To Get Where I Am Going

Spiritual Growth 6 Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossae during his first Roman imprisonment sometime in the early AD 60s. Epaphras had shared the Gospel there and helped form the church; a church made up mostly of Gentiles but also with a number of Jewish members. Certain heretical teachings had begun to influence the Colossian church, which Epaphras reported to Paul. This became the basis for Paul to write his letter, which is essentially written as a theological antidote to those errant influences.

Colossians contains one of the Bible’s fullest expressions of the supremacy and deity of Jesus Christ.  It is a short letter, only 4 chapters in its entirety, so it is easy to read it through even when time is short. Paul addresses a number of theological topics in his effort to counter the heresy the church was facing, which included Jewish legalism and early forms of Gnosticism. And while the entirety of the letter is extremely useful and edifying to us today, what stands out to me in particular is Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth. This is found in verses 1:9 thru 1:14. Let’s take a closer look:

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:9-1:14)

We happen to be studying Colossians in my Tuesday night “Kingdom Warriors” men’s Bible study, and as we worked through Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth, some of the specific things Paul mentions really struck me. For example, in verse 9, Paul prays for “complete knowledge”. The Greek word used for knowledge (epignōsis) refers to more than just a passing knowledge, but rather asserts a deep and thorough understanding of the will of God that is fully revealed in the Word of God. Paul adds to this “spiritual wisdom and understanding” and the combination shows Paul’s desire for the church (at Colossae and our present church) to have discernment, understanding, and knowledge rooted in the Word of God and applied in our daily lives.

Paul’s prayer continues to cover three main areas stemming from our knowledge and understanding: 1) that we would produce good fruit, 2) that we would have patience and endurance, and 3) that we would be filled with joy and gratitude. The “good fruit” Paul refers to is, of course, Kingdom-based attributes such as leading people to Christ, giving praise to God, generosity, and Godly living that bears witness to whom we serve. As a Christian, I have learned that my personal goals are more satisfying and productive when they revolve around living out my faith. My number one goal is to experience the fruit of the Spirit (i.e.: Galatians 5:22-23) – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I would be certain most of you have experienced trials in your lives. It is part of human existence to face adversity and an inevitability that we will encounter difficult people and circumstances. None of us get through this life unscathed. To have patience and endurance through trials is a skill I have yet to completely master, even though faith is one of my Spiritual gifts. The Greek word for patience (makrothymia) is often rendered as “longsuffering”. So the verse speaks of enduring difficult circumstances and challenging people with a certain, steadfast attitude. It is very easy for me to personalize Paul’s prayer and seek these aspects of spiritual growth in my own life simply because it is an area of personal weakness. The need to grow in patience and steadfastness in the face of adversity is certainly ever-present for me.

The third main area of Paul’s prayer involves joy. Joy is also one of the Spiritual fruits mentioned in Galatians. The Christian has every cause to be joyful and to be thankful. Paul recounts the primary reasons in his prayer: God has enabled us to share in his inheritance, we live in his light having been rescued from darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son, and our freedom and forgiveness has been purchased through the blood of Jesus. Indeed, as we increase in our knowledge and understanding, we will experience joyful living in ever increasing measures. And who does not want that?

If you have not yet made the decision to pursue relationship with the Creator of the universe, why not make today the day so you can experience joyful living to its fullest? God desires that all will be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and that includes you! Romans 10:9-11 says: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’” Start your journey with Jesus today!

If you’d like more information on a relationship with Jesus, here are two resources that can help:

Know God.org

The Roman Road

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Before You Go

Before You Go 1 Haisley Oaklynn McCormick grew up in a prestigious suburb surrounded by the well-heeled. Her parents net worth exceeded eight figures and Haisley was an only child. Her parents’ high paying jobs necessitated working long hours, leaving a less-than-the-ideal amount of time for them to focus on Haisley. They tried to make up for this deficiency with money, buying Haisley pretty much whatever she wanted. She always had the most fashionable clothes, the finest salon treatments, and she drove to school and back in her brand new Lexus SUV. Wealth and privilege was the only way of life she knew. Her biggest problem was the lingering question of why her parents gave her such a strange name; but she kind of liked the uniqueness of being the only Haisley she knew.

Patrick Thomas O’Brien was the high school’s star quarterback. He actually excelled in baseball, too, but his lifestyle didn’t leave room for two sports so he gave baseball up. The girls seemed to favor football players after all. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood. His parents both worked, out of necessity, but their income usually was just enough to pay the bills. Patrick managed to save enough money from his part time work to buy a used Chevy Silverado 4WD. It had a lot of miles and a bit of rust, but even rusty pickups carry a certain coolness factor that fit his desired bad boy image quite nicely. Known to his friends as PT and to the local police for his weekend antics, he managed to avoid suspension from high school athletics mostly because he was the best quarterback they’d had in decades.

