Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

Going Home

I’m writing this morning from Livermore, Colorado. We have had a good visit with friends, and later today, we will visit my brother and sister-in-law further down the road. We hope to return to Ericson Tuesday or Wednesday. That will depend on the weather, and it sounds as if Tuesday might be the day to head back home.

Thinking of going home, early this morning I was remembering a time several years ago when a cow of ours somehow got across the fence, and into an adjoining pasture. I didn’t know she was gone until the next morning when she was standing on the wrong side of the fence, wanting to get back into her home territory.

Knowing a little about bovine behavior, I figured she wasn’t welcome in the other group of cows, and she decided home wasn’t too bad. (I’m not too sure cows make too many conscious decisions, but who knows?)

Scripture reminds us Christians that we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land. One version of the Bible calls us strangers and temporary residents. We are in this world, but our true home is heaven. Many times, we don’t feel welcome in our world, and long for our heavenly home. The difference between us and a stray cow is that we are placed in this world by the Lord, and he expects us to remain here and influence our world on his behalf until he calls us home.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, told of his desire to go to be with the Lord. He wrote, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23-24). His desire was to be in heaven, but he also knew the Lord wanted him to stay in this world until his work for the Lord was completed.

At times the world around us seems to be moving further away from any notion of a sovereign God, and we, like Paul, sometimes desire to be at home with the Lord, but again, he has left us here to be salt and light to a dark world. And, when our work here is done, rest assured, he will take us to that home he has promised us.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Campground Meditations

Work is nearing completion on the addition to the house. Our attention will turn now to finishing the landscaping and some interior projects. I hope this means we will begin to really enjoy our surroundings and spend time getting to know our neighbors better.

Today I want to share some thoughts from time spent in a secluded campsite. As I sat enjoying the quiet early morning, it came to me than only in the country, with a setting of grass, trees, and water do we get back to the pure, uncontaminated world that the Creator desired. It doesn’t matter if the water is a stream, a lake, or the ocean. There is a little plaque on our wall at the lake house that says, “Heaven is a little closer by the water”, and I think it is true.

Almost any other place we visit shows more of sins corrupting influence on nature and mankind. This is part of why it seems right to just get away. In doing this, we perhaps sense the nearness of God in a much more real, dare I say intimate way. To come apart, as it were, from the distractions of being in the city, at the office, or even in a crowd of people anywhere. I believe a certain amount of intentional solitude is good for body and soul, much more than most people realize.

Jesus often went away by himself to pray, as we see in the following verses. “After he had dismissed them (the crowd of people), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). I wonder if those lonely places might have been by a stream or mountain lake.

Then this: When many people were coming and going, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32).

The advice He gave his disciples is perhaps even more important to us today, in this high speed, high pressure environment. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May you find that quiet place this week.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Yearning for His Returning

This is the time of the year when the Church observes Advent. It is a time to count down the days to Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In His coming, He identified himself with those he came to save. He also has promised in His word to return someday for those who are His.

As we count down to Christmas, the young and the young-at-heart will be anxiously looking forward to the season and the gift giving (and receiving). In the Bible we see that God’s people, Israel, also looked for and anticipated the promised Messiah, who was to be born in Bethlehem. In the New Testament book of Luke, we read of a man name Simeon, who was looking for the Promised One.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation (Savior) of Israel…Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God. (Luke 2:25-28).

In the New Testament, the writers spoke of eagerly anticipating the second coming of the Lord Jesus. We, also, are told to expect His return at some future time. The apostle Paul speaks of those who “long for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). In another letter, Paul reminds us to live holy lives, “while we wait for “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

My question this week is this: Are you eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord? Are you ready for Him to come? How are you preparing?

Those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be living a godly life as they look forward to His eventual return. In the midst of trial or blessing, they can say with the apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Are you yearning for His returning?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Life’s End: Who Decides?

Good Monday,
Well, it could be warmer, but still it’s a good day. Monday gets a bad rap, but I’ve never found it to be any more challenging than any other day of the week.

Deer hunting season is underway, and from what I’ve seen, it is mostly hunting at this point.

Turning to a more serious line of thinking, a couple of weeks ago, there was much in the news about a young woman in Oregon, named Brittany Maynard, who was planning to end her own life by way of “assisted suicide.” She had been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer, and wished to die “on her own terms.” Today, I would like to share some thoughts on this from a Christian world-view.

We should never presume to know more than God when it comes to the length of our lives and the time of the end for us as individuals. He alone should be the final judge of when we die. When a person takes his life by suicide, he is taking on a responsibility that is God’s alone.

From the Christian world-view, death is the enemy. Death is not our friend. We are not to seek death as an escape. It has been said if we want to go to heaven to escape this life, we are wanting to go for the wrong reason. God tells his people to choose life over death (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The right to give life and to take it away is a right reserved for God by Himself (Job 1:21). We are told that we will have trials in this life, but nowhere do we see that we are to seek an early exit from life (James 1:24). Moses, Elijah, Job, and Jonah each asked God to take their lives, but in every case, God refused. The apostle Paul longed to be in heaven, but was content to remain alive, waiting for God to act in His own time.

Finally, we do not know how God might use us for His good purpose in our last days. Intentionally taking our life will definitely interrupt God’s plan for us. When we reach the God-ordained end of our lives as His faithful followers, He is pleased. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

God has numbered our days. He doesn’t make mistakes.

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Waiting for a Mansion

Hello all,
It’s cloudy and mild at the lake this morning. The trees have lost most of their leaves, and it’s looking like we need to be getting ready for winter.

Last week, as we were busy putting up new cabinets, and planning other improvements to the house, this comment was made: “It’s not a mansion, but it will do.” In this, I was reminded that this world is not my home; that there is a far better place to which I will go at the end of this life. This is true of everyone who has placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith, the faithful listed there are called aliens and strangers on earth. In describing the faithful who had died, the writer said, “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:15-16).

