On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

What about you?


Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

A teacher asks her second-grade class to draw a picture of the happiest day of their lives. After they turn in their assignments, she straightens them into a pile and begins to scan through them. She pauses at one picture. The picture is of a funeral. She looks for the name at the top and calls the student up to her desk. When she asks him to explain, he tells her the happiest day of his life will be his funeral. The happiest day because he will go to heaven.

When the Paul wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he was expressing the heart of being a Christian.

From the Bible, Christians understand and believe that they are full of sin. They see the selfishness inside themselves. They see how much they resent God commanding them to do things they don’t want to do. They realize how they really have nothing to offer God for him to look on them with favor.

They also understand and believe how much God loves them. Jesus lived a completely innocent and sin-free life. He then covered himself with all the garbage of our sin and guilt. Jesus took all the blame and all the shame we deserve. He stood still under the crushing justice of God’s anger over our sin. His sacrifice guaranteed no Christian will ever experience even an ounce of God’s justice.

Christians understand and believe that heaven is waiting for them. When they die, Jesus will welcome them into that place filled with joy and peace, where there is no sadness, and sorrows no longer exist. It’s no wonder Christians look forward to the day when they leave their pains, their aches, and their struggles behind to gain the perfect happiness of living with Jesus forever!

The same love from Jesus that fills Christians with hope also fills them with purpose. Jesus’ love leads believers to want to serve Jesus in any way and in every way they can. They live to give glory to Jesus.

I’m looking forward to my funeral. In the meantime, I thank Christ he’s given me another day to serve him.

What about you?

Dear Lord, thanks for giving us heaven. We can’t wait to be there with You and the ones that went before us! In the meantime, help us to live for You, serving You with our whole life.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2018

If only


Genesis 2:7 (ESV)

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.



“If only… I had more money.”

“If only… I had a better relationship with my family.”

“If only… I could just find the right job.

It’s not only greed. It’s not only a desire for more. It’s a complete lack of faith in God to provide all that’s good. Adam and Eve fell into that trap.

“If only… we could have our eyes opened and be like God. If only we could know evil, as well as good. If only we could enjoy something more than what God has already given.”

What more could God have given them? What more could God give us? We have from him all that we need and so much more.

Yet we are not content with him. “If only …”

If only there was a way out of this trap we have fallen into. If only God would take pity on us and forgive us for wanting more than him. If only there was a Rescuer to set us free from our foolish sin and greed and mistrust of God. If only there was a way to escape the curse of death that we have brought on ourselves.

It’s more than “if only”–it’s a rock-solid, gospel-truth promise of God: the “offspring of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) has crushed the serpent’s head for us. His name is Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We don’t need “if onlys”. We have a gracious, forgiving Savior who is our all in all.

Dear Lord, forgive us for wanting more and failing to trust You for all. Thank You for forgiving us and saving us through Jesus, your Son. In Him, we have all we could ever want.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jesus is the glue


Colossians 1:13-20 (ESV)
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


Our body is made up of 100 trillion microscopic things called “cells.” Cells are the basic unit of life, the foundation of every living thing. And the glue that literally holds those 100 trillion cells together is called laminin. Laminins are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of your body to the next cell. Without laminins, you would literally fall apart. The coolest thing about laminins is what they look like. The glue that holds you together, the foundation upon which your body is built, comes in the shape of a cross.

In speaking about Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul had this to say: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Cross-shaped laminins literally hold your body together, and the eternal life that Jesus Christ purchased for you when he died on the cross in your place is the foundation of your faith, the glue that holds your entire life together. No longer do you need to worry about where you will spend eternity—Jesus has made things peaceful between you and God now and forever. Jesus has freed you from being a slave to sin and now empowers you to say “no” to its temptations. And when we fail to say “no” to sin, Jesus is ready with his forgiveness to lift us back up and empower us to live as his children.

There is no need to worry about your life now or ever because Jesus, both true God and true man, is not only your Savior, but also your King. He is in control of your life. He is going to hold you together in every way.

Dear Lord, we know You will never let us down. You will hold our life together in every way. When we forget about that, forgive us. Help us to remember the promises of your Word and trust that you are holding us together. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

God’s words matter most


Exodus 20:1-17  (ESV)
1  And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”

Whose words matter most? The government’s? The scientists’? The experts’? Your loved ones’?
What about your words? Some would say that your words matter most. “Find your voice.” “Speak out.” “It will empower you.”

However, God’s words matter most. Society can say that morality evolves over time. We can tell ourselves that right and wrong are determined by our own feelings in the moment. But God’s words matter most.

God spoke these words: I am the only God. Worship me alone. Trust and honor my name alone. Give credence to my word above all other words. Honor the earthly authorities I have set up, at home, in church, and in government. Respect and preserve the gift of life, regardless of its “quality”. Respect and keep pure the gifts of marriage and sexuality. Respect the possessions God gave others and practice wise stewardship of what God gives you. Keep the good name of others intact. Guard even your thoughts, lest they dishonor God or display lovelessness for others. These are God’s Ten Commandments.

Those are God’s words. They matter most. They determine what is right and wrong, for everyone, no matter what our feelings.

When God speaks, we are silent. We recognize our sin. We admit our faults. We confess that God is right and we are in the wrong.

But God isn’t done speaking. He also speaks his love. His Word became flesh. His Son was born for us. God spoke that we are forgiven when Jesus died in our place. God spoke that we are justified, not guilty, by his Son’s resurrection from death. God speaks to you: I love you. I forgive you. Do not be afraid. I hold you in my hand. By faith in my Son, Jesus, heaven is yours. You are mine.

