Friday, September 28, 2012

Heaven


Heaven, Where Everything is Different

Revelation 21:4-6
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
~ In Sweet Memory ~
I wrote this devotional on heaven before I heard that my dear friend and co-laborer in Christ, Bro. Ramon Ortiz, had slipped into eternity. I thank God for the friendship we shared and for the joy he showed in knowing Christ. I dedicate this devotional to my wonderful friend who loved the Lord and was not ashamed to share the Gospel of Christ with the young people of Mexico, whom he loved so dearly. 2 Corinthians 5:8 ~ We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Scripture refers to heaven more than 500 times and in the book of Revelation, it is mentioned about 50 times. Christians have a never ending fascination with this place called “Heaven,” because most have loved ones that are already there. We read that heaven is where the Lamb of God dwells and is now seated at the right hand throne of God. Around His throne, is a rainbow, emerald in appearance, revealing the splendor and glory of God. 

We are told that life in heaven will be dramatically different from anything we have ever known here on earth. What a change there will be when....God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Isaiah 25:8 ~ He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. Revelation 7:17 ~ For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Perfect holiness and the absence of sin will characterize this wonderful place called “Heaven,” where there will be no more pain, suffering, or disease. The greatest curse of human existence will be no more–––for there will be no more death ....Death is swallowed up in victory....thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:54b, 57).

The sweetest song of heaven will praise the only One who is worthy to be praised saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12.) Endless worship belongs to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as all of creation will sing and give praise for the joy of a perfect redemption by a perfect Redeemer. Psalms 150:6 ~ Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

What will it be like to live in God’s glorious presence in this wonderful place? Together we will forever enjoy the fellowship of Him who died for us and we will see God as He is in all of His glory. 1 John 3:2 ~ Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. We will with overwhelming gratitude and abounding love serve our God in the light of His dear Son And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:5).


When We All Get to Heaven
by Eliza E. Hewitt 

 Let us then be true and faithful, 
trusting, serving every day; 
just one glimpse of Him in glory 
will the toils of life repay. 

(Refrain)

When we all get to heaven, 
what a day of rejoicing that will be! 
When we all see Jesus, 
we'll sing and shout the victory! 

Thought: The glorious and comforting truth about heaven is that those who humble themselves and accept God’s offer of salvation will spend eternity there with Him, the Lord of glory. The last words of the Bible in Revelation 22:21 read; The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. What a gracious expression of love towards fallen man in saying,  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning: the joy and pleasure which influences your heart, be with you all. Amen. My prayer for you dear friend, is that you trust the One who can forgive your sin and in His presence is fulness of joy; where at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11b).

Friday, September 21, 2012

God's Love


God’s Love, Endless, Certain and Victorious!
Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The expression of love for Christ through hymn writing brings overwhelming joy to the heart of man. 

George Matheson, known for writing the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” did so in the midst of great sorrow in his life. As a young man, George, was already experiencing poor eyesight which in the years to follow, would leave him totally blind. He was determined to finish his education at the age of nineteen and enrolled in the University of Glasgow where he would study Christian ministries. During this time in graduate studies, he became permanently blind by his predetermined deteriorating eyesight. To add to his saddened plight, his fiancee was unwilling to be married to a blind man and broke off their engagement returning the ring.

. . . Let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies . . .
I Chronicles 21:13

George never married because of this broken engagement–––the pain of total rejection caused his spirit to plummet into despair.  His two sisters, who loved him dearly, stood beside him learning Greek and Hebrew along with him to help with his studies for ministry. When one of the sister’s came to George with the joyous news of her plans to be married, he of course was elated for her, but was reminded of his own heartache. He consoled himself with the thoughts of God’s love for him and was reminded, God’s love is never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. Out of this difficult experience it is said, he penned this great hymn.

“O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow,
May richer, fuller be.

O joy that seekest me though pain, 
I cannot close my heart to Thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.



Thought: The Apostle Paul wrote in the epistle to the Romans of his personal tribulations and how he suffered persecution, agony and was painfully distressed, yet, the list of experiences could not separate Paul or any believer from the love of Christ. Nothing in the path of life from beginning to end can separate us, dissociate us, or remove us from God’s love. The Bible says, We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us–––this means, we as Christians, are completely victorious! 

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:57 

We need not fear life or death, things present or things to come, because Jesus Christ loves us and has given us the victory with no conditions attached. 

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 
 1 John 5:4

What security in Christ this gives to us as we claim for ourselves God’s love, His victory over sin and death and the absolute freedom to rejoice in it!

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 
Romans 8:31

Friday, September 14, 2012

A New Born Baby





How Sweet to Hold a New Born Baby

Psalm 139:13-18
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Today, I was blessed to hold my newest little granddaughter, Samantha Lynn. What a precious gift from God a new born baby is. I took notice of every feature from her little round head to her eddy-biddy toes. For nine months she has been living in a nearly perfect, secure and wonderfully made womb. How marvelous are Thy works and every detail of her face was exactly the way He wanted it to be. Every finger and toe, her complete frame, was written down and fashioned perfectly–––with His thoughts of her being so many they could not be numbered. It should fill us with such wonder that the infinite mind of God should turn so many thoughts towards us who are so insignificant and so unworthy!

Every precious grandchild that God has gifted me with has been a magnificent and monumental moment I have been privileged to experience. To think the miracle of life has once again been given is awe-inspiring and breathtaking. I am overwhelmed when I call to mind what value God has placed on one small soul. The beginning of life was formed by the dust of the earth and the breath of God and though we are begotten and born of our earthly parents, God is the chief parent and the only fashioner of us all.  "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalms 100:3).

