Which Road Are You On?

Sharing today from Decision Magazine

Which Road Are You On?

By Billy Graham

Jesus seemed always to classify people in two categories. He taught that there are two roads of life—the broad road and the narrow road. He said there are two destinies in life. He did not give a third alternative. He did not give any middle road. He said it’s either one or the other.

He said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

You cannot be neutral about eternal life, but a lot of people try to be. They try to ride the middle road—but there is no middle road. Jesus said it’s one or the other. He said if you’re not on the narrow road that leads to eternal life, then you must be on the broad road that leads to destruction. Every person is on one or the other.

Which road are you on? The broad road or the narrow road? One leads to destruction and hell; the other leads to a full life here and now and eventually life to come in Heaven. Which is it? It’s one or the other.

And I want to tell you, if I did not know which road I was on, I would make sure, no matter what it cost.

Notice that the broad road is a wide road. In other words, you can enter the wide gate and carry with you all your sins. You can carry your selfishness, your prejudice, your hate, your lust, your intolerance, your bigotry. There are no restrictions, no inhibitions, no rules. 

The extremes of humanity are on this broad road. There are the immoral, the dictators, the murderers. But there are also some moral people and even church people on this road. The Bible says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me’” (Matthew 7:22-23). They were on the broad road all along.

…..
And all those people who tried to keep one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, those who tried to ride both roads—all of those people are on the broad road, in the sight of Christ.

This broad road is also a crowded road. Jesus said there are many who go in by it. I think one of the greatest sins is conformity. We always hear, “Everybody else is doing it.” No other reason except everybody else is doing it. Conformity. Nobody has the moral courage anymore to stand alone.

If everybody in your room at school cheats, dare to stand alone and get a C if necessary. If everybody in your office lies, and if all the other salesmen tell lies in order to sell a product, or they cheat on their income tax, or they pad their expense account, dare to stand alone. If all the other employers are getting by paying as little as they can pay to their workers, dare to stand alone and be above board with those who work for you. If everybody in your community has racial prejudice, dare to stand alone and look through the eyes of Christ.

God doesn’t judge us by what others are doing. If you give your life to Jesus Christ, you may be the only one in your fraternity, in your sorority; you may be the only one in your place of business; you may be the only one in your room at school trying to live for Jesus Christ. But if you will take your stand for Christ, God will honor you and bless you, and He will open doors for you that you never dreamed. 

This broad road—not only is it crowded and wide, but it’s deceptive. The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

The Family Tree

Today I’m sharing another of Pat’s wonderful devotionals. And don’t forget that Pat’s new devotional book, FEAST OF JOY, is available at Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Xulon.

 


The Family Tree

 By Pat Knight

“Then the King will say…
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father;

take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you

since the creation of the world.’”

─Matthew 25:34

During a recent TV documentary, historians speculated about Adolph Hitler’s family history.  Even today investigators are at a loss to identify Hitler’s relatives because he ordered all of his family records destroyed, including birth certificates, photos, and personal letters.  He so obsessively pursued creating the perfect society that under his tutelage genealogists eliminated the records of his biological family and recreated new documents, permitting the dictator to manipulate people into and out of his family tree.

“You can choose your friends, but not your family” is a recognizable quip that applies to most of the human race. An exception to the rule was most recently illustrated when Adolph Hitler appropriated the ability to redesign his own family. His lineage has been so entirely revised that researchers are trying to piece it together now, more than seventy-five years after the dictator’s death. The German Chancellor of the Third Reich had three step-nephews who currently live in total seclusion in the USA, refusing to cooperate with investigators probing for the truth regarding their family history.

With the small amount of progress gained in retrieving Hitler’s original family tree, a psychiatrist has determined that there was a genetic predisposition to mental disorders within his family. As a child, young Adolph was subjected to his father’s abuse. Disillusioned as an adult, Hitler could not tolerate imperfection, especially within his own family. To avoid humiliation, he merely interchanged his family members with those people he perceived to be of superior quality.  

