Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

God is Holy

God is holy.  Because He is holy every other attribute of God is associated with His holiness.  For example,  His love is a holy, pure love.  When Isaiah had a vision of God, he saw and heard the seraphims say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”  Isaiah 6:1-4

 

God cannot look on sin.

 

Because God is holy, He cannot look on sin.  The prophet Habakkuk, speaking of God in Habakkuk 1:13 says,  “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity.”  In Hebrews 12:14 we read, “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  Therefore, for God to look on us with favor and bless us and use us,  He must first solve the sin problem and make us holy. When Isaiah was confronted with the holiness of  God, he immediately recognized his own sinfulness.  He cried out to God in Isaiah 6:5 “Woe is me!  for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”  As we face the holiness of God, each of us must also see our sinfulness in His sight and cry out for His mercy and cleansing.

 

God alone can cleanse us from sin.

 

The moment Isaiah admitted his sinfulness,  God took the initiative and cleansed him.  This cleansing is pictured by a seraphim taking a hot coal from off the altar and touching it to Isaiah’s lips and thus purifying him. Isaiah 6:6-7   So when God planned our salvation He had to devise a plan that would make us pure and holy.  God could never allow unrepentant sinners in Heaven.  John writing about the inhabitants of Heaven says in Revelation 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any that defileth, neither whatsoever   worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which  are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

 

It took the blood of an innocent sacrifice.

 

As  the blood of lambs was shed in Old Testament times to atone for sin, so Jesus, the Lamb of God, shed His blood on the cross for our sins.  “He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21   Through faith in Christ, God declares us perfectly righteous and fit for Heaven.  Romans 3:23-26

 

Not only declared righteous but made righteous.

 

But God takes our salvation a step further.  He is not satisfied to simply justify us and declare us righteous.  His wonderful salvation also makes us righteous.. No, we are not perfect in this life, but we have a heart that longs  for perfection and holiness  and we have the promise in I John 1:3-10 and 2:1-2 that when we sin, if we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Perfection awaits us when we are glorified in Heaven. I John 3:1-3

 

Christianity is far more than religion.  The New Birth results in a Holy Life.

 

Because God is holy, those who are born again into His family are given His holiness.  We are actually made partakers of His divine nature.  II Peter 1:2-4  Any  “salvation experience”  that does not result in holy living is vain and worthless.  Any religion that does not produce holiness is a false religion.  It is sad that multitudes of religious people are going through the motions of dead religion.  What sinners need is not mere religion nor an emotional experience which makes us feel good about ourselves. What people need is to recognize  that God is holy and we are sinful.  We need to look to Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and rose again that we might be justified and cleansed and made holy.  May God not let you be satisfied with anything less than Christ Himself. Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:6,8  “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” 

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June 6, 2006 Posted by | God | Comments Off on God is Holy

Herod

Herod had just beheaded John the Baptist and he desired to see Jesus.  Isn’t that amazing?  If I had done such a vile deed, Jesus would be the last person I would have wanted to see!  But that’s what we read in Luke 9:7-9.  Let’s look at Herod and his family and try to understand why he thought and acted and spoke the way he did.   In this article, we shall study 1. the history of the Herods;  2. a common characteristic of this family of kings  and finally we will consider 3. our own response to Jesus.

 

 

THE HISTORY OF THE EDOMITES 

The Herods were an Edomite dynasty of kings who ruled Palestine for about 150 years from about 50 BC  to about 100 AD.  Emperor Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire in the early years of Herod’s reign over Palestine.

 

The Edomites were descendants of Esau,  Jacob’s twin brother.  You may remember the story of these twin boys who struggled for dominance and for  their father’s blessing.  You can read the full story in Genesis 25:19-34   27:1-46.  Note in Genesis 25:30  that Esau became the father of the Edomites. 

 

Time passed and  Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel in an experience described in Genesis 32,  eventually had a large family of twelve sons.  These sons ended up in Egypt and became slaves of  Pharaoh  for four hundred years.   God raised up Moses to lead them out of Egypt to become the nation of Israel, God’s special people, whom God had promised to their ancestor, Abraham,  and to his son, Isaac and  to his grandson, Jacob.  By now there were over 600,000 men.  With women and children there were no doubt over 2,000,000.

