I fall short in many ways. I’m sure I’m not a great pastor nor a good church manager, but I have regained my focus this past week.
As was John the Baptist, I am a man “sent by Christ” to be “a witness.” The Lord renewed this calling and assignment on Christmas morning–36 years ago to the date that I first received the truth about my sin and the Lord’s grace. During an early morning study time on Christmas morning last week, the Lord pointed me to Acts 20.24 as my verse for 2014.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, ESV)
I am a witness of the love of Jesus for the lost, abandoned, fatherless, and those who have been discarded by the world. I am a witness of how weak ones–conceived and steeped in sin–are nonetheless loved by a gracious Father and treasured by a compassionate Savior. That’s why Jesus is Lord of my life. It is His doing, all by His grace. Of that, I am a witness and a sign. And I am healed of rejection and a broken heart. For I who was nothing am a son of the Living God (Rom. 8.14, 16).
Well, David . . . how do we know you can be trusted as a witness? Because Jesus gave the criteria for trustworthiness: John 7:18.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18, ESV)
The Lord knows and so do those who know me best and have watched my life for many years.
It’s so good to KNOW whose we are, where we’re headed, and what our assignment is.
Someone predicted that Jesus was supposed to return today. Of course, He has not yet returned. He never does return when men or women predict that He will. History is repleat with the anticipation and disappointments of His immanent return. That is not to say that He couldn’t come the day after tomorrow (no, I’m not setting a date–just making a point).
Jesus WILL come, but not when someone announces what day and hour he will come. NO ONE knows when He will return. We only know the season. Since I’m writing this, we have yet another PROOF of what Jesus said in answer to those who want to know the day and time of His return.
Our Challenge: To not become scoffers with others who mock because of misplaced zeal. For the plan of the enemy is and has always been to cause us to distrust the Father’s word. “Has God really said?.” Reread what the devil said to Eve in the Garden. That was precisely his tactic. It has not changed throughout history. His strategy: Cause them to doubt God’s goodness and love.
When people set dates about the coming of Jesus, the enemy creates disappointment, discouragement, and makes Christ’s followers look naive. Ultimately, false predictions close the ears for our more important announcement: God, the Father, loves you with an undying love. He has bridged the gap between Him and us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. So now we can be members of His household and precious Family members with him. Ultimately Jesus will come and when He does, he will sort out everything. Then God will create the New Heavens and New Earth–the home of all those who trusted that he is Lord and Savior of humankind. What’s required on our part? To believe that this Good News is true and includes any who desire a relationship with the Father of that new world.
What an awesome message!
The quick answer to the questions posed in the title of this post is:
Jesus is with His Father, in the heavenlies. He is in His resurrected body and will return physically and visibly. By means of the Holy Spirit, He is in the midst of His people–those who have received and accepted his gift of reconciliation and peace.
He will return at a time appointed by the Father. According to the Scriptures, even the Son of God did not know that time. Nor do we! Jesus told us that we would understand the signs of the times and that the season of His coming would be obvious. We ARE in the season of His return. I happen to believe it is immanent, but have NO IDEA about what day or hour He will return. So I remain ready. How about you?
Because the most important question is: ARE YOU READY?
© 2011, David C Alves
I understand that more than 2.8 million people from 180 countries tuned in to view the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Have you any curiosity over what drew us? Perhaps something deeper–than the surface reasons we give–sparked our curiosity to participate–albeit vicariously.
Let’s review possible reasons this wedding drew so many viewers:
- Romance is high on the list
- Pomp and circumstance. The majesty of it all.
- Star gazing
- History in the making
Here’s one most people would not list, but, in my opinion, was the unconscious draw in the hearts of most of us who took an interest: eternity in our hearts.
Let me explain.
