“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28. As the leaves die and fall off the trees and the air turns colder preparing for a season of dormancy, many decorate and don costumes that elevates the world’s fascination with fear and death. And, to those who don’t know the power of the gospel, the fear of death is the ultimate reality. That’s why Halloween has become the favorite holiday among many younger people without the hope of Christ —because they can confront their greatest fear in exhilarating or sometimes comical ways. We, who do have that hope, know that through His death Jesus destroyed the one who had the power of death and kept us in slavery to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-18). We fear only God who is our Judge and gladly obey His commands out of reverence for Him. To us, “There’s a Great Day Coming,” but this hymn is scarier than any song about ghosts, old houses, or dark cemeteries as the third verse speaks of the end for the unrepentant sinner who does not fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Is it a sad day coming for you?
“‘… For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” John 18:37-38. In the position he was in to administer life or death, Pilate must have heard a lot of lies. The answer to “Are you innocent?” was never the truth from people literally trying to save their own skins. Some were crazy and believed themselves to be something that they were not. But Jesus … He was different. A king, you say? And neither lying nor crazy. If anyone could tell it would be Pilate. Even his wife had called him righteous and suffered in a dream about him. He certainly didn’t look, act, or have the credentials of a king, but his soldiers could see to that. Then, breaking into Pilate’s morally relevant understanding of the world, this king, for a king he must be, states that what is happening to him is the very purpose that he was born and come into the world. Die to enter his kingdom? Who’d die for a lie? What kind of kingdom is this? Not of this world, he said? Heaven, then? His subjects? Not the Jews as they handed him over. Will they die for truth as well? Will you?
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24.
You probably can’t read this passage from the Sermon on the Mount without the children’s song running through your head. In this very simple illustration, Jesus makes us reflect on which foundation we build our lives. If sand, it will crash; if rock, it will stand firm. The third stanza of the song states this very thing: “So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ ….” In another song, we speak about where we place our hope: “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame [thing of this world], But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” So is it? Do you truly put all of your future on Jesus’ blood and righteousness and not gamble your eternity with God by living for this world? How you live determines where you are building your hope—in things that are temporary or eternal. But “when He shall come in trumpet sound,” if we have lived for things above, then we will be “faultless to stand before the throne.”
By your life, is it “on Christ, the Solid Rock” you stand, finding “all other ground is sinking sand”?
Is a person just blessed to be selected from the world by God for great things ... or does God use a person for great things because he selects God over the world?
The answer to this question is so important in the 'hand-out' culture that we live in. If God just randomly chooses a person for great things, then that gives us an excuse not to do great things for Him because "He hasn't selected me." This would mean that God's sovereignty is really favoritism at its worst and lets us shrink back into His spiritual welfare system waiting for our next scrap.
But God has always been about our individual responsibility. He did the work of salvation through His Son on the cross, but we are to believe, obey, love, forgive, serve, and go. These are actions that require us to stand up from our spiritual couches, brush the crumbs off our laps, and roll up our sleeves.
God raised up Ezra to be a priest to lead His people returning from exile in the way of the Lord. Was Ezra just in the right place at the right time to get chosen haphazardly? Ezra 7:9-10 says, "... the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart TO STUDY the Law of the Lord, and TO DO it and TO TEACH his statues and rules in Israel."
Sounds like Ezra was no spiritual slacker. What about us? Ephesians 2:10 tell us, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." And so neither is God as He plans for us.
If God could raise up an Ezra who would make good choices at the right time to be used by God to do great things for His Kingdom, then what has He planned for you to DO today? Rather than dwell on opportunities missed, might you be rolling up your sleeves and be willing to DO all that He has planned for you to Do tomorrow?
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” Psalm 143:8.
A man after God’s own heart, David, credited for this Psalm, speaks to every one of us struggling to live for God, which also includes Jesus while He was God in the flesh. It begins with a plea for mercy and not entering into judgment with him. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” If the sinless Christ did that, how much more should we? Then, because of an enemy pursuing his soul and appalling his heart within him, David recalls what God has done for him in the past, which makes his soul thirst for God. It is in God alone that David trusts to guide him in the way he should go. To God he lifts up his soul. Because David is known as God’s, he cries out for deliverance, for God’s Spirit to lead him on level ground, and destruction of his enemies, not for his righteousness, but for God’s Name’s sake.
Do you lift up your soul to the Lord in whom you trust?