PT’s one hundred percent Irish heritage gave him rugged good looks and a natural charm that Haisley found irresistible. She was drawn to him almost immediately and became a cheerleader mostly to be closer to him. Accustomed to getting her way, she made quick work of establishing her place as PT’s steady girlfriend. Her well-to-do parents weren’t thrilled with her love interest, but PT and Haisley had been dating for the better part of two years so they were used to it by now. Their busy work schedules made it easy not to think too much about it, but inwardly they wished someone better would come along. PT was no stranger to trouble and they felt he had a negative effect on Haisley’s behavior, too. But Haisley was pretty sure she wanted to be married to him and she had no intention of giving up on that goal.

Perry was a big oafish kind of young man. He was almost big enough to be an offensive lineman but he was the backup quarterback instead because, while he was slow and a bit clumsy at times, he could throw a football 70 yards and be on target every time. He grew up in a Christian home and his mother had once been a Gospel singer before she became a mom. Perry and PT wouldn’t normally be friends except for football. Both being quarterbacks for the same team meant they spent quite a bit of time together. PT didn’t like it when Perry brought up Jesus, which he did frequently, but this time was different. Last night PT got in some real trouble with the police and he knew he’d gone too far.

Full of regret and uncertainty, he confided his predicament to Perry. PT knew all the college scouting visits and potential scholarships were now in jeopardy. He had Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley coming, for goodness sakes, and he would surely cancel upon hearing this news. As PT poured his heart out, he noticed how Perry just listened quietly and without judgment. It was hard for PT to talk with his other friends because they had a tendency to tell him what he wanted to hear and encourage him toward the next opportunity for shenanigans. The other guys just wanted to have fun but Perry was different, and his concern was genuine, so after unloading his heart to Perry, PT heard himself say, “tell me about Jesus.” And after Perry shared the Gospel, PT became a Christian right there and then. He was still very much in trouble with the law, but the burden was now lighter, and he knew something real had happened. And for the first time in at least a couple years, he cried. Tears of sorrow and joy.

After he left his meeting with Perry and pulled himself together, he sent Haisley a text. PT wanted to tell her the trouble he was in before she found out on her own, which wouldn’t take long in this gossip-ridden town. Haisley was plenty mad when PT told his criminal tale, but she sensed some true remorse and held back her boiling anger. Her reputation would be affected by all this, too, and her parents would dislike PT even more when they found out. But she loved him, and his repentance seemed palpable, so she forgave him and held him tight. When PT concluded with the story about his meeting with Perry and how he gave his life to Jesus, Haisley really didn’t know what to think, so she just said, “That’s great.”

Now Haisley really liked singer Lewis Capaldi and she had started using part of his newest song lyric as her goodbye routine. So whenever PT was leaving her, she’d say, “Before you go, let me make your heart beat better,” and she’d give him a long kiss. It was corny, but somehow PT secretly loved this new ritual. But tonight it was especially sweet, so when Haisley smiled and gave him her corny line “before you go….” followed by a very long kiss good night, PT whispered in her ear, “my heart really is beating better now.” And he left feeling more positive than he had all day.

On his drive home, just a few miles from Haisley’s house, out on Old Town Highway, his newfound positivity was interrupted when his Chevy Silverado started making a loud banging noise from underneath. A broken u-joint. Great. He pulled over and crawled underneath the truck with his flash light to take a look. And exactly 6.4 seconds later, a drunk driver slammed into the back of PT’s disabled truck. The drunk driver and his passenger were unhurt, save for the driver’s bloody nose, but PT was killed instantly.

And just like that, a young man’s life ended. And just like PT and the people in our story, don’t we often think we have more time? But the truth is we may not have another day or even another hour. Life is fleeting, and for many, it ends suddenly and unexpectedly. The Bible tells us that we are wise to consider the brevity of life. In Psalm 39:4-5 it is written: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” And in Psalm 90:12 it says: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

So if you have not accepted Jesus yet, please consider how quick things can change for you and take seriously Jesus’ call to repentance. “From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:17) You may very well not have another chance and you can be certain Jesus has the solution to the sin problem: “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” (Romans 10:4) For it is far better to go into the next life, as PT did, with Jesus than without him.

