Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Several years ago, I received a book in the mail from a North Carolina radio station that advertised itself as a “Christian radio station.” The book declared that God wants every Christian to be rich. It had pictures of priceless jewels, luxury cars and boats, and other expensive items that only those who are wealthy can afford. It claimed that God was going to take all of these things away from unbelievers and give them to Christians. All Christians would have to do is to ask God for them – in other words, just “name them” and “claim them.”

Such a belief is called “the prosperity gospel.” It is definitely not what God’s Word teaches about prayer – and it is utter nonsense! It makes prayer the vehicle for the expression of our greed. To believe that the sovereign God is primarily obligated to do our bidding would make Him little more than our private genie. Prayer is much more than asking God to run errands for us.

But, you may ask, does not the Bible say, “If two or three of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them” (Matthew 18:19)? Yes, it does, but it also says many other important things about prayer prosperity gospel adherents overlook – but shouldn’t. For example, “If we ask anything according to His will He hears us” (1 John 5:14). And, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

There are, according to the Bible, three factors that determine whether a prayer we pray will be answered in the way we want: (1) whether or not it is in accordance with God’s will, (2) whether or not it is God’s time, (3) whether the person praying is living in such a relationship with God that it would be appropriate for God to answer the prayer. We do not always know what is best for us – but God does!

We can thank God that many of our prayers are not answered precisely in the way we ask. We are encouraged to pray at all times, “Not my will but thine be done.” Sometimes our prayers are attempts to persuade God to do what we want, to bless or bring to pass our plans, not His plans. Nothing is outside the reach of prayer except that which is outside the will of God.

There is the matter of timing as well. Consider, for example, Hannah’s prayer for a son. It was years before the Lord gave her the son for whom she had prayed. At last Samuel was conceived and brought into the world. It must have seemed a long and inexplicable wait for his parents-to-be; but Samuel had to live for a certain time in order to accomplish a particular mission in Israel. God knew that; Hannah didn’t.

Consider also Nehemiah’s prayer for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The Bible says he “wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4) for the restoration of Jerusalem. The answer to his prayer came in God’s time, and how important that timing was! It had to occur on a specific day foreordained by God. From that date, 69 weeks of years (483 years) would be counted to determine the very day that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and be hailed as the Messiah (Daniel 9:25). Nehemiah possibly never suspected the importance of God’s timing.

Finally, affirmative answer to prayer, when it comes, is at least in part a blessing from God which indicates that the petitioner is living according to His will (1 John 3:22). Prayer is not a one-way street on which we get everything we want, and God gets nothing. The goal of prayer is to attune us to God’s will. For God to answer the prayers of those who are not willing to take the time to know His will and are careless about obeying Him in their daily lives, would only encourage them to continue to live in disobedience.


Read Full Post »

Jimmy Durante was well-known and fondly appreciated for his enormous nose, yet it was the source of great agony during his childhood. People stared at or called attention to it. Even when he was on stage making a fortune because of his big beak, he was never happy about it.

Then one day he received a letter from a boy that said: “I also have a big nose. But then I saw you in a movie. And when you kept laughing about your nose, it made me feel good all over. Now when other fellows call me ”Schnozz,” I’m very proud. Durante sat silently at the breakfast table for a while after reading that letter, then called out happily to his housekeeper, Maggie Arnold, “A big load has just fallen off of me.”

Do you ever question your worth? Low self-esteem is based on what you believe about yourself. You may have received negative messages from your parents, your friends, or your spouse – which may have caused you to feel worthless. Whatever the cause for your low self-esteem, God does not make junk. You are special to Him. In fact, He sent His Son to die for your sins because He wants you to be part of His family.

If you are a Christian here is what God says about you:

  • To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
  • I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

These verses tell you that you are a child of the God of the universe because you have trusted Jesus Christ, His Son, as your Savior and Lord, that Christ lives in you, that He will hear your prayers and answer them, that the Father and the Son love you, and that you have eternal life. What more validation could any person want than to have the approval, love, forgiveness, and inheritance of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Give these thoughts preeminence in your life, for Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. What He says is true, no matter what anyone else says or does. When you grow in this understanding of who you are in Christ, you can let go of the thoughts that cause you to lack a sense of self-worth. You can rise above the “blues” of depression and say with the Psalmist, “Why are you so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him – my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

When you believe that you are valuable in God’s sight, you will start acting like it. You will assert yourself and set boundaries so that people will treat you with the dignity that someone made in God’s image deserves. You are one of the King of King’s kids (John 1:12). You are a new creation in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). You are on your way to heaven (John 3:36). The Holy Spirit dwells within you (John 14:16). You have a new and very special purpose in life – to live for Christ and to know Christ and share His love with others (Philippians 1:21, Philippians 3:13-14).

