Friday, July 27, 2012

Heaven and Eternity




People often ask the question, "What will heaven be like." Although the Bible discusses heaven, it is not possible to understand the full nature of heaven from a human perspective. Since heaven is where God lives, it must contain more physical and temporal dimensions than those found in this physical universe that God created. We cannot imagine, nor can we experience in our current bodies, what these extra dimensions might be like. Even so, we are given enough information in the Bible to understand many of the things that will be different in heaven compared to our lives today.

There is always hope, and the hope is in God. If you have put your faith in Christ, then you have the ultimate hope of heaven. One day, you will be with the Lord. And that should put everything in perspective. Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death — in the ultimate resurrection into the new heavens and the new Earth.

Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will "awake," be embodied and participate in the renewal. John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: "God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves." That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death is a period when we are in God's presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ's kingdom. Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ (the one thousand years) on this earth, referred to in Revelation 20:1-10; secondly, the New Heavens and The New Earth, referred to in Revelation 21 and 22. This millennialism (or chiliasm) is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic Church after him.



Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is a seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. 'Heaven' will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer 'loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind' and 'loving their neighbour as themselves' (adapted from Matthew 22:37-38, the Great Commandment) —a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of current earthly life.
 
Heaven is the opportunity to develop and fulfill dreams bigger than anything on this earth. If we did not accomplish something on earth, it still can be accomplished later.

This is important to realize, because there are those who have very difficult lives. There are those whose lives were cut short. I can't think of anything more sad than when a child dies or when a young man or woman leaves us in what we perceive to be before their time.

But God promises to compensate. God promises to make it up to them. Death for the Christian is not the end of life, but it is the continuation of it in another place.

We will be better off eternally because we suffered temporarily. I think of the here and now, but God thinks of the by-and-by. I think of the temporal, but God thinks of the eternal. I think about what makes me happy, but God thinks about what will make me holy. He looks at the big picture. 

First things first: 

Heaven is a place of “no mores.” There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). There will be no more separation, because death will be conquered (Revelation 20:6). The best thing about heaven is the presence of our Lord and Savior (1 John 3:2). We will be face to face with the Lamb of God who loved us and sacrificed Himself so that we can enjoy His presence in heaven for eternity.

The apostle John was privileged to see and report on the heavenly city (Revelation 21:10-27). John witnessed that heaven (the new earth) possesses the “glory of God” (Revelation 21:11), the very presence of God. Because heaven has no night and the Lord Himself is the light, the sun and moon are no longer needed (Revelation 22:5).

So in this plan and purpose of God's, there may be things I have gone through that make no sense to me now. But when I get to heaven, I will realize that I was a better person for them. I will see that I was made more into the image of Jesus Christ as a result of them. I will discover that new ministry opportunities opened up that I would not have had otherwise because of these things.


Throughout life, there are things we do not understand. As we mature, we begin to understand. Likewise, we do not understand why the righteous must suffer. But someday, in heaven, we will understand.

There will be something about them that causes me to look back and say, "Now I understand why God allowed that to happen to me." So it all will be sorted out. And I think this argument for the greater good may be the strongest biblical case for why God allows suffering.

I think the best explanation of eternity is given by Pastor Greg Laurie.  Here is what he says: 

Gone So Soon.

"We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace."
— 1 Chronicles 29:15

We make so much of this life, but it comes and goes rather quickly. The Bible tells us, "We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace" (1 Chronicles 29:15). We think far too much of this life and far too little about eternity.

In his book, We Shall See God, Randy Alcorn writes, "Eternal life means enjoying forever the finest moments on Earth the way they were intended. Since in Heaven we will finally experience life at its best, it would be more accurate to call our present existence the beforelife rather than to call what follows the afterlife."

It is like the previews that are shown at the beginning of a movie. I have often found the previews are better than the actual movies they are promoting. Of course, you don't go to a movie to watch the previews. You go to a movie to watch the film itself.

In many ways, life on earth is like the previews that come and go rather quickly, while the movie is like eternity. That is the main event.
 
God has other times and places where our dreams and our hopes can be realized. We see things in a certain way here on earth. But that can change overnight. That can change in a nanosecond when we enter into eternity.

