Citizens of Heaven

Citizens of Heaven

Daily Reading: (Philippians 3:20-21):

“But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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.”

What does that phrase “citizenship is in Heaven” mean for you? Many people look at that verse as speaking only of their future hope with heavenly citizenship having little impact on their lives on Earth. Hope is unique in that hope is always dealing in the future. But this verse doesn’t just get us hope, while hope is clear and plain to see, our Biblical hope is the very next sentence in this verse, “and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” Biblical hope is Jesus. He is our blessed hope! This verse also gives us great faith in how we are to live today.

Our citizenship tells us that we are aliens here. We are strangers, foreigners and sojourners at least in the earth as we know it in its present fallen state because of sin. The new Heaven and Earth will be our home. This is where our citizenship lies. A place with no more sin or the effects of it- sadness, sickness, diseases, etc…

We don’t have to live our lives according to the desires of our flesh, desires of the eyes or by the pride of life, we are citizens of Heaven and have as Peter would say, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Our treasures are in Heaven.

What I love about being citizens of Heaven means that we do not have to pursue after earthly treasures. “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).

Being a citizen of Heaven means we are under the government of Heaven. Jesus is our Lord and King. The Spirit of God reigns in our mortal bodies on earth. Our identity is shaped by our citizenship, our identity is now in the new creation we have become in Christ. Even though every human being has been born into this world, all believers have been reborn spiritually into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT) So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want” (Galatians 5:16-17).

We are called to live our life in accordance to the laws of Heaven, which is where our true citizenship lies, and not according to the world we live in.

The Word of God gives us the instruction for us as citizens of Heaven who live here on Earth:

Getting Revenge

The world says: If someone has wronged you, don’t get mad, get even.

But we are citizens of heaven we don’t have to follow the ways of the world we get to walk by the Spirit, we can,“Love our enemies, pray for those who have wronged us” (Matthew 5:44). We don’t have to seek revenge because when we have been wronged, Romans 12:9 reminds us “never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Do you want to get ahead financially?

The world teaches: Money doesn’t grow on trees, (maybe you have heard that a lot when you were younger) it’s up to you and onlyyou to work hard to get what you want out of life.

Citizens of Heaven:

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Our ability to do what we do is owed to His grace. Paul said, “God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, We are His offspring” (Acts 17:27-28). The very breath we take we should thank God for it.

Gaining an Advantage in Life

The world says:“It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” Do what you got to do to succeed.

Citizens of Heaven don’t have to worry about this.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

We are to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

If it is God lifting us up, why would we try to lift ourselves ahead of others or foolishly think we need the higher uppers to notice us to lift us?

The Lord being with you is all that you need in this life, because the Lord Himself is the One who blesses you with righteousness, holiness, success, victory, favor, provision, healing, wisdom and much more!

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us that in order to live out our heavenly citizenship, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”[1]

  • Your heavenly citizenship is defined by who you are in Christ.
  • Heavenly Citizenship gives us irrevocable rights, privileges, and protection.
  • Believers are called to live our lives in accordance to the spiritual laws of Heaven, not according to the ways of the world we live in.
  • We live out our heavenly citizenship by setting our minds on the things of God, and not the things of this world.
  • Everything in Heaven belongs to us, it is our inheritance.
  • Our business on Earth is to be about Kingdom work for we are ambassadors of Christ. 

Our heavenly citizenship impacts us today on Earth. It actually focuses us now to live for the Kingdom and to transform our minds as we develop thoughts of peace and not of evil, thoughts of hope and the bright future we have. We understand that our time on earth is to be used for God’s glory as His ambassadors.


 

 

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 23:43):

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).   

Knowledge of Heaven is important. Access to Heaven or accessing the blessings that are already yours in Christ is even better. I know this might come as a shock to you, but since you spiritually died which happened the moment you first believed in Jesus, the Kingdom is now yours. Paul would say in 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.” Now that you know that you have already died spiritually what happens when you die physically on earth too?

Heaven on Earth is the believer’s ultimate destination. So, let’s take a minute to imagine what Heaven will be like. What are some things you envision in your mind that Heaven will be like? Streets of gold, pearly gates, reunited with loved ones, a beautiful river running through the center, the tree of life, the throne of God. If you have spent any time reading the book of Revelation, these are some of the images that probably came to your mind. Even though we are given grand images of Heaven, we still have a long way to go in imagining what Heaven will be like one day.

It is interesting to learn that Jesus talks about being in “Paradise” instead of just saying Heaven when talking to one of the criminals on the cross.

To begin with, I want to go to the scene right before Jesus’ death. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence” (Luke 23:40)?

What sentence could these criminals be under? They are under the sentence of death. They are dying a criminal’s death and so was Jesus. We can find it hard to connect with the criminals on the cross that day, but Paul would write to the Romans that the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). Anyone who has sinned “has fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23), and so we all are given the same sentence as those criminals on the cross that day, the death sentence. There are two options for us, which are displayed by the actions of the two criminals. One criminal mocked the salvation of the Lord. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” He rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41)?

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And because of this Romans 6:23 becomes this criminal’s reality: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The first criminal rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). The point is that since God is righteous and just, our sins needed to be punished. Only the perfect spotless Lamb of God could be offered for the atonement of our sins. He died so that we might be given His life, but we must receive the free gift of salvation that He offers to us to be saved.

The keyword is “gift”. A gift cannot be earned because if it was earned it would be a wage, the criminal didn’t deserve such great a gift, that is how grace works. Jesus was on the cross for both criminals that day, He went to the cross for you and I so that we might receive the gift of everlasting life. 

So, some might expect to hear Jesus say, I’ll see you on the other side in heaven my son- but He doesn’t He says something different.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).“Paradise”/Paradeisos: a park, an Eden.

Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover? It used to be hosted by a guy named Ty Pennington who would send a family on a mini-vacation so when they returned home they would be surprised when their home would be completely redone and it would look amazing and so much better.

So, when you die, if you are in Christ, you go to Paradise, Eden Park. Jesus is there and so are your loved ones and all the saints who went before us. So, Paradise is Heaven where Jesus is at. It is perfect and there is no suffering or sin there, it will be incredibly wonderful and yet it is still different from what we will experience as our wedding gift when Heaven comes down to a new Earth.

The Bible tells us when we enter into this new Heaven and Earth and the grand thing about it is all saints over all of the time will enter it together at the same time.

“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). I like to think of it in much the same way as a family would on the Extreme Home Makeover Show that is sent to a fantastic place because their home is being specially prepared for them. So, Peter and Paul haven’t been relaxing in the new Heaven and Earth for some 2,000 years, they are in Paradise because we still have our wedding feast in Heaven to come and then our wonderful gift of Heaven on Earth.

“Paradise” is used is in Revelation 2:7 and it is the location of the tree of life. This makes sense as “paradise” means a park-like setting: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 22 talks about Eden/paradise restored.

This is a huge clue because Revelation 2:7 tells us specifically that “the tree of life, is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). What this means is that we are given a partial picture of what Paradise is like now, because Revelation 22 talks about Eden being restored and mentions the tree of life (which is already created) and some other things already existing in Paradise (God being there). However, some of the other things mentioned seem like they are yet to come after the old earth passes away, such as there being no more night and the curse removed. Our loved ones in Paradise aren’t experiencing night, they are in the presence of God’s light. The effects of the curse are not present in Paradise, but we still experience them on Earth. Eden restored is mentioned after Heaven comes to earth (yet to happen) in Revelation 21. So, some of these things are still to come.