Heaven isn’t what you think

Growing up, I heard that in heaven I would worship God all the time, throughout eternity, f-o-r-e-v-e-r… I pictured harps, angels, clouds and the ability to fly. I always wanted to fly as a little girl (still do).

My mom taught me that God was going to build a new city, a new Jerusalem for us here on earth one day. And I especially liked the part about there being streets of gold.

But I also know that there is so much more that my mind has never conceived about what heaven will be like. All throughout the Old and New Testament, God talks about a kingdom that he is building on earth. And I’m just now starting to grasp that he is, as we speak, preparing a real place for you and I- his people, his church- the bride of Christ.

There will be no need for the sun or moon to shine on this city because the glory of God gives it light. His glory will consume the new city and we will see it fully. We will finally be with the One we’ve been waiting for. He will wipe away our tears. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. The former things will pass away and all things will be made new (see Revelation 21). The greatest sins we struggle with will be no more. We will partake in the ultimate wedding feast as sons and daughters of the King.

Hell too is a real place that is so awful, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:36-42) because God’s presence will not be there. Those who reject his Son will be outside the gates of the holy city- unable to join in on the celebration. And to not be with God is the worst punishment anyone could ever receive. That’s why he desires that everyone would turn to him for life and salvation.

As believers, we have lots to look forward to in the future. No matter what frustration, hurt, or sorrow we face in daily life, we know that in the end, we will be with God in the new city- one that will be unlike anything we’ve ever tasted, touched, seen, heard, or read. Even our greatest imaginations of what we think heaven will be like, won’t even come close to its splendor.

I can’t wait for that city!

Not by coincidence

Every day, we’re given a blank page to write- another page in God’s story.

Today is a day that He’s given you and I to live for his glory and his kingdom. Yet how often do we forget that the circle’s he’s put us in are exactly where we’re supposed to be to shine his light?

I was just thinking the other day how the nursery care worker at my gym that we see regularly is not by accident. The grocery baggers at Kroger that we see every week isn’t by chance. The people I live near and the certain friendships I have are a part of God’s plan. And it doesn’t just happen to be that it’s the year 2009 and my family and I live in the city of Dallas, Texas.

Many times, I ask God to bring the people he wants into my life so I can share his love and grace. But I forget that often, they’ve been planted right in my midst- in the every day places.

Even in the tiniest details of life, nothing is an accident.

It takes hard work to be aware of this every day and it’s amazing that God chooses us to be the vessel to help grow God’s kingdom here on earth.

Was there a time when you knew that something was not “by accident” but was a part of the story God is writing?


Who’s image is it?

1156610_36788246A few weeks ago, I found a guy named Andy Blanks through a wordpress search. As the content editor for Small Group Trader, I frequently search for blogs that have quality content that can be used on our site as articles. And I asked him if we could use his post, Image vs. Mission which is now live on our site.

Andy wrote some things that I deal with but might be ashamed to admit.

At times, I care more about what people think then I do about spreading the gospel and being about God’s kingdom.

At times, I care if I look “this or that” way to someone.

And I’ve missed opportunities to share what Jesus is doing in my life with an unbeliever because my “image” has been of first importance.

Being all about image is an ugly thing because it puts all the glory on self, and not on our Savior. It can even consume us if we let it and before we know it, we’ve completely neglected God.

But the reality is that any good looks we have, stellar talents, skills, relational ability, intelligence… all come from God- for his purposes.

I told Jeremiah just before bed the other day about a conversation Anne Jackson and I had about writing. I’m afraid of pride if I were to ever be really successful, specifically in publishing my own book. It’s a huge fear of mine.

He said something I’ll always remember: “Samantha, your gifts are not yours. They are God’s.”

A light bulb went off in my head. I took that as: my gifts don’t just come from God, but they are God’s.

What a difference. So in that knowledge, how will the ways I use my gifts be different? I think it has to do with image. Will I choose to reflect his glory by making him my prized treasure instead of glorifying self, being worried about what others think, or even being concerned about my own pride?

It’s not about Samantha. It’s about God. It’s that simple.

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