Heaven in Your Sights

The ultimate impact of Christianity cannot be experienced on earth.  There are heavenly realities that are beyond our comprehension.

Yet most Western Christians have learned to be very earthly in their view of things.  They think about things of this natural life, instead of having Heaven in their sights.

I am prompting you here to take stock of the Heavenly realities and to get your perspective back on track.

Impact on Eternity

Your human existence is incredibly short.  We have about 70 years to live on planet earth.  And even if you lived double that, to 140 years that is not even a blink in terms of eternity.

Your eternal existence is SO amazing and SO extensive, that your experiences on earth don’t rate a mention.  Even a whole life of fine meals, comfortable furnishings, fast cars, impressive views, memorable holidays, wonderful friends, fun moments, and the like, will be long forgotten within moments of seeing the glories of heaven, or facing the horrors of hell.

Eternity is hard for us to grasp, but its reality and its impact should not be ignored.

Eternal Riches

The absolute blessedness of being God’s child, in the Heavenly family, surrounded and immersed in blessings that make human treats seem worthless, is SO profound and SO glorious that no amount of wealth, fame, fun, excitement, power, glory, significance or indulgence on earth has any value compared to those eternal riches.

Yet so many Christians are totally distracted by their urge to gain more of that which is of no value.  We get caught up in the same quest for money, success, promotion, importance, love, satisfaction, possessions, fulfilment and such, as those whose eternal destiny is shockingly tragic and horrible.

It is time to refocus our attention on the eternal riches.

Biblical Instruction

In view of the endemic addiction to the world that seems to hold the western church spellbound some Bible instructions stand in glaring contrast to that worldly culture.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.” 1John 2:15

“If you have risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col 3:1,2

“For they that live by fleshly natural values think about things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:5,6

The Instruction if Jesus

Add to those previous verses given to us by the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John the clear statement of Jesus about not laying up treasures on earth.

Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupts things and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Heavenly Treasure

Do you have anything stored up in heaven yet?  How much is in your heavenly account?

How would you know how much you had?  What are you looking forward to in eternity?

Or are you distracted by your store of earthly wealth?  Are you much more aware of you earthly bank account than your heavenly treasure?

How do you add to your heavenly riches?

Persecution Dividend

Jesus taught that you get a heavenly reward when you are persecuted for your faith here on earth.  It’s not a pleasant thought in terms of our human experience, but it pays really good dividends.  Persecution is a pretty good eternal investment.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11,12

All those times you avoided being in a spot where you might be teased or mocked for your faith you missed out on adding to your heavenly reward.  Your concern about things “below” cost you greater blessings “above”.

Losing What You Try to Save

Another danger with being preoccupied with this life is that we might be tempted to try to “save” it, and end up losing much more.

Jesus warned that if we try to save this life, protecting yourself, your reputation, or whatever, you will lose your life.

“For whoever saves his life will lose it: and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

If you are anxious to save your skin, protect your reputation, preserve your opportunities for comfort and pleasure, or similarly “save” your life, Jesus warns that you will lose it.  But if you abandon those things for Christ’s sake you will find real purpose and pleasure in your life, and great blessing in Heaven.

Angels Food

A great analogy for our life is given in the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites after coming out of Egypt.  They were supernaturally sustained in the wilderness by food that was on the ground fresh every morning.  This manna kept them alive for forty years.

But the people loathed what they referred to as “light bread”.  It just didn’t satisfy their hankering for the kind of food their appetites wanted.

“And the people spoke against God and against Moses, Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or any water; and our soul loathes this light bread. ” Numbers 21:5

Yet the food the people loathed was very special.  It was “angels’ food”, the “corn of heaven”.  That means it nourished the spirit of man, but did not pander to the human appetites.  And remember, that food kept the people alive for 40 years.

“And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.  Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.” Psalm 78:24,25

Flesh Rejecting Spiritual Things

The “angels’ food” situation reveals something that is patently obvious from many points of view.  Natural man despises spiritual things.  Man rejects spiritual things and wants to pursue that which indulges and satisfies their fleshly nature.

Spiritual things are awesome and wonderful, such as we see in the wilderness where the manna sustained human life for 40 years.  But spiritual things don’t pander to our lusts and pride.

