Tribute to a Friend

My friend’s mother passed away yesterday unexpectedly.  The sadness I feel isn’t just for my friend and his family, but for me, too.  This woman was my friend, and I shall miss her.  Yet, moments after hearing the news, my thoughts were taken in a completely different direction.

I’ll be honest.  At first, I thought about how she’s seeing things about the Lord she wouldn’t believe while here, things some of us already knew and tried to tell her.  That arrogant train of thought was quickly destroyed when I realized she’s seeing it all so much more clearly than any of us ever will while on earth.  She understands the limitations of the doctrines she believed, as well as the limitations of the “greater” doctrines we espouse – and sees what the fullness of Truth really is.

Where earthly things are concerned, she sees now how much time was wasted on things of no value, while being shown the eternal impact some of her seemingly insignificant actions had.  I would love to get her perspective for my own life, even after only one heavenly day’s experience.  As a faithful choir member for decades, what notes can she hear that mortal ears can never perceive?  What amazing landscapes does she see now – with colors so crisp and vibrant, and far beyond our visible spectrum?  Then there is also her over-the-top delight in reuniting with friends and loved ones as they celebrate her homecoming.

As wonderful as all these are, they pale in comparison to seeing the face of her Creator, her Father, her Savior and Lord, her Jesus!  He is the One by Whom, for Whom, and through Whom she was made, and now my friend is experiencing Him in His fullness.  Today, you and I can only wonder about it, but one day we will also see Him as He is.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Goodbye, my friend.  Thank you for helping me see more clearly – even from heaven.  I look forward to seeing you among my welcoming committee when I arrive.

Free!

Galatians 5:1 NIV  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Romans 8:21 NIV  . . . that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

What do we give to the people around us?  Only what we have received.  Have we received the freedom – the glorious freedom – described in these verses?  As believers in Christ, you might be quick to reply, “Of course!”  My observation and my own experience give a very different answer.  It has nothing to do with whether Jesus Christ has given us this glorious freedom, for He has, but whether we have received it in its entirety.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Oh, yes, we received the gift of eternal life, with the assurance of going to heaven.  This was by God’s grace in our hearts and faith to believe we couldn’t earn it no matter how much we tried.  Somewhere along the way, however, we missed the fullness of this Truth: this is also the only way we are to live our lives in Christ – by grace, through faith.  After salvation, we have worked very hard attempting to do enough or be good enough to deserve what He has already given us freely for this life.  In reality, we have allowed ourselves to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery to the law – we must work to be worthy.  This, my brothers and sisters, is not freedom, and definitely not glorious freedom!

When we live in Christ this way, it is also the way we live toward others, seeking to train them in our ways of the Lord.  But this isn’t what Jesus came to give.  He came to give absolute freedom in Him and in His finished work on the cross, including abundance of the grace of God for every need.  In turn, this freedom and grace is to be given to others who have not yet heard the gospel.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news – but so much better than what our lives have shown it to be to this point!  He came and gave His life, doing all the works and fulfilling all the requirements of the law, by the grace of God in Him, so that we could live in freedom from those requirements.  When we have a life-changing revelation of this Truth, the works we do in this complete and glorious freedom are done in response to His wonderful love and provision of grace – and with a desire to glorify Him and lead others to know Him this way, too.

Matthew 10:8 AMP  . . . Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.

May you be stirred to seek after His freedom beyond what you have known, so that this will be what you give to others – no strings attached!

It’s Harvest Time!

John 4:35 “ . . .I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Something has really stirred in me concerning the kinds of prayers we are praying for the harvest of souls in these last days compared to what Jesus said.  Maybe you’ve heard these phrases prayed, or even prayed something similar yourself.  “God, bring in the harvest!”  “We call for the harvest to come in.”  “God, make them ready.”  While these prayers come from the sincere hearts of those who want people to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are unscriptural – do not agree with what the Word says – so they are ineffective.

The harvest is ready already.  If it was true when Jesus walked the earth, it is still true today.  Let’s think about it.  When a natural field is ready for harvest, does the farmer – even the most God-fearing among them – stand in his barn and beg God to bring in the harvest for him?  No.  Neither does he command the harvest to pull itself up and come into the barn.  The farmer, along with others who help, goes out with the proper equipment and harvests those crops, bringing them into the barn.

Matthew 9:37-3837 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This is a prayer we can pray concerning the harvest that will definitely be answered.  Jesus made it very clear that we are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into His harvest field.  He didn’t say to ask Him to ripen the crops, or bring them into our churches so our pastors can lead them in the sinner’s prayer.  He didn’t even say to call for the evangelists to go.  He said to ask the Lord to send workers.  It’s very simple, but when you pray this prayer, remember that you might be one of the workers you’re praying for.

Mark 16:15-1615 He (Jesus) said to them (disciples), “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  (Words in parentheses are inserted for clarification and underlined for emphasis.)

Jesus told us, those who follow Him, to go into all the world – where the harvest is.  He’s given us all the tools we need (His Word and the Holy Spirit), but He will not do it for us, nor will He have the harvest come to us.  Those who believe the gospel we share, when we go, will be harvested for eternal life.  Jesus wants passionately for the lost to hear and believe, and He wants passionately for us to be the ones who take the gospel to them.  He said, “Go!”  And He said, “Pray for more to go.”  It’s harvest time!