The one, perfect God opens His arms wide and accepts all who request salvation, a birthright into His holy family. Imagine being a member of the family of God! It is blessed reality, a truth taught by Jesus when He walked this earth. God’s family is a composite of all human life beginning with Adam and Eve and descending through the ages. “Then the King will say … ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).

Because God is sovereign, He could be highly selective of those who will live with Him in heaven for eternity. He could choose among candidates who are physically superior or attractive. However, God reminds us in His Word that exterior appearances are deceptive; He is not impressed with man’s emphasis of achievement or beauty. God looks deep within a person’s heart. Since that is the case, one might further assume God prefers those who possess the most innocent or altruistic thoughts. That is the reasoning man tends to use. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Mankind has always been separated from God because any sin, pondered or committed, is offensive to Him. Our Father is holy and sinless. He sacrificed His only pure Son to redeem a sinful people who are separated from Him by a deep chasm of impurity. We cannot reach God without the bridge of His Son’s shed blood to redeem and unite us. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

Since Jesus has redeemed us by willingly sacrificing His sinless, pure life, God has promised we will inherit eternal life; co-heirs in eternity with His own Son, Jesus. If you were notified that you had inherited a mansion where you could live in untold riches for an eternity, wouldn’t you hasten to accept the gift? That is exactly what God is offering each one of us. He refuses no one who genuinely believes and in humility accepts Him as Lord and Savior. Though God is reproached by sin, He is willing to forgive the most heinous acts of indecency. “‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more’” (Isaiah 43:25).

God is merciful, desiring that no one perish. The eternal King lavishes us with His love and welcomes us into heaven as His children. It is unnecessary to bribe or manipulate, but only believe. We are promised an eternity in paradise where the only illumination is supplied by the absolute glory of our holy, heavenly Father. 

Perfection on earth is impossible. Adolph Hitler’s delusions caused world-wide suffering.  Millions of people were annihilated in one man’s quest to create an ideal family and a perfect society. The one perfect Son of God substituted His flawless life to save a world of lost sinners. Even those who endeavor to manipulate their family tree on earth must succumb to the Lord’s rules to access heaven. There perfection shall reign eternal!


Image credit: Sweet Publishing / New Harvest Ministries International at http://www.freebibleimages.org/

Mercy and Grace

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Mercy and Grace

By Pat Knight

We’ve all experienced life’s embarrassing, humiliating moments. It is unnerving how easily and frequently mistakes are made or sins committed. We verbalize or enact something affecting another person that turns out all wrong, not at all the way it was intended. Or, perhaps it was a blatantly insensitive, planned maneuver. Either way, the other party is hurt. When our personal involvement is revealed, we may experience white-hot molten guilt surging through our bodies, as despair simultaneously drenches our emotions. We feel crushed on all sides, reminding us of our desperate need of forgiveness.

We have sinned. Our integrity is threatened. The person we offended is often the first one to whom we apologize. Asking God’s forgiveness is frequently an after-thought. King David demonstrated the proper sequence of events once the prophet Nathan confronted him with his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband. David immediately poured out his heart to God.

“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear” (Psalm 38:4). David was physically and emotionally ill from the exposure of his flagrant sin and the expression of his humble remorse. David knew he must admit his sins to God, appealing to his Lord’s forgiveness in order to restore peace in his life. “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin” (Psalm 38:18). 

David realized that God loathed his sin but he was also aware of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and boldly asked for both. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1, 2). Then, David requested purity, a cleansed heart, and reinstatement into God’s fellowship. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (v. 12).

During David’s lifetime, long before our Savior sacrificed His life for the sins of the world, David offered a perfect animal as a sacrifice, along with his penitent prayer. He was familiar with God’s priorities. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (v. 17). What pleases God more than sacrifice is a humble heart that turns to Him, pleading for mercy.

