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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Ultimate Appointment

I don’t want to sound morbid, but many of my friends have died recently or are closing in on that ultimate appointment. Unless the Rapture occurs in our lifetime, we will all fulfill the prediction that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

When I was a teenager and a new Christian, I heard a preacher say, “Life is short. Death is sure. Sin’s the cause. Christ’s the cure.” Back then, I focused on the second half of the poem; the first part didn’t mean much to a young person. Now I am focusing quite often on the first part. Life is short! Time does fly—whether you are having fun or not.

Many of my friends who died recently or may do so soon are Christians. I know Heaven is their eternal Home, and it is certainly a better place than Planet Earth. Not a single tear falls in Heaven. No one there experiences even a nanosecond of pain or sadness. Boundless vitality, perfect peace, and complete joy are a few of the benefits of living in Heaven. The greatest benefit is that of enjoying God’s presence forever.

Do you sense life is short but you lack assurance that Heaven is your eternal address? If so, here is the best news you will ever encounter:

(1•• Jesus died our sins, arose from the dead, and is alive forever (1 Cor. 15:3-5);

(2)• He offers you eternal life as a free gift (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9);

(3)• You can have eternal life by believing in Him as your Savior (John 1:12; 1 John 5:11-13).

By the way, life in Heaven begins when we die, but a heavenly life begins when we believe in Jesus.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Fruit Is Good Any Time

Apparently some people think you shouldn’t eat fruit on an empty stomach. I don’t think my stomach is ever empty, so that isn’t an issue for me. But yesterday the doctor who answers questions on FOX News every Sunday morning set the record straight: we can eat fruit any time.

However, the Bible distinguishes between good fruit and bad fruit (Matt. 7:17-19). Good fruit is identified as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23) and the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Bad fruit appears as hypocrisy, false religion, and unrighteousness. Good fruit is spiritually nutritious and healthful. It is good for us all the time. Bad fruit is toxic and unhealthful. It is harmful all the time.

Bad fruit is plentiful and easily accessible. It sways from the lowest branches of the entertainment industry, consumes far too many news stories, characterizes profane conversation, and spills out in hateful words and deeds. It causes dedicated Christians to tire of this old, sinful world. Good fruit, on the other hand, is neither plentiful nor easily accessible. It flourishes in the lives of only a minority of people. We find it in the words and deeds of Christians who are serious-minded about their relationship with Christ. They take the Scriptures seriously, and they refuse to fit into a worldly mold. Their philosophy of life differs radically from that of the unregenerate culture. Their values are absolutely correct and correctly absolute. They know what they believe, where they will spend eternity, and what their mission on earth is.

I grew up in a fruitful area. Cherries, peaches, apples, pears, plums, berries, and grapes grew profusely. Often, branches loaded with fruit drooped from private gardens, over walls, and above sidewalks. It was easy to walk along a sidewalk and pluck a delicious piece of fruit from a low-lying branch. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our lives made the fruit of the Spirit just as accessible as we walk through life? It certainly would offer a significant alternative to what the world is shoving in our faces.