New Bodies Await

 

“When they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies” ~Isaiah 26:19

 

It was a perfect summer morning as Derek and Tony were sitting in the shade of the outdoor cafe, enjoying fruit smoothies after an arduous workout. Both men were in their 50’s, in decent condition, hoping to work off those dreaded extra pounds that seem to always attach themselves to their waistlines.

“You know, it’s not fair,” said Tony as he grabbed a handful of extra waistline flesh.

“What’s not fair, besides life and not enough money?”

“I’m talking about this fat that always settles just above my belt. I used to be trim and fit, no matter what I ate. Now look,” he said, pointing to his bulging stomach.

“Oh. That. Clearly I am in the same boat, Tony. But guess what— I will have a perfect body some day. No wrinkles, no bulging waistline, no aching back, no bad knees or fallen arches. My body will be perfect in every aspect!”

“Let me taste your drink, my friend. I think you might have a little alcohol in your smoothie. Oh, wait, you’ve been watching reruns of  Jason Statham movies and dreaming his body is yours. I know because I’ve done the same thing. An honest look in the mirror will bring you back to reality,” he chuckled.

Derek put his elbows on the table and leaned toward Tony and said, “I’m not talking about that. I’ve come to terms with never looking like Statham or any such guy. I’m talking about the next life, after I die. The Bible tells me that Jesus will give me a new, perfect body— A spiritual body.

Our earthly bodies, these hunks of flesh we complain about so often, cannot exist in eternity so God will transform us into spiritual beings with radically different bodies which will never see decay. You know that time you broke your arm and how painful it was and how on certain winter days it still aches?”

Tony nodded his head, recalling that horrible experience.

“Never happen in heaven, my friend. These wrinkled, oversized bodies will be completely transformed into spiritual bodies which will never see decay, never breakdown, never tear or ache. They will be custom made by God Himself.”

“Are you making this up, Derek? I’ve never heard you talk about this before. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard anyone talk about superhuman bodies in heaven. So will you be able to fly around, have super strength, maybe X-ray vision?” he laughed.

“Well, I’m not sure. Whatever God has planned will happen and part of His plan is for us to shed these earthly bodies after death. Sort of like waking through a door in this flesh and appearing on the other side in a shiny, perfect body that will never die!

“Truthfully, Derek, I don’t think I want to live forever. I’m only 54 now and it seems a lifetime of disappointment, regret, failures and missed opportunities with a few good times sprinkled in so I won’t totally give up. So the thought of never dying but spending eternity like this— no thanks my friend. One lifetime is plenty.”

“Believe me, I understand how you feel but heaven is not like that, Derek. No tears, no sadness, no failures, no hidden past to haunt you, no broken marriages. Nothing but praising God and experiencing absolute perfection. Before you say anything, keep in mind that we will be perfect in all ways. Body and mind! We will never have a bad thought. No lust or greed or anger. Bottom line: since we’ve never experienced perfection in body or mind, we cannot understand life without problems and discouragement.”

Activating his mobile phone, Derek began reading some Bible verses to Tony,”

1 Cor 15:43-44 The bodies we have now embarrass us, for they become sick and die; but they will be full of glory when we come back to life again. Yes, they are weak, dying bodies now, but when we live again they will be full of strength. They are just human bodies at death, but when they come back to life they will be superhuman bodies. For just as there are natural, human bodies, there are also supernatural, spiritual bodies.

2 Cor 5:1 “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.”

Phil 3:20-21 “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

There was silence as the men looked at each other; Tony trying to absorb this seemingly impossible information. “I had no idea, Derek. It really is like a superhero magazine story. But I can tell you believe this to be true. And since you’ve read it to me, I understand it is in the Bible. Wow! Talk about food for thought.

“Listen, I’ve got to get to work so let’s meet tomorrow morning at Cafe Vio and you can tell me more about this. I need to wrap my mind around this idea my friend.”

 

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The Four Horsemen

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“I looked, and there in front of me was a *white horse” ~Revelation 6:2

 

“As we come to Revelation, chapter six, the scene shifts to earth, and the question naturally is: What happens on the earth when the church leaves? The Great Tribulation takes place, and that is the subject of chapters 6-18. The opening of the seven-sealed book is the subject specifically of chapter 6 through verse 1 of chapter 8. These seven seals open up the Great Tribulation Period. The Lord Jesus breaks the seals, and the four horses ride forth.

