Tag Archives: eternity

May 15; A Bucket List

2 Samuel 20; I Chronicles 22; Psalms 30 & 140

It’s a popular concept these days to have a “Bucket List.” It sounds fun, fulfilling, to check off all the things you’ve always wanted to do before you die. Skydiving? Check. River Cruise in Europe? Check. Broadway play? Check. Meeting a famous person? Check. Whatever you’ve dreamed about doing, do it before it’s too late.

Having a Bucket List is especially appealing to people who believe this life is all there is. Enjoy it before you turn into nothingness. It also seems to appeal to people who are their own priority. Me first, you know.

David had a different kind of Bucket List. We read that David wanted to build a temple for God. It was a longing, a passion of his to create a place worthy of God’s Presence. But God told him, “No.” Solomon would be the one to built the temple.

So David got busy. He drew up plans, hired workers, purchased materials, mentored Solomon. David’s Bucket List was full of ways to assure that temple would be built, even if his name wasn’t going to be on it. David’s Bucket List was about furthering God’s work.

I don’t read where he took even one trip to Disney. David’s Bucket List was all about God.

So I’m asking myself what it is I want to do before I die? Do I want my final push to be about me? Or do I want a Bucket List that looks like David’s, one that is full of things I can do for God before I meet Him?

I’d like my Bucket List to include the names of people I’ve influenced toward having a relationship with God through Jesus, rather than a lot of things I did for myself. I want my Bucket List to include things that glorify God – not me.

If I have the means to travel Europe on a luxury cruise ship, I have the means to take the Gospel to children in Haiti, or to build a well in Africa in Jesus’ name, or buy Bibles for Chinese Christians, or support a missionary in Romania, or give school supplies to kids in poverty in my home town. If I can put effort into meeting my sports hero or music icon, I can put effort into sharing Jesus with a homeless person, or my neighbor.

Now, please. I am not condemning anyone who goes on a European river cruise. I’d love to do that myself. And I’m not telling anyone how they should be spending their money. I’m just suggesting we take a look at our priorities and find out how God can be honored in our lives while we still are able.

Having a Bucket List might be a good thing. I think what is in our Bucket Lists are between us and God. Whatever we do, let’s do it to the glory of God while we still have time.

 

April 28; Home

2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 6:1-11, 23:13-17; I Chronicles 11:4-9, 11-19, 14:1-2, 8-17, 13:1-14

Our worship service this morning centered around the second coming of Christ. I will tell you it made me a bit homesick thinking about the day God the Father will tell His Son, “It’s time to go and get my children.” What a day that will be!

Sometimes I read psalms like 101 that speak of God making things right, and I find myself asking, “When?” When will slanderers be put to silence? When will evildoers be cut off? And then I am reminded that God warned us things would not be easy while we walk this earth. Evil still exists because God still wants to save evil people.

The pastor reminded us when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Comforter. God Himself lives within all of us who know Jesus as our Savior. Is there anything too hard for God?

So today, as I consider who God is, I am so grateful that He is mine, so humbled by His love, and so underserving of any of it. One day I’ll look into those eyes, hold those nail-scarred hands, and know I am home.

March 21; Do You Want The Good News First, Or The Bad?

Deuteronomy 27-28

So the first thing the Israelites were to do after they’d crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land had to do with the Law. Moses instructed them to erect the equivalent of a modern-day billboard, and carve God’s Commandments clearly enough for everyone to see. Their occupation of that land came with conditions. Their future depended on them obeying God’s Law.

God gave them the good news first. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commandments… all these blessings will come upon you…” (28:1-2) Then He proceeds to describe what life would be life for God’s obedient children:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (vv 3-6)

It doesn’t even stop there. Victory over enemies, full barns, nations recognizing the fact they are God’s holy people, abundant prosperity…

I’d pick door number one!

Because beginning in verse 15, God describes in gruesome detail what life would be like if they chose disobedience over obedience.

