A Death and Life Matter

cross in clouds

“…I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in Me,
though he were dead,
yet shall he live:
and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.
Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26).

Before He went to the cross to die, Jesus told His followers that He is the resurrection and He is the [eternal] life. Then He told them that whoever lives and believes in Him will die also—yet they will live! This means that they will also be raised from the dead (resurrected) and will live with Him forever in Heaven. Then, when Jesus’ time came to be hung on the cross to pay for the sin of all mankind, He told those who believed in Him that He would go through with it. Afterward, He said that the heavenly Father would raise Him up from the dead and glorify Him (make Him bright, shining and magnificent, like God). Jesus could not be glorified unless and until He was resurrected. And all of His followers will also be saved, and glorified after they die, because He promised that they will be like Him.

The one main thing that makes Christianity different from other faiths is the supernatural power of the living God. And the highest demonstration of this power was Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The only way the truthfulness of what He taught could be checked out was by Him being raised from the dead like He had promised. First He was alive—then He was crucified and buried—and then He was alive again, just like He had promised! He became known as Lord of the living and of the dead. He said “…I am…the living one…I was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Jesus also said that His followers would be able to live again like He did, because they believe in Him. His death on the cross, and God raising Him from the dead, were for everyone—in order that they would live for Him, not just for themselves anymore. He convinced His followers that they would be taken where He went when they died. His resurrection guaranteed the work He did on the cross.

Everything mankind lost when Adam fell, Jesus took care of on the cross. But His people only have part of what He won for them. The rest will come when we are resurrected too.

In the meantime, those who now live for Christ are eager to join Him. We groan and sigh as we wait and hope for God. When He comes back, then our bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus. We will go from being corrupt to being glorified and immortal.

True faith in Christ doesn’t come from thinking of Him raised from the dead, though. True faith only comes from thinking of Him hanging on the cross to pay the price for our sins that kept us from God. He is not only the way to eternal life—He is the eternal life we are after! This means that being “in Christ” is even more important than being raised from the dead. We who belong to Christ (symbolically) died with Him—we were buried with Him—and we will be resurrected in Him, to “newness of life.” He is the life which He gives in order to give life back to our dead souls.

Jesus’ voice commands dead souls to wake up. He has the authority to do this. His command makes those who are dead in sins become alive. They that hear His voice live. And His voice, speaking to you through His Word [the Bible] will cause you to die to sin. It will also encourage you to leave everything and follow Him.

Jesus died on the cross so that He could raise us from death in sin, which He proved by His own resurrection first. If you don’t hear the voice of Jesus, you will remain asleep and will die in your sin. Then you will never go to Heaven where He has gone.

One day a trumpet will proclaim Christ’s call to believers, like the military call to depart. This signal meant that it was time to march to another place. God is going to take us to another place to be with Him. Suddenly, in only a moment, those who have died in Him will be raised in glorified bodies, never to suffer from disease and death again. The believer’s hope in Christ is not just for the time they are here on Earth. Our hope is to be raised from this life to be personally with Jesus Christ, in order to rule and reign with Him forevermore. Then, when “Death is swallowed up in victory,” our triumph over death will be complete in every way. Let these words of Jesus Christ become a part of you: “… because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

If you have just read this and you would like to know more about how to be free from the bondage of sin and the assurance of life for eternity please click here.

God Will Take of You

“… [Cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

There are times when the Lord God chooses to put His people into intensely difficult situations which appear to lead to a position where there is no way of escape. If He were to ask you in advance what you think about them, you would never choose to be involved in such predicaments on your own. Are you in such a situation right now, where it seems like a dark cloud is coming over you, engulfing you against your will? Then keep this in mind—no matter how dark the cloud you are sensing might seem to be, it will not stay forever. After the dark storm clouds pass, morning always comes again. Your cloud will move on. And then God’s mercy will fall on you like rain.

 

Are you struggling to carry a tremendous weight that God doesn’t seem to notice? The weights we think are so unbearable are like minute grains of sand to Him. These matters seem so grave and upsetting to us, but to God they are right on target in His plan for you. In the end, you will find that His handling of your situation is just, and that it has brought you right where He wants you—to a position of seeking Him, confessing that you cannot rely only on yourself. In fact, the very scene you’re in right now provides a stage to showcase the mighty power and grace of God.

Don’t doubt that His grace is working in your time of suffering. Don’t stop believing that He loves you in times of tribulation as much as in times of happiness. God will deliver you, and He will leave you with a lesson you won’t dare to forget.

Every time you return to this scene in your memory later, your spirits will be uplifted when you remember what God has done for you. Then you will be able to thank God over and over for doing just what He did.

