Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The yearning.
The yearned for.
The fulfiller.
The Yearning
Regarding the awareness of heaven in popular culture. In my research I found that there were over 250 songs with the word heaven in their titles. Google heaven and you will find over 235,000,000 hits. Food is described as being heavenly. There is even a brand of ice cream called heaven. Places are described as being heaven on earth or heavenly. Shops and businesses too tap into this awareness of heaven so therefore you have Cycle heaven , Fishing heaven, fashion heaven, even doggy heaven, heaven forbid. Probably the most prevalent and some what insidious use or misuse might be a better term of this awareness of heaven is in the context of romantic relation ships especially in novels songs and movies. It is not drawing too long a bow, I believe to make the statement that the Christian doctrine of heaven is the most widely known Christian doctrine in popular society. It is also the most misunderstood and misused of all Christian doctrines.
What does all this say? What is the meaning of all this heaven speak? Why is the doctrine of heaven so widely known yet so fundamentally misunderstood?
I believe that the answer can be summed up in one word Yearning. People the world over have an instinctual yearning for heaven this is why the concept of something heavenly is so wide spread. This is why the word heaven resonates with the public this is why the word heaven is so overused and stretched and abused to sell anything to people because advertisers know that this word resonates within peoples souls.
In fact this yearning for heaven lies at the heart of one of the most common objections to the Christian faith.
How could A God of Love allow pain and suffering?
If you stop to think about this question and think about what lies behind it. I think that you will find that it is a yearning for heaven. A yearning for a place where there is no more tears, no more separation from loved ones.
The posing of this question assume that if there was such a God such as you Christians talk about , then there would be no more pain no more suffering . they instinctually feel that something is amiss that things are not as they should be . They are yearning for heaven.
Judson Cornwell
“Among these many drives or instincts that god has built into the human being is a belief in and a yearning for heaven, and these yearnings argue favorably for the existence of a literal real heaven.”
What he is saying is that we all have built in desires or yearnings such as food shelter companionship etc & God has provided means of satisfaction for those yearnings .Surely He has provided satisfaction for the yearnings for heaven.
This yearning for heaven for something greater than just this world lies at the heart of most of the religions of the world. Most not all but most of the world’s religions deal with some form of after life, some idea of a reward or punishment for the life lived here on earth.
It is this yearning for heaven that drives the Apostle Paul to write in 1st Philippians
21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
Christians more than any other people on the earth should have this yearning for heaven for Christians should know what the true heaven is really like but do they?
Christians are just passing through this world I am sure that many people here have been in an airport before. Do you want to stay and live at the airport? Yet it seems that many Christians especially in the affluent West want to do exactly that they have become comfortable and spend much of their time making a transit lounge pretty and comfortable that they have almost forgotten about the journey. Like a baby who has been given foreknowledge of what life will be like after he has been born, but decides that he will stay right where he is. Many Christians in the west are hoping to stay right where they are in preference to going to be with the Lord in Glory. Of course it goes without saying that this problem really doesn’t exist in many 3rd world countries or in countries where Christians are persecuted for they truly understand the transient nature of this life and are constantly looking to heaven
The Yearned For
Before we examine what the real and true heaven is like. Let’s quickly raise some common misconceptions of what heaven is like.
1) Heaven is what you make here on earth. You make your own heaven and indeed your own earth
2) Heaven is merely an extension of this life
3) Heaven is a place where you sit on fluffy clouds playing an harp
4) Heaven is a place of sensual pleasure.
So what is heaven like?
First thing we should say right of the bat is that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

2 Pet 3:10–13:
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

So this earth that we are standing on right now will be destroyed by fire and. then renewed. We will not only have a new heaven and a new earth but there will also be a new Jerusalem new city of god and its this that I would like dwell on and examine if I may . This city will be the dwelling place of God and us his people .
Read Rev 21 & 22.
Now this city is absolutely gargantuan
A perfect cube 2200 km wide X 2200 high x 2200 deep
4,840,000 km2 of area for each level
Assuming each level is 4 mts high 13 ft
55,000 levels 1000 times the number of stories in the rialto
25 times the height of everest
sticks 800 mts out into space
assuming 20 stairs a level 1,100,000 stairs
266,200,000,000 km2s
534,200,000,000 2per km2 Australia
61,492,200,000,000 231 km2 Great Britain
Not only is it huge but it is staggeringly beautiful
Many mansions not kidding
Gems pearls
Gold streets
No lights for God is the light
No temple or church because God is the temple
And a tree lined river running through it of the purest water foget mt franklins perriers and your evians. the trees are the trees of life the leaves are healing, healing for the nations
Doesn’t this excite you
This is where we are going to spend etrenity
I just want to you read it to again let it soak in this is where we are going

You know what though it gets better for it is going to be a place of celebration the celebration of the wedding of the lamb. There will be feasting laughing dancing singing maybe even wedding cake.
There will be no more tears no pain no more suffering . God will wipe away every tear. All of us hear have gone through pain in their life perhaps with your health perhaps with the death of someone very dear to you. In heaven that pain will be washed away.

