Hope of Heaven & The Hope of Christ: An Eschatological Imperative

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The topic of “heaven” is one of the most penned topics in the realm of prose and poetry, and one of the most illustrated points of artistry. Countless television shows describe individuals’ having out-of-body experiences involving heaven. Movies depict those who claim to have gone there. Heaven remains a fascination for humans. And while some might deny the potential of heaven’s existence, it’s hard to deny the appeal that it has in a world where hope often withers in the shadows of human depravity. So it seems that this only proves the point that this present world is not our hope. It’s not our home. It’s not our entire reality, nor should it ever be.

We are in need of an eschatological imperative to invade our lives. Hope of heaven. The hope of Christ.

Without it we risk meaningless living, in a state of inconsequential reality regarding eternity. Our lives won’t mean very much without the hope of heaven. Or without the hope of Christ. We’ll grow stale. Bitter. Complacent. We need heaven to enter our reality. We need Christ to remind us why we’re here in the first place. To glorify God, to love others, and to desire Jesus as the treasure above all else.

Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven as an imminent reality in so much of the gospels that it seems He wants us to have heaven on our minds. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “you’re no earthly good when you’re so heavenly minded,” it’s quite the contrary. God desires us to “look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” as it says in Titus 2:13.

But notice that our hope for heaven is wrapped up in our hope of Jesus Christ. It is not an isolated hope for eternal paradise. Not at all. Crucially, we long for the day when we see our Savior. And this is the eschatological imperative pushing through the crevices of our hearts. Demanding us to open our eyes. To look to Jesus. To hope for Jesus’ return.

To expound upon eschatological imperative, the word “eschatological” comes from the Greek word “εσχατοϛ” meaning “last; furthest; or most remote.” Pretty simple word. Thus, a pretty simple connection that eschatology (with root εσχατοϛ and ending “-ology,” or “study of”) means study of “last things.” Or the study of things that pertain to the end of the ages and ultimate realities. And an “imperative” is a must or a necessary essential. A logical must.

So, possessing an “eschatological imperative” means that it is necessary and essential for one to operate from a perspective of last things in everything that one does.

But not just any last things. We focus on last things that are important to God as pertaining to scripture. Things that are last (yet to come). And things that last (forever). Namely, Himself. His coming. And the hope of heaven. For God is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev: 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). The beginning and the last (Isaiah 44:6; Rev: 1:17). And He will come to rescue us through Christ (Isaiah 66:18; John 14:18; Rev. 22:12). As we focus on Christ as our last thing, or our ultimate obsession and our end goal, the hope of heaven penetrates our worldview of what it means to live as a Christian. It’s an earth-shattering, eschatological perspective. An eschatological perspective intertwined in 1) the alpha-and-omega, all-encompassing characteristic of God, 2) the return of Christ, and 3) the hope of heaven, where we have eternal communion with our God.

It’s all about God and always will be. For “God is the best thing that exists,” as Louie Giglio puts it so well. He is what we live for.

It helps me to be reminded in the midst of my current situation that there is more to life than this. Whatever season you’re in, it won’t last forever. But God will last forever (1 Chr 16:34; Psalm 45:6) . No matter how broken our world becomes, it won’t remain broken forever. Jesus is coming back to make all things new (Rev 21:1-4). Our lives may not endure past 100 years on this earth. But our life with God will endure forever (Rev 22:5). These are essential truths that should awaken hope in the midst of today’s burdens. That God lasts forever. Jesus Christ is coming back soon. And we hope for heaven.

We look for a kingdom yet unseen (John 18:36; 1 Tim 1:17). A kingdom that is coming on clouds of glory with a rider in white coming to rescue His beloved (Rev 19:13). We anticipate the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev 19:7). We let the hope of heaven seep into the crevices of our hearts that we may be renewed afresh despite a world of chaos. I need that hope. We all do, if we’re honest.

Especially since I can find it so easy to lose sight of just what it means to possess an eschatological imperative. I drift from focusing on the last and most important thing. I drift from focusing on what’s to come. I focus too much on what I can see. Too little on what I don’t see. And the hope of “last things” becomes cloudy in the distractions of today. And I can find myself too worn out to even think about “right now” things, much less “last things.”

