DEATH IS NOT THE END: WE WILL DANCE AGAIN

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Social media was saturated with a beautiful video featuring a former prima ballerina in a wheelchair. In this viral clip Marta C. González Saldaña, who has Alzheimer’s, was filmed listening to music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Remarkably, when Saldaña hears the music she is able to remember and relive the choreography of the ballet she once performed. Seated in her wheelchair at a senior residential facility in Spain, she moves her arms to the music with a look of pure joy on her face.

The video, which was shared by numerous celebrities, intersperses footage of Saldaña with a young ballerina dancing on a stage. Although their ease of movement is somewhat juxtaposed, both women display the same passion for dancing. When Dan Walker, a British TV presenter shared the story, he said: “It shows the power of music and is a beautiful reminder that there is a person behind the disease.

We seem to inherently know there is more to a person than the surface-level brokenness we initially see at the beginning of this video. And I think this deep truth finds a home within the biblical world view expressed in the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:1-5.

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

One of the greatest aspects of the Christian faith is what we believe happens after death. And by no means is it blind faith or wishful thinking. It starts with Jesus himself. In John’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ life and ministry, he records a conversation between Jesus and someone who had just lost a brother to sickness and death. 

Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27

Jesus made a promise to Martha that not only was there a resurrection, but that Jesus himself was the resurrection and the life, and that faith in him would result in eternal life. It’s why this same apostle John, would go on to write the greatest summary statement in all the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Make no mistake, Jesus clearly taught that there was a resurrection, and the way to eternal life, to a life after this life, was through faith in him. Now, the skeptical might ask: sure that’s great to believe in, but what if it’s all a hoax? Where’s the proof?

That’s a legitimate question.

How Christians live their lives should be proof enough. Why?

Because Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the Spirits of all believers. He produces the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. His job is to sanctify us, to make us like our Lord Jesus. We therefore build our lives around this belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. It affects how we live and interact with others. It affects how we use our time, our finances. We give our life to serving Him and others. The Holy Spirit even provides the gifts of the Spirit (all nine: 1 Corinthians 12:4 and Hebrews 2:4) to enable us to minister to others effectively.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a great point:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

If this life is all that there is, then you would not live a life of sacrifice as Christians do.

Also look at the historical evidence: we know from the four eyewitness accounts from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that Jesus claimed to be the son of God, and as he promised Martha, that he was the resurrection and the life. And then he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Three days later, these disciples began to claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, that they had seen him. And if true, this would change everything, because on numerous occasions Jesus prophesied his own death and resurrection, and if someone can prophesy their own death and resurrection and then pull it off, surely it is evidence enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. Fifteen to twenty years later, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, recorded in the book of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 15, we have this incredible teaching on what Christ has accomplished for us with His death and resurrection.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6

Paul is recording the central claim of Christianity: Jesus proved his divinity by dying on the cross and rising again, thereby validating everything he said about the resurrection. It’s why we have hope that we who believe in Jesus will see our brothers and sisters in Christ again, that this is not the end for us. The key here is the list of witnesses: after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, then 500 at one time, many of whom were still alive fifteen to twenty years later. It’s like Paul is saying: fact-check me on this one. I know it’s an outrageous claim, but go and talk to the witnesses yourself.

1 Corinthians is written twenty years after the event of the resurrection, with witnesses still alive, who saw Jesus alive after his death and burial and resurrection. And because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changes!

Here’s what Paul wrote about how Jesus’ resurrection secures our own resurrection:

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-57

Death is the great equalizer, death awaits us all, but Jesus has taken away it’s sting. Death is not all that there is, because Jesus conquered death, and through Jesus we will conquer death. That’s not saying that we’ll live forever in this life, but we’ll live forever in the next. For those of us who believe in Jesus, will see him again, at the resurrection at the last day, and we’ll be with him forever. And because of that, we can rejoice.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Let start living with an eternal focus NOW.

POWER OF KINDNESS TO CHANGE THE WORLD

With all the problems in the world, it’s good to know there are still Christians showing Jesus’ love with simple acts of kindness.

