Thursday, April 24, 2014

Do You Want to Suffer as Jesus did?

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But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.  Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life.

Philippians 3:7-11

Somewhere in my life someone taught me that Jesus suffered and died so that I would not have to suffer or die.  The idea was that Jesus had the "hard life" so that I could have an easy one.  It is a popular view of Christianity but to be perfectly frank, it is not true.  The Cross of Jesus did provide for my salvation and the forgiveness of my sins, but it did not excuse me from walking as Jesus did and taking up my cross as well. 

The Apostle Paul says in these verses that he wanted to suffer and die as Jesus did!  Paul wanted to be like Jesus in His greatest act of love!  The Cross of Jesus Christ was the complete revelation of His Heart of Love!  Your suffering and death cannot do what the death and suffering of Jesus did, but it can make you more like Jesus and help you experience a "complete identification" with your Lord! 

Your cross and the suffering associated with it are really the most precious parts of your walk with Jesus!  This amazing truth does not take away the pain of your cross, but it does take away the shame!  If you know Christ and the power that raised Him to life, then you will suffer and die as He did!

"Lord Jesus, may all my suffering be part of being like You.  And may even my death bring glory to Your Name not mine!  Praise Your Holy Name forever!  Amen."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Only God Lives Forever!

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Promise to obey completely and fully all that you have been told until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

 

The glorious God

is the only Ruler,

the King of kings

and Lord of lords.

At the time that God

has already decided,

he will send Jesus Christ

back again.

 

Only God lives forever!

And he lives in light

that no one can come near.

No human has ever seen God

or ever can see him.

God will be honored,

and his power

will last forever. Amen.

I Timothy 6:14-16

Only God lives forever!  What an amazing statement!  We see eternal life as one that has no end, but God has no beginning and He will have no end.  God has been, as long as He will be and neither one of those can be measured. 

For me it is more difficult to think about the fact that God has always been than that He always will be.  With Jesus I will not live "forever" but I will live "the rest of forever," since I had a beginning.  The blood of Jesus insures that I will have no end, but it doesn't change the fact that I am a creation of God and I had a beginning.

My "beginning" started when God reached down and formed Adam from the dust of the ground.  Then God knit me together in my mother's womb.  He knew and designed every part of my body, mind, and soul.  I was formed to follow Jesus.  Every step that I take in walking with my Lord is one step closer to being everything God created me to be.

Perhaps in Heaven I will be enabled by God to see "Eternity Past" as well as "Eternity Future," but until that day I will just walk with Jesus and hold His hand! 

"Lord Jesus, I trust You today to lead me on toward tomorrow and forever!  Strengthen my heart to face whatever may come today with You walking at my side.  Praise Your Eternal and Holy Name. Amen."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

John’s Trip to Heaven!

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After this, I looked and saw a door that opened into heaven. Then the voice that had spoken to me at first and that sounded like a trumpet said, “Come up here! I will show you what must happen next.”  Right then the Spirit took control of me, and there in heaven I saw a throne and someone sitting on it. The one who was sitting there sparkled like precious stones of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne.

Twenty-four other thrones were in a circle around that throne. And on each of these thrones there was an elder dressed in white clothes and wearing a gold crown.  Flashes of lightning and roars of thunder came out from the throne in the center of the circle. Seven torches, which are the seven spirits of God, were burning in front of the throne.  Also in front of the throne was something that looked like a glass sea, clear as crystal.

Around the throne in the center were four living creatures covered front and back with eyes.  The first creature was like a lion, the second one was like a bull, the third one had the face of a human, and the fourth was like a flying eagle.   Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and their bodies were covered with eyes. Day and night they never stopped singing,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord,

the all-powerful God,

who was and is

and is coming!”

Revelation 4:1-8

The Book of Revelation might also be called "John's Trip to Heaven!"  God is not trying to hide the existence of Heaven from human beings.  In fact, He wants us to know what it is like and what happens there. 

The Apostle Paul talked about someone he knew, and it may have been Paul himself, going up into Heaven and coming back. 

There is currently a movie called "Heaven is For Real."  It is about a little boy who tells a rather amazing story of a trip to Heaven while he was not responsive on the operating table.

