Homeward bound

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Hebrews 13:7-21 (NIVUK): “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Well, today’s study was interesting, I liked the story about the two ships but I found the reading for today to be far more inspirational. It’s encouraging to know that Jesus equips us with everything good for doing His will, we don’t have to entirely rely on our own resources.

Selwyn introduces the final study of this issue, ‘Our True Home’, as follows: “What is our conclusion as we come to our last day together of reflecting on this thrilling issue of heaven? It must be this: the one thought above all others that should dominate our thinking as we make our way through this alien world is that we are going home. Our final destination is heaven, where we will be with our God forever.”

I rejoice in the true hope that I’m on my way home, following in the footstep of my Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ. It will also be wonderful to be united with you and all the other faithful Christians who are following the same narrow path – towards home.

Any comments on this series of studies that we have been looking at for the past two months?

‘A new name!’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Revelation 2:12-17 (NIVUK): “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: there are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

In today’s study, Selwyn leaves us with his final thoughts: “The fact that in heaven every one of us will have a new name. … It seems that the new name we will have in heaven will be a secret between God and each one of us.

What can we take this secrecy to mean? That every one of us will relate to God in a way that is personal. No one need fear that being part of a community means we will lose our personal relationship with God. You will not be lost in the crowd. You will be part of a great host but it will be as if it were just you and your Father in heaven.”

I’m not too sure about some of the secrecy aspects which Selwyn is talking about, it could also mean that the person who receives their new name is the only one who understands the significance of it, as it may reflect or describe some aspect of their previous earthly service to God. In this life, our parents are responsible for giving us our name. It could be that our new name is given to us by Our Father as an indication that we are now (and always have been) His child.

Consequently, our relationship with God in heaven will be as loving and intimate as a child/parent relationship; and I can’t wait to enjoy this eternal relationship. What do you think?

‘No more’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIVUK): “ If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

You may have noticed that in today’s reading the latest version of the NIV uses the word ‘completeness‘ in Selwyn’s key verse, instead of ‘perfection‘. Just a minor point, but it is interesting how newer translations try to better reflect the original meaning of the Greek words used by Paul.

Selwyn starts today’s study by saying: “We look now at yet another characteristic of heaven: it is a place of absolute perfection.” In the last half of the study, he focuses on the topic of the possibility of sin in heaven, given that at some earlier point in creation, Satan did rebel against the authority of God.

He writes: “Is it likely that sin, that great spoiler and virus of humankind, will again break out in heaven? Might not someone mar its beauty and harmony by a collision of their will with God’s? Have no fear. Sin will not only be impossible but also now – because of Jesus – unthinkable.”

I’ve always thought it strange that Satan and his fellow angels actually rebelled against God, given that they must have had first hand knowledge of His holiness and authority. From my perspective it’s very difficult to understand why Satan, who appeared to have it all, would risk everything in actively opposing the will of God. The only plausible explanation, that I can think of, is that, Satan did not have complete knowledge of God’s future plans and also lacked trust in God’s eternal and perfect love.

In regard to Selwyn’s conclusion, I agree with him, because as children of God we are in Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives in us. Our wills are then aligned with God’s perfect will, when we are no longer under the influence of our sinful natures (after our resurrection). That is, when we arrive in heaven, we will see issues in the same way as God sees them. Consequently, rebellion isn’t possible as it would be like rebelling against ourselves – make sense?

Any comments?

‘Gales of laughter’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Genesis 21:1-7 (NIVUK) : “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.

Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’”

In today’s study, Selwyn looks at the question: Will there be laughter in heaven?

His conclusion is a good place to start: “Possibly I am imagining this but sometimes, when in prayer and listening for the voice of God’s Spirit, I think I hear the laughter of heaven. I can tell you this with confidence: none of us have ever laughed down here the way we will laugh in heaven.”

Now, I have no real view on this particular topic; my main focus is following Jesus all the way to heaven. What heaven is actually like is beyond my imagination – it is going to be fantastic – just being in the presence of God will bring the most complete joy.

God has prepared something wonderful for us in heaven – I would prefer to leave it as a magnificent surprise rather than trying to guess what it might be like. Of course we will experience joy and happiness, and perhaps laughter will be a natural expression of how we feel. What’s your view on this?

Joy the serious business

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Acts 2:22-28 (NIVUK), Peter addressing the people on the day of Pentecost : “‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

David said about him: “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”’

Selwyn starts today’s study, as follows: “As well as being a place of praise and service heaven is a place of indescribable joy. Some Christian writers and commentators believe this is the greatest thing about heaven. C.S. Lewis wrote in one of his books, ‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.'”

One of the strongest emotions I felt when I found myself in God’s presence (March, 1991), was the incredible joy and love I experienced – it has been one of the main driving forces for me over the past 24 years – as it presented to me the goal of wanting to be with my Father in heaven and experiencing that remarkable joy – forever.

I don’t know what sort of recollections we may have of our life here on earth, after we enter heaven; but what I’m reasonable confident of, is that we will have no memory of our sins.

Further on in today’s study, Selwyn looks at the issue of our memory of people we loved, who died as enemies of Christ. Again, I don’t know the answer.

Selwyn view is probably close to the mark, he says: “What I do know is that every one of us will see matters with far more clarity than we do now and we will have God’s perspective on the situation. Seeing clearly we will feel correctly. That is where we have to leave it, trusting in God’s sovereignty.”  However, whatever the answer, we can be sure that what we may recall about loved ones will never reduce the fantastic joy we will definitely experience in being with Jesus.

Your view?

‘In the thick of things’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Revelation 22:1-11 (NIVUK): “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.’ ‘Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.’

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!’

Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.’”

Selwyn writes: “We continue reflecting on the fact that heaven is not just a place of praise – wonderful though that is – but also a place of joyful service. …

You and I will be – right in the thick of things, in a place where God is present without barriers or hindrance. It will be a place of security and safety from which we can serve Him forever.”

Today’s study covers some of the issues we raised yesterday – whatever we find ourselves doing in heaven will be ‘purposeful and satisfying’ because we will not fail in any way and our service will be in complete accordance with God’s perfect and good will.

Any comments?

Working with God – endlessly

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Revelation 7:1-4,9-17 (NIVUK): “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.

He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. …

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’

All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’

Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.’

“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,” nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; “he will lead them to springs of living water.” “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”’

Selwyn looks at the question: What will we be doing in heaven? He writes: “The text for today, informs us that in heaven the redeemed serve Him day and night. So heaven is not just a place of praise; it is also a place of service. … (In heaven) God will be engaged in creative and endless efforts and we, the Church, will be at His side, working joyfully with Him.”

We don’t know the full answer to Selwyn’s question but we are told it will be beyond our grandest imagination – it will be perfect in every possible way, including, what we do there.

What I can say is this: it will be nothing like the fanciful representations that are commonly presented; we will fully enjoy our eternal life, living out the fantastic purposes God will assign to us and we will enjoy His amazing and loving presence all the ‘time’ – it’s what we are wonderfully designed for – before time even began.

Your view?