Why Suffering Makes Sense

There's a tremendous philosophical question that you have to face when you're going through suffering: "If God is a good God, why does He allow me to go through trials?" Job faced this question when he lost everything he had. He even wondered for a moment if God had become his enemy.

If you're really going through a difficult hour, please consider why suffering makes sense. I want to share with you why suffering is a part of God's program and what the purpose of it is.

Some people today have gone so far as to say, "If you're really a saint, you won't suffer." This is not true. As you study the scriptures, you will see Jesus himself suffered. The Bible says in Hebrews 5:7-8, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, He learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" (NIV).
The Bible says Jesus Christ was made perfect through the things He suffered.

Do You Want to Be Like Jesus?

If I ask you the question, "Do you want to be like Jesus Christ?" I'm sure you'd say, "Yes." But if I ask you: "Do you want to suffer?" you'd probably reply, "No, I don't want to suffer." But this is a contradiction. To be like Christ, you must understand that God's process in making you like Christ involves suffering. If Jesus Himself had to suffer, you and I are going to have to suffer also. The Bible says in Hebrews 2 beginning with verse 9, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering" (NIV).

Jesus Christ was born perfect, but God the Father developed His character through His suffering. I cannot tell what you're going through, because only you can understand the agony of it all. But I will say God can create within you the character of Jesus Christ through the process of suffering.

The Bible tells us how to look at our trials: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV).
So the Bible says that the trial of our faith is even more precious than gold. God is wanting to create gold out of your soul. You are God's "soul gold" right here on earth.

You Are God's "Soul Gold."

If you visit the Homestake Mining Company in Lead, South Dakota, you would see a tremendous machine that crushes rocks. It sends out a deafening noise and dust flies everywhere. If you saw it, you'd feel like asking, "What does all of this commotion mean?" But you'd never know what all of the noise, the commotion and all of the dust means until you see the little gold ingots. Then you'd understand that the Homestake Mining Company is mining gold.

One time I called an official at the Homestake Mining Company and asked him, "How many tons of ore do you have to process to get one ounce of gold? If my memory serves me correctly, he said they have to mine five tons of ore to get one ounce of gold.

Many people look at history and wonder about the wars, trials, deaths and suffering. A lot of cynics conclude that if God made the world, He sure made a terrible mess out of it. But we must understand what God is doing. He is allowing all of these events to create "soul gold" within our lives.

What is the Purpose of History?

So what is the purpose of history? What is the meaning of all of these events, confusing and hurtful as they might be? The whole meaning of history is that God is allowing this tremendous machine of what looks like confusion and destruction to create saints! This is the purpose of God's entire historical plan.

So partner, if you're in the trial machine, getting crunched this way and pushed that way…being ground to bits emotionally or physically, if you feel like you're in the fire…the fire is trying you so that you can come forth as refined gold. You are God's great treasure here on earth. He is perfecting you!

There is a purpose. Suffering makes sense. It helps you conform to the image of Jesus Christ. In Romans 8 there is a great scripture. It tells about how you and I can look at life and face trials. Paul the Apostle said in verse 18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Paul is saying our struggles are insignificant compared to what God has in mind for us.

Paul then says in verse 28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestinated to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (NIV).

God Allows Every Event to Conform Us to Christ's Image

The Bible says every event God allows to work in our lives is actually for the purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is tremendous! No matter how difficult things are, you have to believe this.

I received a most unusual letter recently from an inmate in prison. Here's what he said: "I ran into no complications in life until 1975, although the problem had been smoldering within me for years, and I knew it well." Now, this man had a problem and he could feel it smoldering within him. The question now is, "How will God allow events to transpire to reveal what has been hidden within this man? He writes: "In 1975 I started to mess around with cocaine and heroine. This was all that was needed to release my sexual aberration, and like a dam bursting open, when the authorities finally caught up with me on January 18, 1976, I had committed 17 rapes and armed robberies. I just didn't care about anything or anyone during the year of 1975. Now I must pay the price of 25 to 55 years in prison."

Can you imagine what someone would think looking at these events--17 rapes and armed robberies? And here's a man thrown into prison for 25 to 55 years. What good is all of this disaster, suffering, confusion and injustice? What good is being done by it? The man continues: "Lowell, in spite of all this, I have moved forward. I have faced my problem and accepted what I can't change. Some time ago, I completely turned my life over to Jesus. What His will is remains His secret, but whatever it is, I accept it with love."

What an unusual letter. God allowed this man to exert his will to do what was not God's will so that this man might be able to face the monster that was within him. I understand a lot of great injustices were done against those whom he robbed and raped, but nevertheless, God can work in those lives too. For only God can work in all situations. God can turn around all things for good. He can even make evil work for good if your heart is right. So, if you're suffering, if you're going through a difficult time, I want you to understand that God is at work. He is working to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes everything looks like a horrible mess and we can't see the possibility of any good arising from it. My wife, Connie, had an illustration of this just the other day. One of our friends sent her a piece of embroidery, and as she opened it up and looked at it, the back side was a mass of confusion--threads all tangled up and messy, but then she turned it over and there was a beautiful flower. She's been treasuring this and carrying it in her Bible to remind her to always try to see our own lives through heaven's eyes.

The Liberty Library

Life Changing Quotes From Past Leaders

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Our nation has been in existence for over 200 years. The early Puritans and Pilgrims came to this country for religious freedom to live and evangelize. It appears that in many ways our freedom is beginning to sink into bondage to sin.

I remembered hearing one university history professor report, "The average lifespan of the world's great civilizations has been around 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

  From bondage to spiritual faith; 
     From spiritual faith to courage; 
        From great courage to liberty; 
           From liberty to abundance; 
              From abundance to selfishness; 
                 From selfishness to complacency; 
                    From complacency to apathy; 
                       From apathy to dependency; 
                          Form dependency back again to bondage."

