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Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’

Consider these Bible facts:  Jesus traveled and taught for three years.  There are about 110 pages in the Bible dedicated to His ministry and message.  We have approximately 25,000 words that Jesus spoke recorded in the Bible.  Of those 25,000 words, Jesus taught about the Father in Heaven at least 181 times.

This means 1 out of every 140 words, Jesus was speaking about His Father.  His central message and purpose was to restore us to a relationship with our Daddy in Heaven. 

The following is a compilation of my ten favorite verses about our Father in Heaven.  All but two of them are spoken directly by Jesus Himself.  May you experience His love as you read the truth about your Abba.

10.  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  –Matthew 6:26 

9.  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.  –Matthew 18:12-14 

8.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  –Luke 6:35-36 

7.  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  –Luke 12:32 

6.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”  –John 14:1-2 

5.  “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  — John 16:27 

4.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  — Romans 8:15-16 

3.  “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  — Matthew 7:9-11 

2.  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  –1 John 3:1

And what is the message all of these verses are hammering into our hearts?

  • You have a daddy who loves you.
  • He is strong enough to protect you.
  • He is engaged enough to teach you.
  • He is tender enough to hug you.
  • He is alive enough to play with you.

And the Number One verse regarding the love of the Father is this amazing truth–  no matter how far you have wondered, you can still come home!  Regarding the prodigal son, Jesus tells us:

1.  “When he came to his senses, he said…I will set out and go back to my father”  –Luke 15:17

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Click to view the Father’s Love Letter

Podcast

You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “The Love of the Father,” on the Emmanuel Fellowship Church web site.  Click to listen

Links

Fathered By God by John Eldredge

Healing the Father Wound by H. Norman Wright

Groovy Giveaway — Peter Lopez is giving away videos of the new series from the creators of Veggie Tales, “What’s in the Bible?”  Head over to www.BeautyoftheBible.com to enter to win. 

Quotes

“Father! – to God Himself we cannot give a holier name.”  –William Wordsworth

On the Radar

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children second session tonight, March 8, at 7:00 pm.  Childcare is provided.

Lifegroups meet this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.  Click here for more Life in Sweetwater information.

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

Be in prayer for our Youth Mission Trip as they head to Mission Arlington over Spring Break.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “We Cry Out” by Jesus Culture
  2. “Your Love is Everything” by Jesus Culture
  3. “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
  4. “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 14, 2010, we begin to turn our hearts toward the amazing sacrifice of our King upon the cross.  “Vantage Points” is our four week series leading up to Easter.  Each week will offer a dramatic presentation of a witness to the crucifixion.

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* All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.
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twoWeek 2 of the Revelation Bible study was a success.  We made it through Revelation chapter 1 and are poised to explore the letters to the seven churches next Tuesday.  This week brought forth some great answers, and it also posed some great questions.  I love it when the things you thought you knew get shaken up. 

It seems that much of our theology of Heaven is based on attempts to find comfort at funerals rather than on the truth of the Word of God.  I feel a “What happens when we die?” post coming soon.

You can catch up on the details of this week’s study over at The Watchman’s Gaze.

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Jake 2Growing up the son of a motorcycle rider, I was very familiar with the platitude, “If God made anything better than a Harley, He kept it for Himself.”

Harley owners love their bikes.  As I shared in a previous message, my dad didn’t carry a rag in his back pocket to keep his hands clean; he used it to polish his chrome.

Bikers also seem to have a sober understanding of another familiar saying, “You can’t take it with you.”

Their curiously optimistic spin on the disappointing “can’t take it with you” news is: You don’t have to take it — obviously something better is waiting!

But, the point of today’s writing is not “Will my Harley be in Heaven?”  I am trying to get to the most common question children and adults have about the afterlife, the teary eyed question asked at the funeral of many a cat, dog, fish, hamster, parakeet, or whatever other animal a person has affectionately loved, “Will my pet be in Heaven?”

My Biblical response to every parent out there needing some reassuring words for their children is, “I don’t know.”

Rats.  Is that all you’ve got to offer, pastor?