If you’d like more information on a relationship with Jesus, here are two resources that can help:

Know God.org

The Roman Road

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

2020

2020 HNY  How many times have you made a steadfast New Year’s resolution, saying to yourself, this time it’s going to stick? Perhaps you even told your friends, made a pact with a family member, or in some other way determined to assure success. Were you trying to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, or maybe shop less? Maybe you wanted to spend more time with your spouse, or avoid relationships altogether. Maybe you resolved to drive closer to the speed limit? How many times has your resolution failed mere days or even hours after you made it?

Often at this time of year we find ourselves focused on what we want to change about our lives. We look in the mirror and want to change what we see or we gaze at our bank account balance and focus on changing what we spend our money on. Some of us will devote real time and energy into a new diet plan or exercise routine while others may focus on improving our relationships. Still others may decide now is the time to find a new job or make that big geographical change we’ve been dreaming of. Without a doubt, New Year’s has become the time to look forward and plan for the changes we long to make.

But what if tomorrow never comes? Mathematically speaking, the probably exists that at least some of us reading this right now may not live to see New Year’s 2021 and it is in light of that possibility that I wish to emphatically urge each of you reading this to consider the chance that you will not see tomorrow. Psalm 39:4 states: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.”

The Bible tells us it is appointed for all to die once, and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27) but that Jesus Christ was sacrificed to take away our sins (Hebrews 9:28) that we might have eternal life with God in heaven (John 3:16). Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant because “For the Scriptures say, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.” (Romans 14:11)

Every knee will bow; every tongue will confess. That is the reality facing each of us when we die – whether or not we choose to believe it now. The difference is this: those who believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for their salvation will be saved. And then there is everyone else. As it is written: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12).

So with the finite nature of our earthly lives as a back drop, I want to implore each of you to consider the brevity of your mortal life on this planet, to recognize that physical death is not the end, and to challenge you with the task of accepting the free gift of salvation that is available through Jesus Christ, if you haven’t already. For the temptation, when it comes to our relationship with God, is to assume we have another day…or another hour. The fact is, we may not even have another minute. Please, please, reach out to God now, while there is still time.

And know that accepting Jesus Christ as your savior is a New Year’s resolution that will never fail!

Here are some resources that may help you:

NeedGod.com
Church Finder
Lee Strobel
Answers in Genesis

Take the time, do the research, learn for yourself the truth about God. But do it now, for tomorrow could be too late. Of course, we’re always happy to help answer your questions, too. Email us anytime at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

God bless.

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

White As Snow

Winter 3 I woke up the other day to our first, freshly fallen snow of the season. It wasn’t much, just enough to cover the roofs and the ground, but it was wonderful blanket of crisp, gleaming white. From the balcony of our 5th floor condo, it was a beautiful sight and an exciting preview of things to come. I always get excited for the change of seasons here in Minnesota but those first few snowfalls are always a special treat and, perhaps, my favorite of all.

It may be hard for those unaccustomed to living so far from the equator to grasp, but there’s nothing quite like the incomparable beauty of seeing everything covered in a bright, glowing tapestry of pure white. Especially after the beautiful fall colors have faded away and left us surrounded by a dreadful, lifeless brown and gray. For by then the days have grown short, the temperatures have dropped, and things have started to feel rather gloomy and bleak. But then one morning, we wake up to that first, freshly fallen snow and it’s like new life has been breathed into our whole environment!

And the cycle repeats itself throughout the winter months. Snow falls, bringing its refreshing newness to the land, only to fade to a brownish gray as repeated exposure to sun, wind, and dust takes its toll. And then more snow falls, once again delivering its sparkling rebirth to the landscape. My favorite snowfalls are those where the snow sticks to everything, coating the tree branches in a glistening white powder that sparkles and shimmers and brightens the day. You forget the harshness of the cold as you revel in the splendor and beauty before you.

Such is the effect of freshly fallen snow. Not everyone I know enjoys the bitter cold the way I often do, but few deny the beauty winter brings. And I think the revitalizing effect that freshly fallen snow has on the landscape is a perfect metaphor for the cleansing effect God’s grace has on our souls.

One of my very favorite verses is Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”  The colors scarlet and crimson reflect the darkness of sin, the hopelessness of guilt. Depravity and perversity pull people down and create a chasm from which we cannot escape on our own.

