Packing for Heaven – I have kept the faith

“Curse God and died!”This is what Job’s wife said to him when she saw his insistence on believing in God even in the middle of terrible losses and extreme pain (Job 2:9). Today, we are watching, through the Internet, thousands and thousands of brothers and sisters losing their house, churches, and being slaughtered because of their faith.

How far should they go? How far should we go, living and proclaiming our faith? With all of the opposition that we are facing because of Christ, with all the philosophies and religions bombarding our minds and trying to conquer our hearts, this question is not too absurd.

With all the philosophies and religions in his world Paul made clear that his faith and beliefs stayed intact all the way to the end. Keeping his faith was one thing that he would take with him in his final journey. But what does keeping the faith involve? Let us see what the Scriptures has to tell us.

            A – It Involves Obedience

Keeping the faith means that we will obey God and His Word and be faithful to Him. If we believe that there is a God and He is powerful, gracious and merciful, among other things, it would be wise for us to obey Him. Jesus saved us, paying a tremendous price for our redemption. We should in return be faithful and obedient to Him. This is what we learn in the book of Revelations: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12.”

            B – It Involves Courage

To keep the faith now as was then, involves a lot of courage. To stand up for what you believe means that you are willing to risk your comfort, job, friends, etc. Paul was about to be executed because of his faith. I pray that God will spare me from those terrible situations, but I also pray that if that time comes He will strengthen my faith and make me a witness of His grace and power. This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1Corinthians 16:13.”

            C – It Involves Faith and Good Conscience

If you do not keep your faith and good conscience you will not be able to survive in this world. Paul incentivizes Timothy not only to hold on to faith, but to hold on to faith and good conscience. This is what he wrote: “holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 1Timothy 1:19.” Faith is that trust that we have inside of us that manifests outside in obedience, proclamation, and service. Bengel said that “Faithis like a very precious liquor;a good conscienceis the clean, pure glass that contains it.”

Maybe you are thinking you will take many things to heaven with you. Here we have a man who knew his time was coming. He could look back on his life and see what really matters in heaven: The Good Fight for God and the Gospel; The Race that God had for him; The Faith intact at the end of his life. Those are what really matter at the end.

Are you packing for heaven?

If not, this is the time to begin!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Packing for Heaven – I have finished the race

We all remember the scene from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, when the Brazilian marathon runner, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, was accosted by a priest with four miles to finish the race. He was leading the race, but because of that he got the bronze medal. What impressed everybody and made the whole Olympic Stadium stand up and cheer was Vanderlei’s attitude. When he entered the stadium he was happy and celebrating because he was able to finish the race.

When Paul wrote to Timothy he mentioned another thing that he was packing for Heaven: “[7]… I have finished the race… 2Timothy 4:7.”He knew that he was about to die and he wanted to take this with him. He told Timothy that he was able to finish the race. The race is the course, the path, the purpose that every one of us has for our lives. For Paul, his race was connected with his ministry and the church. This is what he said to the elders of Ephesus church: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24.”

There are a few things that we should know about our race.

            A – The Right Race

The first thing is that God has a course and race for each one of us. God has a purpose for you and me; our goal is to find it and race it. In the text above Paul told the elders that he was doing everything to complete the task the Lord Jesus had given him. In his case he was to share the gospel of God’s grace. Believe it or not, the proclamation of the Gospel is the most important race that we have. Lives will be changed forever because of that.

            B – The Race with the Church

The second thing of which we should be aware is that we cannot do that by ourselves. There is no “Lone Ranger” in the Christian race. We need each other to fulfill our purpose and finish our race. Paul sought support and approval from the church for the race that God had for him. This is what he wrote: “I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Galatians 2:2.”

            C – The Race for the Church

During Paul’s life and ministry he saw many people coming and going in the church. He was always concerned with them. Paul shared his preoccupation many times with those that stopped running the race. He was racing not only with the church but also for the church. He wanted to see the church racing with him. We see this preoccupation when he writes to the Galatians: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7.”He also mentions this when he wrote to the Philippians: “…as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:16.”

