Inheriting Light

You will also thank the Father, who has made you able to share the light, which is what God’s people inherit. (Colossians 1:12, GWT)

InheritingLight

When you think of the word “inheritance”, what comes to mind? A bag full of cash? Stocks and bonds? An estate sale? What about light?

As believers in Christ, the inheritance we have is light.

Doesn’t that sound incredibly peculiar to our ears, and yet breathtakingly spectacular at the same time?

Like many children, I was terrified of the dark. If you would have told me as a five or six year old getting ready for bed that God’s gift to us is light, I would have immediately gotten the significance—in a way that maybe we forget as adults.

In the dark, I can imagine all sorts of things looming around the room. But with even a small nightlight, the room is transformed into an ordinary bedroom made for rest. If I enter my house in the dark and hear a loud crash, I am filled with panic. However, if I flip the lightswitch on and see my dog looking rather sheepish beside a broken lamp, I am filled with relief.

What is light? What is this gift that God gives us?

It’s both the first thing He made for the heaven and earth (see Genesis 1:3) and one way He describes Himself (see 1 John 1:5). Light is a picture of who He is.

God gives us clarity about the dark around us and, most importantly, inside us. We can only see sin as what it really is when God’s Light breaks through the darkness. Before that, we are oblivious to the danger and damage of sin in our lives. When we become believers, that Light lives within us. We see the world through new eyes—and we wonder how we never saw it this way before. As we mature as believers, the Light inside us grows brighter and brighter, and more and more we glimpse how things really are.

What is our inheritance as believers? Light. There is no inheritance I’d rather have. The richness of gold streams, pouring over our hearts in love. This is no ordinary light. This is God’s Light, and with it we will one day live in a new heaven and new earth (see Revelation 21:23). In our new dwelling, it is not the sun or the moon that illuminates our way, but Christ Jesus Himself.

My heart’s desire is to inherit this Light. As a child I longed for light at night, and even now, at nightfall, I find myself longing for the skies to be filled with the sun’s honey-glowing rays and not the blind, unfeeling blanket of darkness. I’m so joyfully thankful to be a child of God, that one day I will live not with the temporary light of the sun or the dim light of the moon or the tiny light of a nightlight, but with the Light Himself.

You will also thank the Father, who has made you able to share the light, which is what God’s people inherit. (Colossians 1:12, GWT)

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Published in: on July 1, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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With clouds in the illustrations

Old book with sky illustration

I long for my name to be written in a book with clouds in the illustrations.

I long for my name to be written in an ancient book, a book before I was, a book that knows all about me and promises me an everlasting last chapter more beautiful and more delightful than I can imagine.

I long for my story to be without the evil twists.  For my sin to be brushed away like cirrus clouds and the cumulus clouds of joy to be bustled in.

I long for a life far beyond what I live now.

I long for a life with God.

The trouble is, I am afraid for that book to open.  Because I know it means the end of my life as I know it.  It means my death.

I don’t want to die.

As much as I want the storybook of promise that Jesus offers through His sacrifice . . I am terrified to open the covers to see whether my name is really inside.  I’m afraid that I’ve misunderstood, that the offer was really for less evil people, that I didn’t believe enough, that I failed the test, that I missed it by one ‘good deed’.  I’m afraid to die.  I’m afraid that, when I die, I won’t have enough to show for my life.  I’m afraid of my name disappearing from the most beautiful place of all: the Lamb’s Book of Life.

It’s in these moments that I realize there is only one Word to which I can cling to hope for the fairy tale ending my heart so longs for:

Jesus.

He is the Word.

He is my story book.

He is the Author of the Book of Life.

And He writes the names there not by their perfection, but by His.

I believe in His perfect life.

I hold onto His quintessential story.

I live in His happily ever after.

I bask in the hallelujah that I don’t have to be afraid to die.

And I happen to know that His book goes on forever and ever in the best possible way.

(Maybe even with clouds in the illustrations.)

 Every day of my life was recorded in your book. (Psalm 139:16b, NLT)

The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:18-27, NLT)

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kingdom of God

My mind has a knack for thinking as though the Kingdom of God doesn’t exist.

Fairy tale princess castle

You would think, you would certainly think that the realization that I am in the Kingdom of God and one day will see it with my own eyes would give me more joy than I could put into words.

When I was six years old, my parents told me we would get to go to Disney World.  For a six year old, a vacation in Disney World is paradise.

