Rejoice in the Everlasting

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There is no question that life comes with many challenges. As we get older, the challenges generally increase. Some, however, face even the most difficult challenges from birth. Regardless of when the difficulties arise, they will in fact arise. Some people seem to die far too soon, while others live long lives. Some live in poverty while others flourish in wealth. The world is full of imbalance. Discrimination, hatred, pride, selfishness, and greed all dominate no matter the society you look at. Painful relationships, sickness, and loss are things we all come face-to-face with at one time or another. We have all been disappointed by others and we have all been the ones to disappoint others. No one needs to look too far to see the effects of sin and brokenness in this world.   But in the face of this bleak and often heart-wrenching life, we can know that one constant exists that can bring us hope. His name is Jesus.

Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made…If he were not God from everlasting, we could not so devoutly love him; we could not feel that he had any share in the eternal love which is the fountain of all covenant blessings…When only your last battle remains to be fought, you shall find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble—the living Saviour shall cheer the dying saint. When you enter heaven you shall find Him there bearing the dew of his youth, and through eternity the Lord Jesus shall still remain the perennial spring of joy, and life, and glory to his people. Living waters may you draw from this sacred well! Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all His attributes, in all his offices, in all his might, and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown his chosen people.  -Charles Spurgeon

Dear loved ones, for all of you walking through a painful and uncertain season of your life, hold fast to the anchor in every storm…the eternal Savior. He is with you in your pain and suffering. He weeps for our sorrow. No matter the challenges we may face, we will always have Him, and that is a cause for rejoicing!

“Thou art from everlasting.”    -Psalm 93:2 KJV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Take it in

Life is good until it isn’t. A change that comes in a moment.

Hearts once leaping in exaltation now sunken in deep despair.

A smile now a lifeless expression.

Time unshaped by gratitude is lost for no one’s gain.

Unaware of how good it was, walking aimlessly.

What matters most is directly ahead, often missed for what lies beyond.

From now on it’ll be different.

The meaning of life comes more into view.

Prayers become more earnest as helplessness takes control.

A peace floods the soul like a warm embrace on a cold dark night.

How is there strength when the world is undone?

A Savior’s love overwhelms despair. Piercing the darkness, that glimmer of light.

Hope grows with each new day. I will make it after all.

From now on it’ll be different.

Time can slow to soak in each moment before they pass into memory.

Petty differences shall pass into oblivion.

Eyes look more longingly now upon those we love.

*This poem is dedicated to those who have experienced the earth-shattering moments. The sudden loss of a loved one. The diagnosis. Pain that turned everything upside down. I hope you too have experienced that amazing peace that our loving God provides, especially in the hardest moments. If not, that is my prayer for you. You are loved more than you know. This is a celebration of that love that has rescued so many from the depths. Peace in Christ loved ones.

The New Dawn

Where have your convictions gone?

Laying dormant below the surface.

Waiting to arise but held in place.

Pushed to a place no one will find them.

They’ve been gone so long not even you may recognize them.

Move aside.

Let them break through.

Relinquish the self inflicted chains that bind them.

Embrace your true identity.

Take the first step back onto the path of life.

The One who breathed life into you before, can do it once more.

Awaken to the new dawn.

See the light pierce the deep darkness you’ve been wandering through.

Hear the One who spoke you into existence speak soft words of love once again.

You’ve been closed off from Him for so long.

But He’s never left your side.

Bring your worst and watch it melt away in the presence of His forgiveness.

“Welcome home my child,” He says, “Oh how I’ve missed you.”

These Moments are not our Last

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Jacob finds himself wandering in the wilderness, estranged from his family, alone and on the run. (Genesis 28)

Elijah flees to the mountains to escape the tyrant king and queen. He feels exiled as a wanted man. His faithfulness to God has put him in eminent danger. (1 Kings 19-20)

Daniel is cast into a pit of hungry lions, whose soul purpose is to rip criminals to shreds. But Daniel is no criminal. He is the unfortunate recipient of envy and hatred by other in the king’s court. (Daniel 6)

The Apostle Peter is imprisoned for doing what he believed was the call on his life to proclaim the gospel. (Acts 12)

You know what each of these stories have in common? They are examples of people in some of their lowest moments who got to experience the wonders of God. While Jacob was adrift in the wilderness, God showed up to renew His promise. While Elijah was trembling on the mountainside, God showed up in the wind to whisper His love once again. Surrounded by hungry lions, Daniel received a visit from the Angel of the Lord. The chains were loosed from Peter’s wrists and the prison gates flung open that night as God stepped in to rescue him.