As Dinesh D'Souza said, "Heaven is the venue of cosmic justice. This is where the faithful servants of the Lord who came in last receive their due prize and reward."

Surely it is not wrong for us to think and talk about Heaven. I like to find out all I can about it. I expect to live there through all eternity. If I were going to dwell in any place in this country, if I were going to make it my home, I would inquire about its climate, about the neighbors I would have — about everything, in fact, that I could learn concerning it. If soon you were going to emigrate, that is the way you would feel. Well, we are all going to emigrate in a very little while. We are going to spend eternity in another world. … Is it not natural that we should look and listen and try to find out who is already there and what is the route to take? – D.L. Moody

For the Gospel,

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Friday, July 20, 2012

Soviet Union, Lenin, Stalin, Russia and free at last…..




Here's one which  I read in some very small edition book of Soviet Anecdotes.

An old woman is riding a crowded bus and has to stand with her heavy packages.
Finally, someone in front of her gives up a seat and so she grabs it.
"Thank God," she says.
A man in the seat behind her says, "Excuse me comrade, but this is an atheist
society. You should say 'Thank Stalin,' not 'Thank God.'"
"Of course you are right," the old woman says. "Thank Stalin." She is
silent for a moment, then says: "Comrade, I have just had a terrible thought:
What shall we say when Stalin dies?"
The man behind her replies, "In that case I think we can say 'Thank God.'"

Now here is another interesting one.

I knew of a man of God  who went to see Lenin’s tomb when he was in Moscow. He is sealed in a crystal case. You can see his waxen face and his trimmed beard, and on that tomb these words are written: “He was the greatest leader of all peoples of all countries of all times. He was the lord of the new humanity. He was the savior of the world.”

 
 (Picture of Lenin)

Do you notice it’s all past tense? He was. Jesus is alive. He is the great I AM. It is an encounter with the living Christ that makes the difference in our lives. We serve a Savior who is alive and listening to our every prayer. He is bottling every tear and rejoicing with every victory.

Today, less than 20 years after the collapse of the officially atheistic Soviet Union, Russia has emerged as the most God-believing nation in Europe, more so than Roman Catholic Italy or Protestant Britain. The independent Public Opinion Fund poll discovered this spring that 82 percent of Russians now say they are religious believers. Given the brutal and ruthless repression by Joseph Stalin of the Russian Orthodox Church and all religion, this is truly a remarkable statistic.

In the worst of times, Stalin’s thugs dynamited spectacular Orthodox cathedrals. They sent the Russian clergy to the gulags; they discriminated against believers in hiring and education; and they stole the churches’ priceless religious icons, selling them in the West for precious hard currency.

The Church and the Russian Federation

Militant atheism was part and parcel of Soviet state policy up until 1943, when Stalin agreed to some compromises with the church in return for support in the war effort. “Militant atheism” meant, in many cases, a violent, hateful attack on religion including the disenfranchisement of the churches, the mocking of rituals, and the oppression of priests and believers up to and including deportation and murder. Right up into the perestroika period, it was associated with some degree of anti-church activity. Churches were used as clubs, concert halls, and museums, including museums of “The History of Atheism and Religion” which emphasized the evils of church history by displaying instruments of torture used in the inquisition. The church hierarchy was spied on and controlled and limitations on free speech were applied more strictly than usual to religious “propaganda”. Anti-church measures continued to get more and more mild in recent decades, however, and, as early as the 1970ies, there were signs of growing acceptance of religiosity in public life. In 1988, the Soviet government joined the Russian Orthodox church in officially celebrating the millennial anniversary of Christianity in Russia. That marked the end of all remaining elements of state suppression of the church.


As we look at the church in North America, it appears that the world can no longer make sense of what we assert to be true by looking at our lives. This is the crisis in our way of life, which is another way of saying "this is our ideological crisis." In these urgent days, therefore, let us stop everything and figure out what has gone wrong in the disparity between what we say and how we live. Let us return to the basic practices of being his people together in the places where we live. Let us pay attention to the Eucharist and the daily reconciliation we must practice in life with one another in this place.



