Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heaven: Our Eternal Home

Chuckle: “There was a young belle of old Natchez Whose garments were always in patchez. When comment arose On the state of her clothes, She drawled, 'When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez!'” --Ogden Nash

Ponder This: “To God the Father, God the Son, And God the Spirit, Three in One, Be honor, praise, and glory given By all on earth, and all in heaven.” --Isaac Watts


"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; Trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:1-4 NIV).

As I grow older, I find myself thinking about heaven and the hereafter more than I once did. How about you? Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? I'm reminded of the old hymn, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!" It has been said that "heaven is the most beautiful place the mind of God could conceive and the hand of God could create." Revelation 21 and 22, gives us a glimpse into heaven and a brief description of what it will be like. We know it will be so far beyond anything the human mind can conceive that we will be overwhelmed when we see it.

In our above passage, Jesus was comforting his disciples and telling them in no uncertain terms that he was going to prepare a place just for them, and us, in his Father's house or heaven. Jesus' words show us that the way to eternal life is secure in Him. He was asking them, and us, to have faith in three ways as we live here on earth:

First, Faith in a Person. He said we should have faith (believe in, trust) in him. "You trust in God; trust also in me." You see, it is one thing to believe in God, but something altogether different to believe in the person of Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. The Bible declares it is faith in Jesus Christ alone which gives us hope, comfort, and assurance of spending eternity in heaven. Jesus said, "whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall never die" (John 11:24).

Second, Faith in a Place: We are to have faith in a place called heaven - our eternal home. Jesus said: "I am going to prepare a place for you." You may recall the old hymn: "There's a land that is fairer than day and by faith we can see it afar. For the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore."

Third, Faith in a Promise: We are to have faith in His promise to return: "I will come back and take you to be with me." What will happen when Jesus returns in power and glory? The Bible tells us that the dead in Christ will be raised first to be inhabited by their spirits from heaven. Then we who are alive at his coming shall be changed into our "glorified" bodies and then be caught up together with them in the air - forever to be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17 NIV).

Jesus ended his teaching by saying: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV). Have you placed your faith in the person of Jesus? Have you prayed - asking forgiveness for your sins - asking Him to come into your life and be your Savior and Lord? If so, then heaven awaits you as Jesus promised. May this thought bring you much joy. . . .!! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (I Corinthians 2:9 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 5, 2009

Partnership in Christ

Chuckle: "I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous -- everyone hasn't met me yet." -- Rodney Dangerfield

Good Quote: "The world knows our accomplishments; we know our ambitions; God knows our motives." --William Arthur Ward


"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel . . ." (Philippians 1:3-5 NIV).

In his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul's salutation is followed by a great outburst of joy and love - a beautiful combination of thanksgiving and prayer. He expressed joy over their big-heartedness. He gave thanks for their generosity and faithfulness to the gospel from the time he first preached to them. They were never absent from his heart and prayers. He prayed that their spiritual life would increase until they were fully developed in love, knowledge, and spiritual sensitivity.

Remembering in Gratitude: Think with me about all the godly people who have influenced your life. I'm certain you have memories of such people -- without whom your life would be far less fulfilled. Wouldn't it be a beautiful gesture if each of us took the time to express our gratitude and love to them as Paul did to the Philippian Christians. "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you." Paul cared for the Philippians with sincere, self-sacrificing love. He worked for them while he could and, in prison, he never forgot them.

Prompted in Prayer: In verse 4, Paul said he never prayed for them without thanksgiving and joy. The word for prayer in verse 4 implies an expression of need. In the New Testament, this kind of prayer is always addressed to God but is not intercession. It is entreating God for a special blessing. Joy is one of the key dominant notes in the letter. The word for joy occurs in Philippians sixteen times. Paul was a happy prisoner in Rome as he had been in Philippi. Inner Joy and peace are characteristics of the devoted Christian regardless of external circumstances.

Sharing in the Gospel: In verse 5, Paul expressed to his Philippian friends the immediate reason for his thanksgiving and joy. It was their partnership with him in the sharing of the gospel. They had shown themselves true missionaries. Interestingly, the Greek word for partnership is koinonia. To find an exact equivalent in English for this Greek word is difficult. It is translated as partnership, fellowship, communion, fellow-working, and sharing together. It means sharing or participating with someone in a common experience. As believers, we are partners in Christ as we share the good news (gospel) message of Jesus Christ. Think for a moment about this truth. A genuine partner carries his/her part of the load -- is always faithful -- and recognizes the value of those with whom he/she is partnered.

Their partnership included (1) their acceptance of the gospel by faith, (2) their making the aims of the gospel their own, (3) their active witness in Philippi; (4) their cooperation in the teaching and preaching of the gospel, (5) their participation in suffering, (6) their expressions of sympathy for Paul in his work, and (7) their sharing in meeting other Christian needs. What an example and challenge Paul lays out for us. My prayer is that we all would be so faithful.

Love, Jerry & Dotse