Stairway to Heaven

In my seventy-ninth year, I no longer use steps without the help of a handrail.

In a recent vision, I was faced with an extremely wide staircase, not seeing where it was leading. It seemed that God had placed me there and expected me to climb the middle of the stairs. As in other visions, I was not given a choice, but a revelation of what the Lord wanted me to see. 

I had no rails to hold, and starting to climb this unknown stairway, I saw Jerry standing next to me, expecting me to hold his hand as we climbed ~ without his prosthesis.

As I took his hand, I saw Jesus taking his other hand. Together, we climbed the stairs, until reaching the top, Jerry received his new leg in heaven. ~ Fran 3/18

As for me, I will behold thy face
in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied,
when I awake with thy likeness.

Psalm 17:15

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear
what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2

“Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

Image: freeimages.com

Heaven in a Bucket

The Lord said to me, “At the end of each day bring me all your thoughts from that day in a bucket. This will be your test of how much you have of heaven.”

I found a small bucket, but before the end of the first day I needed more than one. Little did I realize how many thoughts one mind could have in a single day. With three small buckets I approached God’s throne. He sifted through my buckets, asking where I had gotten each thought.

In reply I answered, “That one from a book; that one from a magazine; that one from a friend.”   Others I tried to remember, but didn’t know how they got there.

“There’s not much here of heaven ~ a few words of prayer for a friend, but not much else.” He said.

As I returned home I wondered why there were no more thoughts of heaven in my buckets that day. I decided that I would do better, and have some thoughts the next day that would please God.

I found a larger bucket the next morning and set about to collect what I thought God wanted. Looking in the library I came across the writings of the great philosophers.   As I diligently searched through these I could see the Lord’s pleasure; my bucket was filling up. I felt so good about my new thoughts and myself. Then, I went to talk to a friend ~ who had a brilliant mind and a PHD in science and physics. Before the day was over my bucket was almost full. Let’s see ~ what else can I put in my bucket? There’s an excellent movie playing at the local theater ~ one destined for an academy award. And it was a wonderful movie. My bucket was full.

Well, how did I do today, Lord.”

“You have really been busy,” He said, as He examined the contents, “But I find nothing here of heaven, not even a prayer.”

“If this isn’t part of heaven, what is all this that I thought was so good.” I asked.

“It’s all of the world, dear.” I’ll see you again, tomorrow.”

That night before bed I knelt and acknowledged that I didn’t know what He wanted, but I would try harder tomorrow.

The first thought the next morning was that, perhaps the bucket itself was all wrong. Maybe it attracts the wrong thoughts. So I set out to find the best and biggest bucket I could find for that day’s thoughts. I found the perfect one ~ advertised as the one “that you need for your best thoughts” ~ quite expensive, too, but knowing that this would be what God was looking for, it was worth the price.

But that day dragged on without success. And becoming depressed about what I should have in my bucket, my tears began to fill the bucket. It was almost too heavy as I carried it ~ and it became heavier as I continued crying. The way seemed longer that day, but the closer I came the lighter the bucket seemed.leaky

As I reached God’s throne of grace He smiled, and said, “Seems that you have sprung a leak in that expensive bucket.”

“Why can you smile, Lord, when I feel so terrible ~ and look~ after I searched all day my bucket is empty?”

“I can smile, my child, because you have finally discovered the secret. No bucket in the world will attract and contain the things of heaven. As the creator and ruler of my kingdom, I have determined the kind of receptacle you need, and the thoughts that will fill it.”

As I bowed before Him I asked for this vessel and His knowledge of heavenly things. I submitted, as He said I must, my bucket and all my human efforts of pleasing Him.

He gave me a “new heart and a new spirit” that only “seeks His kingdom and His righteousness,” and makes me continually aware of His presence, spreading His love of Jesus in and through me. Through His Word and prayer, morning by morning He wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:4

“By His mercies” each morning “I present myself’” to Him to be “filled with His fullness” all day ~ no longer “conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind. His thoughts are kept and “obeyed” in my heart and life as He keeps me by His own power.

