Have you ever thought about what Heaven will be like? I mean really thought about it. Have you studied it and searched the Scriptures to understand what it will be like to live in a resurrected body in a New Heaven and on a New Earth?
Think about this…
If you knew you were moving to Paris, wouldn’t you do everything you could to start learning about what Paris is like? Wouldn’t you want to know about the people, the geography, the customs, the climate, and the food? Of course you would. So why don’t we spend more time trying to learn what Heaven will be like?
Perhaps they know they aren’t right with God and they don’t have assurance that Heaven will be their destination when they die. Or maybe they’ve just accepted the common misconception that Heaven will be boring and uninspiring.
I remember the story of a preacher who stood up in church one day and asked the congregation, “How many of you want to go to Heaven?” Every hand in the church went up. Then he asked, “How many of you want to go TODAY?” You guessed it…not a single hand went up this time. Although nearly everyone wants to go to Heaven someday, few people want to die today.
With so much deception in the world, every believer needs spiritual discernment. Although we have access to GOD’S wisdom, it’s not something we automatically possess. Rather, it must be diligently sought. And HIS WORD is the place to start, because spiritual discernment comes only when we know the TRUTH and can think scripturally about every situation we encounter.
It’s foolish to think that our own wisdom is sufficient to guide us. The human mind, while rational, is incapable of seeing the true nature of many situations and events. What is good may not always be best, and what is presented as TRUTH is sometimes a lie. Pride in our own judgment hinders access to GODLY wisdom.
In contrast, regularly partaking of GOD’S WORD develops our insight. As the HOLY SPIRIT of TRUTH illuminates our mind and interprets the Scriptures, we increasingly see life from GOD’S perspective. Through the SPIRIT and the WORD, we have a direct link to the very mind of CHRIST (1 Cor. 2:16). From Genesis to Revelation, GOD is revealing HIS thoughts, principles, and wisdom so we can live accordingly in any situation.
May GOD’S LOVE flow through your hearts in JESUS NAME 💐
The body of CHRIST is made up of all people who worship HIM, no matter where they are. The HEAD of this body of believers is JESUS CHRIST, WHOM Paul described as “the BEGINNING, the FIRST-BORN from the dead” (Col. 1:18).
At salvation, you become a part of the body—regardless of what the membership rules may be at your local church. Therefore, if you’re a believer, you are a breathing and active part of CHRIST, WHO is at work on earth through HIS followers. The church acts as JESUS’ feet to carry the GOSPEL message, HIS hands to care for those in need of LOVE, and HIS arms to uphold the weak.
But being JESUS to the world isn’t easy—it means making sacrifices, accepting ridicule, and loving our enemies (Heb. 13:16; Matt. 5:44). GOD may have called us to spread the GOSPEL, but that doesn’t mean people will necessarily like what we have to say. Regardless, we’re to carry out the work of GOD, even when doing so is uncomfortable.
The GOSPEL is spread through the strength and wisdom of JESUS CHRIST. And for this task, HE has also chosen to use the body of believers united by HIS SPIRIT’S indwelling presence. What an honor to be used to reach the world for our SAVIOR.
For those who believe in GOD and follow the teachings of JESUS CHRIST, love takes on a whole new meaning. The best Bible verses about GOD’S love prove that — even in your darkest hour, when it may seem like you’re on your own or that you’ve lost everyone and everything you’ve ever cared about — HE is always there, and you are never alone.
GOD’S immense and unwavering love isn’t always easy to see or understand. Sometimes it shows itself in small ways, like when a person asks how your day is going and actually listens when you answer. It shows itself in big ways, too, like when a guardian angel appears out of nowhere when your car stops running and you need someone to restart it. Bible verses about GOD’S love serve as a constant reminder that HE is always watching and ready to help, and they’ll allow you to take comfort in the fact that HE is always in your corner.
“Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended; certainly GOD’S compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”
The Good News: GOD’S heart is brimful of love, and we can depend on HIM to love us just as much every day.
How do we know if we really love Jesus? The Bible’s answer might surprise you.
We know if we love Jesus by what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do. We know this because Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And the apostle John echoed Jesus when he wrote, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).
At face value, these statements should make any lover uncomfortable. We all know intuitively that the essence of love is not merely its actions. Love cannot be reduced to a mere verb. That’s why everyone laughs at John Piper’s illustration of a husband handing his wife a big bouquet of flowers on their wedding anniversary and then telling her he’s just fulfilling his obligation as a dutiful husband. It’s why everyone understands Edward John Carnell’s illustration of a husband asking, “Must I kiss my wife goodnight?” Because we know the answer is “Yes, but not that kind of must.”
Not That Kind of Must
“God made us to wear our love on our sleeves. He wired us to serve what we treasure.”
Neither Jesus nor John meant that obeying Jesus’s commandments is the same thing as love. What they meant was that love for God, by its very nature, produces the consistent characteristic of “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). So, on earth, love for Christ tends to look like obeying Christ.
Now, love, faith, and obedience are not the same things. Love is our cherishing or treasuring Christ, faith is our trusting Christ, and obedience is our doing what Christ says. The essence of each is different. Bad things, like dead orthodoxy and legalism, happen when we make them the same thing. We must keep Christ’s commandments — but not that kind of must.
