We Will Rule All Things

 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”(Revelation 3:21)

What does Jesus mean when he says this to the church in Laodicea?

Sit with Jesus on his throne? Really?

This is a promise to everyone who conquers, that is, who presses on in faith to the end (1 John 5:4), in spite of every threatening pain and luring, sinful pleasure. So if you are a true believer in Jesus, you will sit on the throne of the Son of God who sits on the throne of God the Father.

I take “throne of God” to signify the right and authority to rule the universe. That’s where Jesus sits. “He must reign,” Paul said, “until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). So when Jesus says, “I will grant him to sit with me on my throne,” he promises us a share in the rule of all things.

Is this what Paul has in mind in Ephesians 1:22–23? “He put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

We, the church, are “the fullness of him who fills all.” What does that mean? I take it to mean that the universe will be filled with the glory of the Lord (Numbers 14:21). And one dimension of that glory will be the complete and unopposed extension of his rule everywhere.

Therefore, Ephesians 1:23 would mean: Jesus fills the universe with his own glorious rule through us. Sharing in his rule, we are the fullness of his rule. We rule on his behalf, by his power, under his authority. In that sense, we sit with him on his throne.

None of us feels this as we should. It is too much — too good, too amazing. That’s why Paul prays for God’s help that “the eyes of your hearts [would be] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Ephesians 1:18).

Without omnipotent help now, we cannot feel the wonder of what we are destined to become. But if we are granted to feel it, as it really is, all our emotional reactions to this world will change. The strange and radical commands of the New Testament will not be as strange as they once seemed.

By John Piper

Ministry Is Life And Life Is Ministry

If you are living in a broken world as a sinner among sinners, then every situation, location, and relationship you encounter requires ministry.

What is ministry? It’s not just the calling of the paid professionals, nor limited to scheduled activities on your calendar. In biblical terms, ministry is not about a time, a place, or a job description. It is a heartfelt willingness to respond to the spiritual need that God puts in your path, anytime, anyplace. This certainly includes participation in what your church schedules, but it must be far more.

We must view every dimension of our life as a forum for ministry. Marriage is ministry. Parenting is ministry. Friendship is ministry. Living with neighbors is ministry. Work is ministry. Life is ministry. And ministry is life.

When we divide our existence into two separate parts — “ministry” and “life” — guess which one gets the short end of the stick? Guess which one has to get by on your leftover time, your leftover energy, your leftover finances, and your leftover passion?

If you see ministry as something that you do when you step out of your life — that is, when the church has programmed and scheduled some form of ministry for you — then the vast majority of your life is yours to use for you.

But Scripture teaches the reverse of those priorities. It challenges us with the reality that nothing we have belongs to us. We don’t have a life divided into God’s part and our part. It’s all “God’s part,” the whole thing.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

This means that we have been brought into relationship with God not only so that we could be rescued from us, but so that we may be part of God’s rescue of others. Our life exists for his purposes. We were given life and breath to help maximize the glory of Another. This is why life is ministry.

Remember, every facet of life is a forum for ministry. You will never face a day that is not filled with ministry need and opportunity.

Are your eyes open to the need, and are you capturing the God-given opportunities?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13–16

By Paul Tripp

Hope for Today, Because of Tomorrow

When you woke up this morning, what gave you hope? Maybe a better way of asking the same question is: When you woke up this morning, where did you look for security?

For many well-intentioned followers of Jesus, we have mistakenly built our houses of hope on sinking sand. Without even knowing it, we load all our hope for life onto our spouse, children, career, house, retirement account, social status, or ministry calling.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with appreciating people, possessions, or positions. But these temporal things were never designed to be a source of hope. To hope in temporal things is to hope in what I cannot control and what is not guaranteed to me.

I think you can predict where I’m going with this: When we live in with eternity in view, we find an unshakeable hope for this sin-shattered world.

But wait: There’s a life-changing difference between understanding this conceptually and embracing it practically. I have found that many of us have sectioned this truth in the “theologically interesting but basically irrelevant” area of our Christianity. Eternity sounds nice, but it doesn’t make much of a difference in our everyday life.