We may wonder the reason David’s legacy remains as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), in view of his egregious sins of adultery and murder. God is apprised of the heart intent of every person. He viewed David’s deep remorse, humility, request for forgiveness, and submission to the His will. What pleases God is a humility that seeks Him when troubles crush and that penitently plead for mercy and sovereign security. David suffered dire consequences for his sins, but evidence that God forgave him totally is illustrated in God’s future empowerment of David to accomplish His kingdom work.

As soon as the first offense was committed by Adam and Eve, God’s plan was in place to send a Messiah to earth who would save the world from sin. For centuries, the Israelite nation anticipated the promised Savior. God is faithful and always keeps His promises. Jesus was incarnated on earth for one distinct purpose: to redeem sin by ransoming His life for ours. Before He was nailed to the cross, he was physically beaten, spat upon, and humiliated by taunting Roman soldiers. A crown of thorns tore deeply through the skin of his brow. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, His pain escalated for the next six hours until His body could no longer sustain life.

The abuse to which Jesus submitted is inexpressible. If we pale under heavy guilt and shame for one of our sins, envision the incredible burden of emotional torture Christ suffered when He died to atone for the sins of the entire world–past, present, and future. The sinless Savior was willing to die a heinous death to redeem all of the sins for everyone who calls upon His name. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2b). 

The physical and mental anguish Jesus suffered for our sakes is His love gift to each individual. “He is Jesus Christ … Him who loved us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). Though God’s very nature is love, He also expresses wrath. Almighty God, holy and pure, hates sin. Animal sacrifice and a repentant heart allowed God’s people in Old Testament times to approach their perfect, sovereign God.  When Jesus hung on the cross, God’s wrath for the sins of the entire world descended upon His Son, extracting from the Perfect Lamb punishment for the sins of the multitudes.

Jesus died for the sinner, including you and me. Our Savior initiated the era of grace when He died and rose again, offering a substitute for our own penalty of death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The grace of God showers us with glory we cannot earn, withholding punishment Jesus bore for us that we do deserve. “Everyone who believes in Him {Jesus Christ} receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43).

Jesus, our intercessor, provided the bridge between sinners and a hallowed God by dying for us. When we act inappropriately, exposing selfish desires, we not only hurt other people and our own credibility, but we sin against God. Thankfully, God knows our propensity for wrong-doing and provides for our salvation, permitting us to approach Him and gain forgiveness. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

As sorrowful as we may feel about wrongs we commit, they represent a greater personal affront to our holy God. Showering His extensive love on His creation, God admits, “I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sin no more” (Isaiah 43:25). What a gift! God’s offer isn’t automatic; it requires a reaction from us. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9b).

Our Savior is the only one capable of eradicating sin from our lives. Christ died for you! Claim and cherish His passionate gift.

A Happy and Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

Sharing today from Got Questions?

Question: “Where does the saying ‘He is risen; He is risen, indeed’ come from?”

Answer: A traditional Easter greeting in the Western church is the exclamation “He is risen!” and the traditional response is “He is risen, indeed!” The words are sometimes accompanied by the exchange of three kisses on alternate cheeks, depending on the church. In the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the greeting is called the “Paschal greeting” and is a very old custom.

The greeting is ultimately based on Luke 24:34. Translations throughout church history, from the Latin Vulgate (c. AD 400) to the ESV (2001) have translated this verse nearly identically: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (ESV). Exactly how the saying became a standard greeting in the church is not known, although there are various theories regarding how it came into common usage.

We do know that, at first, the greeting was more common in Eastern and Byzantine liturgies than in the Western church. There is a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church that the saying was made popular by Mary Magdalene when she supposedly addressed Emperor Tiberius in Rome with the words “Christ is risen.”

Using this address should be more than an empty tradition. The words “He is risen!” remind us of the joyous news we celebrate at Easter, that Jesus’ death was not in vain, and that He has the power to overcome death. Saying “He is risen!” allows us to share this incredible truth with each other. The resurrection of Christ gives us hope for salvation and for our own resurrection and eternal life.

