Day 27 » The End Nears

Today's blog was written by James Kim. 

Today's blog was written by James Kim. 

The end is the beginning of something new. If you feel like you haven’t lived enough of life to know this from experience, you can look to history and read about lives of others to see that this statement is true. Graduation means a new academic or vocational career. Ending a relationship means a new one can start. In baptism, we declare that we die to our old selves and begin a new life in Christ. So it is with Life. When we finally breathe our last and our hearts stop beating, the end of our lives on earth begins something beyond it.

Christ and his followers spoke of an eternal life. The life we live – going to school, developing a career, finding a spouse to grow a family, giving back to people we love, making an impact in the world – in proportion to the eternity we have is like a grain of sand on the beach. Yet, what we do and believe in such a short period of time will determine whether we live in God’s light or in eternal darkness separated from the glory of God.

Then, I think the biggest bet you can make in your life is to not live for Christ. Attending a church or a mission trip for the first time seems like a big risk. But, once you start believing in an eternal God, it is not hard to realize that not getting involved in a church or not living a mission-oriented life is more risky.

God made it possible for us to understand in our lifetime enough about the eternity and make a decision about it. He also invited us to be honored guests of His kingdom.

So what can we do about it? Are we able to live today as we would in God’s kingdom? We can start by reading about God and marveling in His majesty. Share a meal with those you love. Run from sin. If it is the Sabbath, go to church, find rest, and reflect on God. The fullness of God’s kingdom won’t take place until Christ’s return. But, there is no need to wait until death to enjoy it.

Emulating God’s kingdom is like living as if we are in God’s home. When there is a need or something we can’t figure out easily, we should pray! Ask God! Why not? When we feel peace and joy from God’s presence, we can sing a song to Him. The angels sang “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” Too boring for you? You can sing to Him your own song. Lastly, we can ask, “God, what is something I can do for Your kingdom?” 

Day 19 » Healing

Today's post is written by Jon Rice. 

Today's post is written by Jon Rice. 

Today’s Reading » John 10-13

Within the last few months, both of my remaining living grandparents past away. They had both lived long lives, and had served Jesus in faithful and even sacrificial ways. Of course we celebrated their lives, but at the funerals, I still felt deep grief. I wished I could have spoken to them one more time, or just spent more time with them in general.

When I first read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, I was jealous of those who witnessed that amazing event. Could you imagine? It would have been as if at the end of funeral, the person in the casket came back to life. Certainly it was what Mary and Martha had hoped for deep down. Before they had asked him to heal Lazarus, yet Jesus never came. They had seen Jesus heal people time and again, why couldn't he do it now? They had personally experienced power of Jesus and had no doubts, yet their brother still died.

Knowing the end of the story can make it seem less miraculous. Jesus was up to something bigger than just the healing of Lazarus, he was ready to demonstrate his power over even death. He had to let them go through the grief that was natural in order to do something bigger than what they could imagine.

Recently I heard Father Brian McDermot speaking about Jesus and in his talk he said something that blew my mind. It was something so simple yet something I had never considered. He said every one of the miracles of Jesus was temporary. Every healing he did was a temporary fix. Every person Jesus healed eventually died. Even Lazarus died...again. This time however, he stayed in the tomb.

Jesus intention in his ministry was not to stop all suffering, it wasn't to keep his followers immune from the pain of this world, it was rather to remind them that he truly was more powerful than anything, even death. He demonstrated his power on several occasions, and in doing such he was foreshadowing a place beyond this world, a time beyond time, when all suffering will cease and he will wipe away every tear, but we aren't there yet.

As much as I wished I had another conversation with those I've lost, I know I would always wish for one more. If Jesus had raised the one I loved, I would have been thrilled, but just as heartbroken when inevitably, they faced the pain of this world once again.

Jesus doesn't take away all our pain, make everything make sense, or even heal every disease we ask him to. Jesus simply reminds us that "in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart, because he overcame this world"  (John 16:33).

Day 17 » The Sermon on the Mount

Today's blog was written by Karen Keyser. 

Today's blog was written by Karen Keyser. 

In Matthew 4-7 Jesus begins his ministry and we see the core of Jesus’ life…his temptation, the calling of his disciples, his miracles, and his primary teaching. All of this is done and taught perfectly—to the amazement of his audience (Matt. 7:28).  No teaching has ever surpassed the perfect moral teachings of Jesus.  

