I Am the Morning Star

“I am . . . the bright Morning Star” – Revelation 22:16

Your stomach hurts. You have spent most of the night in the bathroom with very little sleep. You feel miserable all over. The night seems to stretch on forever. You just want the darkness to be over. You keep waiting for a new day, a better day to dawn.

If you live far from the city, you look for the rising of the Morning Star—the planet Venus. When Venus rises over the night horizon, hope grows in your heart because the new day is not far behind!

From heaven Jesus was watching his people struggle through a dark “night” of persecution and suffering during the late 90’s AD under the Roman Empire. Jesus promised to rescue them and bring them to heaven—a new and better day. He referred to himself as the bright Morning Star who brought them hope and light.

We understand what it feels like to long for a new day, right?

Our family is broken apart because of my anger or my addiction or other sinful behavior. We long for a new day where things will be different.

My husband just died. I keep thinking over and over “Why didn’t I check on him sooner?” “I didn’t get to say goodbye and I love you.” The “what ifs” keep running through my mind, giving me no rest.

Jesus is the Morning Star. He brings the bright hope of his love and forgiveness into my heart. Whatever harm I have caused others or myself, Jesus gave his life on the cross to earn forgiveness for me. He comforts me with his unconditional love and promises to care for me every day.

Jesus is the Morning Star. He brings the bright hope of a new day coming. Because he gave his life for me, I am going to heaven by trusting him as my Savior. I am going to spend eternity in perfection, with no more sorrows or regrets, with no more “what ifs” or struggles. Jesus promises that I will live with God in joy that will never end.

So when struggling through a long night of illness, or a year filled with pain or guilt, I can look for the Morning Star. Jesus is with me to bring me a new day of his love and a new day of hope that I will live with him in heaven.

I am the Living One

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” – Revelation 1:18

The Key to Life

Keys are small. Their importance is not. We don’t give keys much thought until we need them or lose them.

Have you ever misplaced your keys? There’s a feeling of frustration and fear when you lock yourself out of your car or house.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they lost the key to life. The result of their sin was a verdict of death. And we have been held prisoner under the same sentence.

We have tried, in vain, to escape death’s prison. We have searched for the Fountain of Youth and the Tree of Life. We have spent an enormous amount of money on anti-aging creams and medicines. In spite of all our scientific advancements, the worldwide average life-expectancy is about 30 years shy of a hundred. After thousands of years of searching and researching, we have not managed to find the key—we cannot break free from death.

Frustrating? Frightening? Yes.

But not hopeless.

Jesus is the key. He entered our prison through the womb of Mary. So he was human like us. Like a human being, he suffered. Like a human being, he died. And like a human being, he was buried.

But unlike us, he broke free. Because unlike us, he is sinless. He is the Son of God and death could not hold him prisoner, because Jesus had committed no sin.

By his resurrection, Jesus has opened a door that no one can shut. Death is no longer a final destination. It is a doorway to an unending life where sin and death have no authority. In heaven death is gone, crying is gone, pain is gone.

You might not give your house or car keys much thought throughout the day. But don’t make that mistake with Jesus. He may be small in the world’s estimation, but his importance is not.

Everyone who lives and believes in him, does not ultimately die. Follow him and he will lead you through death to life immortal.

I am the resurrection and the life

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

An Important Question

“Do you believe this?” Many in this world maintain that it does not matter how you answer Jesus’ question. In fact, many say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something. Others will say that what you believe is good for you and what they believe is good for them—to each his own. We live in a world that downplays absolute truth and rejects the idea that there can be any definitive answers about what happens after we die. For a time, people are content to put off thinking about Jesus’ question.

But there are times in life when it becomes clear that Jesus’ question demands an answer. Times that demand knowing the right answer. Times like when you are in lying in the hospital bed not knowing whether or not you will recover from surgery. Times like when you are in the waiting room hoping that the doctors can somehow save your loved one. Times like when you are sitting with a friend in the funeral home as she mourns the loss of a loved one. At times like those, Jesus asks us the question: “Do you believe this?”

Jesus made quite a bold claim before he asked that all important question. He said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Jesus offers what no one else can. He offers the answer to death. He offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. He offers a chance to live with him now and forever. “Do you believe this?”

Jesus’ good friend Martha knew the answer to that question. Her brother had died, yet she found faith and hope in the words of Jesus. Martha believed in her Lord and trusted in him. She knew the answer to his question. Do you?

Alpha Omega

I am the Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8

Jesus has the Experience

The doctor reassures, “I’ve done hundreds of these surgeries before. Don’t worry.”
The teacher tells the concerned parents, “I’ve helped countless students with the same challenge. Don’t worry.”

