It was one place I had looked forward to visiting during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Just two miles outside Jerusalem, in the small town of Bethany, there is a small cave-like structure. The walls are narrow and the room at the bottom of the steep rock stairway is small and dark. You must stoop to enter the cavern that was hollowed out by loving hands, the place which visitors and locals alike call this place Lazarus' Tomb.
The apostle John referred to the miracle which occurred here as the "Seventh Sign." It was the last in a series of works which Jesus performed to point the people to faith in the Son of Man as the Messiah and redeemer. His best was saved for last! Lazarus, a beloved friend, had been dead long enough for his body to begin to decay. The Lord's disciples urged him to hurry the journey, but Jesus knew something they didn't know. When they arrived the family ushered them to the place of burial. With a word, the Lord Jesus raised Lazarus back to his earthly existence. Glory!
Beloved, today's troubles come in all sizes. Whatever problem you are battling, I want you to know that it can end with glorious triumph. Nothing, not even death itself, can claim victory over the mighty hand of Jesus our Lord. Allow your fears to be turned to courage because He who has power over the grave is also able to make your life a testimony of His riches and grace.
GospeLines Prayer:Almighty God, You are exalted above heaven and earth. You reign as King over your kingdom, ruler of all that lives and dies. With a word, You silence Your adversaries and breathe new life into Your church. Circumcise my heart, O Lord, and cut away the sin that hinders Your work. Deliver me from the tragedy of defeat, and enable me to live victoriously. Amen and amen.
A man planted a crepe myrtle tree with lavender blooms on his front lawn. During the first year it produced beautiful flowers with rich colors which blessed everyone who saw them. The flowers remained the same year after year.
Hoping to duplicate the color elsewhere in the yard, he rescued the small volunteer sprouts that popped up from the fallen flower seeds. For three consecutive years he shared the offspring with neighbors and added color to his back yard as well.
The first offspring grew nicely, but the flowers were not the same as the parent plant. The buds were a faded, washed-out lavender color; pretty, but not the same as the original.
Flowers from the third generation were a deep pink, not lavender at all.
And the fourth generation crepe myrtle produced flowers which were a very, very pale pink color.
There seemed to be a generational deficiency in the experiment. The plants farthest from the original root stock displayed the most differences. No one would think that there was any relationship at all in the trees which came from the seeds. The glorious original colors of the parent are now disappointingly faded in the offspring.
There are two truths to be learned from this parable.
First, Christian testimonies never fade or waiver when they are rooted deeply in Jesus Christ. The more we become like people around us, the more we move away from the original root of our Lord and Savior.When our witness becomes weak and faded, it loses the glorious beauty it had when we were first enjoined with Jesus.Consequently, the kingdom promises we once accepted matter-of-factly are less promising, not because God has changed but because our lives have gradually shifted away from Him.
Secondly, Christianity is not inherited from our parents.It is the Faith born deep within each individual heart which brings eternal security through Jesus Christ.One is not born into Christianity by physical birth, nor is salvation inherited by our nationality or race.Grace comes independently to those who ask by faith.
Reclaim the glory of yesteryear and let your light shine as it did before.Walk not in your own understanding but follow the unchanging message of the Father.
GospeLines Prayer:Blessed Creator, keep me close to the Root of Salvation; guard my soul so that I may testify of your everyday activity in my life.May the fragrance of my witness be a testimony of your grace and everlasting glory.Let Your message of hope and peace burst forth in victorious song.Amen and amen.
Pioneer 10 phoned home for the last time on January 23, 2003.
On March 2, 1972 it rocketed toward the constellation Taurus, and took close-up shots of Jupiter in 1983.For NASA to talk to the spacecraft by radio, the signals took 21 hours and 45 minutes to make the roundtrip between the Earth and the ship.
Listen to this!The spacecraft travels at a speed over 27,000 miles per hour, is currently over 8 billion miles from Earth, and to reach one of the stars of its destination will take another 2 million years.Just in case it is retrieved by the likes of "E. T." it carries a gold plaque with an engraved message of good will and a map showing the Earth's location.
Communicating with an "out-of-this-world" being has never been easier than it is at this very moment.I have a suggestion which is a lot less expensive, doesn't take twenty-two hours to be heard, and the signal will never grow weak with age; and, you are guaranteed to be heard every time.It's called PRAYER... and the Person on the other end is the Lord.
"I don't know how to pray," someone says.Jesus asks that we come to Him as a child."God never answers my prayers," cries the cynic.The disciples were taught to be persistent in praying."My problems don't seem important enough to bother God with them."Our Lord said, "Come to me, ALL who are weary and heavy in heart and I will give you rest."
