Tag Archives: death

Christmas Thoughts

As a person gets up in years, Christmas seems to take on a different meaning as I set back to reminisce my dreams and aspirations of my youth. Some of my dreams are fading because of my physical ability to do them. I tend to look back at my past dreams and how they have been affected by various trials and difficulties that have happened along the way. The dreams of a large family with lots of children and grandchildren gives way to the fact that the  children have grown and become parts of other families with their own dreams.

As I ponder the dreams of my past and my family’s present, I wonder if I have given them the right instructions for reaching their dreams. Have I laid the foundation that they build on? Will they trust God as their Savior? Do they know that God as given them the gift of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? Do they know there is a place in Heaven for all of God’s children? Will they teach these values to their children and grandchildren?

In the Book of Genesis, God lays out the foundation of His dreams and aspirations. In six days, God created all the essential parts of His dream. He even made mankind in God’s own image, and it was good. He also made a special place where mankind could enjoy the beauty of his creation. God was able to go to Adam and Eve and have a great evening of fellowship. God wanted that relationship and he still wants a relationship with all his children, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

God had given Adam and Eve one important instruction: Do not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, or you will die. It was not long before that was changed. Eve was tempted and ate of the forbidden tree. In the cool of the day God was looking for Adam and eve, but they were hiding. God had to banish them from the Garden because they disobeyed Him.

It wasn’t long until Cain killed his brother Abel and people continue to disobey God. God sent a flood to wipe out the sinfulness of mankind; He confused their language; He made them walk in the wilderness for years, He made them become slaves to foreigners, He gave them a Kings because they wanted one. And so it goes throughout the Bible. But God still wanted that relationship with man.

In fact, God wanted that relationship so badly that He sent his only Son to die for the sins of man, God wanted to restore eternal life to those who love him. It is a Christmas time that we celebrate the beginning of this dream; the birth of His Son, Jesus. God’s primary reason for sending his only son was to forgive sins and restore eternal life to mankind.

However, the religious leaders were so upset with God that they did everything they could do to get Jesus out of the picture. Finally on Good Friday they made good on their threats. They nail Jesus to a cross. What they did not understand was that Jesus had become the perfect sacrifice. It was the only sacrifice that would take the past, present, and future sins of man to their eternal destination. Man could now be perfect in God’s eyes.

The second purpose for Jesus death took place Easter morning. God reached down and raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus became victorious over death.

Things are different this time around. This time God is letting man choose who he will follow. God wants everyone to accept the gift of salvation, but he is not going to force it on mankind. In fact, for those people who accept the gift of salvation and are willing to follow Christ will be given a home in heaven. Revelation 21 tells about this heaven:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5(NIV)

The new heaven and the new earth are better than the current heaven and earth. There is no separation between the new heaven and the new earth. God dwelling place will be with the people. We will be able to have eternal, uninterrupted fellowship with God. God’ ultimate dream will become reality. Sin and sinful behavior will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, never to be released on earth again. There will be unity at last. We will be restored to the perfect condition in which God made us originally and sin will never separate use from God again.

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

How Can I See God’s Glory?

How many times have you argued with God about events in your life, those things that God seemed to do wrong? Perhaps things at work did not go as you wanted; the promotion did not come through as expected; or you served on a committee and the committee just would not see it your way?

Remember Jonah when God told him to go to Nineveh? He did not want Nineveh to repent. Jonah wanted God to do it his way.

Or, how about Cain? He made an offering of the fruit he had grown and he thought God should accept, but God did not accept it because it was not what God required.

Or, the rich young ruler that came to see Jesus about eternal life? He kept the law and lived an upright life but he accumulated wealth that he did not want to share. He went away sad because Jesus wanted him to get rid of his wealth.

Or, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They wanted to do things their way and not the way God told them. And when they had  sinned and saw they were naked, they covered their nakedness with leaves but God covered it with the skin of a sacrificed animal.

Human nature wants us to be in control of everything. Society pushed the idea of controlling our future; we should have whatever makes us happy or famous. But God wants us to develop self-control. In other words, God wants us to control our behavior and not the behavior of other people or circumstances.

John 11:32-44  is an illustration of what was going to happen in the life of Jesus. Jesus was going to die, then be raised again from the dead. Jesus wanted to show his glory to Mary.

Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying, just as God could have kept Jesus from dying. However, because of God’s love for us, Jesus had to die. The penalty for sin has always been death.

Can we identify with Mary in this text? Mary was upset with Jesus for not coming sooner. If Jesus had been there, he could have kept her brother from dying. She wanted it her own way.

Even the mourners that were with Mary commented that Jesus was able to heal people, surely he could prevent death. They wanted it their way.

Jesus however, wanted to show Mary the Glory of God, but Mary was reluctant to allow Jesus to show her. Jesus wanted to show Mary that God had a plan for eternal life, a life after our earthly body dies. Mary said: “..by this time there is a bad odor…” Mary was more concerned about Jesus not being there in time to save Lazarus, than she was about seeing God’s glory.

Sometimes we are more concerned about what God did not do for us than we are in seeing what He is doing for us.

