Tag Archives: eternity

Jeremiah 46-52; When It’s Close To Home

God had given Jeremiah a word, and Jeremiah was faithful to relay the message as it was given. It started out with a prophecy against Egypt, then against the Philistines. God continued to give prophecies against Moab, then Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and the Arabians. These nations, these people had rejected God, had fought against God’s people, and God let them know the consequences they would pay for going up against Him.

But then God gave a prophecy against Babylon, and I have to think this message wasn’t as easy to deliver for Jeremiah. The Babylonians were enemies of Israel, just like Egypt and the rest of them. But Matthew Henry reminded me that the king of Babylon had been kind to Jeremiah. There was a personal connection between the prophet and the king.

This is what Henry says about Jeremiah 50:1ff:

“Here is a word spoken against Babylon. The king of Babylon had been very kind to Jeremiah, and yet he must foretell the ruin of that kingdom; for God’s prophets must not be governed by favor or affection. Whoever are our friends, if, notwithstanding, they are God’s enemies, we dare not speak peace to them.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible; Zondervan Publishing,1961; page 1018)

I don’t know about you, but as much as I appreciate Matthew Henry’s insight into God’s Word, sometimes reading him is like reading a foreign language. I guess, if you were born in 1662 like he was, his vocabulary wouldn’t sound so strange. But for those of us living in the 21st Century, here’s what I get out of Henry’s old world vocabulary:

It’s not always easy to talk to the people closest to us about sin, about their need of the Savior. It’s not always easy to tell someone they are wrong, especially if that person is a really nice, good, upstanding person. And it’s hard to speak the Truth when we know we might offend someone we have a personal relationship with.

But Henry reminds us that all unbelievers, everyone who rejects God or ignores Him, anyone who thinks they are ok on their own, are enemies of God. The Bible is clear; you are either for God or against Him. There is no category of “nice guy” that cancels out our guilt of sin, and our need of Jesus.

Did you get what Henry said? God’s prophets, those of us entrusted with the Truth must not let our affection for someone prevent us from sharing the Truth. And if our loved one, or our sweet friend, or our kind neighbor, has not confessed sin and accepted Jesus as their Savior, WE MUST NOT TELL THEM EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.

We must not say of someone who rejects Jesus and dies, that they are in a better place. They are in a horrible place. More horrible than we can imagine. We must not say of an unsaved person who suffers a painful death that, well at least they are not in pain any more. Because the reality is they are in more pain than they ever experienced in this life. If we say otherwise, what message are we giving to those of our friends and family who have yet to accept God’s grace?

We must not tell someone who is rejecting Jesus, ignoring Him, living in sin, that their choices aren’t carrying severe, eternal consequences. We must not speak peace to a non-believer because, no matter how nice they are in this life, they are without hope without Jesus. They have no promise of peace, so we must not pretend that they do.

It’s not easy sharing the Gospel when that lost person is close to home. But aren’t those the people we love the most, the people we care for above all people?

Do you believe lost people go to hell? Look into the eyes of that lost loved one and see their eternity. Can you be as faithful as Jeremiah to deliver the Truth in spite of your personal feelings for that person?

Can I?

 

Proverbs 10-12; Only A Moment

So I’m reading these proverbs this morning and listening to what God has to say about those of us who wear Jesus’ righteousness. We are blessed, and a blessing to others. We have joy and peace. God is our refuge. We reap a harvest, and receive eternal life. God delights in blessing us!

Then I got to 12:19 and heard myself say, “That’s not true.”

Did I really just say that? Here’s the verse:

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Has anyone ever lied about you? Did the lie only last for a moment before the truth came out? Or did you live with people believing the lie for years?

Then God impressed in my heart to look beyond the immediate. Didn’t Jesus say HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? It’s not always about you, Connie.

This verse, like so many others, points to Jesus. The Truth that is Him will endure forever. That’s a fact I can build my life on.

Oh, it may seem like the lies are out of control, that evil is winning over good, that wrong is right and right is wrong in our society. But Matthew Henry reminded me that the Truth of Scripture, Jesus Himself, will last forever. And in the light of eternity, the lies will last only a moment.

 

Job 20-21; Zophar, Part 2

Let’s get one thing straight. People die. Godly people die. Ungodly people die. There are godly people who live to a ripe old age, and there are godly people who die young. The same can be said for ungodly people.

Furthermore, no matter what Zophar would have you believe, there are wicked, evil people who are living long lives of luxurious, seemingly carefree lives, while there are godly people without homes or food. The opposite is true as well.

It’s tempting to equate God’s blessings with the things we can see. I will say God blessed me with a career for 37 years which has allowed me to live comfortably in my aging years. God has blessed me with good health, a loving family, a precious church fellowship. The sun is shining today. The sky is blue. And I have eyes that can see it all.

