In John 14:2 these words were recorded by John as spoken by our Lord Jesus. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you.” What a guarantee we have. The apostles had some troubling in their hearts, their faith was wavering. Jesus tells the apostles do not be troubled. These words spoken to the apostle were also spoken to us today. We can get so carried away with things that happen to us we fail to remember the words spoken by our Lord. Jesus assures the apostles His departure is not permanent. When Jesus ascends to heaven, He is going to prepare the place for them in heaven. He will come back and get them and get us. Jesus is referring to His second coming. Our Christian hope depends upon Jesus’ return when He will raise people from the dead and take the righteous to heaven. John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tomb will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who did committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” With Jesus’ ascension to heaven in view to His apostles all doubt about who Jesus is, has disappeared. He is now in heaven preparing a place for us. That is a great comfort.
Some of the words from Sweet By and By. “There is a land fairer than day and by Faith we see it afar. For the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there, and our spirit shall sorrow no more. For the glorious gift of His love and the blessing that hallow our days.”
So many songs we sing are about Heaven. Above the Bright Blue, Heaven Holds All for Me. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be, No Tears in Heaven, Paradise Valley, and When We All Get to Heaven. We sing these because of the words of Jesus, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3
Some scripture that I want to “share” with all of you:
The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people... (Psalm 29:11)
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and the expanse shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and your right hand upholds me… (Psalm 18:35)
For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illuminates my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but The LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who arms me with strength and makes my way blameless? (Psalm 18:28-32)
The law of The LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of The LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of The LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of The LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
For The LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (or, with integrity). (Psalm 84:11)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please Him… (Hebrews 11:1&6a)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…and also, we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings perseverance (endurance), approved character, hope; hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting (turning) shadow. (James 1:17)
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has given to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (virtue). (2nd Peter 1:2&3)
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places (or, mansions – NKJV); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
But when this perishable (corruptible) put on the imperishable (incorruption), and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory?... your sting?” …but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the LORD. (1 Corin. 15:54-58)
(Rev. 2:10 excerpt): Be (or, prove to be) faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Finally, may we, the Ripon church of Christ, a family of God which is rooted in Christ, pray ALWAYS:
Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, our rock (strength) and our Redeemer!
(a paraphrase and personalization of) Psalm 19:14
The reality is that life offers many circumstances for which there is no explanation and which can sometimes become overwhelming for us mere mortals. There are issues with which you cannot help yourself, hurts you do not know how to deal with, mistakes you need to be forgiven for, and obstacles that you are unable to overcome by yourself. In an instant, life can change and you are confronted with an experience that leaves you perplexed and confused and hurting. Sometimes you are brought to tears because of heavy burdens or difficult decisions. Some days you have to ask yourself how I got so completely engulfed in, what seems to be so many difficulties or problems. You can’t understand how you got to this point in your life where it seems that you can’t handle one more trial. Sometimes we feel like the whole world is about to come down upon us. These realities can rob us of our joy and replace it with fear. Most, if not all, of us who have some years behind us have experienced this condition, perhaps, more than once.
It is during these times that we must remember that God is still on His throne and He wants us to continue to have faith in His righteousness (Psalm 11). David sang a song to the Sovereign LORD in which he expressed praise to The LORD as his rock and his strength and deliverer (Psalm 18), Whose way is perfect, Whose word is proven, and by Whom David could stand up against great opposition and perform great feats (vs. 28&29). God is the author and director of each of our lives – when we place our trust in Him! He knows the reason for our tears and those dark and dismal “valleys” in our life. He knows the safest path and where we can find refuge (Psalm 23 & 61). He can turn our tears from sorrow to joy! (Psalm 126:5) Remember that He carries most of the weight of our burdens and has given to us far more than we deserve (John 3:16). The truth is that nothing in this physical life is insurmountable (James 1:12 & 1st Pet. 4:2-19). We must remember that our ultimate victory is not about our own ability to conquer – it is about the victory that can be ours because of what our Savior has done for us! My continual prayer is that God will continue to bless all of us in our efforts to live our lives in His service! Psalm 18:2; 40:2; 62:2&6; 89:26; and Romans 5:11 and 1st Corin. 15:55-57
If someone were to ask you "What is the greatest story of love you've ever heard?", how would you answer? Would you immediately think of one of the great classics of love by Wm Shakespeare such as "Romeo and Juliet", probably the most famous? Or would you first consider the tragic love story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, the best-known story of Arthurian Legend? If you are an American history buff, you might suggest the legendary story of Pocahontas and John Smith. Some might even consider a more modern story from literature, such as the fictionalized Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Also, did you know that it is said that the love between the married couple of science, Marie and Pierre Curie, was inspirational? In reality, a service member who does some extra-ordinary act that costs his life but saves his comrades is an act of love. While I am not an expert on love stories, whether factual or fictionalized, I do admit to knowing about some of these and of some acts of love that occurred in combat. However, I say with certainty that none of these is truly the greatest story of love!
As for me, and hopefully for my brethren, as well, the greatest love story ever told is found within God's scriptures. "Which one?" you ask. Is it the immense love that Abraham had for God that he was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice to "prove" his love (Gen. 22)? No doubt, some would say the great love that Jacob had for Rachel is truly inspiring (Gen. 29). What a great love Ruth had for Naomi, the mother of her deceased husband (Ruth 1-4). Joseph had to feel great love for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to act to preclude her being scorned by society (Matt. 1&2). Perhaps the most thought of Bible love story would be that recorded in the "Song of Solomon" or "Song of Songs", so entitled because of its lyrical literary form. None of these, however, can match the ultimate love story written within the pages of God's word!
I believe we can all agree that the greatest love story ever told is that of the great love that God the Father and God the Son have for man! The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record for us the events of, and the reasons for, God permitting Himself to become flesh, to walk on this earth as an obedient Son - Jesus the Christ - and, then unselfishly, God the Son sacrificed Himself, redeeming man from the consequences of sin. "For God so loved the world…"(John 3:16) tells us why God did what He did. "Greater love has no one…" (John 15:13) speaks to the ultimate act of love - which Jesus performed! Jesus prayed that all believers would have "…the love with which You love Me may be in them…" (John 17:25). He also said "…as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34). "Nor is there salvation in any other…" (Acts 4:12). As Matt so eloquently said in last week's sermon, let's all be of the same mind that we can't help but tell all with whom we come in contact of the great love of Jesus, without considering the command to do so (Matt.2818-20&Mark16:15-16). Yes, for sure,
THE GREATEST STORY OF LOVE EVER TOLD IS THE STORY OF JESUS!
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