Thursday, October 22, 2020

Raised from the dead

 Resurrection

This essential topic begins in the first book of the Bible. Abraham was willing to obey the command of God knowing that raising the dead was the only way possible  for the great promises could be fulfilled – read Genesis 24 along with Romans 4 and Hebrews 11.

The resurrection of Jesus is foretold in Psalm 16 (connect  with Acts 2). It is implied in Psalm 110. Resurrection was the only way Isaiah 53 could finish with victory.  For Israel to look upon the one whom ‘they had pierced’, the raising of the suffering Messiah was vital. Jesus Himself explained that His sufferings and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament(Luke 24)

I come to the teachings of the Lord Jesus himself. We noticed previously that He foretold his death on various occasions. At least three times He stated that He would rise again. This was clarified and emphasized in the communication to the disciples  recorded in John 13 – 17. The statements that ”He was going away” referred to His impending death. Then He said “I will see you again, -- and you will rejoice” – this was a direct reference to His rising from the dead.

The one that has relevance to us is John 10. There He states that God the Father had given Him authority, a command to lay down His life and then take it up again. This is so relevant, because we as wandering sheep need the Good Shepherd to save us. If He is yet in the grave then we have no hope of being saved!

The events of Jesus’s resurrection are recorded by four different persons. The variation in the accounts indicates there was no collusion, but rather different perspectives at different times.

I would like to work backwards from the book of the Revelation. John claims to have had a real vision of the living Lord Jesus. To John He said “ I am He that lives. I was dead but now am alive forevermore”.  This truth was so real to John that he along with the other apostles, was willing to die for it. In our generation, many middle eastern people have visions of the Lord Jesus and do die for believing in Him.

In one of the earliest writings of the new testament (1 Corinthians), Paul calls on any doubters to go speak to the witnesses still alive. He quotes 500 who witnessed the reality of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul himself had a most significant encounter with the risen Lord. As he travelled to Damascus,  he was blinded by light and heard a voice. The voice responded “ I am Jesus” -    a transformed Saul dedicated the rest of his life to the service of this risen master.

I am always interested to listen to the voice of good angels. Two of these stood on the mount of Olives and said – “This same Jesus whom you have seen go into heaven will so come in like manner.”  - They had no doubt about the reality of Jesus alive and ascended.  Likewise on the resurrection morning the angel announced to the women seeking the body of Jesus. “He is not here, He is risen. Come see the place where they laid Him”.

In the record of the Gospel writers, the risen Jesus appeared to many witnesses, demonstrating He was the same Jesus that had been crucified, with the difference that now He was alive in Spirit dominated humanity – ie the limits of nature did not prevent Him entering locked doors etc

An interesting observation is :- now risen in power, He did not seek revenge on those who had rejected an crucified Him. True their house was left unto them desolate and later destroyed. But rather He commissioned the disciples to take the message of repentance and forgiveness to the whole world! This could only be achieved by the Holy Spirit who was sent down from heaven by the risen exalted Lord!

Of course there were, and still are doubters. Some say the disciples stole the body and made the story – well not likely when the tomb was guarded and sealed with the Roman seal. If the Jews or Romans had stolen the body, they could have quickly stopped this new movement by producing the body.

Now to the millions of Christian across the globe, His resurrection brings the assurance of salvation and the glorious hope of the future. This was captured well by the hymn

 

“And because He lives

I can face tomorrow

Because He lives all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living – just because He lives”

JRM

Sunday, October 4, 2020

He did not die in vain

 

God in control – the death of Jesus Christ

Some think of the death of Jesus as a mistake or tragedy. Looking deeper than the surface tells a very different reality.

God was working through Jesus Christ to achieve a very great thing – reconciling the world to Himself, even by the crucifixion of Jesus. Please ponder some important points.

1          The death of the Messiah was predicted, not as a matter of fate, but prophesied as a matter of purpose.

eg “ All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah 53:6

2        2   Jesus predicted His own death

Jesus said “ we are going to Jerusalem, and everything written about the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully entreated and spit upon. After flogging Him they will kill Him and on the third day he will rise again.”  Luke 18:31

3        3   In the Gospel written by John, the Lord Jesus several times speaks of being ‘lifted up’ to achieve a particular purpose. 