By reading and hearing the Word, let us pay attention to what God is saying and calling us to in our neighborhoods and respond with simple obedience. Let us pay attention to conflict and disagreements and see them as times to submit to one another in fear and trembling, seeking God's voice. It is out of these times that we shall see more clearly what we must do to cooperate with God's work in the world for his salvation. Let us minister and proclaim the gospel to the poor, to those who can teach us how to receive the gospel for our whole lives. Let us minister the gifts of the Spirit to each other, seeking the renewal of all things in our lives and in our neighborhoods. Let us seek the good of the city through the proclamation of the reign of Jesus Christ as Lord. And in so doing, the gospel shall take root in us and our neighborhoods. The ideologization of the church shall be resisted, and God in Christ shall take on flesh in us and come humbly into the neighborhood.

This push toward place is already happening all over North America. Amid all the noise and busyness of North American life, it is the manifesto of the gospel anew. Will we all join in? I see it already happening. Praise be to God. (1)

God's purpose in our lives is to bring us to a realization that everything we have of value is from Him alone. God has a plan and purpose for you, and He will remove anything that will hinder your effectiveness in fulfilling His plan—your job, your friends, your surroundings, your money—anything. God will break all threads of independence until we bow our knee and say, "Yes, Lord."

In your marriage or family, say, "Yes, Lord." In your finances, say, "Yes, Lord." In your emotions and thoughts, say, "Yes, Lord." In your work, say, "Yes, Lord." In your relationships, say, "Yes, Lord." In your service and your church, say, "Yes, Lord."

D. L. Moody said, "It is yet to be seen what God would do through one man's life surrendered totally to Him. I determine to be that man." Moody was never ordained, but he shook three continents with the power of God, because he realized "all things are possible to those that believe" (Luke 1:37). Be decisive for Christ. Commit to Him now. Don't worry about how the world will respond. Jesus will see you through every circumstance and valley.

 References:

(1) Dr. David Fitch is Pastor at Life on the Vine and the B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary. 

Blessings,

For the Gospel,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, July 13, 2012

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?



A young preacher was called out of a life of sin to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. While in the pulpit one day, he received a note in which someone had written all his past sins. In addition it read, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? And you’re up there telling people to get right with God!”

Do you know what the young preacher did? He read that note, bowed his head in prayer, stood up and said, “Ladies and gentleman I have received a note, and here is what it says.” Then, in front of that whole crowd, he read every one of those sins. Then he said this: “Yes, I am ashamed of myself, but I am not ashamed of my Savior!”

What are some past sins in your life that are holding you back from fully proclaiming God’s power to others? Confess them and bury them in His sea of forgetfulness.

Let us look at another situation. We all have our best days. Days when it all goes great. When the sun shines brighter. When our kids behave. When we’re on time. When we break through. When we succeed, prevail and overcome. We praise God and thank Him for working in our lives. These are the great days.

And then – there are the bad days.

When it all falls apart. When it all goes wrong. When we get blindsided. When we waste time. When we mess up, fall short and ignore God. What are we supposed to do with those days? Yet none of this shocks God.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows we are a forgetful people. He knows our capacity for ingratitude. He knows our capacity for reinventing the truth. He knows our capacity for taking credit for His provision. Throughout the Scriptures we see God reminding His people of His blessings. He often urged them to set up visible memorials of His past provision so they would be filled with prayer and praise. Without these reminders, the people would forget God's faithfulness.This also describes the need and passion.

Now let’s look at the Paradigm Shift of Passion. Charles Swindoll clearly stresses an emphasis on Kingdom Builders; of being rich than making more money. Rabbi Luzzatto explains that being busy is one of the greatest stumbling blocks before mankind. If we are too busy to think, then we are too busy to change. And if we never adjust our course in life, we will never reach our goal. If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers? Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.


 
Just about everyone is passionate about something. For some, the passion of their lives is education. So they continue to grow in knowledge, remembering that all knowledge is rooted in the fear of the Lord.

For others, their passion is work, which can give them a godly sense of fulfillment in life. These people get up in the morning and are excited about the possibilities of a new day. They see their work as not just a job, but a purpose.

