Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FROM MOUNTAIN TO MOLE HILL


A newly arrived soul in Heaven was met by St. Peter. St. Peter and the soul took the A-tour around Heaven. They walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. St. Peter stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received." The soul looked at the section, and it was terribly busy with many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

They continued on until they reached the second section. St. Peter told the soul, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them." The soul noted again how busy it was. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest corner of the room, the soul stopped at a very small station. To the surprise of the soul, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," St. Peter told the soul.

"How is it that? There's no work here?" 

"So sad," St. Peter sighed. "After people receive the blessings they asked for, very few send acknowledgments."

"How does one acknowledge God's blessings? 

"Simple," St. Peter answered. "Just say, "'Thank you, Lord'."

"What blessings should they acknowledge?"

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep .... you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."

Also........

"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the millions who will not even survive this week. If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ... you are ahead of 700 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world. If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare. If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you are unique to all those in doubt and despair." [source of story:  email from a friend]

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks in the midst of trials, not because of them. Honor God by acknowledging Him as the Mountain Mover in your life and give Him thanks that He promised He would never leave you or forsake you. Do this IN ALL your circumstances, then you and God can tackle the mole hill. It all starts with Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN


"Revelation 19:8 reminds us that every believer will be present at the wedding feast dressed in the finest white linen, which the Bible says represents the righteous deeds we have done. These good deeds are not so we can enter heaven. God has already invited us and made the way. However, what we will wear to the wedding feast will be the garment we sew ourselves. I once heard a Bible teacher say, 'Has it ever occurred to you that at the marriage of the bride to the Lamb, each of us will be wearing the wedding garment of our own making?' How we are dressed on that day will depend on the life we have lived for Christ. Make sure that you will be beautifully dressed on that day by living for Christ today. The marriage of the Lamb is an event that is certain to happen. Someday the Bridegroom will come to take His bride to His Father's house. Make sure you are living a pure life for your loving Bridegroom."

[pages 229-230, THE END, Mark Hitchcock]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

YOUR EVALUATION


So you are "Saved", "Born Again", a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.....a Christian. Now what? "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13) "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." (Romans 6:22) "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) But Wait There's More!

Scripture portrays God not only as a judge but as a rewarder. "...anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) For all Believers in Christ since Pentecost, there is coming a time when we will stand before the Bema Seat or Judgement Seat of Christ - "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is a review of and reward for "the things done while in the body, whether good or bad". As I stated in the beginning, you are saved and the work of Christ is a Finished work. There is no judgement concerning our salvation - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)

"Second Corinthians 5:10 says every believer must face judgment 'according to what he has done, whether good or bad.' But what does Paul mean by 'good or bad'? What are these 'bad' works? The word bad is the Greek word phaulos, which refers to 'bad' in the sense of worthless, or inferior in quality, not in the sense of evil. They are what we might call bad good works. What makes these things bad or worthless? They are done with the wrong motive (1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:13). They are good things in themselves, but done for selfish reasons. Such motives are not worthy of reward, despite the good that results from them. (They are probably parallel to the'wood, hay, or straw' in 1 Corinthians 3:12)." [p.209, THE END, by Mark Hitchcock]

This is a challenging word for living a quality life now and seeing a great reward from Christ Jesus later. Someone who builds his/her character with eternal values, manages life with faithfulness, and displays discipline, focus, and dedication - will certainly not lose their great reward. To imagine 1 Corinthians 4:5 is mind-blowing - "At that time each will receive his praise from God." Among other rewards Jesus might have for us, Scripture mentions Five Crowns.
  1. The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) - to the self-disciplined and self-controlled
  2. The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) - to those looking and living for His coming
  3. The Crown of Life (James 1:2; Revelation 2:10) - to those who suffer and faithfully endure for Christ
  4. The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19) - soul winners crown
  5. The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4) - those who oversee God's people (pastors, elders, teachers, etc)
Of course all these Crowns will be laid back down at the feet of Jesus (Revelation 4:10-11). It is because of Christ that I have been made into His likeness and changed from glory to glory. It is totally deserving for all the glory to return to Him.

