Tag Archives: heaven

The Hope We Have

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


I was recently at the viewing for a friend I’d known for over 20 years. As I went around hugging necks and catching up on where everyone was in life, I decided to stop and take a moment. I sat down on one of the pews and watched the crowd as they interacted. There were a group of young men standing near the coffin silently staring at the body. I then noticed there were huddles throughout the sanctuary around the family members left behind. They were hugging and offering condolences. Then there was everyone else affected by this person’s life. They weren’t stationary like the others. They moved around making their way up front and then around and that’s when I noticed something out of the ordinary.

There were smiles on their faces. I checked another roaming group and they were smiling as well. I gazed back to the family huddles to look at their demeanor and it was the same. The atmosphere was not one of sadness, but of joy. It was then that I was reminded of I Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT).   Here was living proof of this scripture. I was in a crowd of people smiling and enjoying themselves, while mourning the loss of a friend, because we have hope beyond the grave.

Yes, it hurts to lose someone who impacted our lives and there’s a big, gaping void in us that only they could fill. But we don’t have to carry on like those who have no hope. We don’t see this as the end of life, but rather that person’s birth into eternal life. Their spirit has been set free from the cocoon of the human body, and they have been released into the heavens. We know that one day we will cross from death to life as well and be reunited with them and a host of others who knew Jesus as their savior. That’s how we can smile in midst of such a great loss. It seems foreign to those who have no hope, but it’s natural to those of us who do.

I Thessalonians 4 concludes with these words, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” We have comfort in sorrow and courage in despair because our loss is Heaven’s gain and we know that we will be reunited. Hope is a powerful force that can light up our darkness and give us strength to smile in the pain. It keeps us from the pit of despair and points us to better days. I’ll finish this post with the words from I Corinthians 13:12-13 that I think are fitting. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)”

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

This Hope We Have



I was recently at the viewing for a friend I’d known for over 20 years. As I went around hugging necks and catching up on where everyone was in life, I decided to stop and take a moment. I sat down on one of the pews and watched the crowd as they interacted. There were a group of young men standing near the coffin silently staring at the body. I then noticed there were huddles throughout the sanctuary around the family members left behind. They were hugging and offering condolences. Then there was everyone else affected by this person’s life. They weren’t stationary like the others. They moved around making their way up front and then around and that’s when I noticed something out of the ordinary.

There were smiles on their faces. I checked another roaming group and they were smiling as well. I gazed back to the family huddles to look at their demeanor and it was the same. The atmosphere was not one of sadness, but of joy. It was then that I was reminded of I Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”   Here was living proof of this scripture. I was in a crowd of people smiling and enjoying themselves, while mourning the loss of a friend, because we have hope beyond the grave.

Yes, it hurts to lose someone who impacted our lives and there’s a big, gaping void in us that only they could fill. But we don’t have to carry on like those who have no hope. We don’t see this as the end of life, but rather that person’s birth into eternal life. Their spirit has been set free from the cocoon of the human body and they have been released into the heavens. We know that one day we will cross from death to life as well and be reunited with them and a host of others who knew Jesus as their savior. That’s how we can smile in midst of such a great loss. It seems foreign to those who have no hope, but it’s natural to those of us who do.

I Thessalonians 4 concludes with these words, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” We have comfort in sorrow and courage in despair because our loss is Heaven’s gain and we know that we will be reunited. Hope is a powerful force that can light up our darkness and give us strength to smile in the pain. It keeps us from the pit of despair and points us to better days. I’ll finish this post with the words from I Corinthians 13:12-13 that I think are fitting. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Hope Of Heaven

As we sat around the dinner table last night, the conversation began to focus on Heaven. We went around the table asking who would be the first person we would want to meet in Heaven aside from Jesus. As we discussed different people from the Bible, I decided to post on Facebook asking others who they would like to meet. I was surprised by their answers. Instead of people from the Bible, most came back with family members they had never met. Several spoke of children they had lost through miscarriage.

What I read in other’s replies was there are so many of us who live our lives with the hope of being reunited and being made complete. Family units will be as they could have been. We’ll be able to see from one end of the family tree to the other. Heaven, for many, will be a great big family reunion. We’ll be joined together with families who were with us here on earth and with fellow heirs of Christ. I don’t know how it will work or how we will be known, but I do know that There is a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to complete our race. Those who have gone on before don’t want us to quit.

When I think of eternity and the prize that is waiting, it always encourages me to keep going. Let’s face it, living how God called us to live isn’t easy. It’s difficult to be successful at it in a world that cheers us on to live like them. There are days where it’s just easier to quit running this race than to take another step forward. There are times when things happen that we don’t understand and we want to be angry at God. In those moments when I get frustrated and doubt that God really cares, I think of those who have already made it to Heaven and how I want to see them. I look beyond the pain of today to what is to come.

