Made Alive – What Difference Does Heaven Make?

Made Alive

You were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1

As a young man, my dad was traveling with a group of friends to an out-of-town sporting event when the tires of their car slipped on the rain-soaked roads. They had an accident—a bad accident. One of his friends was paralyzed and another was killed. My dad was declared dead and taken to the morgue. His shocked and grief-stricken parents came to identify him. But my dad revived from what turned out to be a deep coma. Their mourning turned to joy.

In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul reminds us that apart from Christ we are “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (v. 1). But because of His great love for us, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (vv. 4–5). Through Christ we have been brought from death to life.

Thank You, Father, for love that conquers sin, life that conquers death, and grace that has conquered my heart

So in every sense, we all owe our life to the Father in heaven. Through His great love, He has made it possible for those of us who were dead in sin to have life and purpose through His Son.

Thank You, Father, for love that conquers sin, life that conquers death, and grace that has conquered my heart. May my life be a sweet aroma of praise to You.

We owed a debt we could not pay, but Jesus paid the debt He did not owe.

By Bill Crowder 

INSIGHT:In most world religions, people seek to gain favor from a deity—whether offering a sacrifice or promising to change one’s ways, the emphasis on human works is central. Yet in the writings of Paul we see that through Christ’s sacrifice we are saved by God’s grace and not by works. This is the central theme of the gospel. What is so extraordinary about the free gift of salvation by faith is its eternal impact. Although we will someday have to face physical death, the spiritual death of eternal separation from God has been replaced with eternal life.

Have you received this gift of new spiritual life that Christ offers?

What Difference Does Heaven Make?

Set your mind on things above…. Colossians 3:2

What difference does heaven make? Consider two people who lived across the street from each other. One man thought about heaven all the time—especially when the setting sun turned the sky into a painting. On such evenings, he would sit on his porch and think about heaven. He studied the topic of heaven in the Bible and often went to bed visualizing the scenes recorded in Revelation 21 and 22 about heavenly Zion. But the man’s neighbor never thought of heaven. He busied himself with his work, his family, his hobbies, and his golf game—never pausing to think about his eternal future.

These two men lived on the same street, but in different worlds. One man’s interest was on things below; the other man’s mind was on things above.

Which of the two men lived most happily? Which was most productive? Which busied himself with optimistic works of goodness? Which lived with promise, perseverance, and purpose? It’s not hard to guess. Those who think the most about heaven do the greatest work on earth. Keeping heaven on our minds keeps hope in our hearts and the Gospel in our mouths.

Heavenly-mindedness is sanity. It is the best regimen for keeping our hearts whole, our minds clear…” Mark Buchanan


Unconditional Love of God

Romans 5:6-8

New believers may find it difficult to accept that God loves us just as we are. Much of the world operates by conditional love, which offers approval and acceptance on the basis of performance. So when we first come to Christ, there is often a natural tendency to assume we must strive to “earn” blessings—such as monetary wealth, loving families, and solid careers.

Divine love, however, can never be earned by human effort. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to make our Father love us more. Nor can we influence Him to ever stop loving us. (See Rom. 8:38-39.) Many believers understand this intellectually, but they may have trouble believing it deep down in their heart.

No matter what has occurred in your past or what you feel right now, God’s love has always been freely given to you. Our heavenly Father pours His love upon us without exception—no ifs, ands, or buts. It’s not as if He postponed loving you until the moment you invited Him into your life. Nor did He begin loving you when you first started going to church or when you rose from the baptismal waters. In truth, the Lord never began to love you at all; He simply always has. From the creation of the world, God knew you and loved you (1 John 4:19; Psalm 139:13-16).

Are you rejoicing in the Father’s love? Do you exude peace, or are you focused on what-ifs? Is your life characterized by power and purpose or by fear? Recognizing the amazing truth of God’s unconditional love is life-changing. Prayerfully open your arms to His love today.

Be Ye Separate, That’s All

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

The doctrine of separation from “the unclean thing” is neglected today by professing Christians, but it is still here in God’s Word. The context indicates that Paul is warning against Christians being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and urging us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:14; 7:1).

Such separation does not mean having no contact at all with unbelievers, “for then must ye needs go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10), whereas Jesus commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He also prayed to the Father, “not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).

