We Have an Eternal House in Heaven

images1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:1-4).

When Paul the apostle writes to the church at Corinth, he compares the earthly body that we live in to a tent, a short-term, impermanent home. What he is saying is that the real you, your spirit, is clothed with your fleshly body for the fifty to seventy years that you live on Earth. He says that when this “earthy tent” is destroyed, we have something much more permanent in heaven, a building from God, a home that is eternal, a body that is not built by human hands (v.1), a heavenly dwelling (v.2). As we get older, we become more and more aware of our mortality—we groan and are burdened and become more and more convinced that there has to be more to this life than what we see with our physical senses. If only we could see this truth—that we are created for eternity and not just for this world, that we are just passing through. It would change everything for us if we truly believed it. Paul goes on to say that we are fashioned for this very purpose and that what is beyond death is the true life. The Holy Spirit living in us is a guarantee of what is beyond the veil of death:

5Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).

A Christian enters heaven without a break in consciousness. Back on earth our friends bury our body, but they do not bury us! Personhood survives the death of the body. In the Bible, the Book of Acts, there is the story of a man of God named Stephen. As he was dying, he said, “Lord, receive my spirit.” He did not say, “Receive my body.” There was no break in consciousness for him—the Lord was standing up from His normal seated position at the right hand of the Father to receive him (Acts 7:59). We would live very different lives if we truly believed that our life on earth is just transitory. If we believed that when we put off the tent of this body, we enter into true life (I’m presuming that you have received the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus), we would invest our time, energy, gifts and resources into more things that will last after we get rid of our earthly tent. What would God have us invest ourselves in this side of heaven? He would have us invest in what is important to Him—people. Seeking to help as many as we can to know God and be saved from the penalty of sin.

Sometimes as people are dying, their spirit often drifts between earth and heaven where they can see both worlds. A few hours before Dwight L. Moody, the great American evangelist died, he caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said: “Earth recedes, heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go!” His son who was standing by his bedside said, “No, no father, you are dreaming.” “No,” said Mr. Moody, “I am not dreaming; I have been within the gates; I have seen the children’s faces.” A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle, he spoke again: “This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!”

My prayer is that you would ask the Lord to give you the free gift of eternal life that Jesus has bought for you in dying in your place. My prayer is that we will see Mr. Moody together and rejoice in the finished work of our Savior on our behalf.

Keith Thomas

Jesus and the Woman with Internal Bleeding

banner_touchjesus25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:25-34).

The woman we read about above had internal bleeding for 12 years. She had tried everything the doctors had said to her but nothing healed her. In her desperation, she conceived a plan. Faith rose up in her to believe that if she could get close enough to Jesus and touch the hem of His cloak, she would be healed. The God of heaven inspired her to reach out and stop the Son of God for her need. She made a faith statement inside her heart to the Lord.

God responds to faith. When a thought that may be inspired faith comes to you, do you shut it down as ridiculous or do you go with it? We are told in verse 31 that the crowds were pressing against Christ, how is it that some can crowd the Lord while others can go beyond the crowd to touch him for their needs? What do you think is the secret of those that get their prayers and needs met? Expectation or faith are key words in approaching God, but also determination, not allowing anything to put you off from getting your need met by the King of Glory.

This principle of determination is what the woman has. No matter how big the crowd was, no matter how hard it was to push through; she would reach out and touch the Lord. There was danger that went along with this plan, though. There were strict laws laid down in Leviticus 15:19-33, that separated any woman with internal bleeding from other healthy people. Any person with a sickness like hers had to be separated from the community and kept at distance. Anything or anyone she touched would make them unclean. If she were found out, she could have got into a lot of trouble.

Imagine the pain that this woman lived with daily. There was the physical pain of her condition, and also the constant emotional pain from living a life of segregation similar to that of a leper, one who was viewed as unclean by the rest of society. Everything she touched was viewed as contaminated! How scared she must have been as she was mingling with the crowd trying to get to Jesus. He was her only hope and He did not let her down. She was desperate and alone as she stretched forth and connected her fingers to the cloak of Jesus. As soon as she touched His garment she was healed instantly.

The Lord felt power leave His body as the woman touched Him. Even though the crowd was pressing against Him, He knew that someone had gone beyond the crowd with a touch of faith. Why would Jesus stop and ask who touched Him? It might have been that He wanted the Father to get the glory for what was done. It also might have been that He was concerned for the woman that the healing is open before all the community, in order for her to reenter society and no longer be separated from her friends. He wanted her to be able to go into the house of God and worship with all the rest of the congregation.

Why was she trembling at His question? “Who touched me?” She had taken a huge risk. Jesus was well known as a Rabbi in who is the Spirit of God. She might have thought that she would contaminate him with her uncleanness and render Him unable to carry on His ministry. I am sure that she expected to be severely told off, but instead, how kind was His response. There was no anger from Him, just encouragement to her for stretching out her faith to touch Him. How about you? Isn’t it time you stretched out your faith to the Lord Jesus?

Keith Thomas

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

jesus_heals_helps246Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road (Luke 18:46-52).

As Jesus approaches the city of Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting beside the road in a place that was strategic for begging. With the popularity of Jesus being what it was, a great crowd of people was traveling with Him. It is likely that because of the crowd Jesus did not even see the blind beggar; His focus might have been on what he was teaching as He was walking. It is also possible that Christ did see the blind beggar but chose to wait until there was an expression of His faith. I wonder how many times it is that Jesus has passed me by because I have not cried out to Him in my need.