As you can see God has a race for you and me, and that race is related to the proclamation of the Gospel. But that race also involves the whole church. No matter how many obstacles we had, are having or will have in our race, we just need to finish, and finish it well.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Packing for Heaven – I have fought the good fight

Have you ever packed the wrong thing for a trip? We men, “sometimes”, are accused of not being good savvy packers. We just throw our stuff in the luggage and hope for the best. Some guys out there would not agree with me. We put only the essentials in our luggage. Yeah, right. How many times have we brought the wrong thing for a vacation or trip? Too many, I would say.

When we are talking about Heaven it is totally different. We will not bring thingsthere, we will bring what we did in our lives. This is what Paul wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight… 2Timothy 4:7.”The first thing that he is bringing is his fight. He calls it “The Good Fight.” The word fight means “Athletic wrestling.” It involves discipline, energy, and willingness. 

The question is: what is the good fight that Paul is mentioning here? We know that he is not talking about violence, blood, and things like that. Paul put his energy, discipline, and efforts toward other things. Let me share with you some of them.

A – Fight for the Faith

The first fight that we could mention is the fight for what he believed. Paul fought his entire life for his faith. This is what he wrote to Timothy in his first letter: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1Timothy 6:12.”He made every effort to educate the church on the Faith, and correct those who were deviating from the right belief.

B – Fight for the Church

The second aspect of that fight was the fight for the good of the church. He had an intense desire to see the church grow. He wanted to see the church grow in knowledge of the Lord and His Word. He wanted to see the church fulfill her mission, and he put a lot of effort on it. This is what he wrote to the church of Colossae: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. Colossians 2:1.”Unfortunately, church today is not a priority in our lives.

C – Fight for the Gospel

Finally, the third aspect of that fight is the fight for the message, the struggle to make the message known. Paul not only struggled for the right message, which is very important and crucial for the church, but he made every effort to propagate that message, even risking his life. This is what he wrote to the Thessalonians: “We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 1 Thessalonians 2:2.”

Paul did not back down from those fights, nor should we. Even though today we have to deal with the politically correct mentality, where it is not appropriate to have strong beliefs, to fight for a religious group, or to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Packing for Heaven

If you were allowed to pack a few things to take with you to Heaven, what would you take? Following the luggage restrictions in our airports, if you had the opportunity to take one piece of luggage to Heaven what would you put inside of it? Of course those things would be very important for you to take there. They would make a very good impression. Some people even believe that they would have a shot at Peter’s position. Just in case, they would take their resume to apply for the job.

Here are several suggestions that some people would take with them to Heaven:

1 – A blessed cross that was used against evil things.Yes, that would be very useful there.

2 – A certificate of Baptism. Just in case.

3 – The receipts of every thing given to the church and other good causes. That would be embarrassing for many people. 

4 – The choir robe to prove that you sang in the choir.If you don’t sing, there is still time.

5 – A letter of recommendation from my pastor. Depending on the pastor you can skip this.

6 – An old rugged, used bible to prove that you were a regular reader of the Good Book.Don’t forget that is not just the reading that counts, but the practice of it.

7 – The membership certificate to prove that you are a member in good standing in your local church.The way the churches are today, that would not count too much.

I know that you would add other things, depending on the size of the luggage.

Death is one of a few certainties in this world. We all know that we will die. If you believe that you are going to Heaven, what should you take on that trip?

In the 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, we have the apostle Paul writing this to his young disciple Timothy:“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

This text will help us to know what really matters in this life. This is the last letter from Paul. He is in jail, condemned, and about to be executed. In verse 6 Paul is telling Timothy that his time to depart for Heaven is coming, and it is coming quickly. Paul knows that his execution is at the door. Because of that he writes to Timothy, and urges him to commit himself to the work and ministry that he started.

Paul uses words like: “I am already being offered”, “the time of my departure”, “Is come”. There is no doubt that Paul knew his time to go home had arrived, and he made sure to inform Timothy that he was ready for that.

He tells Timothy what he is packing for Heaven, the things and attitudes that would count for this special trip. He shares not only with Timothy, but also with us what is important to pack for heaven.

In the next weeks we will take a look inside Paul’s luggage and see what he packed for Heaven. My goal is to help you to be ready for that trip, since nobody knows when we will be called home.

Are you ready?

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Be there or be square

If Heaven is real and if it is a wonderful place, we should make every effort to be there. We should not miss that place for anything in the world. My challenge for you is to be there at any cost. Put all your efforts together to go to that place. Make that your purpose, your goal, and your commitment in life. 

