Contrasting Two Great Events

On Monday, “The Great American Eclipse” swept across the country. Throughout fourteen states (from Oregon to South Carolina) people could witness a total solar eclipse. This was the first time this type of eclipse could be seen across the contiguous United States since 1918.

While it was a really cool experience, it is interesting to consider the contrasts between it and the return of Jesus – the greatest event yet to come in human history.

  • Unlike with the eclipse, when Jesus returns, it will be sudden and unexpected. While we already have an idea of when the next total solar eclipse can be seen in the U.S (2024), it doesn’t work that way with the return of Christ. Before the Lord returns, we won’t get a couple of years, weeks, days, or even minutes heads up. Scientists won’t be able to concoct an accurate way to predict it. It won’t be something that we will be able to go to bed knowing is going to happen the next day. Instead it will be sudden and unexpected like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)! Only God know precisely when it will occur (Matthew 24:36)!
  • Unlike with the eclipse, when Jesus returns, everyone will not be excited. As the total solar eclipse swept across the U.S for the first time in 99 years, everyone seemed every excited. People were literally traveling from all over the world to experience it. People flooded their social media pages with videos and pictures of how happy they were to experience what may be a once in a lifetime experience. Unfortunately, it won’t be that way when the Lord returns. In fact, when this grand event finally occurs, most will be frightened and full of regret because they will not have properly prepared for it (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
  • Unlike with the eclipse, when Jesus returns, life on this earth will not carry on. People won’t go back to work or school the next day. Instead the earth will be destroyed with fire, the dead will be raised, the Judgment Day will take place, and eternity for every person will begin in either heaven or hell (2 Peter 3:9-10; John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46).
  • Unlike with the eclipse, when Jesus returns, the entire world will be impacted at once. It won’t be something that you have to travel to another part of the country to experience. It will occur right where you are!

While there is nothing wrong with hoping and even preparing to see the next total solar eclipse, don’t make the mistake of failing to prepare for the grandest event yet to come – the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Please understand that a failure to be prepared for His coming at any moment has eternal consequences (Matthew 25:46).

To be prepared for the return of Jesus, you don’t need a special pair of sunglasses, or a telescope. What you need, is to be dressed in righteousness and faithful to the Lord (Luke 12:35-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11). Only then can you be eagerly looking forward to the greatest event yet to come!

– Shawn Jeffries

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“Something Greater Than Solomon Is Here.”

Solomon is one of the more intriguing people to study in the Bible. He was born to King David through Bathsheba. Since he was a man of peace, once he became king, God would use him to build His temple (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). He was a very wise man. In fact, Solomon’s wisdom was so great that people from all over the world would come and ask him difficult questions (1 Kings 10). A great example of his wise judgment is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.

Solomon was also an extremely wealthy man (2 Chronicles 1:17). He had much gold, silver, and many palaces, and chariots. He also had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Unfortunately, it would many of his wives who would lead him away from God (1 Kings 11:3-6).

Solomon is said to have told over 3,000 proverbs. A proverb is a wise saying or precept. Many of them are found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a great book with much practical wisdom that can help people of any generation. It contains wisdom about parenting (13:24; 19:18), avoiding debt (22:7), how to pick good friends (17:17), the dangers of alcohol (23:29-35), and host of other things. When reading Proverbs, it is always important to remember that the source of Solomon’s great wisdom was God.  Like all of the other great Bible writers, the things written by Solomon in the Proverbs were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

While Solomon was indeed a great man who did much good in the cause of God, it is important to note that “something greater than Solomon is here.” These words were spoken by Jesus in Matthew 12:42 to the scribes and Pharisees while rebuking them for rejecting His wonderful work. With this statement, Jesus is expressing frustration because the Queen of the South traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s great wisdom, but they had the Messiah right there in front of them and they constantly rejected Him. The Queen of the South knew there was something special about Solomon. Many of the scribes and Pharisees intentionally failed to see that in Jesus.

What makes Jesus “greater than Solomon?”

