If you want to know what is meant by the good life, direct your attention to Jesus Christ. His life was the good life incarnate. What was life like for Him? Take a look at His last days on earth and you will see the secret of His satisfying life. Shortly before He died he said to His disciples, “I would that my joy might be in you and that your joy might be complete” (John 15:11). The good life, then, is a life that has an inner joy. Then hear this: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The good life is a life that has a deep current of profound peace, irrespective of circumstance. Ultimately God is in control.
To any person attending His crucifixion, it must have looked as though everything was lost. No new great leader. No plan. No freedom from the Roman empire…etc. However, hanging on the cross and looking at the people below, Jesus quotes from Psalm 22 to get our attention (see Matthew 27:46). Note: There was no way that He personally could have exerted any influence on what they were doing with His clothes….. (Ps 22:17-19, compare with Luke 23:33 or John 19:23-24). It is God’s signature! Jesus is saying: It is I, your God, who hangs on this cross; for you, to bring you back to Me. It is about Me that the scriptures are speaking.
The last words from Christ’s lips, as he hung and died under the Jerusalem sky, were short and simple, but triumphant: “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had carried out His divine mission. The good life is the awareness of fulfilment. Every person’s life is a plan of God. God has a plan for you. The good life is the deep feeling that we are fulfilling God’s plan and purpose in our life.
[partly from “Hours of Power”, 16 April by Dr. R.H. Schuller/ partly by H.Pool ]
Guest post by Louis Pool.
Franciscus from Assisi once said: Preach the gospel and use as less words as possible. That is an interesting challenge. How can we give hand and feet to God’s love for this world? How can we walk the talk and start building Gods Kingdom here on earth?
Let me shortly tell you how my wife and myself dealt with that question and how we practice what we preach. In 2008 we started the Heart for Children foundation. We wanted to give our words strength by doing what we are saying… And the Bible tells us that orphans and widows are a first priority. We felt urged with the wish to help homeless and vulnerable children. The first occasion that led us was a children’s home in China for abandoned and disabled children. Abandoned because their parents rejected the children. For two reasons: the children were disabled or over complete. The Chinese had permission for only one child per family. We did some fundraising in The Netherlands and were happily surprised by the results. We were blessed and able to give practical help to a bunch of kids by improving their living circumstances and future.
This is just one example of the many that have come to us over the years after 2008. Nowadays the goal of the Heart for Children Foundation is to give children, whose living conditions are extremely difficult, a chance for a better life. This is done through incidental offering of emergency help during disasters and by sustainable offering safe shelter, food, clothing, medication and education in, as far as possible, a family structure created around the child. My practical tool is the use of fundraising.
I have always been motivated by the biblical story of the Samaritan. We often think that our neighbor is the one who is sick, who is suffering hunger, who is wounded, is in distress or dying. That is not what Jesus points out in the Story of the Samaritan. His teaching in this story is that the Samaritan himself is the neighbor. He was the one looking after the robbed man who was laying half dead aside of the road. He was the one grooming his wounds. Looking at it in this way, our neighbor is any person who comes to me… Who is crossing over to the other and is willing to look into her or his eyes. In our mission we gladly go out to the millions of children that are disadvantaged, orphaned, misused, vulnerable or hurt.
Looking back we are very thankful for knowing that we may help to build a better world, however inadequate one sometimes still feels when faced with the enormity of the problems that confronts us. As Jesus is saying: do not prevent the children but let them come to Me, cause they belong to the Kingdom of God. Lets join and come together to reach out to all who are in need. The world is in great need and there is a lot to do.
Become a neighbor, become a Samaritan!
President Heart for Children
“I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly “ (John 10: 10)
When Jim Wallis studied at the seminaries of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, he executed an experiment with his classmates. They went through all the 66 Books of the Bible and highlighted the verses about poverty, wealth, fairness, justice and suppression. One of Jims fellow students took a scissors and cut all those verses from the Bible. The result was a battered book that almost fell apart. And when Jim spoke about these topics he showed his broken Bible and said: ‘Brothers and sisters, this is our Bible … full of holes.
According to the Poverty and Justice Bible (British and Foreign Bible Society) there are two thousand verses in the Scriptures that are about poverty and injustice.
Jesus’ mission meant more then salvation only. The Kingdom that he proclaimed was also about helping the sick and the poor, about social and biblical fairness and the battle against injustice in our world. The gospel was a reality of the heart first, and later, by the influence of the disciples, more widely meant to look after the lowliest and less fortunate. (Matthew 25:40)
His expectations for those who want to follow Him need to be followed by heart, hand and feet. And He just has no other body on earth except yours… No other hands except yours, and no other feet except yours.
Impulse for the day: please think about how your eyes can express Jesus’ compassion for the world in need; how you can use your feet to do good or how you can use your hands to bless others TODAY?
