Posts tagged ‘Heaven’

So What is God’s Story, Really? Pt. 2

In part one of this post, I laid out God’s over-all plan…to create a people to live with Him throughout all of eternity.  But not just people to fill the space.  He wanted, wants, people who love Him, and choose to be with Him.  In order to do that, He had to create them, and give them free will.  He allowed them to turn their backs on Him, and then went to the extreme to save them when He offered His own Son as the sacrifice, paying the penalty for their hatred of Him.  He patiently waits, year after year, century after century, to bring as many people into eternity as will come, and why?  Love.  He loves us with a love that we cannot understand.

God set the world spinning, filled with all these people, with the goal being eternity.  But He doesn’t just sit and watch it spin.  He doesn’t just let the chips fall where they may.  Earth and it’s people are not an experiment to see what will happen.  It is not happenstance or willy-nilly…God sitting back and letting it all play out, hoping for the best scenario.  God is busy, active, involved in this world that He created.  Yes, we, as a whole, are indeed the middle step in His plan, but God is involved in the lives of each and every person who has ever, or will ever live.  He knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs.  He takes the time to know our names.  He knows the very number of hairs on each of our heads!  He knows the desires of our hearts.    God is intimate with us.  He is developing the intimate relationships with each of us that He so desires, and it is all preparation for when we will see the end to the goal, when we will be in Heaven, for eternity, with Him.  No, this is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants plan.  God does not have ADHD, and decided impulsively to create a world filled with people without thinking it through.  God’s plan will be worked out in every life, from birth to death, until the time when Jesus returns.

I was so blessed by the words God gave me in part one of this post.  I could see the big picture so clearly, and was in such awe of my God!!  But what touched my soul was how God works within His creation, on a personal level, recognizing each and every one.  Like an artist, lovingly sculpting, noticing, and perfecting the finest details.  Loving what He is making, even though we are all just one tiny figurine in a shop of billions.  I can almost see Him, bent over the clay that is me, eyes warmed by deep love and affection, a carving tool in His hand.  He touches me gently, scrapes a little clay off here, but shifts a little, or adds some in another place.  In one spot, He uses a damp sponge to smooth a scratch.  He speaks lovingly to me all the while.  So devoted to making me just right…and at the very same time, with the same love, attention, and devotion, He works on thousands, maybe millions of other pieces of clay, all in different stages of readiness.  Look!  Do you see what He has done?  He painted the blood of Jesus on my forehead!  I am His!  And He is mine!  And when it is time, He will breath eternity in to me.  I will be able to commune with Him, face to face, in a way that I can only dream of now.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV) – For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

John 10:14-15 – “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

HEAVEN

A couple days ago I took a look at what Hell is. Bottom line? Without the presence of God, and all the goodness that He is and brings, it is not a place I want to be…ever, and certainly not for eternity. All people are spiritual beings, and will live eternally somewhere (even though our physical bodies die). The question, then, is where? Is Hell the only option? When we die, are we all just doomed to eternal life in Hell? If that is the case, it is no wonder people flee death with fear and trembling!

I have good news, though. The best possible news ever. Hell has a counterpart! It is called Heaven. Just as Hell is pure darkness, evil, and everlasting torment; Heaven is pure light, goodness, and everlasting joy and contentment. It is the complete opposite.

The book of Revelations, in the Bible, tells us a little about what is in Heaven. Chapters 21 and 22 talk about a new Heaven and a new earth, the new holy city of Jerusalem. There will be no darkness, so no night, no fear of the bad things that can happen in cover of darkness. There will be no sun or moon, because God will be present right there, and the light that comes from Him will light the entire city. Hey, guess what? No sunburn!!!!

Revelation 21 & 22 also talk about the city being made of gold so pure it looks like glass. Streets of gold. The walls of the city decorated with any number of precious jewels (you think they are pretty in this world, imagine them in Heaven with absolutely no impurities!). The River of Life that shines like crystal. Trees that produce fruit every month, 12 times a year. And the gates to the city will never be closed because nothing evil will be allowed to enter in.

Since God will be physically present in this new earth, what will come with that? We know that no sin or evil can be in His presence. That is why Jesus died for us, to redeem us from the sin that permeates our lives now. When God looks at us now, He looks through Jesus’ sacrifice to see a righteous you and me (provided you have accepted Jesus as Savior). So what does no evil or sin in the new world look like? We already talked about no darkness. There will be no pain, no sorrow, no sickness, no fear, no death. Angels and people will sing continuous praise to God, beautiful music filling the air.

