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The Promise of Resurrection

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes.” (Job 19:25-27)

I attended a funeral once that I shall never forget.

A member of my church lost his son. I hadn’t known him for very long, but I liked him and felt so sorry about the tragic circumstances in which he found himself.

What can you say to him? I couldn’t imagine the pain of his loss. Would I react with the strength and quality of faith that I saw in him if I ever found myself in the same situation?

It was a wonderful service. The family knew that their son had gone on to be with the Lord and desired to celebrate his entrance into heaven rather than mourn his untimely death. They asked those of us in attendance to join them in praise and worship.

To be honest, I was uncomfortable at first. I had never attended a funeral service that included praise and worship choruses. But, I realized as I warmed up to the idea that while our faith teaches us that we should rejoice over the security of knowing that heaven has welcomed its newest citizen, our culture insists that we should never celebrate. Instead, we are taught show nothing but sadness, out of respect for those who are mourning their loss.

Moved by the presence of the Lord and the peace that permeated the service, I forgot all about the sadness I had brought with me to the service. Instead, I found myself celebrating just as the family had requested.

Well that wasn’t the only surprise. My pastor had obviously wrestled with what to say to this family. The father was an ordained minister himself and only recently began attending our church. What words of comfort could possibly be offered that had not already crossed his mind?

He looked directly at the family and told them that he couldn’t remember speaking at a funeral service and using the 19th Chapter of Job. However, he explained to them that while he did not know why God had placed those verses in his heart, he was going to be obedient to the nudge that he felt.

He reminded us that Job had sustained an unbearable string of catastrophes. A life that was filled with prestige, possessions, and people, was assaulted on every side and stripped down to its foundation.

He explained that Job didn’t know about the conference between God and Satan and thought that it was God – not Satan – who had brought all these disasters upon him. So, there he stood at the brink of death and decay, boldly proclaiming that not only did he know that his “Redeemer lives”, but that he expected to see God and to do so in his own body.

Resurrection is very important to a grieving Christian family. Without it, there can be no eternal life. His message of hope was that a life built on God endures on both sides of the crystal sea.

Before the service ended, several members of the family stood to offer their thanks for many expressions of love and sympathy. I was touched by each, but it was the mother whose words I will remember.

She turned to my pastor and thanked him for being obedient to the Lord. Just a couple of weeks earlier, she had pondered the circumstances in which Job found himself and wondered how she would react if she ever lost a child. There she stood, now enduring tragedy that she never thought would come her way. She turned to my pastor and gave him – and the rest of us, too – a word of confirmation. “I know that my Redeemer lives,” she told us. “And I shall see him with my own eyes.”

I was floored. How did my pastor know? Did someone give him a hint, or was it really God who told him to look at Job 19?

Later, I found out that he had no knowledge about that mother’s experience. He was following God’s lead, not knowing where it would take him, or whether it would minister to the family.

Boy, did it ever minister to them AND and to me!

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - February 10, 2018 at 9:40 pm

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Famous Church Hymnist Was Blind But Had Perfect Vision

“For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.” (Revelation 7:17)

Fanny Crosby wrote over 8,000 hymns during her lifetime, many of which still appear in today’s hymnals. Hymns like Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, To God Be the Glory, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, He Hideth My Soul, and Praise Him, Praise Him continue to draw souls to God for both salvation and comfort.

No hymn writer has ever had a clearer vision of Jesus than Fanny Crosby even though she never saw life as it passed right before her own eyes. Fanny Crosby was blinded by an eye infection when she was only six-weeks old. Yet, she never allowed her disability to become a handicap. In fact, when she was only eight-years old, she wrote:

Oh, what a happy child I am,
Although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be!

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t!
So, weep or sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t.

I once had a boss who told me that the only difference between an opportunity and a problem is perspective. Fanny Crosby’s story brought life to those words.

The Bible teaches us that “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) But somehow when handicaps and disabilities come our way, we view them as a problem instead of an opportunity.

Jesus taught his disciples that a disability doesn’t have to become a handicap. In fact, the Bible records that Jesus once met a man who was also blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples were puzzled about why infirmities come our way. They questioned the Master as to why this particular man went blind. Listen to Jesus’ answer: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3)

Fanny Crosby’s life reminds all of us who allow sickness, disability, or some other weakness to get us down that hope is never lost for the Christian who is willing to reach out in faith and trust Christ. She may have never seen a sunrise or a rainbow, but she knew the one who made it all happen. And her faith reassured her that the day would come when He would restore her sight.
That’s why she wrote:

When my life here is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see.
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - February 4, 2018 at 9:13 am

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Is The End Really Near?