Note that the key qualities of this world, which our natural man hankers after, are matters of pride and lust.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.” 1John 2:15-17

Spiritual things do not cater for our pride, but will call us to be humble.  Spiritual things will not feed our lusts, but will call on us to die to our flesh.

Tricking it Up

The modern western church caters for fleshly interests.  Rather than promoting what is strictly spiritual, churches try to “trick up” their services, music, presentation and message, so they can attract people.

But to attract people means we are pandering to their flesh.  Remember that spiritual things are not inherently attractive to natural man.  Angels’ food is loathed by people, unless God is calling them and doing a work in their hearts.

So we now have thousands of churches with all the tricky bits to pander to human pride and human lust.  Good looking people up front and state of the art design and deco, with upbeat populist messages, promises of more fun and more fulfilment, ego stroking affirmations and similar accoutrements are packaged together to create an appealing context to attract the public.

The gospel is morphed from “you need to be saved from your sin” to “God loves you and wants you to have a good time”.  Joining the club is more the model than laying down your life.

So it is not surprising that the fleshly “What’s in it for me?” theme should underlie much of what we call modern western Christianity.

Look to Heaven

Turn your eyes heavenward.  Stop being distracted or even addicted to this world and its glitzy seductions.  There is no dividend from investing in your flesh.  There are FAR more wonderful things to experience than those things that appease your pride and lust.

If you pander to your flesh you die.  If you, through the Spirit of God, do put to death the impulses of your natural man you will live.

“For if you live after the flesh, you will die: but if you through the Spirit do put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

I call you to so live this life that you will be more than ready for the mansion Christ has prepared for you in His Father’s house, and for the great reward waiting for you in Heaven.  There are riches and blessings for us to enjoy that are beyond our comprehension and they are ours for ever, world without end, in Heaven, not on earth.

Politics and Religion are Intrinsically Linked

The separation of Church and State is a much-misunderstood concept. It is also a concept that is exploited to insist on removal of religious sentiment from the political arena.

The motivation for such ambition is clear. Political leaders down through history have wanted to displace God and act as the ultimate law, rather than as subjects of a Holy God to whom they must give account. The Pharaohs and Caesars are among the better known of the many human leaders who asserted their divinity.

Three thousand years ago the Psalmist taunted those political leaders who tied to conceive of a world where they were not accountable to God.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD will have them in derision.” Psalm 2:1-4

“Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:10-12

Church & State Are Bound Together

Despite all the rhetoric and emotion that may be expressed against religious reality in state affairs it has always been understood that God is supreme over political process. “By me Kings reign” is the claim made by wisdom, which is God’s handmaiden.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Proverbs 8:15,16

God is the Supreme King and Deity

A clear testimony to the intimate connection between Church and State, or Politics and Religion, is the example of God, Himself.

God is the Supreme King, sitting on a heavenly throne over all the Kingdoms of the world. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But God is also the God above all Gods. He is the ultimate deity. No idol, deity, spirit, icon, or religion can challenge His supremacy.

Church and State, Religion and Politics are intrinsically combined in one person. So how in the world can it be conceived that the two are not completely and intimately related to each other?

The Spiritual Reality Rules Politics

For all the protestations that human government must be free of religious connection the whole argument is based on nonsense. The world and everything in it is first and foremost a spiritual reality. A moral God created us all and is and will judge us all based on how we submit ourselves to Him. So the idea that human government is somehow independent of divine realities is simple self-delusion.

The Bible gives us several glimpses into the heavenly realm and there we see that a rebellious subordinate is seeking to displace and contend with God. That created angelic being which chose to betray God is no match for God’s ultimate and supreme authority as the creator of all, but he goes about as if he has authority and power, seducing people to join him in rebellion against God.

So human politics and society are constantly under the influence of these two spiritual entities. When people submit to God they enjoy God’s blessing. When they submit to the rebel spirit they come under God’s judgement and various slaveries and degradations.

The State Desperately Needs the Church

Any true statesman knows that his authority and effectiveness is totally dependent on God. He will recognise his desperate need for spiritual support and divine authority. True statesmen, then, will recognise that the state desperately needs the church.