These dark moments were not their last. Instead, they allowed each of these men to see and experience glorious things. Dear reader, I’m not sure where you are in your life. But if you’re desperate. If you feel like you’re drowning or suffering. There is always hope. God’s wonders may be right around the corner.  Keep praying. Keep praising. Keep hanging on. The Lord is with you where you are.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

He Is Alive

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“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job 19:23-27 ESV

Job makes one of the most profound statements in these few verses. He says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and at last he will stand upon the Earth.” This is the foundation for every hope that Christians proclaim and all of humanity searches for. It was the lifeline that Job was so desperately clinging to. It’s a reality that can bring that glimmer of light into anyone’s dark world.

We’ve all felt the sting of sin. Some more than others. Whether self-inflicted or caused by another, it hurts…bad. Anyone who would try to argue that this world isn’t in need of redemption and renewal doesn’t have much of an argument to stand on. The evidence is all around us. The news blasts it, our hearts testify of it, and the pain experienced in every human’s existence rebukes any belief contrary to the notion that things are way off the mark. Just like Job, our hurt is far too real to deny the need for redemption. Our bodies, while absolutely amazing, are frail and prone to sickness. The world is decaying. Social structures, in every culture, are far from perfect. Violence and hate take up way more headlines than love and charity. The hope that this will not always be so, is what motivates many to face another day.

We’ve all tried to make up for the mistakes we’ve made. To set things right again. Most people want to see change and progress made. But no matter how much we try, all our efforts will come short of bringing a lasting change. That’s because we don’t last forever and there’s no guarantee that those after us will continue our efforts. This world needs a redemption far greater than we can accomplish because it owes a debt far greater than we can pay.  But that payment has already been made by another.

The Messiah goes by many names in the Bible. One of those is Redeemer. To redeem is make compensation for faults. Synonyms include to save, justify, rescue, or vindicate. Because of sin, everything and everyone in this world, past, present, and future, need to be redeemed. That’s why the message of the Messiah is a universal one.

Job proclaimed a few things. One, that there is a Redeemer. Two, He is alive. Three, that He will one day stand upon the Earth. And four, that he will one day see the Redeemer face to face. Most Biblical scholars agree that the life of Job came at least 400 years before Moses. That means that Job is at least 1700 years away from the day that Jesus walked the Earth. So how could he possibly see Jesus? And if the Messiah was alive in the days of Job, how could that be a reference to Jesus?

We know that Jesus walked the Earth. No one with any historical credibility would argue against that fact. But that’s only one of the criteria spelled out by Job for the Redeemer. There are a lot of passages that reinforce the idea that Jesus was not only alive during Job’s lifetime, but long before that and way afterward too. Revelation 22 calls Jesus the Alpha and the Omega. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It’s a way of saying that Jesus is both the beginning of all things and the end of all things. Check out Colossians chapter one and John chapter one for more evidence to strengthen that concept. If Jesus was in the beginning and will be forever, then 3700 years ago and 3700 years from now is nothing in the life of Jesus. Jesus didn’t come into existence in a manger in Bethlehem. He has always been, and will always be. Our Redeemer is alive and nothing can ever change that. No cross. No grave.

Just like Job, we all can have the same promise that we will see Him. Not as some celestial being with wings and a diaper like popular images like to portray. We will see Him in the flesh. Jesus is coming back. Our destination is not heaven. Earth is our home and for the follower of Christ, always will be. God is making all things new one day. The Earth, along with followers of His, will one day be redeemed and we will enjoy it forever.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my [Jesus] word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John 5:24-29 ESV

The Bible ends with the greatest of all happy ending stories. Revelation chapter 22 paints an amazing picture of what is to come. It shows a world redeemed, nations of people healed, and a multitude drinking from the well of eternal life. And Jesus is there too. Forever, with those, He created and chose Him.

I know that my Redeemer lives and that one day I will see Him face to face.

