Faith Doesn’t Always Mean a Better Life (Now)

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them… (Hebrews 11:36-38)

Some say faith is the key to living your best life now. If you have enough faith, they say, you God will bless you with wealth or health or longevity or family or friends or… The promises are numerous.

And sometimes people with faith in Jesus do experience great things in their present life. Hebrews 11 reminds us of the old Bible stories of how people were saved from fire or lions and how the dead were raised and children were given to barren couples in old age.

These stories are miraculous. They present the power of God working against the normal course of nature. But Hebrews 11 also reminds us there are many people who loved Jesus and were spiritual giants who suffered greatly. Truth be told, for most of us, our lives will likely fall somewhere between those two extremes.

Faith in Jesus is not a guarantee of our best life now. But as some have said, faith in Jesus guarantees an eternity where the worst of this life is the closest to hell we will ever experience and the best of this life is a minor joy compared to the joys of forever.

This is why Paul could write, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed.” (Romans 8:18)

The Bible keeps our eyes always looking forward. The best will come but the best is still yet to come. So, if you find yourself in a moment of great happiness, remember that something infinitely better is on the horizon. And if you find yourself in a moment of great pain, remember that pleasures are come which will make the memory of that pain fade into the background.

Our best life is eternal.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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The God Who Comforts

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned… (Isaiah 40:1-2)

When God created the world, everything was good. The earth was beautiful and mankind along with it. There was no fear, no death, no pain, no sickness, no decay. God is the God of beauty and life.

When Adam and Eve listened to the voice of Satan and sin entered the world, the beauty became marred. Hints of it remain, sometimes awe-inspiring hints, but corruption and decay fill the earth. Like the one who tempts us to sin, our sin is an enemy and makes us our own worst enemies. God gives beauty and life but the influence of sinful rebellion against him steals, kills, and destroys.

In Genesis 3, God declared a curse against sin. The wound, however, was self-inflicted as we chose to rebel. God could have left us there, condemned rebels; but he chose to give us hope and salvation.

Isaiah 40 promised a day of pardon–a day ultimately found through Jesus on the cross. He became our sin, bore our guilt, took our punishment–a willing sacrifice who stepped into our death that we might have his life.

The Gospel, the good news of what Jesus did, is God’s words of comfort to us. Even if darkness still seems to rule, the Gospel reminds us that the night is almost gone and day is about to dawn. When that light comes, when Jesus returns, it will shine forever. Death will be dead. Tears wiped away. Pain no more.

Beauty and life will infuse creation once more with no hint of darkness.

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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The Lord’s Supper

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

When the hour came, Jesus reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. Then he said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:14-18)

From the beginning, the Lord’s Supper or Communion has been a part of the Christian tradition. We gather together and share the bread and the cup, just as Jesus did with the Twelve at the Passover before his crucifixion.

The Supper is a rich moment in which we transition from hearing the Gospel to seeing the Gospel. We partake of the bread and the drink, acting “in remembrance of” Jesus (22:19)–the bread representing his body, broken for us; the cup representing his blood, shed for us.

Seeing the bread and the cup remind us that Jesus was broken on the cross for our sins. Eating the bread and drinking from the cup remind us of our union with Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus dwells not simply with each Christian but in each Christian. From the inside out, he shapes us with new hearts and new lives. Knowing Jesus’ words that he would not partake again until he did so in the Kingdom reminds us of our future hope. As Revelation 19 tells us, eternity kicks off with a feast, likely what Jesus had in mind.

As we see the Gospel in the Lord’s Supper, we see it’s past, present, and future implications. In the past, when Jesus shed his blood and broke his body, our sins were paid for and covered through his cross. In the present, Christ dwells in us, changing us, sanctifying us, making us more like him. In the future, we will be raised to glory and spend an eternity of joy with our Savior-King, celebrating everything he did to assure our place at his table.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

Memorial Stones

“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’ … When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.’” ~ Joshua 4:2-3, 6-7

As Israel crossed the Jordan, Joshua commanded them to take twelve stones from the river bed and set them up as a memorial to remind them, their children, and their children’s children of the work of the Lord in providing them the Promised Land.

God also provides memorials in our lives as followers of Jesus to remind us of what he has done in saving us from our sins to take us into the Promised Land of eternity. Two, in particular, stand out: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper / Communion.

Baptism is a ritual we undertake at the start of our Christian life. In Matthew 28, Jesus says that all of his disciples are to be baptized and then taught to obey all that he has commanded. In Romans 6, Paul says that our baptism into water displays our death, burial, and hope of resurrection with Jesus and this display should help us to live God-honoring lives.

The Lord’s Supper, also called Communion, is where followers of Jesus share bread and a cup of juice or wine that represent the body of Jesus broken and the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. In Luke 22, Jesus says that we partake of each in remembrance of him.

Baptism is our initiation into life as a disciple of Jesus, and an act we let remind us of our new life through faith in Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is an ongoing ritual we partaken in often to keep our minds focused on the sacrifice of Jesus in forgiving our sins and bringing us new life. These two activities serve as our own “memorial stones” to keep us focused and remind us that God indeed keeps his promises to us.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Anticipating Eternity (a meditation)

“For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” ~Jesus, Luke 22:18

In Luke 22, Jesus was spending his final hours with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. During this time, he shared with them a Passover meal and took from it the bread and wine and gave them something new: a memorial supper. Some call this The Lord’s Supper others Communion—whatever our term, ever since in the church we have taken the bread and the cup and remembered what Jesus did for us in offering up his body and pouring out his blood on the cross.

Though we gather as Christians and partake of this Supper regularly, Jesus said that he would not eat the bread or drink the wine again until he could do it with us in his Kingdom (Luke 22:16, 18; cf. Matthew 16:29).

In his statement we should sense an anticipation of eternity. When we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, yes we look backward in time to when Jesus hung on the cross and suffered for our sins, but we should also look forward.

In Revelation 19, John spoke a marriage supper to kickoff eternity. This supper is a coming celebration meal when the church, the bride of Christ, is gathered for the first time as its whole—the day where Jesus-followers from all across the globe and all throughout history gather with each other and with our Savior-King to ring in the new creation and begin the age of eternal joy.

That feast will only be the start. In the new heavens and new earth: “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit…my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21-22); and, “In that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water” (Joel 3:18).

Though we join to eat and to remember, looking back and looking forward, Jesus said he would wait. Looking to him, we see a patient longing. The dawn of eternity is far off yet soon enough, and when it comes then we will celebrate with him.

In the meantime, though, we keep looking forward. We keep yearning and waiting as we share the broken bits of bread and drink from the cup, ready one day to do it face-to-face with our Savior-King who made it possible for us.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Sunday 05.01.16 (the Lord’s Supper)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at what Paul wrote about the Lord’s Supper in his first letter to Corinth before we celebrate the Supper together. Throughout May we will have no regular evening services. Tonight at 6:30pm we will be hosting the 2016 Adrian High School graduating class at our annual Senior Banquet.

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@630 PM Class of 2016 Senior Banquet (if you are helping or supply food, please be at the fellowship hall by 6pm)

Sermon Notes
The Lord’s Supper ~ 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:17-34

  • The Lord’s Supper is the greatest fellowship meal we can share on earth (10:16-17)
  • The Supper is a display of the family unity of the church (11:17-22)
  • The Supper is a gospel proclamation (11:23-26)
  • The Supper should not be taken lightly (11:27-32)
  • Therefore as we partake of the Lord’s Supper:
    • Ponder through the Supper what Jesus has done for us (11:23-26)
    • Consider your relationship to God’s family (11:27-34)