Reliable Directions

Do you want reliable information about where you’re headed? Most of us do.

I remember when Julie and I were getting ready to move to Africa. We loved visiting with people who had been there, and most of all, with people who had lived there. We hung on every word, because we knew that one day soon, we would be needing the very information they were giving us.

What if you wanted to go somewhere where you would remain forever? What if we could reliably say only one person has been there before and come back to tell us about it? What if the alternative to going to this place was a horrible — almost unthinkable — alternative?

Would you want to hear what that one person had to say about…

  • How to get there?
  • How to avoid obstacles that will prevent you from getting there?
  • How to help others get there with you?
  • What it will be like once you arrive?

I’m talking about heaven, of course. And I’m talking about Jesus. He’s the one person we can reliably say has been there and come here to tell us about it. He wants us to know what he knows about it. Most of all, he wants us to have the answers to all four questions above.

Some people struggle with listening to Jesus on this point. But from experience I can tell you, it’s good to listen to the people who’ve gone there before you have. That’s what Jesus was telling Nicodemus. And that’s what Jesus is saying to you, too.

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man” (John 3:13, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Saturday, May 2, is Joshua 21:20 – 22:34, John 3:1-21 and Psalm 55:1-11.

Lord, help me to listen to your voice. You have the words of eternal life.

Header image based on "The Milky Way panorama" by European Southern Observatory, CC By 2.0

How to Pray When Your Hands Are Tied

How should we pray when our hands are tied (or possibly even nailed… to a cross)?

You might remember Jesus’ prayer as he looked down on the crowd gathered around his cross at Golgotha.

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

Wow! That’s a powerful prayer when your hands are tied and you are looking at the very people who did the tying. Don’t forget, to add insult to injury they had driven nails through those same hands.

In praying for the forgiveness of his crucifiers, Jesus at one and the same time made peace with his circumstances and with the people who created the circumstances.

You may well have people in your life who have tied your hands, and who have added insult to their injury of you. But you too, through a prayer of forgiveness can make peace with your circumstances and with the people who did this to you.

You might also recall the criminal’s prayer. Don’t forget, his hands were tied too.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'” (Luke 23:42, NIV).

Sometimes when there’s nothing more we can do in this life, we need to come back to an eternal focus. That’s what the criminal did. In the end, he put first things first, and remembered his deepest spiritual needs. Then he asked Jesus not for rescue from the crucifixion, but rather for deliverance into Jesus’ eternal kingdom.

I’m reminded of something Augustine once said, “Earthly things are indeed beautiful and fair, though lowly and slight compared to the beauties high and blessed.”

It’s a great reminder we get from this criminal as he prays from a cross. When life goes horribly off the rails and we are in pain — and there seems to be nothing we can do about it — it’s good to keep eternity in view.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, April 26, is Joshua 9:16 – 10:43, Luke 23:26-56 and Proverbs 10:21-30.

Lord Jesus, help me to always stay focused on your forgiveness and the hope of eternal life that you have given me. Help me to forgive others, and even to pray for the forgiveness of those who have hurt and angered me. Most importantly, give me an eternal perspective in my prayer life, and remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Header image based on "with me in paradise" by Waiting for the Word, CC By 2.0

Eternity On the Line

Luke was a companion of the apostle Paul. It’s likely that Paul and Luke first encountered one another in the city of Antioch, in Syria. We know from the book of Colossians that Luke was a physician.

Luke’s Greek is grammatically excellent and proper. His descriptive references to ancient cities and towns, and his correctness in ancient terminology mark him as a careful scholar.

As Christians we know that the Holy Spirit divinely inspired the words of the gospel Luke wrote. But the Holy Spirit also chose Luke, the careful scholar, to be the one to do the research work that would allow him to provide us with an accurate and well-ordered account of the life of Jesus, our Savior.

God is so good. As Luke writes in the introduction to his gospel, God wants us to have certainty about the things we have been taught. He does not want to leave us hanging.

That’s because a lot is on the line here. Eternity, to be exact.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to be confident. He wants us to know the Bible is trustworthy. And most of all, he wants us to know that his work of sending his Son, Jesus, to be our Savior is fully reliable. All because he wants our eternity to be secure.

“With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4, NIV).

Lord, thank you for showing us that your word is reliable. As the true author of the Bible, you carefully selected the men who would record your words. And they in turn, carefully did the research so that in the process we are left with an account of the life of Jesus that we can trust is completely trustworthy. So much is on the line. Thank you for such love!

Our Bible reading for Friday, March 13, is Leviticus 26:14 – 27:34, Luke 1:1-25 and Proverbs 7:1-5.

Header image based on "Eternity" by Newtown graffiti, CC By 2.0