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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When Problems Persist

Some problems are short term, such as a bout of flu or a temporary falling out with someone at work. Others may last much longer: a chronic illness, a disability or an addiction, the loss of someone dear, or an ongoing battle to overcome a personal weakness such as anger or moodiness. You may have to struggle with such difficulties for weeks, months, or even years.

Sometimes problems persist even when you feel you’ve already done all you could: You’ve been praying, reading and following God’s Word, claiming His promises, and trying to trust Him. Still you see no answer, which can be discouraging.

In cases like that, God may be testing you to see whether you will continue to trust and believe and thank Him for all the other good things He sends your way, even when it seems He is not answering your prayers about a certain thing. “We walk by faith, not by sight. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” God loves to see His children’s faith manifested, and He promises to greatly reward those who bravely endure the trying of their faith.

If God is working in your life to bring out a special quality, the process may take some time. Lumps of coal aren’t turned to diamonds overnight; so it is with our lives.

When you think you’ve reached the end of your rope, just hold on a little longer. Patience is often the key that opens the door to God’s blessings, and sometimes we must be content to wait for His answer. While we may expect God to put an end to our problems right now, He may know that later is a better time. God’s timing is impeccable. “He has done all things well.” Trust Him!

Faith is believing. Faith is trusting. Faith doesn’t quit. Faith refuses to call anything impossible. Faith refuses to be robbed of its joy and peace by circumstances or battles.

If we refuse to concede defeat, but rather hold on to God no matter what, if we determine to believe His promises, even though we may not see the fulfillment immediately, victory will be ours in the end. Such faith cannot be defeated. God will always come through for us.

What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better.—Wendell Phillips
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) For we live by faith, not by sight.

John 20:29 (NIV) Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Mark 7:37 (NIV) People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Extra Allowance

Have you ever been away from home and found yourself without cash? I had that experience when I left home to attend university, and I got so distressed that I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly it occurred to me to write my father. I should have budgeted more carefully, of course, but I knew he would understand.

What a relief it was when I made that decision! My father had helped me many times before, and I knew he would help me again. I had perfect assurance during the days it took that letter to reach home and the answer to come back. [Editor’s note: This took place over 100 years ago, before email and even widespread use of the telephone.] I had needed to ask for an extra allowance, but I knew it would come. And it did.

We’ve all experienced days when sudden trouble swept down on us and our strength gave way. We looked around, but there was no way out. Then we turned to God and asked Him for an extra allowance.

Perhaps you know what it is like to have His help from day to day, and you depend upon that help and are grateful. But when God tells us, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you,” He is speaking of something beyond that. This is extra help in extraordinary circumstances—extra strength when we are especially weak, extra material supply when we have extra needs, extra grace when we’re under extra strain, extra wisdom when we need it, and extra love when others need to feel God’s love through us. We turn to our heavenly Father, and He gives the extra allowance we need at the time to overcome that particular trouble.

I’ve heard people say, “God has promised to be with us in trouble, but He never promised to free us from trouble.” Those people need to read that verse more carefully. He may not free them as quickly as they would like or in the way they expect, but He does promise deliverance: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; Iwill deliver you.” He promises both.

Surely God was with Daniel in the lion’s den, but He also delivered him out of the den. We know He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace because King Nebuchadnezzar said he saw four figures in the flames—“and the form of the fourth [was] like the Son of God”—but God also delivered them out of it.

When we have troubles that God doesn’t deliver us from immediately, it’s usually because we aren’t ready to be delivered; there is something we need to do first, or some lesson we need to learn. Once we have found and done or learned that, He does deliver us.

I’ve gone through times when I was so discouraged about my failures that I couldn’t call on God at that moment. But when I got my eyes off of my faults and weaknesses and onto God’s promises, He delivered me; the extra allowance was mine as soon as I asked for it.

There is lots of advice floating around about how to overcome difficulties. “Dance your troubles away.” “Just keep smiling.” “Look for something pretty every day.” “Do something nice for someone else.” Well, I certainly believe in being positive and doing nice things for others, and those will get your mind off your troubles, but they won’t necessarily get you out of deep trouble.

There was a time, before I had a personal relationship with Jesus, when I was a helpless invalid. Someone who had even less faith than I did kept telling me, “Hold on. Just hold on.” But that was the trouble—I didn’t have anything to hold onto! But thank God, as believers we don’t just have something to hold onto; we have someone to hold onto! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”

One day my car stalled on a lonely road. I was alone and quite desperate, when suddenly I remembered that not far away lived a former friend. I say “former” because although I often thought about this woman, it had been quite awhile since I’d made time to visit or phone her. I knew she would be happy to help, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to her house and ask because I had neglected her for so long. I sat in the car and tried to get up the courage, but I never did.

It can be like that when we fail to include God in our thoughts and activities day after day, when we fail to ask His advice and help in the little things, or thank Him for His goodness, or make time to draw inspiration and learn from His Word. If we’ve been neglecting Him, it’s pretty hard to call on Him in the day of trouble. It’s hard and it’s humbling, but it’s a whole lot better than continuing to struggle. Our heavenly Father is always there, only a prayer away, waiting to forgive and give us that extra allowance.
1 Peter 5:7 ESV / Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

John 14:1 ESV / “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Philippians 4:6 ESV / Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Problems?

Life is full of problems—sickness, accidents, financial problems, family problems, loss of loved ones, and on and on the list goes. “Hasn’t there been some sort of mistake here?” we ask. “If God truly is love, as the Bible says in 1 John 4:8, and if He truly cares for us like a father, as the Bible says many times, then why all these problems?”

The first thing to understand is that God doesn’t cause these problems; they are the result of people’s bad decisions—others’ or our own. God doesn’t cause our problems, but He does allow them to befall us, and for reasons that are nearly as varied as the problems themselves. Sometimes He uses them to remind us how incapable we are of solving our own problems, so we will turn to Him for help. Sometimes He lets them happen so He can show us how much He loves us by working things out. Sometimes they happen to test and strengthen our faith. Sometimes they happen to make us pray more earnestly. Sometimes they happen to teach us lessons of patience or positiveness in the face of adversity. Sometimes they happen to keep us humble. Sometimes they happen to make us wiser. Sometimes they happen to help us appreciate our other blessings and all the problems we don’t have. Sometimes they happen to draw us closer to others who are going through similar things. There are all kinds of reasons for troubles, but whatever the reason, God always wants to turn them for our ultimate good. “All things work together for good to those who love God.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV / No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

John 16:33 ESV / I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:1-2 ESV / I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.