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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Assumptions and Conclusions

March 25th, 2016

Good Friday. Gayle and I pray for you to have a glorious Easter celebration of our Savior’s Resurrection. Below today’s Devotional comments, I have shared a link to view a charming video of children telling the Easter story in the simplicity and wonder that only children possess. Click on “The Tomb Is Still Empty” to watch the brief video . . Blessings!

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“They took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29 NASB.

Never allow your assumptions to become conclusions.

My thoughts and comments about “assumptions and conclusions.”

You make assumptions every day; people and circumstances are seldom as you anticipate. You make assumptions about others and they make assumptions about you. As often as not, those are not particularly accurate. I am sure there are too many times when people assumed better of me than I achieved. Hopefully, there have been other occasions when I accomplished better than others’ presumed I could or would. There are two things I have learned. Never allow your assumptions to become conclusions. And always leave room to be pleasantly surprised.

Jesus often surprises people. As a twelve-year-old, Jesus’ parents, “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46-47 NKJV. Who could have expected a preteen to be as comprehending and conversant as those learned men who were his seniors? Jesus continued to be misjudged and misunderstood. In Jesus’ home town of Nazareth, those who knew Him were astounded. “What is this wisdom that is given to Him, that He even does miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son?” Mark 6:3 NIV. Jesus always confounded others’ assumptions about Him, and continues to do so today.

This seems most relevant to me as my thoughts turn to this Easter weekend, and as we consider the horrendous betrayal, and cruel, unjust suffering of Jesus, and observe His sacrificial death on the cross as though a common criminal. But Friday was not the end of His story; Calvary was just the beginning. “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29 NASB. His disciples saw His cruel and public death, watched his lifeless body buried and the tomb sealed and guarded. They assumed what seemed obvious was unchangeable.

On the cross, when Jesus declared, “It is finished,” what God had intended and prophets had foretold had only just begun. Some disciples headed home. Others returned to former pursuits. Confused and afraid, some felt too lost to do much of anything yet. His disciples and followers assumed Jesus’ death was final. Death always had been.

“But God raised Jesus from the dead!” Read Acts 13:30-31 NASB. An empty tomb was a surprise to everyone. In an unprecedented, miraculous occurrence nothing was ever the same again. God changes assumptions. Assumptions need not be conclusions. Easter changed the disciples’ assumptions forever. Jesus’ resurrection became the prevailing theme of the Apostles’ teaching and remains the Church’s signal testimony throughout the centuries that followed. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33 NKJV. And still there’s more: “If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you.” Romans 8:11 TEV.

Easter is God’s promise that nothing is impossible, no circumstance hopeless, no distress unchangeable. My lifelong prayer and pursuit has been, ”I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” Read Philippians 3:10-11 AMP. Jesus’ resurrection pledges abounding life now and eternal life forever.

Today, I pray for you to experience the supernatural power of God in every circumstance.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

Christian Communications 2016

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Empty-tomb-and-verse 

“The Tomb Is Still Empty”

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Suffering

August 21st, 2015

“What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Romans 8:18 NLT.

Job’s story was written to show God’s faith in Job, not Job’s faith in God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “suffering.”

First let me say, I do not presume to know all the answers about suffering. But this I know, God sorrows when we suffer. For any of us, suffering presents more questions than provides answers. In the Bible, a whole book is about the suffering of Job, a man the God described as, “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” Job 1:1 NLT. Very few, if any, have experienced the breadth and depth of loss and pain that Job suffered. Read Job 1:13-2:10 NLT.

And therein is the dilemma for most of us. We assume suffering is the natural result of our own wrongdoing or the fault of others. Admittedly, those often do cause suffering. But how do you explain suffering where there is no fault to be assessed? Amid the pain of suffering there are questions and uncertainties. In the truth of God’s Word and His righteous character, you will find rest for body, mind, and soul. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, [produces] character; and character [produces] hope.” Romans 5:3-4 NIV.

This week, a pastor and friend, Dennis, shared an inspiring insight about the sufferings of Job. Let me share an excerpt with you. “The patriarch Job had lost his possessions, family, friends and health, Satan himself tried to take his mind. Chapter after chapter, Job anguishes over the hopelessness of his life. He asked the question we all ask, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ Unlike you and me, Job really had lost everything. He really was hopeless. Even his wife and friends’ advice was, ‘Give up, curse God and die.’ So where was God?

You have to go back to the beginning of the story. The devil had presented a challenge to God, saying he could destroy the faith of God’s servant. God accepted the challenge and allowed Satan to attack everything that Job had, except his life. Read Job 1:6-12 NLT. In a nutshell that is the story.

But underneath the story is a truth that is missed by most. A casual glance would say that God was testing Job’s faith to see if he could stand in the crisis. That is not the case. Job’s life-story was not written to show his faith in God, but written to show God’s faith in Job. Think about it. Satan challenged God that he could destroy the righteous believer’s faith. God chose one man to be tested, Job.

