Last Words of the Saints

Last Words of the Saints

I am not sure the reason, but it seems that most of us remember the last words spoken to us by those who are deceased. Those words sometimes reflect the last thoughts of those who are dying and the final message they give to us. Consider these last words of the saints of God.

The last words of Jacob were, “Bury me with my fathers in the cave…which Abraham bought” (Gen. 49:29, 30). Joseph’s final words? “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Gen. 50:25). At the end of the life of Joshua, he urged Israel to choose what he had chosen for himself and his household. The people then said, “We will serve the Lord.” Joshua took a large stone, placing it under an oak tree and said, “The stone…has heard all the words…it shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God” (Josh. 24:15-27). Those were the last words Israel heard from him.

The last words of Jesus before He died are well known. “Father into your hands, I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).  These words, first spoken by David (Psa. 31:5) in the midst of his trials, were so much in the heart of Jesus that they comforted Him as He died.

Stephen was the first Christian martyr, and he fully understood the principle of what would Jesus do. As he was being stoned, he visually knew Jesus awaited him in heaven. He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then as he died, he said, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:59-60).

What final message would you like to give to your family? Because they may not be able to hear you speak these words, I have known many Christians who have written a final message to be read by their loved ones after they die. Some have even left video messages for those who remain.

Those Old Testament saints spoke words to remind those still on the earth that God still reigned. Jacob and Joseph gave instructions that were tied to the fact that God was in their lives. Joshua left a large stone as a visual reminder that would be there many years to remind the Jews of the vows they had made to God.

Those who heard the final words of Jesus and Stephen could never forget those words about what death really was like. Death is that time when our souls depart from this body and are received into the hands of God. What a blessing death is when viewed in this way. What a blessing it is to think that Jesus showed Stephen this truth. Of greater significance, what a blessing that He has showed us.

Your final words? They may not be nearly as important as the final message you leave by the way you lived.

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4 Different Accounts of the Gospels

4 Different Accounts of the Gospels

Sometimes individuals ask as to why we have four different accounts of the life of Jesus. Why did God not simply reveal in one book all that Jesus did? One of the reasons is that each of the gospels has a different audience and a different purpose as they write.gospels 4

Luke’s audience was Theophilus, whom he addresses as “most excellent.” This was a special term used in the first century to give honor to nobility within the government. Both Festus and Felix are addressed in this way (Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25). Why did Luke write this gospel? Read his opening words. There were many (obviously, not just Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) who were trying to write what they remembered about Jesus, but Luke says that he had a “…perfect understanding of all things from the very first…” and he was writing to give to Theophilus a precise account in the exact order it happened (Luke 1:1, 4).

Why is John so different from the other gospel accounts? Because his purpose is not to focus on chronology, but he selects seven miracles to accomplish his purpose.  “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

Now focus on John’s opening paragraph. There is no mention of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds, the wise men or Herod. John wanted his readers to be fully convinced that Jesus is the Christ. He goes back to the beginning, to the time before there was the heavens and the earth. Jesus was there. The Word was there; He was with God (Deity), and the Word was Deity. The rest of this book is designed to magnify the Word so that everyone might be fully convinced that Jesus is God.

In that paragraph Jesus is introduced as the One in who was life (1:4). Adam, the first life was created through Jesus (“without Him nothing was made that was made”), but He is even more. His is not just physical life, He is the One through whom all who believe may have eternal, spiritual life (20:31).

But He is even more. He was “…the light of men” (1:4). The world into which He came and this Light “shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (1:5).

He is even more. He is “the true light which gives light to every man” (1:9). He is the “…only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). While Moses gave the law, “…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17).

As you read your Bible, slow down! Look carefully at every book, every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence, every word! There are heavenly treasures in every word!

