I am going to Heaven!

Another lesson from Benjamin Lee’s meeting with us was titled “I’m going to Heaven”.  In teaching the lesson, he referenced a sister in Christ and how she lived with this attitude.  If you asked her…she would tell you and because she believed it she lived it and that made a difference on others.  The same is true for us as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers…as men influencing children in our home, community, church…in our lives.  If we live with this faith, that we are going to heaven, then our children will see it and it will give them encouragement, confidence, and belief in their own lives.

In order to live this way, there are some questions we must keep working through our minds and help our children work through their minds.  These questions are good checks for us as we work toward our goal of Heaven.

1.  What will we need to get to Heaven?

We will get to Heaven through salvation and that salvation comes from God’s grace.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26; NKJV)

And though there are many things that demand our attention, we need to be in God’s word (Psalm 119:105) which is a lamp to our feet and we need to be obedient to it and God’s commandments (John 8:31-32—Truth makes us free; Galatians 5:4—But we can fall so we need to stay obedient).

2.  What help might we need to make our goal of Heaven?

In addition to God’s grace, His word and our obedience; we will need the edification, fellowship and help of our brethren.  The local church is a source of help as we make our way from earth to Heaven.  We see many examples of being joined to and strengthened by local brethren in the first century church.  (Acts 2:42-47; 9:19, 26; Philippians 1:1)

3.  How long will it take us to reach Heaven?

The rest of our lives!  Our journey is a marathon, not a sprint and it won’t always be on even ground.  Which is why we need God, we need our brethren and we need constant reminders.  We need to take time daily and think about Heaven and how awesome it will to be home.  How often do we truly do that?  We need it just like we need God’s grace, Word, and His people.  There are going to be challenges (Galatians 2:1-14) and we have to remember that our journey is about progress and not perfection.  We are perfected in Jesus Christ and that takes time and will take the rest of our lives.  But we can confidence in our end goal just as Paul did (2 Tim 4:6-8) no matter what phase of our life we are in.

4.  Finally, why do we want to this goal? Why do we want to go to Heaven?

I will leave you with that question but let me encourage you by the words of my nine year old daughter.  She answered this question before Ben did…and she leaned over to her mom and her answer was “Because that is where God is!”  Amen.

Stand Still–Stand Firm

David writes in Psalm 18 about the words he sang on the day God delivered him from all his enemies and the hand of Saul.  David writes:

1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.  (Psalm 18:1-3; NKJV)

Peter, after being arrested for preaching the gospel and speaking to the Sanhedrin says of Jesus… 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12; NKJV)

I thought of these verses in thinking about what kind of husband and father to my daughter I want to be.  There are a lot of different challenges to being a good Godly husband and father.  One of the most challenging for me is to know what the right thing is to do for my wife or my daughter at any given time.  What I want to do is rescue them from whatever is troubling them.  I want to be the knight in shining armor, the fixer, the “man”.  But I will tell you, this approach often has unforeseen consequences and the disappointment I feel when I get it wrong is crushing at times…and if nothing else confusing and can lower my confidence in myself and what God wants me to do.  In the worst case, I get angry and blame my wife or my daughter for not getting me or appreciating me…me, me, me.

What I think about in this context about these verses is this.  If I believe that God is my rock, my fortress, my stronghold and His Son Jesus is the chief cornerstone of my salvation, then I need to stand upon that Rock and be strong for my wife and my daughter.  If I holdfast to God and receive from Him the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, longsuffering, strength, peace…if I get all these spiritual blessings and more from Him and know that He is with me and will not forsake me…then I am free to just stand there or said another way I am free to just “be there”.  As I stand solidly on my faith and demonstrate the firm ground under my feet in Jesus, my wife and my daughter will take notice.

Standing on solid ground, I can be there for them to lean on when they need me.

Standing on the Rock of Jesus, I can stand firm if they need to climb up, lay down, and rest or just get a hug or a warm touch.

Standing firm in God, I can be an example they can look to or point to in difficult times and be encouraged.

