September 25 – Heaven FAQ’s – Will Heaven be boring?

Read Revelation 22:1-25

Are you like me?  Do you read things in the Bible and wonder what is ________ (fill in the blank) really like?  Through the Scriptures, God reveals Himself to man and we are told everything we need to know but just not EVERYTHING.  I remember when I was a young boy always asking my mother, “How has God always existed?”.  Or, “What do angels look like?”  Or, “What is Heaven like?  What will we do there?  Will it be boring?”

Well, we do know that God created mankind in His likeness to worship Him and to honor Him.  And the Word does indeed tell us that we will worship the Lord with all of the saints.  Can you imagine being part of a gathering of all the saints who have gone before you and worshiping alongside them?  Jonathan Edwards said “to go to Heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here”.

I can’t tell you if you will get to go fishing with your uncle in Heaven, or play 18 holes with Arnold Palmer at the real Amen Corner.  But I can tell you this: you will be in the presence of Jesus!

As believers, it is our goal and the prize that we long for to see our risen Lord and Savior face to face and to bow down before Him in heaven.  Just pause for a moment and try to envision that! To see the wounds from the nails and the scars from the beating He bore for my sins! Wow!

Let me ask you this.  If you got to Heaven and all that was there was Jesus, would you still want to go?  I can’t tell you if there will be Hobby Lobby in heaven to decorate your heavenly apartment.  Or will it be a home I don’t know?  I can’t answer for you if the Bethlehem Braves will be facing the Jerusalem Giants in a heavenly game of baseball.  But I do know that Jesus is there!

My Lord and Savior is there and He is all I desire.

Scripture also tells us that Heaven is the dwelling place of God. His throne is there, the angels are there, and the Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven. Philippians 3:20 says very plainly that “our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s why Jesus told the thief on the Cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

We will be able to freely worship the Lord and celebrate His great victory over sin.  There will be nothing to distract our worship.  You will be able to give all of your attention to the Lord and serve Him without tiring.

Being in the presence of Jesus, with all who have gone before us, and fellowshipping and worshiping without fear or exhaustion sounds pretty amazing to me.  I think the one thing we never will need to worry about is being bored.

Nate Mills

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September 24 – Heaven FAQ’s – New Heaven and New Earth

Read Revelation 22:1-21

Have you noticed the dewdrops sparkling on the grass each morning as the hot summer mornings turn cooler? I notice them out my kitchen window as I make my hot cup of coffee and watch the sunrise. It’s a sure telltale sign that the end of summer is here. I look forward to the cool evenings and campfires after the long hot days of summer (I love those too!). This season is one of my favorite times of year. I love the crisp cool air, football games, the Wayne County Fair and getting my favorite sweatshirts out of storage. I long for each season change and this one is no different.

Do you have things that you crave? Maybe it’s not the expectation of the fall or the things that come with it…but what about full days spent with family and close friends? Or Friday night movie nights with buttery popcorn on the couch? Maybe you’re the person that craves a wild adventure, always making plans to go, do and see? We all have things that we crave.

Revelation 22 is an incredible chapter describing something worth longing for…the New Heavens and New Earth, where the Lord restores the earth as He promised. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the earth became cursed and throughout Scripture, we are reminded that God intends to renew all things and will create a New Heaven and a New Earth (Matt 19:28, Isaiah 65:17). This chapter in Revelation is describing the future home of the believer in this New Heaven and New Earth. A brand new universe that God promises to remake after the final judgment, where there is no more sin.

John describes the crystal clear River of Life flowing from the Throne of God, The Tree of Life finally restored for man to return to and enjoy, and the trees bearing fruit every month, a beautifully restored world. I’m reminded that in this final New Heaven and New Earth, this future home for the believer, we won’t be craving and desiring the things of this earth anymore, but rather living fully satisfied in the presence of our Creator, who is making all things new.

The New Heaven and New Earth is coming, which means the final judgment is also coming. It is not wrong to crave the restoration of all things, but we must remember that God is at work right now, even in our broken world. And we have limited time to share the hope we’ve found in Christ with others so they too can experience the beauty of an eternity spent with God.

I’m reminded of Paul speaking about heaven in Philippians 1. He had just described to the church in Philippi that for him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” but then proceeds to tell them, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23-24).  Have you ever longed for heaven like Paul does here? Do you crave heaven like you crave the things of this world?

