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Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who do not obey the Son will never have life. God’s anger stays on them.” John 3:36 (NCV)

“Ah, this is living.”

What would it take for you to say this? No bills? Lounging on the beach in Hawaii with no schedule, no responsibility and no sign of it coming to an end? Perhaps having a perfect spouse, three children in Medical School and a clean bill of health for you?

When we think of living, our first thoughts often turn to personal comfort and a bright prospectus for tomorrow. We all know people or have heard of people who have worked their entire lives preparing for retirement only to have something devastating happen to them just before or after they retire.

During the great depression hundreds of people jumped from buildings and bridges when the realized they’d ‘lost everything’. The real tragedy was in the lives of the women whose husbands didn’t come home or the children whose Daddies would never tuck them in again. Little boys were without their favorite person to play catch or shoot hoops. Little girls would never have ‘daddy’ to walk them down the aisle.

Jesus says (my paraphrase), “If you put your relationship with me in first place you will not only have the strength to make it through the battles of life here on earth, you will find that true living comes after you die! If on the other hand you put the things of earth (money, toys & pleasure) in first place, you will never experience life as I intended for you.”

Pursue the important things of life. The most important things in your life won’t show up in your checkbook, your garage or your family room. The will be etched on the very tablet of your heart. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve failed. It’s not important what you think you’ve lost here on earth. The important things like your faith in Christ and the power of his Spirit in your life are things no one can take from you.

Keeping your focus on what Christ has done for you makes all the other things less important. With Him as your guide, no matter what you are going through, you will be able to say that because of Jesus love, grace and forgiveness, “This is living!”

PRAYER: Jesus I confess to you that too much of my life is spent trying to make things work here on earth. I’ve neglected the important things like family, and most importantly my relationship with you. Empower me with your Spirit to build on the important things. I know in my heart that true living comes after I die. In your 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.

We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again. So, because of him, God will raise with Jesus those who have died. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NCV)

“It’s not so important what you believe. The important thing is that you believe something.” Ever heard someone say something similar to that? To think that belief is more important than the validity of the object believed in is ludicrous at best and dangerous in most cases.

I could say I believe I can fly. I could believe is with all my heart. But one jump from the roof will prove me dreadfully wrong. I don’t need to go to that extreme. I know from what I’ve heard and learned and seen in life that jumping from the roof will bring me quickly to the ground and  may cause injury or even death. My decision NOT to jump off the roof is based on quantifiable fact.

Faith works in me the same way. There are many religions that speak of some sort of life after death. Many systems of belief encourage morality and philanthropy. But the question that has to be asked of each of these belief systems is, “Where’s the proof? What evidence can you provide that insures I will live forever?” When it really comes down to it, that’s what each of us wants. In life we’d like money and health and vibrant, passionate relationships. But what happens after life can haunt us. It’s not knowing what happens after we die that puts the fear of death in the number one place of terror in our hearts.

That’s what sets us apart as Christ-followers. Jesus rose from the dead. There is a plethora of evidence, scientific and historic, that proves that point. Jesus is the only religious leader that not only stated he would rise from the dead, but actually did it. Not only did he say he would rise from the dead, he promised us that some day he would return for us.

If Jesus did what he said he would do by rising from the dead, we can be assured that his other promises will come true as well. Promises to always be with us. Promises to forgive us, show mercy to us and love us. Most of all, the promise that he will return one day and bring us to himself. We will rise again! How do we know? First of all our leader, Jesus Christ, did. Secondly, he told us we would rise from the dead. If it was true of him, it will be true of us. We will live forever. Death will have no victory over us because Jesus defeated death once and for all.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Thank you for offering me forgiveness for my sin. Thank you for fulfilling every promise you have ever made to me. Thank you for rising from the dead so that I can be assured I will live forever. In you I put my trust because no one else can do for me what you do. In your name I pray, Amen.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:28-29

Have you ever been in a large room with a large group of people? There are conversations going on all around you. Some are a little louder than others. Some are laughing, some engaged in serious conversation.

Suddenly, in the midst of all the noise you hear the voice of your loved one. Not calling you necessarily. Their voice doesn’t even have to be louder than the others. You hear it because it’s a voice of distinction. It’s a voice you know because you love that person. You’ve talked with that person during intimate times and while discussing the mundane things of life. You respond because you have a love relationship with the owner of that voice.

Someday, and perhaps soon, Jesus will return to earth. He’ll come to gather up those who recognize his voice. He’ll call them from the grave that has held them. With one word they will come forth because they will recognize the voice of the one whom they love.

These are the ones who have walked with Jesus during the tough times of life. They’ve followed his ways when the world screamed at them to follow them. They have struggled. Some have fallen, often. But every time they failed they would return to him for forgiveness and then try again to change their ways. Some were victorious in areas of their lives. Some struggled from the day of their birth to the time their earthly bodies could no longer hold them. Regardless of the struggles, they respond because they know his voice as the one they love. This was the voice of one in whom they built a relationship.

Sadly, there will be others who will come forth. These are the ones who heard the voice once or twice but never responded. They chose the way of the world rather than the way of God. They worked hard to make sure that they enjoyed all the ‘good things of life’. They may have followed religion. They may have been spiritual. But they never responded to the call of Jesus to come to him for forgiveness.

They will respond to his voice now. They won’t respond because they recognize him. They will respond because Jesus is Lord of all. He is Lord over those who have responded to him in life. He is Lord over those who have rejected him in life but will come forth in death.

Those who have built a relationship with Jesus in life will be called forth to join him for eternity. Those who have not built a relationship with him in life will be sent into eternity without him,

Today, Jesus is calling you. He’s calling you to enter into a relationship with him. He’s calling you to receive the forgiveness and mercy and grace that comes freely because of his death and resurrection. He’s asking you to let him enter into your life. Someday, and someday soon He’ll call you again. This time, He won’t call you and ask to invite him into your life, He’ll call you to enter into his home. A home that will last for eternity. A home that is free of sin and sorrow and sickness and death.

Will you answer his voice today? Will you accept his invitation now to join in relationship with him based on forgiveness and mercy and grace? Let him live with you now so you can live with him in eternity.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’ve heard your voice on occasion. I’ve heard about you. I’ve even attended places that teach about you and I’ve sung your songs. But I’ve never asked you to forgive me of my sin. I’ve never chosen to follow you in obedience built on relationship and love. I’m asking you now. Forgive me of my sin. Enter into my life now so I can spend eternity with you. In your name I pray. Amen.

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