Always Keep God

General Carlos P. Romulo, a Philippine general, lived in the United States for 17 years. As he was about to return to his homeland, he gave this farewell statement:

"Never forget, America, that yours is a spiritual country. Yes, I know you're a practical people, and like others, I have marveled at your factories and skyscrapers and your arsenals. But underlying everything else is the fact that America began as a God-loving, God-fearing, and God-worshipping people. It is this spirit that makes America invincible. May God keep you always, and may you always keep God."

- General Carlos P. Romulo

The Wages of Sin - Infanticide

The greatest ongoing tragedy of this or any generation is the crisis of abortion in America. Since 1972 there have been over 41 million abortions performed in America. That is more than 1,350,000 abortions every year, and they are often done after the first trimester. Late-term abortions and partial-birth abortions are no longer rare. Even the American Medical Association has said that partial-birth abortions are "never medically necessary," yet some 5,000 times a year in this country, these procedures take the life of a viable child. After his legs have been delivered, the abortionist kills the infant by puncturing the skull and sucking out the baby's brains. We can only wonder how God could ever forgive a nation that perpetuates such crimes against humanity.

The horror that has been unleashed on America (and in the world) in the name of "a woman's right to choose" is nothing less than the "American Holocaust." In Germany, the Nazis killed more than six million Jews, Poles, Christians, and other "undesirables" during the Second World War. In America, 41 million innocent children have been slaughtered. And for what?

I do not recall hearing anything from Michael Moore when Saddam Hussein slaughtered his thousands. Where is his bleeding heart when tens of thousands of Christians are martyred and brutalized in so many totalitarian regimes?

- Author Unknown

A Warning and a Hope

First they came for the Communists, 
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. 
Then they came for the Jews, 
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. 
Then they came for the Catholics, 
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. 
Then they came for me, 
and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

-Martin Neimoller

"They gave up God," says the Apostle Paul, "and therefore God gave them up-to be playthings of their own foul desires and dishonoring their own bodies." They "Deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie, paying homage and giving service to the creature instead of the Creator, who alone is worthy to be worshipped for ever and ever. God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions" (Romans 1:24, Phillips).

Western society is experiencing a great cultural upheaval. More and more the wicked subculture comes to open cultural manifestation. More and more the unmentionables become the parlance of our day. More and more profanity and vulgarity find expression through the mass media. The sludge of a sick society is rising to the top and, sad to say, the stench does not offend even some public leaders. Our nation increasingly trips the worst ratings on God's Richter scale of fully deserved moral judgment.

Are you aware of the cultural challenges we face? Or are you yourself debilitated by the shoddy secular values of our time?

"The Fight of the Day"

In the battle between good and evil, are you armed and engaged in "the fight of the day"? 
In the battle for the minds of men, are you armed and engaged in "the fight for the day"? 
In the battle for the will of humanity, are you armed and engaged in "the fight of the day"? 
In the exhibition of a Christian mindset, are you armed and engaged in "the fight of the day"? 
In the deployment of Christian countermoves, are you armed and engaged in "the fight of the day"?

- Author Unknown

The Devil's After Dad

Men are under attack today like never before. The devil's after dads who are giving up their God-given roles as leaders of their families.

Jesus said, "If the shepherd is smitten, all the sheep will be scattered" (my paraphrase of Matthew 9:36).

Dad, the devil's after you. When the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, Pharaoh said, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide... and I will destroy"(Exodus 15:9).

The devil has you marked and he will pursue you and try to destroy your family. When Jesus was nearing the time when he would go to the cross and be crucified for our sins, he turned to Simon Peter and said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not" (Luke 22:31-32). The devil knew if he could sift out Peter, he would get all of the other apostles. He is using this same divide and destroy tactic today.

  • Satan is attacking dads with divorce. One in every three families in America today is trying to hold together without a father in the home. This is having devastating results in the lives of our children. 
  • Satan is attacking dads with drunkenness. There are 10-12 million alcoholics in the U.S.A.-and every chronic alcoholic began his destructive lifestyle by taking that first drink. 
  • Satan is attacking men with diversions. God commanded the Jewish Kings to restrain themselves from carnal desires. God said kings "Shall not multiply horses unto himself. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold" (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). 

Modern men of today are still lured away from God with:

  1. Horses (horsepower of fast cars)
  2. The lust for women
  3. The desire for wealth

King David loved God but he fell into the trap of multiplying wives and money. Then Satan destroyed David's family by luring him to have sex with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. His lust brought the wrath of God upon his household. The sword never departed from David's family.

The men of Malachi's day were seduced by Satan to divorce their wives. God spoke through Malachi saying, "You have dealt treacherously against the wife of your youth. The Lord says,' I hate divorce'" (a paraphrase of Malachi 2:14-16).

The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother-and honor the sanctity of marriage.

When God was going to establish the new nation of Israel, he chose Abraham to lead. God said, "For I know him, that he will command his children and household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD" (Genesis 18:19).

Abraham continued to follow God's directives even when he was called upon to offer his son, Isaac, on the altar of sacrifice.

Joshua made it clear where he stood. He declared, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Joshua was 100% committed to serving God. During the 45 years of this evangelistic ministry, traveling from coast to coast, I have found that in most cases, 80 percent, if the husband decides to follow the Lord, his wife and children will serve God too.

However, there are a few heart-breaking cases where the devil has triumphed. Some time ago I prayed with a man, who broke down and cried because the devil had split up his marriage, taken away his wife and children, and everything he had. He was also bound by alcohol. I remember this man crying out his heart, pleading, "Pastor, can you help me?" Who did this to this man? Of course the man was responsible for his actions, but the destructive force behind his problems was Satan himself, seeking to destroy.