You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. (vv16-19)

Oh, it gets worse. Much worse. From devastating losses in battle, to awful diseases, to broken relationships, barren land and famine, such suffering that cannibalism would be the only means of survival.

There’s more. It’s just too awful.

God spent fourteen verses talking about the blessings for obedience. He took 53 verses to warn them about the consequences for disobedience.

I’m reminded God does not want ANYONE going to hell. He takes no delight in the death of an unrepentant sinner. He is desperate for us to know the truth about what is ahead.

The blessings speak for themselves. You know what I mean, if you’ve given your heart to the Lord, and are careful to follow His rules. The blessings are there! It’s the bad news God wants to make clear.

If you think what we read in chapter 28 is bad, you’ve seen only a glimpse of eternity without God. Only the first day of eternity in hell.

The good news is that God is so desperate, so driven to have us with Him, He came to earth Himself and paid the price for all our sin. When we accept His gift of grace, when we follow Him and choose to obey, He opens the floodgates of blessing. Our enemy is defeated, our sins are forgiven, we experience love and joy and peace like never before. And we know for certain that no matter what happens in this life, what comes next will knock our socks off.

And because God is so desperate that no one die without Him, He wants you to know what it is you are choosing when you choose to deny Him, As you read what God said to Israel here in chapter 28, put yourselves in their shoes. Feel the pain, the humiliation, the fear. Feel what it would be like if God removed Himself, no longer tried to get your attention. Realize the desperation, the anguish, the abandonment that comes from disobedience.

Then understand that without following God, there is no hope for mercy. No possibility of relief. Ever.

The bad news… the really bad news is…

Eternity is a very long time to be without God, my friend.

 

March 12; A Small Share

Numbers 34-36

The Israelites were on the verge of receiving what God had promised Abraham centuries before. The Promised Land! Here in Numbers we are given the actual square footage this massive congregation would occupy. I was a bit surprised.

Matthew Henry, on page 175 of “Commentary in One Volume,” tells us it was 160 miles long, and about 50 miles wide, or 8,000 square miles. (The US state of New Hampshire is a little over 9,000 square miles). But that tiny piece of real estate in the Middle East was the part of the world where God “was known, and His name was great.” (Psalm 76:1)

God, who created everything there is, who has dominion over billions and trillions of square miles of real estate, could have given His people so much more land. Instead, He gave them 8,000 square miles. Does that say anything to me today in 2019?

I had to stop and think about something else Matthew Henry said:  “How small a share of the world God often gives to his own people.” (Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan; 1961; page 175) But so many of us put so much emphasis on that tiny bit of the world God gives us.

So many of us spend an inordinate amount of time pruning, expanding, enjoying our own material possessions, while that which lasts for eternity suffers from neglect. We have heard, and most of us agree, that this world is not our home. But do we live like it is?

Today God is asking me to check my priorities. I believe He wants me to be a good steward of the material blessings which are mine. But I need to put it in perspective. God could give me the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine. But He hasn’t. What He has given me is the Truth, the Gospel, Himself, riches beyond the material. How much time to I spend pruning, expanding, and enjoying those?

The small share of this world which has been given me, is enough. I thank God for it. But if I lost it all today, I’d still have the most precious thing of all. I pray you can say the same.

 

Revelation; No More Tears

I don’t often sit down and read straight through the book of Revelation,  but I did today. I wanted to read John’s vision as he describes it without looking for hidden meaning in it. I discovered that the book of Revelation is a pretty accurate description of life.

And life for followers of Jesus comes with particular hardships. Sometimes it seems as though we are fighting against monsters and demons, and it is easy to get discouraged. But God assures us through John’s vision that He’s got this.

There is no demonic monster that is too powerful for Him, no false doctrine, no phony preachers, no anti-Christ theology that can change the Truth that is God. There is nothing that happens in this life that He didn’t see happen before Creation. And He wants us to know He is coming again to take His children home.