Heaven will be where we are Who god meant us to be
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2).
This not only is our physical bodies
But our true identities
Rev 2:17
Our bodies will be resurrected and glorified we will be able to walk and run we will be full of strength and vigor. Our bodies will be the true fulfillment of what they were meant to be
In heaven Christ will come to welcome his people into his presence. we will be resurrected and transformed to be ‘with the Lord for ever’ (1 Thes. 4:13–18; 1 Cor. 15:35–57).
This then leads to the next section
The Fulfiller
How do you get to heaven?
In a word Christ
If you have been stirred by this description of heaven
You can’t get there by good works
You can’t get there by being a good person.
Romans 3: 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
Righteousness through Faith
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.
The only way to heaven
Is through Jesus
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also
What about those who don’t make it to heaven?
If you choose not to follow God then that choice will be ratified at the judgement day. Hell is a place of eternal separation from God. God does not send people to hell. They choose to be apart from him In the light of this fact, heaven is probably not the place that an unbeliever would enjoy very much. How would you like to spend an eternity with a Person that you have despised and rejected, and now He is supreme? How would you like to be forever worshipping Him and spending time with those who adore Him? Hell is where the unbeliever wants to be, apart from God, and so it will be (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
So if you have not yet chosen to follow Jesus
I urge you to make that choice for I want you to come and look me up when w get to heaven
Let us seek to be heavenly minded, to pursue the kingdom of God and to pray for its coming. Let us also seek to be faithful in the present, serving in society as salt and light, and striving to lead others to Him Who is Life and Peace and Blessing. And let us persevere in our trials, knowing that our faithfulness will be rewarded.
Finally John Newton the composer of Amazing Grace once said there would 3 surprises when we get to heaven, First that we are there, second the many people who are there, Third the many people who aren’t.
God Bless

Friday, June 02, 2006

Check out this website it is a very whimiscal website inspired by St Simeon Stylite. Recommened
simeon, updated 2.5.2006
Hello dear hypothetcal reader I am still working on the post about Christians and the enviroment but in the mean time enjoy this little study on the life of the Biblical Prophet Jeremiah
Fire in My Bones
Lessons from the life of Jeremiah the weeping prophet
Jeremiah has a reputation for being a prophet of doom & gloom indeed although it has now fallen out of favour somewhat to call someone a miserable Jeremiah meant that they were a pessimist of the worst order. However I believe that this is a gross misunderstanding of the character of possibly the greatest prophet in the OT. To truly understand the life of Jeremiah we need to examine the times in which he ministered

Historical Background
I. His background
Jeremiah’s history covered a span of 40 years-from his call in the 13th year of King Josiah (626 bc) until the fall of Jerusalem in 587 bc. In those 4 decades he prophesied under the last five kings of Judah—Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. At this time Israel had already been overthrown several decades earlier by the Assyrians and the tiny country of Judah had was all that remained of David and Solomon's kingdom. The Assyrian empire was on the point of collapse Babylon and Egypt were struggling against each other for the leadership of the area.
Jeremiah’s life and times which fall within this all-important period are remarkably well documented, and the intimacies of his personality are more vividly portrayed than those of the Minor Prophets or even of Isaiah and Ezekiel.
When Jeremiah was called to the prophetic office he was still ‘a child’ (naÔar, 1:6), an ambiguous term descriptive of infancy (Ex. 2:6) and advanced adolescence (1 Sa. 30:17). If Jeremiah simply meant he was spiritually and socially immature the word might indicate that he was not the average age of a prophet, at his call Jeremiah was in his early 20s his boyhood was spent in the reigns of Manasseh and Amon. Doubtless many in Judah yearned for the dawn that would end the night of 60 years’ moral degeneracy. Jeremiah grew up in a pious priestly home (1:1). His name, Jeremiah means either ‘Yahweh exalts’ or ‘Yahweh throws down’, which when considering the call that God had placed on his life was a remarkably appropriate name.

Jeremiah’s early life & call
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
Jeremiah’s Call and Commission
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”
9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
11 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, tilted away from the north.”
14 Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. 18 And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.
This chapter is a perfect summation of Jeremiahs life and mission to come in Jeremiah God had the right man for the job. God had fitted him out just for this mission vs. 5

God also calls us we also have a divine mission to perform which he has fitted us out for. While our call may not be as dramatic as that of Jeremiah’s which ranks with Isaiah and Paul as one of the most dramatic of calls in the whole bible we still are called by God to fulfil our purpose in life for which he has created us .

The ministry Jeremiah may be broken down into five periods. Assuming that the call of Jeremiah took place in 627 bc, the first period began on this date and ended in 622 bc. Jeremiah was therefore called to action because of the political crisis resulting from the growth in Babylonian power after the death of Ashurbanipal. This first period ended on a good note five years later when King Josiah implemented domestic reforms following the discovery of a lost book, presumed to be a portion of the Mosaic law (2 Kgs. 22–23).