Most of the time, we have a wrong eschatological perspective of life. Our “last things,” or ultimate things that should matter before God, are usually self-seeking “first things.” We may spend more time fixating on our own agendas, working towards our own goals, worrying over petty problems, or wishing wishes that never come. Too often we shout “me first” when it should be “me last.” Because it’s always easier to get what we want. It is. But sometimes, deciding to be okay with the tension that accompanies not getting what we want can be good for us.

For me, I’ve realized that I need to stop avoiding anxiety. It may sound odd that this would be helpful rather than harmful. But I’ve learned that I need to be okay with not having control over the things I want to be in control of. And then I have to confront anxiety or fear head-on. I have to let it go and embrace it, if it comes. But in the midst of letting go, I’m finding freedom in being okay with whatever happens to come my way…even if that means feeling overwhelmed with things I no longer have control over. God is renewing my perspective in light of eternity.

And I know it’s hard to think with a mind postured towards heaven in all that we do. I know we have a lot of distractions. I know we still have daily responsibilities. But may we let it be a spiritual discipline that develops into a pattern of habitual thinking, to continue looking towards our ultimate aim to be with Christ eternally. Like David in Psalm 43:5, I pray that we would respond in this manner: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

My only cure for anxiety is an eschatological perspective. An awakening of sorts. A wake-up call to the reality that life is far more dependent on what I don’t see than what I do see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The impending reality of heaven in our midst should cause us to pause and thank God for the hope He has given us in His Son Jesus Christ. To be with Him one day in glory. To enter into peace and rest. To be accepted as one wholly loved and completely understood. This is our hope. And this “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” as it says in Romans 5:5.

Hope in Christ changes today by curing our anxiety for tomorrow with the truth that forever begins soon. Yes, forever begins soon.

Jesus proclaims in Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon!” and again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” John writes down these powerful words of Jesus as he recalls his experience of this revelation. In Revelation 22:20, he writes, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (emphasis mine). John wanted Jesus to come now. He was ready. He was expectant. His experience and relationship with Jesus further fed his desire to see Christ’s return. So we must ask ourselves: do our relationships with Jesus feed our desire for His return?  We need this kind of longing to keep us hopeful in the midst of what we face here on earth.

I’m finding that as I position my heart towards heaven and my hope in Christ, I don’t worry so much about what is happening now as I used to. I’m learning to take an eschatological look at my circumstances and realize that it is nothing in light of the age to come. There is a “last” thing up ahead that initiates eternity. Jesus will return! And He’s here now with us through His Holy Spirit. Our lives are minuscule compared to His greatness and inconsequential to forever with our Savior.

As we ponder what it means to live life postured towards heaven, may we embrace the very perspective of Jesus. The One who came to earth from heaven and taught us about the kingdom to come. The kingdom of God. The Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. For our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and is kept in heaven for you,” as is says in 1 Peter 1:4. 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20

Questions for Today:

  • How are my ultimate hopes impacting the way that I live daily?
  • Why is it important that we hope in Jesus Christ as it relates to heaven and not hope in the isolated reality of heaven?
  • How can I live my life with an eschatological imperative?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take  in my walk with Him?

“Heaven and Earth” by Hillsong Worship

Getting to Know Jesus: Luke 14

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The gospel of Luke is admired as one of the most beautifully written works of the Bible in its original Greek language. In English we lose the effect of his poetic style, but we glean the attributes of Jesus that Luke includes in his gospel account. As a medical doctor, Luke is very orderly and detailed in his writings as well, which help us to learn more about Jesus as we read. As we get to know Jesus in Luke chapter 14, I love that Luke includes this passage where Jesus goes to eat with Pharisees on the Sabbath. Rarely do we see Jesus and the Pharisees eating together in a close and personal environment, but it reveals the character of Jesus so well. Though most of the Pharisees hated Jesus and constantly instigated quarrels with Him regarding Jewish law, Jesus willingly went to eat with them. He didn’t hold a grudge, he didn’t bring up in His mind future thoughts of them murdering Him (which He probably could have), nor did He shut them out of his life because of what they spoken about him. His heart was no less burdened for their redemption than it was for His disciples. What humility and grace Jesus portrayed in mingling with the very people who would soon hand Him over to death, all for the sake of extending God’s hope for humanity to all people. May we learn from His example and show everyone the same kind of compassion that Jesus showed, even to those we may be hesitant to engage with. Also, I love that Jesus is an observer. Everywhere He goes, His eyes are on alert. Watching behaviors. Watching reactions. Noticing his surroundings. Noticing people. In a room full of Pharisees, I would think the room would be rather tense and uncomfortable at the start of a humility lecture, but not to Jesus! As the passage progresses, Jesus boldly begins speaking about the importance of assuming lowly places and giving preference to others . No question this was troubling content for a group of men whose sole purpose in life was to gain honor and status via their religious duties. But ultimately, Jesus wasn’t trying to shame them. He wasn’t trying to make them feel bad for the way they practiced life. He just wanted to renew their perspective of what it meant to please God. To Jesus, humility precedes honor and humility brings exaltation. This was completely counter-cultural. But Jesus called them to abandon the social norms of their day to follow the norms of a coming kingdom. The kingdom of God. And as He goes on in this chapter, He talks about what it means to follow Him while challenging them to consider the cost. May we read Luke 14 while getting to know the Jesus who approaches us lovingly so that we might humble ourselves, follow Him and count the cost of such devotion.  It doesn’t matter who we are or what position in life we may be assuming. Christ calls us to follow Him just the same. It is up to us to consider His words.

