I was searching through a box of old photos a few days ago and noticed my dad’s wallet nestled down between photo albums.
“What’s in Your Wallet, Dad?” I wondered, as I gingerly picked it up and looked inside.
It’s been decades since I last explored the contents of his wallet; and frankly, I had never been able to get past the family photo contents without tearing up and closing it. But on this day, I slid my finger behind his old driver’s license and pulled out this card:
It stopped me for a second… “Good for you, Dad! Ever the Lord’s witness, you carried this gospel tract in your wallet. How many times did you pull out your wallet and show this witness card to someone?”
Now, forty years later, I believe that God wanted me to notice Dad’s wallet and be curious enough to investigate further. This side of Heaven, I will never know; but as we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus this Sunday, I’m sharing this card. A Living Hope has been tucked away in Dad’s wallet for half a century… safe, and preserved… and I am thankful for the opportunity to shed light and ask,
What’s in Your Wallet?
“Thank you, Lord, for the mysterious and wondrous workings of Your Holy Spirit and how You move so powerfully and purposefully throughout the earth to bring the hearts of men back to you. Woo us, Father God, through the Good News that Jesus loved us so much; that He gave His life for our redemption and broke free of the bonds of death – giving us A Living Hope. Stir us up and revive us again, Lord, to proclaim Your Gift of Grace, Jesus Our Messiah, to the world. In His Matchless, Powerful Name, Amen.”
So where is A Living Hope now?
In my wallet, of course.
Happy Resurrection Day!
Tribute to Good News Publishers for its tracts publishing ministry. I was unable to determine if the publisher at Westchester, Illinois, is the same one as the Good News Publishers of Wheaton, Illinois, that later published the ESV Bible. Here is a link to the history of the founders of that great tracts publishing ministry at Crossway.org.
As we approach Resurrection Day in memory of Jesus Christ’s victory over death, the Book of John includes a message about the days of Christ’s appearing after His resurrection. Simply, the Apostle John states his reason for writing the gospel book about Jesus:
30The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the Power of His Name. ~ John 20:30-31 NLT
In these verses it seems that John is making sure that the salvation message of Christ Our Redeemer is understood – We have Life by the Power of His Name! That is the same power that broke Jesus free of the tomb!
The next Chapter (21) of the Book of John records the famous “Feed My Sheep” message from Jesus to Simon Peter. As Jesus is waiting for his disciples to come to shore after fishing all night, it becomes clear there was no catch. At dawn, Jesus appears to His disciples for the third time since His resurrection and begins to speak to the crew. If we only copy the text containing Jesus’s words in verses 5-19:
“Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!”
(Of course, the net immediately filled with fish. The boat is about one hundred yards from shore and Peter jumps out, rushing to Jesus on the shore. Amazingly, when Peter gets there, Jesus already has a meal of fish and bread cooked over an open fire!)
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,”
“Now come and have some breakfast!”
Is it possible that Jesus is giving us a picture of what His Great Commission Plan should look like?
Hmmmm… catch some fish…
by sharing the Truth…
He promises we will certainly experience a harvest of souls…
and then bring them to Him for a big breakfast that He already prepared ahead of time…
The marriage supper of the Lamb?
Wow! By the Power of His Name! (Not our power)
Later in the same chapter Jesus asks if Peter loves Him three times; in which case Peter responds that he does. Jesus says,
“Feed My lambs”
“Take care of My sheep”
“Feed My Sheep.”
Then Jesus explains what it’s going to cost Peter to be an evangelist for Christ. Sadly, Peter will be crucified.
18”I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will dress you and take you where you want to go.”19Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow Me.” ~ John 21:18-19
“Father God, we pray for Your children who have suffered and given all to spread the message of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross to save the world from sin. We also glorify Your Holy Name that Jesus arose from the grave and is alive today! What a glorious testimony to all who will listen and repent of sin. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us while we were yet sinners. Thank You for giving us The Gift of Life by the Power of Your Name if we repent and follow You. AMEN.”
Jesus claimed to be The Son of God to crowds of people who constantly weighed and tested His Word. Today humans still ask for credible proof that Jesus is The Son of God. Once again, His true followers can only point to Bible scripture for Truth and to one word – “Listen”.
This scripture is all about God’s Promises to three different groups of people. Picking up the story in John 10:22, the season is winter around the time of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Dedication. Jesus is walking through Solomon’s Colonnadein the Temple, surrounded by people. The throng is three camps combined:
One camp contains true believers
The second camp is sprinkled with noncommitted followers and some seekers. They are leaves blown by the Jesus-is-in-Town-Wind. They are not entirely innocent. They desire to be witnesses of Jesus’s demise (should He blunder). It is the “Where’s the popcorn?” movie crowd.
The third camp is made up of doubters, deceived Pharisees, and Satan’s own: those following primarily to challenge Jesus. I call these “THE ONCE-AGAINS”:
24bHow long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
Here is a magnificent example of how perfectly Godlike Jesus is. He testifies to all three groups at the same time with the same words- and Jesus says what He means and means what He says:
26But you don’t believe Me because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to My Voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
So, Jesus answered the questions on the hearts of all three groups in two simple statements.
Watch now: Jesus goes on to powerfully state the most reassuring scripture in history for true believers and for seekers alike. It is the oft-quoted “eternal security” scripture straight from the mouth of Jesus. Notice that He ends His testimony with an even more powerful statement directed to THE ONCE-AGAINS in verse 30:
28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are One.
31ONCE AGAIN the people picked up stones to kill Him. 32Jesus said, “At My Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone Me?”(emphasis added)
33They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Well, isn’t that exactly the same silliness going on in the earth today? Instead of reverancing their Powerful and Majestic Creator, people are not listening to the true message of Jesus. THE ONCE-AGAINS (the lost)continue in their blind rejection of Jesus as the Promised Savior.