  • Solomon was wise, but Jesus is the source from which all wisdom flows. He was the full embodiment of God’s word (John 1:1). He contained perfect knowledge of the will of God because He came from God.
  • Solomon was a man of peace, but Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He is the source of peace between God and men (Romans 5:10). He is the King over a spiritual kingdom that doesn’t fight with guns and swords, but with the “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
  • Solomon was led away from God through his many wives, but Jesus always remained true and faithful to God. He was perfectly holy and sinless (1 Peter 2:21-22). He was determined to do the will of God no matter what obstacles came His way (Matthew 4:1-11; 26:39).

Unfortunately, many of the religious leaders in the first century failed to see the contrasts that existed between Jesus and Solomon. What about you? Do you see them? If so, will you allow them to change your life?

It would be a shame if we read and applied the teaching of Proverbs but rejected the words of the gospel because with Jesus, “something greater than Solomon is here.”

– Shawn Jeffries

The Quest for Eternal Life

Qin Shi Huang was the First Emperor of a unified China. He ruled from 246 to 210 BC. As emperor, Huang unified China for the first time.  He promoted both incredible and intellectual growth within China, and created magnificent and enormous construction projects (one being the first section of what would become the Great Wall of China).

Huang is also well known in history for going on a quest for eternal life on this earth. As he reached middle age, he grew more and more afraid of death. He actually became obsessed with finding a way to live forever. He had his doctors concoct a number of potions for him to drink (many of which contained mercury). His “immortality treatments” would actually lead to his death about a year later.

It is important to understand that the quest for eternal life is not wrong. In fact, had the emperor searched the scriptures he would have known how to obtain it. He would have known that while it is impossible for any person to live on this earth forever (Hebrews 9:27), if one submits to the will of Jesus, they can experience eternal life in heaven.

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (John 6:27)
  • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)
  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
  • “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
  • “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

Emperor Huang’s main mistake was not in seeking for eternal life. It was in trying to obtain it apart from submitting to Jesus. Let us learn from his mistake! Let us understand that Jesus is the true source of eternal life. He is the ONLY way to heaven (John 14:6). He is the Son of God. He is the Christ. He is the One who by being raised on the third day conquered death once and for all (Revelation 1:17-18)!

The question is: Are you willing to live for the One who is able to give you eternal life?

– Shawn Jeffries

Are You Still Thinking about the Resurrection?

The national holiday of Easter is over, but are you still thinking about Jesus? Are you still thinking about His resurrection?

Unfortunately, for many “Christians” the only time they think about the risen Savior and attend worship service is on Easter Sunday. This idea is completely foreign to the New Testament! In the gospel we read about the early Christians coming together every first day of the week (Sunday) to worship God. Every Sunday they came together to remember the death of Jesus and by implication, His resurrection from the dead. They remembered these events by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Acts 20:7).

But even beyond remembering the Lord’s resurrection on Sunday, God expects us to remember the resurrection of His Son all the time. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this in the verse below.

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

–  Timothy 2:8

Paul says that the resurrection needs to constantly be on the forefront of our minds each and every day. Every day…

  • We need to remember that the resurrection is the most the significant event not just in religious history, but in human history! It impacted the entire world!
  • We need to remember how it fulfilled a promise made by Jesus. Jesus foretold that He would be killed by evil men and raised three days later (Mark 10:33-34).
  • We need to remember that through, it Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, was verified (Romans 1:4). It verified that Jesus has the power to save us from our sins.
  • We need to remember how He was seen alive by hundreds of eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
  • We need to remember how many of the eyewitnesses risked their lives testifying to others about what they saw (Acts 2:23-24, 32; 4:10).
  • We need to remember how it confirms that there is coming a Judgment Day and Jesus will be our judge (Acts 17:30-31).
  • We need to remember how it validates the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:14).
  • We need to remember how it validates our faith (1 Corinthians 15:17).
  • We need to remember how it gives hope to those who die in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:18).
  • We need to remember how it is the core of the gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Without the resurrection of Christ there is no legitimate reason for one to become a Christian!

As you can see, the importance of the resurrection cannot be overstated. Because of what it means and provides for us, it must be constantly in and on our minds.

Easter may be over. Sunday may still be a few days away. Be the significance of the resurrection still remains! Will you make sure to be ever mindful of it?