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

My wife is convinced that many of the biblical signs are in place for Jesus to return. In fact, she believes that Jesus will come before the end of her days.

I can remember joking with her about it over years, particularly when I was a newly saved Christian. I didn’t want Jesus to return. I had too much “living” left to do and too many things on my bucket list. “I sure hope not,” I told her years ago. “I’m living too large for Jesus to come back right now.”

However, I don’t feel that way anymore. But for the fact that I still have some family and friends who I do not believe know Jesus, I am ready for his return. The world is simply getting unbearable. There is too much sin, too much hate, and way too much despair. Moreover, fewer seem to care very much about it. Jesus told us this would happen. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

Although we can be sure the end is nearing, we don’t know when that day will come, and we will never know until the moment it happens. But we can look to Scripture for signs to remind us that the end which is promised is indeed coming. Here are just a few examples.

 False Prophets: “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5) All you have to do is watch Christian programming on television. A lot of what you hear is not Scriptural. Wealth is not promised any more than perfect health and happiness. And being good is not what gets you into heaven.

 Wars and Rumors of Wars: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” There are so many wars going on in this world. Iraq, Afghanistan – the one that really worries me is the war in Syria. What started as a civil war seems very global to me, particularly with Russia, Iran, and the U.S., all directly involved.

 Strife, Famine and Natural Disasters Everywhere: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” Famine has been all too familiar around the world, but we’re beginning to see famine in our own country – California is drying up!

 Gospel Preached Throughout the World: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) The Bible has been published in 2,018 languages, and the Internet has certainly brought the world closer together. Global communications now enable us to spread the Gospel into every nation in the world.

 Godlessness: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Do I really need to say more?

 Apostasy: I saved the one for last that really bothers me the most. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3) All you need to do is look in your own community and perhaps in your own church. Churches are becoming more ecumenical, embracing New Age philosophy, and denying that Christ is the only way. It has become more important to be politically correct rather than scripturally correct.

My wife is right. The end is coming, and the signs are everywhere. Read your Bible to learn more about it.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - January 29, 2018 at 7:12 am

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Why Are Sheep And Goats In The Same Church?

“And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’…Then he will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.” (Matthew 25:33-34, 41)

When I lived in Georgia, my wife and I visited several churches before we finally found our church home. I will never forget the first day I visited my soon-to-be church home. One of the members recognized me and quipped, “Come sit over here on the sheep side. The goats are over there on the left.”

I saw him every Sunday and we continued to joke each other about the benefits of sitting on the sheep side of the church. In the parable at Matthew 25, sheep are saved and goats are lost. However, I’m sure that is not the point my church friend was making. In fact, if you’re familiar with the parable of the wheat and the tares at Matthew 13, then you know that it is very hard to tell, from the outside, whether someone is saved or lost. In other words, while Jesus knows those who are sheep and those who are goats, we cannot spiritually discern such a truth. That’s why we are admonished at Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.”

While my friend was humorously suggesting that there is a right side and a wrong side on which to sit in church, his analogy made me think much more deeply about those with whom we worship. The truth is we all look saved, but we’re not all saved. There are some goats among us and you might be surprised to learn that they attend church every Sunday in record numbers.

Researcher George Barna has discovered that “half of all adults who attend protestant churches on Sunday are not Christian.” He also points out that people who call themselves Christians but are not born again are “a group that constitutes a majority of churchgoers.” Bill Bright, now-deceased founder and fifty-year president of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote a few years back that “50% of the hundred million people in church here in the United States are not sure of their salvation.” You think about that statement the next time you question why your pastor issues an invitation at the end of the service.

Just today, my secretary and I were looking out my second floor office window listening to and watching the effects of the wind as it strangely whistled down the street. “I tell you, Mike,” she said. “We’re seeing so much that we can’t explain in the world. Here we are in the dead of winter and experiencing spring-like weather. It’s just another sign to me that we are racing to the end of time.”

I told my secretary that the thought that pained me the most was the deadly surprise that would greet so many of those who sit in church with us. Jesus said it this way: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

I don’t know how much time we have left, but I do know that some of those who sit next to us in the pews on Sunday don’t know the Jesus that we know. Let’s honor our Lord, his commission to us and do our part to make sure that our friends are recognized by him as sheep and not goats.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - January 21, 2018 at 7:03 am

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