When I was in my late teens, my parents told me we would get to go to Maui.  For a teenager who loves sun, beaches, the allergy-free environment of tropical flowers, and cheeseburgers served ocean side, a vacation in Maui is paradise.

But when it comes to the Kingdom of God, as much as I believe God’s Word, that He has actually saved me, and that His Kingdom is a real place . .

I don’t feel that welled-up excitement and big-eyed anticipation in myself as I wait.

The night before a trip to my best friend’s house, who lived several states away, I could hardly sleep.  I laid in bed thinking about when that plane would arrive.

But every night when I go to bed, to be honest, I’m not thinking about God’s Kingdom.  I’m thinking about troubles that may or may not happen, possible solutions to problems, or I’m simply thinking how tired I am.  And when I wake up, I don’t jump out of bed with the anticipation that I’m one day closer to seeing God’s Kingdom with my own eyes.  I lay in bed thinking about past failures and future dreads until my husband brings me a bowl of cereal.

Why is it so hard to live like the Kingdom is coming?

Is it because I don’t have a ticket in my hand?  Is it because there are no tourist pamphlets to browse through, no travel books to read up on all the sight-seeing and worship I’ll be able to do?

Is it because the end of my life is fuzzy (it could be today or who knows how long from now), and I don’t know how to look forward to something when I don’t know when it’s coming?

Is it because living like I’m in the Kingdom right now (because I really am) feels presumptuous to this wretched sinner?

Is it because, if I admit that I belong in God’s Kingdom because of the blood of Jesus Christ, I have to ditch some precious fears and dear guilts I’ve held onto for years?

I have friends who recently went to Disney for the first time.  Each day before their trip, they pulled paper Mickey Mouse ears off a chain on their door.  The last day, my friend took a picture of her husband lunging at the last Mickey Mouse with eyes of wild excitement.  Vacation time at last!

I wonder if we should have paper castles on a chain on our door.  We wouldn’t know how many castles to put, but maybe that wouldn’t matter.  Just the excitement of “pulling off” one more day until God’s Kingdom has arrived.  Or maybe we should draw tally marks on the wall like prisoners longing to escape.  This is part of understanding the Kingdom:

The Kingdom is coming.

But this is only part of the mystery of Heaven.  The other part is even harder to understand (I think):

The Kingdom is now.

Those sins I am so worried about?  Already purified.  These problems I don’t know how to fix?  I’m a royal daughter who can go to her all-wise Heavenly Father anytime she wishes.  The anxieties I have?  Ultimately they result from a confusion, disconnect, and lack of assurance about my identity as an heir to the King.

Wow, this stuff is hard.  That’s what I’m thinking even as I write this.  It’s hard to live like the Kingdom of God is coming and you will get to be a part of it.  It’s even harder to live like the Kingdom of God is here and you already belong to it.

What stands in my way?

I didn’t think about not deserving the trip to Disney World.

I didn’t focus on all the worries of home that might keep me away from Maui.

And I didn’t let the anxieties of a plane trip stop me from traveling to see my best friend.

But I do think about all these things when it comes to God’s Kingdom, because Satan is always clouding my thoughts:

You don’t deserve it.  You don’t *really* think God would invite you in . . do you?  You poor, unsuspecting, witless fool.

What about that problem you have to deal with tomorrow?  What about your to-do list?  What about all the things that are backlogged from yesterday?  The Kingdom of God will just have to wait until you’re caught up, until this problem is resolved, until you’re masterful at dealing with life.

Can you really trust God that He would save YOU?  Are you sure there’s not some kind of mistake?  What about death?  Do you really think you can handle THAT?  What if you’re not done when God takes away your life?  What will you do then?  What if this world is so much better than Heaven?  What if you find out you’re scared there and that it’s too big a place and the creatures there only frighten you?  What will you do then?  How can you look forward to a place like that?

The Kingdom is coming.

The Kingdom is now.

For a believer, the moment you give yourself to Christ is the moment of adoption into royalty.  The moment you ask for forgiveness is the moment you receive the extravagant attire of a prince or princess.  The moment you step foot through the thresh hold is the very instant all sin is released, all fears conquered, all anxieties slain.

Live like the Kingdom of God is here.

Live like the Kingdom of God is coming.

There’s only one way to do this: help from the King.  Only the King can open our eyes to the incredible castle safeguarding us.  Only the King can open our eyes to the real identity we now are.  Only the King can give us the heavenly perspective that the fears, troubles, doubts, problems, and anxieties we have on this earth are all drowned in the moat and that we are more than conquerors through Him (see Romans 8:37).

