Saturday Morning with Bjorn

Word For You Today

Thinking about Heaven 3

'...His servants will serve him...and they will reign for ever...' Revelation 22:3-5 NIV

In the Bible Heaven is pictured as a garden, a city and a home. All three require skill, work and maintenance. Is that why we're told we'll serve God in Heaven? Service is active, not passive. Seems like Heaven will involve lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fatigue, enhanced by unlimited resources. The Bible says we'll reign with Christ, exercising leadership, making important decisions (see Luke 19:16-19). That means we'll set goals, devise plans and share ideas.Actually, our best workdays on earth are just a foretaste of the joy our work will bring us in Heaven. Indeed, our service to Christ now will determine our position then. Jobs that depend on aspects of our fallen world probably won't exist - such as dentists (decay), police officers (crime), funeral directors (death), and many others. But that doesn't mean we'll be unemployed. What's an interest or hobby now may become our main vocation then. Others however may continue with work similar to what they do now, whether it's gardeners, engineers, builders, artists, scientists, crafts people, or hundreds of other vocations. The difference is, we'll work without the hindrances of toil, pain, corruption and sin (Revelation 21:4-5). So what now? Put some time aside to imagine what your future in Heaven may be like? Write down some of the images and ideas that come into your mind; God may give you a glimpse of the wonder of your final stop in life.

Soulfood: Ruth 1-4, Matt 10:1-10, Ps 88:1-9a, Prov 13:1-3


Thinking about Heaven 2

'Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.' Colossians 3:2 NIV

How come as Christians we generally talk so little about Heaven?Listen: 'The beast opened its mouth to blaspheme God...and his dwelling place and those who live in Heaven' (Revelation 13:6 NIV). Satan slanders three things: (1) God's person; (2) God's people; (3) God's place - Heaven. After being evicted from Heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15), it must be maddening for Satan to know we're now entitled to the beautiful home he was kicked out of. What better way for him to attack us than to whisper lies about the place Paul tells us to set our minds on? If we believe his lie we'll set our minds on this life, not the next. And we won't be motivated to take others with us when we go.CS Lewis writes, 'The Christians who did the most for this world, were those who thought most of the next. The apostles, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the middle-ages, the English evangelicals who abolished slave trade, all left their mark on earth - precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of any other world, that they have become so ineffective in this one. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in," aim at earth and you will get neither.' So what now? The apostle Paul says: 'Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things' (Colossians 3:2 NIV). Let these words motivate you in your walk with God and when telling others about him.

Soulfood: Obad + Mal 1-4, Matt 9:27-38, Ps 18:30-50, Prov 12:25-28


Thinking about Heaven 1

'We...would prefer to home with the Lord.' 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

The sense that we will live forever has shaped every civilisation in history. In the pyramids of Egypt, the embalmed bodies had maps placed beside them as guides to the future world. In AD 125, a Greek named Aristides wrote, 'When a Christian passes from this world, they rejoice...and escort his body with songs of thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.'In 1952 young Florence Chadwick stepped into the Pacific, just off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the mainland of California. She'd already been the first woman to swim the English Channel; both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for 15 hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water, her mother, who was in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. But, exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was on the boat that she discovered that the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, 'All I could see was the fog...I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it.'Heaven is not a myth; it's a magnet that pulls us in the direction of home. A home, which Paul describes as 'better by far' (Philippians 1:23 NIV). So what now? No matter how tough life gets, keep your eyes on the heavenly shore; draw strength each day from God, and you'll make it!

Soulfood: Jonah 1:10 - 2:10, Matt 12:38-42


Be yourself

'He chose us...before the foundation of the world.' Ephesians 1:4 NAS

Ruth Lee writes: 'It was the last day of a writers' conference and we gathered in one of the dormitories. In our pyjamas we all looked alike. One by one we shared. After the introduction of two authors with published books, and others with claim to fame, it was my turn. "My name is Ruth," I said, "and I feel so inferior, I think I'll just go back to my room." Everybody laughed, so I ploughed ahead. "I guess you could call me a producer. In the last 30 years I've produced a well-adjusted respiratory therapist, a machinist and another happy homemaker. I'm also involved in the co-production of seven grandchildren." I told them how full my life was. Full of checking on cows, helping to fix fences and praying it would stop raining. I told them of busy hours spent babysitting and contending with my household. Then I told them how hungry I was. Hungry for the type of spiritual and emotional food I received at this conference. From the far corner of the room a quiet girl spoke up. "Would you please turn so that I can look at you?" she asked. I did, and she continued. "I want to remember your face when I write," she said, "I want to write for people just like you." Suddenly I had no need of title or degree. I served a purpose. With her words she helped me realise what I should have known all along: God doesn't make nobodies - everybody is somebody important to him!' So what now? Dare to be yourself. After all, who's better qualified?