The surest way to have a healthy sense of self-worth is to realize that you were created by God, and that He has a special purpose for your life. He made no one else in the entire world exactly like you. That makes you unique and special. You will never stay down in the dumps very long when you know who and whose you are and where you are going in life. So, hold your head up high and head on down the road.

Read Full Post »

When God created our unbelievably huge and complex universe, He declared that what His hands had wrought was good. It hasn’t changed. It still is good. Only God, the Creator, could create out of chaos a cosmos; out of nothing, something; out of disharmony, harmony.

Everything that God has made was created “in tune” – the voice of man, the whisper of the wind, the laughter of little brooks, and the thunderous throb of the mighty oceans. Everything in nature is full of melody and is alive with divine rhythm, from the harmonious growth of the budding leaves in the spring, to the growth and beauty and production of growing things of summer, and to the scattering of the seeds of another season on the blustery winds of November.

There is precision and harmony in the path of the great planets in our galaxy as they move with unchangeable accuracy around their lord, the sun….and there is also precision and harmony in the countless galaxies beyond the one where we live and move and have our being, each with its own individual uniqueness. Even so, all of them are bound together in one majestic musical composition.

Longfellow was right when he said that “music is the universal language of mankind.” That is because he was aware that music is the language of our Creator. He has woven a marvelous sense of timing and rhythm into the very fabric of our lives and into the entire universe about us.

Forget for even one hour the secular influences that literally clamor for your attention, for they will draw your interest away from the harmony and music that Our Creator has designed to be at the heart of what is important in life. Turn off your inane and intellectually stupefying television set long enough to go somewhere where the din of man’s noises cannot be heard. Breathe deeply into your lungs a breath of invigorating air and drink in the beauty of God’s green productive earth as it puts on clothes in the decorative colors of autumn.

May God give us the wisdom to shut out the noises around us that clamor for our attention and for our loyalty. They will install us on a sidetrack that leads in the opposite direction from the kind of life He designs for us to travel. Let us breathe deeply into our lungs a breath of invigorating air during the days of autumn as the beauty of God’s green productive earth as it puts on clothes in the decorative colors of autumn. Let us anticipate that beyond the turning of a few pages of life the trumpet sounds of spring will once again pierce the air.

God’s music has always been “in tune.” It still is – and it always will be.I hope you are listening!

Read Full Post »

Have you ever said, “I am just one person; what can one person do?” Believe it or not, one person can change the course of human history. It has happened many times.

Thomas Jefferson was elected president by just one vote in the Electoral College. So was John Quincy Adams. Rutherford B. Hayes was also elected president by just one vote. When his election was contested, he again won by a single vote, cast by a lawyer from Indiana who was elected to Congress by the margin of just one vote. That one vote was cast by a client of his, who, though seriously ill, insisted on being taken to the polls to cast his vote.

In DeKalb County, Ind., in the 1840’s, a miller on his way to grind grain on Election Day ran into some friends who were on their way to vote. They persuaded him to go to the polls first and cast his ballot. He may have thought it was not all that important, but they insisted that it was. Reluctantly agreeing, he grumbled, “Much good all my trouble will do!”

Yet it happened that just one vote – his vote – was the majority by which his candidate was elected to the state legislature. And by a single vote of that DeKalb County lawmaker the Indiana legislature elected Edward Allen Hannagan to the United States Senate.

In Washington, Senator Hannagan was chosen “president pro tem” of Congress when the question of offering statehood to Texas came up for decision. Congress balloted but the vote was a deadlock. As the president pro tem, Hannagan stepped forward to cast the ballot that would break the tie. He cast his one vote in the affirmative. By that one vote Texas was annexed into the union! This action led to the Mexican War and helped shape America’s future.

One vote kept Aaron Burr from becoming president of the United States. One vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. One vote elected Oliver Cromwell to the famous Long Parliament and sent Charles I to the gallows. Can you imagine how different the history of the United States would be if Texas had never been admitted to the union?