Others have a passion for their families, and they aspire to make their homes a place of faith where God is honored and see their family members walk with the Lord. What a wonderful passion to have!

Remember, only in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.—Colossians 2:3

From the looks of things, you're pretty impressive. You've got a nice place. And I suppose your neighbors would agree that you're a hard worker . . . climbing right on up that ladder toward success, right? . . 
.
Your salary is good and your material possessions are growing in number, but . . . the truth is you are empty on the inside and you're faking it on the outside. Not one thing you own in your "kingdom" has brought you the happiness you long for. 

So you're thinking, "Maybe if I could land that better job," or "get into that bigger house," or . . .  or . . . .
But don't allow the smoke screen of more money to blind your eyes to the truth. There's a lot more to being rich than making more money. Seneca, the Roman, was right: "Money has never yet made anyone rich."Even when it seems that almost everyone these days is facing some kind of challenge. Whether it’s financial, health, or marital – it all boils down to one kind of test: a test of faith.
 
And so it is with God. The more we put our faith in the Lord, the closer we will be to Him. Everything we endure and everything that we experience is meant to teach us trust in the Lord. God’s ways are higher than our ways and most human reactions are in direct opposition to the paradoxical ways of God. Honestly, there are times when what He has asked me to do simply does not make sense – to me. And there we find the problem. Faith is a matter of blind obedience, not human logic. At the heart of every storm is victory – waiting to be claimed!

 Do you want riches? Then listen to Jesus: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

For the real riches, try switching kingdoms.

Here is the story: 

God's Grace Poured Out

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

 “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Finally Here is the Master’s Touch

 I can’t improve on what C. S. Lewis says about this (well, that’s true of most things):

    If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. . . . But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic, there is only one right answer to a sum . . . but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.

Put it another way. The God of Christian spirituality is a God whose light is available to people in every culture and every century. As a result, I want to acknowledge all truth and all love, wherever it’s to be found.

But as a Christian, I also believe that the place where the light of God is most clearly focused is in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no-one like him among all the religions of the world! So it’s actually a caricature to say Christians think they are 100% right and everybody else is 100% wrong. But it is true that Christians think they have something special: and that something is Jesus.

 Blessings,

For the Gospel

Raj Kosaraju


Saturday, July 7, 2012

God is the same in the Old and New Testaments.


 

First things First

Jesus is the only way of salvation because He is the only One who can pay our sin penalty (Romans 6:23). No other religion teaches the depth or seriousness of sin and its consequences. No other religion offers the infinite payment of sin that only Jesus Christ could provide. No other “religious founder” was God become man (John 1:1; 14) – the only way an infinite debt could be paid. Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ! “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

There has never been a man like the Lord Jesus. I was deeply stirred by these words, written by John Phillips about Jesus:

“He never uttered a hasty, unkind, untrue, or frivolous word. He never entertained an impure thought. His talents never debased for selfish ends. His influence, never bad. His judgment, never wrong. He never had to apologize for anything that He did or retract a single word He said. He was never too late or too soon, never upset, never insipid, never shallow or afraid. . . He had absolute victory from the moment He drew his first breath in that Bethlehem barn until the moment He closed His eyes in death on the cross of Calvary.”

At the very heart of this question lies a fundamental misunderstanding of what both the Old and New Testaments reveal about the nature of God. Another way of expressing this same basic thought is when people say, “The God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath while the God of the New Testament is a God of love.” The fact that the Bible is God’s progressive revelation of Himself to us through historical events and through His relationship with people throughout history might contribute to misconceptions about what God is like in the Old Testament as compared to the New Testament. However, when one reads both the Old and the New Testaments, it becomes evident that God is not different from one testament to another and that God’s wrath and His love are revealed in both testaments.

For example, throughout the Old Testament, God is declared to be a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5, 15; 108:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13). Yet in the New Testament, God’s loving-kindness and mercy are manifested even more fully through the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Throughout the Old Testament, we also see God dealing with Israel the same way a loving father deals with a child. When they willfully sinned against Him and began to worship idols, God would punish them. Yet, each time He would deliver them once they had repented of their idolatry. This is much the same way God deals with Christians in the New Testament. For example, Hebrews 12:6 tells us that “the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

In a similar way, throughout the Old Testament we see God’s judgment and wrath poured out on sin. Likewise, in the New Testament we see that the wrath of God is still “being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). So, clearly, God is no different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament. God by His very nature is immutable (unchanging). While we might see one aspect of His nature revealed in certain passages of Scripture more than other aspects, God Himself does not change.


