Eternal Perspectives

What will these glorified human beings be able to do in their transfigured universe, on their transfigured earth? The simplest answer seems to be: whatever they wish. For according to an old theological dictum heaven will mean the satisfaction of every rational desire. And their transfigured cosmos will obviously be an “extension of heaven,” wide open to whatever use the glorified men will wish to put it. It will be theirs to use and develop into an even better and better universe. There will be no conflicts, no enmities, no hatred, no wars, no property bounds, no segregation, no discrimination. There will be abundant space and abundant opportunity for everyone to do whatever he wishes and wherever he wishes. . . . Their beatific vision will make it impossible for them to be uncharitable, envious, jealous, avaricious, unjust.

~ E. J. Fortman, [Everlasting Life after Death] ~

Streams in The Desert

Mark 9:23

I seldom have heard a better definition of faith than that given in one of our meetings, by a sweet, elderly black woman, as she answered a young man who asked, “How do I obtain the Lord’s help for my needs?”

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great insistence, “You just have to believe that he’s done it and it’s done.” The greatest problem with most of us is, after asking him to do it, we do not believe it is done. Instead, we keep trying to help him, get others to help him and anxiously wait to see how he is going to work.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yes” and then takes its hands off, leaving God to finish his work. The language of faith is, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:5).

~ from Days of Heaven upon Earth ~

I simply take him at his word,

I praise him that my prayer is heard,

And claim my answer from the Lord;

I take, he undertakes.

Active faith gives thanks for a promise even though it is not yet performed, knowing that God’s contracts are as good as cash.

~ Matthew Henry ~

Passive faith accepts the Word as true—

But never moves.

Active faith begins the work to do,

And thereby proves …

… Passive faith but praises in the light,

When sun does shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night—

Which faith is thine?

~ Selected ~

Evening Prayer

BREAKING PRIDE

[Jeremiah 9:23; Ezekiel 28:5; 1 Corinthians 4:7]

In Jesus’ Name, I Pray God’s Will for You Tonight

I pray that you will always be humble so that God’s grace may be abundant in your life. I thank God that, in your humility, you always allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you areas that are not pleasing to Him. May you ask the Lord to remove any hint of pride. Knowing that God will call you to give an account, I pray that you will guard your heart and not allow your skills or wealth to make you proud. May you not boast of your own wisdom or strength. I pray that you will continue to humble yourself before God.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Live Loved

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

[John 3:16]

God’s Gracious Love

The heart of the human problem is the heart of the human. And God’s treatment is prescribed in John 3:16.

He loves. He gave.

We believe. We live.

The words are to Scripture what the Mississippi River is to America—an entryway into the heartland. Believe or dismiss them, embrace or reject them, any serious consideration of Christ must include them. Would a British historian dismiss the Magna Carta? Egyptologists overlook the Rosetta stone? Could you ponder the words of Christ and never immerse yourself into John 3:16?

The verse is an alphabet of grace, a table of contents to the Christian hope, each word a safe-deposit box of jewels. Read it again, slowly and aloud, and note the word that snatches your attention…

“God so loved the world…” We’d expect an anger-fueled God. One who punishes the world, recycles the world, forsakes the world … but loves the world?

The world? This world? Heartbreakers, hope snatchers, and dream dousers prowl this orb. Dictators rage. Abusers inflict. Reverends think they deserve the title. But God loves. And he loves the world so much he gave his: Declarations? Rules? Dicta? Edicts?

No. The heart-stilling, mind-bending, deal-making-or-breaking claim of John 3:16 is this: God gave his Son … his only Son. No abstract ideas, but a flesh-wrapped divinity. Scripture equates Jesus with God. God, then, gave himself. Why? So that “whoever believes in him shall not perish.”

[3:16: The Numbers of Hope]

Father God,

Your love is truly beyond understanding. It reaches out to every person in every corner of the world. It is offered freely to all people. It is a gracious, merciful, and patient love. May we be willing to spread the good news of your love far and wide. Teach us to talk to everyone about your mighty works,

Amen.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

[Ephesians 2:4-5]

We love Him because He first loved us.

[1 John 4:19]

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

[Proverbs 8:17]

~ Max Lucado ~

Strength Today

Now therefore keep thy sorrow to thyself, and bear with a good courage that which hath befallen thee.

[2 Ezra 10:15]

Go, bury thy sorrow,

The world hath its share;

Go, bury it deeply,

Go, hide it with care.

Go, bury thy sorrow,

Let others be blest;

Go, give them the sunshine,

And tell God the rest.

~ ANONYMOUS ~

Our veiled and terrible guest [Trouble] brings for us, if we will accept it, the boon of fortitude, patience, self-control, wisdom, sympathy, faith. If we reject that, then we find in our hands the other gift,—cowardice, weakness, isolation, despair. If your trouble seems to have in it no other possibility of good, at least set yourself to bear it like a man. Let none of its weight come on other shoulders. Try to carry it so that no one shall even see it. Though your heart be sad within, let cheer go out from you to others. Meet them with a kindly presence, considerate words, helpful acts.

~ G. S. MERRIAM ~

Morning Devotional

Choosing the Apostles

When day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.

[Luke 6:13]

After Jesus prayed all night, “He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles” (Luke 6:13). What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle? A disciple is a follower of a rabbi. A disciple seeks to imitate not only his leader’s words but also his example. To be a disciple of Jesus means to model your attitudes, actions, and affections after Jesus. It means to love what Jesus loved, to act like Jesus acted, and to think like Jesus thought. Then out of Jesus’s disciples came twelve apostles. An apostle is one who is sent forth. The twelve apostles were a unique group chosen to proclaim the message of Jesus.

I observe three things about the list of apostles in Luke 6:14-16, as well as in the similar lists in Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:16-19.

First, the lists begin with Peter. Peter was the leader of the apostles, but do you know what’s interesting? Peter was the greatest failure of all the apostles. He denied Jesus three times. He was a major screw-up as an apostle. Yet Jesus chose Peter to be the leader. Doesn’t that give you hope? It doesn’t matter how much you have failed or what is in your past. God can take your mistakes, forgive them, and redeem them.

Second, the lists end with Judas Iscariot. Judas is the one whose betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver led to Jesus’s crucifixion. You may think, “Why did Jesus choose Judas? Did He make a mistake?” No, it was part of God’s plan. Jesus chose Judas because He knew God could use the evil in Judas’s own heart to accomplish His purpose. God can take evil people and evil circumstances, and He can use them for your good and for His eternal purpose.

Finally, the lists are comprised of young men. When we think about the apostles we tend to think about old guys. However, most Bible scholars believe these men were probably in their late teenage years, early twenties at the most when Jesus chose them to be apostles.

Luke 6:20 tells us that when Jesus began to teach, He turned His gaze toward His disciples. We need to remember that the Sermon on the Mount is a message for Jesus’s followers, not for the unsaved. There is nothing in this passage that tells you how to go heaven when you die. There is nothing about God’s forgiveness through Jesus, the cross, or the blood of Christ. This was a message for Jesus’s disciples. Interestingly, Jesus was in the midst of relentless criticism from the Pharisees, but He did not spend his time answering the criticism of the Pharisees. Instead, He focused on investing His time with His followers.

~ Dr. Robert Jeffress ~