So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem,
and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying,
“The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
—Luke 24:33-34

Beloved, Jesus IS our Resurrection HOPE!!! He rose from the dead so that those who trust in His saving grace can enjoy life everlasting in heaven with Him. Hallelujah!

The following song “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by Getty Music attests to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. He deserves every bit of our thankfulness, praise and worship. Yes, and all glory should go to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us.

If you cannot view the video for whatever reason, go here to read the beautiful lyrics (scroll down the page a bit).

The Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ

One of my favorite blogs is Got Questions? Their site has a wealth of good Biblical information, and under the “Ask a Question” tab, you can write out your question for them to answer.

Recently I came across this post that answered the question: “What were the seven last words of Jesus Christ on the cross and what do they mean?

Answer: The seven statements that Jesus Christ made on the cross were (not in any particular order):

(1) Matthew 27:46 tells us that about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment as God placed the sins of the world on Him – and because of that, God had to “turn away” from Jesus. As Jesus was feeling that weight of sin, He was experiencing a separation from God for the only time in all of eternity. This was also a fulfillment of the prophetic statement in Psalm 22:1.

(2) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Those who crucified Jesus were not aware of the full scope of what they were doing because they did not recognize Him as the Messiah. While their ignorance of divine truth did not mean they deserved forgiveness, Christ’s prayer in the midst of their mocking Him is an expression of the limitless compassion of divine grace.

(3) “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). In this passage, Jesus is assuring one of the criminals on the cross that when he died, he would be with Jesus in heaven. This was granted because even at the hour of his death, the criminal had expressed his faith in Jesus, recognizing Him for who He was (Luke 23:42).

Read the rest here

The Wonderful #Cross

Have you ever wondered why the day Jesus Christ died such a horrible death is called GOOD Friday? Doesn’t it seem as if it should be the blackest day in history? What can possibly be GOOD about it?

Beloved, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to undergo the horrendous, torturous beatings and then be put to death so that we might live with Him for eternity! This is why it is commemorated as a GOOD day. We are all born as sinners and there is no way we can get to heaven apart from the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ’s death on that cross at Calvary. That one death paid the price for us to have the opportunity to be in heaven with Him when we die. 

Yes, we should mourn the death of Jesus Christ because He endured so much on our behalf. But even more, we should celebrate this day as the beginning of mankind’s chance to share in the intimate fellowship with Jesus forever! 

This is our HOPE!

Please enjoy “The Wonderful Cross” by  Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Remember and be JOYFUL that Jesus paid it all!

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
—Isaiah 53:5

If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Live Happily Ever After

Live Happily Ever After

By Pat Knight

As young children, many sat cuddled with a person who read to them from a book of vividly illustrated fairy tales. Though a portion of the stories were frightening, the child snuggled with someone loved and trusted. Fairy tales encompass mystery and danger, the struggle of good and evil, and the triumph of right over wrong. The stories are fictional, interwoven with moral conflict. A hero or heroine is propelled into unsuspecting, treacherous situations, from where a rescuer mysteriously saves the day. The drama is typically summarized: and they all lived happily ever after.

Authors of children’s stories weren’t the first to introduce tales with happy endings. At creation, God embedded the capacity for eternity in every human heart. Each of us was created with the yearning of a future life in heaven. “He {God} has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). For those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, the forgiveness and grace that He secured by His crucifixion and resurrection, our earthly lives will be a mere drop in the bucket of time compared with life everlasting. In that respect, “they lived happily ever after” is realistically and personally applied to those who know Jesus intimately.

Life in heaven will be so incredibly opulent, we have no words in our vocabulary with which to describe it accurately. The Apostle John, personally viewed scenes of heaven, and was charged with recording the details in God’s Word. John often lacked the appropriate words to express sufficiently that which was revealed to him. However, the apostle recorded enough information to cause further longing for life in our heavenly home. God specifies there will be no sadness or suffering there. “He {God} will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there will be no hospitals, pharmacies, funeral homes, or homeless shelters; no need for 911 systems, governments, or police. Everyone will be whole and holy; goodness and purity will prevail.

