One Sweet Day
One day, I know that I will have all that I desire.
One sweet day…
There is so much hopelessness in the world, it seems. When we take a good look around ourselves, we see people wading through sadness, dealing with stress and anxiety that are at unprecedented levels, struggling just to get to the end of each day. This may not be the case in several “first-world” nations, but it certainly is the case in the remaining nations that do not have the material prosperity that is enjoyed, for example, in the United States. However, even in the United States, material prosperity seems to be increasingly out of the reach of many. Expenses are rising rapidly, and many jobs are not keeping pace with people’s basic needs. Many people are being societally marginalized, and events like catastrophic droughts and other severe weather occurrences, civil wars, famine, mass shootings, disease, increased drug and alcohol abuse, rampant divorce, abortion, nuclear family breakdown, sexual perversions, religious apostasy and the loss of civility, concern and compassion for others hardly make the news anymore.
How can I talk about ‘one sweet day’?
Because there is God.
“This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come – yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:6-8)
Even before these words were written by the prophet Isaiah, the primacy of God was declared before His chosen people:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
We are God’s precious possession… Jews and Gentiles alike (italic emphases mine):
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)
The above passages are the preincarnate Christ, echoed not only all throughout the Old Testament from the creation of the world in Genesis through the promised Day of the Lord in Malachi, but all throughout the New Testament as the Savior of the world as well, particularly by the following (italic emphases mine):
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)
See the Servant of God… who is Jesus Christ… and what He will do for all people (italic emphasis mine):
Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” And now the Lord says – he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength – he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” This is what the Lord says – the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel – to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:1-7)
God redeems us when we surrender to Him…
Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. (Psalm 31:5)
God redeems us when we turn to Him for refuge; He will in no way abandon us…
The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:22)
God redeems us from the grave, and for we who believe there is no death that can claim us for long…
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:15)
God restores us…
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)
One of the most magnificent of the Psalms says it all in a beautiful economy of belief:
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
It is obvious to even the most casual that God advocates actively for us, and He has proved His advocacy through the gift of His only Son Jesus Christ to us. There are many who challenge why Christians would evangelize others: their argument is that one person’s religion is as good as another person’s religion, and what makes Christians so arrogant as to believe their religion is superior? An able refute to people who hold to this opinion is offered in the book of Acts in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul was speaking to Greeks in the city of Athens:
A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:18-31)
Today, as back in the time of Paul, people with their own worldly wisdom challenge what believers say regarding the Good News of Jesus Christ… unbelief is nothing new! And then… as today… people who were not believers were talking about the ‘latest ideas’. Sound familiar? Notice that even these Greek unbelievers had an altar to what they knew only as an ‘unknown god’… their God-given natures gave them to understand that there was a Living God who had made everything that they could see, even though they could not put their understanding into words: but that was what Paul was there to do by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice that Paul characterized the Living God as far larger than anything that his Greek listeners could imagine… not living in temples made by man, and not being served in any way of supply by men because He had made men, given them life, and made eveything else as well. Having established this predication of the living God in all His sweeping presence and power, Paul went on to make a critically important point: He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
God did this so that once men knew in their hearts and understood in their minds God’s omniscence (His knowing all things), His omnipotence (His unlimited power) and His omnipresence (His being everywhere, in every moment of time, inside and outside of time), they would turn to Him and seek Him.
In other words, all people are without excuse because they know within their own natures that the Living God exists.
Paul went on to state that God is not something we regard as having created by dint of our own skill: God has created us, and He will no longer tolerate our willing (which means defiant) ignorance of His glory and majesty… understanding that there can be no unwilling ignorance of Him because He has made Himself apparent to all people through what has been made by His hand. Paul completely demolished the arguments of the Greeks that God should not be preached to all people by stating that His judgment will come upon the world through the One (Jesus Christ) that He has sent… and God gave PROOF of that to ALL MEN by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.
This is why all men must be told about the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I can add one observation to Paul’s amazing testimony. I do agree that all religions of the world could be regarded as equal with each other, but that is not true because of one fact that no skeptic and unbeliever can get around…
JESUS CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD!!!
So what is it that we receive when we freely and openly follow Jesus Christ? There are many in the world who say ‘Why should I give up what I have to follow Jesus?’ No less than Jesus Himself said why, which should be a comfort for those who are concerned over losing what they can’t possibly keep anyway:
Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30)
If you remember how I characterized the state of the world today at the beginning of this post (which no one can dispute), I would say that swapping the present age for the age which is to come sounds like a trade that anyone would want to make.
God’s righteousness is something that we can never deserve on our own merits, for we have no merits that mean anything to God. We are redeemed by the blood of God’s one and only Son alone:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)
By the blood of Jesus Christ, we escape condemnation, and we have life through the Holy Spirit:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Grace… which is the unmerited favor of a just, pure, holy and righteous God toward sinners who deserve death… is what we are given because the Holy One of God gave His life that the penalty we deserve for our sins would be removed from us:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-6)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We have not “earned” grace. Jesus Christ did it all, and Jesus Christ paid it all. Jesus Christ has united all who are believers: Jew and Gentile alike: EVERYONE:
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-18)
Yet in this world, we groan… just as the Apostle Paul did:
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)
We must be of the heart and mind that losing everything is nothing compared to gaining Jesus Christ. If we gain the entire world but do not have Jesus Christ, who is the author and guarantor of life eternal, we have gained nothing and lost everything. Let the losses come, and let them be complete, but let us not lose Jesus Christ… the loss is NOTHING compared to the gain!
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
We will all have trouble in the world. What makes faith in Jesus Christ so important is that He will give you what you truly have need of to overcome the world… it may not be what you envision, but it will be right for you and your circumstances. His grace and His strength are more than enough:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Remember this about God’s strength (italic emphsis mine):
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:2-4)
Despite the world, the believer will have one of the most precious gifts that can be given (italic emphasis mine):
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
In the midst of a lost, dying and wicked world, I declare that I belong to Jesus Christ, my desire is for Him, and I want to tell others about Him so that they may belong to Him and desire Him as well. As a believer, I want to make every day a good day to die… Oh, yes… one sweet day, I will at my Lord’s calling surrender my life into His hands. Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, remember me a sinner! I pray that my last words would be these:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)