But Isaiah uses the white associated with snow and wool to portray the opposite of sin: forgiveness, mercy, cleanliness, new life. And he acknowledges that it is only God who can bring us from one to the other, only God can bring us from guilt to grace. And David does the same in his psalm of repentance where he asks the Lord to “purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

It doesn’t matter how far we’ve fallen, or how deep the crevasse our human condition has cast us into, God can and will get us out.  Paul teaches us in Galatians that “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” (Galatians 1:4) And again in Galatians 3:13: “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” So we can be confident that whatever we have done, whatever darkness surrounds us, no matter the stain of our sin, God, through Jesus, can and will lift us up and wash us clean and give us new life. Just like the freshly fallen snow brings new life to the scenery around us.

But how do we avail ourselves of this? First, we must repent. We read in Matthew 4:17, “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This truly is the first step we take. It really means, in its most simple form, that we come to agreement with God that we truly are sinful. (And if you think you are not sinful, just ask your spouse or your parents or someone else intimately close to you and you will learn the truth!) We accept what the Bible says, that “we all have sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). Then we ask for His forgiveness and place our faith in Him.

Romans 10:9-11: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

Galatians 3:11: “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

1 John 1:9: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

So, if you haven’t already, please avail yourself of God’s great and endless mercy. Let Him make you as clean as the freshly fallen snow, that you might sparkle in the newness of life that comes by faith in Christ. And if you have already made that decision, but feel you sometimes still struggle, know that just like the snow refreshes itself throughout a winter season, God will bring constant refreshing to your soul as you abide in Him.

If you are lucky enough to live where the snow falls, may you enjoy this winter season. And if you live closer to the equator, let me suggest a visit to a wintry destination soon!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

His Grace Is Sufficient

All Too Human 4   There are those out there who will tell you becoming a Christian means having your “best life now”, that all your problems will disappear, that you will have happiness beyond your imagination. Health and wealth will be yours and trials a thing of the past. Still others may suggest that once you become a Christian you will live in sinless bliss; your life will be one of perfect obedience, free of all wrongdoing. Yes, there are those who make such wild promises about the Christian life.

I wish I could tell you that they are right. I wish I could tell you that becoming a Christian means an immediate end to all manner of struggle and that you can skip through life with increasing health, wealth, and happiness. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that. Certainly there may be a rare minority that experience such things, but for the vast majority of us, we continue to struggle with all the ordinary trials life puts forth. Both those external and those within. Even after our conversion, we are still existing here in a fallen world, after all.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is candid about one of his personal struggles, describing it as a “thorn in his flesh.” We do not know specifically what this is, some speculate it may have been some form of demonic hindrance to his ministry in Corinth, but whatever it was, Paul makes it clear it was enough of a burden he was desperate to be rid of it. He writes: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Indeed, God’s grace is sufficient. For all of us.

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Romans 8:1: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” This verse immediately follows Paul’s description of his continuing struggle with sin in Romans 7:14-25, which I feel is worth repeating here: “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Picture the scenario if you will. Paul, a Christian by direct, personal revelation from Jesus Christ Himself; the very man through whom the Holy Spirit wrote most of the New Testament, surely a Christian among Christians, describes for us his personal struggle with ongoing sin. And it is this passage, perhaps more than any other in Scripture, with which I can personally relate. I feel my course has been one of steady improvement since my conversion, and surely some of the most vile of my sins remain behind me, but I am still quite surprised at the velocity and frequency with which I can fall into sin. “Oh, what a miserable person I am” indeed.

In the Bible, Paul is not alone in his ongoing struggle with sin. Scripture is replete with men of faith who experience personal failure. Witness David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba or Peter and his thrice denial of Jesus. Space doesn’t allow me to dive deep into all the Bible characters and their specific circumstances, but I know I am not alone in my struggle. And I hope you know you are not alone, either. Whether you are struggling with external circumstances, or your own ongoing battle with bad habits, you are not alone. And you are not left to contend on your own. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13) to help us recognize when we fail, and to learn and grow from our experiences.

Once we become Christians, we start the journey of sanctification. That is, we start growing in Christlikeness. With rare exception, this is a process of steady growth over all the remaining years of our lives. We can take certain steps to help the process; such as regular Bible reading and prayer, church membership, and interaction with other Christians. Intentional participation in activities such as Bible study small groups can really help us. At least, that has been my experience.

Always remember that Christians aren’t perfect. We’re just forgiven. And if you have not yet found a relationship with Jesus Christ, I hope you will consider taking that step now. It won’t make your life instantly better, but it will make you instantly forgiven!

May God bless you richly! Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

A House in Heaven

The Other Side 5 Having previously written about the rapture of the church (click here to read that piece) hopefully we can agree that, even though we do not know the exact date or the hour, the signs tell us that time is growing short. Too short to mince words! I am going to speak this time about heaven. Because heaven is where we all want to go, and where I sincerely pray you are going. So I shall not mince words; if you haven’t already, now is the time to get right with God by accepting the free gift of grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As we shall see, it is the only way you will one day dwell in heaven.