Years ago I would encourage Christians to pray once a day, setting aside a special place and time for that devotional moment with God.Now I have a better idea!Don't wait until the perfect time to pray, but try "praying without ceasing!"If it comes into your thoughts, pray about it!Communication with God is so important that you shouldn't risk letting a day go by without doing it, simply because you couldn't fit your prayer time into your hectic schedule.I guarantee you that the signal will be stronger between you and God if you remain in an attitude of prayer always.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I rejoice that you are not somewhere out there, making it difficult for me to talk to you.Thanks for listening to me even when, by the world's standards, I may be a little less important than science and spaceships and gold plaques hurled toward the unknown.
During the American Civil War, a fierce battle took place at Shiloh, Tennessee.Throughout the battle, soldiers of both sides came to a small pond to drink and bathe their wounds.Both men and horses lay slaughtered in the blood-stained water,giving rise to its name, Bloody Pond.To this day, one can almost hear the cries of agony and easily imagine that the bloody stain remains, reminding us of the horror and anguish men can inflict on one another – a reflection of man’s inhumanity to man.
Today, another fierce battle is taking place in all the earth – the battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.We do not need imagination to hear the cries of agony in this battle; our history is filled with murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander and all sorts of evil thoughts - a very clear reflection of the consequences of sin.
The Bible stands eternal as a testament of God’s will and of mankind’s depravity.It reminds us of the weakness of our flesh; but, it also shines forth with the love and mercy of God – His plan for our eternal salvation – His Son Jesus.
Jesus’ words are written in the Scripture.Satan’s words are written in the world - in magazines, television, movies and in our music – we’re surrounded by his words.A tree appears green because it reflects the green portion of the light that falls on it.God’s light and the world’s light are shining on you.Which one do you reflect?
“The Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-9 – NIV)
Let this be your reflection…
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Persecution is the mantel of the Christian life.There are two facts which are indisputable in our generation:Christians have been persecuted for their faith, or they will be persecuted for their faith.
Persecution comes when least expected. It is a favorite tool of the enemy because it strikes at the heart and soul of the victim.It knocks us to our knees, then holds its ugly foot on the back of our necks and laughs hideously at the conquest.It hurts because it comes in the night, sneaking through the darkness from unsuspected sources.
Slander and insults are the prolific darts hurled at Christians today.They come from family, co-workers, next-door neighbors, church members and strangers.People we admire, people we love, people we must see every day of our lives knock the wind out of us with nasty remarks, filthy garbage, and unsupported lies.That familiar sick feeling grips our stomachs, tears flood our eyes, and we fight against the anger welling up within our hearts.We want to strike back, retaliate, or defend ourselves against the unjust criticism.
The assault against our godly character leaves us feeling powerless, unloved, forgotten and raped of dignity.“God, where are You?Why don’t You do something about this?”
If you are presently in this valley of persecution, you are walking in the company of the committed:Isaiah was sawn asunder with a wooden saw.Jeremiah, mistreated most of his life by those to whom he ministered, was stoned to death in Egypt after being taken there against his will.Ezekiel was verbally brutalized for his preaching; Amos had to take his prophecies elsewhere; Zechariah was unappreciated.And Jesus, well, you know what happened to Him!
In the movie “Dead Poets Society,” the teacher of a literature class instructs his students to rip pages from their books which he considered outdated.There are times when I wish I could disregard a Bible passage, rip it out, and ignore its message.A good example is something from Paul in his writing to the church at Corinth:“…When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”I Cor. 4:6.
Not only do we suffer these indignities because we are part of the heritage of committed martyrs, we also are called upon to endure unfair treatment out of loyalty to Jesus.What is our crime?Our crime is Christ.Once we step foot into His kingdom we cannot hold back with one foot in the world.It is all or nothing.And that commitment to Him must be reflected in our response toward our accusers.We cannot turn back when it seems that our Christianity is about to cost us something.Jesus said it is the moment to “leap for joy,” a time of unprecedented privilege to stand against the enemy.
Finally, we will never be called upon to suffer persecution alone.Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar?The king leaped to his feet and saw, not three, but four men walking around in the fire, “and the fourth looks like a son of the gods,” he said.Afterward, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked away from that furnace untouched by the flames.
Are you walking in the fire of persecution right now?Look up and see the hand of the Righteous God reaching through to rescue you.He will never leave you alone!
GospeLines Prayer:Help me, God!Since I was a child I have heard that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”As an adult, I know how untrue that is and that pain of the spirit can be worse than physical pain.It still feels like more of a curse than a blessing when others “say all manner of evil against me falsely.”Father, I am weak in this area of my walk.Please teach me how to turn the other cheek and really mean it, how to leap for joy when I am included in the company of the committed, and not shirk from the privilege of suffering for Your Name’s sake.Amen and amen.