Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heaven

by Mark Roberts

HAVE YOU BEEN to the funeral home? Does your car break down? Has anything ever been stolen from you? Do you ever get sick? Have you had the frustration of buying something, and it quit working the day after the warranty expired?

All of these questions illustrate one truth: this world is a decaying, rotting, disintegrating place in which to live. No matter how hard one tries, things still break, robbers continue stealing, and people still die. This world is, quite literally, going down the drain.
Amazingly, mankind chooses to ignore the obvious. What many people seek the most, work the hardest for, and put at the top of their priority lists are all the things that shall surely decay and waste away. This world is in a mad rush to acquire and have things it cannot keep. Sadly, many Christians are no better. We know Jesus said, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19–20), but has this verse become part of who and what we are? How can I daily live out the truth that I have an unchanging reward?
First, I need to understand what the Bible promises me about heaven. In 1 Peter 1:4, we are told that through Christ we obtain “an inheritance in corruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” Heaven is not transitory. It doesn’t break down, have maintenance problems, or wear out. It will not end, be destroyed, or decay and die. There will be no sin or wrongdoing there. In fact, we may safely say that heaven is everything that this world is not. Perfect paradise will go on for all eternity.
Yet, it is the last part of 1 Peter 1:4 that really catches my eye: “reserved in heaven for you.” Peter confidently affirms that God wants you to go to heaven. He has a place reserved for you, and He will be greatly disappointed if you are not there. There have been many important social functions that I would have liked to attend, but I was not invited, nor was any place reserved for me. But in heaven you and I have a place (John 14:1–3). You can go, you are invited, and you are wanted. We have a reservation, made for us by Christ Jesus Himself!
Secondly, I need to think about heaven more. Why is it that only older people contemplate our eternal home very often? Dee Bowman wrote of a moving scene where Floyd Thompson read the Bible at breakfast only a few months before he died: “he passed out the Bibles and began to read from Revelation, chapter four. He was so overcome by the awesomeness of the scene about which he read that he could not finish. We all wept unashamedly. It was a rich and rare moment” (Christianity Magazine, October 1984, p. 26). With age comes a clearer understanding that immortality on this planet will surely elude us all. Unfortunately, younger people often refuse to focus their minds on heaven, choosing instead to be caught up in this present life. Death and heaven seem far away—and our lives reflect this feeling. How long has it been since you read Revelation 4? When was the last time you thought about going to heaven? We need to reflect on these things because thinking about such a grand place creates the desire to go there, and to live the life necessary to obtain this great inheritance.
And that leads us to the third point: live to go to heaven. Paul calls is “walking worthily of our calling” (Ephesians 4:1). We need to decide what we want (our goal), and then reach and strive for it. Don’t be distracted by minor and insignificant things along the way. Keep your eye on the prize (Colossians 3:2) and go for it! Do not be afraid to deny yourself anything or anyone that would prevent you from reaching the goal. If you falter, re-center your thoughts on the unchanging prize of heaven and you will find it to be a powerful incentive to re-dedicate oneself to reaching the goal of eternity with God. Press on, never quit, and obtain what God has for you (Philippians 3:14).
The transitory nature of this life and the surpassing value of heaven are equally obvious. Now, the question: “This world is going down the drain. Are you going with it?”
SOURCE: Roberts, M. (1991). Treasures in Heaven. (P. Earnhart, Ed.)Christianity Magazine, 8(4), 17.

Read more from Mark Roberts at PRESSING ON MAGAZINE.

Because He is God

“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”

—Elisabeth Elliot

Source: Wilson, J. (2016). 30 words: a devotional for the rest of us. (2nd Edition, Ed.) (p. 20). Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press.

Face to Face

John’s Second Epistle

2 Jno. 12-13

Face to Face

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you. – 2 Jno. 12,13

John was not a cold, academic writer, who merely dealt with facts or data. He was writing to people, people he loved who were loved by God. John has rejoiced greatly, hearing of his fellow Christians walking in the truth, as commanded by the Father (see verse 4).

So, you do not expect John to just abruptly end the letter. There is an affection in John that was active in writing these closing words. Still inspired by the Spirit, he is also a real man with real feelings of warmth and hope for these people.

Here’s an important observation from the end of this epistle. He does not write in any way against the value of written communication. But his affection for the people causes him to say, in essence, I would rather be there with you, and that’s what my hope is.

What does this say to us today? It says, there is great value in FACE TO FACE contact with one another. Not FACEBOOK TO FACEBOOK, but face to face, personal contact.

Paper and ink has its’ place, even email and texting. But may we never get away from personal, face to face relationship.

Hundredfold Recompense

The Hundredfold

Recompense

(Mark 10:29, 30)

Warren E. Berkley

“And Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life’,” (Mark 10:29,30, New King James).

In the study of this passage, the first thing that should demand our attention is the context. Peter was interested in the rewards he and his companions would have. He made the statement, “See, we have left all and followed You.” Jesus, in these words of Mark 10:29,30, was responding to Peter’s statement.

Jesus had, on several occasions, warned His disciples of the sacrifices they would be called upon to make, and the hardships they would pass through (Mark 8:34-38). Some, in order to follow Christ, would have to leave their possessions and/or their people. But He assured them, they would be repaid “a hundredfold now in this time.. .and in the age to come, eternal life.” So, there would be necessary sacrifices to make; and, “with persecutions.” Yet, the sacrifice and persecution would be worthwhile. In Luke’s account the words are: “…there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life,” (Lk. 18:29,30).

There is no difficulty with Mark 10:29,30 unless you construe the language literally! Let’s look at the trouble we get into, when we assume a literal meaning. “A hundredfold” means (literally) a hundred times. Now, if I have one house, but I leave that one house to follow Christ, what do I have?? A hundred houses! Wow, this is great! The literal (and materialistic) interpretation of this passage would lead many to Christ – but you would have real estate investors, not Christians.

