Longing for Our Heavenly Dwelling

Longing for Our Heavenly Dwelling

Here’s a truth worthy of deep reflection: 

Our spirits within us long for our heavenly, eternal home.  We yearn to have our flawed, imperfect humanity swallowed up by eternal life and eternal love.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  (2 Cor 5:1-4 NKJV, emphasis added)

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.  (Isa 25:8 NKJV)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  (1 Cor 15:53-54 NIV)

When Isaiah 25 speaks of God wiping away tears from all faces, I believe that He is referring to our arrival in heaven, when all of our past shame and guilt AND any possibility of future sin will be extinguished forever.

All sorrows, sins and shortcomings from our earthly lives will be forgotten, and the prospect of eternity in the presence of our God and King will be our entire focus and purpose.

Just think about eternity spent in an atmosphere of perfect, unconditional, unfailing LOVE!  That is our beautiful, blessed destiny.

Not Stumbling In Our Words

Not Stumbling In Our Words

The Bible tells us something rather surprising in James 3—that the person who does not stumble in word is a perfect man or woman.  This person is one who is able to control everything about themselves.  Wow!

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.  (Jas 3:2-3, emphasis added

Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.  (Ps 34:13)

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.  (Pro 16:24)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.  (Pro 18:4)

“He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.”  (1 Pet 3:10)

Controlling our words is one of the most difficult things for human beings.  As 1 Peter 3 reminds us, we should refrain from speaking evil.  Do you know that “speaking evil” means some different things to God?  It means:

  • Saying anything that is less than 100% true;
  • Repeating gossip—even if it’s true;
  • Agreeing with other people who spread lies or say unpleasant things;
  • Saying negative or bad things about ourselves;
  • Repeating negative things;
  • Speaking anything that does not agree with God’s Word.

It surprises people to realize that even if they say something negative about themselves, it is unpleasing to God.  God wants us to agree with what HE says about each one of us.  He says that His children are:

  • Fearfully and wonderfully made,  (Ps 139:14)
  • His special treasure, (Ps 135:4)
  • The apple of His eye, (Zech 2:8)
  • Chosen and dearly loved, (1 Pet 2:4)
  • Given His approval, (1 Thes 2:4) and
  • Accepted in Jesus. (Eph 1:6)

From this list, we can understand that the Lord loves us and has said many wonderful things concerning His children—those who love Him and obey Him.  Since our words proceed from our thoughts, a key Scripture to meditate upon regularly is:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  (Phil 4:8)

As we think about God’s blessings and meditate upon His Words, our own words will begin to change and will correspond to what the Scripture has to say about everything.  God bless you!

Priest & Sacrifice

Priest & Sacrifice

The verses below all discuss or outline the fact that Jesus is our High Priest, and He is also the perfect Lamb of God.  He gave up His own life as a perfect, unblemished sacrifice to God.  With His sacrifice, Jesus purchased reconciliation to God for each one of us:  our salvation. 

In the Old Testament, the High Priest used the blood of bulls and lambs to pour upon the mercy seat as a sacrifice for the sins of the people.  God had instructed His people to build Him a sanctuary within which was the “Ark of the Testimony” which held the “mercy seat.”

. . . who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.  (Heb 7:27)

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  (Heb 9:12)

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  (Rom 6:10)

In Hebrews 12:24, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the blood of Jesus “speaks better things than the blood of Abel.”  God was the Avenger of “righteous Abel,” but Jesus Christ, the righteous, is our Advocate with the Father, and He is the appeasement for our sins.  (1 Joh 2:1-2) 

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is unique in all of time and eternity.  He has done what no one else could do.  He completed His mission on earth perfectly.  He is the perfect Priest and the perfect atoning Sacrifice:  the Lamb of God.   (See Heb 3:1; 4:14; 6:20; Joh 1:29, 36; Rev 7:17)  All glory to His name.

