On God’s Time Clock

Col 3 23 (1)

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a dear man of God.  Don Kizer, husband to one – for 70 years (WOW!), father to 3 – plus 2, grandpa to 7, great-grandpa to 15 – he was so proud of all his babies of all ages.  And, most importantly – servant of God.  He gave and he gave and he gave.  Never begrudgingly.

No one ever asked Don for anything – they didn’t have to – he beat them to it.  My father-in-law, Don’s pastor for many years, tells of a time when he told the church board he would need to take a week of vacation time to re-roof his house.  Early Monday morning, Don pulled up in front of his pastor’s house with his tools.  He was ready to work.  And work he did.  This retired workhorse came back every day until the job was done – drove an hour home and was back the next morning – all week long.  Not because he had been asked to help – only because he wanted to.

His granddaughter similarly tells of a time she was painting in the basement when she was scared by footsteps in her supposedly empty house.  Armed with a baseball bat, relief flooded over her when Grandpa rounded the corner.  He explained, “You said you were going to be painting, right?”

When we bought our first house it had some work to be done – including adding a shower to the bathroom.  Don to the rescue, again.

Don showed up for others – always serving, always giving, always working.  The church yard received his loving care for years and years.  He was even more dedicated to the people in his life – 70 years with his lovely wife Norma.  Life was not always easy for them.  But they remained dedicated to each other and the God they served.

The verses that come to mind when I think of Don are from Colossians 3.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (3:23,24).  Don didn’t need to check with his pastor about roofing his house, or with his granddaughter about painting, or any of the other people he just showed up for.  He was on God’s time clock, and he showed up for work, again and again.

Don is done working now.  He is awaiting his inheritance from the Lord which he will receive when the dead are raised and the Lord’s New Kingdom will begin (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

You might not be a roofer, or painter, or plumber, or lawn care specialist, or able to fix anything and everything with some wire and duct tape.   But, you ARE gifted by God to serve.  So, get out there and get to work.  Work as if you were working for the Lord (because you are when you serve others).  Work as if you were working alongside Don.  Keep at it!  Your reward may be closer than you know, or you may be given 89 (or more) years to serve.  Either way, do it with all your heart.

Thank you, God, for the gift of knowing Don.  May I work as he worked – on your time clock.

-Marcia Railton

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Seeing Isn’t Believing

john 20 29

One of the simplest examples of an optical illusion is the Hermann grid.  Black squares closely placed side by side with white space in between. Our brain, forever processing the input of our eyes, darkens the spaces around where our eyes are focused, creating dots between the corners of the squares that do not exist.  Even though I know the truth, my eyes are trying to tell me something different. There is an ongoing battle in my nervous system between what I know is the truth, and what I sense. Such is the ongoing battle with our faith — the confidence and assurance in things we know to be true, yet our senses may tell us otherwise.  With each next step that comes our way, we must give control to our senses or our heart. Faith or sight.

In the final chapter of Matthew, the culmination of our hope is made complete: Jesus arises from the grave.  Amen. Our example in life shows us the physical transformation that will occur when we are raised from the dead alongside all those who patiently await in the grave (Heb 11:39-40).  However, we are told that when the high priests hear the news of the resurrection, they quickly bribed the soldiers overseeing the grave and told them to spread the lie that Jesus had not really risen from the grave but was stolen in the middle of night.  Jesus sends word to his disciples to meet him in Galilee to see with their own eyes that he was indeed raised as he had promised. Yet at the moment they had Jesus Christ, the risen one, standing in front of them, some doubted (Matt 28:17). They had heard Jesus preach the gospel.  They heard him predict his resurrection. They watched him perform miracle after miracle. They even watched him raise people from the dead. Still, some of them were not convinced it was Jesus Christ. In this moment, seeing was not believing to them. Surely Jesus Christ was just some form of an optical illusion.

