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Prep work

John 14:2-3 – “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

It is the day before Thanksgiving. I have been preparing food and cleaning house the last two days. Actually I’ve been encouraging my children to do the bulk of the cleaning since they are out of school all week. It has been beautiful getting a hand with the cleaning! But I digress…

As we use this day to travel, prep food and plan our get together with our loved ones, we also need to use this day to prepare our hearts for the true meaning of the day – being thankful.

I was listening to the lessons on Sunday night when I caught a listen to this – Jesus has been preparing Heaven for us for nearly 2000 years. Just think about that for a moment – 2000 years of prep work! That’s crazy! John caught a glimpse of this prep work and he recorded it in Revelation 21:18-19a – “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.”  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Heaven is going to be way more beautiful than we can truly imagine.

So, what does this have to do with Thanksgiving, you might ask. In these verses from John, I find three things I am thankful for – 1. Heaven is real, 2. Jesus is coming back to get me and take me there and 3. Jesus always keeps His promises.

My grandma went to Heaven on Thanksgiving day 1999. I will never forget that as long as I live. What a great way to spend the day – suddenly surrounded by all your loved ones who had gone on before you. And to see Jesus on Thanksgiving. How amazing!

So today as you are prepping the food and power cleaning the kitchen, remember to prepare your heart. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and a time to slow down and count our blessings. Make a list if you have to, but whatever you do and however you choose to spend the day, please, remember Jesus and His sacrifice and His promises – and say “thank you”.

Knock, knock…

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Do you ever have a time when there is a voice in your ear whispering “You are worthless. You are not important. No one cares about you or your feelings.”?

I think that we all have those feelings from time to time. We all have our low moments when the devil gets a foothold in our mind and has a hay day, so to speak. I had one of those days this week. But the devil didn’t win. When that voice in my head started whispering, the voice in my heart began shouting – “I love you! You are important to me!” That voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, reminded me that I am His, that He is knocking on my heart wanting to come in.

Why is it that the devil is sneaking into our minds but Jesus stands outside waiting to be invited in? Jesus respects us and our ability to choose Him. The devil is cunning and secretive. He doesn’t respect anything!

But I digress. Sometimes we just need to hear something. Today, maybe you need to hear your spouse say “I love you”. Maybe you need to receive a hug from you child, spontaneously. Maybe you need your boss to tell you that you are doing a good job. Maybe you need the doctor to give you some good news. Or maybe you just need the Everlasting Father to wrap His arms around you and shelter you from the day.

Whatever you are needing today, Jesus stands at the door knocking, waiting for you to answer, so that He can give you whatever it is that you need today.

You know, I think the most beautiful part of this verse is the part where He comes in to spend time with you and that you spend time with Him. You see, He wants more than a one sided relationship. He wants to spend time with you. He cares about what is bugging you. He cares about what is making you happy these days. He cares about your dreams. He cares about the people that are important to you. He wants to hear about it all. Take some time today, sister, and spend some time with the One that you know wants to spend time with you.

The Armor and the Sword

Ephesians 6:17b – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Swords are really neat to look at. My husband collected swords for a while. He had long swords, short swords, practical swords, all kinds of swords. Swords come in all shapes and sizes. They have different purposes. They have special meanings. They are made of different materials. But the one thing that all swords have in common is their main purpose: to cut something, to make something come apart.

In all the verses relating to the armor of God, this is the only weapon we are told to bear. Of course, there were no guns at this time but their were daggers that could be concealed that one could carry. But no, we are told to a bear the sword of the Spirit. And Paul leaves no room for doubt as to what that sword really is – the word of God.

The word of God as a sword has been used before in Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yowza! That is quite the sword! Not only does the word of God have the ability to cut out sin in our life, but it also has the ability to rip through the body, even to the point of determining your very thoughts and intents of your heart. That means, the word of God has the ability to help you determine if what you are doing is being done for God’s honor and glory or your own. And this is the very same sword Paul is encouraging us to carry with us into spiritual battle. This is a serious sword. It can do some major damage.
Revelation 1:16 – “And he had in his right had seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Here, John is giving a description of Jesus. Read a few verses before to get the full effect. But it is powerful. Here, we see Jesus with the sword coming out of his mouth. Crazy mental image, right? But when you think about this verse linked with the verse above, that is His words. They are powerful. I don’t think that we really understand the power of Jesus and the power of His words.

The Spirit is God living in us. It is us allowing God to lead us and guide us and empower us. This power is in the sword. And the sword comes from His word. And the only way we can engage this power is to know how to use it. And the only way we can know how to use it is to faithfully read it, to learn it, to ingest it, to apply it. You can’t pick up a sword and expect to win a battle if you have never been trained on how to use it. You can’t expect to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil if you don’t know how to handle your sword. Practice, practice, practice!

Let me encourage you today, princess, to pick up your sword. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Carry it with you and learn its burden. O, the burden is light (Matthew 11:30) if you carry it with the right attitude. But bear it nonetheless. Ask the Giver of the sword to show you how to use it, when to use it and when to stand. Times are a changing, princess, and you have to be ready.

Doors

Revelation 3:20 – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Ok, let’s look at this verse a little. First, let’s examine the context. John was writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit on the island of Patmos. He is writing to the church at Laodicea. So he is writing to believers. This is very important. Sometimes we think that Jesus only knocks on the door of the unbeliever’s heart. But He also knocks on the door(s) of the follower as well.

Another thing, when we look at this verse we tend to think that Jesus is knocking on the front door of our heart. And He does knock on the front door whenever He is calling us unto salvation.

