Suffering and Heaven

18920650_10158894564500074_8516742202078951748_nYesterday I took just Gabe out shopping.  I don’t often get to spend alone time with him and I was reminded what an amazing kid he is.  He has such a tender soul.  He wants to run an orphanage when he grows up… but he also wants to drive a Ferrari, so… 😉

We had a fun time, just the two of us.  On the way home he kept asking me about Heaven and what it’ll be like when Jesus comes back.

I explained to him that Jesus will appear in the sky with great glory, riding the clouds.  That every eye will see him, even those that pierced him.  That we will rise to meet him and be changed, to be like him.  That there will be no more sickness, death, pain…

I got choked up and so did he.  He said, “Mom, I can see him coming.”  I said, “honey that’s the Holy Spirit showing you that it’s true.”

You see, just the day before he had been in a lot of pain.  In between tears and sobs he had asked, “if God loves me, why am I suffering so much?”

The conversation, and the sweet presence of God, was something we both desperately needed.  Something that I need more of.

In my own suffering I tend to turn away.  I feel like I can’t take anymore disappointment at times, without losing hold of my faith.  But yesterday, it was like He peeled back the curtain obscuring eternity and gave us both a glimpse of our future and the end of suffering.  I felt a glimpse of the eternity and wonder awaiting us, and looking over at Gabe’s tear-filled eyes, I know he did too.

I know that Gabriel is being molded in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend.  I know he has a huge call on his life.  Even at the age of 8, there is a level of tenderness, empathy and hunger for knowledge of God that is amazing…. probably as the result of all the suffering he’s had to endure.

We can got lost in the hardships we face but we need to remember that life here is short and eternity is long.  We can’t choose the trials but we can choose how we face them.  Our God loves us.

 

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Heaven on Earth

In Exodus 24 we see God confirming his covenant with the Israelites.  He invites Moses and 73 elders to come partially up the mountain to worship.  God allows them to see him and live (the text points out that they lived to eat and drink another day!).  A direct translation from the Hebrew reads, “And they saw the God of Israel, and under his feet was a work of paved sapphire stone and the essence of Heaven in clearness.”  Exodus 24:10

It was like the saw God and in his presence was the very essence of Heaven.

I believe that when Jesus died he tore the veil separating us from access to the Holy God. (Matthew 27:51)  We can now go boldly into the presence of God. (Hebrews 4:16)

We can meet with God.  We can see his glory.  That is what we were created for.

If you are a believer you are a saint (Philemon 1:7), and a holy priest (1 Peter 2:9).  God has made you the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19)

If we are filled with the Spirit of God and the resurrection power of Christ (Romans 8:11) then we are virtually carrying the essence of Heaven in clearness within.  Very cool thought, huh?

We can experience God in amazing ways, we just have to be willing to diligently seek him.  Jesus said that the one who continuously seeks will find.  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

God is excited about filling us to the fullness with the Spirit of his Son.  That is the only way we are going to bear his likeness and have the power we need to change the World.  It is also our direct, 24/7 line of communication with God.  God is still doing amazing things on Earth.  His Spirit is still moving.  We are the church.  We are his ambassadors.  We can experience that essence of Heaven in our quiet time and worship, God longs for us to.

I am a ‘millennial’, I am 28.  I know people my age are leaving the church in droves.  I think they are searching for something real, something true.  They grew up in a churches that were as spiritually dead as a doornail.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  It isn’t supposed to be that way.  I am praying for a revival of the Holy Spirit in church that haven’t been moved in 50 years.  I am praying for millennials to experience God as he intended.  Not religion but a full-bore adventure filled with love, passion, struggle and overcoming great odds.  We serve an a amazing God.  We need to set our sights and expectations infinitely higher.

Only a tremendous out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (revival)- starting within the church- is going to turn the tide.  The early believers were up against a massive, godless empire.  In our day we are up against a similar massive, godless world system.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 desert-sunrise-wallpaper-beach-backgrounds-nature-backgrounds-29871

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take the wheel, let’s get some real power, and bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth in these last days.  Amen.

