No sun – only the Son

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I love to sleep.

I’m a night owl, as I’ve mentioned before….but I do love my sleep.

I’m not a morning person….I’m getting better, but I don’t wake up early as a rule, though I do LOVE early mornings.

So, where am I going with all this?  Well, I’ll tell you.

Dark….or rather the lack thereof.

So, wouldn’t that be DAY, Toni? Not necessarily.  Besides, I’m referring to the light of the Son, not the sun.

Ok, so maybe I’m a little weird, but I was thinking yesterday about the fact that in Heaven, there will be no night. (If I say anything theologically wrong, please, someone, correct me!)  And, I know that we will have no need of the sun for the Light of Christ will be more than sufficient.

So, I was wondering, why no night?

Well, for starters, the Light that emanates from Immanuel cannot be extinguished.  Therefore, no night.  Simple enough.  But, what about no night for sleeping?

I don’t know about you, but I sleep much better in the dark than in massive amounts of light.  So, I wondered why there would be none.

And then, a few things occurred to me:

1.  We will be in the Presence of the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, Immanuel, Yeshua – who wants to sleep then??

2.  We will be so busy being about the business of our Lord and Savior, that we just won’t have time.

3.  And, what if the words from Isaiah 40:31 would apply in Heaven?  Yet those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength;  They will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Or maybe the sleep we need here on earth is a result of sin.  And once we’re in Heaven, there will be no more sin, and therefore no need of sleep.  Sin cannot hide in the Light.  And the Lord cannot abide with sin.

So, at this point, it’s still a question for me – what does no darkness in Heaven mean?  No sleep?  No need for sleep?  Is it an illustration of the lack of sin?  Or is it simply that being in the presence of the Creator of the universe will require our eternal undivided attention, thus removing the need for, or possibility of, time used for sleep?  Since Jesus is peace, and we go to Him to get rest, perhaps therein lies the answer.


More than you can imagine!

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For anyone who knows me, you know that the biggest struggle for me comes from covetousness.  Satan knows EXACTLY where to hit me – right between the eyes every time.  Bigger house, newer car, nicer clothes, motorhome, a boat, etc – these are all things I’d love to have.  Yet, I know that being a believer in Jesus Christ does not guarantee me any earthly treasure.  However, sometimes knowing and letting go are two very different things.

At church tonight, one of our elders spoke about Heaven.  He spoke mainly about the New Heaven, the one to come after the Great White Throne Judgment.  Fellow believers, let me tell you, this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

Do you realize the sheer size of the holy city of Jerusalem when it comes down to earth at that time?  Even if it were built just like human cities, the size alone would astound even the most skeptical of critics.  Fifteen hundred miles wide, long, and high!  This city is a 1500 mile cube!  Not only the size, but consider this:  the paving material is, as our elder put it, “the most prized possession in the world today – gold.”  But, this isn’t the kind of gold on your wedding band.  In comparison, that’s cheap.  This gold is so perfectly pure that it is like glass.

Then, there’s the “pearly” gates.  First, imagine how enormous gates for a city such as this would be.  David said that 1500 miles would cover the USA from the Canadian border into Mexico, and from the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean.  Now, imagine that height as well.  So, again….how big do those gates have to be?  And each one is created from a single pearl.  I don’t know about you, but I had heard the pearly gate thing before, and have read it.   But, when I really think about the SIZE of it, the wonder comes back again.  One pearl equals one gate.  Unfathomable.

The foundations of 12 different precious jewels.  I think maybe the idea here is that God uses what we perceive to have immense value as building materials.  But, when you think about it, it makes sense.  God sees more value in us than He does those jewels.

So, how does this tie into the covetousness thing?  Glad you asked.

On one hand, it doesn’t.  It is simply a wonderful reminder of what awaits us in Heaven when we get to see our blessed Saviour.

However, on the other hand, I needed to hear it tonight, because this week has been one of those weeks I have really struggled.  On this hand, this reminder taught me something…something simple, yet very profound hit me as I listened.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m like Fanny Crosby.  She once said that if she had the chance, she would have been born blind all over again.  Why?  Because the first face she would ever see would be that of her Saviour, Jesus.  Now, I have my eyesight, hearing, full use of my arms and legs, but maybe there is still a correlation:  not having everything I long for here on earth means that when I get to Heaven, it will be that much better.

Yeah, right now we live in a mobile home…hey, we’re adults, let’s call it what it is…we live in a trailer.  But that does not define me.  I buy clothes at Walmart, garage sales, and resale shops.  But that does not define me.  I drive a used minivan – and I still owe on it.  But that does not define me.  I do not have a perfect figure, and I am a diabetic.  But, that does not define me.

