IT’S TIME TO COME HOME

As children if we had a real good friend we might ask if they wanted to become a ‘blood brother’. A special though painful event that forever bonded your relationship. In the Christian faith the ultimate example of that are the words of God spoken over Christ’s transfiguration: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, Hear Him” (Matthew 17:5).

The act of transfiguration ( a radical change in appearance) is therefore I believe important for us to understand better. We know for Jesus it occurred on a high mountain and caused His face to shine like the sun and his clothes become as white as light (Matthew 17:1-2). Moses had this same appearance after talking with God (Exodus 34:29-35) as did Stephen in Acts 6:15.

The transfiguration identifies you with God like no other experience. For mankind today to have such an experience would certainly be a miracle, but what we can become is anointed of God so we can hear the words of Psalm 2:7 that “today I have begotten you, you are my son”. We each can become born again of the Spirit that our lives on earth are transformed such that our faith would be a light unto others.

At the transfiguration of Jesus, God’s majesty became manifest to mankind. Today I continue to listen to the voices in creation waiting for that moment when God will say “well done good and faithful servant”. IT’S TIME TO COME HOME.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The transfiguration is a truth bringing God’s throne closer to the heart of mankind.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 17:5 “the voice of God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek to be transformed by You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How can you bond your life to our Lord and Savior?
  2. What does a transformed like look like?
  3. How does creation bespeak God’s voice?
  4. Have you had a radical change in your life?

THAT WHICH SHALL NEVER PASS AWAY

When someone dies we often try to soften the harsh reality of it by saying they have passed away. That means that something or someone has ceased to exist.

In Scripture there are several things that we are told will one day pass away. The first of which is the number of days on earth as Moses shared in Psalm 90:9. That is fairly obvious depending on our genetics and how we care for ourselves. The hope within that reality is that we age gracefully and pass away as a ‘new creature’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) born into the faith of Jesus Christ.

Ceasing to exist will obviously be all that which is of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31)  including the very heavens (not the final dwelling place) and earth which so many in mankind seem to worship. To care for what God has given us in this life is certainly proper, but the level with which we do it to the point of it becoming a religion (naturism) is the danger.

Yet in all this there is hope. There is that to which we should most cling which will NEVER pass away. First, as Christ Himself shared in Luke 21:33, are His Words. This is why as believers preparing for Heaven, not unlike children prepare for higher learning, we should be daily in the one textbook that really matters which is God’s Word (Bible) for no greater institution of higher learning exists than Heaven. That is a Kingdom (Daniel 7:14) which SHALL NEVER PASS AWAY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Passing away does not apply to people who will participate in paradise.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Daniel 7:14 “Christ’s dominion shall not pass away”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for assuring me I will never pass away in an eternal sense.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What thoughts have you  given to the reality of passing away?
  2. Have you become a ‘new creature’ in Christ?
  3. How do we balance caring for versus worshiping this earth and life on it?
  4. How important is God’s eternal Word to you?

ETERNAL DEATH!

There are a great many in the world who will experience what the Bible calls a Lake of Fire and sulpher (Rev. 20:15). They are those who in this life did not live such that their names would be written in the Book of Life. Sadly, I believe, there are many who affirm our Lord and Savior but it is simply an intellectual affirmation and not a saving faith affirmation. Satan himself believed in our Lord and Savior as seen in Matthew 4:1-11 but did not understand or chose not to understand what it means to truly worship Him.

God is indeed a God of mercy but He is also a God of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).  It is important as Christians we understand this. If we accept the Bible as God’s Word then we have to know that from Genesis to Revelations this understanding of a Lake of Fire and judgment are mentioned and illustrated. We all need to deal with it now or face its consequences later.

My understanding is that those who die in sin until the end of time will find themselves in Hades (Sheol) which will have a torment all its own. Christ shared this with us in Luke 16:23. At an appointed time history will end and all demons, beasts and satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire experiencing a second (Revelation 2:11) and eternal death.

Satan and the beast will be released prior to this time for a short period when there will be tribulation on earth (Revelation 17:8) but that will be short lived before the final ETERNAL DEATH!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A lengthy life truly committed to the Lamb of God will keep us out of the Lake of Fire.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Revelation 20:14 “Death itself will be cast into the Lake of Fire”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to live with You eternally.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What is intellectual affirmation that some Christians mistakenly show?
  2.  Are there degrees of righteousness and judgment?
  3.  Will hell be a place of intense fire or as some believe simply separation from God?
  4.  Why is fire more powerful than water and its significance?

ETERNAL EXISTENCE!

I believe it has always been God’s purpose for humanity, which He created, to have eternal existence. In Genesis 2:17 that is understood. In fact physical death is something which mankind has brought upon itself with original sin. Many on earth doubt or disbelieve in eternal existence as God has planned with a soul, spirit and resurrected body. The reason often heard for this is with immortality through God then life has to have purpose guided by instruction. Life also is then lived under judgment and many do not want restrictions on how they choose to live.

