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Thought For The Day

Frozen Heads

A newspaper article told about a California mathematician with a life-threatening brain tumor who wants to have his head quick-frozen while he is still alive. The process is known as cryonic suspension. The man believes that scientists will discover a way to cure his tumor and attach his head to a healthy body. He is quoted as saying, “Everyone should be immortal. I am dying and want to continue to live.”

We can’t fault that man for wanting to live forever in a healthy body. But we seriously question his method of fulfilling his desire. First, he has no assurance that this expensive procedure will work. Second, even if it did, its benefits would be only temporary. His new body and old head would die eventually.

There is a way, however, to secure all the benefits that he desires. It is to receive Jesus as his Savior. When Christ returns to this earth, everyone who has trusted in Him will get a new body that will last forever and never be subjected to disease or death. According to the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).

With a new, glorified body guaranteed to those in Christ, who would want a “frozen head”?

He is coming! I shall know Him,
Jesus, my beloved Lord!
Changed forever to His likeness—
Oh, what joy this will afford! —Dimmock

Because Christ arose with a new body, we are guaranteed a new body.

Our Sorrow Will Be Turned Into Joy

OUR SORROW WILL BE TURNED INTO JOY

Acts 18:9-18; Ps. 46; John 16:20-23

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20).
Jesus is here speaking of his departure from this world, of his death on the cross that will sadden his disciples, while the world rejoices. It will be the collapse of all their hopes, the destruction of their new-found faith in Jesus. But he will rise, and they will see him again, and their sorrow will be turned into joy. “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).
We now live in these days of joy that follow Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. Christ is now seated at God’s right hand in glory, and he has poured out from the Father upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We therefore now live in this time of joy that no one will take from us.
What then causes us sorrow now? Is it not our sins? Why do our sins cause us sorrow? It is because they distance us from the source of all true joy in the depth of our heart, which is God. And what is the solution to this problem? It is repentance and the confession of our sins.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
This is especially true when we confess our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:22-23), which Jesus has given us so that we may truly feel forgiven in the depth of our heart. He gave us this sacrament because he knew that we needed it to really feel forgiven and at peace with God. Christ’s forgiveness will then bring us true joy that no one can take from us. Only our own sins will take it from us. But if we leave and confess them again with faith and repentance, our sorrow will again be turned into joy.
As Christians we celebrate the ascension of the Lord. Jesus ascended into heaven in his risen human body (Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:9-11) and is there now seated in glory, interceding for us before the Father with his blood (Heb. 9:11-12), which expiated our sins by making just reparation for them (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24).
We now have the forgiveness of our sins from him, for he has atoned for them. He “was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Indeed, “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Therefore we should turn for the forgiveness that we need to this great high priest, advocate (1 John 2:1), and intercessor (Heb. 7:25; 9:24; Rom. 8:34), for “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2 NKJV). “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God … let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14, 16).
God has exalted Christ as the source of forgiveness, peace, and joy in our hearts, because the merits of his death have made definitive reparation for our sins. So he is now our great high priest in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 9:11-12, 24), our advocate (1 John 2:1) and propitiation (1 John 2:2) before God, interceding (Heb. 7:25) for the forgiveness of our sins, so that our sorrow may be turned into joy that no one will take from us (John 16:20, 22).

The Presence Of Gifts

THE PRESENCE OF GIFTS

“There is indeed no single gift you lack”. 
1 Cor 1:7 NEB 

A group of people always has a variety of different kinds of personality, temperament and experience. Some are cool and calm. Others are fiery, quiet, or withdrawn. And they also have varying levels of skill and competence. In a good team people will complement each other and a good leader will seek to draw out the gifts of each for the benefit of all. 

Paul knew that there was trouble in the church at Corinth. He was going to have to speak stern words to the community. He therefore began by reminding them of the supremacy of Christ and by reassuring them that the Holy Spirit was working in their midst, despite all their problems. Having drawn attention to the fact that they possessed the gifts of knowledge and of speaking, he goes on to affirm them, saying that they not only had those spiritual gifts – they had all the gifts they needed for a Christian community. Later he is going to give specific teaching about gifts, but for the moment he tells them that they are blessed with a lot of gifts. Some may have one gift – but not all have the same gift. But taken all round all the gifts are spread somewhere in the body of Christ that is the church at Corinth. 

Look around your Christian community. Some have the gift of speaking, others of teaching. Some others have the gift of caring as pastors, whilst others will be gifted in administration, healing, hospitality, and helping (through counselling?). So don’t think that everybody should have the same gifts as you have. And don’t envy other people the gifts they have but you don’t. 

