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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Unseen Warfare

 

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

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Dark Clouds

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.

God’s Sorrow

 

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“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin”

2 Corinthians 7:10

 

“I am a man of constant sorrow I’ve seen trouble all my day. . .For six long years I’ve been in trouble, No pleasures here on earth I found. For in this world I’m bound to ramble I have no friends to help me now.” I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys

This sad, sorrowful song paints a desperate, hopeless picture of poor decisions leading to sorrow. Usually, when we read or hear of sorrow, this is the picture we see: hopeless, sad, lamenting, regret. However, God has provided a far better definition. Godly sorrow offers repentance and renewal—forgiveness!

How typical of God, the lover of our souls, to wash away the hopelessness of sorrow as we know it, and replace it with hope-filled repentance—the forgiveness of sins. Those who willingly follow Christ understand repentance and forgiveness. Not only do we understand— we relish the thought of God’s unlimited forgiveness. Interestingly, non believers, those who reject Christ, still understand the power of forgiveness as opposite of the power of sorrowful regret or hopelessness. All humans know that forgiveness, whether given or received, brings welcome relief mixed with hope. And why not— forgiveness was invented by God and shown to the world through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 7:8-10

“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”  

Psalm 51:16-17

  “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant

heart, O God.” 

Isaiah 66:1-2

“This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build Me a temple as good as that? Could you build Me such a resting  place?

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are Mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”

1 Peter 5:5-7  

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Psalm 33:16-22

16 “No king is saved by the size of his army;

   no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

   despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him,

   on those whose hope is in His unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death  and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;

   He is our help and our shield.

21 In Him our hearts rejoice,

   for we trust in His holy name.

22 May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,

   even as we put our hope in You.”

Hebrews 12:11

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

When confronted by punishment, a child is sorrowful (perhaps because they’ve been discovered rather than for their behavior). If they’ve learned a lesson, their life will be more peaceful afterwards. If not, the cycle will be repeated. The same is true in our relationship with God. If we learn the lesson and repent, our sorrow will be short-lived and transformed into righteousness.

God Wants To Bless You

 

“We have been made right in God’s sight by faith…” Romans 5:1

 

            Bethel Church sat on a quiet road on twelve acres of well-tended land. Across the parking lot was a very nice parsonage. There were six primary families who had the vision for Bethel and saw to it that their vision became a reality. In the process, they confused building the church with “owning” the church.

            As the head elder Bud would say, “We have the responsibility to keep an eye on the pastor just to make certain sure he don’t go down any wrong trails.” They took their jobs very seriously. So far six pastors failed to make the grade. A seventh was about to find the door out.

            An emergency meeting had been called to discuss the pastor. A young believer sat in the meeting, astounded by the petty, ridiculous accusations leveled at the pastor. He knew him to be a man of love; a man who guided his young life to trust in the Lord. With tear-filled eyes he stood and reminded the people of God’s desire for believers to walk in love, to practice forgiveness and pray for healing. Instead, one of the founding fathers smiled and said, “Well son, we know you mean well but you’re young yet. Some day you will understand. Now let’s have the vote so we can start looking for a new pastor.”

            The next morning, the pastor called the young man over for coffee and a little help in preparing for the move.

            Laying his hand on his Bible the pastor said, “Son, God’s Word will never fail or let us down. He has seen to it that the answers to all our problems can be found between these pages. Let me show you an important section in the book of Romans.”

            Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

            “What a wonderful set of promises,” said the Pastor. “You will notice that it does not say anything about having perfect conditions or a place of prominence. These promises are based on our decision to believe in Jesus Christ; in spite of any problems we might have. And they have nothing to do with our performance. Notice the word undeserved!

“We can’t stop reading there. To fully understand how God works, let’s keep reading.”

            Romans 5:3-5  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

            “Now, let’s look at some verses spoken by Jesus in the book of Matthew.

           Matthew 6:9-15  Pray like this:  Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

            “Here is a powerful prayer given to us by Jesus Himself. Look at what he says about forgiveness, ‘forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven…’ As we pray this, we are agreeing with God to put a condition on our forgiveness. We are saying, forgive me in the same way I forgive others who have sinned against me. You see how it plays out? If we don’t forgive others He can’t forgive us. Now that is a place I do not want to be in with God.

“So, when I consider these verses, I have no choice but to believe that God was not taken by surprise when our tenure here was cut short and that He has another place for us to go. What God considers most important is how I react to this trial. Do I allow Him to change me by this or do I stomp off mad, pouting in a corner somewhere? We mustn’t forget the words of James either.”

            James 1:2-4  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

            “And as I read James last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Matthew as well.”