Let me elaborate on my display of uncertainty by adding. “But, I hope so.”

All through the pages of Scripture we see animals coexisting with mankind and providing a wonderful opportunity for companionship.

In Eden, we see Adam surrounded by the marvelous animal kingdom.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:24-25 (NIV)

In the ark, Noah was instructed to preserve animal life for the new earth he and his family would pioneer.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.  Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”  Genesis 8:15-17 (NIV)

And the prophets give us glimpses of creatures existing now in Heaven beyond anything we have ever experienced.

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.  Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.  Ezekiel 1:4-9 (NIV)

So, we know with certainty that animals (or creatures) will be part of Heaven, though I’m not sure about playing fetch with one of those living creatures.  But, the question that burns in our heart is, “Will my animal, my beloved pet, be in Heaven.”

For me, it’s, “Will I see Jake in Heaven?”  Jake was a buddy who left my life as abruptly as he entered it.  He was an 80 lb Rottweiler that got hit by a car in front of our home.  We let him into the back yard to recover, and he just stuck around for a while.  We got the ticks and fleas off of him.  Fed him well and got some meat back on his bones.  And we all fell in love.  I even prayed for that boy’s healing as I would place my hands on his back hips and speak restoration from the combined pain of dysplasia and the car accident.

But, just as Jake was acclimating into our home and becoming part of the family, he snapped at my daughter during a family movie one night.  He was gone the next day and is now happily paired with a man who loves big dogs and has no children.

How does your heart get so attached to a simple animal?  I loved Jake.  As the country song says, “He was a good dog.”  Will I see him again in Heaven?  Will his hips be free of pain?  Will we snuggle in a heavenly field?

I don’t know.  But, I hope so.

In Revelation 21, we get a glorious glimpse of Heaven.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:1-5 (NIV)

“All things new.”  That sounds promising.

In the book, Heaven, author Randy Alcorn pioneers modern thought regarding the promise of eternity.  Concerning my reunion with Jake he writes, “If we believe God is their Creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth.”

Even the beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, has weighed in on this wonderful question.  He says, “Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness God has prepared for us—and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there.”

What about a Harley, Reverend Graham?  That would make me happy.  😉

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“The Surgeon General says it’s hazardous to breathe,” is a line from a Guns and Roses song that has always amused me.  And the headlines of recent days seem to indicate that those bad boys of the 90s may have been a little prophetic.

The looming threat of the swine flu has captured the world’s attention.  And the reaction of world government and health services seems more threatening and attention getting than H1N1.  I can perceive the need for wisdom and caution in dealing with this new strain of virus our bodies have not been prepared to fight against, but it is equally important that we are prepared to fight against the panic that wells up in our heart as we link up to our daily overdose of world news.  How do we walk in faith and courage in the face of swine flu? As I prayed with some friends over this situation today, a lady in our church reminded me of an event in the Old Testament that speaks to the circumstances we are witnessing.  In the book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 through 9, we read:

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” [1]

192px-star_of_life2_svg Can you imagine the scenario?  What is it like when your journey through the desert in open toed sandals is suddenly interrupted by fiery serpents?  The thought of it makes me shiver, and I live in a town that hosts the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round Up. But the marvel of the story is that, in the midst of the slithery chaos, God provides a way of healing.  He says, “Look up.”  Suspended between Heaven and Earth is a memorial of your pain and the means to your healing.  And so, with snakes at your feet, and desperate screams all around, the healing for the poison that runs through your body is found in looking up.  Undistracted, undeterred, unafraid, and up.

I am thankful for those who stand at the forefront of this battle, and I pray that wisdom and grace lead them in the fight against this vicious disease.  I also pray that those who observe with a sense of helplessness as events unfold will not give their hearts over to fear and panic, but will walk in faith and peace.  It is equally true today that in the middle of the chaos, God provides a way of healing.  He says, “Look up.”

In the book of John chapter 3 verses 14 through 15 Jesus declares:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”[2]

Suspended between Heaven and Earth is a memorial of your pain and the means to your healing.  I invite you to look to Jesus for peace and healing today.


[1] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

[2] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

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