1The word “home” is a powerful word. It means so much more than a house or an apartment where you live; it’s a place dear to your heart. Have you ever lived somewhere or visited somewhere and you seemed “out of place?” In your heart you felt a longing and a tugging to return home? We call that homesickness. As you grow closer to Jesus through your relationship with Him, the more out of place you will feel in this world. You’ll find yourself becoming homesick for heaven, and the pleasures and allures of this world become less and less appetizing.
2So many things in life aren’t permanent. But our home in heaven is as permanent as God Himself. You can rejoice that you have a permanent home in heaven. There is no inheritance tax, and no probate court can ever take it away from you. Your title and name have been recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven.
3When you’re being tested it’s important to remember God set a limit to what Satan could do in testing Job. In the same way, our trials may come from Satan, but they are filtered by God. When I make coffee every morning, I put a paper filter in the coffee maker. I don’t want to have the coffee grounds in my cup. It’s good to know that all of your trials have to pass through the filter of God’s grace, and the filter of His mercy, and the filter of His omnipotence.
5Consider the lifestyle of the most holy man who ever lived. Jesus hung out with drunkards and prostitutes. He told stories. He made people laugh. He was without sin, and he never compromised His Divine nature, but He had the kind of personality that the scriptures say “the common people heard him gladly.” The only people who didn’t like Jesus were the uptight religious leaders who were more interested in an external kind of holiness that was displayed by the way they dressed and the kind of food that ate or didn’t eat.
8A religious hypocrite is someone who talks about praying but seldom prays. They talk about how the Bible is the Word of God, but they seldom read it or carry it to church. People who don’t go to church often use the presence of hypocrites to keep them away. When someone says to me, “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites,” I usually respond, “Well, come on anyway, we’ve always got room for one more!”
9In America today, it’s okay to be religious and to talk about God in vague terms. But if you start talking about the blood of Christ, or that Jesus is the only way to heaven—watch out, you are going to be in trouble. As I’ve predicted for years, we have arrived at a time where Bible-believing Christians are labeled as mental Neanderthals because we oppose such liberating ideas as same-sex marriages. But that’s the way it’s always been. One of the early Christians, named Stephen, had the audacity to stand up and say that Jesus was alive and standing at the right hand of God, and what did they do? They stoned him to death.
10Right now, some of you are in bondage. You may chained to your past, or by your problems, or by your pain. You’re still bleeding from some emotional or relational beating that you endured. You may think, “Well, when God sets me free, then I’ll praise Him.” No! Start praising Him NOW and you’ll find that the chains slipping away.
11From my years of study concerning Roman crucifixion, I’m prepared to say The Passion comes closest to portraying the brutality and horror of scourging and crucifixion. But, for the sake of decency, it STILL falls short of the full brutality of what really happened. Special effects and make up can’t reflect the hideous effects of being beaten with metal balls embedded in the ends of leather thongs. Just ask any ER physician or state trooper how much blood the human body is able of spilling and you’ll realize the movie was tempered in that respect. And there is ample documentation that the Romans stripped prisoners nude for the scourging and crucifixion to add to their shame. As bad as the graphic torture was, I came away thinking we had been spared from the full horror of it.
12When we were born the first time, we were born into this world. This is the world you can see, smell, taste, hear and feel. When you experience a spiritual birth, you are born again into a new world. From that moment on, we belong to a different world and we no longer feel at home in this world. There are two kinds of people living on this rock-the natives and the aliens. The natives are the ones who live for this world, the aliens are the ones who live here but realize there is another world to live for.
15The question, “What would Jesus do?” doesn’t work in every situation. First of all, we may not know what Jesus would do in any given situation. He was always doing the opposite of what people expected. In addition, if we knew what Jesus would do, that doesn’t mean we could do what Jesus would do.
16If you were filling out a death certificate for Jesus and it asked for the cause of death, don’t write “crucifixion.” Don’t write “Roman Execution.” The true cause of death was carrying our sins. The strain of carrying that load overwhelmed His entire system and that’s what killed him.
18Not only is God listening to what we say to others, His ear is attuned when we talk to Him. He always answers prayer. Sometimes people pray and don’t get the answer they want so they wonder if God is really listening. He is always listening, but that doesn’t mean He will always grant your requests.
19We expect life to be fair. We can’t understand why good people suffer, and bad people seem to be getting all the breaks. We want to say, “It just isn’t fair!” No, life isn’t fair, but God is good. And when it seems like your life is out order–when life malfunctions, there are four ways to respond.
21Although Christians aren’t being thrown to the lions, our contemporary “crowd” still heaps abuse on everyone who is a fully devoted follower of Christ. They just use different weapons. Instead of spears, fires, and wild animals, the crowd today employs ridicule and scorn to make fun of Christians.
22Have you discovered the secret of God’s strength? If you do, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. Here’s how: Pray like never before, because God’s clock is winding down. Show love to others so deeply that you welcome strangers into your life. Give your life away to others–but do it in God’s strength.
23Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! Instead, God allows us to experience struggles, pain, and suffering because He wants us to be able to float above our circumstances like a beautiful butterfly.
24Can you really dress for success? It all depends on your definition of success. If success to you is working harder and harder to advance farther and farther in your career so you can buy more and more toys–then, yes, the way you dress will affect that. The Bible’s definition of success is this: finding and following God’s will.
25Some of you may think God is harsh toward you right now because He’s stirred up your nest. Maybe God knows you’ve been stuck in your comfort zone too long. God loves you so much He is stirring up your life and He may be getting ready to push you out of your nest of complacency. Or you may have already been pushed out and it seems as if you’re plummeting toward a hard landing. Don’t worry God will be there to catch you. It may be terrifying at first, but God knows what He’s doing. Who cares? God cares–like an eagle coaxing its young to fly.
26When you are worrying about something, you can’t be praying about it. But when you are praying about something you can’t be worrying about it. Too many Christians make the mistake of getting on their knees and telling God about their problems; then they get up and keep on carrying the burden themselves.