Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Saved!

 I looked and I could hardly believe my eyes!  Everything was new:  the earth was gone; the sea was gone; even the heavens had passed away.  Yet, I saw Jerusalem, the holy city, descending from above, from God.  It was beautiful!  She was prepared as a bride prepared for her groom.

And a voice said:  See God has come to live with his people:

  • they will be his people
  • God will be with them
  • He will wipe away their tears!
  • Death will be no more!
  • No more reason to mourn; no more reason to cry.
  • Nothing to cause pain!
                        They are all gone!   Revelation 21:1-4

The fulfilled Kingdom's presence will be filled with God and all the old, painful parts of life will be gone!  Think of anything which causes you to cry, to fear, to be in pain.  It will be gone!  It is God's presence which will dismiss these pain-causers!  

Here's what his presence will look like:  it will involve the sense of "home" and a present and active God.  The connotation for home here indicates a dwelling with the aura of being "under one roof" with other kingdom inhabitants, including God.  It reflects a theme of togetherness with a relationship theme:  we will belong to him and carry a moniker - "his people." This reference is a group-identity idea:  like a tribal or national identity.  The Greek uses heritage language that connects historical truth to futuristic promises.

This makes me think of Johnny Cash's song "These are my people."

Then John, the writer of the Revelation, says that God's true self will be present.  His being will be with them in such a way that he is known to them; he will be in proximity to them and will accompany them.  It is a companionship model.  It has permanent connotations, indicating that this relationship with the true God provides a sense of belonging and protection.  God may be on the throne, but he will bring us into the household as full-fledged members, not just late-comers or in-laws, but full-fledged belonging.

Do you feel like you have a home, a tradition, a heritage that can carry you into the future?  God has an every lasting heritage for you.  He has claimed you as his own - His child - and wants to return you home with full assurance.  

Whatever this world has shorted you on, whatever this world has lacked, whatever holes you have felt in your existence are because you belong only one place:  in the household of God.  Seek its presence today.  Glory in its future fulfillment!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Cross?

 If you don't carry your own cross as you follow me, you cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:26

My cross?  Didn't you do that?  

Add this to the previous , which says to "hate" every other relationship, even hate your life and it is hard to imagine why anyone would be interested in being a disciple.  Yet, Luke does not tire of talking about this dying to self repeatedly.

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow me.  If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  For what good will it benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?  Luke 9:23-25

There it is - that cross again. This theme is repeated in Matthew, Mark and Luke.

The word literally is a reference to that terrible instrument of death used on Jesus.  Did he mean that we all had to die to prove our Christian mettle?  

A deeper look at this word might come from cross' (stauros) base meaning.  The root word for stauros is hestame and it means to make a stand,  to be firmly resolute and establish a position of strength, to be unwavering.  It means to be on solid ground, safe and sound, and, resultantly, to not waiver.

Essentially, Jesus says we must be sure.  We must be sure with whom we are standing and for what we are standing.  We can't have one foot in "the world" and the other in the Kingdom.  We cannot serve two masters.  Like the stake which stood firm to uphold a dying man, our "stake" in the world must signify a serious "line in the sand" to reflect who we follow.  

That "line in the sand" might distinguish us from others, might cause us to be removed from others who do not follow the same path.  It causes us to look different and behave differently.  Paul called it "Put off" or "throw off" your old sinful nature and your former way of life and ... instead "Put on" your new nature...Ephesians 4:21-24.  This line in the sand needs to be deliberate and will result in a drastic new way of being.  There should be no doubt as to whom you belong, whom you follow.

Have you taken a stand? Does your marker clearly delineate which side you are on?  That is your cross!