Joy with Heavenly Hope

Paul seeks to encourage the Philippian believers who are looking around them and see a world that is driven by selfish needs, greed, power, and bent on self-destruction. How does a believer survive in such a world? We can ask ourselves that same question right now! Paul’s answer is one of perspective. He tells the Philippians to think about Jesus and His kingdom with the knowledge that His heavenly kingdom will someday be their home! They can take encouragement and strength from the fact that they belong to Jesus and His kingdom and that His heavenly home is not located in the earthly places where they currently reside. We too can take heart from Paul’s words as they equally apply to us!

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Not only are we citizens of heaven but we can be assured that Jesus will return someday to transform us. We know this is possible because He has resurrection power and is able to bring all things under His control, i.e. He is the Sovereign Savior.

This message of Jesus’ return, His power to transform us and bring us to heaven is found other places in scripture, too. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 speaks of Jesus’ return “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be like Jesus when He returns. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I love the picture Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 about our heavenly bodies “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,”

The thoughts of Jesus’ return, a body that will not experience pain or despair, hardship or doubt brings hope to any who are suffering. Jesus will return and take us to heaven to live with Him. Whether we die first or meet Him in the air, we will go to heaven and be transformed by Him.  These are word filled with Hope.

JOY! Because we know: Jesus will return.

Jesus will transform us both inside and out.

Jesus has a home for us in heaven.

All Believers are citizens of heaven.

Let your Joy be complete in Jesus!

Linda

A different look at Ephesians beginning with Heaven-what a place!

summerI have been praying and pondering what God wants me to write about this summer. What has come to mind over and over is that He is telling me I’m not done with Ephesians.  The book of Ephesians was the foundation of my Lenten journey this year.  I worked my way through the entire book in the 6 week of Lent.  It was a rich time in Word of God,  and I was mightily blessed.  How He is leading me to write on these subjects again is to start with the lessons and truths revealed in Ephesians and search scripture for other passages that confirm the same or very similar truths.  I will not attempt to do all of the truths He revealed during our Lenten journey but as many as I can.  I am looking forward to a rich time in God’s Word these summer months.

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedEphesians 1:3 “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”    The truth is:   God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  

What kind of spiritual blessings does scripture tell us we have in heaven and some that start right here on earth- here are a few I found. (Believe me the Word is filled with references to heaven and these are but a few of the blessings.)

David wrote of the physical blessings of the heavens that we have shown to us through creation itself.  Psalm 8:3-9  (a foretaste of the glories of heaven)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We can see and know God’s handiwork even before we get to heaven.  The heavens also declare God’s righteousness, faithfulness and justice.

Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! 

Jesus said that repentance and persecution bring blessings in heaven.  Matthew 5:10-12 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

John 6 passages promise eternal life from, Jesus, the bread of heavenJohn 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 talks about our new heavenly home, body,  made by God, For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,”

In heaven,  all things will be united and we will have a place at his right hand, (a place of honor)  Ephesians 1:10 and 20  “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”

Peter describes our inheritance that is safe guarded in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Lastly, Revelation is filled with picture images of the new heaven God will create for our dwelling place for  all eternity.  Revelation 21:1-2 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The greatest blessing of heaven,  now and in the future,  is that Christ died for you and me so we can experience these spiritual blessings.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Spiritual-Blessings-in-Christ-I pray you have the blessing of knowing Christ and are looking forward to these eternal blessings that await us in heaven.  May you marvel at the beauty of heaven to come, the safety, completeness and glory we will see there.  Be encouraged today as you meditate on these passages.  This is our inheritance and a place all believers can look forward to in their future.  Praise God!

Linda

 

 

Thankfulness begins with family

all god's familyOne of the true delights in life is God’s family.  No matter what kind of earthly family we come from that might be filled with fights, disagreements, hard feelings, love, tenderness, nurturing…. all believers belong to God’s family, He is our heavenly Father and we can call Him, “Abba Father’.   This is a term that was used to express a very close relationship with our father, like Daddy.  Romans 8:15-17 explains our adoption into God’s family.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”  

I find this passage incredibly encouraging.  I am adopted through faith in Jesus to belong to His family making me a join heir with Christ in heavenly things.  I will have eternal life with Jesus, reign in heaven, have a home there, belong to God and I can call Him Father and Jesus brother.  Jesus reaffirmed this truth in Matthew 12:50 when He was questioned about his brothers and sisters, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  I will also have support in the here and now through His indwelling Holy Spirit that testifies to my spirit that I belong to God and empowers me to live for Jesus each day.  Being in God’s family also means I will suffer for His name as I stand up for Him and tell others about Him.  It is all part of being ‘in the family’ of God.

Usually at Thanksgiving we think of family and give thanks for having those in our lives that care about us.  Likewise, we should take time to be thankful for the family of God.  Think of those brothers and sisters in Christ that are risking their lives to tell others about Jesus, those that are suffering great hardships around the world, those who we work with every day that are in need of a helping hand, an encouraging word or prayer.  Philippians 4:6 is a promise from God that reminds us to pray with thanks. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let we are familyyour requests be made known to God.”   Pray for your brothers and sisters today with calmness knowing they are loved by God and are join heirs with Christ.  It is our privilege as members of God’s family.

I am thankful for each of you as you seek to know God more completely,  and I pray that my words will be an encouragement to you!

Linda

King and Kingdom-are they yours?

King foreverOne of the images presented in scripture is of God as our eternal King.  This seems like an earthly title but when we consider His kingdom and what it is like, we realize that His reign is way beyond any earthly kingdom.  Jesus tell us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  God’s kingdom is not territory driven but character driven.  Romans 14:17 adds more, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  His kingdom is a place of joy, peace and dwelling with God.  1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power.”   His kingdom is based on His power and might.  Scripture tells us Jesus is  and will be our king.  Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says,  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” 

Jeremiah 10 10David knew God was and is king forever.  Psalm 145:1 “I will extol you, my God and King,  and bless your name forever and ever.”   Jeremiah proclaimed God the living eternal King in Jeremiah 10:10 “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.  At his wrath the earth quakes,    and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” Daniel knew who God was as stated in Daniel 2:37 “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory,”

Today question is:  Who is God to you?  Is He your King and if so do you desire to be a member of His Kingdom?  Meditate on Psalm 145:1, Jeremiah 10:10 and Daniel 2:37 and analyze your own thoughts about who God is and your relationship to Him.  If you find Him to be your King, then think about your life and ask yourself if you are acting like a member of His kingdom.  Are you driven by earthly desires or by wanting to be more and more like Jesus so your character counts?  Jesus desires to abide in us and be the driving force and power within our lives.  We have to relinquish ourselves to Him and desire to be citizens of His kingdom.  philippians 3 20Through salvation in Jesus, we are citizens of heaven, praise the Lord!   Take heart in Philippians 3:20, “ But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

Linda

Looking for your keys? See Jesus, He found them.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have an eternal home.  Jesus’ work on the cross reconciled us, as sinners,  and brought us into relationship with Holy God.  Jesus knew that future believers would then dwell with Him in heaven.  He reassured the disciples of this joyful fact even though they did not understand it at the time.  It was only later they would grasp more fully the greatness of the price He paid to mansionsredeem all mankind.  John 14:1-2 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;  believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?     Jesus wanted his disciples, and us too, to understand that He was leaving them,  but He was going ahead to prepare a place, a home for them.  He assured them there would be room enough for all.  This scripture is often used at funerals to comfort the grieving.  The idea that we have a prepared place to go, a home in heaven is of great comfort and gives us great hope.

In our heavenly home, we will have a heavenly body that is eternal, immortal and imperishable.  2 Corinthians 5:1-2 in the Amplified version makes it very clear. “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our imperishablehouse is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,”    and   1 Corinthians 15:42 “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The [human] body that is sown is perishable and mortal, it is raised imperishable and immortal.”   

Be encouraged today as the suffering of this life will end and we will someday be with Jesus in a new body in a new home.  Praise God!

christ alone hopeLinda

Suggestion:  Find someone to share your eternal hope and destination with and tell them how that gives you hope for today.  You live with assurance as you know you have a home in heaven and Jesus is waiting for you there.

