Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Life’

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ASCENDING THE IMPOSSIBLE – May 1

May 1, 2014

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

I just returned from another business trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Unlike my last trip (Knowing Greatness without Sight), the skies were clear and I was able to behold clearly the mountain. I gazed upon the heights of the mountains with a yearning eye.

IMG_20140429_185759_417 (3)The clarity of the skies promised an unimpeded view to anyone at the pinnacle of such a mountain. I so wanted to see that view. Yet, I knew that neither I nor anyone else would behold the view on that day. The snow is still too deep and the trails too treacherous to ascend Mount Rainer. Therefore, the prize of the glorious view from its pinnacle was not beheld by any mortal man on that clear day.

IMG_20140429_191018_723 (2)There is another site that is even more unattainable than the wintry panorama of Mount Rainer’s peak. No man can ascend to God’s presence and behold the Kingdom of God. For this site, Jesus told us that we must be born again.

How does one ascend to a peak that has no trail?
How does one scale a summit whose base cannot be found?
How does the flesh accomplish that which is born of the Spirit?

It is impossible. It is impossible for man to find access or even to see the Kingdom of God from the pinnacle of any human accomplishment. No one can ascend to heaven.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 4:13-15)

crossThis is the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ascent to heaven, access to the Kingdom of God, is now possible – not by any work of the flesh but by the work of the Spirit.

We can stand at the pinnacle of the mountain of God and see His Kingdom. We can enter into His rest and eternal life. It is an ascent that we cannot make but was accomplished for us. The prize of this summit is a gift given to all how believe in the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God who has made the impossible possible. May we marvel at the miraculous heavenly things of God Almighty!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making a way to your holy presence. Thank you for making the ascent to your Kingdom for us.  Thank you for the work the Spirit that I might be born of the Spirit.  Forgive me for my lack of marvel at the gift of eternal life that you have given me.  You are great and greatly to be praised.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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EASTER CHANGES EVERYTHING – April 20

April 20, 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

 Easter changes everything.

 If Christ had not been raised then…

… Church wastes a Sunday.
… prayer is merely meditation.
… the Bible is a best-selling self-help book.
cross… charity is a utopian ideal.
… faith is a crutch.
… self-denial is a waste of effort.
… happiness is fleeting.
… everlasting joy is a myth.
… peace is impossible.
… God is unknown.
… sin remains.
… God does not love us.
… suffering is without meaning.
… this is as good as it gets.
…our future is a grave.
… we are fools.

Easter changes everything.

Because Christ has risen, we know …

… He is the messiah.
… the prophesies have been fulfilled.
… the penalty of sin has been paid.
… the curse of sin is removed.
… death has been defeated.
… the kingdom of God will be established.
… all things are possible.
… eternal life awaits beyond the grave.
… glory will be revealed to us.
… suffering has purpose.
… we are loved by God.
… our faith is not in vain.
… we are not fools.
… we are children of God.
… we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

empty-tombEaster changes everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for Easter.  Thank you for raising your Son from the grave.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for giving hope and eternal life.  I praise your name on this glorious day for what you have done.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“HORROR OF THE GOSPEL” – Dec 10

December 10, 2013

“And he carried me away in the Spirit 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.”  Revelation 21:10-11

I ran across a website the other day that uses a statistical analysis tool to analyze your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.  It then tells you the famous writer you write like. (I Write Like)  I was intrigued to discover what famous writer had seeped into my psyche to influence my writing.  I read my writing and am without any reasonable explanation as to the influence in the style and words I use.

I cut and pasted the text from my last blog post, Spiritual Thermodynamics, into the analysis tool on the website.  As I completed the menial task, I imagined which names might emerge from the analysis.

C.S. Lewis John SteinbeckNathaniel Hawthorne J.R.R. Tolkien
Robert Frost Daniel Silva Mark Buchanan Edmund Morris
David McCulloughLouis L’AmourJohn Piper
Tom Clancy Jerry Bridges Joel Rosenberg

I have read multiple books by these authors.  Surely, their style has crept into how I put words to computer screen.

