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Faith, Hope, and Love

November 8th, 2017

Hope is a picture in your heart of a desired future.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faith, Hope, and Love.”

The Biblical concept of hope has been sorely diluted. Biblically, hope is a powerful force, even described as, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hope is a picture of a desired future. God places hope in your heart – of what should be and therefore could be. Incorrectly, it is easy to think of hope as not dissimilar to wishful thinking, something you wish would happen, but really doubt it will. We assume hope is something unlikely, anything but certain. To the contrary, the Bible places hope in the esteemed company of the dynamic, spiritual forces of faith and love. (Reference Hebrews 11 and I Corinthians 13). “Now we see things imperfectly . . but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NLT.

For now, yours and my personal knowledge is limited, imperfect, and incomplete. Why would you rely upon such unreliable things? Yet that limited, imperfect and incomplete knowledge seems to most often be the foundation for our feelings, fears, and expectations. Those offer only an uncertain foundation. In contrast, the Bible describes hope this way, “We who have fled to 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. Strength and stability is found in Biblical hope.

Such hope is not fragile, but our assurance and conviction can be. Learning to, “walk by faith and not sight,“ is challenging. “We were saved in this hope, [the redemption of our body], 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. Are you learning, “to eagerly wait with perseverance.” There is a dynamic tension between those two character attributes that results in each being stronger than it could be alone. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He Who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

God’s Word is filled with examples. Let’s just look at Abraham, an elderly man with a barren wife who was told by God that he would be, “the father of nations.” The Bible shares Abraham’s story in both Old and New Testaments. His story is a story of indiscourageable hope. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed . . he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Read Romans 4:18-21 NIV. With God, present truth trumps previous facts. Abraham faced the facts but believed the truth of God’s promise. Read Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV.

The sum of the matter is the Apostle Paul’s clear instruction, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV. I am not sure the latter two attitudes and actions are possible without a joyful hope. How do you and I develop a joyful hope? Hope rests on truth. Truth that is eternal is found in God’s Word and character. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV. The Bible is clear, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know and trust the integrity of God’s Word, in spite of all else.

Christian Communications 2017

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Tears and Hope

November 2nd, 2016

Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory.

Through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Tears and Hope.”

Have you ever had nothing to hold onto except hope in a distressing situation? For too many that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. When hope rests solidly on the Word of God and your faith in that, hope is sure and steadfast.

Last week was challenging. I last wrote to you about a steadfast hope that we have in Christ. Little did I know that the same morning I would receive a call that our grandson Parker, just twenty-one years old, had died in an automobile accident. The news was devastating. Yet the 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, the ministry of our church, our faith in Christ and His Word, and the grace and faithfulness of God has sustained us these past days. Rather than writing last week, I set aside time to be with our family as we grieved together and began the healing process.

Our family has grieved individually and collectively because of this tragedy. Pain has been our companion and part of our conversations these recent days. And I believe that God has grieved with us over the death of Parker – our grandson, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. We are a family of faith. We do not grieve apart from hope; we do not hope apart from Christ. As Paul wrote confidently, “I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT. We sorrow, but with the sure hope of the believers’ resurrection. Read Titus 2:12-13 KJV.

Having said that, I cannot imagine the inconsolable grief of those Paul describes as, “at that time you were without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12 NKJV. Without Christ. Without hope. Without God. In the world. The world is a tragic place without God in it. By the grace of, God we enjoy a Godly heritage of five generations with expectation of that extending until Jesus’ return. In this recent ordeal, our faith has been tested, but has proven steadfast. As our son said, “Our trust has been tested but our trust in God remains sure.”

As we stood beside our grandson’s body in the ER and trauma center, weeping and trying not to do so, the grief and sorrow felt unbearable, the tears uncontrollable. Saying a final good bye to a grandson is something I never expected to do, yet my pain does not compare with the pain of my son and his wife saying a tearful farewell to their young son. In those moments, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted my heart with this thought, “Tears are often the voice of prayers spoken from the heart.” I certainly have discovered that tears are the language of the heart. Tears communicate a depth of emotions that words often do not. Tears release pain in ways language cannot. Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience “the peace of God that passes understanding.”

A personal note: I would appreciate your prayers as we minister in four services this Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Ave, San Jose, California, with Pastor Ken Foreman. The teaching will also be Live Streaming on their Online Campus, Sunday, 10 AM, West Coast time. Go to: http://cathedraloffaith.org/live?parentnavigationid=25879, Online Campus. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, I may not be publishing EDL until my return home . . Blessings!

