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Will We Know Our Loved Ones in Heaven

Posted on August 4, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Lately, I’ve seen more interest in pets in heaven than people in heaven. Maybe I’ve been hanging with the wrong crowd or watching the wrong TV shows.

The Forever NotebookNow that I’ve brought it up, I might as well address the pets in heaven issue. Yes, there will be animals in heaven. There is Biblical evidence to support that conclusion. However, God’s word is mute on a great reunion for pets and their human masters. I suppose that’s one of those “wait and see” matters.

I’m pretty sure my cat won’t make it. The door to heaven will close before he can make up his mind to enter or stay.

We all have questions as to what heaven will be like, what it will look like, and what we’ll be doing once we get there.

My wife, Janet, is an artist and a visionary. She’ll draw out a simple sketch on a piece of paper and ask for my opinion on her plan for landscaping the backyard or decorating a bedroom. I’m pretty much limited to the shapes scrawled on the paper. Naturally, it disappoints her when I don’t share her enthusiasm. It’s not because I don’t want to. I just don’t see it with the clarity she can see it. All I can do is trust her that it will be as wonderful as advertised.

That’s the way we should take the Biblical instruction on heaven. Just like all of the Lord’s promises, heaven is about faith. It’s not about what we can see, but what shall be. Our finite minds are incapable of grasping the full magnitude of this incredible place Jesus has gone to prepare for us.

Can you imagine a world without evil where there is no more death, grief, hunger, thirst, or pain? No stress. No worry. No problems. No bills. (No Biblical evidence on that one. Just seems logical.) Just eternal, continual, unstoppable joy.

Regarding seeing our loved ones there, our focus text allows for the possibility of a reunion, but it doesn’t specify if we will immediately know them. We are told only “that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” However, there is nothing in the 1 Thessalonians’ passage to indicate we will recognize them.

There is an event, however, preceding the Resurrection of Christ known as the Transfiguration in which people from the past are recognized. You can read about it in Luke 9:28-36. We’re told that Jesus became “as bright as a flash of lightning.” (v29) And with Him appeared two men of great significance from Israel’s history, Moses and Elijah. We know that their identities were known by Jesus’ disciples because Peter called them by name and offered to prepare shelters for them.

In another Biblical scenario, David grieved over the impending death of his son. He fervently prayed for God to spare the child’s life and “spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.” (2 Samuel 12:16)  But when the child died, David arose, cleaned himself up, and ate a meal. His servants were curious at the change in David’s behavior to which he responded, “…now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (2 Samuel 12:23) David believed he would see his child again.

And if we see and know our loved ones in heaven, how will they appear? Will they be as we last saw them? In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reveals that our earthly bodies will be replaced by heavenly bodies. In verse 3, he dismisses the notion that we’ll be spirits floating around aimlessly like ghosts. We will have bodies suited for eternity that won’t decay or be subject to sickness.

Our bodies will be transformed into something better than anything we’ve had on this earth. There will be no bad hair days in heaven.

Paul gives us an impressive glimpse of our heavenly bodies in the following scripture:

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

So we can expect that we will have many of our earthly characteristics with heavenly improvements for life with the Father.

Even relationships that didn’t work out so well here on earth will be pure and perfect. And our dearly departed will be with us forever. But most importantly, we will be with our Lord in paradise.

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September)

The Forever Notebook

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Heaven is Worth the Wait

Posted on July 20, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

James 5:11

I’m not what you would call a horticulturalist. If not for my wife’s love of plants and flowers, I would never have learned to enjoy the beauty of nature. I’ve even learned to identify certain varieties of flowers and have a few favorites.

One of the most amazing perennials is the peony. But it’s not the best choice for the impatient gardener. It takes two years or more until you see your first blooms. When they finally mature,  they are magnificent and well worth the wait. To me, peonies are like roses on steroids. Big, fluffy, and beautiful.

Few of the great things in life are immediate. Success in any field doesn’t come over night. In fact, the principles of planting, nurturing, and waiting for the harvest can apply to life in general.

So it is with our greatest reward. Again, to better understand our focus text, we look back to the preceding verses to arrive at the writer’s meaning.

In verse 7, James says, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” So the perseverance to which he refers is in the context of waiting on Christ’s return.

Then he illustrates the patience required in waiting. “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

If the book of James was written by James, the brother of Jesus, that would place the writing at about AD 70. Jesus’ ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection around 31 AD. The point I want to make here is that only about 40 years had elapsed since Jesus’ departure. The recipients of James’ letter were expecting Jesus to return in their lifetime and the delay had become an issue.

In verse 10, James calls attention to “the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” Their prophecy pointed to a promised Messiah who did not appear in their lifetime, yet they persevered. These new Christians had received what the prophets had talked about. Now, until the Lord’s return, they should be patient in waiting as were the prophets of old.

When James says, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,” (v11) he is reminding his readers that God understands their suffering and need for the Lord’s promised reward. Just because Jesus hasn’t come back yet doesn’t mean that Christianity isn’t real, or that God has abandoned His people.

Peter put it this way. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God has left the door to salvation open, not wanting anyone to miss His free gift of eternal life.

I’m a fan of the old Andy Griffith Show. A few days ago, I saw an episode in which Barney returned to Mayberry for his high school reunion. He was anxious to know if his old flame, Thelma Lou, would be returning for the celebration. A last minute telegram announced she was coming, and Barney was thrilled. His excitement quickly turned to disappointment when Thelma Lou showed up with her new husband. Barney had waited too long to ask his one true love to marry him.

No one knows when the Lord will cease to offer His free gift. As for now, Jesus is waiting. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

This time of waiting for the Lord’s return shouldn’t be like the old days when the teacher left the classroom. It’s not the time for pandemonium and misbehavior. It’s a time for doing good, sharing God’s good news, and living to God’s glory. Graduation day is coming. However long it takes, heaven is worth the wait.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Make Time to Serve Jesus Christ

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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You Can’t Fake Your Way Into Heaven

Posted on July 17, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Romans 12:9

Have you ever met a loving, caring, and morally decent person who later turned out to be a fraud?

In our focus text, the Apostle Paul calls attention to three important aspects of Christian behavior, the first of which has to do with how we are to love. “Love must be sincere.” Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. For you and me, love must be genuine.

There’s an old expression that’s often used in business. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Well, in the matter of love, that concept has no merit. In fact, you can’t fake a right relationship with Christ. You’re either the real deal or you’re not. You might fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool the Lord.

The real Christian hates evil and clings to good. The pretender lives as he wants, sets his own moral compass, clings to what suits his purposes, while claiming to be what he is not.

The genuine Christian sins, but not habitually. (1 John 5:18) The pretender sins with little or no remorse and wants the Christian label without responsibility.

True enough, we aren’t to judge. (Matthew 7:1) However, Jesus also said of false prophets, “… by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Mt 7:20) We’re not to cast judgement on others but we do have to make judgements about those who claim to be Christians or leaders within the Christian church. False doctrine leads to false belief and misaligned faith.

Again, we’re not to judge, but we must carefully scrutinize those we hang with and those we follow. Judgement of the pretenders is up to Christ.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Amazing isn’t it? Pretenders can fake spirituality and perform in ways that appear to represent God.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should suddenly start scrutinizing every Christian for warning signs of fraudulent behavior. All of us do and say things that can call into question our right relationship to Christ. Only God knows the reality of one’s heart. The most important thing for you and me in this regard is to make certain we’re the real deal. The response we should long for is, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)

There is something I do to my wife that is insincere and I’m working on changing it. To be fair, most men do it, but that doesn’t make it right. When she talks, I pretend to be listening. Guys, if you think we are fooling our wives, we’re not. They know our feeble attempts at conversation are insincere. They deserve better.

A more serious problem is when that insincerity carries over into our worship, prayer life, bible study, behavior, and faith.

God honors faith that is genuine and sincere. “… without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6) “… anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Do you believe that? Do you believe intellectually and from the heart He exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him?

Notice the operative word “earnestly.” Our faith must not only involve intellectual ascent but earnest pursuit of His divine involvement in our lives. Faith is not passive but active resulting in changed behavior and good works. “… faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)

So when Paul instructs, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good…” (Ro 12:9), he is telling us to keep it real. You can’t fake your way into heaven. God honors real faith, saving faith; living, breathing, active, sincere, earnest, working faith that permeates our being and affects the way we live.