– Shawn Jeffries

 

Sunday’s Are Always Super

Yesterday marked one of the most important days of the year for many people in this country. At 5:30 central time the New England Patriots faced off with the Atlanta Falcons for the biggest prize (the Lombardi trophy) in the biggest game (the Super Bowl). The NFL’s Super Bowl is a HUGE deal in the minds of many. It is the largest single day sporting event in the world (over 1 billion people will view this game on television worldwide). Of the top 10 most watched American television programs of all time nine of them are Super Bowls. Commercials sell for about $5 million per 30 seconds!

While Sunday is deemed “super” for many people, for Christians every Sunday is super. Every Sunday is extremely significant for Christians, not because of some sporting event, but because of the key events that happened on this day 2,000 years ago.

  • It was on a Sunday (the first day of the week) when our Lord Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to many of His disciples (John 20:1-18). The resurrection lies at the very foundation of the Christian faith. If Jesus was not raised that Sunday morning He was nothing more than a liar and deceiver (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19-22). If Jesus was not raised than that means that God the Father was not pleased with His sacrifice and we are still lost in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:13-19). But thank God that the tomb was found empty on Sunday morning! Praise the Lord that on the first day of the week Jesus was found to be victorious over Satan and death! As someone once said, “When Jesus rose from the dead He transformed your tomb from a permanent residence to temporary housing.”
  • Sunday was also the day when the Lord’s church was established. Jesus promised to build a church (a universal body of saved people) in Matthew 16:18. In Acts 2:1 we learn that it was on Pentecost when this promise was fulfilled. Pentecost was a Jewish feast day under the Law of Moses. It took place 50 days after the Jews partook of the Passover. It also always took place on the first day of the week (Sunday). That means it was on a Sunday when the Lord began “adding to the church day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
  • Since the resurrection and establishment of the church took place on Sunday, it would only make sense to find Sunday being significant to Christians in the Bible. It would only make sense that we find saints coming together on Sunday to partake of the Lord’s Supper and give generously to God (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). It would only make sense that Sunday is a day of worship where God’s people gather to hear preaching, pray, and sing praises to God.

Let us be mindful of these things as we anticipate each Sunday. Let us always remember that Sunday is the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). It is a day when disciples gather to worship God and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:23-25). It is a day when saints are reminded of many important things pertaining to their faith.

There is nothing wrong with watching the Super Bowl. But let us not get so absorbed in the hype surrounding the biggest game of the year that we forget what really makes Sunday super.

– Shawn Jeffries

Freedom

We live in troubled times. It appears that our country is more divided than it has been in a long time. After our current president was sworn in last Friday, millions of Americans spent the weekend protesting their displeasure. In major cities across the country there were people marching and loudly voicing their displeasure for the direction of the country.

It is certainly discouraging to see how divided we are. In fact, if we just spent an hour watching the news over the past few days, we might think that we live in one of the worst countries in the world. But the truth is, despite all the protest (despite all the anger and pessimism of many) we still live in the greatest country in the world! Our country is great because we have something of great importance and yet it is often taken for granted. We have freedom.

  • Freedom to choose our own path. We live in a country where we can not only dream big, but we can move towards achieving those dreams. We can be doctors and lawyers. We can own businesses. We can be teachers and engineers. We can work hard and accumulate wealth. Our children can get educated and aspire to be whatever they want.
  • Freedom to go anywhere at any time. You need to go to Walmart today? You need to visit someone in their home? You want to go to the mall in Cool Springs, or even to visit New York or California? If you have the resources and the time, go! In this country you have the freedom to go anywhere you want at any time. It is totally up to you.
  • Freedom to vote. I know millions are not happy with the outcome of the recent election (the truth is every election has a group of unhappy folks), but what a blessing it is to have a say in our political process. What a blessing it is to be able to vote and choose our leaders. I have been many places where the people did not have the privilege of voting. In some cases they may have been allowed to vote, but if they didn’t vote a certain way they could be arrested or even killed!
  • Freedom of religion. There are Christians across the globe who would do anything to have this privilege. Our brethren in the first century would have loved to have had this privilege. Instead many of them were arrested, beaten, and killed for their faith (Acts 4:18-20, 23-31; Revelation 2:13). We have the privilege of being able to get up on Sunday morning to go and worship God without fear of any kind of interference from our government. In fact, we have the protected right to worship in our country! We have the protected right to teach the Bible and spread the gospel to others! Unfortunately, so often many struggle with taking advantage of this privilege.

