Understanding the Future

When we ask questions about matters that elude our full understanding, we tend to look for models or patterns that are similar to what we do understand. We seek for clues to a new and different paradigm. The shift from earthbound thinking to conceiving of heaven is a massive paradigm shift.

To speak of our mysterious future is to search for analogies that will give us a hint about what to expect. We cannot say what heaven is, but the Bible does give us hints as to what it is like. We try to imagine the unknown in the light of what is known. John tells us: “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

We do not know for sure to whom the “He” and the “Him” refer. Do they refer to God the Father or to Christ? God the Father is the subject of the preceding verses, but what follows seems to indicate Christ.

The difficulty of the reference is mollified when we realize that to be Christ-like is to be God-like. The firstfruits image of Christ in His resurrection indicates that, ultimately, we shall be like Christ. As Christ rose with a glorified body, we too will enjoy glorified bodies at the final resurrection.

Passages for Further Study

1 John 3:2
Psalm 17:15
1 Corinthians 15:51


Starting at the Beginning

The word philosophy derives from a combination of two Greek words: phileo (“to love”) and sophia (“wisdom”). Literally, philosophy means “love of wisdom.” The ancient Greeks, who are usually credited with developing the science of philosophy, were also concerned with abstract metaphysics and epistemology. However, the question of ethics was of paramount importance to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Socrates sought to reduce virtue or ethics to “right knowledge.” Plato sought the ultimate standard of the good.

The Jewish thinkers of the Old Testament did little in the area of metaphysical speculation. The Scriptures begin with the affirmation of God, known not via intellectual speculation but by His own revelatory self-disclosure.

The overarching concern of Jewish philosophy was indeed a love of wisdom. The wisdom in view, however, was not speculative but practical. Hebrew wisdom was concerned with life, with living a life pleasing to God. The Jewish thinker asked: “What does obedience involve? How is God glorified in my behavior?” Because of this focus, the Old Testament declared that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
Here are the tough questions to ask…What does obedience involve? How is God glorified in your behavior?


Putting Faith Into Action

The author of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith fills the vacuum of hope. Hope, when coupled with faith, has substance, and substance is something rather than nothing. Faith also provides evidence for that which is not visible. Faith is not blind. Indeed far from being blind, it is both far-sighted and sharp-sighted. Its evidence rests not on speculation but on confidence in a God who sees what we cannot see. It rests on trust in the reliability of every promise that is uttered by God.

It is one thing to believe in God. It is quite another to believe God. Abraham believed God when He said He would show him a better country. He believed God again later when God dramatized His covenant promise in Genesis 15, and by this faith Abraham was counted righteous. He was justified by his faith.

That Abraham’s faith was genuine is seen in that he obeyed God by faith. True faith is always obedient faith. Abraham obeyed the call of God on his life—and he demonstrated this obedience when he “went out.” His faith issued in action.
Talk It Over
How can you put your faith into action today?


Obedience Is the Key That Unlocks God’s Promises

“Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” Deuteronomy 5:33

Have you ever thought about the link between faith and obedience? When you trust someone, you do what they say. If you don’t do what someone tells you to do, it means you don’t trust them.

In the Bible, God links faith and obedience over and over again. The promises of God are conditioned on you following the directions he gives you.

Deuteronomy 5:33 says, Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy. (NLT)

God has made some incredible, specific promises in his Word about obedience. In fact, there are so many promises that I can’t list them all here. But here are a few:

“God blesses those who obey him” (Proverbs 16:20 TLB).

“Who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:10 NASB). 

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,” (Psalm 33:18 NASB).

“The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.” (Psalm 37:18 NASB).

“and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22 NASB).

“How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Proverbs 28:14 NASB).

“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.” (Proverbs 19:16 NASB).

“O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.” (Psalm 34:9-10 NASB).

That’s an incredible list of promises. If you follow God’s directions, you’ll be blessed, saved, watched over, taken care of, given what you ask for, and happy; you’ll live longer and lack nothing good.

Obedience is the premise behind all of the promises. God gives you his promises by grace. But you get to enjoy his promises when you follow his instructions.

Sometimes you understand God’s instructions. But sometimes you don’t. And you need to obey whether or not you understand.

Some of God’s commands might sound confusing. Some may seem unfair. For example, the Bible says to take the first 10 percent of your income and give it back to him. It says that when people do evil to you, you are to do good back to them. These things don’t always make sense from a human standpoint. But the things that don’t make sense to us are the things God asks us to do by faith. He wants us to trust him and obey anyway.