His kingdom is coming and His will is being done, in me, as it is in heaven.

“And the God of peace ….
make you perfect in all things….
working in you that which is pleasing in His sight
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21

(From The Little Boat and other Short Stories of God’s Grace)
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MY CROSS

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There was a cross at Golgotha
Where my Savior bled and died;
Where I meet Him face to face
And look into His eyes.

And when I look I see the love
Our Father has for me.
For through His clear, bright eyes of pain
I see E T E R N I T Y ———-

A home where Love and Joy abound
Within the heart of God;
A place beyond what man can dream,
Where no human feet have trod.

God’s children all are there:
There’s room for every one.
He knows each heart; He knows each name.
To Him He bids me, “Come.”

With outstretched hands He calls my name;
Not one I’ve heard before.
He’s not at all as I had thought;
He’s more, oh, so much more.

So gracious as the Father is
My speech will not allow
To tell in human words
What can be seen, even now.

When first I look at God’s own plan
To bring me to Himself
The cross looms high, but then bro’t low
It forms a human shelf.

From heaven He came, and here He stayed
Until His work was done.
The cross I knew was meant for me;
He suffered for His own.

I knew that He released me there
When He bid me, “Come.”
Jesus gives me joy and peace
For now and later on.

Eternity is God’s own life,
Given for my good.
He gives His love to be my own
Through Spirit, Deed and Word

F.R. 1994

The Context of A Relation Ship

Although I spoke of different kinds of relationships in Relation Ships, my last post, we are specifically looking here at the relation Ship that God has created for His people. Years ago the concept of a ship was relevant to my seeing what happens in relationships;  in such “ships” as fellowships, memberships, partnerships, etc.

A relationship then is pictured as a vehicle or means of housing and carrying two or more people, those with the same interests, the same purpose, the same mind, heart, and goal. We enter in relationships with one or more who are going in the same direction with the same destination and the same plans that will get us there.

This idea is especially true in our relationship with God. Before we begin to look at the context of this relationship we first need to understand who built this ship, the One who planned the voyage. We need to understand clearly who owns, commands and navigates this ship in which we are passengers. We can claim no rights to the berth within the small room that we are given. We may say that we have a relationship with God, but only as we humbly agree that it is by His initiation, His calling, His bringing us aboard this ship with Him and others that He has invited.

It is this invitation with which the context begins. We often receive calls from solicitors promising us a free cruise. Knowing that this is only a means of selling something else we say “No, thank you.” There are those who hear about God’s invitation to this voyage, who say I don’t believe it, and so, never experience this relationship. Then, there are those who have read about it and heard about it and want to enter this relationship with God, but soon realize it is not what they thought it would be. These do not understand, or agree with the full context of the relationship that God has offered. They hear the invitation and read their own ideas into what it means, and so miss the whole context and the relationship.

The invitation is included in the manual that is furnished for the voyage. The manual, God’s Word, the Holy Bible, reveals the context of God’s relationship with His people. Because we cannot read the whole manual before entering the “ship” (it is meant to instruct us as we journey together) we must enter by faith, accepting the whole context even though we do not understand all of it. Because this is God’s relationship, and a covenant He has initiated with us we cannot “jump ship.” Nor can we at anytime throw overboard any pages of the  manual. We may as well throw ourselves overboard. Taking anything out of context to suit our own purposes excludes the whole matter of God’s plans and purposes of the relationship.

The Purpose of the Relationship
Why the ship? What relation does God have with us? What is His purpose? We were created in His image for Him to share Himself, and His kingdom. He, in the riches of His glory, intended to bring this to pass by His own means and timing.

Knowing that the first relationship with Adam would be sabotaged He and His Son, Jesus Christ, planned a better and greater “ship” for those who would believe His Word. By His own power, the power of His Spirit, Jesus came to earth, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. He died and rose victoriously for those who would be brought into this relationship.