To answer this question, I decided to read again that what I wrote in the last chapter of my book ‘Jesus is God’ back in 1995:
27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
Matt 24:27-29 (NIV)
36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matt 24:36-44 (NIV)
34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Luke 17:34 (NIV)
There is one universal law that nobody can deny or escape. It is the simple fact that everything comes to an end. One day even the sun will stop shining. If the sun does stop shining then I suppose that would be the end of the world. (Vs. 29). Whether the event of the end of the earth takes place as a result of a (natural) catastrophe of cosmic proportion or whether it is due to a (man-made) nuclear disaster causing, for example, a nuclear winter, is not all that important because the end result will still be the same: life will one day come to an end.
I know that the technological progress made in the last 50 odd years or so has been phenomenal. I for one am optimistic enough to believe that mankind will continue to improve himself even further in time to come. But one must be realistic about ideas of mankind one day being able to colonize the universe. I believe that such exploration will have to wait until the time after we have been unified with Christ. In fact, I believe that the chance of there being intelligent life anywhere else in the universe is virtually zero. Certain ideas proposed by some of there being life anywhere else in the universe is “misleading” in the sense that it does take away our “uniqueness” in Christ. I think it is the evil one that wants us to believe that there is life elsewhere in the universe, because then our life here on earth could quite well be considered a coincidence; and that would take our attention away from Jesus… Anyway, whatever the case may be, we all must accept the fact that one day our life on earth will come to an end or that life on earth will end – whichever comes first…
To me, it has always been reasonable to assume that the day my life ends (or the day the world ends) must coincide with the day that Jesus returns because even if there would be a billion or more years that pass after my (the) end, these years would still be as irrelevant to me as the billions of years that have gone by from the beginning of creation to my birth. Jesus confirms that we will never see death (John 8:51,52) and He has always maintained that death is nothing more than just a state of sleep (e.g. Matt 9:24, John 11:11). When Jesus speaks of dead people He means the people that chose not to follow God and never did His work (Matt 8:22,34 and 40,41). Death, real death, according to Jesus, means forever in darkness, forever being without God. Jesus being the first man that conquered death itself, it is important that we watch exactly what He has to say about it. Jesus does not know the exact date of the day of the end of the world (vs. 36). That is interesting because it means that anyone who claims that he knows this date knows more than Jesus Himself. The information that Jesus gives us is that this day will be very much like any previous day (vs. 38-41). Some people will be working (vs. 40 and 41) whilst others might be asleep (vs. 34). I suspect that the one text about those being asleep was omitted from the text in the book of Matthew because it might not have sounded logical to one of the copiers. How can there be people at work and at sleep at the same time? It was of course because it will be night on one side of the earth and day on the other side. That was not something that was generally known in Jesus’ days.
My personal view of why I think we are moving toward the end of the world is the open proliferation of activities connected to Satanism. On a flea market recently in one of the big cities of Europe, I noticed T-shirts being sold with a penta-cross on it and also on some of these the name ‘Jesus’ printed into a forbidden entry traffic sign. I had recently an opportunity to glance at some of the books on witchcraft, found by police during the course of their criminal investigations. I am now beginning to understand why people get attracted to it. It is all about how to cast spells and how to dominate others and more such things. The prime motive of people joining the coves seems to me the immediate material benefits that ‘their god’ brings them. But the ulterior motive of the evil one is once again to physically destroy the people of God, as before, because Satan is the murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
When Jesus speaks about the End of the Age, He seems very concerned about finding us not ready when He comes (vs. 43). Right after the speech quoted here from Matthew 24 He tells us a few parables concerning this subject (see Matthew Chapter 25). Many of the other passages of Scripture concerning this issue also caution us to be always alert and ready to meet our Father. We should live every day as if it were our last day.
Jesus does give us a few hints concerning His return. For instance, He quotes from Isaiah 13:10 (vs. 29) and elsewhere He openly refers us to the prophet Daniel (Matt 24:15). I have therefore done a small investigation into all the books of the Bible and gathered all the information that I could find concerning the end of the world and His second Coming, including those pointers that He gave us Himself. I have listed these in numbers from 1 to 64 and they are shown below in the order as they appear in the Bible. I am sure that these are not all the scriptures on this subject but I think they are the important ones. On the basis of all of these scriptures, and compared to each other, it is possible to picture a scenario of the time shortly before the world ends. Bear in mind that the interpretation of prophecies is always slightly subjective and nobody can claim with 100% certainty that his or her interpretation is always exactly correct. Also, please understand that end-time predictions always seem a bit like doom and gloom; unfortunately I cannot change what the scriptures are saying to me. However, I do think that they do hold a wonderful promise, as you will see, and we as Christians should always hold onto that promise. I have tried to look at scriptures from as many different books of the Bible as possible in order to form a more objective picture of what will happen. My conclusions of the Biblical predictions on the end-time are then as follows. (I recommend reading the references I used for reaching these conclusions so that you can determine if you agree with me).
