Hope – REAL Hope!

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11.25-26

To overstate the obvious, as Christ-followers, we should celebrate the resurrection of Christ every day of the year. But it is fitting that we make such a great emphasis on Easter Sunday. When Jesus spoke here to Mary, He was speaking to her heart, not her emotions. This was not an emotional statement, but a statement of hope to a broken-hearted sister who was missing her brother, Lazarus. I am moved by Jesus’ question to Mary in the very last phrase: “Believest thou this?” Jesus was friends with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. So, I find the question interesting. But when I think about myself, I must be honest and say that I don’t know how difficult that would have been for me to believe.

Here is a straight-forward declaration of truth: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” I’m sure Mary’s thoughts went to the tomb where her brother was buried. “though he were dead … ” He had been dead four days (v. 39). Most of us have stood beside an open grave and said goodbye to a loved one. And we heard the preacher say something like this: “This isn’t good bye. This is just good night. I’ll see you in the morning.” We all say we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. But does that hope ring true in our hearts? Here is what we want to believe: “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” D. L. Moody told his followers that one day they would read that D. L. Moody was dead. He said, “Don’t believe a word of it. I’ll be more alive than I have ever been.” And so will you. And so will I! Just my thoughts …

Advertisements

It’s a Done Deal!

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10.13

If you were to ask ten different people how to get to heaven, you might get ten different answers. But what really matters is not what you or I say, but what God says. In Matthew 7.21-23 we read: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

There is a difference between doing things in an attempt to get in God’s good favor or attempt to make Him love us more and simply believing what He has said about being saved. We must not discount the simplicity of the verse above: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Everything that needs to be DONE in order for us to be saved was done by Christ. All God asks of us is that we call on the name of the Lord and receive by faith the gift of His Son Jesus. The phrase “shall be saved” is God’s guarantee that He will finish what He started. Philippians 1.6 reminds us: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God never starts something that He does not finish. Your salvation and mine is guaranteed while we are down here on this earth and will be completed when He takes us to heaven to live with Him eternally. That is enough for anyone to believe. Just my thoughts …

Done?!

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19.30

There is a certain satisfaction in finishing something. I think all of us have felt the satisfaction of finishing a project we have started. But what is going on here is something far more important that simply “finishing” something. What Jesus had just finished has eternal value and to reject what He had done has eternal consequences.

Let’s go back to that first Passover event in Exodus 12. Verse 13 says: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” God’s people as a nation went through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb every year on the day of atonement and their sins were moved forward for one more year. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” there was no more need for another sacrifice. Everything that God had demanded had been done. It WAS indeed finished!

    Think for a moment about what God demanded and realize that Jesus was the ONLY One who could satisfy God’s demand for a perfect sacrifice. You don’t have to work for anything to please God. You don’t have to attempt to do more for God to love you. God the Father was satisfied when Jesus cried, “It is finished!” What wonderful truth! These are just my thoughts …

Communion? With Whom?

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Luke 22.19

When was the last time you participated in a communion service? What did it mean to you? Do you look forward to observing communion? Paul’s words remind us: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11.26) Communion is not just another service to attend. It is a reminder to us that Jesus IS coming again. We must never forget that powerful truth.

During this Easter Season, many churches will observe communion, either on Good Friday or Easter. If you are going to be able to participate in such a service, remember these words of Jesus. “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Think through that thought … Jesus gave His body for you, to pay for my sin and your sin. He did not do that because you and I are worthy of His body. He did it because He loves us. This is NOT a love that can be measured in words or quantified. It is simply a demonstration of God’s unconditional love.

When Jesus ask us to remember Him, I believe He is saying that we must never forget what He did and what His next step will be: “ … ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” Are you looking for His return? Does His eminent return cause you to live differently than you would if you didn’t THINK He was returning – perhaps today? It certainly does cause me to live differently. My pastor when I was growing us said repeatedly, “Don’t be doing anything you wouldn’t want to be doing when Jesus comes. Don’t be saying anything you wouldn’t want to be saying when Jesus comes.” Good advice! Just my thoughts …

Love Them HOW?

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13.34

I think it is amazing that so many people seem to be worried about the Ten Commandments, but don’t seem to have any concern for this new commandment from the lips of Jesus. How different would our world be if we as believers would take this commandment to heart! How often do we come to the house of God and say to ourselves as we enter the door, “I hope I don’t see so-and-so”? Your response to me might be, “But you don’t KNOW them. You don’t know what they DID to me.” How would Jesus answer you? Let me suggest that He might say, “It doesn’t what they did. What did you do in response?” this new commandment doesn’t address someone’s behavior, but rather it addresses the fact that they are alive and part of your circle of acquaintances. We are to love them because of WHO they are, not because of WHAT they do.

These next two phrases really show us the heart of Jesus and the kind of heart we should have: “ … as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” HOW does the Lord love us? Unconditionally! Here is what that means: “No matter what YOU do to ME, I will seek NOTHING but your HIGHEST GOOD!” There is no room for manipulation in that definition. You are going to walk into church next Sunday, and you are going to see someone who just lights your fire by the very sight of them. What do you do next? You breathe this prayer to yourself: “Lord. will you help me love them as YOU love them? What can I do right now to encourage them?” Then watch God go to work in your life and in theirs. I wish I could be there to watch. Just my thoughts …

Man? Really? Yes!

