Tag Archives: eternity

The Wrong Questions (2 Kings 8)

Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick. Was he dying? He wanted to know, so he sent a message to Elisha asking, “Will I recover from this illness?” Elisha answered the king, “Yes, you will recover from the illness.” But God had shown Elisha that the king would die anyway. He would actually be murdered in his sleep.

Do you remember Wile E. Coyote? The cartoon character would manage to navigate through a trap set by the roadrunner, only to have an anvil fall on his head. He would successfully get through a roadblock, only to be hit by a speeding truck.

I think that describes many of us. We pray that God will protect us from a virus, but we have not addressed sin in our lives. We ask God to bless our children, but we don’t talk to our children about Jesus. We pray for a better job, or a happy-ever-after-marriage, while our eternity is in question. We get so caught up in the present we forget there is something much more pressing, and that is our heart’s condition before a Holy God.

We may survive this virus only to be thrown into the lake of fire if we try to face God without Jesus.

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray about our health or our circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us to pray about everything all the time. But let’s be careful to ask God the right questions.

Remember Jesus asked what good it does someone if they gain the whole word, yet lose their soul. (Mark 8) The answer to that is – none!

As we pray about this virus, our families, our nation, let’s first of all ask God to cleanse our hearts, forgive our sins. Let’s call on Him to do a work in our lives that will translate into action for His sake.

Because if the only thing we are asking God is for protection from COVID 19, we’re asking the wrong question.

 

Meaning and Purpose (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

Solomon is a bit of a “Debbie Downer.” Is he right to say life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind? Should our focus be on living life to the fullest, to eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die?

The thing about old Sol is that he was trying to give life meaning by his own effort. I’m sure if there had been self-help books back in the day, his library would have been full of them. Solomon tried using his intellect, his riches, his connections to try to find the meaning of life. And he came up short.

What Solomon found is that you can’t buy happiness. You can’t think your way in to a meaningful existence. Sadly, the king was very right to say his life was merely a meaningless puff of smoke.

But the truth is, we humans are created in the image of God, which gives our lives meaning. We were created to fellowship with our Creator, which gives our lives purpose. We are blessed by our Father with love, joy, peace, and we know that this puff of smoke we call life is only the beginning.

We were born for eternity. No bank account can come close to what awaits us. No power, or applause, or spouse, or comfort, or a feeling of self-worth compare to what is ours through the blood of Jesus.

No life is meaningless. Every one of us is living our choice for eternity. You might think like Solomon and choose to eat, drink, be merry and die tomorrow. But you will find yourself face to face with the One who died for you. And you will give Him an account about what you did with His grace. At that moment you will realize just how meaningful your choices in this life really were. You’ll have eternity to realize the purpose of your life on earth was to prepare you for forever.

Stop trying to “find” meaning or purpose for your life. When you submit to God, He gives you meaning. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, He shows you His purpose for your life. Life is a blessing! Life is precious and purposeful when you know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

I pray that each of us will take a moment and thank God for this amazing gift of life. And I pray that we will live today in sweet fellowship with our Creator, a glimpse of what heaven will be for eternity.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that you will confess your sins today and allow Him to forgive you, to give your life meaning and purpose that will bless you beyond what you can imagine.

Just know that your life has meaning and purpose. It is the vehicle that will usher you into eternity. Choose well, my friend.

 

The King (Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68)

David was a powerful, popular king in his day. Yet he often talked about God as being the King over all kings. Even in the height of his reign, David knew he was really just a worm. (Psalm 22:6)

Got me thinking about what kind of King God really is. Here is some of what David says about that:

First of all, David tells us that God the King has a powerful army at His disposal. Ten thousands and thousands of thousands of chariots ready to move at His command. (68:17) In fact, David tells us all the kings of the earth belong to God. (47:9) God is the King of Kings!

The King of glory, strong and mighty. Who is this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – HE is the King of glory. (24:10)

I can know without a shadow of a doubt that my King has absolute power over my enemy Satan, and his weapons of sin. At any time, the whole angel army will fight for me as a child of the King.

David describes our King as a Shepherd (Psalm 23). That is quite a different picture than that of a powerful king. A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, a shepherd gives up house and home to stay with the sheep, to protect them and make sure they are fed. That’s who God is to His sheep.

David also tells us our King is our Savior, that he blesses and vindicates those who seek His face (24:6). In fact, our King Savior died in order to save us. (Psalm 22)

David talks about our King as our Creator in Psalm 22. Our King is near to us, He hears the prayer of those who trust Him.

And finally, David declares that one day every knee will bow to the King of Kings (22:27-28). God is not the king of Christians. God is the King of everyone who has ever lived since the beginning of time. And one day, no one will be able to deny that Truth.

What a privilege to be the child of the King of Kings, the Shepherd’s lamb, protected by, loved by, blessed by the Lord God Almighty!

