Life and Death through the Lens of Christ

Daily Devotional: Day 195

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, KJV).

Your attitude toward life and death says a lot about where you are with your relationship with Christ. When you come into Christ, He changes your worldview. He changes how you look at and interpret the realities of life. When Jesus gives you a new perspective, it gives you peace about a lot of things. You will begin to see things the way Jesus sees them. It is an important mark of being a new creation. Blessed are you when you see things from Jesus’ perspective.

When you study the lives of the first Christians, especially the Apostles, you notice the change that occurred in their attitude toward life and death. In today’s Bible passage, we see Paul’s view of life and death. He says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It takes faith and an intimate knowledge of Jesus to arrive at a statement like that. As a Christians, you, too, can say what Paul said – with the same conviction.

Look again at what Paul said. Notice how he says, “For me . . .” He made a true personal statement based on his relationship with Christ. He wasn’t repeating a line he had memorized. “To live is Christ” means you live to please Christ in all things. It means your whole life is surrendered to the lordship of Jesus. When this happens, love for Christ becomes your primary motivation in life. Jesus Christ becomes your philosophy of life. Your life choices are all motivated by a desire to glorify Him. And, there’s no room in your heart to live for anything which dishonors the Lord. You can, therefore, boldly declare, “For me, to live is Christ.”

In the last part of his statement, Paul says, “For me . . . to die is gain.” When you come into Christ, you see death from a new perspective – the Christ perspective. You begin to understand what the Psalmist says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). You no longer fear death, nor are you ashamed when the hour arrives. You approach it with faith, honor and grace, because you know that in Christ, this moment is to your advantage. It’s not a moment of loss; rather, it’s a moment of gain. In Christ, all things work together for good for those who love God (cf. Romans 8:28). 

Ask Jesus to help you see life and death from His perspective. You will be blessed. Amen.

For further study: John 11:20-44

A Home in Heaven, Prepared by Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 146

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NKJV).

That some people are without a regular and fixed place they can call home is a distressful social phenomenon. From apartments and condominiums to town-houses and single-family homes, millions of people around the world must work hard to keep a roof over their heads. Paying your bills on time will ensure that you don’t end up homeless. Your survival depends on it. But, not everyone is fortunate. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night last year [2017]. A total of 193,000 of those people were ‘unsheltered,’ meaning that they were living on the streets . . .” (http://thedataface.com/2018/01/public-health/american-homelessness).

While we’re on earth, we must do what we can to provide a home for ourselves and help others find a home, too. For us Christians, we know that this world is not our final destination. Heaven is our eternal home. And, Jesus assures us in today’s Bible passage that there is enough room in His Father’s house for everyone of His followers. This is a message of great hope and consolation. Jesus has not forgotten us. He promises to come back for us so that we will be where He is.

Notice that we are not the ones to prepare the home is heaven. Jesus Himself does the preparation. You can, therefore, be sure that your home in heave will look awesome. This is blessed hope for all who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior.

As you go about your daily business, don’t forget that you have a home in heaven, a home prepared by Jesus Himself. Strengthen yourself with these precious promises (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4). Here’s what you need to know about the home Jesus has prepared for you: no homelessness, no rent, no landlord issues, no fear of eviction, no mortgage problems, no credit history issues, no bills, no taxes; a home made in heaven, just for you. Jesus can’t wait to welcome you and show you around your true home. No matter what happens here on earth, let not your heart be troubled. Prepare for your best life. Prepare to meet Jesus. It will be awesome!

May the Lord bless and keep you today! Amen.

For further study: Revelation 21:9-27

Faith in the Unseen Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 143

“Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him [Jesus], you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9, ESV).

Today’s devotional is meant to dovetail yesterday’s message. Recall that yesterday we learned something about how God doesn’t want us to make images and bow down to them. The Father’s desire is for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is spirit and invisible, and He wants us to worship Him that way until the Day we see Him face-to-face.

You also will notice that the Son of God became flesh (visible) to save us from our sins; but after His resurrection, He ascended – body and spirit –  to heaven and didn’t leave us any physical representation of Himself on earth. He promised, however, to be with His Church always, albeit in an invisible manner. He further sent us the Holy Spirit (Who is also invisible). All of this tells us that God wants our worship to be based, not on visible images or some physical representations of Deity, but based rather on faith in the unseen Presence of God. True worship requires this kind of faith –  living faith.

If we base our worship on what we can see, feel, touch and smell, we’re walking by our senses, not by faith. The Word of God says, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV, emphasis added). You probably recall the story of Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. He hardened his heart and insisted that until he could feel, touch and see the risen Christ, he wouldn’t believe He was risen from the dead. Later, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and He upbraided Thomas, saying, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NKJV, emphasis added). The blessing is for those who, without seeing, believe the word of faith. Feeling, seeing, touching, or smelling doesn’t require faith. If the Word of God proclaimed by believers is not enough for a person to have faith, but he demands to see, feel, touch and smell something before he believes, then Christianity isn’t for him.

