9 ways to focus our prayers

“Our Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:9

This young woman is earnestly praying, seeking an answer or a blessing. She is focused as tourists walk around her. She is humble, bowed, seated, and barefoot. Yet, her prayers are going nowhere. She is praying before a Buddha.

Those who follow Jesus can pray to the Living God who hears and works all things for good for those who love Him and are called by His name.

He is our Father in heaven. “Heaven” is mentioned 582 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

Continue reading 9 ways to focus our prayers

Gifts from Heaven … 40 stories of answered prayer

 

 

 

Prayer. Christians pray, and they wait. They pray more earnestly, and they wait in expectation. It’s the last minute. Is God going to intervene?

Thirty-nine authors, 40 true stories.  Forty answered prayers. Just in time.

Continue reading Gifts from Heaven … 40 stories of answered prayer

From heart to God’s promises

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“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall 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 5:10-12

Jesus saw the multitudes and retreated up to a mountain, and when His disciples came to Him, He taught them the upside down principles of His kingdom. The Beatitudes describe the mature heart of a follower of Jesus and the progression of promises that flow from that heart’s journey towards the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven enfolds the Beatitudes, as the first “blessedness,” “poor in spirit,” and the last “blessedness,” “persecution,” end with the promise that the kingdom of heaven is that follower’s future.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

State of the heart

It’s an upside down kingdom, a kingdom that values a person who recognizes that he is nothing on his own, that he is poor in spirit. He mourns over that broken state, and that creates a meekness or gentleness. When a follower in the kingdom of heaven realizes that he needs what Jesus has, he hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Because of this longing, he realizes that others can do nothing apart from Jesus, and he has mercy on them. His heart is focused upon one thing, purely the will of Jesus. This kingdom citizen experiences peace with God and strives to bring others into this peace and peace with each other. Persecution follows, as the world does not understand the follower of this upside down kingdom.

What if we understood the state of our heart in light of the heart of Jesus?

Seven promises

Seven is the number of perfection. The blessed ones possess these great and precious promises.

  1. Kingdom of heaven
  2. Comfort
  3. Inherit the earth
  4. Satisfaction
  5. Mercy
  6. See God
  7. Called the sons of God

The drawing below illustrates the traits of the heart’s desire and the promises that follow.

The persecuted are promised the kingdom of heaven as are the poor in spirit. Jesus adds that their reward is great.

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What if we set our hearts’ desires upon possessing these promises?

My prayer

Jesus, thank You for the Beatitudes. Cause them to sink deep into our hearts and minds. Teach us their truth, their fullness, and their richness. Oh, Lord, we love You and long for the kingdom of heaven, for your comfort, to inherit the earth, for the satisfaction that comes from Your righteousness, for Your gracious mercy. We want to see You as You are, and we desire to be called the sons of God. Bless us and pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us to overflowing. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Please share your thoughts about the Beatitudes and the promises they hold.

Heaven … It’s a Promise!

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A new year brings a new way to talk about an old subject, heaven. Men, women, and children have shared their stories and imaginations about what heaven is like. Many have claimed that they have been to heaven and back. The Bible gives us much information about heaven. Yet, we still wonder what heaven will be like. Some wonder if heaven really exists.

Scot McKnight has taken a fresh approach to heaven and uses the Bible as his authority. He writes that Heaven is God’s promise. I had never thought of Heaven as a promise, but, rather, a fact.

Herein lies the difference, McKnight writes that the first heaven (lowercase) “is the undisclosed, hidden reality of the presence of God” and the final Heaven (uppercase) “is the disclosed, visible reality of the presence of God on earth.” (p. 45) In other words, when a Christian dies, McKnight writes that the Christian goes to the first heaven, which can be compared to moving into a dormitory, and when the Christian moves to the final Heaven (the new Heaven), it’s like moving home.

I’m thinking about that. If God created the heavens and the earth, if God is perfect, if God is holy, then His dwelling place is perfect and holy … magnificent beyond our imaginations. Indeed, God will create a new heaven and new earth, and it will be splendid and different. Jesus promised His disciples that He was going to prepare a dwelling place for them and He would return to get them.

I’m struggling with the idea that God presently dwells in a lesser heaven than He will in the future. Presently, I think that it is just as splendid, just different.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

The new Heaven is McKnight’s Heaven Promise, and the resurrection of Jesus is the “heart of the Heaven Promise.” (p. 15) Jesus is the focus for Christians, isn’t He? His work, His sacrifice, His death, His resurrection, His coming again.

“There is a way to die that I call ‘standing in the empty tomb’ upon the promise of the resurrection and looking forward into the great beyond with hope.” (p. 52)

This sentence was precious to me. In 2014, I watched my Mama stand in the empty tomb, focused and peacefully waiting to step from the tomb into the Light. In that empty tomb, she waited in great expectation, sometimes smiling.

McKnight explores six promises about heaven:

  1. God will be God
  2. Jesus will be Jesus
  3. Heaven will be the Utopia of Pleasures
  4. Heaven will be Eternal Life
  5. Heaven will be an Eternal Global Fellowship
  6. Heaven will be an Eternal Beloved Community

Although we have little information about the Holy Spirit in heaven, I would have liked to have read about an additional promise about heaven: “The Holy Spirit will be the Holy Spirit.”

“Clearly, since the Holy Spirit is a member of the triune God, he will be present for all eternity, no doubt taking an active role in the creation and among God’s people. However, the Bible doesn’t specifically answer the question of exactly what His role will be.” (Randy Alcorn)

McKnight answers questions that are commonly asked about heaven, questions like the validity of near-death experiences, pets in heaven, and children who die.

Traditional expectations are challenged in The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come, and McKnight identifies Christians as Heaven people. He asks how Heaven people should live in today’s world.

This book caused me to rethink some of my ideas about heaven.Thank you, Mr. McKnight.

I received The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come from Blogging for Books for this review.

My prayer

Thank You, Father, for Scot McKnight and his scholarly approach. Bless him with Your perfect wisdom. Pour out Your grace and peace upon Your followers as we embark upon a new year. As Heaven people, guide us in Your ways and in Your will. Empower us to walk towards Your Heaven promise in boldness and in Your authority. Thank You for Your promises steeped in love.

Is Heaven God’s promise to you?