Life in heaven will be so incredibly opulent, we have no words in our vocabulary with which to describe it accurately. The Apostle John, personally viewed scenes of heaven, and was charged with recording the details in God’s Word. John often lacked the appropriate words to express sufficiently that which was revealed to him. However, the apostle recorded enough information to cause further longing for life in our heavenly home. God specifies there is no sadness or suffering there. “He {God} will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there are no hospitals, pharmacies, funeral homes, or homeless shelters; no need for 911 systems, governments, or police. Everyone is whole and holy; goodness and purity prevail.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, reigns in excellence, transcending all the glory, honor, and pageantry we’ve known on earth. “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you {God}” (1 Kings 8:27b). Our Lord is confined by neither time nor space. He shall rule supremely forevermore.

Heaven is free of hardship, disease, quarrels, or rivalry. There resides no competition for love or attention. Mankind co-exists in perfect peace. Neither floods nor natural disasters occur. ”The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm” (Isaiah 11:7-8). Previously poisonous snakes or ferocious, carnivorous animals, serving as playthings for young children, illustrate the tranquility and safety of our heavenly home.

Only in eternity is the finite capable of comprehending the scope of the infinite.

John heard a voice from the heavenly throne exclaiming, “‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among believers and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3). To dwell implies more than a residence. It indicates the permanence of settling down, the way God makes His home in the hearts of believers, and fills them with His purpose.

What God has created in heaven will endure forever. The same is true of our resurrected bodies. Even if we were able to discern John’s descriptions explicitly, our earthly vision of heaven would still be unclear. When I was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes, my vision gradually grew blurry and colors faded in intensity. Directly after one lens was implanted, I was astounded at the brilliance of the world around me. Even on a cloudy spring day, every object grabbed my visual attention. Birch trees were suddenly bright white instead of the washed-out color that had insidiously crept into my field of vision. Patches of sky were no longer gray, but dazzling blue. My vision had been transformed from barren and blurry to reveal a crisp world ablaze before me.

As believers in Jesus Christ, such will be our reaction to heaven after decades of living in a fallen, failing earth among mortals. Heaven is glorious because God is glorious! “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then we will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT). Our perception of heaven is at best cloudy, like blurry vision caused by deteriorating lenses. When we gaze upon King Jesus in our heavenly home, our spiritual vision will be amazingly clear, as if scales were peeled away from our eyes. Until that time, God views us through the lens of Christ’s righteousness; His characteristics infused in our lives through His redeeming sacrifice on the cross. In heaven we shall worship and praise our Savior face to face. What a magnificent promise, full of confident expectation, encouragement, and excitement!

We cherish the assurance of a grandiose and pure life in heaven. Only Christ offers everlasting intimacy and security. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, assures, “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be there where I am ’” (John 14:2-3). Jesus guarantees an eternity of permanence and glory with Him.

Reflect on one event in your life that created the most ecstasy, the one resplendent scenario you love to replay on your mental movie screen. Then multiply the irrepressible joy you experienced, and you will barely reveal heaven’s bliss. In eternity, there are pleasures forevermore, a paradise heretofore unexposed to humanity.

John teaches that there will be no need for artificial light in the holy city. “They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light” (Revelation 22:5). The Light of the World will be the consummate light of Heaven. God’s glory exclusively illuminates every corner.

The foundations of the city are inlaid with precious gems—turquoise, amethyst, emeralds, topaz, rubies, and sapphires. The streets are constructed of transparent gold, and each of the twelve gates of the city consist of singular pearls (Revelation 21:18-21), elegant and splendiferous!

Heaven will be the reward for believers who have faithfully followed Jesus on this earth, honoring the Lamb’s horrific sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, and His glorious resurrection from the dead, to redeem our sins. Our eternal benefits in heaven will far overshadow any hardships we have suffered on earth, for there we will live happily ever after!