Christian Communications 2016

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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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Complete and Equipped

April 22nd, 2016

“The Word of God . . is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV.

In a world where few things work as promised, God’s Word works.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “complete and equipped.”

It is sad when people have something irreplaceable yet regard it as less than its value. Often, things familiar and readily available are taken for granted. In light of those comments, consider the most precious, valuable gift God has entrusted to you – His holy, eternal Word. The Bible is God’s Word, inspired to the hearts of faithful men, and is eternal. It is a unique collection of wisdom and enduring prose, yet so much more.

Paul instructed young Timothy, “The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:15-17 NKJV. When God’s Word fills your heart and thoughts each day you are described as, “complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Psalmist describes such Godly people, “In all they do, they prosper.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NLT.

People discount and ignore God’s Word, while others have made great sacrifices to provide and preserve it. Some try to discredit and destroy regard for the Word of God, while others have sacrificed their lives to protect and defend it. Jesus was clear. The Word of God is essential not optional. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4 NKJV. God’s Word is uniquely essential to every area of your life and the quality with which you live it.

The Word speaks to the heart and spirit. Listen and obey. Prize its wisdom and truth. The Bible contains wisdom for all situations – health and hope for the struggling, Godly wisdom for your success and satisfaction, a path to life in its fullness, the truest revelation of God, and eternal salvation for the soul. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God . . the Word of the Lord will live forever.” 1 Peter 1:23-25 NIV/NCV. See Luke 21:33 NIV.

I suggest a few questions you would be wise to ask and consider, “Do I love and follow God’s Word? Does God’s Word live in my heart? Does it direct my conduct and choices? Does it determine my values?” To live successfully, you must live according to truth. Love and prize your Bible; take time each day for its truth, and be always able to say, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You, O God.” Psalm 119:11 NIV.

For their love and faithfulness to God’s Word, the Apostle Paul commended Christ-followers at Thessaloniki “When you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV.  In a world where few things work as promised, God’s Word works, and it will work in your life, now and forever.

Today, I pray for you to commit to trust and obey God’s Word, at all times in all things.

Antique Bibles

Christian Communications 2016

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Godly Wisdom

April 8th, 2016

“The Lord [is] wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 28:29 NIV.

A volume of knowledge is not as valuable as a portion of wisdom.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Godly wisdom.”

Life can be complicated, even perplexing. To navigate the myriad of situations and circumstances that will confront you, you need wisdom and discernment. No one of us possesses all the knowledge that life will require. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is significant, but together, wisdom and knowledge produce invaluable understanding. A volume of knowledge is not as valuable as a portion of wisdom. Gain knowledge but store up wisdom. There is one and only One true source of wisdom. James, the apostle, was clear, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV. Why would anyone first look elsewhere? Ask God for His wisdom. I have learned three practical elements of Godly wisdom.

(1) A Word from the Lord. Wisdom begins with God, and is best defined as, “The ability to see your situation from God’s point of view.” Isaiah described God as, “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 28:29 NIV. Pause and reflect on that description of our God, “magnificent in wisdom.” God will always have a word of guidance for you. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV. When life requires wisdom and direction, turn first to Scripture and prayer. “The Scriptures are able to make you wise . . given by inspiration of God, and is profitable . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:15-17 NKJV.

Look for Godly principles that provide insight and wisdom that applies to your situation. Wisdom is found in personal application of Godly principles. Normally, a Word from the Lord is recognized through your earlier discipline to know and love His voice through a lifestyle of prayer and regular and respectful attention to His Word. The more comfortable you are with the Scriptures, the more readily you will hear and understand God’s voice. But often there are two additional components to receiving and clarifying Godly wisdom.

(2) Objective counsel. Life is not a solo journey; there are times you will need input and wisdom from others. Our inevitable subjectivity benefits from the balance of others to best discern what God is saying. Confidence in another’s counsel rests upon a proven history of relationship and trust. Be discerning. Others can reassure, redirect, clarify, or caution you as a counter balance to the foolishness or fears in your own heart. Godly wisdom is easily recognized when you know what to look for. “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 NIV. Wisdom may come through others but comes from God.

(3) Subjective perspective. I was taught that, “Those who fail to learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.” God can and will speak to you. Your perspective is unique in the process of your discovery of Godly wisdom for your present circumstance. Apply yourself to learning from life; be attentive and observant; learn from yours and others’ mistakes.

Today, I pray for you to seek God’s wisdom and discern His will and ways.

EDL wisdom verse graphic

Christian Communications 2016

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