I want you to enjoy all of God’s promises. Obedience is the key that unlocks them. Choose to follow his directions today in faith. He promises to reward you for your obedience.

Talk It Over

  • How are faith, obedience, and God’s promises all dependent on each other?
  • Which of God’s commands have you not been obeying because you don’t understand why to obey? Will you commit to obeying in faith, even if you don’t understand?
  • Read over the list of God’s promises again. Which one stands out the most to you? Spend a few minutes in prayer, thanking God for that promise and asking him to help you obey his directions.



Focus on What Is Unchanging

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
Isaiah 43:2 (NASB)

When everything around you is uncertain, the key to stability is to focus on unchangeable truth. In the days ahead, you need to focus on what never changes: God’s character and God’s Word.

Here are some unchangeable truths you need to tell yourself during this time of uncertainty:

God sees everything you’re going through. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,” (Psalm 33:18 NASB).

God cares about everything you’re going through. “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7 NASB).

God has the power to change what you’re going through. “Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7 TLB).

God always acts out of his goodness to you. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

God’s plan is always better than your plan. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

God will never stop loving you. ““For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you. ” (Isaiah 54:10 NASB).

Once you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, you cannot lose your salvation. “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NASB).

No matter what you go through, God is with you. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
(Isaiah 43:2 NASB).

To replace your panic with prayer, your worry with worship, and your anxiety with adoration, focus less on what social media is saying and more on God’s unchanging truth.

Talk It Over

  • Which of God’s character traits can bring you comfort and hope while you experience trials?
  • Do you have a plan for memorizing Scripture? Why is it important to do so?
  • Who in your life needs to hear about God’s promises today?


Rely on God’s Power, Not Your Own

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:28-31 (NASB)

The worst times of life exhaust and drain you. When the roof of your life is falling in, you might look up in despair and say, “What now? What next? I can’t handle one more thing.”

In 2 Corinthians 1:8, Paul tells of having similar thoughts. He says, “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it” (TLB).

It sounds like Paul was about ready to give up. But see what happens next: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10 TLB).

Paul knew that, since God can raise the dead, he certainly could help him. And that’s true for you, too. That same power that raised Jesus is available to you.

Jesus’ resurrection means no situation is hopeless and no problem is too difficult. If God can raise a dead man, he can resurrect your health or a dead marriage. He can infuse new life into your career.

How can you receive that kind of power? You receive it when God fills your life with the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says, For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (FEAR), but of power and love and discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 NASB).

When God’s Spirit fills your life, you have true self-control for the first time in your life. You no longer are bashed back and forth by circumstances. With Christ as your Master, you can master your situation. You’re no longer relying on your own power to hold all the strings of your life together. You’re depending on God’s power.

“He never grows tired or weary . . . He strengthens those who are weak and tired . . . those who trust in the LORD for help will find their strength renewed” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

God is faithful. No matter what you’re facing, he will carry you through it.

Talk It Over

  • What difficult thing in your life is threatening to overwhelm you today? What would it look like to rely on God’s power in that situation?
  • Which parts of your life do you need to ask God to resurrect?
  • How do you feel about the Holy Spirit? Do you rely on him for the power you need to face your trials?


God Is Looking for Availability

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His(2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB).

Most people get to watch history; very few get to make it.

But I believe you can be one of those few history-makers.

A thousand years before you were born, God knew you’d be where you are right now. He knew you’d be reading this devotional. I believe it’s because God has something special, something unique in store for you.

You’re not sitting where you’re sitting by accident. You haven’t had the experiences in your life by chance. God designed your life to make a difference in the world.

No matter where you’ve been, what you’re afraid of, or what sin is in your rearview mirror, God can still use you to make a difference in this world. What he needs from you is a total commitment to him. God wants you to be all in on his plan for you.

This isn’t about your ability; it’s about your AVAILABILITY.

At an early age I told God, “I’m all in! I don’t care what you ask me to do or how tough it is, I’ll say yes—anytime, anywhere, and anyplace.” Since then, it has been a wild and amazing adventure doing what God says to do.

You can make that same decision, too. The Bible says God is looking for people to use to change the world. He is looking to you—yes, you—to be a world-changer.

And it all starts with a committed heart. You can start today. Let God know that you’re committed to doing whatever he wants with your life. Tell God you want him to use you, and then watch how he answers your prayer.

Talk It Over

  • Why is availability so important to God when he looks for people he can use?
  • What do you think holds people back from telling God they are all in?
  • What’s the hardest thing for you to give up when considering whether to give God everything?


