Friday, May 29, 2015

Heaven On Earth is a Fantasy


The result for many who aim at finding Heaven on Earth.
 I grew up learning that if I worked hard enough I could have anything I wanted in life.  Was this advice the true "secret of life?"  I could not help but daydream of a future life in which I had a lot of money, a nice home, vacations all around the world, and everything I wanted.  I figured that if I worked hard during school and set out to find the job of my dreams afterwards that the money and lifestyle would just roll in.  In short, I was looking to create my heaven on Earth.  To tell the truth, I was sorely disappointed when I found that such a thing does not exist.

After spending ten years in college and going out to look for my dream job, I found that such a thing is a fantasy.  This fantasy is propagated by television and the media as well as the cultural myth that college + hard work = success in life.  I have seen countless movies that show images of college graduates and hard working people rising to the top.  They have fast cars, huge homes, beautiful gardens, luxury surroundings, and pretty much all that you desire.  We grow up, being bombarded with these images and start to believe that they are obtainable if we just work hard enough.  Yet, day by day we toil and years pass by and we wonder why we are not obtaining the things we saw on television and in the movies.  We find ourselves quickly growing older and oftentimes cynical at the idea that we will likely not obtain the things we dream of.

Yet, sometimes a cog is thrown in the wheel.  We may see a 'get rich quick scheme' or something that says that we can have it all.  Maybe an e-mail appears in our inbox or a seminar is advertised where others have done what we wanted.  There is hope! we cry, thinking that such a lifestyle will be ours finally.

Sadly, the "get rich quick" mentality has appeared on the internet as well.  Websites and blogs tell of people who make vast incomes using methods on the internet.  If you work hard enough, the claim goes, you can get rich using methods of making money online.  Now, I do realize that some people have been able to make a lot of money by creating websites and offering online services.  However, the lifestyle that is portrayed I have found largely to be a fantasy.

Many people are graduating college with the expectation that they will be wealthy and have the life that they grew up dreaming about.  I was once one of these people and the reality that manifested itself to me was unemployment and regret.  I found that a college degree does not equal wealth.  In fact, there are many variables to consider when it comes to earning wealth in this life.  Consider the following quote in Ecclesiastes, which explains it better than I can:
I returned and saw under the sun that-- 
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
(Ecclesiastes 9:11) 
How true this is.  I have seen men and women who have little skill rise up in riches and people of great skill and talent who die in poverty.  Educated individuals sometimes never find the wealth that they educated themselves to obtain while those who never bothered with education have been handed companies and inheritances that make them rise to the top echelons of society.  This is how Earthly life is, and it shows to me that Heaven is not on Earth.  Even all the hard work and talent in the world does not guarantee you wealth and success.  This, of course, does not mean that you should not try, after all, the verse before says: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and Proverbs speaks greatly about not being lazy and being wise. For example, Proverbs 6:6 states "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."  However, one can not go through life and expect to gain the riches that the media has promised you.

Heaven on Earth Does Not Exist

Even the greatest mansions become ruins.
Many of us are jealous of those who have wealth and success in life.  Yet jealousy and want are not of the Lord, who has promised us everything we ask of Him.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16).  In fact, I have found that I was often jealous of those who had lives that I would never want to live.  Some people are blessed with great wealth and success, but lack the wealth that a life of service to Jesus offers.  Some people are blessed with huge homes and large tracts of lands but have diseases and family issues that they battle all of their lives.  What good is an expensive fast car when, like all material things, it will one day be lost?  What good is the biggest mansion in the world when one day you will die?  What good is the fame that you crave when one day you will likely be forgotten?  Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief (Proverbs 14:13).

Look around at the world and ask yourself, who is truly happy?  Do you see the people who obtained wealth and influence?  Are they truly happy with their lives?  Presidents and people of power are often overstressed and long for time to be free.  Celebrities oftentimes turn to drugs or find themselves in jail.  Many people crave love and fellowship with people and find themselves purchasing that love which they crave.  Men of business find themselves exhausted, not able to spend time with their loved ones.  Sure, they have huge homes, but some also have strong addictions to alcohol and drugs.  We ask ourselves, "why? -- Why if you are so rich and have so much would you turn to drugs?"  Even the material things of this earth do not bring happiness.

Think back to when you got something that you wanted for a very long time.  Perhaps it was a new iPhone or maybe a certain car.  Maybe you closed on the home that you had been dreaming about.  Did you find that you were always happy after that purchase?  Or, did a better phone come on the market?  He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase, this is also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  Did you find that your car eventually broke down or had to be sold?  Did the home bring you lasting happiness, or did you find it to be a burden?  Did you have to sell or lose sleep over the idea that it could be foreclosed upon or broken in to?  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20).  Jesus Himself spoke this and it is to be a reminder that the things of this Earth, the material things, are to not concern us.  Jesus even stated that "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4).  Even bread, one of the most basic foods that we eat, is not important compared to the Word of God.  How less important than is the lifestyle that many of us spend years toiling over?  I find myself ashamed to think that I spent ten years making an idol out of education and of obtaining a cultural myth instead of storing up treasure in Heaven and serving the Lord.

Heaven on Earth does not exist.  Jesus knew that.  He preached it both in word and in his lifestyle.  He did not secure Himself a home.  And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Luke 9:58).  Jesus was born the son of a carpenter, not at an inn, but in a manger.  He did not toil to earn money or wealth.  He aimed only to glorify His father in Heaven and to teach others how to gain eternal life.

