Store Up

Jesus said:
 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

—Matthew 6:19-21

Bright Light

The people who lived in darkness have seen a bright light. A light has risen for those who live in a land overshadowed by death.

—–Matthew 4:16

The trees at my friend’s house had branches filled with green leaves.

While sitting outside and enjoying the late afternoon, I noticed that the sun had set just close enough to the horizon that its powerful light was shining almost straight on the trees.

The branches, with their green leaves, along with the bark on the trunk, did not just simply become more visible.

They began to glow with an intensely amber color.

I quickly photographed the scene before the sun was completely gone.

Theses trees were totally transformed in color because of the light.

Some of the branches were just out of the sun’s penetrating rays.

They remained green.

The tree closest to me appeared dark and untouched by the bathing yellow radiance.

When Jesus came, those who lived in darkness could now be bathed in His great light.

His light of love and salvation.

His light of forgiveness and hope.

His light of eternal life.

When He came, everything changed.

Do you know of His love?

Do you know of His forgiveness and hope?

He is waiting for you today to call out to Him in prayer.

It’s not too late…..

bright-light

I Will Give Thanks

Salvation.

Redemption.

A new life here on earth.

The gift of eternal life in Heaven.

Forgiveness.

Unfailing love.

Guidance.

Assurance.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

—Psalm 9:1

 

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The Sign of the Covenant

On this day, 11 years ago, our second son was killed in a car accident.

Some time after that, our family was returning home at night after a very emotional day of dealing with matters concerning the incident.

It had been raining, but the clouds were making way for a clear evening.
The rising moon was glowing in the eastern sky as we arrived at our house.

Something strange and unusual, however, was in the western sky.
We had never seen anything like it.
I tried to photograph the scene, but it was too dark outside.

Looking past our roof, there appeared to be a rainbow.
A rainbow in the dark!

Rushing inside, I quickly went to the computer and typed in something like, “rainbows at night.”

To my surprise, it was a phenomenon that was well documented.
We were looking at a moon bow, or by another name, a lunar rainbow.

Being quite rare, none of us had ever seen one.

As far as I know, no one in our family has seen one since.

Now, I know that rainbows have a purpose…

In the Bible, we have the account of the flood that covered the earth.
When the flood was over, God spoke:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

This account is found in Genesis 9:8-16.

I think God sent the moon bow to me and my family that night long ago.

It proclaimed God’s work of beauty in the sky in a way previously unknown to us.

At the time, I knew in my heart that this occurrence was very special.
Even now, as I think back to that evening when our hearts were hurting, I see God’s comfort in a mighty way.

Could it be that He was reminding us of a covenant He had made about our eternity?

If you have ever “lost” a child in a store or in a park, you’ve felt that sick, empty fear, wondering desperately where they were.

God promises us that whoever believes in His Son, Jesus, will live forever with Him in Heaven.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus is speaking to a woman named Martha, whose brother had just died:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When we found out that our son had died, it was like a giant door weighing tons had just been shut, separating us.

In that first instant, something deep inside my heart as his mother had to cry out silently from within, wondering desperately where he was.

The answer to that cry is found in Jesus’ words above.

Our son had professed his belief in God and in Jesus many years before his death.
I still have the worn Bible that he read from every night.

The lunar rainbow?

Was it God reminding me then— and even now as I recall it— that my son was with His Son, in Heaven?

A covenant of redemption that would not be broken for those who belong to Jesus?

Our son is in Heaven, yet I remain here.

I believe that if he could talk to me now, he would want me to tell others how they could be in Heaven someday, too.

As I think of him tonight, the memories are huge in my heart.

But, I know this:
Our son is alive in Heaven.

I will see him again…

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Prepare a Place

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.

—John 14:3

 

The water at the end of my driveway reflected the sunset and its colors like a giant glass mirror.

So perfectly was the image of the pastel hues blending with clouds in the sky, you could almost imagine just stepping into the scene and finding yourself in another world.

That sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

Another realm of life, just a footstep away.

Although it is a fascinating subject for novels and movies, most people wouldn’t quite take it seriously.

Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we do take that thought seriously.

Another realm of life, just a footstep–just a breath–just a heartbeat–away.

Jesus said that if He would go and prepare a place for us, then He would come back and take us to be where He was.

The spiritual realm is right with us, but we don’t see it with our earthly eyes.

Our faith is not in what we can touch, but what we are sure about in our hearts.

Heaven is real.

It’s not science fiction.

It’s our future home.

 

 

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The Presence of the Angels

Have you ever had a birthday party?

Chances are, when you walked into the room everyone cheered and began to sing joyfully. 

And why not?

They were celebrating your special day. 

Your friends were truly happy for you. 

If you know Jesus as your Savior, there was rejoicing in Heaven the moment you repented of your sins and asked for forgiveness. 

How do I know?

The Bible tells us in Luke 15:10 that

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Can you just imagine the scene?

Angels rejoicing. 

Angels rejoicing over you. 

Like a birthday party, they were truly happy in celebrating your special day–the day you entered God’s eternal salvation. 

God sent Jesus to the world to pay the price for our sins, purchasing a place for us in Heaven. 