Yes, life is full of loss, hurt and pain, but God didn’t leave us without hope. He gave us the Comforter to guide us and to remind us of God’s promises. He gave us the hope of being reunited with lost loved ones. He gave us that cloud of witnesses who are cheering for you to keep going. Can you hear them? Can you imagine them standing all around you wanting you to complete the race? When I doubt or want to quit, I hear those cheers and it encourages me to keep going. They’re cheering for you too. Your family members, unborn children and a host of others will be waiting at the finish line to welcome you home. You just have to keep running even when they’ve gone on before you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Son Is Given

This week, I’ll be breaking down Isaiah 9:6 piece by piece. It says, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NLT)”. Today, we’ll look at the first part of that.

20131216-075046.jpg

I saw a Christmas play a few years ago where they told the story of Jesus’ birth as seen through the eyes of two angels. They were reading Heaven’s newspaper when they saw the headline that Jesus was going to earth. They were ecstatic thinking of what all it could mean. As they read on, they were suddenly confused. “Wait! It says here that He’s going down there as a baby,” said one of the angels. The other replied, “How will He fit into something so small?” The God who is bigger than the universe He created, came down and entered our world as a baby.

He didn’t just come as a baby, but He came as a boy. When you think of it culturally and in that time period, a boy brought honor to his family. It meant that their lineage would continue. Since Joseph was a descendant of King David, it meant the royal line would continue and provide hope to Israel that at some point one of David’s heirs would rule the nation again. Everyone knew the promises God had made to establish David’s throne forever. They had been waiting for centuries for the House of David to return to the throne. The government of that country would once again be on the shoulders of the king.

Not only was that part of it important, but the fact that He was a boy has other implications. When a boy grows up, he gets married and his spouse takes his name. God came to earth to win our hearts. He came to propose marriage to each of us. In that time period and culture, a dowry was needed to secure a bride. It was usually something very expensive that would cost the groom everything he had. He had to work for years just to afford the dowry of engagement. After that was paid, He would have to provide a paid off home so that they could live together without worry. She would give up her family name and take his. She would leave her father and mother and cleave to him.

What does that have to do with Jesus? Everything. He came to pay a price that was equal to your worth. He came to win you over with His love. His life was all about proving how much He loved you and me. He did miracles, signs and wonders in an effort to get our attention. He bled and died in order to pay the dowry for you to be engaged to Him. He gave up everything He had to come in the form of a child, lived His life trying to get our attention and paid that price just to ask if you would marry Him. When you accept His proposal, all of Heaven rejoices just as we would for one of our friends. You then take on His name, Christian, and leave the life you once lived.

John 14:2-3 says, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (NLT)” He is following the culture and customs of that time in His proposal of marriage to you. Revelations says that we will be going to the wedding feast in Heaven one day. You and I are the bride of Christ if we accept His proposal. He’s coming back for us once He’s finished preparing it. I can’t wait to see it. If He made this world in 6 days, can imagine how incredible Heaven will be after 2,000 years? I can’t wait for the wedding, how about you?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Shackled to the Temporary

I had a dream last night that I died. As I was ascending to Heaven, I called out to God, “Wait! I can’t die. I haven’t had the chance to fulfill what you called me to.” God replied, “You had the chance, but you never took it. You focused on the things that didn’t matter and let them keep you from your calling. I had to find someone else.” With that, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep for a while. My mind was replaying it over and over trying to find another ending.

The only ending God is interested in is me fulfilling what He’s called only me to do. He created me for a specific purpose. He created you for a specific purpose too. Somehow life gets in the way of doing what we were made for. We swap His priorities for earthly priorities. We get ourselves shackled into the things that don’t matter and dream of doing what really does matter.

It’s not a fast transition. It happens over time. “I’ll do what God wants me to do after I…”, we say. What happens is we spend a lifetime doing what we want while always promising to do what God wants next and then wonder where time went. Each time we pass on what God wants, we tighten those shackles a little more. We bind ourselves to the things that have no eternal value whatsoever. We treasure the temporary and dismiss the eternal.

I don’t want to live that way. I Corinthians 3:13 says that when I get to Heaven, God will take all the things I’ve built in my life and put them in fire to see what has value. If I’ve done the things that have eternal value, I’ll receive a reward. If I focused on temporary things, they’ll all be burned and I’ll have nothing to show for my time on earth. I don’t want to be standing there looking at a pile of ashes on that day.

That motivates me to find and seek out the things that will last for eternity. That makes me want to do work for God’s Kingdom. That resets my priorities and refocuses my attention on what truly does matter. Each of us have the opportunity to do what matters for eternity. Each of us are called to “go”. When Jesus left this earth, He didn’t pick out a few of the disciples standing there and tell them to “go into all the world.” He told all of His disciples to go.