   The important thing for us to keep before us is the One who is worthy to open this book. He is directing everything now. As we were told at the beginning, this is the Revelation, the unveiling, of Jesus Christ. He is no longer the High Priest, standing as intercessor, but He is now the executor of God’s will upon the earth as He opens the seals of the book. All the judgments of the Great Tribulation usher forth from the seals out of which come the trumpets, the persons, and the bowls.

   The church will be delivered from this period of judgment because they are saved by the grace of God. Only those who reject the grace of God go into the Great Tribulation Period. There are certain factors that are brought into focus which increase the intensity and the ferocity of the Great Tribulation:

  1. The Holy Spirit will restrain evil no longer. Do I mean that He will leave the world? No, He won’t leave. He will take the church out of this world, but that does not mean He is going to leave. He will still be here, but He will not restrain evil any longer. In other words, man is going to have his little day during that period, and so is Satan.
  2. The true church, as light and salt, will be gone from the earth.
  3. The Devil knows he has but a short time. He is going to take advantage of it during this period, and God is going to give him free reign.
  4. Evil men will be free to carry out their nefarious plans. In other words, Antichrist will be able to take over this earth for a brief period of time.
  5. There will be direct judgment from God. We see that here in vs. 17, which says, “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

   I do not think that the Great Tribulation breaks suddenly like a great tornado. The opening of the seals is gradual, logical, chronological. They are opened one at a time. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb, takes the seven-sealed book, and He breaks the first seal. Christ is going to break all the seals one after another. He is in full charge, and every creature in heaven is moving at His command. So the four horsemen are now going to ride forth. He breaks each seal, and says, “Go.”

   The Lord Jesus, the Lamb, opened the first seal and the first horseman on a white horse in Revelation 6:2 appeared, which likely refers to the Antichrist, who will be given authority and will conquer all who oppose him. The antichrist is the false imitator of the true Christ, who will also return on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).

   Antichrist does not appear as a villain. After all, Satan’s angels are angels of light. He is not going to have horns or cloven feet. Rather, he is going to be the most attractive man the world has ever seen. They will elect him, and the world will acclaim him because he has come in his own name. But when he takes over, it sure is going to be bad for the world.

   The Lamb broke open the second seal and a horseman on a red horse (Revelation 6:4) with a long sword and the authority to banish peace and bring anarchy to the earth  was revealed. War and killing broke out everywhere.

   The Lamb opened the third seal and I saw a third horseman, riding a black horse (Revelation 6:5-6) holding a pair of scales in his hand representing a world-wide famine.

   When the fourth seal was broken, a rider on a pale horse was seen (Revelation 6:5-6). It’s rider was named Death, and Hades was close behind. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague; and by wild beasts of the earth!

   The pale horse represents plague and pestilence that will stalk the earth. It also encompasses the possibility of germ warfare. Dr. Frank Holdman, head of the University of Tennessee’s bacteriological department, said, “While the greater part of a city’s population could be destroyed by an atomic bomb, the bacteria method might easily wipe out the entire population within a week.”

   We have seen the riding of the four horsemen, and this follows exactly the pattern that the Lord Jesus gave while He was on the earth. In Matthew 24:5-8, in the Olivet Discourse, He said: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many [the white horse]. And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars [the red horse]: see that you are not troubled: for all these must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines [the black horse], and pestilences [the pale horse], and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” This is the opening of the Great Tribulation!

*White – speaks of peace (the true prince of peace, Jesus, rides the white horse in Rev 19) but this is a false peace and a false rider coming in the name of peace in Rev 6 – the antichrist.

Red – the red colour speaks of bloodshed and war which is what this rider on the horse causes.

Black – pictures famine here. Used in Lam 4:4,8-9 to speak of the effects of famine.

Pale green, Ashen – the colour of death which is what this horseman brings.

~Information taken from J. Vernon McGee (Revelation 6-13) and gotquestions.org

 

Now or Forever?

 

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“But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” Romans 12:24

My friend had been a Christian for 15 years, having the same combination of joys and struggles most of us have, when he began listening to a pastor who proclaimed that God wanted all believers to enjoy prosperity, better jobs, health, happiness and that elusive promotion.

“God loves you so much,” the man said, “that he wants you to enjoy your piece of heaven right now while you’re here on earth. Don’t believe the talk about a recession or bad economic times,” he continued, “it is during these times that God moves all obstacles in our way so we can prosper and be an example to the world!”