If I am standing with Jesus, I will be what God wants me to be for my wife and my daughter.  It isn’t about what I am getting from my wife or my daughter, but what I get from my Abba Father and Elder Brother that matters.  When I get that spiritual strength through faith and abiding in Jesus, I then can give of myself in a way that is most beneficial to my wife, my daughter and my family.

Sounds crazy, but give it a try.  The next time things are going crazy, the house is hectic, there is more to be done than hands to do it…just stand still with Jesus and holdfast to Him as you hold onto her and that will make an eternal difference.

Live Like You Are Dying

Tim McGraw is a famous country singer and a few years back he had a hit song titled “Live Like You Are Dying”. The song is about a man who receives a life-changing health diagnosis and how it changes his perspective, priorities, and lifestyle. His point is simple…live today like you are dying…don’t take life for granted. To be honest, I often changed the station when this song came on because it was hard to hear…it pricked my heart…frankly it convicted me as I looked at my life and wondered just how much I was squandering, especially with what God has taught me from His word on the frailty of life, the importance of my spirituality and the fact I am a sojourner here and my real home and hope is in Heaven. The bottom-line…to my shame, I wasn’t living like I was dying and more than that…I wasn’t living like Jesus died for my sins.

I bring this up because we started our meeting with Benjamin Lee yesterday and the series is titled just like the song…“Live Like You Are Dying”. Just like with the song, my heart was pricked as Ben brought the first lesson, “Facts of Life” with Ecclesiastes 9 as its foundational scripture.

His points were simple but the implications are soul shaking, life changing, and echo in eternity. The points are this…we are all going to die, time and circumstance happen to all, and we may die today.

I know as Ben was teaching that everyone in the room who was really listening was going through their own significant emotional response. I mean come on…he is hitting home right? We are doing to die, we aren’t in control and we might just die today. How does that not give you pause and what do we do about it?

The answer is Jesus. He had to die too…and He did…just as God purposed for Him to do and in doing so provided us hope through the saving power of His blood. We all have to die and it might happen today but as a disciple of Jesus we do not have to fear that. We can stand confident in God’ mercy, grace, and love. We can know for certain that our bodies will return to the ground (dust) but our spirit will return to God who created it and if we live a life where we revere Him and keep His commandments…He will welcome us home and we will enter into an eternal rest. That is not scary. That is awesomely hopeful!

So if you don’t feel hopeful…what is the problem? Well, if you are anything like me, dread instead of hope is a result of or symptom of a life not lived the way God has prescribed. Living in such a way that we are without God makes a death of like manner terrifying. But that is the point. God wants us to feel that so we will turn back to Him and run and get back to Him as fast as we can…while we are alive…because there will not be time or opportunity for that after we are dead.

God might let bad things happen to us if that means it will either bring us back to Him or keep us close to Him. He wants us to live like we are dying because we are all going to die and we don’t know when…but He does. So if you are struggling, don’t blame God but ask Him to give you an understanding heart and allow Him to turn your discomfort into a restful peace as you return to Him. Do it now…because we are all dying…and there is a point when it is too late.

Don’t change the station when you hear this song…turn up the volume to what God is telling you, take the action He is calling you to and live forever in His love and life.

Note: The Live Like You are Dying sermons will be provided on the South Macomb Church of Christ website (https://www.southmacombchurchofchrist.org/). Take a listen and follow along in your Bibles…a lot of great material and discussion on what God’s word says about this important topic.

Only Steps Away

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:  28-34; NKJV)

Today the sermon at South Macomb was a continuation of our working through the four gospels and focused on lessons in Mark 11 and 12.  There were many points to be made but I wanted to focus on a section found in chapter 12.  I encourage you to read the chapter as I am not going to lay down much background but want to focus on this encounter between Jesus and the scribe.  I want to attempt to paint a picture in your mind that was given today and then keep that image in our mind as we work through this week.