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” John 3.14

4       4    The night before the betrayal, Jesus told His followers so many things that were about to happen. I suggest you read through Luke 22 and mark each one. eg “ a new covenant in My blood”.   Peter “ you will three times deny that you know me”.    “The scripture must be fulfilled - He was numbered with the transgressors.”

5        5   When the guards arrived to arrest Jesus, instead of leaving like He did on other occasions, rather He said to them, “this is your hour and the power of darkness” – identifying Satan’s influence

6       6    When Pilate the governor made claim to power over Jesus, the answer was clear – “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it had been given you from above.” John 19.11

7       7    The habit of the soldiers, to hasten the death of those crucified was to brake their legs so that they could not breath any more. When they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, but pierce His side instead. Why? Because God had said of the sacrificial lamb “a bone of it shall not be broken”!  and again another scripture – “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced”  Zechariah 12

8       8    Even in His burial, God superintended for a rich man to provide a clean tomb for Jesus body – “with the rich in His death”.  Isaiah 53.9

 

Peter summed it up so very well: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” Acts 3,29

 

Paul writing by the Holy Spirit wrote  “ The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  Galatians 1,4

 

Indeed He did not die in vain!


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, September 26, 2020

The words of witnesses

 

The death of Jesus Christ as from witnesses.

So often the historical details of His death are emphasized without considering the spiritual detail. Just now I would like to hear from those who were witnesses.

Peter:

“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that He might bring us to God” 1 Peter 3:18

John:

“In this the love of God has been made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

1 John 4:9

Crucified thief:

 “ This man has done nothing wrong” Luke 23:41

Centurion soldier:

“Truly this was the Son of God”  Matthew 27:54

Other voices from that time.

Paul

“ Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, He was buried , He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3

Hebrews

“ so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time , not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him”  Hebrews 9:28

In the Old Testament the prophets foretold:

Isaiah

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5

Daniel

“The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” Daniel 9:26

 

Many more explanations of the death of Jesus Christ are given in the Old and New Testament. Search and be rewarded.


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Monday, September 7, 2020

The death of Jesus Christ the Lord

 

The Messiah‘s death as mentioned in the Gospel written by John

John wrote to convince people that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God. So it is interesting that he includes so many references to the death of Jesus. His death is not avoided as some unfortunate martyrdom, but repeatedly presented with a distinct purpose and fulfillment.

Chapter 1   - Jesus is announced by John the Baptiser as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Lambs were daily associated with sacrifices for sin.

Chapter 2   -  The Lord Himself refers to His body being a temple that would be pulled down.

Chapter 3   -  In His discussion with Nicodemus, the Lord Jesus speaks of the symbol which Moses put up on a pole. This Jesus said, was the sign that He Himself would be lifted up to die.

Chapter 6   -  The Lord from heaven tells the people that He was going to “give His flesh for the life of the world”.

Chapter 8   - The expression lifted up is used again. “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He”

Chapter 10   - The reference to His death is very clear and is explained.

       1st – the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep

       2nd  - He states that his impending death would happen according to divine command. A distinct purpose was in view and beyond that, He states that He would live again after rising from the dead.

Chapter 11   -  The leaders plot His death

Chapter 12   -  The Lord Jesus refers on this occasion to His burial. More than just death, He verifies that He would lie in a grave. It seems like none of His followers except Mary, understood what He was saying at that time.

Then He spoke to the two Greeks who came to question Him. Instead of promoting some philosophical purpose, He told them the He must be “lifted up”. By this means He would gather many people to Himself. This explains why His mission of 33years seemed like a failure, yet after His resurrection multitudes chose to believe in Him.

 

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is most significant. I encourage you to read through John’s writings, noting his explanations about this. (include 1 John)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The words of the Lord Jesus Christ - so important

 

“My words”  from the teaching of Jesus Christ.

John 8:31   -   “If you abide in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

John 8:47   -    Whoever is of God hears God’s words. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

 

John 12:48   -   “ the one who rejects Me and does not receive the words has a judge: the words that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

 

John 14:23  -  “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my  word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.”

 

John 17:14     -    I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world.”

John 20:29   -  “ blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

The apostle Paul emphasized the importance of HIS words:

Philippians 3:16   “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

 

The apostle Peter likewise 

1 Peter 2:2   “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”


Being a Christian without reading the words of the Lord Jesus is like sailing a ship without a compass.


