Our Heavenly Home

62aaee287cc77d7b5b870b3d60becf15Dorothy really did get it right—there’s no place like home!

Last week, we returned home after traveling nearly 2,500 miles, through nine states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota (our point of GREAT interest—but that’s another post!), Missouri, and Kentucky. What a wonderful country I am privileged to call home, and we didn’t even see half of it!! As the hills turned into rolling farmland and we crossed the Mississippi, I was amazed at the farms AND the flatness. I suppose I’ll always be a Pennsylvanian, but it was good to see another part of the good ol’ USA.

Home—what makes a place become a home? Familiarity, family, ownership, personal items? These may all be true, but the greatest ingredient needed to turn a house into a home is time. If you’ve ever moved from a home where you resided for a long time, you have experienced the uncomfortableness of newness. Where’s my favorite mug, my slippers, my toothbrush?!

Home—surrounded by all those people and things you love. I love to travel, and we’ve rarely been gone for such an extended time, but when we walked into the house, I was surprised at the overwhelming joy that flooded my heart! I was home, and I was so glad!

Just think of stepping on the shore and find heaven,

 Of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

Of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

Of waking up in glory and finding it home.

~ L. E. Singer

In the swirl of confusion and difficulties which crowd into our lives, what joy and comfort to know that one day, we will be truly home! Peace and safety, joy and rejoicing, a place filled with Jesus Christ and all that He is! Will it feel like home? As a born-again believer, heaven becomes home in the same way that a place becomes home—by spending time there. But, you may ask, how can I spend time in heaven? Bring it down to earth! Clip off the rough edges of your person—the words and actions which sprout in the opposite direction of Christ-likeness—and heaven begins to bloom in your heart and life. Train up your children to walk in the goodness of the Lord. Spend time with God’s children. All these things prepare us for that place called our heavenly home!  And the less “world” that you bring into your home, the more heavenly it will be! If you need a few more ideas, check out the wonderful words to this hymn:

Take Time to Be Holy

William D. Longstaff,

 

1. Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
abide in him always,
and feed on his word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
forgetting in nothing
his blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on;
spend much time in secret
with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
like him thou shalt be;
thy friends in thy conduct
his likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy,
let him be thy guide,
and run not before him,
whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus,
still trust in his word.

4. Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive
beneath his control.
Thus led by his spirit
to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.

 

 

Advertisements

LOST!

On Monday, my husband and I spend part of the morning looking for a wallet. It had been left on the trunk of a car, along with a Bible. The Bible was found—sadly in several pieces, but the wallet is still missing. I took a rake with me on my hunt to sift through the high weeds, knowing that at any moment, we would find it! We didn’t. So sad!

It was quite a diligent effort, but no matter how hard we tried to find the wallet, we couldn’t find it. I couldn’t help thinking about the parallels between my effort to find the wallet and my effort to reach the lost. How hard do I seek after souls that have not found the Savior—souls who are still lost in sin and on the path to eternal destruction?

My effort  was so diligent because I knew the hassle that would be involved in stopping the credit cards, getting another driver’s license, etc. Plus, it’s a pet peeve of mine: I hate lost things! Nothing drives me crazier than a puzzle with a missing piece! Maybe I was also driven by pride: I wanted to be the hero—the one to find the missing wallet! I’m sure love was also a driving force—my heart for the one who lost it.

What drives us to seek lost souls? Or perhaps the better question is, why don’t we have more of a burden for the lost? What can stir our hearts to have the compassion of a soul-winner? Well, if I use the list of my motivations to seek the wallet, perhaps there are some parallels.

  1. Inconvenience was the first motivator. That doesn’t really have a place in the soul-winner’s heart. If anything, soul-winning IS the inconvenience. It takes time out of my busy schedule and pulls my thoughts away from all of life’s distractions.  Having a heart for souls isn’t a “worked up emotion” that is tacked on to the end of a busy day;  it is a heart passion placed within the very fiber of a believer by God.
  2. Pride certainly doesn’t have a place in the soulwinner’s heart either, although there is no greater joy than to lead someone to Christ!  The joy of finding the wallet pales in comparison to leading someone out of the darkness and penalty of sin and into the glorious light of forgiveness!
  3. The missing piece. “Every person on the face of this earth will face eternity, either in heaven or hell.”  That’s the statement I made to my Bible students last night. What a sobering reality.  It doesn’t matter if a person doesn’t believe in heaven or hell, or if they are falsely believing in something other than the truth of God’s Word, the Bible: There is no escape for any of us. Does it stir your heart to know that a loved one will be missing in heaven? If we truly could see heaven and realize the loss which we will feel because of missing unsaved loved ones, that would drive us to speak the truth in love to those we love. And if we would get just a tiny glimpse of hell…”where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48), it would not only give us a heart for the lost–it would drive us crazy! Hell is mentioned fifty-four times in the Bible; fifteen are direct quotes from Jesus.  Some Bible scholars dance around the issue by saying that the word hell is at times translated to mean the grave; but after looking up the definitions of the different Hebrew and Greek original words, I don’t see much difference:
  • sheh-ole’: Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates:–grave, hell, pit.
  • gheh’-en-nah: valley of (the son of) Hinnom; ge-henna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment:–hell.
  • hades: the place (state) of departed souls:–grave, hell.
  • tartaroo: (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment:–cast down to hell.

Just reading those definitions and looking through each Bible verse containing the word hell was a sobering exercise for me.  It certainly sharpened my focus on the urgency of getting God’s message of redemption out!

4. Love–the greatest of all motivators!  Our love for others is certainly the most effective driving force for being a     witness.  Oh, to have the love which Christ displays on every page of His precious Word!