What defines me is who I am in Christ.  He has forgiven my sins!  Even mine!  And, everyday I wonder why.  As humans, we are so caught up in what we do to deserve something, that we find it hard to understand how the Creator of the world can forgive us so freely – without us doing anything to “deserve” it.  What defines me is knowing that I have a place secured in Heaven…that my Saviour went there to prepare a place for me, and is returning again to bring me home.  How or when, only Heaven knows.

Either way, the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus says it perfectly, and I’ll leave you with these words, because tonight, the Lord used them to speak to me:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of this world will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

Strangers in a Strange Land

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We went to my sister’s house a few weekends ago for my nephew’s birthday party. First of all, I love my nephew dearly – he is very sweet, and shares the same sense of humor as so many in our family. He reminds me so much of my sister as a kid growing up, and of my dad – the eternal prankster.

Anyway, my sister lives in a big city in southeast Texas – on the coast. Our family lives about 20 miles out of our small town. Let me add a little more detail – just to be sure this post makes sense!

The town I live in…to be more exact, live outside of, has only one Super WalMart. We have one Bealls, a Brookshire Brothers grocery store, a feed store, Tractor Supply, Lowes, and two vets. There are of course several smaller businesses there as well, but we are still a relatively small town of about 8247 people. This is also in deep east Texas, where the people are hard-workers (for the most part), laid back, and lead simple, quiet lives.

The town my sister lives in has, on one corner, a WalMart, Walgreens, Target, Home Depot, nail salons, etc. And that’s just the ones I can remember. My town has no mall….to get to one we have to drive 1 ½ hours south or 1 hour north. For my sister to get to a mall, she has to drive about 15 minutes, and that’s due to traffic.

So, here’s where the meat of this post comes in:

I needed some jeans while I was there (and got to buy TWO sizes smaller than the last pair I bought!!!), and wanted something other than WalMart jeans this time, so she and I went to the mall. (OK, to be honest, we went to the mall to pick up my favorite brother-in-law’s cookie cake because it was his birthday, too.) Anyway, we were starving so we grabbed a bite to eat in the food court before we made our rounds. As I looked around, I actually told my sister, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!”

Now, I grew up in the city (albeit not one as big as where she lives), and have lived in or very near large cities most of my life. But for the past 2 ½ years, we have lived here in the country. And, I must admit, I was not prepared for how much it has changed me.

The mall itself seemed like something out of Star Trek. Even the malls we do have nearby are no comparison. After people-watching during our Arby’s meal, we made our way to the store I would buy my new (smaller!) jeans in. I picked ‘em out, tried ‘em on, and went to pay…the cashier took my payment, and this is the part that I had to laugh at: she wrapped my blue jeans in tissue paper and put them in a brown shopping bag and tied it with a bow! My sister jokingly said, “You don’t get service like that at home, do you?!” Nope. We get WalMart bags!

I did a little more shopping, and we headed back to the house. I really was amazed at how much different the city seemed to me now that I had lived in the country for a while. I was, in fact, uncomfortable there. I felt terribly out of place – like people could look at me and tell that I didn’t belong.

But you know what? I didn’t mind a bit. Because that’s what Christians do, anyway. We experience that out-of-place feeling daily in our lives, regardless of where we are. We can be at the convenience store around the corner or the post office.

Wherever we are, we are out of place. We are strangers in a strange land, because our home is not here. Our home is in Heaven and the moment we feel too comfortable here, we have lost the focus on what is important. Sin abounds in this earthly residence, but in Heaven our citizenship is secure and wonderful.

Jesus promised us that this world would hate us, because it hated Him. But we are not to fear – for HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD!

So, today I want to remind you that if you feel completely out of place in the world, don’t fear. Rejoice! This is NOT your place! You are designed for far greater things than this old world! God made you to enjoy the Heavenly home He created just for you!

 

Who’s first: God or my job?

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I had a third and final interview today for a part-time position I was trying to get.  I wanted to work on the weekends to help pay off some bills, and get a few other things accomplished.  Having LOTS of retail experience, including management, I didn’t think I would have a problem getting hired.  My only request was that on Sundays, I not be scheduled prior to 1:30pm – I didn’t want to miss church on Sundays.  I knew it was possible, and knew from the sign out front that they needed help.

After speaking with the manager today, and he was very pleasant, I spoke again with the HR manager who said we would start the process…you know the routine:  background check, drug screen, etc.  I asked her, just to double-check, what the manager had said about my scheduling request.  She spoke with him to be sure, and said they would be unable to guarantee those accommodations every week.  So, reluctantly, I turned down the job.  In their defense, they did say they would do their best, but just couldn’t guarantee it.

