Category: Heaven

Secrets of the Kingdom of God

Have you ever heard someone say, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is near!”? 

What feelings or thoughts come to mind when you hear that? 


Honestly,  I have always had mixed emotions about that verse…until recently. God gave me a new perspective on this. 

John 1: 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee,proclaiming the good news of God.15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

One of the ways I’ve seen this verse was futuristic…Jesus is coming back soon, better get my life in order…oh my goodness! And, Luke 20:30 does lend itself to that thought pattern.   

But, in John 1:14-15 we see a different concept. What Jesus meant when he said this was literally…the kingdom has come near...it is standing right in front of you!


How much closer can it get? 

Jesus was standing there, offering people heaven on earth. 

In the Old Testament, there was a system for getting near to God. People made long treks to the temple. They cleansed themselves before coming close to God. And even then, they needed a priest or a profit to tell them the things of God.  

Fast forward to the New Testament. God, through his Holy Spirit, would now live on the inside of his people. Awesome news! 

The Kingdom of God is near! 

I’m so glad He lives on the inside of me, being my comforter, being my peace, my joy!  While I love to go to church, I’m glad He doesn’t only reside in church…but in my heart…where I can access him anytime….whether I’m clean or dirty, full of sin or repented. He is there!

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You Can Choose Heaven or Hell

Yesterday at church I was reminded of heaven. We heard a beautiful sermon about heaven and all the things we would be doing in heaven. The pastor gave us some scriptures to look up at home because he could not get to all of them. 

Today, I looked up one of them…Luke 16: 19-31.  This not only gave me a little glimpse of heaven, but a big glimpse of hell. Take a look with me…



(scripture via www.biblegateway.com)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25640R" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> 20 At his gate was laid a beggar<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25641S" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25642T" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25645U" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25645V" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”>
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25646W" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25646X" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25649Y" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25650Z" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> and the Prophets;<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25650AA" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-25651AB" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”> he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” 
This convicts me on many levels. Notice I said “convicts” and not “condemnation”. Conviction is a good thing. It reminds us to do right. Condemnation brings shame and guilt and usually we self medicate to deal with how bad it makes us feel. Conviction challenges us to rise above our circumstances and live the life Christ intended. 
Here are my convictions: 
1. It reminds me that hell is a real place, and I do not want to go there. 
2. It reminds me that I don’t want anyone to go there so I need to tell others about Jesus. 
3. It reminds me of the finality of hell. There is a “great chasm set in place….nor can anyone cross over from there to us”. 
I believe in Jesus because of his love for me and the awesome love that I feel for him. I believe his power and his goodness are so great that I don’t want to live without him in my life. I can’t live without him. He has become so ingrained in who I am, that I don’t want to live any other way. He is my hope. He is my rock. He is my truth. 
Those are the things I dwell on. This is a relationship to me, not just fire insurance, so I don’t spend much time thinking about hell. This scripture of the beggar and the rich man reminds me, “oh yeah, and there is that hell thing too!”. (lol)
The rich man saw that it was too late for him, and he pleaded for the life of his family. He begged God to send someone from the dead to convince them to repent and believe. But, he was told even that would not work. Was it too late for them too? Had they already been told many times and simply refused to believe? Ouch! 
Heaven is a real place…but so is hell. I don’t like to think about hell very often, but it is a good reminder that we don’t want to live there for eternity.  And, as if hell were not bad enough, can you imagine if we had to be in hell and then watch those in heaven? That would be pure torture. 
The good news is … it is our choice. We choose where we want to live for eternity. And, I chose heaven.  I hope you do too. 
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Heaven Is For Real

This book by Todd Burpo is a hot topic right now, so I thought I would weigh in on it. I quickly glanced at it in the bookstore, and my initial thought was, “huh, not interested!” and I moved on, giving it little thought.

Lately I’ve heard many of my friends discussing on facebook how much they enjoyed the book. So, I thought I should read it. To my surprise, it blessed my socks off. Now, don’t get me wrong, I read it with my typical skepticism, looking for a flaw. But, guess what? God blessed me anyway!

I thought the book was fantastic. By the time it was over, I saw it as an awesome testimony that could have been added on to my bible or the book of Revelations. It was a small glimpse into what God has waiting for us.  It was God blessing us, giving us hope that our faith is for real. Giving his believers another reason to hang on and know that he cares for us and he is waiting for us. There are some things we will not know until we get to heaven, but I’m grateful he gives us these little tidbits as we go so that we don’t lose our faith.

There is another book written by an older gentleman called Flight to Heaven. It gives more vivid details because it was an adult giving the account. It made the Holy Spirit do summer-saults in my heart. I loved what God did in this man’s life. He waited 30 or 40 years before he wrote his book because he wanted to “live out” what he saw in heaven. And he did, then he wrote a book about it. Amazing testimony.

One common thread in these books is the overwhelming love that these people feel when they return from heaven. They have an unexplainable love for people…a longing to make sure they go to heaven…a longing to make sure they know Jesus. That kind of love only comes from one place – God! It is the only thing that can transform a person overnight – or in three minutes.

Love is what makes me believe that these books are true testimonies. People don’t change…unless they have had an encounter with God…then they are different forever.

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