How can we see God’s glory in our life? For us to see God’s glory, we need to do what Mary had to do. We need to see it God’s way rather than our own way.

John tells us about a time when Lazarus died. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus and was the brother of Mary. When he passed away, word was sent to Jesus about his death. However, Jesus waited four days before going to Bethany where Mary and Lazarus lived.

When Jesus did go to Bethany, Mary was very upset with him for waiting so long to come. Jesus wanted to show Mary the “glory of God”, but Mary was more concerned about having her own way.

The story goes like this:

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:32-44(NIV)

In this passage, there are seven statements that Jesus made that helped Mary see God’s glory. These seven statements can also help us see God’s glory.

  1. “Where have you laid him?” (v 34) Jesus wanted to know where Lazarus was buried. He wanted to know where Mary had placed her anxiety regarding Lazarus. Likewise, Jesus wants to know where we have placed those things that bother us or hinder our Christian walk. He wants to take our anxiety away. He wants to know where our anxiety is because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.)
  2.  “Take away the stone” (v 39) For Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead,  needed to have access to Lazarus. Jesus needed access to Mary’s anxiety. For us to see the glory of God, we also need to give Jesus access to our anxiety. He will not force us to give our anxiety to him. He will not force us to go against our will because He loves us and has given us the ability to make decisions. God does not want to control us like a person would control a puppet.
  3. “…if you believe…” (v.40). Jesus tells Mary that if she believed, she would see the Glory of God. Jesus also wants us to believe in him and the power that God has given him. We can have all the knowledge of God and His word, but unless we believe, we will not see God’s glory.
  4. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (v 41) Jesus was talking to God and thanking God for hearing his prayer. Jesus is demonstrating the importance of the communion between Him and His Father. Jesus is recognizing that he can raise Lazarus from the dead only if the Father grants him permission. (You will notice that Lazarus was still dead at this point. Jesus wants us to thank God for what He is going to do and to recognize where his power comes fromeven before he gets the results. We too need to give God the credit for what he is going to do to our anxiety.)
  5. Lazarus, come out” (v.43). Jesus, believing that God answered his prayer and Lazarus was going to live again. Jesus was also illustrating what would happen to him in the near future. He was going to die and be raised again. Just as God took control of Lazarus’s death and resurrection, he was going to take control of Jesus death and resurrection. Likewise, God can take control of our anxiety. We will see God’s glory.
  6. “Take off the grave clothes…” (v.44) When Lazarus came out of the tomb, he was still bound by the grave clothes. Unless Lazarus was freed from the grave clothes, he was not free from the consequences of his death.   When God takes our anxiety away, He wants us to rid ourselves of our sinful nature. He does not want us to be controlled by our sinful nature — our grave clothes. He wants us to be controlled by our faith in Him.
  7.  “… and let him go.” (v.43) Jesus wants Lazarus freed from the grave clothes that are binding him. Jesus also wants us to be free from our old nature. Jesus wants us to be freed from our old nature and to live lives filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have an abundant life filled with His glory.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20(NIV)

God is asking us to look for His glory and not our glory.

In summary, here are the seven steps to help us see God’s glory:

  1. Identify our anxiety – (or anything that prevent us from seeing God’s glory.)
  2. Give it to God
  3. Believe that He will remove it
  4. Thank Him for removing it
  5. Surrender to His Lordship
  6. Crucify the Old Nature
  7. Celebrate God’s glory by being filled with the spirit

 Our anxiety can be anything that prevents us from seeing God’s glory. It can be selfishness, as was the case of Mary. She wanted Jesus to things her way. It could also be anger, control, worry, self-pity, business, or any other situation that make your blood pressure rise. Whatever your situation is, God wants to show you his glory. Following these seven steps will help you see the glory of God.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com.

Finding Yourself or Finding God?

We live it a society that has many artificial foods. Each product is intended to be just like the genuine product. In fact, they even use a name that indicates that you cannot tell the difference between the two products. When many of these products are tested years later, the results of the test show that the product may in fact be harmful.

Christianity is no different that these foods. There are people who will try to convince you that you can become god. Many of you have heard the phrase “I can do all things.” People will tell you that it is in the Bible so it must be true.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) Paul says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. When you read the entire text you will find that Paul is giving God the credit for all that God has allowed him to do. However, the message that people like to hear is: “I can do all things by my own strength.” This makes them feel important. They believe they can do anything they want to do.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3(NIV)

Being focused on self and wanting to be god is not a new concept. It has been around since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Today people are still listening to Satan’s argument. However, if we want to know real thing, we will find that the opposite is true; we cannot do anything without God’s strength. The Bibles says if we want to know the real joy of following Jesus, we must deny ourselves, in other words, we must become nothing and let Christ become everything.

Luke says it this way in Luke 9:23-26:

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25(NIV)

What are the results of following your fleshly desires and doing whatever you please?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

What happens when you sacrifice your fleshly desires, and follow God’s leading?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26(NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God shows the results of His power and the results of man’s power. Repeatedly God overpowers fleshly man. For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, Goliath is thinking that he could do whatever he pleased. He thinks he is infallible. His daily routine was to come before Saul’s army and dare them to kill him. However, when David saw Goliath and heard what Goliath was saying, David was determined to slay the giant.