All around us we see death and destruction.  Wars and famine come and go.  Droughts cause the land to dry up.  People battle each other for possessions in and out of court.  Divorces tear apart marriages.  Families argue and bicker.  Our most beloved possessions are sometimes the target of thieves.  Disease eats at us.  Accidents break us.  Agility and stamina is whittled away by age.  We grow slower over the years, looking back at all we obtained and realizing it was all vanity.  We can not take what we have to the grave with us, and for some, it may cost us more than the time we put into it.  Some people have chosen material goods over Heaven.  The story of the Rich Young Ruler is a good example of this.
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:17-27)
This story has a lesson.  Many people find that wealth is more important than walking with Jesus. Some would trade eternal life for the things of this Earth.  Perhaps God has not given me the wealth I once desired because it would be a burden for me.  In short, God has done the greatest thing He could do for me - shown me that there is no Heaven here on Earth.  That the true Heaven is with Him. There is no Heaven where death and disease are present.  Where sin is present God will not establish His eternal kingdom.  Sin and God do not coexist, and I would never want to spend eternity in a place where sin was present.  There is no Heaven on Earth.  The idea that Heaven is on Earth is a myth, one that the devil has been exceedingly cunning in propagating and fooling people, especially (but not only) young people into believing.  Age shows to most that none of it matters.  The wise realize that it is all vanity.  The most wise will understand this when they are young, before they chase all that is vanity under the sun.

This is but a glimpse of what God has in store for us.
There is a Real Heaven

Do not fret though.  You can have everything you have always wanted.  Jesus promises: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).  This applies to you right now.  God will answer your prayers if you ask.  Will He answer every prayer?  Not in the way we think that He will.  For example, I do not believe that God answers prayers that go against Him.  For example, you can not ask for your worst enemy to die and expect it to be answered.  I also do not think that someone who comes to God and prays for something that will cause them to stumble or lose faith in Christ will have their prayer answered.  And not every prayer is answered the first time.  Sometimes we have to ask over and over again.  Sometimes, as we ask God for something we find that we no longer want it.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit shows us that what we thought we wanted is not good for us.  Sometimes our own studies lead us to the conclusion that what we thought we wanted is not what we should ask God for.  Yet Jesus promises that we shall have what we desire if we ask.  We should all be asking, right now, that we can be with Jesus in Heaven.  We should ask that over and over again and seek first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33)

There is indeed a real Heaven, and that is where we should be longing to go.  Our time on Earth, compared to eternity, is very short.  It may seem long right now, but in 300,000 years it will seem like a blink of an eye.  In 1,000,000,000,000 years it will seem as nothing at all.  And in 10100 years we will marvel at how we could have wanted what we did in this life.  These numbers may seem mind boggling to you.  Many homes do not last 150 years.  Many people do not keep a car longer than 10 years.  Most people probably trade it off well before it gets to that point.  Why not look forward to a mansion that will last you for eternity?  Why not look forward to the ultimate friend who will never betray or fight with you?  Why not look forward to a body that will never break down? Why not long for a mind that will always increase in knowledge instead of eventually falling prey to senility?



If you are longing for Heaven, you are not alone.  Avoid the temptation to make your Heaven here on Earth.  It is important to make your life as good as it can be, but storing up possessions on Earth will never bring you happiness.  Instead, your life should be spent on trying to be helpful, thoughtful and being an overall blessing in other's lives.  You do not need to fan the flames of pride or manifest envy towards the things that others have.  Your time on Earth should be spent in being a beacon for God, a helpful and caring individual.  This does not mean that you should not have nice things, but realize that they are merely things and that they will not last.  They should be tools in which to make you a better person - not to make you feel better than others.  Do not lament your life if you do not obtain the riches of this world.  They are not worth your time.  Prepare yourself for Heaven - after all, that is what we are to do on this Earth.  Follow Christ's example and pray to Him that you will overcome the idea that life is for accumulating wealth.  You will likely see, over and over again, the cultural myth that "you can have it all" here on Earth.  Nobody has it all, and sometimes those who have the most on Earth care nothing at all about the things of the life that we should all be looking forward to.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Will The New Jerusalem Be Like?



And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

The city of New Jerusalem is the Holy city of God.  It is a gorgeous city, more gorgeous than the most beautiful cities existing on Earth.  Like all of Heaven and the New Earth, the human mind in its current state can not even begin to comprehend its immense beauty. However, the Bible has a few things to say about this city and we can glean quite a bit from the Bible's words. New Jerusalem will be where God dwells with mankind, the capital of the New Earth and of the Universe.   "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." Revelation 21:3.