Steve Strang CEO of CHARISMA in his podcast today, interviews Convoy of Hope president and CEO Hal Donaldson. He shares how his organisation has stepped up during the pandemic to distribute more than 10 million meals to families who lost access to food and school lunch programs.

Steve states that he has known Hal since the early 1980’s, since Hal was a beginning journalist and Steve was working to get Charisma off the ground. Steve says, “It’s been great to see Hal develop as a leader over the years. The pivotal moment of his life came when he was given the opportunity to interview Mother Teresa in India, and she asked him what he was doing to help the poor. Her question shook him to the core, and he rose to the challenge it posed.”

ConvoyOfHope-Truck

Hal experienced poverty firsthand as a teen after his father was killed in a car accident and there was no insurance to take care of the family. He also knows how he was affected by the kindness of a woman in the church who bought him a nice pair of tennis shoes.

It’s an amazing story, and Hal explains it much better so listen to his testimony on today’s podcast , and ask yourself what you are doing to make a difference in someone else’s life. One immediate way is to partner with Convoy of Hope, which you can do at the Convoy of Hope website convoyofhope.org.

CORONAVIRUS GOD’S WAKE UP CALL

John Piper has written an excellent book, Coronavirus and Christ. The following is a few excerpts from the book. The audio book is below.

The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ. The coronavirus is not unique as a call to repentance. In fact, all natural disasters-whether floods, famines, locusts, tsunamis, or diseases-are God’s painful and merciful summons to repent. We see this from the way Jesus responds to disaster in Luke 13:1-5: “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

God’s message for the world in this coronavirus outbreak. He is calling the world to repentance while there’s still time.
Let’s be more specific. What does repentance mean? The word in the New Testament means a change of heart and mind. Not a superficial change of opinion, but a deep transformation so that we perceive and prize God and Jesus for who they really are. Jesus described the change like this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt. 22:37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt. 10:37) In other words, the most fundamental change of heart and mind that repentance calls for is to treasure God with all that you are and to treasure Jesus more than all other relations.

What God is doing in the coronavirus is showing us- graphically, painfully-that nothing in this world gives the security and satisfaction that we find in the infinite greatness and worth of Jesus. This global pandemic takes away our freedom of movement, our business activity, and our face-to-face relations. It takes away our security and our comfort. And, in the end, it may take away our lives. 
The reason God exposes us to such losses is to rouse us to rely on Christ. Or to put it another way, the reason he makes calamity the occasion for offering Christ to the world is that the supreme, all-satisfying greatness of Christ shines more brightly when Christ sustains joy in suffering.

This is what it means to repent: to experience a change of heart and mind that treasures God in Christ more than life. 

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Psalm 63:3). This was Paul’s faith. It was true in life and death. In life, because Christ is the sweetness of every pleasure, and better than them all. And in death, because “in [God’s] presence there is fullness of joy; at [his] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

LIVE AS JESUS INTENDED YOU TO LIVE

These key passages of spiritual victory in Jesus now apply to every believer in Christ Jesus on the planet.   They are for you and me to apply today.  They are not just some historical Bible story.  They are meant to be put to use by each of us in our everyday life, with our family, our neighbours, all who need prayer at this time. 

Then the seventy returned with JOY, saying, ‘ Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over ALL the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Luke 10: 17-19
“You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” 
 Psalm 91: 13

Lion Tribe Judah | Crosses Everywhere

Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has triumphed.  You and I need to walk in that Truth and tell it to the world.
Satan goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour with fear and despair.  Empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit we can be bold to state the Truth that that enemy of Christ Jesus was defeated by Him.  
Sincere believers who repent and come into His Kingdom then are given His Authority to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope to a world stunned and even frozen by this pandemic. 

This post was inspired by a letter posted on Pastor Jim Daly’s website http://www.repentday.com

HOW DO WE REACH GENERATION Z?

Generation Z, born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, now make up 25% of our population.