Though they are distinct, they are inseparable. We cannot love Christ without trusting (exercising faith in) him (1 Peter 1:8). We cannot trust Christ without obeying him (James 2:17). So, naturally, we cannot love Christ if we live in persistent, conscious disobedience to him (1 John 1:6; Luke 6:46).
Wearing Our Love on Our Sleeves
This is an elegant, devastatingly simple design. God made us to wear our love on our sleeves. He wired us to serve what we treasure. How we love ourselves is evident by how we serve ourselves, for good (Ephesians 5:29) or for evil (2 Timothy 3:2). How we love our spouse or children or friends or pastors or co-workers or pets is evident by how we serve or neglect them. Whether we love God or money is evident by how we serve or neglect one or the other (Luke 16:13). In the long run, we cannot fake who or what we really serve.
It’s true that we sometimes can hide our sleeves from human view — sometimes even from ourselves — at least for a while. But God has a way of exposing our sleeves eventually.
This is what the parable of the good Samaritan was about, which nearly all of us are granted the opportunity to live out in different ways and at different times. The priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan all outed their sleeves by the ways they responded to the injured man (Luke 10:31–35).
“We know what love is by what love does.”
It’s also what the story of the rich young man in Mark 10 was about. He seemed at least partially blind to the love on his own sleeve, because though he thought he had done lots of obedient things (Mark 10:19–20), something was troubling his soul — which is why he came to Jesus. But Jesus saw the man’s sleeve clearly and with one sentence drew everyone’s attention to it: “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Then it was clear: the man could not obey Jesus because he loved and trusted money more than Jesus.
We see this all over the Bible: love for God or love for idols is made visible by obedience or disobedience to God. We see it in Cain with Abel (Genesis 4), Abraham with Isaac (Genesis 22), Reuben with Bilhah (Genesis 35), Joseph with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), David with Saul in the cave (1 Samuel 24), David with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), Judas with his silver (Matthew 26), Peter with his denials (John 18), Peter with the Sanhedrin (Acts 4), Ananias and Sapphira with others’ admiration (Acts 5), and Demas with Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4) — just to name a few.
By This We Know Love
But the most important place in Scripture (or anywhere else) we see love demonstrated through faith-empowered obedience is in Jesus:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Supreme love was made visible in Jesus’s death on the cross, where “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) pursued his, and our full, eternal joy (John 15:11) through his obedience in the midst of the greatest suffering (Hebrews 5:8). God wore his love on his bloody sleeve. Jesus did not merely “love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). “By this we know love.”
“How do we know if we love Jesus? By what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do.”
How do we know if we love Jesus? By what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do. All lovers of Jesus keenly know we don’t love him perfectly. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), and “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But “if we say we have fellowship with [Jesus] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
We know what love is by what love does. All lovers of Jesus refuse to walk in persistent, conscious disobedience to him. Our faith-empowered obedience in public and private places is the God-designed evidence of our love for Jesus.
God gives us the community we need, not necessarily the one we want.
A plate of freshly baked cookies sat neatly in the middle of the coffee table. Warm light from several lamps filled the room with a cozy glow. My wife and I sat there on the couch, looking out the bay window, awaiting our first guests.
We had been married about a year. Although an older, wiser couple had encouraged us to limit extra responsibilities, we thought it would be okay to lead a small group for our church when asked. The commitment was just once a week, and discussion would surround the previous Sunday’s sermon. Aside from opening our home, little else was required.
My wife didn’t know it, but I had ulterior motives. Yes, I wanted to make space for folks to get more engaged in our community, but I also wanted to meet other young professional couples in the area—successful people with whom we could network.
People started showing up, and they were different than I had expected. Almost all of them were single, and by the end of the first night, we discovered many of them were dealing with major life issues. One young woman suffered various painful ailments; another had constant anxiety and struggled with social interactions. One guy had problems finding stable employment—not exactly the new company I had hoped to make. I wanted “put-together” people, not folks with crises. When everyone left, my wife and I stared at each other. Though she didn’t share my selfish motives, I could tell she and I were thinking the same thing: What have we gotten ourselves into?
She and I were thinking the same thing: What have we gotten ourselves into?
Yet over the following weeks and months, we felt a growing fondness for every person who showed up on Tuesday nights. They started bringing friends in similar situations. We found moments of laughter, and we prayed for the pressing needs—seeing God answer, in His own way and time—and most importantly, we got to know one another on a deeper level. I began to see how foolish I had been to expect that a certain “type” of person should form this new community.
At the time, we had escaped the Great Recession of 2008 unscathed. But not long after, as construction projects ground to a halt, the architecture firm where my wife worked closed its doors. Now we faced our own personal crisis, and our small group community rallied around us. Throughout their own struggles, they had developed a depth of empathy that helped them sit with us in our difficulty.
“[The disciples] were not perfect, but they were open to growing and learning God’s ways.”