John McKee

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The tough question - who is this?

 

John chapter 6

The significant verse in this chapter is verse 29 – “This is the work of God , that you believe in Him (Jesus)whom He (God) has sent.”

Doing things for God is much easier and appealing than believing in Jesus the Lord from heaven. Someone recently said to me ‘Just tell me what to do, to be Christian’

I observe in Toowoomba many people doing church. Others are busy doing good things. Others are busy helping the poor. But how many spend time alone with God (just like Jesus did) in worship and meditation, discovering who Jesus really is and adoring, honouring Him.

Many people sing self-orientated songs. Some pray for what they want. Bible studies usually teach how a Christian should live. The Lord Jesus had a different perspective. He said “ Work for the bread which brings eternal life which the Son of Man (Jesus) will give.”

The Apostle Paul understood this  - “that I might know Him” ( Philippians 3)

The response of John was – “ we love Him because He first loved us” ( 1 John )

 

In John chapter 6 the teaching of Jesus is linked to the bread which came down to the Israelites via Moses. Jesus then insisted that He was the true bread which came down from heaven. The Jews did not like the claim that He had existed in heaven before He was born of Mary. To be a true Christian, this is what we must believe.

In John chapter 7, His teaching includes a new claim – that he was soon going to return to heaven. This mystified his hearers, but He repeated it several times. Even one of His followers was perplexed so asked – “ we know not where you are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus explained that He was going up to the Fathers house (heaven) and said

“I am the way, the truth and the life, no one come to the Father except by Me”  (John 14,6)

We do well to take time to ponder -  where did Jesus come from, and where is Jesus now?

Believing the Bible about this  is so important and also liberating – to be truly free.


Take time to be alone with God today! and write down (Journal) what you learn from Him!


johnmckee@internode.on.net

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Judgement day

Bible  - John Chapter 5

God is holy and in keeping with His character He must and will judge all people.

Under the law given to Moses (10 commandments etc), the judgement was to be carried out by the leaders in the nation. – the king, the elders, the judges.  However this system failed because the leading ones were not qualified. This is the situation recorded in John chapter 8 when Jesus said to the accusers “ He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone” – so they all left.

In John chapter 5, Jesus makes some happy, yet astounding statements.

1         God will judge the world in righteousness. (fair)

2         God will judge the world by Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the judge on judgement day because he has experienced being a human as well as being the Son.

3         All the dead will be raised by the command of Christ.

4         Some will be raised to eternal life. The others will be raised to eternal damnation.

5         A wonderful promise is given by the Lord in verse 24:  Everyone who hears (accepts) the words of Jesus, and believes in God the Father who sent Him, will not be judged, but has passed from death (present condition) into life (born into the family of God).

Please take the time to read this section through. In particular read carefully John chapter 5 verse 24.

 

What a wonderful experience it is to be forgiven by God through the death of the Lord Jesus and no longer live in the fear of the Judgement day.


johnmckee@internode.on.net

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An unusual conversation


John 4

    This narrative is so different. The Lord Jesus is weary with the journey through Samaria. A woman arrives at the well for water and Jesus breaks tradition and speaks to her. He goes further and asks her for a drink of water. After some cultural and religious discussion, He directs her to her greatest need – the need to confess to a guilty life, sins of the past and present and the need to seek forgiveness. She is astounded that the Lord Jesus knew all about her. He then claimed to be the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

       The idea that she might be talking to the Messiah Himself was so powerful, she stopped bothering about collecting water and went to tell the people of the village – “Come see a man that told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

         Sure enough, these Samaritans listened to Jesus for themselves and were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.


If He is the Messiah, it means He is the special prophet foretold by Moses, He is the Son representing God, He is the King eternal, He is the servant who died for the sins of others, He is the Lord of all.

The Samaritans received Him, and so do I.
Do you ? then tell HIM!