 

As Israel journeyed to the Promised Land of Canaan,  they came up against the borders of Edom.  The best way to Canaan would have been to pass through Edom.  They asked permission and the Edomites refused.  The Edomites hated Israel, just as Esau hated Jacob.  Read about that refusal for permission in Number 20:14-21.  In Deuteronomy 23:7 God commanded Israel to love the Edomites, in spite of their hateful treatment,  because they were brothers.

 

Because of their hatred of Israel, God promised judgment on the Edomites. Some key passages  that speak of this judgment are found in Isaiah 63:1-6,  Jeremiah 49:7-8,  13-17; and the Minor Prophet, Obadiah.  That judgment has been carried out.   The Edomites no longer exist.

 

 

THE HISTORY OF THE HERODS

Antipater, an Edomite,  was the father of Herod the Great.  Four generations of Herods are mentioned in the New Testament.

 

Herod the Great  ruled Palestine from 37 BC  until his death shortly after Jesus was born. You may remember that when Jesus was born, the wisemen from the East followed the star to Bethlehem. Herod called for them and commanded them to let him know when they found the baby  so he could come and worship Him also.   Of course, his plan was to kill Jesus. He is known for his hatred of Jesus and his diabolical decree to kill all the babies up to the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. With this decree he hoped to kill Jesus.  God led Joseph and Mary to take the infant Jesus with them into Egypt where they stayed for a short time until Herod died.  In this way, God spared  Israel‘s  baby Jesus from the hatred of the Edomite,  Herod the Great.

 

Herod the Great had four sons who took over parts of his Kingdom.  These four sons, Archelaus,  Antipas, Philip and Trachonitis, were the second generation of Herods.

 

Archelaus was given Judea and Idumaea or Edom to rule. He was ruling when Joseph and Mary returned from Egypt  with the child Jesus  Matthew 2:22

 

Philip was given Ituraea to rule.

 

Antipas was given Galilee and Peraea to rule.  Antipas, a despicable character,  is perhaps the best known of the Herods.  Jesus called him “a fox” Luke 13:32.   Herod Antipas took his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias,  and lived with her.  John the Baptist confronted this couple with God’s Law, letting them know that their arrangement was sinful.  Herodias became furious and convinced Herod Antipas to have John beheaded.. This is the Herod  that I wrote of at the beginning of this article who desired to see Jesus.  Three years later this same Herod Antipas was involved in Jesus’  crucifixion when  Pilate sent the condemned  Jesus to him.  Herod tried to get Jesus to perform some miracles to amuse him.  Jesus answered him nothing and so Herod in disgust and hatred  mocked Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate to be crucified.

 

Trachonitis is the fourth son of Herod the Great.  Nothing is said of him in the Bible. History tells us that he ruled in the Northeast section of Palestine.

 

Herod Agrippa I is the third generation of Herods.  His story is told in Acts 12.   He killed the Apostle James and then imprisoned the Apostle Peter, expecting to kill him also the next day, but an angel helped him escape from prison during the night.   This king died a horrible death eaten of worms when he accepted glory that belonged to God alone.

 

Herod Agrippa II is the fourth and final king in the dynasty of Herod.  His story is told in Acts 25 and 26.  There we have the account of the Apostle Paul appearing before him.  He is the king who heard Paul preach the Gospel and  was  “almost persuaded to become a Christian.”

 

 

THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE HERODS

As Esau hated his twin brother Jacob,  so the Edomites hated the Israelites  and  the Herods hated Jesus and  His followers.   If Esau had been able to look from the grave, he would have been very pleased to see his descendants, the Herods, ruling over Jacob’s descendants,  Israel, under the rule of the Herods.

 

Though Herod the Great told the wisemen to bring him word when they found Jesus so that he could come and worship Him, that was all a pious front.  Herod had no intention of worshipping Jesus, but planned to kill Him.