The OT storyline appears best to be summarized as: the historical story of God who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend that new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful (defeat and exile), all of which issues into his glory; the NT storyline can be summarized as: Jesus’ life of covenantal obedience, trials, judgmental death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit has launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-and-not-yet promised new creation reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend this new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful, unto God’s glory.

Another important author D. A. Carson describes the message of the Bible in 221 words.

    God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

    But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

    In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 

 
     
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). (1)

 As we read and study the Bible, it becomes clear that God is the same in the Old and New Testaments. Even though the Bible is 66 individual books written on two (or possibly three) continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years by more than 40 authors, it remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. In it we see how a loving, merciful, and just God deals with sinful men in all kinds of situations. Truly, the Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. God’s love for His creation, especially for mankind, is evident all through Scripture. Throughout the Bible we see God lovingly and mercifully calling people into a special relationship with Himself, not because they deserve it, but because He is a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth. Yet we also see a holy and righteous God who is the Judge of all those who disobey His Word and refuse to worship Him, turning instead to worship gods of their own creation (Romans chapter 1).

 

Because of God’s righteous and holy character, all sin—past, present, and future—must be judged. Yet God in His infinite love has provided a payment for sin and a way of reconciliation so that sinful man can escape His wrath. We see this wonderful truth in verses like 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” In the Old Testament, God provided a sacrificial system whereby atonement could be made for sin. However, this sacrificial system was only temporary and merely looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ who would die on the cross to make a complete substitutionary atonement for sin. The Savior who was promised in the Old Testament is fully revealed in the New Testament. Only envisioned in the Old Testament, the ultimate expression of God’s love, the sending of His Son Jesus Christ, is revealed in all its glory in the New Testament. Both the Old and the New Testaments were given “to make us wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). When we study the Testaments closely, it is evident that God “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). (2)

I believe this is how Jesus wants us to be. He has proven His love in so many ways, we should never be insecure. He should be able to leave us for 2000 years and come back to find children who are secure in His love. He has revealed the Father’s love through His words. He has revealed His love through His action – giving His life for us on the Cross and going through Hell as our substitute. He exceeded all religious expectation by giving the Holy Spirit to live inside of us. Who could have imagined a better or more personal gift? Now we are to live securely in that constant, abiding love.
  

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


 References:

(1)  For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

 (2) Gotquestions.org

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

He came to show us who God is!




I remember reading an article: way back in the 60s when those Russian cosmonauts went up into outer space for a few hundred miles, came back, and said, “We have searched the heavens and there is no God.” Well, I’ll tell you one thing: if they had stepped out of that space capsule, they would have met Him face to face!

When you look at so many of the world’s philosophies today, it becomes clear that many people are living without God. And before Jesus, you and I were without God as well. That’s why, in today’s passage, Jesus clearly equates knowing Him with knowing His Father. You can’t have one without the other!

Our generation doesn’t like the word authority. We don’t like to be under anybody. We stick out our chests and talk about being free-born Americans.

If you’re a baby boomer, you’re of a generation of anti-authority figures. In your lifetime you’ve gone through the hula hoop, the Barbie doll, pop psychology, Dr. Spock, Donahue, and the Beatles. It was all anti-authority! Fathers were Archie Bunker. Preachers were Flip Wilson. The anthem was, “Do your thing. If it feels good, do it.” Many of us dare not realize the vestiges of rebellion that still lurk down in our hearts.

But here is what the Word of God says. 

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).


 

The grace of God in the gospel turns everything into hope for those who believe. "Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that...we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4). "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things" (Rom. 8:32). Therefore, all the various tones of texts (let them resound!) resolve into the infinitely varied tones of hope, for those who believe in Jesus. 

