Journeying to Eternity

“While we poor wayfarers still toil, with hot and bleeding feet, along the highway and the dust of life; our companions have mounted the divergent path, to explore the more sacred streams, and visit the diviner vales, and wander amid the everlasting Alps of God’s upper province of creation. (Thus) we keep up the courage of our hearts, refresh ourselves with the memories of love, and travel forward in the ways of duty, with less weary step, feeling ever for the hand of God, and listening for the voices of (those) whose happy welcome waits us. Death, in short, under the Christian aspect, is but God’s method of colonization–the transition from this mother-country of our race to the fairer and newer world of our emigration.

James Martineau

For more about eternal life see:

Prepared for Eternity

The Life Everlasting, Part 3

The Hope of Heaven

Spending Time with “God Questions”

Good morning! Sorry about not posting the last two days but when you have severe wind and hail damage to your roof and it is leaking, it becomes priority! LOL! On to today’s post and the conclusion of our blog study on Ecclesiastes 3… today we will take a look at verses 16-22…

I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

Wow! There is a lot going on in this passage of Scripture! Solomon is a writer who writes about what he observes and the experiences he has. I am very much like that. I, like Solomon, see such corruption in the world in places there ought not be. You probably do as well. The corruption ranges from the highest levels of government down to local magistrates. We see it in our homes, on our T.V.’s, on the internet, at school, while shopping… we even see it in the church.

You can tell Solomon is upset about his observations, rightly so. But he reminds himself that in due time everyone will be judged when they come before the throne of Grace. He is also reminding himself that he can’t right every wrong in the world, that is God’s job. Continuing his observation of destructive and evil behaviors, he reflects on our human condition, and concludes that we are not that different than the animals. We are born, we breathe, and then we die. Then he asks a question… How do we really know that humans go to heaven when they die and animals return to the earth? Solomon ponders this question, and comes to the conclusion… We only get one life so we might as well make the most of it, and enjoy it, while we are here.

I wonder if he realized he had answered his own question in one of the previous verses! Verse 11 says…

Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

We differ from animals because we have the hope of eternity… God has planted it in our hearts! To really grasp the magnitude of this we have to understand that we were put on this earth for a purpose. We (humans) are instruments of God to carry out His divine plan for life. We have to understand that the only way to know God’s plan for our life is to continually seek His face. We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to be in an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to be our compass. It takes building a relationship and openness with the Triune God to figure out our purpose in life.

Spend time asking yourself… Do I grasp the immensity of the hope I have in eternity?  Am I in communion with the Triune God, building an intimate relationship? Am I living the life that God wants me to live? Do I see my life as a gift from God?

Then ask God…Why on earth did you create me for such a time as this? What can I do with my life to bring more of you to the world?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of mycongregationalchurch.com

 

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3–What Stands Out

I love it when one of the Lutheran Ladies does a study series, because it encourages me to get out my Bible and read the same passages.  So I have been following Leslie’s posts about Ecclesiastes chapter three, and here is the verse that stands out for me:

“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”  Ecclesiastes 3:11″

Later in the chapter, the author talks about how we are no better than animals in some ways — we’re born, we die, our bodies turn to dust.  However, in this verse we see a hint of how God made humankind special.  We have an innate sense that there is something beyond our own daily concerns, a yearning for something more than mere subsistence.  St. Augustine put it this way:

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

This is the issue that Solomon or “the preacher” is struggling with throughout Ecclesiastes.  What are earth are we here for?  What is the meaning of life?  If money, fame, and success don’t fill us up, what will?  Or, as we’re exploring this month, how do we spend our time in a way that is meaningful?

The answer to all these questions is the same:  God.  He is the one who is eternal;  He is the one who can fulfill us and make our existence worthwhile; He is after all, our Creator.  Knowing Him, obeying Him, praising Him, these are the things that will bring us true satisfaction.

Have you read chapter three of Ecclesiastes yet?  If so, what stands out for you.  We want your comments and questions.

 

“To Die is Gain.”

Once upon a time . . .

when humanity was young, and quite innocent; they lived in a place of unimaginable beauty and endless possibility. And then humanity was deceived. We failed to trust our creator, and though the lie was not ours, the doubt and greed fully belong to us. The rejection was not of the place, the food, or the vast kingdom that in inheritance belonged to us as well. The rejection was power and love our Father and Lord possessed. We rejected Him.

What was not known in the dawn of time was that with the failure of trust, blinded by greed and naivety, revelations would be made. The tree of knowledge of Good, and Evil. The name says as much as it implies. Before what would they have known? Neither good nor Evil. The infinite wisdom of God would be too much for them to bear. A better way is to slowly introduce information, to take eternity and explain and teach. God wanted to show us the universe while building a relationship.

From the very beginning it was Him who loved us more.  Suddenly, too suddenly, we knew what worse than bad was. We knew shame, and embarrassment, and lust. We knew regret, and sadness, and fear. We were overwhelmed.

Still God our Father loved us. For our own sakes, he removed us from Heaven. People without self-discipline tend to ruin good things. Not to mention Everlasting Life (The tree of Life) combined with Irrational, self-destructive sin would be disastrous. Therefore, we were separated. How painful that was. Not only for us, but for God. The Alpha and Omega that feels anguish as well as joy. Can you imagine first being rejected by your children, and then having to remove them from the situation to protect them? Maybe some can, because all this resulted in a broken world. A world that for our own sakes requires a barrier of sorts.

Luke 16:26 “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”

Not only between heaven and hell, but between heaven and earth. It’s a burden we must bear. Although Christ came so that we can eventually see our heavenly home, we mustn’t risk it with open borders. Narrow is the road. While we have hope of seeing not only our loved ones but also our merciful Savior, there’s still a gap. A lonely realization that we are to suffer here till our time comes. As Christians, it’s not that we don’t believe in a better, very real, life that exists beyond our reach; it’s that we cannot follow where they go. It’s the harsh separation that stares us in the face. Our despair comes with the knowledge that these bodies we inhabit must endure here for a time.

Philippians 1:21&22 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose?  I do not know. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

The End?

Prepared for Eternity

Our church, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran in Leitersburg is almost 190 years old.  The church’s vision statement is taken from the founding documents:

“It is our wish that here old and young will be edified, animated, encouraged and prepared for eternity.”

Living a Christian life, being edified, animated and encouraged through the scriptures, the sacraments, and the fellowship of our sisters and brothers in Christ is what prepares us for eternal life with God.

Here is what Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life has to say:

People ask me, “What is the purpose of life?” And I respond, “In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity.” We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body–but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

What is your church’s vision statement?  Does it tell you how to prepare for eternity?