A Bit More Than We Can Imagine

‘The angel showed me a river that was crystal clear, and its waters gave life. The river came from the throne where God and the Lamb were seated. Then it flowed down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations. God’s curse will no longer be on the people of that city. He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God.

Rev. 22:1-3, CEV

A  remarkable thing happens to  John; he has a vision that is extensive and yet without any embellishment or elaboration.  He sees, not imagines, the deep things of God. Those things that are happening are astonishing, and yet are spiritually significant and compelling right down to the infinitesimal detail!

The leaves are bringing wholeness to the people of the the earth.  The fruit of each tree brings a comprehensive work of healing deep within.  There is nothing but blessing coming from these trees. I’m looking forward to being healed by them. I hope you are too.

It all seems a fanciful dream, but it is a true and certain reality that John is seeing.

I think that the most amazing thing that happening is the lifting of the wrath of God on the earth. Furthermore the terror of being judged is eradicated. We won’t be afraid anymore. There is no sense of lostness,  damnation or death.  There has been a release from that bitter darkness.  Life now rolls out without the impediments of sadness, sin or doom. I can’t wait.

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’  

Romans 8:1

Some of us have struggled a great deal.  The darkness has definitely tried to destroy us.  We’ve come through however, painfully aware of the bleak despair and despondency.  And yet God comes prepared, bringing His spiritual ‘bulldozer’ to clear the way.  It’s funny, but these things at one time seemed permanent, and forever attached to our spirits.  But He thinks otherwise.  For we now have fully become His own.

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Some Things Are Just Brutal

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.”

1 Peter 1:6, NLT

So much has been written already from the perspective of suffering Christians.  We live in a painful world; there are plenty of cuts and bruises to go around.  Yet each blow we take is disturbing.  I’ve met so many who have been unfairly brutalized and must walk through mental or physical disabilities. Some things are just brutal.

A great deal of recovery is simply allowing ourselves to be comforted in the Spirit, and to understand the Word to see what is really taking place, when we are walloped by an especially intense attack.

We may not have this in our understanding, but suffering provides us with incredible advantages and blessings.  The bruises which hurt us, can also bring us wisdom. We learn many things, but only when we hurt. The challenge is not to waste our sorrows.

Suffering offers us benefits:

  1. Suffering verifies our faith (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
  2. Suffering confirms our sonship (Heb. 12:5-8).
  3. Suffering produces endurance (James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 5:10).
  4. Suffering teaches us to hate sin (John 11:33).
  5. Suffering promotes self-evaluation.
  6. Suffering clarifies our priorities (Dt. 6:10-13).
  7. Suffering identifies us with Christ (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thes. 2:14-15; Gal. 6:17; Phil. 3:10).
  8. Suffering can encourage other believers (1 Thes. 1:6-7; Phil. 1:14).
  9. Suffering can benefit unbelievers (Acts 16:16-34).
  10. Suffering enables us to help others (Heb. 4:15-16).

 -John MacArthur

If you have ever been attacked, it can change you.  Spiritually, our vision clears and we are no longer myopic people.  We are now able to see things much clearer and with more discernment and wisdom.  But the choice today is yours to make. Will you make suffering work for you?

“If you had never known physical pain in your life, how could you appreciate the nail scarred hands with which Jesus Christ will meet you?”  

Joni Eareckson Tada

Unquestionably the pain is real. However, I honestly beg of you to make this transaction with the Holy Spirit.  Exchange your anger and fear and doubt– for peace and confidence and joy.  You’ll be no longer a victim, you will become a victor, if you use your pain to help others.

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Staring Down Death

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“In the long run, we are all dead.”  —John Maynard Keynes

“Are you afraid to die? Remember that for a child of God, death is only a passing through to a wonderful new world…”  —Corrie Ten Boom

The idea of death is unpopular, unsettling and perhaps a little rude.  It is a great way of putting a good conversation into flight-stopping stall.  No one likes it (except maybe ‘Goths‘ and the perennial AC/DC fan).  It is perhaps ‘too true’ and the reality keeps us from dwelling on it.  But it is going to happen, you will die.

 “We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard. Oh!  Teach us to live well!  Teach us to live wisely and well!”

Ps. 90:10, 12, MSG

Our modern society has made considerable effort to avoid the subject of death.  Thinking through this strikes me as unhealthy and confusing.  Through the past centuries, our present day attitude would be regarded as strange by them.

The Bible teaches us how to prepare to die well. 

We have been given several decades of life on this planet, but not much more than that.  The psalmist recognizes this.  He prepares for his/her personal appointment for death.  He prays that he will use wisely all the time he has left.  Psalm 90 has been part of that preparation for millions of Christians, for many centuries.

One way to help you purify a faith that is strong enough to look death straight in the eyes, is to have a few older Christian friends.  For me there is Pastor Ray.  He is in his 80s now.  I see myself marching behind him, and watching his back as he moves to heaven.  It helps me follow in some small way.  It gives me peace.  Maybe that is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is a book that is to prepare us for death, and then eternity.  It is our compass as we look for ‘true north’.  It has instructions and guidance, if we listen to the voice, it will bring us through the ‘door of death’. Fear not, little flock.  It is God’s pleasure to give you the kingdom”.

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 “Lord, please get me ready to see you.  Teach me how to live wisely, and not as a foolish person.  Teach me to be a model of faith and strength to everyone who is watching me move toward death.  Give me courage and faith.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.” 

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