Changed to His Likeness

By his power to rule all things, he will change our simple bodies and make them like his own glorious body. PHILIPPIANS 3:21

What do we know about our resurrected bodies? They will be unlike any we have ever imagined.

Will we look so different that we aren’t instantly recognized? Perhaps. (We may need nametags.) Will we be walking through walls? Chances are we’ll be doing much more.

Will we still bear the scars from the pain of life? The marks of war. The disfigurements of disease. The wounds of violence. Will these remain on our bodies? That is a very good question. Jesus, at least for forty days, kept his. Will we keep ours? On this issue, we have only opinions, but my opinion is that we won’t. Peter tells us that “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). In heaven’s accounting, only one wound is worthy to be remembered. And that is the wound of Jesus. Our wounds will be no more.

When Christ Comes

GOD FORGETS

Praise the LORD … He forgives all my sins. PSALM 103:2–3

God doesn’t remember the past. But I do, you do. You still remember. You’re like me. You still remember what you did before you changed. In the cellar of your heart lurk the ghosts of yesterday’s sins. Sins you’ve confessed; errors of which you’ve repented; damage you’ve done your best to repair …

That horrid lie.

The time you exploded in anger.

Now, honestly. Do you think God was exaggerating when he said he would cast our sins as far as the east is from the west? Do you actually believe he would make a statement like “I will not remember their sins anymore” (Jeremiah 31:34) and then rub our noses in them whenever we ask for help?

Of course you don’t. You and I just need an occasional reminder of God’s nature, his forgetful nature.

from GOD CAME NEAR

Make It as Sure as You Can

“Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” (Matthew 27:65-66)

Pilate had endured many strange experiences leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Both he and some close to him (v. 19) had wanted to release Him, finding no fault in Him (v. 23). But, for political expediency, willing to pacify the Jewish leaders and quell a potential riot,

Pilate had agreed to the execution. But once Christ was dead and in the grave, Pilate’s troubles did not end.

Perhaps we are justified in reading a tone of sarcasm and impatience in Pilate’s words “make it as sure as you can.” What is there to fear from a dead man? Guard the tomb if you want. But just perhaps Pilate was hounded by unexplained doubts; maybe a guard could prevent the bizarre fears from becoming reality.

From our perspective, however, we can see divine irony in these words. Satan had seemingly won a great victory on the cross, for the Heir had been slain. Thus, the one act which he had to prevent was that of the actual resurrection, for all of Christ’s message depended on His victory over death.

Note the limitation in the words “as sure as you can.” How tightly sealed and well-guarded must a tomb be to contain the Creator of all things? If His purpose was to die and rise from the dead, would man’s or Satan’s efforts be able to thwart it? “As sure as you can” was surely not sure enough!

Today we know that the tomb’s sealed entrance was breached, not so much to allow Him out, but to allow us to see inside. Satan’s henchmen still deny the resurrection, but their efforts are just as futile as those who tried to keep Him inside. The fact remains, He left the tomb, triumphantly offering eternal life to all who believe! JDM

Overwhelming Concern

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. —John 13:34

A while ago, I wrote an article about my wife, Marlene, and her struggles with vertigo. When the article appeared, I was unprepared for the tidal wave of response from readers offering encouragement, help, suggestions and, mostly, concern for her well-being.

These messages came from all over the world, from people in all walks of life. Expressions of loving concern for my wife poured in to the point where we could not even begin to answer them all. It was overwhelming in the best kind of way to see the body of Christ respond to Marlene’s struggle. We were, and remain, deeply grateful.

At its core, this is how the body is supposed to work. Loving concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ becomes the evidence that we have experienced His love. While addressing the disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35).

Marlene and I experienced a sampling of Christlike love and concern in those letters we received. With the help of our Savior and as a way of praising Him, may we show others that kind of love as well. by Bill Crowder

Bearing people’s heavy burdens,
Shouldering their pain and grief,
Shows the love of Christ to others,
Bringing them His sure relief. —Anon.

The height of our love for God is indicated by the depth of our love for one another.
—Morley

Nazarites had taken several vows

“All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine
tree, from the kernels even to the husk.”
Numbers 6:4

Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil.

Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins.

Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.

Have mercy upon me, O God

“Have mercy upon me, O God.” Psalm 51:1

When Dr. Carey was suffering from a dangerous illness, the enquiry was made, “If this sickness should prove fatal, what passage would you select as the text for your funeral sermon?” He replied, “Oh, I feel that such a poor sinful creature is unworthy to have anything said about him; but if a funeral sermon must be preached, let it be from the words, ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.'” In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and nothing more should be cut on his gravestone:—

WILLIAM CAREY
BORN AUGUST 17th, 1761: DIED—
“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm
On Thy kind arms I fall.”

Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honoured of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel’s dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!