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!
No! Don’t throw this pamphlet away. Just take a moment to read this message. You probably never expected earlier in your life that you would end up in prison. And now you wonder why you did. “Is there a God?” you ask deep inside yourself. Most people at some stage in their life will ask themselves this question. Let us assume you are either an atheist or agnostic. You say there is no God or you don’t know if there is a God. The question whether or not there is a God is a very important question indeed. For if there is no God, then there is no plan and there really is no purpose. Everything related to life then becomes a coincidence. You once were just one lucky sperm cell out of 250 million others competing. The fact that your parents met and loved: – it was probably a one in a thousand chance or less of them meeting and loving which brought you into this world as a baby. How their parents met and loved, that was perhaps also a one in a thousand chance. That makes it less than a one in a million chance for you to be born, after only the 2nd generation! Further, the off-chance on their parents meeting each other, and so forth, etc., until you reach the beginning of man. In total, that is a minute probability! Next, think of the process by which all the organs that form an intelligent person came together. Looking at it as a scientist, evolution really is a long chain of many, many chance meetings and interactions with nature, sometimes even collisions with celestial bodies like comets and asteroids, where it is believed that eventually intelligent life evolved from animal life and animal life from amphibian life and amphibian live from marine life and marine life from the first living cell. The thing is, if you do not believe that there was a plan to begin with, then everything connected to this chain of events really was just a lucky lotto draw and a one in a 100 billion chance or less in each of these stages. For example, consider this: How exactly do you think was the first living cell formed? What came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a relevant scientific question. Scientists have been able to do modifications on existing cells and seeds by genetic engineering but no scientist has ever been able to produce a living cell or seed out of the (dead) atoms and molecules that they consist of. Why is that, you ask? Well, scientists say, if you mix all the atoms and molecules that make up the first living biological cell or seed together, and you have the right conditions of temperature, light, concentration, electrical charge, radiation etc., then apparently you would still have to wait for millions and millions of years for a “chance reaction” to take place that would produce the first living cell. So, in fact no one has ever been able to make a “living” cell or seed synthetically. Some scientists simply claim that this is due to a lack of time. Taken altogether, though, statistically we can say that there really is only a very, very small probability indeed that you came into existence; in fact that chance is so small that we can call it near impossible. I think that is why I would say that life itself, and yes, your life in particular, is a miracle!
Just forget about finding anything like “intelligent life” in the rest of the universe. It is just (statistically) impossible, because the chances of life developing elsewhere are so small that it outweighs the argument of there being enormous amounts of stars with planets available in the universe. Never mind all that, you still believe there is no God or you don’t know if there is a God. You think it is reasonable to believe that everything you see around you just came by accident. Life did not come forth by creation (a plan) but by evolution. You believe in Murphy’s law (Murphy’s law = given that there is a chance that something will happen, then, if there is enough time available, eventually it will happen). You still refuse to accept that the creation of the whole universe was part of God’s plan for us to be born. Now I will ask you: never mind the question about how life came into being and how incredibly small the chance is that you are alive today. What about the next question: where does matter itself come from? Where did all the atoms that form the person that you are and the earth that you are living on and the air that you are breathing, came from? If you believe there is no God, then obviously in the beginning there must have been absolutely nothing. Good for you if you believe in the Big Bang theory. But the question still remains: where did all the matter that forms the universe, originate from? You see what the problem is? It does not make sense to believe that there is no God because it is not logical. In fact, if you believe there is no God, you are actually saying that you believe that out of absolutely nothing and guided by absolutely nobody, an incredible intelligent and intellectual person (like yourself) with a material body came into being. Now, for you to believe that such a miracle could have happened, you must actually have a much bigger faith than that of a person simply believing and admitting that there is a Higher Power, a God who created him for a specific plan and purpose!
So, now we come to the point, where you may acknowledge that there is in fact a God who created us. The bible teaches that every man should be able to see this if he just takes the time to observe nature, and watch the incredible miracles happening around on a daily basis. Somehow you also already knew instinctively that your sense of right and wrong, i.e. your conscience, is directly connected to the very fact whether you do - or do not believe there is a God... That is why when you are feeling remorseful for the sins that you committed, you are in fact on your way into believing in God! Immediately when you come to realize that there is a God, you will also note that now there is a plan and a purpose.
Remember, God sees the beginning and the end all at the same time, because He is beyond time and space. The interesting part of life really is to find out what God’s plan and purpose for your life is! At times you may feel insecure and inadequate, but remember that God never makes mistakes. He does not make misfits. He has a plan and a purpose with each and everyone of us, His children. Just think of a few biblical figures like Joseph and Paul. If it were not for them having been in prison, where would we be today? Through the imprisonment of one man, Joseph, a whole nation was saved from starvation (see Gen. 45:5-8). The apostle Paul wrote all his letters to the believers from prison. Imagine the New Testament without Paul’s letters! (see Phil.1:12-14).
Your time in prison is not the end of your life. In fact, God wants to use the prison circumstances in your life. He wants to be with you, right there in prison! Our God is a God of miracles. At this stage you may ask me: I accept that there is a God, who created me, and who cares about me, but how do I know which religion is the right religion? This is an interesting question. If you want to, you can study a number of religions and decide for yourself. The five major world religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. I did not really study Buddhism or Hinduism. I do know that in Buddhism there is no God, so that is really a dead end to start with. In Hinduism, there is a great number of Gods – that could be a bit of a labyrinth. Many religions and even some sects in Christianity believe in imposing on their members and believers a multitude of rules and regulations, as if it were possible to please God by stepping up on an imaginary ladder and trying to reach Him or get closer to Him by keeping to more and more religious rules. The real Christian faith is different. Christianity really is: God revealing Himself to us (you), in the person of Jesus Christ. You can say it is like: God coming down that (imaginary) ladder to earth, picking us up where we were injured or broken, putting us together again and showing and revealing Himself and His character to us. The bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the image of the living God. God has left us His picture, in the form of the example of the life that He lived on earth. After that, He also proclaimed that His Spirit, the Spirit of God, is in all of us who accepts Him! Millions of people all over the world who became Christian can testify to this fact. One day soon, you too will acknowledge this. At the same time He challenges us to become more and more like Him, to live like He lived His life on earth, doing miracles in the lives of other people.….
If you want to learn more about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, please ask the person who distributed this tract for more information. He may have some books and guides for you that you can use to study. May God bless you and help you in the life ahead.
Jesus said: I am the Door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 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: 9 & 10).
This book came about from thoughts that I had on a number of issues that happened to be important to me at a specific time for one or more particular reason. From several conversations I had it occurred to me that there are many people who view the Bible with some suspicion because of certain contradictions they had observed. I felt that this could cast doubt on Christianity. It might also lead to a situation, where, if no proper guidance is given by the Church, the individual Christian then interprets the Bible as he or she sees fit, depending on his or her preference. The main question then became: Does God speak to different people saying contradictory things? It was with this in mind that I kept record of situations in my life where I was forced to go back to Jesus, to see exactly what He had said on the matter. I had to see if what He had said would in any way be different to what I personally already had accepted as the truth, by my own conscience, if you like, or by the grace of His Spirit in me, as is now my personal belief. Concerning this quest, I must submit that I have not found any contradictions in anything that Jesus said, nor have I found any reason to doubt Him because of what He said.
I thought the results of my investigations important enough to put them on paper and to share them with anyone interested. I do not claim that all that I say or what I have concluded from Jesus’ words has never been said or heard before. I just wanted to put all the wisdom that we have of Him that was important to me together in one publication. If someone then asks me again: “Why do you believe in Christ?” I can give him this book and say: “This is why I trust Him, you will find all my reasons and arguments in here.”
This book is not a comprehensive study of Jesus’ life and work. On the contrary, I think it covers only a small part of it. What I hope is that the reading will inspire you, the reader, to have a close look again at all the words from God. I am sure that you too will acknowledge that this does shape our lives. Most of the quotations from the Bible were taken from the New International Version of the Bible, abbreviated: “NIV”. During the reading of this book you might want to keep a Bible handy in case you want to check me up on the cross-references.
May God bless you as we look together at some of Jesus’ words and actions, especially those where He seemed to be making an effort to ensure that what He said and did, would not be forgotten. I pray that the reading of this book may bring love and happiness to you and your loved ones.
Henry Pool , Silverton, April 1995
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