From Death to Life

Scripture: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

Observations: This verse is simple, yet profound. Jesus simply states that whoever hears and believes receives eternal life. The moment a person believes in Jesus, he crosses over from death to life spiritually and begins living a life in Christ that will never end. Of all the various ways people try to obtain salvation or redeem themselves or get to heaven, Jesus makes it painfully simple—believe in Him as God’s son and the Savior of the world.

Application: Trust and obey. I need to remember that it is Jesus alone who saves me from sin and death. It is by grace through faith in Jesus that I have been redeemed and crossed over from death to life—that is, eternal life that I am in fact already living in Jesus. I need to remind myself daily of the simple truths of the Gospel, living in trust and obedience to my Heavenly Father. Continual reading and study of the Bible, fervent prayer, and relationships with other believers will help keep this Truth prominent in my mind.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your grace, mercy, and incredible love that has given me eternal life through Jesus. Help me to remember that I’ve been saved through faith in the finished work of Jesus, not by my own righteousness or good works. Your grace alone has saved me. Lead me daily in the way I should go, filling me with trust and hope in You and Your perfect will. Help me to share the truth of Your love with others and to be gracious as You have shown me grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Devotional: We are the Clay

“Yet, O Lord, you  are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Observations: God is our father–not only is He the source of all life, but He has a special relationship with His people as our provider, protector, teacher, etc. Comparing God’s people to clay and God to a potter suggests that God molds and shapes us into the people we become. In one way, God created us with our unique personalities, natural talents and inner desires. But He also molds us by the work of His spirit through our restored relationship with Jesus Christ (sanctification). We are God’s handiwork, created by Him for a purpose and we are dependent upon Him to fulfill our purposes in this life. However, we are not devoid of all responsibility for our behaviors and the shape we take. It is our responsibility to respond to God’s call in our lives and to the work of His spirit, at least as much as we are able to in our broken condition.

Application: I will rest in the arms of my heavenly Father, secured by the blood of Christ, remembering that I am the work of His hand that was created for a specific purpose. I will remember that my responsibility is to respond to God’s leading and continually seek out His will daily, though it is Him who actually accomplished His perfect will.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your tremendous love and grace. Thank you also for creating me the way that You did. God, help me to not lose sight of who I  really am in this ever-changing, crazy world. Help me to look to You alone for my worth and value, seeking after Your will above all else. Guide me and mold me into the image of Christ. Amen. 

Devotional: Cast your cares on Him

Scripture: “Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6&7

Observations: God cares for His people so fully and completely that we can confidently cast our anxiety on Him and trust Him to take care of all our needs. However, we must also humble ourselves before the Lord, making ourselves lower and being submissive to His authority and power.

Application: I need to continually remember my proper position before my holy God. I need to make myself lowly before Him, so that I can trust and obey His word and be lifted up in due time accoding to His purposes. Whenever I feel the crushing weight of my fears and anxiety, I will remember who God is and who I am to Him. I will remember that I am a deeply loved child of God. I will humble myself before the Lord and trust Him to take care of all my needs. If I fully trust Him and I am growing in that trust, believing that He is all-powerful and the ultimate sovereign authority, then there should be less and less room in my heart for unhealthy fear and anxiety.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being mighty and powerful and worthy of all my trust and hope. Especially in times of stress and anxiety, help me to remember who You are and that I can trust in You for ALL things. Take away my fears and anxious thoughts, and replace them hope, trust, and faith in You and in Your perfect love. Thank you Lord, for your gift of salvation in Jesus. Strengthen me and prepare me to share Your love and Truth with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dead Man Walking

Have you ever watched someone die? Have you ever seen or touched a cold, lifeless corpse? It’s not fun or comfortable to talk about death; morbid is the term people use to describe this kind of talk. But many people have witnessed death firsthand and some have handled bodies after their life has left them. Some do this professionally, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree to recognize when a person is dead. There is no breathing, no movement, no beating heart; there is simply no life. The single most notable and terrifying attribute of death is its finality. Everybody knows that death is final and irreversible. There are no second chances, no do-overs, and no going back. When a person is pronounced dead, they are dead and are no longer living life as we know it. (By the way, zombies aren’t real in case you were wondering).

When Jesus was crucified on a cross, some of His disciples watched Him die. At least one saw a soldier drive a spear into Jesus’ side as a proof of his death. Two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial according to customs, and placed it in a tomb. The tomb was then closed and sealed shut. Jesus was dead and everyone knew it, especially His followers and closest friends.

Therefore, as you could imagine, when His disciples saw Jesus alive again—walking, talking, even eating and drinking—they were completely astonished. Some didn’t recognize Him at first, while others doubted and needed to see physical proof (holes in His hands and side) to believe He was really Jesus. (see John 20). Can you even begin to fathom the joy they must have felt when they saw Him? The raw emotion that flowed from their hearts and their eyes must surely have been spectacular. To lose someone so dearly loved and so innocent in such a violent manner was absolutely devastating. The voices of fear and doubt and hopelessness likely rang loudly in their ears. But then to suddenly have this loved one restored to life and returned to His friends and family—that had to instantly shatter those voices! The tears of joy surely overflowed and overshadowed their former tears of grief.

Do you think Jesus’ disciples treated Him differently and even lived differently after His resurrection? I’ll bet they did. I’m sure they had a tremendous increase in faith and hope for the future. Their fear and doubts melted away as they looked forward to the promise of God’s kingdom. They probably appreciated every minute they had with Jesus all the more because they actually knew what it was like to lose Him. I can also guarantee they listened more attentively than ever before when Jesus talked. I’m sure they obeyed His teaching and commands far more passionately after seeing Him literally raised from the dead. But what about the rest of us? As Jesus said to Thomas, “have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 ESV).

Jesus didn’t just raise Himself from the dead to prove something; He overcame the power of sin and death in this world and thereby gave us the opportunity to be given life—real life with Him—that will never end. Jesus has often been referred to as the new Adam, meaning that He is the first of a new generation or a new kind of human. As sin and death entered the world through one man (Adam), so salvation and new life entered the world through Jesus. His resurrected body gives us a glimpse of what our resurrected bodies will be like. Notice that He didn’t burst out of the grave with a pair of newly grown wings and a halo over his head, flying off into the sunset like a corny John Travolta movie.

He walked. He talked. He ate and drank. He taught and had conversations. He did many of the same things He did before His death, yet He also seemed to circumvent some physical barriers like showing up in a house with locked doors and ascending into Heaven.

For those who put their faith in Jesus, we have real, improved, resurrected bodies to look forward to after we die. We don’t become angels and surely we won’t morph into some kind of half-bird, half-human creature with ridiculously large, feathered wings. (I also hope I don’t have to learn to play the harp). We will have bodies that resemble our present bodies, but without all the blemishes and flaws. We will walk but without limps, sore feet, or other impediments. We will eat food, but not too much and we won’t have to worry about carbs and sugars and calories. We will live without the fear of bacteria, disease, injury and death.

You see, Heaven is like the very best things of this world without the corruption of sin and evil. After all, every good thing comes from God who created it. Imagine spending your entire life in the presence of God, living in harmony with Him and everyone and everything else in a redeemed body. For the redeemed sinner, death has lost its sting. It is no longer a tragic end of existence to be feared and avoided, but a welcome gateway into the beginning of a new life in a new world spent with the Creator of the universe. This life will be familiar, yet so different from our current lives in this corrupt and sinful world.

Question: What do you think we will look like in Heaven? What will we do when we get there?

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For more on this topic, see Heaven by Randy Alcorn.