Hello Church Devotion Sept. 08, 2013

“H” is for “Heaven”

Lutheran Service Book #748

1 I’m but a stranger here, Heav’n is my home;

Earth is a desert drear, Heav’n is my home.

Danger and sorrow stand Round me on ev’ry hand;

Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.

2 What though the tempest rage, Heav’n is my home;

Short is my pilgrimage, Heav’n is my home;

And time’s wild wintry blast Soon shall be overpast;

I shall reach home at last, Heav’n is my home.

3 Therefore I murmur not, Heav’n is my home;

Whate’er my earthly lot, Heav’n is my home;

And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand;

Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.

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When we start to try to talk about “heaven”, it becomes clear very soon that we need to clarify the diverse meanings of the word. What is “heaven” after all? Is it a place in the sky? Or is it living with God?

In order to help us with these questions, I thought it would be good to use the titles of movies to aid our discovery of Biblical truth. With over 50+ movie titles available, I chose the following:

“Just like Heaven”

“Pennies from Heaven”

“Heaven Can Wait”

“Far from heaven”

“Heaven Sent”

“Heaven Only Knows”

“7th Heaven”

“Heaven on Earth”

“Days of Heaven”

We will start with the first group. Creation, while being made by the same creator still exhibits uniqueness’s for each distinct part. For example, “God made the heavens and the earth”. Both are part of creation, but yet each are distinct from one another. We don’t mistake heaven for earth, in other words. Some Bibles translate in the creation account the “firmament” of which “heaven” is a synonym. Earth is not “just like heaven”. However, the most we can say is that when God (who dwells in heaven) is pictured walking the Garden of Eden, at that moment heaven and earth were the most alike. For both places were where God frequented and rejoiced in.

Then entered the devil into the beautiful perfection of creation. Like a dirty “penny from heaven”, he enters the scene and tempts God’s likenesses. The devil is successful in his machinations, and so for now, “heaven must wait” for God’s reaction to this development. We know from Scripture that by their rebellion, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden in order to keep them from the “Tree of Life”. For if they were to eat of that tree, they would live forever separated from God. In fact, due to the failure of Adam and Eve to keep God’s Word among them, all the earth fell into sinfulness and shame.

The earth now is nothing like heaven. In fact, we can say it is “far from heaven” in its dark dreary expression of the curse. But, God had a plan, a redemption plan that required Him to put His own very Son into a place of shame. So, Jesus is “heaven sent” by the Father to be obedient under the Law and to take the punishment for the sins of the whole world.

Lutheran Service Book #358

1 “From heav’n above to earth I come

To bear good news to ev’ry home;

Glad tidings of great joy I bring,

Whereof I now will say and sing:

2 “To you this night is born a child

Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;

This little child of lowly birth

Shall be the joy of all the earth.

Creation knows its creator. For when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, He said. “If the people kept quiet, the very stones would cry out.” Yet, many still do not know the Creator Who loves them and Who came to dwell among them. I would imagine that each of us knows somebody who has not yet come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

“Only heaven knows” the plan that God put into motion. For God sent His Son not to condemn the world, but to reconcile it unto Himself. On the Cross, the Holy Father punishes His only Son for the sins we committed. As Father and Son are separated as much as two parts of the Holy Trinity can be, Jesus cries. “Why have You forsaken Me”? And then He dies, justifying all of us through He blessed blood poured and shed.

Because of Jesus, heaven is now a possibility for us. In other words, living with God in eternity is possible. That is like the highest heaven for us, or maybe perfect “7th heaven!”

Then, Jesus is raised from the dead. He ascends into heaven and drives out all the evil from the heavenly places where the devil and his minion still had access. Heaven is restored and earth is next. When He comes again, Jesus will cleanse the earth. He will bring the new city of God, the holy Jerusalem down out of heaven and descend it upon the earth. There He will reside with His people day in and day out. It will be like “heaven on earth”. And of the length of those “days of heaven” we know no count.

So what is heaven?

It is a place of creation. The firmament… The sky and the cosmos…

It is also the dwelling place of God.

Where God dwells until He comes to dwell upon His creation with His chosen ones.

How do we receive this heaven? As a gift… A divine gift from our Holy Father, through the sacrifices of His only Son on the cross, connecting us through the work of Spirit that hovers in and around us always.

Prayer from “Away in the Manger” Lutheran Service Book #364

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay

Close by me forever and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,

And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

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