After listening for several months and sending his tithe and offerings, suggested by the pastor (as you give so shall you reap), his overall fortunes took a dive. My friend was floundering. He was discouraged and disappointed with God. Instead of realizing that the pastor was in error, he looked higher and fixed the blame on God. His heavenly dispensing machine had failed to produce according to his wishes.

My friend had been lured away by the promises of a worldly pastor using materialistic bounty to distort and confuse the truth of the Gospel.

Romans 1:25  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Fortunately, my friend began to see through the false promises of selfish gain to realize that God’s promises are ever-faithful but geared to our eternal prosperity, not temporary pleasures or materialistic gain. Instead of eagerly listening to this false shepherd who was leading his flock astray, my friend returned to the Bible, the only source of absolute truth. He found the Streams of Living Water (John 7:38) to wash his soul once again.

Hebrews 13:20-21  Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

John 10:11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.

1 John 2:15  Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

As he took his eyes off the false promises he’d been taught and returned to his first love, Jesus Christ, my friend began to change. He began to flourish. The peace of God was once again filling his heart and showing on his countenance. He saw clearly now that he had been trading the grace of God for the hope of material wealth. A very poor trade.

Romans 5:1-5  Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.  This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:11  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 8:35-39  Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings? If we have no food or clothes, if we are in danger, or even if death comes—can any of these things separate us from Christ’s love? As it is written in the Scriptures:

“For you we are in danger of death all the time. People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.” Psalm 44:22

But in all these things we have full victory through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us. Not death, not life, not angels, not ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, or anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12:2  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

To help each other flourish, we can pray this Scripture:

1 Thessalonians 5:23  Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming.

 

Book Review: Another Bible. Good Enough?

CSB Worldview Study Bible

 

I love books and especially Bibles. But when I received a free copy for review of the CSB Worldview Study Bible, I wondered if this was just another attempt at selling Bibles. I was skeptical.

Before I reveal my opinion, allow me to list the unique features found in the CSB Worldview Study Bible.

  1. Worldview study notes, Christian Worldview Elements, Timeline for each book.
  2. Over 130 articles by notable Christian authors
  3. Center Column references
  4. Presentation pages

I was very impressed by the Navy, leather-like covering and supple feel. Even more impressive is this Bible has not sacrificed reference material for the articles, which is what I thought might happen. I use references all the time as I read any Bible and these are good. Additionally, there are ample study notes at the bottom of each page, with a timeline at the beginning of each book. And– the font is very readable and I wear glasses!

From appearances, this Bible stands out among most in its category. From a reading/study perspective, the CSB Worldview Study Bible is not lacking in any way.

In case you are curious, they made room for an ample concordance too.

I found this excellent Bible a surprise. A wonderful surprise that has kept my attention since the day I opened the box.

I received a free copy of this CSB Worldview Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers.

Kneeling In The NFL

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

NFL Protesters

 

The meeting was private. In attendance were a dozen muscular, well known millionaires. Their focus? How to use their fame and status to make a point. From their perspective, the police in America were out of control, shooting innocent, unarmed black men and boys. What can they do with their combined wealth and influence to solve this tragic problem?

Ideas were tossed back and forth until one of the men said, “I will refuse to stand when they play the National Anthem. This will call attention to this messed up situation in our country.”

At first he was alone as he knelt and bowed his head at the next game. The reaction was immediate and varied. Some called it stupid and irresponsible. Some thought it was a good idea. Then, as is always the case, more men joined in and refused to stand for the National Anthem. Now we have their attention, they thought. Now things will change. Did they? Unfortunately, the incidence of black men and boys dying at the hands of the police did not cease or diminish.

And the refusal to stand? The NFL has now decreed there will be no further kneeling football players during the National Anthem. If they plan to kneel, they must stay in the locker room while the anthem is playing. Then they shall come onto the field.

So what have those millionaire athletes accomplished by thumbing their noses at the American tradition of standing during the National Anthem? Well one consequence is they forced the owners to make the recalcitrant kneelers wait it out in the locker room during the National Anthem. After all, who cares about the anthem recognizing our country and its rich history; The country that has allowed these players to become wealthy and famous from doing what they enjoy doing?

My question to these role models is this: If you are actually concerned about increased violence and shooting deaths of black men and boys by police officers, what might you do about finding a solution? You have fame and wealth, people listen to you and you can afford to support a group or study aimed at discovering a solution. Wouldn’t that be more worthwhile than kneeling during the National Anthem?

