Some days I think it can't get any better than this. Time with family is the biggest blessing God bestows. Nothing life throws at us matters in the moments we spend with the ones we love. But, it's moments like these that remind me of just how wonderful heaven will be. Heaven will definitely be an upgrade for each of us.
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the
redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Earnest money is a good faith payment made in advance for real estate or a contract of employment to demonstrate that the buyer is earnest or serious about his intentions to buy. In ancient times, the earnest payment was called an earnest penny, and also known as Arles penny, God's penny. It was money paid to legally bind a deal, or the purchase or hiring of a servant. The wording is easier to read in the New King James, and can be seen by hovering over the reference above.
This passage tells us that the Holy Spirit of promise(taken from verse 13) that we have received here on Earth is only the minescule fraction of what has been promised us in heaven. This means that we can take the idea that "it's going to get so much better than this in heaven" two directions. If you are having it tough... it's going to be better in heaven. If you are in pain, or suffer death, or loss... it's going to be better in heaven. If, on the other hand, you have the greatest comfort... it's going to be better in heaven. If you have unimaginable happiness here and now... it's going to be better in heaven! What an awesome promise that is for us. Hebrews 11:39 says that God's plan was not completed with the Patriarchs. The heros of faith did not receive the inheritance before they died. They only received the promise. Is Heaven an Upgrade? Remember... we are not home yet!
Looking at the trees today, adorned in gold and fiery red, I wondered what the trees would look like in heaven. Will the decidious trees lose their leaves periodically? Will there be natural seasons? What would happen to a tree if it stayed warm all the time? We know that there will be no sun, because Jesus will be the light of the city. Revelation 22:2 speaks of the trees bearing fruit monthly. "Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime." -Martin Luther
Our only answer is that heaven awaits us. We know that the dead in Christ will precede us. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead
in Christ shall rise first." I have a few friends waiting in heaven. These friends are special because they blessed me during their time on Earth, and helped lay the foundation for my walk with God. The pointed the way before their death, and now they have gone on to their reward. Since it would be a very satisfying thing to be able to say, "Thank you for giving to the Lord..." I will say thank you to ten friends who have gone on to heaven before me.
1) Sister Burgess- I never knew her first name, just what everybody called her. Then again, I was 5 years old. But, I was old enough to remember our house had burned to the ground not long before I met her. Her Sunday School class was my first experience with church, that I remember at least. She had us sit in a circle of chairs. I was always short anyways, so my feet didn't even hang off the chair, but stuck straight out. I was looking at her eyes. They were so pretty and bright, as if she had light inside of her. I realized that while I was looking at her eyes, she was having each child in the circle say a Bible verse from memory. I had not read the Bible yet. I never spoke much anyways. I didn't have to worry, because when she came to me, she must have realized by my silence that I didn't know any verses. She said, "Say, 'God is love.'" I can't believe I answered her, but the words sounded so beautiful to hear her say them, and I said them after her. She was quite old, or at least she seemed ancient to me. Each week I would wait for her to provide the words again, though she always chose the same ones for me, and I certainly remembered them. I just wanted to hear her say them again. I could see that she knew God. I decided right away that I wanted to meet Him. Thanks to Sister Burgess for showing me the light of God and creating in me a thirst to know Him.
2)Sister Bolenbaucher- Fast forward 8 years, to the point just after I had decided at 13 that if there really WAS a God, He was so far away that I would never know Him. Paul Bolenbaucher's wife was a dear lady and I could see that if anybody was certain to go to heaven it was her. I've mentioned her husband already in an earlier post. I remember hearing her speak in a district ladies' retreat, saying "God never changes." I could see that she must have changed a lot over the years of her life, and I was certain that she had been alive long enough to measure that God had not changed in her lifetime. That seemed to carry a lot of clout with me, her testimony. I believed it meant something because she said it did. I was saddened to hear of her death, and I remember many people from around the state came to her memorial service in Georgia. I think her funeral was in Texas though, if memory serves me correctly. Many people loved her. She is certain to be surrounded by friends in heaven. I certainly can't wait until I see her there one day.