And heaven is a place you definitely want to be. How do I know? Well, the Bible tells us much about heaven, and it is all good. Better than good, actually! But rather than try to say this in my own words, I will let God’s Word do the talking. Here are some key points about heaven and the verses that inform us:

There will be no more death:

He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The Lord has spoken! In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the Lord, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” (Isaiah 25:8-9)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4)

There will be no more hunger, thirst, or pain:

They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:16-17)

All things will be new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:5-6)

We will no longer be under the curse of sin:

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. (Revelation 22:3)

God will be our light and we will see His face:

And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:4-5)

In heaven we will have new bodies:

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. (2 Corinthians 5:1-3)

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

We will be like the angels:

For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:30)

The normal order of things, as we know it on Earth, will be reversed:

And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. (Luke 13:29-30)

God has a place in heaven prepared for those who believe:

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:2-3)

Whether it is through death or rapture, when our lives on Earth end, we are instantly with the Lord:

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 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. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Heaven is a place we want to think about frequently:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Finally, there is only one way to get there:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The Bible helps us understand what an amazing and incredible place heaven is, and what a wonderful life we will have there. But to get there you will find no shortcuts, no workarounds, no gimmicks. You can’t get there by being a good person, because none of us can be good enough (and I am convinced that deep down inside, we all instinctively know this). We can only get there by repenting of our wrongs and trusting in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t already, won’t you please do this right now, before it is too late?

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

In the Blink of an Eye

Rapture 4  Many people wonder about the rapture. Is it real? When will it happen? Perhaps you’ve heard someone say that the word “rapture” isn’t even in the Bible, so why does it get talked about? Or maybe your pastor hasn’t talked about the rapture at all, and you’re wondering what I am on about here. Well, the rapture of the church is a big deal and it’s probably closer than we think so it seems worth exploring a bit. So the goal of this blog is a cursory discussion on the topic.

In a nutshell, the rapture is when Jesus comes for his church. The Apostle Paul described it this way: “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.” (1 Corinthians 15:52) No one knows the exact date or hour this will happen, but it will happen suddenly, in a moment, and it will happen quickly, in the blink of an eye. First the Christians who have died are raised, then we Christians still living are transformed.

As I mentioned, we do not know exactly when this happens, but we are correct to surmise that it occurs just before the seven year tribulation period. We can confidently come to this conclusion when we analyze the Biblical text as a whole and, in so doing, we see a promise that believers will be protected from the “time of testing” as in Revelation 3:10: “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.” Further, verses such as John 14:3 and Thessalonians 4:16-18 clearly do not include judgement as is found in other verses (ie: Matthew 13:34-50 and Revelation 19:11-21) about Christ’s second coming. From this we conclude the rapture is “pre-tribulation”.

But is the word “rapture” even in the Bible? Well, the word “Bible” isn’t even in the Bible, so maybe this question is more of a distraction than a legitimate inquiry. Still, the word we find in Scripture is “harpazō” which is a Greek word meaning “to snatch or catch away”. According to Vine’s expository dictionary this word conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised. It is used in several places, including Acts 8:39 in reference to Philip being “snatched away” by the Spirit of the Lord and in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 in reference to Paul being “caught up” to the third heaven. So we can dispel the argument that “rapture” is not in the Bible, for it is simply our modern word for harpazō.

The Bible tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16) so because the rapture is clearly mentioned in the Bible we know it is real. Philip was raptured to God in Acts 8:39; the Apostle Paul was raptured to the third heaven, and Christians fortunate enough to be living at the right time will one day be raptured to God without ever experiencing death. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, should find this very exciting! Paul wrote to those on Thessalonica: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

So we should find the coming rapture very encouraging and we can encourage one another by discussing and acknowledging the coming rapture as our blessed hope. Space does not allow me to discuss in great depth the reasons we have to believe the rapture is closer than ever, perhaps even likely in our lifetimes (depending on how old you are now), but one “super sign” happened when Israel became a nation again in 1948. As Jesus shared in Matthew 24:32-34: “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.”

Mark 13:32 tells us “…no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” So we do not set dates or make specific predictions, but when we do see the signs we have every reason to be hopeful, and if you watch closely, you will see the signs!

For further reading on the subject, I’m happy to recommend these resources:

Don Stewart: Educating Our World

Behold Israel

Olive Tree Ministries

Dr. Mark Hitchcock

Let us now eagerly await our blessed hope: “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.