VIDEO A Robust View of Heaven

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Lee Strobel wrote about Clay Jones, who came to Christ at age twelve after hearing Billy Graham preach about heaven and hell. Over time Jones grew in the Lord, married his sweetheart, and became a pastor and professor. One day, he was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer. Getting the news, Clay and his wife held hands, wept, and prayed. 

“This is going to sound strange,” Jones said, “but I wasn’t afraid of dying….Yes, I mourned that I’d be leaving my wife. But, you see, I had a robust view of heaven—and that’s what made all the difference.”

Jones’ initial diagnoses proved in error, and he was successfully treated for a milder form of the disease. But he’s never forgotten the peace of knowing that to live is Christ and to die is gain.[1] Because of God’s love for us, we can spend eternity with Him, and that changes everything!

If God can create all the beauty and excitement of our current universe, he’s certainly capable of creating an eternally stimulating and rewarding experience for his followers in the new heaven and the new earth. Clay Jones


Can You Predict Your Future? – Philippians 1:18b-21 – Skip Heitzig

Abundance Meets Need

Your plenty will supply what they need. 2 Corinthians 8:14

School cafeterias, like large catering businesses, often prepare more food than is consumed simply because they can’t perfectly predict the need, and leftover food goes to waste. Yet there are many students who don’t have enough food to eat at home and who go hungry on weekends. One US school district partnered with a local non-profit to find a solution. They packaged leftovers to send home with students, and simultaneously addressed the problems of both food waste and hunger.

While most people wouldn’t look at an abundance of money as a problem the way we do with wasted food, the principle behind the school project is the same as what Paul suggests in his letter to the Corinthians. He knew the churches in Macedonia were experiencing hardship, so he asked the church in Corinth to use their “plenty” to “supply what they need[ed]” (2 Corinthians 8:14). His objective was to bring equality among the churches so none had too much while others were suffering.

Paul didn’t want the Corinthian believers to be impoverished by their giving, but to empathize with and be generous to the Macedonians, recognizing that at some point in the future they too were likely to need similar help. When we see others in need, let’s evaluate whether we might have something to share. Our giving—however large or small—will never be a waste!

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How has God supplied your needs through another person or group? How can you offer similar generosity?

Father, please awaken me to the needs of others so I might give of the resources You’ve given me. When I’m in need, help me to trust You to provide through those who also love You.

A Passion to Know Him

Walking in the wilderness isn’t easy, but it renews our thirst for the Lord.

Psalm 63:1-11

When David was in the wilderness of Judah, he exclaimed, “God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; My soul thirsts for You” (Ps. 63:1). The Lord seemed distant, and David longed for His presence. Then, in verse 2, he reminisced about times that he saw God’s glory in His sanctuary, when the Lord seemed more accessible. This contrast captures a common human predicament: We often don’t appreciate things going well until they’re gone. But in the wilderness, we quickly wither and recognize how urgently we yearn for the Lord. Many times, sadly, it’s not until we experience deep thirst that we’re able to taste the goodness of Jesus’ living water. (See John 7:37-38.) 

The trouble is that it might take years to realize we are in a wilderness. Then, because of our desperation, every new mud puddle glistens with glorious possibilities like a mirage, and we plunge in, convinced that we’ve finally found something fulfilling. But only the water Jesus gives truly quenches thirst and promises eternal life (John 4:13-14).

That’s why we must remain sensitive to our Savior’s guidance through the barren land. He promises, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). When we heed God’s call, we exclaim along with David, “My soul waits in silence for God alone; from Him comes my salvation” (Ps. 62:1).

The Blood of the Lamb

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

This is the last reference in the Bible to the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; here, it is the overcoming blood, enabling believers to withstand the deceptions and accusations of Satan.

There are at least 43 references to the blood of Christ in the New Testament, all testifying to its great importance in the salvation and daily life of the believer. Judas the betrayer spoke of it as “innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), and Peter called it “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). It is the cleansing blood in 1 John 1:7 and the washing blood in Revelation 1:5, stressing that it removes the guilt of our sins.