The city is radiant, of pure gold. John states that it is of "pure gold, like clear glass." And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. (Revelation 21:21). It shines under God's radiant glory. Imagine walking on the streets of this fine city, not fearing any of the crime that exists in today's cities. Instead of seeing class imbalances which is all too apparent in many of the world's great cities, where opulent penthouses rise above abject poverty on the streets, mankind will partake in perfect harmony that is only possible through God. Instead of witnessing beggars on the street suffering and wanting for crumbs, we will see every citizen healthy, happy, and radiant.  We will all be rich in God's glory.  Instead of being mugged by those who are wanting in life we will all be without want.  Buildings will not crumble, taggers will not cover the walls of alleys in profanity, and trash will not cover the streets.  Glass will not be broken and we will not have to fear traffic.  Children will be able to play in the center of the streets without any fear.  Jealousy and discord will not exist.  The piercing sounds of cars honking or arguing will not be heard.  The sounds of nature will exist in the city along with the singing of happy people, conversations, and gladness.  Men will still create and work, but it will not be in servitude towards others.  Instead, we will create for ourselves and share as we please without expectation of reward or threat of punishment.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Jesus is Preparing a Place for Us In Heaven Right Now

Walking along the transparent streets, of pure glass, we will look up and see towering mansions.  These mansions will have architecture more beautiful than Earth's finest structures.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2).  Jesus Himself states that He has gone to prepare a place for us.  Imagine, the creator of the universe, preparing a mansion for us.  Could you possibly imagine a greater architect?  The creator of the most beautiful mountains, coastlines, gardens, and the infinite splendor of space creating our personal dwelling place?  Many of us can not even imagine hiring one of Earth's most prominent architects to create a home for us on Earth, yet Jesus Himself states that He will create for us a dwelling place that will be eternal.  How can we even feel at want here on Earth for material gain when we have this to look forward to?


The City of New Jerusalem is Huge

New Jerusalem is a huge city.  Revelation 21:16 states that the height, length, and width are of equal dimensions.  The measurement stated is 12,000 furlongs (which is approximately 1500.3 miles).  This is a very large city that will please mankind for eternity.  Imagine strolling on boulevards which seem endless, exploring new areas of this great city as you please?  The city will have a home for every human being that accepted Jesus and followed his commandments. (Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23) (see also Luke 18:18-23)).  This should give you somewhat of an idea of its size, density and population.  The city takes up much space on the New Earth, but also rises quite high.  From reading the description in the Bible, I am not sure if the city is a cube or a pyramid in shape, with the center rising up where the throne of God sits high at the pinnacle of the tallest structure.  Perhaps it is something else entirely, some shape that we can not even comprehend at this time.  Explaining the New Earth and New Jerusalem in mankind's language and ways of thinking was perhaps a challenge for those who had knowledge of it.

The city is quite huge, and it is home to every human who walked with and accepted Jesus in life.
Imagine taking a long walk through the city:

"I step out into the city of New Jerusalem.  I can not help but not miss the old world, and sometimes I can not even imagine living there.  When I think back to it, it all seems surreal.  There was nothing even close to the beauty that exists here.  The peacefulness in this city makes the calmest morning on the old Earth seem chaotic and full of stress.  Walking though this city for even a second is infinite times greater than taking a walk on the old Earth's most splendid beach or the oldest forest that had survived mankind's thirst for destruction.

I still can not get over the smells here.  In this huge city there is no smog.  In fact, I have never even imagined what the world would have been like before smoke, fire, and the smell of pollution.  It was something that people in my time could have never even imagined.  I think back to the smell of car exhaust or the stench of alleyways where people had relieved themselves.  Here the alleyways are corridors of trees that rise ever skyward.  My eyes gaze upward, seeing the spires rise higher than anything I have seen built before.  There is no smog to block their golden gleam.  Instead, my eyes are stronger than they were in my former life, and I can see distances that were unimaginable on Earth.  I no longer need the prescription lenses that I once needed in the old world.  Such things do not exist here.

I have been walking for hours and my legs do not tire.  I do not long to go back to my home and turn on air conditioner due to the stifling heat.  I do not sweat.  I see animals playing with children at every turn.  There is no deification left behind.  There are no stray dogs or cats fighting for food.  There are no sounds of suffering or dying.  As I walk by the splendid mansions I take in the scent of food being prepared and eaten.  My senses are acute.  I never smelled a strawberry tree from across the street before.  Now I can smell everything.  In fact, everything dazzles the senses here, but I do not exhaust from it.  I can not even imagine the old world where so much was masked and still made us tire from overstimulation. 

I am in a new part of the city that I have never explored before.  Everything is new here and will probably always seem that way to me.  People are tending their gardens and they grow more beautiful every day.  I still find myself looking down sometimes at the golden streets which shine under my feet.  The transparent gold is more beautiful than any that existed in the old world.  I do not know why I bother compare it anymore.  The things of this world I could have never even imagined before.  
The flowering plants here are truly spectacular.  There are colors that never even were fathomable to my mind.  Some are something between a red and a purple, but, no, that is not even the way I would have described it.  It's something completely new.  There are no thorns on the plants here and I have no desire to rip them off of the bush and keep them for myself.  I am content in knowing that they are here for me to see again, perhaps in thirty or perhaps in 30,000 years.  I am content in knowing that it may be eons before I see a similar plant again, as there are infinite varieties in the universe, and even with eternity, I wonder, will I ever see them all?


I am told that there is so much to see outside of the city, and I have done a bit of exploring.  Yet, I am still in awe at the small part that I have seen.  If the universe only consisted of the things I have seen here, in this glorious city, I would be thrilled to have it.  Yet, I can see that it goes on forever.  There are infinite planets for me to explore.  I hear that some have mountains so grand that they make Everest seem like a bump in the sand.  And I have been told of canyons with thousand feet deep water that you can see to the bottom of.  I have been told of forests with twisting trees that climb upwards for miles.  Forests that have existed ever since God created the universe.  Forests that existed while I was alive on the old Earth that I could have never imagined were out there.  