Please read through John chapter three and four . Maybe God is speaking to you. Don’t miss the opportunity to respond.


johnmckee@internode.on.net



Friday, July 24, 2020

Jesus the suffering Messiah


An interview with the Lord Jesus

     Most successful men seek to have power over others. Often done by force, sometimes by political intrigue . Jesus was different. When they wanted to make Him a king, he walked away. (John 6)

     John chapter 3 is very helpful to understand the mission of the Lord Jesus. It records an interview with a very religious man. Nicodemus was a teacher of Moses’s law.  Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as a man sent by God and Jesus replied – “ Unless a person is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To the puzzled teacher , Jesus explained- 'we are born in the flesh  (with all its sinful tendencies), and we need to be born of the spirit ( with its heavenly connection)'.  Nicodemus was astounded to know that all his religious works were not valid if he wanted to be accepted by God.

      Jesus then revealed the true way. He said that no one can go up into heaven except himself, the son of man, who had come down from heaven. He claimed to be able to speak about things in heaven because he came from there.

       In the conversation, Jesus said that for people to be born again of the spirit, something else must happen. Just as Moses had put a brass snake up on a pole many years before, so Jesus, the son of man, must be lifted up on a cross. Then Jesus made a promise, ‘all who believe in Him would have eternal life’. 
       The record later describes Nicodemus seeing Jesus lifted up on the cross, and he believed in Him, not so much as a king, but as the Saviour who died to take our sins away and gives eternal life .(John 19)


      To understand that the Lord Jesus Christ died for us, makes all the difference. By His death we receive forgiveness, born again by the Holy Spirit to live in love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. That is so different to living in the flesh, the natural way. (Galatians 5)

      Even better it is to know that Jesus lives.

Today, look at the death of Jesus in this way and be blest.

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Friday, July 10, 2020

Angels speaking


Jesus – Who is He?

Let us listen to the angels answer this question.
In the record of New Testament scripture we can read their words:

1. Matthew 1
The angel said to Joseph about Mary  "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
The angel indicated the special conception and special mission of Jesus. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin means that He was born free from sin. Born to save His people from their sins meant He would become a sacrifice by dying for the sins of others – a Saviour.

2  Luke 1
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary with the very special news:  "Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father  David, and He will rule  over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
"The child to be born will be called the Son of God"

This special angel from the presence of God, made it very clear that this child was different to all others. The very name given – Jesus – means saviour. He would be more than a prophet. The name –Son of the Most High – much more than a man. He was to be the full and final representative of God the Almighty.( The word SON is about representation, not birth)
A throne – did Jesus rule on a throne? Just wait for another angel to clarify this in Acts 1. The promise made by Gabriel is that Jesus would be a King in a kingdom established by God. Not established by warfare, but beginning in Jerusalem, His kingdom has been established in the hearts of millions of people throughout the whole world.

Matthew 28.
The angel said "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, He has risen as He said...."

This statement from an unnamed angel is full of meaning. Firstly "fear not'. – the Good News dispels fear. Jesus often said 'fear not'.
Then the angel confirms that Jesus had been crucified. But best of all the angel states – "He is risen", and points back to the prediction of Jesus that He would be killed and rise again. This way the angel confirms that Jesus would be the Saviour by dying for the sins of the people. The announcement that Jesus was alive again, confirmed what Jesus had said was true and that God had now vindicated Him as the Son of God, the Saviour.

Acts 1:11
The two angels said:
"this same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw Him go into heaven".

These two angels confirmed that Jesus had gone well beyond the clouds, into heaven itself. This with many other Bible verses states that Jesus is now indeed King upon the throne of heaven, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
They also made it very clear that the Lord Jesus would return to earth from heaven. This has not happened yet.

Revelation 22
The Bible concludes "I Jesus have sent my angel to testify about these things to the assemblies. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright and morning star."

Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ responds
"Even so come Lord Jesus"


Let me know if you agree

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Friday, July 3, 2020

New Testament - John 1


Reading John chapter one –  ( I am writing this primarily for migrants.)

The New Testament part of the Bible has four biographies of Jesus .
Matthew presents Jesus as the King. After a special genealogy, it records wise men coming from the East , searching for the baby 'born King. '
Mark records the activity of Jesus as the servant of God and the people.
Luke the doctor collects witness accounts of the perfect man, Jesus.
John gathers some of the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

In John chapter one, Jesus is given several titles.

'The Word' the Koran also gives Jesus this title.  It means that Jesus is the full and final communication of God to humanity. Not only what He taught, but more who He was and what he did. He is presented as actively living before He was born of the virgin Mary. He was actively creating the world.