 

 

 

 

Dumb As An Ox (Psalm 73)

In our economy, we have come to believe that good should be rewarded, and bad should be punished. Even in some Christian circles, it’s believed that obedience should result in material blessings and disobedience should result in suffering. Sounds logical.

Even David struggled with his own sense of fair-play. When David looked at the success of people who had rejected God, he went as far as to say:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vs 13)

The old pity party raises its ugly head. Been there. Done that.

But David comes to his senses and said something that made me not only laugh out loud, it got me thinking. Look at what he says in verses 21-22:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yes, God, when I find myself jealous of the prosperity of people who don’t give you a thought, I’m being ridiculous. I’m as dumb as an ox, as silly as a goose.

The truth is, those people who reject God, yet seem to have it all, are on a slippery slope, heading for destruction, and they don’t even know it. What looks like success and happiness is, at best, temporary. And probably, most likely, it is a smoke screen for what is going on within. Money, and things, are not what we were created for.

On the other hand, I have God Himself! It is God who holds me, gives me direction, and blesses me in ways the world cannot understand. And I am heading toward eternity with God in a place too wonderful for words.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (vv 25-26)

 

 

My Wedding (Psalms 43- 45, 49, 84-85, 87)

I’ve never been a bride. I’ve witnessed others experience their special day, and I’ve longed to put on my own jeweled white gown, a veil over my face, and know what walking toward a man who loves me above all others feels like, to hear him declare his love to an entire congregation, and to give myself totally, exclusively, eternally to him. I imagine that is a pretty awesome experience.

God, in His love letter to us we call the Bible, often describes His relationship with His people like that of a husband and wife. You can find references to that in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and in the writings of Paul and John. Jesus called Himself the bridegroom in Mark 2. And the Revelation of John specifically speaks about “the Lamb’s wife.”

Psalm 45 is a wedding song. And, in a very real sense, it describes my future wedding. On that day my robe interwoven with gold will be Jesus’ perfect robe, the one He bought for me with His very life. I’ll be wearing His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. No designer dress will compare with the glory of my future wedding gown.

I’ll draw near to him “with joy and gladness,” like a girl on the arm of her father walks down the aisle, and I’ll look into the eyes of Someone who loves me more than any man can possibly love. I’ll hear Him proclaim in front of the whole world that I am His forever. I’d like to invite you to my wedding.

But more than that, I pray when your time comes, you will experience your own glorious wedding day. I pray that you will allow God to place Jesus’ righteousness over you and be united with Him forever, with joy and gladness.

That will be your experience if you have accepted what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, and rose again to prepare your honeymoon in heaven. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Then begin to plan you wedding. What a day that will be!

A Name On A List (I Chronicles 1-2)

My reading plan has me in the first two chapters of I Chronicles this morning. I spent some time trying to carefully pronounce all of those weird names as I read. “Why?” you might ask. Why not just skim over the names of people whose stories are not even recorded? Well for one thing:

All Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16)

I know nothing about most of the men whose names I read in these chapters today, except maybe the names of their dads and their sons’ names. And the fact that God placed their names in His Holy Scripture.

Not all these people were obedient servants of God. Not all did amazing deeds, or won great battles. They were ordinary people. Yet all of them have a place in the history of God on this earth. All their names have been preserved for centuries. They were God’s children as part of His chosen people.

When you think about it, this is a pretty amazing list. What a privilege to be counted among God’s precious ones for ever. But this list is nothing compared to the list where you’ll find my name.

Scripture often talks about the Book of Life, or in Revelation, the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s where you’ll find my name.

I know my name is there because I have believed that Jesus is the Christ. I have recognized my sin and confessed it. I have received forgiveness for those sins through the blood of Jesus, the resurrected Savior. And because I have been redeemed, my name was added to the list of God’s precious ones, His children for whom He is preparing heaven!

The Lamb’s Book of Life is filled with pages and pages of ordinary men, women, and children. Not all have done great deeds, or won great battles. Not all have taught Sunday School or preached in front of thousands. Not all have given their lives for the Name. But every name on that list has something in common.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name in heaven or earth that can save except Jesus. Jesus Himself told us that He is the Way and no one goes to the father except through Him. John 3:16 tells us whoever believes that Jesus died for the sins of the world will be saved and have everlasting life.

The names of the people who have accepted Jesus are listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. My name is there. I pray yours is as well. But it’s more than a list. It’s a relationship with God Himself. It’s the joy of sins forgiven. It’s truth and life, and eternity.

Now that’s a list!

 

Sounds About Right – But Oh So Wrong (I Samuel 13-14)

Saul believed in God. Saul wanted to honor God. He wanted God’s guidance. So Saul went to God, offering an animal sacrifice on the altar. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

But the lesson here is – you don’t go to God using your own devices, even if what you are doing appears to be religious, or sincere, or God-like.

