Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Daily Reading: (Revelation 21:1-4):

“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. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 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. ‘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.”

The question that maybe you have thought of before is, “how can I pray big bold Kingdom prayers, God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven?” What I mean when I say “big bold Kingdom prayers” is the King’s reign being our experience on Earth today. Instead of longing for the future, may a better understanding of what God is preparing us for in the future have an enormous impact on our present-day lives.

“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” (Revelation 21:1).

Every time I share Revelation 21:1 I feel like the grandfather in the movie Princess Bride, who reads a surprising plot twist in the story which leaves his grandson dumbfounded. The first Heaven and Earth passed away? It puts a new outlook on the mindset that we better sacrifice everything we have to save our planet. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be good stewards of God’s creation, but all the efforts we make to protect or preserve the planet and trusting in man to save things need to be rethought in light of this verse. We don’t have to worry even when things get worse on our planet, God is bringing about a new Heaven and Earth. We should make efforts to lessen our negative impact on the planet for now but ultimately the first Heaven and Earth will pass away in the end.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

You mean Heaven is going to be literally on Earth? Yes! Heaven will be here. He’s not sending us to Heaven for all eternity, He’s bringing Heaven to Earth.

The earth will not be the same as it was, it will be even better. 

Part of the gift of Heaven on Earth is that we all experience this together. We aren’t going to hear about it second hand from Peter and Paul and Moses and any other saint who went before us. The world as we know it that is marred by sin is done away with “ the first earth had passed away” and I “saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven” (Revelation 21:1-2).

“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.‘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.”

I totally understand we are longing for a time where there will be no more sickness, no more sadness as the old things, the terrible things we are experiencing now are gone. My five-year-old asked me a question a few months ago, she said, “why did God create sickness?” I love the mind of my little girl. I told her He didn’t. You see even a five-year-old has the sense within her that things are not as they should be. Why would God…? Haven’t we all asked similar questions before? God didn’t create sickness, man brought it about because of giving into Satan’s temptation. The world before sin was a paradise. It was the Garden of Eden where they had everything they would ever need and God walked with them and talked with them. We are progressing to the time where there will be no more sickness or death and it will be as it was before sin.

God being with us what does it accomplish in Revelation 21? We are comforted (wipes the tears), He removes our sadness. There is no more death, crying or pain. In Heaven our new bodies will not grow old, be weary, tired, or in pain.

Did you know that healing and restoration are available even today.

God didn’t just leave us to ourselves in the world today. He is with us even now (Matthew 28:20). King David learned and he wrote the following in Psalm 30:11: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Or in Psalm 16:11 “Thy presence is fullness of joy.” Did David write this from beyond the grave? Was he writing from experiencing being in Paradise on the other side of eternity?  No! What this means is right now, the Kingdom emotions of joy and peace, being comforted and even having our pain removed can be our experience now. Healing is available not just on the other side of eternity, but is available to us in Jesus’ name.

Let our lives be living testimonies of the transformative power of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When bad things come upon us, may we speak out by faith the promises that God has made to us. We will find joy in God’s presence, and He will turn our mourning into joy. 

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Grace Has Come

Grace Has Come

Daily Reading: (Luke 2:10-11):

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord”

“Don’t be afraid”, let us start there. The angel realizes that his presence among the shepherds has startled them and caused them to be afraid.  Shepherds were tough characters who encountered a lot of dangerous predators. Predators mostly attack at night. So, when the angel appears they would have already been on high alert. Scripture says in Luke 2:8: “shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” when all of a sudden out of nowhere in the darkness of night this is what happens next, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”The Greek word for terrified is “phobeo” and it is where we get the English word “phobia” from. Take a moment and think about what kinds of things in the past year have unexpectedly entered your life that caused you to be afraid.

The angels had a word to remove their fear, a message of love and one of grace. This same word will deliver you from all of your fears. “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” It is the Good News, the Gospel that will remove your fear and the Gospel is for “all people” (Luke 2:10).

The Gospel will drive out fear. Most of our fears come out of a newfound need. I have a health situation with the need to be healed. I have bad news that has come from a family member, they have a need for a new job.  Someone broke into our home, I am afraid it will happen again, there is a need for security. The announcement is that when Jesus arrived, grace has come. When we go back to Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” “Peace has come to earth!” Jesus Christ is the way to peace.