Another time I got a phone call from a minister telling me about his family. He said, "My wife helped me in the ministry for the last 15 years. However, she became depressed and went to see a psychoanalyst. As a result, the psychiatrist began having sex with her and now she has a fixation on men. She goes from one man to the next, having a different partner every night." The devil truly got a hold of his wife. She separated from him and filed for divorce. Then she came home and got one of their two girls and beat her until she was almost dead. She took the girl to the hospital and told authorities her husband, the pastor, had beaten the child until she was almost unconscious.

I prayed with this heartbroken pastor. The devil was going all out to destroy his family, his wife, his kids and his ministry. We bound Satan because we're not powerless against him.

Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). Again Jesus said, "I give unto you power... over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19).

Another promise of our Lord declares, "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

A husband has power to change his family. The Bible says, "An unbelieving wife is sanctified by a believing husband" (1 Corinthians 7:14). The same is true of husbands. The scripture continues, "An unbelieving husband is sanctified by a believing wife, else were the children unclean, but now they are holy."

Years ago an artist created an unusual painting of a young man playing chess with the devil. The young fellow's face was pale and his eyes had an ashen gaze of terror. One look told everyone that he was defeated. His pieces were hemmed in and, for all practical purposes, the game was over.

The title of this painting was "Checkmate," the word used in the chess world to describe the final defeat of the loser.

One day an old grand chess master walked into the gallery and began to study the painting of this chess match with the devil. He too was caught up in the conflict-for it showed the great struggle for life and a young man held in bondage by the devil.
However, as the chess master studied the painting, he discovered something on the chessboard no one else had seen before--not even the painter. The chess master cried out, "Young man, you've got one move left. I can save you yet. I can save you yet!"

The experienced eye of the master had discovered one move that would free the young man from losing to the devil.

The wonderful truth today is that Jesus Christ is the Grand Master of the universe. He can and will save us from defeat. If your life is being destroyed by the devil, cry out and the Lord will save your family from ruin. God loves us and sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and failures. The Apostle John declares, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

Invite Christ into your heart and life. Turn over your defeats and failures to Him and He will destroy the works of the devil.

Remember, you have one move left- 
He can save you yet!

7 Ways to Feel Younger

Time is flying by. Do you realize you and I are older than we’ve ever been— and younger than we’ll ever be again.

I tell my friends, “I am a teenager trapped in an aging body.” It is hard for me to realize I am 66 years young and I have been in evangelistic ministry for 49 years!

The years have been a patient teacher showing me ways to stay young.

1. KEEP THE FAITH AND SEEK A FRESH INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. As long as you are confident in God, you will feel energized. Remember God is faithful and He is watching over you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God—and you will have a fantastic finish if you keep the faith. Jesus said we would receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon us. (See Acts 1:8.) So find a church or Bible study where you can praise and worship God openly.

A fresh breeze of heaven blowing on your soul will refresh you immensely.

Many partners from all over the U.S. and Canada have visited our Celebration Ministry Center in Minneapolis. They have enjoyed the moving of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. The songs and sermons and Spirit refilling have renewed their energies.

2. FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE HURT YOU. This includes your parents, spouse, children or so-called friends. There’s nothing you can change that has already been done against you, so forgive them and stop asking why and saying… “I could have, would have, and should have.” It’s sapping your energy. Forgive them for your own sake— not theirs.

3. STAY ON THE CUTTING EDGE. Keep learning new things. Read, read, read. Take a college course. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to change. New ideas and activities bring new life.

4. LIVE HEALTHY. Watch your diet. Coffee, caffeine, sugar, starch and fatty foods in excess will make you feel sluggish and old. Limit your intake of these foods and be careful not to use too much salt. I am not a food fanatic, but I have discovered that diet is important.

Exercise regularly. Connie and I used to run a mile or more – now we walk the mile – but experts say it produces the same results. One nutritionist tells her clients to walk half an hour three times a week—keeping the pace as if they are late for an appointment.

5. CONTINUE PRAYING FOR YOUR LOST LOVED ONES AND FRIENDS. Actively share your faith with them. Knowing you are placing them in God’s hands can alleviate a lot of stress related to premature aging.

6. KEEP A POSITIVE AND LOVING ATTITUDE. You can do this by being grateful to God and others for what they have done for you. Praise God for everything (because God will use the bad things in your life to make you better). Helping others with an act of kindness, a caring word, a loving note or hug (even a funny joke) can boost another person’s morale and you will feel the presence of God when this happens. What a great infusion of joy and well-being this brings.

7. WIN OTHERS TO CHRIST. There is nothing more rejuvenating than seeing a lost soul arise from darkness and enter into the light and life of Christ. Hallelujah! This makes my spirit and energy soar.

Remember, you want to leave a living legacy. Things come and go – but PEOPLE LAST FOREVER.

Connie and I thank you for supporting our soul-winning ministry that continues bringing people to Jesus (around 500 since January 1). With God’s help and your prayers, we will soon be running around 2,000 per weekend in attendance at Celebration Ministry Center.

We are also thankful for our partners who are remembering this evangelistic ministry in their wills. Be assured Celebration Ministry Center will continue winning the lost for many years to come.

Recently I ran across a book with an unusual title, “One Thing We Will Not Be Able to Do in Heaven.” The answer is, “Win lost souls to Jesus Christ.”

Today is going to disappear but the precious people we win to the Lord will be with us forever in eternity.

Don’t give in to the aches and pains of aging, but set your sight on heaven and you will be energized to do more than ever before.

God's Promise to Save Your Loved Ones

If you have an unconverted son, daughter or loved one you have been praying for, you are bearing one of the heaviest burdens of life. My wife, Connie, and I had a daughter who was not serving the Lord for ten years and it really weighed heavily upon our hearts.

One of the greatest verses in Scripture for parents with unsaved children is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah: "Who can snatch the prey from the hands of a mighty man? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captive go? But the Lord says, 'Even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall all be freed; for I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children" (Isaiah 49:24 & 25, TLB).

