13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.
We, like the prophets and leaders of the past, should consider ourselves foreigners and aliens here on earth. We need to hold onto the things of earth very lightly and be ready to let them go at the slightest urge of the Holy Spirit. God puts people in our path and gives us resources for a reason and a season. The why, what, when and where are His prerogative. Our love for Him requires us to allow Him to use us for whatever purpose and plan He has for us. It is our “reasonable sacrifice” to mortify our flesh and focus on Jesus. We walk in faith and live in the hope that we are headed for a country and a city not made with human hands. We have confidence in our hope because it is based on the same faith that Jesus had that He would be resurrected. Because of His resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are assured that our hope is not just wishful thinking but a fact guaranteed by our Lord and Savior.13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. —Ephesians 1;13-14 NIV
When soldiers are fighting a battle in a foreign land, the hope that keeps them going is the thoughts of returning home. They talk often of the day they will be leaving their post and you can believe there are smiles on their faces during those conversations. We should live our lives with that same anticipation of the fulfillment of every promise of God realizing that the joy we have when we receive earthly blessings are only small samples of the joy we will have when we get home.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. — Col. 2:6-7 NLT
How many times a day do we thank God for His goodness and blessings? Were you filled with joy at the dawn of a new day? Did you say, “good morning, Lord!” or “good Lord, it’s morning!”? Did you thank Him for keeping you safe through the night? Did you thank Him that you have eyes that can see the light of dawn? Did you thank Him that you have ears to hear the birds singing? Did you thank Him that you live in a country such as ours? Did you thank Him for the clothes you wear and also the clothes that you will probably never wear again? You don’t think that it is necessary to thank God everyday? Did you know that a lot of God’s anger at the children of Israel was because of their ingratitude for all that He had done for them? And He has done so much more for us. Do a word search and see how many times the words, “thank”. “thankful” and words that have similar meanings appears throughout the Bible. We should always be thankful because we could lose all these good things in a second.
4 “After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way — Deuteronomy 9:4 NLT
We are blessed to live in a beautiful country where we are free to travel from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast without having to stop at any border stations. We are also free to work, play, and worship without police or military interruption. We are free to accomplish most anything we have the ability and the desire to do. But, just as the children of Israel became full and fat in the land of Canaan and forgot Who it was that gave them the land, we are guilty of the same sin. We have done absolutely nothing to merit being born and raised in a country established on Judeo-Christian principles. God established this nation and has maintained it because we have been a nation “under God”. When we, as a nation, depart from those ways and turn to wickedness, God will discipline us just as surely as He disciplined the Jewish people when they disobeyed. We have been blessed because we have always blessed Israel. If that doesn’t remain true, we will be a cursed nation. God’s Word is true and He will not be mocked.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
What is an ambassador? Dictionary.com defines ambassador as a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative’. Using that definition, we are citizens of heaven placed here on earth to represent Heaven and our King, Jesus Christ. If we represent someone, we should strive to imitate that person and to show those around us what that person is like. We also represent the country we are from and we want to paint a beautiful word picture of what life is like in our home country. We certainly want to issue everyone an invitation to come and be with us in our country. There are four words in this definition that caught my eye. Those four words are “of the highest rank”. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for us to say that we can’t or that we don’t have the authority to do this or that. What we are is what they will think our leader and our country is like. Does our lifestyle make people want to know more about Jesus and an eternity in heaven or does it leave them thinking something else?
14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. — Hebrews 13:14-16 NIV
We are foreigners and aliens here on earth this is not our home. We are citizens of heaven. God has chosen to leave us here for a while to be ambassadors for Christ.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. — 2 Cor. 5:20 NIV
An ambassador is a person who has been sent from his home country to a foreign country as an official representative. God has chosen each of us, individually and specifically, to represent Him while we are here. A really good ambassador always speaks highly of his home country and its leader(s). In other words, he heaps praise upon them. He does everything in his power to try to get visitors to come to his country. That is our job. We want to get people to do more than visit our country (Heaven), we want them to stay for eternity. We do that by praising God continuously and telling others about the amazing love and grace of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We show them what a wonderful thing it is to accept Christ by our praise, prayers and our walk. Jesus went about doing good and that is our example. We need to share with others and that takes time and effort. God is extremely pleased when we sacrifice our time and resources to honor Him. Investing our time and resources into harvesting a soul for Jesus is a high profit endeavor. The blessings will start here and the rewards will continue into eternity. There is no other investment that will pay those kind of high dividends for eternity. Practice being a good ambassador for Christ. The rewards are out of this world!
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.– Rev. 22:12 KJV
33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” 35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”—John 7:33-36 (NLT)
These must have been very confusing days for the disciples and the true believers in Jesus. The Messiah had come but He had not set up an earthly kingdom as many believed that He would do. Now, Jesus is telling His followers even worse news. “I will be with you only a little longer.” Why was He leaving and where could He be going? Looking back from our vantage point in history, we know where He was going and we understand why He had to leave. Few, if any, of the people present at that time understood that. Isn’t it wonderful news that Jesus has never made that statement to us? In fact, just the opposite is true. To us, He has said: 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Hebrews 13: (NKJV)
We have a companion that is closer than a brother. He not only leads us, He walks with us, He is our rearguard, and He abides inside us. Jesus is in us and we are in Jesus. What more could anyone ask?
22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people. 23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”—John 3:22-26 (NLT)
John the Baptist would continue his ministry until the time that Herod had him imprisoned. He continued to minister through his disciples until he was beheaded. At this time, Jesus was also teaching his disciples to baptize people. Jesus Himself did not baptize but directed His disciples (John 4:2) John’s disciples were concerned about this for John’s sake. But steadfast, faithful John completely understood his place in being the forerunner of Jesus. He was not bothered by this event at all. John knew that his work had to decrease and as Jesus took His own place in history, Jesus would increase. This had always been the plan from before the foundations of the earth. Let us be as faithful now as John was then and we will receive our rewards when we get to heaven.
*****Does anyone wonder why verse 25 is included in this narrative?
11 Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise.12 Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. 13 All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. 14 Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. 16 Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.–Hebrews 11:11-16 (GW)
God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, yet, he and Sara did not have a child. They were well past child-bearing age when God delivered on His promise to Abraham. Though, from a human standpoint, it was impossible, it was not hard for God to fulfill His promise. After all, when He speaks, the sound of His voice creates whatever He says. He spoke the universe into existence. So, bringing forth a child from an elderly couple would not be difficult for Him. This promise was passed down from generation to generation. Many of them died before the promise was realized, but they died knowing that God is faithful and He would fulfill every promise. They pressed on in obedience to God and arrived at a heavenly country where they will spend an eternity with God because they were faithful.
2 Timothy 2: 1-6 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.
With all the things going on in our country today, we really need to pray for all of our elected officials. They need God’s wisdom to lead this country in the path that God has chosen for us. We have been blessed by God because He had a purpose and a reason for this country to be great. That purpose was to spread His gospel around the world. As long as we lifted up the name of Jesus and walked in that Light, we were safe and secure. Not because of our wealth or our power, but because God fought our battles for us. But as we have drifted farther and farther away from His teachings, we have become open to attack from those who do not support our definition of freedom and human rights. It is no longer possible to live quiet and peaceful lives in most of our neighborhoods. There is violence and unrest around every corner. We have arrived at this juncture because we have disobeyed God and His commands. He built us up and He can bring us down. The message that God gave when He sent Jesus into the world is still the same today. His Word is unchangeable and inerrant. Spend some extra time today praying for our country’s elected officials. Pray that once again, they will be worthy to be called our leaders.