The Future’s Work in Faith

When you consider your future it will have an impact on how you live now. In other words, eyes that are fixed on a future hope will inevitable impact where the feet tread today. When it comes to faith it is no different. Hope of the future has its work in faith.

God is sovereign and powerful. He shook creation and history with his presence. The image of Exodus 19-20 was not a small pyrotechnics show at Mount Sinai. God appeared in blazing fire, ear-piercing noise, and trembling earth. God said that if anyone but Moses touched the mountain they would be scorched on the spot. The people of Israel freaked out, Moses himself was afraid, and the people begged Moses not to experience God like this again (Hebrews 12:18-21). Who would blame them?

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” – Hebrews 12:18-24, ESV

You are invited to another mountain—Zion. The image of Zion is greater and more epic than Sinai. Countless angels will be there. Throngs of heaven will be there. Saints from all ages will be there. God as Judge will be there. Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant will be there. The city of God is a holy and awe-filled sight (vs.22-24).

No one will be able to run, hide or ignore the fact that God exists. On that day in the near and not so distant future you will appear before him who is utterly inescapable. He who shook the earth will shake the heavens. When he shakes it this time it will be a sifting. Above all the kingdom of God will stand and for this God will be praised because is worthy of all worship, reverence, fear, and awe. He is God and holy is his name—a consuming fire (vs. 25-29).

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:25-29, ESV

The future image of Zion is wowing. Even now, it’s quite the stimulus package for the imagination. That you are given a sneak peak at what is to come is meant to inflict you with great excitement and trepidation. Zion is meant to shake your faith and affection towards the God who is unshakeable.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • Read Exodus 19-20. What do you learn about God? What do you learn about the people of Israel? How would you respond if you were present that day? How is God a consuming fire?
  • Now read Revelation 20-21. What do you learn about God, Jesus and heaven? What awes you about these verses? What assurance do you have that these verses are true? How must these verses about the future impact your now?
  • How can we ensure that we are frequently remembering our eternal inheritance in heaven? What difference should the knowledge of this glorious future make to the way we live our lives now?
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homeless

The Hutts are homeless. Two weeks ago we official closed on our home. The little plot of land on Battleview Dr in central Indiana that we owned (well that the bank owned) is no longer ours to claim as home.

It was a joyful yet sorrowful day for us. Sarah and I have really been missing home. We loved that house. Selling it encourages me to yearn all the more to my eternal home.

It will be a day I will not have to live out of a suitcase anymore! For the past 5-months, we have lived out of suitcases and our Honda Element [aka: the toaster]. I am reminded that it’s only the beginning of our travels, but in the span of eternity it’s only a blade of grass in prairie. Home is truly an organic idea. It is an idea that is continually growing and changing in my mind:

Home is where your heart is

As Sarah and I now have our sights less on our earthly plot and more on our eternal kingdom the idea of having an earthly castle lacks luster. As Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:21]

Although we have sold our home we still have over 12 large tubs of keepsakes in storage. The tubs are filled with items we have grown to love and hold dear. As important as it is to us we cannot take it with us. And as my youth pastor said growing up, “You don’t see hearses pulling U-Haul’s behind them.” My stuff will stay behind. I learned this lesson the hard way last month when my external hard drive was dropped and I lost all our family photos and videos. In a moment all those memories vanished. I suppose it would have happened later through disaster or death. Stuff stinks, but it does give clues to where your heart is. Or where you are at home.

Home is now and later

Paul considered himself a citizen of Rome [Acts 16:37, 22:25-29; cf. Romans 13:1-7] and Heaven [Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:19]. Although being a citizen of Rome had meaning, being a citizen of heaven was of more importance. You could say he was a patriot of Rome, but the banner he waved was of the kingdom of Christ. Jesus also honored His earthly authority [Matthew 22:15-22; 26:50-68], but ultimately submitted Himself to His Father in Heaven. It is not wrong to embrace home here on earth as long as it doesn’t compare to the embrace heaven has on you.

Home here doesn’t compare to your eternal home there

Jesus was homeless. He didn’t know where He would lay His head on a give night [Luke 9:58]. A few years ago, I read the book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. Throughout the book I was amazed that Heaven is not so much a place where I will see old loved ones, see breathtaking streets, see no pain, death, or sin, but it’s a place where I will behold my Savior Jesus Christ in all His glorious splendor. I see glimpses of him here and now in creation, in people, in His mighty works, and in His Word, but it will not compare to the day when all will be zeroed on Him as the centerpiece of Zion.

Home is promised is a place of comfort and security

What I miss about my home most is having a refuge from the from the world. Inside I feel cozy and safe. When you think about it heaven, it’s all that but in its fullness. Home is a place I long to be. There is a sense of comfort and security about being home. The danger is that I will begin to see my temporary home as comfortable or secure and not see my Heaven as incomparable and glorious. This world is not my home. God in heaven is my home. He has a better country. He is preparing a place that makes our home seem like a squared camp. To desire God is to desire a better country, that is a heavenly home.

