Tag Archives: heaven

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.

 

Luke 18-21; How Can You Know, Really?

Can anyone really know whether or not they are going to heaven? I mean, who’s to say this person is, but that person is not? There are so many religions out there, isn’t it a bit conceited for anyone to think they’ve got the only key to heaven, the only claim to truth?

Well, first of all… I know I am going to heaven. I know it. I don’t hope so, I don’t even pray so. I know it as sure as I know my name. I am going to heaven. And honestly, I look forward to it.

You might ask how I can be so sure. That answer is found in the chapters we read today in Luke’s Gospel.

But these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (20:31)

You see, I’ve read the Gospels. I’ve searched the entire Bible, and I can’t help but believe it. John tells me that the words in this precious book were written so that I could know that by believing in Jesus, I will have life in His Name.

John tells us what is written is only a portion of everything Jesus did before and after the cross. There is no way he could record each and every word and miracle. But he tells us what is written is enough to convince the strongest skeptic.

I like what Matthew Henry has to say about this verse. The “life” John speaks of is both spiritual life and eternal life. I like that thought because yes, I am going to heaven. But I am also living my best life right here, right now, with Jesus at my side, His Spirit living in me.

Oh, I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I know He lived, died, and rose again to pay for my salvation. I am His. He is mine. Now and forever.

I know it. Really.

Exodus 19-20; Good Folk

I love knowing that all the Jewish people gathered around the mountain that day actually heard God’s voice. It must have been an incredible and terrifying experience. I love that God spoke to them in their own language, and I love that He came down to them to meet with them on their level. God is so personal.

We Christians know the Law God gave to the Jews wasn’t given as a recipe for acceptance. I am reminded that God was speaking to His already saved people. He had already rescued them from Egypt, and they were already free. They were already the children of God’s promise to Abraham.

The Law was given as a guide for living in Canaan, and ultimately to point them to Jesus. Following the Law has nothing to do with salvation. Oh, it’s a result of salvation. But it can never fulfill the requirements for salvation. It was never intended to.

So when people say they hope they’ve lived a good enough life to get to heaven, or if they are convinced they’re ok because they aren’t as bad as some mass murderer, they are wrong.

The Jews were saved when the blood was applied to their doorposts. It was the blood alone that saved them.

And it’s the Blood still today.