Based on everything we’ve said so far, today’s opening Scripture makes sense. Look at it again. Peter describes the kind of faith which produces authentic worship. Writing to groups of predominantly Christian neophytes, he states that they have not seen Jesus, yet they love Him. He continues by saying, they do not see Jesus at the present time, yet they believe in Him and are filled with a joy so glorious and inexpressible. This is the meaning of living faith and the meaning of true worship. Therefore, if you need a man-made image or statue of Jesus to help you worship the Lord, you are practicing a different religion not Christianity.

The Father seeks worshipers who will worship Him is spirit and in truth, based on faith in His Word, not ‘faith’ in images and religious objects or articles produced by men. The Bible shows that one does not need to see Jesus (or contemplate any visible man-made images of Jesus) to believe in Him or love Him.  Our faith and our worship should, consequently, be based on an inner conviction produced by the living Word of God that is preached to us. And, when faith is alive, it will produce authentic worship and the fruit of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 14:17). Let’s worship the unseen Lord through living faith.

May the Lord bless and keep you today! Amen.

For further study: John 20:19-31

Secure in the Lord’s Love

Daily Devotional: Day 68

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, NKJV). 

As you become aware of the extent of Jesus’ loves for you, your heart shall overflow with peace and joy. Life on earth isn’t perfect, and Jesus knows it. Just before he ascended to the Father, he assured us that he is with us even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). In today’s Bible text, Paul writes to encourage the Christians in Thessalonica, reminding them of Jesus’ love for them, and pronouncing a beautiful blessing on them. Note carefully Paul’s choice of words. He says that Jesus has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace. These are great blessings. Today, I want to remind you that as a Christian, these blessings are yours. Jesus has given them to you freely. 

Consider the meaning of each blessing: you are lovedyou have received everlasting consolation; and you have also received good hope. Your greatest source of joy is to know that Jesus loves you with perfect love. Jesus also knows that life in this world can be rough, so he has blessed you with everlasting comfort. The wording is important. The Bible doesn’t say temporary consolation; rather, it says, everlasting consolation. This means Jesus knows your pain, your tears and your struggles. Whether your problems go away or not, one thing is certain: Jesus’ consolation will keep you in peace and blissful assurance. Your hope, too, is not in vain. The Bible says that Jesus has given you good hope; this kind of hope rests on the solid ground of God’s unfailing promises. As you put your trust in Jesus’ unfailing love, may he comfort your heart and establish you in every good word and work.

Prayer:

Holy Father, you are the God of comfort. I’ll praise you all the days of my life, for your unfailing love. In you I have put my trust, and I shall not be confounded. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 23

Stay Motivated. Expect Jesus.

Daily Devotional: Day 39

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3, KJV).

Expectation triggers motivation. And motivation leads to preparation. If you’re not expecting anything or anyone, you prepare differently or you don’t prepare at all. Whatever you’re hoping for (expecting) in life motivates you to prepare accordingly. This can be applied to many aspects of life including marriage, career, vocation, academia, etc. We must not underestimate the power of expectation. When you’re looking forward to something of value, it keeps you motivated. This creates the incentive to put in all the work necessary for welcoming that reality. If, however, you’re not looking forward to anything worthwhile, you feel like there’s nothing to live for; this can trigger lethargy and unhappiness. In short, you stay motivated when you have a worthy goal in view. The same is true of our relationship with Jesus. This brings us to today’s Bible passage, in which John urges the children of God to stay motivated through constant expectation of Jesus.

Expectation of Jesus’ coming is a great motivation for living a holy life, i.e. keeping yourself pure from the contamination of sin and the lusts of the flesh. Today, not many professed Christians value a life of holiness. No wonder, because few professed Christians today can be said to be actively looking forward to the coming of Jesus. The point is, the degree to which you’re expecting Jesus greatly influences the degree of your preparation to meet Jesus. John says anyone who is expecting to meet Jesus keeps himself pure as he [Jesus] is pure. The context here is about moral purity. The Bible’s logic is simple: Jesus is pure. When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. If we truly have this hope, naturally, we’ll feel motivated to keep ourselves pure. Let’s stay motivated. Let’s prepare to welcome Jesus. 

Pray:

Daddy, thank you the privilege to be called your child. I know that I’m yours now. And when Jesus is revealed, I shall be like him for I shall see him as he is. By your Spirit in me, enable me to prepare for Christ’s coming by keeping myself pure. With you, all things are possible. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Romans 8:16-39