Friday, October 24, 2014

Looking Forward to Heaven

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews lists some heroes and heroines of faith.

One thing these men and women had in common was that they “waited for the city whose builder and maker is God.” Their focus wasn’t on their immediate circumstances, but on the heavenly reward. That’s how they were able to endure the tests and tribulations they went through. This has practical applications for us. It’s easy to become so weighed down with the concerns of daily living that we lose sight of what’s waiting for us at the end of the road. On the other hand, thinking more about heaven helps us to bear some of the things we have to go through now, so we’re wise to heed the scriptural advice, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Find a quiet place for this exercise, outside in nature if possible. You may want to start by reading about heaven from the last two chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21 and 22, which give an idea of what is waiting for us. Then think about some of the aspects of heaven, like these:
Revelation 21:4 (ESV) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Isaiah 35:10 (ESV) And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

John 11:25-26 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Comfort in Life’s Dark Hour

Never have I been so glad that I had faith as when my husband died.
Oh, the comfort, the blessing, the peace in the hour of trial that those of us who believe can draw on. Many of the condolence cards that I received had messages based on this Bible verse: “We sorrow not as those that have no hope”—and that is so true!

When I was visiting my husband in the hospital, I talked with people who had no faith, who were standing by the bedsides of dying loved ones without any consolation or hope. I thank God for His wonderful plan of redemption that makes me know that I’m going to meet my husband again in a better place—a plan that was worked out in God’s mind from the foundation of the world, that though we die, we shall live again. I thank God, too, for the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and the third day arose so that we could do likewise. God gives a special dispensation of grace when we need it. We don’t have it beforehand, but when we come right up against what would otherwise be a time of severe heartbreak, there He is.

When my husband was sick, I would often sing to him, standing by his bed. I don’t have a beautiful voice, but the hymns were beautiful, and his favorite was a verse of “How Firm a Foundation.”

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
And when through deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.

How God upheld me! I’ve seen that promise from His Word proven true once again. I came to deep water, but it did not overflow me.
You know, life isn’t complete without faith in God. He says that He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. How true that is! It’s such an abundant life when we have faith.
When going through my husband’s things, I found this poem that he kept in his Bible.

Afraid?
Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Savior’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash—a crash—a pierced heart;
Brief darkness—Light— O heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To enter into heaven’s rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?
—E. H. Hamilton

My dear husband wasn’t afraid to move on, and if you have received Jesus as your Savior you won’t be afraid either, because you’ll know that He will be with you. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He says, “I will be with you.” He will be there to comfort you.
Never has God’s love proved so great, never His mercy so sure and His grace so abundant as during the week after my loss. I praise Him with all my heart for fulfilling His Word and for His faithfulness.



1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

John 11:25-26 (NIV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NIV)
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Living Hope

I was thinking recently about death—how in spite of all the advances in medical science, death happens eventually to every living creature.

I was curious to see what the Bible had to say about this, and found some amazing things.
Death, it turns out, was not part of God’s original plan for His creation; it was the result of man’s disobedience to God. God had intended for man to live forever, but He could no longer permit that because of man’s fallen, sinful nature. Death is the penalty of sin, and it is one we all must suffer. “Through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

The good news, however, is that the sting of death has been overcome. Jesus Christ conquered death through His resurrection. The Bible calls Jesus’ resurrection the “living hope.” Because Jesus was raised from the dead, there is the promise that others will be raised too. This will occur at Jesus’ second coming, when everyone alive who has accepted Jesus into their hearts will receive new, supernatural bodies, like Jesus’ at His resurrection.

And to those believers who have passed on before this event, Jesus promised that death would not be the end but rather the threshold to a new life in the spirit. He said, “Because I live, you will live also.” For believers, death is like passing from one room into another and closing the door. They are set free from the weight and other limitations of their physical bodies and liberated into the boundless world of the spirit.

All around the world, many thousands of people have had what are now commonly termed “near-death experiences.” These people died, perhaps following an accident or during a medical procedure, but then were revived. Many of them recalled later that during the time when they were clinically dead or very close to death, they entered the world beyond. There they were overwhelmed with the feeling of being loved by a being of light, which many identified as Jesus or God, and they also saw angels, departed loved ones, and even pets. It was the most wonderful thing they had ever seen, they said, with a beauty and glory beyond anything they had previously known. One other thing that many of these near-death survivors have in common is that they no longer fear death, for they have experienced, even if only for a moment, the next world.