So, once again, I would invite you to meditate on eternity. If you live with Tomorrow in view, it will change everything about the way you invest your life Today. Listen to the saints who have passed over to the other side. They don’t talk about the wonderful temporal pleasures they experienced on earth. As fitting as it is to be thankful for all these things, they now have a crystal-clear sense of what is most important.

They summarize it with one sentence: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:10b)

Now in eternity, they have their values right. And through the gift of Scripture, we are given a glimpse of what they consider central so we don’t have to wait until we join them Tomorrow to get our values right Today.

But let’s confess: Much of our existence is a frenetic attempt to build a paradise in a broken world. The house is never quite right. The kids never seem to measure up. Our spouse is never quite able to please us. Our friends are never quite loyal enough. The finances are never quite secure enough. We can’t even meet our own expectations for ourselves! No wonder we’re frustrated, discouraged, and exhausted! We’re trying find hope in a physical world that is terribly broken by sin.

Someday, you and I will be on the other side. In the meantime, will you ask people, circumstances, and things to do what they were never designed to do? Are there ways in which you look to this fallen world to become your personal paradise?

Or, will you find hope for Today because of Tomorrow? Are you eavesdropping on eternity and letting Forever shape your values on earth? Are you resting in the promise that Christ will put all his enemies under his feet?

If our faith makes no sense without eternity – “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19) – then we ought to remind ourselves and others to live with it in view every day!

By Paul Tripp

The Unlimited Plan

If you spend any time watching television, you’re bound to have seen commercials from the major phone networks offering unlimited plans

What an attractive offer. No restrictions, no limits, nothing to get in between you and the way you want to use your device. Maybe that works for a smartphone. But if you want to live realistically and productively as a sinful human being in a fallen world, it’s absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits. Every person is subject to three foundational limits: wisdom, power, and righteousness.

1. Limited Wisdom

The Apostle Paul speaks to our limited wisdom when he says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

The Bible is reminding us that if God were capable of being foolish, his most foolish moment would be infinitely wiser than our moment of greatest, deepest, fullest insight.

Think of everything that you do not know. Consider all that you have not figured out and do not yet understand. Look back on all those moments when you thought you understood, only to be corrected. Your wisdom and understanding is frustratingly finite.

2. Limited Power

James calls us to accept the limits of our power with these direct and pastoral words:

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (see James 4:13-17).

Think of everything that you couldn’t control thus far in 2018. How much were you actually in control of last week’s events? Has today already slipped beyond your controlling grasp?

We all like to be in control, but accepting that there is actually very little in life that we do control is a very important spiritual step.

3. Limited Righteousness

Not only is our intellectual capacity limited, but so is our moral capacity. No matter how hard we try, no matter how mature we have become, sin still reduces us all to fools.

Isaiah 64:6 quickly humbles us: “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

Yes, the power of sin has been broken, and by the grace of God, we are becoming more like Christ every day.

But you must remember: you and I have no independent righteousness at all. All our righteousness has been given to us by Christ. He is our righteousness.

Don’t Be Discouraged!

I’ll be the first to admit – I want to place my identity, security, and pride in my wisdom, power, and righteousness. But that’s a dangerous delusion! As sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, why don’t we joyfully and humbly accept the limits of our wisdom, power, and righteousness? He is unlimited, we are not, and that’s exactly as it should be.

By Paul David Tripp

Do you think about your death?

Wisdom Ponders Death

I understand that Christians should not fear death. Jesus died and rose from the grave, therefore death has lost its “sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55–56). But just because the fear subsides, it doesn’t mean we are left feeling indifferent. Death has a way of jolting us into seriousness. Don’t you still get an eerie or maybe even sick feeling when you think about your own death?

Some of it is just trying to grasp something so foreign to us: the separation of the soul from the body. We are unable to fathom existing apart from the only body we’ve known. The other troubling mystery is trying to imagine what we will first see and experience after death. What will it be like when we first see a heavenly being or God himself?