3)Lettie Cooley- Sister Cooley was another dear lady who I knew in McDonough. She treated my kids like they were her grandkids, which she did all of the kids I think. She was a sweet, kind soul and a prayer warrior. I used to love to see her and Kate pray together. I remember them praying at a watchnight vigil service and the site struck me then of how it would look to see them shouting on streets of gold one day. And, they are waiting on me I know. Thanks Sister Cooley!
4)Kate Allen- Kate was half blind, and loved to have me read the Bible to her. She had a close relationship with God, and often people would look at us when I drove her down the street, because sometimes she would start praying in the car, in the Spirit. :) She just spent much of her day praying, because she couldn't really get out much. Usually when I went over it was earlier in the morning. But, one day I went by in the evening and surprised her. When I walked into her living room, where she had been sitting all evening praying, I could feel the Spirit of God heavy and thick, present in the room, as if God Himself came down to listen to her words in the evening. It was like Cornelious whose prayers reached up to heaven. I will never forget the warmth of God's presence there around her. I thank God for the chance to know her.
5)Dean Woods- Dean just passed away a month ago. She was my Aunt-in-Law, a church planter, and a prayer warrior. I learned much about contentment and keeping my mouth shut from her example. I never heard her say a negative word in my life. She was at camp meeting the year she woke up and found her husband passed away in his sleep. She remained a widow until her death. She worshipped God like a young woman, though she was about 90 went she died. She had took care of her mother up until her death near her nineties, with her in her seventies. I believe God honors those who honors their parents with long life. I remember her best with her hands raised in worship. They usually were, most of the times I saw her. I can't picture her any other way in heaven, but with her arms raised worshipping Jesus.
6)Louise Mitchell- Louise was Dean's sister, and my Mother-in-law. Her and Dean lived through the Great Depression. I suppose that's where they learned to not complain. We have so much and we still complain. Odd. But, Louise was the Proverbs 31 woman in the flesh. I can think of no other way to describe her. She spent her life taking care of her family. Her husband died at home with Alzeimers. She cared for him herself until his death, refusing to put him in a nursing home. I noticed she went to a nursing home before her death, as did Dean in the last three months of her life. This seems to be the way it is for people who are always taking care of others. No one is left to take care of them. I don't understand this.
7)Grandmaw Wilson- Grandmaw was Dean and Louise's Mother, and she wasn't as soft and sweet as they were. She was a spitfire, and seemed to have the authority of Methuselah. She didn't mince words either, but I remember her getting onto adults in her family for not doing the right thing. She would tell them they needed to do the right thing and get a job. Things like that. She didn't sugar coat it either. She took the Bible seriously, and seemed to be able to cut right to the heart of an issue, with God'ly wisdom. You couldn't pull the wool over her eyes. I am thankful that she taught me to have gumption. They say, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. This is what makes the story of Joe Paterno so sad. He did nothing while boys were being raped. Grandmaw would have had the guts to call the police on her own child, if he was commiting a crime like that. I am thankful for spirited women like her.
8)Claude Smith- He was the pastor of the church in Rome when I was in college. "The worst battles are fought from inside the church, and from inside hearts." I heard Claude Smith say this more than once. Years later he died while the church was in the middle of a great revival. He was a good man and served the Lord with wisdom. He was my pastor for a number of years, and I remember that he was always smiling. He laughed and joked a lot too. He seemed to be enjoying life, often joked about the fact that he had four kids. I spent a lot of time as a young married wife at their home and we played Trivia Pursuit and talked until late at night sometimes. I am thankful that I had a chance to learn from his exuberance for life, and love for God.
