Tag Archive | Heaven

Looking to Jesus

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Fixing one’s eyes on Jesus is easier said than done. Life is distracting. We have responsibilities. We have commitments. We have hopes and dreams, hobbies and interests–what does it look like to focus one’s eyes on Christ?

Meditation on God’s word is a gigantic part of it. Constant, consistent prayer is a large part of it too. But before you quit your job and join a monastery, remember that God is with us always. We don’t have to isolate ourselves from normal everyday life to focus on Him. As He said to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

God is always near. God is always present. God is always listening. God is always actively involved in every aspect of our lives. Acknowledging this fact, rejoicing in this fact, and taking advantage of our right-relationship with Him by consulting Him in prayer and filling our minds with His perfect Word–this is the walk of the Christian who is looking to Jesus, fixing his eyes on the love and grace of his Savior. And everywhere you turn in scripture, it can’t be ignored that focusing ourselves on God involves turning away from evil.

Lord, fill us with the knowledge of your love which surpasses all understanding and help us turn our eyes and hearts to you completely!

  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

  • “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:1-5).

  • “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23)

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The Longing of our Hearts; Thirsting for God

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalms 42:1-2)

As a deer pants

It’s been said that there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. It’s true–we have an intrinsic, deep-seated longing for the Lord.

  • “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

  • “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalms 84:2).

  • “In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:8-9)

My soul thirsts

Discontentment, disatisfaction, emptiness–do not labor to rid your life of these feelings. These are reminders that this world is not our home! We are waiting for a better place. And if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

  • “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

  • “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

When shall I come and appear before God?

In God’s presence we shall be satisfied. When we are with Him, our joy will be full. Until then, our souls will pine and we’ll have times of hunger and thirst–some times will be more intense than others. But when these feelings come, know that they point to the day when we’ll be with the Lord forever.

  • “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).

  • “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:15).

  • “If indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:3-5).

The Love of God vs. the Love of the World

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Do not love the world

After coming to Christ the Christian becomes increasingly weary of this world. He finds himself despising the flesh. He abhors the depravity he sees in himself. The lusts of the flesh agitate him. The evil he sees in and around him “torments his righteous soul” (2 Peter 2:8). I know this because all Christians have been given the Holy Spirit. If the Christian could love the world–if he could get comfortable here and never long for a better country–God’s love would not be in him at all. But it is, and so he struggles.

  • Galatians 5:17; For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  • Romans 7:15-25; I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The love of the Father

The Christian wrestles internally because the love of the Father is in him. He has been born of God. His flesh is altogether evil and his spirit is altogether righteous. The two cannot, and will never, coexist in peace.

He is God’s child now. He cannot love the world. It’s foreign to him. His citizenship is in heaven.

So if you are a Christian, don’t even try to love the world. It will only make the battle more intense. Stop investing in it. Seek the things which are above.

  • Colossians 3:1-4; If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
  • Philippians 3:20-21; Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The world is passing away

This life is excruciatingly short. “You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes;” James 4:14. So instead of loving this world, love the life to come. If you have Christ, you have eternal life. Make that your joy. Make Him your love. Make your desire to do His will while you are here. Not because you fear damnation but because you joy in salvation–the eternal life He has freely given to you.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Hope of the Righteous Brings Joy

Proverbs 10:28

“The hope of the righteous brings joy”

Hope

When you read about hope in the bible, it’s not the kind of hope that says “I hope it’s sunny today.” The hope the bible speaks of us an absolute expectation of coming good. The book of Hebrews calls it “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” because it’s based on Jesus Christ. The faith we have in Him and what He has promised us is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The Greek word translated hope in the New Testament is “to anticipate, expectation, confidence.”

  • Colossians 1:3-5; We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel
  • Titus 1:1-2; Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
  • Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
  • Titus 3:4-7; But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
  • 1 Peter 1:3-5; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Of the righteous

Hope founded on one’s own righteousness would not be hope at all but a false expectation. Let the double-minded man not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord. But those who are made to be righteous through trusting in Chirst’s death and resurrection–they have a hope sure and steadfast.

  • Romans 3:19-22; Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
  • Romans 4:4-8; Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
  • Philippians 3:8-9; Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Brings joy

When the vanity of this life is overwhelming, when the trials and sufferings cause you to groan in anxious anticipation, let that desire for a better country where righteousness dwells bring you joy. For soon–very soon, in the twinkling of an eye–we will be with the Lord forever.

  • Psalm 16:8-11; I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
  • Psalm 116:15; Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Your Hope Will not be Cut Off

Proverbs 23:17-18

“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

There is a future

There’s no reason to envy those who do not know God yet prosper in this life. He blesses the good and the evil. They are getting right now the best they’ll ever have while we have an eternity of joy ahead. We have a future, a blessed hope to look forward to.

  • Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-7; “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
  • John 14:1-3; “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Your hope will not be cut off

The hope we have for eternity–the absolute, unchangeable expectation of God’s promise to us of eternal life–will never be cut off. We have confident assurance that He who is the resurrection and the life will give raise us who believe to incorruption.

  • Titus 1:1-3; “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.”
  • Hebrews 6:17-20; “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Cling to the Lord

Joshua 23:8

“You shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.”

Webster’s 1828 dictionary of American English defines cling as “To adhere closely; to stick to; to hold fast upon, especially by winding round or embracing; as, the tendril of a vine clings to its support. To adhere closely and firmly, in interest or affection; as, men of a party cling to their leader.” Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions defines the Hebrew word here translated as cling as “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.”

Clinging to the Lord is clinging to His word. It’s holding fast to the promise He has given us of eternal life. It’s believing Him. It’s regarding Him as faithful. It’s abiding in His love. It’s continuing with confidence in the gospel He has preached to us through Jesus Christ. It’s hanging on the certainty of forgiveness, righteousness, justification, salvation, eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Psalms 119:31; “I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!”
  • Luke 8:15; “As for [the seed that fell] in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
  • Hebrews 3:5-12; “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.” As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”‘ Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-16; “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
  • Hebrews 6:17-20; “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
  • Hebrews 10:19-23; “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

The True Longing of our Soul

Psalms 84:1-4

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!”

Your dwelling place

The house of the Lord that was constructed on earth was only a copy of true things–of heaven itself. Hebrews 9:24 says, “Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”

Even Solomon after constructing the temple confessed, “”Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27.

  • Isaiah 66:1; “Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?'”
  • Psalm 11:4; “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”
  • Psalm 103:19; “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”
  • Acts 7:47-49; “It was Solomon who built a house for [the Lord]. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?'”

My soul longs…for the courts of the Lord

The true longing of our soul is to be where God is.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
  • Romans 8:22-25; “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
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