“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). James wrote these words as a warning to fellow believers who were boasting and bragging about “their plans,” where they would go, and what they would accomplish in the future. The truth is that life is short and unpredictable. Because we live in a fallen (and fragile) world, we are not even guaranteed that we will be here tomorrow. James compares our life to a mist or vapor. It is noticed for a short time, then it is gone. Many people choose to ignore the ultimate truths of life and death. But these facts are stubborn; they won’t go away just because we ignore them. So, what’s the best we can do in this brief journey called “life”? James already revealed the answer, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:6-8a). Life is given to us as a gift to draw near and walk with God! Jesus came and sacrificed himself for us, so that we might be reconciled to God, enabling us to live constantly in His presence. The best we can do in this brief life is to live in Christ for the glory of God. What an amazing joy to walk with Jesus, and then die (or meet Him at His coming) and go to heaven to be with Him forever! Be sure to tell others about the hope you have in Jesus.
This is my last Pastor’s Pen, and I want to say thank you for receiving these messages during the last almost 11 years. If you would like to keep in touch, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
Just before His death on the cross, Jesus proclaimed to His disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20). Jesus had to rise from the dead. He promised to do this, and if He had failed, what could we believe about all His other promises? Only by His resurrection could He confirm to His disciples and the world that He alone had the power over life and death. The resurrection also confirms that sin does not have the final word! We need not fear being eternally separated from a holy God. Jesus makes the way of reconciliation possible for us through His death and resurrection. On top of all these amazing truths, there is something else that gives me the greatest comfort. The resurrection of Jesus is all about the presence of God with His people! Before His death, the anxiety of the disciples went sky high because Jesus told them He was leaving them. However, His reassurance was clear: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (verse 18). Jesus could never have accomplished this if He were confined in a grave, becoming to us just a “memory” or a past good example. He promised presence! I love the Bible and appreciate so much the teachings and doctrine of Christ’s supremacy. However, my faith and confidence are not rooted just in words from the past but in a living and risen Savior! I need the Word of God for sure…but I also need the presence of the Lord Jesus, God’s living Word, living within me. I pray the Lord will spare us as believers from the “religion of the Pharisees.” They had plenty of the Word of God. They studied each day. They memorized and spoke the Word to the people, but they rejected the presence of God through Jesus. As a result, they lived their faith as the original zombies…looking alive on the outside but dead within. Jesus promised those who believe in Him, “Because I live, you also will live” (verse 19b). As we celebrate this Easter season, may we rejoice most of all in the Lord Jesus himself…loving Him, obeying Him, and enjoying His amazing life through His presence! He is alive!
We all know what it’s like to be tested by trials and hardships. But did you know that we are also tested by prosperity? King Hezekiah is a fascinating “case study.” For the most part, his life is one of faithfulness and godliness. As he ruled righteously and justly over Judah, the nation experienced a “lift” into great economic prosperity. Hezekiah was blessed with abundance. “And Hezekiah had very great riches and honor, and he made for himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of costly vessels; storehouses also for the yield of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of cattle, and sheepfolds. He likewise provided cities for himself, and flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great possessions” (2 Chronicles 32:27-29). When we are blessed with good things, the question becomes, “Will I be thankful and humble…or give in to pride?” One day special envoys from the nation of Babylon came to visit Hezekiah after he recovered from a serious illness. He showed them around and pointed out all the special treasures he had accumulated. This episode was much more than simple “hospitality.” It was a test for Hezekiah. The Bible says, “God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31b). There’s no doubt about it, God tests our hearts. Of course, He already knows our hearts, but He wants to reveal to us our need of His grace and help. This event reminds me of a master craftsman who trains his apprentice in a certain skill and then steps back and watches him work. The Lord blesses us in so many ways. How do we respond to the Lord in times of prosperity? Failing the test is easy. Just follow the carnal, sinful nature. Become proud and think of yourself as deserving and entitled…better than others. However, passing the test requires a heart after God. Acknowledge Him as the giver of all good gifts. Pour out your gratitude and love to the Lord for all His goodness. And remember, the Lord always gives “open book” tests. The answers to every test are in the Bible! ‘’Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endure forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21b).