9)Emily Locke Nix- My paternal grandmother seemed to me to be a saint. Though my father abandoned us when I was two, and my mother was pregnant, his parents loved us. They told me themselves he was not right for what he had done. They loved to have us visit, and we did once a year. The weeks we spent there every summer were like vacations in paradise. She was sweet and kind. She was the best cook in the world and used to can and preserve foods which she stocked in a cellar outside. They were farmers. She made goat's buttermilk. Papaw used to laugh and joke so much but she would just smile. He would ask me while she was frying chicken, "You know what part of the chicken I like best?" Then he would wink at her and smile, and she would look embarrassed as he laughed and answered, "The legs, the breast, and all the rest!" He was a real character, but it was later when I was older before this "inside joke" was clearly funny to me. I just liked the way he laughed and she blushed when he said it. But, I remember going to church with her. She loved the Lord and I know she will be in heaven when I get there. I am thankful for having had such a wonderful person in my life. I miss her. She passed away 25 years ago, and her son didn't come to her funeral. That stood out to me. Now, he is old and alone in the world somewhere. He abandoned his children, and his parents. Now, he has no family. That is really sad, but that's why you should love your children and love your parents. They are your very life.
10)Brother Long- I believe his first name was Homer. But, he was the father of a large family. I remember they liked church so much that they didn't just go to our church, their home church, but usually visited revivals around the area every other night of the week. They were always in church somewhere it seemed every night. But, he was cleaning the church yard up one weekend, and was injured acidentally while blowtorching the lid off of a steel drum to dispose of it, from what I was told. He died working for the Lord. I wrote a poem inspired by his death.
A Beginning Somewhere
There is a way that all shall go,
A path that all shall follow;
There is an end to every life,
A resting place for the soul.
Yet for every ending of life,
There is a beginning somewhere;
For every ending in sorrow,
There's a beginning of joy up there.
When one fine morning I walk that land,
When I'm done with all earthly cares;
As I stand by the river of life I'll see,
There is a beginning somewhere.
I hope your heart is blessed in some way by hearing about these special people who have gone on to heaven before me. And, I hope that they inspire you like they have me to want to join them in Glory one day. Tomorrow, I will share thanks for 10 of the students that I have taught who affected me greatly. Then you will see why I can say that children are my reversed heritage.
Song of Solomon 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from
Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the
lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
I am enjoying a pomegranite and green tea. A pomegranite is a beautiful fruit that seems more like a gift or a treasure chest. When you slice into it, you have to peel away the inner tissue paper gift wrap, revealing these ruby like seeds filled with the tastiest juice imaginable. The full bodied richness of the pomegranite juice on your tastebuds only makes the green tea taste sweeter.
Some people are picky eaters, but I have a taste for a wide variety of foods. This creates a problem, because I will eat just about anything, though I don't like sushi or crawdads. The first priority with meat is that it be throughly cooked. After that, anything is "game." With fruits and vegetables, they are all good, and I will eat anything. I don't generally enjoy eating the same thing two days in a row, unless it is chocolate. Chocolate is good every day. And, I like a variety of colors on my plate. The more different something is, the better it tastes.
I never drink buttermilk. My grandmother used to make goat's buttermilk, which I refused to drink. This was fine with her, as she was a farm wife, and an awesome cook, a doting grandmother, and she would cater to each of us on our once a year visits to Tennessee. I miss her dearly. She died 25 years ago this month. I probably got my love of all things edible from her.
In Kenya, I enjoyed the evening banquets, with all of the exotic fresh fruits spread out on the buffet. I brought home my love for mangoes and papayas, along with some neat souvineers and my luggage. I bought most of the souvineers for specific people. The only thing I kept for myself was an African chessboard and an empty soft drink bottle like the kinds used here in the States in the 60's. The beverage it contained was called Stony Tangawiza. Yes, I drank it, and it tasted like liquid black pepper. But, I loved the exotic "differentness" to the experience, so much so that my tastebuds didn't mind.