The next time you are in an evaluation, remember there is a Heavenly one coming that will place all of our actions, words, and attitudes into God's Holy Furnace of purification. Christ warns us in Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16 - "that if we serve God to receive praise and notoriety from others, we had better enjoy whatever accolades we receive, because that is all we will ever get. Remember Jesus' words in Matthew 20:16: 'Those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.' Jesus judges our motives. He sees it all." [p.210, THE END, Mark Hitchcock] What we do now counts toward an eternal reward that we get personally praised for by Christ, but that we immediately place back at His feet because He re-created us for His purposes. 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. (Colossians 1:16-17) The ultimate evaluation will happen one day....are you ready? Will Jesus be able to say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" ?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ENOUGH

The Sin Nature at it's core says, "That is not Enough. What you have and who you are is not Enough. Has God really limited you?" ("Did God really say...?" - Genesis 3:1) The notions - do it yourself, you are all that matters, take matters into your own hands - contests God and His word by saying to God's face "You are not Enough" and eating of "the forbidden fruit". Rebellion feeds rebellion.

The nature of sin keeps the void in man's heart, mind, and spirit empty or unfulfilled. One's lifestyle in sin then is consumed with not Enough. It wasn't Enough for Lucifer to stay in his lofty, blessed position. He totally believed The Lie he told himself - "I will...." usurp God's throne, power, and authority (Isaiah 14:13-14). His fall was so fast, furious and finite that he would attempt to infect God's image with his same sickness. The Lie he told Adam and Eve was "You will not die", but you you will be like God knowing Good and Evil (Genesis 3:4-5). He even comes across as portraying God as threatened by this act of self-ambition - "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5) I can almost hear Satan saying, "Oh my! What will God do then?" Misery loves company and Lucifer's misery started the moment he became proud in his heart on account of his beauty and corrupted his wisdom because of his splendor (Ezekiel 28:17). What he had and who he was - was not Enough and to his last breath he will attempt to drag all of humanity and creation down with him (John 10:10).

Life for humanity was like this UNTIL Jesus paid the sacrifice with His life and displayed His victory through His resurrection - this was Enough! Whatever the want, whatever the need - provision was paid in full at The Cross and conquered through The Resurrection. Philip asked what all knew to be a dangerous proposition, but was willing to take the risk none-the-less....... Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." (John 14:8) Jesus was disappointed in this statement. After all the time he had spent with them - sharing great teachings, displaying miracles, and proving His divinity they did not get that Jesus was acting and speaking directly on God the Father's behalf. In the very next chapter, Jesus makes sure they know His link with their lives and ours - "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) No notion that a man is an island unto himself. No idea that by your own strength you can be all you can be. No inference for us to take matters into our own hands. Our total success depends on our joining and continued link with Jesus Christ, The Son of God, Lord of lords and King of kings who is........Enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"THERE'S ALWAYS TWO".......AND SOMETIMES MORE


Batman and Robin, Obi-wan and Luke, Han and Chewbacca, Abbot and Costello, Sunny and Share, Bo and Luke Duke, Simon and Simon, Donny and Marie Osmond, The Wonder Twins, or you and your best friend.....make a great pair or dynamic duo. These are just a taste of life teaching us that when it comes to living, relationship(s) not "solo-ism" is the better choice.

Scripture supports this decision to have a close friend or friends in which you share life and maybe even your work. People like God and Adam, Adam and Eve, Moses and Aaron, Moses and Joshua, Mordecai and Esther, David and Johnathan, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Silas, and Priscilla and Aquila - were Biblical examples of dynamic pairs. There are pieces from each relationship/partnership that I hope I have and will attain in close relationships of my own.

Sometimes there were more than two! Daniel had his friends...Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The Disciples had each other. When the local churches started, they too had each other and shared a lot with each other, including their finances. There is strength in numbers. A small or large group of friends can be a great support group and takes some degree of pressure off the best friend relationship or mentor relationship one might have in addition to the group friendship.

I am blessed enough to have both kinds of relationships - a couple of close paired relationships and a group of friends - to share life. I don't know how anyone could be a hermit and live alone. Maybe it is just the way I am wired. But what life and Scripture teaches us about relationship, I believe we are all wired to experience and keep relationships and the "hermits" of the world are just the introverts of the relationships. So, be encouraged. If you feel lonely, know that you are never alone and that if you seek, you will find There Is Always Two.....And Sometimes More.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ONE DAY CLOSER


I had a physical challenge recently that put me in the hospital. At this writing I am still tending to my needs and throughout my experience I kept coming back to a single thought - I am one day closer to full recovery.