I have been learning so much since being in new Jerusalem.  There are libraries full of information about the universe, libraries so huge that I can not even fathom reading all the books.  I could spend all of time just soaking up knowledge and would be, comparatively, no smarter than I am on this very day.  These books contain information on science that we thought we knew before and were actually so wrong about.  Even the most simple things, which we thought we had all the answers to, were so far deeper, so greater, than we even imagined.  Yet, there is so much left of us to discover here, for us to find.  I am told that we are free to inhabit where we chose, and one day I am going to go build myself a on a hill somewhere overlooking the forest of clouds and emerald mountains.  It was the first place I went to when I left New Jerusalem, and it was the first natural area of the New Earth that I saw.  It will always hold a special place for me, and I know that is where I want to create my natural home."

Of course, the above story is something that I created in my own mind.  Again, I should stress that Heaven, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem is far more great than anything we can even imagine. While writing the above paragraph made me day dream and long for Heaven, the truth is we can not even begin to formulate in our mind how wonderful it will be.  I did not even mention inviting Jesus to my house to speak with him and personally thank him for everything He did for me. But, I do imagine that Jesus will come to our house and maybe tell us a bit about why he built our mansion for us the way He did. After all, He said "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matthew 10:30).  Jesus knows what we desire, what we long for, what we crave, what our interests are, and what pleases our senses.  He knows the things on Earth that appeal to us and he will make for us far better in Heaven.  We could not describe our true wants and dreams to an architect here on Earth, yet Jesus knows our wants without us even having to try to fumble around with creating blueprints and trying to explain our innermost dreams and wants.

The River of Life and the Tree of Life

New Jerusalem is a dazzling city.  It will have much in terms of precious metals, but also likely be as a garden.  The "River of Life" will flow from the throne of God, and will perhaps flow right through the city.  I imagine that beaches will line the banks of the river and this will be a place where people will come to worship, to play, and to take the city in.  I imagine the views from the river are spectacular, with the tower of God at the beginning of the river.  I picture grand waterfalls falling down the structure, a structure that is about 1,500 miles high, mind you.  Imagine seeing God's glory radiate from that pinnacle.  You can not really, but it is awesome to even consider in one's mind.
"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.…" (Revelation 22:1)
The tree of life grows on each side of the river.  We are not told how huge the river is.  It mentions it in the middle of the street, but again, we are not told of the size of the street.  Like the city, it is probably of grand scale.  The tree of life is likely a massive tree, maybe the most massive tree in existence.  It is used for all mankind and all mankind eats from it.  It grows on each side of the river, but is one tree.  I tend to imagine it as a tree that joins somewhere in the middle, high above the river, with its trunk and limbs twisting together to form into the most spectacular tree one can fathom.  One can climb upon the tree and sit on its many branches and look out at the city while eating its monthly fruit.  And the fruit is like none other we ever consumed.  It is a fruit that is so great that it gives life to those who eat it.  It is a fruit so wonderful that every Earthly fruit pales in comparison.  It is a fruit that man longs to eat and returns to eat, every month.  A fruit that mankind looks forward to eating and tasting.

A City Free of Sin

The book of John states that the New Jerusalem will be free of sin. The servants of God will have theosis, or communion and unity with God, and "His name will be on their foreheads." Night will no longer fall upon the city, and the inhabitants of the city will "have need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light." John ends his account of the New Jerusalem by stressing its eternal nature: "And they shall reign forever and ever."

Even with its splendid beauty, The New Jerusalem would not be the same with sin existing.  With sin, man would grow greedy and want more and more.  People would argue and death would result.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23).  Yet, there is no death on the New Earth.  Mankind shall reign forever and ever with Christ.  We will be with our creator and not have to worry about the affects of sin.  We will still have free will, as we do on Earth, but we will remember the chaos and calamity that sin has caused here.  We will see the New Earth in front of us, and a life so perfect that none of us would dare even consider sinning.  We will hear the account of Jesus and see how great his sacrifice was that we could never imagine hurting our best friend in such a way.

We will not fight against neighbor, but commune with them and give them unconditional love.  The days of neighbors feuding over noise, territory or silly things such as a tree in the other person's yard that they do not like are over.  No more will you have to worry about the person upstairs telling you that you are too loud.  You will not have to fret about the leaves from your tree blowing into your neighbor's yard.  Instead, neighbors will finally have learned to come to love each other as fellow human beings, all created by the same loving creator, instead of looking at each other as a source of competition.  Cultural differences will be set aside and celebrated at the same time.  We are all part of God's perfect culture, yet He has made us different and beautiful in various ways.  Racism and classism will be gone.  Dark skin, light skin, and skin variations in between will be seen as beautiful, all painted by God Himself.  Mankind will marvel at how they could have hated another man based on the color of his/her skin.

New Jerusalem Is A Splendid City

We are told that New Jerusalem will have twelve gates.  These gates will symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel and symbolize the city as one of inclusion.  "All humanity is welcome into the city."  We will all have a home prepared there.  We will all worship there.  We will all return there to eat of the Tree of Life.  It is a home we are all welcome to and we all long to return to.

