Blog - Talking with Jesus
Jesus warned about the reality of Hell three times more than He witnessed of the glories of Heaven. One time He told this story: A rich man dressed in purple and linen lived in luxury. At his gate sat a beggar named Lazarus who longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man's table. The dogs licked Lazarus' painful sores.
Lazarus died one day and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. Later the rich man died and was buried. From Hell where he suffered great torment, he saw Abraham with Lazarus by his side, and cried out to him. "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip his fingers in water to cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."
Abraham answered him, "Remember that in your lifetime you received good things while Lazarus received bad things. Today he is comforted and you are suffering. In addition, there is a chasm between you and us. No one passes from here to there or from there to here.
Then the rich man begged the Father to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them about this terrible place of torment.
Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets. Let your brothers listen to them."
The rich man said, "But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
Abraham said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, even if someone raised from death will not be able to convince them.
Think About It
Do you think God sends good people to Hell? The answer is He does not. People who choose to live by their standards instead of God's ways, consequently choose to go to Hell. Then if good people go to Hell, is there good in Hell? Consider the examples in this story:
Pray About It
Father God, I pray that people reading this story from your word will want to accept your love and benefit from the abundant life you promise today and forever. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jesus spent quality time with His closest friends at the Last Supper. After dinner he washed their feet and then led them to the garden of Gethsemane where He prayed three times. He prayed in anguish that the Father would take away His cup of suffering, but added, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus knew what was coming. We might think because He was God He would be exempt from the pain of ridicule, rejection and crucifixion. Yet, He was also true man. Jesus knew He would feel the mockery deep in His heart. He knew He would feel the pain of the nails piercing His hands and feet. He endured the cross because He loved us so much He didn't want any of us to perish in our sin, but to live with Him forever in a place He is preparing for us. Through His sacrifice we have forgiveness and are made right with God the Father. What joy there will be in Heaven when we all get together! Meantime, we have a few things to do.
Jesus endured the cross because He could see what was on the other side of His suffering--sitting at the right hand of the Father. He was buried and rose from His grave. After His resurrection, He gave His His last will and testament to His followers: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). This is known as the Great Commission. I am a home-body and love my comfort zone so I resist getting out of it. However, God has called me to task, and that is going out and sharing the love of Jesus. When I volunteer at the hospital or lead Bible studies for women, God blesses me far beyond my imagination. I didn't know about the blessings before I followed Jesus' command to "go."
Think About It
What about you? Do you have a ministry? Do you hesitate to go out because others might ignore you, reject you or oppose you? It's a sacrifice, but so far, no one has spit on me or hurt me physically. I rely on the promise at the end of Jesus' Great Commission: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus suffered alone, but we don't have to. He is always with us. He will never ask anything of us that He doesn't equip us and empower us to do.
Pray About It
Thank you Lord Jesus, for your faithfulness. Thank you for the confidence we have when we go out to reach the lost, knowing you are with us. Thank you for the blessings that come every time we step out of our comfort zones to serve You. In your powerful name, Amen.
James and John asked Jesus for places at His right and left in His kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), and why not? They were Jesus’ closest friends, in the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) of the larger group of twelve. They were with Him when He gave life back to a twelve-year-old girl who died in her sickness. He took them up on the mountain where they saw Him in His glory with Elijah and Moses. He called them, even after this discussion, to leave the twelve and stay with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed drops of blood before He suffered and died on the cross. It seemed natural for them to seek positions of authority in His kingdom.
Yet, their request came immediately after He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. Why did they skip over the suffering and go to kingdom thinking? Maybe they didn’t understand the suffering part. Maybe they were afraid to ask. Jesus’ response to their question was not what anyone would expect. "To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant," He said. "These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared" (Mark 10:40). Then Jesus told the disciples, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:41-43). They had to understand what it meant to be servants, not servant-leaders. We might think Jesus meant that being a servant was to lead with a servant heart. God knows we need people who govern with love, humility and compassion, but in this passage Jesus meant servant.
Jesus set the example at the Last Supper when He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist to wash the disciples’ feet. He left His place in Heaven to come to Earth to serve—to heal the sick, to make the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute talk. He cleansed lepers and delivered people from demon possession. He raised the dead and fed the hungry. He suffered rejection, persecution, and execution, not what we would expect of a leader, especially King of the Jews.
Think About It
Why did Jesus serve this way? Why would He want us to follow Him, to be servants. He wants us to show love and compassion to a lost and dying world. His kingdom begins with Him, His ways and His teaching. We, His followers, can learn from Him how He loved. He loved us so much He laid down His life for us so we could experience forgiveness for our sins and inherit the hope of an eternity with Him. This incredible hope changes who we are. It makes us people of God, people who will reach out to others, people who will reign with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth. What amazing love! What glorious hope!
Pray About It
Thank you, Jesus, for your word that transforms us into servants for your glory in your kingdom, now and forever. Amen.
June 6 is the 12th day of Christmas AND Epiphany, a holy day, which celebrates the visit of wise men to Jesus. They brought gifts of Gold, for a King, Frankincense for a Priest, and Myrrh for a Savior.
Gold is precious across all nations and cultures. Frankincense is a sap from the boswella tree and is known for its calming, restorative and meditative properties. Ancient people burned frankincense and believed it carried their prayers to Heaven. Myrrh is resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree, which grows in semi-desert regions along the Red Sea. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and healing agents. Following Jesus' death on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus anointed Jesus' body with myrrh for burial.
The wise men lavished these precious gifts on Jesus before He was a man. How did they know He would be a King, Priest and Savior?
Think About It
Wise men still seek Jesus and they will not be disappointed. The Bible says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). What gift should you bring? God does not need gifts or sacrifices except a broken and contrite heart. If you will humble yourselves before God, He will lavish His gifts on you, gifts to accomplish His purposes. He can use the ashes of your past as well as your abilities to further His kingdom. It does not make sense to us. It is a mystery.
Pray About It
Heavenly Father, let Jesus be born in us that we might inherit the Kingdom you have prepared for us. We do not yet understand how all this works, but accept it by faith in the promises in your word. Teach us how to be more like Jesus. In His name, Amen.