 

Though  Herod Antipas, after beheading John the Baptist, said he desired to see Jesus;  it was not a desire to love Jesus and learn from Him.  It was simply idle curiosity.

 

Though Herod Agrippa II said to Paul that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian,  he did not trust Christ.  He went away lost.   How sad that this man almost came to Christ, but did not.  How sad that this man almost went to Heaven, but instead he is in hell today.

 

 

YOUR RESPONSE TO JESUS  

 

You’ve seen the desire of  the Herods to see Jesus.  What is your response?  Is your response to Jesus like that of  Herod the Great;  just hypocritical talk of worshipping Jesus?

 

Is your response to Jesus like Herod  Antipas;  just idle curiosity with no sense of sinfulness and need of Christ?  Or is it your desire, like his desire to see Jesus at His trial;  just a desire to be entertained?

 

Or are you as Herod Agrippa  II;  almost ready to trust Christ and become a Christian?  Today is the day of salvation. You have no promise of tomorrow.  You have no promise that tomorrow you will even want to be saved.   If the Spirit of God is speaking to your heart, I urge you to trust Christ right now and settle this matter now for eternity.   Go to my link on Salvation, read it and receive the Saviour now.   Hell will be filled with people who almost became Christians.

 

If you are a Christian,  your desire is to live in Christ’s presence daily.  Like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:4  Jesus is your life.  He is everything to you:  your Saviour,  your Lord,  your King, your Life and your purpose and goal for living.  Like Paul  you can say, “For me to live is Christ.”   With  the Apostle John in I John 3:2 you can say, “Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doeth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”

 

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Herod | Comments Off on Herod

Heaven

When I put my trust in Christ as a nine year old boy, Heaven became my eternal home. I became a citizen of Heaven. I have not renounced my citizenship on this earth. I am proud to be an American, but that citizenship is only temporary and passing. I joined the ranks of those listed in Hebrews 11, for whom this world system has little attraction. I am a stranger and a pilgrim passing through life on this earth.

Oh, I enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I enjoy a wide variety of beautiful music, both sacred and secular.
I enjoy delicious food and I delight in the love and intimacy of family life and friends.

For over sixty years as a Christian, Jesus has been my life. My chief desire is to live to influence people to know and glorify God by coming to Him through His Son Jesus who died on a cross for our sins and rose again. . We who trust Him can walk and talk with God in this life and be prepared to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

What is Heaven Like?


Paul writes in I Corinthians 2:9 that it is beyond our wildest imaginations and words cannot describe it. The Bible drops little hints and paints word pictures for us concerning our eternal Home.

Heaven is beyond the dimensions of time and space. It is where our holy God dwells. Matthew 6:9 Revelation 4 & 5

Heaven is indescribably beautiful. The Lord Jesus Christ has gone there to prepare our eternal home. John 14:3 II Corinthians 12:2-4 Revelation 21 & 22.

There will be no sin or temptation in Heaven. Satan will have no access to Christians in Heaven. There will be no self-righteous people in Heaven.  Only sinners, who have been cleansed of sin by Christ’s blood and have been given God’s righteousness will dwell with God in Heaven. Revelation 5:9 20:10; 21:27

Heaven will be an eternal rest from our struggles and labors. Revelation 14:13

In Heaven we will enjoy a holy intimacy with Christ and with all God’s family. There will be no more loneliness or estrangement. We who belong to Christ will continue to be part of God’s eternal family.

How can we be sure of Heaven?

Faith in Christ as our Saviour from sin is the ONLY way to Heaven. Contrary to the lies of Satan, there are not many roads to Heaven. John 14:6

For the Christian, eternal life and Heaven begin at the moment of salvation. I John 5:11-13; John 3:36

At the moment of death, our soul is immediately in the presence of God. II Corinthians 5:1-8 When Christ returns for us in a meeting we call the rapture, the bodies of Christians dead and living will be glorified and caught up to be with the Lord forever. I Corinthians 15:50-58; I Thessalonians 4:13-18

However the Christian, though presently bound to his sin-cursed body until death, can presently enjoy living in the presence of God in what is called fellowship. Romans 6:1-14 Ephesians 1:3 Colossians 3:1-3 I Corinthians 1:9 I John 1:3-10

If you are a Christian, you look forward to eternity with Christ in Heaven. At the same time, you can presently enjoy an intimate walk with God each day. Are you living and walking in the glory of His presence right now? Only sin can hinder that walk. Confess it to God as sin and discover the joy and victory of Heavenly citizenship and an intimate, personal relationship with Christ. .