We ate at a restaurant called appropriately, "The Carnivore" there in Nairobi. It was everything you could imagine and more. The meat was spectacular... so much so that I don't remember anything about whether we even had bread, fruit, or veggies, though I am sure we must have. I can only remember the delicious morsels of meat all arranged on long scimitar-type knives. Each waiter carried out a different type of meat on his knife and allowed you to have pieces off whichever knives you chose, as they came around. And, they kept coming back with more until you raised the flag at your table in sign of surrender. I ate Zebra, eland, lamb, heartabeast, Crocodile, and a number of other different meats. I capitalized the words Zebra and Crocodile because they were capital dishes :)
Pomegranite is a fruit that is mentioned in the Bible and it is mentioned in Song of Solomon 4:13 as well. There in verse 8 above, Solomon and his spouse, for here she is called his spouse for the first time, are apparantly on top of Mount Lebanon where he is showing her the spectacular view of all his kingdom. Perhaps it was a honeymoon trip, but he mentions wanting to take her to Mount Amana and Mount Hermon's tops as well, while they are traveling. The trip is obviously a safari, since he says they are viewing the lion and leopard dens. It must have been a costly, expensive trip, but we know that Solomon held a large treasury which he obtained from taxing the people so heavily. 1 Kings 12:4
"Traveling" can be quite a busy thing, and a mountain climbing safari is definitely roughing it, LOL. Imagine your husband wants to take you to visit some lions dens on your honeymoon! That might not be at the top of your bucketlist. You would well consider putting it at the bottom for when everything else has been marked off the list, just in case it is the last thing you do. :) We often think of Solomon as being "second-generation" or pampered royalty. But, though we know he was a lover and not a fighter, he was apparantly a rugged outdoorsman. He loved wild animals, and had his own menagerie (of animals, and of women.) And, he was apparantly an avid bow hunter and mountain climber.
But, God is compared to a Heavenly Bridegroom here in this the Canticles. In Deuteronomy 34:1 God took Moses up to the tops of the Mountains and showed him Caanan Land. In Revelation 21:10, God shows John the Revelator the New Jerusalem from the top of a mountain. Yes, God has so much he wants to give us of himself. But, we are all too often content with where we are and don't want to get out of our comfort zone.
In Song of Solomon 4:15 the Beloved is referred to as a well of "living water." Jeremiah 2:13 uses the same analogy for God, as does Jesus in John 4:10 and John 7:38. Everywhere else in the Bible, the Hebrew phrase is translated to running waters when speaking of natural water sources. The translators did this purposly because they knew that the term was referring specifically to Jesus.
I do apologize, but I think I have reached the end of my story and found I haven't reached a conclusion, though I have talked for far too long... hours. Seeing that this is the end... and I have no conclusion, and rambling is a bad habit...I will just say so long for now. :)
The following is a brief early morning (7am) sharing of Revelation 19:4-16 while having my morning coffee. I hope it blesses you in some way. Have a great day!
This song is one of those that brings back a flood of memories. It reminds me of rainy Fall evenings riding my bike around the river in Rome. It was dusk. The wet leaves were plastered everywhere... everywhere! The world was a sea of colors, and as I rounded a corner in the bend, I suddenly realized that the fiery orange montage on the ground was reflected from the giant orange October moonrise, low enough that I could almost touch its luminescent orb above me.
I had my earphones in and because I listened to this one song over and over for so many rides that Fall, I can even now feel the wet breeze, smell the decay of the leaves, feel the energy surge from the exercise as if I were there now. Somethings never seem to let go of you. That is like God. He never lets go. He will follow you over the years and in and out of weeks and through a day and even into the night here now. God does not let go. If you wanted to get rid of Him, you would have to let Him go.
And, now, I don't think you would want to do that. So, just play the song again and remember to stay close to God. He will take you to Heaven and beyond!
I slept soundly last night, and dreamed happy dreams. Sleep is precious
when you hit your forties. We get tired. But, I can remember, in the past, times
I have felt restless. Sometimes a sense of restlessness can be so great and
troublesome that we can’t focus our minds on the tasks at hand. Sometimes it can
prevent our sleep as well.
