Timeless

“Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’

“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’” (John 8:57-58). Jesus was around before Abraham existed – before the world was even created.

A favourite songwriter of mine is Michael Card and in one of his songs, “The Final Word”, he tells us: “Eternity stepped into time.” The awesome thing is that one day, we’ll do it the other way round. We who were once constrained by time will step into eternity. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Time loses its importance when I understand things from a heavenly perspective. “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Every earthly institution will be done away with. There’ll be nothing left except those things which are eternal.

Have you thought about where you’ll spend eternity? Because Jesus spoke about everyone rising from their graves – some to eternal condemnation and others to eternal life (John 5:28-29). Eternal life is knowing God, and knowing Jesus whom God has sent (John 17:3). If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, that life is yours, and you’ll spend not only time but the whole of eternity with Him.

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Illness

I remember my nan telling me about a time before her mother died. She was very ill and kept repeating a certain phrase. I can’t remember what she said it was in Welsh, but it translated: “What have I done? What have I done?” I find it sad that at a time when they’re in most need of comfort and reassurance, not just my nan’s mother but others too wonder deep-down whether their affliction is some kind of punishment from God.

When you’re ill, you can hold onto the love God has for you. One of the verses I keep coming back to says that God “delights in the wellbeing of His servant” (Psalm 35:27). Illness is only a temporary thing. When we step into eternity with God, there won’t be any more sorrow, and He’ll wipe away all our tears.

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Turn it on its Head

Do you remember in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, Wonka would get something wrong and then he’d say: “Strike that! Reverse it”? I’d like to give certain quotes the same treatment. Take this one as an example:
“You’re so heavenly-minded, you’re no earthly use!”
I would argue that those who are heavenly-minded are of far more earthly use. Heavenly-minded people examine their lives. They look at what they do and ask: Does this have eternal value?

When we think of God’s greatest commandments (love the LORD your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself), we see that anything we do for God or for others has value not only for now, but for eternity. That’s what heavenly-minded people give the majority of their time and their money to.

Here’s another:
“Preach the gospel and where necessary, use words.”
When I was growing up, the philosophy was that there were two things you didn’t talk about at dinner parties: Politics and religion. Your beliefs were to be kept private, but faith in Jesus is more than a religion – it’s a crucial part of my life. If God comes first and my loved ones come second to Him, asking me to keep quiet about my faith is like asking a newlywed not to talk about their spouse; it doesn’t work.

I can understand that people don’t want to make a great speech but leave their hearers still in need, and the Bible supports this: “A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, ‘God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,’ but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing” (James 2:15-16). We don’t want our words to be worth nothing, but meeting people’s needs should never be a substitute for telling the good news of Jesus and His love that invites us into a relationship with God. Remember when that crowd of five thousand-plus stayed with Jesus so long that they were hungry? Why had they stayed? What were they doing? They were listening to Jesus talk to them about God! God’s Word came first and always will. Meet people’s physical needs if you’re able, but don’t neglect the spiritual. “Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Are there any quotes that you’d like to turn upside-down?

It’s not Fair

Have you ever come to a point where you think the world’s such an unjust place? I’ve been reading this week about a 5-year-old girl who died in a horrible accident on her own driveway. I know God’s not the author of suffering, but I also know (from the book of Job in the Bible) that the devil can’t do anything without God’s say-so. It seems incongruous that God would allow something like this to happen to Christians who’d done so much for Him and even turned to Him in prayer at the time of the accident. As I read about the family processing their grief, one thing stuck out to me – the confusion, and this verse came to mind: “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). It wasn’t God’s heart that wrote this into their story.

Later I was in church, and a situation came up that I just felt so annoyed about. “How can that be fair?” was my question to God, and He did the unexpected. He reminded me of Jesus dying on the cross. If anyone had the right to say it’s not fair, surely it was Jesus, but what kept Him going? The joy that was set before Him. He knew all about eternity and the kingdom that would spread out in front of Him – the kingdom where fairness and justice will finally reign supreme.

