Friday, November 28, 2014

A Re-post From Philip Yancey of Our Daily Bread

Happy Ending

In its “plot,” the story of the Bible ends up very much where it began. The broken relationship between God and human beings has healed over at last, and the curse of Genesis 3 is lifted. Borrowing images from Eden, Revelation pictures a river and a tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). But this time a great city replaces the garden setting—a city filled with worshipers of God. No death or sadness will ever darken that scene. When we awake in the new heaven and new earth, we will have at last a happy ending.
Heaven is not an afterthought or an optional belief. It is the final justification of all creation. The Bible never belittles human tragedy and disappointment—is any book more painfully honest?—but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. The time for re-creation will come.
For people who feel trapped in pain or in a broken home, in economic misery or in fear—for all of us—heaven promises a timeless future of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace. The Bible begins with the promise of a Redeemer in the book of Genesis (3:15) and ends with that same promise (Rev. 21:1-7)—a guarantee of future reality. The end will be the beginning.
Beyond earth’s sorrows, the joys of heaven;
Eternal blessings with Christ my Lord;
Earth’s weeping ended, earth’s trials over,
Sweet rest in Jesus, O blest reward! —Gilmore
The gains of heaven will more than compensate us for the losses of earth.


The reality of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1) is not a New Testament idea that begins with or is exclusive to the apostle John. Peter also spoke of this new heaven and earth as a world filled with God’s righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). And the Old Testament prophet Isaiah described the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22) 700 years before the birth of Christ.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Re-post From Julie Ackerman Link of Our Daily Bread

A Lesson In Praise

Psalm 150 is not only a beautiful expression of praise, it’s also a lesson in praising the Lord. It tells us where to praise, why we’re to praise, how we’re to praise, and who should offer praise.
Where do we praise? In God’s “sanctuary” and “mighty firmament” (v.1). Wherever we are in the world is a proper place to praise the One who created all things.
Why do we praise? First, because of what God does. He performs “mighty acts.” Second, because of who God is. The psalmist praised Him for “His excellent greatness” (v.2). The all-powerful Creator is the Sustainer of the universe.
How should we praise? Loudly. Softly. Soothingly. Enthusiastically. Rhythmically. Boldly. Unexpectedly. Fearlessly. In other words, we can praise God in many ways and on many occasions (vv.3-5).
Who should praise? “Everything that has breath” (v.6). Young and old. Rich and poor. Weak and strong. Every living creature. God’s will is for everyone to whom He gave the breath of life to use that breath to acknowledge His power and greatness.
Praise is our enthusiastic expression of gratitude to God for reigning in glory forever.
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen! —Watts
Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.


The focus of this psalm is obvious. The word praise is used 13 times in these 6 short verses. Praise is defined as “expressing approval of or admiration for someone or something.” But this definition seems dry and stiff. In today’s psalm, praise is an occasion for celebration—involving music and dance. Praise of the Lord is a joyous occasion, a celebration of who He is and what He has done. The psalmist simply assumes that joy, excitement, and happiness are all part of our praise to God.

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