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But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21(CEV)

The last time I saw Gus (not his real name) he was 104 years old. An old Norwegian Presbyterian he grew up farming in the fertile fields of Northern Iowa. He’d done well for himself and his sons had built on his legacy with sound farming and reliance on their faith. Gus was as generous with the money the ‘Good Lord’ had given him as he was his big smile and firm handshake.

I visited Gus that last time since I was back in town for the funeral of a mutual friend. She’d spent her last years in a room just down the hall from Gus and his wife in the local rest home. Gus shared his room with his wife of 75 years who, due to Alzheimer’s disease, rarely acknowledged his existence.

I unknowingly arrived just in time for the afternoon hymn sing and sat in the back of the room to listen. Midway through the singing the leader turned to Gus and said “Gus, would you sing your favorite song for us?” He smiled and nodded. She began to play “He the Pearly Gates will Open.” 104 years hadn’t weakened the beautiful Norwegian brogue as he sang all four verses from memory and didn’t miss a word (I don’t think).

Afterwards, I went up to greet Gus. His smile told me he recognized me long before I got to his wheelchair. We sat together and shared a cup of strong coffee. We talked of old times. Gus always talked about old times, the time on the farm, the way life had changed. How some of his most lucrative deals had been done with nothing more than a handshake. That’s all that was needed in those days.

Then Gus began to weep as we talked of the passing of our friend. I asked if he was okay and after he gained his composure he said, “All my friends are gone. I just want to go home.” I knew right away that home wasn’t the few blocks to the comfortable bungalow he and his bride had retired to. Home was to see his Jesus. It was at that point that I realized that home is where your family is, home is where your loved ones are and you feel completely accepted. Home is where Jesus is.

Three years later I heard that the Pearly Gates had swung wide open for Gus. He was home at last. Each of us long to live to be old, but as we grow older our bodies fail, our mind doesn’t work the way we’d like, those we love go on before us. But on the other side, when we go through those gates to see Jesus we’ll be transformed, made new. The physical and emotional pain we are going through now is nothing compared to the glory we’ll share when we enter “The Pearly Gates.”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. We continue to struggle with life on this side. Thank you for the hope we have of a better life after this. Empower me to live fully for you here in anxious anticipation for lies ahead. Amen.


From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NCV)

When Jesus walked on earth he didn’t see men or women, he saw his very own creations. He showed everyone his unconditional love. He invited all to be healed, to be filled, to have their wounds anointed with the healing oil of his touch.

When Jesus walked among us he was, no doubt, uncomfortable with our sin. He, and only he, had the unique ability to look at our sin as God does, yet fully understand the frustration of living as God wanted us to live.

When Jesus walked the dusty roads ofPalestinehe was tempted. Tempted just like you and I. Tempted to worry. Tempted to be full of lust. Tempted to be angry or offended. Tempted to have the respect and status he deserved. We may not like the thought of it, but Jesus may even have looked at a young couple in love and wished he could have that. Remember. He was human as well as God.

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to see others as Jesus saw them. One of the hard truths of Scripture! To see others as Jesus did? To look past how they have hurt you? To look beyond how they have desecrated the faith you hold so dear? To turn the other cheek when they offend you. To work towards restoration when you would prefer revenge.

In essence, Jesus calls us to look at people as he did. Jesus sees Jesus sees people who are one breath away from eternity with him or one breath away from eternity separated from him. One breath away from eternal bliss and contentment or one breath away from eternal torment and anguish. One breath from being perfected in Christ or one breath away from being rejected by Christ.

There are really only two kinds of people in the world. Those we need to pray for so they will find Christ, and those we need to pray for that they will continue to grow in their faith.

The world judges according to gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, status, race, beauty, wealth and a whole list of other requirements. Jesus uses two, those that know him and those that don’t. Both groups are one breath away from eternity.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus forgive me for judging others as the world does. Give me your eyes to see others as you do. Give me the urgency to pray for those who need you as lord and savior. Empower me to show them the way.


Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Daniel 12:2 (NLT)

On a lonely hill just outside of town stand three crosses. As the sky grew dark a crowd gathered. Some gathered in disgust. The Roman form of execution was too painful, too degrading, to harsh.

Others gathered in mockery. They threw profanity at the trio. It was about time they got what they deserved. The world would be a better place if more criminals were treated this way. Great deterrent, that death penalty.

Some gathered in curiosity-A sort of Bible time gawkers. They had no opinion either way on crucifixion or the trio hanging naked as the darkness descended.

A few gathered in somber silence. Right or wrong, good or bad, these were their friends, their siblings, their children. The crowd gathered at the middle cross seemed somewhat larger, more emotional. In fact, it seems the form hanging in the middle was drawing most of the attention that day. Rumor has it that he was completely innocent of the trumped up charges the Jews leveled against him.

One of the trio began to mock this counterpart in the middle. Even in his dying moments he remained arrogant, loud and angry. Ignoring his own guilt he yelled obscenities at this stranger in the middle.

The other person hung silent for a moment. Watching. Listening. Replaying the episodes of his life that brought him to this point. Finally, he spoke. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” The figure in the middle raised his head and looked with compassion at him. Painstakingly he spoke, “Today you will be with me…” and grace was born.

How could a God of love allow Jesus, the man in the middle to die such a horrific death for crimes he didn’t commit? Rewind the story a few thousand years. A man and woman listen to the deceptive words of Satan. Their decision to disobey God destroyed the balance of divine nature as well as a relationship with the Creator God.

Hell was never created for men and women. Hell was never created for innocent children of abuse, catastrophe or illness. Hell was created as the home for Satan and all his demonic followers. But the sin of Adam and Eve made it impossible for mankind to enter heaven. A sacrifice had to be made and that sacrifice was made complete when Jesus died and rose again.

