I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! Revelation 1:18, NIV
British pastor Richard Bewes said that during the years before Jesus arrived on earth, the world’s greatest philosophers had debated issues of life and death. “Then came the message of the resurrection of Jesus,” wrote Bewes in his book, The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction. “If it had been simply a whispered legend of some unknown person living in Palestine, it might have remained an interesting after-dinner topic of conversation…for a while. But here was far more than a story in an ancient book. People were completely transformed in outlook. The personality of Christ blazed out in their conviction. And they were ready to die for their unshakable confidence in the message of Christ crucified and now alive for ever.”
There’s no way to overestimate the joy, praise, worship, adoration, and victory that floods our lives because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of His resurrection, we can worship Him. Take a moment and repeat the words of Jesus out loud, sensing their wonder: “I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever!”
In the first century there were no media at all…. If Jesus Christ had not, clearly and without doubt, been raised bodily from the grave we would have never heard of him.Richard Bewes
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial.James 1:12
Approximately ten Lego pieces are sold for every person on earth each year—more than seventy-five billion of the little plastic bricks. But if it wasn’t for the perseverance of Danish toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen, there wouldn’t be any Legos to snap together.
Christiansen toiled away in Billund, Denmark, for decades before creating Leg Godt, which means “play well.” His workshop was destroyed by fire twice. He endured bankruptcy and a world war that caused a shortage of materials. Finally, in the late 1940s, he landed on the idea for self-locking plastic bricks. By the time Ole Kirk died in 1958, Legos was on the verge of becoming a household word.
Persevering in the challenges of work and life can be difficult. That’s also true in our spiritual life as we strive to grow to be more like Jesus. Trouble hits us, and we need God’s strength to persevere. James wrote: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial” (James 1:12). Sometimes the trials we face are setbacks in relationships or finances or health. Sometimes they’re temptations that slow us down in our goal of honoring God with our lives.
But God promises wisdom for such times (v. 5), and He asks us to trust Him as He provides what we need (v. 6). Through it all, when we allow Him to help us persevere in honoring Him with our lives, we find true blessing (v. 12).
Most of us want peace in our heart, our relationships, and the world. But the most important area of peace is with God. Without it, we’re doomed. When Adam and Eve sinned, a barrier was erected between humanity and the Creator. The harmony that had previously existed between God and man was destroyed, and only God could restore it.
The cost of reconciliation was the horrific death of God’s Son as He hung on the cross, bearing the weight of mankind’s sin. That day Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for our transgressions. At the moment of His death, the massive temple veil dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom, signifying that reconciliation had been accomplished. Now peace with God was possible.
Though an instrument of brutality and death, the cross will stand forever as a symbol of peace. But peace with God is given only to those who through faith receive Jesus as their Savior (John 1:12-13). What greater peace could there be than the certainty of perfect harmony with God? Have you received this gift?
“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” (Psalm 104:23)
The 104th Psalm is a beautiful psalm of creation and the Flood, supplemented by God’s providential care of His creatures in the post-Flood world. Our text makes man’s activity seem almost incidental in the grand scope of God’s activities on behalf of His whole creation.
Nevertheless, it reminds us of God’s first great commission to mankind concerning that creation. “Have dominion…over all the earth…to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 1:26; 2:15). This primeval mandate, though still in effect as man’s stewardship responsibility for the earth and its creatures, has been seriously impacted by sin and the curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” God told Adam; “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:17, 19).
And so it is that men and women must work, and the work often is laborious, stressful, and unappreciated. Yet, the divine rule is “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands…That ye may walk honestly…and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). “For…if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Thus, labor is necessary, even for those who don’t know the Lord. But it is far better if we work not just to earn a living but to please the Lord. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).
Whatever our job is (assuming it is honorable), it can be regarded as serving Christ and helping to fulfill His primeval dominion commandment, and even as helping to lead others to know Him. Therefore, whether the work is easy or hard, we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord…your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM
He was in the world…and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. —John 1:10-11
At this hour in world history the state of religion is such that the Church is in grave danger of losing [the spiritual treasures of God’s wisdom]. Her gold is being turned to copper and her diamonds to glass. The religion of Cain is now in the ascendency—and marching under the banner of the cross.
Even among those who make a great noise about believing the Bible, that Bible has virtually no practical influence left. Fiction, films, fun, frolic, religious entertainment, Hollywood ideals, big business techniques and cheap, worldly philosophies now overrun the sanctuary. The grieved Holy Spirit broods over the chaos but no light breaks forth. “Revivals” come without rousing the hostility of organized sin and pass without raising the moral level of the community or purifying the lives of professing Christians. Why?
Could it be that too many of God’s true children…are sinning against God by guilty silence? When those whose eyes are opened by the touch of Christ become vocal and active God may begin to fight again on the side of truth. GTM179-180
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.—1 Corinthians 10:31
Disregard for the physical aspect of life can greatly contribute to spiritual dryness. This means that a certain amount of discipline must be introduced into our lives. But what kind of discipline?
Firstly, we need discipline in what and how much we eat. Every meal should be a sacrament offered on the altar of fitter and finer living. Doctors tell us that excess food—as well as too little food—destroys brain power. What is in the stomach often determines what is in the head. Scripture says, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking” (Rm 14:17). But it is not a contradiction of that verse to say that often our food and drink determine our fitness for the kingdom of God.
Seneca, in an exaggerated statement made for the sake of emphasis, said, “Man does not die: he kills himself.” Dr. R. L. Greene, a professor of chemistry and a specialist in nutrition, says, “The most deadly weapons used by man in committing suicide are the knife, fork, and spoon.” You may be repelled at the idea of committing suicide—and so you should be—but you may well be contributing to your death by choosing wrong ways of eating.
We need discipline also to ensure that we get at least the minimum amount of vitamins. Vitamins are necessary to vitality; they are God’s gift to us. The divine Chemist has designed our bodies to work in a certain way. And if we ignore His prescription for health, we reduce our physical effectiveness, which can also reduce our spiritual effectiveness.
O Father, help me recognize that physical vitality contributes to spiritual vitality. May I respect the body You have given me and pay attention to the laws of health that You have built into the universe. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
You have received free of charge; give free of charge.—Matthew 10:8b
There is no room for misers in God’s kingdom. When we begin to struggle in giving what we have to others, we have forgotten where we received our possessions. Every good thing we have ever received has come from God (James 1:17). All that we have acquired has been dependent upon His grace (1 Cor. 4:7). Job accurately summarized our condition: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, / And naked shall I return there. / The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; / Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
We easily assume a sense of ownership of our possessions, as if they were things we earned ourselves, thereby giving us a right to them. Jesus reminds us to be prepared to give our possessions as freely and joyfully as we received them. It should be a pleasure for us to give what we have to others (2 Cor. 9:7). We ought to be a conduit through whom the Lord can pour His blessings, knowing we will disperse them to everyone around us. Sometimes we claim we are trying to be good stewards of our resources when actually we are being selfish.
If you struggle to give freely to others, you have become more attached to the gift than to the Giver. The account of the rich young ruler shows the tragedy of becoming too attached to worldly treasures (Luke 8:18–24). Meditate on all that your Lord has given to you (John 3:16). Resolve to express your gratitude to Him through your giving.
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