God’s words about right and wrong, and above all, his words about his love and forgiveness in Jesus, matter most. We would be wise to listen and adhere to them.

Dear Lord, our sinful nature wants to speak up. But we want to hear You speak. When you speak, we know Your love and forgiveness in Christ. Let your words dwell in our hearts. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Keep your eyes on Jesus


Numbers 21:8-9 (ESV)
8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

The last time you were traveling down the road and a sign read, “Detour Ahead,” did you say, “Wonderful! I love detours”? I am sure you didn’t react that way and neither did the Israelites in the account recorded in Numbers chapter 21. Their already long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan was about to get longer. As a result, they impatiently grumbled against God.

God dealt with the people by sending venomous snakes among them. The snakes bit and many people died. The Israelites went to Moses and said, “We sinned. Pray that God will take the snakes away.” So Moses prayed and God instructed him to make a bronze snake, put it up on a pole, and tell the people that anyone bitten could look at that bronze snake and live.

Imagine how they might have wanted to react to God’s instruction. “What? How is looking at a bronze snake going to help us?” But that was the point. This wasn’t a lesson in logic or on how to properly treat a snakebite; this was a lesson in trust. The Lord promised to save the people from death when they trusted his word and looked at the snake he commanded Moses to display. And true to his word, when those bitten looked at the bronze snake, God saved them from death. He rescued the people from the judgment of death that they deserved for their sins.

The wages of sin is death for all of us. But God comes to rescue us. However, instead of directing our sinful hearts to a snake on a pole, God directs our hearts to a Savior on the cross. Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus rescued us from the sting of sin and the fear of death, when he took our sin to the cross and paid for it in full by his death.

Are you feeling down today? Then look up to Jesus and his great love for you on the cross! Tired of life and its detours? Find rest in Jesus! Wounded by sin? Find healing in his wounds! Look to Jesus. He is your Savior from sin and death.

Dear Lord, helps us to lift our eyes and heart to trust in You and Your great love for us.  Help us to not get lost in the detours of life. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2018

suffering


Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
  
As you read this, some of you have joints that are screaming from rheumatoid arthritis. Some of you are miserable from chemotherapy. Some of you have back pain so severe you can only stand, sit, or sleep for short periods of time. Some of you get frequent headaches so massive that any kind of light or sound is a torture. Some of you are reeling from multiple surgeries, barely recovering from one when doctors tell you to get ready for another. And some of you possess one of a thousand other maladies—physical or emotional. What they all have in common is that they all define what it is to suffer.

It’s often when our suffering is at its worst that the devil walks in, ready to attack our faith. Many times his weapon of choice is the comparison. He points out other people similar to us in age and circumstance. He comments that they don’t seem to have anything near the suffering and pain that we have. And with that, he lets our sinful nature do the rest. He lets our sinful nature drag us away into the dungeon of self-pity.

But the Lord of your life has something to say about this. He speaks though the apostle Paul. Paul, as you may know, is someone who knew all about severe suffering. He grappled with a terrible problem that appeared to plague him until he died. Instead of comparing himself to others who did not have to suffer as he did, Paul made the comparison that really matters. He said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What is the specific reason why the Lord is allowing us to suffer? That is not for us to say. Perhaps it is to nurture within us our faith. Perhaps it is to give others around us a living, breathing sermon on Christian courage. Perhaps it is to bring us into contact with a lost soul the Lord will save through our witness. Perhaps it’s for an entirely different reason.

Never forget, however, the comparison that matters. Your temporary suffering is a droplet in comparison to the oceans of joy that await you in heaven. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why he suffered and died for your sins. That’s why he rose. That’s why he lives!

Dear Lord, stand beside us in our suffering. Strengthen us by your Spirit. Remind us that the pain is temporary and that the joy of heaven is eternal. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lessons from an Apple Orchard


1 Corinthians 15:20  (ESV)
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

It’s difficult to put into words how it feels for the owners of an apple orchard when a bumper crop of apples is just beginning to ripen. You could ask the owners, of course. But even they would find it difficult to come up with what to say. What they feel in their veins is a strange brew of adrenalin, purpose, anticipation, and joy. And that indescribable sensation begins every time they spot those first few ripened apples on those first few trees. The core of such a thrill is in knowing that this beautiful, ripened fruit is only the first of many and many more to come.

Keep that in mind the next time you are in a funeral procession. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself accompanying the remains of a Christian to the cemetery.

As you stand at the gravesite, look at the casket or the urn. Then look at the row upon row of tombstones around you. Think of all the Christians whose bodies quietly rest beneath the green lawn on which you stand. Even though, in that moment, you are looking at that place through the eyes of grief, remember how your God sees it. For those who die in the Lord, a cemetery is not a final resting place. Not at all.

Rather, a cemetery for the Christian is more like an orchard. Not only is it like an orchard, it is like an orchard poised and pulsating with anticipation and joy. For the reality is that Jesus Christ, has already risen from the grave, His body glorious and perfect.

Because He has already conquered sin and death through His own death on the cross, we know that His resurrection is only the first of many and many more to come.

And so, do we grieve when death comes? Of course. But never forget that underneath even our grief there is that wonderful pulse of anticipation and joy.

It is there because Jesus lives!

Dear Lord, the next time the death of a dear Christian brings us grief, remind us that underneath our grief there lies the vibrant joy of what soon will come. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.