Where are you going today? Wherever that is, you have the ability and the opportunity to do something that will survive that fire. You have a choice to make. You can choose to do what matters for eternity or you can choose to do something temporary and tighten those shackles a little more. I choose to do what matters so when the time of my death comes, I won’t be calling out to God to send me back so I can do what He called me to. I want to go knowing that I’ve done what He asked and knowing that I’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Front Row Seats

Our church class was watching the video from the group study version of “Greater” by Steven Furtick when he said something that has had me thinking for a while now. He referenced Luke 5 where Jesus called Simon (Peter) to follow him. Jesus was walking on the shore of Galilee and the crowds were pressing in to hear Him speak. He looked over, saw a couple of boats and asked to borrow one. Peter rowed a little from land and Jesus spoke to the crowd.

Here’s what Steven asked that got me: “Why did Jesus ask for the boat? He didn’t need it. He later proved He could walk on water. He was looking for obedience.” I hope that sinks in for you like it has for me. Jesus performed many miracles in His ministry. He could have easily walked on water this day as He did later. Instead He chose to ask Peter for his boat.

Isn’t that like God? He doesn’t need our help or resources, but He chooses to give us opportunities to obey and to collaborate with Him. He doesn’t need what you and I have. After all, it’s His anyway. He simply is wanting to know if we recognize that and are willing to give back to Him what He’s given to us. Obedience is more important to Him than anything. The level of obedience we give Him is the level of greatness we can attain through Him.

Many of us wait for a sign or confirmation before we’re obedient. We often think we have to be doing amazing things for God before He uses us or asks something of us. In Luke 5, Peter had just finished fishing. He had emptied his boat and was cleaning his nets. That’s every day mundane stuff he was doing when Jesus approached him. He wasn’t looking for Jesus to come interrupt his day. He wasn’t praying and asking God to give Him something to do. He was cleaning his nets.

To you and me, that’s like sending emails, filing paperwork, submitting reports and things like that. God can enter your workspace, your everyday life, and ask you to be obedient. Letting Jesus use the boat was no big deal. He rowed out a little ways and dropped anchor. Because of his obedience though, he got a front row seat to a sermon from Jesus. He got to see the faces of the people Jesus was ministering to and healing. He got a glimpse of what life would be like if he obeyed what Jesus asked him to do next: come follow me.

You may not be looking for Jesus at work or in your every day life today. You may be doing your regular schedule of things to do on a day like today. If God comes in and asks for something from you, no matter how small, do it. He doesn’t need what you have to accomplish what He wants. He’s simply giving you the opportunity to partner with Him through obedience. Who knows what you’ll have a front row to. I bet it will be amazing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Do What Matters

I heard the story of a Christian who died and went to Heaven. When he got there, Peter met him at the pearly gates. Peter greeted him and welcomed him to Heaven. He then said, “I’ll have Gabriel take you to your home in glory now.” As Gabriel and the man walked down the streets of gold, he was in awe of all the mansions. There were some enormous ones and the man asked who lived in those. Gabriel said, “Well that one belongs to Mother Teresa, that one belongs to Jonathan Edwards and that one is being built for Billy Graham.

As the continued to walk through the city, the man noticed the mansions were getting smaller. They walked and they walked for what seemed like hours. They started getting the point where houses were not only smaller, but they were few and far between. They walked up to what appeared to be a shack in comparison to earlier mansions. Gabriel said, “Welcome home.” The man was upset and confused. He asked, “Why does my mansion look like this and others look so amazing.” Gabriel simply replied, “This is all you sent us to work with.”

I’m not one who believes that we are saved by our works. I believe we are saved by the grace of God through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. I also believe that James says that faith without works is dead. We are to live our lives in a way that reflects what God has done for us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. We are to help the weak, take care of widows and orphans, clothe and feed the poor and to defend those without a voice.

I Corinthians 3:13-15 says, “On judgement day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” The above story to me is a reflection of this scripture. We can be busy “doing things for God” and not be doing the right things that are of value.

Many of us live our lives as Christians having only accepted what Christ has done and then have never done anything with that grace. As I mentioned on my previous post about my theme for 2013, I want to do things this year that will matter. I want to make sure that what I do increases Him and decreases me. Not all of us can be a Mother Teresa, a Jonathan Edwards or a Billy Graham, but each of us can do things that matter just as much for the Kingdom.

When I was seven, I painted a poem in Sunday School. I remember being so proud of it. I painted it brown and then painted the letters in gold. It was perfect, at least in my seven year old mind it was! It said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Each of us has one life. Each of us have opportunities to do lots of things, but only certain things will survive that fire on judgement day. My prayer is that you and I find and do the things that matter.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized