< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review of “Seven Secrets to Power Praying”

I just finished reading the book “Seven Secrets to Power Praying” by Jane Glenchur and am quite pumped up to deepen my prayer life and include God in even the smallest decisions in my life.

The author strongly believes God still speaks to us today: through scripture, an inner voice, other people and dreams and visions. And that He wants us to come to Him with all of our anxieties, all of our worries and all of our concerns. She gives us practical advice to see if what we are hearing really is from God or not and seven secrets (practical steps) to access God’s wisdom for personalized answers to our prayer. And she gives many examples from her own life of answered prayer, some of which will amaze the reader!

This is a very inspiring book about how to know God, how to hear God, how to be in His will and how to talk to Him. It’s an excellent reference piece for your Christian library.

Note* I was given a copy of the book by Chosen Books to review honestly.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Whole Earth Longs for Heaven

The more you know about heaven the more you will long for it.

Psalm 84:1-2 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

We hurt because we live in a fallen world. Natural disasters happen because we live in a fallen world. Wars happen because we live in a fallen world. The selfish appetites today are no different then Eve’s. She was willing to disobey God for what she wanted.

Romans 8:22-23 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

The whole earth is hurting and waiting. So are we, but we first fruits (people who are born again) are adopted into Christ’s family. The adoption will be fully realized when we get to heaven.

When our hearts are firmly rooted in heaven we can get through life’s pain because our perspectives are right. We also need to understand that pain and sorrow happens to everyone: the just and the unjust alike. Personal and natural catastrophes are going to happen. It’s not true that “if you have enough faith nothing bad will happen to you”. Look at Job – the Bible says he was blameless and upright. Daniel was a man of great faith and he suffered a lot. And look at what Paul went through!

We need to understand that pain and suffering are results of a fallen world before they come into our lives. So that when something happens we know why. And then we’ll know how to get through it.

From the beginning of time God has planned restoration for us:

Jude 1:14-15 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Luke 4:18 Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”,

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Revelation 21:4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Peter understood restoration. He denied Christ 3x and Jesus restored him. He knew Christ’s love from personal experience. Paul kept his eyes on the promise that everything would be restored.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

When we are perplexed and struck down, we can know that God is going to bring life out of it and turn it around if we hold on to Him and trust Him.

Sometimes we hurt so badly we can’t even pray. But what we must understand is, God gets it! And if we keep trusting Him He will begin to turn it around for good. We are never alone.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

We don’t quit. We don’t walk away from Him and we don’t live hopelessly. But we need to be renewed everyday. We need a fresh encounter with Jesus every day.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Paul gives a list of his “light afflictions” in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. But he realized his afflictions were working in him a glory that surpassed anything we could imagine this side of heaven. His life wasn’t for nothing. He saw God working in the midst of his pain. He was conforming Paul into the image of Jesus.

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

God’s glory will far surpass our present circumstances. So we continue to wake up. We continue to breathe. We continue to put one foot in front of the other.

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Another reminder to focus on Heaven, on the promises of God and the coming restoration of all things.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Will We Do in Heaven?

What will we do in heaven? The author of Between Heaven and Earth says create. The Bible talks about singing a new song and believes we will do everything from writing, singing and painting to gardening, worshiping and dancing. Free from any fear, sin, judgment or constraint of time and space. Our creativity won’t be destroyed in heaven, but perfected. He even wrote, “I sincerely believe we haven’t heard or seen the last of Beethoven, Michelangelo or Shakespeare…”

Victor Hugo the 19th century French poet, playwright, novelist, artist, statesman and author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame said this about the next life, “I feel within me the future life. For half a century I have been translating my thoughts into prose and verse. History, drama, philosophy, romance tradition, satire, ode and song. All of these things I have tried. But I feel I haven’t given utterance to the thousandth part of what lies within me.”

We will hear music and sing new songs. We always read about Angels and the Heavenly Host singing. Music and heaven are a fit! We will worship - Revelation 5:9 tells us that those in heaven will be from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” We’ll be with new people. We will all be worshipping the Lamb together surrounded by thousands and thousands of angels. It’s mind blowing!

John wrote in Revelation 15:3 that they sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

We’ll not only be singing new worship songs, but some of the old ones too.

We’ll laugh in heaven. In Luke 6:21 Jesus said Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Someone once wrote “Heaven is the compensation for lost earthly privileges. Heaven is a place for those who weep today to regain the joy that was stolen from them.”

CS Lewis wrote, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Also people always ask if there will be animals in heaven. When we read the Bible we see the answer is yes. Isaiah 11:6-9 - The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

This passage refers to the 1000 year reign after Christ comes back. But the author says why would the millennial kingdom be more then what heaven will be?

Billy Graham said in 1999 “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.”

We will also work in heaven. The author suggests there will be building, farming, teaching, exploring, creating and artistry. There are many ways to serve God. The difference between working here and there is, in heaven our work will be completely satisfying. And we will reign with Christ.

Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

We’ll have responsibility and authority given to us so we can oversee what God wants done.

Revelation 2:26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations

And in heaven we will relate to God Himself. The greatest thing about heaven is God!

