Resurrection from a Different Perspective


untitledBefore church this Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) my wife made some coffee to drink while we each read our Bibles.  She pulled up an app on her phone, I opened my computer, and we began reading God’s Word.  She was reading the Resurrection story in Mark.  I turned to John—but not John’s Gospel.  I was reading about the resurrection from John’s book of the Revelation.  I did not intend to read about the resurrection that morning.  Instead, I was going to continue my studies in the Apocalypse.  Since I had recently read through the book, my plan was to list all of the names and descriptions of the Lord in His Revelation.  I found many descriptions of Him:

Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, He who has a two-edged sword in His mouth, etc.

The most fascinating of these that I found that morning were the descriptions of our God as the resurrected, living Lord.

  • He is, was, and is to come.
  • Rev. 1:4, 8: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
  • Rev 4:8: And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
  • He is the First begotten from the dead.
  • Rev 1: 5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…
  • He lives, and was dead and is alive for evermore! Rev 2:8: And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
  • Rev 4:9-10: And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,…
  • Rev. 1:18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

These resurrection verses were a tremendous encouragement to me.  I was not even looking for this topic, yet here it is. It was a tremendous encouragement to read these verses.  Only two days prior I heard the news that my niece entered this world already present with the Savior.  The encouragement of the resurrection is what turns sadness and despair into hope and joy and peace.  Because He lives, we can live also!

Easter Meditation


imagesSince a brief Easter meditation cannot reflect every possible thought about Easter, I choose with this one to reflect on Christ’s inclusivity.

Every human being longs for love and acceptance, to the point that we sometimes do crazy things to obtain them.

With Christ, we don’t need to do crazy things.  He just loves us!!!

Savor that for a moment.  You are loved as you are by a God who is totally holy.  He came as the God-man to ensure you would be able to live with Him forever.  Easter commemorates His defeat of death on our behalf.

Hallelujah!

Sunday our Sunday school lesson in my ladies’ class juxtaposed John 20 with John 4 (our current study is in the book of John).

In John 20, we see that Christ is risen from the dead and first shows Himself to a person who could not even legally bear witness, Mary Magdalene, a woman.  A woman was the first witness to the resurrection.

But our regularly scheduled passage, John 4, matches that dimension of John 20 and goes even farther.  Jesus first told His identity as Messiah to someone who was not only a woman, but a Samaritan woman, and one who had been married five times and was living with her sixth man.

Imagine that.  The Lord of the Universe, who knows all hearts intimately, chose to tell this woman who was the victim of prejudice on at least three fronts His Messianic secret.

He includes us.  He died and rose again for us.  In Him, we shall live forever.  Not only escape death, but live abundant life.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Up the Ladder and Down the Tree, You’re a Bigger Fool than Me!


I wonder if you were caught in an April fool’s joke on April 1st.  It was a favorite past time when I was in grade school. It was normal to play a trick or joke on your friends. It might be as simple as telling someone their shoe was untied. When they looked down to see it, you would shout, “April Fool!” If your friend knew it was not untied, he could say the words of the title above and you were the fool. It was a big victory to make the other person the fool. The origin of April Fool’s Day is rather fuzzy so I will allow you to research it.

My interest today is with the real “fool” who says there is no God.  Psalm 53:1, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.  Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” How could goodness come from someone who denies that there is a God? We should not be surprised. This is a real indictment by God of the fool.  There are some other aspects of this fool. In Proverbs 10:18 he is a slander; 14:9  he mocks sin; 15:5 he despises his Father’s instruction; 18:6 he causes contention; 28:26 he trusteth his own heart. The fool is in bad shape and will only continue in his foolishness unless the glorious message of the cross takes hold of his life.

I trust that today you know there is a God. We will soon see the coming of spring which is one of the seasons given to us by God. You will see new life come back in the trees, the grass, and the beautiful flowers of God creation.  Do you have a sure knowledge of God in your life?  Is there a warm spiritual relationship there?  I trust that you are not trusting in your own heart as does the fool. Unless he repents, the fool will have to enter hell to see that there is a God.