If we trust in Jesus, we too have a living hope of entering this dazzling new dimension when our present lives are over. There we will enjoy the splendors of heaven for all eternity, without any of the pain or problems we have now. “And God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Romans 5:12 (NIV) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

1 Peter 1:3 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

John 14:19 (NIV) Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Heaven is like

The Bible tells us a lot about what to expect when we get to heaven—what it’s like, what we will be like, and what we’ll do there. There have also been numerous accounts from people who caught glimpses of heaven during brushes with death, and other people have seen departed loved ones in visions or dreams, or received messages from them with details of what they found life in heaven to be like.

One of the most important things about life in heaven, which many people find surprising, is that it’s not entirely different from life on earth. I realize this may not sound like good news, considering all the evils in this world and the sadness that you may have experienced in your own life. However, when I say heaven is similar to life on earth, I mean that you’ll find many things very relatable to your life here.

The big difference is that heaven is a perfect world, a world where we can enjoy all the beauties and pleasures that we have here on earth, but without the sorrow, pain, emptiness, loneliness, and fear that so often grip us, and without the selfishness, greed, and destruction that we see in the world around us.

In heaven there is only love, beauty, peace, comfort, understanding, joy, willingness to help and to give, thoughtfulness, caring for one another, and most of all, being enveloped in the love of the One who loves us more than anyone—God Himself. The Bible tells us that God is a God of love. Therefore His home, heaven, is a home of love, where we will feel no pain, no sorrow, no rejection, no loneliness—only love! Isn’t that wonderful?

Heaven holds many similarities with our physical world. We know from the Bible and other accounts that we’re going to look much the same as we do now. We’ll have our loved ones and families around us. We’ll enjoy each other’s company and live happily together forever. If that sounds like paradise, well, that’s what heaven is.

Many people have the mistaken impression that heaven is going to be a very boring place where we’ll have nothing to do but sit around and play harps and sing praises to God. Well, I’m sure that people can play the harp if they want to, and we certainly will be praising God, but our life in heaven will be much fuller than that. We’ll be busy with things that truly matter, things that make a difference in other people’s lives. We’ll be investing our time in things that make us happy, inspire us, and give us joy.

The last two chapters of the Bible’s book of Revelation describe heaven as a gigantic golden city about 2,200 km (1,400 miles) wide, 2,200 km long, and 2,200 km high. That’s enough “floor space” to cover half of the United States or most of Western Europe. As you can imagine, if you divide it into multiple levels, a space this massive can house billions of people, with room to spare.

The Bible describes the city streets as being made of pure gold, with a wall surrounding the city made of twelve types of gems. We will have houses there, heavenly “mansions,” where we can live with our families and loved ones who have also believed and received God and His love into their lives.
Life in heaven is a lot like that which we have on earth, but much, much better. It’s a place that is alive, vibrant, warm, and, where you’ll be able to enjoy all the pleasures that you’ve ever wanted, and where your dreams will come true. It’s as though you took life here on earth, removed all the bad things, and then added a lot of love, joy, peace, happiness, and fulfillment.

Maybe you’re wondering how you can make sure you will be able to live in such a wonderful place as heaven, once your time on earth is over. Perhaps you’ve been told that only those who are very good get to go to heaven. You may feel that excludes you, since you know you’ve made mistakes and have at times done things that were wrong, unloving, and hurtful.

Well, I have good news for you! Anybody can get free entrance to heaven. Anybody can be taken into the arms of love and receive the joy, fulfillment, and everlasting love that God wants to give each of us, both here and in the life to come—and that includes you. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad you are, because none of us can be good enough to earn a place in heaven. It is a gift of God. Jesus paid our way by dying for our sins, and so, through simply receiving Him as our Savior, we can be sure of a place in heaven. That relieves us of the burden of having to be good enough to go to heaven, which we couldn’t do anyway, because we’re only human, after all. Jesus took our burden for us, and therefore all we have to do is believe and receive the gift of salvation that God wants to give us.