The second period might be called ‘the silent years’. Jeremiah quietly observed the reform movement of Josiah without conducting an obvious public ministry. In the meantime, Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, was besieged and conquered in 612 bc. This further cleared the way for Babylonian domination and imperialism. Assyria and Egypt had kept the power of Babylon at bay to some extent, but after the defeat of Nineveh their resistance crumbled. By 609 bc Jeremiah could keep silent no longer. Tragically, King Josiah resisted the Egyptians as they marched through his land on the way to do battle with Babylon, and this resulted in his death. The national emergency called for a prophet, just as the unstable days of Ahab had called for Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:1).

The third period of Jeremiah’s ministry was from 609 to 597 bc. This proved to be the most trying time for the prophet, whose task it was to convince Josiah’s successor that submission to the rule of Babylon was the will of God. It was this theological conviction that provoked such serious resistance to Jeremiah’s ministry, not only by kings, but also by the populace. Josiah’s immediate successor was his son, Jehoahaz, who was deported to Egypt only three months after taking the throne. His brother Jehoiakim followed him, and became Jeremiah’s greatest enemy (22:13–23; ch. 36). During this third period, the final consolidation of Babylonian power was completed in 605 bc when their general Nebuchadnezzar, who later became king of Babylon, defeated the Assyrian-Egyptian coalition at the Battle of Carchemish. As a result, Jeremiah was commanded by God to write his message on a scroll (36:1–3).

The fourth period of Jeremiah’s ministry lasted ten years. It began in 597 bc after the death of Jehoiakim and ended in 587 bc with the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah, Josiah’s third son.

The final period of Jeremiah’s ministry began after the fall of Jerusalem and extended into the 570s bc. During this time Gedaliah, a righteous Jew, was appointed acting governor of Judah by the occupying Babylonians. But Gedaliah was soon murdered by a fellow Israelite, a crime which incurred further Babylonian wrath. Finally Jeremiah was forced into Egypt against his will by his own people.

These years are when Jeremiah endured humiliation after humiliation as again and again he warned and prophesied to people who grew increasingly deaf to his entreaties he ended up in stocks thrown in cisterns people from his own home town plotted to kill him. When I was doing my research into this message I came across a Latin phrase

“veritas parit odium Truth draws hatred upon itself”
I think that Jeremiah would very much attest to the accuracy of this statement.

What Jeremiah faced
Despite the reforms of Josiah early in Jeremiahs ministry and incredibly considering the fate that had befallen Israel only 100 years before the leaders and people of Judah again fell into idolatry, worshipping baal and other false gods in the place of Yahweh. In fact they believed that Jerusalem would never fall because the temple was there. There were idols in the temple and near Jerusalem children were being sacrificed to Baal and Molech. Sad to say the temple was their God complete with false prophets who would contradict every thing threat Jeremiah declared.

As the kings of Judah tried to play Egypt and Babylon off against each other Jeremiah opposed the prevailing political climate by prophesying that Judah must submit to Babylon. He would probably be arrested for sedition if he preached a message like that in Australia today. On one occasion he wore a yoke to symbolise how Judah must submit to Babylon. Chapter 27

Jeremiah endured much physical abuse but he also suffered much mental and spiritual anguish his great love for his people was his great strength but also his great weakness. He had to be asked by God not to pray for them (14:11) some idea of the anguish that jeremiah suffered can be garnered from the famous passage in Chapter 20

The Character of Jeremiah
1 Honest see above
2 courageous temple sermon chapters 7
3 sensitive see above
4 passionate
5 hopeful 32 1-44 field in the siege
Ironically Jeremiah who received his call to prophecy in a time of relative peace and who prophesied diaster in a time of seeming calm would prophecy the return of the exiles and a time of peace at a time of diaster. As Israel moved irrevocably toward the punishment that God had prepared for them, Jeremiah's message shifted from that of warning of impending doom, to prophesy the return of the exiles and the restoration of Jerusalem and the line of David. Jeremiah truly was telling the people what they didn’t want to hear when it was peace full and telling what they didn’t believe in the diaster.

Jeremiah was a man of immense courage and fortitude enduring much to fulfil his mission and I believe that there are Four valuable lessons that can be taken from his life.

1. Jeremiah despite his initial reluctance at his call was steadfast in fulfilling his mission despite all that came at him. Can we not do the same?
2. Jeremiah suffered not only physical persecution but because of his great love for his people suffered greatly, mentally, and spiritually. Do we love, as we ought?
3. For Jeremiah the word of God burned in him like a fire in his bones he could not hold it in. Does the word of God burn in our hearts like that or is it easy to hold it in?
4. Jeremiah confronted the people of his day with the truth of God. can we not do the same?

One final challenge
Jeremiah 6:16
6:16 thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
And ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way lies; and walks in it,
And find rest for your souls.

The rest of verse 16 revels that Judah did not

But they said we will not walk in it
Where will you walk?