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Eternity | Comments Off on Heaven

John 3:16

The following story was passed on to me. It beautifully illustrates the message of John 3:16.
In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell many papers.

He walked up to a policeman and said, “Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there for tonight. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come to the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in.”
So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered.
He looked up and said, “John 3:16.” The lady said, “Come on in son.” She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a fireplace, and she went off. The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: “John 3:16…… I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.”
Later, she came back and asked him, “Are you hungry?”
He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food.” The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought : “John 3:16….. boy, I sure don’t understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.”
She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: “John 3:16….. I sure don’t understand it but it sure does make a dirty boy clean.. You know, I’ve not had a real bath in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that fire hydrant as they flushed it out.”
The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window, at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: “John 3:16…. I don’t understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.”
The next morning, the lady came back up and took him down again to that same table full of food. After he ate, she took him to that same split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a Bible. She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face. “Do you understand John 3:16?” she asked gently.
He replied, “No ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it.”
She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus. Right there, in front of that fireplace, he received Jesus as His Saviour and Lord. He sat there and thought: “John 3:16. I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.”
You know, I have to confess I don’t understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in Heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for ME that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 Why don’t you believe this wonderful good news and receive God’s gift of salvation right now?

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on John 3:16

Golden Rule

God's moral laws concerning our relationship with Him and with others is found in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus distills those ten commandments to two commandments. In Matthew 7:12 and again in Luke 6:31 Jesus further distills them down to one great Rule, The Golden Rule. "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." In Luke 6:32-38 He shows how the Golden Rule can be worked out in different situations.

Note that every verse in this passage, as well as most of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, deals with our selfless relationship with others called LOVE. That selfless relationship with others is based on God's selfless relationship with us shown in giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Only as we are born again through faith in Christ, can we have God's selfless love flowing through us to others. If we lack that, it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to live by the Golden Rule.

Consider different situations and circumstances in which we have the opportunity to live out the Golden Rule and so glorify God.

LOVING THE UNLOVELY
Continuing with verses 32-33, Jesus shows that we are to love by doing good to others; even to our enemies. Those whose philosophies and political persuasions are different from ours are sometimes difficult to love. Certainly those who are disagreeable, rude and obnoxious are not easy to love. Our personal enemies and those who would take advantage of us are, humanly speaking, impossible to love. Yet God loved such people, including each of us who have sinned against Him, and He calls upon us as Christian to love them.

GIVING AND LOANING TO OTHERS
In verses 34 and 38 Jesus commands us to go out of our way to show our love by giving of our time and our resources to those in need and we are to do it with no expectation nor thought of return. Have you ever loaned or given your time or something of value to another and received not a word of appreciation? Have you ever thought to yourself, "That's the last time I will ever do anything else for THAT person?" Christian friend, that is not a Christian attitude. In Luke 6:35 Jesus teaches us to give, "hoping for nothing". Why do we love? Why do we loan? Why do we serve the Lord with little or no chance of ever being paid back in this life? Why do we give of ourselves hoping for nothing? We love and serve others because by faith we see from God's eternal vantage point. We serve with eternity's values in view.

SHOWING MERCY TO OTHERS
A third way we live the golden rule according to verse 36 is to show mercy to others. As our Heavenly Father showed mercy to us in saving us, so we ought to show mercy to others. We should especially show mercy to those who have been unkind to us and are now in a position where we can get even with them and pay them back for their unkindness. That's the golden opportunity to show mercy according to Romans 12:14, 20-21 How much better it is to respond to our enemy with a fiery shower of genuine, selfless love than to stoop to his level returning insult for insult. By returning good for evil we please God and avoid the health-damaging consequences of malice and stress. We experience the joy of personal victory overcoming evil with good.

