R.I.P. Jake — I Will Love You Forever

Today is the 3 year anniversary of my dog’s death. Jake was a red lab and the most friendly dog I’ve ever known. He loved me as only a dog can love someone. Unconditionally. Words cannot express how much I miss him. Toward the end of his life, his sicknesses became very worrisome. Ultimately, he got cancer causing him great pain. We tried everything to make him comfortable and to help him eat, but, to no avail.

My wife and I prayed about what to do and the answer we received from God was to let him go so as not to suffer any more. Needless to say making the decision to put him to sleep was the most difficult and emotionally upsetting decision I’ve ever made. If any of you have had a similar experience then you know what I’m talking about. I cried for a long period of time after his death. As a man I am not ashamed to admit it. Jake was my very first dog and so there was that additional connection we had.

Today, I will remember Jake with great fondness and a little sadness. This may sound silly but I hope I get to see him again in heaven. I love you Jake.

You Are An Overcomer

You, little children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”—1 John 4:4

How often do you sin? Every day? Once a week? Once a month? When you think about it, sin is sin and the frequency of your committing sin is not the issue. The issue here, of course, is that you have sinned.

God’s word says that, “the wages of sin are death” (Romans 6:23). Not immediate physical death but future spiritual death and ultimate separation from God. It’s impossible to have self-control over committing sin. Especially if the sin you commit is one that has haunted you for a life time. If you fall into this category of sinner realize that Satan has your number. He knows exactly where you are weakest.

But there is hope for those who have failed to remain righteous in their life. When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He gave you the Holy Spirit to live within and help you with just these sort of things and weak moments.

God’s word says, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The Holy Spirit is greater and more powerful than Satan will ever be. It’s up to you to tap into that power, harness it, and use it for strength to resist temptation, which happens just before you sin.

Now’s not the time to throw a pity party and wallow in the failures of the past. Instead it’s time to praise God, for his goodness and to move forward! You are an overcomer.

Let God Correct Your Plans‎

I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle.
Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
— Jeremiah 10:23-24 NLT

Jeremiah, as he states in the verse above, knows God and what His abilities are. Jeremiah seeks wisdom and guidance from the one true source that is above all others.

God’s ability to direct our lives well is infinitely beyond our ability. Sometimes we are afraid of God’s power and God’s plans because we know his power would easily crush us if he used it against us.

Don’t be afraid to let God correct your plans. He will give you wisdom if you are willing.

He Calls Us Out of the Grave of Fear

Standing in a cemetery,  Jesus issued a command, “Move the stone.”

There was no singing at the funeral Jesus attended.  Mourning.  Weeping.  Wailing.  People shuffled about aimlessly, their eyes full of fear.  The foreboding news reminded them of their own fate.  Another prisoner had been marched from death row to the gallows.  Lazarus was dead.

And Jesus wept—not for the dead but for the living.  He wept not for the one in the cave of death but for those in the cave of fear.  He wept for those who, though alive, were dead.  He wept for those who, though free, were prisoners, held captive by their fear of death.

Stones have never stood in God’s way.  They didn’t in Bethany two thousand years ago.  And stones don’t stand in His way today.  He called Lazarus out of the grave of death.  And He calls us out of the grave of fear.

What Awaits Us In Our Heavenly Home

Revelation 21:22-27; Revelation 22:1-5

A popular misconception about heaven is that it’s ethereal and lacks any tangible substance, but this view is not supported in Scripture. John described the New Jerusalem as a material structure (Revelation 21:10-21). Although there are aspects that mirror our earthly existence, some things will be very different.

There will be no temple, “for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). Throughout the ages, there have been dedicated places of worship, like a temple or church building, but none of these will be necessary when God dwells among us.

The city has no need for sun nor moon, “for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). God’s glory will light every inch of that city, and there will be no night.

The gates of the city will always be open. No enemy will ever storm these gates. Nothing impure will ever enter because sin is banished and only holiness dwells in this heavenly city.

It will be a place of abundance. From the living water originating at the throne of God to the fruit from the Tree of Life, all we need will be supplied.

There will no longer be any curse. Death and decay will be absent, and pain and suffering will cease to exist.

The government will be perfect. The Lord God will reign from His throne, and we’ll see His face and serve Him forever in delight.

What awaits us in the New Jerusalem is joy beyond comprehension because we’ll be with the Lord, the source of everything good.

Reprinted with permission: Charles Stanley | In Touch Ministries

The Crucial Nature of Christ’s Death – Part 2

Yesterday we looked at what crucifixion is and why it was important for Jesus’ death to occur that way. Today, we will continue with our discussion about Jesus and His saving grace.

What we believe about Jesus is a critical issue.

The Bible says Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, the Son of God. His coming was predicted by Old Testament prophets as the one who would set people free from sin and rebellion against God. Yet this belief is becoming less popular in our day because it threatens a society that desires freedom to do whatever it wants. They resent anyone, especially Christians, who tells them how to live. And the more believers obey, worship, and live for Christ, the more uncomfortable those around them become.

Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross is at the heart of Christianity.

This was the primary reason the Son of God came to earth—to die as a substitute for us. Because He was divine and lived a perfect life, He was the only possible candidate to pay for mankind’s sin. Therefore, He was born of a virgin and became human in order to die on the cross for us. God the Father placed our sins on Him, and Jesus suffered the wrath we deserved. Without His atoning death on our behalf, there would be no salvation, and we would all die in our sins and be forever under God’s wrath.

Since Jesus is the only substitute, He is the only way of salvation.

  • Jesus affirmed this truth when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). There is no other means of forgiveness and reconciliation to God except through the atoning substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All who believe in Him as Savior and Lord, trusting in His sufficient sacrifice can be forgiven of all sin and made acceptable to God.

  • Paul also claimed that Jesus was the only way. Romans 5:8-10 describes this amazing transaction: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified [declared righteous] by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

  • Peter proclaimed Jesus as the only way. When he was defending the gospel before the hostile Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin, he said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Although as Christians we may be accused of being narrow-minded, we must remain firm and hold to the truth of the Bible, which clearly tell us how to be saved. We can expect criticism, but we should never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In addition, we must be courageous in telling people about salvation through Jesus Christ. They need to know that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). All who trust in Christ’s death as payment for their sins and surrender their lives to Him can be certain that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that heaven is their future home.

Take Up Your Cross

Mark 8: 34-38 Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

After Jesus’ encounter with his disciples concerning who they thought he was, he offers the following discourse on how to save your life as well as how to live it.

Some of his comments might be confusing and against today’s standard of how to be successful. Jesus says that if we want to follow him we have to deny ourselves. In today’s society that’s almost an impossible task because we tend to think of ourselves first.

When we are happy with our successes we become prideful and think we are the ones responsible. If we don’t want to confess that Jesus is the reason then it would indicate we are ashamed to be associated with his name. Based on that Jesus said, “if you are ashamed of me in this sinful world then upon the day I come into glory with the Father, I will be ashamed of you.”

That statement has significant and lasting results on where one spends eternity. If we don’t accept him as our Lord and Savior and proclaim His gospel of the good news, He will not stand in our place before the Father on judgment day.

This Easter take the time to reflect on what Jesus did on the cross and the end result. He beat death, rose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Father. Our acceptance of His death for the remissions of our sins will position us to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

So, don’t be ashamed of the name of Jesus but instead Take Up Your Cross and proclaim the Good News. He is alive.