God will be among us. We will have a real relationship with Him. When we get to heaven our faith will truly become sight.

Again: Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  And:

Revelation 22:3-4 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. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Glimpse of Heaven

The author of Between Heaven and Earth wrote “our best days on earth don’t even come close to comparing to our days in heaven.” When we realize this truth it should cause us to loosen our grip on this earthly life a bit. Secondly it should cause us to long for heaven and everything Jesus prepared for us there.
Again: Revelation 21:1-5 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Just like in Eden God will dwell with His people. Remember how He came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden? Also no corruption or tears or sorrow – like Eden before the fall. The Apostle John tells us that it will be new – he speaks of something renewed; so therefore superior and more splendid then this one. God is not a stingy, reluctant giver. He’s extravagant and limitless. And He has a surprise for us at every turn. If we see God as a God of rules we’re going to see heaven as boring. But when we know God and what a loving, kind, generous Father He is, who wants the best for His children, we won’t be able to wait to see what He has planned.

Revelation 21:18-21 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

Materials we think are precious will be common building materials. The opulence of the new heaven will far exceed any city of this world! Gold so pure it’s like glass! Walls made of precious stones. Pearls the size of gates!

In Revelation 5:10 and 21:24 we are told we are called and made priests and kings. We will rule over the new heaven, much like Adam and Eve were called to have dominion over Eden. But forever!

Revelation 22:1-2 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 2 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

The river is called the very water of life. And there’s a tree of life there like the one in Eden, but this one heals.

 In just these few verses in Revelation we see what God has always intended for us. And this should inspire us to live differently on earth.

Remember - Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

And it won’t be boring. No floating around on clouds playing harps. Not an unending church service. Scripture tells us that heaven is everything we can dream it is and more. People might think of heaven as boring though because they’ve never entered into the thrill of receiving supernatural power to do what God has called them to do. Our lives in Christ can sometimes be boring because we don’t know what it’s like to completely trust God in our trials. Again we’re looking through our distorted view and not thinking about His character! Heaven will be extravagant, loving, creative and powerful. It will be utter satisfaction and utter surprise at the same time. We will have sinless, resurrected bodies that will have unbelievable abilities. They will be incorruptible.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

We’ll have bodies like Jesus that can do what His does! Jesus had the ability to fly!

Acts 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

He could appear and disappear: Luke 24:30-10 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

That’s not boring!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Christians are Pilgrims Looking Forward to their Real Home

This is still from the Sunday School lesson I prepared using Steve Berger's book "Between Heaven and Earth."

Peter in 1 Peter 1:1 calls the people he’s writing to pilgrims. We, as believers are not earth-dwellers; we are pilgrims. We are people who are not in their real home. The dictionary says a pilgrim is a stranger, not simply passing through, but a foreigner who has settled down, however briefly, next to or among native people.

Abraham knew it too. Here’s what the book of Hebrews says about him:

Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-16 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Abraham was wealthy. We live in a beautiful part of the world. But when God calls us home, we can’t have our fists clenched around the things of this world. We can’t get too attached, because it’s temporary – and heaven is better!

Knowing the promise of heaven changed the way Abraham lived his life.

1 Peter 1:3-4 tells us what it is like: incorruptible, unfading, always fresh, always new.

Sometimes you can better understand something by what it’s not:

Revelation 20:10 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The devil and his demons are not in heaven!

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No tears, no death, no pain, no sorrow.

Revelation 21:23-25 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

No darkness. God illuminates heaven with His Glory.

Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

No sin. Nothing that doesn’t reflect the perfection of God.

Revelation 22:3 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.

No more curse.

The author says that when we talk about God and the things of God, our finite minds can’t have thoughts that are greater than God really is. What awaits us in heaven is actually beyond description.

1 Corinthians 13:12 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.

Right now, living on earth, we see God dimly, but we will see God face to face.

In order to see Him, in order to get to heaven, we have to make a decision to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Heaven is not everyone’s default destination. Often when someone dies people say “he’s in a better place”, but do we know about that person for sure? The absolute truth must come from God’s Word, not people’s opinions.

Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We cannot live a life of sin, rejecting Christ and His solution for our sin and then expect to live eternally in the kingdom of God. We must say yes to Christ and live a life that reflects that decision. Yes we still sin, but we don’t live in a sinful life style saying it’s ok. Hell is a real place. It’s a place of torment because the people there could have said yes. But they said no to God’s free gift of eternal life.

And it’s too late when you’re already in hell. But it’s not too late now! CS Lewis wrote, “A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell! You can only get there on your own steam.”

You reject God’s offer. The people who end up in hell are getting exactly what they want – a life without God and His goodness…forever. But God loves you! With all your sin and baggage and doubts. In spite of everything you’ve ever done. You need Him and He knows it. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God didn’t even wait for us to clean up our act before He sent Jesus to take the penalty of our sin and die in our place. We can let go of our past and start a new life in Christ today. As long as we are breathing. It’s called being born again. We are to repent (which means change your mind and change your direction) and believe in the gospel. Believe Jesus rose from the dead. Believe He paid the price for all your sins; past, present and future. Believe He died in your place because God loves you! And receive Him through prayer.