The fine mansions people pride themselves in for this life, will someday disappear. Those whose hope is in the Lord will receive their reward. Listen to the words of Peter: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (you talk about global warming)…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

You have heard these words of Jesus many times: “In my Father’s house are many rooms (some versions say ‘mansions’); if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Be it a mansion or a room, it will be infinitely better to be in the presence of the Lord for all eternity! The old song has it right. This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. Scripture reminds us we will walk on streets of pure gold (Revelation 21:21).

Looking for that city,
Pastor Jerry

What’s New?

There are flowers, leaves on the trees, green grass and warm breezes, Can spring finally be here? I believe it is so! Now, as the Lord provides rain, things will really be looking up.
We celebrated some birthdays this past weekend. My wonderful wife and two of our dear friends were the birthday people, and we three couples got together for an evening of dining and fellowship. Our long-time Christian friends are just the best!
This time of the year always reminds me of God’s promise to someday bring renewal to the earth, in a grand and glorious way. There are so many scriptures that come to my mind in the spring. I’ll share a few, and I trust they are some of your favorites as well.
God, through the prophet Ezekiel, makes this promise to Israel regarding a time when he will gather them from among the nations: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26) Talk about a new beginning!
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
In Hebrews 10:30 we are told of a “new and living way”, made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. Though His death, burial and resurrection we are given new birth into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3).
In 2 Peter 3:13, we read, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
And, finally, some verses from Revelation, as the apostle John recorded his vision of heaven: “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” The He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5).
All of this, and we are also given a new song to sing (Revelation 5:9). And it begins with the new birth that occurs when we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Praise His Name!
Welcoming spring,
Pastor Jerry
Note: As always, I welcome your thoughts on these weekly articles. Send them to: lakecitynews@gmail.com

Going Home

It is the Christmas season, a time when people everywhere make plans to go home for the holiday, and reunite with family members. For the past week I have ministered to families who have experienced a loved one take the ultimate journey home. Their departed ones have gone to be with their Lord at Christmas time.

As hard as it sounds, I believe Christians have reason to celebrate Christmas, even in the midst of mourning the loss of a loved one. I will explain why I believe this is so.

First, scripture tells us that as believers in Jesus Christ, as we live here on earth, we are strangers in a foreign land (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). The word used for strangers can be understood as “aliens, or temporary residents”, meaning that this world is not our home. Philippians 3:20 states, “our citizenship is in heaven.”

And, Jesus came to earth as a baby; God taking on human flesh, come to save His people from sin. The truth of this is what we celebrate at Christmas. However, He did not come to remain a precious infant in a manger. He came to die on a cross for our sins, and to be raised from the dead, in order to make a way for our salvation and to give us eternal life. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.”
So, at this joyous season of the year, we can celebrate in the midst of sorrow, knowing that our loved ones are finally home. We will miss them, but we rest secure in the knowledge that they will be spending Christmas in the presence of their Savior and Lord, and we who know Him as Savior will be reunited with them, when we, also, are “finally home.”

Believing Heaven’s Promise,

Pastor Jerry

Visiting Hours in Heaven?

Dear friends,
I experienced another birthday anniversary last week. There was no major celebration, but Alex took me to the cafe for breakfast, and my beautiful wife prepared a tasty lunch. Then, of course, there were a few cards in the mail, along with many Facebook greetings from friends. All in all, it was a good day.

Some time ago, I saw a comment that said something like this: It’s too bad there aren’t visiting hours in heaven. This brings several images to my mind, but really, how could this possibly be true? It is a nice sentiment, but “it ain’t gonna’ happen”. I know there are times we would like to visit those who have gone on before us, but let’s face it, there can be no such thing.

First, the only way anyone gets to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ own words, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Second, for anyone to enter heaven, they have to die. In the words of the old song, “I’ll never get out of this world alive.” The Bible says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face judgment. The judgment determines a person’s eternal destination. For the believer, that destination is heaven. For the unbeliever, the one who rejects God’s salvation, the destination is hell.

Thirdly, even if there were visiting hours in heaven, who would want to come back to this old fallen, sin sick world? You would want to stay there, because that is where Jesus is.

Last, but not least, if our reason to visit heaven is to see our loved ones, we are wanting to go there for the wrong reason. God gave us memories for a purpose. It’s because there are no visiting hours in heaven. Those memories are how we visit our loved ones.

When we enter heaven’s gates, it is forever.

Waiting to see Jesus,
Pastor Jerry

Married in Heaven?

This week, I’ll share a few thoughts from my Sunday message. The text was from Matthew’s gospel, and based on Jesus’ response to a question concerning marriage in heaven. I have observed that there are many people with ideas about heaven that just are not found in the Bible. I pray this will shed light on at least one of those.

Some religious leaders, Sadducees by name, came to Jesus with a story about a woman who had been married to seven different men, all brothers. Their question was, “Who’s wife will she be at the resurrection?” These men did not believe in the resurrection, that is why they were sad, you see…

Anyway, Jesus answered them with this: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30).

Marriage was ordained by God for the purpose of procreation, that is to produce children who would grow up to be godly adults. It is strictly for this life and in the earthly realm. In heaven there will be no place for man/wife relations, nor any need for any new life to be born there. There will be no exclusive relationships there. Jesus said we will be like angels. The angels do not marry.

I’m certain that we will know old friends, acquaintances, and family members, but all our focus will be on worshiping God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be heaven, and that is the Truth.

In the apostle John’s vision of heaven recorded in Revelation, we read, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!'” (Revelation 19:6-7).

Sharing His Truth in love,
Pastor Jerry