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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Questions and Doubts

August 23rd, 2018

Questions Are Inevitable. Doubts Are Avoidable.

“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.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Questions and Doubts.”

To any honest heart, there are times and occasions in life that produce questions. With our limited perspective and imperfect knowledge, many times and many things don’t appear to make sense at the moment. Times and things introduce uncertainty. At one time or another, everyone has questions. If you haven’t, you either have not lived long enough or faced anything tough enough if life has not made you ask why on occasion.

Maybe you have felt guilty and swallowed your questions rather than ask them. Know this. God is not threatened by your questions nor surprised by your bewilderment. In the agony of the Cross, Jesus cried out to His Father, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” His words came from the depths of His humanity. He had questions, but He did not yield to doubt. Before Jesus breathed His last breath on that cross, He turned His face toward the future and His Father, and said, “Father, I entrust my spirit into Your hands. And with those words Jesus breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 NLT. His final words were faith- filled.

Whatever the circumstances of my life or death, I choose to submit my feelings and fears to truth and trust. If Jesus can find peace and faith in such a moment as He faced, He will empower you and me to do so as well. Preparing for the cross as Jesus prayed to His Father, His future was secured by His words, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done!” Jesus had questions, but He did not succumb to doubt.

Questions are inevitable. Questions can play a vital role in learning. Questions push you beyond the known and understood to what has not been previously considered. Great discoveries and advances in technology advances have happened because someone asked questions no one else bothered to ask. A person does not have faith because they have no questions. If you had no questions, why would you need faith? Faith looks at the hardest questions, and though often without answers, simply trusts God’s love, wisdom, and sufficient grace.

You may struggle to resolve your questions. But you must choose to deal with your doubts. You can be without doubts while wrestling with the toughest questions, maybe even unanswerable ones. Paul did not say that was easy to do, but he does show that it is possible to do. Read the context of today’s verse. “None of these things move me.” Acts 20:24. Paul knew he was facing, “jail and suffering.” Read Acts 20:22-23 NKJ and 21:10-14 NIV. For any thinking person, that would raise some unsettling questions. I would expect Paul had questions about that. I would; you likely would as well.

When you are uncertain, and questions trouble your mind and rob your peace, concentrate on what is certain and unchanging and rest your questions there. That place is the Word and character of God. When there seems too much that you do not know, be sure of what you do know. Paul wrote, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be done away  . . now I know partially, then I will know fully just as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV. Dwell on what you know. Deal with what you don’t. Rest in what God says.

What leaves more unanswered questions than death, and resurrection? After Paul’s expansive defense of the Resurrection, he summarizes this way, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Those admirable character qualities – “steadfast, immovable, and always abounding” –  evidence a mature Christian who has asked their questions and chosen to move beyond their doubts to rest peacefully in God and His character and Word.

Even when there are serious questions, you can still live and trust with no doubts about God. Paul is a prime example. From prison, he wrote to young Timothy, “I am suffering here in prison . . but I know the One in whom I trust, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT.

Today, I pray you will submit your questions and surrender your doubts to God.

Christian Communications 2018

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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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Direction, Distractions, and Diversions

September 8th, 2017

Distractions create diversions to a course not envisioned.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 KJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Direction, Distractions, and Diversions.”

Life needs direction – a worthy goal to reach and a path to reach that goal. For that direction, you need God. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT. And life can be full of distractions. Even God cannot direct your path if you allow yourself to become distracted.

A firm and clear direction minimizes distractions. David’s direction was unequivocal, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV. That is a Holy direction that can last a lifetime, and reaches into eternity. Most of the time distractions are usually of little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention was one of personal urgency and importance? Distractions, even those that are small and brief, lead to diversions that can set your life on an unintended path. Distractions create diversions toward a course not envisioned.

The sincerest decision and most vital direction can be supplanted by even a minor distraction. Because there is so much that you should do, and so much that you could do, there will always be moments that misdirect you along another path, away from the task at hand. Diversions are inevitable. Be prepared for them. Something more attracting and enticing will beckon your attention. All too easily, the best of  intentions can be displaced.

Later in life, individuals find themselves in a far different place than they planned. Where did they take a wrong turn? What decision changed their destination? Or maybe it was a curiosity that became a fascination indulging experimentation, which slowly became a habit and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. Paul was wise when he wrote, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV. Permissible does not mean advisable.

There is no diversion that is more important than your decision to pursue God earnestly. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do,” then consolidated three necessities of that singular passion. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. Similarly, the Bible offers multiple, practical characteristics for your single-minded pursuit of God.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2 NKJVHeaven is real and eternity is sure.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3 NKJV.  Hold fast to the faith that in difficult times will hold you fast.

Be earnest about prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:17 NKJV. Effective fervent prayer has the power to change anything.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way, [the way of love].” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV.

The world, with its deceitful pleasures, is full of distractions. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see Jesus’ life and love in you. May this worthy goal be yours and mine. “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be earnest about all aspects of spiritual life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Joy is a Choice

December 23rd, 2016

I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS.

Joy is a choice you make and a gift God gives

Our five month old great granddaughter, Riley

My thoughts and comments today are that joy is a choice.”

