Live Happily Ever After

Live Happily Ever After

By Pat Knight

As young children, many sat cuddled with a person who read to them from a book of vividly illustrated fairy tales. Though a portion of the stories were frightening, the child snuggled with someone loved and trusted. Fairy tales encompass mystery and danger, the struggle of good and evil, and the triumph of right over wrong. The stories are fictional, interwoven with moral conflict. A hero or heroine is propelled into unsuspecting, treacherous situations, from where a rescuer mysteriously saves the day. The drama is typically summarized: and they all lived happily ever after.

Authors of children’s stories weren’t the first to introduce tales with happy endings. At creation, God embedded the capacity for eternity in every human heart. Each of us was created with the yearning of a future life in heaven. “He {God} has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). For those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, the forgiveness and grace that He secured by His crucifixion and resurrection, our earthly lives will be a mere drop in the bucket of time compared with life everlasting. In that respect, “they lived happily ever after” is realistically and personally applied to those who know Jesus intimately.

Life in heaven will be so incredibly opulent, we have no words in our vocabulary with which to describe it accurately. The Apostle John, personally viewed scenes of heaven, and was charged with recording the details in God’s Word. John often lacked the appropriate words to express sufficiently that which was revealed to him. However, the apostle recorded enough information to cause further longing for life in our heavenly home. God specifies there will be no sadness or suffering there. “He {God} will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there will be no hospitals, pharmacies, funeral homes, or homeless shelters; no need for 911 systems, governments, or police. Everyone will be whole and holy; goodness and purity will prevail.

Life in heaven will be so incredibly opulent, we have no words in our vocabulary with which to describe it accurately. The Apostle John, personally viewed scenes of heaven, and was charged with recording the details in God’s Word. John often lacked the appropriate words to express sufficiently that which was revealed to him. However, the apostle recorded enough information to cause further longing for life in our heavenly home. God specifies there is no sadness or suffering there. “He {God} will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there are no hospitals, pharmacies, funeral homes, or homeless shelters; no need for 911 systems, governments, or police. Everyone is whole and holy; goodness and purity prevail.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, reigns in excellence, transcending all the glory, honor, and pageantry we’ve known on earth. “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you {God}” (1 Kings 8:27b). Our Lord is confined by neither time nor space. He shall rule supremely forevermore.

Heaven is free of hardship, disease, quarrels, or rivalry. There resides no competition for love or attention. Mankind co-exists in perfect peace. Neither floods nor natural disasters occur. ”The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm” (Isaiah 11:7-8). Previously poisonous snakes or ferocious, carnivorous animals, serving as playthings for young children, illustrate the tranquility and safety of our heavenly home.

Only in eternity is the finite capable of comprehending the scope of the infinite.

John heard a voice from the heavenly throne exclaiming, “‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among believers and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3). To dwell implies more than a residence. It indicates the permanence of settling down, the way God makes His home in the hearts of believers, and fills them with His purpose.

What God has created in heaven will endure forever. The same is true of our resurrected bodies. Even if we were able to discern John’s descriptions explicitly, our earthly vision of heaven would still be unclear. When I was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes, my vision gradually grew blurry and colors faded in intensity. Directly after one lens was implanted, I was astounded at the brilliance of the world around me. Even on a cloudy spring day, every object grabbed my visual attention. Birch trees were suddenly bright white instead of the washed-out color that had insidiously crept into my field of vision. Patches of sky were no longer gray, but dazzling blue. My vision had been transformed from barren and blurry to reveal a crisp world ablaze before me.

As believers in Jesus Christ, such will be our reaction to heaven after decades of living in a fallen, failing earth among mortals. Heaven is glorious because God is glorious! “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then we will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT). Our perception of heaven is at best cloudy, like blurry vision caused by deteriorating lenses. When we gaze upon King Jesus in our heavenly home, our spiritual vision will be amazingly clear, as if scales were peeled away from our eyes. Until that time, God views us through the lens of Christ’s righteousness; His characteristics infused in our lives through His redeeming sacrifice on the cross. In heaven we shall worship and praise our Savior face to face. What a magnificent promise, full of confident expectation, encouragement, and excitement!