The heavenly Father is continually watching over His children. His heart feels your distress and despair and He takes pity on you. Doesn’t He see that even the tiniest bird has food to eat? Then won’t He see that you are taken care of too? He will come to you and bandage your wounds. He will heal your broken heart. Don’t just lie there in a pool of despair—keep on hoping, and never give up.

Where does this burden you carry belong? It belongs to the Lord! Give it to Him. His powerful hand will be there with the help you need when you need it. He will calm your sorrow if you transfer all your concerns into His hands. Allow yourself to lie still in His hands, letting His will be your own.

My suffering brother or sister, be patient. Realize that God has not overlooked or forgotten you; He really does care for you! Why don’t you let the One who is your Provider do your providing? Has He ever refused to carry your burdens? Has He ever collapsed because they are too heavy for Him? If this same God really cares so much for you, why do you worry so much about yourself? God will take care of you!

–Alana Pangburn

Exit Signs

overhead exit sign

Have you ever thought about the “EXIT” signs that many buildings have placed inside rooms over the doors that lead out of the building? On the ones I’ve seen, the word EXIT is most often in red letters, lit from behind. They are readily recognizable this way, and we’ll be able to find them easily in an emergency. Then we’ll know how to find our way out—especially if the lights go out and the room is in darkness. A room may have other doors without these signs, but not all of them necessarily lead outside where we will be safe. Some could even lead us into a more dangerous area than the one we are already in! It’s easy to get disoriented when everything is dark, when we can’t see which way to go.

An “EXIT” sign reassures us that we will be able to find the way out, no matter how dark the room may be, if we will only make our way over to leave by the door under it.

This world we live in is going more and more into an emergency mode, getting increasingly dark. When Jesus hung on the cross and died, it could be said that He became a ‘living’ exit sign for us. His body, drenched in His own red blood, wasnot an exit sign hung there to show us the way out of the darkness of this world. There are other ‘doors’ that we could try, but Jesus is the only door that leads us out of this world and into the safety of our Heavenly Father’s arms, where no harm can ever reach us. There are many other doors, but none of them can lead us to Heaven. They do not have the right sign over them showing us the way to exit this dark world to safety.

Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (John 10:9, italics mine). There is only one door to Heaven. That door is Jesus Christ and there is no other.

Jesus also said “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, italics mine). As things get darker and darker in this world, will you be looking for the ‘red’ exit sign so you can find your way out? Be sure you are ready.
For information about finding your way out click here.

–Alana Pangburn

Lost at Humbardy Drive and Wakins Lane

roadmap of northwest U.S.

I got up early this morning to get ready for my trip. After packing the car with clothes, food, and reading material, I head out. As I leave the driveway and start heading down the main road, I begin to list in my head some of the things that I might have forgotten:

  • Did I cover the trashcans? No, I couldn’t; the trash guys threw them away by accident last week.
  • Were all of the faucets turned off? They should be off—they make so much noise when they are on that I could never forget them! What about the sprinkler? Well, after six inches of rain, I’m truly certain I did not turn it on! Wait! The leaking faucet in the laundry room! I don’t think I—that’s right—the plumber eliminated that faucet months ago when he fixed the drain on that sink! (Note to self: ask plumber why that faucet was eliminated months ago.)
  • Did I adjust the thermostat? Think, think, think! Of course I did—it was set so cold last night that I had to turn it up.
  • Maps! Where are the maps (I’m too frugal to buy a GPS unit)? They are not in the glove compartment. They are not in the map holder on the door! WHY are they not in the map holder and WHERE did I put them and WHAT is this lump I’m sitting on? Oh. Never mind! The maps are found! I’m sure I put them on the seat so I wouldn’t forget them! Hey, what do you know?—it worked!
  • Did I remember to give the neighbor the key to feed the dogs? Oh, no! I left the keys in the kitchen drawer! No, no, no—I brought the dogs over to the neighbor instead!
  • Were the lights turned off? Definitely! This one I know I did!
  • Did I turn off the lawnmower and put it away? OK, brain—why would I be using the mower at 5 o’clock in the morning on the day I leave for a trip in the first place! (Not to mention, why would I leave the mower running unattended, anyway?)
  • Were the clothes removed from the dryer and folded? (Hmm, why did that thought occur?) I had to pack them last night for today’s trip!
  • The iron! I forgot to turn off the iron! I knew I’d forget something! It seems like everybody forgets the iron.

