VIDEO The Heavenly City

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

In the ancient world, Babylon had its hanging gardens, Jerusalem had its glorious temple, and China had its Forbidden City. In the modern world, Venice has her canals, and Rome has her Vatican City. And in literature, the Celestial City was the goal in The Pilgrim’s Progress, and Oz was the destination in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But no city—ancient, modern, or fictional—is like the Bible’s New Jerusalem. This is the city the apostle John saw descending from heaven to be the eternal destination and home for the people of God. Its radiance and splendor are like nothing ever seen on earth—something befitting the glory of heaven. Indeed, the city is lighted by the glory of God and the lamp of the Lamb of God (Revelation 21:23). It is a city of purity in which those made pure by the blood of the Lamb will dwell for eternity.

If you haven’t already, take time to read Revelation 21 and meditate on the home that awaits you—if you belong to Christ by faith.

To properly envision Heaven, we must remove from our eyes the distorted lenses of death and the Curse. Matthew Henry


Surprising Facts about Your Eternal Home – Revelation 21-22 – Skip Heitzig

When to Sacrifice

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22–23

In February 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning, a newspaper columnist’s concerns struck me. Would we willingly self-isolate, she wondered, changing our work, travel, and shopping habits so others wouldn’t get sick? “This isn’t just a test of clinical resources,” she wrote, “but of our willingness to put ourselves out for others.” Suddenly, the need for virtue was front-page news.

It can be hard to consider others’ needs while we’re anxious about our own. Thankfully, we’re not left with willpower alone to meet the need. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us love to replace our indifference, joy to counter sadness, peace to replace our anxiety, forbearance (patience) to push out our impulsiveness, kindness to care about others, goodness to see to their needs, faithfulness to keep our promises, gentleness instead of harshness, and self-control to lift us beyond self-centeredness (Galatians 5:22–23). While we won’t be perfect at all of this, we’re called to seek the Spirit’s gifts of virtue regularly (Ephesians 5:18).

Author Richard Foster once described holiness as the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And such holiness is needed every day, not just in a pandemic. Do we have the capacity to make sacrifices for the sake of others? Holy Spirit, fill us with the power to do what needs to be done.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When have you made a sacrifice for the sake of others? What needs around you call for the Holy Spirit’s fruit today?

Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today and make me a person of virtue

Trusting God’s Plan in Trouble

When difficult situations test our faith, God wants us to rely on Him for everything we need.

Genesis 12:10-20

Does your faith shrivel when you encounter trouble? Perhaps you prayed about a situation and expected God to act according to your desires, but He didn’t. Though you were hoping for a smooth path, He gave you one with bumps, twists, and turns, which left you wondering where He was. He promised to care for you, but instead you felt deserted.

These are situations that test our faith, and they are common to all believers. Abraham, a man with great faith followed God’s instructions to leave home and travel to Canaan. You’d expect the Lord to honor such bold obedience with blessings, but it wasn’t long before Abraham faced another faith challenge—a famine. This time, his trust faltered. Instead of believing God would provide, he fled to Egypt and made more foolish and costly decisions.

The next time you’re tempted to think that God has let you down, remember that trouble is one of the means He uses to strengthen your belief in Him. When circumstances seem to indicate He doesn’t care, stand firmly on the truths of Scripture and fix your eyes on the Lord, who is always faithful.

The Fatherhood of God

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28)

“The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man” was a religious cliché promoted for many years, especially by religious liberals in the period between the two world wars. However, continuing hostilities between and inside most nations now make the idea of universal brotherhood in this present world almost farcical.

The fact is, however, that God truly is the Father of all men, in the sense that He created them all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). That was the rhetorical question posed to Israel in the last book of the Old Testament. In the New Testament the apostle Paul confirmed the same great truth to the pagan Gentiles. “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” and “we are the offspring of God” (Acts 17:26, 29).

The sad fact is, however, that most men and women have actually become “children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38) because of sin. We can only become spiritual children of the heavenly Father by being born again through faith in Christ. But we then truly “become the sons of God,” as assured to all those who “believe on his name” (John 1:12).

Now we believers can all rejoice in the wonderful truth that we have the same heavenly Father. We have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew…but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11).

May God help those of us who are (or will someday become) fathers on Earth to truly be children of our Father in heaven and thereby be genuine models of the heavenly Father to our human children here on Earth. HMM

I Rejoice In Your Promise

Sin/Shin

Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart fears [only] Your word. I rejoice over Your promise like one who finds vast treasure. I hate and abhor falsehood, [but] I love Your instruction. I praise You seven times a day for Your righteous judgments. Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. Lord, I hope for Your salvation and carry out Your commands. I obey Your decrees and love them greatly. I obey Your precepts and decrees, for all my ways are before You (Psalm 119 vv. 161-168).

