Heaven (2)

1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT

How can we know that God has a place for us with Him in heaven? In John 14, Jesus said: ‘”Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am’ (v.1-3 NLT). Romans 6:23 says: ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (NIV).

Because of sin, death became part of our world, but Jesus chose to die for all our sins and paid the price for us. That doesn’t mean we won’t experience death, but it does mean that if we accept God’s gift of salvation, we can take our place with Him in heaven.

As Jesus was dying on the cross, one of the criminals said to Him: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42 NIV). Because of his faith and acceptance of who Jesus was, Jesus promised him: ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (v.43 NIV). We don’t know what crime he had committed, but it would have been a serious one. But his past didn’t matter – what mattered was that He repented and accepted Jesus. Because of Jesus’ victory over death, we can join in with saying ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ We can have confidence that, no matter what our past might be like, when we call out to God and accept salvation, He’ll have a pace for us and welcome us to heaven.

Jos 1-4; John 15:18-27; Ps 65; Prov 28:17-20

All the time

Psalm 34:8 NCV

The psalmist said, ‘Examine and see how good the LORD is.’ Let’s think about what it means to be ‘good’. Among other things, it means to be virtuous, righteous, honourable, to live according to certain morals and standards, and to have integrity.

A good God can’t break His promise, abandon His children, or fail to love and bless them. Because of God’s goodness, we can be sure that in every circumstance, He’ll treat us in the best possible way. Because of God’s goodness, we can experience security, peace, confidence, and joy greater than any we’ve known before.

When life seems to be falling apart, it can be difficult to see God’s goodness or feel that things will get better. That’s when we must use the faith God has already given us, and make the choice to trust Him (see Romans 12:3). When a plant starts growing, it has to break through the hard seed encasing it, and then push its way through the soil to break through to the surface. Without undergoing these stages, when its world literally breaks apart, a tiny seedling could never grow into a strong, healthy plant. So when we’re facing trials, let’s embrace God’s will, because it’s ‘good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2 ESV), even if it’s uncomfortable for a while, and work towards our breakthrough moment. Ultimately, we’ll ‘see how good the Lord is. Happy is the person who trusts in him’.

The things we believe about God are revealed in the way we live our lives, so let’s trust Him, love Him, and believe that He’s good all the time, and allow His goodness and love to shine through us every day.

Gen 24:1-51; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1

Attitude adjustment (2)

Daniel 2:21 NIV

When we’re going through a rough time, we need to remember that it won’t last forever. Just as there are seasons throughout the year, there are seasons in our lives too. Daniel said: ‘He changes times and seasons…He gives wisdom.’ If we’re in a season of hardship, disappointment, hurt, or loneliness, we can rest in the knowledge that it will end. And through it, we’ll have more wisdom for our future. Sometimes our greatest blessings come from our most negative circumstances. Paul wrote: ‘Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!’ (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT). Tough times don’t last. When we have the right attitude, we know that we’ll survive. So how can we have the right attitude when we’re in a stormy season of life? We need to remain calm, discipline ourselves to focus on what we can do, and trust God to do what we can’t. It’s also wise for us to avoid making big decisions when we’re in a storm. Just as the wind blows wildly during a storm, our thoughts can become wild and frantic, and that’s not the best time to make big decisions. A bad decision can take us down the wrong path, and lead us further away from God’s plans and purposes for us. When we have an unhelpful attitude, we’re unlikely to make decisions that are helpful to us. If we’re in a storm, and struggling to have the right attitude, we can take the advice Paul gave to the church in Philippi. He said: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need…His peace will guard your hearts and minds’ (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

Num 27-29; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 62; Prov 11:15

Hiding place

Psalm 71:3 NLT

The Bible says, ‘Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring’ (Proverbs 27:1 NLT). Every morning when we wake up, we have no idea what will happen to us that day. Sometimes the day is filled with good things, other times unexpected bad things happen. We live in a real world with real problems. We’re not immune to bad situations happening in our lives. Satan wants to attack us, discourage us, and make us afraid of what’s going to happen. We’re told to: ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). It can be easy to start fearing the future, especially when lots of bad things seem to be happening to us and those we love. While we can’t avoid experiencing some of these things, we can avoid being fearful. In Psalm 91, it says: ‘Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday’ (vv.5-6 NLT). So how can we stop being afraid? We can choose to believe that God is our protector, fortress, and hiding place. The psalmist wrote: ‘Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.’ No matter what comes our way, we need to trust that when it arrives, God will give us the strength to cope. As long as we remain strong inwardly and keep trusting God, we can handle anything that comes against us outwardly and keep moving forward.

Lev 26-27; Mark 2:13-22; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 10:13

Principles (2)

Proverbs 3:6 NIV

In the Bible, Daniel was forced to decide if he was going to be a conformer or a transformer. Conformers are controlled by pressure. Other people can pressure us to do things that we know we shouldn’t do. But we want to fit in with them, or be liked by them, so we end up doing the things we know are wrong. Sometimes we don’t want to stand out from the crowd, so we decide to do what everybody else is doing. Transformers stick to their principles. It can be very challenging to do what’s right when we’re living in a world that’s going the opposite way. But God doesn’t want us to go down the wrong path, because He loves us and wants to protect us. God knows better than we do how to avoid pain, frustration, and destruction in our lives. When we follow His commands we can avoid heartache and the loss of our reputation. By refusing to eat the king’s meat, Daniel was showing his dedication to God. He was standing up for what he knew was the right thing, even though it could have made him unpopular. Sometimes people talk about following our conscience. But while our conscience can give us an idea of what’s right and wrong, we need to go to God and ask Him to show us the right thing to do. He loves it when we’re obedient to Him, so He doesn’t try and hide the right path from us. The Bible says: ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ He’ll give us the strength we need to stand out from the crowd and do the right thing.

Matt 5:6; Isa 55:1-7; Ps 63:1-5; John 4:1-34