Experience means something. We all feel better when an experienced person tells us, “I’ve done this many times. It will be no problem. Don’t worry!”

The Lord God was talking to people who were worried that the Roman government would crush them and their fellow believers because they refused to worship the Roman Emperor as a god. Jesus reassured those worried believers, “I’ve taken care of believers over and over again. It will be no problem. Don’t worry!”

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last letter. When Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” he was reminding his believers that he is the beginning and the end. He has always been here. He will always be here. He has plenty of experience helping believers in all kinds of difficult circumstances: illness, stress, heartache, family fights, taxes, terrorist attacks, and even government backed persecution. Jesus has the experience, power, and love to help us no matter what worries us.

We worry when we think we’re on our own and turn away from his offer to help. We’re afraid his way of helping us might involve sacrifice or suffering which we don’t want to go through. So we worry and stress and get scared because we just don’t trust our Lord. He gave his own life for us. He suffered for all our sins. Yet we don’t trust him!

He keeps reassuring us, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” “I’ve been around for a long time and helped a lot of people through tough times. I’ve given them strength. I’ve kept harm far away from them. I’ve limited how much they had to suffer. In the past, I have rescued every believer from sufferings and trials, and when they died, I took them home to heaven. I’ve seen believers through difficult times like you’re facing. So don’t worry. You’re safe with me.”

I am the vine

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Connection with Jesus

Lately, I seem to be getting frequent reminders that I am not as young as I used to be. The latest was a notice in the mail that our 20th high school class reunion will be held this summer. Indeed, those 20 years can go by very quickly. Also, a lot can happen in 20 years that can make it hard to stay in contact with classmates. Life happens. We get married and have children. Jobs take us all over the country. When we go so long without seeing people, it is very easy to lose the connections we once had with them.

It’s also easy for that to take place with Jesus. We fill our schedules up with work and sports and school activities. We have family and community obligations. We take vacations and try to make the most of life and before we know it we are losing our connection with Jesus. This happens gradually just like it does with high school classmates over 20 years. But before we know it, we have not remained in Jesus.

Losing a connection to a high school friend is one thing. Losing our connection with Jesus is another thing altogether. Jesus makes it clear in John chapter 15 that without a connection to him we are in trouble: we can’t grow…we can’t produce fruit…we can’t be saved. Ultimately, no connection with Jesus means no getting into heaven. It means getting tossed out with the other dead branches into the eternal burn pile.

The good news is that Jesus will never sever his connection with those who are joined to him by faith. He is always ready and waiting in his Word to remind us of his love and to draw us closer to him.

Perhaps for you now is a good time to reconnect with Jesus and take steps to remain in Jesus. Recommit yourself to regularly attending worship. Join a Bible study. Expand your devotional life.

We may or may not want to attend a class reunion, but we never want to miss out on eternal life with Jesus!

I am the way and truth and life

 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

The Cure

A doctor says to his patient, “The bad news is you have a terminal illness. Here’s the good news: this disease is easily cured. You only need to spend time in the sun.”

The patient responds, “That sounds too simplistic. I read on the internet that people with my symptoms improved after taking this expensive medication. Another website mentioned a surgical procedure that helped. One online expert suggested a strenuous routine of diet and exercise.”

The doctor replies, “Sir, I studied this illness in medical school. I specialize in treating it. Look at my credentials. I’ve successfully treated hundreds of patients. There is only one cure—the sun. Without it you will suffer a horrible end.”

The patient remains unconvinced. “That may be your truth, but it’s not mine. I sincerely believe that if I go on living my life in the dark, I’ll get better eventually.”

Which individual is misguided and narrow-minded—the patient or the practitioner?
Everyone is born with a terminal disease called “sin.” It is futile to think we can diagnose and cure sin ourselves. It is dangerous to believe we can go on living as if nothing is wrong. No matter how sincerely we trust popular ways of dealing with sin, they lead to a dead end. They cannot give us the sinless life that God desires. Neither can they deliver us from death.

The only cure for sin is the Son. Only Jesus has the credentials to offer mankind a cure. As our substitute, he lived and died under God’s holy demands. As a man who is also God, he offered his sinless life and innocent death as the universal remedy for sin. This remedy’s power is certified by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead!

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” His words are not arrogant, misguided or narrow-minded. They are a gracious invitation to all. The cure is yours. It’s free. Enjoy forgiveness for your sins and the guarantee of a future—unending life free of sin and all its side-effects. Trust in Jesus! You won’t regret it.