Each gate is made of a single pearl and are often known as or referred to the the "pearly gates."  The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the gates.
"18: And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19: And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20: The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst." (Revelation 21:18-20)
As you can imagine, the city is splendid.  The gems that were hidden deep in the Earth are now a part of the city.  While on Earth we have historically employed the use of slave labor to have a glimpse of these marvelous stones, in Heaven, they will be for the enjoyment of all.  If such a city was built on Earth, mankind would undoubtedly plunder the gems for his/her own private use and gain.  Yet, in the city of God, without sin, mankind will know that it is far better to share in the beauty of the city - after all, it belongs to us all.

Infinite Resources - No More Competition With Each Other

A limited lifespan coupled with finite resources has created competition on Earth.  Yet, in Heaven, there are no limits to life or resources.  Competition will cease.  Many of us enjoy competing with each other or trying to be better than others.  Yet, on Earth we all grow old and our time and memory fades away.  "All is vanity," says Solomon.  "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  Humanity craves the things of this Earth, a chance to increase possessions or to be stronger, faster, and ever better than our peers.  We crave the glory that those things bring us and attempt to take the glory from God.  Yet, all glory belongs to our creator.  He has blessed us with strength, vigor, skill, and the means in which to acquire skill and possessions.  In Heaven, we will finally realize that.  

In short, the New Jerusalem is a marvelous city, more grand than words can describe, and more grand than even the Bible portrays it.  I imagine that Jesus did not speak as much about it as we would have liked him to, as human words make it impossible to portray the city in its full glory.  Yet, I think that we should all sit back and imagine ourselves walking through the city, living in the city, and being free from sin.  We should all look forward to Heaven and desire strongly to be there.  This earth is not our home, and while it is full of beauty, all of that beauty has been marred by sin.  Everything that you see would one day be destroyed if mankind lived on this Earth long enough.  The great places of nature are slowly disappearing.  The amount of open spaces and natural spaces that existed in the world when I was young are were far more than exist now.  Mankind is quickly accumulating land and converting it to private use.  Forests are reserved for logging, rivers are polluted, and great parks are overrun with people and litter.  Population is quickly expanding while nature is quickly shrinking in size.  This Earth is not our home.  Our home is with our creator, in a place where we will not mar the landscape and where we will not hoard vast tracts of land for personal and private use.  Mankind on Earth does not know how to share, but in Heaven, we will know that everything is ours forever.  That there is truly enough to go around and that there is no reason to try to be better or greater than those around us.  I truly can not wait for that day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Will there be Oceans in Heaven?


"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)

I love the ocean and the sea, and when I read Revelation, which stated that Heaven will have no ocean or sea, I could not help but wonder why.  I always imagined my perfect dwelling place being on the coast somewhere with the gentle sea wind blowing and the sound of the waves hitting the shore.  Yet, the Bible says "...and there was no more sea."  

water now covers most of the earth.
Why will the New Earth Have No More Sea?

While Revelation states that there will be no sea, it does not state that heaven will lack large lakes that stretch on for still large distances.  In fact, I think that Heaven will have plenty of water, but in the form of fresh water.  God created nature and how nature operates.  Water is still an important part of life and water is a beautiful part of the earth.  However, the seas and oceans that exist on Earth are a monster in size and scope.  They take up a massive amount of space.  Most of the Earth is made of water and the oceans have swallowed countless people.  Vast oceans separate families and loved ones and many who have crossed the oceans have never returned to see their families.  Heaven will lack such separation.  We will be able to see our loved ones for eternity.  Traveling back and forth will not present the risk of death or danger that now exists.  

There are countless other planets in the Universe besides Earth.

The new Earth is but only one planet that exists in our infinite solar system.  God is not bound to one planet and surely did not create only one planet that is capable of creating life.  I believe that when sin entered the world, many of the planets that may have had some type of life on them were cut off from mankind's reach.  Mars and other planets in our solar system show signs of holding water.  Science states that there may have indeed been life on these planets.  Perhaps when the garden of Eden existed on Earth, mankind had access to great gardens and seas that existed on nearby celestial bodies, including our moon as well as Mars, Venus, and other celestial formations.  Yet, the earth lost most of its beauty after man was removed from Eden and again after the flood which covered most of the Earth in water.  Before the flood the Earth there was perhaps no sea or large ocean on the Earth at all.  However, we do not know for sure and can only consider such thoughts of what life was like before the flood.  

The universe is massive - far bigger than we can imagine.
Genesis says that the firmament “separated the water under the expanse from the water above it” (Genesis 1:7). Originally, God created the earth with water “under” the sky (terrestrial and subterranean water) and water “above” the sky—possibly a “water canopy” which enwrapped the earth in a protective layer. Or, the waters above the firmament could simply be a reference to clouds.
Source: GotQuestions.org
If there are other planets the universe, surely there are planets that exist with beaches and perhaps even seas.  Scientific sources state:

There are roughly 500 billion galaxies in the universe, meaning there is somewhere in the region of 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (5×1022) habitable planets. I'll leave you to do the math on whether one of those 50 sextillion planets has [enough beaches and oceans for you to enjoy].
(source: Extremetech.com)
While sometimes the numbers that exist in science are not exact, the truth is, there are a lot of planets out there.  And there are probably many, many more.  Perhaps even an infinite number of planets exist in our infinite universe.  Images grabbed by telescopes and advanced scientific equipment testify to that. God is truly amazing and created a great amount of things when he created the Universe.  The creation of the universe and the order that exists therein was no accident - that's for sure.  

I believe we will be able to enjoy beaches and the ocean when we are in Heaven.