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

If you haven’t made the decision for Christ, simply tell Him. Tell Him you want to repent and that you believe in the gospel. Invite Him into every part of your life. To heal you, restore you and to break your bondage with sin. And when you pray the prayer, meaning it, you become a child of God and are born again! And the angels and saints in heaven celebrate!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What You Do Now Matters For Eternity

If we keep our minds set on this temporary life we are caught in Satan’s trap. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Jesus is telling us not to be earthly minded! He wants our hearts focused on heavenly treasure!

Paul went on in 2 Corinthians 5:10 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The last word “bad” doesn’t mean awful or evil it means “worthless”. Something of no value. As Christians we are all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Not for salvation, but for reward. What are we doing for Him with our lives that we’re going to be able to tell Him about that day?

What are we doing that counts? That has eternal perspective? Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism felt the truth of the judgment was so important that for years the only two dates on his calendar were “today” and “that day”! He knew if he lived right today, that “that day” would take care of itself.

General William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) had a vision of going to heaven and being questioned by people and by Christ about his life on earth and being so horrified with his answers he wanted one more chance to return to earth and make amends for a wasted Christian life.

1 Corinthians 3:10 – 15 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Three types of building materials will survive and three will burn. Don’t build on Christ’s foundation using worthless things. Jesus, the ultimate and final judge will declare the worth of our work. Improper actions, or even right actions and wrong motives will not stand God’s purifying fire.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has put eternity into our hearts. Everything we long for and appreciate that is godly, loving, true, right, peaceful, secure, beautiful and eternal goes back to the Garden of Eden and God’s intention for human kind. To live forever in a state of beautiful heavenly joy. Every person has the spiritual DNA of Adam and Eve. There is an understanding, a knowing that there must be more then life on earth. They may not realize what this longing is, but it’s there. And God can’t wait for us to come home.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

The Hebrew word for precious means “valuable”.

In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells His disciples, Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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.”

Don’t let this temporary, evil world bring you down. This isn’t your eternal home. Whatever hardship you are facing, don’t let your heart be troubled! Jesus is preparing our eternal home right now!


Monday, April 21, 2014

For a Christian, to Die is Gain.

Here are some verses that show dying is indeed gain for the child of God:
Revelation 21:3-7 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
All of these promises gave Paul an incredible longing for heaven and all that is waiting there. Paul was certain that Jesus would work in him and through him, making a difference in people’s lives, because his heart was set on heaven.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lesson from Between Heaven and Earth by Steve Berger

I began teaching a lesson to the Women's Bible Class today using the book Between Heaven and Earth by Steve Berger. I'll share it over the next few days.

Today’s believers think little about heaven and much about the comforts, challenges and distractions of this life. But Colossians 3:1-2 says, Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

We must have a heavenly mind-set even while God leaves us on earth, to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

You may have heard someone say, “So and so is so heavenly minded she’s no earthly good.” But that’s the opposite of the way we should be. Knowing about heaven – really knowing – makes us more earthly good! It should change our entire approach to life and mission.

The news is terrible today. Violence, addictions, natural disasters. People have despair and they are looking for answers. Jesus is the answer! And when believers understand His eternal perspective and share it with others; needs are met, hope is given and everything changes!

We aren’t called to sit passively in church every Sunday, but to reach out and share Jesus with the world. We are to produce fruit. The expansion of the kingdom of God is our priority.

Paul is a good example for us. He was totally committed to bringing people to Christ, but in Philippians 1:21-24 he wrote For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Paul’s heart was passionately fixed on heaven while his hand was purposefully working to produce fruit. God wants us to have our hearts in heaven, but our hand on the harvest.

Heaven and our eventual joyous homecoming as Christians are great truths that we should long for. It will be a homecoming and family reunion like never before. Heaven is a place. There is exciting supernatural activity, we will worship God and reign with Jesus, spend time with loved ones and meet saints we’ve read about! It will be anything but boring! Resurrected people will live in resurrected bodies on a resurrected earth with a resurrected Savior!

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”  the things God has prepared for those who love him—10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

The 1st Heaven is the air we breathe and where birds fly. 2nd Heaven is the sun, moon and stars. And 3rd Heaven is where God lives. Paul was “the man” he’s talking about and 14 years earlier would have been a little before he wrote the 1st Corinthians passage. Scripture doesn’t tell us why he didn’t tell us about it then, but it did cause him to say, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard” etc.

4 years later Paul wrote Colossians 3:1-2. He implores them to seek the things above. In Heaven. He says while on earth let Heaven be a focal point and filter for your thoughts. Let heaven give you eternal perspective for your earthly life. When we meet Jesus and get a glimpse of Heaven our life is changed. We can not not talk about Him! We can not not serve others! People should see a change in us. It is not ok for us to be spiritually unproductive. Find a way to get involved. Find a way to love and serve others. Living for Christ has nothing to do with our job or occupation. Our lives are not defined by our career. Our true identities are found in Christ and living for Christ.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When we live for Christ “to die is gain”. Christians graduate from life to life! Our spirits weren’t meant to live in this sin filled world. We were created for Eden. For heaven! How we live today matters for eternity.