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I can only imagine what Jesus was mumbling under his breath about the Nazarenes when they ran him out of town for saying he was the Messiah.
But Jesus being Jesus, he likely would have tagged on a prayer and a blessing as he shrugged off the hate in his hometown the same way he shrugged it off everywhere else. Being hated and outcast goes with the territory of being godly in an ungodly world. He knew that when he took on the job of being the Messiah. We need to know it, too.
Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a good grumble in every now and then. God understands. Certainly Jesus does, seeing that he spent 33 years dealing one-on-one with the ungodly. Though to be fair, Earth is the realm of the ungodly. Time and space are theirs. God made temporal creation as a resource for everyone, but he put it under the management of a tightly controlled Satan.
The Kingdom is ours, though. All ours. The ungodly can’t get in there, unless they repent and stay the course. Some beings, like Satan, can never get into the Kingdom.
So Jesus would have retreated into the presence of God when he was being run out of his hometown, the same way we retreat into the presence of God when the ungodly world gets to be too much for us. That’s why God made us the Kingdom, so we can take shelter in him. He knew how progressively crappy things were going to get on Earth in every regard, so he created our own personal spiritual safe space of the Kingdom, which we can access only as born-again believers and only by God’s Spirit.
I love God’s creation, but I hate the world. I wish I could have seen Earth before people did a number on it. I wish I could have smelled the air and drunk the water before the manmade pollution ruined them, but I guess I’ll have to wait until I get to Heaven to do those things. I can wait. Heaven is worth the wait.
Heaven is an infinite Earth, perfected, just as our heavenly bodies will be infinite and perfected. Some people lie about Heaven and say it’s a spiritual realm only and that we’ll have a spiritual body only, but that lie comes from the pit of Hell. The fallen beings only have spiritual bodies. That’s where the lie comes from – their own experience of having no bodies for all eternity.
Those who make it to Heaven will have beautiful and glorious bodies, even more beautiful and glorious than at the beginning, before the fall. In Heaven, everyone is not only at least as beautiful as Satan before his fall, they’re MORE beautiful. And Jesus is second in beauty only to God, who is the most beautiful of all.
We’ll see for ourselves just how impossibly beautiful God is, if and when we make it home.
These are the things I think about and the daydreams I dream when the world gets to be too much, when the sugar-coated evil gets to be too galling. I think about Heaven and daydream about God. God loves it when we daydream about him; he fills in the blanks with little details that corroborate with lines and words in scripture that we didn’t understand before. He whispers secrets in our inner ear and says things to make us laugh. He wipes all our tears away. There’s nothing the world can throw at God’s children that he can’t make right for them or help them through, if they rely on him, if they turn to him only. Jesus is living proof of that. So is Paul. So are all the disciples, except for the one who betrayed Jesus. And so are we, God’s born-again children and Jesus’ followers. There’s nothing the world can throw at us that God can’t catch and throw back.
No matter how foul a mood the world puts me in, God turns it around on a dime and has me giggling and singing before I know it. His promise to his children is that he will wipe all their tears away, and so he does, with his beautiful voice and his beautiful hands and his beautiful everything. He wipes all the tears away, and before we know it, we’re singing his praises in words and music that he gives to us only, as a gift.
Let the ungodly run you out of your own personal Nazareth. Let them run you out, and then let God turn your grumbles into his own special brand of joy that he serves up customized just for you. Let them run you out of town even as you pray for them. Let them crucify you even, as you pray for them. How can you not pray and feel sorry for such a people who don’t know God and don’t know Heaven?
How can you not feel sorry for them?
What choices will you make today?
You’ll choose what time to get up.
You’ll choose what to wear.
You’ll choose what to eat for breakfast (or to skip breakfast).
In between these choices, there will be others that involve your hygiene, your message monitoring, your information gathering.
If you work outside where you’re living, you’ll choose how to get there and how to interact with anyone you meet during your commute.
When you get to your place of work, you’ll choose how much effort you’ll put into your work today.
And all along the way, you’ll choose which thoughts to entertain, which plans to solidify or to dismiss, which information to gather or to ignore.
Our lives, even sometimes during our sleep, are a series of choices. Jesus tells us that everything we do, say, and think we’ll be held accountable for at the judgement. Most of us, although aware of that line in scripture, put that information to the back of our mind. How can we live always conscious that everything we do, say and even think is being recorded, perhaps to our ultimate condemnation?
How can we live knowing we’re always under a microscope?
