Today’s Bible Reading: John 17:20–26
I have made you known to them. -John 17:26
In the Mission: Impossible film series, agent Ethan Hunt is always given a seemingly insurmountable task. The challenge is presented with this stark option: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . . .” Of course the fate of millions is at usually stake, and the resulting drama keeps…
Today’s Bible Reading: John 17:1–8
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. -John 17:4
The movie Glory celebrated the first African-American units to serve in the United States Army. Set in the Civil War, the film was based on historical accounts and made for brilliant storytelling! But in the end, almost all the key characters…
Today’s Bible Reading: John 13:1–11
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45
From time to time, King James V of Scotland (1512–1542) would set aside his royal robes to dress in the clothes of a commoner. Why would he do such a thing? So he could…
Today’s Bible Reading: Philippians 2:3–11
The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. -1 John 4:14
Perhaps you recall the words of this classic Christmas carol expressing wonder at the birth of Jesus:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.…
Today’s Bible Reading: Galatians 4:4–7
When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law. -Galatians 4:4–5
My wife, Marlene, and I enjoy watching home improvement programs. We love learning from the experts as they transform a tired living space into something new and remarkable. But there’s a…
Have you ever fought a dragon? If you answered, “No,” author Eugene Peterson disagrees with you. In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he wrote, “Dragons are projections of our fears, horrible constructions of all that might hurt us. . . . A peasant confronted by a magnificent dragon is completely outclassed.” Peterson’s point? Life is filled with dragons. The life-threatening health crisis, the sudden job loss, the failed marriage, the estranged prodigal child. These “dragons” are the supersized dangers and frailties of life that we are inadequate to fight.
But in those battles, we have a Champion. Not a fairy tale champion—the ultimate Champion who has fought on our behalf and conquered the dragons that seek to destroy us. Whether they are dragons of our own failures or the spiritual enemy who desires our destruction, our Champion is greater, allowing Paul to write of Christ, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). The destructive forces of this broken world are no match for Jesus.
The moment we realize that the dragons of life are too big for us is the moment we can begin to rest in Christ’s rescue. We can confidently say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
When my brother David suddenly died of cardiac failure, my perspectives on life changed dramatically. Dave was the fourth of seven children, but he was the first of us to pass—and the unexpected nature of that passing gave me much to ponder. It became apparent that as age began to catch up with us our family’s future was going to be marked more by loss than by gain. It was going to be characterized as much by goodbyes as hellos.
None of this was a surprise intellectually—that is just how life works. But this realization was an emotional lightning bolt to the brain. It gave a fresh, new significance to every moment life gives us and every opportunity time allows. And it placed a huge new value on the reality of a future reunion, where no goodbyes will ever be needed.
This ultimate reality is at the heart of what we find in Revelation 21:3–4: “God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Though today we may find ourselves experiencing seasons of long goodbyes, our trust in Christ’s death and resurrection promises an eternity of hellos.
During her ministry to men incarcerated in South Africa’s most violent prison, Joanna Flanders-Thomas witnessed the power of Christ to transform hearts. In Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey describes her experience: “Joanna started visiting prisoners daily, bringing them a simple gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation. She earned their trust, got them to talk about their abusive childhoods, and showed them a better way of resolving conflicts. The year before her visits began, the prison recorded 279 acts of violence against inmates and guards; the next year there were two.”
The apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 nasb). While we may not always see that newness expressed as dramatically as Flanders-Thomas did, the gospel’s power to transform is the greatest hope-providing force in the universe. New creations. What an amazing thought! The death of Jesus launches us on a journey of becoming like Him—a journey that will culminate when we see Him face to face (see 1 John 3:1–3).
As believers in Jesus we celebrate our life as new creations. Yet we must never lose sight of what that cost Christ. His death brings us life. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (v. 21 nasb).
For decades, London has been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. In 1933, journalist Glyn Roberts wrote of England’s great capital, “I still think the parade of peoples and colours and tongues just about the best thing in London.” That “parade” is still in evidence today with the blended smells, sounds, and sights of a global community. The beauty of diversity is part of the breathtaking appeal of one of the world’s greatest cities.
As with any city inhabited by human beings, however, London is not without its problems. Change brings challenges. Cultures sometimes clash. And that is one of the reasons no city built by human hands can compare to the wonder of our eternal home.
When the apostle John was transported into the presence of God, diversity was one of the elements of heavenly worship, as the redeemed sing, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9–10).
Imagine heaven—a parade of every people group in the world celebrating the wonder of being children of the living God—together! As believers in Jesus, may we celebrate that diversity today.