Whatever you need, grace has come so that you might not lack any good thing. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32). Hebrews 4:16 has become your opportunity: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

It is so hard to believe that God’s favor rests upon you and your life, when troubling things happen. When bad happens to you, listen to those angelic words, “do not be afraid.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know…”, there is something that we know and believe in and can trust. While we don’t know what will happen to us in our daily lives as James 4:14 says that “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” and that is why bad news can catch us off guard. Paul says, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. There will not be an absence of trouble in life, Jesus told His disciples “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Fear may enter in, but we can join the company of the heavenly hosts and praise God. We can have peace in trouble because Jesus has given us His peace.

May Christmas fill you with joy, grace has come! Whatever it is that you need, the greatest gift, Jesus Christ is your supply. Do not fear whenever bad things happen, for God’s favor is upon you, you are highly favored by God and so all things will work together for your good. Praise God in every situation because Christ is with you and He gives you the victory.

Thief of Unbelief

Thief of Unbelief 

Daily Reading: (Mark 9:23-25):

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

“If you can”. Those are three deadly words that are robbers of grace.

In the middle of their drama, they were amazed to find the grace of God with them and they ran to receive Him joyfully. There is a word for all of us who will go through some extremely difficult, dramatic times in our lives. The grace you need to overcome whatever it is that you face is found in Christ Jesus who is with you now, receive Him joyfully (Mark 9:15).

“So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20). You would think that when the boy was brought to Jesus, he would have instantly been better and the symptoms would have stopped. But the same thing that had been happening to the boy continued. Jesus’ nine disciples couldn’t do anything for the boy and here at this moment in the presence of Jesus it appears the boy is not doing any better.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him” (Mark 9:21-22).

The father thinks back to how long his son has suffered. The past has made the man believe that his future will be no different. As believers, we can look at our past, and have our past tell us something different, that in Christ, everything has changed (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

God’s grace and His favor is upon your life, believe and receive the grace that you need to overcome whatever it is that you face.

Verse 22b “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Now Jesus has an issue with three words that are robbing this man from receiving the compassionate grace of God.

In the Gospels, Jesus consistently affirms those who express faith and rebukes those who express doubt and unbelief. The leper He healed is a great example. This man said to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40). This is a declaration of faith, and it moved Jesus to a compassionate response of healing.

But the father of this afflicted boy said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The statement for your life in Christ that will lift you up in your darkest days and give you the greatest hope in your most trying times, is when we properly understand this verse in the Greek. “Can you believe that all things are possible to Him [Jesus] who is always believing?” It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but who you will believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to your miracle!

When there’s a problem, a strategy of the devil is to get your attention onto fixing the thing that’s not broken. If Christ lives in you, then there’s nothing wrong with your faith. But you still might have a problem with unbelief. God’s will is to heal, but unbelief will limit the power of God in your life.

Don’t worry about your faith, you already have enough to move your mountain, apply the hammer of God’s word to your unbelief and be ready to receive your miracle.

Strengthened and Sent

Strengthened and Sent

Daily Reading: (Colossians 2:6-7):

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go” (Luke 10:1).

Right away we discover that Jesus was actively working with more than just 12 men. There were 70 others but let’s expand this even further. We know from His relationship with Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and others that Jesus wasn’t secluding Himself to just 12. Jesus influenced and taught men, women, and even children. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

The seventy’s faith was strengthened before they were sent because they were about to be involved in God’s miracle working power: “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). The mission that Jesus gave the 72 is the same mission that He gave the 12 and it is the same mission that He has given to you, “go and make disciples.” Imagine if God healed someone’s cancer through you as you laid your hands on and prayed over them and spoke God’s Word over their life. How joyful would you be to partake in such a life changing miraculous event? Luke writes, “The seventy returned with joy,” — exhilarated God used them in such ministry — “saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (Luke 10:17)!  

How will I be able to be a part of God’s miracle working power touching lives?

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you (Luke 10:18–19).” You already have the authority to do it, you might just need to have your faith initiated by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 (AMP): “So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ.”

The Scriptures teach that the hearing of faith and the works of the law are total opposites (Galatians 3:2,5). And since the works of the law are about our self-efforts, this means that there is no self-effort in faith only trust. So, what is our part in believing? Trust the Good Shepherd.

This is why Jesus told the seventy: “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). This doesn’t sound like it would instill a lot of confidence in the seventy but it does. Where does the protection of the lambs come from? It doesn’t come from the lambs. Their protection is found with the Shepherd. Your protection while embarking on Kingdom work isn’t from yourself. This is great Gospel news. The One with all authority and all power, the Great Shepherd is watching over and protecting you.