Saul was not a priest. And God had always made it very clear that only priests could offer sacrifices on the altar. Even though Saul was the highest ranking individual in Israel, he was not authorized to offer a sacrifice to God. No matter if his heart was in the right place, and even if he followed every priestly act exactly as he’d always seen them do, his act was blatant disobedience.

When people say there are many avenues to God, I think of Saul. To an outsider, Saul’s offering made perfect sense. To an outsider, God should be happy to accept that act of worship. But anyone who thinks like that IS an outsider. They don’t even know God.

The God-breathed Scriptures tell us there aren’t multiple ways to God. It’s His Way, or no way. The God-breathed Scriptures tell us Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life, and NO ONE goes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

It’s Jesus, or no way.

There are individuals, churches, some popular so-called Bible teachers who believe in a back door, or multiple doors to God. Jesus said He is THE door (John 19:9). Anyone who says something different reveals they don’t really know who God is. There will be nothing but condemnation for them when they stand before God and realize they are standing before THE way. It will be too late then.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this will follow The Way, that is the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. We are remembering Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross this weekend. Have you accepted for yourself what Jesus did there for you? Friend, there is no other way to God, no other hope of eternity with Him.

What you believe, how you live your life, your religious affiliation might look and sound right to the world. But without Jesus, you are oh so wrong.

 

Eternally Important (Job 14:10-12)

I know there are people who believe in reincarnation. There are whole religions based on the hope they’ll do better at life next time so eventually they’ll reach that blissful nothingness, or euphoria they are working toward. I have a friend who firmly believes she lived during the time of Henry VIII. She didn’t. Do you know how I now she didn’t? Let’s look at what God has said in His Word about death.

Starting with Job. Job says, in chapter 14:10-12,

But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea, or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies low and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (emphasis mine)

Job knew that when a person dies, he is dead. We know there will be a day when life on planet Earth is no more, when the heavens will be no more and Christ returns to take His children home. I don’t see anything to indicate a second or third life on earth in what Job says here. But he’s not the only one with a word on the subject.

The Apostle Paul said this:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine).

Paul has no doubt. Death ushers the soul into the presence of God.

The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Just as a man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment… (9:27, emphasis mine).

We get one go ’round in this life. Just one.

And maybe the most important fact concerning this topic is what Jesus Himself said to the thief while both men faced death on the cross:

Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43, emphasis mine).

Now, some might argue that the thief had lived his best life after several tries, and therefore had earned his Nirvana. Umm… he was a thief. Is that the best he could do? I wonder what he was like in a previous life.

Why is this topic important? It’s eternally important. The fact is, you can’t earn heaven, no matter how many times you think you have to try. You can never be good enough, give enough, or bring yourself to a place of perfection.

You are a sinner. And the God of Creation tells us your sin has earned you one thing only:

Death.

But the God of Creation also tells you there is a way to escape that death, the eternal separation from Him. You have got to go through the blood of Jesus. That’s it. That is the only way.

And you have these few measly years on this planet to choose Jesus. Don’t wait. Don’t assume you’ll do better next time.

There is no next time. Only now. You may have  just today before life on this earth is over for you. Are you ready to face the God of Creation? I pray so.

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

December 31; I’ll Be Home

Revelation 19-22

When I read John’s description of heaven this morning, a great sense of peace came over me. In a way it was like that “Ahh” feeling you get when you walk into your home after a long trip. “I’m home,” for me brings comforting, secure, and happy emotions that can calm my spirit and ease my tension. This morning, while reading about my heavenly home, I could actually feel my muscles relax.

Life for me right now brings sadness and unrest. Some dear friends are experiencing a devastating loss, others have serious health issues, concerns for some of my family members can keep me awake at night, the division of our country, the state of the Church, my own frustrations can keep my thoughts in a turmoil. But then I read about Heaven.

I hear John tell me God will wipe away every tear from my eyes, and I know I’ll be there. Ahh… I’ll be home! I pray I will see you there.

What a joy it has been to read through God’s Word in 2019. I love how God continues to speak to me, to grow and challenge me as I spend time pouring over His love letter to me. And tomorrow, at the dawn of a new decade, I’m going to begin again with Genesis 1. I can’t wait!

A few decades ago, my mother expressed the desire to own an NIV Bible, so on her birthday in 1979 I got her one. Over the years, Mom read that Bible, underlined some verses, and wrote a few notes in the margins. After her death in 1996, I took that Bible home with me. So this year, I’ve decided to read her Bible, and pay attention to the verses that spoke to her. Maybe I’ll get to know my Mom a little better this year, too.

As I study God’s Word in 2020, I don’t think I will post my thoughts every day. But I know me, sometimes I can’t help but share what God has revealed to me! So I’m not closing out this blog. I’ll continue to read and journal every day, and will occasionally post my thoughts if I feel led to do so.

Happy New Year, dear one! Keep reading God’s Word and allowing Him to grow you as we begin the roaring 20’s of the 21st century. There is nothing God loves more than to spend time with you. Don’t miss it!