The coronavirus pandemic has taught me a thing or two about taking stuff seriously. Sure, it took me a few more days than others to grasp the gravity of what’s going on. But, be assured that like the vast majority of us – I get it now.
My initial reaction was to race to that verse in the Bible where Jesus is speaking about people who get together “in my name”. Those (hopefully frequent) occasions when people who follow Jesus and are living for him are gathered in his powerful name. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I in the midst them,” assures Jesus (Matthew 18:20).
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t think I was being too jokey or silly by thinking about Jesus first. Instead, I wondered whether I was being too frivolous by quickly lobbing myself into that statement of Jesus – at a time when social distancing and other constraints are being imposed with the aim of doing good, not harm.
I don’t want to drive a wedge between what our Federal and State governments are calling upon us to do, and what Jesus promises. But I am finding it provocative to consider that at any time two or three (at least) gather in the name of Jesus – even virtually, as we are doing now – there He continues to be.
Yet, like everything during the coronavirus crisis, Jesus’s promises on this one remains the same as it did before the coronavirus crisis. And it will remain so after this crisis is over (according to Hebrews 13:8 or 2 Corinthians 1:20).
So I’m thinking that, no matter what kind of isolation measures happen, I can still know Jesus is “with” both me and other followers when we gather. Via a safe, healthy medium of connection, of course.
It was Paul's wish for all Christians "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:17).
The word "dwell" in this verse brings forth a powerful concept concerning our relationship with Christ. According to Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures, the root of the word in the Greek means "to make one's home, to be at home." Isn't that interesting? Jesus is not only to make His home in our hearts, He is to be at home there as well.
The question to ask ourselves in light of this is: "Is Jesus "at home" in my heart? Some people only want Jesus in their heart as a visitor. But Jesus wants to dwell in our hearts and be at home with all we feel, say, and do. This brings a whole different perspective into the picture.
Our whole lives extend from what our heart desires. We must keep our hearts pure and sincere. Jesus will then "be at home" there and many good things will come to our lives as a result. How do we make our heart so that Jesus feels at home? The text tells us: "Through faith."
Wouldn't you love to face eternity with confidence? You can!
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4: 6-8).
Paul knew a glorious welcome awaited him!
He knew he would hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).
He knew his name would be acknowledged before the Father (Matthew 10:32).
He knew God's Grace was bigger than his sin.
He knew the mercy and love of the Lord was more powerful than his rebellion.
He knew it was not how he started (persecuting Jesus and the Church, Acts 9:4), it was about how he finished.
The good news of Jesus Christ: We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), but Jesus died and rose again offering us home (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Ephesians 2:12-13).
When it comes to running the race of life (1 Corinthians 9:24), it is not about how we start, it is about how we finish.
In the first place, no one knows whether this thief was baptized or not. The Bible does not say. However, we know one thing for sure about this thief, he lived before Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved …” (Mark 16:16).
The thief on the cross had been dead fifty-three days before Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins …” (Acts 2:38). A man cannot be held responsible for doing something which is not in effect while he lives. It took the death of Christ to bring the new law into being (Heb. 9:16-17).
Just remember that the thief on the cross lived and died under the law of Moses. We, on the other hand, live under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) which says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). So, why try to be saved like the thief?
It turns out that Christianity is good for you and good for your kids. Well, I suppose if you have been listening to certain atheist it might not be obvious. Richard Dawkins, a well known atheist has claimed teaching children to accept their parent's religion is child abuse, and suggests it's even more damaging than sexual abuse. Interesting attention grabbing statement and completely wrong.
If you look at Christian families with unbiased eyes it is easy to see how beneficial practicing the Christian faith can be. If you need further proof, consider a 2018 Harvard study. Researchers kept track of over 5,000 youth over a decade. Their findings? Young people who went to church and prayed were more likely to say they were happy, more likely to volunteer, and less likely to use drugs. The study's author, Ying Chen, said "Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their healthy behavior, mental health, overall happiness, and well being."
We Christians don't need a study to tell us that but it's nice when someone from Harvard sees the truth.