Monday, February 27, 2017

Eternal Life

For many of us, when we hear someone speak of eternal life we think about living forever in heaven. We rightfully look forward to the day when every tear will be wiped away from our eyes, when there will be no more sickness, death, disease, or curse; we long for our glorified bodies that will not wear out or wax old. The older we get, the more people we think about that are waiting for us on the other side, and we long to spend eternity with them. Most importantly, we anticipate being with our Savior forever and ever.

In essence, when we think about eternal life, we tend to focus on quantity of life, of a life that will not end.

But as Christians we should also think about quality of life. Eternal life with God doesn’t begin in heaven, nor must we wait for this life to end to begin enjoying it. Eternal life in heaven is just the icing on the cake, so we should not overlook the blessings we have right now. We have our sins forgiven and forever dealt with; we have been adopted by the King of the Universe and He calls us His children; we have the privilege to carry everything to God in prayer; we are filled with the Spirit, the Comforter, who leads us into truth; we have a relationship with the same God who died for us. Shall I go on?

If you have been saved, understand that your eternal life has already begun. There is an abundant quantity of life ahead of us, but an amazing quality of life right now.

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:15

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Exchange

I just turned 32 a few weeks ago, and recently I have become keenly aware of the difference between being in my twenties and my thirties. Any athletic activity takes a heavy toll on me, and checkers is the only game I can play without getting winded. Many of you are older than I am, and you are looking forward to receiving your glorified body—one that doesn’t creak and crack when you stand up, and that has no artificial parts. We have this promise to look forward to:

“He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body…(Philippians 3:21)”

Let that thought sink in. The same kind of body that will be good enough for Jesus for all eternity will also be what we receive. Jesus will take these old, vile bodies, and exchange them for a glorious body like His. That truly is a great exchange, but it is only possible because of an even better exchange that already took place.

Jesus is the one who knew no sin, yet became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are the ones who “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” And yet, if we choose to put our full trust in the work of Jesus on the cross, God is willing to clothe us in the righteousness of Jesus.

Jesus, who is righteous, took off His righteousness and put on our sin. We, who are unrighteous, can take off our sin and put on the righteousness of Jesus (Romans 13:14). When I die I will go to heaven, not because of anything righteous I have done, because that is just filthy rags in God’s sight. When God looks at me He sees Jesus’ righteousness, because when He looked at Jesus on the cross He saw my sin.

If you want to exchange your vile body for a glorious one, you must first exchange your sin for Jesus’ righteousness.

Monday, February 13, 2017

What Goes Around Comes Around

Last week I wrote about the fake obedience in the family of Isaac, which centered on the deception of Jacob; the younger son pretended to be his big brother in order to receive the blessing his father meant to give him.

Jacob’s brother Esau was furious and sought to kill him, so Jacob fled to his mother’s hometown. There he met Laban and arranged a deal: he would work seven years on his farm for the right to marry Laban’s daughter Rachel. The seven years flew by because of the love Jacob had for Laban’s younger daughter. The morning after the wedding, however, Jacob realized he had been tricked.

Laban instructed his older daughter Leah to pretend to be her sister (the custom was that the younger daughter could not be married until the older daughter was). Veiled during the ceremony and hidden by darkness in the bedchamber, Leah tricked Jacob into fulfilling the marriage with her.

Note the irony: Jacob tricked his father, but now was tricked by his father-in-law. Jacob pretended to be the firstborn, and now accidentally married the firstborn. Jacob, assisted by his mother, once dressed like his brother in order to deceive; Leah, assisted by her father, dressed in her sister’s bridal gown in order to deceive Jacob.

Jacob’s deception and subsequent victimization provide a perfect example that we reap what we sow. Jesus told Peter that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword; we may add to that, “He who lives by deception will also be deceived.” Lying, scheming, and manipulation are no way to live; honesty is always the best policy.

So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?”

Genesis 29:25

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fake Obedience

Did you know that it is possible to obey the wrong way? Genesis 27 records an event that some say is all about disobedience, but in it I actually see obedience. Just the wrong kind of obedience.

In the story God told Isaac to pronounce a blessing on his son Jacob, but Isaac decided to bless his favorite son Esau, and Jacob and his mother Rebekah conspire to trick the patriarch into accidentally blessing Jacob. Think about it:

Isaac accidentally obeyed God and blessed Jacob; Rebekah cleverly obeyed herself and tricked Isaac; Jacob willingly obeyed Rebekah and lied to Isaac; and Esau gladly obeyed Isaac to undermine God. They all four obeyed, and yet they all four disobeyed.

Accidental or partial obedience is not obedience at all. Isaac blessed the right son, but accidentally; Rebekah made sure the right son was blessed, but dishonestly; Jacob knew the blessing was his, but acquired it deceptively; and Esau obeyed his father, but did so sinfully.

We must obey God with the right heart, the right attitude, and the right spirit. If we obey God and choose not to indulge in some type of sin, only to look down our noses and judge others, we are not really being obedient.

Think about the way you obey: is it full, complete obedience to God from a right heart, or is it done with some ulterior motive? God only delights in proper obedience.

“But Isaac said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’”

Genesis 27:35

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Peaceful Transfer of Power

Regardless of your party affiliation, or even lack thereof, there is a lot to celebrate at Presidential inaugurations.

The inauguration is not about the man (and someday the woman) being sworn into office, but about the office he is about to hold. More important than who sits in the Oval Office is the fact that we have an Oval Office, the recognized seat of power for the Leader of the Free World. Every few years one President steps aside to relinquish the high office to his successor.

Last week my wife and I had the honor of attending the Presidential Inauguration*. Former Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Bush 43 looked on as President Obama transferred power to President Trump. This tradition is vital to our democracy for two key reasons: first, our country is free from the dictatorships, coups, and monarchies that are the norm around the world. No President, no matter how bitterly defeated, has ever refused to acknowledge the will of the people.

But it is also important in that there is never a minute of vulnerability to our enemies. Power is transferred peacefully, but also seamlessly. At 11:59 the President is Barack Obama; at noon the President is Donald Trump. This continuation of government ensures someone is always in control.

The stability our government provides is reassuring to the citizenry. How much better, then, is the stability offered by the King of Kings? The God of the universe is always on the throne, and He isn’t subject to coups, impeachment, or term limits. There is no transfer of power because all power in heaven and earth belongs to God alone. There is never a minute of vulnerability for His enemies. No matter what you may be going through, remember that God is sovereign and in total control.

God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.

Psalm 47:8

For the record, and contrary to reporting by the Associated Press, CNN, and other outlets, we watched from the base of the Washington Monument, with thousands of people behind us. Those groups reported that Trump "wrongly" stated the crowds reached the Monument.