VIDEO Flights of Fancy

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Revelation 21:1

Filmmakers have often tried to imagine heaven. In All Dogs Go To Heaven, the afterlife is a cloudy animated world of golden sparkles, carpets through the sky, and flights of fancy. A Robin Williams movie about heaven shows the actor wandering around inside impressionistic paintings and illusionary images. Early films depicted heaven as white, vapory fog with people walking around wearing wings.

Many people take their ideas about heaven from movies, but all the cinematic versions of heaven combined cannot begin to touch the real thing. The Bible alone is our source of definitive information, and the last two chapters of Scripture are especially rich. The Bible teaches that our universe and our planet will be recreated, and the vast city of God will descend as our eternal capital.

If you’re ever plagued by disturbing thoughts of the afterlife, don’t turn on a movie. Turn to Revelation 21 and 22. Read those chapters until the descriptions thrill you with their realities. Our Lord is preparing a marvelous home for His children.

Did you ever stop to think that God is going to be as pleased to have you with Him in heaven as you are to be there? A. W. Tozer


The Bible Overview – Revelation 21:1-8 – Alistair Begg – Part 18

In the End

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I’m often given the privilege of leading spiritual retreats. Getting away for a few days to pray and reflect can be deeply enriching, and during the program I sometimes ask participants to do an exercise: “Imagine your life is over and your obituary is published in the paper. What would you like it to say?” Some attendees change their life’s priorities as a result, aiming to finish their lives well.

Second Timothy 4 contains the last known written words of the apostle Paul. Though probably only in his sixties, and though having faced death before, he senses his life is nearly over (2 Timothy 4:6). There will be no more mission trips now or writing letters to his churches. He looks back over his life and says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). While he hasn’t been perfect (1 Timothy 1:15–16), Paul assesses his life on how true he’s stayed to God and the gospel. Tradition suggests he was martyred soon after.

Contemplating our final days has a way of clarifying what matters now. Paul’s words can be a good model to follow. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Keep the faith. Because in the end what will matter is that we’ve stayed true to God and His ways as He provides what we need to live, fight life’s spiritual battles, and finish well.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Imagine your life is over and your obituary is published. What would you like it to say? What changes might you make now to “finish the race” well?

Father God, strengthen me to live faithfully for You, right to the end.

Unforgiveness and Hate

The sooner we confront hatred in our heart, the brighter our witness will shine

Ephesians 4:31-32

One of the most destructive attitudes a believer can display is hate. Think about it: How well can the light of Christ shine through a life that’s shrouded in anger, bitterness, and malice? Such a demeanor doesn’t reflect a positive image of Jesus to non-Christians. But the problem affects more than our witness to the unbelieving world. Even in churches, it’s not difficult to find individuals brimming over with hostility. Where does this attitude come from?

One reason some believers struggle with hatred is an inability to forgive a hurt. Is that you? 

Think about someone who wronged you in the past, and ask yourself three questions: 

1. If you hate someone, you cannot shake the memory. Does the scene play out in your mind over and over? 

2. If you hate someone, you cannot wish him or her well. Do you want the best for a person who has hurt you? 

3. If you hate someone, you want that person to hurt, too. Do you secretly desire for this individual to experience the pain that you suffered? 

Have these questions revealed any hidden animosity in your heart? If so, don’t leave this page without prayerfully meditating on Ephesians 4:31-32. Read the passage aloud. Then personalize it into a prayer, and let the Holy Spirit move you to forgive an old hurt. 

Communicate Well

“Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.” (Philippians 4:14)

“Communicate” is one of the older words from the era of the King James Version that takes some reconnecting in order to clarify the term. Our use today normally means speaking, understanding one another, or simply passing on instructions. The Greek word is sugkoinoneo, a compound of the preposition “with” and the primary word for “participation.”

The basic term is often translated “partner” or “partake” and is frequently connected with the act of sharing finances in the ministry of others. That is the application in the context of today’s verse. Paul commends the Philippian church for partnering with him over his journeys and recognizing time and again the needs that were necessary to fulfill for the success of the ministry.

