Saturday, March 25, 2017

Many Mansions

I dreamed that I had participated in a pageant giving awards for character, citizenship, and service. The awards ceremonies were extensive and took place over several days at a beautiful, luxurious resort. Although I was surprised, honored and joyful over some rewards I received, I was also disappointed at first that I did not receive some rewards I thought I deserved. But overall I felt jubilant, blessed, and thankful.

My husband had been with me throughout the week, and both our mothers were supposed to meet us there on the last day. His mother arrived in the late morning and was hungry, so he offered to take her to lunch. While I waited for my mother, I decided to explore the resort, as I had been too busy to do so while participating in the final events leading up to the awards ceremonies.

As I wandered through what seemed like a palace, beyond anything I had ever seen or imagined, every vista and surrounding seemed more inviting and spectacular than the one I had just experienced. Fragrances of orange blossoms, jasmine and exotic spices wafted through the air on a warm, gentle breeze.

Birds were singing, and many instrumental and vocal melodies blended together in perfect harmony. Lotus and water lilies floated on pools, magically undisturbed by cascading fountains. Tile mosaics in the floor and walls glittered as if made from gold, silver, and precious stones.

Several people approached me and thanked me for taking part in the pageant and said they had been uplifted by my story. They seemed familiar, as if I knew them, but I couldn’t pinpoint the specifics of our meeting or relationship.

The farther I traveled through this glorious place the more I wanted to experience, and the thought of leaving became unbearable. In the deep corners of my mind I knew that I had to return to my room, pack, and go home, but the urgency of doing that became increasingly remote. It finally struck me that in all these amazing settings, some designed as common areas and some as individual guest rooms and suites, there were no doors!

I found myself in a penthouse suite where a father and his young sons were playing in a fountain. The father was telling his sons a joyful story, and I could sense the overwhelming love and unbreakable bond that family shared. They seemed aware of my presence but welcoming and not in the least disturbed by the intrusion.

As I gradually entered wakefulness I did not want to leave the dream, for I felt as if I had an imagined glimpse of Heaven. Yet my dream was limited by the bounds of my earthly experience. Even for the apostles Paul and John, whom God actually transported to Heaven during their lifetime, albeit for a very short while, words could not begin to describe what they had experienced! (2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Revelation 4:1-2).

I was refreshed and encouraged by the dream, and yet I felt that tinge of disappointment at realizing that it was still a dream and not yet reality. For now, we are still strangers passing through a foreign country, longing for our true home (Hebrews 11:13-16). But we have that blessed and living hope of Heaven (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3), far beyond our wildest dreams!

One day, I believe and hope very soon, the Lord Jesus Christ will return for His children, for all those who have trusted Him as the Savior Who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:14; 51-53). He will call us up to meet with Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), and we will face Him at the judgment, or bema, seat where we will give an account of all that we have done, good and bad, since we were saved (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Our sins will not keep us from Heaven, for He has paid the price in full with His shed blood and justified us, or clothed us with His righteousness, so that we are reconciled and acceptable to the Father (Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:18). He will reward us for those deeds that we did to accomplish His purpose, provided they were motivated by our gratitude and love for Him and not to earn the praise of men or other earthly prize (Matthew 6:1-6).

The fire of judgment will identify those worthy deeds, for they will emerge unharmed and shining like gold, silver and precious stones. But for those deeds that burn up in the flames like wood, hay or stubble, we will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We may have been expecting a crown for our faithful service (1 Peter 5:1-4), only to realize that we did the right thing for the wrong reason (Luke 13:30).

But thankfully, He will wipe every tear from our eye (Revelation 7:17; 21:4) and we will be filled with joyful bliss just to be in His presence!

I believe I was reluctant to awaken from my dream because I hoped I might be there long enough to catch a glimpse of His precious face (1 Corinthians 13:12), or even just to touch the hem of His garment! (Matthew 14:36). Jesus Christ Himself will be the Light of Heaven (Revelation 21:23) and the Fountain of Living Water (Revelation 7:17) giving eternal life to all of us!

As if that were not enough, Heaven will also be filled with our loved ones in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We will break bread with them, first at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), and then whenever we desire, just as Jesus ate in His glorified body (Luke 24:30; 41-43).

And we will meet all those whom we in some way encouraged in their Christian walk (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). Even if we were not there when they asked Christ into their heart, we may have planted the seed of faith (Luke 8:5-8) or watered it by giving them a tract, witnessing, showing them the love of Christ, supporting a missionary who led them to Christ, or just by being a Godly example (1 Corinthians 3:6-8; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:9).

What a blessing to meet them, and then have eternity to get to know them better, as well as so many new family members (Matthew 12:47-50) who are our brothers and sisters in Christ! In our Father’s house are many mansions, each specially and lovingly designed for each of us (John 14:2). The streets will be of gold, the walls and foundations of precious stones (Revelation 21:18-21), and glorious worship music and praise will fill the air (Revelation 5:8-14).

