On the verge of celebrating 66 Christmas times I look back with some nostalgia mixed with unspoken regrets. It is too late for some of the career choices I had hoped to make. It is too late for some of the ministry I had once thought I would do. It is too late for more children. It is too late for another talk with Dad, a different way I could have treated my family or even better stewardship of the money that has passed through my hands. But Martha’s encounter with Jesus at the edge of Bethany gives me hope that:
It is never too late for Him to come. It is never too late to listen to His word. His heart has been with me and you every moment of every hour and He has come to share this day with us. Even now; tombs will be opened, grave clothes removed and life renewed at the sound of His voice! No matter the moment, no matter thehour it is never too late for Jesus!
When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28:17 NKJV
I love the honesty of God’s word. It never airbrushes over the faults or weaknesses of His people. Try to imagine seeing Jesus with your own eyes after the resurrection. You are listening to His voice, seeing the marks of nails in His hands and yet there remain some doubts. Jesus knows! He is not fooled by our outward religiosity. He sees into our hidden and most intimate thoughts and yet, He accepts us. Instead of rebuking the doubters in the crowd He simply put out a call for action. Doubts or no doubts, here is what needs to be done; “Go into all the world and…” That call still echoes in our 21st century world. We do have our doubts but our faith asks the question “What will we do today?”.
Oh how I have always hated being alone! I sometimes got in trouble as a kid just so I could be included with everybody else who got caught. But in my Christian walk I have discovered something strange… Sometimes God wants me to be alone. He takes people out of my life. He cancels opportunities for me to be seen. He allows me to be too weak to do want I hoped and planned to do. In fact there are days when God chooses for me to be forgotten abandoned and rejected by other people. Yes it is no one else. It is Him. But in those long and lonely days he is waiting in those dry places for me to find my rest in Him! How very unlike me is our faithful loving God!
If it feels like sunset in your life, don’t be afraid. God is calling you to cross over into blessings you have not yet seen!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25
Hoping for heaven has sometimes been given a bad rap by the church. Some of this has been a push back on old hymns and past sermons that focused exclusively on heavenly bliss and ignored the importance of our time on earth. But neither our greatest victories, our worst failures, our highest dreams nor our worst sufferings can compare with what lies ahead for us in heaven.
When our boys were young they made for themselves wooden plaques with their names carved in them to hang over the doors to their rooms. It was their way of staking out their own personal territory. In the same way God has staked out a territory in heaven for each of us who have put our hope in Jesus Christ. He has engraved our name over the door of our home there. There is nothing wrong with that great joyful longing to be together forever with Jesus in the place He has prepared for us. We can say with David, “Who do I have either in heaven or earth but you Lord?” This hope of heaven strengthens our hearts in life’s storms and lightens our load so we can carry the burdens of others. This hope shines through any dark night and lights our path all the way to our home!
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
So as the artist and architect of the universe, what kind of artist do you suppose God is? Is He a realist revealing every detail? Could He be. French Impressionist, expressing His deepest emotions,or a pointilist making us connect the dots? Could our Lord be an abstract artist concealing His greatest beauty in a secret place. What do you think? Remembering my many childhood visits to see the art my parents loved I was just thinking about this today!
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
Matthew 25:13-14 ESV
One day all of us will take a journey. We will finish our final 24 hours on this planet and go to stand before the Lord. On an earthly journey there are some things we need to do to get ready. We might need to draw money from the bank, pack our suitcases and fill up the car with gas. In our preparations whether we know it or not we are making two decisions: what will we take with us and what will we leave behind.
In the same way we need to prepare for our heavenly departure. Jesus told us to be watchful because we cannot know the day of His return. For some that will be the day He splits the skies and descends from the clouds and for others it will be the moment in God’s calendar when we depart to be with Him. Whichever way we meet Him there are some things we must do today to get ready.
First into your suitcase be sure to pack faith. Faith is God’s first gift and – Without faith it is impossible to please Him… Hebrews 11:6 But to travel with your faith you will discover that fear is taking up so much space inside your bag that one must be left behind.
Next we must be sure to find a place for hope. Hope is the gift that God gives us after faith and it gives us strength to keep going through all the weary miles of life. But to find room for hope we have to allow God to unpack our shame and leave it at the foot of the cross. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts … Romans 5:5
Last always remember to never leave love behind. The entire reason for our journey is not because God needs more servants to get stuff done in heaven, but because He wants children on whom He can lavish His amazing love forever! So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love 1 Corinthians 13:13