Now, that’s something to rejoice about!

I Will Dwell

I went to a funeral today.

As I sat in the church listening to the pastor speak about my elderly friend, the words landed on my heart in agreement with what I already knew.

This man had lived his life for God and in service to the people around him.

A constant flow of care from God to him and from him to others, was evident.

Always encouraging, he spoke to me personally many times in appreciation of my efforts.

Speaking regularly in front of the congregation on Sundays, he would inspire those in the pews before him to gather together to help feed the needy in the community.

He gave of his own resources to equip other people as they heard God’s call to service.

As a loving husband, he cared for his ailing wife at home.

Listening to the pastor speak this morning, I learned that even as he was very ill and in the hospital, he was still showing paramount concern for other people.

The tone of the hour was reflective and loving as each person remembered their own experiences with this Christ-like gentleman.

There were tears and, at times, laughter, as his humor was recalled.

A sense of peace and joy could be felt as we sang the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”

Psalm 23 was printed in the order of service for everyone to read.

Our dear friend had lived his life in a close relationship with God.

That relationship did not end with his death; it simply continued on in a seamless passage from this earth to Heaven, where His Savior was waiting.

Knowing this brings great comfort when it is time to say goodbye…

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

–Psalm 23:6

 

surely goodness

 

 

Like an Emerald

What will Heaven be like?

I think it will be so different from anything we can imagine.

God allows us to see a glimpse of what it will be like as it is described in the book of Revelation.

We can envision an emerald rainbow glowing around the throne of God with flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder.

Can you picture in your mind what it would be like to stand in the presence of God in Heaven?

~~

 

 

 

 

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

—Revelation 4:1-6a

 

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Peoples and Languages

Walking through a quaint downtown area of a nearby city for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I came up to a store with several chairs on the sidewalk.

A black one.

A teal one.

A pink one.

A red one.

A green one.

They were all chairs, but they were all different.

Thinking about that, I am reminded of another recent experience.

I attended a church service in a large city whose members were all from a specific country other than my own.

Their language was one I could not speak.

Being prepared for visitors that were not of their background, they had an interpreter and a glass sound booth that he sat in.

I was given a little electronic box with headphones.

As the pastor was speaking in his language to the congregation, I was hearing an English translation for every sentence by the man in the booth.

So, in thinking of different chairs, I am also reminded of different people.

People who look differently than I do.

People who speak  a language that I cannot understand.

People from all different nations in the world.

God’s offer of salvation through Jesus is given to every person He has created.

It doesn’t matter what they look like or how they speak.

It doesn’t matter how old they are or their level of education.

God loves us all the same.

Jesus died for everyone.

Someday, as the book of Revelation states, there will be people from all tribes and languages standing before God.

How happy I am to know that this is true!

~

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

–Revelation 7:9-10

 

 

from all

We Are Made Right

Driving along the highway, I approached a drawbridge that was raised.

The red stop lights were on, so any car that approached had to come to a halt.

Some type of boat was surely making a safe passage under the raised bridge.

Unless the obstruction of steel and concrete could be moved, the boat would not be able to pass to the other side.

Jesus did something for us when He died on the cross.

He made it possible for the obstruction of sin to be removed.

Our sin created a barrier between us and a safe passage to Heaven when we die.

The Bible says that all have sinned.

When Jesus took on that sin for us, He then lifted the penalty for it.

With the penalty of sin taken away, there is now an open passage for those who accept Him as their Savior.

Romans 3:21-24

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.

made right

The First Foundation

The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

—Revelation 21:15-21

 

foundation

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

God never leaves us.

He truly does comfort us. 

As my family and I began driving back home from the funeral of a loved one, I decided to get my Bible and read. Looking around, I did not see it, as it was probably placed in the back of the vehicle. 

I carry a New Testament in my bag all the time, so I decided to get it out to read instead. 

Not having anything in mind particularly to read, I just opened the testament randomly. 

My eyes fell on the 14th chapter of John. 

I began to read:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

—John 14:1-3

Coincidence?

I don’t think so. 

God led me to this passage to comfort me in this time of grief. 

He understands our sadness, but He doesn’t want our hearts to be troubled. 

  

To Number

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It has been a night to speak about important matters.

I have a family member who has a terminal illness.

While speaking with him, he mentioned this quote by Winston Churchill:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

It is difficult for our loved one to communicate, but I think I understood why these words were spoken.
As a Christian, the life he has lived here is only the beginning of his eternal life.
His passing from this earth is not the end for him.
It’s not even the beginning of the end.
The Bible says,
“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
—Psalm 90:12
While some people live to be 100 years old and a little beyond while in their mortal state, we all know that the time will come for all people to die.
Understanding that our time is limited–even if we were to live to be 100–we come to the realization that our our days are numbered and they are precious.
With wisdom that can only come from God, we can choose wisely how to spend our time.
Our lives here may be long or they may be short by human standards.
Even so, when we die, it is not the end….
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No More

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Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

—Revelation 21:1-7

 

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no more

Let Not Your Hearts

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It’s hard to say goodbye.

When someone that you love has left this world, there is a pain that is unlike any other.