I am the Good Shepherd

I am the Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” – John 10:11,14

I am your Good Shepherd

Jesus says to you and to me: I am not your typical shepherd. I am not a hired hand that cares nothing for the sheep. I am not some fly-by-night outfit that will only care for you when it’s safe. I am not going to abandon my post—and you—and run when the wolves come.

No. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Lord. I am the God who made you and cares for you and protects you. I am the Good Shepherd who laid down my life for you. But when I laid down my life, it was my choice, no tragic accident. It was my choice to lay down my life for you on the cross. I willingly gave up my life to take away your sin and to forgive your wandering ways. And it was my choice to take up my life again on the third day. I conquered death—mine and yours.

Now, nothing can separate you and me. Nothing can snatch you out of my hand. Follow me, listen to my voice, trust my promises. I will never fail you. I will never leave you. I will never let you go.

Don’t be afraid. I know you. I know your failings and sins, your regret and your shame. And I still love you. I love you so much that I laid down my life for you. Now I live again. And I know your hurts and doubts, your pains and problems, your fears and worries. And if not even death can snatch you out of my hand, neither can that problem you have with your job…or your marriage…or your health…or your friend…or your past…or your future.

I am your Good Shepherd. I laid down my life for you. And took it up again. So you know: I won’t leave you now. Or ever.

Heaven's gate

Jesus Is the Only Way

Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. – John 10:7-9

There is a temptation to see people as thieves and robbers see people–as lunch, or as a ticket to lunch, or as a means of getting something else in this life that seems to be important. That is how the devil and the world see people, and that is how your own sinful flesh would have you see people.

That is not how Jesus, the gate, would have you see people. Jesus would have you see people as the focus of his love. He would have you see people as recipients of kindness and compassion. He would have you see people as sheep in need of a shepherd. And Jesus would have you see him as the only way. Do you want to make a lasting difference in people’s lives? Truly, the only way to bring lasting goodness and grace to people is through Jesus.

There is a temptation to live as the devil and the world want you to live–to go your own way and do your own thing, to find pleasure and satisfaction in the things of this world apart from God, to flaunt your self-reliance and independence from God. That is how the devil and the world want you to live, and your sinful flesh loves to play along.

That is not how Jesus, the gate, wants you to live. Jesus wants you to listen to his voice and trust him. He wants you to come to the Father through him. He wants you to find spiritual nourishment and strength in his word. And Jesus wants you to know that he is the only way.

Do you want to live a life that has meaning now and in eternity?

Truly, the only way to live in lasting goodness and grace is through Jesus.

I am the bread of life

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. – John 6:35

Perfectly Satisfied

 So easily we focus on the things of this world, thinking that if we could satisfy our longings, then we would be content: “If only I had more money in my retirement account, then I’d be happy.” “If only I had a new/different job, then I’d be happy.” “If only I could get that new car/house/dress/pair of shoes, then I’d be satisfied.”

It never works. For what we really need is food not for this world, but food for our souls. We need to have an answer for our guilt. We need to know that our sins are forgiven, that we’re at peace with God. We need to know where we’re going when we leave this world.

And in Jesus we get all of those things. Jesus paid for our sins, Jesus washed our guilt away. Jesus opened the gates of heaven for us, Jesus established peace between us and God.

 So if you never want to be hungry or thirsty again, then feast! Feast on the Word of God, feast on the good-news message of Jesus, your Savior. Eat, drink and be satisfied, perfectly satisfied–in Jesus.

I am the light of the world

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Light in the Midst of Darkness

This world is full of darkness. It’s under the temporary management of the prince of darkness, the devil. And it’s evident from the dark thoughts we have, the dark things we hear in the news, and the dark fears that try to crawl up our back and get their hands on us. And we each have a dark side that no one else sees—a sinful side that is capable of dark things.

But when we follow Jesus, the darkness retreats. He is the Light of the world. We read from Isaiah chapter 9: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born!” Jesus came into our dark world to give us the light of God’s saving truth. He embodied light as the Son of God in human flesh and blood. He spoke light as he taught the good news of God’s love. He drove back the darkness with miracles of healing and kindness. So when he died, the sun itself turned dark.

But the light of life shone in the tomb’s darkness. Jesus lived again! Jesus destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Through Jesus, we can stand in the light of God’s presence. Sin is forgiven. Death is defeated.

The darkness is still there: dark thoughts, dark fears, dark events that happen in a dark world. But when we follow Jesus in faith, we don’t walk in darkness. We live in confidence and hope.

We have the light of life. A life illuminated by Jesus’ death and resurrection. A life lit up with hope in God’s loving promises. A life shining with perfect peace and joy in heaven.