Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
When I lose my cell phone, I will get another phone and dial my number in an attempt to find it, hoping it is not on mute. Then when I hear it ringing somewhere, I will go on a search to find it. It is a single-minded, active, and diligent investigation. That is what the apostle Paul was speaking of when he wrote, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). That is how we should be looking at heaven.
Another way to translate this verse is, "Think heaven." In the original language, the verb is in the present tense, which could be translated, "Keep seeking heaven." So to put it all together, the apostle Paul was saying, "Constantly keep seeking and thinking about heaven."
So how can we be thinking about heaven? What is our point of reference? The problem is that we have a caricatured version of heaven in mind. We are not going to sit around on fluffy, white clouds, spending eternity in boredom. The Bible has a lot to specifically say about heaven.
That is why, when people write books about their alleged experiences of dying and going to heaven and returning to earth, it takes me to the pages of Scripture. It is not true if it contradicts Scripture. I know that I need a better source, a more authoritative source on heaven. I turn to Scripture so that I can know how to think when I think about heaven.
Even though our feet must be on earth, our minds should be in heaven. Yet many of us will go through a day, even a week, without a single thought of heaven. As Warren Wiersbe said, "For the Christian, heaven isn't a simply a destination; it's a motivation."
God's ID Tag
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
In the apostle Paul's day, when goods would be shipped from one place to another, they would be stamped with a wax seal and imprinted with a signet ring that bore a unique mark of ownership. The same was true of an important document. It would be sealed in wax and then imprinted with a seal, and no one dared open it other than the intended recipient. So when Ephesians 1:13 says that a believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit, it means that God has put His imprint on that person's life.
In more contemporary terms, think of it as God's ID tag. You put an ID tag on your luggage so you can identify it as yours. After watching black suitcase after black suitcase come down the conveyor belt at the airport's baggage claim, I went out and bought some fluorescent smiley faces for my bag. I might look like a moron, but now I can quickly identify which suitcase is mine.
God has put an ID tag on believers as well. So when the devil comes to wreak havoc in their lives, he sees an ID tag that says they are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he backs off. Not only do Christians have an ID tag that says they belong to God, but a deposit has been made in their lives. Ephesians 1:14 says the Holy Spirit "is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." The Holy Spirit is a deposit, proof that God is working in the believer's life.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit has been placed in your life. And He will make himself known to you, working in you and through you.
Heaven is an actual place
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
The Bible has much to say about what heaven is like. First, heaven is an actual place. Jesus told His disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Heaven is a real place for real people, and when we get there, it will be amazing and fantastic.
The Bible uses a number of words to describe heaven, including "Paradise." Jesus said to the thief on the cross who came to his senses, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). The Paradise Jesus was speaking of, literally translated, is a word that would have been used in the first century to describe the garden of a king. It is hard for us to imagine how luxurious and splendid this would appear to someone living in this time. If you were a relatively impoverished person and were given the privilege of going into the walled garden of a king, you would be overwhelmed by the fragrance and beauty of it all. So "paradise" was a point of reference for people. Although limited, it gives us a sense of how heaven will overwhelm our senses.
The apostle Paul died, went to heaven, and came back to earth. In describing his experience, he said he was "caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Heaven will be better than anything we could imagine, and Scripture gives us descriptions and hints of what it will be like.
So what does it mean for us today? If we are heavenly minded, then it will affect the way we are living on earth. And if it doesn't affect the way we are living on earth, then how heavenly minded could we really be?
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF JOSEPH
The story of Joseph reads like a summertime paperback thriller—family drama, international
intrigue, worldwide crisis, attempted murder, and false accusations. But it is also a story of God at
work, His hand guiding every aspect of the story.l
Joseph’s story is your classic rags to riches tale, rising from complete obscurity and constant setbacks
to become the second most powerful man in the world. He was a young man who never doubted
God, and was unwilling to compromise his principles—particularly in his famous encounter with
1. Everyone will be tempted. There’s a misconception that as you mature as a believer, temptation
will become less of a problem. But the reality is that temptation—in every way, shape, or
form—will always be an issue for us. Jesus was tempted at the beginning and the end of His
ministry. We should expect nothing less.
2. Joseph understood that there are consequences to sin. Joseph knew his life was a testimony, and
he didn’t want to discredit himself or his witness to a nonbeliever. There are no exceptions to the
Scripture that says, “Your sin will find you out.” Unconfessed sin will take its toll on you and
those around you; one way or another.