God, help me live like the Kingdom is coming. 

God, help me live like the Kingdom is here.

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)

Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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The invitation

Beechcraft

Imagine if Bill Gates walked into a public square one day and said, “Anyone who wants to come to my house, follow me.”

Now imagine that a homeless man is passing by with all his worldly possessions in a shopping cart.

He immediately lets go of the shopping cart—which rolls a bit further—and rushes towards Bill Gates.

Bill Gates doesn’t look upset or horrified.  Instead, he just nods and begins walking back to his jet with the homeless man, and all the others who want to see Bill Gates’ home, following him.  Can you imagine that happening?

But this is nothing compared to what Jesus did!  The Son of God, with infinite majesty, power, and resources, invites the homeless, the working class, and the wealthy, to come to Him for salvation, and even the rabble of His day!

I don’t think you or I should hold your breath for Bill Gates to fly his jet to our city and invite us to come to his island for dinner.

But in the middle of a great big feast, Jesus really, actually stands up and makes an invitation for anyone who wants to be fulfilled to come to Him.  He invites you and I, all of us–the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers’, the wardens and the prisoners, the stockbrokers and the bankrupt–to His house!

Wow!

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39, NIV)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (John 14:1-7, NLT)

Location, location

Location matters every moment of our day and night.  If my car breaks down on the side of the road, I hope I’m on a well-lit city road and not a rural country drive!

If I’m hungry, I don’t go to the nearest library to pick up food.  And when I wake up in the morning, I expected to find myself in my bed rather than in a swamp swarming with alligators.

  • Location distinguishes where we are, and what could happen to us there.

An astronaut isn’t going to be attacked by a bear while visiting the moon.

An oil refiner isn’t going to die of heat stroke in Antarctica.

A whale isn’t going to swim in the desert.

A cake isn’t going to bake in the freezer.

A prisoner isn’t going to find a Ferris wheel in a maximum security prison.

Location matters.

When Jesus was here on earth, He talked about location.  He talked about the most important location of all:

where we will go when we die.

I don’t know about you, but I for one am very interested in where I go after I die.  I have no idea how long I’ll live on earth, or if I’ll even make it through today.  Rarely does anyone have the opportunity of advance notice on the date they’ll die.  Even if I have a great lifespan, and I live to be a hundred, hey, I’m already almost thirty.  That’s only seventy more years.  That’s not very much time.

I hear people talk about estate planning, but I’m not nearly so interested in who gets my house and stuff after I die as I am in planning for where my posthumous estate will be!

What I want to know is where I’m going.  Where’s my location going to be?

According to Jesus, there are only two places I could wind up:

Heaven or Hell.

Jesus gave us descriptions and word pictures of what both places are like.  And He made it clear that our souls will go to one place or the other, and there’s no in-between.

Jesus wanted us to know where we are going if we die without Him, and what we can expected when we get there.  If Jesus had just stopped there, His purpose would have been to cause us terror, grief, and fatalism.  But Jesus didn’t stop there.  He told us how we could avoid Hell.

People who think Jesus was mean to talk about Hell are not really thinking it through.  If Jesus had told us we were doomed for Hell and that was it, He still wouldn’t have been mean, because that is, sadly, what we deserve.  But this is not what Jesus did!  Jesus warned us about Hell so we would NOT have to go there!

The way we don’t go to Hell switches our focus from location to Person.  Although we deserve to be in Hell like a guilty criminal deserves to be in prison, Someone already took our place of punishment.  Jesus endured true Hell on earth so that we wouldn’t have to.

Since we are finite, we would have to pay the consequences for our infinite sin  in an infinite amount of time.  But here’s a cool fact: since Jesus is infinite, He was able to pay the consequences for our infinite sin in a finite amount of time.

Jesus takes our focus from location to Person.  The best part of Heaven isn’t our rescue from the location of Hell, but that our new location will be with the Person of Christ.  We will be with our Rescuer day and night, without end.

Location matters.  Eternally.  But the most important news isn’t about a location at all.  It’s about a Person!

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” (Revelation 21:3, NLT)

Jenga

If I stage this right, I can make it look like the blocks fell on Ben’s turn and not on mine . .
Jenga Ben 7

Jenga 3 Do you ever feel like life is toppling down around you like a game of Jenga? Sometimes, I certainly feel like the tower’s wobbling. I’ve even had the “big lollapalooza crash” before. Uh, more than once.

