Tag Archives: heaven

Tears (Revelation 18-22)

My heart is heavy on this last day of 2020. Why not, right? This has been a very difficult year, unlike any I have seen in my lifetime. But I’m sitting here broken-hearted, not because of COVID, or isolation, or the loss of freedom. My tears are not for myself, but for a former student, the daughter of a co-worker and friend, who is facing life this morning without her nine-year-old daughter.

What started out as a fun road trip to California with extended family ended in a horrific accident which took the life of this precious child. Her mom and dad took the first flight out of Texas where they live, to rush to their daughter’s side in a California hospital, only to be met with the news their child had died. I can’t even think about what that was like for them.

Many of us have faced similar circumstances, and although we can’t know exactly how this young couple is feeling, we can remember how we felt when we received devastating news. Hearing what happened this morning brings back the feelings of the day we lost my nephew Geoff. It’s a pain I wish no one ever had to experience.

Yet Payton’s family is in that same heart stopping, suffocating, crushing pain this morning, and will continue to be for a very, very long time.

The last verse Mom underlined in her Bible is Revelation 21:4. Listen to what John had to say about what God has in store:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Personally, I’m ready to see that day come.

But let me say something to you in love. That day is reserved only for God’s children. There is another existence for people who reject God, who don’t accept the grace God gives to those who surrender to Him. It is a place where there will only be weeping and gnashing of teeth, no reprieve, no comfort. Forever.

Oh dear one, none of us is guaranteed another second in this life. Not if you are 90 – or 9. Please don’t wait another moment to give your life to Jesus. If you never have asked Him to forgive your sins and be your Savior, do it now while you still have time. You might not see 2021. Payton didn’t.

Would you pray with me for the Osmond/Veigel families? They are hurting right now in an unspeakable grief. May God be their strength and comfort.

And may you know the assurance of an eternity where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. A place where God Himself will wipe away your tears.

Prophesy Fulfilled? (Acts 20-23

Paul was warned that if he went to Jerusalem he would be arrested, bound, and imprisoned. He responded with this:

Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (21:13)

Paul’s friends recognized the signs and warned Paul there was danger ahead. But Paul wasn’t interested in the signs. He was committed to the mission, focused on sharing the truth about Jesus – no matter what, signs or no signs.

Almost every day I hear or read something like : “Bible prophesy is being fulfilled! The end is near! We are living in the last days!” It seems to me many people have become so obsessed with connecting the dots. But what good is simply connecting the dots?

Paul didn’t deny the signs. But he didn’t waste time investigating the details, either. His focus was on sharing the Gospel for as long and as loudly as he was able.

I’m reminded the Church has been reading the signs since the day Jesus went back to live in heaven. Many people believed Hitler was the antichrist back in the 1940’s, and were sure Jesus’ return was on the immediate horizon. The truth is, there have been Bible prophesies fulfilled, probably every year since John’s vision we know as the book of Revelation. People – even Jesus’ own disciples – believed Jesus was coming back in their lifetime. The signs were there.

But here’s my question: if you are reading the signs of the times and are convinced that we are living in the last days on earth – how has that belief effected your life? How urgently are you telling people about Jesus? How focused are you in sharing the Gospel with people who are facing hell, while you still have time to tell them?

Because if you aren’t frantically warning sinners, I’m really not interested in your opinion about prophesy.

The Beautiful City Of God (Isaiah 33)

As I read God’s word today, a hymn I have not sung in many years began running through my head. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn, “We’re Marching To Zion,” in the 1600’s!

Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne, And thus surround the throne.

Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
But children of the heavenly King, But children of the heavenly King,
May speak their joys abroad, May speak their joys abroad.

The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets,
Before we reach the heavenly fields, Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets, Or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high, To fairer worlds on high.

CHORUS:
We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion
We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

Isaiah talked about this beautiful city, my future home:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (33:5-6)

I’m thinking about Zion this morning. That peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved…

There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. (33:21a)

Isaiah told us in verse 6 that the key to this treasure is in fearing God. Fearing Him. Scripture often tells us that fearing God involves respecting Him, taking Him seriously, obeying Him, longing for Him, seeking Him, humbling ourselves before Him.

Are you marching to Zion? Not just drifting, not just wandering blindly. Are you marching with purpose, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and donned with the armor of God?

Left. Right. Left. Right. Keep marching toward that beautiful city of God where we will spend eternity in the Presence of our Creator, our Savior!