Did anyone ever accuse you of being "So Heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good?"  Well, the truth is quite the opposite.  Those who are mindful of Heaven and desire to go there and be with Jesus are of the most good on this earth.  It is the man or woman who is "sold out to Jesus" who can live his or her life for the sake of others and not be concerned about treasures here on this earth.

The hardships of the trip are only bearable if you know where you are going.  If you are simply wandering through life with no certain destination how will you know which way to go when you come to a crossroads?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, think about Heaven.  Think about the throne of God and what it will be like to stand before Him.  Ponder the beauty of your eternal home.  This life is a long journey and it is very short at the same time.  When you are young it seems that life on this earth will never end, and when you are old it seems you have been here only a little while! 

Take heart, if you Love Jesus Christ, very soon you will stand before the Throne of God and begin an eternity with Him.  Let Heaven and what the Bible tells us of that very real place fill your mind with joy and hope!

"Lord Jesus, help me to imagine the reality of Heaven.  Give me a clear vision of what it will be like to stand before the Throne of God and see You, face to face.  And may all Glory, Honor and Praise be Yours forever.  Amen."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tools Not Ornaments!

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My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts.  I want you to remember that before you became followers of the Lord, you were led in all the wrong ways by idols that cannot even talk.  Now I want you to know that if you are led by God's Spirit, you will say that Jesus is Lord, and you will never curse Jesus.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit.  There are different ways to serve the same Lord,  and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.

The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.

I Corinthians 12:1-7

My wife and I have six children.  When I hear that one of my children is being a servant to the rest of them, I am really blessed.  I suppose God feels the same way about His children.  In fact, God even gives His children special gifts so that they will be better able to serve each other! 

How has God enabled you to serve others?  What ability has He given you that you can use in being a blessing to those around you?  Instead of leaving your gift from God wrapped up in a box with a pretty ribbon around it, open it up and use the gift, whatever it is, to bless others! 

If you say, "I don't know what my gift is" then ask yourself one simple question.  "How can I minister to others?"  I believe that whatever the answer to that question, you will with that answer discover your gift from God! 

The gift that God has given you is a tool not an ornament!  Gifts of the Spirit are not for the purpose of making you look better to those around you.  Gifts of the Spirit are in your tool box of service opportunities! 

When you see a need in someone's life, ask the Lord if He has given you a way to minister to that need.  If the answer is that He has not, then it is perfectly alright to ask God for a special tool for that special need!  There have been many miraculous ministries that began exactly that way!

Whatever God's gift to you, He wants you to walk this day with the power of God flowing through you to those who are in need!  The Glory will be His, but Joy and Peace will be yours! 

"Lord Jesus, show me a need today for which You want to empower me to be the channel for a blessing from You. Thank You Jesus that Your gifts are tools and not ornaments!  Praise Your Holy Name Jesus, forever.  Amen."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Judas Opportunity!

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Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples. He went to the chief priests and asked, “How much will you give me if I help you arrest Jesus?” They paid Judas 30 silver coins, and from then on he started looking for a good chance to betray Jesus.

Matthew 26:14-16

I believe that every follower of Jesus is presented with a "Judas Opportunity" at least once and maybe many times. 

If you foolishly let your heart take you to the leaders of this world and ask them "HOW MUCH WILL YOU GIVE ME IF I HELP YOU ARREST JESUS?" The answer will be an impressive temptation.  You see, arresting Jesus today is trying to stop Him and keep His power from moving through the world and touching the hearts of the lost.  When you "arrest" the spread of the Gospel you are indeed betraying the Lord!

Judas was trying to stop Jesus from fulfilling God's plan for His life on this earth.  Judas was not willing to submit his own heart to the Will of God and so he sold his loyalty to Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver! 

What has the world offered you to turn your heart away from the Lord Jesus?   The list of possible things is long and can include, peace, security, wealth and fame.  Success in your field of work is also a popular offer.  Truthfully, anything that keeps you from being a 24/7 follower of Jesus can be your "30 Pieces of Silver." 

Judas did not stop Jesus from going to the Cross, in fact he became, even in his betrayal, part of the plan of God.  God's will, will be done in this world.  You can be certain of that!  You cannot stop God.  But you can refuse to follow Jesus and you will regret that decision forever!