In Hebrews 4:9-11 the writer of Hebrews is preaching a sermon (in the
last half of chapter three and chapter four) using Psalm 95 as his text. David
had mentioned the fact that many of the children of Israel were not allowed to
enter into the “rest” of Canaan Land due to their lack of faith, but died in the
wilderness over their 40 year wanderings. Instead their children entered into
that glorious rest provided by God. He goes on to tie in the fact that god wants
us to receive the rest from our own “good works” where we tried to pay for sins,
and instead allow His blood to cover our sins. Afterall, the Sabbath means
resting from our work.
In Hebrews, it is explained that the Sabbath Day rest of the Jews (work
six days, rest on the seventh) was a shadow or type of God’s rest that is to be
provided to His children. Hebrews is pointing out that because David said
“Today, if you will hear His voice,” then there must be another rest remaining
for the people of God, more than a Sunday nap between services, more than Canaan
Land for the Jews.
This is also shown in the prophetic passage in Isaiah 11:10. We know
that our rest comes from the lord. Psalm 37:7 and Matthew 11:28 points us in the
direction of our most bountiful source of rest and peace here on Earth. Prayer
is the source of peace and strength, our rest in God’s arms.
“At that heavenly sound
My soul, that is sunk in forgetfulness,
Recovers its judgment
And the lost memory
Of its first, exalted origin.
It transverses the ether
Until it reaches the highest sphere,
And there it hears another mode
Of imperishable music,
The first, the source of all.
Here the soul steers
Through a sea of sweetness, and at last
Sinks so deep within,
That it hears or feels
No strange or rare event.
O blessed trance!
O death that gives life! O sweet oblivion!
Could I but remain in your repose
Without being restored
Ever to these low and abject senses!
To this bliss I call you,
Glory of Apollo’s sacred choir,
Friends whom I love
Beyond all treasure,
Since all visible things are sorrowful tears.
Oh, may your music, Salinas,
Sound everlasting in my ears;
Hearing it my senses awaken to God’s goodness,
And all else remain oblivious.”
by Luis de Leon - Ode to Salinas*
* Fragment of a larger poem, which was translated from the Spanish
Salinas was a blind organist who played for the Cathedral of Salamanca,
Spain in the 1500’s. Leon apparently loved to hear Salinas play, and as other
portions of the poem explain, hearing the blind man play about the raptures of
heaven reminded him of how truly “blind” men are who seek only gold to satisfy
themselves here on Earth. The poem is speaking of organ music, a delightful
sound in which it is easy to lose yourself. But, there are parallels here drawn,
in my mind, to prayer.
Where we can turn music on loud enough when we just want to relax at
home, to stop our mind from working, providing a sense of rest sometimes from
troubled thoughts, prayer can give a rest to the restless that unburdens the
mind, body, and soul. The difference is like anesthetic and antiseptic.
Anesthetic numbs pain by dulling the senses, masking the symptoms. Antiseptic
cleanses a wound, allowing healing to take place.
When I can’t take time aside to pray, like while working, music
functions well to turn our thoughts to God. But, when I lay everything aside,
and turn my thoughts to God, focusing on who He is, my mind not only forgets the
details of the day, but wounds actually begin to shrink and heal. Heart pain is
erased in prayer.
In prayer, I can “cross that heavenly sphere,” and sink so deep within
His “sea of sweetness” that I feel nothing. When I hear His voice “sounding
everlastingly in my ears,” my senses die to everything else, external and
internal distractions, and “awaken to God’s goodness” where all else fades in
oblivion. This rest is the greatest peace to be found on Earth.
Hebrews warns us that the disobedience of an unbelieving heart can
prevent us from receiving the rest of God, like in the wilderness of wanderings.
Afterall, if you don’t have faith that God can keep your restless spirit in His
hands, then you won’t bother to pray for peace.
More is included in God’s rest than prayer. Worship also provides that
glorious rest of God, again illustrated by the poem, and experienced in church
services. The Holy Ghost experience is a glorious rest for all who will partake.