The fool says, “No god,” but I side with David, Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want!” What do you say, my reader friend?

Grace in Human Relationships


imagesAll of us are thankful for grace when it is coming from God to us. But what about when grace is required toward others? Sometimes we act like the servant who was forgiven so much only to not forgive such a small debt.

Grace, “undeserved favor or kindness, mercy, compassion and generosity,” is to be found in human relationships and is strongly encouraged in Scripture.

Grace in relationships expressed as mercy and compassion

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Why We Can Forgive?

God expressed His love for us through Christ. He covered our sins in Him. Thus, through faith in Jesus we are reconciled to God. In that light, surely we should be willing to cover sins done to us by other people. Not that we can forgive sin on God’s behalf, but we can do so in our relations to others.

Grace in relationships expressed as generosity and kindness

Galatians 6:910 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

“Be Kind To All Your Students”

A Yale University president gave this advice to a former president of Ohio State: “Always be kind to your A and B students. Someday one of them will return to your campus as a good professor. But also be kind to your C students. Someday one of them will return and build you a two-million dollar science laboratory.”

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Patience


images“The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…” ~Numbers 14:18a

Long-suffering or patient: the ability to take a great deal of punishment from evil people [or children ;-)] or circumstances without losing one’s temper, without becoming irritated and angry, or without taking vengeance.

I always thought that I had patience…until I had kids! This will always be a struggle for me, I’m afraid, and if most people were honest – they struggle with it too…no one likes to be interrupted when in the middle of something.

“Mommy, I need milk.”

“Mommy, I need a snack.”

“Mommy, put my shoes on.”

“Mommy, can you brush my hair?”

“Mommy, where is my toy?”

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy….”

I am realizing that my attitude, when it comes to patience and the constant “needs” that four small children have, has an impact on my kids. I see my impatience rubbing off on their little lives when they deal with each other and even me. It’s my desire that no matter the circumstance I find myself in that I would be able to be patient and of great mercy like our Lord is with me without being irritated or angry. I’m trying to remember this little phrase someone shared with me – “God is not as interested in changing my circumstance as He is in changing my heart in the circumstance.”  Learning patience will be a lifelong lesson for me – but with God’s help, I’m trying to respond without irritation and anger…I want my kids to see Jesus! I’m learning lessons even through their tiny little lives, and I want to teach them how someone who is filled with Jesus would respond when things don’t go my way or when I’m interrupted from doing something for ME. Be patient today – to your kids, your spouse, your co-workers, the people you come in contact with today – show them Jesus who IS longsuffering and of great mercy!

Good Times or Bad Times, He is Always Good


imagesIsaiah 43:2 – When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers,  they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be  burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

In the title, “Good times or bad times, He is always good” doesn’t really tell the truth because with God there are not any bad times.  See, as humans we feel that sometimes things are going bad for us, or maybe we have been wronged; but no matter what we go through, God will help us, and in the end it is all for His glory. We are given a three true examples in this verse of God being with us and not just metaphors as some may think:

– “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee” –

Exodus 14 with Moses and the Red Sea.

– “Through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” –

Joshua 3 as the Israelites crossed the Jordan

– “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” –

Daniel 3 with the three Hebrew boys in the fire

This verse is special to me now more so than before because a few weeks ago we found out that my Dad had some cancer in a lymph node, and we were not sure just how bad it was or if it was anywhere else.  God gave me this verse, and I shared it with my parents when we received the news to be a comfort to our family as we went through this seemingly trial in my Dad’s life.  For now, he is cancer free; and we say God is good, but even if he still had cancer, God is good because when we are saved and God’s children, we will always be ok and come out great.  The world may not always see it that way, but we know that His Word says “His ways are not our ways and his thoughts not our thoughts.”  He has promised to take care, and we must just trust Him in any trial we may think we are in.

 

 

 

 

 

Merciful & Gracious


imagesExodus 34:5-8

Grace and mercy are close companions and are often mentioned in the same holy breath (Exodus 33:19, 34:6; Psalm 103:8; Isaiah 30:18; I Timothy 1:1).

