Our Hope of Glory

My father was a good dad. As a young boy, I loved him, admired him, and trusted him. At age seven, I also lost him—he died of a heart attack one summer Sunday morning. Though there were plenty of happy moments in the growing-up years that followed, they emerged against a backdrop of emptiness and loss. My father was gone, and a great deal of my childlike trust in God might as well have been buried with him.

Years later when I was a young man, I had a dream. In my dream, my father was with me again, and I was bringing him up to date on what had happened in my life—that I had gone to college, graduated, and launched my career. His attention was undivided as he listened with interest, pride, and affirmation. So when I went on to tell him also about my brother’s and sister’s lives, he said in warmth and kindness, “I know. You don’t have to tell me.” A bit confused, I paused and said, “I just wanted you to know what else has happened in our family since you died.” Then with an assuring grin and his peaceful blue eyes, he replied simply, “I never died.” I immediately awoke with tears as warm as my father’s love and a heart daring to hope again in our God and His promise of eternal life.

There’s a whole lot we won’t know about the next life until we get there. No eye has seen it, no ear has heard it, and no mind has conceived it.1 But we do know this—life will be as we know down deep it is supposed to be. There will be no more mourning, for there will be no more death. There will be no more crying, for there will be no more pain. There will be no more heartache, for God will wipe every tear from our eyes. 2

We will finally realize just how much God loves us and how highly He treasures us. We will discover the magnificence in which He created us and to which He has already begun to restore us. For though we fall far short of his splendor, He is already at work, transforming us “into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 3 Yes, we will again know the glory our loving God intended for us from the beginning, and in this hope we rejoice. For our hope is not the human notion of mere possibility or even optimism; our hope is the certainty of Christ. He who has fulfilled the promises of ages past lives today as our hope for an eternity of glorious tomorrows. He is our hope. He is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 4

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

1 1 Corinthians 2:9
2 Revelation 21:4
3 2 Corinthians 3:18
4Colossians 1:27

[Read today’s Scripture in John 11:38-44.]

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright  2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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You Started It!

“You started it!” It’s a universal, intergenerational childhood defense. If “did not,” “did too” isn’t going to work—because clearly you did—then “You started it” becomes the go-to oral argument before the parental court of common pleas. Who, after all, can improve upon such persuasion and eloquence?

For all who are in Christ, “You started it” still resounds, not in the sense of accusation or blame any more, but now in proclamation and praise. For it is God who takes the initiative to open our eyes to His reality and stir in our hearts to receive Him. For example, when Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God,” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you … for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”1 Who started it? God, the Father, started it. Upon seeing the pierced hands, feet and side of the risen Lord, Thomas—the doubting disciple—proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”2 Who started it? God, the Son, started it. And now Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”3 Who starts it? God, the Holy Spirit, starts it.

Isn’t it amazing that, what God did for Peter, Thomas and Paul, He did also for you and for me? Isn’t it mind-boggling that despite our individual differences, journeys, and unique life experiences, He brought us to the same place: salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son? And who started it? God started it. This is our story and that of countless others throughout history.

Then can we hope also for those who don’t yet know Jesus, those we love and for whom our heart aches? Yes, we can, for one thing is clear: God the initiator is not done yet; He’s still “starting it” in people—those we love and whom He loves even more. So, keep trusting. Keep praying. And watch.

God, you started it, and I’m eternally grateful. Hear me as I pray for those who do not know you; start stirring in them that they too would proclaim Christ as God and receive life in His name. It is in His name and by the power of the Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

Read today’s Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12:1-3.

1 Matthew 16:16, 17
2 John 20:28
3 1 Corinthians 12:3

Jesus Unites

“Why do you do this? Are you paid to come here?” an inmate finally summoned the courage to ask me during a few quiet moments on the Kairos Prison Ministry weekend. It wasn’t the first time an outside volunteer had been queried this way, and it certainly hasn’t been the last, for as incarceration serves its social purposes of justice and protection, the loneliness of isolation and the sense of worthlessness may well be the most difficult aspects of doing time. “We aren’t paid anything,” I replied, “We are here because we have experienced the love and mercy of Christ in our own lives, and we want to share it with you.”

Do we need to hear the percussion of slamming steel doors behind us or to behold the glare of gleaming razor wire above us to understand the reality of separation? No, “alone” may be more acute for the condemned, but we’re all acquainted with its pain. We know relational severance at a human level—whether we suffer it through the sting of death or the shock of rejection, or we be the ones who drive the splintering wedge of division—and we also experience it from in the spiritual sense, because deep inside we know sin separates us from a holy God who will not tolerate evil as we do.

Yet in pure love for us, God sent Jesus to close the gap between us. No one can bring charges against us anymore, for it is God himself who declares our right standing before Him in Christ. No evil power can condemn us, for Jesus intercedes for us before the Father. No society or any of its members can marginalize us as losers, for we are “more than conquerors” through Him who gave His life so we may gain ours. And nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think my newfound friend dared to believe me, for, no longer isolated from care, he began to open up about his dreams, his aspirations after release, and his possibilities in a new life of freedom. Hope was stirring.

Father, thank you for uniting me with you through Jesus, who died for my sins and who raises me to new and forever life in Himself. Send your Spirit to live in me, that I would flourish in the truth of your love; then send me to others with the liberating message of unity with you through Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-39)

Christ in me is salvation.