I finished the cutting and pasting of the text of my writing and with anticipation clicked the Analyze button.  I had wanted the program to take some time in processing its work but it immediately provided its analysis:

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

H. P. Lovecraft

Yeah!???

I had no idea who H. P. Lovecraft was.  Therefore, I did what every modern scholar does.  I Googled him.  According to H.P Lovecraft Archieves, “HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT (20 August 1890–15 March 1937) is probably best known as a writer of weird fiction…”.  He is universally consider the father of modern horror and the inspiration for modern-day stories of success such as Stephen King (“The Shining”), John Carpenter (“In the Mouth of Madness”), Robert Bloch (“Psycho”), Clive Barker (“Hellraiser”) and Anne Rice (“Interview with the Vampire”).  (H.P. Lovecraft – Biography)

This was not the famous writer that I thought might be lurking in my style, particularly since I have never read any of his writing.

I realize that there is a difference between writing style and genre.  However, it strikes me as a little strange that a horror writer and a devotional writer would have the same writing style.  Although, the similarities of our writing may actually extend beyond mere word choice and style.

I write short devotionals based upon my morning Bible reading.  To me, I am not writing horror stories but consider the message to those who reject my faith and beliefs.  I have once again finished reading through the entire Bible.  I love the completeness of scripture.  I love the fact that God’s redemptive plan can be seen in Genesis.  I love that the pattern for the forgiveness of sin is laid out in the Law of Moses.  I am comforted by God’s longsuffering patience with a rebellious people.   I am astounded by His abounding love in sending His Son as the lamb for propitiation of a sinful people.  I am speechlessly grateful for His grace and mercy in the creation of new life in those who are born again.  I am dumbfounded by the mysteries of sanctification.  I am fearful of His justice.

I am in awe of my God who has revealed Himself through this Word that I call the Bible.

I absolutely love Chapter 22 of Revelations because it is such a fitting manner to conclude the inspired words of Moses, the prophets, disciples and apostles.  All of scripture comes to a crescendo in what was shown to John:

…the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; … No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more.  They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.  (Revelations 22:1-5)

Brent Nelson / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

That is a message of hope for me, but it is not a universal message of hope for all people.

I read Revelation 21:6 and am encouraged:

And He said to me, “It is done!  I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Stuck in Customs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

To those who reject Christ, they read Revelation 21:7:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexual immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. 

That truly is a horror story.  The message of the gospel to me is eternal life with the God of love and mercy.  The message of the gospel is foolishness to those who stumble over God’s judgment as a horror story too harsh to believe.  They read Jonathan Edwards‘ sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God, and reject that God as a relic of a superstitious age.

Yet, there are real horror stories in this world.  The greatest horror story is the just punishment of those who reject the Son of God and the redemption from their sin.  We should never soften the reality of the horror of this fallen world.  Jonathan Edwards’ sermon was an instrumental spark for the Great Awakening.  The message of the Bible is “come”.  Come to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh for your sin and my sin, to condemn sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:3).  No one needs to “come” if there is no horror to escape.  The good news remains that God has provided a way from all who come to Him to escape the horror of judgment.

Don’t stumble over the message of Jesus Christ.  Hear His words and respond:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  (Revelation 22:17).

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to the good news of the Gospel.  Thank you for saving me from the horror of suffering the punishment that I have earned from my sin.  Jesus, I long for the day of your return.  May the day that you establish your kingdom here on earth come quickly.  Lord, thank you for your patience.  Thank you for granting more time for the lost to be drawn to you.  Father, call your children home; move them to respond to your voice and to come.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“A GLORIOUS WARM-UP” – June 26

June 27, 2013

“For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.  How the wise dies just like the fool!  So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:16-17

Civil War Veterans

Civil War Veterans (Photo credit: Tipton Genealogy)

Old black and white photographs have a way of capturing my imagination beyond any portrait painting.  Gazing into images of real people with stern and dower expressions cause me to wonder about by-gone ages.  I am easily entertained speculating about what their thoughts and dreams might have been; hypothesizing as to their adventures or romances.  Had they been respected or despised?  Were they a hero or a coward?  Did they have a sense of humor?  What did their laugh sound like?  Were they kind?  Did they love?  Were they loved?