I am only several miles from home, and I am turning around and heading back already for one little iron! Wait! Wait! Wait! Stop everything! I don’t own an iron! The last one quit working after it fell out of the second floor bedroom window onto the sidewalk below (don’t ask why) and I never bothered to replace it (again, don’t ask what I am now using for an iron). Well, now, with all of the potential concerns mentally resolved, I turn back around and head on my way.

folded road mapLet’s see—I turn left onto 24th Street and then right at Dunkirk, or was that left at Dunkirk and 23rd Avenue? Wait—I just passed the expressway! I wasn’t supposed to pass it; I’m supposed to be driving to it. (Or was that another expressway!) OK, what city am I in anyway? There goes a 3rd Avenue, now I’m crossing Humbardy Drive, Wakins Lane, Harvest, Crumfeld. Humbardy? Crumfeld? I don’t remember any seeing ANY of these streets! It’s time to look at the map again! I pull over at the outskirts of the city and start scanning the maps. After looking through several maps in bewilderment, I get out and start looking around, trying figure out where I am. Following what seemed like a few moments of somewhat aimless wandering, an older man approaches me.

“Ya look lost,” he says in a hesitant tone.

“I am,” I reply without much enthusiasm.

“Where ya headed?” he casually inquires.

“I don’t know,” I reply, this time with a bit of bewilderment in my voice.

“Well, ya must’ve been going someplace. Where ya from?” He seems a bit upset in his response now.

“Home,” I said, without much thought of what I am saying.

“Son, you ARE lost. You’d better find some REAL help soon!” And with that, while shaking his head and muttering to himself, he walks back toward where he had mysteriously appeared from.

At this point, I interrupt this story to ask if you have ever felt like this. Or do you feel like this now? We all reach this point in our lives, sometimes early in life, and sometimes near the end. We become lost in our way. We get confused or disoriented. We plan out our life, often to the finest details, only to have it fall apart later on. We search and search for answers to the confusion that is all around us, yet the results are either short-lived with little satisfaction, or they cause us to be even more lost.

We may hear someone tell us, with great flamboyancy and optimism, how wonderful we are, or that we just need a little boost in our self-esteem. Yet, just a short time after hearing this, after we have our self-worth all pumped up, everything goes sour again.

We become deflated like a flat tire. Depression sets in and despair begins pulling us down. We go to a church, or stumble across a program on TV, and hear a phrase from the Bible like, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Or the person speaking tells us that “we are hopelessly lost.” We travel on and on looking for that expressway or road that was supposed to bring us away from all of this, and yet we get farther and farther away. It seems like the maps are all wrong, or there is no map for where we are. Our GPS unit keeps repeating “recalculating…” and never gives us another route. We get to the point that we don’t really know where we are going, and we hardly know where we came from.dead end road sign

Do you know that this is just where God wants us to be? Huh? God wants me to be lost and at the point of no hope? Yes! He wants you to see that you can’t make it on your own abilities or with your own ‘self’. If you don’t give up and let Him take over, He will keep on pushing and pulling and prodding. We think we can run down the middle of the road with God on one side and the Devil on the other. But it doesn’t work that way. You are either on one side or the other; there is no middle road. The Devil is a very hard taskmaster who makes only one payment for your toil and your self-gratifying pleasure—death!

On the other hand, God pays wages of eternal riches and eternal life!

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

God is not some sadistic dictator who gets great pleasure from seeing us beaten around, struggling and kicked about, or bound by depression and despair. He sent His only Son to pay the penalty that we deserve, death. And not only was He sent, His Son also chose to die in our place!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This is like a lighthouse operator seeing a small ship struggling and floundering in a narrow and shallow strait, with waves crashing upon sharp, jagged rocks on either side. He can tell that the ship’s captain is determined to get through that strait on his own. It is obvious to him that the captain is focused on himself, not on the passengers or the cargo. The captain refused to believe that something much larger than himself could take his life soon.

traffic-sign-yield_to_god

God knows you are lost and confused, and He knows your future. He wants to lead you through it, if you will let Him. He knows what is best for you, but, at the same time, He will only push so far. It’s your choice whether to have faith in Jesus and surrender to Him, or not. Will you give your life to Him right now and let Him guide your path, or will you just keep traveling on with no real hope or direction? It doesn’t take a college degree or a pilgrimage to a foreign land to find Jesus. Just admit to Him that you are lost and a sinner (wrongdoer), that you can’t make it on your own. Let Him know that you accept His sacrifice (His death at the Cross) as the payment for your sins, declare to Him that you will forsake all of your sins totally, and let Him be the head or ruler of your life (not you or the Devil) from now on.

If you want to know more about yielding to God, or if you want additional information, click here to find out more.