We cherish the assurance of a grandiose and pure life in heaven. Only Christ offers everlasting intimacy and security. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, assures, “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be there where I am ’” (John 14:2-3). Jesus guarantees an eternity of permanence and glory with Him.

Reflect on one event in your life that created the most ecstasy, the one resplendent scenario you love to replay on your mental movie screen. Then multiply the irrepressible joy you experienced, and you will barely reveal heaven’s bliss. In eternity, there are pleasures forevermore, a paradise heretofore unexposed to humanity.

John teaches that there will be no need for artificial light in the holy city. “They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light” (Revelation 22:5). The Light of the World will be the consummate light of Heaven. God’s glory exclusively illuminates every corner.

The foundations of the city are inlaid with precious gems—turquoise, amethyst, emeralds, topaz, rubies, and sapphires. The streets are constructed of transparent gold, and each of the twelve gates of the city consist of singular pearls (Revelation 21:18-21), elegant and splendiferous!

Heaven will be the reward for believers who have faithfully followed Jesus on this earth, honoring the Lamb’s horrific sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, and His glorious resurrection from the dead, to redeem our sins. Our eternal benefits in heaven will far overshadow any hardships we have suffered on earth, for there we will live happily ever after!

Living as Dual Citizens

Sharing today from Tabletalk Magazine.

Living as Dual Citizens

By Justin Taylor

It was not easy to trap Jesus in ethical or theological dilemmas. But that did not stop the Jewish leaders from trying. Jesus made it clear that His kingdom is not “of this world” (John 18:36). His kingdom, which properly belongs to the age to come, was breaking into this world and this present age. So how, the Jews wondered, did His kingdom relate to the institutions of our time, such as the family and the state?

In Luke 20, the Sadducees pushed the family question on Him, constructing a thought experiment about the nature of marriage in the resurrection for a widower who remarries. Jesus responded, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (vv. 34–35). Family is an enduring creation ordinance, but the kingdom of the age to come operates in a different way.

When the Jewish scribes and elders asked Jesus whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, Jesus asked them to show Him a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription was on it? When they responded, “Caesar’s,” Jesus drew His conclusion: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (vv. 22–25). In a subversive way, Jesus radically limited the authority of Caesar and showed the unlimited authority of God. The likeness on the denarius meant they owed tribute to Caesar, but the image of God, stamped onto our human nature, means we owe our very lives to the maker of heaven and earth. Government is an enduring creation ordinance, but the kingdom of the age to come operates in a different way.

Read the rest here.

Is Jesus the Only Way to Heaven?

Sharing today from GotQuestions?

Question: “Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?”

Answer: Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such an exclusive statement may confuse, surprise, or even offend, but it is true nonetheless. The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only. No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.

Jesus is the only way to heaven for several reasons. Jesus was “chosen by God” to be the Savior (1 Peter 2:4). Jesus is the only One to have come down from heaven and returned there (John 3:13). He is the only person to have lived a perfect human life (Hebrews 4:15). He is the only sacrifice for sin (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:26). He alone fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). He is the only man to have conquered death forever (Hebrews 2:14–15). He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the only man whom God has “exalted . . . to the highest place” (Philippians 2:9).

Read the rest here.

Heaven, How I Got Here

What if you woke up one morning knowing it was your last day on earth? That’s what happened to the thief on the cross, who died a few feet from Jesus. Heaven, How I Got Here is his story, told in his own words, as he looks back from Heaven on the day that changed his eternity, and the faith that can change yours.

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If you haven’t yet read Pastor Colin S. Smith’s short book, Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross , it is a very easy read.  It is a story unlike any you’ve read. It was inspired by the story of the thief on the cross, found in chapter 23 of Luke’s Gospel. In writing the book, Pastor Colin tried to imagine the thief looking back on the last day of his life on earth from the perspective of his new life in heaven.