If you love God, you love that your every waking and sleeping moment is being monitored and weighed. It keeps you on the strait and narrow. It helps you make the right choices, knowing that in order to get the consequences you want, you’ll have to make the right choices – that is, the choices that are right in God’s eyes. God’s constant monitoring presence, through his Spirit, is a gift. You hold it tight and thank God for it.
If, on the other hand, you don’t love God, the thought of being constantly monitored by him (or those he delegates to do so) is anathema. You loathe that there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide from what you see as his all-seeing eye. You loathe that even your thoughts are known. None of this is a comfort to you; on the contrary, you feel violated. You feel powerless. It makes you angry. You might even deny that it’s happening or even possible.
I love God. I thank him every day, all day, that he and Jesus are right here with me through his Spirit. I want all my words and actions to be weighed by him, I want my thoughts to be known to him, because then he can guide me away from the words and actions and thoughts that will lead me away from my heavenly reward. My whole purpose in doing what I do here on Earth is to solidify my plan to make it home to Heaven. God delegates us, his born-again children, to learn about him and his Way so that we can teach others about his Way, who will then in turn teach others, and so on and so on to the end of time.
Along with being the Messiah, Jesus also had the mission to teach others about God’s Way during his ministry years. We don’t have to be the Messiah (that mission is over and done and fully accomplished), but we do have to teach others about God’s Way.
What choices will you make today, knowing that you’re being watched and recorded? How will that thought affect your thoughts? What will you do to teach others about God’s Way?
I hope you’ll make good (godly) choices and enjoy the good consequences that come from them.
I hope you’ll do what’s right in God’s eyes.
I hope, that when it’s your time, your choices will be weighed in your favour and you’ll get to go Home.
And I hope that if you make it home and I make it home, we’ll meet up in Heaven and share in each other’s rewards.
Mine is full of my grandmother’s brown sugar fudge, as a start. You can have as much brown sugar fudge as you want when you come for a visit, because there’s a never-ending supply, and it always tastes perfect.
What rewards are waiting for you? Did you know that as much as you get to choose your words, thoughts and actions on Earth, you also get to choose your rewards in Heaven, bearing in mind that nothing evil can get into Heaven?
If you haven’t yet started to choose your rewards, I recommend that you do so. Choose your favourite scenery, your favourite food, your favourite trees and flowers and animals – make it personal. Make it entirely you. Make it all the things you love and treasure. Make it things that have had a hard life here but give them a better place in your heavenly home. Jesus tells us to store up our treasures in Heaven, so store them up. Be generous. There’s no limit to what Heaven can hold.
Yesterday, I saw a stand of trees hundreds of years old be cut down. With them, went the homes of generations of birds and other wildlife. Some of the trees even had nests in them. I couldn’t stop the destruction, but I could pray to God for the trees and all the lives they had sheltered to be part of my place in Heaven, and that’s where they are now, waiting for me. My heavenly home has gained a beautiful stand of birch and pine trees, along with innumerable birds and squirrels and foxes and deer and insects. This is how we choose our Heaven.
What choices will you make today?
I pray that you make the right ones.
Today is a windy day.
When my cat was still on Earth in her earthly body (she’s in Heaven now, in her heavenly body), she was terrified of windy days – not because of the wind itself (I don’t think she knew what wind was at that time), but because of the way the bushes and trees would flail and lash at her and the leaves would chase her around the yard. I think she thought they were moving on their own volition and were on the attack.
So she refused to go outside on windy days.
Smart cat. ;D
Plants do move on their own volition (very very slowly), but that’s not what makes them flail and lash on occasion, nor is it what makes dead leaves blow around. The invisible wind does that.
When I was an atheist, I believed the forces that governed my life were external to me and beyond my control. I believed bad things happened to me not because of anything I did, but because systems were bad or people were bad. And so, to my mind, economic and political trees flailed and lashed at me, and people chased me around like leaves. I was as blind to the spiritual forces working in my life as my cat was to the wind blowing through the yard. But at least my cat had the excuse of not knowing science and the good sense to stay indoors on windy days; I had no excuse but spiritual blindness and the bad sense to constantly throw myself into the spiritual maelstrom. Being completely clueless as to why things were the way they were, I grew more and more confused and desperate every day.
You’re not born with spiritual blindness; you acquire it through sin and pride. Most of the world labors under some degree of spiritual blindness. In fact, metaphorically speaking, most of the world believes that dead leaves are attacking them, and trees and bushes are out to get them. Not knowing how God’s Holy Spirit and all the other holy and unholy spirits work in their lives, they attribute their misery and “bad luck” to influences like political systems or absent parents. Very few understand that the measure you mete out is the measure you get in return, mitigated by God’s mercy. Very few acknowledge that the Ten Commandments have been written on their hearts by God himself, and are as much a part of them as their DNA.