“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals, and do not greet anyone on the road” (Luke 10:4). Go as you are. You have everything you need to successfully fulfill your God-given mission (Luke 10:4). Your mission is not going to be successfully based on what you bring but Who is sending you.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7).

It was the Word of God, Jesus Christ and their time spent with Him that resulted in the success of their mission, and the faith to go and so it is with us. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Disciple Making: It’s In You

It’s In You

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:20):

“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I want you to imagine in your mind what it would be like if Michelangelo never painted. Think about that. Imagine if Beethoven never composed music, if Jane Austen never wrote, and if Jackie Robinson decided to quit baseball because of hatred toward him. What if Thomas Edison never pursued any of his inventions? Imagine if Billy Graham gave into his own doubts about his abilities and never delivered another sermon. The list could go on and on but the point is, this world would be impoverished without the contributions of these individuals. They used the gifting that God gave them, the talent that was inside of them and left a mark on the world. I can’t imagine the world being the same without them and the work they did.  When we think about ourselves, we probably would never believe that we could leave a mark on the world quite like these people, but I got to tell you ours can be an eternal one.

There are many people who have been lied to and stolen from, individuals who never truly have discovered what God has placed in them and the world is impoverished because of it. Others it might take a long time before they are awakened and encouraged into moving forward using their gifts for God’s glory, let today be that day. Because this verse is an announcement to all believers, that what you need to move forward into your calling and bless the world, it’s already in you. You have a grand calling to change the world.

Matthew 28:20: “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The reason you will be successful in making disciples as you pursue it is because Jesus lives in you, is with you, and the Holy Spirit will empower you, because you are doing what you are called to do. It’s in you to make disciples. Or maybe I should say Christ in you enables you to make disciples.

The gifting God has given you whether you like to write, play music, build things, whatever it may be, the purpose for them is for God’s glory and also for your enjoyment. There is no greater joy than to see lives changed and added to the Kingdom.

Now what we can do is re-imagine how can this talent God has placed inside me lead me to use it to build relationships and get involved in my life calling to make disciples?

I want to go to the story of when Matthew the tax collector was called to follow Jesus and see what he did to lead others to Christ.

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9). Jesus only needed to speak two words to forever change Levi’s life, “follow me”. Join Me. Become my disciple. 

“Follow me” Jesus said to a man that was hated by almost everyone. Levi/ Matthew is the perfect choice to follow Jesus, to show that no one is disqualified from receiving His grace, no matter what has transpired in their past. Follow Me is an invitation in your present and it leads you into what God has prepared for you in the future, and it shows your qualification for salvation has nothing to do with your past except for that everyone’s past dictates that we all need saving. This is the Gospel. We don’t deserve it, we can never earn it. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. It is the ultimate unifier of us all, and it absolutely removes our pride and it causes us to want this same thing, salvation for even the worst tax collector.

Before Jesus came into his life, the tax collector was known as Levi. Levi comes from the Hebrew word meaning to lend. The name itself also means attached or pledged.His old name was exactly what he did. He loaned the Jewish taxes to the Roman’s that he attached himself to and then would take from God’s people extra money. But then Jesus comes along, simply says “follow me” and Levi is transformed into Matthew. Matthew comes from the Hebrew word given. And it means gift of God. Levi used to take from people, but Matthew will give to people what he received, the very gift of God, grace to others, Jesus.

Levi was given a fresh start and the very next thing he does is he throws a party and invites everyone he knows. Grace in your life will bring out generosity towards other people. His desire is that they might meet grace personified and have their lives forever changed just like he did.

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 5:29-30)?

Of the four Gospel writers, it was Matthew, the least likely choice to become a disciple of Jesus, who is the only one who presented Jesus to the Jews as their hoped-for Messiah. From that time on, instead of collecting tax money, Matthew collected souls for Christ. Matthew got together some people he knew and shared Christ.

What Matthew the disciple learned is key to disciple making, and it spurs us on to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, and it is found in a single word that speaks of Jesus’ heart for the people, compassion.

“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

The potential to leave a greater mark on the world than Beethoven, Edison, Austen, Robinson, etc.. is when we will follow Jesus’ lead and have compassion on others. Use the talents God has given you to be a Matthew-a gift of God gracing others with Jesus.