Even if we are not the type to set goals and target how we hope to live out our lives, we all generally have some sort of hope or dream as to how we will “finish” the life we have lived.
I can’t think of a greater goal as expressed by Paul in this passage:
Acts 20:24 (AMP) – “But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God’s grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy).”
Paul lived well and he finished well. Some may marvel over that because we know he lived the last few years of his life imprisoned, and even died by the executioner’s sword.
That was OK by Paul. It wasn’t a deal breaker. His own life meant nothing to him, but only as to how he lived and finished that life.
Paul knew what Jesus meant and he strived to live his life accordingly.
Matthew 16:25 (AMP) – “For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].”
Only pleasing Jesus mattered. He didn’t allow his flesh to get in the way.
All that matters is to live well and finish well.
It’s not wealth, health, or status. It’s not earthly comforts or carnal pleasures.
Even in a jail cell facing execution one can look brightly at the future because it is contained in Jesus.
Few of us will finish that drastically, but we should finish with the same attitude.
It’s Jesus.
He has absorbed our past, fills our present, and is our hope for the future. Whatever else is contained in that for our joy and pleasure is a bonus, but all in all, Jesus is enough.
Keepin’ it Real,
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That’s how Paul describes our living in our physical earthbound body. A tent.
Tents sometimes, if not often, leak.
They even become destroyed.
In fact, someday it will simply dissolve away back to dust.
Uh-oh. Then what? You would be surprised at how many don’t know about the “then what”.
2 Corinthians 5:1 (Amplified Bible) – “FOR WE know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Paul is not talking about mansions and dwellings that we will someday live “under”, but rather the new spiritual body that we will be “clothed” in.
Someday, during the great Rapture of the Church, the dead in Christ (ALL of those who ever lived and died with Christ as their Savior) will rise from the grave and be caught up with Christ in the air.
Paul also tells us that after the dead rise, we who are alive at that time will be caught up with Christ in the air as well, and given new incorruptible “glorified” bodies (nothing corrupt enters heaven).
“1 Th. 4:15 – For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death]. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!”
The leaky tent will be replaced with a new and eternally durable body that will never suffer decay, aging, sickness, disease, corruption, etc.
Sounds like a deal.
Your earth tent may present some real difficulties during this short period we spend here. Pain, sickness, emotional distress.
It’s a comfort to know that it is only temporary. Someday it will be far better than anything we can imagine.
We are just visiting.
Passing through.
Our true home is in heaven with Jesus Christ. I know it is a fantastic thought, and it seems so far off, but it’s a future reality.
Do you believe that today?
If so then tell as many people as you can about Jesus and the home He has prepared for us with Him.
Listen for the Voice, the Shout, the blare of the Trumpet! Someday we will hear it!
What a glorious day that will be!
Keepin it Real,
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“Everybody must get stoned.” ~Bob Dylan~
I know some Christians who think that. Not stoned in the seed bearing herb sense, but rocking people to sleep with real rocks.
If they had their way Levitical Law would be a sharp competitor with Muslim Sharia.
John 8:4 – “Teacher, they said, This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery.”
“Caught” indicates a purposeful snooping around in a persons private affairs. As if God doesn’t see these things without our help.
Some people don’t like leaving things up to God. They feel they need to live by the Law.
There is no Law but what is fulfilled in Jesus. He was establishing that fact.
(5) “Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such [women–offenders] shall be stoned to death. But what do You say [to do with her–what is Your sentence]?”
Jesus is The Word. He wrote and established those laws in the dateless past.
What will He do with this sinful woman?
There’s no question that what the women did was wrong. It’s still wrong today. Jesus wasn’t condoning adultery, but He wasn’t going to be duped into playing the accusers game of trickery. They were trying to goad Jesus into making a rash decision that would have offended either Jewish or Roman Law.
How would Jesus wiggle out of this one?
(7) “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Just following making this statement, Jesus stooped down and wrote something in the dust. It is not revealed to us what He wrote, but perhaps we might take a little liberty in venturing a hypothesis.
Take into consideration that what He wrote must have gotten the attention of the accusers. How so? By the way they responded.
Here is my theory (and it is only a theory). First of all, it is odd that they didn’t bring the man she was caught with along with her for justice. He was just as guilty under the Law. Secondly, they disbanded much too quickly and without argument at Jesus basically accusing them of all being rank sinners, and not of just ANY sin, but by insinuating they were all guilty of the same exact sin as she was! Perhaps that’s why the man was not accused with her. Perhaps a fellow crony? The nature of these men would have been to see themselves as just and holy men, certainly not willing to admit to any shortcoming as far as God was concerned.
It had to have something more to do with what Jesus wrote than what He said.
Perhaps what Jesus wrote exposed each of them as being adulterers themselves. Perhaps some even with this very same woman. Names and dates will make a man drop a rock. Especially if they are at risk of being embarrassed in the community.
Maybe he simply wrote, “I love you.”
In any event “They listened to Him, and then they began going out, conscience-stricken, one by one, from the oldest down to the last one of them, till Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing there before Him in the center of the court.”
Yeah, getting caught in hypocrisy will do that to a person.
Jesus then turns to the woman and asks her where her accusers went. Is there no one left to accuse her?
“No one, Lord!”
“And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either.”
The difference between Jesus and the Law is that Jesus, while acknowledging the sin, is more concerned with forgiveness than judgment and punishment.
We should be also.
“Go on your way and from now on sin no more.”