Our Heavenly Father has no choice when it comes to dealing with sin. He can’t, by his own nature overlook anything that isn’t perfect. God is fair and just. Grace is neither.

What can be fair about a prisoner going to heaven because his last words were begging forgiveness? What can be fair about someone struggling with addictions and constantly receiving forgiveness for the same sin, over and over again? Nothing. It’s not fair. But it wasn’t fair that Jesus died for me either. There was nothing I could do to deserve forgiveness, yet he forgave me anyway. That’s grace.

God would give everything he has to keep you from living eternity in the shame and disgrace of hell. In fact, he already did that day on the cross.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father I thank and praise you for the reminder that I am completely and freely forgiven of my sin because of Jesus. I deserve nothing that you’ve given me and yet you did it all so lovingly. Empower me to live for you and to show others the way to life in eternity with you. In Jesus name, Amen.


Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

A few years ago we were fortunate enough to be able to visit Disney World inOrlando,Florida. We’d never been there before but it was always a dream of ours. Once we got there our dreams came true in ways that seemed bigger than life. It was just like in the pictures we’d seen.

Sometimes, I wonder what heaven will be like. We get pictures, word pictures that is, from the Bible but they are nothing like the pictures of Disney World because no one has ever been there, taken pictures and posted them.

Heaven is an intriguing yet scary place because we’ve never seen it. But there is one thing I know about Heaven that makes it all seem worthwhile to go to, a place where I can look forward to my arrival. I’ll see family members that have died before me. I’ll meet Bible heroes in real life. I know I won’t be sick anymore. I’ll never get tired, never get hungry.

But the thing I look forward to the most when I get to heaven is that I’m going to get to meet Jesus. Even more incredible than that is the fact that when I see him I’ll be looking in a mirror! I’ll look just like Jesus!

So what will I look like? Not sure of course, but here’s some ideas.

  • I know I’ll have compassion on everyone. I’ll know that because here on earth Jesus never looked the other way when someone was in need.
  • I know I won’t have to worry about sin because I’ll be able to implement, in heaven, what I could never do here on earth, resist sin. Oh, I have the power to resist today. But I also have this nasty human nature at war within me telling me to do things I know I shouldn’t and keeping me from doing things I know I should do. Once in heaven I’ll be free. The battle will be over, the war will be won!
  • I know that I’ll be able to take a walk with God himself! Just like Adam did. I’ll be able to have questions answered that I’ve always wanted to ask.
  • I know I won’t have to struggle with failure or rejection anymore. Those of us in heaven will see, once and for all, that sin is sin is sin is sin and God has forgiven all my sin (and yours) and there will be no favoritism or judgmental attitudes anymore. I know that because Jesus treated everyone that followed him the same way.

I don’t know what heaven will be like. I only know two things for sure. Because I have asked Jesus to forgive my sins and have claimed him as Lord of my life, I will see him and live with him for eternity.

The second thing I know is that when I see Jesus I will be transformed into his exact likeness and so we will be in perfect, passionate relationship for the rest of time.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. There are so many things I don’t understand about life here on earth, death and the life beyond. I read your word and get a glimpse of what lay ahead for me in Heaven with you and I’m scared and excited at the same time! Thank you for loving me enough to give me eternal life with you. I can’t wait to see you so that once and for all I will be like you. In your name I pray, Amen.


My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

Life has been described by some as a journey and in many ways it is. There is, however, an aspect of life which drives us to find a place to settle in, to find our niche’ in life, to find contentment, peace and fulfillment.

We look for this place in a variety of ways. For some it’s relationship. We have the need to love and be loved, and love looks different to different people. All too often relationships in and of themselves fail us. Love grows old. Our perspective on life changes. Things attack and seek to destroy relationship. When relationship dies, we find ourselves without a place in the journey.

Career is another avenue along the journey that people take to find their ‘place’ in life. Years of schooling, hours of hard work, sacrificing important things, including relationships, all for the goal of finding contentment and fulfillment in life. Times change. We grow old. But the luster of the almighty dollar becomes more of a burden than a blessing.

These are just two ways we seek to find our ‘place’ in this journey called life. You can add your own. It may be choosing friends over family, or family over friends; it may be religion and the hopes that your piety will win you some favor with your gods and man; it could be some addiction which allows you a few moments of escape from the potholes and rocks along the path; it could be community service and drowning your own pain by helping others out of theirs.

What ever it is we seek along this journey we come to the realization that Jesus was right after all. One day as he was talking with his disciples about the cost of following him he made the statement “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.

In this is a truth we each must come to grips with. Even if we are Christ-followers and walk close to our Heavenly Father. Even if our relationships with God and man are strong and filled with love, grace and mercy, there’s emptiness in our soul that longs for a place of rest.

Dear pilgrim, let me remind you, as many New Testament writers have, that we are sojourners in a foreign land. This world is not our home. The more we seek a resting place, the more we realize that in spite of the comfort of our resting places, the rest is temporary.

One day, though we will rest! We will find a place where we will finally be able to fill the gaping space in our souls. A place where we will have and be and do all that we were created to do.

Jesus says, “I’m going to prepare a place…” Not just any place. Not a one-size-fits all place. Jesus left to go and prepare a place designed just for you! I like the idea of ‘rooms’. Special places in a large home where we can enjoy our time alone, yet always be close to those we love!

PRAYER; Father God, I often lose sight of what it really means to be on a journey. So many times I’ve tried to find ‘home’ in the things of the world and been disappointed in the result. Empower me with your Spirit to live in the realization that this world is not my home. With all the good things I’ve been blessed with, I look forward to coming home to you, to a place you have prepared just for me. Thank you for loving me so much! In Jesus name, Amen.

 

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