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Monday, December 10, 2018

Where is the Power?



We often hear about the power of a praying wife, mother, or grandmother. You might listen to a powerful sermon. You may recognize that a certain preacher has power.

Where is the power?

It's not in what people do. It's from a source.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

What was Jesus talking about? What power?

The Greek word used in this verse is dynamis, which means "force, miraculous power, ability, abundance."* It is force that comes from an inherent source. Do you see the similarity of this word with "dynamite"? It comes from the same root.

The power is in the Lord. When He gifts power to Christians, through the Holy Spirit, it is still His power. And He can do amazing things!

Yes, there's power in prayer, and there's power in a sermon, and there's power in people—but all of that power isn't in the person's prayer, sermon or the person himself. It's in the power of God that is leant to him. It's God working through him. It really doesn't have anything to do with the person except that the person is a willing vessel that God can use.

It may sound like I'm just parsing words, but it seems to me that when we hear phraseology such as:
  • You are a powerful woman of God.
  • You can do all things through Christ.
  • Never underestimate the power of a praying wife/mother/grandmother.
  • The power of God is on this preacher.
  • He/she is a powerful Christian.
                 … maybe, we're misrepresenting the power.

The power comes only from God. It's His. We are mere nothings who rely totally on Him. God gives us life, health, provision, and any talents we might have. He is the Source. If He uses us, all glory goes to Him. If He answers our prayers, again, praise Him. If He gifted us and we are serving in an effective way, it's because of Him.

And, the truth is, if we want to get all puffy about our own accomplishments, that's not biblical. Consider these passages:
  • But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
  • For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
  • (God) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:21).

May we always be mindful that any power is in the Lord, and that, if God uses us in any way, we can humbly recognize that we're foolish, weak, base, and despised. For that reason, God chose to show His power through us.

But grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18)


* from Strong's Definitions.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Looking Heavenwards


The Bible uses some interesting phraseology for heaven:
  • far better
  • glory
  • kingdom
  • the Father's dwelling place
  • People can send treasures up there.
  • no marriage in heaven
  • Angels are in heaven.
  • There's rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.
  • There's a list of names in heaven.


Do we really believe these? If we do, we'll have a totally different attitude towards heaven.

No one is eager to get there. (Of course not, since no one looks forward to the process of dying.) But, maybe we need to tweak our thinking. Isn't it great when someone goes to heaven?

Yes! Absolutely yes.

While there's sorrow in separation, for believers, it's "see you later" and not goodbye. Never goodbye. It's a pause, a little bit of time, and then eternity …

          where there's no sin

          no crying and sorrow

          no striving to do right and no temptations.

          We'll be surrounded by totally perfected people. (Thank you, Lord!) That alone is heaven.

The presence of our Savior. I have no idea what that will be like. The word awesome doesn't begin to do justice. We will fall at His feet and worship … and worship … and worship.

          We'll sing.

          We'll bask in His light.

          We'll live in harmony and praise.

          We'll rule with Him.
    
          We'll fight beside Him, on horseback, clothed in white.

We'll live in specially prepared homes. The other day, I happened upon an advertisement for a manufactured house. The pictures were gorgeous. I thought I'd ask some questions. It turns out the house I saw doesn't actually exist for sale—but one could have it built. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2b). I don't even care what my place in heaven looks like, but I can tell you one thing: it will be fabulous. It will be perfect. And, best of all, it will be eternally spotless. No dirt in heaven. Imagine!

What will we do for eternity? We only have hints. We know there's a timetable, which means we'll rule on earth a while, return to fight a battle (and win), and we'll cast our crowns at Jesus' feet. We know the atmosphere will be one of praise and thanksgiving. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8b). The beauty is such that those who've gotten a glimpse of it describe their preview in terms of precious jewels, rainbow colors, streets of transparent, pure gold.

Who wouldn't want to experience this?

The real sadness comes when someone doesn't know the Lord. Of course, only God can judge a heart, and we can't actually know for sure if a person has repented or not. I believe we can share the gospel with everyone and urge them to know the Lord—so that they can go to heaven and live in that wonderful, perfect atmosphere forever with us.

How can someone know he's going to heaven? The Bible says it's possible. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).

Do you know?

There's only one way, and that is through Jesus. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

How does this happen? How does one go to the Father through Jesus? Jesus said,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:16-19).

Everyone has a choice. Either he remains in condemnation, or he accepts Jesus' death on the cross and His burial and resurrection to provide eternal life. It's a gift, and salvation can be either be received or rejected. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Nobody's good enough to go to heaven, since no one is perfect. God only lets perfect people into heaven. And, Jesus paid the price for your sins so that you could join Him there. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

I hope you have peace in your heart about going to heaven, this incredibly wonderful place. If not, it's a gift. Will you receive this precious gift from Jesus today?

If you do know Jesus and know you'll go to heaven, remember to rejoice in your heart for those who go there before you. You'll see them "soon." For we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (from 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again
unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,
and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice (1 Peter 1:3-6a).