Slice of Heaven

In my post yesterday I wrote about joy and how that we can endure anything if we know that we will have that jumping-up-and-down- dancing-around-busting-at-the-seams kind of joy waiting on the other side of our trials.  Ladies with children, I know that you understand this from first hand experience if you have children.  The pain of childbirth is endured because of the joy that is to come with a new little one.   Another example would be that the "suffering" related to overhauling a golf swing is worth it for the joy of that long and straight drive landing in the middle of the fairway that may happen once the swing is perfected.  :)  I'm having golf withdrawals from being sick, can you tell?  :)  Okay, back to business. 

Friends, the ultimate trial for us is life on this earth.  We were not made for it, but for eternity with God.  Our own "garden of Eden" - that joy set before us -  is yet to come in the paradise of heaven.  Our lives are just vapors here in the big scheme of eternity (James 4:14).  For me personally, understanding this principal has helped me endure many a personal trial.

Christians, have you ever really thought deeply about what awaits you in the next life...in the life that last so much longer than the puff of smoke of our earthly lives that we can't even imagine it?  If you haven't recently, I suggest you give Revelations 21 and 22 a thorough reading.  It will definitely make you yearn to be in heaven!

Here are my favorite verses about heaven and the New Jerusalem which we will see one day:

1) "It's all good" in heaven.  (This one is especially precious to me in light of my recent but almost gone flu attack.)

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more flu death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more coughing pain: for the former things are passed away.  (Rev 21:4)

2) We'll all be trust fund babies.  We will be joint heirs with the King of kings and Lord of lords living in our mansions of glory (John 14:2-3)!

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Rev 21:7)

3) Everything will be beautiful.  I'm not a huge jewel freak, but just thinking about streets of gold, pearly gates, jewels on buildings and a crystal sea makes me eager to catch a glimpse of it.  (Rev 21: 18-21, Rev 22:1) 

4) We will see Jesus and He will light up the place.  Sigh.  What a time that will be when we finally get to see Jesus face to face.

Rev 22:3-5 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no more 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.

So, do you think these things are worth enduring our races of life for?  I sure do.   If I know there is Light at the end of the tunnel, I can withstand a lot of discomfort, can't you?


Eating the Book

I wish I could see a show of hands out there of how many people when doing their daily bible reading actually look at the cross-references to other verses in their bibles.  I wonder how many people aren't really aware of how much a good study bible and a little extra effort can open up God's word to them in a whole new way.

Admittedly I don't look up the cross-references in my bible every day that I spend in my bible.  However, when I do, it is always so cool and I wonder why I don't do it every time I study.  Perhaps it is because I'm being lazy and just reading rather than studying.  Can anyone else relate?  Today was one of those days when I experienced the coolness of the bible.  Of course, I'm reading in Revelation and we all need extra help there!

In Revelation 10 we see that our friend apostle John is having another vision.  This time in the vision he was given a little book to eat.  Yes, to eat.  (Rev 10:9)  Does this sound familiar?  If it hadn't been for my trusty center column references, I wouldn't have remembered a similar scene in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3 either.   Hence, the coolness.  Here are the similarities between the two passages:

1) Visions.  Both passages (Ezekiel 2-3, Rev 10) were visions given to prophets (Ezekiel & John) by God.  The cool - I'm loving this word today- thing is that Ezekiel was written over 600 years before Revelation and yet the vision is probably the same vision.

2) Rainbows.  Ezekiel 1:28 and Rev 10:1 both picture the bearer of the book/scroll as being surrounded in a way by a rainbow.

3) Words of Judgment.  Both the scroll and book referred to in each passage contained words of judgment to be delivered to the people.  (Ez 2:9-10, Rev 10:11)

4) Command to Eat & Taste of Honey.  I still can't imagine eating a book.  However, the prophets did what they were told and it tasted sweet as honey.  Hmm...weird.  (Ez 2:3, Rev 10:10)

So, what do you think?  Do you think this may have been another revealing of the same vision? Just remember, that there is a lot of prophecy in the bible about the end times outside of the book of Revelation.  Everything ties together in some way in God's word.

Finally, surprisingly enough, I did get an element of personal application today from this verse:

Rev 10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

No, the application wasn't to go eat lunch.  :)  I thought about how my time spent in God's word is so sweet sometimes and how its words are sweet to my soul as said in Proverbs 16:24.  However, when the words are something that I need to share with another brother or sister in Christ in love to exhort them to change their behavior, the words can be "bitter" in my gut, because it is not always easy to speak the truth in love. 