For the first 36 years of my life, I was like most people in the world, believing that trees and leaves were out to get me. Even worse, I always blamed my problems and failures on someone or something else. I never made the connection between my ungodly life choices and the misery that followed. God’s Ten Commandments were written on my heart just as deeply as they were on everyone else’s, but my spiritual blindness made me spiritually illiterate.
Atheism is a form of acquired spiritual illiteracy.
The only cure for spiritual blindness is, of course, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to God any other way but by Jesus. Like my cat taking shelter indoors on windy days, you can take shelter under the mighty hand of God as a follower of Jesus. And then you’ll be able to see. The spiritual winds will still blow and the elements will still lash at you, but at least you’ll know why: you’ll make the connection between the choices you make in life and the kind of life you get in return. From this knowledge, you can then learn to make better choices. You don’t need to see the wind to know it’s there, any more than you need to see God’s Law to know it’s there, because you can clearly see the impacts of both.
By the way, my cat in Heaven now knows what wind is. In fact, she knows a lot more about most things than I do. All of God’s creatures in Heaven are given a full measure of God’s Spirit. Someday, they’ll be teaching us the miraculous “science” of the heavenly realms, if and when we make it home.
My house in Heaven sits on hundreds of thousands of acres. Yes, that’s right – hundreds of thousands (it’s not a typo). We all get lots of space in Heaven, if that’s what we want.
It’s a small house (a cottage, really), just big enough for my furry little loved ones and I to eat and sleep and hang out, but with enough room for friends to visit, too. And you always get visitors in Heaven. Friends drop by every day, including (on occasion) The Big Guy and His Side-Kick.
I mean God and Jesus (lol).
They have a special room that’s just for them.
Inside the house are all my funny little keepsakes that I’ve loved and cherished over my lifetime. Most of them are no longer on Earth, or if they are, they’re no longer in my possession, but I remember them fondly and I used to mourn them. But now I know that all those things I lost or sold or broke or left behind are in Heaven waiting for me. All of them, and just as I remembered them. This makes me happy, thinking about that. I no longer mourn them, and it’s also easier to let other things go, knowing I’ll have them again someday, and that I’ll always have them from that point onward.
There are no good-byes in Heaven, and no breaking or losing anything. Everything is perfected and remains so for eternity.
Outside on my hundreds of thousands of acres are all the animals I’ve loved and wept over and eaten during my lifetime on Earth. They all get to spend their forever doing whatever makes them happy, and they all get along. No growling in Heaven. The ones I’ve eaten don’t know I’ve eaten them, and neither do I. They only remember the happy times they had on Earth, just like I only remember the happy times. No unhappy memories get into Heaven.
On my hundreds of thousands of acres are also some animals I’ve never actually seen during my time on Earth because they went extinct before I was born. And there are other animals I’ve never even heard of because they don’t exist in the fossil record. Lots of happy surprises in Heaven, for those who want them.
My land in Heaven is made up of all my favourite places and scenery on Earth, along with all my favorite flowers and trees and other plants. My favorite insects are waiting there for me, too. All of my favorite creatures are waiting for me.
Jesus says to store up your treasures in Heaven, and that’s what I’m doing. Storing up happy memories and beautiful scenes. My little slice of Heaven includes parts of the Grand Canyon, the Rockies and the Alps, a bit of the prairies, some forests and ocean cliffs, a stretch of rocky shore, and some coves and beaches. There are even a few islands dotting a handful of lakes. It’s all there waiting for me, all my beloved animals and plants and natural scenery, all in their own places but forming a seamless expanse as far as the eye can see.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I have neighbours in Heaven. We keep a neighbourly distance from each other. Travel options in Heaven are different than on Earth, so vast spaces can be crossed in an instant.
I’m telling you all this because there are so many lies being told on Earth about Heaven and what it looks like. It’s the devil’s job to downplay the wonders of Paradise (don’t get on his case about that; as I said, it’s his job), so we need to go to God directly and ask him ourselves.
Have you asked God yet what your place in Heaven looks like? Have you asked him to show you what’s waiting for you if you make it all the way home? If you haven’t asked God yet, you need to do it. God wants to show you. He’s waiting for you to ask him to show you, so ask him.
That’s how I know about my hundreds of thousands of acres. I asked God, and he showed me, and every day he shows me a little bit more. He’s not going to show me everything (that would ruin the surprise!), but just enough to boost my spirits and remind me what all the trials and tribulations on Earth are for, just enough to remind me what I’m fighting for.
