Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Heaven’

Decisions

“But as for you who forsake the Lord
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.

My servants will sing
out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit.

You will leave your name
for my chosen ones to use in their curses;
the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,
but to his servants he will give another name.

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.

~~ Isaiah 65:11-16 (NIV)

In today’s world we talk about a God of love. And God is that. He surely is love. But He is also a God of wrath.

As you read these verses, you can’t help feeling sorry for those who forsake the Lord. And it seems a terribly harsh ending.

Look at it carefully, however. God gave man a free will. Man can choose whether he wants God as a part of his life or not. If he chooses to have God in his life, God will honor that. As man repents his wrongdoings, God is merciful and loving and swift to forgive. Like a doting parent, He spoils us and gives us what we want.

The people to whom God is speaking here are those who decided they wanted no part of God in their lives. And again, like a doting parent, God is letting them have their own way. He will not inflict Himself on them in life. Nor will He presume the keep them in His presence after death.

There are only two places to live in this universe. One is in the presence of God and the other is away from God. One is heaven, the other is hell. We choose. And God honors our choice because he gave man a free will.

If we choose to live in the presence of God, we can have a piece of heaven on earth. If we choose the other, well….

Father, God,

Help us to choose wisely. Keep us ever mindful of Your presence and Your will. Grant that we may always be obedient to Your promptings and swift to obey. Deliver us from waywardness.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  ~~  John 1:1-3 (KJV)

In most cases, it’s better to begin at the beginning.  So we start at the beginning of the Gospel of John. We start with the Word. In this case, the Word refers to Jesus.

Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father. Equal with the Father in creative power, there was never a time when He didn’t exist.  As we anticipate the celebration of His incarnation, we need to remember that Jesus is more than the baby in the manger. He is eternal. There was never a time when he didn’t exist.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  ~~ Genesis 1:1-3

The Word, the Word of God, the Bible, Scripture. This is our point of contact  with Jesus. We have His words. As we study them, meditate on them, commit them to memory, we come closer to the mind of Christ.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ~~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

As we line up our thoughts and actions with the mind of Christ, we find a peace that defies circumstance. In a world of violence, we can rest in God’s sovereignty. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Nor without His provision.

Our sight is generally limited to this temporal world. He sees things in the eternal. There is no tragedy in this life that He cannot redeem in the eternal. We may not see that redemption this side of heaven, but it’s there none-the-less.  And it can be a comfort if we let it.

Father, God,

Help us to study Your Word in order to understand Your thoughts. Grant us the vision to see and the hearts to accept what You would teach us of patience and eternity.  Help us to focus on the Word as we anticipate celebrating the incarnation of Jesus.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

PS: If you want an example of the difference Christ can make in your life, I would direct you to Doc Lynch’s post for today as well. You can find it here.

PPS: I wish you all the joys of the season, the joy of

  • knowing Jesus as your Savior
  • furthering an intimacy with God as you read His word
  • serving the temporal body of Christ in this world
  • resting in His love and provision
  • His salvation

May this Christmas season be your best ever.

Faith and Works

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.   

Ephesians  2:8-10 ~~ (KJV)

Most people work to earn a living. In our capitalistic society, you gain money by providing either goods or services to someone who is willing to pay for them. It works fairly well in a free market.

Many religions – even some Christian sects – focus on works as a means of earning heaven. Were that so, one would be putting God under an obligation to pay for some service. Wait a minute!

What does God need – NEED – from us?

Absolutely nothing. There is no service we can do for God which He cannot accomplish without us. There is no physical thing we can provide which He does not already own. So how do we earn our place in heaven?

We don’t!

Our place in heaven is a gift from Jesus. He gave it because He loves us. He satisfied our debt and freed us to live without blood-guilt.

The only thing that can keep us from this blessed gift is us. We need to accept by faith that He has paid the price. That there is nothing we can do to earn a place in heaven.

By the same token, we need to serve God – not because He needs our service, but because we need to serve. Only by serving His purposes can we express our gratitude for what He has done for us.

What we do is the evidence of our faith, more evidence than what we say.

The point is that love and faith lead to behavior. If we love God, we behave in loving ways. If we love the world, we behave in selfish, thoughtless ways. Actions are evidence not origins, effects not causes.

Eternal Life is a gift, not a payment.

Father, God,

Give us the grace to accept Your gift of life by faith in You. Grant that we may be truly grateful for the sacrifice of Your Son and evidence the same by our daily walk. Help us to reflect the light of Your love in this world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  ~~  John 1:1-3 (KJV)

In most cases, it’s better to begin at the beginning.  So we start at the beginning of the Gospel of John. We start with the Word. In this case, the Word refers to Jesus.

Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father. Equal with the Father in creative power, there was never a time when He didn’t exist.  As we anticipate the celebration of His incarnation, we need to remember that Jesus is more than the baby in the manger. He is eternal. There was never a time when he didn’t exist.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  ~~ Genesis 1:1-3

The Word, the Word of God, the Bible, Scripture. This is our point of contact  with Jesus. We have His words. As we study them, meditate on them, commit them to memory, we come closer to the mind of Christ.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ~~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

As we line up our thoughts and actions with the mind of Christ, we find a peace that defies circumstance. In a world of violence, we can rest in God’s sovereignty. Nothing happens without His knowledge.

