Monday, January 13, 2014

Friday, December 27, 2013

All Things New

Here are some comforting words for the New Year:  “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 21:5).   When someone says, “write this down” or “mark my word”, they seem fairly confident.  These words of the Lord can be trusted because they are true.  If you are like me, there are some things from 2013 you not only want to see made better but also made new.  Will 2014 be perfect?  I can’t promise 2014 will be better and seemingly new for you.  I do pray it is full of love, joy, peace and (if need be) a fresh start.  But you will probably encounter heartache, disappointment, and suffering in some form. 

I do believe the Lord can help you in and through any situation, relationship, or disappointment.  Jesus said we will have trouble in this world but He has overcome this world (John 16:33).  He didn’t abandon us when He ascended back to Heaven only to suffer indefinitely till eternity.  He gave us the promised Person of the Holy Spirit:  our Comforter, Counselor, Friend, and Advocate (i.e. John 14:26; John 16:7).  The Holy Spirit, Who indwells only the saved soul and never the unsaved soul, is your source of daily instruction, hope, direction, and conviction of sin.  God is always with the Christian through the Holy Spirit and will never leave or forsake us (Hebrew 13:5) on this earth.  But this earth and its situations will never be perfect.  However, in Eternity (the context of Revelation 21:5) everything will be made new.   So what is He making new?

Remember the Lord is saying all this seated on His throne of the Universe.  No matter what form of evil we may encounter in this present age He wants us to be sure of the age to come where He will make all things new because He is King of all.  One thing God will make new in eternity is our bodies as we will not be disembodied spirits in Heaven.  Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."  This earthly body dies and we are promised a new body.  Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”   We will one day have glorious bodies like His.  This new body will never hurt, cry, tire, or die. 

God will also make us pure morally and spiritually.  Revelation 21:9-11 says, “’Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’  And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”  Just think – one day God will give us His glory and will purify us perfectly till we shine like a rare and clear jewel free from sin.  Our worship will not be hindered by sin - fully experiencing God in all His glory.  Verse 3 says our relationship with Him will be perfect.  “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them."  Yes, God dwells with us now (1 Cor. 6:19; Matthew 28:20) but one day we shall see His face (Revelation 22:4) and see Him as He truly is (1 John 3:2). 

We also inherit a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).  Talk about an extreme makeover!  Romans 8:21 says, "The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the liberty of the glory of the children of God."  Not only are we remade inside and out but the very place we will live in will be perfect!  Imagine something better than a New Year – A New Eternity!  We will live eternally in a perfect place, with perfect hearts and minds, in perfect bodies, with a perfect relationship with God!  Behold!  He is making all things new! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dealing With Death at Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be an exciting time of family and fun.  But for many, it can be a painful time dealing with the loss of a loved one.  One of the biggest gifts God can give you this Christmas is the gift of peace.  Whether it was a child, mate, family or friend, there is nothing you can do to bring the loved one back. But Jesus can bring peace of mind and heart in your difficulty.  Jesus once told His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart!  The peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives” (John 14:27).  Human words often fail us all in tragedy.  Jesus offers more than words – He offers His peace.

But peace on earth seems trivial and fleeting.  Just this week I heard of two murders, a robbery, the death of a loved one, and found out someone had cancer.  War, divorce, sickness, death, and many more attack us on a daily basis.  Peace is defined as tranquility and quietness.  The Bible doesn’t say that there will be peace on earth.  Jesus actually said we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33).  I’m glad He didn’t stop there.  He told us to take heart because He has overcome the world.  Is Scripture wrong then when the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14)?  The angels said “on earth peace” not “peace on earth”.  Even Linus told Charlie Brown it was “on earth peace”.  Here is my conclusion – peace is Jesus.  Peace is not the absence of problems but the presence of Jesus.

Jesus brings us peace of heart and mind (John 14:17).  But how?  Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For it pleased the Father that in Jesus all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made PEACE through the blood of His cross".  Did you catch that?  Whether on earth or in heaven, Jesus makes peace through His death on the cross.  Ephesians 2:14 tells us, "For He Himself is our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed and abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us" (Ephesians 2:14, Amplified).  Paul wrote, “May the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all" (2 Thessalonians 3:16).   In a chaotic, tragic-filled world, Jesus is our peace.  He is the Lord of peace.

