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Tag Archives: eternal life

Lay Hold on Eternal Life

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Jesus promised each one of us life more abundant (John 10:10), which means that we are to have a glorious experience in this life, happy and free in His finished work. His promise was not referring to our life to come, though that will be wonderful as well, for the New Testament makes it clear that we are to be living a great life in this present world (Romans 5:17; 1 Peter 3:10).

There are things that we can do in this present life that allow us to apprehend the glory that is found in the next life. Paul refers to this as laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19). There are no works that we can do that can qualify us for heaven, but there are some actions that we can take while on this earth that will lead to days of heaven on earth. It is the simple principle of sowing and reaping that is a recurring theme of the New Covenant, and if the believer follows its pattern, they will reap if they faint not (Galatians 6:9).

Paul addresses young Timothy in two letters that bear Timothy’s name. Near the close of the first letter, he tells Timothy to give a charge to the wealthy members of his congregation that they not trust in their “uncertain riches, but in the living God” (1 Tim. 6:17). All wealth that we accumulate on this earth is uncertain riches, for the economies can shake and crumble, as we have well seen! The living God is unshakeable, thus He is a firm foundation. When we trust in Him we see that He “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

The word “communicate” in verse 18 is an unfortunate translation. The original Greek word is ‘koinonikos’ which means “inclined to share with others; a free or liberal giver”. Paul uses this word 4 times in the New Testament and each time he is referring to giving financially or in any other way in which you are contributing to someone else. This is the heart of sowing into good ground, where you believe that your giving makes a difference in a church, a ministry or a life. Paul encouraged those that could spare the money to give it, for it would lay up a store for themselves against bad times to come (1 Timothy 6:19). Where the world’s system says “save your money for a rainy day”, Paul said “Give to others and you are prepared for the rainy day”.
When you learn the concept of sowing and reaping, you lay hold on a piece of eternity. The glory and the joy that permeates the next life will become yours on this earth and in this life. Days of heaven on earth are possible, but only if the redeemed become less attached to the system of this earth and more in tune with the music of heaven.

Jesus warned us about laying up treasure here, which was not His way of saying “Don’t save your money”. Instead, He wants us to focus our investments in the spirit realm, confident that our heavenly Father is a firm foundation, unshakeable in a world of uncertain riches. Invest wisely in ministry and the work of the Lord and you too will “lay hold on eternal life”.

 

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The Best of Both Worlds

Mark 10:29-31

Some people think that heaven is the greatest reward for the believer. I believe that heaven is going to be beyond words, but I do not think that Jesus went to all that trouble to suffer and die so that we could spend the rest of our lives suffering until we get home. Jesus said that He had come that we might have life and have it more abundant (John 10:10). He didn’t mention eternal life there, just abundant life. Are we living the abundant life?

Peter mentioned to Jesus, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28). There is a hint in Peter’s voice of pity as if he feels sorry for himself for all that he has had to give up in his pursuit of Jesus. Jesus responds that anyone who has left the things of this earth behind for His sake, “and the gospel’s” has the assurance of a great reward coming (10:29). Immediately, we are so conditioned to see our reward as spiritual and eternal, that we often miss the specifics that Jesus gives us in this next, crucial verse:

“But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time…” (Mark 10:30). I stop the verse at that point because I want to focus your attention to the timing of the hundredfold blessing. Jesus has just promised us that whatever He is about to say applies to us “now in this time”. This has nothing to do with eternity or our heavenly home, and Jesus is not downplaying how incredible that our new home is going to be. He is just affirming that the abundant life can start now, and we should always be ready for it.

Just how specific is this “hundredfold” blessing? Jesus minces no words. Look at what we give up first then we see what we get in return. We give up house, brethren, sisters, father, mother, wife, children and lands. In return, God gives houses, brethren, sisters, mothers, children and lands, “with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30). Notice that there are some slight differences. We give up “father” but we don’t get a hundredfold “fathers”. We give up “wife” and we don’t get a hundredfold “wives”. This is Jesus showing us the sanctity of one marriage and confirming that we call no man ‘father’ but Him (Matthew 23:9). This also indicates that the multiple brothers, sisters and mothers are our relatives within the family of God (Mark 3:35).