Today, there are a vast array of charity-based organizations, from large hospitals and universities to local food and clothing distribution efforts. Most of those, by the way, were started by Christian groups as a way to “communicate” to the “affliction” of many. But how do we determine who among the many, or at what ratio, to attempt to distribute “to the necessity of saints” (Romans 12:13)?

Two main principles must guide our “communication” in the Kingdom. First, it is clear that our New Testament responsibility is first to the church in which our Lord has placed us. Some disagree, but “storehouse” tithing appears to claim our first priority. Then there is opportunity to follow the specific leading of God among those ministries with which we are familiar and of whom we are confident that first seek the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). HMM III

How Well Do I Know My Heart?

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. —Psalm 51:10

None of us can really tell how weak and useless we are until God has exposed us—and no one wants to be exposed! But God knows so much better than we do that He must expose us for our own good.

Neither do any of us really know how unstable we are until we have been exposed by the Holy Ghost. Peter was a big, bold, strong fisherman, and it seemed easy for him to say to the Lord, “Let everyone else run away, but I will always stand by. You can count on me, Master!” I am sure it was hard for him to take the answer that Jesus gave him: “Before the rooster crows tonight you will say three times that you do not know me!” (See Matthew 26:33-34.) But Jesus knew the instability of the man who still tried to stand in his own strength and in his own self-trust.

We do not really know how unstable we are, and we often refuse to admit the truth when we find out, when we are exposed. That is why it is too dangerous to trust our good habits and our virtues—and that is why our distrust of ourselves must be the work of God’s hand! ITB131-132

We must pass sentence upon our sinful heart and give God the right to cleanse it. CTBC, Vol. 5/313

Two Opposite Pairs

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.—Proverbs 14:12

I have met many people who have experienced such deep hurt in their early relationships that they cannot rid themselves of negative ideas about having God as their Father, and by God’s grace I have been able to help some of them. But the route to healing is not an easy one and involves walking a path that is quite different from the one a secular counselor might suggest.

The route which the world usually advises victims of parental abuse to take consists of three steps: self-discovery, self-expression, and self-protection. Self-discovery is where the victim is encouraged to get in touch with his or her repressed emotions. Self-expression is the release and expression of those emotions. Self-protection is the establishment of boundaries around one’s life so that one will never have to endure or experience serious hurt again.

The biblical route to healing, while recognizing some truth in these ideas, starts from a different base and leads to a different goal. It begins with the question: Do I believe that a God who allowed me to be as deeply hurt as I was is good? And it ends with the question: Am I willing to give myself to those I am called to love and to be more interested in loving well than in protecting myself against hurt?

Which sounds like the easier path of these two? Undoubtedly, the way of the world. The way of Christ may seem as if it is the route to death, but really it is the route to life. To live we must be willing to die; to find we must be willing to lose.

Prayer

Father, help me take Your way in everything I pray. I don’t want symptom relief; I want a complete cure. And if I don’t need help on this particular issue, help me learn how to be of help to others. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 5:43-48; 7:13-14; 16:24-25; Jn 12:24-25

What is the biblical way to life?

What makes the narrow way narrow?

On Mission with God

The Spirit told Philip, “Go and join that chariot.”—Acts 8:29

Missions is God finding those whose hearts are right with Him and placing them where they can make a difference for His kingdom. Some of the great missionaries in history did not live long lives, but their lives dramatically affected eternity.

God had access to Philip, and the Book of Acts gives the exciting account of how God used Philip’s life to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Philip was preaching powerfully in the city of Samaria (Acts 8:5). So mightily did God use him that the entire city was rejoicing at the miracles God was doing (Acts 8:6–8). This would be any evangelist’s fondest desire, to see an entire city responding to the gospel through his preaching. Yet Philip was not activity-centered in his Christian life. He was God-centered. Philip was not preoccupied with expanding his reputation as a great preacher or miracle worker, he was concerned that his life remain in the center of God’s activity. When he was instructed to leave his fruitful ministry, he did not hesitate (Acts 8:27).

God continues to seek those as responsive as Philip to go on mission with Him. The reason God has not brought great revival to more places is not that He is unable or that He is unwilling. He first looks for those willing to have their lives radically adjusted away from their self-centered activities and placed into the center of God’s activity around the world. Have you seen the activity of God around you? What is God presently inviting you to do? How are you responding?