Thursday, January 18, 2018

God is on the Move

Hardship and heartbreak abound, but God is not stumped or stopped.  God is still on the move. 

Should the cares and concerns of this world be the consuming concern for God's people?  The spiritually trained head will say, "no," while the earthly heart says, "yes."  You know the reality of paying bills and keeping the lights on and the heater warming.  What if people are sick?  What about the dying?  Should the cares and concerns of this world be the consuming concern for God's people? 

The God of Creation is aware of what is going on and of the difficulties each person faces.  He knew it was coming before our great-great-great grandparents were born.  In preparation for the hardship and heartbreak he knew was headed your way he put together live or die instructions and provided spiritual support from heaven.  What he has offered is available in abundance to those whose heart is not consumed with the cares and concerns of this world but whose heart is fully his. 

In the moments of our hurts, people long for the quick fix in the short-term and God’s love goes beyond the quick and the short.  Problem-focused people get angry with God’s love.  If they pray and pray for the quick fix in the short-term and it doesn’t come the way they have pictured it in their heads, then they assume God is a fraud and go about looking for a quick fix in the short-term their own way.  It doesn’t work out so well, look around at the people’s lives in this world who are fixing it their way. 

There is a familiar verse used to encourage people about their future and God’s hand in it.  It is sadly, often presented out of context and in that way, leads people to assume facts, not in evidence. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

The good plan is something about which to be excited.  What does that mean for the person consumed with the cares and concerns of this world?  The good plan means health, money, getting along, getting top grades at school, receiving the attention and praise of others, being promoted on the team or at work.  You are familiar with the good plan, and as long as it is “good” by one’s own definition, then life is wonderful.  But what if disaster strikes?  Disaster is not part of the good plan, right?  God must have failed.  Wait a minute, what is the deal with Jeremiah 29:11? 

Jeremiah the Prophet gave those words to Israel at a time when they were suffering and separated from the land of milk and honey.  The situation they were in was because they had rejected God’s direction and rebelled against him.  What they suffered economically, politically, and physically was the result of their messed up spiritual life.  The Lord’s hopeful words spoken through the prophet was about a good plan that got them on track with God.  What would follow from their properly returning to God would result in a positive change economically, politically, and physically.  

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT)

Should the cares and concerns of this world be the consuming concern for God's people? 

Jesus in his famous sermon makes a point of first things first again.  

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:30-33 (NLT)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and then God does something about personal provision.  What should be the consuming concern for God’s people?

But, “there are bad times in the neighborhood,” some will say.  They conclude, “we must focus on the hard times and those affected.”  Of course, attention must be given, but with focus on Almighty God’s first things first.   

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)

Should the cares and concerns of this world be the consuming concern for God's people? 

As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit. Luke 8:14-15 (HCSB)

Should the cares and concerns of this world be the consuming concern for God's people? 

You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:24-26 (NLT)

No, the cares and concerns of this world should not be the consuming concern for God’s people.  

To live life fully at any age or stage of life, it must be in a relationship with the living God.  To fulfill one’s destiny life must be lived by God’s loving will.  

Life on earth is short.  Life for every human being has no end.  There is more to come than what has been experienced so far.  Living a life of love for God with an overflow that allows love for others not only makes life on earth grand it prepares a person for the unending life that is spectacular.  

God is on the move.  He knows you and the very things going on in your life right now.  No matter how deep the troubled waters he loves you.  

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)

What are your cares and concerns?  How have you seen God moving?  How shall you now live?  

By Randy Huddleston, Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Pryor

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Heaven, A Place to Call Home

Heaven Q & A

Do people die and then become angels in heaven?

No, angels are beings of a different sort created by God.  Humans do not become angels, but angels do interact with humans. 

What kind of bodies do people have in heaven?

People in heaven have fully functioning spiritual bodies.  Earthly brokenness does not impact healthy heavenly bodies.  They have fingers and toes, shining eyes, and bright smiles. 

What do people in heaven remember of their earthly life?

They remember their lives.  The people in their lives are not forgotten.  How they lived their lives is recalled.  Every word they spoke on earth and every act they performed is known.  There is a lot most people would like to forget because of regrets.  The regrets will be intensified.  The memories are enhanced.  They are enhanced because the spirit person contains the real memories of a person’s life and not the physical brain. Everything from a person’s earthly existence is available to their mind in heaven.  There is more on this topic that is exciting but beyond the scope of this Q & A.

What happens at death?

The transition is smooth without hesitation since people are souls in physical bodies they are self-aware whether in the physical body or out of it.  The trip to heaven may differ.  An angel or angels may accompany someone.  Angels may be present with someone before their death then show them the way to the presence of the Lord in a way unique to them.  Leaving the earth they may visit a loved one or an angel may leave an indication of their presence in the place of death.  The angel takes the heaven-bound sometimes through the sky and into the domain of heaven.  Sometimes it is more like stepping through a door leaving earth and entering heaven.  It can be the light at the end of the tunnel. The Lord can send another mode of heavenly transportation like the chariot that came for Elijah.  Jesus may come to collect someone.  He may send a human from heaven to come alongside.  The Lord is creative and has many ways of bringing his people to himself.