Some would say I acted irrationally by not taking the offer of employment.  Some would even go so far as to say it is irresponsible.  And, perhaps to some it does appear to be just that.  But, I have a different viewpoint.

Exodus 20:3 – the First of the Ten Commandments says:  Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

You see, to me, accepting that job knowing that there would come a time when I would be either forced to work or face disciplinary action due to my religious (read: Christian) convictions, and that is not something I am willing to do.  I knew that, if ever scheduled to work on Sunday morning, I would not be there.  And, as such, eventually, I would be fired.  Yes, in doing so I would have been standing up for God and showing the world my faith, but haven’t I done just that in not accepting such a position to begin with?

We live in a world that all too often places more value on material possessions than on heavenly things.

Matthew 6:19-21 (Jesus’ words) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do no break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

Jesus knew that and that’s why He warned us about it. 

I didn’t write this post to say, “Hey look at me and look at what I’ve done.”  Instead, I wrote it to show that we ALL have the chance to make a stand for our beliefs and for Christ.  And, what’s even more important, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord will provide for those who do. 

Sure, I wish I could have gotten the job today.  But, there was a price tag attached to it that I just wasn’t willing to pay.  I would have been placing my trust and priorities on a job and the financial gain provided by such instead of placing that trust in the Divine Provider.  I asked God to close doors without question if He didn’t want me there, and to open them wide if He did.  Since the beginning, He has been faithful to answer that prayer.

Thank You, Lord, for answering the prayer of this humble servant.  I know You will continue to provide for the needs of our family, and I trust You implicitly for everything.  Thank You that You are in control ~ not me.  We all know what a mess I would make of things.

This week I challenge you to take a look at your priorities…where are you laying up treasures?  Are your treasures here, on earth – where they can be destroyed in an instant?  Hurricanes, tornadoes, drastic loss of income, theft, any number of things can take it all away in a split second….

Or are you laying up heavenly treasures:  eternal life, love of Christ, servant hood, faith, patience, diligence, self-control, etc.  These treasures have eternal value…and they can’t be destroyed or lost! 

If your treasures are material and earthly, is God calling you to give those back to Him in some way?  I’m not saying He expects you to give it all away, but perhaps you have placed more focus on accumulating and hanging on to wealth and “stuff.”  If you have, you may not even recognize it….here’s a sure fire way:

Ask God to show you.

Yep – ask the Lord of Heaven to show you where your heart is.  And, He will.  It may be hard…

Remember the young rich man?  He went to Jesus asking what must he do to be saved…Jesus walked him through several commandments…to which he replied that he had, indeed, kept those commandments from his youth – what did he lack?

Do you remember what Jesus said?  Matthew 19:21 says:

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go an sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:  and come and follow me.

Jesus told him that to be complete in his salvation, to go and sell it all.  Everything.  Why?  The man had broken the First Commandment – he had placed money and wealth above God.  And, in doing so, he had also violated the Second Commandment – he had made images and idols, if only in his mind, of what to worship.  Did he bow down and pray to his possessions?  Probably not – certainly he didn’t.  But, our allegiances are shown by our priorities, and this man’s priorities were not in the right order.

What was the man’s response?  Did he run to his house to gather his things to sell, so that he could simply follow the Savior?  No. 

The next verse in Matthew 19 says:  “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:  for he had great possessions.

That’s a hard pill to swallow, for sure.  Go and sell everything and follow me.  Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay His head at night.  It was a choice He made.  He doesn’t call everyone to give up everything they have, but some of us are not called to be wealthy.  And, while it may be hard for some, for others, they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

The Bible doesn’t say that wealth is wrong.  And, it DOES NOT say that money is the root of all evil….it says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.  There is a difference.

What the Bible does say, is that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved and enter heaven.  But why?

I think one reason is because when we are wealthy we tend to think we have it all under control.  WE are in charge.  WE make things happen.  When there is a problem, OUR money can fix it.  We learn to rely on ourselves for our provision instead of the One who allowed us to have the blessing of riches.  Too often, I’ve seen people with money ignore God because they could buy their way out of a problem.  And, even when God allows the problem to become worse, in an effort to draw them to Him, they will keep throwing money at it hoping it will go away.  So, as much as money can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.  Where there is no money to buy a solution, one must learn to trust God to provide. 

But, the Bible also says that…well, I’ll let Jesus speak for Himself:

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible;  but with God all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26

So, again, I challenge you to look at your priorities and see where you stand….What is God calling you to do with it?