Life on earth is full of disappointments and heartache, and God will restore it one day after the final judgement. Until then, we must leverage our life for the sake of others hearing and receiving the hope and power found in Christ alone, so that they too can one day enjoy the New Heaven and New Earth. Who are you sharing Jesus with today so that they have the chance to spend eternity in this glorious place?

 Rachel Snyder

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September 23 – Heaven FAQ’s – Who else will be in Heaven?

Read Revelation 4:1-5:14

The book of Revelation describes how Jesus appeared to John on the island of Patmos, it outlines letters to seven first-century churches, and it describes events yet to come.

Much like the future rapture experience of followers of Jesus, John was called to heaven in chapter 4. His description of what he experienced offers us insight into the nature of heaven. Today’s reading, particularly, gives us a better grasp of who we can expect to find there. So, who else will be in heaven?

First and foremost, John points to God (5:1-3)! He is described here as sovereign ruler seated on a throne. His glory is displayed in terms of precious stones and a rainbow. He is the one who will be worshiped eternally by redeemed humans and angels!

Next, John describes 24 elders (4:4, 5, 10, 11; 5:8-10). Many believe these elders to be illustrative of the 12 tribes of Israel from the Old Testament and the 12 apostles from the New Testament. These leaders will have prominent positions in heaven. But, ultimately, they will worship the Father and the Son!

John also mentions four living creatures (4:6-8; 5:8-11). These are likely unique angelic beings whose role it is to endlessly extol the holiness of God. They too will worship Father and Son!

But among those highly esteemed and redeemed men and women, and including these angelic beings, no one is worthy to open an important scroll. Thankfully, Jesus is also in Heaven (5:5-7)! Through Him, Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled and sacrifice was made for the redemption of humankind. He is worthy of worship!

Once Jesus took the scroll, the elders and creatures broke into a song that points to people from every tribe and language and people and nation (5:9, 10). The result of believers’ Spirit-empowered response to the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations will be evidenced in eternity as individuals from all over the world join in worship of the Lamb (7:9, 10).

Finally, John describes innumerable angels (5:11, 12). They number “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (5:11). They, too will join in worship of the Lamb!

So, if you are a Christ-follower, you will not be alone in heaven! Righteous angelic beings will be there. Others from the nations will join you. But other people will only come by invitation. Boldly and compassionately invite others to join you so that, collectively, you can adore the crucified Christ!

Steve Kern

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September 22 – Heaven FAQ’s – Will we know and interact with others?

Read Luke 9:29-33

This pandemic has really thrown a wrench into facial recognition. My phone won’t open when I’m wearing mask. How annoying.

But failure to not recognize a face isn’t just annoying; facial recognition is something God designed as part of being human. Recognizing a face is one of those things we take for granted. It really is a wonderful thing. When a friend passes you driving and you wave – friendship. When your spouse is arriving home at the airport – at last, there they are! When you lay eyes on your newborn – love.

So will we recognize each other when we get to Heaven? Will we spot the ones we love who have trusted in Jesus and found a home in Heaven? Or will facial recognition fail us? Will Heaven be a relational reset?

When we picture Heaven, we easily imagine a celestial city. But scripture says that Heaven is rather a new earth (Revelation 21:1, 4). If that’s the case, then I imagine Eden, but with humans on the other side of their mistakes, forgiven and redeemed. They’re still imbued with that signature touch of God and made in His image.

But enough philosophizing. What clues does scripture give us? Well, there’s Luke 9:29-33:

“As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)”

First of all, Moses and Elijah seem to recognize 1. Each other; and 2. Jesus. It doesn’t appear like they took times for introductions before chatting. And second, Peter, James and John, who like all good Jewish men revered Moses and Elijah, knew who they were seeing hang out with their master.

That’s a great clue. But I guess what convinces me most is who I know Jesus to be. Have you ever known God to disguise or hide good things from people He loves? Isn’t He in the business of opening our eyes so we may see? (2 Kings 6:17) Wasn’t Jesus awakening people’s awareness to Him and helping them recognize His goodness?

At this point in my dad’s life, he can’t recognize my face. He furrows his brow as he concentrates on my eyes, but nothing clicks. I look forward to the day Heaven’s breath fills his lungs; when he suddenly sees and recognizes his Savior, who, by the way, he’s never seen before. And I know he’ll spot the son my wife and I never got a chance to hold. For some reasons, I think the two of them will recognize each other.

Ben Framstad

 

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September 21 – Heaven FAQ’s – Will I eat and drink in Heaven?