Jesus is the captain of this “ship” and the King of heaven, the destination to which this relationship will bring us. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that He convicts us that we are like Adam, with his nature and disobedience to God. He opens our eyes to see our need; to see where we are in a world that does not believe in God, and convinces us that the whole context of His Word is true. With this quickening we see what He has promised as He leads us to and in this relationship with Him.

With Jesus as Captain, and the Holy Spirit revealing the truths of God’s Word we continue in this relationship until He brings us safely home with Him. The whole context of the relationship is applied to whatever storms or temptations we encounter. Rather than taking anything out of context we read and study and experience the whole of God’s relationship with us.0001Pl Dear Father, we need your Spirit today to keep us in context with all that you have planned for us.  Let Christ dwell in our hearts richly, keeping us on course for our destination.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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The FEAST

For some reason my mind has been on food these last few days, not just on one item and not just on one meal, and not just for a common occasion.  My thoughts have been on a feast, in which I picture this long table that extends out of my sight, with so much food, and with such a variety, it is a smorgasbord that is more than you would ever have time to sample.

This sight affects all my senses.  What I see is an arrangement of colors, textures, and designs.  They all fit together so that we could not describe any one platter of such a banquet. It is a beautiful offering of a majestic kind, fit for a king and his court. The aromas capture my sense of smell, as I am drawn nearer to the table.

I am invited to come closer, to taste the delicacies spread before me.  What do I sample first?  It is all so magnificent, that I dare not spoil the display.  It is too glorious even to touch, but I must.  I am enthralled with the scene.

The questions come: “Who has prepared such a feast?”

“Where do such delicacies grow?  Why have I not seen or tasted such as this before?”

“How is all this food prepared and preserved?  Will it not spoil before it is eaten?”

“I cannot begin to partake of all this by myself.
There is no one here but me.  This is too much for me.  I must go and find others with whom I can share this banquet.  It is too wonderful!”

But, as I start to leave, a voice comes from the end of the table.  “Before you go, taste for yourself, before you bring someone else. Without tasting you will not remember where you have been, nor will you want to come back.”

And so, humbly I approach the table.  I see in the middle of all the other food, and my hand reaches for, a piece broken from a simple loaf of bread, the aroma of which I have never enjoyed before.  Slowly, and gently the bread is lifted to my mouth and the sensation is indescribable.  My eyes are opened to a throne at the end of the table where the King is seated.  Gathered around Him and around the table are all these people who have come and tasted of the feast in the simplicity of Christ, His Son.

The feast is too rich for us now; our palate must be prepared for it. It is designed by the Father and revealed to us by His Holy Spirit who draws us to the center of the table—the bread of life—Christ, Himself.  For now the bread of heaven is enough. He is our sustenance for this earth and our taste of heaven.  The Feast is for the Wedding and heavenly dining with the Father, and Son, in His great glory—for His glory and our joy.

“I am the living bread
which came down from heaven;
if any man eat of this bread,
he shall live for ever…”
John 6:51

“O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” 
Psalm 34:8

I pray that today we might taste of His divine goodness and bring others to His table.

9/29/07  (from Waiting is Not a Game ~ Articles of Faith, written during the three years that we waited for the wound to heal from Jerry’s amputation.)

Related Article:  Feast of Harmony and Joy

Heirs of the Kingdom of Glory

(Thomas Watson on the Second Petition of The Lord’s Prayer ~ “Thy Kingdom Come.”)

Use 6. For exhortation to those who have any good hope through grace. You that are the heirs of this kingdom, let me exhort you to six things:

(1) Often take a prospect of this heavenly kingdom. Climb up the celestial mount; take a turn, as it were, in heaven every day by holy meditation. ‘Walk about Zion, tell the towers thereof, mark ye well her bulwarks.’ Psa 48: 12, 13. See what a glorious kingdom heaven is; go tell the towers, view the palaces of the heavenly Jerusalem. Christian, show thy heart the gates of pearl, the beds of spices, the clusters of grapes which grow in the paradise of God. Say, ‘O my soul, all this glory is thine, it is thy Father’s good pleasure to give thee this kingdom.’ The thoughts of heaven are very delightful and ravishing. Can men of the world so delight in viewing their bags of gold, and fields of corn, and shall not the heirs of promise take more delight in contemplating the celestial kingdom? The serious meditation of the kingdom of glory would work these three effects:

It would put a damp and slur upon all worldly glory. To those who stand upon the top of the Alps, the great cities of Campania seem but small in their eye; so, could we look through the perspective glass of faith, and take a view of heaven’s glory, how small and minute would all other things appear! Moses slighted the honours of Pharaoh’s court, having an eye to the recompense of reward. Heb 11: 26. When Paul had a vision of glory, and John was carried away in the Spirit, and saw the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven, having the glory of God in it, how did the world after appear in an eclipse to them!

The meditation of the heavenly kingdom would much promote holiness in us. Heaven is a holy place: ‘an inheritance undefiled.’ I Pet 1: 4. It is described by transparent glass, to denote its purity. Rev 21: 21. Contemplating heaven would put us upon the study of holiness, because none but such are admitted to that kingdom. Heaven is not like Noah’s ark, into which came clean beasts and unclean. Only the pure in heart shall see God. Matt 5: 8.

The meditation of the heavenly kingdom would be a spur to diligence. Immensum gloria calcar habet [Glory possesses an immeasurable stimulus]. ‘Always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ 1 Cor 15: 58. When the mariner sees the haven, he plies harder with his oars; so when we have a sight and prospect of glory, we should be much in prayer, alms, and watching; it should add wings to duty, and make the lamp of our devotion burn brighter.

(2) If you have hopes of this kingdom, be content though you have but a little of the world! Contentment is a rare thing, it is a jewel that but few Christians wear; but if you have a grounded hope of heaven, it may work your heart to contentation. What though you have but little in possession, you have a kingdom in reversion! Were you to take an estimate of a man’s estate, how would you value it? By what he has in his house, or by his land? Perhaps he has little money or jewels in his house, but he is a landed man — there lies his estate. A believer has but a little oil in the cruse, and meal in the barrel, but he is a landed man, he has a title to a kingdom, and may not this satisfy him? If a man who lived here in England, had a great estate befallen him beyond the seas, and perhaps had no more money at present but just to pay for his voyage, he is content; he knows when he comes to his estate he shall have money enough; so, thou who art a believer hast a kingdom befallen thee; though thou hast but little in thy purse, yet if thou hast enough to pay for thy voyage, enough to bear thy charges to heaven, it is sufficient. God has given thee grace, which is the fore-crop, and will give thee glory, which is the after-crop; and may not this make thee content?

(3) If you have hope of this blessed kingdom, pray often for its coming; say, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ Only believers can pray heartily for the hastening of the kingdom of glory.

They cannot pray that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who never had the kingdom of grace set up in their hearts. Can the guilty prisoners pray that the assizes may come?

They cannot pray heartily that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who are lovers of the world. They have found paradise, they are in their kingdom already; this is their heaven, and they desire to hear of no other; they are of his mind who said, If he might keep his cardinalship in Paris, he would give up his part in paradise.

They cannot pray heartily that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who oppose his kingdom of grace, who break his laws, which are the sceptre of his kingdom, who shoot at those who bear Christ’s name and carry his colours. Surely these cannot pray that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come, for then Christ will judge them; and if they say this prayer, they are hypocrites, they mean not what they speak. But you who have the kingdom of grace set up in your hearts, pray much that the kingdom of glory may hasten; say, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ When this kingdom comes, then you shall behold Christ in all his embroidered robes of glory, shining ten thousand times brighter than the sun in all its meridian splendour. When Christ’s kingdom comes, the bodies of the saints that sleep in the dust shall be raised in honour, and made like Christ’s glorious body; then your souls like diamonds shall sparkle with holiness; you shall never have a sinful thought more, you shall be as holy as the angels; you shall be as holy as you would be, and as holy as God would have you to be; then you shall be in a better state than in innocence. Adam was created a glorious creature, but mutable; a bright star, but a falling star; but in the kingdom of heaven is a fixation of happiness. When Christ’s kingdom of glory comes, you shall be rid of all your enemies; as Moses said, ‘The Egyptians whom you have seen to day, you shall see them no more for ever.’ Exod 14: 13. So those enemies who have sloughed on the backs of God’s people, and made deep their furrows, when Christ shall come in his glory, you shall see no more. All Christ’s enemies shall be ‘put under his feet.’ 1 Cor 15: 25. Before the wicked be destroyed, the saints shall judge them. ‘Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?’ 1 Cor 6: 2. It will cut the wicked to the heart that those whom they have formerly scorned and scourged, shall sit as judges upon them, and vote with Christ in his judicial proceedings. Oh, then, well may you pray for the hastening of the kingdom of glory, ‘Thy kingdom come.’

