Heaven Is Here
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3
Eternal life is not something we receive upon our death. We receive eternal life the moment we believe in Christ. When we regard heaven as the far-off dwelling of God, we forget that He is here, in this very moment. Wherever you are, as you read this devotional, God is with you. Regardless of the place you find yourself in, your intimate connection to God remains.
When we bask in the truth of His affection and presence with grateful hearts, our souls open to receive His gifts, guidance, and peace. In the same way, the apostles received these things, whether they were in a prison cell or free and surrounded by friends.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God is at hand. We welcome the Kingdom of God into our lives when we surrender to Christ’s lordship and allow the Holy Spirit to indwell and guide us. God’s Kingdom is available to be experienced and expressed by believers every moment of every day, even as we look forward to eternity with Him.
A soul disengaged from the world is a heavenly one; and then are we ready for heaven when our heart is there before us. John Newton
Eternal Life Is Knowing God: John 17:3
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
Human beings are not special—at least according to the London Zoo. In 2005, the zoo introduced a four-day exhibit: “Humans in Their Natural Environment.” The human “captives” were chosen through an online contest. To help visitors understand the humans, the zoo workers created a sign detailing their diet, habitat, and threats. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the goal of the exhibit was to downplay the uniqueness of human beings. One participant in the exhibit seemed to agree. “When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds them that we’re not that special.”
What a stark contrast to what the Bible says about human beings: God “fearfully and wonderfully” made us in “his image” (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26–27).
David began Psalm 139 by celebrating God’s intimate knowledge of him (vv. 1–6) and His all-encompassing presence (vv. 7–12). Like a master weaver, God not only formed the intricacies of David’s internal and external features (vv. 13–14), but He also made him a living soul, giving spiritual life and the ability to intimately relate to God. Meditating on God’s handiwork, David responded in awe, wonder, and praise (v. 14).
Human beings are special. God created us with marvelous uniqueness and the awesome ability to have an intimate relationship with Him. Like David, we can praise Him because we’re the workmanship of His loving hands.
Reflect & Pray
What are some practical implications of knowing and believing you’re fearfully and wonderfully made? What are some negative consequences of not believing this?
God created human beings to be like Him.
After a baby takes his first steps, the parents call loved ones. They excitedly announce the awesome accomplishment, which is the beginning of a new life of greater mobility and maturity. In the same way, the Christian life begins with a first step—salvation. But it’s only the start of a new life of increasing spiritual growth.
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). It’s simple enough that even a child can do it, and after salvation, we are all like babies taking our first steps. A new believer doesn’t understand all the doctrines of salvation any more than a toddler knows all the mechanics of walking. However, once we are saved, we have a responsibility to learn what God has done for us and to take more steps of obedience in the Christian life.
Genuine salvation always results in transformation. When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, He comes to live within us through the Holy Spirit. Our old way of life no longer fits our new identity, and the Spirit works within us to make us more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Has there been a particular point in your life when you recognized your sin and then asked Jesus to forgive you and become your Savior? If so, how has your life been transformed since then? Spiritual growth is one of the ways we can know that we are saved.
“Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (2 Peter 1:14)
Peter was writing to the scattered believers, persecuted from without and badgered from within by false teachers. He wrote to “put [them] always in remembrance of these things” that they had been taught, and so that they would “be established in the present truth” (v. 12). As he wrote, he viewed his impending “decease” (v. 15, literally “exodus”) as merely putting off his earthly tent and putting on another as one would change clothes (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). But this would, perhaps, be his last opportunity to strengthen the lives of the believers.
Once before, Peter had faced the prospect of death. The church was under attack (Acts 12:1). Of the three who had been in Jesus’ “inner circle,” James had been killed (v. 2), and Peter had been imprisoned and was under heavy guard (vv. 3-6). However, an angel of the Lord (v. 7) escorted him out of prison and out of harm’s way (vv. 8-10). We can only surmise the full impact this made on Peter and his ministry, but we do know he was not afraid to die for his Lord.
Actually, as mentioned in our text, the resurrected Lord Himself had predicted Peter’s brutal death at the hands of the enemy (John 21:19). Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down during the persecution of the church at the hands of Nero, no doubt glorifying God in and through his death.
But his main concerns in this passage were the believers to whom he wrote. He even revealed that he had a plan to “have these things always in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:15). This would be through his diligent teaching, through his letters, and evidently also through the ministry of his own disciple, Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who would carry on after his death.
May God grant each of us a similarly fearless, fruitful, and lasting ministry. JDM
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
I am having a hard time trying to comprehend what has happened to sound Bible teaching. What has happened to preaching on Christian discipleship and on our daily deportment in the spiritual life? We are making an accommodation. We are offering a take-it-easy, Pollyanna type of approach that does not seem ever to have heard of total commitment to One who is our Lord and Savior.
I regret that more and more Christian believers are being drawn into a hazy, fuzzy kind of teaching that assures everyone who has ever “accepted Christ” that he or she has nothing more to be concerned about. He is OK and he will always be OK because Christ will be returning before things get too tough. Then all of us will wear our crowns, and God will see that we have cities to rule over!
If that concept is accurate, why did our Lord take the stern and unpopular position that Christian believers should be engaged in watching and praying? MMG031-032
Lord, help me to watch and pray faithfully. Help me to boldly accept the challenge of total commitment and never to make an accommodation to make people comfortable. Amen.
To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.—Romans 3:7.
Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.—Hebrews 12:1.
Thus would I press on to the glory,
A knight in the army of God, Whose march will be onward and forward,
Because of the foes on the road.
Before me the guerdon Thou givest,
My glorious eternal reward,
And with me Thy peace and Thy wisdom,
Because of the Cross of the Lord.
If He calls you to a kind of service which is according to His will but not according to your taste, you must not go to it with less, rather with more courage and energy than if your taste coincided with His will. The less of self and self-will there is in anything we do, the better. You must not amuse yourself with going from side to side, when duty calls you straight on; nor make difficulties, when the real thing is to get over them. Let your heart be full of courage, and then say, “I shall succeed. Not I, but the grace of God which is with me.”
St. Francis De Sales.
“If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth.” Eccl. 11:3
Why, then, do we dread the clouds which now darken our sky? True, for a while they hide the sun, but the sun is not quenched; he will shine out again before long. Meanwhile those black clouds are filled with rain; and the blacker they are, the more likely they are to yield plentiful showers. How can we have rain without clouds?
Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be the gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will not drown us with wrath; nay, He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord’s love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefit. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.
O Lord, the clouds are the dust of thy feet! How near thou art in the cloudy and dark day! Love beholds thee, and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and making the little hills rejoice on every side.