Judgment

Spending the past couple of days in the book of Revelation has been fun, but it is very difficult to blog about.  I'm reading about the prophecy of the judgment that will befall the world in the end.   I'm reminded about how the Left Behind series pictured all of the plagues, specifically the locusts from the bottomless pit. (Rev 9)  Now those were some kind of bugs, mind you!   Puts ants & brown recluse spiders to shame.

So, what can I pass on here?  What has always intrigued me about human nature is that it takes us so long to wake up and see that changing our ways just might result in a better life.   We are so intelligent, but our stubborn pride keeps us from achieving all that God has for us.

In Revelation 9:20 we see an example of such hard headedness.  Remember, the people living through the tribulation period had just suffered six terrible plagues and even at this point, their stubborness blows me away.

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. (Rev 9:20 NKJV)

This brings to mind the Egyptians & Pharoah in Moses' day who despite the plagues still didn't believe that God was THE God and was bigger than them.  Why is it that is is so hard for us to see the truth even when it is right in front of our eyes?  Is it really any wonder that we are warned time and time again to keep away from idols?

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen. (1 John 5:21 NKJV)

Do you have an idol in your life that you are trusting in for happiness?  Our idols may not be wood, stone, brass, silver or gold, but we have them just the same in the form of our careers, our money, our children, our spouses, our hobbies or even our friends to name a few.  Anything that we put ahead of God can become an idol.  I guess my final thought is this.  Why do I think it is so terrible of the people spoken about in Revelation when I go through my own "plagues" from time to time, yet still continue in my own ways?   Definitely something to think about. 


Are You an Overcomer?

overcome: (1) to get the better of in competition, struggle, etc.; conquer (2) to master, prevail over, or surmount [to overcome obstacles] (3) to make helpless; overpower or overwhelm [overcome by pity]  SYN: conquer


Look out, Old Testament!  I'm almost finished with the New Testament and have started the book of Revelation.  What an interesting book, huh?  I think it is amazing that the disciple John was put away on the island of Patmos as punishment for his Christian beliefs and to squelch the word of God and yet what happened?  He has a dream/vision and hears the very words of Jesus again!!  When God wants to be heard, he will be heard!

In Revelation 1, Jesus tells John to write about the things he saw, both present and future.  "Blessed is he who reads and  those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." (Rev 1:3)   For the record, not that you haven't probably figured this out already, but I'm not a bible scholar, just someone doing the best I can to figure everything out.  With that said, we won't be delving into the deep, deep, prophecy, but I do bet that you will be blessed by what God showed me today.

The first vision that John wrote about concerned the seven churches in Asia (Rev 2:-3).  What is cool is that there is still something in these passages personally for you and for me.  Each church, although mentioned by name specifically at the time, can represent different churches in today's world as well, each with their own strengths and weakness.  What  really struck me in my reading was that Jesus not only had advice for each of the churches, but also inc luded a promise to those who were obedient and overcame their issues.  Let's take a look.

1) Ephesus - Left its first love, the love of God.  Jesus commanded them to come back to their first love.

Promise: They will get to eat from the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

2) Smyrna - This church was going through some persecution.  Jesus told them to be faithful.

Promise:  They will not be hurt by the second death.  (i.e. they will have eternal life) (Rev 2:11, see also 1 John 5:4-5)

3) Pergamos - Was accepting Satanic influences in their church.   Obviously, Jesus wanted them to change their ways.

Promise: Repentance would be rewarded by hidden manna and a new name personally for them, known only by Jesus. (Rev 2:17)

4) Thyatira - They were just plain corrupt.  Again, Jesus wanted them to repent and hold on to the good things.

Promise: To the faithful who would stick to what was right, Jesus promised that they would rule over nations. (Rev 2:6).

5) Sardis - The dead church.  Jesus told the few who were not corrupt to hold fast and repent. 

Promise:  Those who overcame problems in this church would be "clothed in white garments".  Their names would not be blotted out of the Book of Life. Jesus would confess their names before God. (Rev 3:5)

6) Philadelphia - The faithful church.  Jesus wanted them to hold tightly to what they had through the upcoming tribulations.

Promise: Those who were faithful will be made "pillars in the temple" of God.  They will be identified with the name of God, the city of God & New Jerusalem.

7) Laodiceans - Lukewarm and spat out.  Jesus wants them to repent and come back to Him.

Promise:  If they became zealous for God again, they would be rewarded by being granted the priviledge of sitting with Jesus on His throne.

Can anyone see a common theme here?  All of these churches had issues, just like all of us have issues.  The good news is that if we humble ourselves before God and change our ways, we will be rewarded in the end for our obedience...no matter how far away we had drifted in the past.  Isn't that awesome news?

So , my question is, are you an overcomer? What is it in your life that Jesus is asking you to overcome? We all can be through the power of Christ in us.  Now that is some great news to me.