'The Light'  His life is described as light illuminating the world. The remainder of John's writing explains this happening in the activity of Jesus, so continue reading  John's writings even if you cannot understand it all.

'The Lamb of God'.  This title for Jesus is special. John the Baptiser identifies the problem of sin. Instead of asking the people to try harder at keeping Moses law, he directs them to look at Jesus and believe in Him for the solution to the problem. Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, is able to take away the sin of the world.

'Son of God' .  We noticed this title was written in Psalm 2. We could read about the angel Gabriel giving the same title to the baby Jesus. In this chapter John the Baptiser identifies Jesus as the Son of God by the descent of the Holy Spirit on Him. John the writer gathers much evidence that this is true.

'Messiah'(Christ)  The Messiah is the Hebrew term for the Saviour promised in the Old Testament. Christ is the Greek word meaning the anointed one.  Jesus was the Prophet predicted by Moses, but Jesus was much more than a prophet as the book written by John records.

In this chapter we read of the joy that filled the heart of Andrew when he said " we have found HIM".. Read on and you too can have the joy and peace that comes through finding and believing in Jesus Christ the Lord.

John McKee

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bible prophecy


Jesus in prophecy

From the many, many prophecies about Jesus the Messiah in the Old Testament, I have chosen seven that are important and explained in the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 18
" The LORD your God will raise up to you a prophet, from the midst of you, of your brethren, like to me. To Him you will listen."
What do we learn about the promised Messiah from this prophecy?
1.  God is the one who sends Him (anointed by the Holy Spirit)  -connect John 1:33
2.  He would be like them ( Jesus was the carpenters son)       - connect John1.26
3.  He would be a Hebrew (in the family of Israel)                - connect Matthew 1
4.  His words would be God's words. (He spoke with authority)  -connect John 3:34


Psalm 2 Please read it right through
"You are My Son, this day have I begotten you"
The connection to Jesus is clear in verse 2 – the rejection of the Messiah by Jews and Gentiles.
In verse 6, the expected one is proclaimed  ' the King"
Then finally the LORD present the Messiah as His SON . Jesus is not a child of God. He is the SON of God and that refers to Him as the representative of God in personal fullness.
The Psalm finishes with the exhortation to ' kiss the Son' – why? Because He is worthy of worship. He is the final judge and He can save all who trust in Him.

Psalm 110
" The LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies you footstool'"
You will notice that God and LORD are interchanged. 'God' is the title of the one who is the Almighty, the Creator over all. 'LORD' is the name of God to show His relationship between God and the people (a little bit like parent and father).
David, in this psalm predicted that his Lord (the Messiah) would be exalted to the highest place in heaven, awaiting final victory over all evil. Also in this psalm, the Messiah is presented as the priest.. The work of a priest was to gain forgiveness of sins for the people in the sight of God.

Isaiah 42.1
"Behold my servant , whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom my soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him"
It may seem unusual that the Messiah was call to be a servant. Many people want a leader who is a warrior, a statesman, or an orator . Jesus willingly took the place of a servant – serving God's will and serving other people. His service to people was powerful  because the Holy Spirit enabled Him to do many , many miracles . ( healing the sick, calming the storm, walking on water, raising the dead etc), God said from heaven "in Him I am well pleased".

Isaiah 53
Verse 5 "He was wounded for our transgressions"
Verse 10 " When you make His soul an offering for sin"
This whole chapter is a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah being rejected by the Jewish people. And so it happened.
It also explains  (700 years before it happened) that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ had a greater purpose. Somehow God made Him to suffer in our place. Our sins deserved eternal punishment, but Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our sins..... Now God freely forgives all who trust in His Son Jesus.

Daniel 7:13
"One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,  and came to the ancient of days.....and there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages should serve Him"
This profound vision of Daniel presents the Messiah Jesus as the Son of man who will rule over the whole earth. This has not happened yet, but  when Jesus was being questioned by the Jewish court, He claimed to be that 'Son of Man' who would be given world dominion. (Mark 16:42). We have the opportunity to worship Him now
.
Zechariah 13:7
"Smite the shepherd"
This prophecy foretells the Messiah as a shepherd – one who cares for others more than for himself. Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, giving His life for the sheep.(John 10). We can become one of His sheep by receiving him, believing in him, trusting him!


