Archive for May, 2016

Death is not the end


                “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give to you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me shall live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”  […]  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  […] Now when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11: 21 – 27, & 38 – 44.)


                Jesus asked Martha if she believed, and she affirmed that her faith was true.  The Lord then walked with her to the tomb, and ordered the stone to be rolled back; he commanded Lazarus (who had been dead for four days) to arise and come forth; Lazarus was instantly restored to life.  As he staggered out of the tomb Martha’s mourning heart was healed; she had experienced a miracle; she had been reunited with her dead brother.  Those who have felt the devastating loss of a family member or friend can understand Martha’s pain (and her joy.)  Death has been causing extreme heartache and sorrow for thousands of years; it separates loved ones; it takes and never gives back; death is cold, and without remorse; it is always on time and never accepts no for an answer.  Yet in the midst of the mourning and sadness, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to reunite those who have been separated.  There is no death for those who believe.  In His kingdom relationships are renewed and restored; friendships are revived; widows embrace their husbands, and children are reconciled to their parents.

                Recently, a South African man suffered a very serious asthma attack.  His family examined him and he appeared unresponsive; he was not breathing and had no pulse.  They called the morgue to come and pick him up; upon arriving, the driver also examined the body, and deemed the man to be dead.  He collected the body, returned to the morgue and put the man in a freezer for 21 hours.  The morgue workers were startled and distressed when they began to hear someone calling out from within the frigid compartment.  They were so frightened that they first called the police to come and investigate the matter.  The police opened the freezer and discovered the dead man was very much alive.  As the family members were mourning together and planning the funeral they received a phone call informing them that their loved one was still living; in an instant, their hurting hearts were healed and their sadness was turned to joy.  This amazing story became headline news and a spokesman from the health department urged South Africans to leave pronouncing people dead to medical health professionals.

                In much the same way, when a believer dies they appear lifeless; their bodies turn cold and begin to decay; yet although they may be laid to rest in the ground, they are living with God in His Kingdom.  “To be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5: 8.)  Have you felt the sting of death?  Have you experienced the sadness of a loss?  Is there someone you yearn to see again?  Take heart, for the lost are not truly lost; those who have died are not truly dead.  If you believe, you will be reunited with them (at least with those who were themselves believers.)  Your loved ones are waiting for you; they happily expect your embrace, and eagerly anticipate your arrival.  Believe in Christ and you will receive eternal life.  Hope in God’s promises and you will live forever.  Trust in the Lord and you will see those you have lost; faith will bring you to them, and your sorrow will turn to joy, and your heart will overflow with Gladness.

 “Lord Father, we ask for increased faith; strengthen us, and help us to trust in You.  We know that death no longer has power over us.  We are eternal and we will live forever with You in Your Kingdom.  We believe in Your son, and we trust in Your promises.  We know that many of our loved ones are with You; and we anxiously await the day of our reunion.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we endure until that day.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

Embracing Change


                “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.) 


                In the ancient world, when an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were extracted and utilized to store and transport valuable liquids.  Wine was a very common first century beverage.  Unlike water, wine underwent a process known as fermentation; during which gases were produced; these gases caused the wineskins to swell and expand.  The older wineskins were hard and inflexible (like leather.)  As the new wine expanded, it would cause them to tear open.  Therefore, unfermented wine was always placed in to new wineskins.  In this illustration, the old wineskins represent old ideas, habits, and beliefs that are incompatible with the new life God has offered through His Son Jesus Christ.  Most people desperately cling to their old lives; yet those who follow Jesus Christ must let go of the old and grab hold of the new; they must no longer fear change; but rather, they must fully embrace it.

                Shortly after becoming a Christian, God began to make some very serious changes in my life.  For many years I had enjoyed listening to secular rap music and heavy metal.  One day God showed me how it was negatively affecting my spirit.  So, I made a commitment to only listen to worship music (which was positive, clean, and uplifting.)  My appetite for the old music was strong; at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me; but slowly I began to enjoy it.  Soon I was joyfully singing along with the songs; I noticed my attitude was more positive; my thoughts were more peaceful; I even began to smile with ever greater frequency [Note: today, the old songs are no longer appealing to me; I even find them repulsive.]  God has made similar changes in every area of my life.  He has healed me; the old things have passed away; behold, He “has made all things new.”

                God desires to pour His Spirit in to the hearts and minds of those who are willing to receive it.  His Spirit produces great transformation.  We must let go of our fears; we must become willing to change; we must not be rigid and inflexible; only in embracing and allowing God to transform us, will we truly experience new life.  Let go of your old ideas, habits, and beliefs, and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit.  Allow Him to guide and direct you and He will lead you into His everlasting peace and eternal joy.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You make wonderful transformations in our hearts and minds.  May we become flexible; may we embrace change.  Jesus, we desire to become more like You; remove any habits, ideas, or beliefs that stand in the way of our growth; destroy the old and bring forth the new.  May we experience the fullness of Your Holy Spirit.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Desperation Leads to Faith


             Then they brought him to Him.  And when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground.  So he asked his Father, “How long has this been happening to him?”  And he said, “From childhood.  And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it:  “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”  Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him.  And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose (Mark 9: 20-28.)            


                The Disciples were unable to cure this boy; Jesus arrived on the scene, and the boy’s Father was so desperate to have his son healed he begged Jesus to help him.  The Father had lived his entire life in fear; his son was being attacked by a demon, and the Man was helpless to do anything for his Son.  His tears revealed his level of desperation.  Faith is often revealed in moments of desperation.  The Father believed in his moment of despair that Jesus Christ could heal his son.  He had faith in the Lord.

                My journey with God didn’t begin with a strong faith in Jesus Christ.  Instead, it began when I realized that I needed a miracle.  There was an impassible and immovable obstacle which stood in my way.  I knew that many people had had their lives changed by Jesus Christ; I had heard so many testimonies of others being healed that in my time of desperation, I chose to go to the one person who could do the impossible.  So I began to read the bible, and to attend church, and to pray, and you know what…?  I found my miracle, and far more than that, I found the truth, and eternal life.  The obstacle that was in my way has been removed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Today, when I go through some sort of trial, or I’m afraid, and anxious, my first course of action isn’t to call a friend, or to reach out to someone for advice or comfort.  Instead, I go off alone, often times for a walk, and I pray to God.  I let God know about my worries, and my struggles, and I look to him for comfort, guidance, and direction before I look to others.

                Today, many people are facing some impossible obstacle and they need a miracle.  Jesus Christ can give them that miracle, if they are desperate enough to believe that for God, “All things are possible to him who believes.”  When you struggle, when trials come your way, might I suggest that the first thing you do is take some time to pray, and to talk with God.  Go to him first in those moments of desperation, and if you believe, he will do the impossible for you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, first we lift You up; You are an awesome and mighty God.  You are so full of truth and wisdom and we love You.  Help us Lord to make You the first person we turn to in times of trouble.  Give us a heart to believe; help us with our unbelief.  Also, give us a heart of love for others, and a compassion for those who are looking for the miracle that You might have in store for them.  Make us the kind of people that are not condemning of the lost, or those who are desperate, but fill us with Your love for them Father.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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