Romans 5:1 reminds us we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Loss of any kind wants to rob of peace.  Some things you can do nothing about.  They hit you from behind.   You didn’t expect it or see it coming.  But it did.  In those times, you must trust God and know that He truly cares.  He loves you and is going through your pain with you.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”   When we keep our minds on Him in the middle of our tragedy, instead of our minds constantly being on our tragedy, we can feel His peace.  John 14:27 says His gift to us is peace of mind and heart.  It’s not forgetting about the loss but letting the presence of God invade that loss.

The gift of peace and mind really isn’t the true gift.  It's a Person.  The gift is His Holy Spirit – the Comforter and Helper.   He brings more than just peace.  Facing the holidays with the loss of a loved one may be difficult.  We all think of the past when everything was going good and we sometimes long for that day to return.   As you go through this Christmas season and face the pain and loss of a loved one, open your heart to the Comforter and let Him give you the gift of Peace.  Let the Spirit of God control your mind, which leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6).  “The Lord gives His people strength and blesses them with peace” (Psalm 29:11).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

God's Benefit Package

Psalm 103:1-2 tells us, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  That’s a good reminder for me since I sometimes have problems remembering things.  We should praise the Lord with our soul (our thoughts, actions, plans, dreams, etc.) and don’t forget all His benefits.  The problem is worry, doubt, and unbelief all have a short memory. When we allow these sins in our life it causes us to forget God’s character and Word.  All jobs have benefits.  When looking for a new one, questions you may ask about benefits are, “How many vacation days are there?  Are there sick days?  Does it provide insurance?”  Benefits vary from job to job but God’s benefits do not vary.  He is constant.  We tend to forget His benefits when something attempts to tell us He’s holding out on us.  We ask, “Will God live up to the benefit package He promised.”  None of us would forget the benefits a job offers and demand them when we needed them.  But, we too often forget the benefits of God.

Verses 3-5 go on to tell us it is God, “Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”.  What if your job offered you that kind of benefit package?  Think about the offer of forgiveness from sin, healing from sickness, rescue from the pits of life, love and compassion, satisfaction with good things, and renewal of youth.  That would be the job of a lifetime.  What’s better than reimbursement for mileage?  Try forgiveness of sin.  What sounds more promising than 3 weeks paid vacation?  God offers healing.  A gym membership is tempting but I’ll take renewed youth any day.  Redemption from the pits of life sounds like the kind of insurance plan that doesn’t have loopholes, especially when God is the benefactor.   AFLAC has nothing on God.  You’re in good hands with Allstate but you’re in God’s hands with the Almighty.  GEICO?  What about GODCO? 

But pastor, I don’t feel forgiven.  Forgiveness of sin isn’t based on feeling but the facts of Scripture.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.”  But what about healing?  It’s obvious not everyone is healed.  True.  Lazarus was healed but eventually died.  Elisha healed others but died from a sickness he suffered from (2 Kings 13:14).  Some say, “I bet healing comes if you have more faith.”  Tell that to Paul who suffered with a “thorn in the flesh” and prayed three times for it to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:5-10).  Timothy suffered (1 Timothy 5:23).  I think they had tremendous faith.  “I know!” They say, “Those who pray hard don’t get sick, right?”  What about Jesus?  Didn’t he pray hard for the cup to pass from Him?  David prayed hard for his baby not to die but it did (2 Samuel 12).  I know many godly people who have died from sickness they prayed in great faith to be healed from.  The promise isn’t instant healing but eventual healing.  Sometimes God heals on this earth and sometimes He doesn’t.  Sometimes we don’t feel forgiven or rescued from the pit on this earth.  But, in eternity forgiveness, healing and rescue come full circle.  It doesn’t mean we stop praying for healing on earth.  I believe God alone forgives and heals.  We don’t give up hope but trust in Him.  Praise has a way of putting life into eternal perspective.

God cares for your spirit, soul and body.  Remember to praise God today.  He cares for you! No matter what you are facing today, don’t forget your benefit package.  Forgiveness is a benefit.  Healing is a benefit.  If you feel tired and overwhelmed then His strength is your benefit.  Turn your thoughts toward Him today and He will encourage you.