Read Revelation 19:1-10 & Luke 22:14-23

I’ve been called many things in my life. Some of them, I’m not too proud of. However, when I was little, people called me the human garbage disposal. As is the case with many younger boys, I had quite the appetite. Legitimately, people would invite me over to their house to clean out their fridge. My metabolism was insane as I never went over 200 pounds until after I graduated high school. I was always the tall and skinny guy…not so much anymore.

I have always had a loving relationship with food for as long as I can remember. To this day even, my brother and I, if we know we are going to be eating at mom and dad’s that night, will text mom asking what’s on the menu so we can be excited for it…sometimes the day before. This is also exemplified by the Lawson family’s love for popcorn. We’ve toned down a little bit but there was a time where we would fill a mixing bowl with popcorn, which would be for one person, which would be consumed with minimal effort.

A question that many people have is if there is going to be eating in Heaven. As a “foodie” I can agree that that is a good question! To answer it, I want to draw you to the 19th chapter of Revelation. In the first 8 verses of our reading, you are given the context of what is called the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. This is a meal that will take place in Heaven including all believers in Christ for all of time. I’m not going to do it justice so I would encourage you all to read the first 8 verses and try to visualize just how incredible a scene that will be!

What I want to draw your attention to are 4 words in verse 9:

“…those who are invited…”

As mentioned previously, this is a celebration for those who have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Those who die apart from Christ will not be at the table, instead they will be experiencing eternal torment in Hell.

Those 4 words should shake us to our core. Who do you know that, if they were to die today, wouldn’t be invited to this meal? Who do you know that believes in God but doesn’t yet have a personal relationship with Him? Who do you know who is still living in their sin?

This is a meal they can’t afford to not be at.

Imagine what it would be like getting to Heaven and seeing a familiar face in line. It’s with tears in their eyes that they say, “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.” You could be the last time they hear the gospel in their lifetime.

Who do you know that needs to secure an invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

Jake Lawson

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September 20 – Heaven FAQ’s – What will happen to my body?

Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

We’ve all done it at one time or another…maybe even every day. We’ve all stood in front of a mirror and noticed everything that seems wrong, off, or imperfect about our bodies. Perhaps it’s the size or shape of a facial feature. Perhaps it’s a mole or something about your hair. Or maybe it’s a nasty scar that will never go away; an ugly reminder of a painful injury from the past.

When Scripture talks about our resurrected, eternal bodies in 1 Cor. 15, we see words like “glory”, “imperishable”, “power”, and “spiritual”. Those probably aren’t words that come to mind when you’re standing in front of that mirror. It would be easy to assume that when God resurrects our bodies, that he would just do away with all of those imperfections that we see. In fact, it would probably just be better if he just ditched this body altogether and replaced it with something that resembled the body of a superhero! Surely a resurrection body looks more like Superman than what I see in the mirror.

The problem is, that’s not how God looks at us or our bodies at all! In fact, God values the body you see when you stand in front of that mirror! It’s important to Him because He made it! 1 Corinthians 15 gives us clues into what our resurrection body will be like. Verse 21 refers to Christ as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”. Then verse 49 says “so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” The resurrections that happen after Jesus will be similar to his own. His resurrection is the blueprint for all future resurrections and his resurrected body is the perfect prototype! Here’s what we know for sure about Christ’s resurrected body:

  1. It was HIS actual, physical body (Matt 28:1-15)
  2. He was recognizable (John 20:20)
  3. He ate and drank (Luke 24:30-33)
  4. He had SCARS! (John 20:25-29)

When Jesus conquered death in glory, he took his body with him! The tomb was empty! He appeared to his disciples in the flesh, scars and all! For Jesus, glorification didn’t mean trading his body for Superman’s! It was still his body (every last particle) but it was immortal, powerful, and completely holy! All of the particles that make up your body matter to God too! Guess what? In heaven you’ll probably still have those “imperfections” you see in the mirror now, but you won’t be disappointed at all. You’ll finally see what God sees now—his child who he loves with his whole heart…for all eternity!

Ps – I’ve always thought that I should be cremated when I die. I want my ashes scattered far and wide so that when Jesus resurrects my “body”, all of the particles will fly through the air every which way and come together in the sky!

Particles matter!

Matt Carter

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September 19 – Heaven FAQ’s – What will life be like for those who don’t go to heaven?

Read Luke 16:19-31 and Mark 9:42-49

I don’t remember a lot of firsts in my life like learning to read, walk, sing, ride a bike or swim.  To me, I have always been able to do those things. Likewise, I don’t remember not being able to talk to God. I’ve prayed for friends who were hurting or for God to give me strength to get through tough times since I was little. As a young child, I remember talking to God many times while riding my bike up and down a side street in our neighborhood.