Thank God! This promise assures you that God will save your children, if you'll hold on and claim them for Christ. The Bible also says, "He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge" (Proverbs 14:26, NIV). This verse implies there will come a time when your children will need protection from calamity or trouble; they will need a fortress-and will flee to yours.

When our daughter forsook the Lord and our family, it was a terrible shock. Connie and I couldn't believe it was happening to us. For all those many years we had served the Lord and expected our children to do the same. Most shocking of all, our daughter backslid while attending Bible College.  God did work some good in our lives from this situation, however. He gave us a great burden to see young people won to the Lord. From that time on, we promised God we would do our best to reach as many young people as possible.

In the beginning, Connie and I were very bitter about our daughter's departure from the faith. But we soon began to realize that human nature is unpredictable. One day, when I had reached rock bottom--when I felt like a total failure and was considering leaving the ministry-- the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, "Lowell, what did God do wrong that the devil went bad?"

This jarred me and helped me understand God's dilemma with creation. As long as the Lord has given Lucifer free will, as He has all angels and humans, there is a chance they would use their will against Him. Even though God had done nothing wrong, the devil went bad.

Guilt and regrets can often overwhelm a person. You find yourself saying, "Oh, if I had only done this or that. Why didn't I see what was happening? Why was I so foolish?" If you continue to condemn yourself, you'll destroy your own faith in God and then you won't be able to help anyone. One lady wrote me and said, "Lowell, you must allow your daughter to be responsible for herself. If you assume the blame for her sins, you are robbing her of her own individuality." This new insight really helped because I hadn't looked at it this way before.

I love this quote and hung it above our bed in the tour bus: "God gives us liberty to choose against Him and then waits for us to come to our senses."

Parents must do the same with their children. You must give your child liberty to choose against you the same as God does. 

But, don't give up. God hasn't and you shouldn't either. 

One thing I did during those years that our daughter ran from the Lord was to mark every scripture I found in the Bible that assured me of her return. Each time I found a verse that was meaningful or that promised me God would save her, I'd underline it and write our daughter's name beside it. I found literally hundreds of scriptures! 

God will act. In the meantime, He tells us to praise Him for His promises. "Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise" (1 Kings 8:56).
Here's a great promise of God from Proverbs 20:7 NIV: "The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him."  You can be very sure God will rescue the children of the godly. One man, who was claiming his family for Christ, received strength from this passage in Exodus 10:26 where God promised Moses, "Not an hoof shall be left behind." This refers to the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt. When he read this, the Holy Spirit assured him, "Not one hoof shall be left behind. Every one of your children will be saved."

Here's another favorite promise from God, "They went right on sinning, doing everything their evil hearts desired. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway" (Isaiah 57:17 TLB).

Glory to God! Isn't it wonderful that God is going to have mercy upon your loved ones-and He will bring them to repentance, even though, at this moment they are not seeking Him.

One day I was complaining to the Lord about our daughter's lack of interest in salvation and I said, "Now Lord, if it was one of your children who was lost, I'd really work to save your child. Why aren't' you saving mine?" Then I reminded Him of how I'd spent many years winning thousands of people to him.

Later in the day, I ran across this verse in Psalm 18:25, "With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright."  This scripture assured me that God would deal honorably with my children as I have with His. He would answer our prayers and save our daughter.

One of the great struggles I've had with prayer is wondering why God doesn't act more deliberately. Why doesn't God get a hold of people and shake them so they'll get converted right away? Why doesn't God save your loved ones now? Why the delay? 

This reminds me of the story of a man who prayed for patience. He knelt by his bedside and said, "Lord, last night I prayed for patience, what's the hold-up?"

From studying the Bible I've found that God deals with unconverted loved ones in several ways:


    If you'll read the book of Judges, you'll see that whenever His people rebelled and went wrong, He would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. The Bible says in Judges Chapter 13,  "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years" (verse 1).

    This is what happened to Jonah, the prophet, who tried to run away from God. Pardon the pun, but he ran into a "whale of a problem"-then he repented and cried out to God. The Bible says, "Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God, out of the fish's belly, And said, 'I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou hearest my voice" (Jonah 2:1-2). 
    My prayer was simply this, "Lord, get in there and bring judgment down upon my daughter-cause her to cry out to you." But several portions of scripture revealed that it's not all that easy. Actually, God cannot force anyone to get converted. The prophet Isaiah expresses God frustrations in these words, "Oh, my people, haven't' you had enough punishment? Will you force me to whip you again and again? Must you forever rebel? From head to foot you are sick and weak and faint, covered with bruises and welts and infected wounds, unanointed and unbound. Your country lies in ruins; your cities are burned; while you watch, foreigners are destroying and plundering everything they see. You stand there helpless and abandoned like a watchman's shanty in the field when harvest time is over--or when the crop is stripped and robbed" (Isaiah 1:5-8, TLB).
    So God is saying, "How much beating must I give you? How many things must go wrong before you will repent? You are like an empty abandoned shack." I saw through this how force doesn't always win a rebel to Christ.
    The Prophet Amos picks up the same theme: "I sent you hunger'' says the Lord, 'but it did you no good; you still would not return to me. I ruined your crops by holding back the rain three months before the harvest. I sent rain on one city, but not another. While rain fell on one field another was dry and withered. People from two or three cities would make their weary journey for a drink of water to a city that had rain, but there wasn't ever enough. Yet you wouldn't return to me,' says the Lord. 'I sent blight and mildew on your farms and your vineyards: the locusts ate your figs and olive trees. And still you wouldn't return to me,' says the Lord, 'I sent you plagues like those of Egypt long ago. I killed your lads in war and drove away your horses. The stench of death was terrible to smell. And yet you refused to come. I destroyed some of your cities, as I did Sodom and Gomorrah; those left are like half-burned firebrands snatched away from fire. And still you won't return to me,' says the Lord" (Amos 4:6-11, TLB).
    I saw from reading these passages that it's not as easy for God to convert people as I had thought. Punishment doesn't always produce repentance. God had gone so far with the rebels of Israel. In Amos' day, there was only one step left-destruction. But once God destroys a sinner, it's too late to save him.
  3. MERCY
    The prophet Zechariah reveals the heart of God in his prophecy of mercy: "Then I will pour out the spirit of grace and prayer on all the people of Jerusalem, and they will look on him, they pierced, and mourn for him as for an only son, and grieve bitterly for him as for an oldest child who died" (Chapter 12:10&11TLB).
    In the future, God is going to bring Israel to repentance by pouring out a spirit of grace and prayer upon them. This is why you and I need to pray. The Bible says, "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).
If you want to claim your loved ones for Christ, you must lock in on the promise of God and pray until God moves by punishment, patience or mercy-often He will move by all three at once.