In essence, God places all of His faith in that man to stand in the day of trouble. God believed the very best in Job – in fact, He believed in Job more than Job believed in himself. Since God has faith in you, maybe it’s time to put your faith in Him.” Dennis Gallaher, ActLikeMenBlog.

If you could hear the conversation about you in Heaven, you would not doubt your strength in Christ to persevere. This is the perspective God honors, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Romans 8:18 NLT. Your story is being written to show God’s faith in you, not your faith in God. Stop trying to have faith that impresses God. Start living a life that pleases God; give God reason to have faith in you. “Praise be to the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles.” Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-10 NIV.

Here is Peter’s perspective on righteous suffering, “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 1 Peter 2:19-21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to persevere in suffering, assured of the character and faithfulness of your God.

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Righteous and Gracious

November 20th, 2014

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV.

Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “righteous and gracious.”

Children seem to possess a heightened sense of what’s fair or unfair. They have not yet learned that some circumstances and some people are neither righteous nor gracious. It is assumed that if you do what is right all will be well, but that is not accurate. As a pastor and counselor, I have heard many people say, “Life’s not fair!” Of course it’s not; get over it. Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous. “For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians.” Hebrews 6:10 NLT.

Jesus is your example when life seems unfair. “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:19-24 NIV. “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Read 1 Peter 3:14-18 NIV.

On occasion, suffering is the natural result of what you have done or left undone. At other times, suffering is not related to your decisions or actions. Asking, “Why,” is seldom productive. I think there is much to be learned from the experience and examples of Daniel’s companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV. They obeyed God; they did what was right; yet they suffered unjustly; but God was with them from beginning to end.

(1) Good people are not exempt from trouble. Truth takes the confusion out of trouble and unfair circumstances. David declared God to be righteous and gracious, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV. Life is not always fair but God is always gracious.

(2) God will be with you at all times, in all situations. King Nebuchadnezzar was furious by their refusal to bow to his golden image, and committed them to a fiery furnace for their destruction. But they had company they never imagined; the Lord was with them. Astounded, the King saw, “four men walking, unbound and unharmed, in the midst of the fire.” Daniel 3:25 NIV. They experienced God’s company, special fellowship in the worst circumstance possible.

(3) Blessing will be found in suffering, and afterward. “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace . . will Himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 TEV. God will turn your pain into gain.

(4) God will redeem your suffering. People are watching to see if your life and faith work; for many of them, their life does not work and they have little or no faith. God will take the worst that happens to you and create the best result. Everyone has a story to tell. Let your story be a testimony of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

“Then the King promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” Daniel 3:30 NIV. Grace will write your testimony. Your story is not just about your struggles and circumstances; the real story of your life is about God’s provision, protection, and promotion. Even when others are not, God is ever righteous, always gracious. Imagine if others found us more like our Father in Heaven.

Today, my prayer for you is to trust God in every situation and rejoice at all times.

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Resilience

March 31st, 2014

“Paul got up and went back into the city.” Acts 14:20 NIV.

Resilient people are irresistibly joyful and ultimately successful.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “resilience.”

In life, it is not what happens to you that’s so damaging; it’s what happens in you. There will be people who go out of their way to cause others needless pain. Hurting people hurt others. They wound with hurtful words and walk away – or punish others for their own unhappiness – or are unkind when they don’t have to be. They leave pain in their path. You can retreat; you can resist; you can resent. Or you can respond with faith and confidence in God. But you can’t change them.

What you decide and do after what happens to you is what’s most important. I love people who develop resilience as a character trait – “the ability to recover, bounce back, or to be flexible.” Resilient people are ultimately successful; they bend rather than break. There is an interesting account from the earliest years of Paul’s ministry. Read Acts 14:19-22 NIV. “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

Paul was savagely stoned, dragged, cruelly dumped, and left for dead outside the city. Then an amazing thing happened. “He got up and went back into the city. The next day he left . .” That’s resilience only God can provide you. Paul met life on his own terms; he would leave in his own time. There are times that there is not much else you can do except get up, dust yourself off, treat your wounds, and walk away from the hurt and hurtful. You may have a limp but you still have your life. The bad thing that happened to you need not be the end of your story. See Romans 12:21 NLT.

The Apostle Paul was resilient, therefore his words ring true, “We have this treasure [the light of the knowledge of the glory of God] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9 NIV. Whenever you are having a pity party, read Paul’s personal diary. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10/11:23-28 NKJV.

Resilient people are irresistibly joyful. “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5 NIV. See James 1:2-4 NIV.

Responded to joyfully and expectantly, God will make suffering productive rather than destructive. Draw strength and inspiration from Jesus. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Read Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you are not overcome with the evil others do.

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