(4) If you have any good hope of this blessed kingdom, let it make the colour come in your faces, be of a sanguine, cheerful temper. Have you a title to a kingdom, and are sad? ‘We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ Rom 5: 2. Christians, the trumpet is ready to sound, an eternal jubilee is at hand, when a freedom from sin shall be proclaimed; your coronation-day is coming. It is but putting off your clothes, and laying your head upon a pillow of dust, and you shall be enthroned in a kingdom, and invested with the embroidered robes of glory. Does not all this call for a cheerful spirit? Cheerfulness adorns religion. It is a temper of soul that Christ loves. ‘If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.’ John 14: 28. It makes many suspect heaven is not so pleasant, when they see those that walk thither sad. How does the heir rejoice in hope of the inheritance? Who should rejoice if not a believer, who is heir of the kingdom, and such a kingdom as eye has not seen? When the flesh begins to droop, let faith lift up its head, and cause a holy jubilation and rejoicing in the soul.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

The Father of Grace and Glory

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ

according to the purpose of his own will,”  Ephesians 1:7

“In the beginning” God was a Father.  Before He said, “Let there be light,” He desired light.  No one can put out that light because it was born of the Father.  For the Father so loved what He was and had that He desired and planned for sons to share in the wealth of His glory. He “so loved the world”  that He created because it was meant to be the realm through which He would reveal Himself, His glory, and His promises.

He could have sired children to share His glory anyway that He desired, but He chose to do it through this realm that we know as “grace “. Now is the day and time of grace.  The glory of this physical world shines brightly for the majority of human creatures.  It draws us to seek our own glory by its sights and sounds, its promises of happiness and success.  God, our Father draws us to His Son, Jesus Christ, whose life is the “light of all men” to see beyond this world to the glory of the Father, and the promises that await His children in the eternal realm.

Just as God the Father is Spirit (we cannot see Him) so is this realm of grace.  It has been provided for us; we live in the middle of it.  We are surrounded by it.  We learn about it by reading God’s Word, which even by His grace He has provided for us.  But, we must read with a heart that accepts it as His Word to us individually.  As sons and daughters we desire to know Him, to love, Him, fear Him, obey Him, worship, serve, praise, pray to Him, proclaim the truth of His grace in Jesus Christ, and live for Him. All of this comes from His own Spirit of grace working in and through us.

Much of how we understand God is based on how we see the role of fathers.  The light of the Father’s grace is mostly hidden because not many earthy fathers know the Heavenly Father.  And the world does not want to recognize any creature having authority over another, but if we are to receive anything beyond what this world offers we must understand the role of the father.  We have a tendency to read the Bible with out own slant, instead of accepting it as a means of God’s grace to inform us of His intentions, His desires, His plans, and the fulfillment of those plans in the different roles that He has created.

Before there can be a son there must be a father.  Fathers are first in origin.  Our Heavenly Father was first and will always be first of all, in heaven and on earth.  He must be first because He started it all.  If we believe this, then we must look to Him, “seek His kingdom and His righteousness,” ask for His Spirit of grace to fill us and guide us, knock at the door of His heart continually, to know Him, and as His children, to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This is the grace that prepares us to share His eternal glory and keep us rejoicing in Him as we wait.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,

that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1

(Excerpt from Three Facets of God’s Glory That Every Christian Must See—in process.)