Monday, January 7, 2013

Life on Fire - This is Just the Beginning

Living on fire - that's what each of us wishes we could do. To do the great things we read about. It seems unattainable, but is it really?

It's often that I have feelings of inadequacy; that my life isn't worth much. I'm not doing those amazing things that characterize those I look up to. I don't have many books published and give seminars all over the states. I'm not on the mission field in the face of danger each day. I'm not the most patient person who never seems to get irritated.

I'm not like any of those people that come to mind. At the same time, we are exactly the same. We each experience choices each moment. We each overcome our own "giants". We trust the same God. There is nothing different between us is there? We're both just humans making our journey to heaven. Then I realized there is something different. They are on FIRE.

What is it like to be on fire? What's it like to have that kind of joy? What does it take to stand your ground against hell unleashed? It takes God. It takes real encounters with him. And it gives you JOY.

The times I've encountered God have set me on fire. I want to feel that again. We have to not settle for less. Don't settle for knowing God only in word. Beg him to show you himself. Cry out to experience his presence. Don't live for less.

I can not find happiness anywhere else. You won't be able to either. I know I'm suppose to be at this job. That should give me great joy. But it's not enough. It's not enough to just go to work because that's what God has for me. I need him to go with me. I need to experience him at home. I will not settle for "knowing" he's there. Tell me you don't want more than what you have right now. Tell me that living without having an intimate daily experience of his presence is ok with you! Do you feel fulfilled? Is there no longing in your spirit?

I know for a fact that God wants us to experience him. James 4:8 says to draw near to him and he WILL draw near to you. It's time to draw near to God, and then plead with him to come near. He will not reject us. It is his greatest joy for us to desire him.

Don't settle for knowing his characteristics. Experience them. Come face to face with them. Don't settle for his names. Allow him to lead you, provide for you, be your shepherd, your comforter. Know that when you cry out to El Roy that he does in fact hear and answer you. Allow Jehovah Rohi to lead you through the challenges that you are facing.

I want to really know God personally, to experience him. I'm trying do draw close to him. I'm looking for his work all around me. I'm taking time to revel in his artistry around me. I'm remembering what he's done for me, praying for him to show me how he's used things in my life to bring me closer. And that's just what I got last night.

As I sat in church last night, I became aware of work that God had been doing in me. He was bringing everything together to prepare me for this journey. We are going to be studying Philippians. If you know anything of the writer Paul, you know that he's been through so many trials. But also through experiences with God. He's been beat, stoned ( they thought he was dead! ), imprisoned, shipwrecked - in fact he writes this letter from a jail. You might also recall that he makes many references about the church understanding what he's gone through, because there was much resistance and persecution with the forming of this church. Yet what is the topic of this book? Why is he writing to them? He wants them to have joy. Wow, what a thing to write from prison!

 I've been wanting to know how to live a life on fire - having great purpose in life.

I've been wanting to experience him. This Christmas my parents gave me The One Year Experiencing God's Presence Devotional. It's been incredible.

If you've read any of my posts of late, you might recall I've struggled with joy. But I've wanted it desperately.

These things have all come together. How do we live on fire? We live that way be experiencing God. And what does experiencing God give you? Joy. All the things I've been struggling and wrestling with come together and God is providing me a path towards being in a more intimate relationship with him. Which is the goal of our lives. To know him.

In effect, he's given me the desires to bring me back to him. And he's provided the path, he has given a light to my path. Just as he promised.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Heaven - The place of our wildest dreams!

Recently I have been pondering heaven, and as I read scripture pertaining to it today it gave me hope.  Without scripture, it's easy to almost dread heaven out of fear of loosing what we have here on earth. Perhaps, dear reader, you have had similar fears as I have had.

Before I share what I've found about heaven, I feel it's more important to discuss our Creator and how we actually get to heaven. Though I could spend an entire blog discussing God's nature, the most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about heaven is His love. It was by love that God sent his son, and it was love that brought Christ to the cross. And in that was our salvation. The moment he died, he overcame sin, and the moment he rose from the grave - that was when all those who believe on his name were given victory over death.

Romans 10:9 states - If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It does not take a perfect life to receive and keep salvation, it takes only believing on Christ. Out of your belief on him will flow the works that scripture speaks of, and the fruit of the spirit at work within you. Those are the products of Christ at work in you, not of you at work.

It's amazing and wonderful to me to know that even as messed up as I am, and as often as I fail, I will still be with my God in eternity. I am the first to say that I am totally a mess without Christ, but he is faithful and just to forgive me, just as scripture says. I rest in that, and allow God to wrestle with and deal with the fear, guilt, and hopelessness that tries to overwhelm me.

The descriptions of Heaven are numerous and glorious. They speak of a new earth in which there is no sin, no death, no pain, and certainly no guilt. Can you imagine such a life? A life where you are truly and completely free? I can not wait until we are completely without restraint as we love God and follow him.

Scriptures say that we will rule with him. (Revelation 5:9-13). If we are to rule, will there not be a tangible place? And, if there is a real place, will we not have real bodies?
                    Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Scriptures also say we will see his face and be filled with joy instead of fear. If we can see his face, then his "glorious body" is something we can see.  I do not believe we will be bodiless spirits floating in the clouds. Scripture certainly does not encourage this view!

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

If God will wipe away my tears, I must have tears in the first place - and if I have them, does that not mean I will remember what life was like and the things I went through? Though I can not say for sure from scripture, I do think we will remember, but God is much bigger than any sorrows we could experience here, and he will heal these sorrows. Once they are healed, there will be no reason to dwell on them and thus be sad. I can not imagine that he would just wipe away all of our memories. That only happens in the movies! If he were to wipe them all away, much of our relationship with him would also be wiped away, because it was during those times that He carried me that I grew close to him.

I've also thought about our knowing others in heaven. All I can say is, it will not be the same. As fearful as we often are of the unknown, it's easy to feel let down about this. It's easy to bemoan the fact that our relationships will change. We do so even now here on earth when things change. But let me suggest this to you - God is love, perfect love. If love abounds in heaven, which how could it not when we are constantly with the author of love, will we not love even more than we do here on earth? We will be able to love just like he does because He will make us perfect. He loves unconditionally; He loves everyone; He loves with great passion. We will not miss out on our earthly friendships because we will love all those around us with even greater love than we can now understand. 

In the beginning, when Adam and Eve were created there was no sin. God was with them, he walked in the garden with them! But still, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Though scripture does say that there will be no marriage in heaven. Matthew 22:30 - "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." But that does not mean we will not love those around us. We will still know other people when we live on the new earth together. Whether Christ was referring to heaven only, and not the new earth I do not know. But one thing I do know - no matter what, we will not be disappointed.

Everything will be perfect in heaven, not because God cast the spell of contentment upon us, but because we will be fulfilled in Christ. A place where sin is dead and God abides could not be any more perfect.

And all you have to do to get there is