Let Every Kindred, Every Tribe

At the time, I chuckled when my Welsh friend pictured American clouds and United Kingdom clouds in heaven. “As much as I like you,” he informed me, “I don’t want to visit an American cloud.”

Not only did he have an unbiblical concept of heaven, he infiltrated it with a nationalist lens that now, 34 years later, saddens me. Does he still anticipate that sort of division in the New Jerusalem? If so, I don’t believe he properly understands the depiction of heaven that the apostle John presented in Revelation.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ~~Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)

Heaven unites Christians from every tribe and nation so that we might all worship the Lord together. Rather than allowing our differences to separate us, we will celebrate our unity  as we worship Him along with the angels and the elders. Our individual distinctions won’t be erased,  but neither will they separate us from one another.

The glorious harmony between people groups will happen as we concentrate our attention on the King of kings and Lord of lords. My dear Welsh friend will be so enamored with Christ that he simply won’t care about keeping his distance from Americans! All of us will joyously join the everlasting song as we crown Jesus Lord of all.

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How Much More Do I Need?

Contentment doesn’t come easily for me. Ironically, the Lord has blessed me with more temporal things than most people ever enjoy. Sometimes I think that the more stuff one has, the more she feels that she deserves.

The Lord has convicted me over the  last few weeks concerning my covetous attitudes. At my church’s Women’s Conference in May, I received a booklet on contentment, which He used to show me some idols that I’d been cherishing lately. Seeing the truth about my covetousness hasn’t been fun by any means, but it has helped me retrain my focus on Christ and His eternal blessings a bit better. Really, I’m complete in Him!

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‘Twas Grace That Taught My Heart To WHAT?

Fearing God fell out of fashion decades ago, and I’d venture to guess that it’s not going to make a comeback among most evangelicals. Popular wisdom (if you can really call it wisdom) says that we should come to Christ out of love,  not out of fear.

But I praise God for allowing me to feel afraid of eternity in hell for two weeks in January of 1971. It was a miserable two weeks, most assuredly, and I wouldn’t want to repeat them. But the Lord graciously gave me that dreadful period of fear as a preparation for hearing that Jesus died for my sins.  The grace of fearing God enabled me to experience the grace of receiving His mercy.

Verse 2 of Amazing Grace reminds me of that horrible two weeks and that wonderful day when He opened my heart to the Gospel. Indeed, it was grace that taught my heart to fear, and precious grace relieved those fears!

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An Invitation To Sinners Only

As you read through the four gospels,  you can’t help but notice the spiritual pride of the Pharisees. They found Jesus offensive because He threatened their political power, certainly, but also because He confronted them with their inherent sin. They believed that their acts of righteousness (a righteousness, by the way, devised from their own rules rather than God’s Word)  pleased the Lord. They couldn’t come to Jesus because they simply didn’t believe they needed a Savior.

In contrast, I see my sin all too clearly! I’ll be the first to tell you exactly how wretched and disgusting I really am! And if you doubt me, my husband and my sister could easily testify to my corrupt nature. I know how poor and needy I am with respect to a righteousness of my own.

I also know that Jesus took my sin upon Himself on the cross. As a result, I can go to Him, trusting Him to give me His righteousness. My need for Him opens me to receive His mercy, causing me to glorify Him instead myself.

Are you poor and needy enough to arise and go to Jesus?

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What Are You Looking Forward To?

Many years ago, a friend asked me, “What are you looking forward to?”

Immediately I answered, “Heaven.”

“Well yeah,” he responded with a hint of impatience in his voice, “that’s a given. I meant, what are you looking forward to in the next few weeks?”

Isn’t his attitude indicative of our culture? As the movie title says, heaven can wait — we prefer to invest our thoughts and dreams in the here and now. We envision marriage, careers, children and retirement as fulfilling events that give life joy and meaning, rarely giving attention to eternal matters. Even as Christians, we get more excited about upcoming women’s conferences or our child’s baptism than about being face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we need to stop for a moment and remind ourselves of our ultimate vision. That conference and our child’s baptism should point us to Jesus. He must remain as our vision as we submit everything in our lives to Him. Of all that we look forward to, Jesus must be first and foremost.

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Rejoice For Much More Than Temporal Blessings

The Lord has been exceedingly wonderful to me in this life. Most notably, of course, He abundantly answered my prayers to be married. While most people can pretty much assume that they will marry, you see, severely disabled people like me and John grow up assuming that we will live our entire lives as singles.

Not only did the Lord permit me to marry, but He permitted me to marry a godly man! How many women can say that? Believe me, I well understand how profoundly God has blessed me through my marriage.

He has given me other temporal blessings — too innumerable to recount in this little blog post. I’d be foolish to ignore His goodness throughout my life.

But I’d be even more foolish to suppose that His goodness stops with these temporal blessings.  As wonderful as these blessings are, they’re mere trinkets compared to the spiritual blessings He gives me through Christ. And I believe He calls His people to celebrate those spiritual blessings, remembering that only spiritual blessings will extend into eternity.

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You Lose A Lot By Coming To Jesus

Does my title shock you? It’s not very seeker sensitive, I’ll admit.

Then again, I didn’t exactly enumerate the things you lose by coming to Jesus, nor did I explain the nature of those things. Yes, you lose a lot by coming to Jesus, but consider what you actually lose. Perhaps you lose undesirable things that only lock you in a prison of despair.  Perhaps you would be relieved — even grateful — to lose them. Some losses turn out to be wonderfully liberating!

I also didn’t mention that coming to Jesus results in gaining much more than you lose. Nor did I tell you about the quality of the things you gain. You might want to consider the idea that, by coming to Jesus, you gain blessings that far outweigh any losses you incur. Why wouldn’t you gratefully accept losses that allow you to gain eternal riches?

Listen to this treasured hymn as you calculate the losses and gains involved in coming to Jesus.

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