Tag Archives: heaven

heaven breaking though to earth…

DR view

two weeks ago a team of 25 others and i, from the inner city of LA’s eastside, went down to the dominican republic for about 9 days for a mission trip. we went in hopes of being used of God to bless others and see him at work in another country…and in turn, as it always turns out, we were blessed by the people we met there.

it was indeed an amazing time. the locals led us and we learned from them as we did various outreaches in neighborhoods in santiago.  we dug some trenches, listened to life stories, prayed for people, participated in healings & exorcisms, and shared Jesus. we met some brothers and sisters of our heart, even though not of our blood, and made eternal friends in Jesus.

one experience in particular comes to the forefront of my mind, especially relevant in light of the tragedies and tensions of our nation in this past week. at the mission house where we were staying there is a little haitian man who only speaks creole, named luis, that takes care of the house (to give you some background, the domincan republic is not a wealthy country as it is but it shares a border with haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. even with centuries of conflict between the two countries, many haitians have come to the DR seeking work to send money back to their families.  needless to say, there is much discrimination and oppression against this darker skinned marginalized people group).  luis only knew some words in spanish but would greet us every day with smiles as he closed the doors behind us and cleaned up after us.

our last night we had an amazing time of receiving words of blessing and prayer from the DR team.  as we were taking pictures with each other and saying our good-byes, luis hugged me…for a long time.  but it didn’t feel awkward.  then he moved into placing his hands on my chest and back and began praying for me in simple spanish….a language that is not native to either of us as i am a japanese-american man.  he was the last person to pray from me in the DR.  i who went to DR as the missionary, the pastor and literally the servant of the house we were staying at was praying for me.  yet, in his simple prayers the Spirit of God was moving so powerfully.  i felt in that moment that all else faded away, God was reminding me of the good that he is doing, and i felt like i was in the very loving arms of God as i was in the arms of this small haitian man that society thinks is worth nothing and no one would suspect would be a mighty vessel of God’s presence.

if i didn’t open up because this person was different than me, i would have completely missed what God had for me.  any difference between us whether it was what language we spoke, what race we were, or what social class either of us were did not separate us but rather highlighted the power of God that could bring us together in understanding and peace at that moment.  i sensed God telling me not to miss this moment as it is a piece of heaven happening right here on earth. only the Kingdom of God can break through ALL barriers of separation.  

Father, may Your Kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven.  

day 25: welcome!

Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 2:1-14

 “7 Lift up your heads, O gates!  And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” – Psalm 24:7-10

“1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” – Luke 2:1-14

***

open up them doors!  open up your hearts, that the King of Glory may come in.

who is this King of Glory?

He is mighty to fight AND WIN the battle for our souls!

– He grew up in a town that people thought no good could come from!

– He is simultaneously the Root (source) and the Branch (spread) of His family tree!

– He is born in the “house of bread” (bethlehem) and is our Bread of Life!

– He was born to a teenage mom!

– He was born to a dad, who wasn’t even His biological dad!

– He was born to low-income  parents!

– He was born into a world that didn’t have space for Him!

– He was born in a cave and his crib was a food trough for animals!

– He was born wrapped in death to die for us!

– He makes His best baby shower announcement EVER to a bunch of filthy nobodies in the dark!

– He is the I AM that even commands all the armies of heaven!

open up them doors!  0pen up your hearts, that the King of Glory may come in.

from infinite to finite, from the throne of heaven to the lowest place on earth, from most respected to most disrespected, from eternity to now…where could we ever find a more awesome King?!  Let’s welcome Him in and leave no room or space in our heart empty of Him!

thank you Lord that you came to us!!!

rev. 2:1-7 -> “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…”

Revelation 2

To the church in Ephesus

1“To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

****

SUMMARY

All of Jesus’ messages to all the seven churches will generally follow this format of seven parts (McArthur):

–       the correspondent

–       the church

–       the city

–       the commendation

–       the concern

–       the command and

–       the counsel

For the seven churches I would like to answer at least the following questions:

–       what does this passage tell us about Jesus?