 

Summary: Luke 14

Jesus goes to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees on the Sabbath; the Pharisees watch Jesus carefully; a sick man is present; Jesus asks the Pharisees if it is lawful or not to heal on the Sabbath; they remain silent; Jesus heals the man and sends him away; Jesus compares healing on the Sabbath to pulling a son or ox out of a well on the Sabbath; they do not reply to Jesus; Jesus tells a parable about individuals taking various seats of honor at a wedding feast; Jesus teaches them to sit in the lowest place rather than the place each thinks he deserves; Jesus teaches them to not invite people they know to a dinner or social gathering, but those they don’t know so that they cannot repay the host; one reclining at the table exclaims that the kingdom of God must be a place of blessing for those who will eat bread there; Jesus tells a parable of a banquet with invited guests (who reject the invitation) and uninvited guests (who are then brought into the banquet); Jesus teaches them what it will cost them to become his disciple, saying that one should hate his family in comparison with their love for Him, and must bear his own cross; Jesus exhorts them to count the cost of following Him before they make the decision.

 

Jesus in Luke 14

Jesus eats with one of the rulers of the Pharisees on the Sabbath (v. 1)

Jesus is watched closely by the religious elite (v. 1)

Jesus already notices that there is a man present who needs healing (v. 3)

Jesus asks the Pharisees their opinion about something He already knows the answer to (v. 3)

Jesus is bold (v. 3)

Jesus illuminates the contents of our hearts (v. 3)

Jesus is in control of the situation (v. 3)

Jesus touches the sick man (v. 4)

Jesus heals the sick man (v. 4)

Jesus let’s him go (v. 4)

Jesus prioritizes engaging with hurting people (v. 4)

Jesus asks the Pharisees a practical question (v. 5)

Jesus wants us to realize that people are more important than keeping rules (v. 5)

Jesus stumps the religious elite (v. 6)

Jesus notices the positions we take in life; relationally, occupationally, hierarchically (v. 7)

Jesus calls out pride and selfishness when He sees it (v. 7)

Jesus instructs us to not sit in the best places (v. 7)

Jesus emphasizes humility over entitlement (v. 8)

Jesus’ teachings are counter cultural (v. 8)

Jesus rejects social norms (v. 8)

Jesus warns us against taking a position of superiority that we do not deserve (v. 9)

Jesus endorses humility (v. 10)

Jesus appreciates humility (v. 10)

Jesus will humble those who exalt themselves (v. 11)

Jesus will exalt those who humble themselves (v. 11)

Jesus encourages us to host those who cannot repay us (v. 12)

Jesus wants us to be hospital to those outside our usual circle of friends (v. 12)

Jesus entreats us to serve the poor (v. 13)

Jesus says we will be rewarded at the resurrection of the just (v. 14)

Jesus’ words excite hearts to a joyful response (v. 15)

Jesus tells a parable (v. 16-24)

Jesus invites those to the banquet who were once not invited (v. 21-24)

Jesus reminds us that we must hate all other relationships in comparison to our love for Him (v. 26)

Jesus demands complete loyalty (v. 26)

Jesus wants all or nothing from us (v. 26)

Jesus calls us to bear our cross to be His disciple (v. 27)

Jesus’ requirements for following him are serious (v. 26-27)

Jesus loves us too much to let Him be anything but 1st in our lives (v. 26-27)