In the center of his teaching, however, Jesus throws out a crazy command: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  As a perfectionist struggler, how could Jesus tell me to be perfect?  Nobody’s perfect, right?

In context here,  Jesus is teaching us to love our "enemies" (Matt. 5:44), not an easy thing to do. We are to do this so that we will show that we are children of our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:45a). If we act like our heavenly Father, we will act with love to the not-so-nice and kind person alike. If we only love those who love us, we are really no better than evil people for even evil people are capable of loving those who love them (Matt. 5:46).*

When Jesus said, "Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48), he seemed to be saying, "Let your love be as thorough and unconditional as God’s love is." This is how we can be as "perfect" like God. Our love for others needs to grow and mature -- including loving our enemies.*  

Do you have someone that God is bringing to mind that you should express love to?  Perhaps Jesus would say to you today:  “Be perfectly loving, as your heavenly Father is perfectly loving.”

* “You Shall Be Perfect,” by Gene Taylor, Centerville Road Church of Christ, Tallahassee, FL

Day 8 » A Prophetic Picture of Jesus

Today's post was written by Bonnie Duncan. 

Today's post was written by Bonnie Duncan. 

Today’s Reading » Genesis 50, Exodus 1

Today we close out the book of Genesis. Throughout this week we have seen this dominant theme that will prevail throughout the rest of the Bible: we have a God that fulfills his promises.

The people in Genesis, quite frankly, are a hot mess. Adam and Eve had one job and failed. Abraham fathered a child with his servant Hagar when he was promised one with his wife Sarah.

Jacob steals his brother’s birthright, and accidentally marries Leah.

Joseph’s siblings sell him into slavery.

They’re a mess. All of them. It’s the stuff soap operas are made of. But despite these failures and shortcomings, God is faithful to his plan of redemption. And we see this in the genealogy of Jesus.

Despite their failure, the genealogy addressed in Genesis of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Joseph paves the way for Jesus. From the very beginning of the story, this thread of God’s redemption is evident.

Genesis closes as the life of Joseph comes to an end, and the parallels we see between the lives of Joseph and Jesus are astounding (source):

  • Joseph was his father’s favorite, even as Jesus would be his Father’s favorite: Genesis 37:3Matthew 3:17
  • Joseph was a shepherd, even as Jesus would be the good shepherd: Genesis 37:2, John 10:11, 27
  • Joseph was hated and envied by his brothers, even as Jesus would be hated and envied by his brothers: Genesis 37:4, Matthew 27:17-18
  • Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him, even as Jesus’ brothers would plot to kill him: Genesis 37:20John 11:53
  • Joseph was tempted and resisted, even as Jesus would be tempted and resisted: Genesis 39:7-8Matthew 4:1
  • Joseph was stripped of his robe, even as Jesus would be stripped of his clothes: Genesis 37:23John 19:23
  • Joseph’s life was sold for silver, even as Jesus’ life would be sold for silver: Genesis 37:38, Matthew 26:15
  • Joseph was falsely accused, even as Jesus would be falsely accused: Genesis 39:12-20Matthew 26:59-60
  • Joseph was with two other convicts, one who would be saved, and one who would be lost. Jesus was on the cross with two other convicts, one who would be saved, and one who would be lost: Genesis 40:2-3Luke 23:32
  • Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharoah king of Egypt, even as Jesus would be 30 years old when he entered the service of the King of kings: Genesis 41:46Luke 3:23
  • Joseph was exalted after his suffering, even as Jesus would be exalted after his suffering: Genesis 41:41-43Philippians 2:9-11
  • Joseph forgave those who wronged him, even as Jesus would forgive those who wronged him: Genesis 45:1-15Luke 23:34
  • Joseph saved the nation of Egypt, and other nations, even as Jesus would save his people, and the nations of the world: Genesis 45:7, John 3:16-17
  • What men did to harm Joseph, God used to save people, even as what men did to harm Jesus, God would use to save people: Genesis 50:201 Corinthians 2:7-8

Even in the lives of His people, God foreshadows his plan for a savior. One of the principles of good hermeneutics—or the study of scripture—is that scripture cannot mean to us something it did not mean to the people it was written to.

The exception to this rule is the Thread of Jesus.

Moses (the writer of Genesis) did not know Jesus, nor did he know the circumstances of his life. Yet the parallels between Jesus and Joseph are eerily similar. This is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working throughout the writing of the Bible. Its writers were speaking on something they didn’t fully understand to a God they didn’t yet fully know.

And the result of that is this coherent thread that runs through scripture.