January 31, 2020
A Sikorsky S-96B helicopter crashes killing 9. One of the nine is very famous. He had talent, fame, and wealth. Even though our country averages 465 accidental deaths per day, this one hit home for many people. Some were hoping the news would prove false, but as the day wore on, the news remained the same. We express condolences on the Internet to the families who have lost loved ones because we don’t know them personally. We pray. We reflect.
Maybe we feel a death like this one because it makes us uncomfortable. We are reminded of our own mortality. We are confronted with the fact that talent, fame, and wealth couldn’t prevent death. Death can come from many places: accidents, the violence of others, diseases, and the inevitability of aging. Death may come unexpectedly, or it may come with a certain predictability as a person’s health declines further and further. This past week the oldest woman in the world died at 127. If her age is correct, she was the last living person to have seen the 19th Century. Yet, we know that death is no respecter of age. Death may come to the youngest among us and to all the ages in between.
The Bible gives us some images for our lives. Hezekiah prayed when he told he was about to die:
My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
(Isaiah 38:12 ESV)
Hezekiah’s word pictures reflect the frailty and brevity of life. In a similar way, James uses the image of mist or vapor for our lives (James 4:14). We appear for a “little time” and “then vanish.”
So how should we live? We should make the most of the time we have. We should live our lives with purpose and gratitude. We should live our lives in the right relationship with God, so we are prepared for the life to come. As Paul stated as he reflected on a quote from Isaiah 49:8, “For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV). Now is what we have with certainty. We must make the most of now.
January 24, 2020
Seek the truth. We are introduced to Nicodemus in the Gospel of John. Jesus calls him “a teacher of Israel” (John 3:10). Despite his position, Nicodemus is a seeker for truth. Nicodemus states, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2 ESV). He has reached the proper conclusion from the signs. He is not aligned with the Pharisees who accuse Jesus performing miracles by the power of Satan. Seek the truth.
Speak for the truth even when you are in a minority. The religious leaders have sent officers to arrest Jesus. They return empty handed saying “No one ever spoke like this man!” They belittle the officers, but Nicodemus speaks up, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does” (John 7:52)? The religious leaders give him their condescension. But Nicodemus has demonstrated the principle: Speak for truth even when you are in the minority. Note the situation will not always bring rational discourse. John will later note that others failed to confess Jesus for fear of the Pharisees and being expelled from the synagogue “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43, ESV).
Practice the lifestyle of truth. Joseph of Arimathea boldly asked for the body of Jesus to bury it in his own new, rock hewn tomb. Nicodemus is also in this scene bringing seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). It indicates that he is a man of wealth, but one who is also capable of generosity. Jesus gives us truth to be believed and trusted, but also truth to be lived, a lifestyle of truth. We gain a glimpse of the lifestyle here in generosity.
Nicodemus disappears from the record at this point. There is much we might like to know. But that is also true for a number of people in the New Testament including some of the apostles. John has given us glimpses of Nicodemus. These glimpses give us things to ponder and practice.
— Russ Holden
January 3, 2020
The eternal God who created the universe also created time. There was neither day nor passing year until God spoke the universe into existence and separated the light from the darkness. The eternal God gave the sun, moon, and stars to mark the progress of the seasons. Humankind’s first calendar was the glorious march of sun, moon and stars across the sky—each obedient to its creator. Look beyond the clock and calendar even the magnificence of the skies to the One who made it all and give Him praise.
The eternal God should be “our dwelling place.” As we see how fleeting time is—how fleeting our time is, we ponder Him for whom a thousand years is like a day or a few hours of the night (Psalm 90). But for us even a long life is soon past. Yet in those fleeting moments we may live for God and decide eternity for ourselves. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, ESV).
Having had the opportunity to hear good news, we must not let the moment fly from us without a response. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2, ESV).
And once begun, the faith must be lived. We dare not drift away from so great a salvation. We do not know when the last grain of sand will fall in the hourglass of our life.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (Hebrews 3:13-14, ESV).
Though our life is but a mist—a fleeting moment (James 3:14), God can give meaning to our lives, and living for God can give us hope beyond the transitory and the temporary. Praise God for time and eternity!