All human beings–whether they like it or not, whether they believe it or not–are made in the image of God. A metaphor may help to make this theological concept more simple. A divine seed has been planted in each soul. This seed has the potential to become a living spirit in relationship to God the Father. According to the God’s Word, the Scriptures, Jesus called this resurrection of the spirit an experience of being “born-from-above.” God actually awakens the seed-spirit as we consider the claims of the Beautiful News about his Son–Jesus–and turn toward him from our self-directed lives. We glimpse his love, his sacrifice to bring us into relationship with Father and respond by giving ourselves to that Love [for God is Love]. At that point where we begin to walk in newness of life, we become his sons and daughters–his household–royalty. Anyone can see why images of royalty draw our hearts. That’s why movies such as Cinderella, Snow White, Everafter, Aladdin, and fables and fairy tales which include transformation into royalty draw children [and the young at heart] supraculturally–worldwide. We KNOW in our hearts that we should be part of this.
We have this sense of belonging to Father lying unconsciously deep in our hearts–eternity in our hearts. Without knowing what drives us, we are drawn to common themes:
- Romance–the God who is LOVE
- Pomp & magesty–the God who is King of Kings, Lord of Lords
- Prince rescues a commoner and seats her with him on his throne–Jesus has done exactly that!
- Fatherless child finds that he/she is no longer an orphan, but was all along the child of royalty. Exactly what God’s Word says.
All of us are a part of history and want to be at the center of history in some sense. A great truth is that history is HIS-STORY–the story of God the Father–in His Son–redeeming his future children from a fallen world. We may not ever give it a conscious moment of thought, but WE are at the center of that story. “For God so LOVED THE WORLD [people], that He gave His Unique Son, that whoever [this includes YOU] believed in HIM would not perish but would instead receive eternal life [His Life into them](my translation).
Men and women are mortal. Immortality is a gift, not an inheritance. Immortality comes from the life of the indwelling Messiah alone. No one has immortality apart from HIM. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) Cultural ideas of what comes after this life are just that . . . cultural ideas–most have no reality to them. But the TRUTH is that IF we respond to the LOVE of God and move toward Him, it is a reflection of His move toward us. And if we believe that Jesus is the Unique Son who can give us His life, we will never remain in death, though we will pass through the valley of the shadow of death.
Marriage itself is the very picture of two individuals joining together to be one. And–for most–in that union of love, life comes forth either spiritual or physical as the case may be. Jesus has joined with those who willingly received Him into their lives. He has become their Life. From that union, more life springs into being.
Much more could be said on this topic and better than I can say it. But I put it out here as my own reflection today. I am personally grateful that God, the Father and His Unique Son–Jesus–have given life to my spirit so that I can forever enjoy them as a son in the household of God. [If you have read this far, you may be interested in exploring this sonship[daugthership] theme more closely in my book: We’re the ‘sons of God’ . . . So What?]
I believe that the human capacity for a relationship with God is a large part of the reason so many were drawn by this royal wedding. What do you think?
© 2011 David C Alves
Do not tremble; do not be afraid, Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses –Isaiah 44:8a
“ . . . who do you say I am?” –Matthew 16:15
You perhaps heard it said, “God has a wonderful plan for your life?” Some recoil from allowing themselves to get too encouraged by the thought. Either they don’t believe it or they are realists in a world of pain and suffering and human tragedy. Or they believed it, but after many years they have not seen the truth of it. In any case, God’s word is true and he has an ancient plan of good for his people–those who are his by virtue of having believed God and come to him on his own terms (not theirs).
We are people living in a dying world, but in the midst of pain, suffering, and dashed hopes, God’s own proclamation is crystal clear. He tells us firt that we are not to tremble or be afraid. This is repeated by Paul–“I have not given you a spirit of fear . . .” God’s reason follows. Did I not reveal my purposes for you? “ “long ago?” This is God’s ancient plan–we are living examples of his life and love. We are his witnesses. Witnesses to what? We are witnesses who have answered Christ’s question affirmatively and correctly–to trust the Good News about him and Father.
We are witnesses to Jesus, the Son of the living God–Messiah, Lord, Logos–alive from the dead. He is the One God chose to save the world and set us free from our bondage to sin and fear. To bring us back to the Father.
“Who do YOU say I am?”
Father, thank you that you have revealed Jesus to me. Help anyone who has not yet arrived at this personal revelation of your Son. Remove the veil and grant them sight and understanding to know Jesus and You.