 

My Wedding (Psalms 43- 45, 49, 84-85, 87)

I’ve never been a bride. I’ve witnessed others experience their special day, and I’ve longed to put on my own jeweled white gown, a veil over my face, and know what walking toward a man who loves me above all others feels like, to hear him declare his love to an entire congregation, and to give myself totally, exclusively, eternally to him. I imagine that is a pretty awesome experience.

God, in His love letter to us we call the Bible, often describes His relationship with His people like that of a husband and wife. You can find references to that in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and in the writings of Paul and John. Jesus called Himself the bridegroom in Mark 2. And the Revelation of John specifically speaks about “the Lamb’s wife.”

Psalm 45 is a wedding song. And, in a very real sense, it describes my future wedding. On that day my robe interwoven with gold will be Jesus’ perfect robe, the one He bought for me with His very life. I’ll be wearing His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. No designer dress will compare with the glory of my future wedding gown.

I’ll draw near to him “with joy and gladness,” like a girl on the arm of her father walks down the aisle, and I’ll look into the eyes of Someone who loves me more than any man can possibly love. I’ll hear Him proclaim in front of the whole world that I am His forever. I’d like to invite you to my wedding.

But more than that, I pray when your time comes, you will experience your own glorious wedding day. I pray that you will allow God to place Jesus’ righteousness over you and be united with Him forever, with joy and gladness.

That will be your experience if you have accepted what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, and rose again to prepare your honeymoon in heaven. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Then begin to plan you wedding. What a day that will be!

A Name On A List (I Chronicles 1-2)

My reading plan has me in the first two chapters of I Chronicles this morning. I spent some time trying to carefully pronounce all of those weird names as I read. “Why?” you might ask. Why not just skim over the names of people whose stories are not even recorded? Well for one thing:

All Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16)

I know nothing about most of the men whose names I read in these chapters today, except maybe the names of their dads and their sons’ names. And the fact that God placed their names in His Holy Scripture.

Not all these people were obedient servants of God. Not all did amazing deeds, or won great battles. They were ordinary people. Yet all of them have a place in the history of God on this earth. All their names have been preserved for centuries. They were God’s children as part of His chosen people.

When you think about it, this is a pretty amazing list. What a privilege to be counted among God’s precious ones for ever. But this list is nothing compared to the list where you’ll find my name.

Scripture often talks about the Book of Life, or in Revelation, the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s where you’ll find my name.

I know my name is there because I have believed that Jesus is the Christ. I have recognized my sin and confessed it. I have received forgiveness for those sins through the blood of Jesus, the resurrected Savior. And because I have been redeemed, my name was added to the list of God’s precious ones, His children for whom He is preparing heaven!

The Lamb’s Book of Life is filled with pages and pages of ordinary men, women, and children. Not all have done great deeds, or won great battles. Not all have taught Sunday School or preached in front of thousands. Not all have given their lives for the Name. But every name on that list has something in common.

Acts 4:12 tells us there is no other name in heaven or earth that can save except Jesus. Jesus Himself told us that He is the Way and no one goes to the father except through Him. John 3:16 tells us whoever believes that Jesus died for the sins of the world will be saved and have everlasting life.

The names of the people who have accepted Jesus are listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. My name is there. I pray yours is as well. But it’s more than a list. It’s a relationship with God Himself. It’s the joy of sins forgiven. It’s truth and life, and eternity.

Now that’s a list!

 

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

December 31; I’ll Be Home

Revelation 19-22

When I read John’s description of heaven this morning, a great sense of peace came over me. In a way it was like that “Ahh” feeling you get when you walk into your home after a long trip. “I’m home,” for me brings comforting, secure, and happy emotions that can calm my spirit and ease my tension. This morning, while reading about my heavenly home, I could actually feel my muscles relax.

Life for me right now brings sadness and unrest. Some dear friends are experiencing a devastating loss, others have serious health issues, concerns for some of my family members can keep me awake at night, the division of our country, the state of the Church, my own frustrations can keep my thoughts in a turmoil. But then I read about Heaven.

I hear John tell me God will wipe away every tear from my eyes, and I know I’ll be there. Ahh… I’ll be home! I pray I will see you there.

What a joy it has been to read through God’s Word in 2019. I love how God continues to speak to me, to grow and challenge me as I spend time pouring over His love letter to me. And tomorrow, at the dawn of a new decade, I’m going to begin again with Genesis 1. I can’t wait!