JESUS ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN

JESUS ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN

Acts 1:1-11; Ps. 46; Eph. 1:17-23; Matt. 28:16-20

“And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).
A Christians we celebrate the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ in his risen and glorified human body into heaven to sit henceforth at the right hand of God in glory. This is the mystery of the ascension and session of Jesus in heaven in his glorified humanity to intercede for us before the Father.
He is now forever our priest before God, always interceding for us with his blood that made reparation for our sins.
“He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25).
Christ has entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24). It is he “who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34).
Christ ascends and enters into the heavenly sanctuary not with the blood of sacrificed animals, but with his own blood of the sacrifice of himself on the cross, poured out in reparation and satisfaction for our sins to propitiate God on our behalf and expiate our sins (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2).
God himself took the initiative in this and sent him to us to do this for us to reconcile us with himself, for he “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32).
Christ ascended to be our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, of which the earthly temple was but a copy (Heb. 9:24), to present to his Father the blood of the sacrifice of himself on the cross for our redemption (Heb. 9:11-12).
Therefore he is not only our priest but also our advocate with the Father. “If any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1); and still more, he himself is our propitiation before the Father for our sins (1 John 2:2), because his suffering and death on the cross, as the incarnate Son of God, made reparation for them that satisfied divine justice (Rom. 3:25).
Indeed “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2 NKJV).
Jesus’ ascension, forty days after his resurrection, during which time he appeared on numerous occasions to his disciples in his risen human body, both in Jerusalem (John 20:19, 26; Luke 24:31, 33-34, 36) and in Galilee, was his entrance into the heavenly sanctuary to present to his Father the blood of his sacrifice of himself in reparation for our sins.
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11-12).
“For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24).
Christ died, rose, appeared in his risen human body to his disciples numerous times, and then ascended in his human body into heaven in the sight of his disciples (Acts 1:9; Luke 24:51).
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).
“Now … we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1).
Jesus predicted his ascension. After his resurrection he said to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
Luke also describes Jesus’ ascension in his gospel:
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into Heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:50-52).
“As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight’ (Acts 1:9).

The Crucial Test

THE CRUCIAL TEST

“The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives”. 
1 Cor 1:6 EHP 

There are criteria that we automatically apply when assessing the value of certain people, methods or ideas. In a sports team we decide whether the coach is effective by whether the team wins matches. A chief executive officer in a company has to be seen to increase the profits – that is the criterion by which his success, or skill, is determined. 

But what criterion do you use or apply to a Christian church? Do you say it is “doing well” just because the collections go up? Is it about money at all? Or do you count the number of people at worship and say that’s the big thing? Maybe you might consider the “youth factor” to be the deciding element – are the young people attracted to the church? We don’t find Paul mentioning any of these things, which may indicate that we are using “worldly” standards to measure the Christian church. Paul measured a community by the way in which its fellowship and conduct reflected the example of Jesus Chri He and his helpers had come and preached Chri The people who now believed were those who accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour. He declared to the believers at Corinth that they were manifesting the characteristics of Jesus Christ in their beliefs and behaviour. That was the crucial te Did they, or didn’t they, show forth Christ by the way they lived – as individuals and as a fellowship together? 

That is still the criterion by which a Christian church should be judged today. It is also the way an individual disciple should be counted. Make it your aim to show forth Jesus Christ in your life and in your Christian group. 

Thought and Prayer For The Day

On his Visit to Britain in 1982, Pope John Paul II spoke in Glasgow. The Pope said that Jesus offers a new way of living:
“to be gentle, generous, simple, and above all, sincere; to avoid being arrogant, fault-finding, or self-seeking. The disciples of the new Kingdom must seek happiness even amidst poverty, deprivation, tears and oppression. To aim for the Kingdom requires a radical change in outlook, in mentality, in behaviour, in relationships with others.
Jesus offers a new way of life… He has a specific task in life for each and every one of us. Each of us is hand-picked, called by name by Jesus.”
Let us pray:

Lord Jesus,
you call us friends
and you call each one of us
by name.

May your Holy Spirit be fully alive in us that we may truly appreciate and love ourselves, and so more readily value and serve others.

When we experience sorrow or the loss of someone, give us courage and support that we may better encourage others who share the same kind of experience.

Lead us to act justly and fairly, helping people to see the best in one another, so that those who have fallen out may be reconciled and live in peace.

May we learn always to be genuine and sincere, avoiding arrogance and doing others down, treating other people as the equals that they are.
Bless us when times are hard, and walk with us as the Good Shepherd who leads and protects. Amen.

Grace And Peace

GRACE AND PEACE

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. 
1 Cor 1:3 NIV 

If you have ever been far away from home and desperately lonely, you will remember how eagerly you longed for a letter or a phone call from the folks “back home”. At the sight of familiar handwriting your heart missed a beat and you warmed to the news of home. 

When Paul wrote to the Christian community in the city of Corinth he knew how eagerly they would receive his greetings and look for his advice and guidance in trying to resolve their problems. And he knew too, what a hard time they were having. Trying to live lives of purity, integrity and godliness in a sin-sick society such as Corinth was tough going. They needed perhaps even more of the grace of God than others – although no Christians had it easy in those days. Just to be a Christian was to invite persecution. And when, from time to time it came, then any day could be your last. 

Temptation stalked them on every street. And death stared them in the face occasionally. No one could survive for long on mere human will power. The fellowship of other believers was essential. And power from on high was a dire necessity. And Paul wished them grace and peace. How they must have treasured that assurance of help from God and from Jesus Christ. 

Your situation might not be as desperate or dramatic as it was for the Corinthian Christians. But you too need the grace and peace of Jesus Christ. You need it every moment of every day. Without it, doubts, fears and failings will attack you. Open yourself to Christ every single day.