The proof of our immortality lies in our being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). God desires for each of us what He is. His character as seen in Scripture and the life of Christ is what one should seek. His eternal existence is ours not through reincarnation or other religious beliefs where only a part of us continues in some fashion after death. Rather what will be ours is immortality of body, soul and spirit as Enoch and Elijah experienced through being translated in Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11-12. The sight of Moses by Peter, James and John at Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-9) is also evidence of this in addition to Christ’s very own promise to each of us as shared in John 14:2-3.  How that eternal existence comes to us is a decision that God only knows.

Immortality for me is without question but it also must be understood it does not come without judgment. Not all will experience the wonders of eternal life. There will be a judgment as Christ Himself explains in Matthew 25:31-46. Eternal rewards and judgments will one day be handed out. The question remains for each of  us where will we spend our ETERNAL EXISTENCE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Made in the image of God our immortality is assured assuming we identify with Christ through faith.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Genesis 1:27 “Eternal existence discovered in the image of God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I await eternity with You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you view immortality?
  2. What does it mean to be created in the ‘image of God’?
  3. What are reasons many doubt or reject eternal existence?
  4. Where is the failure in other religions?

WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION?

Jesus through the Gospel writer John (John 11:11-14) describes death as simply a state of being asleep though physically dead. As Christians we often comfort ourselves in times of death with words such as “the deceased is in a far better place”. Indeed Paul in Philippians 1:23 speaks those very same words. In fact death puts us in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

This presence is somewhat defined by Scripture beginning with our ability to identify others. At the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:3) Peter experienced this in carrying on a conversation with Moses and Elijah who were a part of history years earlier. Two figures among many whom I hope to meet some day in eternity. As Christ’s words express in Luke 16:25 it would also seem to be a time of comfort and enjoyment. Certainly nothing to fear unless we are choosing a life contrary to Scripture. The chasm that cannot be crossed (vs. 26).

In this moment we will be souls without our new body (Revelations 6:9) awaiting the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) when we will all have a new body like unto the Lords. This is WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The intermediate state is one of inheritance and all that which identifies us with our Lord and Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 5:8 “immediate presence with the Lord after death”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your presence.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What does it mean to be in the presence of the Lord?
  2. Are all ‘others’ you want in your eternal presence aware of a saving faith?
  3. Is your life being lived out according to Scripture?
  4. How do you understand death?

FAITH THAT IS BINDING

An interesting spiritual lesson can be learned from the text recorded in Matthew 9:18-26 which details the story of raising the daughter of Jarius from the dead by Jesus. This was one of 3 such experiences recorded in Scripture and highlights one of the 4 type of miracles that we see Jesus perform during His ministry. The others being removing demons, affecting weather and healing. When Christ was involved in such a healing or miracle we see that it could either be by touch, word or a combination of the two and it invariably affected a wider range of people in the vicinity. It seems that as in this situation that the only requirements were in addition to the presence of Christ that there be a softened heart and humility. With that in place Christ would utter only two words “talitha cumi” meaning maiden arise. When done according to the will of God and for His glory the outcome was inevitable.

Today, as it was for Jarius, death and illness should drive us to Christ. It should make our relationship all the stronger and it should be the message when ever someone has passed on at their funeral service. We need to believe even when all hope seems lost. Only Christ and His power can raise us to life if not on earth then certainly for eternity. Today each of us have an opportunity to build with Christ a FAITH THAT IS BINDING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Faith flourishes when fully found in our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 9:18-26 “true faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me the faith of Jarius.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How strong is your faith?
  2. Do you come to Jesus in all situations?
  3. How are the miracles of Jesus seen in the world today?
  4. Will you be able to believe when all hope seems lost?

DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!

Going through life is difficult enough. I can not imagine doing so thinking this is all there is. Yet so many do. Purpose and meaning in life comes with the Resurrection. Job expressed what Christians yet this day believe saying: “I know that my Redeemer lives..and (one day) in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-27). Christ affirmed this Himself in John 5:28-29. All will one day arise to be taken either to a ‘resurrection of life’ or if unrepentant having done evil to a ‘resurrection of condemnation’. To illustrate this He chose His good friend Lazarus bringing him (among others) back from death. This witnessed by many.

This will be accomplished by the power of God in union with Christ and “through His Spirit Who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). The key here is twofold. One is the importance of our being born again in the Spirit of which I have spoken before. The second important point is the resurrection of Christ which we rightly celebrate.

The resurrection of Christ and its meaning for our lives is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Here we are told the facts, its importance, how it took place and how it now affects past, present and all future faithful. Indeed each and every day if we truly believe we should loudly proclaim the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54 that DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The Resurrection is our reason to rejoice.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 15:54 “death is swallowed up in victory”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for dying for me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you believe in the resurrection and if so why?
  2. What is life without Christ?
  3. Have you invited the Holy Spirit into your life?
  4. Outline the details of the Resurrection given in 1 Corinthians 15?

RELATED BLOG: Death!!

MOST FRIGHTENING?

I realize many of my devotionals have been direct and to the point. Not always filled with ‘sugar and cream and all things nice’. In truth I believe all devotionals can be simply summarized in the words that we are saved by grace through faith and need only to sincerely repent of our sins, trusting in Jesus’ crucifixion for our sins and His death and resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-10). Christ clearly explains this in John 5:29. Yet God’s Word has more than these 100 plus characters (letters) when you flesh out the message. There is a great deal more that God wants us to know and it is not always pleasant.

