Heaven

Heaven

 Mark 12:25 “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.”

The word heaven comes from the Greek word meaning “the sky; heaven as the abode of God”; by implication, “happiness; power; an eternity.”

Paul mentioned being caught up into “the third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2. Since “the third heaven” exists, there must also be a first and second heaven. The first is probably the atmospheric heaven, the second, the abode of supernatural angelic beings, and the third, the place where God dwells.

God now dwells in the hearts of His people, but He also sits on His throne in heaven. The Lord’s commitment to dwell in us and never leave us or forsake us, must be taken as an indication of His great love for us. Heaven has a real temple which is patterned after the Old Testament tabernacle. Saints who die go immediately into heaven and into the presence of God.

Paul had a vision of heaven that made him long to go there. Most people cling to this physical life for selfish reasons. Only when we lose our life (die to self and live for Christ and others) do we truly find out what life is all about. If we seriously thought about what the scriptures teach us about our life with Christ after this physical life, we would all think like Paul. The things prepared for us are so wonderful that we can’t totally comprehend them with our finite mind. We need to value our eternal life more and our temporal life less. This would solve many problems and remove a lot of grief.

The Resurrection Power

The Resurrection Power

 Matthew 22:23 “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,”

The Greek word used here for resurrection means “a standing or rising up.” The resurrection is a major theme of New Testament teaching. Out of the 13 sermons in the book of Acts, 11 stress or simply mention the resurrection.

Man consists of three parts – a spirit, a soul, and a body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The body is mortal while the spirit and soul are immortal. At death, man’s body goes through the decomposition process and returns to its original elements.

At the resurrection, man’s departed soul and spirit are called forth from either heaven or hell. The material elements of the body are raised up, reassembled, and united with the spirit and soul. Thus we have the complete personality of the individual reconstituted. Everyone will be resurrected – some to life, and some to damnation.

The hope of the believer is the resurrection unto life. The natural, earthly, terrestrial, corrupt, weak, mortal, vile body is said to be raised, changed and fashioned into a spiritual, heavenly, celestial, incorrupt, glorious, powerful, and immortal body. This is the completion of everything that has been purchased for us in Christ.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:12-17 that if there is no resurrection, then our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins. It is the resurrected life of Jesus that brings spiritual life into us and the resurrection of the body that brings physical regeneration, reconstituting us into the very image of God. The transformation from this physical condition to our glorified bodies will be a huge difference, but the power of God can accomplish it easily. If the Lord can work that miracle, then surely, He can heal our bodies and free us from other bondages.

Our Life Belongs To God

Our Life Belongs To God

 Matthew 22:20-21 “And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The image on the denarius, the only small silver coin acceptable for imperial tax payments, was probably that of Tiberius Caesar (reigned A.D. 14-37). The inscription upon the coin read “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus” with the reverse side reading “Chief Priest.” This inscription was a claim to divinity and as emperor, the right to be worshiped.

The Jews had tried many times to accuse Jesus on the basis of religious issues and had always failed. Now they approached Him about paying taxes in hopes that His answer might give them the opportunity to deliver Him to Pilate for prosecution.

These Pharisees and Herodians reasoned that any answer that Jesus gave would be wrong. If He approved of the Roman taxes, then He would lose popularity with the masses. If He spoke against the Roman taxes, then the Jews would hand Him over to the Roman government and Pilate would dispose of Him. It looked like they had Jesus trapped. Jesus, however, answered with such simple wisdom that these Pharisees and Herodians were caught in their own trap and made to look like fools.

Jesus declared, “,,, Render (give back) to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…”, Mark 12:17. People are made in God’s image, so we must render to God the things belonging to God (our lives) and to Caesar the things belonging to Caesar (his money and other benefits of his rule).

Our Righteousness Is In Christ

Our Righteousness Is In Christ

 Matthew 22:11 “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:”

In this time, it was customary for the host to provide their guests with wedding garments to wear to the wedding. It was an insult of the highest degree to refuse to wear the clothing provided since the guests were brought in directly from the highways and streets. The wedding garment speaks of the righteousness of Christ that God so graciously provides for all who accept His invitation into the kingdom. It must be put on by both good and bad, Matthew 22:10.

Right standing before a holy God is not to be achieved in keeping the law but in humble trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No one, who is trusting in his own righteousness, can have the benefit of Christ’s righteousness. The righteousness that gives men relationship with God is the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, and it comes freely through faith in Jesus Christ.

The way we obtain this righteousness is by putting faith in what Christ has done for us. When we place our faith in Christ, then the righteousness that Jesus obtained by His faith becomes ours.

Through faith in Jesus, we can receive the very righteousness of God as a gift. God’s righteousness is infinitely more in quality and quantity than man’s puny righteousness. No one can ever be justified in the sight of God based on his own righteousness which comes through acts of holiness. One must have God’s righteousness which only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Paul said in Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” This is “the righteousness of God.”