There’s this stereotype out there that Christians pretend this doesn’t happen to them, or that they’ve got it all together . . hey, no way. To be a Christian is to identify yourself as a toppled-over mess in need of Christ! When my tower falls down (and it still does), or when it’s tilting precariously . . I get scared, too. And when the pieces of my life tumble to the ground . . I’m disappointed and angry, too.

I don’t have a magic wand that stacks the pieces back up perfectly, or a faith that never trembles. But what I do have is a God who sees, and loves me anyway. It’s really cool and very unexpected, but who does the Angel of the LORD appear first to in the Old Testament?

Abraham? Nope.

Hagar. Hagar, a slave who in that time was pretty much seen as worthless.

To make matters worse, she was a runaway slave. To make matters even worse, she was pregnant and in the desert.

Where was she going to go? What was she going to do? Her tower had gone KAPLASH right on the ground.

And who should show up but the Angel of the LORD? He spoke to her, and revealed that God knew her and had a plan for her baby. He promised her countless descendents.

Now, there were a lot of ‘important people’ God could have sent the Angel of the LORD to. But He sent His Angel to a ‘nobody’ in the middle of a desert.

That’s just like God, isn’t it? He cares about our toppled towers, even if we’re ‘nobodies’. He notices when our support is trembling, and He sees when we can’t hold the pieces of our lives together anymore.

And there’s more. God doesn’t just watch; He acts. He moves in to pick up our pieces and restore our souls. This is the movement of Jesus Christ. His life, piece by piece, is the perfect Tower. He built Himself as the one solidly righteous, the one without the slightest quiver of sin.

Yet, He let sin topple His life–OUR sin. Why? Because He didn’t want Hell to do that for you and me. He didn’t want the consequences of our bad choices to demolish us. He didn’t want us to end our life in shambles.

Whenever my tower shakes, or the pieces fall splatter helter-skelter all over the place, I see a) my frailty, b) my sin, c) the devastating state of the world after sin, and d) hope of restoration through Jesus Christ.

I know that, as God saw this ‘insignificant’ slave woman who otherwise would have been erased from the memory of history . . God sees me. And as God intervened through the Angel of the LORD to give hope to Hagar, God intervened through Jesus Christ to give eternal hope to the world.

Today, right now, and this century, my tower still trembles. My tower still shakes. And my tower still falls. But one day, in eternity, I will be perfectly set upright, NOT because I pulled it altogether in this life, but because I am built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

I did nothing to earn it, and nothing to work for it . . but my soul rests on ROCK. The chaos of this life and my struggle through it will cause temporary crashes, but my eternity is locked in Jesus Christ.

Do you know Him? Or is your eternity still looking like a mess?

Jenga Ben 1

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

The realization of grace

I deserve Your Hell, and yet You’ve given me Your Heaven.

“So he got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him affectionately. Then his son told him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I don’t deserve to be called your son anymore.’ But the father told his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let’s eat and celebrate! Because my son was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24, ISV)

The First and Second Coming

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 11:27, NIV)

Jesus is just as righteous as the Father.  There is no difference in their righteousness, justice, purity, goodness, or holiness.  But Jesus chose to come as a human to and for us, by leaving His glory in Heaven.  He did not become less good, but less glorious—for a short time.

After His resurrection, however, though He is still in a human body, the Father gave His glory back to Him (see John 17:1, 5).  He will appear very different in His Second Coming than in His first!

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  (Jesus, quoted in John 17:1b-5, NIV)

In His first coming, He left His glory behind.  I think this is how He was able to be among sinful humans who would otherwise die if they saw His face (see Exodus 33:20).  He was able to become one of us, and partake in our world, because He became human.  Also, there was nothing unusually striking about His appearance (see Isaiah 53:2).  He is not described as having been handsome, but rather as ordinary or un-handsome (from Isaiah 53:2).

My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2, NLT)

This bears a pause.  Even though Jesus gave up His majesty, did He have to give up His beauty (from Isaiah 53:2)?  Certainly a clear message is written here to those who base friendship or even subtle preferences over those who have a striking outward appearance.  Although we go on searches for beautiful people to model for advertisements and to pattern our wardrobe after, God Himself chose to come without particular handsomeness.  The way the verse is written, He may even have been considered plain or homely.  Those who do not feel they have outward beauty in this life will do well to remember they have been patterned after the Son of God’s appearance when He came!

In the second coming, Jesus will have His full glory and beauty, and all who don’t know Him will be so frightened they will wish mountains would fall upon them.