Home without Christ is no home at all

You are truly homeless if you do not have a relationship with Christ,

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” [John 14:1-4]

It is a little weird not having a house anymore. Sarah and I miss our little pad with a garden and maple saplings that we planted with our own hands. It was our first home as a family.

I am thankful for what this season of the year celebrates: the Son of God left His home above, entered our homes, and paid our huge mortgage debt (of sin) so that you and I could have the promise of entering His home one glorious day. I look forward to the day He will welcome me home [Matthew 25:21ff].

thumb lick thursday [2.24.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

Disappearing Languages
Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.

Heaven

I’ve never been to Heaven, yet I miss it. Eden’s in my blood. The best things of life are souvenirs from Eden, appetizers of the New Earth. There’s just enough of them to keep us going, but never enough to make us satisfied with the world as it is, or ourselves as we are. We live between Eden and the New Earth, pulled toward what we once were and what we yet will be. – Randy Alcorn, Heaven

It’s the Inequality, Stupid
A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. Read more about the growing disparity between the rich and the other folk.

Treasures

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
– Be Thou My Vision, Eleanor Hull, 1874.

5 terrifying truths about Christianity

Have you ever had to tell the truth to someone and what you had to tell them was not the greatest of news? Not that they have a boogey hanging from their nose, but a bad behavior that needs changing. You finally muster up the courage to tell them. You share this truth with them because you care, love and help them. Sometimes the truth might scare you out of your pants. Today Jesus is going to tell us the truth on some facts that might make you fear.

Jesus’ talks a lot about eternity. 2/3 of all parables were about heaven and hell issues. At the end of His greatest message ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, He talked clearly about the reality of heaven and hell. We do not like to think about the reality of hell. Many believe that there is no such thing as hell. They say, “How could a loving God send anybody to hell?” Hell is more of a swear word than a real place in the minds of many. This is not a hell fire and brimstone message, but cutting to the heart of the issue like Jesus did:

1. Not everyone is going to heaven [Matthew 7:13]. You might be able to handle this first fact thinking to yourself, “Well, murders, molesters and rapists definitely deserve to go to hell. I am not like them. At least not AS bad.”

When I was in South Africa I observed gated communities. I would pass by the gate and the guard would nod or wave me in. Everyday was the same. He let everyone in. I suppose that is why homes got broken into so many times!? When it comes to heaven we want a guard gate kind of God. ”If you are sincere; if you are basically good; if you believe in a god…just drive up to Him and he’ll nod, wink and wave you on through.” God does not care only if you are a good boy or girl. He doesn’t grade on a cosmic curve. He just doesn’t let anyone in to His heaven. Heaven and hell are gated communities.

If I were ask you t call your mother you could not use just any number in the phone directory to call her. You got to call mom’s specific number. Likewise we cannot just try any way to God. There is only one way to God that is through Jesus Christ.

2. More people will go to hell than heaven [Matthew 7:14]. There is a truth to the two popular songs by AC/DC Highway to Hell and Rascal Flatts cover of Life is a Highway. Life is a highway that barrels by at a blazing speed and there is a road that leads to hell. The Bible says it is a broad road and well traveled. Like I-65 at rush hour. Many people think that they can make it to heaven on their own. However, self-reliance merges into self-deception, and self-deception dead ends into self-destruction. In another popular song Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel, he says, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Hell is no laughing matter. Jesus says it is eternal torment. A place of isolation and darkness, and a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus is the definite article. This takes you back to English Grammar class [the=definite article]. That means He is absolutely the way, the truth and the life, nobody goes to the Father but through Him [John 14:6]. This is exclude 376 million Buddhists living in Asia, 900 million Hindus in India, 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world, and…

3. Many who think they are Christians aren’t [Matthew 7:15-23]. God doesn’t send people to hell. We volunteer. Our sin condemns us to hell. Keeping God at a distance in this life will continue more of the same in the next. Just because you say, “I’m a Christian because you go to church, FUEL or pray.” Doesn’t mean you are a Christian any more than saying you are nut makes you a Snickers Bar.

You can tell a Christian by the fruit they bear. Apple trees bear apples, grapevines bear grapes, and Christians look like Christ. When people look at your life can they see clearly that you are a Christ follower because you act like it, talk like it, smell like it?

4. You will not get another opportunity after you die. Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Death is an appointment you are not going to be late for. You are going to die! God will look at you life and see if you received His Son. He will either say, “Well done. Welcome. Paid for by the blood of the cross” [Matthew 25:21-23] Or “I don’t know you. Where you come from?” [Luke 13:25] There is no second chance on the other side of this life, thus…

5. This could be your last chance. What you do on this side of the grace will affect where you spend eternity. If you are a procrastinator by nature this is not something you want to put off until later. Commit to Christ before it is too late. You do not know the date when you will stand before God’s gate!

