3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. — Titus 3:3-5a NIV
We are often reminded of the things we did in the past. The thing that causes us to remember can be a single word, a song, a picture, a place, a taste, or a chance meeting with someone we used to know. Even though there is no situation that can ever be duplicated exactly as we remember it, the memories sometimes cause a great longing in us for “the good ole days”. But, as Christians, we need to be very selective in the memories we hold onto. Very few memories are neutral, they remind us of good times or bad times. They also remind us of the evil that was in us before we accepted Jesus as our Savior and hopefully, as our Lord. If we can use our memories and experiences to glorify God, that is a wonderful thing. But we should be careful that when rehearsing our memories that they don’t give more glory to a sinful way of life than they do to the one who gave His life that we might have a glorious future with Him.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. — Luke 8:38, 39 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. – John 12:25 NLT
Jesus responds to their request by saying that it was now time for Him to be glorified. They did not understand that He was referring to His death and resurrection. The grain of wheat that had to die was Jesus. Once a seed has sufficient moisture and temperature, it will split and a new plant starts to grow. The new plant takes everything from the seed to accomplish its growth. In other words, the seed gives itself up (dies) for the new plant. With proper care, the new plant will produce much fruit of its own kind. Jesus knew from before the foundation of the world, that His mission would be to give Himself up for us. When Jesus freely gives Himself up and is buried, the germination process has begun. Now all who accept Him are new creatures. Formed completely out of His body from His own nature. Now that the process of growth has started, we must continue that process by caring for the new creature. We do that by studying Scripture, meditating on His Word and communicating with God through the Holy Spirit. If we follow the example of Jesus, we become bond slaves to Him and servants to our fellow man. We keep this up until our physical body is used up or until Jesus returns, whichever comes first.
17 If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! –2 Cor. 15:17 (NCV)
Then when Jesus returns, the transformation will be complete! We will have new bodies because our fleshly bodies cannot stand in the glory of God.
1 Cor.15:46-49 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. — Psalm 73:22
Have you ever wondered if God thinks about us in these terms? I am sure that satan, the old deceiver, would like for us to believe that He does. If we have ever had these kind of thoughts, we should be like the Psalmist here. In his very next breath (or verse in this case), he immediately gets his head on straight by remembering what has happened in every instance in the past. The Psalmist realizes that he is speaking from a bitter heart and he has been questioning God’s wisdom. God never leaves us nor forsakes us nor does He cast us from His presence. Instead, He reaches down to us and if we reach up to Him, He takes us by the hand and continues to lead us toward our glorious destiny. The Psalmist remembers that God is our strength, our fortress and our shield. We allow satan to sneak these silly ideas into our minds when we are focused on the horizontal. We need to stay focused on the vertical. That means spending time alone with God, praising and thanking Him for His goodness and His blessings. If we do this, we can be assured that God will set the rest of the world straight in His own time.
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? — Matt. 24:3 NLT
Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven with His promise of returning, people have asked the question — When? The disciples had even questioned Jesus about this before His death and resurrection. Is when important and if so, why is it important? If we knew for sure Jesus was coming back at the end of this month, would it make a difference? Would it cause us to be more diligent in witnessing to our family, friends and neighbors? Would we be more committed to living a Holy lifestyle? Would it change our priorities? Would we gather our families around us and hold on to them tightly? Would we mourn or rejoice? Would we say. “even so, Lord, come quickly” or would we ask Him for a few more days to be sure our families were all saved? If we are truly honest with ourselves, would it really make any difference? If it would, then why doesn’t it make a difference even now? Only the Father knows when Jesus will return and only the Father knows when each of us will leave here. Since we don’t know either of these times, doesn’t it make sense to assume that it is today and live our lives accordingly? Shouldn’t we live each day seeking first the Kingdom of God and trust God to take care of the rest? If we could get to that point, then peace would overflow our hearts and life here on earth would be “joy unspeakable and full of glory”! Then “when” would become unimportant.
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:8, 9 NKJV
21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.—Gal. 4:21-26 (NIV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
As we have seen in the earlier verses, the Jewish leaders have been trying to convince the new converts to return to the old Jewish traditions. Paul is making the point here that they need to consider the hardships and severity of the law before they turn back to it. He is using the birth of Issac and Ishmael to demonstrate the difference in natural and spiritual things. Those that return to worldly things (the natural Jerusalem) are still in slavery to those things. But since Issac was born to fulfill a divine promise, there is now a choice that we can make. We can follow the fleshly lineage and remain slaves or we can follow the divine lineage, accept Jesus and become citizens of the Jerusalem which is above.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.–Phil. 3:20 (NIV)
But one day, the New Jerusalem will come down to earth and all those that have chosen the divine lineage (Jesus) will be citizens of the New Jerusalem.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband—Rev.21:2 (NIV)
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Are you greater than the prophets, who died? Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I am merely boasting about myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who says these glorious things about me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you do not even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But it is true — I know him and obey him. 56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” 57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!” 59 At that point they picked up stones to kill him. But Jesus hid himself from them and left the Temple.—John 8:53-59 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
Jesus explains to the people that they don’t really know God even tough they claim God as “our God”. If they really knew God, they would accept Jesus and be excited that the Messiah had come in their lifetimes. Jesus says that even Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to the birth of the Messiah. The people really didn’t accept this. Since Jesus is not even fifty years old, how could He possibly have seen Abraham? Then Jesus makes a statement that really gets the crowd worked up. “I existed before Abraham was even born”. The truth is more than that, Jesus existed before _______ and it doesn’t matter what you put in the blank, Jesus already existed.
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.—John 1:1-3 (NLT)
The crowd became so angry that Jesus had to slip away or be stoned to death. The name of Jesus still causes that kind of reaction today. When the name of Jesus is spoken, there is no neutral ground and there is no procrastination. You either have to accept Him or reject Him. What choice have you made?