So, if there are even half that many planets in existence, who is to say whether or not any of them would have an ocean or some nice beaches?  Personally, I look at the work that God has done in creating some of the tropical paradises that exist here on Earth and believe that He has a lot in store for us when it comes to Heaven and the places that we will be able to travel to once we meet Him. Having traveled to Costa Rica, Thailand, and Malaysia, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Yucatan, and other gorgeous countries with legendary coastlines, I am inclined to believe that God would not put that kind of beauty away after the Earth has been reshaped and reformed.  In fact, I believe that God has planets of such incredible beauty just out of range of human sight with amazing beaches and seacapes that are just waiting for us.  The new Earth may not have a huge sea, but that does not mean that the entire universe does not.

There are other theories as to the meaning of the verse: "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)

Some believe that the word "sea" represents the distance between us and God.  The verse could be talking about the "sea of space" that separates us from Heaven.  We are told that New Jerusalem, the Holy city of God, will be placed upon the Earth and God will dwell with us.

The Bible Talks About Water Existing On The New Earth.

The Bible mentions that, from God's throne, a river that contains the water of life will flow.
From the throne of God in the center of the city flows the "river of water of life" (Rev. 22:1). And like a banyan tree with multiple trunks, the tree of life grows "on either side of the river." Its twelve fruits contain the vital element the human race has gone without since Adam and Eve had to leave Eden—the antidote for aging, burnout, and simple fatigue (Rev. 22:2; Gen. 3:22). Those who eat the fruit of this tree need no night in which to rest (cf. Rev. 21:25), for in the new earth they will never feel tired. (source: http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-27.htm)
Much of Earth's beauty is comprised of lakes, rivers, and areas where water is present.  Jesus, himself, enjoyed preaching at the banks of the water.  It is where he met with people and shared the truth about mankind's condition.  God created water when he created the earth.  God also created the creatures of the sea.  While whether and why he would undo such a creation is perhaps out of our knowledge, I tend to believe that there will still be the beauty of water in Heaven, and enough for us to spend an entreaty enjoying.

While the Bible states that "there will be no more sea," I think that the glory of God's universe, with almost infinite planets will provide us with natural wonders that we can not even begin to comprehend.  After all, without God we would have never been able to even imagine what the most beautiful beach would have looked like if it was never formed by His hands.  Heaven is greater than anything we can even begin to imagine.  It is where God lives - it is good enough for Him to call home.  If it is truly that good, we can't even begin to unravel it's greatness.

***

Have any thoughts about there existing beaches, seas, oceans, and other forms of water in Heaven? What do you think Heaven will be like?  Please feel free to share your comments below.

What is Heaven Like?


What is Heaven like?  That is a question that I think many Christians ask themselves.  There are many ideas of Heaven, from the basic cartoon idea of Heaven being a place where angels play harps to the fanatical ideas where some have claimed to have gone to Heaven and came back.  While I can not say for sure if some people have not been shown glimpses of Heaven by God, I will say that there are many books that are being sold online where authors make such claims.  With that said, I have never been to Heaven, but have thought a great deal about it during my lifetime.

I think that meditating on Heaven is an important part of life and it something that we should all do very often - daily in fact. Heaven, and not Earth, is our home.  It is where God lives.  It is where Jesus came to Earth from. There are many verses in the Bible that discuss how Heaven is our home.  Jesus talks a great deal about this in the gospels of the Bible.  That is why Jesus did not come to create an Earthly kingdom.

Perhaps one of my most thought of quotes when it pertains to achieving worldly success is the following:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19 - 21)
We want our heart to be in Heaven, with Jesus.  Jesus did not value the possessions of the Earth.  He did not have a luxurious life.  He was a homeless man who wandered the Earth teaching others about God's plan for humanity.  He taught others how to love each other and how sickness and death would no longer exist in the future.   He said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).  And he spoke a great deal about Heaven.  After all, that was His home.  Jesus longed to be with the Father.  That is why when he hung on the cross and felt sin separating Himself from the Father, he said, in agony, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" (Matthew 27:46).

We all long to go home to Heaven.  When we think of Heaven, we feel intense desire to be there.  It is our true home.  The Earth is filled with toil and sin.  Pride has spread like a disease.  People are boastful, arrogant, proud, and competitive.  Many spend their lives working for others and see little reward for their efforts, while their taskmasters live in comparative luxury.  Many people go to and fro, in an effort to feed their families while passing by the palaces of the elite.  The world says "this is okay.  Some should live in splendor while the majority should live in comparative squalor."  Many people witness their loved ones die to disease and others to murder.  We see death all around us. From television to the outside world, death has become so common to us that we barely even blink when it manifests itself.

I believe that it is extremely important to meditate on Heaven and Heavenly things.  yet, some people put off Heaven and say that life here on Earth is good enough.  There are those who seem to think that there is no need for Heaven.  I disagree.  This is the danger we fall into when we do not discuss and think about Heaven.  We lose touch with our home, with the reality that is something we all have to look forward to.  Jesus came to the earth so that one day we could unite with him in the glory of Heaven.