 

Like the disciples in this moment, I often wonder if the people I know who have reservations about faith would change their minds if they saw Jesus?  If they saw him heal, cast out demons, or calm the sea, would this be enough to change their tune? The conclusion I come to is, no, it didn’t and it won’t.  It did not change the hearts of the Pharisees who rebuked Jesus for healing on a sabbath. It did not change the hearts of nine lepers who walked away with the promise in hand of being healed.  It did not change the rich, young ruler heart to turn all his possession over for the promise of greater Kingdomly treasure. Even among the apostles, John’s account of the events after the resurrection of Jesus makes Thomas as the scapegoat disciple who doubted. It took literal touching the scars of Jesus to truly restore his faith.  Blessed are those who believe in their heart, not give in to their senses (John 20:29).

 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

 

Finally, in that moment, believing or not, Jesus gives the commision to his apostles, and I believe, each one of us.  Whether or not we believe, we are still held to the standard of preaching, baptizing, and teaching the world the Good News. Jesus Christ forever changes the course of their lives because he is a risen Lord and Savior actively working within them and for them until their demise or he returned.  Something changed in the heart of the disciples who doubted from then to Pentecost. They did not believe the gospel because they saw Jesus; they believed because He was the Lord of their life and the gospel was true, speaking to each one in the words of God, His Son, and in all of creation. Each of these men traveled a different part of the world to share this hope, and most found a gruesome end to their life far from home as a martyr.

 

We don’t need to see Jesus to share this same zeal and spirit. We need only to nurture the seed that has been planted in our hearts, to carry his gospel wherever we go.  We must declare with our mouths that Jesus Christ is our Lord from whatever stage is set before us and to ask others to make a commitment to declare the same. There will be a day when faith is made sight; they will be one in the same.  Every tongue will confess what I already know is true. No optical illusions — trumpets will sound, the clouds will roll back to reveal the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and life as we knew it will be no more. Until that day comes, we desperately seek His will, we urgently share His news, and we excitedly await for the assured thing we do not yet see.

-Aaron Winner

Death was Defeated

matt 28_6

Matthew 28

With greater plans in store, three days, that’s all it took and our savior was given life once more. As Mary and Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb where Jesus was buried, they were greeted by an angel of the Lord who came down from heaven and rolled back the stone from the entrance of the tomb. When the women approached the entrance, the angel called out to them saying:

Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told You (Matthew 28:5-7).

Once the women left, they crossed paths with Jesus and collapsed at his feet, praising him in awe. Furthermore, the eleven disciples hurried along to meet Jesus in Galilee upon receiving word of his resurrection. There on a mountain, Jesus told his disciples of the great commission.

Jesus said “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 19-20).

The death & the resurrection. What pinnacle events in the Christian faith as death was defeated once and for all. As you continue reading and growing this year (through the FUEL Bible devotions as well as other Bible study and training), ask yourself in what way/s you can spread the news of Jesus Christ and The Coming Kingdom of God. Are you willing to be a part of The Great Commission? This week we read through the Easter message, this weekend we will specifically celebrate this message, and day by day we give thanks for this message. What a beautiful message it is to share.

-Kayla Tullis

 

Have Confidence!

1 Corinthians 15 58

We have come to the end of I Corinthians 15, also known as the Resurrection Chapter. The last few days we’ve had chunkier denser passages but today we end with just one verse:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Paul has explained a lot in the previous 57 verses, such as:

  1. The resurrection appearances of the Lord to many groups and individuals including Paul himself (3-8)
  2. The absurdity of denying the resurrection if you hold to the faith (12-19)
  3. Jesus being the prototype of those who have fallen asleep in him. Just as Jesus was raised, so too you and I will also at his return (20, 23)
  4. All those “in Christ” can and will share in the victories of Jesus and have life (22)
  5. Our bodies will be raised completely transformed and glorified and we will receive the gift of immortality. Because of this transformation through Jesus we are able to have access to God and entrance into his kingdom (42-50)
  6. At the resurrection event sin and death will finally and completely be defeated and those “in Christ” will experience victory made possible by God in and through Jesus (54-57)

Then Paul concludes, “therefore”. In light of the resurrection and its implications, this is how you you should live. Paul says four things: be steadfast, be immovable, abound in the work of the Lord, and know your work is not in vain in Jesus. I want to take a moment to look at each one briefly.