With God’s hundredfold blessings come “persecutions” and there is simply no way around this. People will mock and deride you for believing in a good God that is not mad at humanity and that freely gives us all things. Even well-intentioned Christians will sometimes persecute you because you refuse to see God as fuming in fury at a sin-ridden world. Have no fear if they persecute you because then you know that you are in good company!

Not seeing the fullness of the hundredfold blessing in this life? Not to worry, if you have been planted in the good ground of God’s grace and favor, you will bring forth, but it may not be all at once. Jesus said that the seed from good ground will bring forth fruit, “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold” (Matthew 13:8). If He is the one doing the work, don’t worry, you’ll get there.

 

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Crisis of Life

Psalms 102:1-28

This is a Messianic Psalm which means that it is a Psalm that speaks of the Messiah, whom we know to be Jesus. It is subtitled, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD”. While we may see ourselves at many times in these verses, it speaks of Christ’s affliction from the Garden through the Cross, and how He suffered so many things for you and me.

The first several verses of this Psalm read like someone who is experiencing a mid-life crisis. The world tends to throw this term around regarding anyone who has lived a few decades, accumulated some wealth and substance, raised their kids, succeeded in business and then finds that one day they still want more. It may very well be a “mid-life” crisis, but it has little to do with “finding yourself” and more to do with finding purpose. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, life tends to revolve around what you can accumulate and how high you can go. Only Jesus brings absolute fulfillment in our hearts and lives. Through Him, the believer can avoid this so-called inevitability.

In spite of the fact that we are complete in Him, we do however still go through various crises in life. Whether it is the loss of a loved one; a lay-off at work; or an unexpected bill that seems way too big for our budget, life throws us many curves. When our hearts are smitten with grief, they become “withered like grass” (Psalms 102:4). The next step in the progression is a simple one with terrible consequences.

“I forgot to eat my bread” (Psalms 102:4). Seems so innocent doesn’t it? Have you ever been so grief-stricken that you literally forgot to eat? I think that we have all been distracted or stressed and food seemed far away. I know that in my own life and ministry, when some great conflict comes up or something disastrous happens, I can go from hungry to turned off by food in one second.

The problem with this verse is that it speaks of so much more than physical food. We can all probably stand to skip a meal once in a while (our waistline would thank us), but to be so down spiritually that you forget to feed on the loveliness of Jesus is a recipe for disaster. Jesus is not only our goodness and our grace when things go well, but He is actually all the more powerful within us when things go terribly wrong. Jesus said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This excited Paul so much that he changed his tune about problems; he almost welcomed them from that moment forward, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Whatever crisis you are facing today, place it in the capable, nail-scarred hands of Jesus and leave it there. Don’t forget to feed on His beauty, His loveliness, His goodness and His grace. Remember what He thinks of you and in your moment of absolute weakness, begin to see Him as absolutely strong.

 

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The Bread of Life

John 6:47-58

This sermon by Jesus did a lot to thin out the swelling crowds that were following Him. In fact, when He finished this statement, “Many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66). What was so controversial about this particular sermon was that Jesus had invited people to enter into a covenant relationship with Him. By saying that He was the bread of Life, He was equating Himself with the manna in the wilderness, given by God to feed mankind. He was also offering a communion meal of bread and blood which had come to mean a permanent relationship for Israelites. As far as they were concerned, they were under an everlasting covenant with God, so to enter communion with Jesus would have been blasphemous.

The words of Jesus in John 6 were also difficult because they were so physically repulsive. “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53), was construed as cannibalistic and sacrilegious. The Jews were to eat nothing unclean, of which human flesh would certainly qualify, and they were also forbidden from drinking blood. Was Jesus endorsing such unbelievable practices?

Noticing that His own disciples were struggling with His words, Jesus asked them, “Does this offend you?” (John 6:61). He then explained that it was the Spirit that does the quickening in a life, not the flesh. The words that He spoke were spiritual words, meaning that He wanted them to consume His body and drink of His blood spiritually, taking into them all that the body paid for and that the blood purchased.