God is currently calling a new generation of true statesmen to arise. They are from many nations and divergent backgrounds. They have distinctive callings on their life and they will each have different levels of influence and impact. But they are the new generation of servant of the Lord. God is calling forth men of character and divine authority who will redeem nations and rescue politics, science, religion and culture from the seductions and disembowelment which we have come to think of as normal.

I call you to be part of that new generation of heavenly statesman on the earth.

The Supreme God

The God identified in the Bible as Almighty God stands as the supreme being of all existence. To illustrate the profound significance of his being allow me to show His supremacy in the core areas of human existence.

Human Existence

Human existence and human life experience are governed by a range of structures, systems and realities. For the purpose of this article let me identify a set of those core areas of human existence.

Individuality is a core issue in human experience. We are all individuals, unique from every other person and creature.

Family is also a core issue, since we are all brought into the world as a result of the actions of others. Those parents and the family from which they come are a reality we cannot ignore.

Society is also a basic issue of human existence. We all live in some form of society with at least some form of social inter-action with others. The society may be a village or a city, and it may be a small group of associates we meet face to face or a global set of friends linked by a virtual social network.

Religion is yet another core issue of human existence. Even those who ignore religion must recognise that much of society and human history is deeply influenced by religious thought and process.

Politics is also included in this list, as societies manage their processes through leaders, elected officials or others who take charge over them, for better or for worse.

Law is another basic issue, whether in the form of human conscience or highly developed legal processes. Law stands apart from politics because political entities are not exempt from, nor lords over, legal processes.

Commerce should also be included in a list of structures and systems which impact our human existence.

Education and Communication are also components of our life experience, whether they are in definable systems or not, so let’s throw them into the mix for good measure.

God’s Supremacy

Let me now review this list of systems and processes and point out where God stands in relation to each of them. You will see that God is ‘supreme’ in every sphere.

Individuality: Our personal individuality cannot stand independent of God. God is supreme over our personal independence and individual uniqueness. God, as our creator, is the master of our whole existence, being the very author of our individuality and existence. So God rules supreme over every individual, no matter how defiant he or she may be in asserting a right to unique existence. They are the pot which the potter has made (Jeremiah 18:1-11) and their individuality has no existence outside of God, who rules supreme.

Family: We are each the product of a ‘father’ and ‘mother’, no matter how casual the relationship may have been which caused us to be conceived. We also come under the influence of those who are not our biological parents but who function in the capacity of father and mother in our lives, by nurture, mentoring or the like. Yet God is the supreme parent. He is our Father in heaven, as Jesus revealed (Matthew 6:9). He is our ultimate ancestor, as the lineage of Christ reveals in Luke 3:38. Christ’s family line is traced back to Adam, as is true for all of us, and we are told that Adam is the “son of God”. So, in terms of ‘family’ God is supreme. He is the most wonderful father ever imaginable, but He is also our ultimate ancestor. We are all His children by virtue of our natural birth as descendents of Adam.

Society: God is the ultimate source of social reality. While it is people who collectively create social entities it is God who has the most profound power over social interaction. When two or more people (society) gather in His name He joins their group (Matthew 18:20). But God is able to do more than just participate. It is He who is able to change the social experience for that group of people or their relationship with other groups of people. Ephesians 2:14 speaks of the ministry of Jesus Christ as the one who makes disparate groups compatible and who removes the social barriers which separate them. God is supreme over social experience.

Religion: God is clearly supreme in this dimension because He is the God above all gods (Exodus 15:11). Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). All the religion of earth pales into insignificance against the heavenly temple and religious practice which is described for us in Hebrews 9:11 and 12,24. God is supreme over all religious reality, because He operates out of the heavenly temple with spiritual processes which have eternal impact, not temporary significance.

Politics: Here again God is the clearly supreme being. Christ is described as the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16). And the kingdoms of this world are taken under the supremacy of God (Revelation 11:15). Politics is clearly an area where God rules supreme – even though most politicians probably react to that notion. They may not mind whatever claims God makes theoretically, but many would not like God to exercise His lordship over them in practice.