Unfortunately, one cannot deduce much about who a person really was from a photograph.

My parents have many such photographs hanging on their wall.  Their hallway has a gallery documenting my family lineage.  The characters in those images have names, many of which I cannot remember.  They have titles such as great-great-grandfather, great-grandmother, cousins, uncles and aunts who passed decades ago.  They represent a vast network of expanding branches emanating from what is my family tree.

However, these images don’t connect with me beyond a fascination that I contain some of their genetic composition…which is not very comforting considering the general unattractiveness of many of my fore-fathers.

Any connection to these images only begins towards the end of the hallway with the images of my Grandparents.  I knew them.  I played games and laughed with them.  I worked with them.  I listened to the stories that they told.  I knew of their thoughts and dreams.  I was told of their adventures and romances.  I knew that they loved me.

They were so much more to me than an image in a photograph.

Yet, I realize that they are but another image in a long line of images to my children.  My children never knew my grandparents.  Their connection to my grandparents mirrors my own connection to the portrait of my great-great-grandfather.  I am saddened to know that the memories of people who I loved are being lost to unrelenting pressure of time’s passage.

The speed at which we are lost to history is astonishing.  The majority of us will be consumed into the fog bank of the past within a generation or two.  The knowledge of who we really were will simply fade away as age catches up with those who actually knew us.  The brevity of our lives in the span of history might be depressing if this world was all there was.

Fortunately, a life span on planet earth is not all that there is for those who are in Christ.

MSO warm up

MSO warm up (Photo credit: vigilant20)

I have heard this life described as the warm-up for the symphony.   As we move along the narrow road, we are fine tuning our walk; we play our part of the score on our own or maybe with a few others; we might strike the wrong note; we might play with poor timing; we might play with near perfection.  However, no musician has ever laid down his instrument and walked from the stage after a perfect performance in the warm-up.  They don’t take a bow after tuning-up because they have not come for the warm-up.  They are there for the symphony. For those in Christ, our symphony gets its full voice when we take our place among the redeemed.  The beautiful sound of the redeemed praising their redeemer will be a performance beyond what this world can even contain.  Paul tells us that nothing is this world, not even his suffering, is worth comparing to the glories that will be revealed to us.  Those are the glories that we are currently warming-up for.  It is for those glories that we continue to diligently and obediently follow our Lord through this life.

The full symphony is coming. 

The time when we will be freed from this sinful flesh to fully glorify our Lord and Savior is not far way.  I don’t believe that there will be any of the redeemed who will be disappointed that their warm-up was forgotten when they raise their voice before the King of kings.

In glory, they will know that the Most High never forgot their warm-up.  They will know that their Shepherd will have brought them to that moment for that purpose; the purpose for which we were created and will finally and fully fulfill.

When compared to the glories that we are being called to, the value of being remembered by this world is but a trinket.

So, let us keep this world in perspective.  Let us not mourn over its brevity or our insignificance.  Let us warm-up well.  Let us set our hope on what is coming.  Let’s enjoy this life and the works that we have been given but may we never forget:

 the best is yet to come.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me so much to look forward to.  I can’t wait.  Lord, come quickly.  Help me to make the most of the time that you have given me here.  Help to warm-up well.  Help me to make the most of all the opportunities that you provide.  Help me to glorify you in all that I do in anticipation of the glories that are coming.  I long for the day that you bring me to my place among the redeemed.  You truly have blessed me in abundance.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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