There is more than this life…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:50-58

 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.   For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Good to keep at the forefront of our daily walk through life, in all we do, is the last statement.  Know that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.  Also encouraging is the knowledge that death for the believer no longer has a sting, no longer has the last word.  This passage is meant to encourage and inform.  We are passing through this life…it isn’t an end-all, be-all.  We are able to fully enjoy this trip and all it brings, rejoicing in the love of our God through Christ Jesus.  Take on the day in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life for eternity…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:12-34

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

There is a promise and a premise.  Eternal life is ours.  Death is also ours.  But for those who truly believe Christ conquered death and sin, death is only temporary for the physical, however, there is a spiritual death for those who do not believe.  The believer does not share in death as final.  There is eternal life as promised and activated by Christ.  The promise is eternal life with God, not separated from God which is the final death.  The premise is this is truth because Christ conquered death for all who believe.  The physical death does not continue into spiritual death for the believer.  The believer begins life with acceptance of Christ and it never ends.

An Everlasting Covenant

Ezekiel 16:60-63

“Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. 62 And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, 63 that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord GOD.’ ”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=16&v=1&t=NKJVP>

 “…I will establish an everlasting covenant with you….” 

The gift of his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for all that’s been done, all sin,  is foretold to Israel.

“…when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,”

Lord God of Israel loves with such a great love that we can only fathom a small portion of it.  This covenant spoken of later by Jesus as a new covenant is everlasting.  Eternity begins now.  This covenant will provide atonement for all sin. And Christ came, died, rose again with a promise of life eternal for all who believe and accept his atonement.

“…you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore …”

Will the judging of others, the ‘I’m better than you’ end?  Will the looking down on those who don’t accept the gift of life end?

“…and never open your mouth anymore …”

This covenant is not just for the people of Israel, the chosen people of God; it is for all mankind.  The sisters, the nations around Israel, the Gentiles,  will be given to her as daughters.  Daughters who are taught what the mother knows.

“…I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you….” 

All of mankind is covered by the new covenant. Christ came through the chosen people not just for them but for all of God’s creation.

Can we say thank you Lord  and amen?

Imagery, purpose, and presence

Ezekiel 10:9-22

And when I looked, there were four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub and another wheel by each other cherub; the wheels appeared to have the color of a beryl stone. As for their appearance, all four looked alike—as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.  When they went, they went toward any of their four directions; they did not turn aside when they went, but followed in the direction the head was facing. They did not turn aside when they went.  And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around. As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, “Wheel.”

Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubim were lifted up. This was the living creature I saw by the River Chebar. When the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also did not turn from beside them. When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when one was lifted up, the other lifted itself up, for the spirit of the living creature was in them.

Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.  And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim. Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.And the likeness of their faces was the same as the faces which I had seen by the River Chebar, their appearance and their persons. They each went straight forward.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=10&v=1&t=NKJVP>

What detailed imagery!  Such a lot of time and space is given to the description of the living creatures!  Is there a message in the imagery?  Several times Ezekiel emphasizes they did not turn aside as they went.  They went straight forward in the direction they were facing.  We are given purpose when a relationship with the Lord is realized.  We are told often to press forward; cautioned not to turn to the left or to the right.  Paul mentions striving for the prize, moving forward.  Jesus tells us not to be tossed about as by the wind.  They are full of eyes, all around.  This would indicate awareness of what is around them; it could also indicate seeing with knowledge.  We could take from this that it is wise to be aware of what is around us. Much time is given to the description of the wheels.  Wheels are circles, unbroken, continuous.  They provide locomotion, movement and they move in unity with the creatures.  Our fellowship with the Lord and with fellow believers is often compared to a circle, as is marriage.  A symbol of unity and continuity, unbroken with no beginning and no end that is used to describe the existence of God. Take away; an appreciation for the creativity of God, and a reminder to move forward with Him.

What a sad event!  The departure of Sovereign God from the sanctuary built for his presence.  As we remember that as believers we are the sanctuary for God’s presence, we can be appreciative of his continued presence with us and remember to place him first in our lives.

The desire to be free of bondage…

Romans 8:18-27

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us  with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

The desire to be free of bondage rests in us all.  There are those who try to extricate themselves from bondage, working  in their own strength. From this we get the phrase ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstrap.’  The freedom gained through our own efforts is often temporal.  When we gain freedom from bondage to sin, which is the umbrella term for finding ourselves in bondage to the consequences of acts we commit and those committed by others, we gain freedom that is eternal and it is not gained through our efforts but by the blood of Christ.  When we receive that promise, we receive freedom from sin’s curse and we receive the presence of the Holy Spirit, our spirit joining with Him and quickened to life.  Mankind has wanted freedom since the days of Adam, when we were first enslaved.  We have hope, and Paul clarifies for us that hope indicates we look for something.  We don’t hope for what we already have.  “…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  …”  Our faith continues daily from the moment we receive the promise until it is complete.  Where is our heart?  In Him or in our own doing?  True freedom is in Him.

Going Deep

Going deep.  Jesus gave us the example to follow.  We’ve all heard that.  The truth is, he was God, and he was showing us the former things.  What it was like before sin.  He was without sin, yet willing to be born into sin.  He suffered yet it did not destroy him for he was as the first of creation.  He was showing us this experience, our present, our life on terra firma is only a beginning, we have all of eternity before us.  When this ends, we continue into the next chapter because we believe.  When we believe, we live differently, speak and act differently, and are eager to share our ‘find.’  This find does not have a pleasant reaction from an evil world.  And so we invite the same suffering that Jesus experienced, and like him it will not destroy us.  We are on an eternal journey that is much more than just ‘now.’

Looking for a sign…food for eternity

John 6:25-40

And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”
 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

“You look for me…because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” “…Work…for food that endures to eternal life. …the work of God is…to believe in the one he has sent…”  “…what miraculous sign will you give…?”  The sign was given and they missed it, as we so often do because the focus is on the natural world around us.  Feeding them as he did was a message to them that he was the one sent to them from heaven. He points out that Moses did not send the manna they refer to, God did.  Moses was his agent.  Jesus’ coming was a gift from God as the manna was.  Jesus would provide not just temporary relief from hunger but eternal relief.  This hunger to which he refers is not a physical hunger required for physical life but a spiritual hunger, a need to be met with spiritual food that would provide more than physical life, it would carry and nourish through eternity.  “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”; this bread is Christ and his death and resurrection provided life that lasts.

Take away – we have a hunger other than physical hunger, a hunger that ensures we seek physical food to grow and live now.  We have a hunger that ensures we seek spiritual food that will feed our soul for eternity.  Mankind is on a continual search for food that will satisfy that hunger.  Jesus states he provides that food.  He did so by following the will of God in coming, dying on the cross, rising from the grave, and defeating the curse of sin, death both physical and spiritual.  It is our work to believe.  This requires faith to believe.  God grants this faith to us, Jesus states: “All that the Father gives me will come to me… “; ask to be one of those in that group.