Law: Once again this is not an area where there is any doubt. God is supreme over all legal process, because He is the judge of us all. The flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of the great cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are historical testimony of God’s legal supremacy. His Great White Throne judgement (Revelation 20:11,12) will call everyone to legal account, including all the kings, high court judges, magistrates and potentates who have exercised any level of legal authority over another.

Commerce: Commercial practice is regulated by God and overturned by Him. God demands just weights and balances, so commerce is honest and equitable. God limits the capacities for the charging of interest on borrowed monies. And God calls people to find provision in Him, completely independently of commercial process – “come buy without money” Isaiah 55:1. God is also supreme over those processes by which people seek to make commercial gain. God controls the crops, the completion of the building project and whether the money goes through holes in your bag. Commerce is not independent of God, but subject to God’s blessing or frustration. God is supreme over commerce.

Education & Communication: The revelation of God, through the Bible, is the most supreme education and communication in all of human history. No announcement or instruction has ever matched God’s Word in personal, social and national impact, throughout the entirety of human history. All of the news channels, universities, schools of philosophy and so on are lame when compared with the power of God’s word in the mouth of a child or God’s communications in the heart of a frail old man. God is supreme over all these processes and he will hold us accountable for every word which we speak, so teachers, media and entertainers are subject to God’s supremacy in their roles.

God is Supreme

This summary document should alert you to the truth that God is supreme. All those who beat their chests and seek to impress you with their pre-eminence should be recognised as humble and insignificant when compared to God’s presence in your life and circumstances.

I call you out of the tyranny and beguilement of those who wish you to come under their influence. I call you back to the simplicity and power of working with the one who is supreme and not getting entangled with those who wish to displace Him in your world.

God Loves Abundance

“The heavens declare the glory of God” Psalm 19:1

One of the striking testimonies of who God is and how He does business with us has been on display since creation, yet it is often overlooked by heathen and Christian alike. The heavens declare the glory of God and who whole of creation is an exhibition of God’s character and qualities. That display is so ubiquitous and compelling that mankind has no excuse for denying the existence and character of God.

“That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:19,20

God’s Attributes on Display

The vastness of space and the intricacies of miniature design combine with the whole of creation to testify to God’s attributes. God is supreme in His power. God is awesome in His design capabilities. God is profound in His scope and dimension. God is vast in His sovereignty. God is compassionate, as seen in His devotion of so much diversity just for human enjoyment. God is perfect, as seen by the incomprehensible complexity which works with such perpetual effectiveness.

With such profound evidence on display for everyone to encounter, throughout time and across the globe, no person has any excuse for refusing to believe in God, or rejecting the revelation of God given in the Bible.

The Attribute of Abundance

Years ago I was struck by the evidence of God’s delight in ‘abundance’. I had not been taught to think of God as a God of Abundance, so it surprised me to realise this quality. It came to my attention that I had been to remote locations where entire hillsides were radiant in blossom, yet hardly anyone was there to enjoy the sight. Magnificent sunsets are on display to empty oceans or remote mountain locations. Enchanting bird songs fill the air in places where no-one hears them sing. Fruit flourishes on trees where no-one picks the fruit.

I recalled many such observations from my youth. I once walked a track in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and came across a passionfruit vine. Some hiker had dropped seed, possibly years before. Now passionfruit tendrils trailed across the ferns and foliage with huge blossoms waiting to form the delicious and tangy fruit. I stopped and scanned the scene, tracing the vines as they ran in various directions, across dense undergrowth. I pointed out the vine to another hiker who couldn’t have cared less. Most walkers on this track were focussed on getting to their objective, not noticing the fruit that was possibly only a few paces away. We did not have time to stop and gather fruit, so I passed on, remembering an abundance that was going to waste.

God Creates Abundance

God revels in abundance and creates it with abandon. How many different shapes of flower would have been sufficient to cater for man’s existence? Probably very few. Yet God made an abundance of shapes, sizes, colours, fragrances and delights in the floral world. God created that abundance for our pleasure. There is no real reason for it otherwise.

How many seeds or grains come from wheat, or an apple tree? There is super-abundance. If the objective was simply to ensure survival of the species, then just one or two grains or seeds would be sufficient. But there is a superfluity. Abundance comes in such measure that we can take an abundance for ourselves and there is still sufficient for the plants and species to survive.