He does demand, however, that we are not to compromise with unbelief or with the unclean thing. We are “born again” into the family of God through simple faith in the person and saving work of Christ; but the full manifestation and fellowship of our relation with the heavenly Father as His spiritual sons and daughters is evidently, in this passage, conditioned on the vital principle of separation from all unbelief and filthiness of the flesh, with Jesus as our example (Hebrews 7:26).

We are specially warned to “turn away” from those who, “having a form of godliness,” attempt to accommodate the naturalistic viewpoint of modern scientism within the Scriptures, thus “denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). “Be ye separate, saith the Lord.” HMM

“Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.”

Joshua 15:13-19

We shall now see what Caleb did with his inheritance in the land of promise.

Joshua 15:14

These were giants, but their gigantic stature did not frighten Caleb from attacking them. He who fears God is not the man to fear anyone else.

Joshua 15:15

This Debir appears to have been mastered before, but the Canaanites had re-occupied it. Our sins are very apt to return upon us, and when they do so we must drive them out a second time. The ancient name of Debir is here given, but why it would be hard to say. Kirjath-sepher signifies the city of the book. Since learning was scarce in those days, it may be that this place was famed for its records. Anyhow it was a Canaanitish city, and it was to be captured. Ungodliness is none the better for being associated with education.

Joshua 15:17

This exploit is recorded again in the book of Judges; probably because the hero of it, in after years was moved by the Spirit of God to become a judge and deliverer of Israel. He was a worthy nephew of a noble man. The younger members of a family should never allow their elders to engross all the zeal and faith. If there be one earnest Christian of our kin, let us endeavour to equal him.

Joshua 15:19

If earthly parents thus give to their children what they desire, how much more will our heavenly Father bestow upon us more of his Holy Spirit. Some blessings we must fight for, as Othniel fought for Kirjath-sepher; others may be won by prayer, as Achsah gained the field of the abounding springs.

Joshua 21:3, 10-13

Caleb having gained his promised inheritance appears to have shown a noble spirit by generously resigning the city of Hebron to the Levites. He was brave to win, but not greedy to hold.

Joshua 21:12

Thus Caleb had the Lords servants for near neighbours, and the very chief of them lived at his doors. It was well for them to have so valiant a defender, and well for him and his household to have such excellent instructors. God’s ministers are our best friends.

Joshua 21:13

A double honour was thus put upon Caleb’s city. If the Lord will but use our property for his service we will cheerfully give him the best that we have.


O happy soldiers they who serve

Beneath thy banner, Lord!

And glad the task if thou but nerve

Their arm to wield the sword.


Though Satan fiercely rage without,

And fears o’erwhelm within,

Rings in the air Faith’s victor note

“Against the world I’ll win.”


Pearls and Pigs!

Matthew 7:6

Once I was on a farm where the farmer had a hog that was so huge, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw it! It just lay there on the ground, flicking its ears and shaking its rolls of fat in an attempt to shoo away the flies. I was simply amazed at the enormous size of that hog. I wondered, How can it even stand up?

I asked the owner, “Does that pig do anything except lie here?”

The owner answered, “It hardly moves until it’s time to eat. But when it’s dinnertime, that pig nearly jumps to its feet, snorting with joy and excitement at the prospect of eating a meal!”

When I heard this, it made me think of what Jesus said about pigs in Matthew 7:6. He told us, “… Neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

I always thought this was a strange verse, because pearls and pigs in the same verse seem like such a bizarre mixture! But Jesus had a purpose for using this example, so we need to take a look and see why He made this statement and what it means for you and me.

First, Jesus said, “… neither cast ye….” The word “cast” is from the Greek word ballo, and it means to throw or to cast. But the Greek is so strong that it could be translated, “… NEVER cast your pearls before swine….” In other words, this word conveys a strong prohibition to never do something! As we saw in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, Jesus wasn’t giving a suggestion here; He was giving an order that this particular action should never be taken!

The word “pearls” is the Greek word margarites. You may find it interesting to know that this is where we get the names Margaret and Margarita. Since Jesus uses the example of pearls in this verse, let’s talk about pearls for a moment.

Pearls are not easily found. To obtain the richest and most beautiful pearls, a diver must dive again and again and again and again. Then after lifting the shells from the sea floor, he must force open the mouth of each shell and dig through the tough meat of the muscle, poking and searching for the tiny white pearl that was formed over a long period of time. These pearls are precious, rare, valuable, and hard to obtain.