People forget that; they forget that Heaven is the reward we’re striving for. We’re not fighting the good fight just for the sake of fighting; we’re fighting the good fight so we can go home again. I say “again”, because we were all created in Heaven. Our souls were formed in Heaven and we were reborn in the heavenly realms. Our yearning and love for God is in part a yearning and love for home.
I hope you ask God today to show you what’s stored up in Heaven waiting for you. God wants to show you. He gets really excited when you ask him (the way people on Earth get excited when they’re planning a big surprise for someone they love), so go ahead – ask him. What you see will amaze you and give you the boost you need to keep going. Ask him every day, if you want. God is more than happy to show you. He loves you and he’s storing up everything on Earth that you love, just for you. It’s all waiting for you, if and when you make it home.
Every morning I wake up, I’m ONE DAY CLOSER TO HEAVEN.
Every step I take, I’m ONE STEP CLOSER TO HEAVEN.
Every breath I take, I’m ONE BREATH CLOSER TO HEAVEN.
With every heartbeat, I’m ONE BEAT CLOSER TO HEAVEN.
We all have a finite number of days, steps, breaths and heartbeats.
We don’t know how many we’ll get in total, but God does, just as he knows how many hairs are on our head.
We don’t need to know how many more days have been allotted us (or how many hairs are on our head); all we need to know is that every day we wake up, we’re one day closer to Heaven, as long as we stay the course that Jesus showed us. (more…)
There are only two ways: The right way and the wrong way.
There is no third way.
Something cannot be a little bit right or a little bit wrong: it is simply either right or wrong.
If there is any measure of wrong in a thing, then it is wrong.
If there is no measure of wrong in a thing, then it is right.
A REMINDER FROM JESUS (more…)
That sinking feeling when you realize your time is up. No reprieve. Your bags are packed. Your ride’s at the door. Better not to look around. Better not to savor the view one last time. Better not to let your gaze linger on the cheerful kitchen, the comfy bed. You have to leave. This is not your home. You have to leave… and then it hits you (yet again) that you never really had a home. (more…)
God changes his mind. He never changes, mind you (he’s the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever), but he does change his mind. There are numerous instances in the Bible when he was about to render his judgement and then, through a last minute appeal, stayed his hand.
As a born-again, the purpose of your time here on Earth is to do whatever it takes to make it home to Heaven. The way to get there is The Way that Jesus showed us. Here’s a summary of the four most important points that you need to take to heart AND DO if you want to make it home.
First and foremost, you must put God first and foremost. Jesus said that this was the most important commandment. If your earthly family and friends and their needs and wants are more important to you than God, then you won’t make it home. Remember Jesus saying to the guy who wanted to attend his father’s funeral “Let the dead bury the dead; come follow me”? Remember Jesus clearly defining “family” as those who do the will of God? He said: “Who is my mother? Who is my brother? Those who do the will of my Father in Heaven are my mother, my sister, and my brother.” It might come across as harsh, but Jesus meant it to sound so. He meant to shake people up and remind them what their priority should be.
You are either aligned with the world or you’re aligned with God. You can’t be both.
The world is very good at tempting us to forget about our purpose. It sidetracks us, demonizes us, perverts scripture, and even tries to redefine what it means to be a born-again Christian. God permits all this because it is part of our test: He wants to know if we truly want what we say we want. It’s all well and good to claim that you want to follow Jesus and live a “Christian life” (whatever that means), but when things get tough, do you get tougher or do you just wimp out? Scripture says that most will ‘fall away’ from God. You don’t get a third chance if you fall away this time around. Being born-again is already your second and last chance. God didn’t have to give us a second chance, but he did so out of love for us. We all screwed up the first time and fell for the lies of Satan. We rebelled against God. Don’t do it again. Always put God first, even if it means you must suffer and die for it.
Secondly, you must go out in the world and preach the Good News. You must. That’s not just a suggestion; that’s an order from Jesus, who was handing it on from God. How you choose to do the preaching is between you and God, but my advice is DON’T DO IT FOR MONEY. Freely you have received from God, freely you give. The so-called churches that have appropriated the gospel for their own purposes ALL preach for money. They water down and twist God’s Word so as not to alienate any potential customers, but they do this to their own detriment. Don’t be like them. Jesus never preached or taught for money. Be like Jesus.
