The Unexpected

First Blooms on Wednesdaya
First Blooms on Wednesday/Snow cold on Friday!

I woke up feeling ill this morning. This was unexpected, especially since I felt so well yesterday. (I’m fine now.) I had been praying about what to post this week, so my unexpected, short-term ailment, was, I believe, an answer to prayer!

But life is like that: we may have an unexpected challenge, opportunity, tragedy, or joy coming, even this afternoon.

Some things we can plan for, just in case, like when to plant where we live. I came close to buying plants last week, even though, historically, we have a freeze late in May. Well.. the forecast today (Friday) and tonight is 6″ – 11″ of snow, and low temperatures in the 20s! And our first roses bloomed on Wednesday!

Spiritually, life is like that, and we must be prepared.

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Be ready for every good deed. (Titus 3:1)

You must also be ready: for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matthew 24:44)

How to be ready for the unexpected

Know God’s word. He tells us about Himself. He tells us what is coming. He tells us what to watch out for. He tells us how to live. In order to know God’s word, we must regularly and prayerfully study His word. We must meditate on His word, firmly planting His word in our hearts, which most likely means memorizing verses for meditation.

Be in fellowship with God. If you have saving faith, you are saved from the penalty of sin. But we still sin and must confess our sins to Almighty God. We must live in the attitude of gratitude and worship. We must pray without ceasing.

Be alert. Be alert to temptations. Be alert to the roaring lion who seeks to devour us. Be alert to opportunities.

Be ready. Be ready to defend the hope that is within us. Be ready for the Master’s return.

Be diligent. Be holy in your conduct. Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

God is on the side of those who believe in Him, who have placed their trust in Christ Jesus

If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)

Hallelujah!

Begin

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When is the new year for you?

The many, many years I was a student, autumn was the start of a new school year, and the mental start of beginning anew. Autumn was the start of my new year.

More recently, January 1 has been the symbolic date, and I usually think about goals for the coming year.

But a case can be made for Spring. Spring is sometimes called a time of new beginnings. Trees leafing out. Flowers. The lovely fresh scent.

Or how about Monday?

It doesn’t really matter, of course. The issues for us are to have clarity about our goals, the direction to get there, and begin.

The only way to finish is to start.

This is true for both secular and spiritual matters.

If you want to improve your health, for example, by increasing exercise or improving nutrition, the only way to do that is to begin. Exercise today. Change your diet, even a little, today.

If you want to read the entire Bible in one year (whenever the year starts!), begin today.

The only way to get there is to begin.

Begin! Get going! Today!

To The End

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If you believe in Jesus Christ, having received Him as Lord and Savior, He will love you to the end.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

He loves us to the uttermost. He loves us to and into eternity. (Alternative translations of “the end.”)

No matter your circumstances, no matter what is going on in the world, no matter what is going on in your part of the world, Jesus Christ loves you.

And nothing can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:38-39)

Don’t despair. Rejoice in God’s truth.

Death is Final

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Three funerals in the past few days. I’m sad.

Death is separation from us who are still living. Death is final for the one passed on.

The Bible says we die once, and then the judgment.

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

When someone I don’t know–famous or infamous–dies, I sometimes reflect that they are wherever they are for eternity.

Death is final. And judgment follows.

Jesus said that those who do not believe in Him will die in their sins. (John 8:24)

On the other hand:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (John 11:25)

Believe in Jesus Christ and live!

Easter Eve

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They didn’t know it was Easter Eve

The time between Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection was dark.

Jesus told His disciples He would rise on the third day, but they did not comprehend it.

Jesus was tortured, mocked, and died a horribly painful death. The centurion, who had seen many deaths, knew Jesus was dead, and declared that to Pilate. Jesus’ body was released and put in a tomb. Jesus was dead dead dead.

Jesus Christ’s disciples gathered in the upper room, and locked the door. Were they next?

We can guess some of their conversation amidst their tears. We thought … We hoped …

They believed it was all over.

In the meantime, Jesus Christ is proclaiming victory to those in prison!

They didn’t know they were waiting for Christ’s resurrection, but they were.

They didn’t know it was Easter Eve.

We are blessed

We are blessed, because we know what we are waiting for.

In the countdown to Christmas, sometimes I will say: “Happy Christmas Eve Eve Eve.”