This is how you should view the things God has done in your life. You can’t put a price on what you have learned through your life experiences as you’ve walked with Him. Like precious pearls, those life lessons are inestimable in their value because they cost you something. They weren’t the result of shallow swimming. You had to go deep into God to obtain those spiritual treasures.

Each time you open the door to those treasures and begin to share them with someone else, you need to remember that you’re sharing your pearls with that person. The counsel and advice you’re giving may be free to him, but it has cost you everything! So if what you are sharing isn’t appreciated, stop giving that person your pearls!

This is why Jesus said, “… neither cast ye your pearls before swine….” And remember, the Greek more accurately says, “never cast your pearls before swine….” But do you see the word “before”? It is the Greek word emprothen, and it means to present something to someone else. An example would be if I publicly honored a person by presenting him with a special gift. To show honor, I would come to him dressed properly and thoughtfully; then I would give that person a gift that cost me something in order to demonstrate the great honor in which I held him.

By using this word, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:6 that we shouldn’t waste our time, energy, or money or put too much thought into honoring individuals who don’t even care about what we are doing for them! There’s no reason to get all dressed up, to put hours of contemplation into how to help them, or to open our hearts and tell them deep truths and lessons that have cost us much in life. Why would we ever want to do all that for people who don’t even care?

Jesus uses the example of “swine” or “pigs” to describe this category of people who couldn’t care less about what you are trying to tell them. The word “swine” is from the Greek word choipos, and it can be translated as pig, sow, swine, or hog. Of course, pigs were very well known in Jesus’ day—and in Jewish circles, they were considered to be the lowest, basest, and the most unclean of filthy, stinking animals. For Jesus to refer to people as swine was a very powerful and graphic depiction!

Pigs are consumers. They take, take, and take. They eat and then want more. They never think to ask where the food came from, who paid for it, or what process was required to produce it. They are just mindless, careless consumers.

If you’ve ever been to a pigpen, you know that pigs do nothing but lie on their sides and jump up just in time to eat. They never contribute anything to the farm until they’re dead. Covered in their own mess, waddling around in their own filth, pigs just wait to be fed again and again.

When the bell rings and it’s time for the pigs to eat, they fight and kick to see who can get to the food first. Slopping up the food, slobbering all over themselves, they “eat just like pigs.” Driven to have their need for food met, pigs never stop to say thank you to the person who brought it to them. Not one “thank you” is heard—not even one!

This is exactly like people who don’t appreciate the holy things that are freely given to them from the depths of another person’s life. It’s sad to say, but many believers live and act just like pigs because they are careless, mindless consumers of other people’s time and energy. They never think about how a person obtained his wisdom, what it cost for him to obtain it, or how many years it took for him to come to his present place of growth in God. These people who act like pigs just take and take and take. And after they have drained that person of all his strength, they don’t even take the time to say thank you for what they have consumed!


Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:6 convey this idea:

“Never invest too much time, energy, or money into people who don’t even care about what you are doing for them! I’m commanding you not to share your ‘pearls’those precious details, experiences, and parts of your life that have cost you so much—with people who live and act like ungrateful pigs….”

As I noted earlier, when Denise and I first began in the ministry, we thought our door and telephone had to be available to people twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Because of this, people came to us all the time. Some of them really needed help, but it didn’t take us too long to learn that some people just wanted us—our time and our energy. They didn’t have any intention of changing or doing anything we suggested. It was almost as if they were sent on a mission designed to drain us dry of everything we had inside of us.

Once these people were finished with us, they’d leave to find someone else. We were just the ones they attached themselves to for that moment. As long as they could get just a little more out of us, they stuck around. But when they had drained us dry, they were off to find a new victim.

Do you see why Jesus used such a strong example? This is exactly what the Lord was referring to when He said such people would “… trample them [our pearls] under their feet….” You see, Jesus wants us to value ourselves and what we have to share so highly that we carefully choose the people with whom we share our treasures.

What is absolutely amazing to me is that Jesus said this ungrateful group of people will most likely “turn again and rend you” in the end. Pastors and leaders from all over the world could tell you about people whom they have tried to help, but who later turned and accused them of being unloving! People like that take all they can from a person; then later they turn against that same person!

It is extremely hard to understand how someone you have tried so hard to help can act so ugly! Nevertheless, that is frequently the case. As soon as you say, “Enough is enough!” and turn your attention elsewhere, this type of person begins to accuse: “You are so unloving. You don’t love me the way you used to love me. If you were a good Christian, you’d listen to me when I talk. You just don’t care.”