To be steadfast is to hold onto something tightly and to be without waiver. In light of Jesus’ resurrection, no adversity we face in this life should have the power to keep us from remaining in the faith and and stop us from being obedient. In the same vein, we should be immovable. Our hope and faith in Christ should be immovable with the reality of Jesus rising from the dead and God’s promise to those who are in Christ. The next phrase is a call for action. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back we should strive to work for the Lord. One, because we want to share the good news with all people and disciple them, and two, he will hold us accountable for the works we have done in the body, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Cor. 5.10). Lastly, Paul offers encouragement. Being in ministry can be a grind and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference at all. Sometimes you won’t see the fruit of your labor and someone else will. But you know who won’t forget or miss all the work you do and the fruit that comes from it? God and Jesus. Because God is faithful and Jesus is returning we can have confidence and assurance that our work is not in vain because even though no one may remember the work we did or see anything come from it, God and Jesus see it. And you will be rewarded as such when Jesus returns and you are given life.

Thank you for reading and live life in light of the resurrection reality.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

(Photo by Alice Railton of Lake Waubee at Camp Mack in Milford, IN)

 

 

Resurrection, Transformation & VICTORY!

1 corinthians 15 52

Today’s section is over I Corinthians 15.50-57. In these seven verses there are two themes; transformation (50-53) and victory (54-57). Paul begins by stating that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” and then the next phrase clarifies the previous. The perishable (flesh and blood) cannot inherit the imperishable (the kingdom of God). What this tells us is that we, in our current bodies and untransformed state cannot behold the nature to something such as the kingdom of God. In fact for us to be able to enter the kingdom, we need to undergo a transformation which happens at the resurrection and is only available “in Christ”. Paul says this in the next verse – that we will not all sleep (a euphemism for death in the Bible) but we will all be changed and then he specifies what change will occur in verse 52-53. He states that when the last trumpet sounds the dead will be raised “imperishable” and be changed. It it this act of being transformed that allows us to be in the presence of God and Jesus in the kingdom of God. Verse 53 restates and says that this mortal must put on immortality. In other words, at the resurrection the believer will receive the gift of immortality and will be granted entrance into the kingdom of God.

There are two things I would like to point out. First, you may be wondering, why would I have to change or go through a transformation to be with God? Well I think the answer is a practical one. For example, say I wanted to explore the sun. I want to get really close to it to explore and study it. The problem is I wouldn’t be able to get very close to it because of the intense heat and radiation. It would kill me if I got too close. However, if I somehow was made of the same elements of the sun I would be able to approach it because I would be like the sun. In a similar fashion, God is holy, bright, and other wordly. There is nothing in our experience to compare him to, he is incomprehensible. For you or I to be in the direct presence of God, we would have to be like him in some way or else we would die from his glory and majesty. The transformation we need in order to be in God’s presence happens and takes place at the resurrection. Philippians 3.21 says that we will be transformed into the image of Jesus’ glorious body. And where has Jesus been? He has been enthroned at God’s right hand.

A second point is notice what Paul says in verse 53 “…this mortal must put on immortality”. To be mortal means the capability to die. Immortality means the incapability of dying. Yet what does popular culture and church tradition tell us? When we die our souls or spirits go to heaven or hell. However this is only possible if there is a part of us that lives on after death, in other words, to go to heaven or hell would require us to be immortal. But Paul says that this “mortal” (this body that doesn’t have immortality), will put on, or be granted immortality. In short, we are not immortal now but those “in Christ” will receive it at the resurrection. Here are three verses to further this point:

I Timothy 6.16 – “who (God) alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

II Timothy 1.10 – “…but now has been revealed by the appearing of our savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

I Corinthians 15.52-53 – “…and the dead will be raised…and this mortal must put on immortality.”

In short, only God possesses immortality, it is available through Jesus and the gospel, and those “in Christ’ will receive it at the resurrection. Will we let this challenge our thinking about the traditional view of what happens after death? The hope that God has placed before Christians is the hope for the return of Jesus and the resurrection, not going to heaven. Paul finishes that once the resurrection event happens that death will finally be defeated and swallowed up. And the power of sin and death will be no more and God, Jesus, and those “in Christ” will be victorious! God has given us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ

-Jacob Rohrer

Resurrection Likeness

1 Corinthians 15_49 new

Today’s section (I Cor. 15.35-49) is a bit longer but it answers an important question. What will our resurrected bodies be like? The questions arises in verse 35 “…with what kind of body do they come?”. Paul answers this question in verse 42 but before he gets there he provides two analogies, we’ll go over just one though. In verse 36 and 37 he uses the example of a seed. A seed is sown or planted one way then sprouts a different and new way and when comparing the body to a seed he says “you do not sow the body which is to be…”, in other words, what comes out of the ground at the resurrection is not what goes into the ground at death. Paul is saying, the body undergoes a change just like a seed transforms when it is planted then sprouts.