3. God’s standards are absolute. Joseph didn’t get a break because he dealt with hardship, or
because he was a slave living in a godless culture. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and that
doesn’t change for any reason. Rather than conforming God’s Word to our culture, we should be
conforming culture to God’s standards.
4. Joseph recognized that all sin is against God. It is one thing to not sin because you fear the
consequences. But the greatest motive for not giving in to temptation is our love for God. Our
response to temptation is a barometer of our love for God. If we truly love God, it will show
itself in living righteously and resisting temptation.
We might do a good job of resisting the obvious temptations, but how are you doing in the subtle
ones, like jealousy or gossip? It’s easy to rationalize minor sins for whatever reason, but we are to
resist all forms of evil (Psalm 97:10; Romans 12:9). That’s the only way to successfully defeat Satan
Are you facing temptation right now? Don’t play around with it, or let it linger. For Joseph, losing
his jacket was better than losing his morals. We should be willing to do the same. May the Lord
strengthen all of us to walk closely with Him and flee all temptation.
The Place We Long For
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
I am navigationally challenged, so I like having a GPS to help keep me from getting lost. But I read about a Wisconsin motorist who actually ended up on a snowmobile trail because her GPS led her in the wrong direction. She ended up stuck in the snow and had to call 911. A deputy who responded to the call said, "People shouldn't believe everything those things tell you."
A GPS can fail us. But that isn't the case with the sophisticated homing instinct God has given to certain birds. Their built-in navigational systems are probably better than our latest technology. The Manx Shearwater, for example, nests off of the coast of Wales and has an amazing homing instinct. Scientists tagged and released a number of these birds at different points around the globe to see whether they could find their way back home. In just 12 days, all the birds made their way back.
One bird in particular made it all the way from Boston, traveling 250 miles a day from a place it had never been to get back home. Now that is what you call a homing instinct.
God has placed a homing instinct within you and I as well, and I believe it is a homesickness for heaven. We long for a place we have never been before. We are prewired that way. The Bible tells us that God has put eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Heaven is the real thing that we long for. Heaven is not an imitation of Earth, but it is really the other way around. Earth is the copy, the temporary dwelling place. Heaven is the real deal, the eternal dwelling place of every follower of Jesus Christ. It is the place we long for, because it is our future home.
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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Sometimes we act as though everything and anything that can be done must be done while we are living here on earth. Of course, we want to make the most of our time, because we don't determine when we are born or when we die. But we do determine how we will live our lives. We also need to know that life does not end after our time on earth; it continues in heaven.
When a life is limited by disability or illness, when a life is cut short through death, we tend to think, Well, that is unfortunate. They never realized their dreams. But who is to say those dreams could not be realized on the other side? Who is to say that God would not complete on the other side what He has started on earth?
When we see someone who has lived a long life but has wasted it for the most part, and then we see someone with so much promise and ability and gifting who dies unexpectedly, we think it is so unfair. But that is because we are thinking about life on earth and not realizing that life continues on. For the follower of Jesus Christ, death is not the end of life, but a continuation of it in another place.
When you book a flight, sometimes you will have a stopover. I don't like stopovers myself, because sometimes things happen during stopovers. Bad weather can roll in, which can mean getting stuck there for some time. I like to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
For the Christian, earth is just a stopover. Waiting for us on the other side is heaven. And we will arrive there sooner than we may realize.
"Tekel means 'weighed'—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up."
Normally when most people step onto a scale, they want to weigh less. But when you step onto God's scale, you want to weigh more. You want to have substance and depth and purpose and weight to your life. When Daniel confronted the wicked King Belshazzar, he told him, "You have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up." Effectively he was saying, "Belshazzar, you are a spiritual lightweight. You have done nothing with your life."
The Bible tells us that all believers will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. In speaking of this, Paul wrote, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value" (1 Corinthians 3:11–13).
It is not so much about bad things you did; it is more a question of what you did with your life. Did you accomplish anything? Did you impact anyone? Did you seek to glorify God with your life? Or did you spend it in the pursuit of nothingness?
Don't worry about what God has called someone else to do. Focus on what God has called you to do, because the key in that final day is not how much you did, but why you did it. God is far more interested in our faithfulness than He is in our success. It is all about faithfulness. It is all about doing what God has set before you and doing it well, with all of your might. That is what you will be judged for in that final day.
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