Soulfood: 1 Pet 1-5, Matt 9:14-26, Ps 18:1-29, Prov 12:23-24


Being a Christian 2

'...The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.' Acts 11:26 NAS

The New Testament Christians dedicated themselves to making Jesus Lord of their lives and establishing his rule wherever they went. Listen: 'They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved' (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).Did it cost them? Yes: 'The high priest and his associates... arrested the apostles and put them in public jail...then they brought the apostles before the high counsel... but Peter and the apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than any human authority"...They [the high counsel] called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left... rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:17-18: 21, 29, 40-42 Paraphrase). The persecution paled in the light of the greatness of Jesus. So what now? Here in New Zealand, you will experience different kinds of persecution for following Jesus. But, that's part of making Jesus Lord of your life.

Soulfood: Deut 32:29 - 34:12, Matt 9:1-13, Ps 49, Prov 12:20-22


Being a Christian 1

'...The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.' Acts 11:26 NAS

The disciples were first called 'Christians' at Antioch, because they walked and talked like Jesus!Is something getting in the way of your living like Jesus? Is your life so complicated that it's difficult for you to juggle everything, yet still remain Christ-like? Then, simplify your life. Are you unable to find words to describe how you believe God has called you to know, love and serve him? Then, develop a new language. Is society dragging you in the opposite direction from where Jesus calls you? Then, acknowledge that your life is part of a spiritual war between God and Satan, declare your side and get on with it. Admit you are better off 'fighting the good fight' and suffering on earth for the cause of Christ, than winning the world but losing your soul for the balance of eternity. Get used to the fact that your life is lived in the context of spiritual warfare. To survive and thrive in the midst of this spiritual battle, you must seek to be more Christ-like. Your mission demands single-minded commitment, and a disregard for the criticisms of those who lack the same dedication to Christ. You answer to only one Commander-in-Chief, and you alone will give an explanation for your choices. So what now? Do whatever you must to revere God, love him, serve him, and live only for him. That's what it means to be called a 'Christian.'

Soulfood: Deut 30:1 - 32:28, Matt 8:18-34, Ps 62, Prov 12:18-19


Refuse to quit

'...troubles produce patience. And patience produces character...' Romans 5:3-4 NCV

Storms come. Discover the reason and grow wiser. Outlast the season and grow stronger. But never quit!Chuck Swindoll writes: 'Somebody needs to address the other side of Christian life, if for no other reason than to uphold reality. We need to be told that difficulty and pressure are par-for-the-course. No amount of Biblical input, deeper-life conferences or super-victory seminars will exempt you from struggle. God promises no bubble of protection. Ask guys like Job, Joseph, Daniel and Paul, and you'll become acquainted with an ancient word that has almost disappeared in this generation of splashy, always-grinning, a-miracle-a-day spirituality; perseverance! I know of no better partner to dance with when you're doing the three-steps-forward and two-steps-back number. It's in the tough times that true character is forged, the life of Christ is reproduced in us, and our flimsy theology is exchanged for a set of convictions that enable us to handle things rather than trying to escape them. It's when the bottom falls out and life tries to pound you into a corner of doubt and unbelief, that you need what perseverance produces: (a) a willingness to accept whatever comes, knowing that by God's grace you'll win and come out stronger; (b) a determination to stand firm while those around you are falling or running away; (c) insight to see the character-developing hand of God in it all. Without that, we stumble and fall and God is grieved. With it, we survive and conquer and God is glorified.' So what now? Sometimes quitting may seem like the only option, but keep going!

Soulfood: Deut 28-29, Matt 8:1-17, Ps 57, Prov 12:15-17

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