All posts tagged investing in heaven

Joy in Suffering?

Years ago when I still wore a single digit sized pair of pants, a man I admired expressed his desire to go to heaven.

“I don’t understand.”

My friend elaborated, “When I am experiencing God in worship or praise or prayer, I sense His presence. I think how much better heaven will be.”

As I grow older, understanding dawns.

But there are still many mysteries. Like for instance Mark 10:29-30,

“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.

I like the first part, but shy away from the “gift” of persecution.

Take a look at this verse.

philippians 1:29

Suffering is granted to us? Like receiving a wish from a genie?

Recently, I received a newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs. The back page revealed about 12 people who are imprisoned because they taught a Bible Study, or shared the gospel, or even attended an underground church. Some have been in prison for over 15 years.

Here is the issue…when I read this publication, many of those who have been imprisoned say things like, “Christ suffered, I am privileged to suffer for Him.” And when they are released, they go right back to preaching oftentimes to be thrown back into prison.

It is a mystery to me.

The only thing I can figure is when they are in prison, they experience what my friend described when he praised or prayed or worshiped. They somehow sense the Lord’s presence so intensely that they glory in it. Basking themselves in Jesus.

As an American, it is almost impossible for me to relate. Yet Scripture says that suffering brings joy. If the Bible says it, I believe it, so that settles it.

But don’t get me wrong, I am not praying for suffering. I think that would be weird. But I am praying for my brothers and sisters who are suffering. They are my eternal family and I love them, even though I haven’t met them–yet.

For today, I pray, and read God’s Word, and wonder.

Here is a nugget I read yesterday in Psalm 16:11, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are pleasures forever.”

Even so, Lord Jesus come.

 

Love Generously

Here is the daily devotional I wrote for CBN.com
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“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

Recently, I heard a sermon by J. D. Greear about the book of Ecclesiastes. Not an easy read, not an easy sermon to preach. He spoke a lot about “hevel.” It is one of the most-used words in the book. Some translations use vanity, some use futility.

He used the illustration of passing through a cloud on an airplane. It appears mighty and full of substance, but it is just a vapor. Solomon compares it to all of life.

A vapor.

I saw my grandson this weekend. He is now three. I remember the day he was born. My husband Tom and I waited in the lobby with our in-laws for our grandchild’s birth. We knew the sex … we knew the name … but we did not know him.

Yet.

Three years later, he has quite the personality. I hadn’t seen him in a few months and his vocabulary skills have improved dramatically. Usually, I begin each morning with a song. I began, “Good morning, to you. Good morning to you. Good morning, dear Silas, Good morning to you.”

“I don’t like that,” he stated quite clearly.

Yet, when I left, upon being told he had graduated from nursery into the three-year-old-class, he cried and said, “I don’t want to go to church. I nervous.” About his Nana and Papa leaving, he added, “I sad.”

I was, too. And I cried on my way out of six lanes of traffic in Atlanta.

Life is full of joys, sorrows, ups, downs. You can’t quite put your finger on it. It is a vapor. I find great joy in it, but know it is not eternal. From past experience, before I know it, I’ll be attending his high school graduation.

Because that is how life is.

But because of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ I know that there is more than this hevel under the sun. There is eternity above the sun with the Son. The above verse says that He became poor so I could become rich. Inherit eternity. Forever. And ever.

The vapor-like life we lead has substance when we view it through the eyes of eternity.

And then we invest in it.

That does not mean that I ignore my sweet grandson. It means I invest in praying for him. When I am with him, I pray with him and tell him about Jesus.

I give my money for eternal things and do not hoard it. Knowing that my brothers and sisters in other countries sit in dark cells away from their families because they taught a Bible study, or gave someone a Bible, I pray for them like they were my family and send money to them generously because they are my family—my eternal family.

1 Corinthians 2: 9 says this:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared  for those who love him.” (NLT)

I am rich. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are rich.

Let’s live like it.

Giving God’s Currency

It’s Christmas and my credit card is not in the red. In fact, I’m not using it at all. Here’s how Tom and I are celebrating this year. I shared some thoughts on mtlmagazine.

https://mtlmagazine.com/money/

 

 

Forging a Path To A Simpler Lifestyle, A Farmer’s Wife Day 5

“I’m trying to dry the whole bowl.” I smiled as Mom awkwardly held the pink plastic bowl with one hand, drying with the other. All the while she sat perched on the chair built into her walker.

Jan wore purple gloves and washed. Mom dried. I floated–putting dishes away, re-drying, wiping counters.

Washing dishes at the farmhouse has become one of my favorite times of the day. It’s a good time to talk and work together.

One time in Florida, my dishwasher broke.

My kids and I stood facing each other in a circle, hands pressed against our cheeks. “What shall we do?”

Then I remembered. Hours of my childhood spent at a sink with others. Laughing, singing, complaining.

A few days later, the repairman came to our Florida home and life as we knew it resumed.

But not at the farmhouse. There is no dishwasher and I’m glad.

The act of doing dishes by hand ushers me back to a simpler way of life.

I thought of that as Tom and I forged a path from the farmhouse to our homesite–right through the woods. Tom cut his way through the dense the forest with a heavy-duty weed-eater. I tossed thorny briars, dead branches, and saplings to the side as we progressed.

Forging a simpler life is like that. Cutting away at the non-essentials in order to see the really important things. Usually, they are people. But sometimes they are things or conveniences that bring us closer to people.

Or closer to our Creator.

My new house comes with a dishwasher. It’s convenient, and I’ll probably use it because then I’ll have more time to spend with the people I love.

But some nights, when someone really wants to talk, maybe we’ll break out the purple gloves and dishtowel and laugh and sing and talk. We might even complain.

Really, it’s simple.

Invest in what or who really counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Hope

“Someone said that living for this earth is like re-arranging furniture on the Titanic while she’s going down,” my pastor said.

This world is doomed for destruction. Even those who don’t believe in the judgment of God believe  that we will somehow destroy ourselves.

Scripture tells us that one day, this world will be judged and destroyed by fire.

Even before that, we will all die. And we don’t know when.

Just this week I attended the funeral of my friend’s son. She didn’t think she’d be planning his funeral when he was just 20 years old.

At 48-years-old I moved my father into a nursing home. He and Mom  lived with me for almost six years. Dad lost both legs to diabetes and finally it was too much to continuing caring for him.

I hurried around the house, preparing him for the move. When I gathered his belongings, I could hold them all in one arm. My father was going to a nursing home to die. We both knew that.

That day changed my life.

I continued to visit him and saw first-hand what our culture conveniently withholds from us. Namely, that unless we die an untimely death, we will grow old, we may grow sick, and then we will die. Then what?

I asked myself a few questions: What am I spending my time doing? What am I holding onto that will rust or fall apart. Did my life have meaning?

Did I have hope?

Yes.

Jesus.

He is our only hope. He is our salvation. Scripture says that “without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)

It also says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NLT)

I made changes. I’m making changes based on the eternal truth of God’s Word.

I’m investing in heaven.

You never know when you’re leaving earth.

Invest well.

Invest today.

Find hope.

Stop re-arranging furniture.