Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Are You Looking Forward To?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  – 1 Peter 1:3

“When I’m twenty-one I can drink!” the young man recalled enthusiastically to the audience. He addressed the wedding reception and told us what he was looking forward to in his youth. He was excited about being able to drink alcohol. It was a cherished milestone to make it to twenty-one and finally have the freedom to drink. It broke my heart to listen to the young man’s hope for his future. Was that really what motivated him to press on toward his destiny? How shallow and dangerous. What are you looking for? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Jesus left this earth in His resurrected body and promised His friends that they would see Him again. Their Hope was alive! Their Hope was Jesus Christ Himself—the unchanging, victorious, conquering Savior of the world! And He promised all His followers they would be with Him forever! Now “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). That, my fellow saint, is something worth looking forward to!!! How do we live this way?
It helps me to read passages of Scripture where Jesus promised to come back, or where His disciples wrote about His imminent return. Memorize those passages. Encourage others to look for Christ’s return. Pray for His return. Every night, before we go to sleep, my wife and I pray and ask the Lord Jesus to come back that night! What are you looking forward to?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Caught by the Past

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.  – Isaiah 43:18-19
Have you ever had a good experience and then expected something similar to happen? Maybe you had a good friendship with someone and hoped to duplicate it in a new relationship. Or, maybe you experienced success at work or in sports and believed it would happen exactly as it did previously. You were disappointed when things didn’t turn out the same; maybe you were even depressed or angry. You felt let down. Did you blame God? Did you blame someone else for thwarting your dreams? If so, you are caught by the past!
A friend of mine saw God miraculously provide for someone’s medical expenses. He fully expected God to do the same for him. When God did not “answer his prayer” the way he expected, he was disappointed and became angry with God. He never let God out of his box to do something new and beautiful. Do you need to let God out of your box?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to repeat wholesome relationships or edifying experiences. What is dangerous is when we demand they be repeated—or else. We fix our hope on the duplication, and when it doesn’t occur, we get irritated, instead of trusting God that He loves us and is in control.
Your past experiences can inhibit you from focusing on your present responsibilities and relationships. Be thankful for your past. Learn from your past. But let it go—don’t insist on duplicating it. Ask God to help you live fully in the present with fresh faith.

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Top Today

“And they shall devastate the pride of Egypt, and all its multitude shall be destroyed.” Ezekiel 32:12

Who remembers Mean Joe Green, Lynn Swann and Terry Bradshaw? They were some of the great football players of the NFL world champion Pittsburgh Steelers! My wife is from Pittsburgh and I have heard numerous stories from her brothers and relatives about this legendary football team that was led by star quarterback Terry Bradshaw. They had a dynasty that ruled the professional world of football. They were on top!  But what happened? Where are they now? They fell from prominence like every other great football team, athlete, or nation.

In the Bible passage above from Ezekiel 32 God is pronouncing His judgment on the superpower of the day- Egypt. Egypt ruled! Egypt was on top. But now was the time for their fall because of their sin and pride. What can you and I learn from this?

First we can see that pride and all evil will be punished. It may not be today or tomorrow like you would have it if you were in control. It may not be until we see Jesus. Justice will come from God. Therefore, you can be at peace and confidant that evil will be punished and your toil is not in vain in the Lord. Everything you do for Christ will count and you will be rewarded, even if evil rules for the moment.

Second, you may be on top today for having done what is right in God’s eyes, but you will not be there forever. You may presently be “on top” at work, in your church, with your family or in your personal life. But, are you prepared for the changes? Is your hope in God or the good fortune? What happens when the changes come and life is hard, out of control and unfair? Even Christians who are serving God faithfully will experience blessings from God and then persecution, trials, hardship and even death come along. It is not because we have sinned, but in order to make us more like Christ, help us believe His love and trust Him without reservation.

Tell God right now that you want Him to be your hope, your first love and to keep your eyes on Him and not your circumstances. Thank Him that the evil you see in the world will be judged here or in heaven. Thank Him that He is on top and you are there with Him!