There are places here on Earth that give but a glimpse of the beauty that will exist in Heaven.
In future posts I will discuss different aspects of what I believe Heaven is like.  In short, Heaven is a paradise like no other place in which we can even begin to imagine.  It is a place lacking only of evil.  There is no death, no disease, no jealousy, no negative feelings.  There is no little annoyances, like hangnails or sore throats.  There are no large annoyances like angry thoughts towards others, having to toil for a meager pittance.  It is a place where we can commune with those who are Holy.  Jesus and the greatest minds of existence will be present to speak to.  We will be able to thank Jesus face to face for all He has done for us.

Heaven is an amazing place, and it is something we should all long for.  I know that I feel glad when I imagine it.  My mind can not even begin to conceive what Heaven is like, but I do know that there are little hints and sneak peaks of Heaven here on Earth, if you will.  The most beautiful places testify to that.  The joy of a new child or of hearing that baby laugh for the first time give a glimpse into what Heaven is like.  The feeling of intense love or of true joy.  Those are the pieces of Heaven that exist here on Earth.  When we focus on Heaven and imagine the above feelings always permeating from us, it is hard to not be thrilled with the prospect of going to Heaven and living eternity with our creator and savior.

Watching What We Say... Even On the Internet



It is important for us to watch what we say to other people.  The Bible has a lot to say about 'words' that we speak.  For example, in James 3, the Bible says:
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
(James 3: 5-10)

The tongue is a nasty part of the body, that is for sure.  In fact, much of sin starts with the tongue. Sins such as boastfulness and pride, arrogance, lying, deceiving and tricking others.  Scheming to murder and seduction emits from the mouth.  Perhaps the tongue is second only to the mind as the epicenter of sin.  We can easily stop the mind from going through with sin, but once the tongue acts, it is much harder to stop the sin from taking place.

However, there is a new tongue that is on the scene.  It is the fingers.  The fingers can now do the exact same things that the tongue has long been capable of.  Perhaps after years of the fingers seeing the tongue being the star of the show, the fingers got jealous and decided they wanted a piece of the prize.  Writing was created, but the tongue was more agile and writings could be destroyed once there was guilt in what was said.  After all, it is said that the hurt from a word can not be easily taken back, but a letter can be destroyed before ever being sent.  With the internet, much is instantaneous, and words are quickly seen by all once they are written.  You may delete an angry post on Facebook or something you post on an internet message board, but there is a chance that what you said will have been seen, even if you think you were quick enough to retract your words.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. 
(Proverbs 13:3)

Be careful little mouth what you say now applies equally to the fingers.  What we say on the internet is of extreme importance.  We are given more time to formulate our thoughts and feelings when we are online and we should take a minute or two before posting what we say.  I would even say that we should pray over what we post.  Imagine if people prayed before posting on Facebook.  Wouldn't Facebook be a much more enjoyable place?  As it is now, it is chock full of anger and strife, jealousy, rage, boasting, pride, arrogance, and ungodliness.  I often wonder how Christians can consider time spent on Facebook as time well spent.  Perhaps if one is preaching the Bible (not merely posting pictures of Bible quotes - but actual preaching and teaching the Word of God), then time spent on Facebook could be valuable.  However, many Christians fall into the trap that others fall into while on Facebook and begin to brag about accomplishments, compete with others, feel depression as a result of unfair comparison, and forget about our purpose on Earth - to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  Some try to undo the carnage by posting an image of Jesus with a Bible quote.  Yet, I can not help but wonder, when I see such things, if such quotes are merely tools to acquire the ever addictive "like."

No matter if you are on or if you are not on Facebook, you should guard what you say and think long and hard before you type something on the internet.  The written word can hurt more than the spoken word because we have more opportunity to think it through.  Words that are written are read by many, sometimes even thousands or millions of people.  We may think that what we say is clever or funny, but does God smile when you write these "clever" words?

Before you type, ask yourself, would Jesus say the same thing?  If Jesus was standing next to you, would you be posting the same comment?  If God was reading what you had to say (and He is), would you be willing to explain right then, right there, why you were saying it?  Jesus will forgive your sin, but do you really want the pain and anguish that comes with sinning?  Do you really want to have to look to Jesus and say that you are truly sorry for something you could have avoided in the first place?

For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. 
(Matthew 12:37 - Spoken by Jesus)

I know too well what it is like to say harsh things on the internet.  I, too, have said my fair share of horrible and vile things while in the comfort of the internet's anonymity.  Yet, I have found that, while I can easily hurt others, I can also uplift others while online, and the mental (and spiritual) reward for this type of action is far greater than hurting others or brining them down.  We are all human beings created by the same God.  Jesus loves us just as much as He loves the person we love the least.  Jesus finds us just as valuable as he finds the worst person on Earth.  Meditate on that as you formulate your words on the internet.  Remember that the person and people you are speaking to have the same feelings as you do, and even if you are hurt by their words, you do not have to continue the harm by passing more evil and unkind words back and forth.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who is Jesus?


Who is Jesus?  This is a question that could take much time to answer.  It deserves far more time than I will give it in this blog entry, that's for sure.  However, I think that this is a question that we, as Christians, should ask ourselves from time to time.  Who is Jesus?  By reflecting on the man and what he did in his life, we can better understand him.  

Do We Still Have To Follow The Ten Commandments?

Many people seem to think that Jesus came to the Earth and died for our sins so that we could later ignore the commandments that God gave us.  While I believe that God forgives our sins through asking for forgiveness in Christ's name, I think that there is more to it than that.  
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14 - 17).  
Jesus himself said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15).  Jesus promised the Holy spirit to those so that we could sense when we were doing wrong and so that small voice would tell us when we were sinning against God.  Why else did he give us the Holy spirt if we are to not follow the commandments?  (This is something for you to think about).