Here is a verse of scripture that speaks to me, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord" (James 1:6 & 7, KJV).

You and I cannot waver in our faith that God will save our loved ones. We must seize the scriptures, pray and look to God in faith-not wavering.

Connie and I praise God that He is faithful. After 10 years our daughter came back in 1991 and is now reunited with God and our family. I came to realize that the salvation of our daughter was as great a miracle as the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life and I believed He would save her, no matter what appeared to be happening in her life. So Connie and I continued to claim for her all the scriptures in the Bible. We continued to pray and to trust God for His promise to save her.

As you dwell in the Scriptures and the spirit of prayer, your faith will grow and you will discover the Holy Spirit will move upon you to intercede for your loved ones. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26 & 27).

As the Holy Spirit helps you pray, you will feel groaning that are so deep you will feel at times like you are going to die. But don't be afraid of crying out in this manner.

Also, there will be times when you will not feel any burden at all to pray. This puzzled me at first, but then I realized that just as a pregnant woman giving birth to a child has muscle spasms, just as her womb contracts and relaxes, so God is helping you, through prayer, to give birth to a loved one. God also knows if He didn't give you some release, you would die.

I believe God is going to save your loved ones. But you must claim the promises of God on his or her behalf. Saturate your mind and soul with His Word until it stabilizes your faith. God will not fail you!

Let us pray:
Our Father in heaven, we believe your promises to save our loved ones. You are working now in many ways we cannot see. We claim your promises on behalf of our family for Jesus' sake. Amen.

What is Heaven Like?

Paul the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 12:2 described how he was carried into heaven, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven."  There are three heavens: FIRST, the atmospheric heaven above us with clouds; SECOND, the heavens with planets, sun, stars, moons, galaxies, etc.; THIRD, the spiritual heaven where God dwells.

"[He] was caught up to Paradise.  He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell" (2 Corinthians 12:4, NIV). Paul did not even feel at liberty to describe the wonders of heaven. At another time he says, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9,10). 
Superworld is comprised of three parts: Supercity (the new Jerusalem), Superearth (the refurnished earth at the end of the millennium), and the Super-universe (the new heavens).


Look at the Supercity

 John the apostle gives us a dazzling description of the holy city.  He says, 

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself...will be their God.'

"And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.  It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels [guarding] at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

"There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.  The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

"The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its wall.  The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide.  He measured the city with the rod and found it to be [around 1,500 miles] in length, and as wide and high as it is long.  He measured its wall and it was [about 216 feet] thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using.  The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  

"The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.  The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedon, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.  The street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.  

"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:2-3,10-27, NIV).

Can you imagine a city made of pure gold, as clear as glass, gleaming with God's power?  John makes special mention that the sun or moon does not shine on it, "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle...for the Lord God giveth them light" (Revelation 22:5).  This city does not need electricity or any illumination because it literally glows with God's glory!

And consider the size of our heavenly home--1500 miles square.  This city would cover more than the western half of the United States!   A mathematician put his pencil to these dimensions and this is what he discovered.  "The thickness of the wall is 144 cubits (or about 216 feet thick).  It is approximately 12,000 furlongs square or 1500 miles in each direction.  It has 12 foundations or floors, each separated by 125 miles.  The second floor would be out of sight of the natural eye.  "If the city were divided into rooms, one mile in length, one mile wide and one mile high, it would contain 3 billion, 375 million rooms--each one cubit mile.  If we began at the time of Adam and spent one hour in each room, at the end of 6,000 years we would have visited 52,570,560 rooms--leaving 3,322,529,440 rooms yet unvisited.  This includes all leap years for 6,000 years, deducting the century year when there is no leap year."  

Wow!  When Jesus said, "In my father's house are many mansions," He wasn't abusing the phrase.  For nearly 2,000 years Jesus Christ has been preparing this Supercity for His saints!  He said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).  What an unbelievable glorious place this will be!  E. M. Bounds says, "The favorite Bible word for heaven is 'glory' which seems so especially suited to describe heaven.  It means splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, pre-eminence, dignity, majesty in the sense of absolute perfection, a most glorious, a most exalted state, a glorious condition of blessedness."   The reason the Bible says, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy" is because this book gives the only description of our eternal home.  No wonder when the famous evangelist, D. L. Moody, lay dying, he cried, "Earth is receding, heaven is opening and God is calling."  He was excited by what he saw!


Features of the Supercity

There are other spectacular features of this city.


  1. IT IS COMPLETELY SAFE.  Metropolitan areas have become jungles of corruption.  Thieves, rapists, murderers, pimps, drug pushers, child molesters--this sort have frightened people until they no longer venture out at night.
    Heaven's gates will be guarded by angels, and the Bible says, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27, NIV).
    "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood" (Revelation 22:14,15, NIV).
  2. THE CITY HAS NO TEMPLE OR CHURCH.  John says, "I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it"(Revelation 21:22).  "Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne" (Revelation 4:2).