What we don’t know is how many “Eves” are left. Tomorrow, with one “Eve?” A week from now, with seven “Eves?” Or?

In any case, we know what is coming, even though we don’t know when.

We are blessed.

Resurrection Sunday

Rejoice! Christ is risen!

He was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:4)

This momentous event is the key to everything.

Because Christ lives, Christ lives in believers.*

Because Christ is eternal, we will live with Him for eternity.

God proved by Christ’s resurrection that those in Christ would also be resurrected, and receive glorified bodies.

All this is incomprehensible, but it is true.

Because He lives, we have His presence and help now, hope now, and unending bliss ahead.

Rejoice!

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*Don’t be left out! Almighty God created you and has the right to tell you how to live. Your sins (my sins, everyone’s sins) separated us from God and mean we can only expect God’s wrath. Repent of your sins and turn to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in belief and trust. Receive Christ as Lord and Savior. And then, you will live because He lives.

Grief AND Joy

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My loving, generous big brother died recently.

We’re grieving, of course, with our loss of beloved Tom/Dad/GP.

But, Tom/Dad/GP is and was in Christ–a believer, a Christian, a Christ-follower–and he isn’t “lost,” he is in heaven.

As a Christian, to be absent from the body means he is at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6)

And Christians are promised a reunion with other Christians. We did not have “the final goodbye.” We’ll see him again. (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1)

In the meantime, we’ll grieve, but we don’t grieve as the unbelievers do. We know Tom/Dad/GP is blissfully in eternity. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

We are comforted by God’s Word.

Thank You!

~~~

Father, thank You that Tom/Dad/GP is with You. Thank You that Christ has presented Tom/Dad/GP to You holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. Thank You for Your promises to all of us who believe. Help us comfort one another.

Please help us more diligently pray for those who do not know Your Son, who haven’t repented and put their trust in Him. Their grief is eternal; their goodbyes final.

We Underestimate God

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We Underestimate God

This is not a rebuke. This is a fact.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

We can’t even think of all God is able to do!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power the works within us… (Ephesians 3:20)

Nothing is impossible for Him.

For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

God’s Character

Since God is able to do anything, knowing His character is a key to peace.

God’s word tells us a lot:

The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin, yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. (Exodus 34:6-7)

For Christians:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

God is for us. (Romans 8:31)

[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)

Joyfully Press On

Given God’s power, His character, and His great grace to those in Christ Jesus, let’s joyfully press on!

Jesus Warned Us

The Warning

And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-5)

Do you suppose those who died in tornadoes hurricanes, airplane crashes, or war were greater sinners than those who lived?

Jesus said: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus, of course, was talking about perishing eternally. Unless we repent, we face condemnation and hell.

The Promise

The Lord does not want us to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

The Lord is … patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

We must repent and believe When we do, we won’t perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that He gave He only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Pay Attention!

There are an enormous number of warnings in the Bible. God blesses but He also curses. God is both Savior and Judge.

Tell Others!

God’s word tells us how to escape God’s wrath. He tells us how to have eternal life.

We must repent. We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do, we receive Christ and Lord and Savior and have eternal life.

We shouldn’t keep this life-saving truth to ourselves. Tell others!

Hope in the Land of the Living

As Christians, we have guaranteed eternal life. Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

For us, the hope of glory, and all God’s promises are sure things, “Hope” means we expectantly wait, knowing it will happen.

Since we know blessings will come, this helps us now.

But what about hope as we live in these dark times? What about hope in the land of the living? What is our hope to get through this, honoring our Lord?

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5)

Here are some of the many reasons to hope now, hope in the land of the living:

Christ

Christ is in us. (Colossians 1:27) He is present in our lives, day by day, moment by moment. He promised that He is with us always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Christ knows we have trouble, but we can have peace now.

These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulations but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Christ is constantly interceding for us with the Father. (Romans 8:34)

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit dwells in us, He is the Comforter, the Advocate, guiding us, empowering us to do God’s will. He is with us forever. (John 14:16)

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)

God

God is our refuge. God is our helper. When we’re needy, God give us mercy and grace.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

God gives us peace when we make requests by prayer and thanksgiving.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Hope right now

We have Almighty God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–on our side. We can live righteously, courageously, and peacefully right now.

We confidently say, “The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

Take hope now. Press on!