No person, in any given situation, should ever say, “I’m only one person, so what good can I do?” On countless occasions throughout history one person has changed the course of history. It could happen again in the election before us. You could be a part of history. Be thankful that American elections are by ballots – not bullets. We count the returns – not the remains.

There are countries in the world whose citizens do not have the right to vote. They are, in reality, “people of the government, by the government and for the government.” The United States government was designed to be “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Whatever a voter’s race, color, creed, or gender happens to be, we are all one family. We can keep it that way on Election Day by going to the polls and voting for those we believe to be the best qualified and should be chosen to serve.

Remember this: the most dangerous vote in any election is the vote not cast. Therefore, say to yourself as you go to the polls: “I am one person – but I am one! I cannot do everything – but I can do something! What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God I will do. I will vote!”

Read Full Post »

What does it mean to live here in the light of there?

Solomon states in the book of Ecclesiastes that “God has set eternity in our hearts” (3:10-11). Living in the light of eternity enables us to make choices and commit ourselves to the kind of actions that dramatically affect every part of our lives.

Such a choice was required of a woman named Vibia Perpetua who lived in the second century A.D. She had a husband and a newborn baby. They were new Christians, and were members in the struggling, persecuted church in North Africa.

Linda Holland tells Vibia’s story in her book, “Alabaster Doves”:

The day came when people moved from the center of the street in Carthage to make way for a procession of Roman legionnaires. The lead Roman soldier unrolled a scroll and read it to the people who had gathered. The message denounced those who were Christians because they would not sacrifice to the emperor. Wherever they were to be found they were to be taken, held, and brought before the consul.

Meanwhile, outside the town, Vibia Perpetua and her husband had just become new members of their church. She was 22 years old and could not have known at the time that her commitment would demand of her the ultimate test.

The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had issued an edict prohibiting Jews and Christians alike from converting or making converts. Roman procurator Hilarianus faithfully and fanatically attended to the execution of this edict.

The followers of Jesus Christ had entered the martyr age. Men, women, and children were torn from their homes, judged to be dangerous citizens, and condemned to die. Spies lurked in neighborhoods who reported the names of those who became followers of Jesus Christ. Among those who were reported to have become Christians were Vibia Perpetua, her husband, and several of her friends.

Vivia’s father came to the prison again and again to plead with her. He did not want his daughter to die. With tears in his eyes, he kissed her hands and fell at her feet, asking her to recant her faith. For this he was taken out and beaten. Vibia watched as her husband denied his faith, placed the lighted sacrificial incense on the altar to the emperor, and ran away.

The day came when Vibia and other Christians were led before Hilarianus, Procurator of Carthage. “Are you a Christian?” Hilarianus demanded.

“I am,” Vibia answered. “I cannot forsake my faith for freedom. I will not do it. For Christ is my life, and death to me is gain.” Hilarianus signaled the executioners, who herded Vibia and her friends to the entrance of the arena to await their turn for execution.

Vibia and her friends met their deaths on a March day in A.D. 203 and stepped into the loving arms of Jesus. The blood and tears of these dedicated early Christians were not wasted, though. They moistened the ground into which new seed would fall and produce a harvest for Christ’s Kingdom. They knew what it meant to live here in the light of there.

Across the continent of Africa today Christians are being persecuted and killed. All of the children in a Nigerian Christian school were captured and taken prisoner a few years ago and faced the likelihood of death. I wondered if any of those children were descendants of individuals who had been won to Christ by Southern Baptist missionaries Carlyle and Rosa Powell.

In the 1960’s Carlyle and Rosa had completed their years of ministry as Southern Baptist missionaries in Nigeria and returned to Warsaw in Duplin County where they had been raised, and where members of their family still lived. The Powells again became members of the Warsaw Baptist Church. It was my joy and privilege to serve as their pastor during their last years on earth. Their lives on earth came to an end, and they moved from “here” to “there” – which is often called “that city, eternal, in the heavens, not made by hands.”

If you were ever faced with the decision to either deny your faith in Christ or face persecution and death, what would your answer be?

Read Full Post »

“I was never so humiliated in my entire life!” Have we not all said that or something similar to it in the past? The fact that embarrassment is not an uncommon experience for us can be seen by recalling the multitude of phrases we use to describe it – we speak of being mortified, confused, nonplussed, humbled, crestfallen – of having to eat humble pie, of looking foolish, and feeling small.