For me perhaps the most frightening topic is eternal death and the Scriptures have much to say on it. Eternal death is everlasting punishment clearly stated by Christ Jesus Himself in Matthew 25:46. God’s wrath is real and the words ‘everlasting destruction’ (2 Thessalonians 5:9) do not fall softly on our ears. Churches fearful of losing members or not getting the ‘younger generation’ avoid verses like Revelations 21:14 where it speaks of “the lake of fire”. It is here sin death and the devil are forever banished from the universe. I do not plan to hear the words of Matthew 25:41 where Christ tells us some will hear “depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire….”. Separation from God who created all that is beautiful should be something no one desires yet many by their beliefs and actions do just that.

Today we can each know that this is not God’s desire for us. Christ in John 3:16 shares with us Words of salvation. Christ and Christ alone (John 14:6) saves us from a horrific eternal death. As saints or ‘beloved (Christian) brethren’ we will be saved if we remain immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:58). If we live and believe in such a manner then our death will not be MOST FRIGHTENING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Eternal death awaits all deceived by the devil.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 3:16 “Christ saves from eternal death”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I believe in You and Your word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is most frightening to you?
  2. How do you imagine or see ‘eternal death’?
  3. Without sin, death and the devil imagine eternity?
  4. Are you saved?

DEPRESSION!

It seems to me there is much around us that can bring on a depression of spirit. We start off the day with depressing news casts and often don’t go to sleep without watching the news. Somehow that doesn’t seem like the answer for what ails us to overcome this ‘down in the dumps’ mood we believe we need. For many we look outside of ourselves to find the ‘good feeling’ and so we cling to sports teams, become groupies for some unique personality or perhaps we turn to alcohol, drugs or narcotics. The end result eventually is often a let down as we return to reality.

The Bible tells us the cause for despondency often lies in, for example, mourning such as Jacob felt when he thought his son Joseph had died (Genesis 37:34-35). The only solution to this separation brought on by death or some other means of course is our hope in God (Psalm 42:5). In fact without our hope in God our life would indeed be pitiful.

Many feel despondent in reaction to sickness such as Hezekiah did (Isaiah 38:9-12). It is a major factor in the popularity of euthanasia. Legally ending our lives prematurely with the assistance of others. When that is done we remove ourselves from a healing God who values each of us created in His image and so we buy into satan’s argument feeling we have no longer a purpose and despondency often leading to death sets in.

Sorrow drives many into despondency even to the point of suicide. Here is where forgiveness is so important. Others forgiving us for sins we committed whatever they may be (while still allowing for accountability for actions committed). Not only do we need outside forgiveness but we have to forgive ourselves as well. If not, the problem will eat away at our soul to the point of destroying it.

This life by its nature will be full of adversity. No one understood that better than Job who shared his feelings in Job 9:16-35. There will be times when we will wonder where God is but we can rest assured no matter what the cause God is at our side and ready to help us with our DEPRESSION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Despondency is difficult unless we turn our depression into devotion toward God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 42:5 “answer for depression”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me strong.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What around us brings on depression?
  2. Where does society go for comfort and with what results?
  3. Is there something you need forgiveness for?
  4. What is the Biblical answer for depression?

TAKING AWAY THE STING!

There are a great many people in the world who  are bitter. Who have been ‘stung’ by some sort of misfortune. Sadly the ‘news’ media run quickly to cover and give credence to these experiences often making matters even worse.

The heart is the seat of bitterness acknowledged in Proverbs 14:10. It is here where it rears its ugly head often at times of someone’s death such as Samuel addressed in 1 Samuel 15:31 and on other occasions that seem unjust to the human mind. These events drive people to drink which was King Lemuel’s solution (Proverbs 31:6) or worse when they drive people away from God.

The Bible speaks of numerous causes that bring on the sting of bitterness. Foolish children can cause consternation to the point of bitterness (Proverbs 17:25) either against them or against God. For some not being able to have a child results in bitterness as Hannah experienced in 1 Samuel 1:5-10. This, as I heard of only recently, drives people to kidnap the children of others. Sickness leads people to become bitter which in their way of thinking gives them comfort but the true peace within illness comes from knowing that no matter the end result of our battle (whatever it may be) the forgiveness of our sins (Isaiah 38:17) is paramount if we remain faithful to our Lord and Savior.

Bitterness within ourselves or toward others must be put under control. It does no one any good. Most especially it grieves the Holy Spirit by Whom we are sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30-31). Indeed bitterness if left unchecked will defile us to where we may fall short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). That is the true unfortunate outcome if we do not begin now to TAKE AWAY THE STING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Bitterness removes blessings which help bind us to God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 12:15 “The avoidance of bitterness is necessary to prevent defilement”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me strength to never allow bitterness in my heart.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How does coverage of people who feel bitter add fuel to the fire?
  2. What is the best way to handle that which causes us bitterness?
  3. What is necessary to keep a heart spiritually healthy?
  4. Is there some bitterness in your life which you need to deal with today?