– The (last) anti-christ will be appointed as the leader of the earth, most likely coming from the merging corporate world, doing great signs and miracles, possibly establishing a new or united religion with a (false) prophet and misleading many people in a similar way as Hitler did but this time it will be on a world-wide scale. He or she will be able to control all people with some kind of direct communication system (Rev.13:15) so that the “spirit” of the anti-christ will always be with them. See points 18,39,40,59,60 and 61
– During his/her reign the people of God all over the earth will be harassed and persecuted such as never before. (The word that is often used by the prophets is “distress”). Because they refused to connect with the anti-christ (the “mark”), they will not be able to buy or sell goods and a holocaust on a scale similar or even greater than the one during the 2nd world war seems likely. See points 2,7,10,18,19,22,40,48,59,60 and 61
– There will be a major cosmic upheaval or some other natural calamity such as a big earthquake. Alternatively, some man made nuclear explosion(s) can also cause this disaster. The net result of this disaster is that the sun, moon and stars will not be able to show their light. There is ample evidence to suggest that this upheaval affects all the people living on earth in that time. People will be in terror, wondering what will happen to the world. Possibly because of the darkness, these days will be short and this will be to the benefit of the Christians who are still being oppressed. The people of God who are then still alive will know that the end of their suffering is in sight. See points 3,4,8,11,12,19,22,27,38,46,52,58,62
– Even at this late hour, there is apparently still some time left for people to repent and turn to God for salvation. See points 8,12,21,24,34 and 58
– The world ends/ Jesus returns with His angels and gathers the Holy ones to establish His Kingdom of Peace/ a new Heaven and a new Earth is created! See all points 1 through to 64, except 18, 59, 60 and 61
[You can check the Bible references that I used here if you go to my book, see my first post on ‘Bread on the Water’]
So what has changed in the past 22 years since I wrote this? Basically, there is not much I need to change…
Must say, communications technology has advanced to such a state that control of people with a mark [single, very small device] seems a lot more probable and possible than it looked back in 1995. It has already become clearer that eventually the ‘people of God’ will be those who refuse to deny Jesus, and they are the people who will also refuse the mark. Note that the people supporting this anti-Christian system will not escape God’s vengeance [Rev. 14:9]. It will be a time of choices, just like it was 80 years ago….[now=2017]
I studied a bit of astronomy since 1995 and I realize now that an incident of an encounter with an as yet unknown body in the solar system influencing earth’s rotation does not really seem that farfetched. We already saw a big collision of spectacular magnitude on Jupiter not so long ago. Jesus clearly mentioned that during the time of the ‘great distress’ [persecution] the days will become shorter [Matt. 24:22]. If I take that literally, that is a great pointer. That sounds like the influence of another celestial body. Obviously a change in speed of earth’s rotation would lead to great disaster. Perhaps this also ties in with Rev. 8:10-11.
Remember that before Hitler came to power [in Germany] there first was this hyper [food] inflation? You had to come with buckets full of money just to buy bread. Rev. 6:6 also speaks of hyperinflation, namely that the price of wheat would increase, apparently by something like 12500% [if we take those values there to today’s measurement]. Since 1995 I also looked into the issue of climate change a lot and I have come to realize that the weather moves in certain waves. As Moses must have noticed back in his days [most probably by observing the rise and fall of the river Nile], every 49 years or so the sine wave is back in the middle, more or less. From determining this periodicity in several independent ways, I have come to a wavelength of 87 years, i.e. a sine wave, currently 87 years. This is looking at the sun. Depending on local conditions on earth there is some lag on this [there are other factors besides the sun as well!]. In line with my thinking on this, it seems very probable [to me] that drought conditions similar to the Dust Bowl drought 1932-1939 in northern America could start kicking in sometime during the next decade. This area is currently known as the ‘bread basket’ of the world. At the same time, other places on earth may also experience a change in the direction of wind (e.g, see Gen. 41:27) leading to different weather patterns and crop failures. Mind you, before you draw any conclusions on my time schedule for all of this: all I am saying is that lack of food and other types of chaotic situations can be accompanied by the call for a strong leader from the people. All I say is to be aware that global food scarcity is a likely scenario for a strong man/woman to emerge as world leader.
Again, like I said it before:
End-time predictions always seem a bit like doom and gloom; unfortunately I cannot change that. However, the scriptures do hold a wonderful promise, and we as Christians should always hold onto that promise, namely that we will meet with Him up in the clouds, the day the world – or our life- ends!
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Live everyday as if it is your last day!