Tag Archive | heaven

God of this City – Heaven

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”  Hebrews 11:16

To appropriately conclude this little series on the God of this City, we turn our focus to the Eternal City that God has promised to us.  The magnitude of verses, songs, hymns, and spiritual songs that focus on heaven is almost innumerable.  The following hymns from Spurgeon’s hymnal express all that I could ever long to say about heaven:

We’ve no abiding city here;
This may distress the worldling’s mind
But should not cost the saint a tear,
Who hopes a better rest to find.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Sad truth, were this to be our home;
But let this thought our spirits cheer,
We seek a city yet to come.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Then let us live as pilgrims do:
Let not the world our rest appear,
But let us haste from all below.

We’ve no abiding city here;
We seek a city out of sight:
Zion its name–the Lord is there:
It shines with everlasting light.

O sweet abode of peace and love,
Where pilgrims freed from toil are blest!
Had I the pinions of the dove,
I’d fly to thee, and be at rest.

But hush, my soul, nor dare repine!
The time my God appoints is best:
While here, to do His will be mine,
And His to fix my time of rest.

Thomas Kelly, 1804

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I’ve shared the hymn below before, here, but it bears repeating!  May we never lose our awe of God’s grace and the wonder of being invited to His bountiful, heavenly table:

How sweet and awesome is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart, and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace
!!

Issac Watts, 1709

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If you’re still with me (I don’t make a habit of writing such lengthy posts), our Hope of a City to come is woven throughout the Word!  Here’s just a taste:  

“But you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant… ”  Hebrews 12; 22-24

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Revelation 21:2

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down of heaven from God, having the glory of God….”  vs. 10,11

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it!”  vs 23, 24

“And their shall no longer be any curse (!); and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bondservants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face…”  Rev. 22:3, 4

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 “Therefore comfort one another with these words!”  I Thess. 4:18

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe!”    Hebrews 12:28  

 

My Hope

“My Hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Hope is….to cherish a desire with anticipation.  That defines My Hope…Jesus.

“Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life!”  Titus 3:7

In memory of Todd’s recent passing from death to eternal life, I needed a reminder of  hope and encouragement, since I find myself on this side of eternity, seeing a bit darkly, and walking, sometimes hobbling, by faith.

C. H. Spurgeon writes:

‘The voice of weeping shall be no more heard.’  (Isaiah 65:19)   The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone.  There are no broken friendships, or blighted prospects in heaven.  Poverty, famine, peril, persecution and slander are unknown there.  No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens.

  They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified.  They are without fault before His throne and are fully conformed to His image.  Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin. 

They weep no more, because all fear of change is past.  They know that they are eternally secure.  Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They live in a city that will never be stormed..bask in a sun that will never set…drink from a river that will never run dry…and pick fruit from a tree that will never wither.

They weep no more because every desire is fulfilled.  They cannot wish for anything that they do not already have in their possession.  Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, and all the faculties are completely satisfied.

The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them…and that same joyful rest remains for us.  It may not be far distant.  ‘Wherefore, comfort one another with these words!’ (I Thess. 4:18) 

John Newton wrote this hymn about a loved one’s death:

In vain, my fancy strives to paint
The moment after death,
The glories that surround the saint,
Then yielding up his breath.

One gentle sigh the fetter breaks:
We scarce can say,”They’re gone!”
Before the willing spirit takes
Her mansion near the throne.

Faith strives, but all its efforts fail,
To trace her in the flight;
No eye can pierce within the veil
Which hides that world of light.

Thus much (and this is all) we know,
They are completely blest:
Have done with sin, and care, and woe,
And with their Saviour rest!

Before our Lord, they praise His name,
His face they always view;
Then let us followers be of them,
That we may praise Him too.

 

This is an encouraging quote from Bunyan’s Pilgrim:

There also you shall serve Him continually with praise, shouting, and thanksgiving, Him whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the mighty One.

 

And from Jesus:

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”  John 11:25

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hell.” Revelation 1:17, 18 

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17

 

What is your Hope? 

 

Eternal Hope and Change

“The hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

Without going political here, suffice it to say I’m not feeling very hopeful with our nation’s change.  So I remind myself almost daily that one man’s promise of “hope and change” is temporary, ethereal, and like chaff in the wind.  My hope and change is eternal, weighty, and powerful.

A past devotional by C.H.Spurgeon calibrates my focus back to the Lord:

Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.

It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there.  Here we are weary and toil-worn, but there is the land of rest where the sweat of labour will no more moisten the worker’s brow, and fatigue will be forever banished…

We have suffered bereavement after bereavement, but we are going to the land of the immortal, where graves are unknown things!  Here, sin is a constant grief to us, but there we will be perfectly holy…Oh, is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness, but will soon inherit Canaan?

Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present.  Let the future sanctify the present to its highest uses!

Through the Spirit of God, the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue.  It is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the cornerstone of cheerful holiness. 

 The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength.  He fights against temptation with ardor, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary.  He can labour without present reward for he looks for a reward in the world to come!”

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Rejoice in This

It all started when I stepped onto the pier after enjoying a blissful sailboat cruise with our daughter, Joy.  The edge of the night sky was still pink from an enduring sunset.  The air was cool, but not chilly, at some unknown, yet perfect temperature.  My husband was in his glory, snapping photos of the all that is life around us.  And Joy looked more beautiful and content than ever, hand in hand with her adoring husband, and wonderfully pregnant. 

I breathed a near-audible prayer of deep thankfulness to the Lord.   “Lord, thank you for this wonderful time with my family. Thank you for Joy’s happiness.  Thank you for this glorious evening!”

And nearly as audible, the Lord spoke quickly to my heart, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this…but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”  (Luke 10:20)

Oh!

Much of my thankfulness and rejoicing has been for God’s provision in this life.  That’s okay.  It’s His will to be thankful for these things.  But His word pierced my heart as I realized that my gratefulness should go well beyond the here and now, to His love and all He has accomplished to secure eternity for me and countless others!  

I came upon this little-known hymn in Spurgeon’s hymnbook [1], and attempted to update the language a bit, so it could speak to you as it did to me, of the “IN WHAT” we should rejoice:  

 Grace in Love

We love You, Lord, because when we had err’d and gone astray,
You recalled our wandering souls into the heavenward way.

When helpless, hopeless, we were lost in sin and sorrow’s night,
You sent forth a guiding ray of Your kind and tender light.

Because when we forsook Your ways nor kept Your holy will,
You were not the avenging Judge, but gracious Father still!

Because we have forgotten You, Lord, but You have not forgot,
Because we have forsaken You, but You forsake not;

Because, O Lord, You love us with an everlasting love,
Because You sent Your Son to die that we might live above;

Because when we were heirs of wrath, You gave us hope of heaven;
We love because we much have sinned, and much have been forgiven!

Julia Anne Elliott, 1835

 

God’s word is replete with reasons to give thanks and/or rejoice, and oddly enough, most have nothing to do with our personal provisions.   The next few posts will delve into these further:  Rejoicing in Him, Rejoicing in suffering, and Rejoicing in His appearing!   

“Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say, Rejoice!!”

 

       [1]  C.H. Spurgeon (compilation, 1866), Our Own Hymn-Book, Pilgrim Publications. Pasadena (2002). 2nd Ed.  Hymn 248.