It may help you to realize that every temptation you have to not walk with Jesus, even for a little while, may be your "30 pieces of silver."  When an opportunity crosses your path ask yourself this question and answer honestly.  Can I walk with Jesus on this path?  If I go this way will I find myself squarely in the will of God?  If the answer anything except, "Yes, absolutely! This is the path that Jesus wants me to walk" then turn and run away from it. 

"Lord Jesus, I know that the world has "30 pieces of silver" for me if I will only turn away from You.  Dear Jesus, open my eyes to see every temptation to betray You and give me the strength to say no!  I want to live this day and the rest of my life walking only on the path that You have prepared for me.  And may You be praised forever.  Amen."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The First Blood Moon!

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I will work wonders

in the sky above

and on the earth below.

There will be blood and fire

and clouds of smoke.

The sun will turn dark,

and the moon

will be as red as blood

before that great

and terrible day

when I appear.

Joel 2:30-31

Today is the day of the first of four "Blood Moons."  These are times when the earth completely blocks the light from the sun and the moon turns blood red.  If there were no clouds in the sky I could be watching it right now at just past 3 A.M.  Instead I am watching it on a live internet feed from Griffith Observatory in California.

There are many who believe these Blood Moons are part of  the "final fulfillment" of the prophecies in Joel.  Is that possible?  Well of course it is, but even though there is much happening in the world today that tells us the coming of Jesus may be very soon, we do not know the "Day or the Hour" of His return.  I suppose in Days of Noah you could be pretty certain that a flood was coming when you saw the Ark and the preparations of Noah and his family, but no one knew when the rain would start and when the Ark would lift off of the ground for it's journey into the "New World."

In today's world Jesus Himself is the Ark.  When He comes Jesus will lift you off of the ground and take you with Him to the Eternal New World in Heaven!  If you are in the Ark nothing can harm you when the flood comes! If you are not in the Ark nothing can save you. 

There is only one thing that is essential for your life today.  That one thing is this: Stay in Christ.  Never set even one foot outside of Him.  Cling tightly to Jesus and trust Him as the storm rages.  When turmoil in the world reaches a fever pitch you will know one thing for certain.  This will either be the time that Jesus will come or you will go.  But either way you will be with Jesus forever! 

"Lord Jesus, I see signs of Your coming that may indeed be the ones that the Bible tells us about.  But Jesus I know that either You will come soon or I will go soon to be with You.  Life on this earth is so short for every man, but life with You in Heaven will never, ever end!  May all Glory and Honor and Praise be given to You, Lord Jesus. Amen."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Called Up By Jesus!

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We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding his Spirit gives.  Then you will live a life that honors the Lord, and you will always please him by doing good deeds. You will come to know God even better.  His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy.

I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light.

Colossians 1:9-12

I think I was 12 years old when I first tried out for the "Knot Hole" summer baseball team in my neighborhood.  I was not very athletic, but my best friend wanted to play baseball and I figured it would be a good thing for me as well. When I was 12 everyone who wanted to play did not "make the team."  I was one of those who had to stay home while my friend played baseball.  After more than 50 years I can still feel a twinge of the rejection of not being able to play that summer. 

Jesus is not like the "Knot Hole" baseball coach who told me I could not be on the team.  Everyone who comes to Jesus and wants to be with Him is welcomed with open arms!  You see Jesus does not exclude you from His team because of your ability, talent, or past experience.  The only thing that can keep you off of His team is your sin, but Jesus personally took care of that problem when He went to the Cross!

Jesus let's you be involved in what He is doing in the world today!  That is really quite amazing.  To continue with the baseball analogy, when you meet Jesus, He calls you up from the minor leagues to play with Him in the World Series!  He gives you a place on His team and then He imparts His own strength and wisdom to you so you can succeed.

Never forget that everything good that you are able to do is because of Jesus.  He has called you to belong to Him and Jesus gives you the strength to "play the game of life" and win! 

"Lord Jesus, thank You for letting me work with You as Your power moves on the hearts of men and women in this world.  And may You be praised forever! Amen.