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Christian Corrosion

Christian Corrosion

Tuesday morning, Jim and I got up early and went out to camp Ida to retrieve some flowers that had been planted for the summer camp season. While we were there, my battery decided that it didn’t want to work anymore. Since Jim had driven there separately, we hooked up my battery cables (that I always carry with me) and boosted the minivan. It started up and I got back to New Boston. The battery was under a five-year warranty and still had two years left on it, so I took it to be tested. The test came back “good.” Now, why did my battery die? The auto-store salesperson said, “Corrosion may be preventing it from getting a good connection.” So, I took the battery home, cleaned it up, and reconnected it. Things seemed to work just fine.corrosion christianity

Sometimes, like my battery, our Christianity can become “corroded.” When we allow the world to influence us to watch its video propaganda, listen to its music, act and dress like it does, then we will become corroded with its influence. This will drain us of true life, and we may find ourselves not “starting” very well one morning due to depression, stress, and apathy. What is the solution? We’ve got to clean out the corrosion, sharpen up our connections with others, and get the spark going again. How do we do that? We need to cut out the worldly activities and get more in touch with our brothers and sisters in Christ, attend more church events, and put spiritual talk into our family life. Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

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Living without Partiality

Living without Partiality

We sing the words, “O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer…” but we all struggle to be godly, to be like God. One attribute of God is that He treats all men alike, there is no partiality in Him. Absolutely no partiality!

Read these words from both testaments that proclaim His impartiality. “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality” (Deut. 10:17). “For there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality” (2 Chron. 19:7). “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality’” (Acts 10:34). “For there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11).

James describes the real-life situation where the early church struggled to be like God. He described what can so easily happen when two distinctly separate individuals came to worship. One entered wearing a gold ring and fine clothing. The other was wearing shabby clothes. How did the church respond? They told the first to sit in the good place, and then told the second one to “…stand over there or sit down at my feet” (Jas. 2:2-3).

James then reminded his brethren the truth by asking a pointed question. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 2:5)? His conclusion? “If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (Jas. 2:9).

Hear these words from the Holy Spirit of God. “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col. 3:25). Paul called the Father, the Lord, and the elect angels as witnesses to encourage Christians “…to observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21). Peter urged those who receive his epistle to live as pilgrims and sojourners and call upon God “…who without partiality judges according to each one’s works” (1 Pet. 1:17).

Think of how these words apply to evangelism and the growth of the kingdom. Our world honors those who are educated, who have careers, who are “nice” people. If we focus on these as we seek to reach out to the lost, we are not being like that blessed Redeemer we sing about. Jesus chose “uneducated and ignorant and untrained men” (Acts 4:13), common laborers who made their living by fishing, a despised tax collector, and one who was a terrorist, a Zealot (Acts 1:13); and they were the foundation on which the church was built. As we seek to take the gospel to the lost world, do we show partiality? Christ does not just invite “nice” people to come to Him but those whose lives are filled with trouble (Matt. 11:28). Think about this!

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The Faith of Abraham

The Faith of Abraham

The faith of Abraham is emphasized throughout the Bible. You cannot think of this great man without marveling how his faith impacted every decision of his life. We have faith because we read the Bible (Rom. 10:17), but Abraham did not have one! Yet look at how God had revealed Himself to this “father of the faithful” and given him the depth of understanding about God. We would be better people if we thought of God in this same way.

Abram Knew God As the Most High God

“Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have raised my hand to the Lord, God most High…’” (Gen. 14:22). The pagans had their gods, but the God of all gods was Jehovah. There is none higher and the Most High said we are to have no other gods!

Abraham Knew the God of All the Earth Would Do Right

When God revealed to Abraham about the judgment about to come on Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham had such a close relationship with Him that he confronted God. Not on the basis of how great Abraham was, but on the basis of the nature of the Most High God. “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked… Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” (Gen. 18:25). Lives are changed when we see the holiness of God.

Abram Knew God was Worthy of Our Worship

When he entered the Promised Land, “There he built an altar.” Then when he came to Bethel, “He built an altar to the Lord, and called on the name of the Lord.” He came back to Bethel, “And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” When he went to Hebron, “Abram…built an altar to the Lord.” He took Isaac to the top of the mountain in Jerusalem, “And built an altar there” (Gen. 12:7, 8; 13:4; 13:18; 22:9). You could have followed Abraham by following the smoke which ascended from his altars!

When he met Melchizedek, a priest of God Most High, Abram gave tithes to him (Gen. 14:18-20). How blessed we would be if we too understood that God is worthy of our worship and seeks our gifts.

Abraham Knew That God Was Eternal

Abraham came to Beersheba, “…and there called on the Lord, the Everlasting God” (Gen. 21:33). God was not someone who was part of Abraham’s life when it fit into his lifestyle. God was eternal. He is the One who was, and is, and is to come (cf. Rev. 4:8). Abraham understood that He is I AM before this name was given at Mt. Sinai.

There is More

This is only the beginning. Read Genesis to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is your God!

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