I could go on. But you get the picture. Some of the blessings I enjoy today come as a result of choices I made along the way. I don’t apologize for that or feel guilty because someone else made different choices. But I clearly know nothing I have, no blessing that I’ve been given is deserved. God doesn’t owe me a good life.

In fact, if I did get what I deserve, I would be one miserable lady.

I guess as I read the conversations between Job and his friends, I am reminded that it is useless to try to explain why things happen in this life. I mean, I can say the reason someone gets lung cancer is because he smoked for forty years. But then how do I explain the one who gets lung cancer and never smoked?

Here’s what struck me as I read Zophar’s second speech and Job’s reply: If I really thought only ungodly people receive devastating doctor’s reports, why am I not stopping everyone from undergoing chemo, and instead get them to accept Jesus? Why don’t I pray with all the homeless people I see so God will give them houses?

I should be talking to cancer patients and homeless people (and neighbors, co-workers, family members) about Jesus. Not for anything they can see. But because their eternity depends on it.

Zohar was right about one thing. “the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts for a moment.” In light of eternity, the “blessings” people enjoy on this earth are merely a blink of an eye.

Do you believe that? Regardless of bank accounts, health reports, popularity, or influence, we all will stand before a Holy God one day and give an account for the choices we made while we were enjoying, or struggling with, life on planet Earth. If you know Jesus as your Savior, that’s all God will need to know. Account paid. Good job, dear one. Let the party begin.

But if your choices haven’t included asking God to forgive you, and accepting what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, you’re on your own. Good luck trying to defend yourself before a Holy God. Do you honestly think you’ll match up? Really?

Let’s not get bogged down by things we can see. Let’s not waste time trying to understand God’s ways. His ways are not like ours. But let’s look at the true, and eternal blessing that comes from knowing Him personally. And let’s makes sure others know how they can be blessed in the same way.

 

Samuel 10-12; The Loss Of A Child

I was talking to my pastor a while back and shared my confusion concerning the age of accountability. Scripture doesn’t really give a specific number, nor does it tell us exactly what happens to babies when they die.

But if Jesus is the only way to the Father, if His Name is the only means of salvation, what about aborted babies, or infants and toddlers who die before understanding the need of Him? My pastor pointed me to 2 Samuel.

David’s newborn son was sick. And while the baby struggled to live, David fasted, prayed, and wept believing God could heal him. But after the baby died, David seemed to have peace. He got up, went to church, then ate a meal. Strange behavior for someone whose child just died.

David’s sorrow had been for his sick baby boy, a father’s desire to watch that baby grow up, healthy. His struggle was for the suffering infant, and his own grief. But once the baby died, David had the assurance the boy was in the presence of God:

I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (12:23)

It seems David believed in heaven, and was confident that his son was safely there right that minute. And David believed one day, he would go to the place his son was. David would see his son again. Knowing this, David was able to go to his wife, and comfort her.

I don’t know if you have ever miscarried a baby, or buried your infant or toddler. I can’t imagine the pain that brings. But I can encourage you to rest assured that child is in the Presence of Someone who loves them even more than you do.

And, dear one, if you know Jesus as your Savior, you will see your child again. Not in this life, as hard as that is to accept. But in eternity, standing together before God’s throne, loving and being loved by the One who does all things well.

Father, I want to pray for any who read this post who are carrying the weight of grief over a lost child. Is there a greater loss? I pray that each one will know the assurance that their little loved one is alive, and well, and home with You. God, ease the burden of empty arms. I pray for faith to trust You, even in the loss of a child.

I Samuel 20; Goodbyes

We knew our mom was dying. She’d been diagnosed with cancer 18 months earlier, and that awful disease had done its worse. I’d spent the weekend at Mom and Dad’s, and hadn’t wanted to leave Mom’s side. We’d finally gotten a hospital bed, and set it up in the living room so she could be close to us all.

I sat next to her and held her tiny hand. She told me she wanted to die, she was so tired of being sick. She wanted to go home. I wanted her to stay.

I lived and worked about 60 miles from my parents’ home. So that Sunday evening I packed up and got ready to leave. I stopped at Mom’s bed, and put my cheek next to her’s, and whispered,”Gotta go. See you next weekend.”

She hesitated as though there was something she wanted to say. Then, “Ok. Be careful.”

I stood up fighting tears and said, “Love you” as cheerfully as I could manage. Then I walked away, not knowing if I’d ever see her again in this lifetime.

I drove down the road a short way, pulled into an empty parking lot, and cried and cried. I loved her so much.

She died two days later.

You hear people say, “I hate goodbyes” all the time. I’ve never heard anyone say they love them! Especially if the one you are leaving is someone you love deeply, and someone you know you may never see again.

Like David and Jonathan’s goodbye here in I Samuel. I imagine Jonathan’s heart was heavy as he picked up his bow and arrow and headed to the field that morning. I imagine he fought tears so as not to show the boy with him his sorrow. I can almost feel the burning lump in his throat as he shot that arrow, the signal to David that Saul wanted him dead. And I bet he knew he had to get that boy out of there before the dam broke.

