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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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Wait and See

October 4th, 2017

Patience Is the Posture of Waiting With Hope and Trust.

 “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Wait and See.”

Waiting is not my favorite pastime. I guess I always wanted the benefit of knowing the outcome of things. Many times in my youth, my Mom wisely advised me to, “just wait and see.” With the value of history and hindsight, she understood a simple principle that I did not. There are times when you must just be patient enough to wait and see. Urgently, we think we need to see, but God knows we need to wait and see. Paul explained this interim time in these words, “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, 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.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

In life, you will experience unforeseen challenges at inconvenient times. Don’t project today’s crisis onto your future. Sometimes you must be willing to wait and see. Successfully navigating such moments requires Godly optimism, with large amounts of patience. Waiting is never our preferred option. None of us enjoy waiting. Without perspective, waiting is challenging and stressful. Impatience is a common emotion in such moments.

There are times when the past as well as the present are less than clearly understood. So why then are we surprised when the future seems a bit obscure? Our impatience produces anxiety about things unforeseen. Life is a tension between what is and what yet will be. As I see it, the problem is that our knowledge is incomplete and our impatience is unsettling. While describing this tension, Paul directed us to hope. “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.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

With God’s Word in your thoughts and hope in your heart, you can wait with anticipation and patience. Without hope, dread and anxiety will color your concerns for the unknown future. The Bible offers this insight, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25 NIV. Patience is a virtue. Hope is the foundation upon which patience is developed. In an earlier chapter, Paul wrote of, “this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 NKJV. Patience is the posture of waiting in hope and trust.

Waiting can and should be used profitably, not squandered in wasted worry. Waiting on God with expectation evidences a confidence so strong in God, and His nature, and Word, that your faith continues to grow even with every apparent delay. Forewarning His disciples of the mistreatment and opposition they would face, Jesus concluded with this encouraging instruction, “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV. Patience is evidenced by living today with optimism for tomorrow.

But sometimes, you may just feel too weak and weary to struggle on. The Bible has a faith-building word for you. “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV. Meanwhile, I will stand alongside the Psalmist. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to choose patience and embrace His peace.

 

Christian Communications 2017

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Eternal Life

May 10th, 2017

Our call is to live in the present while our heart rests in the eternal

 “This is eternal life: to know  Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, Eternal Life.”

In this life, almost everything is temporary. Even your lifetime is short term. Hopefully, we strain to embrace the concept of forever. When you are young, time seems forever but with every year that your span of life narrows you will realize that nothing here is forever. Life is only for a comparatively brief season when measured by the eternity that follows.

Yet this brief season of life is not unimportant; just the opposite is true. This season is of extreme importance because it will determine where and how you spend eternity, and eternity really is forever. I see two mistakes that people make. Some live only for the moment, giving little attention to eternal matters. That is an oversight costly to one’s soul. Jesus was clear, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. Others major on eternity, to the neglect of the invaluable time given them now. That neglect results in missing rich opportunities and relationships that would make eternity nearer and dearer. That is regrettable. Our call is to live in the present while our heart rests in the eternal.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Read Philippians 1:20-26 NIV. Far better, forever! Serve Christ faithfully and effectively in this world, but keep your heart set on Heaven and the limitless life yet to be experienced. See Philippians 3:20-21 NIV.

  1. Heaven is a forever place for you. If Heaven were not real, Jesus was deliberately misleading. But He spoke clearly about Heaven and His Father. To His disciples and us, Jesus promised, “In My Father’s House are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.”John 14:2 NKJV. Heaven’s reality rests upon the truth of God’s Word and the strength of Jesus’ own assertions. If Heaven were not real,there is no God, no Savior, and there would be no salvation. If Heaven were not real, every person would be lost in their sin, die, and exist no more. These all too brief years are too little for the divine life that is in you, if there were no Heaven.
  2. Heaven is a prepared place for you. “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you would be also.”John 14:2 NKJV. This is no haphazard one size fits all. Heaven is a place prepared with forethought, appropriate for you.  Heaven is a place of bliss and blessing, perfectly suitable for every man and woman there.
  3. Heaven has a reserved place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 NKJV. “A hope laid up for you in heaven . . an inheritance reserved in Heaven for you.” See Colossians 1:5 NKJV/1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.
  4. Heaven can be a sure place for you. “Whoever confesses Me before men,him I will also confess before My Father in Heaven.” Matthew 10:32 NKJV. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NIV. May your heart be drawn to a brighter and more glorious day when we shall see Jesus face to face and know Him even as we are known by Him, and that day by day you will, “love His appearing,” more and more. Read 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know that Heaven is real and sure, and live accordingly.

Christian Communications 2017

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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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Friendships and Fingerprints

March 16th, 2016

A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

From others’ fingerprints on my soul, I am a better man.

My reflections and comments are about, “friendships and fingerprints.”

Family and friendships are what make you and I who we have become, and are still becoming. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV. The exchange of ideas and experiences develop what we believe and influence how we behave. Few things in life, if anything, are as valuable as family and friends. New friendships are invigorating – so much to discover, so many new adventures together, so many new memories to create. But for me, enduring friendships are invaluable and irreplaceable. Each friendship has its unique patina from weathering the interactions of life together.

The quality of your friendships begins with you. The Bible explains, A man who has friends must himself be friendly but there is a friend who remains closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. You will have innumerable acquaintances that are for a season in your life but place high value on acquaintances who become friends. Don’t mistake acquaintances for friends. Invest in both; be grateful for both, but learn to distinguish the difference. Friendships require time and attention to mature.

My life is richer, our family stronger, and our ministry graced by the spectrum of friendships God ordained and provided. Those friendships are comprised of some friends older in wisdom and years, some younger and welcoming fellowship and mentoring, and some of similar age and life experience. From each I have something to receive and learn, and to each I have something to give and teach. Friendships leave fingerprints.

A friend eloquently wrote, “Without [friendships] I would hollow out like a good log that has laid on its side too long. Friendship has weighted my life with relational ballast. Like the texture of a wood floor it wears well under my feet everyday whether I know it or not.” (Old Friends, Dennis Gallaher) My lifelong friend, Don, recalled my saying to him, “Thank you for not letting me be who I would have become without your friendship.” To all my friends I owe a similar debt of gratitude. From others’ fingerprints on my soul, I am a better man. None of us are self-made. For better or worse, you are fashioned by the quality of people whose counsel you welcome, whose influence you embrace, and whose friendship you treasure.

Solomon was known for His wisdom and offered wise counsel about friendship, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray . . A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity . . The pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father.” Proverbs 12:26 NKJV/17:17 NIV/27:9-10 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to value the gift of those God sovereignly places in your life.

(You can read more of Dennis Gallaher’s comments on Old Friends at: ActLikeMenBlog.Com)

Christian Communications 2016 www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

 

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