Timeless

“Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’

“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’” (John 8:57-58). Jesus was around before Abraham existed – before the world was even created.

A favourite songwriter of mine is Michael Card and in one of his songs, “The Final Word”, he tells us: “Eternity stepped into time.” The awesome thing is that one day, we’ll do it the other way round. We who were once constrained by time will step into eternity. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Time loses its importance when I understand things from a heavenly perspective. “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Every earthly institution will be done away with. There’ll be nothing left except those things which are eternal.

Have you thought about where you’ll spend eternity? Because Jesus spoke about everyone rising from their graves – some to eternal condemnation and others to eternal life (John 5:28-29). Eternal life is knowing God, and knowing Jesus whom God has sent (John 17:3). If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, that life is yours, and you’ll spend not only time but the whole of eternity with Him.

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31 Jesus-Benefits: Ticket to Paradise

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Day 25 and one huge benefit to being a Christian is:

Assurance of a future in heaven.

I talked to someone once who said: “Course, there’s nothing to say you’re actually going. You might be left behind, like me.” He was joking, but the verse above came to mind immediately. These things I have written that you may know. Jesus is your ticket to heaven. If you follow Him, you’ll have eternal life. Guaranteed. Absolutely no chance of being left behind! Have you got your ticket?

“No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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“90 Minutes in Heaven” Book-Review: Life After Perfection

I had started to read someone else’s account of heaven before and was less than impressed.  I didn’t want a repeat of that experience, but knowing Don Piper was a pastor, I trusted his credibility and signed up to review “90 Minutes in Heaven”; I’m so glad I did.  Co-written with Cecil Murphey, this book is about a man whose accident left him clinically dead for an hour-and-a-half.  He returned to earth with a song on his lips and severe injuries to most of his body.  This book is about a man who’s trying to get his head around life after perfection.

 

The title is perhaps misleading.  If you’re expecting a whole book on heaven, you’ll be disappointed, though he does share some detail.  But if you’re someone like me, who hears about these supernatural experiences and wonders what effect they had, you’ll enjoy this.  A free study guide is available here for small-group discussions.  At the front of this 10th anniversary edition, Don updates readers on events since its first publication, telling of the many groups he’s spoken to and places he’s stayed.  Couple this with numerous examples of him using his pain to help others, and it’s not surprising that one of Don’s most-loved quotes about prayer is:  “Practical prayer is harder on the soles of our feet than the knees of our trousers.”  A remarkable man, yet he doesn’t take the applause.  Read one of my favourite chapters in the book to see why not, and be inspired.

Treasure Hunt

“Cry out for wisdom, and beg for understanding.  Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:3-4).

 

This reminds me of a story Jesus told.  He said the kingdom of heaven was like treasure hidden in a field, and when somebody found it, they’d bury it again and give everything they had to buy that piece of land (Matthew 13:44).

 

We need to search for God’s wisdom with everything we have, because knowing Him is the most valuable thing there is.

 

And what’s the result of this treasure hunt?  Wisdom will come into our minds, and knowing what God wants will be pleasing to us (Proverbs 2:10).

 

So, let’s join the search party.

Build Your City

“Do good things for the city where I sent you as captives.  Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Today’s Daily Post asks what do we like most, and least, about the place where we live?  What’s its biggest problem and how would we tackle it?

As well as my parents and some of my closest friends being nearby, one of the best things about the place where I live is its beauty.  We have a range of hills here, the highest of which has an easy tarmac path from a car-park right to the top, and I absolutely love being on those hills in the sunshine.  The only drawback is the number of dogs likely to be running loose up there.

Our biggest problem?  Well, I hear that in the area where I go to church, one in three households live in poverty.  I personally help to tackle this by involvement with my local food bank, but as a church, with those people right on our doorstep, I’m sure we could do a whole lot more.  Obstacles like lack of transport or unemployment aren’t so easy to solve, but if we can’t get paid work, we can find other ways to make use of our time.

What’s the biggest problem in your neighbourhood?  Maybe you could play a part in tackling it.  When God’s people went as prisoners to Babylon, God used someone called Jeremiah to encourage them to pray for the land where they lived, and to do good in it.  It’s wise for us to get involved in the place where we are.  Otherwise, we’ll only have ourselves to blame if things go downhill.  As a Christian, being ‘Set apart’ isn’t necessarily about distance; it’s about living life with a purpose different from that of the world around us.  Giving a percentage of our money to God instead of keeping it all for ourselves is being set apart.

Do you know one other thing I like about this place?  Just like Jeremiah said to the Israelites in Babylon, it’s temporary.  We won’t always have to live in this troubled world.  In our hearts we can look forward to our heavenly home, where our Father will love us and keep us safe forever.

31 Days of Song: “Endless Hallelujah”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know about Matt Redman – an author as well as a songwriter.  I enjoyed his book “The Unquenchable Worshipper”, and there’s another by his wife Beth that I’d like to read too.