I think of Heaven in terms of the Garden of Eden. There was no death before sin entered the world. That means animals did not eat each other, or people. Which also means there was no need to fear them. I can’t imagine not being afraid of spiders and snakes, but I won’t be. The earth was new and wasn’t going to get old. There would have been no earthquakes, volcanoes, deadly storms. No hail to ruin crops, no bugs that destroy them. And no weeds!!!! Work was fulfilling and enjoyable, not a thing to be dreaded. Because there was no sickness, and work was not laborious, Eve didn’t worry about Adam having a heart attack while he was slaving away. Trees and plants didn’t die. Mosquitoes didn’t bite. Skunks didn’t sting, and porcupines didn’t shoot quills. The color of everything was vibrant and pure beyond what any of us can imagine today. All of the Garden of Eden and more, so much more, beyond what our feeble minds can embrace, will be in Heaven.

To me, the very best thing will be the presence of God Himself. God walked in the Garden of Eden. I don’t know if He did it every day, or only once, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. But He did it. Adam and Eve hid because they knew they had disobeyed God. But He spoke to them face to face…for the last time. Remember when Moses asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18-23)? God told Him he could not see His face because He would die. The full glory of God would be so great that Moses, in his sinful humanity, would not be able to tolerate it. So God covered his eyes, and passed before him. Moses was then allowed to see the back of God and His glory. And even then Moses glowed like a lightbulb for days afterward! In Heaven, we will see God face to face, in all His glory. We will not only be able to live through it, we will rejoice in it. We will glory in it. We will bathe in it. And we will live in the presence of it for all eternity!!

The question is, which do you choose? You have to make a choice. There is Heaven or Hell. By choosing not to choose, you simply choose Hell by default. If you are going to go to Heaven, then you must choose Heaven. You must choose Jesus. How do you do that? Believe that He is the only way. He is the only Son of God. His death on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and His resurrection back to life after 3 days, made the way for you to go to Heaven. But you have to believe it. When Jesus hung dying on the cross, 2 thieves hung on crosses on each side of Him. Luke 23: 39-43 tells how one of them recognized Jesus as God. He asked Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom. That is all he did. And Jesus’ answer? Verse 43: Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What do you choose today? Paradise with Jesus, or Hell? There is no other option.

HELL

Have you ever thought about Hell? No, really. More than just a passing thought. Have you ever really thought about it? What is it like? Where is it? Is it real?

The Bible doesn’t tell us a whole lot about it. But it does tell us that it exists. Matthew 13:50 tells us it is a “…blazing furnace, where people will cry and grind their teeth in pain.”

2 Peter 2:4 says that angels who sinned were sent to hell and put in caves of darkness.

Mark 9:48 says that in hell the worm never dies, and the fire is never put out.

Revelations 14:10-11 say that the smoke from the pain of those who are in hell will rise forever. And also that there is no rest day or night.

Already it doesn’t sound like a pleasant place. Let’s consider it further. I know you may not want to, and your heart may be uneasy, but this is important.

Consider this one fact. God is not in hell. What, or who, is God? He is love. He is light. He is goodness, comfort, peace, truth, righteous, holy, pure, to name a few. If God is not in hell, then none of His attributes are there either. Take away love, and you have hatred. Complete hatred. Take away light, and you have utter darkness. Take away goodness, and you have unadulterated evil. Take away comfort, and you have discomfort. But not just discomfort, pain, sickness, sorrow that never ends. With no peace, there is war, all the time, between all the people. Without truth, there can be only lies, and thus not a single person to trust. No righteousness, holiness, or purity means no good, clean anything. Recall that Revelations said their is no rest, day or night. Without God in the picture, there is torment for all eternity, and not a single break from it…it never ends.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:46 (NCV) – “These people will go off to be punished forever, but the good people will go to live forever.”

Notice the key word? Forever. It applies to the good and the bad. Those who accept Jesus as Savior and those who don’t. The difference is where they will spend forever. I don’t want to scare you, but I want to scare you! Heaven is real, but so is Hell. God is just as real as you and I, and Jesus is coming to earth again one day soon. He will take those who believe in Him to Heaven. Those who denied Him while living here on earth will be sent to Hell. That is a place I don’t want to be. I don’t want my loved ones to be there. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, although I can’t say I can think of a personal enemy.

Tonight, for the first time, I did not pray for Jesus to come quickly. I asked Him to wait. I want no one to go to Hell. God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell either, but He is a just God, and He will punish those who sin by rejecting Him. Turn your heart to Him now. He is waiting for you. He has been waiting since the day you were born. He loves you! If you are ready to choose Jesus, and secure a place in Heaven for eternity, see my previous post, “Do You Have The Luxury Of Waiting?”