This is the final post in part one of the series showing how God revealed the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. We began in Genesis and are wrapping up here in Job. In all, part one has included 22 posts, covering nine different books, over the last seven months. If you’ve missed any of them you can go to the Messiah tab on my home screen or click here. My plans are to have three more phases to this series. Part two will cover Psalms and Proverbs. Part three will just focus on the book of Isaiah because it is arguably the greatest portion of scripture that prophecies about the Messiah. The final phase will span Jeremiah to the end of the Old Testament. I am planning a brief hiatus from this series so as to focus on some other topics I’ve been working on. Part two should launch this summer.  God bless you guys and thank you for coming along with me on this journey.

Pouring out our soul

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But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.

1 Samuel 1:15 ESV

Have you ever been distressed to the point where your body aches? Have you ever wept bitterly because of loss or injustice? Have you felt a pain that could be described as your spirit being broken to pieces? Hannah did. She had been left barren, ridiculed by her peers, rejected in society, provoked, and deeply grieved. And this went on for years. If you find yourself relating to Hannah, either now or in the future, may I encourage you to do as she did? Fall at the feet of Jesus and pour out your soul. Don’t be afraid to weep and fast and pray for days, or months, or even years. A breakthrough is around the corner. The Lord is listening and He will act. It may not play out how you predetermined. But God always has your best interest in mind. Please allow your struggles and distress to draw you to Jesus, not drive you away because He’s already near.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 NIV

Peace brothers and sister. You are loved.

Craving the Slop

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Have you ever craved the slop? I know I have. My life story is full of it.

One of my favorite stories that Jesus told was about a family torn apart by greed and selfishness and later restored by love and grace. In most Bibles, it’s labeled as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s part of a series of stories that Jesus told relating to the idea of things that were lost but searched out and found by God. They are stories of discovery that bring hope to even the most wayward soul. They are also stories that most people can relate to. I definitely can.

In Luke 15, Jesus talks about a boy who decides to go out on his own. He’s done with his family and all he wants is to claim his cash inheritance and live a self-indulgent life. As with anyone who chooses this path, life was empty and unsatisfying. For many, that lifestyle usually runs people into the gutters of despair. The young man from Luke 15 hit rock bottom. In verse 16 it says that he was so desperate that he craved the slop that he was feeding to the pigs as a hired worker. He had wasted all his money and was employed in one of the lowliest possible professions. It was a filthy job feeding unclean animals. Not only that, but he couldn’t even afford to eat. He was so hungry that he wanted to devour the nasty food that the pigs ate. That’s desperation. I’ve been there.

I too have craved the slop. In my darkest year (2009) I was wallowing in the slop. For me, the slop was an addiction to pornography, caught in a cycle of alcoholism and self-loathing, divorced from an adulterous woman, and at an end to a hopeful career. Just like the young man in Jesus’ story, I was craving all the wrong things and it led me into a destructive lifestyle. The scene from Luke 15 takes me back to that year in my life. I too needed to come home. I too needed to right many wrongs. I too needed to crave the right things.

This world presents us with more slop than things that actually provide for our need. The slop is anything short of anything that draws us closer to the Lord. My slop was creating an image for myself, gaining approval, and enjoying the flesh. I had the same aim as the young man from the story in Luke 15. I wanted to set out on my own. I wanted to get mine. I wanted to live a self-centered life. That’s what leads us to the slop. That’s because the slop feeds self, not the soul. The fortunate ones are those who come to enlightenment and realize they need to go home. They realize that where their life has led them is nothing more than a pigsty. The unfortunate ones are those who are living in a pigsty and don’t even realize it.

Let me make it plain – anyone who runs from the Father will end up in the pigsty, craving unclean things, surrounded by unclean things. The father in this story is meant to depict our Father in Heaven. He will let us go. He will let us run from Him. He will let us choose the slop. But He will always be watching for us and wanting us to return home. He will always come running to those who choose Him. It doesn’t matter how dirty we are from wallowing in the mud. He will always come running to embrace the wayward child who turns to Him.

Just as 2009 was the darkest year of my life, it was also the year I returned home. It was the year I felt the Father run to me and embrace me. It was my year of enlightenment and deep repentance. I felt what it was like to be separated from the Father and to be held in His loving arms. If you have wandered from the Lord as I did, just know that He’s waiting and watching for you. All you have to do is take the first steps home and He’ll come running your way.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:20-24 NASB