Will you come to Christ today? Will you commit to live for Him? Will you prove it through your life?

plan G

plan G

A man once asked me the question of all questions, “If you were to die today where would you go?” I didn’t have a smart answer. I was curious, but though to myself, “Could anybody really know the answer to that question?”

How do I get to heaven? Many have tried to answer this question in many different ways:

  • You got to do a bunch of good deeds [hope to make the Cosmic curve for the class].
  • Do as you please [aka: heaven on earth]. This is the only life you got.
  • God is a God of love and wouldn’t send anybody to hell.
  • You got to have faith.
  • You got to follow the teachings of Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Jesus.

Yet these many ways do not answer the question. They just lead to more questions: How good is good enough? If this is heaven on earth, why is there so much suffering, sin and temptation? Why wouldn’t a loving God judge sin? Faith in what? How do we know which guy? What is your plan get to heaven?

PLAN A: By Being Sinlessly Perfect

If our eternity rested on our perfect performance we would all be doomed. We have all committed errors and made foul plays. This is called sin. You are not perfect. You cannot bat 1.000. Sorry to burst your bubble but you are not good enough [Rom.3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory].

God is perfect. Our sin causes us to miss the mark of His glorious perfection.

The problem is that you and I are born sinners. You are born needy. You cry for attention. Ask any baby who desires the attention. You did not have to take sin lessons. We are educated as selfish little sinsner straight from the womb. And I have been sinning habitually ever since.

When people say that they are a “good person” or share their list of “good deeds” [i.e. help the poor, generosity] or compare themselves with “bad people” [i.e. Hitler or Bin Laden]…they are just sugar coating  the reality of their sinfulness [Prov.14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.”]. PLAN A: I CANNOT CHECK

PLAN B: By Paying the Price for our Sin

Trying to be a good boy or girl only ends in disappointment and frustration because we can never quite match up. It ends in death [Rom.6:23 “For the wages of our sin is death…”]. This is more than physical death, but also eternal separation from God. Notice this spectrum of goodness [Evil being murders, rapists, and abusers / God being absolute perfection]:

EVIl and GOD Spectrum graphic

First on the spectrum is Mother Teresa [MT]. She is known for her compassion for orphans in Calcutta. Under “Christian” in the dictionary would be her picture. Some would say she is the best of all Christians, yet in her biographies she admits struggling with many sins. Second, Billy Graham [BG], the long known evangelist who was used by God to bring many into God’s kingdom. He preached to more people than anybody in history. Yet he publicly admits his fall into sin. Then there is me [JT]. I cant even be in the same category with MT & BG. Just ask my mom or wife and they will let you know what kind of sin I am!! Where would you put your initials?

Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and I are in serious trouble. We cannot match up to God’s standard. We fall way short. This applies not only us, but you too. It doesn’t matter if your parents are Christians, if your grandma prays, if you go to Africa to help AIDS children, if you go to church every time the doors are open, you will still fall short.

There is a giant chasm that separates you and me from God [cf. Bridge to Life]. It is like trying to throw a stone from where you are to the North Pole. Some might throw farther than you, but we all still fall way short. Our sin creates a separation [Is.59:2 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore.”]. We cannot pay the debt load for our sin. It cost too much. PLAN B: I CANNOT CHECK

PLAN G: By Trusting in the One who did

Since Plans A & B fail what other option do we have? How about Plan G? Plan G = God’s Grace. Grace us unmerited favor or a gift from God that you do not deserve. I do not deserve God’s grace even on my best day. No one deserves it. This is why it is called grace [Rom.6:23b “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”].

What does God’s grace look like? Because of His love He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sin [all your junk, funk errors, strike outs and foul plays]. His grace can at a gruesome cost; execution on a cross. Jesus did the work of Plan A & B before He went to the cross. He did what we could not do. He did it for you. The work is done. The cross bridges the separation. It is a homerun game willing deal.

Religion = DO. Do this and don’t do that. It doesn’t work.

Relationship with Christ = DONE. It is finished on the cross. [Jn.19:30]

From the moment we receive God’s grace there are many things we receive: Forgiveness, Christ’s Righteousness, acceptance into His family, reconciliation, redemption, and so much more.

How do I get God’s grace?

Admit. Admit that you have fail with Plan A & B. That you do not measure up to God’s standard. That your sin separates you from Him. See yourself as God sees you. Recognize the chasm between you and him.

Believe. Believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sin. It is not about understanding everything. It is about trust.

Receive. Let Jesus come in. Open the lid of your heart and let Him come in. Let Him change you from the inside out.

PLAN G: I CAN CHECK, DONE