Jesus calls us to follow Him no matter the cost (v. 27)

Jesus explains to us the significance of counting the cost (v. 28 & 31-32)

Jesus doesn’t want half-hearted commitment (v. 28)

Jesus wants us to finish what we start (v. 28-29)

Jesus tells us clearly that we cannot be His disciple if we don’t forsake all (v. 33)

Jesus talks of salt losing its flavor (v. 34)

Jesus doesn’t want us to be like ones who lose their flavor, or their zeal for God (v. 34-35)

Jesus says that tasteless salt will be thrown out (v. 35)

Jesus wants us to understand that our decision of “all or nothing” determines if we will be salty or not, loyal or not, fruitful or not ( v. 35)

 

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

 

Questions for Today:

  • Am I engaging in conversation with those outside of my circle of friends?
  • How can I humble myself before God in the way that I live?
  • Do I notice others when they have a need?
  • What does my love for the Lord look like in comparison with my other relationships?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me take in my relationship with Him today?

Getting to Know Jesus: Colossians 2

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As the gospels give us historical, narrative, and illustrative depictions of Jesus in his earthly ministry, epistles like Colossians give us a perspective of Jesus in His glory and divinity, from the insights of the apostle Paul. Paul wrote to remind the Church at Colossae of Jesus’ position both as the Christ and as God in the flesh. Deviations from sound doctrine were circulating the church of Colossae, as Gnosticism denied Jesus as being fully God and various forms of mysticism leaked into the church. Yet today we still remain very much like the church of Colossae living amidst a world that denies Christ’s preeminence and power. Forms of mysticism in the guise of political correctness, enlightenment and religious tolerance subtly infiltrate our faith as we are bombarded with this kind of rhetoric all day long through media, print and daily life. But Colossians emphasizes assurance and hope in Christ despite the emptiness of cultural relativism. It inspires the reader to embrace his or her identity in Christ as one who has been made alive by the Messiah. Paul particularly writes to the Colossians from prison in Rome with a burden for this church to know who Christ is in full and to avoid all of the empty religious and philosophical distractions that surround them. But he corrects them with tender care and concern, as to point them in the right direction in their faith. Paul’s pastoral gentleness forges trust that compels them to consider his advice and persevere in what they know is true about Christ. As he writes, Christ remains the focus, shining forth as the radiant Lord that Paul met while still he was still Saul on the road to Damascus. Full of power. Full of glory. Full of life-awakening grace. He shines forth as God. And Paul longs for the church at Colossae to know this Jesus. Not the Jesus that those outside may claim Him to be. But the One whom Paul has been radically changed by and lives to preach about. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we learn a few more characteristics of  Jesus regarding His eternal manifestation and ultimate authority in Colossians chapter 2. I love that we have a Savior who embodies both humanity and divinity. He knows what it’s like to live broken and weary in this world. He knows what pain is. He’s not a foreign or distant authority. But He also knows what it’s like to reign eternally in peace, righteousness and hope. And He extends the same to us if we would take it. Only Jesus has the ability to raise us to life again. May we let Jesus be the hope we profess and the Lord we commit to in every way possible. For He is the wellspring of life. The all-compassionate ruler. And He longs to draw us into His holy gates. Receive His invitation and enter into the mystery of God which is Christ Jesus, our Lord. Our hope. Our Salvation. Our everything.

 

Summary of Colossians 2

Paul writes to the Colossians and Laodiceans that he struggles alongside them and wants them to be encouraged in their faith; Paul reassures them that he is with them in spirit; Paul exhorts them to keep walking rooted in Jesus; Paul tells them to not be carried away by empty arguments of deceit and philosophies that are popular in the region; Paul teaches them about the particulars of Christ’s divinity; Paul talks about circumcision metaphorically in relation to one’s fallen humanity; Paul reminds them of baptism in which they died to the flesh and were raised to life in Christ; Paul further expounds upon the significance of God doing away with sin in our flesh, making us alive in Christ; Paul declares that Jesus has triumphed over the powers of this world; Paul encourages the Colossians to stay loyal to what they have been taught and not to be carried away by various forms of asceticism and angel worship; Paul again reminds them they no longer have to submit to certain regulations because they’re in Christ now and have died to those old ways of living.