Thirdly, you must endure to the end. Being born-again is not a first-class ticket to Heaven. It’s a means to getting that ticket, but it’s not a ticket in itself. The Jews thought that being children of Abraham meant they had a guaranteed ticket to Heaven, and Jesus told them they were wrong. Christians or born-agains who think their state of grace is all it takes to get to Heaven are just as wrong at the Jews who thought their Jewishness was enough. Jesus very, very clear in this regard: THOSE WHO ENDURE TO THE END WILL BE SAVED. Just because you’re in a state of grace now doesn’t mean that you’ll die in a state of grace, and those who do not die in a state of grace will not make it to Heaven.
Jesus is very, very clear about that, too, when he says that we MUST be born-again to get to Heaven. Being born-again means being in a state of grace. Grace can be lost, not by a decision of God but as an outcome of our own choices. If you consciously and persistently choose against God’s will, you will lose your grace. If you do something that might appear to be “good” in your own eyes but God says not to do it and you go ahead and do it anyway – that’s sin. God’s spirit cannot dwell in the same soul as sin. Paul spoke about it, as did Jesus. If you lose grace, there is no way to get it back. Jesus said that losing grace is even worse than not having it in the first place – the house that was swept clean is later inhabited by more and worse demons than it was the first time around. Jesus said it would have been better for that person never to have been born.
Fourth and final – you must shake people up. Jesus did it, and so must we. He said he wasn’t come to bring peace to the world but a sword that will divide families and make enemies of unbelievers. The chief characteristic of those who are unbelievers is that they are asleep. We need to wake them up. It’s better for them to hate us and maybe someday turn and embrace God, than for them to keep sleeping and never turn. If they hate us, there’s hope for them. I used to hate born-agains, and look at me now!
God put his laws into everyone’s hearts. That means every soul here on Earth today has God’s laws engraved on their souls. They all crave what we crave – to do God’s will and to go home to Heaven – but their craving is stifled by their self-inflicted pain of sin. We’re not going to shake them out of their sleepy stupor or shock them out of their self-absorbed pity by tip-toeing around and trying not to offend anyone. Remember Jesus’ conversation with the Samarian woman at the well? He didn’t hide his Jewishness or the fact that he was the Messiah, even though Samarians and Jews were not supposed to socialize in those days. If everyone who knows us doesn’t know that we’re born-again followers of Jesus, we’re doing something terribly wrong. We’re God’s representatives here on Earth, just as Jesus was. Jesus didn’t tip-toe around, not for anyone’s sake, and neither should we.
So go ahead – get spat on, be called a bigot and crazy and narrow-minded, be an outcast from your family and friends, lose your job, get driven from your hometown, and get arrested for preaching God’s Word. If you suffer all this solely for being a born-again follower of Jesus, then congratulations, my friend! You are well and truly on The Way home.
God means business.
The “everyone gets a gold star” mentality has no place in God’s kingdom on Earth. Not everyone is going to make it to Heaven. In fact, most people, as a result of their own free-will choices, will end up in Hell.
This is the hard-core reality that should govern everything we do every day.
Jesus spent a lot of time haranguing his disciples for their lack of faith. He nagged them and goaded them solely to remind them that God means business. It’s not enough to be Jewish. It’s not enough to be born-again. It’s not enough just to “believe” or to do “good works”.
You must have faith, and you must also demonstrate that you have faith. You do this by submitting 100% to God in everything you do. Not just a little bit, not just in some things, and not just on Sundays, but in everything, every day, all day.
Faith is trusting only in God and doing God’s will even if it is contrary to the way of the world. Faith is submitting to God for no other reason than it is the right thing to do in God’s eyes. Faith is not only knowing that God knows best, but showing that God knows best. You do this by making God-inspired choices every day, all day. Faith is lived, not just spoken about.
We all have an expiry date on our bodies. Our souls will go on, but our bodies will die. The expiry date of our body is our own personal End Of The World. This could happen at any time, even today. Where we are at that time in our relationship with God (in other words, the extent of our faith) determines where we’ll spend eternity.
God means business. He loves us all the same and he wants us all to come home, but if we aren’t submitting to him 100% in everything we do for whatever time we have left on Earth, we can’t go home. There’s no place in Heaven for rebellion against any aspect of God. It’s God’s way or no way.
Jesus showed us what full submission to God looks like. He lived The Way and taught The Way, and our job, before our expiry date arrives, is to live it and teach it just as Jesus did.
God means business. I cannot stress enough how real and how permanent Heaven and Hell are. Heaven is the best we’ve experienced and can imagine; Hell is the worst we’ve experienced and feared. We can choose our way to Heaven, or we can choose our way to Hell.
This is the hard-core truth: Most of us will end up in Hell.
Jesus said that the path home is narrow, and those who find it are few.
Not everyone gets a gold star.
God means business.
Just a reminder.