If you have not read Part 1 of A 365 Thanksgiving, you can find it here. The third and final part will be posted in a couple of days. And now for Part 2...
A Gift in the Future—
The second gift worth remembering is a gift God will give us in the future. It is a home. A real place. A reality called Heaven. When some people scoff that there is nothing beyond our own graves, Scripture gives us a clear picture of what indeed awaits us after our final breath.
To help us remember some magnificent qualities of Heaven, I’ve begun each of the 9 characteristics with the letter “P.”
1. Heaven is a Prepared place. Jesus shared with His disciples, “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.” (John 14:2). The joy about this assurance is that, although we may not know what type of mansion awaits us, our Savior personally readied a dwelling place for you, Followers of Christ. Your name is on the mailbox. It is yours. It is prepared just for you. He made it so.
2. Paradise (to the criminal on the cross): “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” So what is paradise like…?
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” (Revelation 21:1-5)
What makes this Paradise overwhelmingly awesome beyond human comprehension?:
3. Presence! (The dwelling of God is with man. He will be in the midst of us. By far, this is the greatest aspect of Heaven. No physical separation anymore. We are in the throne room)
4. Peace! (No death, crying, sorrow, pain—His presence overwhelms any past care or stress. We are enthralled with the Almighty and nothing there distracts us from Him.
5. Provision! Our Husband, Christ, cares for His bride. If David here on earth said “My cup overflows…” imagine how much more our cups will be unable to contain the whole presence of the Almighty Creator who breathed the universe in existence when these physical bodies are replaced with a new glorified body that can be in God’s very presence! Our Shepherd provides for our every need and our eternity’s longing will be for our Divine Husband, who fills all with Himself.
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'” (Revelation 7:9-12)
7. Packed! (A great multitude no one could count—those are just the believers who are martyred during the coming 7-year Tribulation. There are still more worshippers that will join this enormous group). For those who don’t like to be in a big group, you won’t mind in this Place. Our personal dislikes, annoyances, and fears will not be allowed through the door of Heaven.
8. Powerful! (The King fills His kingdom, receiving all our worship, praise, thanks. It is loud, filled with glory of God. Lightning. Thunderings. Shaking. The power of God is on display right now and will continue.
9. Purity! (No sin. No desire for lust. No temptation will draw us from our devotion to Him. It will not be possible. We are consumed with God Father and Lamb. He is holy and all creation is consumed with Him.
“Heaven is for Real,” a recent NY Times Best Seller, is a book written by a father of a then-4-year-old boy who was given a glimpse of Heaven as he was in surgery due to a burst appendix. While not canonized Scripture, there were numerous details in the book that lined up with the Bible’s description of God’s future home for His sons and daughters. I found such joy and awe in reading about the reality of this Home on the other side of our final breath on earth. I can understand more fully when Paul wrote in Phil.3:20: “Our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” What utter fulfillment of all our expectation on the Day He escorts us Home! In fact, the boy who was given the vision of Heaven, after his return, told how no pictures of Jesus that he saw really looked like Jesus, until he saw this one painted by an 8-year-old name Akiane. She also had been given visions of Jesus. How amazing if this indeed is the face that will greet us after our final breath here on earth.
"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians.15:19)
Praise God that every Christian right now holds the promise, “Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) We, too, have the assurance of Heaven because of Christ in us. He is our hope. He is in us until we arrive there in person.
I love verse three from the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul:
“And Lord, haste the Day when the faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul!”
Thank You, All-Loving Father for the assurance of Heaven for your sons and daughters!