The story weaves together what we know from the Bible about the events of that day and views them through the eyes of the thief as he would have experienced them at the time, and as he can understand them now. If Jesus could save the thief a few hours before he died, there is lasting hope in Jesus, even for a person coming to the end of his or her life.  

But think about his position on the day that he finds himself on a cross next to Jesus. He is at the end of his life (and he has not lived a good life), and there’s nothing he can do to improve it!

A lot of people have the idea that we get into heaven by living a good life, a religious life. They may believe that Jesus forgives, but deep down they feel that their progress in the Christian life is the key that will open the door of heaven. So, what is the thief to do on that basis?

  • With his hands fixed to the cross, he can’t do any good works.
  • With his feet nailed to a wooden beam, he can’t walk in paths of righteousness.
  • With death only a few hours away, there was no time for him to turn over a new leaf.

What can he do? Religion cannot help him at this point in his life.

But Jesus can! This is the great importance of him turning to Jesus, a few feet away, and saying, “Jesus, would you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” And Jesus says to this man, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” So, Jesus is able to do for a person what religion cannot do. He is able to bring hope in a situation that would otherwise be utterly hopeless.

The story of the thief not only sheds light on the limits of religion, it is also a marvelous sample of what Christ is able to do for a person.

Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross is available from these retailers:

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. His preaching ministry is shared through his daily radio program, Unlocking the Bible, and through his website, unlockingthebible.org. Colin recently authored the book Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross (Christian Focus). Connect with Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS.

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My Hope: A New Message from Billy Graham

In the new short film, “Heaven,” Billy Graham talks about life and eternity. This is an excellent video by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Please share this important message with as many people as possible.

Beloved, the reason for my hope in spite of all the health issues and other problems in my life is because of my faith and tust in my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for my sins. This is THE most important decision anyone will ever make in their lives!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
—John 11:25-26

If you have ANY questions after viewing this video, please go here to read more about how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and live with Him forever in heaven.

For Everything There is a Season

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To everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-18

Living by Faith

 

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All these people were still living by faith when they died.
They did not receive the things promised;
they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
And they admitted that they were
aliens and strangers on earth.
—Hebrews 11:13

…..

A writer colleague of mine once wrote me about her mother’s recent death. She said she missed her mother a great deal but didn’t wish her back because the last months of her illness were terrible. At the same time, my own mother was struggling with various life-threatening illnesses and we didn’t know how much longer she would be with us.

As I read my friend’s words, I knew I would feel the same way when it came time for the Lord to take Mom home. Although I love my mother dearly, she struggled so much in the last few years of her life. She shared with me more than once that she was ready to be with Jesus. She knew—by faith—that there was a much better life for her in heaven with Jesus.

Can I get a huge AMEN on that?

Faith.

Paul describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). So many of our ancestors lived by faith: Abraham, Enoch, Noah and David, to name just a few. They lived with the hope promised to all of us by God our Father—the hope of living an eternal life free of cares or worries.

Have you ever wondered if this was easy for them?

Beloved, faith and trust go hand in hand. Our Biblical ancestors understood that. They trusted in a God they could not see and had faith in the His promises. We can follow their example by faithfully leaning on the only One who truly cares and understands our pain and frustration.

Faith isn’t the ability to believe
long and far into the misty future.

It’s simply taking God at His Word
and taking the next step. 

—Joni Eareckson Tada

…..

Faith is taking the first step
even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

…..

Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
when you made your good confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
—1 Timothy 6:12

…..

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Mom’s Smile

I have to add one thing more to today’s Thankful Thursday.

The Lord took my Mom home 5 years ago today.

I still see her like this photo every time I think of her. She had such a sweet smile!

Mom loved her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with all her heart.

I know she’s celebrating big time today, dancing and singing with her heavenly friends.

We miss you, Mom!