God’s New Thing

God’s New Thing

This is what the Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isa 43:16, 18-19)

God tells us to forget the past.  He calls us to see and to join with Him in His “new thing.”  His new work is to make a road in the desert and provide streams where no one expects them!  Wow! 

He hasn’t changed in doing the impossible!  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Heb 13:8)  Hallelujah!

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (Mt 19:26)  Our God does impossible things.

God wants to do a new thing in each and every heart on earth, but He can only do so when He is invited in.  If you’re a believer, you’ve already given the Lord permission to work in your heart and in your life.  But God wants to continue His work; He may even want to do a new thing in you!  Are you open to Him?

We know that God speaks to mankind in various ways.  First and foremost is through His Word, the Bible.  Other ways in which He speaks to us are:

  • Through creation (Ps 19:1) – We see God’s might and vision in creation.
  • Through circumstances – Whether our life circumstances are beautiful or frightening, they demonstrate to us repeatedly that we need to rely upon God.
  • God speaks by His voice – The Bible is filled with instances of God speaking to people, and He still speaks to us now.  He may speak through His written Word; through people (pastors, other believers, strangers); or through the inner witness of our own heart.

No matter what new goal or new presentation that God may have in mind for each of us, we must always decide to yield to and obey God. 

We need to remember that His plans for us and His desires for us are good, bountiful, and uplifting.  He loves each one of us perfectly and unconditionally.  As we trust Him and yield to Him, He will turn each life into a marvel of beauty and praise.  All glory to God!

Chosen and Precious

Chosen and Precious

Do you know that not only are you chosen by God, but that you are also precious to Him?  This passage of Scripture has much to teach us, but for today, I want to concentrate on how dearly loved and cherished each one of us is by God.

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Pet 2:3-5, emphasis added)

A portion of the New International Version of this passage reads, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him . . .”  (1 Pet 2:4, emphasis added)

The word precious means costly; priceless; exquisite; favorite; honored; and treasured.  These are the feelings that we humans feel for our very own children.  Yet God is telling us that He feels this way about each and every one of us!  Why else would He send His one and only Son to become our Savior and Redeemer?

Here are several verses of the Bible that echo the idea that God deeply loves each one of us:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (Joh 3:16, underscoring added)

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (1 Joh 4:11, underscoring added)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  (Joh 15:9, underscoring added)

Each and every one of us may have been rejected by people at one time or another in our lives.  Some of us have lived with a sense of rejection hanging over us due to past life experiences which were evil.  But in Christ, we need to remember that we were personally selected by Him to receive His gift of salvation so that He might help us to come to know His perfect, unending and unconditional LOVE.  He never forgets about us; He has written us upon the palms of His hands.  Each one of us is treasured and honored by our loving God.

In Isaiah 49:15d-16a the Lord says:  Yet I will not forget you.  16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands. . .

Love was God’s reason for salvation and for all of the attendant blessings and scriptural promises that are bestowed upon us.  I believe that the apostle Paul echoes the heart of God when he says:

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men . . . (2 Cor 3:2 NASB)

We, individually, are indelibly written on the tablet of God’s heart never to be erased.  The Lord moves heaven and earth to bless us; to save, deliver, heal, and protect us; and to grow us in wisdom and spiritual maturity.  Entrust yourself to the incomparable love of God from this moment forward, O beloved child of the King of Kings!

Love Is the Gift of God

Love Is the Gift of God

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  (1 Joh 4:8)

LOVE – the single most important thing in life and in eternity.  There’s no way that we can “love too much”!

Firstly, God is love—as shown in the verse above.  That’s why it was easy to make the statement above that love is the single most important thing in life and in eternity.  This is true simply because God IS love—and HE is the most important Being in life and in eternity.  I believe that without God, mankind would have no concept of love.  God IS love—pure, perfect, unconditional, unending love. 

God chose to create us with a free will.  We can choose to obey Him or not; and we can choose to love God or not.  But when we DO love God and serve Him, He causes amazing things to happen in our lives. 