 

Jesus in Colossians 2

Jesus as Christ and God incarnate is a mystery (v. 2)

Jesus possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (v. 3)

Jesus is who we put our trust in (v. 5)

Jesus is who we walk with (v. 6)

Jesus is our foundational root (v. 7)

Jesus possesses all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (v. 9)

Jesus is the head of all rule and authority (v. 10)

Jesus enables us to abandon the sins of the flesh (v. 11)

Jesus buries us with Him in baptism (v. 12)

Jesus raises us with Him in baptism (v. 12)

Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Father (v. 12)

Jesus has made us alive with God (v. 13)

Jesus has forgiven all our trespasses (v. 13)

Jesus cancelled the record of debt that was against us (v. 14)

Jesus nailed our debt to the cross (v. 14)

Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities (v. 15)

Jesus shamed the rulers and authorities (v. 15)

Jesus triumphed over the rulers and authorities (v. 15)

Jesus is the substance of what is to come (v. 17)

Jesus is the Head of the Body of Christ, the church (v. 19)

Jesus joined us to Him in His death (v. 20)

Jesus freed us from the elemental spirits of the world (v. 20)

 

“For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the Head of all rule and authority.” – Colossians 2:9-10 –

Questions for Today:

  • How can I let the truth of Jesus Christ in God’s Word help me combat the lies of the world?
  • Considering that Jesus has power over all rulers and authorities on earth, do I submit myself to Him as the ruler of my own life?
  • Why is it important to remember that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my walk with Him today?

 

There’s Gotta Be Something More: Waiting for an “Aha” Moment

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For so many of us, we live in a constant state of looking towards the future. Waiting for what’s next. Waiting for our lives to finally fall into place. Waiting for something more. If I’m not careful, I can find myself thinking these thoughts over and over again.

So often I’ve thought that if I could just get to a certain point in my life that it would all make sense. That my life would finally have meaning. That I would finally fulfill my purpose. There have been times when I’ve been discouraged in the waiting periods of my life to the point where I miss the ministry opportunities right in front of me. Thinking that I can do something better and so I must work really hard to attain the means by which to get there. Or thinking that what I’m doing at a particular moment isn’t really making the difference that I want it to make.

And I find myself wishing for that moment…that opportunity…that season of life.

But that time doesn’t seem to arrive, does it? Even when we make decisions that land us in new, exciting territories that we expect to grant us a sense of purpose…it never satisfies. I know it never puts me at ease. It never puts an end to the longing in my soul for more to accomplish.

And in this place I find that God is waiting for me to realize…that this is the point.

Yes, there will always be something more to do. Yes, there will always be something else to consider. Yes, there will always be unfulfilled wishes of my heart. Because “the heart is utterly sick and who can understand it?”, as it says in Jeremiah 17:9. I can’t trust the something more of my heart.

But God is teaching me to be okay with not having the something more. He wants me to know that He is the someone more.

And through Him, I can learn to be faithful right here and now. Through Him, I can be at ease. Through Him, I can find meaning in my place in life. Through Him, I can do ministry to those around me. Through Him, I always have purpose and I don’t need to wait for what’s next.

The greatest ministry opportunity I’ll ever have will always be: right now. Wherever I’m at. And wherever you’re at, know that you have a calling to do ministry in that place too. God is calling us today.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 95:7b-8, “Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts as at Maribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.” Again this is repeated in Hebrews 3:15, “Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts.”

It is imperative that we focus on today, instead of wishful thinking of what the future may or may not bring. I know I am guilty of this. But the truth of scripture reminds me that I do not know what tomorrow may bring or if it will come (Proverbs 21:7 & James 4:13-14). But I do have today. So do you. And today is in desperate need of the love of the Savior to reach a lost and dying world.

As we focus on God as our strength for today, we immediately find purpose. The purpose that we’ve been waiting for. A heart change happens that shifts our desires away from ourselves and onto God. And we find purpose by being in relationship with the Savior who created us to long for Him and find satisfaction in the longing. This is best demonstrated through the words of the psalmist in Psalm 84:10. It is one of my favorite psalms and a prayer for the trajectory of my heart. Let us meditate on it together: “Better a day in your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of the wicked.”

I love the passion of the psalmist in this passage. He is so enraptured with God that the sheer thought of being at His door is enough to fill his heart with zealous longing. Just at the door. Even for one day. Even if he doesn’t get to peek inside. Or see God’s face. Just to be at His door is enough for him.