This does not discount the power of the communion ceremony; but rather reinforces it. When we partake of the bread, we are partaking in what Jesus’ body accomplished for us at the cross. We see our sickness in His body and believe that when we partake, we are taking into us His perfect health and wholeness. When we drink the wine, we are partaking in what Jesus’ blood paid for at the cross. We see our sin covered by His blood, never to be held against us again and we believe that His blood provides safety and security for the believer from the curses of this world.

In John 6, Jesus does not break bread and hand it to the crowd, nor does He pour wine and drink from the cup as a visual of His body and blood. He is not preaching a physical eating and drinking, but rather an act of faith on the part of every man. Totally consume Jesus and what He accomplished. Do not leave any of Him left over. Just as Israel was to eat all of the lamb on Passover night, the saint should take all that Jesus is.

When the Master does break bread and pour wine at the Last Supper, every disciple there remembers this powerful sermon from John 6. As they partook of the bread and wine, they remembered what it stood for and no doubt began to form a doctrinal pillar in their mind regarding the communion ceremony. So important was the bread and wine to the early church that they apparently partook every single time they got together (Acts 2:42). Paul was so convinced of the observance that of all the things that Jesus did, this is the only one that he shared verbatim (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25).

Leave nothing of Jesus on the table today. Consume His love and passion; His grace and favor; His healing and wholeness. It is all available for you; do you want it?

 

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Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:17-19

Oh the joy that John must have felt as he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ! The apostle was already identified as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” because he recognized the love that Jesus had for him, but to see the incarnate, glorified Christ and then catch a glimpse of the future of planet earth must have been overwhelming.

On closing the book of Revelation, John wishes for Jesus to come quickly (Revelation 22:20). All that he has seen has not caused him to wish that Christ would delay his return, which would be the natural response if believers were going to go through the horrendous events of Revelation. Instead, knowing that the church will be removed so that these things can come to pass, John invites Christ to come back as soon as possible.

The visions of the Revelation were so awe inspiring that John claims both the Holy Spirit and the bride (church) ask for Jesus to come (Revelation 22:17). This is interesting, because it shows that the Holy Spirit on this earth is longing for Jesus to come and take the church home. We may feel ready to begin our eternity in heaven, but can we imagine how the Holy Spirit longs for this to end? Just as the Spirit and the church long for Christ’s return, John longed for any that was thirsty for Jesus to come now, while there is time to “take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

A couple of oft quoted verses come next in this chapter, both warnings of doom and judgment. Verse 18 warns that no man should add anything to the contents of Revelation, and verse 19 furthers it by adding that no man shall take away from the words of this book. This warning is to keep us from reading too much into or from taking away from the importance of this great Revelation. This book falls at the end of the New Testament, not just because the events are largely futuristic, but because they are in the deeper end of the knowledge of the redeemed. Unfortunately, many new converts jump right into Revelation with no foundation on the grace of God to help them. This causes some to add and take away from the revelatory power of this book. Let each one of us find the truths of this book as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The original Greek rendering of verse 19 also clears the clouds a bit about a popular, but untrue teaching. The text reads “God shall take away his part out of the book of life”, but the Greek actually says “God shall take away his share of the tree of life”. The difference is crucial, because the first rendering brings a doctrine into the church that God has a cosmic book that contains all names and that some are being erased or blotted out, while others are being re-written and added back based upon the way that they are living. God has no such book, for His redemption is paid for in blood, not in works. Do not fear, He is not removing your name from “the book”!

Just as John prayed for Christ to come soon, I pray the same; not because life is miserable here, but because He is so great, and when we see Him, “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:3).

 

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From Death to Life

1 John 3:14

We have all heard talk about passing from life to death; how we slip out of this mortal coil and into the next world, but there isn’t much talk about passing from death to life. The only place that we might hear such talk is at a Christian funeral, when the minister mentions the deceased as having picked up the next life. Thank God that we have better news than that!