But let’s try that again. If I have one wife, but I leave her to follow Christ, guess what the literal approach says I have? That’s right – 100 wives! It should be sufficiently clear, the literal interpretation of Mark 10:29,30 is unacceptable.

Here’s an approach that will work, and harmonize with the context perfectly: The people and possessions of verse 29 are literal, but the people and possessions of verse 30 are spiritual in nature!

To say that another way: That which you may have to give up is physical; but, that which you receive is spiritual – and, many times greater!

In the centuries since Christ’s death, many dedicated disciples have found fulfillment on these words in their own lives. They have had to leave their people and possessions in order to follow Christ. But, for every fleshly relationship lost – they gained hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ; for every alienated parent – hundreds in God’s family to care for them; for every possession lost – spiritual blessings, many times greater.

Related to this:

“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” (Heb. 10:32-35)

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Let us…

Let Us…

Hebrews 10:15-25

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
    and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

First, this goes to the ultimate value of the sacrifice of Christ as communicated by the New Testament or New Covenant. The stain of sin is removed by the giving of Christ’s life, and that gift is received by our response of obedience. This is when God says, “I don’t remember what you did.” In the language of the Holy Spirit: Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.

At verse 19, there is a big THEREFORE, and that signals to us that concluding exhortations are coming. These are framed through the imperative, “Let us.” Let us draw near, let us hold fast, let us consider one another, let us not neglect the assemblies. When we open our hearts to the New Covenant, God puts these truths into our hearts. We live by them, we are encouraged, we hold fast to the hope – believing that He who promised is faithful.

Who is your audience?

Many of you who read my blog also write. You may write articles, letters, emails, in an effort to help someone obey Christ. Keep this in mind.

This is the question: Who is your audience? If we don’t know clearly who we are writing for or who we want to reach, we are writing with a pen that has no ink, with a laptop that has a dead battery.

– Andrew T. Le Peau. https://www.amazon.com/Write-Better-Lifelong-Editor-Spirituality-ebook/dp/B07X9VQ353

What to do with your requests

Phil. 4:6

Here’s the way I want us to think about this. Think of a suffering prisoner, who is the victim of hostile persecution writing a letter to you, to tell you how to cope with your stress!

Let that sink in. You are being counseled by a prisoner. Paul wrote from prison to Christians, with instruction for real life; real life back then in Philippi and real life today, here.

 “Do not be anxious about anything.” Now – if Paul had just said this much, we wouldn’t take it well! Have you ever had sometime tell you: Just get over it!

Like hearing those four words is some sort of powerful remedy? How do I get over it? What specific measures can I take? And we may sometimes want to say to people who are so free with their quick advice – – Don’t just tell me not to do something; tell me what I need to do instead! Paul doesn’t just say, “Don’t do this.” He says, “don’t do this …. instead, do this.”

Now look back at the verse: “do not be anxious about anything …. BUT, in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Don’t just sit there and marinate in your anxiety. God has given you this discipline – “by prayer and supplication …. let your requests be made known to God.”

Draw Near

Heb. 4:16

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Concerning the book of Hebrews, the Christians who first received this epistle were living under intense pressure of persecution. They were being tempted to move away from Christ; to drift away and to neglect their initial commitment; in some cases, to just walk away, back into their former religion of enslavement.

Well here is something God gave them that they were able to do for help and strength – and this implies and certainly includes prayer.

Look with me at the last phrase in the verse: “….help in time of need…” I don’t know anybody who can’t identify with this phrase: “HELP IN TIME OF NEED.”

Whatever the specific personal need is, there is this discipline God has given to His people with this invitation, to draw near to the throne of grace. He wants to hear from us; we should want Him to hear. “Draw near.”

The need may be a very visible physical illness or injury. It may be some interpersonal conflict that just doesn’t seem to arrive at any resolution. It may be a nagging evil thought. It may be internal pressure to compromise.

It may be some burden we carry concerning people we love, who are hurting … or who are lost in sin. I can’t possibly list all the needs, all the issues and problems that nag at us inside. The stress and worries and temptations and wretched fear we may suffer.

God says to His people – Tell me about it!  Through Christ – you can approach Me! By the way, ancient peoples did not commonly think of approaching kings. Certainly, not with any boldness or confidence. But that’s what the faithful can do, because of our participation and response to Jesus Christ. We are Christians!

While maintaining a healthy fear and reverence, we are able to approach this throne of grace. God gives us this as a discipline we can use every day.  In time of need there is help from the highest source. As to the nature of that help – mark these two words in the verse: “grace” and “mercy.” It is not just a verbal rant, or an unleashing of rage or merely some imprecation. It is not like modern therapy – where you spill your guts and feel better.

God offers Grace and Mercy, to help in time of need. To receive mercy, in this context – is to get help, though you never deserve such consideration – GOD IS GRACIOUS TO HIS PEOPLE. It is a spiritual discipline God provides for us that is always available.

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. – Samuel Chadwick (1832–1917)

2 John 7-11

John’s Second Epistle

2 Jno. 7-11

Watch Yourselves

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 Jno. 7-11

Modern religious culture has become so pluralistic, so obsessed with “everything is right and everybody is ok,” the idea of religious deceivers or false teachers is virtually ignored. That’s not a good sign.

All through the Bible God called various men (prophets, teachers, apostles) to warn the people of deceivers. Those warns assume two things: (1) Truth has been revealed. Absolute truth from God. (2) There are those who reject God’s truth and seek to lead people to lies.

John (here in 2nd John and elsewhere in the New Testament) does not ignore the hard reality of people who deceive. They have gone out into the world. So “watch yourselves,” and know this: “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son,” (verse 9).