God had been with David when a lion attack his sheep and again when a bear attack his sheep. David had experience God’s power in his own life. He knew God would give him the strength to slay Goliath.

David got permission from the King to stand against Goliath. This is what David said to Goliath after Goliath ridiculed him for being only a little boy.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47(NIV)

David did kill Goliath. He did not kill the giant because he was god and could do it in his own strength. He did it because of the strength of the God of Israel.

Throughout the Gospels, the writers tell of God’s power through the life of His son Jesus. After the death of Jesus, God showed his awesome power by raising Jesus from the dead, thus overcoming death. It is because God gave Jesus victory over death that we will be able to live forever in Heaven. There has never been another person who has been able to overcome dead.

God has shown His love to us by sending His only begotten Son into the world that we may have eternal life. If we cannot believe the power and love that God has already shown to us, we will never have the eternal satisfaction of being reconciled to God for eternity. Adam and Eve were satisfied for a very short time as they tasted the forbidden fruit, but guilt soon took over and they hid from God.

Trust God with all your actions. Rely on His strength and not your own strength. God gives you hope for tomorrow but following selfish desires only brings hopelessness.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

What Does Eternity Hold for You?

One of my favorite Easter songs is “They Could Not”. This song was written and sung by Sandi Patty in 1982. This song summarizes Jesus ministry on this earth. People just did not understand who Jesus was or what he was up to.

Since they could not understand Jesus, they decided to kill him. They tortured him hoping they could find out who he was. Even though God allowed Jesus to suffer, He did not allow the people to interfere with God’s plan for salvation. They could not keep Jesus in the grave.

In the last stanza of “They Could Not”, Sandy Patty says:

They could not, They could not….Praise God, they could not ….And when at last they took from Him what willingly He gave…. Could they keep Him in the grave, could they keep Him in the grave, ….Could they keep Him in the grave, They could not!

Jesus was raised to life! They could not stop him!

God allowed Jesus to be tortured by the people, just as God allowed Job to be physically tortured by Satan. As I thought about this truth, I was reminded of Romans 12:19(NIV) where it records the words of the Lord: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

God gets the final word. He is the one who is ultimately in charge. He is the one who will take revenge.  In Revelation 20 the writer is telling about the judgment of Satan after he had been in prison for a thousand years.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10(NIV)

Talk about revenge! Jesus was tormented for a short period but Satan and his followers will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

When we come to the end of our physical life, our spirit continues to exist. We have two options. We will live (have fellowship with the Lord) forever, or we will die (have no fellowship with the Lord and be tormented) forever! Just as Christians live forever with God, the false teachers and followers of Satan will be tormented forever.

The people could not prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead, and they will not be able to stop the tormenting!

We have a choice. We can accept Jesus for who he is and follow His leading, or we can continue being deceived by Satan and follow his leading. These are your options. What option are you going to choose? The choice is yours. However, the choice you make must be made before you die. Once your body dies, it is too late to change your mind.

The default choice is eternal torment.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24(NIV)

The only way we can have eternal life is by accepting the redemption that Jesus has to offer. By faith in Jesus Christ you can accept redemption that leads to eternal life.

What will your choice be?

 

NOTE:  All scripture quoted in this blog was downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com

Why Did Jesus Suffer?

The amount of our sin did not affect the degree of Jesus suffering. It was God’s plan, not our plan that caused Jesus to suffer. God did not have Jesus suffer so we would feel guilty about our sin, nor did he suffer so we would be proud of how sinful we were. In the very beginning, God planned for Jesus to suffer so we would not have to suffer. In fact, that was the very reason that Jesus came to earth. God caused Jesus to suffer so we could see how much God loved us, not to show how much we sinned.

 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12(NIV)

Jesus wanted to follow the human way when he went to Gethsemane to pray. He did not want to suffer for our sin so he asked God to take the cup of suffering from him. And three times he prayed that it not be his will, but God’s will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 43) Three times Jesus surrendered His will to His Father’s will.

Jesus also told his disciples that the spirit was strong but his flesh was weak. The human nature that Jesus was given, wanted him to forgo the suffering.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46(NIV)

God made Jesus suffer so we would not have to suffer for our sin. Jesus became the blood sacrifice that satisfied our sin debt.

As we think about Jesus death and resurrection, let us not get caught up in the suffering of Jesus. Do not dwell on our past sins, God does not remember them anymore so why should we?  Rather, let us think about God’s great love for us. Let us think about the victory that Jesus won when he became victorious over death.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me,  from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34(NIV)

God loved us so much that he provided a way for us to overcome the damage that Adam and Eve caused when they ate the forbidden fruit. Through Jesus death and resurrection, the penalty for our sin was paid in full, we have been adopted into God’s family, and we can enjoy a restored relationship with God.

Have a happy Easter, basking in God’s love and the freedom we have in Christ Jesus!

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com, March 28, 2015