Forgiveness, love, compassion, understanding…will go farther in winning a person to Jesus than a handful of rocks…er…I mean…accusations.
Keepin’ it Real,
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I think some of the great painters of religious art captured the scene of the angel of God stirring the waters for healing at the Pool of Bethesda. The one I have above the text today is such a scene. I just captured the angels hands stirring the water. Note the bubbles.
The picture in my mind is a pathetic one. Chronically sick people waiting for bubbles.
I see hundreds of people waiting for the water to be stirred and then trying to be the first one in the pool to get healed.
That had to be a sorry, if not somewhat disconcerting sight.
John 5:3: “In these lay a great number of sick folk–some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)–waiting for the bubbling up of the water. (4) For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.”
I do know this: it grabbed Jesus’ attention.
Particularly one man’s plight.
There was one crippled man who never seemed able to get into the water fast enough to be the first one in. Someone else always beat him to it.
It appears he was a failure at this for some 38 years.
He was bitter. Angry. Disgruntled. It also appears he was a chronic sinner from verse 14.
Some would look at him and think he was cursed.
Now, my read on this might be a bit different than some, and I can’t say I have a leg to stand on other than my own speculation, but it seems to me that this guy must have blown a good chance a time or two in 38 years.
Me personally? I think he likes being a victim.
I think he likes complaining. I think he doesn’t really want to get into the pool.
Why do I think that? Mainly because of Jesus’ reaction to his complaint.
Jesus asks him, “Do you REALLY want to get well?”
Hmm… The response? More complaining.
“No one wants to help me.” “Someone always beats me to it!” “I try and try, but I always come up short.”
You know what? I know people like that guy!
Always around the action, but never in it.
I actually have known people who have lived and died and lived their entire existence out of the loop.
They heard the message. They knew WHAT to do. They just never made it happen for themselves.
Jesus’ reaction and response to the man was simple and concise:
“(8) Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!”
That’s it? Yes, apparently so.
Because when the crippled man heard this “He became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked.” (vs. 9)
Need something in your life you have been waiting a long time for? A healing? Of some sort?
Yet, you sit there and “wait for the bubbles…”.
News flash! Get on with it!
Get it to Jesus. Give it over.
Listen to His words today and heed them!
Whatever it is today that has been defeating you, holding you back, depressing you, keeping you from being what God has intended you to become, stop lying around and waiting for the bubbles.
The angelic whirlpool is on an outage. Jesus has the plan. Assess your situation. Listen to the voice of Christ. Obey.
The old hymn says, “Trust and obey for there is no other way.”
Keepin’ it Real,
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I like to break out this reminder on occasion.
Matthew 13:38-39 – “The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel (weeds) is the children of the evil one, (39) And the enemy who sowed it is the devil. The harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels.”
Someone has tried to destroy God’s crops.
An evil, despicable enemy has sneaked into the perimeter and planted the darnel weeds (Lolium temulentum) or tares, to choke out the good seed and crop of God.
There are sappers on the wire.
This has resulted in conflict.
Good crops (disciples) surrounded and intertwined with evil (darnel).
Children of the devil in cohabitation with the children of God. Sometimes we don’t know the difference.
Sometimes we are mingled into the same neighborhoods, the same city, the same culture, the same workplace.
Sometimes it’s right under your own roof.
Along the way of biblical instruction it has become erroneously assumed that the job of the good seed (the children of God) is to eradicate the children of the devil.
Not so.
That’s the job of Jesus Christ and He will dispatch angels to take care of that at the culmination of the ages.
The Reapers.
You see, as Spirit filled and pious as we can get, we are not equipped to deal with plucking out evil from our midst.
We are qualified to plant good seed and help it grow into a good crop, but we have no control over the eradication of evil.
We can resist it, and even control it, but we cannot eradicate it.
This is why things have gotten progressively worse in the big snow globe over the centuries.
The more good seed we plant the more the devil sprinkles in weeds.
Sometimes the weeds seem to outnumber the good crop.
It seems that way because I believe it does.
One could start to feel like General Custer at Little Big Horn.
Even the disciples asked Jesus to reap the harvest.
Verse 28: “The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out?” Jesus’ response? Verse 29: “But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it.”
I believe it’s because we are dealing in a different realm of the supernatural that we can’t cross over to until we revert back to being completely a spirit being.
Our flesh gets in the way.
Some things we just have to trust over to God while we continue to obey and be sowers .
He will take care of the weeding and harvesting.
He will someday send the Reapers.
We are not to speculate on dates and times. We are to patiently wait.
I believe it is not far off.
We may only have to contend with evil for a just a little while longer.
In the meantime plant and water. The more good in the garden the better.
As numerous as the weeds may be they will never choke out the beautiful flowers that God is growing, and someday the culmination of the age will be at hand.
Revelation 14:16-18(16) “So He Who was sitting upon the cloud swung His scythe (sickle) on the earth, and the earth’s crop was harvested. (17) Then another angel came out of the temple [sanctuary] in heaven, and he also carried a sharp scythe (sickle). (18) And another angel came forth from the altar, [the angel] who has authority and power over fire, and he called with a loud cry to him who had the sharp scythe (sickle), Put forth your scythe and reap the fruitage of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are entirely ripe.”
Your responsibility as part of God’s great Vineyard is to be sure you are ripe for the harvest!
Look to the sky each morning.
Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to return quickly.
The scythes and sickles are being sharpened.
Keepin’ it Real,
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