But think about it. Do you only have one door in your house? Chances are – no. You have multiple doors that lead to various rooms. Sometimes we close those doors because we don’t want others to see what is inside. Right? See where I am going with this? Jesus wants access to all areas of our heart. He wants to see your junk room. He wants to see your office and where you clean your laundry. He wants to see your bathroom – where you take care of yourself. All these places typically have doors and often times we close them. People don’t really need to see our messy laundry room, right?

Let’s look at why Jesus wants to see these rooms, why the door needs to be open.
Bedroom – the place where you go for peace. Is it a mess? Is there no peace in this room because of filthy rags on the floor? Have the windows been neglected for so long that the Son cannot shine in?
Bathroom – the place you go to clean your physical body. Is there soap scum everywhere – are you just going through the motions? Is the mirror dirty? Can you really see yourself for who you are?
Laundry room – the place where you wash the dirt away. Can you even get to the washer? Do you know how to use it?
Study – the place you go to learn and work. Once again, how is the window? Is it peaceful or a disaster?
Living room – the place where you veg and chill. Is there junk on the tv? Are you filling the room with unholy information?
The kids’ room – the place where they have their own space. Have you made sure that is it safe in all areas of life?
Kitchen – the place where you provide. Do you ask for help in here? Do you try to ensure that everything coming in and going out will provide what your family needs to be healthy?

Jesus wants access to all these places. He has a desire to make all things new. He wants to be a part of all aspects of your life. But you have to open the door.

Remember it all

It was 12 years ago today that I remember sitting on my couch watching the twin towers come down. I thought that this was a joke. Something from a movie. This stuff did not happen in real life. But it did. Many people died that day. Some with Christ. Some without.

I remember thinking that this had to be the end of the world as we knew it. And to some extent it was. However, The Lord did not come to take us home that day. Or the day after that.

He did leave us a guide map to the events surrounding His return and subsequent wrath upon the earth. Read Revelation, my friend. I am not scholarly enough to explain all the details. I encourage you to find someone in your local church who is more educated in this area than I. Oh, I have heard many, many messages on this book and know what I believe about it. But it is prophecy and therefore open to discussion. Everyone who believes in Christ has a slightly different view on these events.

Yet, we do have Matthew 24 and 25 to shed some light on things. Look at this: Matthew 24:36 – “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus is ready and waiting for the green light from the Father. The Son does not know when the Father will tell Him to go. Matthew 24 and 25 encourages us to prepare for Jesus’ return.

Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is the one who reads the words of prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” John did not say that we have to understand everything that is written. He said that we need to READ it, HEAR it and TAKE it to heart.

September 11, 2001 changed the lives of many, many people. It changes the viewpoint of many people. It made people become more eternity minded – for a short while. We are such fickle people. We don’t forget the atrocities but we may forget how it moved us.

I don’t think that it is an accident that I finished reading Revelation one day before this 12 year anniversary. I believe Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I may not understand all the events going on in the world today. I may not understand exactly how the events in Revelation will reveal themselves.

All I know is that I have been purposed by God to share my heart on this blog and to encourage my fellow sisters (and brothers) in Christ to keep on truckin’! We have a mission to accomplish and that is to share God’s word and God’s love with everyone we come in contact with. We must, with passion, remember this: Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Check!

Revelation 22:20 – “He who testifies of these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

I finished one of my “New Year’s Resolutions” today – I finished reading the New Testament.

It was a refreshing journey through God’s word. It reminded me of some things I had forgotten. It challenged me to grow and change. It convicted my heart of sin and brought me to the place of repentance.

And it ended with a promise. A promise that He is coming soon. Revelation has always put me on edge. I don’t understand how and when it will all go down. BUT I believe it. I believe it will all happen just as John revealed. The timing of it all is unclear but I have to remember that God is not constrained by time like we are.

Reading the last two chapters of Revelation brings a smile to my face. All the promises there are encouraging.

Today, make some goals, princess. You don’t have to wait until the new year starts to start something new. Reaching your goals is a powerful thing. Reading your Bible is a powerful thing. How about you combine the power of both and get going! God is waiting for you to take the first step.

Smoking or nonsmoking

The Bible tells us about two very real places – Heaven and Hell.

Heaven
Revelation 21:3,4 – “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 crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
We like to think of Heaven as a place of beauty and wonder. And it is. But more importantly, Heaven is where we will be eternally with God. The way we know things to be here will be gone. Read Revelation to get the whole (and end) of the story – Go ahead it won’t bite too hard.

Hell
Luke 16:23,24 – “In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus at his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'”
We don’t like to think about the fact that there is a real place called Hell. Hell is reserved for those who reject the free gift of salvation. Our society wants us to keep quiet about such things. Don’t rock the boat. It might offend someone to tell them that rejecting God’s gift leads to Hell. Jesus used this parable of the rich man and Lazarus to illustrate that there are consequences for choosing to reject Jesus. And it is not fun. Punishment never is.

Let me just be blunt. I heard this saying when we were having revival at church a few weeks ago: If you are not saved, this earth is as close as you will get to Heaven. If you are saved, this earth is as close as you will ever get to Hell.
Think about that for a moment. Read it again. It’s true. Hell is far worse than we can comprehend. And Heaven is far better than we can understand.

Today, princess, you will come across someone who has a choice to make – smoking or nonsmoking, Heaven or Hell.
I believe Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Get prepared. And get those around you prepared. When we are taken out of this life (one way or another) that is when it is all done. No changing things then. Now is the time to make a change.
It is a harsh truth but we would do well to remember that there really is a place called Hell and people really do go there.