There is a measure of comfort in being reminded that even the best and smartest people suffer from the humiliations of life – even the Apostle Paul. Compelled to defend himself against the cruel criticism of men who should have been his friends, he tells us of the things he endured as an ambassador for Christ. At Corinth on one occasion, he was savagely attacked. His credentials as an accredited apostle were challenged.

Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, faced with starvation, thirst, and privation, burdened with the responsibility for new and struggling churches, he said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). In Damascus the governor had his troops try to arrest him. He was let down through a window in a basket down the city wall and escaped. It was Paul’s first experience of being humiliated. Perhaps some of his enemies had sneered at the undignified way he arranged for his escape.

Imagine the feelings of this able ambassador of the King of Kings escaping in such a humiliating way. Paul had first come to Damascus as a well-known representative of the Pharisaic party. He was the product of the best schools, armed with authority and conscious of his gifts. Then, one week after he arrived he had to be smuggled out of town at night by being let down through a window and over the wall to save his skin.

Have you ever been humiliated in any way? You lost a promotion. You were demoted in rank. You found yourself in the middle of an emotional crisis. You had an injury that left you with a physical handicap or disfigurement. How did you handle it? You may at the present time, comparatively speaking, need to escape over a wall in a basket as Paul did. There are basically two ways we can handle life’s humiliations:

  1.  We could let them embitter us. We could remain resentful. One of the familiar names in English literature is Lord Byron. He entered life lame, and it was to him humiliating. Self-pity, moral excesses, and bitterness were the ineffective weapons he employed to deal with it. When Paul wrote his most tender letter – the Epistle to the Philippians – he said something immeasurably finer, I have learned how to be abased [or, in need]… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12-13). Apparently, Lord Byron had not learned this.
  2. We could use them to make us more useful. History is full of instances when people turned humiliations into useful instruments. For example, years ago in a Midwestern orphanage there was a 10-year-old girl, a hunchback, sickly, ill-tempered and hard to look at, called Mercy Goodfaith. One day a lady came to the orphanage and told the director that she wanted to adopt a child nobody else would take. Mercy Goodfaith was brought in with her twisted body, scowling face and embittered eyes. The lady adopted Mercy, took her home, and tried to help her overcome her humiliation. Did she succeed? Thirty-five years later an official investigator inspected the county orphan’s home and reported it to be a model of cleanliness and happiness. One girl played the organ and the other girls sang. On the director’s lap were two of the smallest children. Four others were on the arms of her chair. The children adored her. Her name was Mercy Goodfaith.

To learn how to be in need is to learn to walk humbly with God. Paul’s escape from his enemies in Damascus by being let down the outside wall in a basket shows us that God is able to help us overcome our humiliations so that we can continue serving Him in an effective way.

Read Full Post »

Henry David Thoreau, approximately 150 years ago, sat in his haven at Walden Pond and watched the linemen string a wire down the railroad track. Thoreau inquired of the workmen what they were doing. They explained that they were building a telegraph system so that people in Maine and Texas could talk to each other. Thoreau then asked, “What if the people in Maine do not have anything to say to the people in Texas, and what if the people in Texas do not have anything to answer back to the people in Maine?”

It was a good question. The point Thoreau was making is that there is no reason to talk unless you have something to say. That is why I am glad Christians have something worth saying that others genuinely need to hear. It concerns the good news from heaven of what God has done and is doing through His Son, Jesus Christ. The New Testament calls it the gospel – which means “good news.” And what is the gospel?

The gist of the gospel is this: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4). That is very good news. It is an announcement and not an argument. It is the story of what God has done and is doing for lost persons that they could never do for themselves. It is news about an event that took place in history 2,000 years ago. It happens to be the greatest story ever told.

How can news that is nearly 2,000 years old continue to be good news? The book of Revelation calls it “the everlasting gospel” (14:6), which means that it is always good news and will never become old news. The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus was news in 1492, but since that date it has been nothing more than a fact of history. The death of Abraham Lincoln was news when it happened, but it is no longer news. All news stories cease to become news after they are released. The facts of old news stories are sometimes printed many times, but not as news.

