and satisfaction elsewhere? Sin may at first appear appealing, but it brings only temporary happiness. I have observed some consequences about sin. Sin costs you more than you expected to pay, takes you further than you meant to go, keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and leaves you where you never expected to be. That is not where you find life more abundantly. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave with the crowd, Peter got it right, “Too whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Find your place in God’s grace, will, and purpose, and be settled there with unwavering confidence, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to abide where grace and goodness abounds.

Christian Communications 2016-9217
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