In the New Jerusalem, there will be no sea (Revelation 21:1), for there are no more barriers between nations. I believe there will be no doors in that heavenly city because we will all be one loving family, with no secrets, no facades and nothing to hide. We will have free access to all of Heaven’s amazing homes, meeting places, and even the heavenly throne!

How awesome it will be to experience that which our eyes have not seen and our ears have not heard (1 Corinthians 2:9), exceedingly abundantly (Ephesians 3:20) beyond what we could even imagine or think! Even beyond that will be our indescribable, perfect, complete joy and peace of seeing our precious Savior face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12), worshiping Him and basking forever in His light and love!

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

© 2017 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

How Can We Redeem the Time?

Photo by GFreihalter 2010

During the first week of Daylight Savings Time, it has been pleasant to enjoy the later sunset, and with it, the illusion that we have more productive hours in the day. (On the flip side, though, we wake up earlier than we should, according to the clock, and because it is still dark out, we often end up lingering in bed longer than we should in the morning).

The bottom line is that any notion of our having more time is, sadly, just an illusion, for God created and controls time just as He created and controls everything else. Only He knows the number of our days, and when they will suddenly run out without warning. One day to Him can be as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and His power is so unlimited that He created the universe in six literal days (Exodus 20:11; 31:17).

To measure time, God created day and night (Genesis 1:5) and set aside one day of seven as a day of rest to divide time into weeks (Genesis 1:31; 2:3). His creation and alignment of the sun, moon and planets gave rise to time divisions of months, seasons and years (Genesis 1:14). Those seasons reflect different times and purposes within our earthly life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

God designed our bodies (Psalm 139:14) to have internal rhythms harmonizing with daily, monthly, and yearly cycles. Because He even designed atoms to have their own internal frequencies, extremely accurate atomic clocks can measure time using the microwave signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels.

In addition to our biological clock governing aging, our cellular clocks are preprogrammed to undergo a set number of divisions before the cell stops renewing itself and dies altogether. The clock keeps ticking, and grains of sand relentlessly pass through the hourglass, but nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26).

He can even stop the sun and moon to accomplish His plan (Joshua 10:12-14). He can add 15 years to a life that should have ended, although when He did so for King Hezekiah in answer to his prayer (2 Kings 20:1-11), there were negative consequences that Hezekiah could not have anticipated (2 Kings 20:12-18; 21:1-6).

What if you knew that any given hour would be your last? How would you spend it? My prayer is that those who keep putting off trusting Christ would realize that now is the accepted time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). May they even now be saved by His grace through their faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

And as believers, may we get our hearts right with God by dying to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31), yielding to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), asking others for forgiveness and forgiving them (Matthew 18:21-35), expressing love to family and friends (1 Peter 1:22), and telling everyone who would listen that Jesus saves!

But we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:13), or even another hour, so why not do all that now? We can get so busy with work, school, hobbies and even church that we forget to redeem the time and make every moment count (Luke 10:40-41). This earth is not our home, for we are just strangers passing through this weary land (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). May we spend our “time of sojourning” here considering how God will evaluate what we have done with our time (1 Peter 1:17).

Before we rush off to put out the fires and jump the hurdles we will encounter every day, we should make time to hear God through His Word (Psalm 119:97,105,133),and to pray that He would open the right doors, show us the right paths (Proverbs 3:5-6), and guide us through the day’s journey (Psalm 5:3; 143:8; Mark 1:35). Time spent in prayer allows us to use our time more productively and wisely. A wise preacher once said that he was too busy not to pray!

The peace and wisdom found in prayer will order our thoughts and steps (Psalms 37:23; Isaiah 26:3), calm our fears (1 John 4:18), and make us more focused and productive in all we do. Whatever we do, we can do it to glorify God in an attitude of service and excellence (Colossians 3:23). While showering and dressing, we can renew our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23) with Christian radio or CDs. If we’re stuck in traffic, we can use the time to listen for God’s directions and to pray for our loved ones.

While we wait in a checkout line at the supermarket, we can pray that all those in the store who are not saved will come to know Christ as their Savior, and that all the believers there will grow in faith, wisdom, and fruitfulness. Or, we can strike up a friendly conversation with the person behind us in line and pray that God will open the door for us to witness.

In the waiting room at the doctor’s office, why not bring our Bible to increase our wisdom, joy and peace, instead of thumbing through old magazines? Someone might ask us about what we’re reading, and it could be a divine appointment to share the meaning of God’s Word in our life (2 Timothy 4:2). A young man in our church began silently reading his Bible every day during his lunch break, which led to questions from classmates and became an informal Bible study!

In a sense, every hour that we’re on earth is that “one extra hour,” because it allows us a new beginning, a time to start over in doing what pleases God. May we use it wisely to glorify Him!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Edited, expanded and reposted from the archives

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