The Heavenly City will be our eternal rest. Paul said that eyes have never seen
what God has in store for those who love God. 1 Corinthians 2:9 The peace of God
can surround our restless spirits and give us rest beyond our own understanding.
Philippians 4:7 You know, I can only imagine heaven, but prayer is a bit of
heaven here on Earth, for those who will enter into that rest.
God's Word runs quickly across the Earth, and in and out of our hearts, lifting us up to the level of the personal Savior. Yes, God is high and lifted up, and God is with us. While we have God with us via the Holy Spirit, the Word is a remarkably tangent way to reach God. My goal on my websites is the propagation of the Gospel. I like to see God's Word run. I feel that technology is a great way to move the Gospel of Jesus Christ, an excellent vehicle. Of course technology still needs the human component in the driver's seat.
I read a tweet today on Twitter by Tommy Tenney, (Pentecostal Author of God Chasers) "What if the apostle Paul only embraced theologically the technology that was existent at the time of Moses or Abraham? Don't be a Luddite!" That is true. Paul, Moses, and Abraham were from different generations, and neither were capable of what you or I have at our disposal today. The Luddites were rednecks of the Bible, bowmen from the islands, sons of Shem and Noah. Their descendents had not received the message of God's Word in Isaiah 66:19. But, God had plans for them. Jeremiah 29:11
There is a change in the presentation of the Scriptures here now, since I have added the code across all three sites for Reftagger. This will allow me to just cite the reference for Bible verses, as in tonight's blog, while preserving and sharing the Word. If you hover your mouse cursor over any Scripture reference, the actual verse appears in a small popup window, as long as you are hovering. I chose the New King James version for this feature, and plan to actually type out any version I choose to use that has a noteworthy difference, such as the King James 1611 version. After all, it is not my purpose to just fill the screen with Bible verses, but to present and provide access to the Gospel to help us on our journey to Heaven.
Jesus spent a lot of time talking about heaven, more than any other subject to my knowledge. He mentioned the Kingdom of God some 54 times in the Gospels, in reference to Jesus' words. And, He mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven 30 times in Matthew. That totals 84, even though many of the instances are overlapping, being recorded in more than one of the four gospels. But, so are the other topics Jesus spoke about. And, I haven't found any topic that comes close since I started searching at the beginning of this milenium. I could be wrong. :) And, this doesn't take into account other names for Heaven, like when Jesus told the thief in Luke 23:43 he would be with him in Paradise. More than anything, I just want to go there...and take a lot of people with me. Get on board!
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come,
bring with you, and the books, but especially the parchments.
I find it a delight to see large churches and cathedrals around the world. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is I enjoy about seeing these buildings. We saw a beautiful curch while touring Savannah this past weekend. St. John's Episcopal Church is nestled under giant oak trees like those draped with Spanish Moss seen on Bay Street. More than the building itself, (since the walls, steeple, and doors seem almost small compared to the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church down the street on East Harris) it is ultimately a sense of something "spiritual" or something ethereal being present among the cover of those trees that draws me.
The church I would most like to see is Ulm Cathedral in Germany. It is the biggest in the world and has 13 bells. But, it looks like a storybook fairytale castle. There is so much to be said for organized religion, for and against. Personally, I like to study the buildings, books, and artifacts of Christianity. I know people who seem to be disillusioned about organized religion as a whole, and I understand their reasons. But, I see religion in all its trappings as man's reach for God.... a visual sign of how men have attempted to reach to heaven.
Those last words are meant rather ironically, since God is reaching to man already, even before man reaches upward to heaven. Man reaches for various reasons, beginning with Cain and Abel, continuing through the Tower of Babel, and right down to our last trip to church, rolled up to the altar in a casket.
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come,
bring with you, and the books, but especially the parchments.