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. God understands us, and is most intimately acquainted with our person, nature, and character –––how well it would be for us to know the God who knows us! The Lord knows us as thoroughly as if he had examined us so meticulously observing the most secret corners of our being. Since God cannot forget that which He has once known, there will never be a time in which we are unknown to God and never a moment in which we will be beyond his watchful care. The examining eye of God views the new born baby and is acquainted with all their ways, every cry, every whimper, every breath. To think the God of this universe studies, considers and observes every minute feature of our being, gives great assurance that His knowledge of one so small is to wonderful to convey but deserves the highest praise.

Oh, how magnificent is His power in the development of human life in the womb of a mother. The divine design and term of pregnancy, in which God watches over the growth of a child, is providentially ordained and divinely ordered. God’s plan in the forming of human life is unsearchable, for we are unable to clearly understand all aspects of life in our finite minds. God alone teaches man the knowledge of human life and true knowledge comes from the Word of God which gives us truth. If man rejects His Word, he rejects all truth and as long as man continues to turn away from God’s revelation of Himself and His will they will be unable to arrive at the true knowledge of themselves, the world (medicine), and God Himself.

Thought: It is most definitely the sweetest thing to hold a new born baby and feel the delight that flows from within. But, there is no greater joy than to know the Creator––Sustainer of life and His wonderful gift of saving grace that gives to us the hope and joy of eternal life. New life in Christ and a new born baby are the most wonderful gifts that come from the heart of God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Addiction


 Addiction, How Do We Help Them?
Exodus 20:1-3
And God spake all these words, saying,  I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  

Do those who are addicted realize their addiction is idolatry?

To help those who are addicted we must first show them their addiction is idolatry–––a life dominating sin that needs to be severed by practicing “spiritual amputation.” God created man to worship and serve Him and to experience a personal relationship with a holy God. Addiction is a problem of misdirected and inappropriate worship coming from an idolatrous heart. The addict either does not know the character of God or they have chosen to ignore and doubt the truth they have already been taught. Addicts can spend much time, energy, finances and metal consideration in pursuit of their idol–––while neglecting the things essential to life. This idol is the ruling factor in their life which distracts them from their responsibilities and dictates the friends they choose or those they abandon.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29-30.)  Jesus was not suggesting self-mutilation but a graphic exaggeration was depicted to demonstrate the seriousness of the sin of lust and evil desire. The point being, it would be better to loose one’s own body parts than to bear the eternal consequences of guilt from such a sin.

Are there Biblical solutions for those suffering in their addictions?

There are a few solutions that the addicted will make up in order to relieve their conscience when they are tempted to sin. They will blame their actions on something or someone else. They will rationalize the extent of their sin or justify why they did what they did. They will lie and use cute or silly phrases to describe their sin in order to avoid the reality of what they have done. They will avoid people or circumstances that remind them of the consequences of their sin and glamorize their situation only recalling the good times. The addict needs to be reminded that these are wrong solutions in their battle over their addiction and only the pursuit of God can change their heart.  

How do we help those whom we know are addicted and fall repeatedly?

Be mindful that addicts can be guilt-ridden and full of shame. Always speak the truth in love to those that are hurting from addiction that they may gain an awareness of what they have done and are doing hurts them and others. They need to understand–––sorrow that produces repentance leads to salvation and embraces God’s wonderful grace. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ~ For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Sorrow that produces death, forgets God and in pride embraces worthless self-effort in an attempt to save face. Humility and submission to God must replace pride and self-effort along with the understanding that repentance is not a one time act. Choices to serve God and not one’s self must be made every day to re-establish a relationship with God and break the chains of bondage their idolatry holds them captive to. Ephesians 4:22-24 ~ That ye put off concerning the former conversation (behavior) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (typically, deceitful lusts is on a habitual basis intending to mislead or deceive) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The addict must realize they cannot deliver themselves from their addiction; “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Those that suffer from addiction must re-establish their relationship with God or come to the saving knowledge of Christ for God to do a work in their life. They need to realize addiction causes trust to be broken and that rebuilding trust takes time and effort. How they treat others, especially their brother’s and sister’s in Christ, is demonstrated by noticeable acts of love. The Scriptures below will provide a starting place to show how they are to “love others” or “each other.”

Romans 12:10 ~ Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (to show genuine appreciation and admiration for fellow believers with love.)

Galatians 5:13 ~ For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 ~ But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Imagery of wild animals attacking and killing each other––a graphic picture of what happens when Christians do not love and serve each other.)

Ephesians 4:32 ~ And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

1 Peter 4:8 ~  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (Fervent means to be stretched, to put another’s spiritual good before one’s own desires even if your are treated poorly. Covering sin means to over look what someone has done to you and be ready to forgive unkindnesses and personal insults.)

Thought: To those of you who want to help friends in addiction, consider all of the points above and then build a network of accountability for them. Help them to establish a daily routine to develop discipline and godly character/attitudes. Consistency is important when attempting to put their lives back together. Help them to understand biblical truths when dealing with the challenges of life and distressing emotions–––this gives them hope. Most importantly, it is critical for them to know that Christ has won the victory over sin on the cross. They need to be reminded that their sins are forgiven, forgotten and eternally removed. 

Psalm 103:12 ~ As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Micah 7:19b ~ and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.  Hebrews 10:17 ~ And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.–––this gives them assurance, hopefulness and confidence that he which hath begun a good work in you (them) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6) Amen!