DO YOU HAVE THE LUXURY OF WAITING??

This has been a difficult week. A beloved uncle went to be with Jesus. We will miss him greatly. But we are so very grateful to know without a doubt that we will see him again when we are in Heaven with Jesus, too.

As with the death of any loved one, this week has brought a lot of reflection. Uncle Ron grew up in the church. Attended most of his adult life, maybe not faithfully, but he attended regularly. It wasn’t until 6 short years ago that he gave his life to Christ. I heard more than one person in the past couple of days wonder at how he spent all those years in the church, and yet waited so long to commit. It is a question we may never have the answer to. I think that to those of us who have grown up in the church, Jesus is the obvious answer. He stares us plain in the face. How can we miss seeing Him? And yet, there are a great many who do.

Uncle Ron had the luxury of waiting to accept Christ as his savior, and making Him the Lord of his life. I say that only from hind-sight. While he was living, no one had any idea when his life would end. It could have ended 7 years ago. Uncle Ron had no way of knowing that he had most of his life, and a little extra, to make that decision. He made it in time. He made it with some time to spare. My grandmother asked Jesus to be the Lord of her life just 7 days before she went to be with Him. That is cutting it mighty close.

Jesus tells us in John 14:6 – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. You can’t get to Heaven by being good enough…that would make you the way. You can’t get their by simply attending church or mass…that would make the church the way. You can’t get their by being baptized…that would make baptism the way. There is no other god, no saint, no act of kindness or anything else that will get you through the gates of Heaven and into the presence of God Almighty…except JESUS.

What does it mean that Jesus is the way? It means this. Believing by faith (without seeing) that Jesus is the Son of God. His Father is God…holy…spiritual…perfect…powerful…love…truth…creator of the universe…immortal…all-knowing…all-present…God. Jesus’ mother was Mary…human…as-human-and-fallible-as-you-and-I-human…sinful…imperfect…mortal. At the same time that Jesus is God’s Son, He is also God. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the very Word of God. “In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So Jesus, the Word of God, took on human flesh, with all of it’s shortcomings in this sinful world, left Heaven to come to earth as a baby. Yes, a baby who needed to be completely cared for by Mary, and his earthly adoptive father, Joseph. The Son of God needed to be fed, and dressed, and had His diaper changed. He needed to grow and learn, as every child does. The difference? He had the power of God in Him so that He was able to go through His entire life on earth without sinning…not even once. Because He was perfect, and had the power of God in Him, He was then able to become our sacrifice. The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23 – “When people sin, they earn what sin pays–death.”). Not just physical death, but spiritual death separated from God for eternity…that means separated from any and all things good. Jesus was able to, and did, pay that penalty for us. All of us. He bore the weight of the guilt of all of our sins when He was crucified on the cross. God the Father could not look at Him because of the sin. He turned His back on Jesus. Jesus died. But because Jesus is the Word of God, and because He is God’s Son, He was raised to life again after 3 days in the tomb. The penalty had been paid. Now He offers the reward from that paid penalty to you, and me. The reward is life in Heaven with God for eternity. But the thing about a gift is that it is only yours if you accept it.

You have no way of knowing if you have 6 years left of your life, like Uncle Ron did. Or if you have 7 days, like my grandmother. Or if you have just a few hours. The gift Jesus offers can only be accepted on this side of life. Once you are gone, it is too late. Do you really have the luxury of waiting? That is a question you don’t have the answer to. Are you willing to take the chance?

How? How do you give your life to Jesus? Start by talking to Him in prayer. Acknowledge that you have sinned and ask for His forgiveness. The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful, and just, and will forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). Then tell Jesus that you believe that He is God’s Son, and that He died to pay your penalty. Tell Him that you believe that He came back to life and lives today in Heaven. Accept His gift of eternal life, and thank Him. Ask Him to be the Lord of your life.

If you do this, make Jesus your Lord, find a Bible. There are many available on line and as apps for all the various tablets. Obviously they are still available in print as well. Get to know God by reading the Bible. Pray and ask Him to help you understand it.
Pray…spend time just talking to God. He is there, listening, and speaking to your heart, although it may take time to hear Him and understand Him. Be patient. He will teach you because He loves you.
Find a church where they teach from the Bible. The people there will also help you as you begin this new life with Jesus by your side.

I realize that many of my regular readers are already Christians, and have been for many years. This post isn’t intended for you. But it is intended for someone. Maybe someone you know. Please take the time to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, even Pinterest…wherever. Send the link in emails to family, friends, acquaintances. The time is short. Jesus will return soon.

God’s blessings to you all!!!!

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