–       what is going right with the church?

–       what is going wrong with the church?

–       what are the consequences?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?

v. 1 – he holds the seven stars in his right hand

he has special and total authority over the angel/messengers of his church (possibly the messengers have a greater responsibility)

*this is a reminder that God does hold teachers/messengers more responsible…since if they are false they mislead not only themselves but others.   sobering thought i must remember as a teacher, even as i write this blog (James 3:1).  yet if something truly is of God, a messenger who does not speak will also be just as responsible (Ezekiel 33:7-9).

v. 1 – he walks among the seven golden lampstands

he walks amongst the churches, he is present and moves amongst the churches, as we see later he checks on them, he interacts with the churches.

*this is so plain, but so easy to forget in everyday life.  do i, we, go about our business without even acknowledging interacting with Christ?  It’s like having a meeting with the boss but we ignore the boss.   Or like having a party for someone but eveyone ignores that person at the party.  God help us be your people.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING RIGHT WITH THIS CHURCH?

-They persevere – work hard,

-They have deeds

– They don’t put up with wicked behavior and false people

they hold on to the right doctrines and behaviors.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING WRONG WITH THIS CHURCH?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

They had lost the love they had at first – not only for God but the love they had for people, as the context talks about how they related to others.  It was okay that they hated the practices of the Nicolatians but did they forsake loving the Nicolatians themselves as well as others in general?  It is not just the feelings of love, but its an absence of certain actions too because he tells them to “do the things they did at first.”  What are the things that one who loves does, differently than one who does not love?  He challenges them to remember how they used to be (the height from which they have fallen).  He challenges them to do as lovers would.

When I think of the love one has at first for a person (or activity/thing) they love:

–       they are consumed with thoughts about the other

–       they can’t stop talking about the other

–       they want to spend time with the other, and can’t wait to see the other

–       they want to do whatever they can to please the other

–       they can’t seem to get enough of the other

–       it brings great joy and pleasure to spend time with the other

now maybe it makes more sense when the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:27) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

*so do we have this kind of love for God, for others?

Hmm if I replace the word “other” in the list above with “myself” its kind of sad but true.  I’m so consumed with myself, do I care for others that way?  I know we can’t be consumed with everyone or else we’d go crazy but at the very least we could have this kind of loving heart for others by praying that God would help us know him better and enlarge our hearts to love this way.  Doesn’t God love us this way?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE?

God will remove the lampstand from its place.  What does this mean?  The church won’t shine where it could.  This church of these people will no longer be a people where God is made known.  God would no longer walk amongst them.  it would cease to be a church (Keenan, MacArthur); at best it would become a social club at worst it would cease to exist.  its pretty mind blowing to think that even if a church had the right doctrine and all the right behavior, without love it would cease to be.  What is a church without love?  It isn’t.

let’s take this further.  the church is not a building…it is the body of Christ.  it is people.  it is Christians.  so what is a Christian without love?  They aren’t.

*this is terrifying.  i shudder to think i, we, may be going around thinking we are Christians when we aren’t.  now I know that we are not saved by our good works, but that because we’re so messed up, Christ saved us.  But he saved us to do good works (Eph 2:8-10).  without the fruit (evidence) of love in our lives, what does that say about our root (our source)?   God may I, we, be rooted in you so that we may bear fruit.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO DO CHANGE?

v. 7 – he will give the right to eat from the tree of life, in the paradise of God.  interesting to see that if we bear fruit spiritually, we can eat God’s fruit.  It comes full circle, in the beginning humankind had access to the tree of life and were able to live forever in paradise (Genesis 3:22-24), then we were barred access to this when we had sinned, but if we hold onto him (the root…that is through Christ) we can be back where he intended us to be.

*if we love God and love others, then we will be able to experience an even richer love in the future that we couldn’t know now…a love that is ever vibrant and to which there is no end.  I’d love to experience that.  Truly we could have a love we had at first, in the truest sense.