August 22: Resurrection Bodies

Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

As a widow stands by a fresh grave, what gives her hope for her spouse? When a young couple finds out they lost their baby, where do their thoughts drift? How can the disabled look forward to life after death? The answer is simple: resurrected bodies. As Christ-follwers, we believe when we are resurrected after death, we will receive heavenly bodies. (See v. 49.)

How can God cause this to happen? Paul called the Corinthians “fools” for questioning how God can do what only He can do. The Bible defines “fool” as someone who doesn’t take God into account. This is the God who created the universe out of nothing, the very God that destroyed entire cities with just a command. God has the power to do the miraculous.

“What will we look like in our resurrected bodies?” The Bible only gives us a few hints as to our resurrected appearance. We are told in verse 49 that we will “bear the image of the heavenly” and verse 53 tells us we will be immortal. However, there will be some resemblance to our earthly bodies. Jesus, upon resurrecting, showed his hands and feet to His disciples. Outside of that, we really don’t know what we will look like, only that we will be heavenly and perfect.

Paul, using the seed analogy in verse 36, explains the resurrection of the heavenly body deeper. When you plant a wheat seed, does that seed acome out of the ground in the same form? Of course not! A wheat stalk comes out of the ground. In the same way, when believers are buried, the same will not come out of the ground; instead a new created being will arise. This being will be immortal and heavenly and we need to keep hope in that.

God is intentional in His creation and made you right the first time. He does not mess up. Genesis 1:26 tells us God created each one of us in His own image, and that is perfection. He made us to resemble Him and we should take great pride in that. Verse 50 tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are going to be resurrected by God’s power to immortality so we can spend eternity with God!

jdl

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August 21: Why Hasn’t He Come Yet?

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

My siblings and I used to pester our parents beyond belief on road trips. We would ask them often and repeatedly “Are we there yet?” Another hour would pass and then, “Dad, are we there yet?” This happened for hours until one of my parents would turn around and finally say, “We’ll get there when we get there!”

We Christ-followers tend to anticipate the Second Coming of Christ with the same kind of impatience. We read about how epic it’s going to be while we sit here, waiting. “Is He coming yet?” Logically we question. “I mean, it’s been a good two thousand years since He left. Do you think He forgot about us?” I find myself questioning God’s timing. What is He waiting for? Part of me is so eager to get to Heaven that I can hardly wait for Him to come back victoriously through the clouds.

Second Peter 3 sheds some light on these questions. The Christians Peter wrote his second letter to must have been grappling with the same issues.

Peter cautions all of us in verse four by saying there will be people who mock Jesus because it will be a long time before His return. His reasoning is simple. “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that, by the word of God, the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water . . .”  There is no need to question God because He is all-powerful. He has it under control. His timing is perfect! “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (v. 8). God’s timing and our timing are separate. He exists outside of time, unaffected by it.

Peter urges a different mindset in verse 9. “The Lord is not slow about His promise . . . but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish . . .” He is waiting because there are still people to be saved! God doesn’t want anybody to die apart from Him. He wants all to accept forgiveness for their sins. Sadly, the reality is not everyone will.

You and I are called to live expectantly, living in preparation for the day of His return. Despite our waiting, God will still come back by surprise (v. 10). Is this going to be a happy surprise for you?

jdl

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August 20: The Rapture

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:4

One of the most intriguing book series I have ever read was Left Behind. I was fascinated to read about the end times through the perspective of the people left on earth. The books, while they kept my attention throughout, kind of caused my heart to sink realizing the characters were going through the Great Tribulation; the fear they must have been facing!

Matthew 24 tells us that Jesus will come back like a thief in the night. We don’t know the date or time. Some people will be unprepared. First Thessalonians 4 takes us through what’s called the Rapture. It tells us that those who have “fallen asleep” will be taken up first.

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus often referred to death as “falling asleep” which actually alludes to an awakening. The ones that have died will rise to meet Jesus in the clouds. Then the rest of us on earth will be taken up as well. We don’t know how this is going to look. All we know is that it will come when we least expect it.

Although death is often feared, those of us who follow Christ should not fear because we know what our future holds. Paul even tells the Thessalonian church in that after this account, they should comfort one another with these words. Death should be a celebration because we will be absent from our earthly bodies and present with the Lord and that is a most joyous feeling!

Are you ready? If the Rapture were to happen today, would you be left behind? Are you afraid of being left behind? Do you want these words pertaining to the Rapture to be an encouragement to you? They can be if you will trust your life to Jesus and believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sins. Having Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior will give you absolute assurance. Instead of fearing the end,  you can look forward to it, knowing that, in the blink of an eye, you will be face to face with your Savior.

jdl

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August 19: A Visit To Hell

Read Luke 16:19-31

It is common in our culture to say after someone we know and love dies, “I know they’re up there looking down . . .” and “Heaven just gained another angel.” Our society acknowledges there is a Heaven, a paradise for people after death, but we often choose to ignore the alternative. Doing good things and being the best people we can be, doesn’t mean we will get into Heaven. There is a very real place for people who die without Jesus. The Bible reveals that place to be Hell. While Heaven will be everlasting joy, Hell will be everlasting torment.

Luke 16 tells the story of two men. One of them was a rich man who, the passage says, who made a habit of wearing expensive clothes. He seemed to have everything anyone could want in life. The second man was a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores. The rich man ate abundantly from a table while Lazarus ate the crumbs as they fell off the table.

