Do you need to get away for a day or two of rest at a nice hotel? Try the Empathy Suite at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. It’s located on the thirty-fourth floor with two master bedrooms, stunning views, original works of art, 24-hour butler service, and a gym. At $100,000 per night (with a two-night minimum), it’s the most expensive hotel room in the world.
Can’t afford it? If we can’t afford one night in a hotel in Las Vegas, how can we ever afford an eternal stay in the mansions of heaven?
By our own merits and righteousness, we cannot claim a single, solitary second in New Jerusalem—the city that truly glitters with glory. The cost of a place there is beyond anyone’s ability to pay, except for One—the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood to secure your reservation.
Oh, how wonderful! Oh, how marvelous! We could never earn our way to heaven, but Christ’s death and resurrection made a way for us. Don’t miss it! Place your full faith in Christ today.
Las Vegas is a counterfeit version of the New Jerusalem. And it shares something of the glorious reality that it mocks.Richard J. Mouw
43116 = John 14:2 by Dr. J. Vernon McGee – Thru the Bible
The king . . . renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands.2 Kings 23:3
The ornate ceremonial bow and quiver had hung on the wall of our home in Michigan for years. I’d inherited them from my father, who acquired the souvenirs while we were serving as missionaries in Ghana.
Then one day a Ghanaian friend visited us. When he saw the bow, he got a strange look on his face. Pointing to a small object tied to it he said, “That is a fetish—a magic charm. I know it has no power, but I would not keep it in my house.” Quickly we cut the charm from the bow and discarded it. We didn’t want anything in our home intended for the worship of something other than God.
Josiah, king in Jerusalem, grew up with little knowledge of God’s expectations for His people. When the high priest rediscovered the Book of the Law in the long-neglected temple (2 Kings 22:8), Josiah wanted to hear it. As soon as he learned what God had said about idolatry, he ordered sweeping changes to bring Judah into compliance with God’s law—changes far more drastic than merely cutting a charm from a bow (see 2 Kings 23:3–7).
Believers today have more than King Josiah did—much, much more. We have the entire Bible to instruct us. We have each other. And we have the vital filling of the Holy Spirit, who brings things to light, large and small, that we might otherwise overlook.
Saving faith has three elements: knowledge, conviction, and trust. Today, let’s look at the first component: the knowledge required to believe in Jesus as our Savior.
Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. At the request of God the Father, Jesus set aside His divine rights, took on human form, and dwelled on earth (Philippians 2:6-7).
What did He accomplish? To be acceptable to God, sacrifices had to be without defect (Leviticus 22:20). Jesus lived a perfect life, which qualified Him to be our substitute, bearing God’s judgment for our sins. Through His death on the cross, we are forgiven for our transgressions and have peace with God.
Why did He have to die? We could not save ourselves, since even our best deeds are marred by sin. When we accept Christ’s atoning work on our behalf, we are no longer God’s enemy but a member of His family.
When I was saved at age 12, I understood only the simplest aspects of these truths. I knew that I was a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness and that only Jesus could save me. But knowledge alone does not bring salvation—even the demons understood that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 4:41). Salvation also requires conviction and trust. I believed these truths, and the Lord saved me. Do you believe the same is true for you?
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
One of the key doctrines of Christianity is the union of the believer with Christ. In fact, the expression “in Christ” or its equivalent is found over 160 times in Paul’s epistles alone. Since, in God’s sight, we are “in Him,” all His attributes and accomplishments are credited to us as well.
For example, Paul said even to the carnal Corinthians that “of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). To the Romans (see today’s verse) he said that being in Christ frees us from the judgment, since Christ has already borne our judgment.
To the Galatians, Paul emphasized that “ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The Ephesian epistle has many such expressions, the most comprehensive being Ephesians 1:3: “[God] hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” To the Philippians, he promised that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). The Christians at Colosse were assured that “ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10).
Even when we die, we “sleep in Jesus” and, when He comes again, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16). Paul even wrote to Timothy that God’s “own purpose and grace” had been “given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). These are only a few examples of the marvelous blessings shared by all who are “in Christ Jesus.” We should be willing gladly to acknowledge “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:6). HMM
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. —John 14:2
If I miss the love and the mercy and the grace of God in this life, who is to be blamed? Certainly not the God who sits on the throne. He made full provision for my salvation. Certainly not the Lamb who stands before the throne. He died for my sins and rose again for my justification. Certainly not the radiant, flaming Holy Spirit who has accosted men and women all over the world, mediating to them the saving gospel of Christ.
Hear the words John heard on rocky Patmos as the Revelation of Jesus Christ concluded:
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be….Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city….And the Spirit and the bride say, Come….And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (22:12, 14, 17)
If I miss God’s great salvation, has this life been worth the struggle? Personally, I think not! JIV076
[I]f we go to heaven it is because we have a nature that belongs there. EFE103
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you.—Acts 1:8
The Holy Spirit is a resident counselor. The Greek word here is interesting: parakletos—para (beside), kletos (call)—one who is called alongside to help. There isn’t a single thing needed in the Christian life that He isn’t there to provide. Note the difference in the prepositions that are found in these passages: “He remains with you and will be in you” (Jn 14:17) and “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you” (Ac 1:8). Jesus said that the Spirit was “with” them, but later would be “in” them and “on” them. I take these prepositions to mean that the Holy Spirit was “with” them prior to Pentecost but was “in” them and “on” them subsequent to Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost their lives lacked character and consistency. They cast out devils, but, on other occasions, they seemed to be somewhat influenced by them.
Simon Peter is a case in point (Mt 16:23). The disciples were loud in their assertions of loyalty and loud in their blunderings and misunderstandings. The Spirit was most certainly “with” them—helping, encouraging, and revealing—but He was most certainly not “in” them or “on” them. When the Spirit came “in” and “on” them at a later date, then fitful living became faithful living; erratic loyalty became everlasting loyalty.
Today, in the lives of many Christians, the Holy Spirit seems to be working on the outside rather than on the inside. Actually, of course, the Holy Spirit is resident “in” every Christian, but He wants to be more than just resident—He wants also to be president! How is it in your life and experience? Is the Spirit a passing guest or a permanent guest?
God, forgive me for not utilizing the resources of the Holy Spirit You have placed within me. Help me see that the Spirit within makes for adequacy without if I avail myself of Him. Amen.
For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.—Luke 22:27
The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God.
When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1–15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served.
The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.