But the truth contained in John 3:16 never ceases to be news – very good news indeed! When God loved, He loved the entire world. When He gave, He gave His one and only Son. The reason He did this is that all who believe might be redeemed from sin, made a part of God’s family, and have everlasting life. That was good news 2,000 years ago. It was good news a century ago. It is good news today. It will be good news next week. It will always be good news.

Millions of people in our world have never even heard who Jesus is. Bible publication companies are working diligently to get the Bible translated into native languages and dialects so the people of the earth can be introduced to God’s good news for the very first time.  But Christians are not doing nearly enough to share the gospel with the people who have not yet heard it and who, therefore, desperately need Christ.

Many have heard the gospel proclaimed but have not yet accepted it or understood it. They have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear, hearts to understand but do not understand. No one can understand the gospel who is not aware of being a sinner. The apostle Paul said, “If the gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

The facts of the gospel become news with life-changing power only when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes, the ears, and hearts of people, enabling them to believe. This new awakening, this impact of good news, this glorious dawning, leads to a decision to accept Him as Savior and Lord. To believe the good news is to enter the kingdom of God and to embark upon a new way of life.

The gospel never ceases to be good news to those who believe it. It is never an old, uninteresting story to the Christian. Hearing it anew in every new experience in the power of the Holy Spirit is always a transforming experience. Studying the Bible under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is always discovering some new aspect of the truth of the gospel.

There is a famous street in London called Charing Cross Road. It is so familiar to the people who live in London that they refer to it as “The Cross.” On a cold, dark dreary day in London several years ago, the police found an elderly man who was lost. They offered to help him find his way home. He thanked them and said, “If you will take me to the Cross, I can find my way home from there.”

The central message found in God’s Word couldn’t be said any better or more accurately than that. All any person must do to become a new creation in Christ, and become heir to eternal life, is to go to Calvary’s cross, lay his (or her) sins down, accept Christ as Savior and Lord, turn to the right, and keep straight ahead.

Read Full Post »

W. H. Auden, the British-American poet, once labeled the day in which we live “The Age of Anxiety.” The word anxiety literally means “to be pulled apart.” It would be difficult to find a more accurate description of what worry and anxiety does to a person: it pulls us apart.

Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said, “Worry affects circulation, the heart, the glands, and the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but I have known many who died from worry.” According to Joe Graedon, author of “The Aspirin Handbook,” “Americans pop 80 million aspirin tablets every single day – 29 billion per year –  a figure that works out to 117 aspirin tablets annually for every man, woman and child in the country.”

What do we worry about? You name it and we worry about it. Big things, middle-sized things, little things, even non-existent things. We worry about things that happened yesterday. We even worry about things that may never happen. You cannot improve the quality of your life by worrying, but you can foul it up big time. Worry will not change your grade in school or make you more beautiful or handsome. You cannot change what is already an established fact.

Anxiety is a universal problem, but some people seem to enjoy the experience. They are miserable and want everyone around them to be miserable also. The end result of worrying is that we can guarantee the end result that we fear may happen – insomnia, fatigue, neurosis, and eventually an emotional breakdown. Earl Riney, in church management, expressed the same thoughts in a humorous way: “Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night.” It is not wise to take tomorrow to bed with you when you retire at night.

It has been said that two out of every three persons have emotional problems. Any time you are with two other people, evaluate them. If they seem totally normal to you, guess which one of the three has emotional problems.

We should never worry about the past, for it cannot be changed. Nor should we borrow trouble from our tomorrows. Thomas Carlyle was right when he said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the future, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” An old idiom expresses it this way: “Life is hard by the yard, but by the inch it’s a cinch.”

The right way to deal with worry and anxiety is to have a deep, vibrant, and growing faith in God. Jesus said that we should start by setting productive priorities. Decide what is important, what is most important, and what is unimportant. Meaningful living does not have to consist of an overabundance of things. Live one day at a time.

You may ask, “But how can I do that?” Just follow the recommendations found in I Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves 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.” Charles F. Deems, in Epigram, beautifully expresses the truth found in these two verses:

            “The world is wide

            In time and tide,

            And God is guide.

            Then do not hurry.

            That man is blest

            Who does his best

            And leaves the rest,

            Then do not worry.”

Read Full Post »

In the window of a shoemaker’s shop in Northern England several years ago a pair of shoes was placed on display that was almost a yard long. It would either take someone with a distorted sense of humor or else a king-sized “under-standing” to even contemplate putting that much leather on and walking away.