The image I want to paint is of a safe place, a dangerous place, and someone caught in the middle.  You might have your own version of this, but I am going to offer one of my own.  Imagine you are in a building and a battle rages outside with gunfire and explosions all around.  There is a group who is safe in their reinforced concrete bunker, with no windows and made to survive the kind of chaos and destruction going on.  They are safe, but someone cracks the door to see what is going on and notices a young man running down the street…unarmed, confused, scared, looking for shelter…to be safe and live.  The one looking out also notices he is wearing the wrong uniform…the uniform of the enemy.  Even more, the one looking is wearing the wrong uniform in the eyes of the man outside…the clothes of his enemy.  But the one inside calls out to him anyways…beckons him to come and be safe.  He hears the call and he sees the caller and even starts making his way to the door.  He is hesitant and unsure what to do as he gets closer.  What if it is a trap?  Even though the bunker gets him out of the gun battle going on outside and everything he has been taught about fighting tells him this is a secure place…how does he know what is inside is safer than outside?  Still the call goes out to him, encourages him, tells him it will be safe.  Others from inside gather with the one and join and shout this same message of safety…of friendship…of hope.  He comes closer and it is clear he really wants to live and wants to be safe and wants to believe that he can be inside the bunker.  He is right there…just a couple more steps and he will be in and safe and can live.  Everyone calls to him but he stops…he looks at them…they want to grab him but the bullets are flying and they can’t quite reach him…if only he would take one more step…but he stops.  Now he is out in the open and all the danger of the situation is upon him though he is only a step or two from safety…he is unsure, and he hesitates.  Surely he was about to come those two steps…they sure want him to…but a bullet hits its mark and he is gone.  It is too late…he was so close to safety…the caller was there to save him…they had a place for him to be safe…they called out to him…they wanted him with them…but his hesitation…his lack of faith in the caller’s intentions, their actions, and the offer left him just a couple steps too far from being saved.

I know you get the point.  So let me just end today with this.  I want us to look at these kinds of situations from three perspectives this week.  Jesus is the one calling out.  We are the ones who join with hHim to encourage.  Those in the world or those of our brethren who are astray are the man in harms way.  You saw that coming right?  But don’t stop there.  Take another look.  Jesus is still calling out, our brethren are still joining in the call, but are we the man in harms way?  That could be a likely scenario…right?  Could it be that it depends in any given situation or stage of our lives or the lives of others?  Read chapter 12.  Paint this image in your head.  Meditate and pray about what we can do about those 2 last steps…whether we are in harms way or with Jesus calling others to safety.  Take some time and work that over in your head and heart and let’s see what we can learn and apply this week.  I love you all…and thankfully Jesus loves us more.

Leaning In

Eudokia: Properly, what seems good or beneficial to someone, “good-pleasure”

This word is used twice in Ephesians chapter one and is translated “kind intention”. In this chapter, while Paul is discussing “every spiritual blessing” that we have in Christ, he says that it seemed good to God to bless us. There are nine places in the New Testament where this word is used (Mt. 11:26, Luke 2:14, 10:21, Rom. 10:1, Eph. 1:5, 9, Phil. 1:15, 2:13, and II Thess. 1:11). Most of the time it is translated “well-pleasing” or “good pleasure”. In Romans 10:1, Paul is discussing his Jewish brethren and he says, “my heart’s desire” is for their salvation. So we could say that it was God’s heart’s desire to bless us in Christ.

This desire that God has must be kept in the context of Ephesians. Immediately after exploring all the things that God has done for us in Christ, he reminds us of what we were. Chapter two starts, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

This idea is a foreign concept to me. When people reject me, treat me harsh, or are downright hostile my instinct is to strike back. On a good day I will just shut down our step back but God didn’t strike back or shut down, He leaned in and showed kindness.

This attribute of God has been particularly powerful for me lately in light of challenges we are having with one of our daughters. She is speeding towards her teenage years and has been struggling with our recent move, leaving her friends behind and being introduced to a new church family and school. She has been grumpy, irritable, distant, and at times rude and disrespectful. She doesn’t want to participate in anything and when we force her to comply with our expectations she manages to do it while clearly showing her disgust. She is happy in her own misery and seems to be trying to infect the rest of the family with it.

To my shame, I have failed her. Her attitude is so repulsive to me that most of my responses have been driven by my own anger and irritation. I have tried to control her through my “fatherly” authority and punishment. And I hate to admit it but it has become easier to just avoid her and attempt to isolate her impact on the rest of the family. In short, I’ve responded exactly the opposite of how God has responded to me.