Through the years, our conversations have gotten more complex, along with my professional, financial and parental worries.

Talking to Him and feeling His presence with me has always brought me comfort and assurance that, no matter what, He would be right beside me.

Sometimes He would ask me to do things. Sometimes I would question the reason or my abilities, but He always came through and equipped me for whatever I needed to complete the task.

One time, however, was different.  I can’t remember what it was that God was urging me to do, but I do remember I was not eager to do it.  Everywhere I turned He was reminding me of the task I did not want to do.  If I turned on the TV, there it was.  If I read a book, it would appear in the text.  If I was talking to a friend, there it was again. I felt like I was in a bad Jim Carrey movie!

As I was driving to work one day, I turned on the radio and there it was again!  I had had it! And without thinking I shouted, “God, just leave me alone!” Just that fast I shouted, ” NO!”  Because right there on Oak Hill Road in Wooster, Ohio all alone in my car, I truly believe that God gave me a glimpse of what it would be like totally without God!

Oh, there weren’t any little men running around with pitch forks and with horns on their heads.  I didn’t stick around long enough to feel the fire, but it was real!

It was just a total absence of God, and I couldn’t stand it for even a millisecond!   There was total emptiness, total despair, total isolation rolled all into one.

How sad it is for people around us who don’t know God, who feel that emptiness, despair, and isolation every day here on Earth.  Their financial condition has nothing to do with their “Heart for God” condition. I know some very financially poor people who are millionaires spiritually!

All the money in the world can’t buy you a ticket into heaven and spare you from hell’s fire.  Like with the rich man in the passage, once you die, it is too late to change courses.

It is up to us to introduce people we meet to our God and His Son Jesus before it is too late!

Hell is more than a cuss word.  It is a real place and you definitely don’t want to live there eternally!

Pat Arnold

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September 18 – Heaven FAQ’s – When does a person go to heaven?

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10

On a Friday afternoon, in Granny’s kitchen in St. Charles, Missouri, Kelly and I were trying to get some lunch into Mattie before we put him down for a nap. Despite the semi hectic back and forth to and from the hospital, as any parent will tell you, naps for a toddler are vitally important. Our whole family made the trek to my parents’ hometown because Grandma’s health had been deteriorating over the past several months. We were praying this wasn’t the end but, as our visit continued, we knew that it wasn’t an “if” question but a “when”.

Our family had talked many a time of the hope that we have in Jesus. Earthly pain is temporary where eternity with Christ is forever for those who place their faith in Him. All of us knew that Grandma would soon be promoted to Heaven and we found ourselves trying to come to grips with saying goodbye to a staple in the Lawson family tree.

On that Friday afternoon, Kelly was trying to convince Mattie to clean up his plate when I got a call from Mom. Thinking nothing of it, I answered normally:

“Hey, Mama.”

“You know I love you, right?”

My whole demeanor changed.

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Your grandma is with Jesus.”

I hopped in the car and drove over to the hospital where I met the rest of our family. Tears were flowing as we came to grips with reality:  Grandma was with Jesus.

Our reading in 2 Corinthians today answers the question of, “When do I actually go to Heaven?” Dad made a point of telling those who were in the room when Grandma passed that they were on holy ground. The moment she breathed her last, angels came and ushered Grandma into eternity. Part of the pain was eased because we all knew she was hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” right about then.

What a holy moment.

Paul describes two realities in this reading for those who have a relationship with Christ: at home with the body or away from it with the Lord. According to Scripture, when we are absent from the body, we are at home in Heaven with Jesus. I love how Paul talks about the earthly vs eternal. There are other passages like 1 Corinthians 15 that describe the relationship there is between the physical and the eternal.

Allow this to be a challenge to you all: where do you stand with Christ? Have you believed in Him for the forgiveness of your sins? Do you have that personal and intimate relationship with Him? Just knowing about Him won’t save you;  have you repented of your sin and chosen to follow God’s plan for your life? This isn’t something you can take care of right before you die. When you breath your last, you are immediately confronted with eternity.

Where will you spend it?

Jake Lawson

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September 17 – Heaven FAQ’s – Of what importance are the things I do on earth?