When Bartimaeus heard the commotion of a large band of people passing by, he inquired Continue reading

Believing is Seeing!

1-FrontJesusLeper11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).

In this passage, we read about the kind of faith that God is pleased with. We’re not talking about faith in faith—that has nothing to please the Father. Faith in God and the One He has sent is what pleases the heart of God (John 6:29; Hebrews 11:6). Lepers, having a communicable disease, were commanded to stay at a distance outside the city and community and either ring a bell or cry out, “unclean, unclean” when a clean person came near them (Leviticus 13:45-46). The only way that they could re-enter the community and social network inside the city was for them to receive the all-clean stamp of approval from the priest (Leviticus 14:2).

We are told in verse 12, that they stood at a distance shouting to Christ to have pity on them. It’s interesting to see that Jesus required them to act upon His Word and do what a cured leper would do even though they were not healed yet. He asked them to take steps of faith and trust in His Word. He didn’t lay hands on them, even though He had healed lepers before by touching them (Luke 5:13). He didn’t give them much instruction as to why they were to go to the priest. He just told them to present themselves to the priest to get checked out. This required faith in His Word even though they were not yet seeing what they were believing for. They were only healed as they were on the journey. It must have seemed illogical to them as they started on their way to get a healing certificate when their faces and limbs were contorted with Leprosy. Sometimes faith in God will seem illogical. One of them was a Samaritan, a person that the Jews did not normally associate with, although we find them together in their misery.

What do you think was on the mind of the Samaritan as he started on the way to the Temple? Don’t you think he might have been a little bit suspicious of Jesus? He knew Jesus was a Jew by His clothes. The Samaritan leper must have wondered to himself as to why this Jewish preacher would want to heal him, a Samaritan? I wonder if he thought that the healing would not work for him, due to the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. At what point did the miracle start to happen to him? Wonder of wonders! As they were on their journey the miracle healing happened! Imagine their surprise that as they are walking, their fingers start to grow, their toes suddenly begin to fill their shoes, and they can feel the skin on their faces become soft and their noses growing out again! One of them, the Samaritan, was ecstatic with praise to God and could not contain himself. He left the company of the others for he had to find Jesus and thank Him. This man ran back and when he found Christ, he knew how to give thanks! He gave vent to his emotions as he shouted loudly to God. He approached Jesus and threw himself on the ground (Verse 16) lavishly shouting praise and thanks to God. He acted according to His belief and trust in Jesus’ Word and he saw the power of God at work in his life as a result. How his thankfulness must have warmed the heart of the Lord! Let’s never forget to thank God for all He does for us.

Let me issue you a challenge: Think of a situation in your life which needs resolution, it may be an impossible thing to you, but dare to believe that God can work through your simple faith. Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:4). Call out to Him and ask Him for faith to believe that He will accomplish what you ask of Him. Then praise Him, loudly!

Keith Thomas

Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind

80_jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind_1800x1200_72dpi_21As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:1-7).

In the previous chapter Jesus had stated that He was the great I AM (John 8:58), the name God had told Moses that He was to be called by (Exodus 3:14). To the Jewish people, to make such a declaration was unthinkable! How dare He say that He was God! They were so angry at His statements about Himself that they began stoning Him for blasphemy (John 8:59). He had also stated in the previous chapter, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12). He said this about Himself while up in the Temple Courts (John 8:2), more than likely before the four big giant candelabra’s symbolizing God as the One who had been their light leading them in the darkness during the wilderness wanderings. Notice that He didn’t say I am a light, but I am the Light of the World. He claimed exclusively to be Israel’s Light. Now He is set to prove it as He is leaving the Temple precincts. Often beggars would be sitting near the gates to the temple area, ready to hold out their hands to any worshippers whose hearts were softened by worshiping the Lord. Even today, although there is no temple there, people can often be found begging near one of the gates to the Old City. Please consider coming on tour with me some time to Israel. How life giving it is to walk in this city that is so loved by our Lord!

Put yourself in the shoes of the man born blind. He could hear the conversation between the Lord and his disciples, but didn’t know what was going on. He more than likely heard Jesus collecting spittle in his mouth and spitting it on the ground. I would think that the Lord told him He was about to put something on his eyes. Did he know Jesus before the mud was put on his eyes? I think not. He explained later on, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see” (verse 11). If he would have known Jesus he would have said, “Jesus told me to go to Siloam and wash.”

Sometimes the Lord tests our obedience to His voice. He will offend your mind to reveal your heart. How would you feel about someone rubbing mud in your eyes? Was he offended as he stumbled about with mud on his eyes trying to find his way to the Pool of Siloam? I’m sure there were a few on the way that probably offered to give him water to wash off his face while he was going. I’m sure there were a few that laughed at his obedience to Jesus. Was someone leading him on the way? We do not know, but no matter what was on the way or who was leading him, he was determined to do just as Jesus had said. He was well rewarded when he found his way down the steps to the pool of water. He washed and was instantly healed!

How determined are you to hear His Word and do the will of God? What if he had washed his eyes before He had got to Siloam? I don’t think he would have been healed and we wouldn’t be reading about his obedience to the Lord. Can I encourage you today not to compromise your faith in Christ? Hold on to Him in the midst of the darkness as we stumble towards Siloam. We might not see everything that we would like to see but obedience to Christ pays big dividends! The end of our faith is well worth listening and trusting His Word.

This study was taken from the study of John 9:1-41, Jesus and the Man Born Blind. It’s found in the middle column under the heading of the Book of John.

Keith Thomas