Tag Archives: the Gospel

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 11-14; And The Winner Is…

Revelation 11-14

When I read the book of Revelation as a picture of life, I see that life is messy. It’s chaotic. There are disasters and sorrow and struggles. Let’s face it. Satan is powerful and will continue to fight God, using us as pawns, until the final day when He who was, and is… has come!

I read about the battles, and Satan’s tactics to take as many of us as he can with him into hell. But then in chapter 14 I see the Lamb! I can almost hear the song of the redeemed, and I know we win! One day the earth will be ripe for harvest. That sickle will swing and life as we know it will end. Oh, how I long for that day!

But if you don’t know the Lamb, if you haven’t accepted the forgiveness of your sin through the blood of Jesus, you should be terrified at the thought of that day. Because you will not win. You will drink the wine of God’s fury.

As 2019 winds down, as we look forward to a new year, and a new decade, I pray you will be on the winning side, worshiping the Lamb who was slain for love of you. May God bless you, draw you to Him, and give you strength in the days ahead. Life’s not easy. We are at war. But be assured…

The winner is you, if you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

December 28; What Will It Take?

Revelation 6-10

What will it take for people to turn to God? John’s vision contains some frightening events like hail and fire, a blazing mountain thrown into the sea, stars falling to earth, locusts as big as horses, death and destruction all around, yet 9:20 tells us:

The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood…

The people in John’s vision had witnessed unimaginable horror, seen evidence of the mighty power of God, yet held on to their worthless beliefs, idols that cannot see or hear. They would not repent.

What did it take for you to admit your sin and your need of a Savior? Was it hardship? Loss? Devastation? Or were you drawn to God because of love, a realization that life is incomplete without Him?

If you haven’t dealt with sin in your life, if you haven’t accepted what Jesus died on the cross to give you, what will it take for you to do that? The Bible tells me God will stop at nothing to get your attention, to prove Himself to you. Don’t be like the people we read about today in John’s revelation.

What will it take?

December 25; The Reason

Hebrews 13; I John 1-2

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

As we celebrate the Baby in the manger today, let’s not overlook why God became a flesh and blood baby 2000 years ago. The Apostle John tells us this:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 1:8b)

We call it a season of love, of hope, and peace. And it is absolutely all of that! God’s love motivated Him, and love is a byproduct of His appearing. Hope is ours because He came, and peace the world cannot understand rests within His children because that Baby born in Bethlehem grew up to die.

We celebrate everything that Christmas represents. But let’s not forget Jesus came because of the ugliness of sin. Your sin. And mine. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s hold on us. This precious Baby was born to save.

I pray you will realize the seriousness of the season as well as the joy of it all. The reason Jesus was born is…

YOU!

December 22; A Christmas Story

Hebrews 2-6

Ah, Christmas! The time of year when the birth of the Messiah Jesus is celebrated all over the world. Oh, you can pretend it’s about Santa, gifts, love, family, whatever. But the reality is we are in the midst of a birthday celebration – the birth that changed the world.

Christmas marks the day when God made Himself a little lower than angels, when our Creator put on flesh and blood and began life as a human so that He could die for His creation.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tested, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (2:14-18)

That was God’s plan from the beginning. And the birth of Jesus sets God’s plan in motion. That’s what we are celebrating this time of year.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, then, to fix our thoughts on Jesus. Don’t harden your hearts against the Truth, he says. And the Truth is: Christ the Savior is born! The baby whose birthday we celebrate was born for you. Believing in Jesus, accepting what He did for you ushers you into His rest.

So here’s my 2019 Christmas story: I’ve been in knots the last two days. I’ve ordered gifts for my five great-nephews, and they still haven’t been delivered (almost a week past the promised delivery date). When I finally got hold of the company, I was told the gifts aren’t even out of the facility yet – IN CHINA! Because the only communication I have with them is email, I’m having trouble cancelling that order. Grrrr.

So I went on Amazon, and ordered five similar gifts all with the estimate delivery dates of December 23-24. I know, I’m cutting it close. But then last night I got an email saying two of the gifts won’t be delivered until the 29th. I can feel my blood pressure rising just typing this latest snag.

I share this to confess to you my thoughts have not been on Jesus. I’m obsessing about gifts the boys will probably enjoy for about ten minutes before they move on to something else, because all of them have more toys than they could ever use in a day. They certainly don’t NEED another toy.

Yet my thoughts have been on the toys. I couldn’t sleep last night worrying about it, picturing those sweet children not having anything to open from Aunt Connie. Then this morning I read what the writer of Hebrews had to say and I have to think, so what if they don’t have anything to open from me on Christmas? It’s not like it will force them into therapy when they’re older. It won’t be the end of the world.

Of course gift-giving is part of Christmas fun, and I’m certainly not proposing we stop giving gifts. But in the hustle and bustle of the season, let’s not forget what we are celebrating. Let’s not lose our focus. Let’s not get caught up in the Xmas the world is celebrating, but stop and worship the Christ of Christmas.

The truly wonderful, amazing, life-changing Christmas story is Jesus. Merry Christmas, dear readers.

December 17; The List

I Timothy 3-6

What is sin? Or is there such a thing? Is calling something “sin” being judgmental? Is something a sin only if it hurts someone else? Are there degrees of sin?

Well, first of all sin is anything that deviates from God’s holiness. A thought, an action, a word that isn’t absolutely holy is a sin. That’s not my definition. It’s what God has told us in His Word. And every one of us have sinned.

Sin has nothing to do with whether or not your feelings get hurt, or if you are directly effected by the wrong actions of another. But it has everything to do whether or not you’ve offended God. The Bible is clear – any time we deviate from God’s holiness, He is hurt. It grieves Him to the core.

Is it judgmental if I tell you that?

If I tell a liar his lies are a sin, am I being judgmental? If I tell an adulterer her affair is a sin, am I setting myself up as her judge?

Paul says this: “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them…” (5:24)

If some sins are obvious, there must be a list somewhere that defines sin. And you would be right to think that. God has inspired men to list obvious sins repeatedly throughout the Old and New Testaments. For instance, I Corinthians 6:9-11. In fact, Paul not only gives us the list, he offers a solution. I hope you’ll read those verses today.

I would rather take the chance of hurting your feelings by pointing out a sin, than having you spend eternity separated from God. If your sin is reaching judgment ahead of you, I’d like to stop you in your tracks, and share with you how you can be transformed. You don’t have to follow your sins to hell.

Changing the definition of sin doesn’t change the reality of the sin. Calling homosexuality normal doesn’t take homosexuality off the list. Justifying an adulterous relationship by saying you can’t help who you love doesn’t take adultery off the list. Believing that spreading gossip under the guise of “you have the right to know” doesn’t take gossip or slander off the list.

And calling sin “sin” is not being judgmental. It’s reporting the obvious.

But, Paul has some good news for us sinners. He tells us, after listing some pretty obvious actions that deviate from God’s holiness, in other words “sins,” that some who have sinned have been washed, sanctified, justified in the name of Jesus!

I hope that is true for you. But if it isn’t, if you haven’t faced your sin and allowed Jesus to do His thing in your life, I pray you will do that today. Sin is sin. The wages of sin is an eternal death separated from God, more horrible than any of us can imagine.

I’m not judging you. Sin has judged you. The list is pretty self explanatory.

But there is forgiveness through Jesus! I’m praying for all of us today.