There are so many more prophecies which I encourage you to study. I can give you a list if you send me an email.


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pause and ponder


In difficult times we do well to pause from the busyness of life, to stop and ponder. Life rushes on. But sometimes we are brought to a stop with a jolt we neither planned nor expected.

As we ponder, we do well to look back and learn from the past. Some things may cause us to change our ways. Some things need to be buried for the sake of mental wellbeing and family harmony. Some happy memories ought to be cherished and remembered.

 As we ponder where we stand today we look around at our relationships, our possessions, our directions, our attitudes.

Then we do well to look ahead – where am I going? Where am I leading those who follow? What am I contributing to the good of others? Where will I be 100 years from today?

I well remember an occasion in our home, when several families gathered to celebrate the goodness of God. It was my turn to lead the Bible discussion. The topic was, 'How can we be sure of heaven?' This was a popular subject with me since I had studied near death experiences for some years. I worked with a man who had left his body and returned. I listened to several scientists who were convinced that after death was a   ' greater reality'. That morning I chose to sit next a young teenager for this reason – both of us had almost touched the door of heaven. I had been electrocuted and he had a tree fall on him. It was a bit of a miracle for us both to be alive. After quite some discussion about ways to prepare for heaven, I concluded with this remark -"in the end we are totally dependent upon the promises of God. Eternal life is a gift promised to all who believe in God's Son."

I do not know what my young friend did  with those promises of God. He along with us had freedom to choose. I am not his judge. The Lord alone knows the hearts. And the Lord knows your heart!
We are all individuals, and each one is responsible for the decisions we make in life. Blaming others is a cop out that does not cut it with God.

I would like to ponder with you two of those great and precious promises.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him, will not perish , but have eternal life." John 3.16

Eternal life is not just heaven. It is participating in the life of God, trusting Jesus in this life, and then in the Father's house in the life to come.

How do we get this eternal life? – by believing in God's Son. Only Jesus is that special person who came out from heaven, lived for the good of others, indeed died for the sins of others and then rose again from the dead. Believing whole heartedly in Him is the key to having eternal life.

Who gets this opportunity?  The whole world is the focus of God's love.
He reaches out to every nation, every language, everyone! Let me illustrate:
Jacob was a swindler but God still loved him!
Matthew was a social traitor, a tax collector, but Jesus still loved him.
Peter was a rough impatient fisherman, but the Lord still loved him.
Saul was a religious bigot but the Lord Jesus still loved him.

We can all say "I am a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me"
                     "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me"

What an amazing God we have. He sees the guilt of our sins and still loves us. He is horrified by our bad attitudes and habits, yet He still loves us. He is deeply offended by our independence and self love , yet in love He gave his Son, Jesus , to pay the debt of our sin, to set us free.

So what are we doing today with this promise of eternal life? For those who choose not to believe, there is only one word left in the verse – perish.  But for those who feel their need of Jesus Christ , the promise still holds good:
"Everyone who believes in Him, God's Son, will have eternal life"



The second promise is more personal:
Jesus said 2000 years ago, and says it to us today:
"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11.28

The Lord Jesus gives rest for those who come to Him. He welcomes all.
Rest of empathy – He understands your grief for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Rest of Deity – He can still calm the storm and raise the dead, if He considers it appropriate.
Rest of relationship – He wants to connect with you. Simon Peter failed Jesus badly. Jesus did not say' I told you so'. He said "do you love me?"
Rest for eternity - He holds the key to eternity, He is the first and the last, He is the beginning and the end and He loves you more than you know.

Hear His voice today and respond in simple trust – Yes Lord, I believe.


A poem, a song

Hear the blessed Saviour calling the oppressed
'O you heavy laden, come to me and rest
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear
Bring Me every burden, bring me every care

Are you disappointed , wandering here and there
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast
Bring your case to Jesus , He will give you rest

Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame
Stumbling toward the pit of hell's consuming flame
By the power of sin deluded and oppressed
Hear the blessed Shepherd – come to me and rest.

Have you by temptation often conquered been
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within
Christ will sanctify you, if you'll claim his best
In the Holy Spirit He will give you rest.

Come unto Me
I will give you rest
Take My yoke upon you
Hear Me and be blest
I am meek and lowly
Come and trust my might
Come My yoke is easy and My burden light.

JRM