Jesus patiently responds to the crowd in verses 34 – 38, and
39ONCE AGAIN they tried to arrest Him, but He got away and left them. 40He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. (emphasis added)
Isn’t that just like Jesus? He leaves the city, leading a few chosen out into the country for some peace and quiet. For reflection at the river. The River of Life.
Yes! And the Bible states that many people follow Jesus there, and believe that He is their Messiah.
Why? Because John the Baptist did not perform signs and wonders. That was reserved for Jesus’s ministry. But some of them get to thinking about the testimony of John once they are away from that mind-numbing distraction of THE ONCE-AGAINS:
41beverything he (John the Baptist) said about this Man has come true. (Italics added)
THE ONCE-AGAINS (those who refuse to believe that Jesus is God) are like wolves in the sheepfold that scatter and devour the flock (John 10:12). They mimic their true father of lies (Satan). They mock, scorn, and deny all that is Truth. They still plot to persecute believers worldwide with murder, imprisonment, and unspeakable torture.
Our Almighty Father Above All, I thank You today that Jesus, Your Son, is sitting at Your right hand at Your throne in Heaven. And that while He walked this earth He gave testimony to all who would listen the Words that You told Him to speak. Thank You for Your promise to never lose a single sheep who sincerely follows Jesus. Thank You for defeating the agenda of Satan at the cross of Calvary. Holy Spirit, help me to be gentle in my dealings with the lost for Jesus’s sake, and for theirs. May everyone who hears Your Word listen and respond with repentance and take into their hearts the love of Jesus that abides within us for eternity. Help us to understand Your Holy Message as we study Your Word each day – In the Powerful Name of our Blessed Lord Jesus, Amen.
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” ~ John 11:40
Another powerful “eternal security” Bible scripture is found in Romans 8:38-39.
Perry Stone claims that an invisible army greatly influenced the election of Mr. Trump as President of the United States in 2016. Just who is this army?
2bNow teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 3Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.~ Apostle Paul in 2Timothy, 2:2b-3 NLT
Christ’s Invisible Army should be visible, but in America, it is difficult to recognize these days. What would it look like if we could see it? I suppose the army would consist of good soldiers.
Hmmmm … is there a teaching somewhere in God’s Word about this?
Well, Paul goes on to say:
4Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer (Jesus) who enlisted them. 5And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. 6And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand these things. ~ 2Timothy 2:4-7 NLT (italics added)
Have soldiers in Christ’s Invisible Army used verse 4 as an excuse to let this nation decline into immorality and godless shame? Good Christian soldiers are not ashamed to pray for America, or even to possibly:
15Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 17This kind of talk spreads like cancer. ~2Timothy 2:15-17 NLT
So Christ’s Army should not look like an apostate church. It would not spew forth wicked argumentative speech (like reality TV); or believe that “anything goes” or that “all forms of religion lead to God” (New Age).
1You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! ~2Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
One would hope so!
23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24A servant (soldier) of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. ~2Timothy 2:23-26 NLT (italics added)
We have religious freedom in this nation (so far) and do not suffer persecution for our faith as do our brethren in other parts of the world. Yet I hear that more believers in America are afraid to share the Good News than those across the seas who are losing their heads for not denouncing their faith in Jesus. Believers in the United States need to become Christ’s Visible Army. That means:
10Willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. 11This is a trustworthy saying:
If we die with Him, we will also live with Him. 12If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. 13If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.~2Timothy 2:10-13 NLT
Now Jesus was teaching at the temple in Jerusalem early in the morning when those pesky scribes and Pharisees interrupted Jesus with a test to discredit Him in front of the crowd. The scribes and Pharisees unceremoniously tossed a woman accused of adultery into the midst of everyone sitting there, demanding that she be stoned according to the law; but then asked Jesus what He would do. It was an obvious set-up.
Jesus wrote with His finger on the ground as He replied that the one without sin should cast the first stone. Sheepishly they retreated one by one into the shadows without further condemnation of the woman. Jesus conversed with her and then told her to go and sin no more, saying that since her accusers had left, He did not condemn her either (it takes two witnesses).
Of course, this was not going the way the religious leaders had planned; so here they came again and Jesus was ready for them:
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”~ John 8:12 NKJV
Ah-HAH! They thought He was caught red-handed in a blasphemous lie. Jesus was alone and no one there could back up His claims to be the promised Messiah.
The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgement is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”~ John 8:13-18 NKJV
No matter what Jesus told these scribes and Pharisees, they were so blinded to the truth they didn’t know whether they were coming or going; much less believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Nor did they know the Father who had sent Him.
Nevertheless, Jesus gave them two witnesses – Himself and the Father. I can’t imagine two greater Witnesses to the truth than Jesus and our Almighty Father God, but it was completely lost on His accusers.
The first thing I do every New Year’s Eve is to make resolutions to do a bunch of good stuff in the coming year. Then the very first thing I do after New Year’s Day is to NOT do any of that good stuff.
Why is that?
I’m pretty sure it’s because I am trying to do good stuff by my own will-power (slow learner). Anyhow, it’s past time for me to get off that yearly merry-go-round and give it all over to the God of Second Chances. Shame on me for forgetting the important stuff!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
Still… traditions die hard, so the very first thing is a prayer:
“Lord, my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to walk pleasing to You this coming year. I trust You, Father God, for what You prepared for me beforehand. Thank You, Jesus, for the greatness of Your power to keep me as I should be, regardless of my own shortcomings. Amen.”