Minister God’s Love

Minister God’s Love

 Luke 19:8 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

Zacchaeus was rich but Jesus made no demands for him to give away all his goods to the poor as He did with the rich young ruler. Zacchaeus had already repented and money was no longer his god, as was revealed by his actions. It seems that Zacchaeus was going above and beyond the requirement of restitution as stated in Mosaic law by offering to give half of his goods to the poor and to repay fourfold for his theft.

Publicans were hated by their fellow Jews. They were especially despised by the religious Jews as the epitome of sinners and Jewish religious laws prevented devout Jews from keeping company with any publican. To eat with a publican was unthinkable as the Jews considered this actually partaking of the publican’s sins. This is why the people reacted so adversely to Jesus eating with Zacchaeus.

Jesus did not eat at Zacchaeus’ house to participate in his sin but to extend mercy and forgiveness to him. This is always the criterion whereby we can judge whether or not we should be involved in a certain situation. We must not participate in other men’s sins, but the Lord doesn’t want us to retreat to monasteries either. We are the salt of the earth, Matthew 5:13, and to do any good, we have to get out of the “salt shaker.” If we can be in control and minister the love of God, then we are right to associate with sinners. But when we are being controlled by the ungodliness of sinners, we need to take control or withdraw.

Please God Not People

Please God Not People

Mark 10:48 “And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.”

The devil will always have someone available to tell us why we shouldn’t expect to get results when petitioning God. Most people would rather stay with the crowd and not do anything to draw attention to themselves even if that means not getting their needs met. They will try to make you conform as well. If this man would have listened to the crowd, he would not have received his healing. “…ye have not, because ye ask not”, James 4:2.

This blind man is a good example of an active kind of faith. He was not passive in his approach toward healing. He boldly cried out to Jesus for mercy. When the crowd ridiculed him and told him to be quiet, he cried out even louder for mercy.

Many people believe that God can perform the miracle they need but relatively few are willing to actively pursue it until they get results. They are afraid of what others will think of them. This man had his attention focused only on Jesus. Nothing else mattered and that is why he got healed.

An integral part of faith is seeking God only with your whole heart. If we are concerned about what people think so that we can gain their approval, we will never take a stand in faith for anything that we might be criticized for. This one thing has probably stopped as many people from receiving from God as anything else. You cannot be a “man-pleaser” and please God at the same time. Satan uses persecutions to steal away God’s Word and thereby stop our faith. To see faith work, we must say with Paul, “…let God be true, but every man a liar;”, Romans 3:4.

Like A Thief In The Night

Like A Thief In the Night

]\Luke 17:24 “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”

This scripture and the parallel scripture in Matthew 24:27 make it very clear that the second return of Jesus will be no secret to anyone. In Matthew’s account, it is especially clear that this statement about the lightning was made so that we wouldn’t be deceived by false Christs. Just as lightning is visible to everyone, so the second return of Jesus will be witnessed by the whole world. That’s the reason we don’t have to be fearful about missing His second coming and anxiously follow every report that Christ has come.

These verses completely destroy the claims of the Bahai religion and others who claim that Jesus has secretly come back the second time.

Just as Jesus had warned His disciples not to be deceived by false Christs because His second coming would be visible to everyone, He also explains that until the very day of His coming, the world will continue on its present course. People will not discern the signs of His coming just as the people during Noah’s day didn’t realize their impending judgment. This corresponds exactly with Jesus’ prophecies about His coming being like the appearance of a thief in the night. Jesus is emphasizing that the unbelievers will not recognize that He is coming until it is too late. He is stressing that His coming will take the world by surprise.

The Lord is pointing out the urgent need to be ready for His return. In the same way that a thief comes when people are the least prepared, so our Lord will return in a time when people are not looking for Him. There will be a condition of apathy in the latter days that will tend to lull even the faithful to sleep if they don’t take heed to His words. He urges us to be watchful so we will be prepared.

Give Thanks Daily

Give Thanks Daily

 Luke 17:18 “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

Relatively few people who receive the goodness of the Lord return to give Him thanks for what He has done. That does not keep the Lord from doing what is right for us. He healed all ten of these lepers according to their request – not just the one who was thankful. However, there was only one out of the ten that was made “whole.”

The Lord desires that we prosper in spirit, soul, and body. He wants us to be whole – not just healed. Part of the reason God meets our physical needs is to prove to us His willingness and ability to meet our emotional and spiritual needs. The Lord is concerned about our temporal needs, Matthew 6:30, but He is even more concerned about our eternal needs. All of these lepers needed physical healing and the Lord was moved with compassion and met their need.

He was also desiring to meet their spiritual needs, but only one out of the ten came back for that.

Being unthankful is always a sign that self is exalting itself above God. A selfless person can be content with very little. A self-centered person cannot be satisfied. Thankfulness is a sign of humility and cultivating a life of thankfulness will help keep “self” in its proper place.

Thankfulness to the Lord for what He is and what He has done is a very important part of the Christian life. One of the many benefits of thanksgiving and praise is that they keep us from being “self” oriented.

Giving thanks is a totally unselfish action and is a key to relationship with the Father that makes us “whole” and not just “healed.”