“Merry Christmas” is an all too familiar greeting, but merry seems a bit underwhelming when describing the history-changing birth of Jesus. Merriment is a good thing that comes from enjoying good times with good friends. But Christmas is so much more. And God has more for you, much more. I believe, “Joyous Christmas,” would be more appropriate for God’s intent for this and every season of life.

This Advent, open your heart and home to be overwhelmed by an inexpressible and glorious joy. That’s how Peter described Jesus’ presence permeating your heart and daily life. “You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV. Your experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and sacrifice promises no less and deserves nothing less than great and glorious joy. Let your joy be unrestrained.

That first, auspicious Christmas night, the herald Angel’s announcement to the shepherds described the moment and promise, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today, there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” At such news, Heaven could be silent no longer; “Suddenly, there appeared a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” Luke 2:10-14 NAS. Indeed, the Incarnation was “good news of inexpressible and glorious joy.” However intended for you His joy may be, great joy requires your initiative.

Joy is a gift God chose to give; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy in your heart because it is not natural to our fallen nature. Choose joy again and again until joy becomes a settled disposition of your spirit, while you draw continually on ample, spiritual resources. Jesus said, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you . . that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV.

Inexpressible joy should not be left unexpressed. When you have His joy completely, you will express His joy consistently. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you won’t keep something you don’t share. When you give joy, you gain joy. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Let His joy be real in you until it is irresistible to others. Incarnate the joy of Christmas that an unbelieving world cannot resist. Great joy is unknown where the Good News is untold.

As our family entered this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we are grieving the death of a 21-year-old son and grandson, Parker. I empathize with others who feel the shadow of grief at this season. Grieving is unavoidable, even appropriate in such circumstances. A friend recently commented, “Sometimes tears are all we have.” Grieving is no reproof of joy. Grieving is the process by which healing comes. Grieving needs time and trust to accomplish its purpose. Allow yourself time, and choose joy this Christmas. Grief will give way to healing and the joy that results. Joy is not some sort of hilarity; joy is a settled confidence that God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He would do.

Hope, joy, and peace are God’s incomparable Christmas gifts for you. You can find joy amid grief, when you include trust and hope. “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.” Rom 15:13 NIV. Choose joy this Christmas.

Today, I pray that Jesus is the source of your joy and your celebration is without restraint.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Allen and Gayle Randolph    

Christian Communications 2016-121014 Christmas joy

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God Cares

December 6th, 2016

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that God cares.”

People won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

When I was fresh out of Bible College and in my first years of ministry, my friend and a seasoned pastor, Kenny, offered me some priceless advice. His exact words were these, “Allen, people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is an incredible truth for all relationships – marriage, parenting, friendship, business, and especially pastoring. After more than fifty years of pastoring now, I still believe that may have been some of the most important and practical counsel I ever received.

I well remember a particular Mother’s Day service. I was standing near the entrance when a friend entered, took my hand and simply said, “Pastor, would you pray for me today?” Not an altogether unusual request normally, but as I held her hand and saw the pain in her eyes, I knew this was much more than a simple request. Her eyes were red and moist from tears. When I asked, “What’s wrong?” her story tumbled out. The night before her son, a pedestrian, was hit by a car. He died along the roadside. Her words were, “I knew this is where I needed to be this morning.” She didn’t come for a sermon or songs; she came for the comfort of those she knew would care about her and begin the healing of her unbearable pain. In reflection of her words, I am reminded of my friend’s advice, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

A lack of practical caring can create an unrecognized distance between yourself and others. Caring may begin as an emotion, but must become so much more. When Jesus was asked to explain how to, “love your neighbor as yourself,” He told a wonderful story that is called, The Good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:25-37 NKJV. A traveler was attacked by thieves – beaten, robbed, and left helpless and suffering. Sad to say, two religious people sympathized with this stranger’s dilemma but hurried on their way without bothering to help.

Sympathy for others must extend empathy toward others. Soon after, when the Samaritan saw the fellow traveler, beaten and robbed by thieves, he empathized with his misfortune. “When he saw him, he had compassion.” The Samaritan identified with a stranger’s distress when he realized it could just as easily have been himself, accosted and left helpless. Then his emotion turned to practical actions; he got involved.

Caring is a benevolence that notices and responds to another’s need in meaningful ways. “So he went to him, bandaged his wounds, set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” And at personal, financial expense, he arranged for ongoing care until he was well. Caring is costly and inconvenient. Caring will cost you time, expense, and involvement.

Peter gave this instruction, Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV. It can be challenging to trust your cares and concerns to God unless you know assuredly that He cares for you as truly as His Word says. And at times, it is hard for others to understand how much God cares unless they experience God’s love being expressed through you and others.  “That the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with them; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with them.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NKJV. Remember my friend’s advice, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Today, I pray for you to transfer all your concerns into your Savior’s care.

Christian Communications 2016

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Will You Trust Me, CHawley

Will You Trust Me, C. Hawley

Will You Trust Me  by Cliff Hawley, Artist

My gratitude to Cliff Hawley for his permission for EDL to use this inspiring piece of Christian Art. I have personally known the artist for more than 40 years and served as his pastor for a major part of those years. If you would like to view or purchase any of Mr Hawley’s Christian art, I refer you to view his work at his website, CHawley.com.

 

 

 

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