THINKING ABOUT HEAVEN (2)

His servants will serve him .. .and they will reign for ever.  Revelation 22:3-5 NIV

 Heaven is pictured in the Bible as a garden, a city, and a home. All 3 require skill, work and maintenance. Is that why we’re told we’ll serve God in heaven? Service is active, not passive. Seems like heaven will involve lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fatigue, enhanced by unlimited resources. The Bible says we’ll reign with Christ, exercising leadership, making important decisions. (See Lk 19:17-19). That means we’ll set goals, devise plans and

share ideas. Actually, our best workdays on earth are just a foretaste of the joy our work will bring us in heaven. Indeed,

our service to Christ now, will determine our position then. Jobs that depend on aspects of our fallen world probably won’t exist-such as dentists (decay), police officers (crime), funeral directors (death), and many others. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be unemployed. What’s an interest or hobby now, may become our main vocation then. Others however may continue with work similar to what they do now, whether it’s gardeners, engineers, builders, artists, animal trainers, teachers, musicians, scientists, crafts people, or hundreds of other vocations. The difference is, we’ll work without the hindrances of toil, pain, corruption and sin (Rev 21:4-5).

Author Victor Hugo spoke of anticipating his work in heaven: “I haven’t given utterance to the thousandth part of what lies within me. When I go to the grave I can say, ‘my day’s work is done.’ But I cannot say, ‘my life is done.’ My work will

recommence the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes upon the twilight, but it opens

upon dawn.”


THINKING ABOUT HEAVEN (1)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2 NIV

Gary Larson captured a common misconception of heaven in one of his Far Side cartoons. In it a man with angel wings and a halo sits on a cloud, doing nothing. A caption reads: “Wish I’d brought a magazine.”

How come we talk so Little about heaven? Why has it fallen off our radar screens? Listen: “[Satan] opened his mouth to blaspheme God … and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven” (Rev 13:6 NIV). Satan slanders 3 things:

(1) God’s person; (2) God’s people; (3) God’s place-heaven. After being evicted from heaven (Isa 14: 12-15), it must be maddening to know we’re now entitled to the beautiful horne he was kicked out of. What better way for him to attack us than to whisper lies about the place Paul tells us to set our minds on? If we believe his lies we’ll set our minds on this life, not the next. And we won’t be motivated to take others with us when we go. C.S. Lewis writes, “The Christians who did the most for this world, were those who thought most of the next. The apostles, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth- precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of any other world, that they have become so ineffective in this one. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in,’ aim at earth and you will get neither.”



THINKING ABOUT HEAVEN (1)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2 NIV

Gary Larson captured a common misconception of heaven in one of his Far Side cartoons. In it a man with angel wings and a halo sits on a cloud, doing nothing. A caption reads: “Wish I’d brought a magazine.”

How come we talk so Little about heaven? Why has it fallen off our radar screens? Listen: “[Satan] opened his mouth to blaspheme God … and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven” (Rev 13:6 NIV). Satan slanders 3 things:

(1) God’s person; (2) God’s people; (3) God’s place-heaven. After being evicted from heaven (Isa 14: 12-15), it must be maddening to know we’re now entitled to the beautiful horne he was kicked out of. What better way for him to attack us than to whisper lies about the place Paul tells us to set our minds on? If we believe his lies we’ll set our minds on this life, not the next. And we won’t be motivated to take others with us when we go. C.S. Lewis writes, “The Christians who did the most for this world, were those who thought most of the next. The apostles, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth- precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of any other world, that they have become so ineffective in this one. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in,’ aim at earth and you will get neither.”



IT’S ABOUT HIM-NOT US!

