April 22, 2017
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)
When summer ends we encounter the explosion of beautiful fall colors. While we enjoy the colors, consider a word God speaks to us through nature every fall: death. Since those beautiful colors are produced by the death of leaves, God is speaking to many of us that death can be beautiful. In many ways, the most beautiful reality you and I encounter in our three or four score years on earth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes it possible for us to experience salvation and enter heaven.
Paul tells us the Gospel is that Christ died so we might live – and now it is our turn. We must die to ourselves so Christ might live through us. (Galatians 2:20) That means death to our selfish ways can be beautiful.
Every spring God speaks another word through nature to us: resurrection. That is seen all around us as black trunks and bare branches of trees we thought were dead sprout to life and bloom.
The Latin root meaning of rehabilitation is “to invest again with dignity.” Do we have faith to believe God can bring to life that which we thought was dead? Can we apply that thought to our lives, to the lives of our children, and to all the people we know?
Dick Woodward, 04 September 2012
April 18, 2017
“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.” (1Corinthians 15: 49)
Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible to hover like a helicopter? A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence as an aeronautical wonder.
Easter reminded us that, like the dragonfly, we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems: one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.
If you could do a spiritual cross-section of a follower of Jesus Christ, you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward person and an inward person. Our outward person is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward person lives.
We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity. I don’t know about you, but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!
Dick Woodward, 12 April 2012
July 24, 2013
“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16)
Many years ago when John Quincy Adams began crossing a street, he was in such poor health it took him five minutes to approach the other side. A friend who was passing that way asked, “How is John Quincy Adams this morning?” He replied, “John Quincy Adams is doing just fine. The house he lives in is in sad disrepair. In fact, it is so dilapidated, John Quincy Adams may have to move out soon, but John Quincy Adams is doing just fine, thank you!”
John Quincy Adams was no doubt acquainted with the verse of Scripture I have quoted. Paul writes that we have an outward man and an inward man. In two of my favorite translations the outward man, or our body, is referred to as a common earthenware jar and a little clay pot (JB Phillips and the Living Bible Paraphrased.)
Paul declares a fourth eternal value: Our inward man is a greater value than our outward man. These verses Paul wrote to console those who were persecuted at that time are also a consolation for persecuted believers today or those who may be in the final stages of cancer that is causing their physical bodies to perish. When they have prayed for healing and it appears that God is taking them home, their inward man can be renewed while their outward man is wasting away.
As some believers study the resurrection chapter they want to believe they will hold on to their physical body. The great news is God is going to replace our little clay pots with spiritual bodies.
March 29, 2013
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV)
A mother of small twin daughters realized her bone marrow transplants were not going to work. In beautiful handwriting she wrote out The Living Bible Paraphrase of three chapters written by Paul about resurrection. When she gave them to me she asked me to explain them at her memorial service simply so her daughters would understand them.
The first was the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. The other two were the fourth and fifth chapters of Second Corinthians. I call these last two chapters: “Applied Resurrection.”
The first application of the resurrection of Christ is that just as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried in the hope of our own resurrection. If that is not going to happen we should be pitied because we suffered for Christ in this life.
If you want to have a personal Easter I challenge you to read these three chapters slowly and devotionally in a good translation or paraphrase you can understand like The Living Bible Paraphrase or The Message.
C.S. Lewis told us the clergy are people who have been set aside to remind us that we are creatures who are going to live forever. They are also to teach us that life is a school in which we are to learn eternal values.
Applied Resurrection teaches us that though our outward man is perishing, it is possible for our inward man to be renewed every day while we’re learning to appreciate the difference between the visible and the invisible, the temporal and eternal values.
May your Easter be a time of reflection on eternal resurrection values.