This is a generation that is dealing with severe depression. They’re immersed in media. They have a very high incidence of mental health issues. And they’ve actually been described as the loneliest generation. We’ve never been more connected but disconnected at the same time. It isn’t a coincidence that the suicide rate among this generation has risen dramatically.

Generation Z have been raised to believe evolution, a theory which has no way of explaining how this highly complex universe got started and functions under equally complex complementary laws. The Bible describes those teaching them this falsehood succinctly: ” The fool said in his heart, there is no God.” Proverbs 14:1. They will not countenance any solution that involves God and the supernatural. And yet, the intelligent design that is so obvious in the universe can only come from an intelligent designer who is outside of His creation.

The result: we have generation that believes we can make up our own rules – moral relativism and nihilism is the outcome. Life has no meaning, this is all there is, so if I don’t like it, I can end it without consequences.

When asked in a survey whether they thought lying was wrong, only 33% could agree that it was. This is a generation without moral guidelines and without hope, because of their incorrect evolutionary view of history. They need to understand that science supports a universe that was created by an intelligent designer (God). Go to http://www.creation.com for creation resources.

This awesome, supernatural God has provided us with an equally awesome book, the Bible, that not only provides us with the true history of this universe but also tells us events before they happen. Much of His book is prophecy so we even know the end of the story. How good is that, but even more important for a generation without hope, we know God loves us, enough to send His son to earth to provide the solution to the SIN problem. Man and Woman’s disobedience at the beginning separated us from God and resulted in death entering the world. God’s son, Jesus, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf. By believing on His finished work on The Cross you can be sure of life after death, eternal life. Even more immediate, Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to indwell your spirit in order to be your counsellor, comforter and teacher. The Holy Spirit’s job is to help you develop your relationship with your Lord and Saviour Jesus and to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. He also gives the gifts of the spirit to enable you to minster to others and share the Gospel with them.

God’s word tells us: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone sharing the Gospel with them?” (Romans 10:14).

Christians, Jesus gave us all a command to take the Gospel into all the world. Let us take every opportunity to share the good news of Christ whilst we are able. However, we also need to tell unbelievers the consequences of not accepting God’s solution to their rebellion against Him.

God does judge nations and we are seeing from the example of Israel Folau in Australia, that if we speak out the truth about the catastrophes that God is bringing on nations, that you will be vilified and even persecuted. This will only intensify as the birth pangs of the “end times” increase. Jesus also tell us to be courageous in all circumstances

Israel Folau in latest sermon

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:33

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM MYRIAM WHO FORGAVE ISIS

Iraqi schoolgirl Myriam, whose message of forgiveness for ISIS ‘captured millions of hearts’ when it went viral, urges Christians to pray and bring hope to refugee children. SAT-7 documentary Sequel of Hope broadcasts her family’s message of hope after returning to their hometown of Qaraqosh.

The world has changed since the testimony of 9-year-old Myriam went viral in 2014. In an interview with SAT-7 Producer and Director Essam Nagy, she inspired audiences around the world when she forgave ISIS for displacing her from her home in Qaraqosh, Iraq, forcing her to leave everything she knew for a refugee camp in Kurdistan. Myriam said she found comfort and strength in watching SAT-7’s children’s TV shows in the camp – programs that helped her grow in her faith and extend forgiveness to ISIS.

We can learn so much from children who have faith in God even in extreme circumstances. Be inspired by the story of Myriam who forgave ISIS? Get the full story at https://www.sat7usa.org/sequel-of-hop…

YOU DON’T GO TO CHURCH, IT IS YOUR IDENTITY

Love this presentation by Francis Chan on the church. You will need an hour but you can hear it in 15 minute segments and not lose the message.

“We need to be the generation that kills the consumerism in the church.” says Francis Chan. I’ll say amen to that.

“Joy that is inexpressible.” “Peace that passes all comprehension.” “Power that incomprehensible.” Is that the church we see. It is the church that Jesus describes.

Lord, please enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we see the truth of Your Word.

Listen to Francis Chan read Scripture (Revelation 4 & 5) and realise we are reading God’s Word which beats any presentation that comes from the mind of men.