For more on this topic, check out this article: What is Required of Those Who Follow Christ

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Do You Know The Way to Heaven

Posted on May 13, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 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 and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4

When I was young, I didn’t like the Bible for two reasons: It was hard to understand, and what I understood scared me to death. Verses like John 14:4 frightened me. I understood the previous verses where Jesus spoke of His Father’s house (heaven) and that He would return for His disciples. But then Jesus said, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” It upset me because I didn’t know the way. What was it that His disciples knew about the way to heaven that I didn’t know?

At that time in my life, I was unaware of how the Holy Spirit uses God’s word to reveal our sin condition to lead us to repentance. Before I could settle the heaven issue, the Holy Spirit had to prepare my heart.

Jesus told His disciples about the Advocate or Comforter (the Holy Spirit) that was to come. “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) To me, the concept of judgment was frightening, and I had become increasingly aware of my propensity for sin. Peace didn’t come until I discovered God’s remedy at Calvary where Christ paid the penalty for my sins.

After that, the Bible was no longer scary but an instruction manual for living. There is no greater resource. Consider these words from 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” The Bible is inspired by God and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. It contains what God has to say about every aspect of your life; past, present, and future.

Since we know the Bible is God’s infallible word, and that God is completely trustworthy, then we can believe He will do what He promises.

So when Jesus says He has gone to heaven to prepare a place for you, and that He’s coming back to take you to be with Him, there is no reason to doubt Him. It’s a done deal — as long as you know the way to heaven.

What is the way to heaven? We have Thomas to thank for asking for clarification on that question. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5) That’s when Jesus imparted these famous words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the way to heaven is Jesus. There is no other way.

In secular society’s push for inclusiveness and diversity this may be a hard pill to swallow, but there is only one way, one truth, and one hope for eternal life. We are not just one big happy all-religions family.

Does that mean we should not respect other religions? Absolutely not. We’re commanded to love everyone.

Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life — and the only way to the Father.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Your Face to Face Meeting with the Lord

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Heaven is Just a Few More Steps Away

Posted on March 23, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Life is like walking on a long and winding road with many unexpected obstacles and surprises along the way. The longer you walk the greater the experiences from which you fill your basket full of memories. Sometimes you stumble and other times you fall flat on your face, but you know you must keep moving forward toward your ultimate destination.

There are times of testing and trials and days of incredibly wonderful blessings. Eventually the road ends at a final destination. For you, a Christian, the final resting place is that eternal home that Jesus has prepared in heaven where you “will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

The Little River Band had a hit song in 1977 called Reminiscing. The lyrics look forward in time when life’s journey is near its end, when a couple recalls their youthful days together. Surely you have gathered with family and old friends and talked about past shared experiences.

The kitchen table at my grandmother’s house was my family’s favorite gathering place for reminiscing. Those special times of looking back always produced laughs and tears as we looked back on where we had been and what we had gone through.

I woke up this morning reminiscing. My thoughts had little to do with the events and experiences through which I have passed but rather the one who has been with me through everything. As I thought about the road of life, I realized that I have not been walking alone. And then I read this morning’s focus scripture: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

For as long as I can remember Jesus has been walking with me. He has always been by my side and as in the famous “Footprints in the Sand” illustration, there have been times when He has carried me. Through every trial and test, Jesus has been there directing my path and rescuing me from the jaws of danger and adversity.

More times than I can remember He has filled my basket of blessings to overflowing, as He did when He fed the 5,000. I have persevered “under trial” and “stood the test” because the Lord has helped me. He is not just waiting at that eternal destination for my arrival.  My Savior has been with me all along assuring the successful completion of my journey.

The good news is that the Lord doesn’t leave you to persevere under trial on your own. Had that been the case I would have fallen from the faith a long time ago. He is your strength, your shield, your fortress (Ps 18:2), and your constant help in times of trouble. (Ps 46:1) Jesus promised to never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)

Undoubtedly, you have seen the TV commercial in which an elderly lady cries, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Sometime we can identify with her feelings of helplessness. But because Christ is with you…you can “get up” to walk another day…and another. You can persevere and you can stand up to the test, not on your own, but through His divine enablement.

Today I encourage you to spend a little time reminiscing about your life with Christ. “Lord, do you remember when?” Look back over the experiences of your life and look at those times when you fell and you didn’t think you could get back up. It won’t take long to realize that you are still standing because the Lord has been with you for every step of your life’s journey.

Jesus is your ever present companion who always knows the right way to go and the right way to handle the most difficult situation.