Does Sin Still Exist in the World?

Yes, there is still a such thing as sin.  Jesus did not do away with sin, and most people would agree with me that you should not kill another person.  Many would say that we should not steal from others.  And many, if stolen from, would say that the person who stole from us committed a sin.  Many people, however, think that it is somewhat okay to sin sometimes.  "I do not need to be bound to the law," they reason, while living lives that are sinful.  Jesus will forgive you sins, this is true. However, we are to try extremely hard to not sin.  It is hard; impossible without Jesus.   However, that does not give us a license to ignore the commandments or to sin as we please.  "If you love me, keep my commandments."  Do you love Jesus?  Do you really love Jesus?

How Seventh Day Adventists View God's Law and Forgiveness for Sin

The Adventist faith is for many seen as legalistic or too hard to follow.  Some adventists are like taskmasters in that you have to do everything perfectly.  However, we all need to remember that nobody living today is perfect.  We all sin.  We all come short of the glory of God.  Yet, what I like about Adventism is that it states that we have to try.  We have to try to not sin because we love Jesus.  We have to try to not sin because we want to show Jesus that we appreciate the gift he gave us when he died on the cross.  We want to be like Jesus.  He lived a perfect life, and why would we not want to live a perfect life as well? Adventists are known for their strict eating habits, but these habits are merely in place because they conform to how God designed mankind.  He did not design us to destroy our bodies, and one thing that I do not understand about many branches of Christianity is the idea that it is okay to get drunk, party, smoke, have premarital sex, or eat foods that are unhealthy.  This does not mean that Adventists do not eat badly.  I eat worse than I (or anyone else) should.  I fall far short of the Adventist health message.  Eating vegetarian food will not save me from God's judgment.  However, asking forgiveness and trying to eat better and saying, "Jesus, I want to live more like you.  I want to take care of my body like you took care of your body.  I want to eat better because I want to serve you.  Please forgive me for eating badly" will help me in more ways than one. 

Did Jesus' Death Abolish the Law of God?

We need to show our love for Jesus in daily prayer and in following his commandments.  He said everything that is printed in the Bible for a reason.  When he said, "if you love me, keep my commandments," he was not just joking around.  The ten commandments were written for every man, for all time.  They are immutable and unchangeable.  Jesus did not change a single one.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (Matthew 5:17-18)
The ten commandments still exist to this day.  Every one of them exists in the same form as when God wrote them with his own finger on Mount Sinai.  Jesus did not change them and nobody else can hope to change God's law.  What God states is not taken back.  God knows better than to say something and later backtrack on it.  He is not human.  He does not come with the weaknesses of reason that we have.  Claiming that God's law has been changed to suit our wants and tastes shows the weakness of reason that exists in us.


Conclusion - Jesus Deserves Our Love

Jesus has done much for us, so how can we feel good about not showing him our love?  Would you tell your children that it is alright if they did not follow your rules?  Would you say that it is alright if they steal, murder, or sin constantly if they planned on asking for forgiveness one more time before death?  Would you not feel hurt when you saw them living a life that not only hurt you but themselves?  Think about how Jesus feels when you sin.  He is not just an imaginary being, but he is there, watching and thinking about you always.  He hopes that you will come to him and ask forgiveness when you do sin (and we all sin), but he does not want you to live a life of sin because you think that you can and that it does not matter.  It does matter.   

Saturday, May 23, 2015

About Me and The Purpose of this Website


I want to start this website by talking a bit about myself and then going into some of my thoughts on the Bible and how we can prepare for Heaven.  We are told that the way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ.  I want to share my vision of what Heaven is like so you can meditate on it and imagine the home that we are now preparing for.  Heaven is a glorious place.  So glorious that God created it and chooses to live there.  If it's good enough for God to make His home, it's something you should be excited about.

So, who am I?  I am an adult male who has been married for 14 years.  I was married quite young in the Adventist Church.  My wife and I were married for 13 years before having our daughter who has become perhaps the greatest blessing in our lives, second to the blessing that Christ gave to us in dying for our sins.  I graduated from law school in 2013 and decided, instead of pursuing the route of being a lawyer, that I would rather be a missionary.  I found the corporate world to be the kind of place I felt that I did not belong.  Therefore, my wife and I decided to contact various division leaders in the church and offer ourselves for God's service.  We were accepted to be missionaries in Kiev, Ukraine, where we teach English, Bible Studies, Friday Night Club (which has to do with topics on the Bible), and other tasks, such as preparing Vacation Bible Study.  We enjoy serving the Lord here and telling others about how wonderful God is.  I now want to branch out even further by creating this website and reach people who may have questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, Heaven, and other topics.  I would like to post some of the Bible studies here, as well as thoughts about the church, its mission, and ideas that I have.

There is a lot more that I could say about myself, but that should suffice for now.

My goals for this website:
  • To post about my walk with Christ
  • To share Bible studies with those who are longing to learn about what the Bible has to say
  • To show others how I view Heaven, based on what I have read and studied in the Bible
  • To share my thoughts on Bible passages
I look forward to reading your comments as well.  If you have something to add or want to mention something about your walk with Jesus, please comment!  I enjoy reading what others have to say and will give you respect, even if we happen to disagree.