That’s the glory of John’s vision. That home-going! A place beyond human words where God is in all His glory. A place where He Himself will dry the tears of His children, no more sorrow, sickness, discouragement, anger, hurt feelings, or drama. Our past troubles will be forgotten forever, and we as His Bride will look into the eyes of our Bridegroom and know for the first time what true love is all about.

The book of Revelation is a book of hope. We win. And the victory celebration will be beyond imagination.

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I trust you had a blessed Christmas as we celebrated the birth of Jesus, the One who made our home-going possible. And I pray that 2019 will find you growing  in grace and knowledge of our Savior, and that you will have many opportunities to share our Lord with people in your life who need him, that you will be blessed and a blessing.

I’m going to take a break from blogging for the next few days. Starting January 1st I am going to start to read through the Chronological Bible in 2019. I haven’t decided if I’ll post my thoughts every day, or not. I want to honor God with this thing, so I’ll be praying for God’s leading.

Thanks for going on this journey with me. I’m praying for you.

Titus, Philemon; The Alternative

A friend of mine recently said, “I figure every day I’m still alive is a good day, when you consider the alternative.” I said, “I look forward to the alternative.”

Paul, in the two short letters I read today reminds us that, as Christians, we have important work to be doing, regardless of our ages. There are people who need the Lord, and it’s up to us to be sure they hear about the Savior. We are to be encouraging one another, teaching about and growing in our relationship with Jesus, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2:13)

It’s not that I have a death wish. I love life here on planet Earth. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. But I also would love to be home. G. Campbell Morgan put it like this, “I am not looking for death, I’m looking for Him.”

And so am I.

Let’s get busy today living. Let’s be Jesus’ voice, hands, and feet to people who need him. Let’s talk about Jesus with people we come in contact with today. What a privilege to live for Jesus today.

And together, let’s keep one eye on the sky. We might actually get to meet Him today. My heart might stop beating. I might close my eyes, and open them in heaven today. Or this might be the day Jesus comes again in the clouds and take us all home. Either way, the alternative to this life, with all its cares and worries, even the measure of joy and blessing we experience here will be behind us. Then the fun begins for us who have accepted God’s grace through the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Or we might live another fifty years, Jesus might not come back for another 2,000 years. We don’t know. The only thing we know for sure is that this life is not forever. There is an eternity. And Jesus will come again.

Do you know Him? Are you ready to meet Him? If you aren’t, find someone who does and talk to them. If you are, be that person who will lead a sinner to the salvation Jesus bought for them.

Christian, get busy. And be assured, the alternative to this life is wonderful beyond imagination.

 

1&2 Thessalonians; Here Comes The Judge

As I read Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, some of the old hymns were running through my mind. “One Day He’s coming, O glorious day!” “With power and great glory, He is Coming Again.”  “When The Role Is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There.”

There is a lot of speculation about the events surrounding the day Jesus returns to earth. There always has been. Paul reminds us that the only thing that really matters is the fact that Jesus will come back, in the blink of an eye. And no one will have a heads-up on His timing.

If you read these letters, you’ll hear Paul encourage us who know the Savior to be busy doing His work, reaching out to the lost, telling people about Jesus. Because when Jesus comes back, He will judge the world.

And He will show no mercy to those who don’t know Him.

Only those who are wearing His righteousness, purchased for us with His own precious blood, will be declared, “Not guilty,” because Jesus took our guilty verdict on Himself. We will be able to look into the eyes of this Holy, fearsome, Judge, and see only forgiveness and love.

But anyone looking into those same eyes, standing before Him trying to wear their own righteousness, will have reason to be terrified. Those who stand before the final Judge on their own will hear the guilty verdict they deserve.

Personally, I look forward to gazing into those piercing eyes. Because, when He judges me, He’ll be seeing someone who is washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. I pray you can say the same.