Faith is not tested by what we say or even by what we believe. The true test of faith is in how we live. He is calling all of us to a new place. But we must rid ourselves of old habits, our sinful nature, foolishness, laziness, bitterness, and all the other crazy things we hold onto. We keep hearing the Holy Spirit say, “get prepared!” And that is want we want to do and be.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 1:5-8)


To be without Christ is to be without God. And if you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know God. You may know about God, but Jesus didn’t just come to tell us who God is. He came to show us who God is! 

D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, was once quoted as saying, “One day they’re going to put in my obituary that D. L. Moody is dead.” He said, “Don’t you believe it… for I will be more alive than ever before!”

So the next time you talk with someone who has a different worldview than you, introduce them to your God by introducing them to Jesus. Tell them of His love for them and what He did to save them. When you show them Jesus, they’ll understand God in a whole new way!

 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Strange gods come and go.



 

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
A man named Solomon Peas died. His tombstone in London reads:

“Beneath these clouds and beneath these trees
Lies the body of Solomon Peas.
But this ain’t Peas - it’s just the pod.
Peas shelled out and went to God.”

I like that. That’s what your body is. It’s just a pod. What happens to a child of God who has trusted Christ as his personal Savior? When he closes his eyes in this life, he opens them in the next. Jesus did not say, “After two or three thousand years, you’ll be with Me in paradise.” Jesus said, “Today, truly, you’ll be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

This reminds me of my close friend Brother Brian Dayhuff  who always says if we are not able to meet then we shall meet in heaven. Wow! Just think about it . His words have mighty anointing power. He assures us to look at the bigger picture. Once you try practicing the same you will make a difference.  I think he follows the Holy spirit in whatever he does or says.  I am always blessed when I remember the words that he reminds me of and about the hope his life is all about. I thank the Lord for sending him and his family into my life.  

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16,17). It is remarkable when it comes from Brian who also fought many a battle for the US army.

As a young, aspiring  leader, I began to wonder what it would take to excel in the years ahead.  My quest began with a calling and a vision. I also had a plethora of questions that drove my learning, an abundance of curiosity, and an immeasurable drive and passion that fueled me. What I didn't have though was a mentor to guide me in a personalized, customized way. I didn't have someone who was willing to take the necessary time and offer the invaluable investment to guide me, sharpen me, and motivate me to be who God designed me to be.  That's the dilemma I believe many young leaders face. That's the dilemma the church is staring in the face as we ponder how the next generation of leaders will be developed.

As my journey evolved, God did lead me to a few key mentors like Brian Dayhuff, Stanley Benjamin, Frank Farag, and Senior Pastor Eric Hansen that have truly altered the entire trajectory of my ministry, and my entire life. It hasn't been a path I expected, but it has been transformational, developmental, and most of all, personal. As a result, I've come to believe more deeply than ever in the power of being a mentor.  And perhaps more significantly, I've come to believe more deeply than ever in the power of being a servant of the Lord. 
 
Are you living your life well? That is an important question, because you never know when your life will end.

In a broad sense, life for the Christian will never end. There is an afterlife. There is a heaven. And ultimately, there will be a new earth where we will rule and reign. But according to Scripture, what we will do then is connected to how we live now. So we want to think about our lives and how we are living them today.

We all assume we will live a long life. Maybe you are a young person just getting started. Maybe you have lived many, many years. Maybe you are middle-aged. Whatever age you may be, you don't really know where you are in life's journey. And that is the thing we all have to think about.

We live our life as a story that is being told, and, for some of us, we may be further along in that story than we realize. So we have to ask ourselves questions like, "What purpose does God have in mind for me now that I have committed my life to Jesus Christ?" And, "What will the legacy of my life be? How will I be remembered?"

We are here to bring glory to God—nothing more, nothing less. So the objective is not to be the most successful or to have the biggest this or that. It is to be faithful to what God has set before each of us.
  
Irrespective of what happens, remember this; God is in control. Bad things will still happen; we live in a fallen world. But God is in control and history is moving toward His end. The ultimate needs of His children are met, and we have the promise of eternal life. Beyond that, we must cling to the fact that we are pilgrims, sojourners to another world—heaven, where our true citizenship lies.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju