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Matthew 27-28: What More is There to Say?

God's Love, Jesus, Matthew, resurrection, Sacrifice, salvation

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I Corinthians 14-15: Die Confidently!

Christian Living, Confidence, heaven, I Corinthians, resurrection

I Corinthians 14-15 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14:1-15:58.

“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

The congregation with which I work has been focusing on confident living in Jesus Christ. We want folks in Christ to be confident about their salvation. We are convinced that confidence in God’s love is much more likely to produce love in us that constant doubts and worries (cf. I John 4:19). We are convinced that confidence in God’s working is much more likely to produce working out our salvation than doubts about God’s presence (cf. Philippians 2:12-13).

Paul reminds me that confident living is one thing. Confident dying is another. But where is my confidence if I’m not also confident at death. We have nothing to fear regarding death. Look at these pathetic, pitiful, perishable, dishonorable, weak, natural bodies. These are going to get put in the ground. We get to shed these bodies like a molting lizard. For those of us in Christ, we have hope beyond hope (earnest expectation, not wishful thinking) of our resurrection. This pathetic body is going in the ground but we will come out of that ground again with new bodies, with spiritual, powerful, glorious, imperishable bodies.

When the time of death draws near, why would I desperately cling to this frail flesh. Let’s die confidently, as we have lived, looking forward to the glories that will be revealed to us (cf. Romans 8:18).

Today, while I’m not hastening y death, I won’t fear it either. I’m going to live confidently so I can die confidently in Jesus Christ.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading? You can add your input by clicking the following link: Click here.

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

 

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II Corinthians 4-5: Looking Forward to a Heavenly Building

Confidence, Death, eternal life, II Corinthians

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:21.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

So often I’m filled with fear about my physical future. My mom died at 35 because of heart issues. My dad died at 49 because of pancreatic cancer. My father-in-law died at about 60 because of mesothelioma. With that kind of stuff going on around me I can easily begin to think, I’m next. My body can be easily ravaged by disease. Within the past two months, I’ve heard of two young people, children of brethren I know killed in car wrecks. As a friend of mine says, we are only seperated from death by a thin yellow line.

But Paul says I have no need to fear. Why? Because I won’t die? No. Because if this earthly tent is destroyed, I have a much better house prepared for me. No, this isn’t talking about a mansion over the hilltop in heaven (a scripturally suspect idea). This is talking about the body God has prepared for my eternity. I don’t fully understand what it is going to be. But I do get that what I have now is only a tent, but what I’ll have then is a house, a heavenly dwelling.

Sure, there are things that bother me about dying, like no more time with my family. But I look forward to eternity with them. What is there to fear, I have a house to look forward to once this tent is destroyed.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Romans 5-6: Believe That We Will Also Live with Him

Christian Living, Confidence, Crucified with Christ, eternal life, Faith, overcoming sin, Romans, salvation

Today’s reading is Romans 5:1-6:23.

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8).

But that is the problem for me, isn’t it? I doubt whether or not I will also live with him. Since I am so wrapped up in how I act and behave and live, even though I died with Him in baptism, I am rarely convinced that I will live with Him. But Paul says I can be convinced. I died with Jesus. I surrendered my life to Him. Yes, I mess up along the way, but I’ve put myself to death and am letting Him live through me. I am going to live with Him eternally.

No, this doesn’t mean I can pursue sin and still have this confidence. But why would anyone think I’m saying that? I don’t want to sin. I came to Jesus to get rid of sin and get out of my sins. That is what He is doing for me. I have died with Him, I can have confidence that I will live with Him.

Today, I’m not going to live in doubt, wondering if I’m going to make it. I’m going to live knowing that I’m going to make it because of Jesus. Praise God!

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Romans 7-8: Bear Fruit for God Today

Christian Living, Obedience, overcoming sin, salvation, sin

bearing fruit by jpellgenToday’s reading is Romans 7:1-8:39.