Upon death, Lazarus was taken to Heaven while the rich man, who through his entire splendor didn’t trust Jesus, was sent to Hell. The text then tells of an exchange between Abraham and the rich man. The rich man pleads with Abraham to have Lazarus relieve the pain he’s experiencing with just a drop of water. Abraham says that the chasm between the two is fixed; there are no visitation hours in Hell. Next, the rich man pleads that someone be sent to warn his family so they won’t share in his suffering. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

Do you believe in Hell? Do you believe in the alternative to Heaven? The truth is not everyone will go to Heaven. There will be some that die believing in something other than the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Does this reality cause you to re-evaluate who/what you are really living for?

Do you believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? There is going to be a time in which it will be too late to trust Jesus. Don’t flirt with the deadline. If you’re reading this, now is the time to give control of your life to Jesus. Make Heaven your eternal destination.

jdl

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August 18: Glimpse Into Heaven

Read Revelation 4:1-11

Perhaps like me, you have always been told Heaven is like nothing you can comprehend. There will be no pain, no sorrow, no sadness, eternity with God. It is literally going to be perfect. I try to think about it, imagine what it’s going to be like but my brain gets to a certain point where it just stops. I can’t even begin to grasp the glory that is going to be Heaven.

In Revelation 4, John gets the opportunity to gaze into Heaven and the scene is awe-inspiring, to say the least. He sees a door open into Heaven and he is called to come and see what must take place (the end times). Verse 2 tells us that John is immediately in spirit form and the first thing he sees is a throne on which God the Father sits. John describes the scene: jasper stone, a rainbow, and 24 elders sitting on thrones around God, clothed in white garments and crowns on their heads. It’s the scene out of the very throne room of God!

John goes on to describe the cherubim angels around the throne and living creatures that come out and they all praise God in unity. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is to come!” Upon this sight, we are told the 24 elders seated around the throne of God fall down before Him and cast their crowns before the throne saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” The living creatures’ praise of God is so great it causes the elders to fall on their faces in the presence of God!

The scenes of worship described in Revelation 4 are amazing! The best part is that this scene is going to play out for eternity (v. 10)! There will never be a moment in Heaven without praise to God.

Still, there is work to be done here on earth. Just like the cherubim angels and the elders worshiped God in John’s vision, we should do that through how we live. When people see us, they should see God. Our actions, our words, and our thoughts should show people the Light of Jesus Christ in us and scream, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God!”

Are you living in a way that people see God? Do people look at your life and want to know Jesus?

jdl

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August 17: What Happens To Us After We Die?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-21

“What happens when people die?” This is a common question because we want to know what, if anything, waits for us after we breathe our last. There are cultures and religions that preach that nothing happens to us when we die. They say we just cease to exist. What does the Bible really say about this question?

Paul sheds some light on this issue in 2 Corinthians 5. Here, Paul answers our question with one memorable phrase, “. . . we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” As believers, we are either in one place or the other: in our bodies or with the Lord. Paul is saying that this proves there is life after death.

In terms of the end times, we are going to experience them in the presence of the Lord. How would this affect you? Paul is very clear when he said that, at the point of death, our bodies and our spirits are separate and believers will immediately be in the presence of God. There is no “waiting room”; after we die, there is no chance to take back our rejection of God. We die and then we are judged by God Himself.

If you have not trusted Jesus to be your Savior, know this: time is running out. Mark 13:32 says that we do not know the day or the hour in which Jesus will return and take us up. When we are taken from our bodies, we are immediately in the presence of God. Are you ready for that? If you were to die today, what would you say to God? When He asks you, “Why should I let you into my kingdom?” how are you going to respond?

But there is hope for us all! Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are able to confidently answer, “I don’t deserve to be a part of your kingdom, but, because I believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection for my sins, my sin has been forgiven.” Do you believe that? Are you ready to proclaim it?

jdl

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August 16: Daniel’s Seventy Weeks

Read Daniel 9:1-27

Prophecy has always intrigued me; the fact that God inspired men to predict events with such great clarity truly amazes me. Daniel 9 contains one of the coolest prophecies in the Bible! The beginning recounts the story of Daniel and his three friends who were thrown into a furnace. The second half, though, contains a prophecy about the end of the world, which God revealed to Daniel. The focus of that prophecy is the Jewish people.

At the beginning of this chapter in Daniel 9, the people of Israel have been held in captivity in Babylon for many years. Daniel, reading Jeremiah 25, is asking God to stay true to His promise of liberating the Israelites. God sends an angel, Gabriel, to relay His words concerning the 70 weeks prophecy. The initial reading may be confusing because, if the prophecy truly meant 70 weeks, it would have already been fulfilled. Instead, it is meant to signify each of the 70 weeks as a year, or 490 years.

Now, the 490 years began with a decree to send the Israelites back home from Babylon. Then 483 years later, to the day, Jesus would ride through the gates of Jerusalem on a donkey. With the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Daniel predicted TO THE DAY when Jesus would make his Triumphant Entry and be called “Messiah!” (See Matthew 21.)

There is one easily overlooked but important feature in this prophecy; a “gap” between the 69th and 70th week, the Church Age, in which currently live. The 70th week is the Tribulation which has yet to happen.

Many people have been known to reference this prophecy quite frequently because it also predicts the actions of the Anti-Christ (a chief opponent of God). This Middle Eastern figure will come to power, sign a peace treaty with Israel, break it, and be thrown into Hell for eternity.

Daniel 9 is a key passage for our study of the end times. This prophecy is an example of God’s sovereign control over everything. He has the big picture all mapped out and nothing that happens will surprise Him. It is all a part of God’s plan to bring salvation to all people.

God has a plan for the end of the world. He has a plan for your life, too!

jdl

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