You may assume that these people would know they are loved. The reason you have endured so long in your efforts to help them is that you do love them. If you didn’t love them, you would have let go of your relationship with them a long time ago. Only love could have kept you going after they had disappointed you time after time.

But if those individuals aren’t serious by now, they probably never will be serious. So there comes a time when you have to stop behaving like a beggar. You shouldn’t have to beg anyone to follow you. You need to think more highly of yourself—and those whom you are trying to help need to think more highly of you as well.

People must never take you and the pearls of your life for granted. If that starts happening, stop giving to them until their attitude changes. If their attitude never changes, let go of those unfruitful relationships and find someone who will appreciate what you are trying to accomplish in his or her life. You may be fearful to let go of those individuals at first because you’ve put so much time and energy into them. But I assure you, there are other fish in the sea. You are not locked into a few certain individuals. Lots of potential leaders exist in the Body of Christ, just waiting for someone to tap into their God-given abilities.

It’s time for you to quit acting like the world rises and falls on whether or not one person gets with the program. Move on to someone who will contribute to the program instead of being only a “taker” and a consumer of your time and energy.

But what if you are the one who has been acting like a mindless consumer of other people’s time, talents, gifts, and money? If that is the case, it’s time for you to stop acting like a pig! If you’re really a child of God, the Holy Spirit who dwells within you wants to teach you how to start living on a much higher level!


Lord, I want to thank You for forgiving me for all the times in my past when others did so much for me that I didn’t appreciate. I was too young and too foolish to really appreciate what was being done for me, but now I understand. So today I want to thank You for everything that has been done for me. I thank You for every person You have sent to love me, to be patient with me, and to be used so mightily in my life. Now I ask You to help me be a blessing and a help to someone else who is just as I once was!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that the pearls in my life are precious and have the power to help other people. I open my heart to share them with people who are serious about listening and growing. Because I’m putting so much time and energy into these people, they are going to grow in the Lord and become something truly great! They possess lots of potential, and their God-given gifts, talents, and abilities will be developed and released because God used me in their lives!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. As you read this Sparkling Gem today, did you find yourself thinking of specific individuals who always take but never give anything back in return? What kind of impression do these people leave on others? Is it positive or negative?
  2. Can you think of times in your life when you freely took from someone else, never even stopping to think what it cost that person to give so much to you? Have you ever taken the time to go back to that person and thank him for what he so graciously did for you?
  3. Is there anyone in your life right now who continually takes from you but seems to have no intention of changing? If so, how long are you going to let this situation go on?


How To Remain A “One Woman Man”

The Scriptures require spiritual leaders to be a “One woman man.” (1 Timothy 3:2). Here are a few suggestions that may prove helpful:


EYES — Remember the song, “I Only Have Eyes for You? We must determine to only “look” at our wives. Lustful gazes are acts of adultery. (Matthew 5:29; Job 31:1)


C. S. Lewis said, “If you look at ham and eggs with lust, you already have committed breakfast.


EARS — How easily we can be sexually stimulated by what we hear. Proverbs cautions us, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3)


LIPS — A man committed to his wife does not flatter other women: “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.” (Proverbs 29:5)


HANDS — Paul admonishes us to “Treatyounger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:2). The manner in which we relate physically to our sisters should serve as a guideline in our association with other women.


FEET — We can easily identify with the statement, “I can resist anything but temptation.” Perhaps that’s why the Scriptures warn us to “Flee youthful lusts… ” (2 Timothy 2:22a)


David stood and looked at naked Bathsheba and ended up committing adultery and murder. By contrast, Joseph fled Potifer’s seductive wife and remained pure. (2 Samuel 11; Genesis 39)


MIND — It is only by the renewing of the mind that we can expect to live a pure life: “Let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good… ” (Romans 12:2b – Philips Translation) God’s Word is central to the renewal process.


QUESTION: Are you allowing anything into your mind that is making the renewal process unnecessarily difficult?


HEART — Wise old Solomon cautioned us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)


Thus, emotional involvement with a person of the opposite sex is often an early step in the process that culminates in the act of adultery.


QUESTION: Does your present attitude and pattern of behavior indicate a deep resolve to remain a “ONE WOMAN MAN?



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