My guess is that some of you dads have experienced, or are experiencing, similar situations with your children. I am not nearly arrogant enough to believe I’m qualified to provide advice on this subject. What I know is this: God’s love and kindness is what draws me to Him. I reject Him and I rebel and He is still there, leaning in. I fight and I kick and I scream against His will and He is still there, leaning in. I fail and I fail and I fail and He is still there, leaning in.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to ask my Father for His forgiveness, which He has promised in abundance. I’m going to ask my daughter for her forgiveness which all my children have shown me in abundance. I’m going to lean in. I’m going to bless her.

Perspective. Present. Participate.

1 Let brotherly love continue… 5…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1, 5-6).

 

1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved….13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:1, 13).

Our children need us. God has provide us His instruction so that we can lead them and be for them what they need. Still, we need our Heavenly Father and Savior. In them, we are going to be the best influence in our kids’ lives. In them, we are free to love, forgive, and risk having our hearts broken time and again. They will not forsake us and are for us even when it seems like nothing is going right in our relationships with our kids or we are frustrated with the choices they are making or are questioning what we might have done wrong to get to this point. There is going to be a lot of joy with our kids…but there is a lot of sorrow and frustration. How do we deal with those hardships?

Perspective. Living today in the context of eternity and understanding God is with us and with our kids and He is able to carry our weight, show us the way, and strengthen our spirit. Further, we can consider our own relationship with Him and in it we will see much of the same in the relationship with our children. There is unconditional love. There is clear expectation for behavior. There are times we fall short and God is disappointed. And in these times, when we go to Him, we find grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and encouragement. This process happens over and over…just like with our kids. He is available and able…we just have to go to Him.

Present. God is ever-present in our lives and we need to be present in the lives of our children. Present doesn’t only mean in the same room as them or we make it to every school, athletic, or other activity they are participating in. I have learned the hard way that is not enough. Present means that we have put the other distractions away and give your full attention to what they are doing or what we are doing together. Of course we will not be completely and fully engaged in everything they are doing when we are in the same place…that is especially difficult when we are talking multiple children. What it means is we be there for our kids, make ourselves available and when they come to us or invite us to participate we are all in and give our full attention to them. That is what God does for us…we need to do this for our kids.

Participate. We participate in their lives by example…by providing a consistent example of our love for Jesus and the way He dictates how we live, the choices we make, the things we say, etc. That our love for Him is at the forefront of our lives…that we demonstrate Jesus to them. We then are going to be part of their lives and so we will enjoy their highs and endure along with them their lows. We will teach them in that. We will treat them the way God expects them to treat others. We fulfill the responsibilities God has given us with joy. It matters…more than we might know day to day but as a brother told me yesterday… “they will love you more for it”. He is right and it is that unexpected moment when my son gives me a hug, or says thanks, or my daughter blows me away with her grace or mercy, or love for another. What a beautiful moment.

In Christ Jesus and with our Heavenly Father, be free to love your kids and when you are hurt or frustrated…go to the One who can truly help you and strengthen you. Then get back to work…it’s a work worth doing and in many cases a work only you can do.

Bitter Trap

Consider this description, this portrait of bitterness provide by Carol McGalliard in the Discipleship Journal, Issue 141, May/June, 2004.

“Long ago someone hurt you.  Your shoulders hunch up when you think about it.  You set your jaw and get a bad taste in your mouth.  When you talk about the hurt, your voice sounds crabby no matter how carefully you choose your words.  You hope God will get even with the one who hurt you, but you dream about your own revenge – just in case He doesn’t.”

Strong’s defines bitterness, or the Greek word “pikria” as acridity (especially poison), literally or figuratively.  If you are like me, you might not know exactly what “acridity” is so I looked that up too…and it means sharp or biting to the taste or smell; bitterly pungent…exceedingly caustic.  That…when I think about bitterness…makes sense and hits home.