Christ wisely surrounded Himself with twelve men with great potential. His team certainly had not arrived. They were rough, though ready to meet the challenge with enthusiasm. They were not perfect, but they were open to growing and learning God’s ways. They were from diverse backgrounds. The diversity was an asset rather than a liability. They built on the strengths of one another and valued the uniqueness of their perspectives.
The things about our new friends that I had initially bristled against became something altogether endearing—and convicting. I faced a moment where I realized my life wasn’t nearly as “put-together” as those imaginary people I first wanted to fill our group. Thankfully, God sent us the friends we needed, not the ones Iwanted. Each of them had something unique to give the rest of us, and I can only hope we offered something in return.
The return of JESUS CHRIST is a vital part of GOD’S redemptive plan for humanity. That’s why the event was foretold by prophets, proclaimed by angels, and taught by JESUS and the apostles. In fact, more Old Testament passages are devoted to CHRIST’S second coming than to HIS first. And in the New Testament, the LORD mentions HIS return more frequently than HE speaks of HIS death.
The second coming defeats Satan’s earthly reign and establishes CHRIST’S kingdom of peace and righteousness in its place. Saints from all the ages will be gathered together to reign with the LORD. And the FATHER wants us to be excited and hopeful about JESUS’ return, recognizing it as the culmination of HIS plan for the world. In order to keep our hope alive, Scripture tells us what to expect, though we don’t know the exact timing.
Are you eagerly anticipating CHRIST’S return, or do you seldom think about it? The apostle John warns us not to love the world or the things it contains, because they are passing away (1 John 2:15-17). Instead, we are to long for our SAVIOR’S return and rejoice in HIS coming kingdom.
I think many people are searching for this answer whether they follow Jesus or not. If there’s a chance we can hear from God Himself on a question we have or something we are going through, don’t you think we would want to hear from Him? Or at least, know how to?
I struggled with this thought for awhile before following Jesus and after I started to follow Him because I heard many different claims of people “hearing” from God and I had no idea what that meant because I thought I never heard from Him. Something must have been wrong with me, right?
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to hearing from God and I think that is part of the problem. With so many stories and experiences out there through books, videos, posts, etc. it’s hard to know if there is a way to really know if we are hearing from God.
Here’s the good news.
God is not a God of confusion. He is not a God who would want to confuse people by having them constantly question if they can hear Him or not. The simple fact that He sent His one and only Son to die for us proves the point that He is not a cruel God…and in fact, a loving God. Not only that, He has made it very clear on how we can hear from Him. It’s our choice whether or not we will believe Him with how He says He speaks.
We Hear God by His Word
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
There’s a strong emphasis at the beginning of these verses with the word “All.” Every little bit of Scripture is breathed out by God…as in…God talking to us. God Himself tells us that His Word is breathed out by Him, and is profitable for everything, so that His Children may be made complete and equipped for every good work.
Let’s not miss the point that God tells us Himself how He speaks to us…through His Word. And the fact that we, as followers of Jesus, need His Word to make us complete. That means we are lacking without it and won’t be equipped if we don’t listen to God as He speaks to us from the Bible.
The Bible is living and active and if you want to hear from God and know what He is saying for sure, open up the book and read it. The very words you’ll read are the very words of God and you can confidently know that you are hearing from God as you read it.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
We Hear God by Following Jesus
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27
The other primary way we hear from God is through Jesus Christ. As followers of Him, we’ll know His voice when He is speaking to us. One of the best ways we’ll know this is because we can look to the Bible to see who Jesus is and how He lived.
For example, Jesus was perfect and without sin. He died for us and rose from the dead defeating death and sin in victory. When He died for us on the cross, He took all of our past, present, and future sins upon Himself and paid the price to God that we now do not have to pay. The price we would have had to pay was death because God is perfect, we are sinful, and there’s no way for us (who are not perfect) to have a relationship with God (who is perfect).
So, Jesus paying the penalty for us is not only a big deal, it’s everything.
If we believe in Jesus Christ and choose to follow Him for the rest of our lives, we are forgiven, forever. And then as followers of Jesus with a new identity we now…you can probably guess it…follow Him. That means we do what He did. Live the way He did. Love others the way He did. Pray and know the Bible just like He did.
Read the Bible and study Jesus, who He is and how He lived, and then whatever you think you are hearing, you can know if it’s God talking because it should make you more like Christ. It what you are hearing doesn’t make you more like Jesus, then it’s not from God.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17
How Can I Know For Sure Then?
God reserves the right to tell us how He speaks to us, and we should listen.
So, what that means is whatever you are going through, line it up with what the Bible says and who Jesus is.
Considering a new job? Trying to hear if you should break up with someone? Searching for the meaning of life? Not sure if you are hearing from God or if it’s just yourself?
What does the Bible have to say about your situation? Whatever you are hearing, does the Bible affirm it or go against it? With whatever decision you make, will it make you more like Jesus or is it just something for yourself?
You can trust and know that you are hearing from God when whatever you hear lines up with the Bible and leads you to live more like Jesus. We (as sinful people) would never naturally think to ourselves something that would make us more like Christ and affirm the Bible…but the Holy Spirit (God) within us (as followers of Christ) would speak that way.
Praise God for making it clear to us how He speaks. Trust that you can know that God is talking to you and listen to what He has to say.