Here are just some of the wonderful things that God provides and does for those who love and serve Him:

  • Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful . . . (Ps 31:23) He preserves [maintains, upholds, sustains) His people.
  • Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. (Ps 91:14)  God will deliver us when we’re in trouble; and He will set us on high.  God made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus—that is being “set on high.”  (Eph 2:6)
  • I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. (Ps 116:1)  God hears our voices as we pray to Him.  And another verse in the Bible (1 Joh 5:14-15) says that when we know that God has heard us, we know that He has given us the very thing for which we have prayed.  Glory to God!
  • The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. (Ps 146:8)  The Lord gives sight to the blind; straightens those who are bent over and removes their burden; and He loves us.  The Lord is our healer.  (Ex 15:26; 23:25; Isa 53:4-5; Jer 30:17; Jam 5:14-15)
  • That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries. (Pro 8:21)  Wisdom (represented as a person) is speaking in this verse, and all wisdom comes from God Himself.  So this verse says that God causes those who love Him to inherit wealth, and He fills their bank accounts. 

This list includes verses from the Old Testament only, but there are even better promises in the New Testament for us!  My point in this discussion is that LOVE is a hugely important gift to consider.  And there are even bigger and better indications of God’s love for us in the New Testament.  Search out those hidden treasures for yourself!

We know that God loves each one of us.  But in addition to His love, He has allowed us to love and to be loved by fellow human beings.  That is one of God’s chief gifts to us.  The reason it is so key is because every ounce of love that we either feel for another or receive from another is a reminder and a representation of God Himself—who is love. 

Treasure, cherish and appreciate every single person who loves you and whom you love.  Enjoy the fact that you’re able to love other people, and that you’re able to receive and to experience their love for you.

Love—it’s a gift of God to each one of us.

Accepted In the Beloved

Accepted In the Beloved

. . . to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  (Eph 1:6, emphasis added)

And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it.  (Lev 22:21, emphasis added)

Accepted means:  received; recognized; admitted; acknowledged; welcomed; understood; or allowed. 

In Christ, we are accepted by Almighty God as perfected.  How wonderful and awesome a gift we have been given!

As the verse from Leviticus above demonstrates, an offering (in the OT) had to be perfect in order to be acceptable to the Lord.   Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, slain in our place for our sins and iniquities.

Now, we are accepted into the household of faith, the kingdom of God, and the family of God!  No matter what our past may look like, what our personality is, or what our appearance is—we are welcomed by the loving arms of Jesus!  Hallelujah!

Jesus invites us to come to Him in every circumstance of life and in the face of every challenge, need, or failing.  He is the very embodiment of perfect, unconditional, and unfailing LOVE.  There is mercy (forgiveness, kindness, humanity, generosity) in Christ’s embrace. 

Know, trust, and believe that you’re accepted in Jesus and rejoice!

 

A Perfect Way

A Perfect Way

Greetings and welcome!  Think about this before you return to the daily grind.

God [is] my strength [and] power, and He makes my way perfect.  2 Sam 22:33 (NKJV)

[It is] God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  Ps 18:32 (NKJV)

In these passages from the Bible, the writer is describing God’s help and the blessings of a relationship with Him.  This is how our relationship with our Father God, through Jesus, blesses us:  God gives us –

  1. Swiftness to pursue or to elude our enemies;
  2. Strength;
  3. Protection; and
  4. A firm footing!

A firm footing is very important under all circumstances.  But you can well imagine how vital a firm footing is during battle!  Firm ground upon which to place your foot during battle can mean the difference between winning and losing—surviving or dying.

These precious promises are for us.  The Lord gives us His strength and power; His counsel and protection in battle; and makes our feet secure!  This is His recipe for victory in every area of our lives!  This means we have victory and favor in our day-to-day jobs.

Receive His strength!  Tap into God’s power; and listen to His counsel.  You will find God’s counsel in the Bible; in advice from trusted, spiritual friends; and from the pastoral staff in your home church.  Glory to His Name!