His love is far beyond anything that we can understand or see with our eyes here on earth. His love can fix any mistake, right any wrong, fill any emptiness, and heal any hurt. He wants to give you all these things now, here on this earth, plus a place in heaven when your time here is done. He longs for you and your loved ones to be united and happy forever with Him, and that’s why He gave His life for you.
1 John 4:8 (NIV) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Revelation 21:16 (NIV) The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long.

Romans 3:23 (NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Suffering?

Question: Why does God allow suffering? Doesn’t He care about us?

Answer: God certainly does care! It hurtsHim to see us suffer as a result of our own wrong choices or the wrong choices and actions of others.

The Bible tells us, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear [reverence] Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
Jesus, too, can sympathize with our weaknesses, because He was “tempted in every way, just as we are.” He certainly knows what it’s like to suffer, because He was tortured and then crucified for the sins of the world.

Also, the Bible promises that someday all the suffering will come to an end for those who love God. In heaven, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” In the meantime, we should remember that there are benefits to be derived from suffering. For example, it often brings out the sweetness and goodness in people. For those who do not allow themselves to become embittered or hardened by them, sorrow, sacrifice, and sadness can bring out the best: love, tenderness, and concern for others. The Bible says, “We comfort others with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” If we have found God’s love in Jesus, it gives us the desire to share that answer and that love with others, so He can ease their sufferings and help them solve their problems too.

Though we can understand many of the reasons for suffering through reading God’s Word, we probably won’t know all the answers to this persistent question until we get to heaven. God’s ways are not our ways, and there are some things we won’t understand until we see things as God sees them. Fitting illustration of this was given by Dr. Handley Moule (1841–1920) when he visited a coalmine immediately after a terrible underground explosion that claimed the lives of the miners inside. At the entrance to the mine was a large crowd that included many of the miners’ wives, children, parents, other relatives, and closest friends.

“It is very difficult for us to understand why God should let such an awful tragedy happen,” he told the grieving crowd, “but I have at home an old bookmark given me by my mother, which I think about at such times. The bookmark is embroidered in silk, and when I look at the wrong side of it, I see nothing but a tangled mass of threads. It looks like a big mistake. One would think that whoever made it didn’t know what she was doing. But when I turn it over and look at the other side, I see there, embroidered beautifully, the words ‘GOD IS LOVE.’ We are looking at this tragedy today from the wrong side. Someday we shall view it from another standpoint, and we shall understand.”
The Bible also tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” With time our suffering takes on a new perspective. Through it we becomea little wiser and a little more compassionate toward others who are suffering.

God has a purpose for everything He allows to happen to us, even though we may not always see it right away. We just have to trust God that if we don’t understand now, we will later. And despiteour limited knowledge and understanding of some things, there is one thing we can be sure of, and that is His unfailing love.

We will at times be in pain or grieve, but thank God, we are not left hopeless and helpless. “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, … nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 30:5 (NIV) For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thinking About You in Heaven

As I was walking this evening on the country roads in the hills behind my house, I realized that next week it will be five years since I last saw you, since you left us.

At first I was saddened by the thought, but suddenly it struck me differently. Five years in heaven. You’ve spent five years in heaven. What that must be like!

Rounding a bend, a spectacular sunset came into view. The sky was awash in pinks and blues, amplified by a pre-monsoon day that had alternated, sometimes suddenly, between sunny, brilliant blue skies and rain clouds.

“In heaven,” I thought, “there must be even more spectacular light shows.” I recalled accounts of near-death experiences in which folks who had momentarily experienced heaven spoke of vibrant colors that don’t have names or even exist here. Compared to those colors, they said, our world seems monochrome. I climbed up a small embankment and spent a few moments gazing over rice fields at the setting sun and thinking about what you must be enjoying.

To my right a wave of angry dark clouds was rolling in, threatening to take over the sky completely. Again, I thought of you and heaven. There is something you won’t have any more of—the gloomy darkness that threatens to overtake our earthly existence and steal our joy. You’ve left that behind forever! Hurrah! “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Turning away from the blackness to my right, a flock of birds soared across what remained of the sunset. Again, I smiled. Now there’s a part of heaven I can scarcely fathom! You’re not earthbound there. You can fly, unhampered by gravity or any other earthly limitation. I wonder what that feels like. I really don’t have a clue.

