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Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV)

So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:66)

Just after Jesus was murdered, a couple of his disciples put him in a borrowed tomb. The Religious Elite of the day were concerned about some claims Jesus made of rising from the dead. They asked permission of the Roman governor to place a guard at the tomb to insure that the radical disciples of Jesus would not steal the body. The governor went one step further. Not only did he allow the Jews to post a guard at the tomb, he sealed it with the seal of the mighty Roman Empire.

The Seal was nothing more than a cord secured around the stone with clay holding it in place at both ends. There was nothing magical about the seal. It offered no strength of its own. Its strength and validity rested solely on the power of the Roman Government to make good on its promise. To break the seal meant death. Period.

This was no doubt the word picture that the Apostle Paul conjured up in the minds of his readers as he wrote to the church located in the Grecian city of Corinth. They were well aware of the strength of the Roman Empire. They knew, intimately, of the power of the government to keep its promises.

Eventually, of course, we know that the strength of the Roman Empire dwindled. It was no longer able to keep its promises. It was no longer the most powerful force in the world. As a result, the security of the ‘Roman Seal’ became worthless and meaningless.

The ‘seal’ Paul talks about is a different sort of seal. It’s a seal that is not based on human power. It’s a seal that transcends time. It’s a seal that no one in the physical or the spiritual world can sever. Its guarantee will never become obsolete.

For those of us who have accepted the free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ we can know we are sealed in God. He gave us his promise, his guarantee, that he would never leave us, forsake us, or hold us under condemnation for our sin.

Our eternal destiny doesn’t rest on our ability to keep a set of rules or memorizing some mantra. Our eternal destiny rests in one who is eternal. Our acceptance is as secure as the universe. Whatever struggle you are bearing. Whoever, or whatever, is threatening you or accusing you today. Remember, because of Jesus, you are sealed with an eternal promise, an eternal hope. The Roman Seal didn’t hold him in the grave, the seal of God’s grace should never hold us back.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for Jesus. I praise you for the assurance that there is nothing, including my own rebellious stupidity, that will wrestle me from your arms. Amen.

You claim to be rich and successful and to have everything you need. But you don’t know how bad off you are. You are pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17 (CEV)

One day Jesus told a story of a man named Lazarus. We know little about him except that he spent his life as a beggar earnestly hoping for a chance at the table scraps from a certain rich man’s table. What isn’t important in the story is how Lazarus became a beggar. We only know that he was apparently in some situation that made him completely dependent on other people for his existence.

Another thing we know about Lazarus is that even though his time on earth was destitute, he was apparently a man of faith. We know this because after Lazarus died he went to heaven. Ironically, it appears in Luke 16 that the rich man died around the same time. His earthly reward was great, but his eternal reward was painful to say the least.

One day the rich man looks across a great chasm and sees Lazarus sitting comfortably in the presence of God. While the rich man languished in pain and agony, Lazarus enjoyed something he’s never had in real life – comfort and fulfillment.

Jesus often told parables to those following him. These fictional stories taught great spiritual truths that required people to think about what he was really trying to teach them about life on earth and life in eternity. In this parable we are shown that physical wealth and comfort on earth don’t measure up to the comfort we will get when we get to heaven. Jesus says, store up your treasures in heaven. Don’t waste time on acquiring wealth on earth. It won’t last.

The Apostle John had a similar message in his letter to the church in Laodicea. This church was well known for their staunch religiosity. This group of believers could be described in one word: content. They minded their own business; didn’t make waves in society; lived their lives safely. Jesus refers to their complacency as so repulsive that they would be vomited out of his mouth.

The church in Laodicea suffered from the same disease that Lazarus had – self reliance. They may have started out believing in God and doing all the right things, but soon they were far more content to worship God’s blessings that to worship God; too content in their comfort to seek holiness.

When Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in Spirit’, he’s really calling each of us to come to a place of spiritual bankruptcy in which we are so helpless we rely completely on him as our only hope and comfort.

Don’t allow the cares of this world to keep you from enjoying the peace only God can give. Don’t allow the comforts and blessings of this world keep you from realizing your only real hope is to rely on God for everything. Self-sufficiency is the enemy of total allegiance to Christ.

PRAYER: Father God. It is so easy to get trapped into thinking I can make it in life alone. You’ve blessed me beyond measure with gifts, talents and abilities. Protect me from relying on these more than you. Empower me to be completely dependent on you. In Jesus name, amen.

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February 2023
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