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Fires capture our attention!  Ever since I was a little kid, I have been mesmerized by the way the flames dance and do their work.  Growing up as a farm kid, we were always burning something and I was intrigued by what I would find in the ashes the next day… nails, a bottle, maybe some wire.  It made me wonder why certain things burned up and others made it through the flames. This puzzle caused me to throw more things into a fire to see what happens (note to my 9-year-old self – don’t place that aerosol can in the burning barrel on laundry day… it was amazing how far the ashes were strewn onto the white bed sheets drying on the line when the can exploded…. sorry, mom).

Paul uses the idea of fire as he teaches about the bema seat judgement – the judgement reserved for believers after this life is over. This judgement is referred to as the bema seat because of Paul’s reference in passages like 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 when he likened our work in this life to the Greek games where the winner was taken to a platform (called the bema) and received the prize for his accomplishments in the games.

It is important to understand that the bema seat judgement is not about our salvation.  We read in 1 Cor 3:15 that the builder whose work is destroyed will suffer loss but yet will be saved only as one escaping through the flames.  Paul is saying this person won’t have any reward from this judgement but by God’s grace will spend eternity with Jesus.

So how does this judgement work? As we read in 1 Cor 3:12-15, our work will be tested by fire and whatever good we have done will not only pass the test but bring about a reward.  I love how Paul uses the 6 building materials to illustrate our work… ranging from gold to straw.  We know how these materials fare when placed in a fire… the first three come out unscathed, the last trio not so much.  In the same way, our works in this life undergo God’s scrutiny.  Some of our labor will be rewarded while others won’t pass the test.  So often I think I am doing something amazing for God only to realize my motives were not stellar as I wanted people to see what I did… poof, just like a handful of straw thrown into a campfire. Other times, with pure motives I used the gifts God gave me, stepped out in faith and obeyed… that’s silver and gold!  This picture makes us think about what we do and our motivations that drive us as we serve.  Let’s use our gifting to make a difference in the world around us today… and, if given the chance, be very careful what you throw into the burning barrel on laundry day.

Randy Moomaw

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September 16 – Heaven FAQ’s – Can I be confident that I’m going to heaven?

Read 1 John 5:10-14

Over the last four years, I have had the unique privilege and opportunity to lead a high school men’s Grace Group. My co-leader and I have been with these guys since they were freshmen and here we are in the fall of their senior year. Helping shepherd these young men as they develop and make their faith their own is an experience I will not soon forget, and frankly, will always cherish. One of my favorite things about our group of guys is their curiosity about Jesus and their high-level thinking about their faith. I find myself challenged after each Sunday night gathering to be a better man, leader, and follower of Jesus so I can be ready to field their questions the next time we meet.

A question that undoubtedly arises each year is one we all at some point or another have considered, or may even ponder regularly.

“How can I be certain I am going to heaven?”

The question for most folks who have been around church for any length of time might seem obvious “by trusting in Jesus.” At face value, this response might seem oversimplified and leave the questioner with more questions than answers. “How do I know if I truly trust Jesus?” “How do I know if I trust Him enough to get into heaven?” “So Taylor, if I trust in Jesus now, does that mean I don’t have to do anything to get into heaven?” These are all common (and fair) followup questions I would get from our guys after giving my initial response.

John gives us a great word in our reading today that speaks directly to these issues. Assurance in heaven is simple. It’s a black and white issue that all too often people try to complicate. While the response “trust in Jesus” might seem oversimplified, candidly, it is not. When John was writing 1 John, he was writing to the church at a time when there were false prophets trying to complicate, water down, and even pick away at the credibility of Jesus and the gospel message. There were literally theological attacks on all fronts. Sound familiar? I have an affinity for this book because John tries to reaffirm the key principles of faith in Jesus in a short, concise, and loving way.

His message in the final pages of this letter to the church is clear. Do not over complicate the matter. Jesus came for you. He came to eliminate all the entry requirements that existed in the old Jewish law. He came to bear your burden, your sin, your failures before God because He loves you. He wants to spend an eternity with you. All you have to do is make one simple choice. Choosing to love Jesus, trust Him, and follow Him with your life is your confidence that one day you will meet our King of Glory in heaven. I know it sounds simple. But that’s the point. Jesus took on the complications so we did not have to. My friends- this is the gospel.

This is what love does.

Have you trusted Jesus with your life? If the answer is yes, brother or sister, I’ll look forward to seeing you in heaven. If the answer is no, and you want to make this life-changing decision today, send me an email (tbennington@live.com). I want to pray with you and celebrate your faith in Jesus.

Taylor Bennington

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