At that moment, Jonathan disregarded any fear of danger at being seen with David. He had to have one last moment with his best friend, no matter the cost. And I imagine that as the two men hugged each other tightly, their tears flowed from their deepest pain.

As I write this, thinking about my last moments with my mom, and Jonathan and David’s goodbye, I am weeping. Twenty-one years have passed since Mom went to live with Jesus. But remembering that goodbye still touches the sorrow as though it was yesterday. I can hardly wait to see her again!

So I’m sitting here thinking about goodbyes and wondering what God would say to me about that today. Then I remembered something David said in verse 3:

…Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.

The same can be said of all of us.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my sweet nephew that Sunday afternoon he lost control of his truck and slammed into a tree. He was gone in an instant, without saying goodbye even to his parents and sister. Without giving them the opportunity to say goodbye to him, either.

One step.

Now I’m certainly not advocating tearful goodbyes every time someone runs to the corner store for milk. But maybe God is prompting us to consider if there is someone in our lives with whom we have things yet unsaid. Anger or jealousy we need to confess, forgiveness we need to seek, Jesus we need to share.

Maybe God is bringing to mind someone you’ve stopped talking to for reasons you don’t even remember, or reasons so trivial in the light of eternity.

The truth is we are all one step away from death. Is there someone on your heart? Ask God what He wants you to do about that. Then do it.

You never get a second chance at a last goodbye.

Ruth 1-4; The Master Weaver

This book is a beautiful picture of how God can use the circumstances of life to weave a tapestry more glorious than we can imagine. I was thinking about that as I read Ruth’s story and began to see some of the individual stitches that combine to make her tapestry, or the picture of her life:

Because of a famine, Ruth met and married her Jewish husband. She accepted, and was accepted by, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their love for one another is legendary. The deaths of her husband and father-in-law led her to leave her home and family, and move to a country where people of her nationality were not welcome. Ruth thought that caring for her mother-in-law was more important than what people might think about her.

Through Naomi’s influence, Ruth turned from the pretend gods she was raised worshiping, and accepted the God of Israel for her own. A poor woman with nothing she could call her own, she immediately went to work to support herself and Naomi, and ended up working in the fields of the one man who could redeem her and Naomi, who would marry her, love her, and give her children.

And the finishing touch on Ruth’s story is the fact that Jesus Himself is a direct descendant of this Moabite woman and her kinsman redeemer.

I love how God presented opportunities for Ruth, and how she followed His lead. I love how God was able to take tragedy and weave that into a life that effects me here in 2017. Are you as blown away by that as I am?

We can’t always see how God is working to bring good out of things Satan might intend for evil. We might not see how a choice we make leads to another and another that ends up effecting people down the road.

But I am reminded, as I read the book of Ruth, that God is working in my life today, weaving a tapestry of my life, giving me opportunities to obey Him that will result in something really beautiful. Someone has said that we are only allowed to see the underside of the tapestries of our lives. But I think occasionally God gives us a glimpse at the final product.

Like when someone comes to the Lord because of our influence. Or when we hold that newborn baby in our arms, or realize we were in the right place at the right time to represent Jesus to someone. It’s when we are told that, at the lowest point of our lives, our example spoke to someone about God’s love, or His strength, or His assurance.

We see a glimpse at the final product when we can see that God uses even the most difficult circumstances to produce something beautiful in us.

I want to recognize Gods leading and, like Ruth, take those steps in faith. I want to be obedient to the Master Weaver, and one day lay the tapestry of my life at His feet. I believe, when at last I take a look at the entirety of my life, I will praise my God who made something beautiful out of even me.

Judges 9; What Will People Say?

Abimelech was not a nice guy. Not only did he weasel his way into become king, he hired some low-lifes to be his muscle. I guess he gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Then to top it off, he killed his seventy brothers, one at a time, gruesomely, and very publicly. You didn’t mess with Abimelech. Violence accompanied his “reign.” They were into idol worship, leaving God entirely out of their lives.

Now here’s what spoke to me today: When Abimelech was dying, his only thought was, “What will people say about me?” The most important thing to him as he entered eternity was that no one could say he’d been killed by a girl. No regret for an evil life. No repentance. Just what will people say?

Sometimes I think we give too much thought about what people think about us. We have to be politically correct, we want to blend in, we don’t point out sin for fear someone won’t like us. And there are some who live like Abimelech, as though they have no eternal souls, as though there is no God to whom they will be accountable.

Abimelech’s story is tragic. And right this minute, he is living a horrible consequence for his choices made thousands of years ago. He now knows that living a sinful, ego driven life isn’t worth it. Oh, he believes in a Holy God right now. But it’s too late.

Friend, where are your priorities? Are they made with an eye on people, or position, or lifestyle? Or are they made with an eye on eternity?

Because in eternity it won’t matter what people are saying about you. It will only matter what God says about your relationship with Him.