I hadn’t read 5 verses before I was given some direction for today. Paul said, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

Why did Jesus redeem me? Why did Jesus die for me? Why did Jesus save me? Not so I could carry on with life as usual. Not so I could sit on my thumbs in His name. Not so I could go to church every week. Not so I could keep on sinning but get forgiveness with a prayer every night. Jesus did all this so I could bear fruit for God. While living in the flesh, my sinful passions worked in my members to bear fruit for death (Romans 7:5). I must not continue in that.

I have two options today, submit myself to the slavery of sin again or submit myself to slavery to God. Today, I need to bear fruit for Him, not just sit on my thumbs thinking I’m saved just so I can lounge about.

I’ll put a question to you, what can I do to bear fruit for God today?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Acts 13-14: God Raised Jesus from the Dead; He’ll Raise Me Too

Acts, Death, eternal life, Growth, Jesus, Overcoming Satan, overcoming sin, resurrection

sin by ashley.adcoxToday’s reading Acts 13:1-14:28.

Two things hit me today.

First, I normally don’t like the verse divisions because I think they cause an artificial reading instead of just reading it like a book or a letter (I do appreciate how it makes referencing scripture easier). However, there is one division in this reading that really grabbed me–the division between Acts 13:29 and Acts 13:30

Acts 13:29: “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.”

Verse break. End of story. Over. Done. Jesus is dead and buried. The story ends. But wait, there is another verse:

Acts 13:30: “But God raised him from the dead.”

The story wasn’t over. Jesus was raised from the dead. He was victorious and I can be victorious through Him. Which leads to my “second.”

Second, Acts 13:38-39 really struck me.

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

Because Jesus was freed from death, I can be freed from death. Because He was resurrected, I can be resurrected from the spiritual death I have caused. I can’t help but think about what Paul says in Romans 7:24-25, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” My body is filled with death because of my sin, but God can and will raise me up from that death through Jesus Christ. In fact, He already has.

Then Paul goes on in Acts 8:2-4.

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be filled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

My story is not over. God is still working on me. I don’t believe this means I was baptized, now I’ll never sin. Rather, this is a progressive victory over sin. This is an increasing putting off of the flesh and its passions. I’m peeling back the layers of the onion to get down to what God wants in me. I am reminded every day that God will set me free and resurrect me as He did His Son, Jesus.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Revelation 13-14: Blessed are the Dead in the Lord

Evangelism, Glorifying God, Kingdom of God, Revelation, Working for God

Today’s reading is Revelation 13:1-14:20.

Perhaps because of my Granddad’s recent death, I’m struck by Revelation 14:13. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’”

For God’s child, meeting death is not frightening as it seems to most. Death is not a mystery. It is a door into eternity with the God we’ve been glorifying in our lives. It is the opportunity to be able to fully accomplish what we’ve been desperately striving to do in this life. We will be taken to paradise and then on to heaven at the judgment. In those arenas, we will gather around the throne of God and glorify Him with our incorruptible bodies, our new voices, and our perfect unity. 

I also can’t help but notice it says then we’ll rest from our labors. That means it is not time to rest from my labor today. Today, while I still have breath, I need to labor for the Lord. A rest is coming. It will be a glorious rest. But to prepare for that rest I need to labor now.

Let’s get to work for the Lord today.

***Question: What do you do to labor for the Lord each day?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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1 Thessalonians 3-4: Comfort One Another with These Words

Comfort, Death, Encouragement, I Thessalonians, resurrection

There were a couple of things in today’s reading that stood out, but how can I bypass these chapters without following the command at the end of them to comfort and encourage you with these words:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to me the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:13-17 (ESV)

There are two things that comfort me in this passage. 

1. If we live by faith, we can die by faith.

We do not have to face death with fear. We believe Jesus died and was resurrected, we know we will be as well. We know death is not an end, but merely a transition. We are not abandoned by Jesus when we die. Rather, we go to be with Him and will always be with him. What a comfort.

2. There is more than this life.

Some days life is just frustrating. I wonder why anyone would remotely want to keep on dealing with it. The reason…there is more to life than this life. There is something worth striving for when this life is over. I don’t want to give up because a victory is coming and I want to be on the winning side when it happens. 