My wife, Tanya, commented - "That's a good attitude and perspective to take on this, keep it up." So, I am. My slogan is filled with Hope. It also reminds me of Romans 8:23-24we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. For in the saving of our souls for eternity at The Cross, our bodies were saved for redemption also. The manifestation of this redemption of our bodies is still future - "For in this hope we were saved". The next two verses follow-up nicely - "But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Believers in Christ are one day closer to the return of Jesus. What a hope! Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." 

Another thing to look forward to is the believer Not going through the "great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again." (Matthew 24:21) The Holy Spirit, through Paul said Christ rescues the Believer "from the coming wrath" in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, not through it. Christ comes FOR His saints, IN THE AIR, before a time in history called The Tribulation Period -

  • For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
This is a different return that is described than the one we see in Zechariah 14:4, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14, and Matthew 24:31. These passages speak of Christ's return TO earth, WITH His saints to judge the nations and set-up His Millennial Kingdom.

These two phases of Christ's return and Jacob's Time of Trouble in between (7 year Tribulation Period) The Rapture and Christ's Glorious Appearing justify the hope Believers have for their future. The salvation message was already known at this point. What Christ saved people from - the deserving eternal punishment - does not come into play as "the coming wrath". No, the wrath to come is just how Matthew recorded Jesus saying it will be.......there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22) I am saved from that. What a hope for my spirit, body, and future. What a God! My plans are to see Him at any moment and every day that passes is One Day Closer! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

PAUL'S CONVINCING


It is one thing to hear a great orator speak on any topic and be convinced or swayed on the idea presented. It is a similar thing to have a wonderful word-smith convince or prove his viewpoint(s) should be yours. But there is a totally different power behind a speaker or author who has experienced what they are convincing you about. I see Paul fitting into this last category as he says in Romans 8:38-39I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul went through much hardship in his adult years. His suffering for Christ's sake was even foretold from the get-go to Ananias by The Lord - But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:15-16) However, it is not just his spoken words that I am sure gave people inspiration. It is not just his and The Holy Spirit's written words that brought many direction and enlightenment. But when I observe Paul's life and hear him say - "I am convinced" - I know that life is the instrument and God is the Teacher of what I am to be convinced.

I believe Paul's first encounter with The Lord was so powerful that the experience shook him to the core. The encounter was unforgettable. The extra is that God did not leave Paul with that awesome conversion experience to get through the rest of life. God promised sufferings for His name would come Paul's way and they did. But God.....saw Paul through each one, even the one calling him home to Heaven.

There have been several Convincings in my life to reflect on and He continues to assure me of His love and care. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Are you convinced or being convinced also? I desire greatly to arrive where Paul did and say with ALL of my mind, heart, soul, and strength......."I am convinced..."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

HOW SELFISH ARE YOU?

The doctrine of imminency is a reality that changes how we live in the present age. This expectation certainly changed how the early church lived. The early church adopted a special password to identify themselves and to greet each other: Maranatha (1 Corinthians 16:22). It is an Aramaic word that only appears once in Scripture. It consists of three Aramaic words: Mar (Lord), ana (our), and tha (come). It's a kind of one-word prayer - 'our Lord, come.'

Maranatha only makes sense in light of the imminent view of the Rapture. As Renald Showers says, 'It's instructive that the early church coined this special greeting to reflect their hourly hope, eager expectation, and ardent anticipation of the Rapture. No doubt this expectation motivated them to pursue personal purity, devoted service, and evangelism. Think of how the church would change today if we were to adopt this greeting for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Think of how our lives would change if this simple greeting were always on the lips of an expectant people.' "
(p.172, The End, Mark Hitchcock)

Mr. Hitchcock addresses a motivation of The Rapture that should spur the Christian to action - evangelism. I am not a parent, but mine are still alive and I have many friends who are parents. To those who are parents or who have ever mentored or even babysat - "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

If you are a Christian, you are a parent of sorts. You are a parent over the unbelievers and hurting in this world. You have The Answer for their eternal souls and you can help their specific hurt by just reaching out into whatever the need. You can ask of the Father in heaven and Jesus said of His Father - "how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" With the Rapture and the benefits thereof inevitable the question for you and me, now and everyday is - How Selfish Are You?