With each trial and each test you are one step closer to receiving the “crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” The fact that the crown awaits you is proof that you are going to make it. Victory awaits you. Hang in there, my friend. You are almost there. Heaven is just a few more steps away.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Eyewitness News Reports Confirm the Reality of Christ

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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What God Wants You to Know About Eternal Life

Posted on February 19, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:12,13

Do you ever doubt your salvation? Do you ever wonder if you are really saved? It is not uncommon to experience doubts concerning your relationship to God and your eternal salvation. In fact, there was a time in my life when I was uncertain.

Many years ago I was a morning radio personality in Jackson, Mississippi. I had announced to my listeners that I had taken a job in Tampa, Florida and would soon be leaving. Many listeners called to express best wishes and sadness over my decision to move on with my career. One of those many calls I have never forgotten.

“Do you know for certain that you are going to heaven when you die,” asked the caller.

“I sincerely hope so,” I responded. “I’m a Christian and I’m trying to do the best I can. Hopefully God will let me in.”

To be honest, I was offended by the question. That was just a little too personal for my liking. But more than offensive, the question was troubling.

For as long as I can remember the church and Christian instruction has been a part of my life. I have always wanted to do good…to be a good person. I also have an onboard guilt system that kicks into high gear at the slightest wrongdoing. Did the caller see something in me that would cause him to question my relationship to God? Did he not see me as a good person? And if he saw me in a negative light — how does God see me? Am I not good enough?

Soon I was working my new radio gig in Florida. We began attending a Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg where I volunteered to be a part of a weekly visitation program called Evangelism Explosion. To be a part of the program was no small task. It required an enormous commitment to preparation, study, and memorization.

There was that question again. “Have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know you will go to heaven when you die?” And another question, “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven,’ what would you say to Him?”

The questions troubled me greatly. I didn’t think anybody could know for certain they were going to heaven. My answer to God’s question on why He should let me into His heaven was simply, “Well, I’ve tried to live a good life.”

I was embarrassed to ask my pastor or anyone on the team for the answers. So, I began to carefully read through textbook but still, the answers eluded me. As I read, I prayed for God to reveal the answers to these questions that had now become an obsession.

Surely the answer could be found in the Bible but…where? One morning my eyes fell upon these verses from 1 John 5: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Verse 13 grabbed my attention first. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” These words had been written to assure me of eternal life. You can know….you should know that you are going to heaven when you die.

In the preceding verse John clarifies who can have this assurance: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ and believed in Him and His promises (“…you who believe in the name of the Son of God”) then you can know for certain that you have eternal life. The answer, then, to the hypothetical question to God on why he should let you into His heaven is simply, “I believe in Jesus…trust in Him completely.”

But, what about doing good, being good, and earning your way into heaven? Salvation is not gained by good works. You can’t earn it. You can’t be good enough. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Eternal life is the gift of God and must be received by faith in Jesus Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The good works we seek to do are not the way or means of salvation but rather, the evidence of salvation. It’s what a Christian does.

In the final days of my mother’s life I stood by her hospital bed and asked, “Mom, have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know that you will go to heaven when you die?”

She responded, “I hope so. I hope I’ve been good enough.”

“Oh, Mom…you can know,” I said. “God wants you to know.”

That day she placed her trust in Jesus for her salvation.

Eternal life with God doesn’t come by your performance. You will never be good enough. Your ticket to God’s heaven is based on the flawless work of Jesus, His performance.

“Have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know that you will go to heaven when you die?” God wants you to know.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Jesus Saves and Keeps You Saved

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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How to Become a Forever Time Traveler

Posted on December 18, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),”

Luke 1:68-70

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? Possibly a trip back to the home of your youth where life was simpler and your burdens were few.

Yesterday, I took a trip back to Strasburg, Virginia — my hometown. My sole mode of transportation was my laptop. With a little help from the Street View setting on Google Maps, I toured the town where I lived over 40 years ago.

On main street, I looked for my first place of employment, the Strasburg Tastee Freez. The old building is gone, mercifully replaced by a parking lot.

Nearby I saw the drugstore that featured a soda fountain and lemon phosphates (a concoction of lemon syrup, soda water, and phosphoric acid. Like Seven-Up, only better.) Just one of those warm and fuzzy memories from my childhood. The drugstore also served as the local Greyhound Bus Stop. From there, I left home for the first time headed for Navy boot camp.