Our vision is generally limited to this temporal world. He sees things in the eternal. There is no tragedy in this life that He cannot redeem in the eternal. We may not see that redemption this side of heaven, but it’s there none-the-less.  And it can be a comfort if we let it.

Father, God,

Help us to study Your Word in order to understand Your thoughts. Grant us the vision to see and the hearts to accept what You would teach us of patience and eternity.  Help us to focus on the Word as we anticipate celebrating the incarnation of Jesus.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Wages And Consequences

Focus verses: Romans 6:5-23

Most people work to earn a living. In our capitalistic society, you gain money by providing either goods or services to someone who is willing to pay for them. It works fairly well in a free market.

Many religions – even some Christian sects – focus on works as a means of earning heaven. Were that so, one would be putting God under an obligation to pay for some service. Wait a minute!

What does God need – NEED – from us? Absolutely nothing. There is no service we can do for God which He cannot accomplish without us. There is no physical thing we can provide which He does not already own. So how do we earn our place in heaven?

We don’t!

Our place in heaven is a gift from Jesus. He gave it because He loves us. He satisfied our debt and freed us to live without blood-guilt.

The only thing that can keep us from this blessed gift is us. We need to accept by faith that He has paid the price. That there is nothing we can do to earn a place in heaven.

By the same token, we need to serve God – not because He needs our service, but be cause we need to serve. Only by serving His purposes can we express our gratitude for what He has done for us.

What we do is the evidence of our faith, more evidence than what we say.

My grandmother use to mis-quote this poem as follows:

“I love you, Mother, said little Nell,
“I love you more than tongue can tell.”
Then she teased and pouted the live-long day.
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

I love you, Mother,” said little Nan,
“To-day I’ll help you all that I can;
Busy and happy all day was she;
Helpful and happy as a child could be.

How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

My memory is what I was taught all those years ago. It isn’t the way the verse is written in the references, but that happens frequently with truisms. The sense is the same, even if the wording and details are different. You can imagine my surprise to learn that the second girl’s name was “Fan” not “Nan” in the original.

The point is that love and faith lead to behavior. If we love God, we behave in loving ways. If we love the world, we behave in selfish, thoughtless ways. Actions are evidence not origins.

We earn the wages of sin by our actions — but we need only accept the gift of Eternal Life
.

Father, God,

Give us the grace to accept Your gift of life by faith in You. Grant that we may be truly grateful for the sacrifice of Your Son and evidence the same by our daily walk. Help us to reflect the light of Your love in this world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Rejoicing In Heaven

Focus verses: Luke 15:1-7

We all have questions about life after this life. Is there life after this life? What happens when you die? Who has been to heaven? And what is it like there? That may explain the popularity of the book 90 Minutes in Heaven.

In this parable Jesus tells us about the rejoicing in heaven. It seems to imply that when someone righteous enters heaven, there is joy, but no surprise. He has been expected and is made most welcome.

But when someone who has been a sinner repents and goes home, there is a jubilation celebration. Something that had been lost has been retrieved.

When I talk to womens groups about forgiveness, I tell them that forgiveness is not “kiss and make up” or “forgive and forget.”

True forgiveness is being able to to see the offense for what it was; being able to see the offender and what he/she did; and then to see that offender through the eyes of God, as a beloved child who has strayed and whom you want desperately to see restored to home.

That is the theme of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Today, let us pray for all the prodigals in our lives (ourselves included) that they may be brought safely back into the fold.

Father, God,

Help us to find our way back to You when we have strayed. Open Your arms in forgiveness for our faults. And teach us to pray for those who have offended us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Cause And Promise

Focus verses: Jeremiah 16:1-21

God’s judgment on the nation seems harsh and His separation of Jeremiah from all society seems even harsher. Jeremiah is not to marry, not to enter a house of mourning, not to enter a house of celebration.

And God tells Jeremiah the reasons why this disaster is coming upon the land. It is because the fathers of this generation were unfaithful to the Lord and followed after idols. But more than that, it is because this generation is even more wicked, following after the stubbornness of their own hearts.

God tells Jeremiah that He will scatter the nation to various lands, chiefly to the north (Babylon). But there will come a time when He will not be known as the God who restored Israel from Egypt, but as the God who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where He had banished them. He promises to restore them to the land He gave their forefathers.

Actions have consequences. And like any good parent, God will not stand between His children and the consequences of their own actions. Israel has separated itself from the Lord time and again. Her momentary repentances and fidelities have been many – and short lived. She always goes back to her own devices, following the dictates of the human heart without regard for God and His laws. This fickleness has brought on the diaspora.

When people ask about how a loving God can consign anyone to hell, they are missing the point. God does not consign people to hell. He lets them go their own way. People make the choice, not God.

There are only two places to live in this universe. One is in the presence of God. The other is away from God. The first is heaven; the second is hell.

If you choose to live in the presence of God, acknowledging His sovereignty over all things, you can live in a little piece of heaven on earth. He will honor your choice, and you will have the fullness of His presence in heaven for eternity.

If you choose to live without regard for God, ignoring Him at every turn, He will not push Himself on you in eternity. If you have chosen to live absent of God on this earth, He will honor your choice in eternity. You will have chosen hell over heaven.

Father, God,

Thank You for making it clear that Your judgments are just and righteous. Thank You for promising to restore the remnant. Help us to remain part of Your faithful remnant.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.