Unseen Warfare

 

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood”  ~Ephesians 6:12

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We consider the problems in our life as originating from flesh and blood conflicts. For example, we are knocked off our perch by greedy, inconsiderate, backbiting, unfaithful, deceptive, unfair, fraudulent conflicts. Our hearts get broken, money taken, job jeopardized and so on. “How can this be happening to me?” we wail.

As Christians, however, we must remember what God says about the source of our struggles:

Ephesians 6:10-12 ~”Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”

The unseen world rules the seen and temporary world. The unseen enemy who wars against our soul doesn’t want us to use our eternal weapons of warfare provided by God that reach into his realm. He wants us to blame each other and flail around with awkward, earthbound weaponry. He wants us to fight what we can see and touch instead of calling upon God. Above all, satan wants us to act as though we are still citizens of this earth and forget that our citizenship is in heaven.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ~”We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”

There is a true King (God) and a false one; a magnificent heaven and a terrifying hell. We presently wander a battlefield called earth, which is caught between night and day, life and death. Everything we now see, including the earth, will one day pass away.

We are agents of truth who cannot afford to distrust the Holy Spirit within. Doubt is one of the mightiest weapons satan raises against us. Doubt gives birth to hesitation, unbelief and fear. Stand against the attacks, press in and get the counsel of heaven.

James 1:5-6 ~”If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

1 Corinthians 2:11-13 ~”No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like except that person himself. And no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) to tell us about the wonderful free gifts of grace and blessing that God has given us. In telling you about these gifts we have even used the very words given to us by the Holy Spirit, not words that we as men might choose. So we use the Holy Spirit’s words to explain the Holy Spirit’s facts.”

Psalm 86:11-13 ~”Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.”

And how do you handle your problems? Are your knuckles bruised from fighting the world as though God were some distant deity, smiling down from heaven, wishing you luck? Take stock of who you are according to the Bible and call upon Mighty God to direct your path and destroy the wiles of the enemy. God never sleeps or slumbers and is always with you…every second of every day! He’s done everything possible to prepare us for battle with unseen spiritual forces. Tap into His unlimited power and, by faith, take up the armor of God! The shield of faith does wonders.

Weapons

 

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“No weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged”  Isaiah 54:17

 

In 1953 the movie Shane hit the theaters, starring Alan Ladd as the mysterious, confident stranger. Shane shows up at a farmer’s (Joe Starrett) place to find rest and work. Feeling uneasy about the stranger wearing a gun, Starrett tells Shane he has no work. Shane apparently leaves.

Moments later, cowhands from a local cattle baron ride up to the same place, intentionally riding through the vegetable garden to threaten Starrett into selling his place. The cowhands are menacing, all wearing guns, and leaving no doubt as to the future for Starrett and his wife and son if they do not sell soon.  

But then something happens to change the mood of the menacing cowboys from snarling to cautious as their attention is focused on a quiet stranger who has appeared at the corner of Starrett’s house, leaning against the building, staring ominously at the bullies.  

Since life is spiritual, it is obvious to everyone that this quiet, gun-toting stranger is a man to be reckoned with and the brazen cowboys are not sure just what he is capable of. A few words are spoken back and forth and the men begrudgingly leave after a few empty threats.  

Shane’s presence diffused what could have turned into a tragedy for the Starrett’s. The weapons formed against Joe Starrett and his family were abruptly stopped because of the potential power of the stranger.   

This simple example represents the powerful promises of almighty God to His followers: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

In the midst of all our daily struggles and attacks of satan, God has promised that He has already defeated the enemy of our soul and we should, therefore, walk with confidence, realizing every battle is in His mighty hands. No matter the outcome, it is part of God’s plan for our lives.  

Ecc. 9:18  Better to have wisdom than weapons of war  

Is. 54:17  But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you shall succeed, and you will have justice against every courtroom lie. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. This is the blessing I have given you, says the Lord.  

Hab. 3:19  The Lord God is my strength; he will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.

Ps. 23:1  Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.  

Rom. 8:1  No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.  

2 Cor. 10:3-4  The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.  

1 Tim. 6:12  Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have made a good confession before many witnesses.  

John 10:27-30   My sheep recognize my voice and I know who they are. They follow me and I give them eternal life. They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.  

Rev. 12:10-11  Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has happened at last! God’s salvation and the power and the rule, and the authority of his Christ are finally here; for the Accuser of our brothers has been thrown down from heaven onto earth—he accused them day and night before our God. They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony; for they did not love their lives but laid them down for him.”

Until we establish in our minds, once and for all, that we are victorious in every situation in life because of God’s promises to us through our faith in Christ, we will walk in uncertainty, fear and frustration.