A few decades ago, my mother expressed the desire to own an NIV Bible, so on her birthday in 1979 I got her one. Over the years, Mom read that Bible, underlined some verses, and wrote a few notes in the margins. After her death in 1996, I took that Bible home with me. So this year, I’ve decided to read her Bible, and pay attention to the verses that spoke to her. Maybe I’ll get to know my Mom a little better this year, too.

As I study God’s Word in 2020, I don’t think I will post my thoughts every day. But I know me, sometimes I can’t help but share what God has revealed to me! So I’m not closing out this blog. I’ll continue to read and journal every day, and will occasionally post my thoughts if I feel led to do so.

Happy New Year, dear one! Keep reading God’s Word and allowing Him to grow you as we begin the roaring 20’s of the 21st century. There is nothing God loves more than to spend time with you. Don’t miss it!

December 30; What Not To Wear

Revelation 15-18

So often we can become impatient for God to give our enemies what we think they deserve. But as I read John’s vision in the book of Revelation, I realize God is not out to avenge our enemies. But He will certainly deal with His.

His final judgment will be unimaginably awful for anyone who rejected Him during their lifetime on Earth. It is a truly frightening account of their future.

Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments. (16:7)

God isn’t going to arbitrarily torture someone just because He didn’t like them, or because of the color of their hair. But a painful existence is ahead for anyone who has ignored God’s wooing, His hand of correction, His conviction over sin, His constant attempts at winning the world. His judgments are true and just.

Jesus says, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (16:7)

So let me ask us this: What are we wearing? What clothes are we hanging onto? Good deeds? Charity? Church attendance? Morality? Good luck with that.

Those are exactly the things NOT to wear. When those filthy rags disintegrate, and they will, you’ll be standing there as naked as the day you were born.

For me, I want to be awake, wearing the righteousness Jesus bought for me on the cross. I want to keep that robe close to me because it is the only ticket into heaven anyone has.

I want that for you, too.

 

April 28; Home

2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 6:1-11, 23:13-17; I Chronicles 11:4-9, 11-19, 14:1-2, 8-17, 13:1-14

Our worship service this morning centered around the second coming of Christ. I will tell you it made me a bit homesick thinking about the day God the Father will tell His Son, “It’s time to go and get my children.” What a day that will be!

Sometimes I read psalms like 101 that speak of God making things right, and I find myself asking, “When?” When will slanderers be put to silence? When will evildoers be cut off? And then I am reminded that God warned us things would not be easy while we walk this earth. Evil still exists because God still wants to save evil people.

The pastor reminded us when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Comforter. God Himself lives within all of us who know Jesus as our Savior. Is there anything too hard for God?

So today, as I consider who God is, I am so grateful that He is mine, so humbled by His love, and so underserving of any of it. One day I’ll look into those eyes, hold those nail-scarred hands, and know I am home.

Titus, Philemon; The Alternative

A friend of mine recently said, “I figure every day I’m still alive is a good day, when you consider the alternative.” I said, “I look forward to the alternative.”

Paul, in the two short letters I read today reminds us that, as Christians, we have important work to be doing, regardless of our ages. There are people who need the Lord, and it’s up to us to be sure they hear about the Savior. We are to be encouraging one another, teaching about and growing in our relationship with Jesus, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2:13)

It’s not that I have a death wish. I love life here on planet Earth. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. But I also would love to be home. G. Campbell Morgan put it like this, “I am not looking for death, I’m looking for Him.”

And so am I.

Let’s get busy today living. Let’s be Jesus’ voice, hands, and feet to people who need him. Let’s talk about Jesus with people we come in contact with today. What a privilege to live for Jesus today.

And together, let’s keep one eye on the sky. We might actually get to meet Him today. My heart might stop beating. I might close my eyes, and open them in heaven today. Or this might be the day Jesus comes again in the clouds and take us all home. Either way, the alternative to this life, with all its cares and worries, even the measure of joy and blessing we experience here will be behind us. Then the fun begins for us who have accepted God’s grace through the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Or we might live another fifty years, Jesus might not come back for another 2,000 years. We don’t know. The only thing we know for sure is that this life is not forever. There is an eternity. And Jesus will come again.

Do you know Him? Are you ready to meet Him? If you aren’t, find someone who does and talk to them. If you are, be that person who will lead a sinner to the salvation Jesus bought for them.

Christian, get busy. And be assured, the alternative to this life is wonderful beyond imagination.