JUDGE NOT
Finally in vs 37 we are warned to judge not and condemn not. When we attempt to measure, judge and condemn others; we are attempting to do what only God is capable of doing. We are all prone to see the faults of others and overlook our own faults or to weigh the faults of others as being heavier than our own faults. While we are commanded to discern good and evil by the standard of God's word, we are NOT to judge and condemn others. Instead we are to be quick to forgive and hold no grudges. When we have a forgiving heart, God is ready to forgive us our trespasses; but when we refuse to forgive, we put ourselves in a dangerous position where God will not forgive us. Read the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and ponder soberly the warning of verses 14 and 15. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Do you see the importance of living the Golden Rule? To put it in the words of a well known saying, "What goes around; comes around."

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Law | Comments Off on Golden Rule

God Is Love

GOD IS LOVE! Such simple, well known words and yet how difficult for us to grasp! None of us can totally comprehend God’s love. If we could only begin to understand a little of it, what a difference it would make in our relationship with Him and with others. What peace and joy and comfort it would bring to our troubled hearts!

Because God is infinite; His love is infinite, endless, immeasurable and it has no boundaries.

Because God is everlasting, His love is everlasting. It had no beginning and it has no end. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Because God is omnipotent, His love is powerful enough to accomplish whatever is best for me. Read Romans 8:28-39 and as you read it, learn that God takes all the circumstances of your life and mixes them together for your good. Nothing is too good for God to give to His child and no power can destroy His love for us. If I delight myself in Him, He promises to give me the desires of my heart. Psalm 37:4

Because God is omniscient (all-knowing), He sees the end from the beginning and knows what is best for me. God is pleased when I trust Him with plans for my future. Jeremiah 29:11 Isaiah 55:8-9

Because God is holy, His love is holy and pure. Isaiah 6:1-8 Revelation 4  God, who is omnipotent (all-powerful) could be an ogre or a tyrant if His love were not holy. Because of His holiness and purity, I need not fear any harm from Him; only good.

Because God is omnipresent, His love is with me wherever I am and regardless of my situation. He is able to show His love to me. Psalm 139:1-18

Because God is immutable, His love is unchanging. He is not fickle. He does not with-hold His love from us as we do from others when we think it is undeserved.

Because I am human and have my physical and emotional weaknesses, I cannot always feel His love; but He is still with me, working out good in my life. Job 23:8-10

God’s love is practical. It is more than mere words. God’s love is self-giving and is shown to me in His Son, Jesus, who died to pay the penalty for my sins. John 3:16 Romans 5:8 Only as I trust Jesus and know Him as my Saviour and Lord, can I ever know His love for me. None of us deserve God’s love. We can never earn it. It is totally a free gift of His grace and He lavishes it on His children.

Those who spurn that love will one day be forced to face His wrath. John 3:36; 5:24 Revelation 6:12-17

If we are yielded Christians, living under the control of His Holy Spirit, Christ fills us with His love and it spills over to others. I John 4:19; 2:5; John 14:15; 15:12-14

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Encouragment | Comments Off on God Is Love

Gardens and Crosses

"Now in the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid."

Jesus was crucified on a skull shaped hill just outside of Jerusalem. This bone-covered, hill, known in different languages as Calvary or Golgotha, was a place of cruel executions. a place of ugliness, loneliness, cruelty, torture, excruciating pain and death.

Very near that hill was a garden. What an interesting contrast! The hill speaks of suffering and death. The garden speaks of quiet peacefulness, life and beauty.

Joseph, of the village of Arimathea, was a wealthy man and a member of the ruling Jewish Sanhedrin. He was a secret follower of Christ. He owned the garden and had dug a tomb in the rock and had prepared a sepulchre for his own death someday.

Nicodemus was the Pharisee of John 3 who came to Jesus one night two or three years earlier earnestly seeking to know Christ. Evidently he received Christ as his Messiah and became a secret follower for several years.

