Faith Provides A Home In Heaven

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In My Father’s House Are Many Rooms

 

Kristine, a vibrant 18-year-old, was involved in all the normal activities of a senior in high school when she became critically ill. She was admitted to the hospital and within a few days, she was diagnosed with a fatal disease.

Kristine’s parents were devastated when doctors said, “There’s nothing more we can do except keep her comfortable.” They asked for help from the hospital staff to break the news to their daughter.

A woman named Donna is part of a hospital team that works with critically and terminally ill patients and their families. “When Kristine heard the prognosis, she was naturally quite upset, but when I went to see her the next day, her demeanor was completely changed,” she said.

“Kristine had in her hand a collection of swatches from a paint store, those little strips of various shades of color,” Donna said. “She fanned them out like a deck of cards and said, ‘Pick a color.’”

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Donna said, “but I played along. I chose a bird’s egg blue. Then Kristine explained:  ‘Since I’m going to heaven before you, I want to paint your room your favorite color.’ Anytime a different person came into Kristine’s room after that, she had them choose a color for their room in heaven.”

Donna said, “I have worked with critically and terminally ill patients for years, but I was bowled over by the spiritual maturity of an 18-year-old who was so certain of her place in heaven. Kristine knew without a doubt that this world is just a ‘passing-through place.’ It’s not the final destination. She used those paint swatches as tools to witness about eternal life and also to help the people around her accept her physical death.”

Kristine was a living witness to the promise in John 14 as Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for his impending death:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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” (John 14:1-3 NIV).

When Kristine passed away, she continued to witness to people at the funeral because those paint swatches were in the casket with her. Kristine’s story was repeated to everyone who passed by.

“As Christians, we have the certainty of eternal life,” Donna said. “How wonderful it was for Kristine and her family to be able to frame death in such a beautiful way.”

Thank you, Lord, for the promise of eternal life. Help us to learn from Kristine’s example of faith in your Word.

Mini Miracles – Crosswalk the Devotional – June 4

by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com

So they all ate and were filled. Mark 6:42

The title of my devotional today strikes me as oxymoronic. Miracles, after all, are defined as acts of God, amazing and marvelous events, and “seals of a divine mission” (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary). Generally speaking, there’s nothing small about them.

What I’m talking about, then, are instances of heavenly intervention in the lives of believers that impact what we would consider “minor” areas of our existence, the things that cause us to make statements like: “It showed me that God cares about even the small things in our lives,” always as if that’s a profoundly shocking proclamation. Nobody ever responds by saying, “Well, duh…”

I think that’s because it never stops being a mind-blowing concept – the Creator of the universe, who hears the prayers and praises of billions simultaneously and loves each one the same, provided, perhaps, just the right amount of money for a struggling single mom to buy her child a pair of shoes. It’s not the parting of the Red Sea to preserve for Himself a people, or the resurrection of His son to purchase the redemption of humanity. It’s, for lack of a better term, a mini-miracle.

I remember one time in our Adult Bible Fellowship class my friend Karen stepped in to teach our continuing series in Mark’s gospel. We were in Chapter Six, focusing primarily on the Feeding of the 5,000. As she began her lesson, Karen admitted that she’d never quite been able to visualize this scene, or understand exactly what the miracle was meant to show. I mean, there is the lesson of provision, but the human body can go without food for quite some time. Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4). So it’s not like life and death were hanging in the balance if the people who had followed Him to this “desolate place” went without dinner that night.

It could be, Karen suggested, that Jesus just didn’t want the people to go away; He had just suffered the death of His cousin John the Baptist, and recently endured the “amazing unbelief” (Mark 6:6) of those from His hometown of Nazareth. It could be Jesus took immense delight in this multitude foregoing their bodily needs to attend to His Word. It very well could be our Lord simply wanted to do something “just for them.”

Maybe, Karen said, that’s why she always tended to overlook this miracle a little bit. “You know how sometimes when God does something that you know was ‘just for you,’ and you tell someone else about it, and they’re like, ‘That’s cool and all,’ but it just doesn’t carry the same meaning for them?”

I knew exactly what that was like, and I liked where she was going. I could see an even greater personalization in mini-miracles, in God drawing delight from blessing our socks off in ways that speak to our individual hearts. The idea also gave me greater permission to attribute to the Lord all sorts of transpirings that I had chalked up to my own efforts, happenstance, or even worse, had gone without noticing.

If, for instance, I told you about the time we thought we’d lost my wife’s keys – including several costly ones – only to find them sitting precariously on a single steel beam of the auto transport behind our moving van, maybe you’d respond the way my friend Scott did: “You got lucky, dude.” Yeah, well, I guess that’s why Karen says sometimes these events are “just for us.” I saw those keys, I knew the bumpy route and wet weather we had traveled, I was astounded, I was humbled. I decided that giving credit to the Lord for things that bless you is never wrong, as suggested by James 1:17.

I just don’t do it enough.

I wonder how many mini-miracles I’ve missed out on by being impatient, angry, or inattentive. In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller imagines Moses telling those worshipping the golden calf, “Your problem is not that God is not fulfilling, your problem is that you are spoiled” (92). Romans 1:20 would seem to indicate that the Lord’s hand is evident everywhere – “people can clearly see His invisible qualities.” I like that verse very much, because I like to think of myself as on the lookout for God.

But that brings me to the other ways to miss miracles – by not accepting them or expecting them, by resenting them or wanting to earn them. I quote from Blue Like Jazz again, where Miller admits, “I love to give to charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace” (84).

Can we get past the affront of accepting a free gift? If we can, we might see the Lord trying to say through the Feeding of the 5,000 and even today, “Here I Am, stay here, spend more time, no need to go away, please accept this, put yourself in My hands, keep your eyes open, I love you.”

After all, says Matthew 7:11, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” Mini-miracles are the treats God brings home to His kids, those who seek him with childlike faith, those who consider themselves “the little things in life.”

Constraining love

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Oh love the Lord, all ye his saints.” Psalm 31:23

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:7-12

Christ’s love to us we sometimes guess at, but, ah, it is so far beyond our thoughts, our reasonings, our praises, and our apprehension too, in the sweetest moments of our most spiritual ecstasy,—who can tell it? “Oh, how he loved us!” When Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews exclaimed with surprise—“Behold how he loved him.” Verily, you might say the like with deeper emphasis. There was nothing in you to make him love you, but he left heaven’s throne for you. As he came down the celestial hills, methinks the angels said “Oh, how he loved them.” When he lay in the manger an infant, they gathered round and said, “Oh how he loves.” But when they saw him sweating in the garden, when he was put into the crucible, and began to be melted in the furnace, then indeed, the spirits above began to know how much he loved us. Oh Jesus! When I see thee mocked and spat upon—when I see thy dear cheeks become a reservoir for all the filth and spittle of unholy mouths—when I see thy back rent with knotted whips—when I behold thy honour and thy life both trailing in the dust—when I see thee charged with madness, with treason, with blasphemy—when I behold thy hands and feet pierced, thy body stripped naked and exposed—when I see thee hanging on the cross between heaven and earth, in torments dire and excruciating—when I hear thee cry “I thirst,” and see the vinegar thrust to thy lips—when I hear thy direful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” my spirit is compelled to say, “Oh how he loves!”

For meditation: How cold and hardhearted we must be to ever question the Lord’s love towards us (Malachi 1:2).

Sermon no. 325

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