True Freedom, only found in Christ

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have freedom in Christ.  What kind of freedom does Christ give?  First and foremost,  we have freedom from the romans-82bondage and penalty of sin.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”  Romans 8:1-2 We do not have to worry about paying the penalty for our sins as Christ paid with His life to redeem us.  We simply need a repentant, thankful, believing heart committed to Jesus.

Another freedom we have in Christ is we will not suffer eternal death but live eternally with Him.  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”  Romans 8:21  and John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Heaven will be a place where there will be no more tears, no more death, and we will not suffer the decay caused by sin and death.”

The last freedom I want to mention is found in 2 Corinthians 3:17. “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”   The indwelling Holy Spirit brings within us freedom that is from the Lord.  He unleashes our full potential and puts us on a course to do great things for Him.  I love the benediction the author of Hebrews gives in Hebrews 13:21 when he reminds us that God is equipping us to do good works for His glory and our good.   “may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

freedom in christIn Christ we are free from sin’s penalty, free to live eternally with Him and free to do His work.  May you feel His freedom today!

Linda

Suggestion: Choose something to do today for the Lord.  As you do this task, thank God for the freedom to choose to do this in His power and for the ability to perform this task.  He has equipped you so that you can exercise your freedom to choose to work for Him  bringing Him glory and yourself contentment.

I have the keys to a home in heaven. Thank you Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a place in heaven.  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my eternal home in heaven because I’m usually so preoccupied with life in the here and now that it seems distant.  However, the older I get the more I have pondered what this home will be like and who will be there with me.  I realize now the urgency for telling others about Jesus and His saving power, so that they will not be left behind.

Today’s scripture comes from John 14.  It is a familiar passage about the home Jesus is preparing for us and gives us great hope.  I like the extra meaning the Amplified version John-14-2gives John 14:1-4 ““Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe[confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.”   We are not to be afraid because through faith in Jesus we know that He is preparing our eternal home and that He will come get us when the time is right.  

Another passage in Ephesians reassures us that through faith in Jesus and because of God’s great love for us, we will be seated with Christ.  It is truly by God’s grace, His unmerited favor, that He made such a place for us,  as we did nothing to earn the riches we will receive.  Ephesians 2-4 Rich In MercyEphesians 2:4-7 “ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

In our eternal home will have a place of honor that is prepared for us by Christ himself, and we will be with Him for eternity.  My finite mind can only try to imagine such provision, but I know I only need to believe in Jesus and His saving work on the cross for it to be mine.

Linda

Suggestion:  Give some thought to heaven today and make a list of at least 5 things you know about it.  Need some help- read Revelation 21 or go back and reread today’s passages.  They are filled with promises about our heavenly home.  Hint- one of my favorites is Revelation 21:4

 

I am a citizen of heaven.

passportBecause I believe Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am a citizen of heaven.  Our passport to heaven is stamped citizen the minute we accept Jesus as our Savior.  In Philippians 3:19-20 Paul describes our position in contrast to those who do not believe. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.  But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”   Also in Ephesians 2:19 Paul encourages the Gentile believers that they now belong to the family of God-all believers. “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”

aliensWhy is citizenship in heaven so important?  Just like in our age, with citizenship comes privileges of belonging to a nation.  We belong to Jesus (Romans 1:5-6), have a future home there prepared by Jesus (John 14:1-3),  we will dwell with Him (John 14:23), our reward waits for us there (Matthew 5:12), our treasures are there (Matthew 6:19),  our home with Him is eternally strong and secure (2 Corinthians 5:1), our inheritance is kept there secure and unfaded by time (1 Peter 1:4) and we have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).  All these privileges are ours  because we know Christ and are citizens of heaven.  Through our faith in Jesus, we live in this world but our real home and allegiance is in heaven to our heavenly Father.  Jesus warned us that we would struggle with the world and sin but that He has overcome the world.  Victory is ours through Christ.  1 John 5:4-5 “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.  And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

ephesians 2 19Privileged to be a citizen of heaven,

Linda