Home At Last

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,
and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, 
new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people,
and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people,
and God Himself will be among them, 
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
and there will no longer be any death; 
there will no longer be any mourning,
or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV)

Most parents know what their young children would start asking after 5 minutes into a several hour journey. “Are we there yet?” Somehow the notion they were truly en route to their destination was not enough. They wanted to be there now!

Sometimes, as believers, we want to get to heaven NOW! We become weary of the journey because of the many obstacles in our way. It may be health concerns, nagging financial issues, or so many of our loved ones have already made the trip to heaven before us. Whatever the reason we have a great longing to be “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

We cannot blame anyone who longs for heaven now. It is like someone wanting to trade a pedal car for a Rolls Royce. Who would not find such a swap wonderful??!!

However, if the Lord leaves us here after we ask for a transfer to Immanuel’s land we need to make ourselves busy following the Good Shepherd until we hear our name called from heaven and we find ourselves home at last.

So, my friend, look for any possible opportunity to exalt the Lord of glory right now. Imitate Him in all you do. Speak words of grace as He does. Think His thoughts after Him. Love as He loves. Proverbs 3:6 (NIV) tells us the following:

“in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight”

The closer we walk to the Saviour the more of heaven we will know in this life. Never lose heart for you will soon enough see glory just as Stephen did the day he became the first martyr in the New Testament church. The busier we are for the Saviour the quicker time will fly by and our turn will come to shout, “Home at last!”

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory–glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Best Church

“‘Teacher,’ said John,
‘we saw someone driving out demons
in your name and we told him to stop,
because he was not one of us.’
‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. 
‘For no one who does a miracle in my name
can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 
for whoever is not against us is for us.’”
Mark 9:38-40 (NIV)

The two families were great neighbours and were thankful the Lord had led them to the same street to live on. One time the neighbour who was a Presbyterian invited his neighbour to come to his infant’s christening service. The men who was invited did not believe in infant baptism and asked me what he should do. I referred him to today’s verses and told him he should feel honoured to be invited and assure his Presbyterian he was honoured and would be delighted to accept the invitation.

We need to be happy that the Lord has His people in various denominations and enjoy them as fellow members of Christ’s body. There are critical issues for the Lord’s people to be concerned about and how much water to use in Christian baptism is not one of them.

I recall an enthusiastic believer trying to get me into a debate with him concerning the doctrine of last things. He wanted to know what I thought about the rapture and when it was going to take place and if I even believed in the rapture. It took some doing but I did not take the bait. Instead, I suggested that at the second coming we would be dealing with far more pressing issues than how Jesus came.

The best church is the one that makes the most about Jesus. Our churches need to focus on the wonders of the Good Shepherd. Painting verbal portraits of the Lord Jesus will be blessed by the Holy Spirit. John 15:26 reads,

“But when the Comforter comes,
the One I will send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth, He shall testify of me…”

So, if a church desires the power of the Holy Spirit, they need to understand that His work is not to display Himself but rather to make much of the Lord Jesus. The best churches will cause those who attend to “Stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene”

If your church has a pastor encourage the pastor to paint word pictures of Jesus. Thank your pastor for being faithful to Scriptures. I recall, as a new Christian, asking my pastor to cut some things out of the services so he would have more time to preach. He thanked me for my suggestion but only preached for the same amount of time going forward.

Be faithful to your local church and encourage your church leadership to keep on with their good work. Pray for them faithfully, and if you do this you will belong to the best church.

Warring Followers Of The Prince Of Peace

“For the people of this world 
are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind
than are the people of the light.”
Luke 16:8 (NIV)

“You have let go of the commands of God
and are holding on to human traditions.”
Mark 7:8 (NIV)

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 (NIV)

One Wednesday evening we seminarians came back to dorms from prayer meetings at our individual churches. One of our number had exciting news to share. A business meeting at his church had ended in a vigorous fight among the members. Apparently, it was announced that a number of new brooms were about to be purchased for the custodian. The church members divided into three arguing groups. Group A wanted brooms with red handles, group B wanted unpainted handles and group C did not care what colour the handles were. Group C won but the “war” cost the church several families.

Years later I was asked to referee a situation which concerned whether or not the church should cease the Sunday evening service. I witnessed people arguing passionately about a matter of tradition. I had pointed out that neither Scripture nor early church history supported the notion of believers gathering twice on the Lord’s Day. That fact did not matter to some, tradition was more important than the Bible. Their security lay in doing church as it had always been done regardless of the fact they did not have any biblical support.