The cobbler had made the shoes himself. On a little card beside them were these words: “Yours for nothing – if you can wear them.” So far as I know, no one ever showed up with feet big enough to lay claim to those shoes. If someone had, it would have been the first time in history when two feet equaled two yards.

One of the obvious lessons we can learn from the cobbler’s creation is that God is always handing a pair of large empty shoes to each of us with the hope that we will be willing to try to fill them and wear them. He has a specific purpose for every person in the world, a purpose which no other person can fill. Every church across America has what is usually called a Nominating Committee.

The responsibility of a church Nominating Committee is to choose and recommend individuals to fill every position in the church organization. If your church does not have such a committee, it certainly needs one. It is possible that you will sooner or later be asked to assume a specific position of service as a Sunday School teacher, member of an important committee, deacon, choir member, youth leader, nursery worker, etc. Finding members of the church to fill pairs of empty shoes is extremely important. It can determine whether or not your church succeeds in carrying out its mission.

God will never ask you to wear another person’s shoes. However, He does ask each of us to wear shoes which He has designed for us individually. Some of the empty shoes you are asked to fill may seem larger than you think you can and should wear. Fortunately, God measures faithfulness not on the size of our feet, but on the size of our willingness to discover His will and do it in our daily lives.

If the Nominating Committee of your church shows you a pair of empty shoes, examine them carefully. Before you turn them down by saying, “They are far too large for me to wear,” talk to God about it. Listen to what He has to say.  He just possibly may say to you, “Is your faith big enough to wear them for my glory? If your faith is big enough to put them on you will learn that I will walk with you and fill your heart with joy.”

You will put them on and wear them if you follow the advice in this beautiful poem by Christina Rossetti:

             “What can I give Him?

               Poor as I am?

            If I were a shepherd

               I would bring Him a lamb;

            If I were a wise man

               I would do my part—

            Yet what can I give Him,

               Give Him my heart.”

Read Full Post »

The last four verses of the Gospel of Luke describe Christ’s last meeting in the flesh with His 11 disciples (Judas was no longer with them). They were meeting together in Jerusalem to discuss the events of recent days – Christ’s trial and crucifixion, His resurrection, and the fact that He had commissioned them to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. Suddenly Jesus appeared among them.

It wasn’t long before Jesus asked them to go on a walk with Him. They walked along the old Jerusalem streets, out the gate and past the Garden of Gethsemane to the top of the Mount of Olives. At this point they asked Jesus if He was going to begin soon to set up His kingdom on the earth. As their eyes were focused on Him, they undoubtedly had no idea that He was about to tell them goodbye.

Back behind them was Gethsemane where He had agonized in prayer the night before He was crucified. Beyond Gethsemane was the city wall that surrounded Jerusalem, and on the little knoll nearby was Calvary. With fresh memories of all that had happened in recent days, they heard Jesus say, “Tarry in Jerusalem and pray, and you shall receive power, and you shall be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and throughout the entire world.” Suddenly Jesus was lifted from the ground and began to ascend toward heaven until a cloud hid Him from their sight (Acts1:9)

They continued gazing, held spellbound by the sight, thinking perhaps they would possibly be able to see Jesus again. Two men in white apparel suddenly appeared in their midst and said to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heavens? This Jesus who was received into heaven will come back in like manner.” Have you ever tried to imagine the joy that must have filled the heart of Jesus at that moment? He had finished training His disciples to carry the story of God’s love to people living in every nation throughout the earth. He had successfully completed His mission – and He was going home!

The two men in white apparel give us the key to Christ’s ascension. Jesus will remain with the Father until the next great step in God’s redemptive plan. At a time of God’s own choosing Christ will return to fully complete the Father’s great love plan for mankind and for the earth. Jesus, knowing that He was about to leave His disciples, led them to the Mount of Olives where His ascension would take place.

In 1973 when I was in Israel, I stood very near to the spot on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven. My heart was overflowing with joy as I realized that Jesus didn’t just go home. He is coming back again! Fannie Crosby, who wrote so many wonderful hymns Christians have sung through the years, captured the joy of looking forward to that great future day in her poem entitled, “He is coming:”

Christ is coming, our loving Savior,
Blessed Lamb that was slain;
In the glory of God the Father,
On the earth He shall reign.

He shall gather His chosen people,
Who are called by His Name;
And the ransomed of every nation,
For His own He shall claim.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »