A Perfect Place

Are you looking for a better place? Do you long to be in a better situation? Are you someone who works toward goals? Or are you a person who works out of love? Do you know there is a better place? Do you know God has prepared it for you?

Many of us long for something better. We seek better jobs. We strive to make our living situation better. We work to provide a better home for our kids. Sometimes we work to achieve goals. At other times, we work to provide for our families because we love them deeply.

When God created us, he put within us a desire for something better. We live in a world full of strife. We long for something better. We desire a place of peace and rest. Rest is something many of us lack. That kind of rest can only be experienced briefly when we spend quiet time with God. Our ultimate rest will come when we spend eternity with God.

We see glimpses of beauty in this world. We see it in the majestic mountains, the blooming of spring flowers, the graceful leaping of a deer over a fence, or a colorful sunset. But these glimpses don’t last. We hold them in our memory to remind us, but we cannot hold the moment forever.

There is a beauty coming that will last forever. The eternal home for those who follow God will be a beautiful place created by God. We see poetic descriptions that struggle to come close to its beauty in the Bible. However, they fall short of fully describing the beauty we will see.

I pray we all work out of the love we have for God. I pray we desire to experience the beauty of eternity with him. I pray each one of us appreciate the glimpses of God’s beauty we see on this earth. Look forward to eternity with God. Take notice of the beauty God created. Know God has prepared a place for you. Trust God’s promises.

Revelation 21:1-2 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

A Banner for the People

Have you ever rallied to a banner? Have you chosen to follow a flag? Do you follow a flag today? Is it because the flag represents an ideal, title, or a person? Have you chosen the wrong banner at some point in your life?

Many of us rally to a particular flag. The flag may represent a specific organization. It may represent a country. It may represent a military unit. It may represent a team. There is a better banner to rally to.

In the last days, Jesus will be the banner for all of us to rally to. He will be the One who will take us into a place of eternal rest. He will claim His own and provide an eternal home for each person who has chosen Him as their Lord and Savior.

The plan has been put in motion. It was prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus was born. It was prophesied again after He rose from the grave. God has told us through His Word what His plan is. He has told us of the ultimate victory. He has told us the end game. The only question remaining is, Will we choose to be included in His plan?

Make no mistake about it. It is our choice. We can choose an eternity of love, peace, and joy. Or we can choose to defy Him and suffer eternal punishment. God desires us to rally to His banner, the Root of Jesse, Jesus Christ.

I pray we all choose to rally to God’s banner. I pray we choose to follow Jesus. I pray each one of us will accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, resulting in an eternity with God. Choose wisely. Choose the Root of Jesse. Choose Jesus Christ. Choose Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Rally to Jesus.

Isaiah 11:10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Active Waiting

Are you tired of all the violence? Are you tired of hearing about it on the news? Are you filled to the point of exploding yourself? Do you wish there was a way to stop it? Do you know there will be a time when it does stop? Are you looking forward to that time?

We hear about violence every day in the news. It may be an armed robbery, an attack on an individual, or a mass shooting. We have almost become numb to hearing about these atrocities. We wonder why we do not hear good news stories in the news.

Well, there is good news. God has planned for and will establish a time when there is no more violence. His plan is in progress. Only he knows when that time will come, but rest assured it is coming. There will be a time of no more sadness, tears, frustration, anger, hatred, nor violence.

We are currently in a time of waiting. In theological terms it is called Advent. We acknowledge this time of waiting specifically one time per year—the four Sundays prior to Christmas. But we are in waiting every day of every week of every month of every year of our lives, until Jesus returns.

During the Advent season, we acknowledge the period of time the Jews were waiting for the Messiah to come. He came, lived, taught, was crucified, and rose again. We now await His return. Jesus has promised to come back. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised there will be a time when there is no more violence. When Jesus returns, that time will have come. What can we do while we wait? Tell people about Jesus and change as many lives as we can. Waiting does not mean inactivity.

I pray we all look forward to the time of no move violence. I pray we seek to actively wait for Jesus’ return. I pray each of us tell others about Jesus and change lives for the better. Know that God has a plan. Know that peace will come. Actively wait. Tell others about Jesus.

Isaiah 11:9

They will neither harm nor destroy 

on all my holy mountain, 

for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

Animals In Eternity

Do you have a pet you love? Do you long to keep them with you forever? Have you ever wondered if there will be animals in heaven? Have you heard people mention “doggy heaven?” Is there a biblical basis for people believing animals will be with them after this life?

We see many people who have pets that are loved as family members. Some take their pets with them everywhere they go, including the grocery store, department store, and vacations. Some of these pets are not just pets but working animals—emotional support animals.

Let’s cover the uncomfortable news first. There is no biblical evidence there are animals in heaven. When heaven is mentioned, the only living beings included are God the Father, God the Son, angels, and the saints (followers of God).

Now let’s move on to the good news. Heaven is not the end state. God will create a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1). In this new earth there will be animals. Not only will there be animals, but they will all be tame or domesticated. There will be no carnivorous animals. There will be no hunter animals. Though these animals are natural predators in this life, they will not be predators in the new earth.

The biblical evidence points to the possibility, and perhaps probability, that pets will be with us in the new earth. God created the animals to be our helpers (Gen. 2:19). Even if our pets may be more than helpers today, God has put them here for a purpose and will put animals in the new earth as well.

I pray we all read God’s Word. I pray we understand God’s plan for eternity. I pray each one of us understand animals are meant to be our helper and we will see animals in the new earth. Read God’s Word. Understand God’s plan. Know there will be animals in eternity. Know God created animals to be our helper. Care for your pets.

Isaiah 65:25

“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, 

and the lion will eat straw like the ox, 

and dust will be the serpent’s food. 

They will neither harm nor destroy 

on all my holy mountain,” 

says the Lord.

Big Things, Little Things

Do you worry about the little things? Do you meticulously pick apart the smallest things done by someone else? Are you ignoring the bigger things? Have you forgotten to pursue the heart of God? Do you know what God wants from you?

There are times when we get all worked up over the tiniest of things. It can be as small as someone leaving a pen laying on our desk. It may be that a sock fell from the laundry basket and was left laying on the floor. Do not misunderstand, attention to detail has its place, but God desires more from us.

Jesus addresses the incorrect focus of the religious leaders of the day. In short, He says they get wrapped around the axel about the small things while neglecting the big things—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Those leaders were caught up in demanding people properly give their tithes while ignoring what mattered to the heart of God.

Do we do the same? Do we spend more time fretting over tiny things and forget what hurts God’s heart? I wish I could say we don’t. Unfortunately, I see it nearly every day. I see it in the daily news. I hear it in the stories of others. Sometimes I witness it firsthand. I even catch myself doing it.

Jesus tells us to stop worrying about the little things. He tells us to seek the things God is concerned about. We are to seek justice for all (our Pledge of Allegiance says we do). We are to show mercy, especially to those who honestly admit they have done wrong and seek to change their ways. We are to be faithful to God in all we do and say. God desires these from us, without neglecting the small things in our lives.

I pray we all seek to follow God’s heart. I pray we seek justice, mercy, and faithfulness. I pray each one of us will pursue following Jesus’ example and teachings in our lives. Seek justice. Show mercy. Be faithful in all you do. Speak faithfully always. Follow God’s commands. Follow Jesus’ example.

Matthew 23:23-24 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

Fear the Lord

Are there things you are afraid of? Do you fear being alone in the dark? Do you fear wild animals? Is there someone you know whom you fear? Do you understand your fear? Do you know there is someone else you should fear?

We all have fears. For some it is darkness and the sounds we hear, imagined or not. For others it is the fear of an animal. Still others fear the bully, whether on the playground or in the office. Yet we all should have a healthy fear of the Lord.

What is a healthy fear of the Lord? Opposed to the other fears listed above, it does not only entail being afraid, though that is a proper reaction when in his holy presence. No, it includes being in awe of God and his mighty power. It includes respecting him and learning his ways. It includes appreciating that God is our maker and he rules the earth, whether we want to believe it or not.

God doesn’t need us, but he wants us. God can do anything he desires without us, but he wants to include us in his work. God has a plan for each of us, but we can decline the opportunity to go along with his plan. God has designed us with free will, an opportunity to make choices of our own—good or bad.

Fearing God doesn’t mean we shake in our boots at the mention of his name. It does mean we sit up tall and listen when he speaks, much like we do when mom or dad speak. It means we seek to learn from him and acknowledge his wisdom is far greater than our own. God wants us to be with him forever, we have a choice to make.

I pray we all fear God. I pray we are in awe of God and respect him. I pray each one of us will sit up and listen closely when God speaks, whether through his written Word or his whisper in our ear. Fear God. God is awesome. Be in awe of God. God is almighty. Respect God. God is far wiser. Listen to God. God has a plan for you.

Psalm 34:9-11

Fear the Lord, you his holy people, 

for those who fear him lack nothing. 

The lions may grow weak and hungry, 

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 

Come, my children, listen to me; 

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

God’s Counsel

Have you ever sought counsel? Have you sought the advice of someone more learned? Do you ask others for advice when you find yourself in a situation in which you do not know what to do? Has there been times when there was no one to turn to? Would like to know there is someone always available?

We all experience times when we feel as though we have nowhere to turn for advice. We feel as though we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Our minds race. We long for wise advice from someone, anyone. We may even feel desperate.

I remember a time when I felt completely helpless. I was moving from Virginia to Illinois—the next day! I had a lot of things to get packed into a trailer. My main household effects had been packed and loaded by a moving company. But I had a bunch of stuff that wasn’t being moved by them. The sun was about to set, and I felt completely overwhelmed.

As I stood in my driveway looking at the trailer and thinking about all that had to be loaded, my countenance fell. I looked up, held my hands up, and asked God how I was going to get it all done and get a few hours’ sleep for the long drive. A still, small voice in my head simply said, “Do the next thing.” I have no doubt it was God whispering to me. It all got done and I got some sleep.

God provides us counsel. He not only provides it when we are desperate, but at all times, if we will just reach out to him. I found it is better to seek his counsel whether things are going well or they are going badly. He is always there. I have also found that it is best to heed his counsel, even if it isn’t what I want to hear. He knows best.

I pray we all seek God’s counsel. I pray we seek him in good times and in bad times. I pray each one of us will heed his advice, trusting that he knows what is best for us. Always seek God’s counsel. Heed God’s advice. Trust God. Experience God’s goodness.

Psalm 32:8-9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; 

I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 

Do not be like the horse or the mule, 

which have no understanding 

but must be controlled by bit and bridle 

or they will not come to you.

Wisdom of Christ

Do you desire wisdom? Do you wish you could see the truth? Do you wish you could keep yourself from being deceived? Would you like to see things from the big picture point of view? Do you believe that would help you understand life better?

Wisdom is not something we talk about much in today’s culture. Instead, we talk about knowledge and education. Unfortunately, knowledge and education can only proceed so far. There is a point when they are exhausted, even if we fail to see it.

Wisdom goes beyond knowledge and education. A wise person discerns when and how to apply the knowledge they have acquired. Knowing a typical screw is turned to the right to tighten it and to the left to loosen it can only be put to proper use when we are wise enough to turn it in the right direction to accomplish our goal. Of course, this is a very small example, but the principle can be applied to all knowledge.

But wisdom isn’t limited to discernment in applying our knowledge. It expands into judging correctly. Judgment is not for or against a person but judging between right and wrong. It is seeing the situation from God’s perspective and determining which action is right or wrong — making our choices based on the wisdom of God.

The wisdom we need, and should desire, is the wisdom of Christ. As we see in today’s passage, this wisdom is a treasure. Wisdom is more precious than all the silver, gold, or jewels we can acquire (Proverbs 8:10-11). Wisdom is what we are to seek and true wisdom can only come from God.

I pray we all seek the wisdom of God. I pray we ask God to bless us with his wisdom. I pray each one of us will spend time in prayer, reading God’s Word, and seeking his wisdom for our lives. Acquire knowledge. Be discerning. Rightly judge. Seek wisdom. Ask God for wisdom. Apply God’s wisdom to your life.

Colossians 2:2-4 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Going Up to God’s Mountain

Have you ever gone up onto a mountain? Have you gone up to spend time worshiping God? Do you feel as though you are going up when you praise, sing to, and pray to God?

We sometimes talk of having a “mountain top experience.” We usually mean we felt extremely good, happy, or joyous. Something wonderful has happened or we have achieved a great achievement.

I can remember going up the mountain and worshiping many years ago. Several people from our church would hike up Old Rag, which was a small mountain in the Shenandoah Valley. We carried our lunches in backpacks along with Bibles and copies of hymns.

While on the mountain, we would eat lunch, sing some hymns, and hear a short devotional message. We always did this in October to see the wonderful colors of fall. We often saw eagles flying below us! We were reminded of God’s beautiful creation and his awesome power.

There will be one mountain top experience like no other. That mountain top experience will be the day we meet the Lord face-to-face and know we will never leave his sight again.

Isaiah prophecies of both the coming of Jesus in the flesh and of God’s final restoration of his creation. Jesus takes the first step of restoration when He comes to earth. God will take the final step at the time he has set.

I pray we all seek to go up the mountain to God. I pray we experience a mountain top experience in this life. I pray each of us will seek God with our hearts to prepare us for his final victory. Experience the mountain top. Look forward to going to God’s mountain top. Look forward to seeing him face-to-face. Know that God will restore you.

Isaiah 2:2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

Live in Safety

Do you long for safety? Are you looking for a place where you feel safe and secure? Would you like to lay down at night without worry, fear, or anxiety? Have you turned to the One who can grant it to you? Have you learned and committed to trusting God?

Many live in fear today. Many live with worry. Many live with anxiety. Many of them live with these mental infirmities because they feel alone. Many live this way because they feel as though they have no one they can count on. But there is One we can all count on.

Far too many people in this world have no relationship with God. They have not taken time to consider him. Some may not even know of him. They only know that a member of a church at some time in the past had mistreated them. Or they have never heard the true story of God and his desire to care for them.

Others say they believe in God. They may even say they are followers of Jesus. But they do not really trust Him. They have not taken the time to build a relationship with Him. Sure, they may attend a worship service on occasion or even every Sunday. Unfortunately, they continue to keep Him at arm’s length, never fully embracing Him.

As Christians, we are to fully embrace Jesus. Not only that, but we are to tell the story of Jesus to others. When we embrace Jesus fully, we find safety. As we discover this safety, we want to share it with others. Especially when we have lived with worry, fear, and anxiety. Ridding ourselves of those feelings is freeing. God will grant us the safety we desire.

I pray we all embrace Jesus. I pray we take time to build a relationship with Him. I pray each one of us will give our worry, fear, and anxiety over to God and experience the safety he provides. Give up your worry. Hand over your fear. Be removed from your anxiety. Build a relationship with God. Learn to trust him. Live in his safety.

Hosea 2:18

In that day I will make a covenant for them 

with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky 

and the creatures that move along the ground. 

Bow and sword and battle 

I will abolish from the land, 

so that all may lie down in safety.