Abundance Prompts Faith

Recognition of God’s commitment to abundance reveals His character. God is a “giving” God. He gives to us nothing less than ‘abundance’. God gives to us superlatively. He not only meets our needs, but throws in many extra hand-fulls – not our hands, but His huge hands, full of superfluous supply.

Just how much sky do you need? Just how many colours do we really need to see? Just how many different flavours would be enough to keep us alive? What if everything felt exactly the same and there were no sensations of texture?

God revels in abundance. That’s His character. The creation reveals, from day one, that God is a God of abundance. And that abundance is for man’s delight. So God is ready to give us ‘abundance’. God has proven His willingness to give us more than we need. He has proven that He is not looking for our survival but to delight and thrill us with His provision.

That’s a real kicker for faith. That should stir you to increased boldness before the throne of Grace. You should have increased excitement about how God will supply all your needs. He doesn’t do it according to the minimum required to have you survive until tomorrow. He meets your needs according to His riches in glory.

“But my God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Allow me to introduce you to your God, the God of all eternity. Allow me to introduce you to your creator and reveal to you that He is a God of Abundance. I encourage you to come to your God, and to press in to Him for the abundance that He wants to give you.

Entering Heavenly Zones

Just as a top sportsperson controls their mental, emotional and personal faculties to stay ‘in the zone’, so too Christians can take responsibility for the heavenly zones God has made available to us. This post discusses how we enter those heavenly zones and go through the open doors God has created for us.

I mentioned in the last post on this topic that God has given us a number of doorways into heavenly realities. We are: seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6); under his wings (Psalm 91:4); accessible to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16); accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6); and able to run into the name of the Lord (Proverbs 18:10). There are more than that, and the most wonderful door we have is into God’s throne room.

King David taught that it is personally possible to choose to enter through the heavenly door into the ‘zone’ of God’s presence. He openly explained how it is done.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

We can choose to enter into God’s presence by thanksgiving and praise. We don’t have to stay in a place of fear or loneliness, when we can enter His gates and come into His courts.

David was so aware of our ability to take control of our inner state and thus to change the ‘zone’ we are in that he repeated a statement which shows how he did it.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? hope in God: for I will yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” Psalm 42:5,6

Allow me to paraphrase what David is saying here. He recognises that his soul is downcast. He is feeling low. He is not ‘in the zone’ to be a man of faith or to be a champion. He is struggling internally. But rather than let his natural feelings call the shots, he chooses to change zone. He chooses to move into a heavenly zone where he can overcome these depressive feelings. He reminds himself; in fact he demands of himself, that he trust in God. He also chooses to praise God, confident that God is the real help he needs. He then explains to God that he is feeling low and says, “That’s why I am reminding myself of who You are”.

David understood that our natural state does not have to rule the day. When we remember who God is we can encourage ourselves in faith and step into God’s presence, finding His grace in our situation.

The Apostle Paul had a similar idea when he gave instructions to Timothy, telling him to “stir up the gift” that was in him (2Timothy 1:6). Paul practiced the choice of his zone when he was thrown into the dungeon in Philippi. There, denied liberty and justice, Paul and Silas sang songs of praise. They were able to enter into God’s presence, despite their natural circumstances. What resulted was a divine visitation of a miracle earthquake that set them all free, without endangering any of them. Salvations resulted.

The point of the lesson is this. You can choose the ‘zone’ in which you are living right now. You can allow circumstances to make you downcast or keep you distracted. Alternatively you can take responsibility for which door you enter into. You can press in to God’s presence, access heavenly blessings, “be there” in divine glories, and overcome natural circumstances. You can build yourself up, stir up your gifts, encourage yourself in the Lord, keep yourself in the love of God, remember who God is, call on His name, access the throne of grace and much more.

Are you ‘in the zone’? If not, then why not? You can do something about it. You can choose where you will spend the rest of this day. You can choose to move in to your spiritual inheritance, or to remain in a prison while the door is wide open.

Let’s be a people who are ‘in the zone’ of God’s presence, enjoying His best for His glory, all the time. Amen.