Sometimes life in this world isn’t fair, but I hope you find comfort in this verse, as I have:

“Then a kingdom of love will be set up, and someone from David’s family will rule with fairness. He will do what is right and quickly bring justice” (Isaiah 16:5).

31 Jesus-Benefits: Ticket to Paradise

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Day 25 and one huge benefit to being a Christian is:

Assurance of a future in heaven.

I talked to someone once who said: “Course, there’s nothing to say you’re actually going. You might be left behind, like me.” He was joking, but the verse above came to mind immediately. These things I have written that you may know. Jesus is your ticket to heaven. If you follow Him, you’ll have eternal life. Guaranteed. Absolutely no chance of being left behind! Have you got your ticket?

“No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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Him and Us

We’re just the clay; You’re the One who fashions it.

We just live in time; You hold it in Your hand.

To us, things don’t make sense; You understand all things.

To us, our circumstances loom large; You see the bigger picture.

To us, the precious is something to cling to; You ask for our willingness to let go.

To us, letting go means surrendering control; to You, letting go is a compliment.

To us, letting go means trusting; You are completely trustworthy.

To us, letting go means denying ourselves; You want us to look beyond ourselves.

To us, our future is unfathomable; You know every moment in our eternity.

To us, eternity is an open door; You opened the Way for us to go through it.

To us who go through the door, the end is a new beginning.

To Him who burst out of the tomb, His end brought a new beginning – for Him, and for us.

Thank You, Jesus.

Build Your City

“Do good things for the city where I sent you as captives.  Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Today’s Daily Post asks what do we like most, and least, about the place where we live?  What’s its biggest problem and how would we tackle it?

As well as my parents and some of my closest friends being nearby, one of the best things about the place where I live is its beauty.  We have a range of hills here, the highest of which has an easy tarmac path from a car-park right to the top, and I absolutely love being on those hills in the sunshine.  The only drawback is the number of dogs likely to be running loose up there.

Our biggest problem?  Well, I hear that in the area where I go to church, one in three households live in poverty.  I personally help to tackle this by involvement with my local food bank, but as a church, with those people right on our doorstep, I’m sure we could do a whole lot more.  Obstacles like lack of transport or unemployment aren’t so easy to solve, but if we can’t get paid work, we can find other ways to make use of our time.

What’s the biggest problem in your neighbourhood?  Maybe you could play a part in tackling it.  When God’s people went as prisoners to Babylon, God used someone called Jeremiah to encourage them to pray for the land where they lived, and to do good in it.  It’s wise for us to get involved in the place where we are.  Otherwise, we’ll only have ourselves to blame if things go downhill.  As a Christian, being ‘Set apart’ isn’t necessarily about distance; it’s about living life with a purpose different from that of the world around us.  Giving a percentage of our money to God instead of keeping it all for ourselves is being set apart.

Do you know one other thing I like about this place?  Just like Jeremiah said to the Israelites in Babylon, it’s temporary.  We won’t always have to live in this troubled world.  In our hearts we can look forward to our heavenly home, where our Father will love us and keep us safe forever.

One

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the

church” – Ephesians 5:31-32.

 

You might have read in a previous post about when these words “become one flesh” were first used.  It was in the context of a marriage, so how can the church be “one flesh” with Jesus Christ?

 

As I asked that question, Jesus’ prayer before His death came to my mind.  “I pray also for those who will believe in Me” says Jesus, “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You” – John 17:20-21.  That’s what it means to be one with Jesus – His Spirit lives in us.  He’s part of us – not a physical oneness (as in marriage), but spiritual; and as Christians, we’re part of one another (Romans 12:5).

 

In the Old Testament, there are lots of pointers to Jesus, and to what God has planned for the future.  Could it be that marriage is also like that – a temporary thing on this earth, pointing to a spiritual truth that’s everlasting?  No wonder that when He spoke about eternity, Jesus said people would neither marry nor be given in marriage:  They won’t need to.  They’ll be where temporary things have vanished away, and what remains will last forever.