All of this got me thinking about you—not as I saw you last when your sickness had changed so much for us both, or even the happy memories of our lives together before that—but about you in heaven. That was something I had never been able to do before.

I passed a small boy, maybe five or six years old, carrying his baby brother as he staggered down the road. A little later I walked past an adorable toddler with pigtails and dimpled cheeks. She grinned at me cheerfully. Moments later a mother passed, holding her baby close to her side. Children. There’s something that heaven and earth have in common. And knowing your love for children and how you enjoyed caring for them here, I’m sure you’re surrounded by children there too.

I recalled another Bible verse describing heaven: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” Well, we all know that’s something that can’t be said of this old world. “Hurt and destroy”—unfortunately we’re doing plenty of that! We hurt ourselves, we hurt others, and we’re destroying this wonderful world that God made for us to live in, care for, and enjoy. That’s not such a happy thought, really, and that’s a part of heaven we can’t experience yet, it seems.

But wait. There were more similarities between heaven and earth that I hadn’t thought of. Another verse came to mind—God’s promise to make all things work together for good in the lives of those who love Him. That’s allthings, including the harm and pain that others have done to the world and to us, as well as the harm and pain we have done to others. Another touch of heaven on earth!
I was almost home when I thought of the greatest bridge between my realm and yours—love. Why hadn’t I thought of that sooner? Love is the magic that connects our worlds. And it is undiminished by time. I love you as much as I ever did, and although I miss your physical presence, your unconditional love is a constant that guides my life still. And there is the supreme love of Jesus, who will make such a wonderful future for us all, a place where we’ll be together forever, reunited at last.
If there are hues over there that defy description, then I know that love will also be magnified that much more, both Jesus’ perfect love for us all and the loving cords that bind us to those dearest to us, whether we are here or there.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Isaiah 11:9 (NIV) 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.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Prayer Points

1. Please intercede for Tan Thean Sin, Cheong Saw Aing, Tan Hock Hin, Grace and Matthew Tan

2. Please intercede for Sis Rachel for a speedy recovery and health to be restored. Keep the family in your prayer for God to strengthen and comfort them.

3. Please intercede for one another and uphold one another in your daily prayers.


Announcement

Badminton Date: 22nd October 2014 Time: 9:00am Venue: Jubilee Hall, Sg. Dua

Music Class Date: 22nd October 2014 Time:8:00pm Venue: Worship Hall

Special Thanks
Thank you everyone for your great support and contribution towards the Open Day.

West Malaysia Children's Camp
Date: 27-29 Nov Venue: Penang Children's Home
Fees: RM30.00 (early bird before 27 Oct 2014 )
RM60.00 (normal rate after 27 Oct 2014)

Christmas Involvement List
We invites you all to join in the Christmas programs for Brass Bands, Carols Singing and Trimbrel's Dance. Kindly sign up.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Your Heavenly Mansion


If you were told that a brand-new palatial mansion was yours, bought and paid for, would you believe it? What if it was guaranteed in writing? Wouldn’t you believe it then, and wouldn’t you want to find out where your new home was located and what it looked like? Wouldn’t you ask about the view, the neighbors, the climate, and every other detail you could think of? Wouldn’t you start dreaming of the day you would move in? And how do you suppose that news would change your life and priorities in the meantime?

Well, someone has promised you such a mansion—Jesus—and He has put it in writing. “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also.” If you have received Jesus, it’s all yours—no payments, no taxes, no upkeep. Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s just the beginning.

Even the most luxurious home won’t do you much good without good health and time to enjoy it, so God made provision for those too. “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus promises. “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Eternal life in a new, supernatural body that is impervious to sickness, disease, or death is also part of the deal.

And just as the best things in this life are shared, so it is in the next. You will be reunited with loved ones and friends to enjoy all of this and much, much more—gifts from your heavenly Father, who the Bible calls love itself.
John 14:2-3 (NIV) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (NIV) Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 John 4:8 (NIV) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.