Category Archives: heaven

Change Your Default Setting

cloudscolossians3 2-2709662_1920S – “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

O – Paul is giving instructions to believers to live a godly life and please God. Here he tells us to keep our minds set on what is above.

A – “Set your minds” – What you think about – this implies that we have a choice. We can choose what we think about, what we set our minds on. As hard as it might seem and it isn’t easy, we do have a choice. We should think about “things that are above.” What is above? Jesus, our Father, heaven, eternity, all who have gone before us, all those who will join us there, God’s will, eternal rewards, all the promises of God, His Word which will last forever. Not on things of the earth: what is temporal, material things, sin, pain, sorrow, temporary pleasures, money, earthly gain and power, problems and worries, physical limitations, pride, selfish gain. Is it possible to never think about those things? Of course not. But to “set” my mind says to me that which I think about the most. The channel I set my radio to. My default setting. What I always go back to. I need to make things that are above my default setting for my mind. Yes, I will think about earthly things and I need to at times but my goal is to always bring my mind back to what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

P – Please help me, Lord. Help me to set my mind on you, on your truth, on eternity. Help me to train my mind to always come back to truth. Thank you that because of your Holy Spirit, that is possible. I love you Jesus.

SOAP Bible Study Method

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One Last Tear

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My mom’s breath began to slow. It was 10 seconds between breaths, then 20, and then 30. There was one last breath. I realized that the first sound I heard on this earth, my mom’s heartbeat, was about to stop. Sobbing, my two sisters and I clung to our mom as a tear rolled down her cheek. Then her spirit was gone. In an instant, her body became an empty shell. As I gripped her hand, it became as lifeless as an empty glove.

One last tear was shed.

Did she cry for her daughters who were hurting? Did she cry at having to say goodbye? Maybe it was a happy tear as the veil was torn away and she saw glory. My sisters and I believe she shed a tear for us. She loved us well and with all her heart. In that moment, it was clear that this body we live in is just temporary housing. When her spirit left, the body was just an empty tent left behind. She wasn’t there anymore.

It had been a difficult ten weeks. From the time my mom first fell and broke her hip and then faced one setback after another. She finally was put on hospice and we sat by her side for a week as her body slowly weakened. Here are some thoughts I meditated on as I sat by her side:

Dying is hard.

Regret is devastating.

Moments are fleeting.

Opportunities pass.

There’s a last time for everything on earth.

Seize the moment.

Love well.

Make eye contact while you can.

Say I love you often.

A person’s tent is just that – a tent not the person.

Jesus conquered death.

Hug while you can.

Grief will not be rushed.

Grief stops time.

Rushing doesn’t improve life.

Trust requires patience.

Trust is shown in a gentle and quiet spirit.

Waiting patiently requires us to stop and be quiet.

Faith is the evidence of things NOT seen. It’s trusting without seeing.

I wrote this as I sat with her that morning:

This is probably the last time I will hold my mama’s hand.

Let me hold your hand one more time.

Feel your touch.

See your face.

I will always love you.

Always have you in my heart.

You’re my mom.

My dear heart.

You loved me fiercely and were always glad to see me.

“Hi sweetheart!”

“Hi Darlin!”

“Love you so much.”

These will echo in my mind.

Soon Mama, you will never have another pain.

Never be lonely again.

You will know everlasting joy and see the face of Jesus!

Strong, stoic, hardworking, determined,

Giving, generous.

Loved by many.

She loved us with a fierce love.

She was so proud of her girls.

She is with Jesus.

Singing, rejoicing and praising.

Free from suffering, pain and loneliness.

Free of guilt, hurt and sorrow.

Life is a mist, a vapor,

a puff of smoke,

a flower that blooms in the morning and dies at night.

Live purposefully.

Live intentionally.

Walk with Jesus.

Follow His voice.

Simplify, listen and just follow.

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16 (ESV)

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b (ESV)

“’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)

I originally published this at Internet Cafe Devotions

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First Christmas in Heaven

I wrote this when my father-in-law spent his first Christmas in heaven in 2007. Today my mom will spend her first Christmas there. I miss her and wish I could just have one small glimpse of her joy.

I love you mom!

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Christmas in heaven.

Can you imagine?

Not just celebrating the babe in the manger,

but falling at the feet of the King of Kings.

 

Not just viewing dozens of Crèches

made of every conceivable material

but being in the presence of the Holy One,

Immanuel,

Jesus Christ Lord of Lords,

The Great I AM!

What a glorious celebration!

 

Our little “celebrations” are barely

even shadows of the eternal celebration in heaven.

 

To think that our loved ones

are experiencing the full meaning of Christmas

for the first time.

 

God with us!

 

They are now in His presence for all of eternity.

The full joy of Christmas

with none of the negative effects caused by sin.

Pure joy unmarred by selfishness, worry, stress,

materialism or worldly distractions.

 

Can’t you see them worshipping before the throne?

 

Filled with the joy of heaven.

Free from the sorrows of earth.

 

Living the meaning of Christmas.

 

We love you.

Keep celebrating and one day

we will worship there together, forever!

Susan Aken   Christmas 2007

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

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There is Hope

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My dad went to be with Jesus in 2000. One of the last times I saw him alive was on a visit I made to the VA home where he lived in another state. I was only able to visit him there two or three times a year. He had been in the home about four years and he hated it. As a former reformatory guard, he referred to it as “lockdown”. But my mom was no longer able to work and take care of him by herself. I wanted so much to encourage him somehow and on this visit I felt the urge to share these verses:

“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.” John 14:1-3 (ESV)

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Looking at my mom, he choked, “Did you hear what she said”? He was blessed and encouraged. He would not be stuck in that bed forever. Jesus was preparing a better place for him.