So with that in mind, think about some qualities of a bitter person?  Someone who endlessly replays a wrong in their mind in detail (and perhaps exaggerated).  Someone with selective memory who might focus only on the bad times.  Someone full of self-pity or who is self-righteous…thinking they “have a right to be bitter”.  Someone who is only has cynical (and sometimes irrational) comments or who is only harsh with others.

The Psalmist gives us a pretty clear picture of bitterness.  “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You.” (Psalm 73:21-22; NIV).  A brute beast.  That is a powerful image and one I am ashamed has described me at times…before my God, my wife, my children and pretty much everyone that has meant something to me.

Bitterness is a dangerous thing and it can destroy a family.  As a husband, I am told “do not be bitter toward my wife” (Colossians 3:19) and in general we are to avoid “any root of bitterness springing up” in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).  Bitterness leads to wrath, wrath leads to anger, anger leads to clamor, clamor leads to evil speaking, evil speaking leads to malice.  (Ephesians 4:31).

The key to overcoming bitterness…or wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice?  The key is a deep conviction with reference to the existence and nature of God, a deep confidence in God and faith in God who can be trusted in all circumstance!

God has forgiven you and me in Jesus.  It is right that He expect us to grow and to show the same grace and mercy to others.  In Him we are safe and free to love.  In that safety and freedom, we can cast the burden of bitterness on Him and know that He cares for us and will not forsake us…even when it feels like the people most important and special to us have.

So why bring this to you today?  I bring it to you today because I know that bitterness can be a very real trap in our lives laid out by Satan to separate us from those we most care about.  I have heard it said “it hurts the most when it’s someone you know” and the hurt can be a number of different things.  I have been bitter and I have let that bitterness drive a wedge in my marriage, my relationships with sisters in Christ, with my own sister…with my friends.  It has disarmed me of any grace, mercy, love or other spiritual tool and blessing and has in some circumstances created a long road to come back from in terms of reconciling a relationship and truly looking to God for my strength and my peace.

Bitterness is a trap.  It can be avoided if we keep focused on our Abba Father.  It’s still a very real trap…so be careful where you step.

Me First

I sometimes can get caught in the trap of looking at the world or other people in my life and thinking “there is so much going on that is wrong that there is no hope” or “this person is so wrong that there is no way I can have anything to do with them” or “it’s their fault” or “why bother, it doesn’t make a difference anyways”.  Notice I said I fall into a trap here because that is exactly what it is.  It is a trap or snare set by the devil to keep me from fulfilling the roles and responsibilities God has given me or to shine the Light that He has placed in my heart.  It is a trap and if we fall into looking outside of ourselves for positive change, or to fix others, or locate the source of the problems in our lives as we “lead” or “shepherd”; then we will be wrong, disappointed, and ineffective.

If positive change is going to happen in my relationships…my workplace…my home…my church…that change has to happen in my life.  It is easy to see the flaws, faults, and failures of others but God calls me to see mine first.  The word of God is likened to a mirror in James 1:23-25.  As I look into the Word, I see myself as I truly am…I see my true self in God’s mirror.

The Word of God exposes me and I am naked and open before Him (Hebrews 4:12-13).  Along with Peter I can say “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8) and the heart and the words of the Prodigal Son will be my own “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” (Luke 15:18).

The Word shows me my flaws, faults, and failures but it also shows the forgiveness available in Christ Jesus!  My Savior offers me refreshing spiritually through His blood.  Through God’s Word I see a different way…His way…and I repent or change my mind and how I live and in that, God changes my heart:  “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

I am then in a position to lead if I am quick to deal with my own sins before I seek to correct another (Matthew 7:1-5).  But if I think myself to be something, when I am nothing, I deceive myself (Galatians 6:3).   If I want to be in a position to influence another and before I ever think about it, I must honestly examine myself (Galatians 6:4).

Think about Peter in John 21.  Jesus is restoring him, giving him purpose and though Peter is hearing Jesus…he is in part thinking about John.  Jesus tells him to forget about John for now…focus on Me and what I have for you to do and I will take care of your brother.  Like Peter, we must respond to Jesus call to “follow Me”.  That is our part.  That is our job.

