New Year, New Hope?

I wonder if 2015 is going to be the year of new hope.  Maybe when the clock strikes midnight tonight the world’s ills will start to tilt toward improvement.  Maybe there will be less disease.  Maybe there will be less poverty.  Maybe there will be less hunger.  Maybe there will be less racism.  Maybe there will be less back-stabbing.  Maybe there will be less slander.  Maybe there will be less self-serving leadership.  Maybe . . .

What is “hope” anyway?  It is a “wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.”  Most “hope” nowadays is a wish or desire unaccompanied by much if any confidence at all.  It is false hope.  What is “new”?  It is the state of being recent or fresh, not old but “new.”  Therefore a new hope is one that is recent, fresh, not old.  I believe that is what our world needs.  In my opinion, the current “hopes” are sorely lacking in confidence boosting.  So where is this new hope?  Does it exist?  Where can we find it, believe it, run with it?  Excellent question and I am glad you asked.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:3).

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

“A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Strangely enough, the best new hope isn’t new at all.  It has been around a long time, yet it is forever fresh.

May God bless you and give you a new year filled with new hope!

Rev. Tim Randall, a.k.a. Sparky the Jesus Freak

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Past, Present, and Future

“Marshall your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us.  They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.  ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’  Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.  He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.   And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  And He will be their peace” (Micah 5:1-5).

Many of us just celebrated the birth of Jesus, He who came out of Bethlehem Ephrathah.  Even though He was born in space and time, indeed His “origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  That is the past.  Presently, we are waiting for all to be made right.  The world is chaotic.  There are wars and rumors of wars.  There is hatred, bigotry, strife, murder . . . bad and worse.  That is the present.  What about the future?  Is there any hope or are we doomed to argue, fight, kill, and destroy ourselves?  God doesn’t speak into the wind or wax eloquent to no purpose.  What did He say?  “He (Jesus) will stand and shepherd His flock . . . . They will live securely . . . .  And He will be their peace.”  That is the future.  When God says something, believe it.  I am reminded of what an older saintly lady said one Sunday night many years ago in the church I attended as a kid.  In response to a question she stood up and said the following to everyone:  “God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me.”

True Greatness: Is It Really That Complicated?

How complicated is greatness?  Is it difficult to achieve?  I believe most people when asked these questions would say it is complicated and difficult to achieve.  Of course most would have no idea what true greatness looks like.  We all have our ideas I suppose.  I read a quote recently from a past leader that I thought captured the essence of true greatness: “All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words:  freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope”         (Winston Churchill). Freedom:  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Justice:  “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.  I will shepherd the flock with justice” (Ezekiel 34:16). Honor:  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11). Duty:  “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).  Mercy:  “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:12-13). Hope:  “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Merry Christmas and may you achieve true greatness in 2015.

Rev. Timothy Stewart Randall

A little baby? What’s all the fuss about?

One more day until many of us celebrate the birth of a little baby who was named Jesus by His mother Mary and father Joseph.  So what is all the fuss about?  What does this little baby have to do with me?  After all, He was born 2000 + years ago before the internet and space travel and the stock market and soccer games and fantasty football and Caribbean cruises and . . . .   What does this little baby have to do with me and my life here in the 21st century?  Relevant question.  If you believe the Christian worldview, the second person of the Trinity, the Son, came down from heaven to become a human being, i.e. He became a little, helpless, crying baby.  God became man.  Jesus was God from all eternity.  He took on flesh.  God the Son became the God-man, fully God and fully man minus sin.  That is the Christian worldview take on the incarnation, i.e. God becoming man.  Again, so what?  What was the point?  What did it accomplish?  What was the ultimate purpose for Jesus’ birth?  The answer lies way back in the beginning.  Genesis 3:15 answers the question:  “And I [God] will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  In theological terms Genesis 3:15 is called the “Proto-evangelium” which means the first mention of the gospel in the Bible.  Right after the fall God is revealing His ultimate plan.  One member of the Godhead, the second person, the Son, would ultimately provide the way of redemption from the curse of the fall.  He (Jesus) would crush the Serpent’s (Satan) head.  This crushing blow was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That ultimately is the point of the birth of Jesus.  He arrived on the scene 2000 + years ago so that He could live a sinless life and prove to be the acceptable sin-bearer for all of us.  As John Murray put it so many years ago as the title of one of his books, it is “redemption accomplished and applied.”  While Satan still is nipping at Jesus’ heel, the reality of his crushing defeat will be fully realized soon enough.  Jesus has won, Satan is defeated, and we have the opportunity to be on the winning team for all eternity.

So that is what all the fuss is about.

Names/Titles of Jesus in the Bible

Here are the names of Jesus as mentioned in the Bible (taken from Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, 348-350):

1) Babe

2) Bread of God

3) Bridegroom

4) Child

5) Christ

6) Consolation of Israel

7) Cornerstone

8) Carpenter

9) Dayspring from on high

10) Door

11) Emmanuel

12) Friend of sinners

13) God

14) Governor

15) Gift of God

16) Holy One of God

17) Heir

18) Jesus

19) King

20) Lamb of God

21) Lord

22) Man

23) Master

24) Messiah

25) Nazarene

26) Only begotten

27) Prophet

28) Physician

29) Rabbi

30) Shepherd

31) Son of God

32) Son of man

33) Son of David

34) Son of Abraham

35) Son of Joseph

36) Word

37) I AM

Who is this founder of Christianity?

“But in the 21st century-as Christians measure it-Christianity remains the world’s largest religion, and much of humanity remains concerned daily with matters spiritual.  Some people wish that this were otherwise.  And others are content with this state of affairs.  Most, however, agree:  Jesus was a special man.  He is not a ‘perhaps’ like Abraham, Noah or even David.  He lived-He is historically provable-and was greatly influential in His day.  After His death, His influence grew to be the largest and most insurmountable of any individual’s in the history of our world” (LIFE, Christianity:  The Illustrated Story, 36).

Quite the ringing endorsement of the historicity of Jesus and His incalculable influence on the world and this from a secular source like TIME/LIFE.  If you can get this book, get it.  Excellent background information and illustrations.  The writing is well-done and the pictures and paintings are superb.  I will refer to this book for years to come.