Paul calls it the purchasing blood in Acts 20:28 and the redeeming blood twice (Ephesians 1:7Colossians 1:14; see also 1 Peter 1:18-19Revelation 5:9), thus declaring the shedding of His blood to be the very price of our salvation. Therefore, it is also the justifying blood (Romans 5:9) and the peacemaking blood (Colossians 1:20). Its efficacy does not end with our salvation, however, for it is also the sanctifying blood (Hebrews 13:12). There is infinite and eternal power in the blood of Christ, for it is “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (v. 20).

The first reference in the New Testament to His blood stresses this aspect. Jesus said at the last supper, “This is my blood of the new testament [same as ‘covenant’], which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Let no one, therefore, ever count the “blood of the covenant…an unholy thing” (Hebrews 10:29), for the blood of Christ is forever innocent, infinitely precious, perfectly justifying, always cleansing, and fully sanctifying. HMM

Come to the Water

Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.John 4:14

I thank God for Christian men and women who want to know the facts and the truths as they have come from God. Thank God, they are not just looking for someone to give them a relaxing religious massage! These are the facts—the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses. There is a purging element in Christianity. Then there is the Holy Spirit, the blessed Spirit of God who brings us the peace and tranquillity of the waters of Shiloah.

The living God invites us to the stream, the only perennial stream in the world, the only stream that never runs dry, the only stream that never overflows and destroys. WPJ047-048

There flows from Calvary a stream

For every sinner’s pain,

And he that drinketh, Jesus said,

Shall never thirst again.

This stream from Calvary still flows

To bless and cleanse and heal,

And he that drinketh, Jesus said,

New life and rest shall feel. HCL516

Devout Realists

Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness.Proverbs 16:12

The confession and acknowledgement of God’s goodness is evident when we consider the time when the Israelites first settled in Canaan—the period of the judges—and the monarchy. Throughout these years the same pattern repeated itself over and over again—disobedience led to warnings, repentance, and appeals to God for mercy. The words “You” and “them” draw attention to the interaction between God and His people in Nehemiah 9:31: “You did not destroy them or abandon them.”

This review of their national history provides every one of the Jews listening with encouraging evidences of what God has done in the past, the awesome consequences of ingratitude, and the inevitability of punishment if sin goes unconfessed. But most important of all, there is hope for the future. And that hope is based on the unchanging character of God. They see in the present a product of the past and the seed of the future. Their anticipation now is that the knowledge of past events will help them avoid the evil and follow the good, which is Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 10:6 and 11.

One person has said: “We have no light to illuminate the pathway of the future save that which falls over our shoulder from the past.” Reflecting on what God has done for us in the past enables us to have a clearer perspective on the present and the future. A biblical approach to history makes us neither wide-eyed optimists nor downhearted pessimists. We become devout realists, for we see God at work in all things and triumphing over everything.

Prayer

O God, help me build into my life times for reflection on the way in which Your goodness has been with me in the past. For I see that by contemplating this I draw hope and encouragement for the future. Answer my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 23:1-6; Lk 22:35-38; Neh 9:26-31

As you read the psalm, reflect on God’s dealings with you.

How will devout realists react to different situations?

Spiritual Markers

The Israelites did just as Joshua had commanded them. The 12 men took stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the Israelite tribes, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the camp and set them down there.—Joshua 4:8

Spiritual memory is crucial in the Christian life. Do you vividly recall times when you know God spoke to you? It would be tragic if, in your haste to advance in your Christian faith, you neglected to leave spiritual markers at the key crossroads of your life. Without the help of these markers, you will lose your spiritual bearings.

The Israelites experienced a tumultuous pilgrimage. Their doubt that God was powerful enough to give them victory cost them forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Then God miraculously parted the waters of the Jordan River so they could pass over and continue their conquest. God knew that at times the Israelites would face intimidating enemies and would need a reminder that He was powerful enough to protect them. The Israelites might be tempted to think they made a mistake entering Canaan. For this reason God instructed them to build a monument on the banks of the Jordan River. Whenever they returned to this spot, they would see the monument and be reminded of God’s awesome power. This marker would give them confidence to meet the new challenges they faced.

A spiritual marker identifies a time of decision when you clearly know that God guided you. Can you remember the moment you became a child of God? Were there specific times when He called you to His ways of living? Can you point to times when He clearly guided you in a decision? Were there times when He spoke powerfully to you about a commitment you should make? Keep track of these important moments! Regularly rehearse them and notice the steady progression in the way God has led you. This will help you understand God’s activity in your life and give you a sense of direction as you face future decisions.