At the center of all this, Christ rules.  Ephesians 1 :22 TM

Until Copernicus showed up in 1543, we were able to claim, “The universe revolves around us.” And what Copernicus did for the earth, God does for our souls. He points us to His Son and says, “At the center of all this, Christ rules.” At a time when the theme of many preachers is “what God will do for you,” Paul points out that God doesn’t exist to make a big deal out of us; we exist to make a big deal out of Him. Max Lucado writes: “We struggle with this idea because we’ve been demanding our way since infancy. ‘I want a spouse who makes me happy, co-workers who respect me and ask my opinion, weather that suits me, a government that serves me, and a God who gives me everything I want.’ It’s all about me! What if an orchestra followed that approach, each artist clamoring for self- expression? Tubas blasting non-stop; percussionists pounding to get attention, the trumpeter standing on the conductor’s stool tooting his horn. Harmony? Hardly. Happiness? Not at all. Who enjoys confusion, or contributing to a cacophony? What would happen if we each took our place, played our part, followed the score He gave us, and made His song our song? What if there was less ‘here’s what I want’ and more ‘what do you suppose God wants?’ Paul answers, ‘Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory’ (2Co 3: 18). Getting our eyes off ourselves and onto Christ, makes us more like Him. It changes us-and couldn’t we use a change?”



IT’S ABOUT HIM-NOT US!

At the center of all this, Christ rules.  Ephesians 1 :22 TM

Until Copernicus showed up in 1543, we were able to claim, “The universe revolves around us.” And what Copernicus did for the earth, God does for our souls. He points us to His Son and says, “At the center of all this, Christ rules.” At a time when the theme of many preachers is “what God will do for you,” Paul points out that God doesn’t exist to make a big deal out of us; we exist to make a big deal out of Him. Max Lucado writes: “We struggle with this idea because we’ve been demanding our way since infancy. ‘I want a spouse who makes me happy, co-workers who respect me and ask my opinion, weather that suits me, a government that serves me, and a God who gives me everything I want.’ It’s all about me! What if an orchestra followed that approach, each artist clamoring for self- expression? Tubas blasting non-stop; percussionists pounding to get attention, the trumpeter standing on the conductor’s stool tooting his horn. Harmony? Hardly. Happiness? Not at all. Who enjoys confusion, or contributing to a cacophony? What would happen if we each took our place, played our part, followed the score He gave us, and made His song our song? What if there was less ‘here’s what I want’ and more ‘what do you suppose God wants?’ Paul answers, ‘Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory’ (2Co 3: 18). Getting our eyes off ourselves and onto Christ, makes us more like Him. It changes us-and couldn’t we use a change?”


BIDDY CHAMBERS

I served the Lord with great humility. Acts 20: 19 NIV

My Utmost For His Highest is perhaps the world’s best known devotional book. Yet without his wife Gertrude Chambers, the unrecognized driving force behind Oswald Chambers’ writings, we wouldn’t have this book at all. In the Foreword, she tells how the selections came from his various  speaking engagements. Yet she signed only with the initials B.C.

Who was this remarkable woman? Her husband affectionately called her “Biddy,” a term of endearment, Oswald died as a result of complications following surgery in Egypt where he’d been ministering to the British troops. Thousands mourned his death at 43. So well loved was he by those he ministered to that in spite of the fact that he wasn’t part of the military, he was still given a full military burial in the old British cemetery in Cairo.

They were married for just seven years when, at age 34, Biddy became a widow and the single mother of a little girl. Actually, the real story of the man’s fame began at his death. Before she met Oswald, Biddy was a stenographer. She could take shorthand faster than many of us could talk. So she began listening to her husband’s messages and took shorthand notes-hundreds of them-never thinking that one day they’d be transcribed into books and that she would become the publisher of them. The world owes a debt of gratitude to this humble and generally unknown woman whose efforts are still blessing so many. May God give us more people like her; people who believe that great things can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.



NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY (2)

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11 :26 NAS

The New Testament Christians dedicated themselves to one thing only-making Jesus Lord of their lives and establishing His rule wherever they went. Listen: “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship and to sharing meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the

apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared

everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshipped together at the temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all the while praising God and enjoying the good will of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (See Ac 2:42-47).