    "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it...and they shall see his face"(Revelation 22:3,4).


    There Will be Angels in Heaven

    "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the [living creatures] and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands.  This is at least one hundred million or more.  John is trying to say the host is innumerable.

    "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:11,12).   If you are not concerned about angels, you have forgotten that an angel has guarded you since childhood.  Jesus said, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10).

    "Are [angels] not...ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).

    The Bible says that angels stand guard over the saints.  You are given divine protection from Satan and the demonic enemies of your soul.  Remember how Satan complained about Job?  He accused God saying, "Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?" (Job 1:10).

    Friend, angelic security guards have been watching over you since the day you were born.  I am certain you can recall many times when you have been miraculously spared from harm.  You will meet your guardian angels in heaven.  I am certain when God replays your life, you'll be thanking Him for the angelic protection He has given you.


    Unseen Beauty

    There are unseen realities of the spirit world.  Guardian angels are part of it.  When you get to heaven you will see the splendor of the Supercity glowing with supernatural energy, inhabited by holy angels and the saints from all ages who served God.   A beautiful girl was born blind.  As she grew up, the only beauty she knew of this world came from her mother's lips. Then one day a famous surgeon performed a series of operations on her eyes, with excellent results.   Finally the day came when the last bandages were removed.

    The little girl ran to her mother's arms, then moved carefully to the open door and the open window.  As the beauty of that soft summer day broke in upon her for the first time, she ran back to her mother and with eyes shining with excitement and wonder said, "Oh, Mother, why didn't you tell me it was so beautiful?"  Wiping away her tears of joy, the mother said, "My precious child, I tried to tell you, but I just couldn't do it."

    One of these days, when we walk into that city of gold, gleaming with the glory of God, we'll say, "John, why didn't you tell us it was this beautiful?"  Then the Apostle will say, "I tried to tell you by using every adjective I knew.  I said it was like transparent gold, like pearls, jasper, sapphires, and emeralds.  I just ran out of words.  I just ran out of words."


    We Are His Heirs

    Praise God, your glorious new home is waiting for you in heaven!  So don't be discouraged over your struggles here on earth because you and I are God's children. 

    "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Revelation 8:17,18). 


    We Will Reign With Christ

    In Revelation 3:21 Jesus says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

    The Bible says if we overcome, Jesus Christ will allow us to be seated on His throne--the creative center of the universe.   Just imagine creating with Christ--building, planning, designing with God's eternal resources and knowledge! Heaven is a place bustling with creative activity!  We are going to be assigned places of leadership and responsibility. 

    Think of it!  Our Lord is going to give you the opportunity of becoming more than you've ever dreamed.  This is why I call heaven "Superworld."

    "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26,27).

    Will We Live Again?

    Time is running out!

    We are getting older. The truth is that you and I are older than we have ever been and younger than we'll ever be again.

    • A 30-year old has only 2300 weeks left to live.
    • A 40-year-old has 1800 weeks left on earth.
    • A 50-year old is down to 1300 weeks.
    • A 60-year old has only 790 weeks.

    Another way to look at time is: the average life lasts only 683,280 hours or 2.4 billion seconds. You and I are speeding toward death at the rate of 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute.
    In a short time, we will be gone.
    When Job went through his great trial and his body was covered with painful boils, he asked life's greatest question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14).
    Thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!"
    The Apostle Paul realized the seriousness of death and the need for resurrection life when he said, "If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave..If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! And if all have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world" (1 Corinthians 15:14-19 NLT).
    Our Christian faith rests firmly on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is no resurrection---we die like dogs and turn to dust. There is no hope beyond the grave. However, if Jesus truly arose from the tomb---hope is alive and we know we will live again!
    There is great evidence to prove that Jesus is alive (see my message below entitled "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ"). The best proof is our own personal relationship with our Savior. An old Easter song, He Lives, says, "You ask me how I know He lives---He lives within my heart."
    We have inside information that Christ is alive. Paul, the Apostle, said, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 KJV).
    Several years ago I became curious about the odds of a dead man rising again. At that time, Jimmy the Greek, was a popular odds maker, famous for setting odds on sporting events.
    I called Jimmy at the ABC television network and asked him, "Give me odds that a man dead for three days could rise again."
    Hearing my question, he broke out laughing and said, "Mr. Lundstrom, I've been asked to give odds on football, basketball, boxing matches, horse races and nearly every type of athletic contest. But this is the first time I've ever been asked to give odds on the resurrection.
    "I am not an unbeliever. So here's what I suggest. Count all of the billions of people who have ever lived and I will give you odds of that many billion to one that it would happen again."

    • Thank God Jesus arose from the grave.
    • Hallelujah! He's a sure bet!

    The empty tomb reveals we will live again. Job had faith in God and declared:
    "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the last days upon the earth: and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19: 25 & 26 KJV).
    The New Living Translation renders it this way:
    "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!"
    Yes! You and I and all those who trust in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer will live again. We will have brand new resurrection bodies free from pain, energized and renewed with youth.
    The Prophet Daniel declared: "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
    "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament (the heavens) and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:2 & 3).
    Let's do what Daniel said and help turn many lost people to righteousness. Proverbs 11:30 says, "He that winneth souls is wise." 
    Together we can win many to Christ. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we shall all live again. Let's do all we can to make sure the lost are saved and live again in heaven.

    How Will it End?

    The Mideast Crisis in Bible Prophecy

    • America, Britain and the Coalition win the war in Iraq!  
    • France, Germany, and Russia continue to distance themselves! 
    • A new Iraqi government will emerge, but the question remains... 

    How will it all end?

    Christians are asking, "What does Bible prophecy say about the Mideast crisis?" History has proven Bible prophecies to be accurate. The Prophet Isaiah declared:

    • Jesus would be born of a virgin. "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). 
    • The prophet Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.  "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).   

    Again, the prophet Isaiah tells us in chapter 53 that Jesus would die as our suffering Savior and Messiah.

    • Jesus would be despised and rejected
    • He would bear our sorrows
    • He would be wounded for our transgressions
    • He was silent as a lamb before His accusers. 
    • He died with the wicked, but was buried with the rich
    • It pleased the Lord to bruise Him
    • That He would see the travail of His soul
    • The resurrection was prophesied in Psalm 16:10, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, and neither will you allow your Holy One to see corruption."   

    There are dozens of prophecies in the Bible foretelling coming events that have come to pass exactly as the prophets said they would. We know what will happen in the Mideast because the Bible is true. The following signs show we are living in the last days:

    • Matthew 24:14 says the gospel will be proclaimed around the world.  "The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."  
    • Matthew 24:37-39 says the immorality and violence of Noah's Day will be repeated again"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be."  
    • 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 says there will be perilous times" This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 
    • Luke 17:28-30 says there will be a rise of militant homosexuals"As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But in the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed."
    • Luke 21: 24 says there will be a scattering and re-gathering of Israel"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations (this happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans invaded Palestine and carried the Jews into bondage) and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled." 

    In other words, Jesus will return soon after the Jews recover the Holy City of Jerusalem. They returned in the early 1900's to Palestine, became the nation of Israel in 1948, and recovered Jerusalem in 1967. We are close to the time when Jesus will return!

    The Apostle Peter foretold that in the last days Christians would begin to doubt the promise of our Savior's return. "Be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts, And saying, where is the promise of His coming?  for since the fathers fell asleep (or died) all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:2-5).

    When we live expecting Jesus to return, we are not losers. When His coming appears to be delayed:

    1. We pray more.
    2. We live a more sanctified life.
    3. We witness more.
    4. We support God's work more diligently.
    5. We are happier because our hearts are filled with anticipation.

    The Prophet Zechariah tells us how the crisis in the Mideast will end. "Behold, the day of the LORD comes.. For I will gather all Nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken and the houses torn down, and the women raped: then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, like he used to fight enemies of God's people in battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives"  (Zechariah 14:1-4, a paraphrase).

    We can see the showdown coming! 

    The present crisis will eventually escalate until all the nations of the world will gather in the Mideast to attack Israel. Saddam Hussein, the madman of Iraq, is creating a crisis that will pressure nations of the world to declare their allegiances and reveal their hatred of Israel.  

    The Bible clearly teaches that we are living in the last days. "God, who at different times and various manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1, a paraphrase). The writer of Hebrews continues: "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands.but not once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:24 & 26).

    The Prophet Joel declared that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost signaled the beginning of the last days: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17a). Read also verses 16-21.

    The Apostle John was convinced the church was living in the last days. "Little children, it is the last time (or the end of days) and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time" (1 John 2:18).

    In conclusion: We need to be ready for our Savior's return!

    "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity (distress of nations) at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:25-28 NIV).

    Jesus told his disciples this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Ever so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

    "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21: 28-36 NIV).

    The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

    Who knows the true way to heaven?

    Who is right---Buddha, Mohammed, or Jesus?

    What difference does it make if we're Hindus, Scientologists or Christians?

    Casually religious people are confused about the many religions in the world. When pressed as to which one is right, they'll respond, "Religions are like roads leading us to a mountain top. We have several choices, but in the end, one is about as good as the other."
    I disagree with this philosophy completely.

    First, it implies that God, the Great Creator of our universe, who planned creation down to the finite details (look in a microscope or a telescope) has left the way to heaven up in the air, undecided.

    Second, universalism (that all religions are right) doesn't make sense. It's like playing tennis without lines and the net down---every ball can't be within bounds and ruled okay.

    Who really has the truth about God? The parable is told about three major religious leaders who stood before the jury of the world.

    The jurors would decide if Mohammed, Buddha or Jesus had the truth about God.  Mohammed spoke first and eloquently declared his understanding of the Almighty. Then Buddha and finally Jesus spoke.

    The jury began their deliberations but couldn't decide who was right. They called the three forward and said, "Religion is very confusing and we cannot agree. So, we've decided to wait until the three of you die. Then the first one who rises from the dead---has the truth about God."

    When it comes to rising again from the dead---Jesus has no competition. Buddha is dead, Mohammed doesn't have believable evidence of resurrection---Jesus is the only leader of a major religion who broke the chains of death and arose again as He promised.

    Why is the resurrection so important? Simply this: Anyone can claim they have a revelation from God, but only someone who is God can walk out of his own tomb! It's easy to preach sermons but rising again from the dead on the third day is the hard part.

    Here are 17 reasons why I believe in the resurrection of Jesus:

      1.  THE TOMB IS EMPTY. 

    The angel said, "Come see the place where the Lord lay" (Matt. 28:1-8). 
    What does it say? 
    It says He's alive! 


    Mary Magdalene, Peter and John and others saw the empty grave. (See Matthew 28:9-10 and Mark 16:9-11.)


    (See Matthew 28: 16-17.)


    (See Mark 16:14.)


    (See Luke 24:13-30.)


    (See Luke 24:44-53.)


    (See 1 Corinthians 15:7.)


    (See Acts 9:1-8.)


    After the crucifixion they hid behind locked doors in fear they would also be put to death. What transformed them from cowards into commandos? They had seen Jesus alive!


    "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting" (Acts 20:7-8).


    He proved himself alive over and over again.


    It is highly unlikely they were having hallucinations. Jesus, knowing that Thomas was having trouble believing it was He, told him to put his fingers in the holes in His hands and His side. (See John 20:26-29.)


    (See Acts 5:38-40.)


