Imagine….Being with Jesus

The Garden of Gethsemane-photo by: Mark J. Booth

Imagine…being with Jesus!  What would my life be like, if I had walked with Jesus two thousand years ago? Yesterday, I read 1 John 1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” As I read this verse, I had the desire to place myself in the Apostle John’s sandals.  I imagined walking and living with the Savior during His time upon the earth.

“Which we have heard.”  Imagine the things that John heard as he walked with Jesus.  He heard the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables, Christ’s teachings about His Second Coming, and the Upper Room Discourse.  Can you imagine what it was like to hear Jesus praying.  As John travelled with Jesus, he probably heard Jesus talk about His Father, His creation, history and many other topics.  John never lost the wonder of listening to Jesus.  What about me? Have I lost the wonder of listening to Jesus?  Am I eager to listen to the His words in scripture.

Which we have seen with our eyes.”  Imagine the things that John saw as he walked with Jesus.  He saw the feeding of the five thousand, the calming of the storm, many healings, the resurrection of Lazarus, and many other miracles.  He would have also seen Jesus embracing the little children, and showing love to the outcasts.  What about me?  Have I lost the wonder of the works of Christ.  Am I able to imagine seeing those wondrous deeds of Jesus that John saw?

“Which we have looked upon”.  Imagine joining John and looking upon Jesus on the cross.  John saw the suffering, the ridicule, the crying out from the cross, the words of encouragement to the one thief.  Then three days later, he would behold this same Jesus, who had conquered death.  John witnessed the most important act in human history. Jesus died for the sins of the world. His life would be forever changed.  What about me?  Have I lost the wonder that God, the Son, came to earth and died on the cross for me?  Have I lost the wonder of the resurrection of Christ?  Have I lost the wonder of the greatness of my salvation?

“Our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” Imagine John leaning on the Lord’s breast during the last supper.  Imagine the embraces that Jesus gave John during their time together.  Imagine Jesus holding John up with his hand as John stumbles while walking.  What about me?  Have I lost the wonder of the fact that Jesus touches my life in many ways, whether through His Word, through His Holy Spirit, or through other believers?  Am I looking forward to one day when Jesus will embrace me in heaven?

“Lord, thank you for these words of the Apostle John.  You used them to help me see that I often lose the wonder of all that you have done, said, and promised.  Teach me, to imagine being with you as John was with you.  Help me not to read the gospels as a disinterested bystander, but as one who is walking with you.  Amen”

Five Things that Will not Change after Today’s Election

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Election Day is finally here. The money has been spent by the candidates,  The commercials are done.  The phone calls have ended.  Now, it is up to the American people to decide who will lead our nation for the next four years.

Tomorrow, there will be joy for many people and there will be sadness for many others. Whether your candidate wins or loses, it is important that we remember that the most important things in life will not change after today.

1. Jesus Christ has not changed. He is still the Savior of the world.  He is still the Good Shepherd that cares for His sheep.  He still is “the way, the truth and the life.”  Our presidents change, governmental policies change, but Jesus Christ is our Rock who will never change.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:7)

2. The Word of God has not change.  The laws of our land may change.  The Supreme Court may uphold laws or reject them. However in the midst of our changing laws, God’s Word never changes.  The promises of God do not change.  The doctrines of the Word of God do not change.  The Word of God should always remain in our hearts. “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)

3. The Promise of Christ’s Second Coming has not changed.  One day, there will be no elections. There will be only one ruler, Jesus Christ.  The promise of His coming is seen throughout the Word of God.  “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”  (Revelation 19:16)  When Jesus reigns, it will be with total righteousness!

4. The Mission of the Church has not changed.  The mission of the church is not to change society by political means.  We often get carried away with politics that we forget that our main mission is to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ’s final command has not changed.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  (Matthew 28:19) The Gospel changes people, but we mustn’t let people change the Gospel.

5. God’s plan for the family has not changed.   Our laws may change concerning marriage, but we can still follow what God’s Word says concerning our family.  Yes, husbands and wives are to love another. We can still be committed to the permanance of our own marriage. The family can still worship the Lord together. The family can still be a place of learning about the Lord and life itself.  God’s view and purpose for your family will not change after this election.  

