DO YOU KNOW WHY?
Do you want to live forever in heaven? Of course, you do! Perhaps the very asking of such a question irritates you. It may have offended you. However, if your answer is a very obvious “yes,” I have another question for you – one truly searching and penetrating. WHY DO YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER IN HEAVEN? Not, do you, but WHY do you?
Have you ever considered this question before? Can you tell WHY? Is it because of the Bible “previews” of heaven? Have the “capsule” glimpses given in God’s revelation stirred within you a longing for heaven? Does the idea of living forever in the very presence of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the angelic host, and all the redeemed of the earth create in you a yearning to do so? Does the matter of praising “God and the Lamb” forever and ever appeal to you?
Or, are you like so many — even many members of the church — who cannot even relate what the Bible says about heaven? Whose fear of God’s wrath and dread of hell surpass any longing for heaven? Who did not relish and enjoy assembling with their brethren to worship God and to learn more of his will? Mark Twain, in his satirical, distorted and irreverent “Letters From the Earth,” stated some truth and hit upon a very tender sore spot. He had a mythical “immortal” man saying about man, “His heaven is like himself; Strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he actually values. It consists — utterly and entirely — of diversions which he cares next to nothing about here in the earth, yet is quite sure he will like in heaven.” . . . “Now then, in the earth these people cannot stand much church — an hour and a quarter is the limit, and they draw the line once a week. That is to say, Sunday. Only one day in seven; and even then they do not look forward to it with longing. And so — consider what their heaven provides for them; ‘Church’ that lasts forever.”
Twain’s writing does not show any proper conception of Bible teaching about heaven. In his disgust with religion in general – as he saw it – he even turned on the Bible itself and true Christianity; but he was a very shrewd observer of mankind, and in these words condemned even many brethren. If we do not enjoy singing praises, praying together, studying and learning from God word; if we do not look forward to occasions when we can be together with our brethren in such activities; then how can we look forward to heaven? Any Christian who thinks so little of such activities that he willfully comes to one service or less a week and deliberately chooses to neglect the others cannot honestly say that he looks forward to heaven.
Heaven is a perfect place, a beautiful place, an ideal place, for spiritually minded people who love God and want his approval. There will not be one disappointed soul there. (Of course, in hell there will not be one contented, satisfied, restful soul, either.)
Bill Crews Via the Cy-Fair Appeal, Houston, TX Jan 15 1984
Worse Than Sodom
September 18, 2022
There is an amazing truth which can so easily be overlooked. Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from Him much will be required” (Matt. 12:48) We understand the fairness and the logic behind these words but can so easily fail to see the application in our spiritual lives.
In Matthew chapter eleven, we read of that time when Jesus so sternly upbraids several of the towns where He and His apostles had preached. “Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent” (v. 20). Notice the importance of the word “most.” It was not that He had done many works in those cities; He had done the majority of them. Yet, they rejected him and would not repent.
Look at the verses which follow. “Woe to you, Chorazin!…Bethsaida!…And to you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (vs. 21-23).
Consider the eternal fire of judgment which came on Sodom and Gomorrah in the opening chapters of the history of mankind. God’s wrath was poured out on them because of their sexual immorality and their pursuit of unnatural desires. They are…“set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Yet, had they seen and heard what these Galilean cities had seen and heard there would have been enough individuals to repent to have spared these cities.
First-century cities which were worse than Sodom! Is it possible that there are twenty-first century towns, cities and nations worse than Sodom? It is not that we have literally seen and heard Jesus and His apostles, but do we know about them? Who in our land does not know about Him turning water to wine, parts of the Sermon on the Mount, the “Passion of Christ,” the empty tomb early on “Easter” morning? As a nation we know these events, but how have we responded?
The heavens proclaimed to Sodom the glory of God and the firmament showed His handiwork. They still do in our land. He gave those nations evidence of His existence, “in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17). He still does. What land has been blessed more than ours!
Brethren, make a personal application in our lives. We understand it when applied to others, what about ourselves? Think of where we live. Think of what we have seen from Him. We know about Him, but have we fully known Him? “To whom much is given from him (us) much will be required.”
Dan Jenkins September 18, 2022 Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ
The Peace of God
To be at peace…what a comforting thought! Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can have peace? Wouldn’t you like not to have to worry about the cares of this life for just a little while? Of course, you would! We all would. Would it surprise you to know that Scripture says it is possible? The apostle Paul refers to the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7). That peace is available to all of us, but it is offered, as all the spiritual blessings of God are offered, conditionally. In Philippians 4:4-6 we read: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[a] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
First, we must rejoice in the Lord always. This was important enough for Paul to say it twice. Did you notice that he did not qualify it? He does not say rejoice in the Lord when times are good. He said rejoice in the Lord always. That means even in the bad times; in the times when you really don’t think rejoicing is a good idea or even possible. Right along with the idea of rejoicing even in the bad times, is the notion of letting your gentle spirit be known to all men. Only the person who can rejoice in the Lord even in difficult times is able to let his or her gentle spirit (or patience or forbearance) be seen and known by all.
Remembering or acknowledging that the Lord is near will help you obey these commands. He is not far away. He knows you are suffering. He knows it is hard to rejoice right now. And He knows if you are obeying the command to rejoice. “Don’t worry,” He says. That is what it means to “be anxious for nothing.” Don’t worry about these hard times. You may not be able to ignore them, but you do not have to let them win. You do not have to let the hard times drive a wedge between you and God. He is here, nearby, ready to lend a Helping Hand. If you approach Him with confidence, He will provide the grace you need to get through this time (Hebrews 4:16). Paul says let your requests be made known to God. And he says do it with an attitude of prayer (respectful prayer) and thanksgiving. Even when we pray for grace to help in time of need, there is reason to offer thanks. There is no prayer in which it inappropriate to offer thanks.
To be at peace…what a lovely thought! What would you give to be at peace? Sometimes my mind is in such turmoil that I feel I would give more than I have to be at peace. God offers me that peace and He offers it to you, too. What would you give? Would you give yourself? Would you give up all your wants and wishes and desires? Would you surrender yourself to His will completely? That is all He asks. That is all it will take, complete and unconditional surrender and God will take care of you so that none of the worries of this life will overcome you. Let go of your worry and let God give you the peace that surpasses all comprehension. Let go and let God!
Donnie Bates Via Pine Valley Church of Christ