A few doors down, I could see the fire station. Upstairs they held weekly teen sock hops. Oddly, guys seldom attended. Just girls dancing with girls.

I Googled my way down West King Street and hung a right onto Capon Street hoping to find my childhood home. Sure enough, it’s still standing but barely recognizable. Granddaddy’s prized boxwood hedge is gone. So are my grandmother’s flowers. The old house desperately needs a fresh coat of paint.

That house represents many happy memories of days gone by. There I was loved, encouraged, and blessed in so many ways. Of all the places I have ever lived, it is the only one I can really call home. It wasn’t the house itself that made it my home, but the people and the experiences we shared.

There, my grandmother helped me to memorize the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer. She instilled in me the values and the heavenly mindset that has served me well throughout my life.

Even if I could buy that old house back — all I would have is a building and memories. There is no way I could restore what once was there.

Fact is, we can’t go back in time. But we can go eternally forward.

I am reminded from today’s focus text of a future home — where I will be reunited with those special people from my past.

God “… has come and has redeemed his people.” The biblical concept of redemption means to buy back something that was lost.

Because all of us sin, we are isolated from God and the forever family. We must pay God’s penalty for sin, which is death.

The good news is “…he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us…” Jesus has paid the price, the penalty that you deserve. He has bought back your relationship to God, and your place in the family of God through the shedding of His precious blood. Jesus gave His life to pay the debt you owe, and He paid it in full.

There is a heavenly home that awaits every believer, more wonderful than any place or experience you have had or will have on this earth.

In that place there will be no more burdens — no more sorrow. You will experience eternal joy, happiness, contentment, peace, and harmony with the Lord and all who dwell there.

You won’t find this heavenly home on Google Maps. However, you will find it in your heart when you surrender your life to the Redeemer.

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13

We are forever time travelers.

For more on this topic, check out this article: When Christ Returns

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Thanksgiving Forever and Ever – Amen

Posted on November 23, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

…saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

Revelation 7:12

When I was in the Navy Band in Hawaii, I served as the choir director for a small church on Waikiki. Every worship service concluded with the benediction and then the singing of the Sevenfold Amen.

Amen means “so be it.” That’s why the word is used at the end of prayer and worship. But there is also significance to the number seven as in the Sevenfold Amen. In the Bible, seven represents completion and perfection.

Consider the use of seven in God’s creation. God completed his work on the sixth day and rested on the seventh.

The number seven occurs in the Bible 735 times and 54 times in the Book of the Revelation. Seven men in the Old Testament were called “a man of God.” In Matthew 13, Jesus performed seven miracles. And it goes on and on. I recommend Bible study on the significance of seven in the Bible. If you’ve never studied it before, I think you’ll be amazed.

What does all this have to do with today’s focus text? Well, count with me. “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God.” That’s right. Seven declarations of God’s perfection.

Then following the seven declarations of perfection: “for ever and ever. Amen!”

Thanksgiving, as you and I celebrate it on earth, is a preview of the coming main attraction. It’s a part of our lives that will be enjoyed in heaven. But we won’t just do it once a year, Thanksgiving will be continual and offered with complete sincerity, enthusiasm, and excitement.

Every distraction and encumbrance will be removed when we participate in that great banquet table with our Lord in glory.

He will wipe 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

That’s perfection. The work of Christ will be so complete that we will no longer be faced with problems of any kind. There will be nothing more to pray about or for. Only praise and thanksgiving. “For ever and ever. Amen!”

You and I have been given a glimpse of glory, but the best is yet to come. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Our Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, (Revelation 22:13) and the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) He WILL complete His work in you and me. (Philippians 1:6)

In heaven, we won’t need a worship leader to tell us to stand on the third verse, or a preacher to ask, “Don’t you love Him today?” Praise and thanksgiving will flow like a mighty river. It will come naturally, without reservation.

There will be no shy or quiet spectators in heaven. That’s because we will be in the completeness and perfection of God’s love and acceptance. No more hang-ups or self-esteem issues to hold us back.

So on this Thanksgiving day, let us give thanks for our blessings — past, present, and future, kept for us in the perfection of Christ.

Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:12

Is your heart burdened with problems on this Thanksgiving? Then read this article: How to Turn Hardships into Blessings

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December)

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