I Surrender All

Day 1 of Praying with Jesus
WOW! As I read Mark 1, I am moved how soon those who heard of Jesus and what He was doing, ran to Him as fast as they could. I am also humbled to serve the One who has ALL AUTHORITY!

Our community needs us to be “a healthy, vibrant, growing church; the lost people around you need a compassionate, Spirit-led, Great Commission church; and your fellow church members need the warmth, love, hope and nurture of a faithfully Christ-centered, sacrificial fellowship.”

It’s not about us…It is ALL about HIM! What are we willing to do to reach ONE PERSON for Christ??? We must make changes and it starts with us submitting to His will and not our own.

The only constant is The Word of God…the message of Grace, Repentance, and Faith in Him never change…but we must seek change on how we present this life changing message to a world who needs Him.

Lord, I ask You to move me and my selfishness out of the way so that YOUR will may be done in me and our church. In Jesus name…AMEN.


Keep Your Promises to God

When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!” (Ecclesiastes 5:4 NASB).

As you start a new year, you may be making some resolutions. Some might be commitments to yourself, your career, or your family. Others may be promises to God. If you make a promise to God, you should be quick to keep it. Just like delayed obedience is disobedience, a delayed promise is an unfulfilled promise.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 says it clearly: “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!(NASB)

Another promise to keep is to run quickly from temptation.

With temptation, you need both preventative and emergency tactics. Preventative tactics mean that you work to keep yourself out of tempting situations. But today let’s focus on emergency tactics—what to do when you are being tempted.

The Bible clearly says what to do with temptation: “Run from all evil things” (1 Timothy 6:11 NLT). That’s right. When you feel tempted to do something self-defeating or dishonoring to God, you should move out of the situation rapidly.

What should you not do? Don’t argue with temptation. Don’t fight it. Why? Because you’re going to lose.

If you’re watching something on television that tempts you to lust, change the channel. If you struggle with alcohol, run far away from the bar.

One specific temptation the Bible tells us to run from in 1 Corinthians 10:14 is the worship of idols.

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “I don’t have idols in my house.” Let me ask it another way: What person or thing do you idolize? Success? Beauty? A favorite athlete or sport? A certain celebrity? Social media?

Anything you put before God is an idol. Today few of us have idols that look like stone or wooden figures. Instead, we carry our idols in our wallets, watch them on TV, or park them in our driveways.

No matter what your idols are and no matter what your temptations are, the strategy is clear: Run away. Don’t argue. Don’t fight. Run. If you don’t want to get stung by the bees, get away from the hive.

So as you enter this New Year, resolve to do two things quickly: Keep your promises to God, and run from temptation.

Talk It Over

  • What promise to God do you need to fulfill today? What do you need to fulfill this week?
  • What temptation have you been trying to fight that you instead need to flee?
  • What is one thing you’ve put before God? What would it look like to run away from that?


When God Tests You, He’s Stretching You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (Exodus 16:4 NASB).

You can find a lot of commands in the New Testament, and some of them are really inconvenient and uncomfortable—things like “Don’t worry about anything” or “In everything give thanks” or “Always return good for evil.” Some of them even seem impossible!

Yet every demand God makes of us is a test of faith. When God asks you to do something that stretches you, you have to decide: Are you going to trust a gut feeling that says it’s just too much for you to handle, or are you going to trust what God says is the right thing to do?

The fact is, God often asks us to do the impossible so we’re forced to depend on him.

God gave the Israelites a test in Exodus 16:4 when it came to how they were going to eat in the wilderness: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (NASB). He gave them seemingly crazy demands to test their faith and obedience.

God asked Abraham to leave the security of a known situation and travel to an unknown country where he had never been, to start a new nation. And Abraham obeyed and went.

God asked Noah to build an ark on dry land far from the ocean. Noah did what seemed crazy to everyone else and obeyed God.

When more than 5,000 people were hungry, Jesus told Andrew to feed them. God often asks his people to do the impossible to put us in a position where we have to trust him for a miracle. He wants to do that in your life, too.

Your faith increases not only when you rejoice continually through difficult circumstances but also when you obey immediately. That always builds your faith. When God says to do it, don’t sit around. Don’t wonder why it doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry about whether you’re able to do it in your own strength.

Just do it. Obey God right away, and trust that he will give you everything you need to fulfill his purpose. And he will grow you in faith.

Talk It Over

  • Think of a time when God told you to do something that seemed impossible. Did you obey? If so, how did you grow in faith through your obedience?
  • Why does it matter if you obey right away or delay your obedience?
  • What faithful people in your life have modeled obedience to God? Do you think they would say it has been easy?