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.