What Does It Mean to Be Ready to Meet the Lord?

Sharing today from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives Ministries (EPM) blog.

What Does It Mean to Be Ready to Meet the Lord?

By Randy Alcorn

A reader asked me, “I often hear the saying ‘I want to be ready to meet my Lord.’ Can you explain what exactly you mean by this, please?”  

First of all, and most importantly, being ready to meet the Lord means you’ve made sure of your relationship with Jesus Christ, and are trusting only Him to save you—not anyone or anything else, and certainly not any good works you’ve done. R. A. Torrey put it this way: “I am ready to meet God face to face tonight…for all my sins are covered by the atoning blood.”

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” And in John 5:24 Jesus tells us, “Whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

Once you’ve accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, being ready to meet the Lord means living in a way that pleases Him so that whenever He calls you home—and knowing that could be any time—you can hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  

Scripture teaches with unmistakable clarity that all believers in Christ will give an account of their lives to their Lord (Romans 14:10-12). Even if Christ does not return for two hundred years, we will meet Him in our deaths, whether in twenty years, twenty months, or twenty minutes. God encourages us not to be surprised about the soon coming of our appointment to stand before Him. If we are ready to meet Christ, we will long for His return. If we are not ready, we will dread it. If we do not feel ready to meet Him, now is the time to get ready.

Readers of my books are probably familiar with my emphasis on how five minutes after we die, we’ll know exactly how we should have lived. But we can’t do life here over again. There’s no retaking the course once we’ve failed it. There’s no improving a D to an A. No rescheduling the final exams. Death is the deadline. There’s no extension.

The good news is we don’t have to wait until we die to know how we should live! God has given us His Word to tell us how to live and His indwelling Spirit to empower us to live as we should. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV).  Every day God gives us is an opportunity to live for Christ: “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Read the rest here.

What Was the Christmas Star?

Today I’m sharing from Answers In Genesis.

What Was the Christmas Star?

by Dr. Jason Lisle

What was the star? And how did it lead the magi to the Lord? There have been many speculations.

The apostle Matthew records that the birth of Jesus was accompanied by an extraordinary celestial event: a star that led the magi1 (the “wise men”) to Jesus. This star “went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matthew 2:9). What was this star? And how did it lead the magi to the Lord? There have been many speculations.

Common Explanations

The star mentioned in Matthew is not necessarily what we normally think of as a star. That is, it was not necessarily an enormous mass of hydrogen and helium gas powered by nuclear fusion. The Greek word translated star is aster (αστηρ), which is where we get the word astronomy. In the biblical conception of the word, a star is any luminous point of light in our night sky. This would certainly include our modern definition of a star, but it would also include the planets, supernovae, comets, or anything else that resembles a point of light. But which of these explanations best describes the Christmas star?

A supernova (an exploding star) fits the popular Christmas card conception of the star. When a star in our galaxy explodes, it shines very brightly for several months. These beautiful events are quite rare and outshine all the other stars in the galaxy. It seems fitting that such a spectacular event would announce the birth of the King of kings—the God-man who would outshine all others. However, a supernova does not fit the biblical text. The Christmas star must not have been so obvious, for it went unnoticed by Israel’s King Herod (Matthew 2:7). He had to ask the magi when the star had appeared, but everyone would have seen a bright supernova.

Nor could the Christmas star have been a bright comet. Like a supernova, everyone would have noticed a comet. Comets were often considered to be omens of change in the ancient world. Herod would not have needed to ask the magi when a comet had appeared. Moreover, neither a comet nor a supernova moves in such a way as to come and stand over a location on earth as the Christmas star did (Matthew 2:9). Perhaps the Christmas star was something more subtle: a sign that would amaze the magi but would not be noticed by Herod.

A Conjunction?

This leads us to the theory that the Christmas star was a conjunction of planets. A conjunction is when a planet passes closely by a star or by another planet. Such an event would have been very meaningful to the magi, who were knowledgeable of ancient astronomy, but would likely have gone unnoticed by others. There were several interesting conjunctions around the time of Christ’s birth. Two of these were triple conjunctions; this is when a planet passes a star (or another planet), then backs up, passes it again, then reverses direction and passes the star/planet a third time. Such events are quite rare.

Nonetheless, there was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn beginning in the year 7 B.C. Also, there was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and the bright star Regulus beginning in the year 3 B.C. Of course, we do not know the exact year of Christ’s birth, but both of these events are close to the estimated time. Advocates of such conjunction theories point out that the planets and stars involved had important religious significance in the ancient world. Jupiter was often considered the king of the gods, and Regulus was considered the “king star.” Did such a conjunction announce the birth of the King of kings? However, the Bible describes the Christmas star as a single star—not aconjunction of two or more stars. Neither of the above conjunctions was close enough to appear as a single star.

But there was one (and only one) extraordinary conjunction around the time of Christ’s birth that could be called a “star.” In the year 2 B.C., Jupiter and Venus moved so close to each other that they briefly appeared to merge into a single bright star. Such an event is extremely rare and may have been perceived as highly significant to the magi. Although this event would have been really spectacular, it does not fully match the description of the Christmas star. A careful reading of the biblical text indicates that the magi saw the star on at least two occasions: when they arrived at Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2) and after meeting with Herod (Matthew 2:9). But the merging of Jupiter and Venus happened only once—on the evening of June 17.

Although each of the above events is truly spectacular and may have been fitting to announce the birth of the King of kings, none of them seems to fully satisfy the details of the straightforward reading of Matthew 2. None of the above speculations fully explain how the star “went ahead of ” the magi nor how it “stood over where the child was.” Indeed, no known natural phenomenon would be able to stand over Bethlehem since all natural stars continually move due to the rotation of the earth.2 They appear to rise in the east and set in the west, or circle around the celestial poles. However, the Bible does not say that this star was a natural phenomenon.

Read the rest here.

Jesus, Savior of the World

Sharing today from Decision Magazine

Jesus, Savior of the World

By Charles H. Spurgeon

Our thoughts turn to the first use of the name, when the Child who was yet to be born was named Jesus. The person to whom that name was first revealed was Joseph: a carpenter, a humble man, a working man, unknown and undistinguished except by the justice of his character.

It is not, therefore, a title to be monopolized by princes, sages, priests, warriors or men of wealth. It is a name to be made a household word among common people! He is the people’s Christ.

The name of Jesus was sweet from the start because of the words that accompanied it, for they were meant to remove perplexity from Joseph’s mind: “Fear not.” Truly, no name can banish fear like the name of Jesus! It is the beginning of hope and the end of despair! Let the sinner hear of the Savior, and he forgets to die! He hopes to live! He rises out of the deadly lethargy of his hopelessness and, looking upward, he sees a reconciled God and no longer fears.

At the time when the name was given, His full person had not been seen by mortal eyes, for He lay as yet concealed. But soon He came forth, having been born of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. A matchless man, He bears our nature but not our corruption! He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but in His flesh there is no sin! This Holy One is the Son of God, and yet He is the Son of man!

The name of Jesus is a name divinely ordered and expounded. According to the text, the angel brought a message from the Lord and said, “You shall call His name Jesus.” It is a name that—like He who bears it—has come down from Heaven. Our Lord has other names of office and relationship, but this is His own personal name.

And it is the Father who has thus named Him.

The name is the highest, brightest and noblest of names. It is the glory of our Lord to be a Savior. To the best that was ever born of woman, God has given the best name that any son of man could bear. Jesus is the most appropriate name that our Lord could receive.

The Father knew Him perfectly, and He named Him Jesus. We may be sure, then, that our Lord is, most of all, a Savior, and He is best described by that term. God, the Father, who knows Him best, sees this to be His grand characteristic: that He is a Savior and is therefore best represented by the name Jesus.