No matter who wins the election tonight, I am fully confident that God is on the throne.  His Word has not changed.  His plan has not changed.  This is a great time to put our focus back on those things that are above.  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God!”

‘Dear Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you.  I do not what the future holds for my life or for our nation, but I do know that your ways are best.  Help me, to surrender my heart completely unto you. Amen”

Moving Beyond Doubt to Faith

Morning sky over Sydney, Australia-Photo by: Mark J Booth

Faith in God can often be elusive in our lives.  We know that we should have faith in God; yet everything around us is crying out saying: “Can you really trust God?”.  “Why is God taking so long.?” “Where is God in all of this?”  How can we move beyond these doubts and live in faith towards God?

How do we doubt God in our daily lives?

  1.  We doubt the protection of God.  We feel vulnerable when events bring hurt into our lives.  Like the Israelites, we feel that God has left us on our own.
  2. We doubt the promises of God.  God’s Word is full of promises, but we don’t accept them for our own lives.  We feel undeserving.  We may be ignorant of his promises.  We think these promises don’t apply to our circumstances.  Thus, we lose out on the blessings that these promises provide.
  3. We doubt the presence of God. God says that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.”  We look for God, but we can’t seem to find Him.  We may think that he doesn’t care.
  4. We doubt the power of God.  Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ which sterngtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)  However, we fail to experience this power when we are expecting God “to come through for us.”
  5. We doubt the provision of God.  God says that He will take care of us; yet we fret and worry about our money and possessions.
  6. We doubt the plan of God.  God is not working in our lives in the way we would like.  We decide to go our own way. Joseph could have doubted God’s plan because the path was dark and difficult to which God had called him.

What causes us to doubt God?

  1. We doubt God because of our own human nature.  One of the conflicts we have in our Christian life is that we choose to walk by sight and not by faith.  We allow our circumstances to cloud our view of God.  Sin blinds us to the reality of God’s Word and His Promises.
  2. We doubt God because of the influence of others.  When those around us doubt God and His Word, they can infect us with this same thinking.  The ten spies influenced one another to doubt God.  Caleb and Joshua had enough faith to withstand the pressure from the other spies.
  3. We doubt God because of the many obstacles that happen in our lives.  Job had some difficulties with his faith because his whole world had collapsed.  Likewise, we tend to doubt God in the tough times.
  4. We doubt God because of his “divine delays”.  God doesn’t work His plans in our time.  Because of this, we become impatient and we begin to doubt God.  We say: “Why hasn’t God done something!”

How do we move beyond doubt into faith? 

We know that we should walk by faith and not by sight.  We know that living by faith pleases God, but we still struggle with our doubts.  What can we do to cultivate our faith.

  1. We cultivate our faith through reading and studying the Word of God.  Romans 10:17 says:  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  The reading of the Word enables us to learn more about God, His promises, and His working in our lives.  The more we know God; the more we will trust Him.  The heroes of the faith in Hebrews knew their God.  This resulted in their unwavering faith.  How well do we know our God?
  2. We cultivate our faith by learning to cry out to God.  Once Jesus met a man whose son was demon possessed.  This father understood his need to cry out to God:  “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Crying out to God is saying: “I can’t do it.”  “I can’t continue without you.” God will respond when we cry out to Him.
  3. We cultivate faith by choosing faith when doubt is crying out to us.  When we choose faith, we are siding with God and His Word.  We put aside our viewpoints and opinions and accept the ways of God.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”  Paul made a choice to choose faith in spite of all the obstacles.  Our problems should be stepping stones to our faith and not stumbling blocks to our faith.

God is totally worthy of our faith.  He doesn’t need to prove Himself to us.  When we choose to move beyond doubt unto faith, we will live a life that is pleasing to God.  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Faith in God brings pleasure to God because it shows that we know Him, we love Him,  and we need Him.

Faith is a choice in the midst of obstacles.  Let’s move beyond our doubts and place our faith in Him.  Doubt will make cowards of us all.  Faith will enable us to face life with courage.  Doubt will keep us from moving forward in our Christian life.  Faith will keep us walking close to God.

“Father, I doubt you quite often.  I choose to walk by sight instead of by faith.  Like the man who cried out to you to help his unbelief, I cry out to you: “Increase my faith.”