People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ (Luke 23:30, NLT)

They will not be able to repent, because the opportunity for that was in Jesus’ First Coming.  But they will be able to worship—and they will.  Everyone will worship God when He comes again.

By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. (Isaiah 45:23, NIV)

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” (Romans 4:11, NIV)

There is an African folktale in which two beautiful sisters are summoned to a great banquet, where the king will choose his bride.  One of the women is beautiful-hearted.  Her dearest friend is a small garden snake.  She tells her secrets to him and sings to him.  The other sister is bitter-hearted.  She constantly taunts her sister behind her back when no one is present (but the little garden snake).

The evil sister rushes to be first at the king’s throne.  When she arrives, she finds not the mighty, handsome king she’d imagined but a fierce, three-headed serpent.  She’s frightened and runs out of his presence before she is destroyed.

The second sister arrives with shyness to meet the king and surprise at her sister’s warning that a terrible monster is in the palace.  She enters to see for herself, and who is on the throne but the little garden snake?  Before her eyes, the snake transforms into the mighty, handsome king.  He knew all about the two sisters; he had already become a close friend of his bride and she didn’t even know it!

Although an imperfect tale, this story helps picture what it will be like on the Day of Judgment.  Right now, we have the opportunity to receive Christ as the humble God who came to earth to walk the dusty roads on sandaled feet, touch the eyes of the blind with fingers calloused from carpentry, and submit Himself to suffer the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of our sin on a splintery cross.  But one day, He will be revealed as who He is: the I-AM.  There will be no doubt in anyone’s mind.

Those who have loved Him, who have believed in Him for salvation, will see Him as the dear friend they have grown to love with their whole heart, and also as the mighty and awesome King of Kings.

Those who have not loved Him, who have not truly believed in Him for salvation, will see Him as the terrible Judge they have grown to fear with their whole heart, and also as the mighty and awesome King of Kings.

The choice is before us . . will you know Him from the First Coming . . or will you wait to behold Him at His Second Coming?

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.  (Jesus, Revelation 1:18, NIV)

Bad news that matters

I caught a clip of a documentary on the discovery that HIV could be transmitted through blood transfusions.  When researchers realized why hemophiliacs and others who needed blood transfusions were contracting AIDS, they immediately broadcasted the warning: HIV could be transmitted through blood transfusions.

It was not good news, but it was necessary news.  Because researchers realized what was causing the epidemic of AIDS in hemophiliacs, they were then able to develop new measures of caution to prevent AIDS from being transmitted through transfusions.  They saved countless lives by their bad news.

Hell is bad news.  But here’s what I think we miss sometimes (I know I do):  The purpose of Jesus talking about Hell isn’t so that we can spend the rest of our lives obsessing in horror over it.  Hell is bad news, and Hell is important news, but Hell isn’t the only news.

When the news about HIV and blood transfusions came out, it was only life-saving to those who hadn’t received transfusions.  Other than understanding why they had contracted AIDS, to those who had already received transfusions that had HIV in them, the news made no difference.  They were still dying from AIDS.

Jesus didn’t come to give us bad news and leave us without hope.  Unlike the doctors and scientists who made the discovery and broke the news about blood transfusions, Jesus could do something about the bad news.  He didn’t come merely to inform us about our destiny.  He came to change our destiny for us!

There was no choice to be cured for the patients who found they’d contracted AIDS from transfusions.  There was no advancement that could save them at that time.  But there is a choice for us to be cured from our sin natures.  We can trust in Christ to save us and choose Heaven, rather than Hell, to be our destiny.

Would you choose to contract HIV to save someone from it?  What if they had chosen to inject themselves with the virus?  Would you choose to then?

Only Jesus could have enough love to make the choice to save us from sin, and only Jesus was free from the penalty of sin.  In metaphor, we all have the virus of sin. We have all chosen to turn from God.  So none of us can save any other; we’re all in the same deathly condition.

But Jesus, who “knew no sin” (from 2 Corinthians 5:21), could pay for our sins.  He came to earth for the express purpose of carrying “our pain” and “our suffering” (from Isaiah 53:4).  He took the penalty of sin for us.  He accepted the virus of evil in His own body, so that we could be cured.

That is the good news.  Reject Jesus, and it’s only the bad news for you, and there is nothing to look forward to on Judgment Day.  But receive Jesus, and it’s only good news for you, and you will be cured from the ultimate disease: sin.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB)

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

“I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. (John 10:7b-10, CEB)

“a way that seems right”

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25, ESV)

After church today, I was supposed to go out for pizza with a few of my friends.  I didn’t have my cell phone with me, so I asked for directions and figured I could get there myself.

That was a mistake.

I glanced at my GPS and thought I knew what I was doing.  I took a left turn on Lone Pine that seemed oh, so right.  I was so sure it was the correct turn.  I should have remembered that, in the Bible, the goats are on the left and the sheep are on the right.

As I traveled down the road, my GPS kept saying, WHEN POSSIBLE, MAKE A U-TURN.  I did not believe my GPS.  This looked oh so familiar.  I passed by the little ice cream shop, the veterinarian clinic, and the park.  I had been to each of them.  I knew where I was going.  I thought.

As time went by, and the road seemed to be parallel to an elevated highway, I began to wonder.  Was I really getting to Sunshine?  What was going on?  My GPS had said it was only 5 minutes away from my church.  But then, I hadn’t been going by what my GPS was saying since the left turn, so why start now?

I kept going, and sure enough, this was not looking right.  But I trusted myself.  (Why, I have no idea.  I have been known to get lost on my way to work, much less a pizza place I haven’t been to in at least a year.)

Then, startlingly, it looked at if the road was ending.  Ending?  Ending??  Lone Pine did not end!  How many times had I been on it as a child in the car with my family?  It must only look like it ends ahead, I thought.

Then, in what was a rather creepy moment even though it was the middle of the day, two things happened:

  • The road ahead clearly ended.
  • And the only place to go, other than the steel railing, was a graveyard.

I know it sounds like I probably made this up for point of illustration, but, really, I learned today that if you make a left turn off of Battlefield onto Lone Pine, you wind up either at a dead end or turning into a graveyard.  A graveyard.

Had I made a right off of Battlefield onto Lone Pine, the road would have intersected with Sunshine and I could have been at the pizza place at a table on the side of the pizza place with the glass roof edge and glass wall, where the sunlight streamed through.  I could have been looking over the menu by now.

But I was oh so not at the pizza place.  I had trusted my own instincts and ‘experience’ and pride rather than my GPS, and now I was at a graveyard.

I didn’t have to stay at the graveyard, and because God blesses me with gracious friends, they had waited for probably 20 minutes before ordering.  When I got there, I was able to sit with them at the table where the sunlight streamed through the roof’s edge and the wall, and I was able to order cheese pizza.  I got another chance.

In life, we can usually get more chances when we make wrong turns and make bad decisions.  Even after flunking a class, losing a job, wrecking a car, filing for bankruptcy, divorcing a spouse, or committing a crime, we usually get more chances. Even seniors in nursing homes and terminally ill patients and death-row prisoners can turn their life around.  Most of us get chance after chance after chance without even really realizing it.

But what we cannot get another chance at is life.

When we die, we do not get to come back and have another chance.

The idea of reincarnation is popular partly because there is no real accountability for anything.  Everything is fluid in the ‘karma’ world.  Even if you are the worst person on earth in one life, in five hundred lifetimes you might work your way up to being a hero.  Or, if you are a hero, in five hundred lifetimes you might lose ground until you’re the worst person on earth.

But God’s Word tells us that when we die, we do not get another chance.  There is no finding salvation after death.  There is no one more chance.

I drove the wrong way today and wound up at a graveyard.  I had started out so sure I was right, only to end up so sure I had been wrong.

If you have never asked Christ Jesus to save you, if you are not His child, why not?  Are you too proud to admit your need for a Savior?  Will you admit your need only when you have found yourself at the mouth of Hell?

We are saved through the work of Jesus Christ by faith.  Faith is not something that will be available after death.  We will see exactly how it really is, like the angels and demons do, and we will not have the ability to have faith anymore.

You can probably afford to make a wrong turn now and again here on earth.  But you cannot afford to make a wrong turn with your eternity.  Please, please, make sure that you are traveling the right direction.  You don’t want to end up in Hell instead of Heaven.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25, ESV)

But here is what Scripture says “about God’s approval based on faith”.

Moses writes about receiving God’s approval by following his laws. He says, “The person who obeys laws will live because of the laws he obeys.” However, Scripture says about God’s approval which is based on faith, “Don’t ask yourself who will go up to heaven,” (that is, to bring Christ down). “Don’t ask who will go down into the depths,” (that is, to bring Christ back from the dead). However, what else does it say? “This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message of faith that we spread. If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.” There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives his riches to everyone who calls on him. So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:5-13)