In verse 42 he connects the analogies with the concept of resurrection, “so also is the resurrection of the dead..”. He then proceeds to distinguish two types of bodies, the one that is sown (the one that goes into the ground dead) and the one that is changed (the one that comes out of the grave transformed). To help see the contrast, I put verses 42-44 in a table:

It is sown It is raised
A perishable body An imperishable body
In dishonor In glory
In weakness In power
A natural body A spiritual body

 

Paul then picks up again the Adam-Christ parallel we saw in verses 21-22 in verses 45-49. The First Adam became a living soul but the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit. Whereas the first Adam was given life, the second Adam gives life. Paul continues this parallel into verse 47, the first man (Adam) is from earth, the second man (Christ) is from heaven. Now verse 47 is not talking about location but rather about identification. Adam is identified with the earth while sin runs rampant and the body is broken and damaged (see chart above); but Christ –  he is identified with heaven, where God is and where he is untouched by the brokenness of his creation. This is not saying that Jesus personally came from heaven to earth. Rather just as Adam is from earth in identification, Christ is from heaven in identification. Remember the context Paul is talking about is resurrection not Jesus’ origin. Then in verse 49 he concludes just as we have borne the image of the earthly (adam) so too will we bear the image of the heavenly (Christ). Here’s another chart to see the parallels:

The first Adam The second Adam
The first man is from earth The second man is from heaven
“Just as we have borne the image of the earthly..” “…we will also bear the image of the heavenly”
We are sown We are raised
A perishable body An imperishable body
In dishonor In glory
In weakness In power
A natural body A spiritual body

 

Now what does this all mean? When we are found “in Christ” our whole being including our bodies will be conformed to Jesus. Whereas our earthly natural bodies are powered by flesh and blood and will die, our resurrected bodies will be empowered by the spirit of God and will be glorified and will reflect the image of heaven. We will maintain our physical bodies, they will just be regenerated and powered by God’s spirit, this is the meaning of a spiritual body. Lastly, just as all of us have shared, in Adam, our earthly bodies, all those in Christ will share in his victory and his resurrected likeness. Thank you for your patience in reading this longer post today!

Have a blessed day and live boldly for the kingdom of God and Jesus!

-Jacob Rohrer

Life in Light of Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 33

In I Corinthians 15.29-34, Paul addresses some behaviors among the people in the Corinthian church that are not acceptable in light of the coming resurrection. Starting in verse 29, he speaks of some behavior that involved individuals being baptised possibly on behalf of those who have died? The behavior and practice described in this verse is unclear and shrouded in mystery and scholars are not entirely sure what to make of it. However, the principle is clear, whatever this practice was, was not acceptable in light of the resurrection. Verses 30-32 speak about the hardships and difficulties Paul has faced and that reality that if there is no resurrection then all of his labor and striving is in vain, a point he made earlier in this chapter (15.14). Then in verse 33 and 34 he exhorts them to correct their behavior. He warned them not to be deceived, that bad company corrupts good morals. The interesting point about this saying is that Paul is quoting a contemporary poet of his day and using it in his argument. In other words, watch who you hang around with because your behavior will be altered by those who are not a good influence. In this context, it could possibly be don’t be around people who deny the resurrection. Then he exhorts them to stop sinning and become sober minded. For some in the Corinthian church the reality of resurrection was being lost and it affected how they lived.

This passage does a great job of showing that what you believe about the future affects how you live today. My question to you is, in light of the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the saints, are you living a life that is in step with that resurrection reality? Are you involved in activities that line up with someone awaiting resurrection? Are you involved in activities or with people that pull you away from a life of serving God? The awaiting resurrection serves as a reminder and something to set our eyes on to help aid us in pursuing a life that is pleasing to God.

-Jacob Rohrer