Be comforted. Life is tough, but the goal waiting for us is worth everything we go through. Death may be hard, but for us it is a victory.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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1 Corinthians 16-2 Corinthians 1:Relying on the Lord who Raises the Dead

Christian Living, God, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, perseverance

II Corinthians 1:9-10 jumped out at me today.

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (ESV)

Paul and his companions were close to death. No doubt it was because of persecution. Yet, he saw a different purpose. Being pushed to that point forced him to rely on God. He knew he could not deliver himself from death, he could only rely on God. 

How often does that happen to us and yet we can’t see the lessons God has for us. We get sick to remind us our health is not in our hands, but God’s. We lose jobs to remind us our security is not in our hands, but God’s. We lose loved ones to remind us that life is not in our hands, but Gods.

All this goes on around us reminding us to quit relying on ourselves but to rely on God instead. No matter where we are, He is there. No matter what we face, He can deliver. The longer we try to work harder to preserve ourselves, the longer we wait to truly have God’s blessings.

I’m not saying we sit on our backsides and wait for God to hand us our free lunch. It doesn’t work like that. Rather, we must seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and then He will add to us. Of course, God’s blessings are not merely the material and financial. Rather, He blesses us with contentment, peace and joy no matter what we face and He blesses us with a home in heaven.

Perhaps this struck me because I’m sick this week–strep throat. It has thrown major wrinkles in my plans. But maybe what I need to do is remember that God is in charge, not me.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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Mark 15-16: We Have Seen Barabbas and He is Us

Crucified with Christ, Death, God, Jesus, Love, Mark, Sacrifice, salvation

I can hardly fathom how it happened. The Jewish crowd had two men in front of them. One of those men had really and truly been involved in rebellion and insurrection. One had actually killed people. The other one had preached a message of peace and submission to others. One had brought people back to life. Just days earlier these very same crowds had been proclaiming this miracle worker was the descendent of David. He had never done anything worthy of death and even Pilate realized that.

Pilate gave the crowd an option. He could release Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer, or he could release Jesus, the man they had praised just days earlier. The other one would be delivered for a torturous death by crucifixion. How on earth could the crowds ever be stirred up to release Barabbas and pick Jesus to be crucified? How could they look at Jesus, a man who had taught in their synagogues, who had healed their sick, cast out demons, raised the dead and in so many other ways demonstrated Himself to be the Messiah for whom they looked, and pick Him to die. Nevertheless, that was the choice they made.

I can hardly fathom how it happened. God had two men in front of Him. One of those men had really and truly been involved in rebellion and sin. He had lied, stolen, cheated, lusted, committed immorality, coveted and pursued his own arrogant path of self-service in many other ways. The wages of his sins were death. The other one only ever lived to please the Father. He submitted and obeyed. He had never done anything worthy of death and God realized that.

But, God had an option. He could free and give life to me, the sinner and rebel, or He could leave Jesus alone. The other one would be delivered to a torturous spiritual death of separation from the Father. How in heaven could God ever be stirred to set me free by picking His only begotten Son, Jesus, for death? How could God look at Jesus, a Son who had only ever faithfully served Him, and put Him on the cross and then turn His face from Him? 

The crowds made their choice because of selfish envy. God made His choice because of selfless love. I have always been intrigued by the fact that Barabbas’ name means “son of the Father.” Because of Jesus’ death, I am now a son of the Father. I do not know how the Father, Son and Spirit could have so much love to let Jesus take my place. I just know I’m glad God did.

I don’t know how Barabbas turned out. Was he changed by this experience? Or did he simply go back and plot more rebellion? I can’t answer how Barabbas responded. I can only determine how I will respond. God put Jesus on the cross where I should be. Will I just keep on sinning and rebelling, spurning the sacrifice God offered for me? Or will I strive to become like Jesus who sacrificed Himself for me?

Keep the faith and keep reading.

ELC

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