This world is a place of suffering. We may have moments, even days when we are personally free of suffering. But truthfully, with how the world has shrunk so that we know what is happening around the world instantaneously, suffering confronts us hourly if not by the minute. Suffering in this world is a reality and has been since the day Adam and Eve sinned.

Our encouragement, our hope is in knowing it won’t be this way forever. Even if we live into our hundreds, life on this earth is short. Those who believe in Jesus will then live with Him for eternity free of suffering. Someday, He will return to earth and those still alive on earth will see the end of evil and pain.

The tragedy is for those who never know or do not believe that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and set us free and then enter into eternity without Him.

The longer I live, the faster the days go by. Life on this earth is fleeting. Even if I manage to have a life of ease and comfort it won’t last long.

“For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b (ESV)

I feel it.

The longing we each have in our hearts for a perfect place free of pain and sorrow will be fulfilled in heaven.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

Believe in Jesus. Believe He died for your sins and rose again.

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:13 (ESV)

Believe in Him and know you will spend eternity in perfect joy.

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Originally published at Takin It To the Streets

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The Best Decision for the New Year

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Today is the last day of 2015.

The end of another year of reading through the Bible with the SOAP method. His written Word is our daily food, it’s alive and powerful. It’s not like any other book every written. It’s inspired by the Holy Spirit and every word is true.

Here are my SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) journal notes for this last day of 2015 as we finish the book of Revelation:

Anyone Who Wishes

S – “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

O – After reading about those who will be outside of heaven and will not be allowed in, what wonderful words! Anyone who wishes, ANYONE who desires the water of life is welcome! Those who stay outside are those who choose to do so, those who refuse to come, who refuse to believe or repent. Jesus invites all who want His gift, to come in.

A – I am so thankful that I know Jesus. I am so thankful that He loves me and welcomes me into His kingdom. I can do absolutely nothing on my own. I am a helpless, wandering sheep without Him.

P – Jesus, thank you for giving me the water of life. I do wish. I do want that free gift and I have received it! Please take all that I am and use me for your glory.

Please join me as we start a new year reading through the Bible tomorrow! There are various reading plans that fit whatever your needs are.  You can choose from a snack, meal or a feast.   Find a journal, a notebook or use an online journal as I do to record your insights. God’s written Word changes our hearts and our lives when we mediate on it and choose to obey. Please comment below if you have any questions. You can also follow along with others as we read at Discover One Thing.

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Christmas in Heaven

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For many, there are loved ones

who will be spending their first Christmas in heaven this year.

Christmas in heaven.

Can you imagine?

Not just celebrating the babe in the manger,

but falling at the feet of the King of Kings.

 

Not just viewing dozens of Crèches

made of every conceivable material

but being in the presence of the Holy One,

Immanuel,

Jesus Christ Lord of Lords,

The Great I AM!

 

What a glorious celebration!

 

Our little “celebrations” are barely

even shadows of the eternal celebration in heaven.

 

To think that our loved ones

are experiencing the full meaning of Christmas

for the first time.

 

God with us!

 

They are now in His presence for all of eternity.

The full joy of Christmas

with none of the negative effects caused by sin.

Pure joy unmarred by selfishness, worry, stress,

materialism or worldly distractions.

 

Can’t you see them worshipping before the throne?

 

Filled with the joy of heaven.

Free from the sorrows of earth.

 

Living the meaning of Christmas.

 

We love you.

Keep celebrating and one day

we will worship there together, forever!

Susan Aken   Christmas 2007

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

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Peace in a Troubled World

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God is so awesome! His Word is so powerful.

I love you Lord. Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for the birds I hear right now.

It brings such calm and peace just to hear their songs. To know they continually praise you. They just love being birds. I love sitting here on my screened in porch made with love by my dear husband. I love the cool breeze this morning.

I love watching the birds eat and seeing the flowers. It seems like the birds are especially happy this morning. Maybe because of a little rain and the coolness?

I love knowing that I belong to Jesus and I am His forever.

The world is a mess. There is more alarming news every day. Sometimes it seems like we are poised for disaster.

Yet, I know my redeemer lives! I know God is Sovereign! Nothing is a surprise for Him. He knows the days of this earth are numbered. He knows this life here is just a puff of smoke in all of eternity. His plan is for all His people to live with Him for eternity! Eternity without sin, pain, sorrow or trouble. Eternity as His pure and holy people. His beloved!

Even if the worst happens here, if it all falls away, if everything I know crumbles – He still reigns and His victory still stands. The enemy is already defeated! We know the end to the story…the devil will be cast into the pit forever. Jesus will reign and does reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Everything will be made right and God’s purposes will be fulfilled. What do we do? We trust. We have faith. Knowing faith is the evidence of things hoped for. Faith is believing even when we cannot see. I trust His love. I trust His Sovereign plan. I trust in His goodness and purity. God’s plans are always best. His power is unquestioned and unmatched. I will praise Him forever.

Oh, I long for the day when I will be free from the sinfulness of the flesh. When I will be all He created me to be. Please help me Lord. Help me to live closer each day to the person you created me to be. Please love through me. Please empower me to show your greatness to those around me. Oh, that my life would reflect your glory! Help me let go of all pride, self-seeking and live for your glory. I cannot do it in my strength. Oh, Holy Spirit please live through me. I rest in you. I love you.

“...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

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