Did it cost them? Yes: “The high priest and his officials … were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put

them in public jail … then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them … but Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’ … They [the high council] called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy top suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus”

(See Ac 5:17-18: 21, 29,40-42). That’s what it means to be a New Testament Christian.



NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY (1)

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11 :26 NAS

The disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch-because they walked and talked like Jesus! Is something getting in the way of your living like Jesus? Figure it out and eliminate it. Is your life so complicated that it’s difficult for you to juggle everything, yet still remain Christ-like?

Simplify your life. Are you unable to find words that describe how you believe God has called you to know, love and serve Him? Develop a new language. Is society dragging you in the opposite direction from where Jesus calls you? Acknowledge that your life is part of a spiritual war between God and Satan, declare your side and get on with it. Admit that you are better off “fighting the good tight” and suffering on earth for the cause of Christ, than winning the world but losing your soul for the balance of etemity. Get used to the fact that your life is lived in the context of spiritual warfare. Every breath you take is an act of war, To survive and thrive in the midst of this spiritual battle you must seek to be more Christ-like. Your mission demands single-minded commitment and a disregard for the criticisms of those who lack the same dedication to Christ. You answer to only one Commander-in-Chief, and you alone will give an explanation for your choices. Do whatever you have to, to prove that you honor God, you love Him, you serve Him-yes, and that you live only for Him, That’s New Testament Christianity.

Not just going to church-but being the church! That’s what it means to be called a “Christian.”



GOD’S STRANGE CHOICE

 

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the wise.  1 Corinthians 1 :27 NIV

 

Has someone told you you’re not qualified? If so, read on: “Dear Paul the Apostle: We received your application for

service under our missions board. Frankly we’re amazed you’ve been able to pass as a missionary. Here’s why:  

(l)We’re told that you’re afflicted with eye trouble. We require 20/20 vision.

(2) We hear that you have to make tents on the side to support yourself. How come?

(3) Is it true that you have a prison record? Think how this would reflect on our organization.

(4) It’s reported from Ephesus that you made so much trouble for the local business community there, that they refer to you as the man who “turned the world upside down.” We deplore sensationalism in ministry.

(5) You refer to yourself as “Paul the aged.” Our new pension policies don’t anticipate a surplus of elderly recipients.

(6) Doctor Luke, the physician, reports that you are a frail little man, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches that you sleep very poorly. He indicates that you pad around the house praying half the night.

Our ideal applicant has a clear mind and a robust body. We believe that a good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip so that you will wake up full of zing. So, we regret to inform you, Brother Paul, that in all our experience we’ve never met a candidate so opposite to the requirements of our board. If we should accept you we would be breaking every principle o  

current missionary practice. Signed, Most surely,

  1. Flavius Fluffyhead, Secretary, Foreign Missions Board.”


LORD … AND SHEPHERD

The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1

When Lloyd Douglas, author of The Robe, attended college, he lived in a boarding house. A retired wheelchair-

bound music professor resided on the first floor. Each morning Douglas would stick his head in the professor’s door and ask, “What’s the good news?” The old man would tap his tuning fork on his wheelchair and say, “That’s middle C! It was

middle C yesterday, it’ll be middle C tomorrow, and it’ll be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings

flat. The piano across the hall’s out of tune, but, my friend, that’s middle C.” And don’t we all need a middle C? Haven’t

we had enough changes? Relationship changes. Job changes. Health changes. Weather changes-but the One Who ruled the earth last night is the same One Who rules it today. He never changes! David writes, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps 90:2 NIV). Counselors may comfort us in the storm, but we need a God Who can still the storm. Friends may hold our hand at our deathbed, but ultimately we need the One Who defeated the grave. Remember the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road only to discover that the Wizard was a wimp! All smoke and mirrors. Is that the kind of God we need? No. We need One Who can place a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and a hundred billion galaxies in our universe; a God Who, while so mind numbingly mighty, can come and touch us with the gentleness of a mother’s hand. We need both Lord and Shepherd. Both strength and tenderness- and that’s what we’ve got!

 




 

Leave a Reply