John mentions the believer passing “from death unto life” (1 John 3:14), meaning that before you met Christ you were indeed “dead”. Paul said that you were “dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world…” (Ephesians 2:1, 2). Prior to our conversion, we had never really lived at all, awaiting the new life that only Jesus can provide, while we walked with all of the other sinners, in the course of this world.

The moment that we place faith in Jesus Christ, He enters our heart by the Holy Spirit and seals us until the day of redemption. This sealing is so that nothing can come in and nothing can get out. We are protected from the outside world and its influence and we cannot “lose” who we are inside. We may or may not be aware of all of these things when we accept Jesus, but the happen nonetheless.

God does not wish for us to be ignorant of all of the beautiful things that are happening inside of us, so John gives us a way to know that we have changed by showing us a fruit of our salvation. Many things will change about us when we get saved, but one thing that we cannot change on our own is how we feel about other people. In fact, if we have bad feelings toward someone, many of us will say, “Hey, I can’t change how I feel”. How correct we are! This is why John chooses the subject of loving one another as a way of knowing that you are saved.

When you come to Christ, he sheds His love abroad in your heart. As you accept His love for you, your love for others grows accordingly. In fact, it is impossible for you to know how loved that you are in the sight of God, and not give that same love out to everyone that you meet. I am often struck by the testimonies of new converts who cannot put into words what has happened in them since they met Jesus, but they can all make one, common statement, “I feel so much love!” This is the perfect work of Christ in their life, and they give that out with their action and their smile.

You know that you belong to him when the thing that you can’t change on your own is changing automatically. You truly cannot change how you feel about people, but as you change how you view your Father, and you accept His love for you, those other feelings change in turn. Our proof that we are as close to God as we claim to be is our feelings towards fellow believers. Take that litmus test in your own heart, and give God glory for the great things that He is doing and that He has done.

 

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Lay Hold on Eternal Life

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Jesus promised each one of us life more abundant (John 10:10), which means that we are to have a glorious experience in this life, happy and free in His finished work. His promise was not referring to our life to come, though that will be wonderful as well, for the New Testament makes it clear that we are to be living a great life in this present world (Romans 5:17; 1 Peter 3:10).

There are things that we can do in this present life that allow us to apprehend the glory that is found in the next life. Paul refers to this as laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19). There are no works that we can do that can qualify us for heaven, but there are some actions that we can take while on this earth that will lead to days of heaven on earth. It is the simple principle of sowing and reaping that is a recurring theme of the New Covenant, and if the believer follows its pattern, they will reap if they faint not (Galatians 6:9).

Paul addresses young Timothy in two letters that bear Timothy’s name. Near the close of the first letter, he tells Timothy to give a charge to the wealthy members of his congregation that they not trust in their “uncertain riches, but in the living God” (1 Tim. 6:17). All wealth that we accumulate on this earth is uncertain riches, for the economies can shake and crumble, as we have well seen! The living God is unshakeable, thus He is a firm foundation. When we trust in Him we see that He “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

The word “communicate” in verse 18 is an unfortunate translation. The original Greek word is ‘koinonikos’ which means “inclined to share with others; a free or liberal giver”. Paul uses this word 4 times in the New Testament and each time he is referring to giving financially or in any other way in which you are contributing to someone else. This is the heart of sowing into good ground, where you believe that your giving makes a difference in a church, a ministry or a life. Paul encouraged those that could spare the money to give it, for it would lay up a store for themselves against bad times to come (1 Timothy 6:19). Where the world’s system says “save your money for a rainy day”, Paul said “Give to others and you are prepared for the rainy day”.
When you learn the concept of sowing and reaping, you lay hold on a piece of eternity. The glory and the joy that permeates the next life will become yours on this earth and in this life. Days of heaven on earth are possible, but only if the redeemed become less attached to the system of this earth and more in tune with the music of heaven.

Jesus warned us about laying up treasure here, which was not His way of saying “Don’t save your money”. Instead, He wants us to focus our investments in the spirit realm, confident that our heavenly Father is a firm foundation, unshakeable in a world of uncertain riches. Invest wisely in ministry and the work of the Lord and you too will “lay hold on eternal life”.

 

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