What a sunny, bright, and joyful passage! The psalmist has the distinction of having both loved and kept the law. Now the music in his heart spills across the page in a lilting progression of praise: “I rejoice over Your promise” (v. 162).”Ihope for Your salvation” (v. 166).”I obey Your decrees and love them greatly” (v. 167). I’m reminded of the tumbling, dancing counterpoint in a Bach invention or fugue.

This musician has taken his stand for God’s law and has consequently suffered persecution at the hands of heathen rulers. He is not driven by selfish ambition, nor is he achievement oriented. He is not experiencing a midlife crisis. Rather, he’s exulting in the “great spoil” he has found in God’s Word. This “find” far surpasses earthly treasures—masterpieces of art and literature, wealth and possessions, even great music! God’s Word has turned his life inside out.

I long to be radically changed—to know the psalmist’s peace and stability, his patience and personal obedience. I want to love and follow the Word so that I’ll be turned inside out!

Personal Prayer

O Lord, may my heart rejoice in your Word! Let me learn to love you with an intensity that is refected in everything I do or write or sing!

The Power of Truth

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.—Psalm 119:30

We cannot do battle with the Devil until we have girded our waists with truth. Girding the waist was always a symbol of readiness to fight. That is why this comes first. The officers in the Roman army wore short skirts, very much like a Scottish kilt. Over this they had a cloak or tunic which was secured at the waist with a girdle. When they were about to enter battle, they would tuck the tunic up under the girdle so as to leave their legs unencumbered for the fight.

What does Paul’s phrase, “with truth like a belt around your waist,” really mean? What significance does it have for us today? The word “truth” can be looked at in two ways: one, objective truth, as it is to be found in Jesus Christ, and two, subjective truth as it is to be found in the qualities of honesty and sincerity. The Puritan, William Gurnall, points out that whether the word implies truth of doctrine or truth of heart, one kind of truth will not do without the other.

I believe that in Ephesians 6, Paul is emphasizing subjective truth—truth that resides in the inner being. When we are deceitful or hypocritical, or when we resort to intrigue and scheming, we are playing the Devil’s game. And we will never be able to beat the Devil at his own game!

What Satan despises is transparent truth. He flees from it as quickly as darkness runs from the dawn. Having our waists girded with truth, then, means being possessed with truth, guided by truth, and controlled by truth. Where truth is absent, we have no power over Satan. It is as simple as that.

Prayer

O Father, I see that You have set standards by which I rise or fall. When I fulfill them, I rise—when I break them, I fall. Give me the strength I need to fulfill all Your laws, especially the law of truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 8:34-45; Col 3:9; Ps 51:6; Pr 12:22

What can protect us from the Devil?

Where should we desire truth?

From Death to Life

1 John 3:14

Death is an inescapable fact. Euripides the poet called death “the debt we all must pay.” George Bernard Shaw wryly wrote, “The statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of one people die.” Death is the most democratic of all experiences.

No matter how we diet, how much we exercise, how many vitamins or health foods we eat, how low our cholesterol, some day, some way, we will die. The invincible reaper knocks ultimately at every door.

At some point each of us has felt the trauma of death. And in the poignant words of Tennyson, we have “a longing for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is stilled.”

God deals seriously with the topic of death. We find the word “die” or its equivalent more than 1,300 times in the Bible. It tells us that sin brought death into the world, but that is not its last word on the subject.

At Easter we celebrate our Lord’s victory over death. His triumph over the grave vaporized all doubts among the believers in His day. The seismic significance of what took place on Easter is the epicenter of our faith. It is not a belief that grew up within the Church; it is the belief around which the Church itself grew up, and the “given” upon which its faith was based.

The resurrection forever negates the contrary arguments on eternal life—Feuerbach’s “wishful projection,” Marx’s “consolation of the oppressed,” Nietzsche’s denial of the eternal and Freud’s illusion theory.

In the radiant light of the resurrection, death becomes not a destruction but a metamorphosis, not a diminishing but a finishing. It is not a postscript or an appendix to our book of life, but rather reveals life on earth as merely the preface, with life in heaven as the full text—a text without end.

“We know that we have passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14). These words reverse the usual order of things. Conventional thinking says that we pass from life unto death. But John, who had heard the immortal words and witnessed the mighty life of the One who is the resurrection and the life, declares that the believer goes “from death to life.”

The resurrection of Christ transformed the crucifixion into a coronation. And the truth that we affirm is that we have passed from death to life!

Henry Gariepy, The War Cry