So, you want to go to heaven? How are you getting there? In what ways are you reaching? Looking at the passage from the Bible I posted at the beginning, I see an old man, as death is approaching, sitting in a cold, dark prison. He asked of few things from Timothy, only an old coat to keep warm, a stack of books from his personal library, and some dear parchment/ papers he had written. (They may have been blank parchments on which he intended to write, but more likely were letters he had received in a time without email or cell phones...his only method of correspondence.) Imagine your Father writing you asking you to send some things he needs in his final days. This was Timothy's mentor, a Father Figure in his life. I feel so sad for Paul here. He was cold in prison. He needed a cloak. But, more than that, he just wanted his books and papers. God bless Paul! He wouldn't have despised the books and buildings of religion. No, he was busy building churches, and writing the books of our cannon. He took delight in the things of God. Now that he has reached paradise, God has given him the desires of his heart.
Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the
desires of your heart.
I find this verse ironic because man tends to clasp whatever his fingers reach for. Men who long to build a church for God usually do so, in the same way that men who long for a pint or a joint usually find those wherever they are looking. We usually reach the desires of our heart, don't we? But, if we are desiring the things of God, we have to look beyond the things of God, to God Himself. If we take delight in Him, He will give us Him, what we wanted all along.
Do you ever wonder at the marvel of God? Look at the first quatrain of Scripture... "In the beginning God..." Nothing there to explain who God is. He just was. There you have it. Helping verbs with no verbs to help. In my mind, that's a powerful way to end a sentence.
No, the bible takes for granted the existence of God. And, it begins with the creation of heaven and earth, the works of God's hands. But, hit the fast forward button and take a look at the book of Revelation. Revelation 4:2 "And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."
John the Beloved has us peering through the clouds to see a throne set in heaven. There is one throne, and one sitting on that throne, John says. That's a good place to start. Some general conclusions can be drawn here. First, this guy on the throne is a King. Second, this King rules heaven and earth, since he sits on the throne of heaven. Turn back a few pages to chapter one.
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him who is, and who was, and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne;
Is, was, and is to come? More helping verbs without verb partners. But, it gives you the idea that God is everything that you can imagine, and then some. He extends beyond your imagination and capacity of mind. And, when the stars all twinkle out at night, God is still awake.
Revelation 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Who is John sending greetings from? the firstborn of the dead? That's Jesus. He died and was born again from the dead.
Revelation 1:7-8 "Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him: and all tribes of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
Get the picture? Jesus is everything, so you understand the use of all the helping verbs? They are helping God. They have no verbs. They show who God is. Jesus is Almighty. He is the first and He is the last. Isn't that strange? If I say, "The house is huge," you think about "huge" because it is huge. But, if I say, "The house is," you think about "House," because the house just is. There is no adjective there to limit the noun or to distract your attention away from the subject of the sentence. It's all about the house nad not the enormity of it. With God, it's not about finite measures, and mere adjectives and verbs. God is! Forget the verbs and the adjectives.
John says that Jesus was and is and will be and that He is standing there in the middle of those seven candlesticks. And, don't forget the seven stars in His right hand. The candlesticks are the churches, and the stars are the ministers of those churches. So, as always, a good place to find Jesus is standing in church. That's why you feel so empty when you have to miss church. But, don't worry. John won't leave you hanging on to the was, the is, and the am. He gave us a few adjectives and verbs as well.
Revelation 1:14-15 "His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine bronze, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters."
If that is not enough description, turn to chapter nineteen.
Revelation 19:11-13 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon it was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God."
Revelation 19:16 "And he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
There you see, He is the King of all Kings, King Jesus, the King of heaven and Earth. That's not all though. There is more, more than this warrior King. Look just over near the great river Chebar. There stands Ezekiel the Hebrew slave, with his eyes turned toward heaven. Is it a star constellation that has his attention? Not quite.
Ezekiel 1:26-28 "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his waist even upward, and from the appearance of his waist even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke."
Ezekiel and John both have been in the throne room already, and I haven't been invited yet?! It's ok. At least they brought back a few adjectives. Fire and an appearance of precious stones. Brightness and a rainbow. The glory of God. But, He looked like a man...Jesus Christ. Flesh like me.
Hebrews 1:1 "God, who at many times and in various manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets..."