Death is not an easy thing to meditate on, but the wise person will think about death often.

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

When was the last time you prayed that prayer? A wise man thinks about his death often, and the fool ignores it. This is why the enemy keeps us from thinking and talking about death. And this is why we must work to keep the brevity of life on the forefront of our minds.

Next week, one of my friends is going to court. There is a chance that he will be sentenced to several years in prison. As you can imagine, it is hard for him to think about anything else. As much as he will try to have a “normal” week, I’m pretty sure his mind will be preoccupied with what the judge is going to say.

Shouldn’t we also be preoccupied with our upcoming day in God’s court? The Bible says that one day we will stand before a Judge who is referred to as a “Consuming Fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Unbelievably, some will go their whole lives without ever considering what this moment will be like.

Ignoring Death Leads to Ignorance

I can only imagine how you as a reader are responding at this point. This may be the first time someone has encouraged you to think deeply about death and judgment. We are unaccustomed to conversations about death. Our society goes to incredible lengths to hide the inevitable reality of death from us. It is considered intrusive or even rude to ask others to think about their deaths. Inevitably someone will quickly change the subject once it gets too serious or solemn. But should we?

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

It is better to go to a funeral than a party? The fact that you’ve never heard this expression in conversation reveals just how far our society is from biblical wisdom.

I have performed many funerals. It’s not uncommon to see crowds go out drinking immediately following the service. It is their way to “move on” and not dwell on the severity of the situation.

Others may not get drunk, but they find other ways to intoxicate themselves — heading back to work, going to a movie, laughing, talking, texting, getting on social media. People will do anything to avoid thinking about the only thing that matters. Reality is right there before their eyes, but they’ll desperately pursue any alternative to facing the facts.

The Bible shows that ignoring death leads to ignorance.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:4)

The wise man doesn’t quickly move past funerals. His heart lingers in a state of mourning. The fool tells jokes as soon as the funeral ends, not realizing the damage it does to his soul. Fools do whatever is easiest.

Eating pie is easy, but kale takes effort. The things that build us up require intentionality and work. Contemplating death takes work; watching a typical movie does not. The wise man makes time to think about serious issues. The hard work of mourning builds up the wisdom of the heart.

Linger in the House of Mourning

When I was in seminary, I learned that “the heart” refers to the mission-control center of our bodies. It is the seat of decision-making. This is why you and I make wiser decisions after our hearts spend time in the house of mourning. I tend to make good decisions at funerals and poor ones in restaurants. I have made wise financial decisions while surrounded by starving children, and poor decisions from the suburbs. We need to keep our hearts close to the house of mourning to avoid decisions we will regret.

As difficult as it is, we need to be mindful of death. We must make decisions with our day of death in mind. Please, please, please consider spending just ten minutes in solitude today, meditating about your own funeral. Imagine standing before a God who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16).

But don’t stop there. Perhaps ponder some major life decisions after meditating on death. Your heart, the seat of decision-making, will then be better conditioned to decide where to live, what to drive, and which shoes to buy.

By Francis Chan

Grace Is Pardon — and Power!

By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift and power of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.

This is plain, for example, in 1 Corinthians 15:10. Paul describes grace as the enabling power of his work. It is not simply the pardon of his sins; it is the power to press on in obedience. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Therefore, the effort we make to obey God is not an effort done in our own strength, but “by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11). It is the obedience of faith. Faith in God’s ever-arriving gracious power to enable us to do what we should.

Paul confirms this in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, by calling each of our acts of goodness a “work of faith,” and by saying that the glory this brings to Jesus is “according to the grace of our God” because it happens “by his power.” Listen for all those phrases:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith. The same dynamic is at work at every stage of the Christian life. The power of God’s grace that saves through faith (Ephesians 2:8), is the same power of God’s grace that sanctifies through faith.

From The Pleasures of God, by John Piper

Don’t Give Up!