How do they differ?  Let us say that…

Grace pertains more to our state as sinners (condemned); mercy relates more to our condition as sinners (miserable).

Grace conveys unmerited favor; mercy bestows tender pity.

Mercy holds back the punishment until grace pays the price.

Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve; mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve.

Mercy is more negative; grace is more positive.

Mercy pardons (I Timothy 1:13); grace justifies (Romans 3:24).

Mercy removes the guilt and penalty of sin (Proverbs 28:13); grace imputes righteousness (Romans 4:5).

Mercy saves from peril (Psalm 6:4); grace imparts a new nature (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Mercy rescues its object (Luke 10:33, 37); grace transforms him (Titus 2:11-12).

Mercy is more of an Old Testament concept (Micah 7:18-20); grace is more of a New Testament concept. (John 1:14-17).

 

Proper Self-concept


1111Matthew 20:21 and Mark 10:37 record the request of James and John to have seats of honor in the kingdom. They wanted to be at the right and left hand of Jesus in His glory. Before we get too hard on them – that can be a pretty common attitude among Christians. How often do we think we should have some honor or recognition for something that we have been able to accomplish? Let’s look at some verses that should help us to have the proper self-concept. Romans 12 exhorts us to think correctly about ourselves. …not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, Romans 12:3b.  Proverbs 25:6 & 7 deal with how we ought to choose seating when in the presence of kings and great men. Take that lower seat; for it is better to be asked to “come up hither” than to be removed from that seat of honor that you have chosen for yourself. We can find a solution to this problem in Philippians 2 and Proverbs 27. Philippians 2:5 – let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus – if we have the mind of Christ our thoughts will not be on ourselves. Proverbs 27:2 – let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth. The Apostle Paul had the most accurate self-concept – in I Timothy he declares himself chief of sinners. We are all sinners and with that proper self-concept any honor or praise will go to our Savior.

Thoughts on Religion in England


imagesAs a missionary on deputation, I am always seeking to learn more about the culture and religion of the nation to which the Lord has called me.  My calling is to the country of England.  In my most recent trip to England, I was overwhelmed by the apathy of a people who are supposedly part of a Christian nation.  I have been doing some reading recently about the religious climate in England.  The statistics are stunning.  I’ve known that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the nation, but I had no idea what a stronghold that religion has on the country.  The recent census numbers lead the experts to believe that within the next 10-20 years the Muslims will overtake the nation, and they could even take over as the national religion.  The people in England who are claiming Christianity are mostly the older generation.  The younger generation is known to identify with other false religions rather than the national religion.  Even within the national religion there is so much fallacy that it is hard to know exactly what percentage of the country is Biblical in its view of Christianity.

With every article that I read, my heart longs to be in the nation to which the Lord has called to minister.  I long to be there NOW.  I know there are many missionaries who share this internal struggle as well as we travel on deputation.  What is the answer for the nations of the world who need the Gospel?  It is for our churches to send missionaries to them as quickly as possible to share the good news of the Gospel with them before it is eternally too late.  The Lord is going to come back soon.  What could you do to help a lost person on the mission field of the world hear the Gospel?  Maybe you could give to your church’s missions program.  Maybe the Lord would have YOU go.  Definitely you could pray that the Lord would send laborers into His harvest field and use each one of us in the area in which He has placed us.

Matthew 9:36-38 – “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

God’s Amazing Grace


images“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24)

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15)

“Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” (Psalm 66:16)

“He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)

Sunday while listening to “Amazing Grace” being played, I thought God’s grace – His Amazing Grace. Grace according to the dictionary is the unmerited love and favor of God toward man. My mind just cannot fathom the depth of love that God has for me, a sinner, saved by the grace of God and God’s gift of grace which is by the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank you, Lord, for loving me.

“Amazing Grace”

John Newton published this song in 1779.

 

Amazing grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind but now I see.

 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

 

Thru many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.

 

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less day to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

 

To read about John Newton’s life go to www.awesomestories.com/asset/View/AMAZING-GRACE-Amazing-Grace