Since I first wrote this article, the wallet has been returned!  Someone must have found it, and the postman returned it to its rightful owner.  The lost is now found! Oh, the joy.  There are still plenty of honest people in this world, but even as I write that, I wonder: Was that honest person also a true believer?  How much better to find the truth about eternity than a lost wallet!

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle,
and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying,
Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Luke 9:8-10

P

 

 

 

 

God’s Ultimate Creation – Our Ultimate Sacrifice

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What would you name as God’s ultimate creation?  Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness.  If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook!  Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation?  Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?

Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man.  Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)

At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one.  This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident.  Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.

Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico.  After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death.  My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago.  “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.

How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?

Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development.  We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road.  As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack.  From inside, we were called to come in.  A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.

In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed.  The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room.  As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well.  It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding.  As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits.  I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties?  Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:

“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory.  It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)

The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!

Welcome Home!

Nathan’s home!! Whoopee!! He’s been away at college, for those of you who don’t already know, and that means he’s twelve hours away; but now he’s here!

A strange phenomenon happens when he comes home:  I miss him while he’s gone, believe me, but once he’s home, I realize just how much I REALLY missed him! As my heart sings, and my step is a bit lighter because he’s here, it made me think of my Heavenly Father. Will He be happy to see you and me when we come home? As we read about the prodigal son, we see the father’s response when he sees his son afar off, coming home:

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

He saw, he had compassion, he ran, he fell on his neck or pulled him into an embrace, and kissed him.  Sounds pretty happy to me!

What does that do for you, today?  Have you ever thought about the reception you will receive from your Heavenly Father when you go home?  At times, all of us feel like that prodigal son – totally unworthy of the Father’s love and acceptance; and yet there it is. He’s watching and waiting and looking for us to come home!

His own Son was away from home for thirty-three years, and we often think of what a wonderful reunion that must have been as Jesus, the Risen Savior was ushered into heaven having accomplished his task of making the way to eternal life possible for mankind; however, do we consider the other part of the Trinity which has been away from the Father for over two thousand years?  That Person of the Holy Spirit that dwells within your heart if you are a born-again believer also longs for home.   He’s ready to rejoin the Father and the Son.  Oh, what a happy reunion that will be.  It’s happening for Him piece by piece as dear believers depart from this world, but there’s coming a day when our wonderful Father will say, “Enough, come home – my Son’s bride is ready!”

Are you ready?ID-10024152

“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Mt 25:21

The Shadow!

 “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. 1Ch 29:15

A fond memory I have as a child, is of making shadow images on the wall.  I was never very good at it, but it always amazed me how different my hands looked from the shadow they made.

One of my favorite shadows is of myself near dusk – I look tall and thin! 🙂 No matter the shadow, the reality is that a form must be there to make a shadow; if not…that would be VERY scary!!!  Actually, the definition for shadow says,  “an area of darkness, caused by light being blocked by something, which usually has a similar shape to the object that is blocking the light and which appears to be joined to it.”

The Bible says that our days on the earth are a shadow.  We usually quote the verse that says our life is a vapor: (Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Jas 4:14)  I suppose it’s the same idea, but there is a bit of a difference: a shadow needs something solid to make it appear.  What is that solid substance that makes your shadow, or life appear to the world?  Is it eternity?

Somehow we have this all backwards!  We are so focused on the shadow!  It would make sense, if we were “of the world” (John 15:19); but as  born-again believers, we are to walk by faith and not by sight!  It becomes all too obvious when we are walking by sight – we focus too hard on the shadow!  The cares of this life overshadow the reality of eternity.  We lose our burden for the lost.  We question the validity of a holy walk.  We start chasing the world’s pleasures instead of laying up treasures in heaven, and we get lost in the shadow!

Think with me for a moment – fast-forward your life.  It’s the year 2112.  If there is still a world, you are certainly not in it!  You are somewhere, or at least the spirit within you is somewhere.  Depending on God’s timetable, your body may still be “moldering in the grave,” like John Brown’s!  What do you see?  Is it a shadow?  NO!!! It is reality: heaven, the streets of gold, the angels and seraphim and cherubim.  Jesus is there with you!  You see Him, walk and talk with Him!  The splendor of this reality is beyond description.  No wonder Paul said, “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”  2 Cor. 12:4  There are no words this side of heaven to describe it, but don’t ever let that fool you into thinking that it is not read!  It is our confident expectation, our promise, our joy, our strength!  Without it, life isn’t even a shadow!

freedigitalphotos.net

In a Fog

The past twenty-four hours has been as bazaar as this spring’s weather!  We picked up Nathan, our youngest, near Harrisburg at 5:00 AM.  (I will not miss that part of these college days!)  As I was driving into Williamsport, the fog was unbelievable.  Usually, you come to a scenic area as you head north on Route 15 and can see the entire valley spread out before you until the road turns and you head down the mountain.  Today, I could hardly see the lines on the road!  Anyone who was not familiar with the way would never know about the awesome view that they just missed!

Heaven – it’s there, we just can’t see it.  We’ve read about it, we know dear ones who are now there, we believe it by faith, but the fog of this life keeps it from our view.  Do you live in light of eternity?  Do you move about your daily tasks in the shadow of heaven?

Living in light of eternity puts the shine in our eyes and joy in our hearts as we walk and work in a sin-cursed world.  It puts all of life into perspective and helps us to keep focused on what is important.

So many that we rub shoulders with every day are clueless about the “heavenly” view that they are missing.  Their focus is this world only: get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can!  How sad!  Perhaps, you or I will have the thrill of lifting the fog for someone, today!

“There’s a land that is fairer than day, And by faith we can see it afar;

For the Father waits over the way To prepare us a dwelling place there.”

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:

 for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;

and there was no more sea.

 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,

coming down from God out of heaven,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Rev. 21: 1,2