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Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

Clarity and Certainty

March 31st, 2018

The resurrection shouts truth with certainty.

 “That you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:4 NIV.       

My thoughts and comments today are about, clarity and certainty.”

You probably try not to think much about death, until something happens that does not allow that luxury. It seems more pleasant to ignore that undesired eventuality as much and as long as you can. But you are mortal; no matter how you suppress your feelings or disguise that fact. No one lives forever. And death is that unavoidable reality; you just don’t know how or when.

Until Jesus returns, the Psalmist’s words endure, “No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.” Psalm 89:48 NIV. Now that sounds grim, doesn’t it? Death is grim and unpleasant because it is unnatural to us. But there is good news. “That by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-16 NIV. You were created to be eternal, in the image and likeness of your Creator. Sin introduced death, not God. Romans 5:12-19 NIV. The dread of death causes despair. That was true at man’s origin, and it is true now.

Days earlier, harsh realities replaced dreams and hopes the Christ-followers held, challenging everything they believed about faith and the future. Despair shoved hope aside. They stumbled, ”back home,” back to life as it had been; to pick up what little seemed left – broken, bewildered, and discouraged. Things they thought possible before, seemed impossible now. Things sure to them days before, now posed troubling questions. You will face times when life is hard and you feel like turning around. You might ask yourself, “What’s the use?” Something will seem to have erased your future, but your future is safe and secure in God’s hands.

Then came Easter morning! “All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by His boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NLT. Christ’s resurrection validates His power over death, proving that Jesus is the Lord of life, the conqueror of death. “God raised [Jesus] from the dead . . because it was not possible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Acts 2:24 NIV. Resurrection is the demonstration of God’s power, conquering your worst and last enemy; in comparison, everything else you will ever face is minor for God to do.

The amazing thing about Jesus is that His life began and ended with an impossibility. Earlier today, my friend, Amos, described the unique miracle of the Incarnation and Resurrection this way, “Jesus came into a world marked, ‘no entrance,’ through a virgin’s womb, and left our world through a door marked, ‘no exit,’ out from a borrowed tomb.”

How could we not celebrate such a supernatural and sacrificial life? Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27. Luke thought it important to establish for others what he knew to be true, “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:3-4 NIV.

Easter is far more than a date on the Spring calendar, even more than a fact of history. Easter remains forever a current event, more relevant to your well-being than anything in today’s headlines. Easter makes sense of everything that has not made any sense at all. The empty Garden tomb made sense of the agony of Gethsemane and the cruelty of Calvary. The Resurrection introduced possibilities beyond anything His followers had previously imagined when standing in the darkening shadow of the cross. Jesus’ birth, death, burial, and resurrection made impossibilities become possible.

Jesus’ Resurrection shouts truth with clarity and certainty over every question, doubt, and fear. And Easter offers the same for you today. Jesus’ Resurrection guarantees yours. Death will not be the last word. Life is the final word spoken over you, life now and life everlasting. “Then the end will come, when He hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 NIV. Meanwhile, God gives you the opportunity to live with wonderful expectation.

Today I pray for you to live with certainty and expectancy that nothing is impossible with God.

Christian Communications 2018

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Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Crowned with Thorns

April 13th, 2017

A crown of thorns testifies to His suffering and your salvation

“Twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head.” Matthew 27:29 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, crowned with thorns.”

Good Friday is a day unlike any other before or since. On this day, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Sovereign of Heaven’s Kingdom, died for the sins of all the world. On His head was a crown, but not one you would suppose the Son of God should have worn. He wore a crown of cruel thorns, not a gold, bejeweled crown a Sovereign would wear. Heaven’s royalty was subjected to earth’s worst cruelty. Those thorns were twisted together by the hands of mocking soldiers who saw nothing more than a common criminal who would die for his crimes. To them He was no more than another day’s work in a troublesome province of Rome’s conquest.

Some years ago, while in England with my friend, Andrew took me to tour the Tower of London where the spectacular, British Crown Jewels are kept. The priceless Crown Jewels are displayed in a collection of such incomparable beauty and incalculable value, being worn only by the monarchs and royal families of Great Britain across centuries. In cruel contrast, the crown Jesus wore was common not priceless, of pain not beauty, imposed with rejection and ridicule not recognition or honor.

Anyone familiar with this part of Texas knows about mesquite thorns, an inch or more long, hard as a nail, and sharp as a needle. They can puncture a tire or shoe, and never break. The thorns of Palestine were much like that. And that cruel crown was painfully forced deep into Jesus’ scalp where the nerves and blood vessels are closest to the skin, resulting in immediate and immense pain and profuse bleeding. It was our sins not His that pressed them into His brow.

From where did those thorns come? Thorns came from the original sin in the Garden of Eden. To Adam and Eve, God said, “The ground is cursed for your sake . . thorns it shall bring forth for you.” Genesis 3:17-18. Appropriately, His crown of thorns represented the consequence of your sins and mine. Isaiah wrote, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him . . and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Read Isaiah 53:3-6 NKJV.

But Jesus wore that crown of shame and pain that would have been yours, and mine. In the great exchange of redemption, Jesus wore your crown that spoke of sin and judgment, to give you His crown, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. But Easter – His resurrection – promises a greater day will yet dawn when God shall have “crowned (our Lord) with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5 NIV.

His crown of thorns that spoke of our sin has been exchanged for a crown of glory that testifies of our salvation. “We see Jesus . . now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9 NIV. Read Psalm 21:3-6 NLT. No wonder we call this Friday good!

Today, I pray for you to reflect on the awful, awesome price Jesus paid for your salvation.

Christian Communications 2017-4210

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Upward and Onward

December 16th, 2016

Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke 12:34 NIV

My thoughts and comments today urge you upward and onward.”

In life, you will make numerous directional decisions. Those decisions touch your future in ways you will not foresee. In such moments, it is important that you consider your choices carefully. Seek counsel with others who know you, as well as have your confidence in their consistency of knowing God, His Word, and His ways. And of primary importance, always seek God’s wisdom for all that you and they cannot know. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.” James 1:5 TEV. God and His Word have all the wisdom and knowledge life will require.

Some people come to such moments of decision and become stuck. Due to indecision about what to do or which way to go, some go nowhere. Indecision is always a wrong decision. In such a situation, and with an entire nation relying on his leadership, Joshua received God’s counsel and it remains good counsel for you. “Do not turn from [God’s Word] to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth . . so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 NIV. 

Life is not ultimately determined by which path you follow, as much as it is that you are careful to know and do what God says along your journey. Then the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Better to be on any path with God than a right path without Him. More frequently, the challenge you will face is whether to go on or turn back – whether to move forward in faith or retreat to surroundings more safe and familiar.

Experiencing the disappointment of a companion who turned back, he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world more.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. Read John’s advice, 1 John 2:15-17 NKJV. Since your new life is in Christ, the world is behind you; keep it there. Keep moving upward and onward as God wills. Jesus was clear about following Him, “No one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 NAS.

It’s simple logic. You won’t make much progress if you are always looking over your shoulder fondly for where you’ve been. The Bible praises those who left behind everything to follow God, “If their attention had been filled with thoughts of where they had been, they would have found a way to go back there. But they were looking for a better place . .” Hebrews 11:15-16 (my paraphrase). I love the effect and reward of such a person’s passion for God, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a [heavenly place] for them.”

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV. Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion. “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You.” Psalm 63:8 AMP.

Today, I pray for you is to never settle for less than God’s highest and best.

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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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