Tag Archives: eternity

July 14; Gladness and Joy

Isaiah 33:1-37:13

I read what Matthew Henry had to say about these chapters today, and he reminded me that God inspired the prophet to write words that applied to his time, to the time of Jesus, and to time after Jesus’ life on earth. All in one.

I love reading about the streams in the desert, parched land glad, a wilderness blooming, feeble hands strengthened, fearful hearts made strong, blind eyes seeing, deaf ears hearing, the lame leaping, the mute shouting for joy. I love it because that’s exactly what happens in a glorious spiritual sense when a lost soul finds Jesus.

Isaiah says there is a highway, the Way of Holiness. Sinners can’t journey on it, only those who walk in the Way. And it’s a highway that leads to a joyful eternity.

It’s the same road Jesus described in Matthew 7:13-14;

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I hope you’ve found that narrow road, that bridge that spans between us and God – the Person of Jesus Christ! Read what Isaiah has to say about this Savior of ours. Then, “gladness and joy will overtake (you), and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This amazing book of Isaiah is God’s message to you today. Read it. See if you can see yourself and your Savior in there. I believe you’ll find reason to rejoice, if you know Him.

July 11: Right Where I Want To Be

Psalms 87, 125; Isaiah 1:1-4:6

Reading what God has to say to His people through Isaiah, I can get a bit fearful. God is no one to mess with. It’s His way, or the highway. He refuses to even listen to the prayers of we who are sinful.

But then God throws in verses like Isaiah 1:18-19:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

Yes, God is to be feared. His judgments are harsh and devastating. Those who do not know Him will suffer greatly, and eternally. But He’s not just warning those who blatantly disobey.

God warns against religion, against simply going through the motions of obedience. Of that He says:

Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong! (Isaiah 1:16)

He calls lip-service, or hypocrisy evil deeds. That means church attendance, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever kindness and good works you do without first repenting of sin in your life. Evil deeds.

But as fearsome and Holy as God is, He delights in forgiving a repentant heart. He longs to turn sinful lives white as snow. And he does, whenever anyone accepts what Jesus did on the cross when He paid the harsh judgment for my sin and yours.

The psalmist says this in Psalm 125:2:

As the mountain surrounds Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

I do not need to fear God’s judgment. That mountain around Jerusalem protected His people from the enemy. They were hemmed in on all sides.

And that’s right where I want to be. Right there in the middle of God’s protection, under His wings, safe, secure, loved both now and forevermore. So I repent of sin. I ask God to forgive me for impure thoughts and actions, for harboring anger and jealousy, for gossip and hypocrisy. I lay it all out there and ask Him to forgive me.

And He does.

Then, and only then, am I His child, surrounded by His love and protection. Yes, my friend. That’s right where I want to be.

June 26; Sin is Sin

Amos 2-6

It might be tempting to believe that when I give my heart to the Lord, confess and repent of sin, and accept God’s grace, my sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. Israel seemed to think that because God “chose” them, they could live like they wanted to live. God tells His people that is not the case.

All sin – even their’s- comes with a death penalty. “For three sins of Israel, even for four I will not turn back my wrath.” (2:6)

I hope everyone reading this post today is a Christian. I trust all of you will read these chapters in Amos today and allow God to speak to you. And I hope you take sin as seriously as God does.

God’s forgiveness of your sin and mine, our position as children in His family through the blood of Jesus, is not a license to sin. He hates the lie you told as much as he hates the rape of a child or the defiance of an atheist. He hates it.

And God is very honest to say there are consequences for sin in this lifetime – and in eternity.

May each of us recognize the sins in our lives and be quick to throw them under the Blood, to ask God to forgive, to turn from that sin never to repeat it. And let’s be as quick to thank God for His promise to forgive us when we ask Him to.

Sin is sin. Even yours.

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.