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2.8

In the verses leading up to this verse, Paul gives us quite a picture of our Lord. Look at these words: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wish I had the mind of Christ on this issue”? Here we have a penetrating look into the mind of Christ. (1) He made himself of no reputation. He IS the virgin born son of God. He is one who was active in creation. BUT He made himself of no reputation. (2) He took upon himself the form of a servant. The Savior a servant? Yes, he washed the feet of His disciples among other things. (3) He was made in the likeness of man – with everything that goes with being a man, without the sin. And then our key verse says, (4) He humbled himself. How does God humble Himself? He becomes someone that is unrecognizable as God. (5) He became obedient unto death, (don’t miss this), even the death of the cross. Everyone will die. But everyone will not die on a cross. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of death known to mankind, and the Roman soldiers were masters at it.

So, what does all this mean to you and me? The Son of God became one of us – the son of man – so that we could become a son of God. What love is displayed in such an unselfish act on the part of God and His Son. Just my thoughts …

He IS Enough!

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6.35

“ … bread of life … ” What does that mean to you? In the physical realm, we think of bread as a daily staple that we need to live. So, could we also equate Jesus as the bread of life in our spiritual realm that we need daily to live? If so, how does one partake of Jesus on a daily basis? First of all, it is a personal choice. Second, we need to know the source of this bread and it is the Word of God. Third, we need to do more than consume it, we need to process it. If I partake of bread each day but it simply lays in my stomach and is not processed, it will do me no good nutritionally and it will eventually make me sick. If I partake of Jesus as the spiritual bread of life, but all I do is gather knowledge about Him, but that knowledge never changes me, what good did it do me to gain the knowledge.

We need to understand these next two phrases: “ … he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Our world is full of people who are searching madly for some religious satisfaction. But religion and Christ are not the same. When one finds religion, he finds something that man has created. But when one finds Christ, his search for an eternal relationship is over. I don’t need to search in order to find more of Christ. I need to learn how to release more of my life to the control of God’s Holy Spirit. My hunger is satisfied in Christ and my thirst is met in Him. Just my thoughts …

You Want Me to Be WHAT?

Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10

When you were growing up, do you remember some adult saying to you, “Be still!”? It might have been a parent, a teacher, or some other authority figure. But what we are reading in this verse is a little different than that. God is saying, “Be still and know that I am God … ” How would you know if God is saying this to you? Maybe life around you has come to a standstill. You can’t seem to get anything done. No matter what you try, nothing happens. Could God be saying to you, “Be still and know that I am God …”? What does that mean? We seem to always want God to move at our speed and get everything done that we want from Him right now. What if NOW isn’t the right time for Him to do what we are asking? Do you agree that God knows more than you know about your circumstances? If that is more than just head knowledge for you, then be willing to “Be still and know that (He is) God”.

Let’s look at these remaining two phrases: “ … I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Is the goal of your life for God to be exalted through you? I confess that I struggle with that truth every day. I am often unwilling to acknowledge that my ONLY goal in life must be to glorify God. When I finally come to that realization, then it changes the focus, perspective, and purpose of my life. When I am willing to be still and know that God is who He says He is, then I am in a better place to allow Him to use me to glorify Himself in everything I do and say. Just my thoughts …

Sowing Brings Reaping!

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126.5

What is it that we are to sow? May I suggest the seed of the gospel? How does one sow in tears? Could I ask when was the last time you shed tears because a friend or family member was lost and was rejecting the gospel? I can remember when I was growing up in church, we used to have what our church called “cottage prayer meetings” in preparation for a revival meeting. There would be several of them going on sometimes on the same night. I remember attending those prayer meetings and seeing and hearing the passion of those there as they requested prayer for a friend or family member to be saved in the upcoming meeting. And then as we prayed, we wept over those lost souls who needed to hear the gospel. Not surprisingly, many of those for whom we prayed with tears came to the revival and received Christ as savior. The thing I see missing in many churches today is the sowing in tears. We don’t have revivals any more. We don’t have cottage prayer meetings any more. And we don’t see the fruit of our tears.

“ … shall reap in joy.” There is no greater joy than seeing one who is lost come to a saving knowledge of Christ. There is nothing that can compare to that. In 1974 I was privileged to take a bus load of teens to Mexico on a mission trip. On that trip we learned the song, “They That Sow In Tears Shall Reap in Joy” and we sang it over and over on the bus. When we conducted evangelistic meetings there and people came to Christ, those teens were exuberant because they had sown in tears and they were now reaping in joy. I saw them prostrate themselves on the ground as they prayed for God to do what only He could do. And when He did, we all reaped in joy. There is nothing like it. Just my thoughts …

Let It Be Heard!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also the Greek.” Romans 1.16

Ashamed – that is a word that we don’t like to think about often. We may feel ashamed at times because of something we have done, or didn’t do. But Paul here is talking about being ashamed of something that is eternal and life changing – the gospel of Christ. What is that gospel? Paul defines it for us in 1 Corinthians 15.3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” These are life changing words and Paul was introduced to them abruptly on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). These words changed Paul dramatically. These words will change the life of any sinner who will receive them, dramatically. May God help us NEVER to be ashamed of them.

The gospel “ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth … ” In order for someone to BELIEVE the gospel, they must first HEAR the gospel. Romans 10.17 tells us: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So where to you and I fit into this equation? We have the responsibility to help others HEAR the Word of God so they HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY to believe. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I shared the gospel with someone?” I am not trying to be harsh. I am asking myself the same question. Don’t you think we need to be conscious of those around us and the opportunities God gives us to share His truth? I think we do. Just my thoughts …