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Archive for the tag “celebration in heaven”

Blindsided

One of my favorite television shows is Survivor. It’s a game played out on a remote island somewhere far away. It starts with 18 people of different backgrounds with different life skills and different game skills. The players have to outlast and outplay the others to remain on the island and ultimately become the sole survivor (and the million dollar winner). Each episode ends with a person voted out of the game. The one voted out can be blindsided by the vote. The people they thought were their alliance will turn against them; they don’t see it coming, and they are voted out of the game. No more chances to play; no more chances for the million dollar prize – they go home.

It’s interesting to see the dynamics shift. Bonds are formed. Alliances are made. You place great confidence in the ones who you think will take you to the end. But in the end, all the people are voted out of the game except for the one who will take home the prize. There is always a celebration at the end of the game. Everyone comes together to celebrate the winner. It’s a great game, and everybody on the show recognizes it’s just a game.

But what happens when we are blindsided by life? My next door neighbor was blindsided yesterday. They didn’t see it coming. They moved in about a year and a half ago. They were excited to have a new house. I remember the wife’s enthusiasm as they moved in and got settled. They have a small son. He’s too young to know what’s going on in the house today.

You see, about six months after they moved in, the husband was diagnosed with cancer. He did all the treatments and thought he beat it. It came back; and as cancer does, it came back in multiple places. They gave him about six to nine months until the cancer would take his life. He would be voted out of this game called life. He would exit the playing field. This morning, the wife and the son will wake up to a new chapter in their lives.

I watched a program last night on John Paul Jackson on Daystar. He too had a battle with cancer. I watched the program as he talked about beating the cancer. He talked about the time he discovered the cancer. He had been a runner and found the tumor one day while he was running. It came out of nowhere. Blindsided. He was very encouraging as he talked about how he trusted God through it all. God would see him through it.

At the end of the program, I waited to see when the program was originally on. It was dated 2014. I was hoping for a more current date thinking that maybe I had heard wrong. You see, I found out last year, John Paul Jackson lost the battle and died. I assume the cancer came back, and it beat him. We never know when circumstances will turn against us; when we will be blindsided by a diagnosis or the death of a loved one or anything else that knocks us down. But we have a loving Father who knows everything from the very first breath to the very last, and we can trust him to see us through each and every day – no matter what. Even if the diagnosis comes and the outcome isn’t good, God has a plan to get us to the other side of it. It’s a matter of trusting in the One who knows it all.

John Paul Jackson had a celebration in the end. When the battle ended, there was a celebration in heaven when he walked through those pearly gates. He received the greatest prize ever – a life with Jesus for eternity. I don’t know about my neighbor’s outcome. I don’t know where he stood with Jesus. I hope the prayers I offered on his behalf were answered, but I won’t know it until I go home myself.

We will all face those moments when we will be blindsided. There will be a moment in time when we don’t see it coming. Our friends and family can surround us, but it’s a moment when the only one you can have confidence in is the One who knows how the game will end. Our loving Father will never leave us or forsake us. He is trustworthy to get us to the end. He is also the greatest prize we could ever hope for. And the celebration that we receive will be amazing if we endure to the end.

A new chapter begins as the old one closes. My prayers will shift now to the wife and son who are beginning again this morning. The birds are singing. The trash has to be taken out. The lawn needs to be mowed. Life still goes on even when we have been blindsided. The moment comes when we have to decide to get up and trust God to work it out in the end. And He will because that’s what He does. Trust Him.

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6-8

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Born to Live

For the third time in the last couple of weeks, I have heard a message from the passage of the “lost things” in Luke 15. Okay God, I’m listening! The message this time around was about the Father and also the fact that celebration happens at the end of every parable in this chapter. I have always loved these parables, but this time around it felt like an epiphany. It was all about the celebration in heaven over finding those lost things. Jesus came to find the lost; He came for the sinners of this world. When one person is found or saved from destruction, there is a mighty celebration in heaven going on. I got to thinking about death soon after this message; I guess because I was studying the Cross of Jesus at the time and my Mom’s fourth year in heaven was right around this time. And the thoughts started following concerning death in general.

We are not born to live but born to die. The minute we are born, the clock starts ticking. We all have a death date according to Scripture. We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth. We are born to die; however, Jesus changes things. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. Only through Jesus are we born spiritually alive – this is our second birth (see John 3). Once we received the grace of salvation through belief of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we become spiritually alive. At that point we are no longer born to die, but we are born to live. We exchange a physical death for a spiritual life – we will live in abundant life for eternity. We will have some sort of exchange from this life to the eternal life – some would call this a physical death – I would surmise that we really don’t die at all but pass from here to there in an instant. Our last breath here on earth is our first real breath of fresh air ever taken. Isn’t that an amazing thought? We will no longer struggle with this physical limitation, but will truly be living in a new reality!

God has been working on this dying thing (or surrendering) for me for a couple of months now. We are told to die daily to our selfish desires (nature). Now, if I could only do it! After Jesus was resurrected, He went back to heaven so the Father would send us a helper (the Holy Spirit) to live within us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live as we should. I know I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried. It’s too hard. My selfishness is too much a part of me. Paul states in Romans 7, we do the thing we do not want to do because of our sin nature that lives within us. The Holy Spirit is at odds with our sin nature. It’s only when we die to the sin nature that the Holy Spirit will help us live in the abundant life. Yes, I am born to live abundantly only after I die daily. Ah ha! Got it.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:4-7

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