Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 3, 2011

"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

Do you?

Do you believe that Jesus IS the resurrection and the life?

In the final analysis that is the key to overcoming the fear of life's final moments.

You can know in your mind that Jesus is bigger than life, and you can give intellectual asent to the truth that Jesus beat death, and you can acknowledge that Jesus is preparing a beautiful forever place for you - BUT, when the frigid breath of death is felt on your face, will you believe beyond doubt that He is the resurrection and the life?

Jesus asked Martha this BEFORE He raised her brother from the dead. You are two resurrections beyond where she was (Lazarus' and Jesus'). It should be easier to believe!

The Apostle Paul believed! Listen to His testimony:

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,"   I Corinthians 15:3-8

Do you believe this?

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 
I Corinthians 15:12-20

Do you believe this?

"I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  I Corinthians 15:50-58

Do you believe this?

Bill and Gloria Gaither believe it and they expressed it like this:

And then one day
I'll cross that river
I'll fight life's final war with pain
But then when death gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He reigns!

Do you believe this?

When you do, you will overcome the fear of life's final moments!

April 2, 2011

"My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4

Do you have a place? Places are important. It is good to have a place. Having a place makes you feel special and significant. Having a place makes you feel as though you belong. Having a place makes you feel safe and having a place makes you feel secure.

While Jesus was here with His disciples for those three years, they really didn't have a place. They DID have a significant Person to hang out with! They were itinerates who traveled regularly from place to place. Now His time with them is coming to a end as He will soon be arrested, beaten savagely and then nailed to a cross. As He has come to town for that purpose. It is in the context of His impending suffering and death that He shares these comforting words. Certainly at a time when they should be comforting Him for what He is about to face, He is concerned for them. They left all to follow Him and have been His committed disciples for three years. Now He has to break the news to them that He will be arrested, savagely beaten and nailed on a cross on the next day. The center of their universe is about to drastically change. They are facing the fearful prospect that not only will they not have a place, they won't have a leader.

So, when Jesus breaks the bad news to them He also shares some good news, "I go to prepare a place for you."

As the disciples heard these words, they heard something that the typical modern Westerner misses. These were the words of great significance for the Jews. They are words of great joy for they are the words a newly engaged young man would says to his betrothed. Once he had asked the father for the hand of his daughter and permission was given, he would promise his wife to be "I am going to prepare a place for you". In joyful anticipation of sharing life with his beautiful new bride, he would eagerly begin building a home where they could live their lives together in marital bliss. This "place" would be a "love nest" for the newlyweds.

This is the spin that Jesus puts on death because of His resurrection and His life. Since the time He returned to His Father following His resurrection, He has been building a place for you in eager anticipation of being with you forever! Like an anxious bridegroom, He awaits your arrival. Jesus has conquered death and turned your funeral into a wedding! Such is the love of Jesus! So powerful is His resurrection that He removes the fear of life's final moments and replaces it with joy!

I pray that you will enjoy many more healthy and happy years in your place here in this life. But even more so I pray that when death takes you from your place you will arrive joyfully at His place - the place He has been preparing for you!