An empty chair at the table.

An empty bed.

A photograph of times gone by.

For those who love the Lord, the pain and grief of loved ones left behind will be replaced one day in Heaven with rejoicing as they are reunited.

Knowing this deep within our hearts is a testimony of faith and God’s Spirit within us.

Jesus said,

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled.

Believe in God;

believe also in Me.

In My Father’s house are many rooms.

If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.

And you know the way to where I am going.”

—John 14:1-4

 

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Mansions

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Jesus said,

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  (John 14:2)

I don’t know if there will be numbers on each mansion in Heaven or if there will be any identification or distinction between any of them at all.

I do know that Jesus spoke of them and of preparing a place for those who believe in Him.

If our earthly fathers were to build a new home for us, they would do so from a loving heart along with their financial capabilities.

If our earthly father owned a lucrative business and sustained a large bank account, we would rightly feel that a home built for us would reflect that wealth.

Our Heavenly Father owns the universe.

The most dazzling constellation is but a necklace in His hand.

The brightest, most colorful nebula is just one work of art in His gallery of creation.

Our new home in Heaven will convey His great love for us and the beauty and glory of His presence will forever surround us.

Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the price for my sins and offering me forgiveness and salvation. Thank you for my home in Heaven that awaits me and all those who love You.   ~Amen

 

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mansions

Name Was Not Found

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If you’ve ever tried to get a visa on your passport in order to enter a particular country, then you know it can be a complicated matter.

It’s likely that you’ll have to answer a lot of questions on a form.

Maybe more than one form, even.

Some of the questions might turn out to be pretty hard to answer.

Questions about your job.

Your parents.

Your grandparents.

Your driver’s license.

Where you were born.

The list goes on and on….

Even after you send in the information, it is always possible that your request may be denied.

You’re not allowed in.

No particular reason.

Just, “No.”

But what about getting into Heaven?

There aren’t any forms to be filled out.

Your job status doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter who your parents were.

It doesn’t matter who your grandparents were, either.

Really, it doesn’t even matter when you were born.

The only thing that matters is if you have believed in Jesus and repented of your sins, asking for forgiveness.

Look at these verses:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

—Ephesians 2:8-9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9

That leaves us with a question.

So, what if you don’t believe and repent?

It’s not a popular topic and it can certainly cause some divisive arguments.

In the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks of the book of life:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

–Revelation 20:11-15

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Not many people want to talk about the “So, what if you don’t” question.

Not many people want to talk about the passage above from Revelation.

It’s frightening.

I believe that my name is written in the book of life because I have believed in Jesus and repented of my sins.

Still, I am frightened for those who have not.

If you feel that your name would not be there, why not change that right now.

God is ready to hear your prayer.

It’s not too late…..

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book of life

A Reflection

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It had rained so much this morning and in recent days that the end of my driveway was filled with water.

While walking my dog, I noticed that the sun was coming out, finally.

As we walked toward the driveway, I noticed the sun was reflecting in the water as an intensely bright light.

Noticing how the trees nearby had taken on a surreal look as an occasional leaf or bubble floated on the surface, I decided to photograph the watery canvas.

Paul relates in his letter to the people of Corinth in the New Testament that our understanding is limited on this side of eternity:

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.

—1 Corinthians 13:12

When we see a reflection, I think it is only natural for our eyes to then move to that which has been reflected.

We want to see the “real thing.”

There will be a day for those who believe in Jesus, when we will know fully and be fully known.

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reflection

For the Lord Himself Will Come Down

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Sunday afternoon, the train cars were parked, awaiting their next journey as they sat quiet and still along the rails.

Something about trains makes me want to photograph them almost every time I see them.

Maybe it’s the thought of travel and moving on to a different place that intrigues me.

For a believer in Jesus, there is always the faith that a different place awaits us in Heaven.

Many songs about our eternal home have been written using a train as a metaphor regarding our way of passage.

One that I have been familiar with for a long time is, “This Train.”

This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory,
Don’t ride nothin’ but the righteous and holy
This train is bound for glory, this train.

Another song is “The Gospel Train.”

The gospel train is coming,
I hear it just at hand,
I hear the car wheels moving,
And rumbling thro’ the land.

Get on board, children,
Get on board, children,
Get on board, children,
For there’s room for many a more.

Still another is “The Warning.”

The Gospel train’s at hand,

Be in time, be in time!

The Gospel train’s at hand,

Be in time,

Behold your station there, JESUS has paid your fare; Let’s all engage in prayer:

Be in time, be in time!

Let’s all engage in prayer:

Be in time!

The lyrics to “The Gospel Railroad” encourage others toward salvation:

Come, sinner! join the Gospel-train
Would you the Holy City gain;
That you the journey may begin—
The train is waiting—O step in!

The lyrics of all these songs point to one, very important thing:

There is just one passage to Heaven.

That passage is through Jesus; He is our “train.”

We can hear Him in our land right now.

Only those who have believed in Him for salvation may go with Him.

He has paid the fare for any sinner to come and there is room for every person that wants to go.

Here’s the big question:

Are YOU on board?

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For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

—1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

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