Regardless of whether the person you voted for won or not, don’t lose sight of the blessings of freedom. Don’t take for granted how wonderful it is to live in a free country! Millions of people in the world would do anything to have all the freedoms that come with being an American.

The question is: do you have the freedom that Jesus died to give you? Jesus didn’t die so you can have the freedom that comes with being an American citizen. Jesus died so you can be set free from sin (Romans 5:8-10; 6:17-18). There are many Americans who have all the freedoms mentioned above, but they are still slaves of the terrible master of sin (John 8:34). As a result, they will die lost in their sins (John 8:24). Don’t let that be you! Surrender to Jesus. Obey the truth because only it can set you free (John 8:32).

– Shawn Jeffries

Lessons from the Prayer Life of Jesus

Are you married? Imagine for a moment what your marriage would be like if you and your spouse hardly ever talked to one another. What if the only conversation you had with your spouse involved just a few words that might be spoken over a meal or before you went to sleep?  What if your few words of conversation involved the same old dialogue (ex: “Thanks for dinner.” “Have you taken out the trash?” “What is on TV tonight?”)? What if these same old conversations never lasted for more than a minute or two?  What if days went by without either of you taking the time to speak to one another?

There is no way we would be able to tolerate this kind of communication (or lack thereof).  But if we would not accept this in our marriage, why would we accept it in our relationship with God?  Our relationship with God is supposed to be our most important relationship. Two thousand years ago God sent His Son Jesus to this earth to die on the cross. Through Jesus’ death, the penalty for sin was paid and those who come to God can pray freely to Him and trust He will both listen and respond (Romans 5:8-10; 1 Peter 3:12; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is an amazing privilege for the people of God. And yet, unfortunately so often it is neglected!

This is a problem with SIGNIFICANT spiritual consequences. A neglected prayer life leaves us     disconnected and separated from God. How do we fix this problem? Perhaps the best approach is to study the prayer life of Jesus.

  • Jesus prayed frequently. When we search the gospels we find numerous references to Jesus communicating with His Father. After miraculously feeding the five thousand, He prayed (Matthew 14:22-23). Early in the morning as He began His day, He prayed (Mark 1:35). As the news about His power began to spread throughout the world, He would often slip into the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:15-16). Before being transfigured on the mountain, He prayed (Luke 9:28-29). Before being arrested in the Garden, He prayed (Luke 22:39-44). Jesus teaches us that frequent prayer is absolutely necessary to nurture our relationship with God. It is an opportunity to pour out our hearts and share with God our inner most feelings (1 Peter 5:6-7). Next time we are wrestling with a big decision, problem, or have some good news to share let’s make it our first instinct to talk to God about the matter.
  • Jesus made prayer happen. Jesus had a pressing schedule. He traveled many places teaching God’s word. He frequently debated and confronted His enemies. He trained His disciples. He constantly performed miracles to confirm His identity. It was not easy for Jesus to find the time and solitude necessary for prayer. But He always did it (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12)! No doubt we also have very busy schedules. But like Jesus we need to make prayer happen. We need to turn off the television and the phone. We need to put down the tablet. We need to work out a time for our spouse to watch our young children for a few minutes. We need to tell our older kids we are praying and not to disturb us for a while. Like Jesus, we need to also find a place of solitude for prayer (bedroom, quiet place in the backyard, go for a walk in the park, etc). Doing these things will take our prayer lives to the next level!
  • Jesus prayed with variety. His prayers were not always the same. Sometimes they were lengthy and deep (Luke 6:12). Other times they were brief and addressed to one specific, immediate need (Luke 23:34). Like Jesus, our prayers also need to have variety. Sometimes our prayers can be short and specific (ex: praying for someone giving you a hard time on your job; praying to overcome a tempting situation you may be in; praying over your meal). Other times our prayers can be lengthy and focused (ex: your prayer when you wake up in the morning, or before you go to bed).

God gives us the privilege of prayer because He wants to be our friend. However, He does not force this relationship on us. We must decide that we want the friendship He offers. From Jesus we learn that how we prioritize prayer plays a huge factor in the decisions we make.

– Shawn Jeffries