 

Matt’s most famous song is probably “Heart of Worship”, which is about offering Jesus not just our songs but our hearts.  I haven’t chosen that one though; I’ve chosen one of his newer ones for you to listen to.  I heard it first when we sang it at church, and when I looked at the words beforehand, they really touched me.  My favourite lines are:

“No more tears or broken dreams,

“Forgotten is the minor key –

“Everything as it was meant to be.”

 

Enjoy this beautiful song about heaven, and I like the piano in it too.

31 Days of Song: “Broken World”

This is a song I bought just recently.  I was reading somewhere and The Talleys were described as a ‘Progressive southern gospel group’.  I don’t usually like southern gospel, so maybe it’s the progressive part that makes them different!  But if you were to ask me who were my favourite female singers, Lauren Talley would definitely be on the list; she has a gorgeous voice, a great range, and I love the message of hope this song gives.  You only have to listen to the news for a day or so to see the mess we’re in.  I heard yesterday about a Belgian killed by euthanasia after a sex-change operation that went wrong.  This really is a broken world, but as the song says:

“Wrong is right and right is wrong, but not for long.”

 

Why not take a moment today to bring your brokenness to the Lord?  And be comforted.  Because He’s preparing a place for you and in not very long, you can be there with Him, where there’s no more brokenness, pain, sadness, or any of those things this world has to offer.

A-Z: “Street Children of Brazil”

S is for “Street Children of Brazil” – a book by Sarah de Carvalho.  First of all, I should tell you I get my Braille books from a library and have to send them back once I finish reading.  It’s awhile since I’ve read this one, but I wrote some quotes down at the time.

 

From what I remember, Sarah worked in television and left a job with a very good salary to go to Brazil, where she worked with street children in Belo Horizonte.

 

It was there that she met her husband, and I liked the fact that she felt God pointing her to Isaiah 61:3 (about bestowing on mourners beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of despair).  They would be called oaks of righteousness.  When she and her future husband read the verse together, she found that Carvalho in Portuguese is ‘Oak’ in English.  Probably a woman thing, but I love to hear those kind of stories about God drawing 2 people together and giving them the same verse to seal their engagement.

 

The plight of those she worked with prompted Sarah to write (in chapter 10):  “Now we may walk on streets made of tarmac and full of litter and robbery, but in heaven it’ll be gold and there’ll be purity, joy and everlasting love.”

 

Compassion is mentioned in the book, which surprised me.  I didn’t know they worked with other ministries.  I assumed the only children they funded were those in their centres, but the most striking similarity to what I do as a Compassion-sponsor came in chapter 4.  “God’s answer to my question was, ‘The children are covered in wounds:  Clean their infections.  They are hungry:  Give them food.  They are cold:  Clothe them.  But above all be their friend.’”  If you sponsor through Compassion, your sponsorship provides medical help with your child’s infections; it buys food and clothes, but through the letters you send, you have an even greater privilege – to be their friends.

A-Z: Kept Busy

Did you wonder what had happened to the A-Z challenge?  It’s all right; I didn’t forget what came after J!  But I had an electrician here on Friday, and when he left I had no Internet.  Never mind; I’m back now, and we’re onto the letter K.

I know I’ve done a series on Philippians before, but I’ve read it again recently and different things jumped out at me.  That’s one thing I love about God’s Word – however often you read it, there’s always something fresh and new.  First, this verse:  “Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God” – Philippians 1:11 (Contemporary English Version), so K is for Jesus keeping us busy, and He does.  It’s fantastic – the work He gives us to do for Him, but His love for us is the same, whatever we do or don’t do.

I hope my uncle wouldn’t mind me writing about him, but he once talked about a humanist funeral he went to.  He found it strange that no prayers were said.  Not knowing that 6 months later he’d be gone, he told us:  “I’m not a Christian – well … I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want anything like that.”  I’ve taken great comfort from that – that he couldn’t quite bring himself to deny Christ.  When he was in hospital, I gave him a copy of my first CD and he said:  “I’ll treasure that” …  I like to think it was his first piece of God’s kingdom-treasure.  My uncle didn’t spend his life serving God, but if in those last days or moments he put his faith in Jesus, the gates of heaven were wide-open for him, just as they are for me.  Isn’t that something worth celebrating?

Song for Your Saturday

Very recently I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Long Way Home” – a great song to start the day with.  Firstly, I love that it starts with him saying:  And a-1, 2, a-1 2 3!  But more seriously, here are some of the lyrics:

“I set out on a great adventure the day my Father started leading me home;

He said ‘There’s gonna be some mountains to climb and some valleys we’re gonna go through’:

But I had no way of knowin’ just how hard this journey could be,

‘Cos the valleys are deeper and the mountains are steeper than I ever would’ve dreamed,

But I know we’re gonna make it!”  What an assurance – to know you’ll get to heaven and the finish-line!  Can you say that with confidence too?

 

And the next verse:

“I got some rocks in my shoes, fears I wish I could lose, that make the mountains so hard to climb

And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes.”  How true is that!  But you know, you can get rid of those rocks.  Hebrews 12:1 says:  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

 

Happy Saturday!  Happy snowy Saturday if you’re in the UK, and as Steven says:

“Even on the best days, it’s best to remember we’re not home yet.”