And I am pierced in my heart as I ask myself: Is it enough for me?

I know I can get so distracted by all of the things I have planned, all the things I want to do for God, all the things I hope to accomplish…but what if I stopped to think about God in the way the psalmist does? To stop thinking about what I can do and simply rest in the thought of where I could be.

What if you and I stop and meditate on the thought of just being at the door of God’s house even for one day? To love Jesus with such passion that the cares of this world don’t even enter our minds because we are so enraptured with a longing for just a glimpse of the house of the Lord. May it radically change our perspective.

As I meditate on Jesus and ask for Him to grant me a longing for Him, I find indeed that He is the something more. Really, He is the someone more. And He gives me purpose for today. I’m finding that being faithful where I’m at is more important than all my future goals, even of service to Him. Because He’s more concerned about who I am becoming than where I am going.

Now I can stop waiting for my “aha” moment where life finally makes sense. I don’t need to anticipate it any longer. Because it is not a future moment I must wait for…rather it is an imminent gift I must take possession of. The gift of learning more about Jesus today. The gift of making the most of my opportunities today. The gift of relationship with Jesus today. May we, who are in Christ, never take that relationship for granted. For intimacy with Christ today is much more important than the plans of tomorrow.

And as we become who we were created to be in Christ, our influence magnifies in effectiveness because we have more to offer others.

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter writes, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter is encouraging us to grow in our relationship with the Lord in all of these ways so that we will be effective in our faith and ministry. Our character in Christ is directly proportional to our fruitfulness. We must take possession of the gift of Christ and make every effort to spend time with Him, knowing that we are maturing into who we are made to be and can then reach others the way Jesus did. It matters who we are becoming. Because those around you and I are impacted by what we say and do…so we must receive that influence and decide to make the most of it in any way that God calls us to, no matter how big or small it may seem to us.

This is why we must be faithful now where we’re at in life. We must be diligent now to spend time with Jesus. Today is the day of salvation, as it says in 2 Corinthians 6:2. Today is the day we grow in our faith. Today is the day we make a difference. Today is the day. May it be a reminder that forever compels us to press on with urgency.

And then, we will realize… that Christ in me …Christ in You…that is the “aha” moment! That is when it all makes sense. Colossians 1:27 says it so well!  “To them God chose to make known how great among the gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ reigns in us! This generates hope within that can never be quenched. Realize just how significant you are right now, not just to God, but to all those who surround you wherever you’re at in life. Today, you have purpose in Christ. The hope of glory. To make His name known. To magnify His name above all others. And that means above ourselves. And above our plans.

I must decide to embrace these moments right now as the moments that matter. As the moments that have purpose. As the moments that are making a difference. Because if Christ is in us, everything we do right now has purpose! There is someone more that is working in our souls. Generating purpose. Generating satisfaction. Generating passion. Generating a longing for Him. And through Him, it all makes sense.

We can choose to think about all that we could be doing, should be doing, would be doing if we were in another place or had another set of circumstances. But what if our circumstances never change? Will you and I still be faithful today? Will we still trust Him today? Will we let Him be enough today? We must decide today who we live for. It’s a decision that has major implications for our lives. But also has the potential to dissolve so many of the fears, worries and lack of purpose that plague our hearts.

Let the finality of what it means to have Christ in you be enough. Let it amaze you. Let it sink in. Let it prompt you to want to bring Him glory in everything that you do and make the most of today for the benefit of another.

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” – Hebrews 3:13

Questions for Today:

  • What future goals are distracting me from being faithful today?
  • How can I make the most of my place in life right now?
  • Why is Jesus more concerned with who I am becoming rather than where I am going?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“My Heart if Yours” by Passion Band ft Kristian Stanfill

