“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).
Paul was writing to the Ephesians from prison in Rome. The young Timothy had become pastor of the church at Ephesus, which was growing exponentially and enjoying bountiful blessings. The church was eager to hear what Paul had to say to them. He begins the letter by speaking about the glories and splendor of Christ and then reminds them of where they came from. They had been dead in their trespasses and were now made alive and seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Not only were their sins washed away, but they had moved into a realm that far surpassed the glory of anything they had ever experienced. All because they had been saved by grace through faith!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10). God’s presence will create for you all kinds of opportunities that are not birthed out of your own works. He has something planned for you that you can walk into. Not only does he save you and give you faith, but he also calls you out and gives you a life of glory, power and grace!
Christ does not simply take the evil out of you; he puts all the kingdom of the glory of Christ Jesus into you. His blood does not only wash you from sin, but it begins to be imputed into your life so that the righteousness of God in Christ dwells in you. Because of this, you can walk in victory with your head held high.
“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18, MSG).
These words spoken by the apostle Paul are powerful. He reminds us of things beyond this life that are far out of sight. Eternal things! Our life on this earth is but the first page of a never-ending story that goes on into eternity. We have a hard time conceptualizing the vastness of eternity. In fact, we have difficulty even comprehending the word billion. For example, a billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive, walking on the planet. A billion hours ago the characters in Genesis were alive: Adam, Abraham, Noah. Think about that!
David says, “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more” (Psalm 39:4, TLB). We will not be here forever; in fact, we will not be here very long at all. But in a billion years from now we will be somewhere — so the question is: where will you be?
Markers on burial sites typically contain the date you were born and the date you died — separated by a dash. And it is what happens during the “dash” that determines where you will spend eternity. During your seventy, eighty, or even more years, you will make many choices that determine the way you live, but your most important decision will be regarding your eternal destiny. Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
God provides a way — one way — to heaven and it is through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). God made it simple when he said, “The only way to eternal life is through Jesus.” Eternal life — billions upon billions of years — with our Lord and Savior. Such a glorious hope! Now is the time to make sure you have made your decision to spend eternity with him.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Today’s church is full of silent saints who don’t want to make waves. After all, nobody wants trouble! But some of the disciples were big troublemakers. Paul and Silas walked in the power of the Spirit and “gave their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). On one occasion, Paul confronted a fortune-teller and cast the evil spirit out of her, sending the entire city into an uproar. The slave-owners of the delivered woman dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace to stand trial before the city magistrates. They then beat them and threw them into prison (see Acts 16:16-24).
It surely must have seemed that Satan had won this battle, but all the power of God was with these Holy Ghost troublemakers. “At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God … [and] suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed” (16:25-26). One result of all this was that the jailor fell down before the men and cried, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (16:30). After walking out of the prison, Paul and Silas went directly to the home of Lydia and encouraged their brothers in the Lord (see 16:40).
Paul and Silas fearlessly challenged the powers of darkness and a dead, corrupt religious system. “They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul … reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (17:1-3). The synagogue at Thessalonica had probably conducted quiet meetings for years, undisturbed. They diligently taught Scripture and outwardly appeared very holy. Then Paul came on the scene and in just three weeks of preaching the kingship of Jesus, he turned around that whole area.
Have you ever wished you were more fervent in your witness? Has Satan made you afraid of men? The Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “My brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). May Paul and Silas inspire you to be bold in your testimony for Jesus.
Jesus is coming soon! “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
In Greek, the word “shout” means to incite by word, to awaken, spur to action. All overcomers will hear the voice of the archangel: “He is at the door! He whom you love has come to take you away!” This is no discreet coming, done quietly in a corner. No! Jesus is coming with trumpet blasting, with hosts of angels, with a shout, with a cosmic cry of the archangel. The dead in Christ will rise first to meet him in the air and what a thunderous rejoicing that will be. Then he will send his angels into all the world and gather his children to himself.
Throughout history, different ones have foolishly predicted the time of Christ’s return. Multitudes have sold all they owned and gone to specific sites to await his return — only to be disappointed. “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:33). Beware of getting caught up in when and how Jesus is coming when you should be concentrating on who is coming. God has purposely withheld the time of Christ’s return to keep his people in a state of watchfulness.
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). It was a glorified Man who left and it is a glorified Man who is returning! Do you desire to be with the Lord? Did you know that it is his desire to be with you? Live every day in joyful anticipation of his coming at any hour. And remember that until he comes, there is much work to be done!
One of the greatest blessings a true believer has is to know the voice of God. It is possible to hear God’s voice today as certainly as did Abraham and Moses—as clearly as did Samuel and David—as surely as did Paul, Peter, and the apostles.
God has always sought for a people who would honor and fear his voice. Yet, in our day many voices are crying out pretending to be the voice of God and thousands are being led astray. They put their very lives in the hands of a teacher or preacher who then becomes God to them. But no one is infallible and you need to know and hear God’s voice directly in order to judge what is being taught.
In addition, within our hearts are many voices crying out, all of them pretending to be the very voice of God. If you trust any of these voices without trying them all by God's Word, you will be led astray! There is the voice of our flesh, the voice of our stubborn will, the voice of the enemy, and the voice of the world. All of them are sweet, gentle, and promising you "This is God speaking!"
Let me tell you who is sure to be deceived: it is that Christian who thinks he can't be deceived — the one who once truly heard, but now moves by impressions and voices which have not come out of the secret closet. We are not infallible and every word we get is not from God.
Only those who value the Master’s voice enough to wait for him will hear him. God says to us, “If you want to hear my voice, pray to me in secret and I will reward you openly” (see Matthew 6:6). Busyness, lusts, covetousness, and the cares of life can choke out his voice.
God wants to speak a fresh word to you today! If you want to correctly hear his voice, get alone with him. His presence always accompanies his voice and if you spend time in his Word, the Holy Spirit will confirm everything with Scripture. That is the path to true joy and peace.