Both of these men came together to take down the dead body of Jesus and bury it in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of spices for the burial. Centuries before as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites had learned the art of embalming.

The account of Jesus' burial is found in the four Gospels: Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56 and John 19:39-42. From these four Gospels we have this story.
A synthesized account of Jesus' burial

As the evening of the Passover Sabbath was drawing near; Joseph of Arimathea, a good man and a wealth man, a Counsellor and a member of the Sanhedrin who had followed Jesus secretly for some time; boldly and courageously approached Pilate for permission to take Jesus' body down from the cross and bury it.

Pilate, after confirming with the Roman centurion that Jesus was indeed dead, gave permission to Joseph.

Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had come to Jesus one night several years earlier to discuss spiritual matters, now joined Joseph in helping him with the burial by bringing one hundred pounds of embalming spices. Together they took the body to Joseph's tomb and wrapped the corpse with the embalming spices in yards of linen and laid it in the sepulchre.

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, also joined Joseph and Nicodemus in the tomb and observed how the body of Jesus was laid out in the tomb. Then they all exited and rolled a great stone against the mouth of the tomb and left the garden.

The strange contrast
Would you consider with me the strange contrast of a garden and an execution site being so close together? Calvary speaks of the dark, discouraging, sad, heart-breaking moments of our life. The Garden speaks of peace and quiet fellowship with God. Note both experiences often come close together. The garden was near the cross. Dear reader, the next time you are called upon to bear a cross of suffering and heart-break and disappointment for Jesus' sake, remember; there is a garden of fellowship with Christ near by.

The fellowship that Adam and Eve in their unfallen state enjoyed with Jesus each day in the Garden of Eden, was lost when they sinned against God. They lost the fellowship and died spiritually and years later died physically. The result is that the entire human race has followed them in sin and death and loss of fellowship with God. Your fellowship with God can be restored through faith in Christ who died to pay the penalty for our sins.
In that Garden of Fellowship you will find the following blessings.

The blessing of life
There is only one kind of life and that is God's eternal life. It begins the moment you put your trust in Christ as Saviour and continues on throughout eternity. There is no other life; only existence. This life comes through Jesus alone. John 14:6 It is an abundant life; more than you could ever dream or ask for. John 10:10 You find this life by identifying yourself with Christ who suffered and died and rose again for your sins. Matthew 10:39

The blessing of intimacy with God
In Isaiah 45:3 the prophet Isaiah speaks of the spiritual treasures that are found only in the dark and distressing times of life. Philippians 3:10 and I Peter 1:3-8 speak of the intimacy with Christ and the spiritual power we experience as we enter the fellowship of His sufferings.

The blessing of beautification
In the garden of fellowship with Christ, He is glorified in us. John 17:5-10 The more time we spend with Him in His Word, the more we become like Him. II Corinthians 3:18 Psalms 149:4-5 Psalms 90:14-17

The blessing of peace
If we are living in fellowship with Christ, when times of fear and suffering come our way, we can have His perfect peace as we keep our mind focused on Christ. Isaiah 26:3 Through His indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives us His peace. John 14:27 16:33

The blessing of joy
In the midst of sorrow and loss, He fills our heart with His joy. John 15:11 I John 4:1

The blessing of growth
Some of the greatest spiritual growth and sanctification, (the process of becoming like Jesus) comes in the midst of suffering. I Peter 5:10 We are crowded closer to Christ. The spiritual growth that takes place may be imperceptible to us, but others can see it and are blessed by the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.

Finally, the blessing of suffering often opens new doors of service for Christ.
As in a garden, new and fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are constantly being produced; so in the garden of fellowship with Christ, He often closes one door and opens another new and fresh opportunity for service. But don't chide and fret and moan for new opportunities to come your way. Learn to bloom and produce fruit in the place where He planted you. When you have finished your work there, He will move you on to new opportunities, if you have been faithful

Next time you pass through a time of testing and sorrow, remember there is a garden close by, a garden where you can enjoy sweet intimacy and fellowship with Christ.

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Encouragment | Comments Off on Gardens and Crosses