    The great question skeptics must answer is: What happened to the body of Jesus? It couldn't have been stolen because the temple soldiers guarded it against thieves. (See Matthew 27:65-66). And if His body wasn't stolen, why didn't the Lord's enemies drag His corpse into the square and put a stop to the preaching of the resurrection right then and there?

    The answer is: HE WAS ALIVE!



    Jesus has made new men and women out of discards, rejects and castaways. Their transformed lives reveal that Christ is alive.
    One converted drunk said, "I've never seen Jesus turn water into wine. But I have seen Him turn the money I used to spend on alcohol into groceries for the kids, a better house and a nicer car."  


    Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).  


    Paul the Apostle said, "I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20)

        I can feel the presence of Jesus within me with more certainty than I can feel your presence. You can be near me but Christ dwells in me. This is the miracle of Christianity. Education can put a new coat on a man---but Jesus Christ can put a new man in the coat---by dwelling in him!

        The resurrection of Jesus Christ means:

        • Jesus is the one true way to God! 
        • You and I will live again!   
        • God will defeat Satan! 
        • God will conquer evil!   
        • Heaven is real and our mansions are waiting! 
        • Our future is fantastic!   
        • Jesus Christ will live as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and rule with His saints forever. 


        Dare to Be a Daniel

        Do you long to win God's favor?
        Do you desire to have a special relationship with God?

        Then dare to be a Daniel!

        I was reading the book of Daniel recently and was struck by the fact that in three places the angel Gabriel told him how much he meant to God.

        Here's the first:

        "While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, 'O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision'" (Daniel 9:20-23 English Standard Version).

        The second time the angel of the Lord spoke to Daniel about God's love was in Daniel chapter ten.

        "And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.' And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling" (Daniel 10:10 & 11 ESV).

        The third time the angel of the Lord said,

        "'O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you: be strong and of good courage" (Daniel 10:19 ESV).

        As I read this third affirmation of God's love for Daniel, I began to search for the ways he'd won God's heart.

        • Daniel faced misfortune with courage. 

        King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, had come against Jerusalem with his armies, battered down her walls and had carried away the people into bondage.

        Daniel's home was probably burned, his family killed or sold into slavery---and Daniel himself was made a eunuch, along with his fellow prisoners, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

        Can you imagine what a crushing experience this must have been for Daniel? He was separated from his family, a stranger in a foreign land, made a eunuch (castrated) with no hope of ever having a family, serving as a slave in the court of the king.
        Daniel applied himself to study and learning. He was chosen to be one of the elite young men who served in the king's palace.
        "Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility. Youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning and competent to stand in the kind's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans" (chapter 1:3 & 4).

        Daniel knew he could do nothing about his position as a prisoner of war. He was stuck in a tough situation. So he needed to make the best of it. A wise lesson for us all!

        • Daniel took an early stand for clean living. 

        He knew that many of the things eaten in the king's court were unclean---that wine and alcoholic drinks flowed freely---so he took his stand early. The Bible says, "But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food (meat) or with the wine that he drank" (chapter 1:8 ESV).

        And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. He allowed Daniel and his fellow prisoners of war to eat clean foods and vegetables instead. God also gave Daniel dreams and visions and the gift of interpreting them.

        The Bible says, "As for thee four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (verse 1:17 ESV).

        • Daniel maintained an excellent spirit. 

        When the going gets hard, it's easy to turn sour, begin complaining, and thinking God doesn't care about you. However, Daniel kept his heart right and served three successive kings: 1st Nebuchadnezzar, 2nd Belshazzar and the 3rd king, Darius. The Bible says: "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps (princes) to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, BECAUSE AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT WAS IN HIM" (chapter 6:1-3 ESV).

        If you and I want to get ahead in life, we must guard our spirit. The Bible says,"A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?"(Proverbs: 18:14).

        It is so easy to become disappointed in life. Parents become disappointed with their children; children become bitter against their parents. Employers are let down by their employees, and employees feel used and abused by their companies.

        Guard your spirit---stay positive. Don't allow any grudge or bitterness to find root in your life. Be enthusiastic and full of joy. The word "enthusiasm" is a combination of two words: en and Theos. "En" means within and "Theos" means God. Placed together they mean THE GOD WITHIN.

        Jesus, the Son of God, lives within you and me. The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Christians, above all people, should be the most enthusiastic people on earth. We are full of joy because:

        • Our sins have been forgiven.
        • We are heirs of God.
        • We're on our way to heaven.
        • We will inherit the earth and rule and reign with Jesus Christ forever and ever.

        How can we complain? Or be sad?
        Jesus said, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 ESV).

        • Daniel intercedes for his people. 

        In chapter 9, where Daniel prays for his people, we discover that he prays intercessory prayers as if he, Daniel, is the transgressor. He says, "We have sinned and done wrong" (verse 5). "We have not listened to your servants the prophets" (verse 6). "To us, O Lord, belongs open shame" (verse 7) etc.

        Daniel understood the key to intercessory prayer is to "stand in" for the guilty by proxy, praying their prayers for them---as if you are the transgressor.

        For many years, while our daughter Lisa was running from God, Connie and I prayed prayers, confessing her sins, as if they were our very own.

        Have you tried this approach to God? It will help move the Lord, as Daniel's prayers did.

        • Daniel believed in everlasting life and everlasting death. 

        The Bible says, "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2 ESV).

        • Daniel also believed in the rewards God promises to soulwinners. 

        "And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3 ESV).

        It's easy to see why God loved Daniel above others. And the Lord will love you and me with the same zeal if we follow His principles of righteousness.

        I don't have space to tell you about Daniel in the lion's den. I'll have to save that for another day. But I'll say this much: Someone suggested to me the reason the lion did not eat Daniel was because he was all backbone!
        Here are the six characteristics of Daniel described above put into a summary for you to view.  

        Let's dare to be a Daniel!