Getting to Know Jesus: John 21

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This passage found in John is very dear to my heart. It describes the encounter Peter has with Jesus after completely failing him by denying that he knew him, not just once but three times. I can relate to Peter in his humiliation. I bet he thought that Jesus couldn’t possibly even look at him after he had turned his back on his savior. But Jesus stuns him. Jesus does the opposite of what Peter expected. He lovingly approaches Peter. Lets him know that he is loved. Despite his failure. Despite his cowardice. Despite his faithlessness. In my life, there are many times when I do the same thing as Peter did. I deny I know Jesus by the things that I do. I deny I know Jesus by the words that come out of my mouth. I deny I know Jesus by the thoughts that I have. And the rooster crows three times. And I know I’ve messed up. Reading the gospel of John, especially this chapter, I’m finding that Jesus’ forgiveness is so unfathomable. How could One so perfect ever think of wanting to reestablish a relationship with one so imperfect? But this is the Jesus we get to know in the gospels. This is the Jesus we get to love. This is the Jesus we get to serve. This is our Jesus. He isn’t offended by our mistakes. Even when it’s a mistake that could easily wound His heart because of our unfaithfulness. But He sacrificially offers loving-kindness to us. And this unexpected grace rubs off on us…we are compelled to change. I love that Jesus is a radical forgiver. A radical lover. A radical friend. There is none like Him. Let us learn to embody His very nature in the way that we interact with others. Let us learn about Jesus together in this passage, John 21:1-25 and apply it to our lives. Jesus is our only hope. Our only source of life.

Summary of John 21:1-25

Jesus appears to the disciples after his death and resurrection, by the Sea of Tiberius; at dawn, Jesus stands on the shore while Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples go out to fish; they catch nothing; Jesus asks them if they have any fish, and then tells them to cast their nets on the right side of their boats; they catch an abundance of fish; John recognizes that it is Jesus who they see; Peter jumps into the sea and swims to the shore to see Jesus, while the others come to the shore on the boat with the haul of fish; Jesus had already prepared a fire for them to cook their fish; the net is not torn though it is filled full; Jesus tells them to come and have breakfast; none of the disciples would ask Him who He was, though they knew it was Jesus; it is listed as the third encounter the disciples have with the resurrected Jesus; after finishing breakfast, Jesus begins to ask Peter, “Do you love me?” a total of three times, each time giving Peter an instruction to follow; Jesus prophecies the way in which Peter will die but says to follow Him anyways; Peter asks what will happen to John, and Jesus says, “What’s it to you if He remains until my return?”; John verifies his testimony to these things that have happened; John explains that there were many other things that Jesus did that are too many to be recorded.

Jesus in John 21:1-25

Jesus reveals himself again (v. 1)

Jesus reveals Himself in a particular way (v. 1)

Jesus longs for us to see Him for who He truly is (v. 1)

Jesus waits at the shore (v. 4)

Jesus speaks with a parental concern (v. 5)

Jesus recognizes a need (v. 5)

Jesus offers the solution (v. 6)

Jesus’ solution exceedingly outweighs their expectations (v. 6 & 8)

Jesus is recognized by John, who calls himself the one that Jesus loves (v. 7)

Jesus’ presence causes Peter to hastily swim to meet Him (v. 7)

Jesus is not threatening to the one who has failed Him (v. 7)

Jesus prepared a means for them to utilize what He had already provided (fire for fish) (v. 9-10)

Jesus’ provision is meaningful to John, so that he records the very number of fish that were caught (v. 11)

Jesus wouldn’t let the net be torn (v. 11)

Jesus invites them to eat with Him (v. 12)

Jesus appears different in His resurrected form (v. 12)

Jesus initiates the meal with them (v. 13)

Jesus acts as the host (v. 13)

Jesus has revealed Himself to the disciples now three times (v. 14)

Jesus is still a little unfamiliar and unreal to the disciples even after seeing Him three times (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus continues to appear to the disciples though they wrestle with believing if it is really Him (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus must be radiantly different in his humanity and postresurrected body (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him (v. 15)

Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs (v. 15)

Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him (v. 16)

Jesus tells Peter to tend to His sheep (v. 16)

Jesus asks Peter a third time if he loves Him (v. 17)

Jesus tells Peter again to feed His sheep (v. 17)

Jesus restores Peter of his denial of Him, bestowing forgiveness, love, and responsibility (v. 15-17)

Jesus isn’t afraid to use those who failed Him in the past (v. 15 – 17)

Jesus prophecies Peter’s death (v. 18)

Jesus calls Peter to follow Him no matter what (v. 19)

Jesus has a distinct plan for Peter and for John (v. 21-22)

Jesus performed many other acts that could not be all written down (v. 25)

 

“He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

– John 21:17 –

 

Questions for Today:

  • Do I recognize Jesus when He reveals Himself to me?
  • Assuming I’m in Peter’s position, how do I respond when Jesus asks me again if I love Him?
  • How can I let Jesus restore me in the areas that I have failed Him?
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with Jesus today?