Indeed, some Christians do argue about the most trivial matters. When Jesus said: “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”(Luke 16:8), was He speaking to people who hang onto traditions that have no biblical support? Was He speaking to those who say the Bible is their final authority in all matters of doctrine and practice but who cling to traditions of men? We need to learn how to be silent where Scripture is silent.

Could you be someone who clings to tradition instead of following Scripture only as far as it teaches? Do you insist on traditions not taught in Scripture? One wise Christian leader said, “In things essential unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

We need to heed the Bible and obey all that it teaches but not insist on matters where Scripture is silent. Today I urge you to examine your heart honestly and ask yourself if you may be honouring traditions not commanded in Scripture. Do you need to reverse directions and confess your inappropriate loyalty to the traditions of men? Will you pray for grace to be loyal to all the Scripture teaches and be willing to give up any manmade traditions for the sake of unity among God’s people?

Jesus prayed repeatedly in John 17 that His people might be united as He and the Father were united. May all of us work to be one and find the grace in abundance to become all the Lord prayed for us.

“The Lord Spared Me”

“weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.
Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:
I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…”
Philippians 1:21-23 (NIV)

The man had survived a deadly infection and after 2 weeks in the local hospital’s ICU, he was allowed to come home. One day a beloved friend visited him. As they talked about the man’s medical adventure the friend said, “Bill, wasn’t it wonderful you were spared?” The man agreed and the conversation went on for an hour.

After the friend left, the recovering patient reflected on the notion that he had been “spared”. He thought of those things from which he had been spared. He had been spared seeing his brother and wife, his brother’s infant daughter, his parents, the grandmother he never met. He had even been “spared” seeing Jesus. How wonderful was all that?

Somehow, we believers have missed the biblical message that heaven, our Father’s home, is to be desired above all other things. Christians in the 21st century seem to think that dying is to be avoided at all costs as though dying will land us in hell itself! How could we be so wrong in our thinking?

Something that blurs the vision of many believers in the western world is that life here is too good to leave behind. We have become too comfortable in our luxuries. We need to be better informed on the glories of the life to come and spend time reflecting on the Scriptures that give us detail, Scriptures such as, Revelation 21 & 22. Such meditation will help us see things with clearer eyes.

We gain patience with the trials of this life as we learn about the life to come. The Psalmist was right in saying weeping only endures for a night. C. S. Lewis, in the conclusion of his book The Last Battle penned the following concerning heaven:

“But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.
All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia
had only been the cover and the title page:
Now at last they were beginning Chapter One
of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:
which goes on for ever: in which every chapter
is better than the one before.”

Gentle Meek and Mild Jesus

“Truly I tell you,
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.” 
And he took the children in his arms, 
placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:15-16 (NIV)

I grew up in a time when men did not work in church nurseries or teach small children in Sunday School or primary grades of public school. Reflecting on this I regard it as a sad reality. When we see how the Good Shepherd clearly paid attention to little children, we ought to be constantly encouraging men to imitate the Lord Jesus in this matter.

Our Beloved Master is the perfect example of a human being and we do well to be constantly in Scripture examining the glories of our glorious Saviour. I have posted a quote of Albert Einstein concerning how he was so taken with the reports of Jesus and the records of His sermons. “I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.” Einstein said.

Are we as believers in the Lord Jesus equally enthralled? Do we marvel at His wonderful sermons, at how He seemed equally at home talking to intellectuals like Nicodemus and little children, common people like fishermen and wealthy people such as the beloved disciple? We need to saturate our minds with the accounts of the Messiah in all the Scriptures and find our love grow through such an excellent spiritual exercise.

There are such diverse portraits of the Lord Jesus in the Bible and it will take eternity for us to see the Reality of which Scripture speaks. Samuel Rutherford created beautiful word pictures of heaven and the Lamb being all the glory of Immanuel’s land. Anne Ross Cousins picked up these remarkable portraits and created a 21 verse poem that we know in our hymnals as, “The sands of time are sinking”.

I pray you will spend time today with this wonderful Person Who is meek and lowly of heart. He delights to hear your prayers of thanksgiving, your songs of worship, and other acts of adoration. He is more interested in hearing from us than we are in speaking to Him.

Come today with the trusting, pure faith of a little child. He eagerly waits to hear from you today so come and come now.

The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes;
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen;
It were a well spent journey,
Though sev’n deaths lay between;
The Lamb with His fair army
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, deep well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove;
And always dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

Oh! I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor, vile sinner
Into His “house of wine;”
I stand upon His merit,
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

The bride eyes not her garments,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.

-Anne Ross Cousins