Grieved

I personally have gotten a lot of flack for being loud about my faith and not swerving from Biblical truth- and calling people out when they do (in a way that leads others astray).  Sometimes I know I am too brash and passionate.  But if we are going to be loud on anything shouldn’t it be the most important thing?  People scream like lunatics in public bars when a lump of leather gets dropped or fumbled.  And we should be polite and quiet about our faith?  If we really believe the Bible is true- how come we aren’t telling people?  If people are dying everyday and going to Hell, why don’t we care?  Are we so much more concerned with avoiding hurting feelings or getting into a heated conversation that we will stay mum and let people pass us by without trying to ‘snatch them from the flames?’ Jude 1:23  I think it is more like cowardice, apathy and self-preservation.

My heart is so grieved about this.  I just read a mainstream denomination’s belief statement on Hell.  It was the most convoluted, beat-around the bush, sugar coated thing I have ever read.  It was practically a novel of pure babbling, basically omitting obvious biblical truth, and wrapped up with a big ‘who knows?’  ‘God isn’t very clear’, ‘try reading Dante’.

WHAT?!?!?!?!?

The Bible is crystal clear about Hell.  Hell is mentioned 167 times.  There are many strong warnings because it is a real place of eternal torment.  “Hell- where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched..” Mark 9:50  Hell is a real place and there are already probably millions or billions there.  Hell was created for Satan and his demonic angels.  Matthew 25:41  It will also be the eternal home to all who do not receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  John 3:18

At the end of time, Jesus is going to judge the living and the dead.  Hell itself (and all it’s inhabitants) will be cast into the great lake of fire.  “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

It sounds scary because it is.  There is no way around it.  This is what God said and this is what is going to happen.  If we call ourselves Christians and believe the Bible to be true, then we need to deal with this reality.  We need to be woken up from our apathy and spiritual slumber.  Every human being matters.  The Lord is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

People come to repentance when they realize that they are a sinner headed to hell.  It is so out of fashion in this culture but it is God’s eternal truth.  He isn’t going to change to accommodate our present culture.  Jesus is the only way. John 14:6  All other roads lead to Hell.  If we don’t get our heads out of the sand and tell people the truth we are failing in the great commission.  We are failing them.

When people hear the true Gospel, the Holy Spirit can work in their hearts and move them to repentance.  When people repent and put their faith in Christ they are saved.  The angels in Heaven rejoice.  A new name is added to the Lamb’s book of Life.

When people go to church and hear a watered-down, half-gospel they are given a false comfort and sense of security.  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Galatians 1:7-9

The true Gospel is what you find in the Bible.  It is the words of Jesus.  People have been trying to distort the gospel since the beginning.  That is why we need to read it and know it for ourselves.

You can know for certain that you are going to Heaven.  How?  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Being saved is just the beginning of a lifelong process.  You must be ‘born again’.  “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again….born of water and the Spirit.” John 3  The very spirit of God comes into your heart.  It is an amazing thing, really, a miracle.  God comes in and he doesn’t leave.  Ever.  He is there to guide you, comfort you, encourage you, warn you, etc. for the rest of your life.  It is how you hear His voice and enjoy His presence.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

If we are filled with the Holy Spirit we can know we are Heaven-bound.  We know we will not hear “‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matthew 7:23

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Christianity is not just a passive belief in Christ.  He wants our all.  He wants our hearts.  Our very lives should be lived as an act of worship and as living sacrifices. Romans 12:1

Jesus said that ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’ Revelation 3:16

We were all created for Holy passion.  His Word should ‘burn in our hearts’. Luke 24:32  People should be able to tell by our passion and courage that we have been with Jesus. Acts 4:13  And, like my sis Erica said, Jesus also tipped over some tables and and stepped on toes. John 2:15  Matthew 12:34

Following Jesus demands everything of us.  We lay down our old lives, put to death our old selves, shoulder our cross, and do the thing.  It is the greatest adventure and the only way to find the true life.

The Truth of God’s Word may make us uncomfortable.  It confronts us in our sin.  It cuts through our bull.  “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” Romans 3:4

God’s way is perfect and His Word is flawless. 2 Samuel 22:31  Let’s honor it, stand by it, and not apologize for it.