A Faith Journey of a Common Man
Author: faith soldier

Chapter 8
-Heaven-

Luke 6:23 - "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.

 

Division seven is a perfect time to write about the glory of the kingdom of heaven. I did not plan it this way, it just worked out perfectly! The number seven appears in the bible countless times.  It is a number that can be defined as “completion”.  God created everything in the span of 7 days and on the 7th day he rested.

 

Genesis 1:1- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 2:2  - By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Heaven or the kingdom is mankind’s ultimate goal and reward for righteousness and faithfulness to God for his time on earth. It is the final destination for believers for rest from this sinful world. Just like the horrific images of hell, man has created many images of the beauty of Heaven.  From humans standing on clouds, angels with wings flying around, the streets paved in gold, the entrance with the pearly gates, beautiful harmonious music playing, seeing our past away loved ones in a new body, the old young again, friends that we have lost, even pets that we have lost, and so on!  Who hasn’t thought of a vision of an angel sitting on a cloud playing a harp?  Man has created these concepts through vivid imaginations.  There are also some people that have claimed they have died and been to heaven.  From the stories of following the white light at the end of the tunnel, to a believer flying with Jesus holding your hand, these are all amazing stories.  How do we as believers separate fact from fiction?  What are the facts?

Some stories of people who have been there are very interesting and give us hope for something t o look forward to. Maybe this is all that we need?

1 Samuel 26:23 - The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.

The bible teaches us in such verses like the above passage, that man will be rewarded for his righteousness and faithfulness.  If we go on thinking this in our earthly state it gives us hope that Gods word is true.  God does not lie.

Titus 1:2 - a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

 

 

As a human facing the daily trials and tribulations of life it can seem a bit afar, but this is where faith comes in.  Life is a gift from God:

Excerpt from- “1 Peter 3:7 – the gracious gift of life”

The “gift of life” can be taken away within a blink of an eye.  A car crash, stroke, heart attack, plane crash, whatever the case maybe, we really need to live each day like it was our last.  This does not mean to go on sinning in any way and every way possible, but to remember that what we do, think, how we act towards ourselves and one another in this earthly life, will affect where we go in the next:

Proverbs 14:14 - The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.

If there is no faith, there is no reward, therefore there is no heaven.  I know for a fact that there is a heaven. Though I have never been there, or known anyone who has, I do have proof in my heart, that there is such a place that exists. 

 James 1:17 -Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

My little girl was sent to me by the Heavenly Father from above.  She is the perfect gift.  Though my wife and I contributed to her birth, I give all the glory to God. I am thankful with daily prayer to God for giving us this precious, healthy, perfect baby.  God has blessed this child, as well as my wife and I, and I have no words to comprehend my love for her.  She has changed me for the better, and I have found a side of me that I would have never known – being a father figure.  As I have this deep unconditional love for this gift, the sender of the gift receives the same.  If it was not for God in Heaven, she would not be here; therefore there is a Heaven.

The most beautiful gifts in life are not materialistic. A car will break down, jewelry will break and tarnish, clothes will tear, video games will get old, toys will get out of date, but the true unconditional love for someone will never die.  God loves us all and wants to see us go to Heaven.

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Unfortunately for many people if they keep on living the way that they do, they will not make it there.

Matthew 7:21 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

 

Heaven gives us hope for so many in the world, with all the physical and emotional pain, as well as all of the suffering going on in the world around us.  We all go through it, but some are worse off than others. As bad as you think you may have it, there are people that are 10 times worse off than you.  Maybe you are upset that your pants do not fit right anymore because you put on a few extra pounds.  Look at the child in Africa who has no clothes and is starving, and fights for clean water on a daily basis.  Your materialistic problems do not seem so bad anymore do they?  As long as we do God’s will, we have hope for a better place where none of these tragedies are possible anymore:

Revelation 21:4  - He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

This is one of the most important passages that I have read being a new Christian and believer. No more mourning?  No more crying? No more tears? No more physical or emotional pain?  No more death?  The old order of things passing away?  This seems to be such a beautiful place to be.  Who does not want to feel these emotions and pain anymore?   

 

  It is very hard to imagine a place like this when the only thing we can compare that to is this dying and suffering world around us.  Unfortunately it is a world that we as sinning humans have created.

 

When Mary went into the tomb after Jesus had been resurrected, she was in mourning thinking that someone had stolen his body.  As the story goes, there were two angels where Jesus had been laid and passage John 20:10-16 where Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene begins:

John 20:10-16  - 10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.  13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
      Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

If we analyze this verse very carefully we can clearly understand that Mary who was a faithful follower of Jesus did not recognize him.  She thought he was a gardener!  How can someone who was with Jesus through his earthly time traveled with him, ate with him, listened to his teachings, and was with him on a daily basis did not recognize him in time span of not seeing him in three days?  Clearly after Jesus died and was resurrected he received a new body!

 

 

Another example is when Jesus appeared to his disciples before he made the miraculous catch of fish.  They too did not recognize the one they had followed:

John 21:4-12 - 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[a] 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.

This gives us hope that when we die our physical death, if we are old, handicapped, physically dis-formed, or whatever the case maybe, that we will receive a new body!  How awesome is that?

In this new body that Jesus was given, he was able to eat, drink, and gave others the chance to touch him:

Luke 24:37-43 - 37They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 40When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate it in their presence.

John 20:27 - Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

This is a physical body, not an apparition or spirit form.  He had “flesh and bones” like a normal human being.  What an interesting concept.  A lot of people are under the misconception that when we die our physical death, our soul will be released from our body and we will immediately go to our destined place (heaven of hell) for eternity as an apparition, ghost, or spirit form.  It appears that this is not the case.

Physical death as Jesus looked at the word, he did not call it death. He referred to it as “sleep”:

John 11:11
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."

The main point to all of this is beyond human comprehension.  We cannot grasp the reasoning of what happens after we die, we can only create possibilities, this is where hope and faith come in.  We as humans need to realize there is another world beyond this one.  What we do in this life will affect where we go in the next.

Luke 16:19-31    

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. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. 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. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, 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.'

 25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, 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 father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

 29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

 30" 'No, father Abraham,' 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.' "

Two words to decide for yourself where you want to be for eternity.  How you live your life now will decide and reflect which one of these words will suit you forever.

1.      Comfort = Heaven

2.      Torment = Hell

 

 

 

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