            Matthew 5:11-12  God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

            “Son, I fully believe all the words that God has placed in our Bible and I have placed my life in His hands. I understand your feelings of hurt and outrage over what happened to me but you’ve got to go to His word and see what He says about life. The Bible is not buffet style, where we pick and choose which verses we consider important or relevant for today. If you want to follow the Lord, you must give it all up to Him. Believe me, you will never regret it. Never.”

 

Treasures

 

“Storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future…” 1 Tim. 6:19

The hotel conference room was filled as the anxious crowd anticipated words of financial wisdom from a well-known Christian financial advisor and he did not disappoint. He carefully explained ten of his “secrets” for investing that have proven successful over the test of time. The crowd was beaming as they imagined building their prosperity.

And then he surprised everyone with a story that seemed out of place. He told of a Bible teacher who taught a class of 25 people, all of whom were solid Christians. On this day, he passed out a questionnaire. They were to simply answer a question regarding the verses on the page: Do you think these verses are literal? Do they apply to Christians today? Are we to live by them? The verses were: *Matthew 6:19-34.

At this point he paused and said, “For those of you who may not recall those verses, here they are,” clicking his remote and splashing them across the screen. Again he paused, giving them time to absorb the Scriptures.

“I can see I’ve thrown a bit of cold water on most of you. But think about it with me. First I gave you excellent, proven methods to increase your wealth. Now I am simply reminding you what Jesus said about that wealth and where your treasures should be. Money and the accumulation of it is worthless and usually detrimental to our lives. Giving to those who need help, with the money we’ve earned is Biblical and pleasing to the Lord.”

“In this context, you will see white buckets at each door as you leave. They are there to accept contributions for the aid of widows and orphans. Allow me to give you this reminder as you leave:

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

*Matthew 6:19-34   “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

What is this treasure?

2 Cor. 4:1-7  This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. 2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.

5 We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.

Col. 2:1-3  I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. 2 My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ. 3 All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him.

Can we claim not to love wealth more than our brothers and sisters in Christ when we see them hurting and do not sacrifice what should matter to us less than their need? While many of us pursue status symbols that television suggests are “necessities,” evangelical ministries to the poor claim that forty thousand people die of starvation and malnutrition daily. That means roughly twenty-seven a minute, twenty of whom are children under five years old. ~InterVarsity Press New Testament Comment

Happy New Year – 2017

Some say “the universe”, some say “fate”, some say “karma”, some say “luck”, some just shake their heads and say “whatever, it’s all good”. But the absolute truth is that God, who created everything with His spoken Word, sent His Son Jesus, the Christ, to live and then die as a sacrifice for our sins. The death of Jesus has opened the door for eternal life for all who believe in Him.

You may scoff, roll your eyes or secretly think I’m a whacko but the only resolution that can actually change your life forever is faith in Jesus Christ. I love all who read this because Christ gave me the power to love you. Nothing in all the world is as important as having faith in Christ as your Savior.

To sum it up, when I think of wishing everyone a Happy New Year my thoughts run to the singular most important decision we can all make as outlined in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans, chapter 10 verse 13: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved!” 

Forever Secure

 

“I write these things…so you may know you have eternal life” 1 John 5:13

Many years ago after accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, I learned an important verse found in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” I have determined that this nugget of truth forms the foundation of a secure and unwavering Christian life.

Hiding God’s word in our hearts consists of earmarking those verses that calm, assure, build up, strengthen and encourage us and form the pathway to His peace. During spiritual attack and temptation, His word is our only hope. As Satan fires his condemning, lying, fiery darts, our shield of faith—forged from His word hidden in our hearts—extinguishes those lethal darts.

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, freely shedding His own life’s blood for us, so our sins could be forgiven most of the time or, almost always. Our forgiveness is once and for all. We are eternally forgiven based on His death and resurrection, not on our worth or works. If you feel you are not totally forgiven, it is a lie from satan, not the truth. We cannot be plucked out of God’s hand.

John 10:27-29 ~“ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

John 11:25-26  ~ “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 10:10-11 ~ “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

1 Peter 1:3-5 ~ “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

John 6:35-40 ~ “Jesus replied, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

1 John 4:4 ~ “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Romans 8:38 ~ “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 4:18 ~ “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.”

God has a plan for our salvation and that plan cannot be thwarted by ANYONE, including you or me. Our salvation  is eternally secure in His hands, not based on our worth or performance. However, when we FEEL unworthy or depressed, we can call upon His Word that we’ve hidden in our heart or open the Bible to find those verses that renew our faith and encourage our souls.