In that, I must be honest about what I see (James 1:24).  I must trust in GOD to mold me and make me into the image of Christ (Jeremiah 18:4; Romans 8:29).  I then can be the change that will result in the glorification of GOD, the edification of the body, and the growth of the family of GOD.

With this mindset, together, we can “excel still more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1), if individually we proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  Each of us committed to being the change that we want to see in the world and we will then be in a position to lead and make a difference…and let God work from the inside out.

Disappointment

Disappointment is inevitable in a sin-cursed world.  Disappointment is all around each of us in our own lives or in the lives of others.  Why is this so?  Why is there such a thing as a “sin-cursed world” and is the disappointment in it necessary?

We see how this all came to be as a result of Adam and Eve rebelling against God and sinned, there were consequences.

To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”  (Genesis 3:16-19; NKJV).

And it is not just man and woman that is affected but creation in its entirety.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22; NKJV).

 Sorrow.  Pain and Suffering.  Sweat or Tears.  Physical Death.  These are the results of sin.  These all certainly sound disappointing if you don’t understand the why of them.  But in understanding the why we know that all of this is intended to drive us to God and His Son.

In doing so, we live today in the context of eternity and we understand that what is going on here is but a moment and the disappointment of this life does not measure up to the tremendous eternal rest and gain in Heaven.

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16; NKJV)

God is in His country which is Heaven.  Heaven is the country to which those who believe and obey the Gospel of Jesus go. We get to see His face!  What we will not see is deception, lies, temptation, sin, suffering, or death.  These things do not exist there!

In knowing this, we can then bring encouragement into the lives around us as they might be experiencing disappointment in this world.  We can demonstrate the great hope we have in Jesus and in our expectant Heavenly home.  We can live in such a way that clearly articulates “there is no disappointment in Heaven” and “I sure would like to help you get there”!

This will shine a light into someone’s life and if they let you help will lighten their load as they go.

Beautiful Feet

Romans 10:14-15; NKJV:  14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”         (Cross-Reference:  Isaiah 52:7)

 This scripture came to my mind as I was thinking about what I might write about for today.  These couple of verses are from a portion of scripture in which Paul is teaching about the fact the Gentiles on the whole had been reconciled to God and had a covenant membership in God’s family by faith.  Along with this, Israel on a whole had not received the same righteousness.  There is a lot here in Romans 9-1 and I don’t want to take away from the bigger message or teaching but am going to pull out the above passage and offer a couple thoughts.

I like this passage because if we take verse 14 in reverse we understand how important it is we who believe Jesus is the only way to salvation and are in a right relationship with God not keep that blessing to ourselves.  This isn’t something we should keep to ourselves but something we should share with others…and we are here in this world to do just that as we shine our light into a corrupt world (Matthew 5:16).  We are sent to share our salvation story.  And because we are sent and we share, then others will hear and having heard with a good and honest heart will believe and they will call on God through their obedience in the Gospel…repenting, confessing Jesus as their Lord, being baptized, and through their faith are saved.  How awesome is that!  And how awesome that we have a part in it!

But we have to stay in shape, put on the right equipment, and get to work.  I chose the above picture because these are athletic type shoes.  Think about when you lounge around the house…maybe in slippers, slides or some other kind of comfy shoes.  Do you wear the same shoes to exercise?  I don’t.  If I am going to work out, I put on tennis shoes.  Same thing with the Gospel and why Paul wrote Ephesians 6:15…because we need to “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”…a very important part of the Whole Armor of God so that we can run forward and preach, so others would hear, and hearing believe, and believing respond and in responding find what they need the most of all…forgiveness of sins.  We draw closer to our Father through His word and in doing so put our working shoes on and run about sharing the greatest story of all…the Gospel of Jesus.

With that in mind, the second thing I want you to consider is in vs.15.  “…how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace…”  I bring this to mind because I want you to think about those you know who dedicate their time (and some their professional life) to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.  We all have those in our lives who are committed to saving souls and fully understand the importance of the work that God has given us to do in Jesus.  Take some time, make a list, and make some calls.  Encourage them.  Pray with them.  Share in their work.  Let your life shine…run swift…and fan the flames of another’s light and work for the Glory of God!