Joy to the World

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What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. – John 1:1-4

I saw on the news this morning a report on medical breakthroughs that will possibly extend our life on earth by reversing the aging effects on our bodies. While I think this is interesting, I wonder if people who fight to live so long have missed the message of eternal life. I can’t help to think once a person is in the presence of Jesus that they wonder why they fought so hard to keep from this moment. The Scriptures tell us that everything is perfect in heaven and we get to live there for eternity. No more tears, no more hurts, no more political phone calls … sorry, to those who enjoy receiving them.

Our joy comes from knowing the fact that we are God’s and we will be with him forever. There is a place being prepared especially for us. That’s how special we are to Jesus. The fellowship there will be grand.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for the provision of eternal life you made for me. I have joy knowing that I will be with you forever, and nothing can take that away from me. I pray that I share this joy with others so that we can fellowship together for eternity. Amen

Faith Tip: Focus today on the gift of eternal life and wonder about what that will be like. The gift started with a little baby in the stable.

God Says Yes

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Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. – 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 The Message

I remember making some homemade bread from a book I purchased that had beautiful pictures of all different kinds of loaves. There were step by step instructions including the mixing, kneading, raising and baking. The implied promise was for a beautiful loaf of bread just like in the picture. Didn’t happen. I believe I did all the steps correctly, but what came out of the oven was more like a manhole cover than loaf. It did smell good though, so I was grateful for the aromatherapy.

Life can be like that, can’t it? You think you are doing the right thing, making the right choices, and the expected implied promise of the world is that life will be free from trouble. All of us know that isn’t really true. Jesus said we would have trouble. He being the Son of God and was perfect had trouble, why wouldn’t we?

We do have a guarantee with God. It is “a sure thing” when we are in Christ that we will have eternal life. Nothing in this life will come between us and God and the fulfillment of that promise.

Prayer: Jesus, I thank you that our future is guaranteed with you because of your sacrifice on the cross. I pray that I can be mindful of the gift you have given, and open to sharing with others who need to hear the story. Amen

Faith Tip: Think about the promises you depend on in this life and contrast them to the promise you have in Christ. Which one do you serve more?

There you are!

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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

There were acrobats, face painters, musicians, singers, belly dancers, and more performing downtown. Every Thursday night, my town closes the main street downtown for this gather and many people come out to enjoy it. Last night, a friend and I had dinner and walked around to watch the entertainers. It was a perfect summer night.

As I walked down the street, I saw a little boy who I thought looked like my great nephew from New Jersey. I then looked at the adults that were with him and recognized them too. They were visited for the week. We were excited to see each other, hugged and talked. Afterwards, as we continued down the street, I recognized a couple of ladies from my church. We again were glad to see each other and talked.

I imagine that is what heaven will be like. As we walk around the streets of gold, we will see people we recognize and will be so happy and excited to see them. The love we share in this life will not die when we do, but multiply as we enter eternal life. What a great reunion that will be!

Prayer: God, it is so great to know that the people I love today who know you as their Lord and Savior will be with me for eternity, and I can continue to love them. Knowing you will be there in person is so exciting. Amen

Faith Tip: Pray for the people you love who don’t know Jesus as their personal savior, so that they will be part of the great reunion.

Jesus holds on tight

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” – John 10:28-30

My dog, Charlie, loves to play a game with people where he will take a toy or a bone and come close to them giving the impression he wants them to have it. As soon as a person reaches for it, Charlie snaps his head away and prances around with his victory of holding on to the object. He does this with unsuspecting people at the dog park when he brings his Frisbee to them. They say, “Oh, how cute. He wants me to throw the Frisbee.” They soon find out it’s a different game he wants to play.

The victory is in Jesus who will allow nothing or no one to snatch us from his hand. Satan wants to play the game of temptation. If we allow Satan to grab us in temptation, there will be consequences in our life. However, when we are saved by the blood of the Lamb, there is no way Satan can take us from that—nothing will separate us from God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the promise that we have total security in you. I pray that I live in the victory of being in your hand and not in Satan’s. Amen

Faith Tip: Don’t allow any temptation to overtake you today. God always provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Receiving the gift

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“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

The judge looked at the boy who was trying to put on a tough act, but could see the fear in his eyes. Stealing the car was a first offense for him. Could it have been initiation into a gang? The boy’s mother looked disinterested and there appeared to be no father figure in the home. Gangs can look pretty inviting to someone who doesn’t feel like they belong.

Michael, please stand,” the judge ordered.

Michael and his lawyer stood.

“This court finds you guilty as charged, and incarceration is what is due.”

The boy trembled.

“However, since this is a first offense, I want to offer you another opportunity to turn this around. Would you like to have another opportunity to walk the straight path?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Good. Then you will be on probation for two years meeting with a probation officer once a week. Plus, you will be doing community service for one year and joining in the youth group at Daylight Community Church for two years. Is that understood and agreed to?”

The boy pondered only a moment and responded with visible relief. “Yes, your honor. Thank you for this opportunity.”

When choices we make are wrong, there is a price to pay. The wages paid for sin is death. We deserve eternal separation from God. But we are offered a gift—Jesus. Jesus made a way so that we didn’t have to suffer. Our choice for Jesus means our choice to eternal life with God. It is our choice though.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your great gift of grace. I pray that I can display grace to others each day so that they may be drawn closer to you. Amen

Faith Tip: Think of the areas you need grace today. Accept it with open arms.

He’ll be there

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“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 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” (John 14:1-3).

I’m going…I know I don’t know anyone there, but I know this will be good for me. These are some of the thoughts I had going to my first writer’s conference years ago. It’s frightening to go to an unfamiliar place and not know anyone. I would have been a lot more confident having a friend with me. But I went and I am glad I did. It opened up a whole new world in writing for me. The resources and networking were invaluable to my growth as a writer.

Jesus wants us to be confident in our daily walk…even when he leads us to places unfamiliar and where we feel we are alone. Our lives are filled with so many chapters; each one seems to be in a new area of our lives and that can be scary at first. The truth is that Jesus is always there with us. Through our life’s journey, Jesus is there. Even at the end when our eternal life begins, Jesus is there and will be forever. Doesn’t it feel good to know that Jesus wants us with him all the time?

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your promises. I pray my confidence will grow as I journey with you in this life and the next. Amen

Faith tip: Is there an area of your life where you don’t feel confident? Look to Jesus to help you be confident.

Preparing for the Future

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Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

Working towards our future is a great thing to do. We need to be prepared for future successes with career, family, and retirement. It is wise to work on these things. While it is wise to prepare for our future on earth, how much wiser is it to prepare for our real future in heaven?

I believe life is a preparation plan for us for heaven. We are given tools and opportunities to practice them here on earth to prepare us for eternal living. God will be creating a new place for us to live forever and former things will not be remembered or come to mind, I think because our new place will be so awesome, we just won’t care about most things we leave behind, only the eternal things will matter.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your promise of heaven and all things will be created new by your hand. I pray that I can prepare for the eternal life…the real future. Amen

Faith tip: In all you do today, discern which is for your earthly future and heavenly future. How do they balance out in your life?