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ODB: The End?

October 18, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:57 

Everything in this world eventually comes to an end, which at times can be disheartening. It’s the feeling you get when you read a book that’s so good you don’t want it to end. Or when you watch a movie that you wish would go on a little while longer.

But all things—good and bad—do come to “The End.” In fact, life ultimately does come to the end—sometimes sooner than we expect. All of us who have stood by the casket of a loved one know the painful emptiness of a heart that wishes it wasn’t over yet.

Thankfully, Jesus steps into the fray of terminal disappointments, and, through His death and resurrection, He interjects hope for us. In Him “the end” is a prelude to a death-free eternity, and words like “it’s over” are replaced by a joy-filled “forever.” Since our bodies are not an eternal reality, Paul assures us that “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51) and reminds us that because of Christ’s conquering work we can confidently say, “O Death, . . . where is your victory?” (v.55).

So let not your heart be troubled. Our sorrow is real, but we can be filled with gratitude because God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.57).

— Joe Stowell

Lord, keep our eyes and hearts fixed not on the
temporary joys or disappointments but on the victorious
realities of eternity. Thank You for Your death and
resurrection that guarantee our forever future.

In Christ, the end is only the beginning. 

ODB: Read Backwards

July 15, 2013 

READ: Revelation 21:1-7 

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. —Revelation 21:7 

I confess that I sometimes read the end of a book before I read the beginning. Doing so allows me to know which characters live and which characters don’t. When I know how it will turn out, I’m able to relax and thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the story and the characters.

In a similar way, reading the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, can be an encouragement and comfort for the followers of Jesus. Time and again, Christians are called to be overcomers (1 John 4:4; 5:4; Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). We can be overcomers now and will be for all eternity.

As the apostle John talks about the revealing of the new heaven and the new earth in Revelation (21:1), he describes what the final victory will look like for those who have received Jesus as Savior. At that time, we will see the end of death, tears, sorrow, and pain (v.4). The Lord declares: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (v.7). He will dwell with us (v.3), and He will “make all things new” (v.5).

When the trials of today seem more daunting than your strength, let the Lord show you the end of the story when you will be in His presence forever!

— Randy Kilgore

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle—the next the victor’s song.
To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be;
He with the King of glory shall reign eternally. —Duffield

For hope today, remember the end of the story— eternity with God. 

ODB: Eternal Eyesight

July 4, 2013 

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8 

We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. —2 Corinthians 4:18 

I received good news at my eye checkup last month—my faraway vision has improved. Well, I thought it was good news until a friend informed me: “Faraway vision can improve as we age; close-up vision may diminish.”

The report made me think of another kind of improved faraway vision that I have observed in some Christians. Those who have known the Lord for a long time or who have gone through great trials seem to have a better heavenly vision than the rest of us. Their eternal eyesight has gotten better and their close-up “earthly” vision is diminishing.

Because the apostle Paul had that type of eternal vision, he encouraged the church in Corinth: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory . . . . The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

For now we struggle with our “eyesight.” There’s a tension between enjoying all that God has given us in this life, yet still believing what theologian Jonathan Edwards said about our future: “To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” Seeing Him will bring perfect vision.

— Anne Cetas

Lord, we know that our life on this earth is but
a moment compared to eternity. Help us to enjoy
the time we’ve been given, and use us to tell of Your
love and goodness until that day when we see You.

Keep your eyes fixed on the prize. 

Essence of Death

By Julian Abraham Chua, Singapore

Death is often associated with the idea of losing. It is especially harder to swallow when it occurs to someone who passes on at a young age. From the perception of the living, it is often a waste to go so young when life has just begun. It is even more so when the person was someone who had everything in life going for him or her.

People also consider it a tragedy to die in good health, suddenly, when they are at the peak of their success. I couldn’t think of a better example than Michael Jackson, a universal pop icon who died in the wake of an upcoming concert.

In most cases, people are afraid to die because they are afraid of what would happen to them in the “next life”, just as they are afraid of other unexplainable phenomenon and taboos.

What’s more, when death is unexpected, in the unfortunate cases of murder or assassination as examples, we put the blame on God, using Him as an excuse and a target of blame. Most of the time, we can’t fully explain it nor can we fathom why such things had to happen but we find it a necessity to blame someone or something.

In truth, it was not in God’s initial creation order for death to exist. However, death as we understand it became a result of sin. Romans 6:23a says: “For the wages of sin is death…”

But that is not the end of the story.

Hebrews 9:27-28a shares with us regarding this idea of death: “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.”

Christ came and through His death and resurrection, crushed the curse of death and to those who believe He gave them the right to be children of God.

I still remember a pastor who recalled his young friend’s death years ago, he liken it to God walking through a garden of beautiful flowers and uprooting the ones that He liked most, to bring them home.

What a beautiful picture it is when we consider that God will one day pluck us up and bring us home with Him. No longer is there worry that death is such a waste for those who believe.

As the apostle Paul puts it succinctly in Philippians 1:21: “ For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.”

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
the wrath of God was satisfied—
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
In Christ Alone, Stuart Townend & Keith Getty