Look at how the Hebrew writer started his epistle. He began with God. That is a great place to start a book, is it not? Especially if Paul wrote it. All of Paul's other epistles start off with the word, "Paul." But, here he seems to have forgotten who he was and had his attention on God, as he neared the final days of his life, and impending martyrdom. Now, back to Genesis one.
Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
Who is the King of Glory? Who created heaven and earth? Who was it that sits on the throne?
Psalms 24:8 "Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle."
Who is this King of Glory?
Psalms 24:10 "Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah."
Who is my maker?
Job 36:3 "I will get my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker."
Who is our Maker? The Lord is our Maker!
Psalms 95:6 "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker."
I am so glad that God is. If not, where would I be?
When the starting gun sounded, near twelve hundred pairs of feet began running. The exhiliration was astounding... the rush of charging downhill in a pack of humanity. I couldn't believe my speed. I was making time unlike anything I had experienced in practice... and loving it! I was passing lots of people. But, that pace caught up with me fast! I felt the first stitch in my right side, instead of the usual left side. Within another mile, the left side caught up and began to ache with equal force. The surge of adrenilin, the sound of heavy breathers coming up behind me, the playful laughing of friends, the camaradarie of runners calling out encouragement to those following in their footsteps, the glowing candles lighting up the darkened streets, the black night bathing us in the golden glow of the luminary candles, all merged to form the thrill of the race...my first... the Greenville Candlelight 5K run July of 2008.
As we turned and ran up hill, suddenly there were hands reaching out dixie cups of water to me by someone running at me from the first rest table. We never stopped! We drank half and poured the rest on our arms and face, before tossing the cups to the curb as we continued running. Soon, we could see the family members of runners standing along the main starting street cheering. We kept on running past them, and across the highway where cars were stopped, waiting patiently. It was the summer solstice, June 21st, the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. It was also the longest 3.1 miles of my life. I saw five year old Carly after I passed the two mile point. She was about to fall asleep on her feet. Her Dad lifted her to his shoulder and charged ahead with her, before sitting her back down to allow her to set their pace again. I wondered how he would finish a race carrying her. I ran past them and a few choking, gasping runners.
Suddenly this incredulous sound of cheering, noisemakers, and applause could be heard before I could even see the finish line crowd. It was a heartstopping spiritual event... running in the dark among fleet feeted runners, realizing I was nearing the finish line and what was happening there. As I came into sight of the finish arch, and saw the screaming faces of the family menbers of racers shouting to me, encouraging me with applause, congratulating me, I saw Travis standing just before the finish line beside the barricade, watching me. I gave him a high five as I ran across the finish line, and collapsed into a chair to remove the timing chip device from my shoelace. That was the highlight of the whole event, seeing the face of my son, my family, watching. He had on my event candlelight 5K tshirt, smiling at me.
As I sat there retying my shoe, along came Carly with her Dad, both on foot running. Dad had went through so much to make sure his daughter felt the thrill of finishing her first race with him. I was exhausted. Completing a goal that you are unsure of your own ability to complete is an incredible experience. I woke up that morning thinking, "I hope I can finish this 5K run." I crawled into bed that night thinking, "I finished that 5K run!" That's an awesome feeling of reaching a goal. I was pleased. 1, 186 runners completed the race. I placed 564 out of 618 women in all age groups. There were 568 men running as well, but the results are seperated in men's and women's categories. That was just the first. I completed 5 other 5K's since. Right now, I can't run. That bothers me. I can't drop that part of me, the part that learned to love the thrill of running and riding in cycling events around the state. Once you've been there, the desire is not removed surgically on the operating table, regardless of how many surgeries are performed. It is an embedded recurring dream that keeps me waiting for that next run... that next road bike ride, even though I haven't ridden my bike in forever.
Our spiritual journey is a run...a challenge like such. Once you've set out on this road, you can't quit. If time allows and death tarrys, you'll come back to God once you've left him...just wait and see. Just as surely as you'll see me running on moonlit streets.