Why? Because we know that some people will not be there. Yes, that is right. Unfortunately some people will not be in Heaven. The Bible is clear when it says that some people will be left out. Here is one of the texts that makes it very clear: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.”

John also mentions later the characteristics of other people who will not be there: “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27.”

I know that some people would love to change or if possible to erase those texts, but we just cannot do it. They are there. We must understand that Heaven is God’s House and He is the one who makes the rules. It is important for us to understand that these people will not be there because of their own decision, or the lack of one.

On the other hand John describes those who will be there. They will be there because of the grace of God. The first thing that he tells us about these people is that they have their names in the Lamb’s book of life. This is the most important thing, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27.”That was not a decision that they made. God Himself made that decision for them.

The second characteristic of those who will be there is that they are thirsty. Since our names are there we will have a thirst for God and a desire for salvation. We will have at some point in our life a desire for salvation, grace, and mercy. We will feel our sin and realize that we are on the wrong path. Because of that we will respond to the call from God and His Gospel, and we will respond to that call. “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6.”

Finally,  John mentions that those who have their names in the Lamb’s book of life, and those who are thirsty will overcome. They will persevere. They will endure the decision that they made to follow Christ. They will do that by the grace of God, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Revelation 21:7.”

Today you have the opportunity to quench that thirst in your soul, the thirst for forgiveness, inner peace, and salvation. Come to Jesus and give your life to Him. Tell Him that you need salvation and forgiveness. Ask Him to forgive your sins and clean your life. Tell Him that you do not want to miss Heaven for anything in the world.

Say something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Things to do in heaven

Boredom and laziness are not, by any stretch of the imagination, present in Heaven. Heaven will be a place full of interaction and activities. There will be so many things to do that it will be hard to pick which one will be the first. The good thing is that we will have the whole eternity, which means forever, to do everything that we want.

Now let us take a look of some of the things we will do in Heaven.

  1. Worship

This, of course will be one of the most important activities in Heaven. This is what John tells us about: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is its temple. Revelation 21:22.”This text confirms for us that we will have worship there. We will see God, we will sense His presence, we will recognize His grace and mercy toward us, and because of that we will be drawn to worship Him.

  1. Learn

The other thing that will do there is to learn. There will be so many things about the universe and God that we will be able to expend a lot of time learning in Heaven. John wrote: “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. [25] On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. [26] The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Revelation 21:24-26.”In another verse the Angel told him: “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Revelation 21:9.”We will see things and learn things that we always wanted to.

  1. Serve

We will not be able to worship and learn only; we also will be able to serve in Heaven. We will serve God and we will serve each other. John saw this: “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. Revelation 21:24.” People will do things in Heaven. They will serve and have some kind of task to perform. It will not be tiresome or tedious, but it will be exciting.

  1. Fellowship

Finally we will have fellowship with God and with our brothers and sisters who will be there. John tells us this “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3.”We will not have fellowship with God only. In many parts of the book John mentions different people that he saw. He also had interaction with angels. Can you imagine how many interesting people will be there ready to share their story with us? It will be great to have the opportunity to talk with them. We also will be able to tell our own story.

For all of this we can be sure that Heaven is a wonderful place.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Things that will not be in Heaven

Heaven is wonderful because some things will not be there. It is the absence of some bad and awful things that will make that place a wonderful place. We all hope to live in a place where evil and ugliness are not present. Well, Heaven is that place.

These verses from the Book of Revelation will give us some ideas about things that will not be there, and because of that they will make Heaven a great place. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1.” “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  Revelation 21:4.”

Let us see some of them.

1 – No More Sea

The first thing that John tells us is that there will be no more sea. Sea in the Bible many times is related to chaos, evil, and anti-kingdom powers. Here in Revelation John is telling us that Heaven will not have that.

2 – No More Death, Mourning

The next thing that John did not see in Heaven was death and mourning. We have seen so many death, and destruction; we have mourned for so many friends that knowing that there will be a place where those things will not be present is a tremendous comfort.

3 – No More Crying

No more crying or tears. It is interesting that we will share at the beginning some tears that God Himself will wipe from our eyes. Probably we will realize how much time and effort we expended doing the wrong thing. But some of us who were persecuted because of the faith will bring our tears, and God will take care of them.

4 – No More Pain

There will be no more pain in heaven. This is one of the things that we look forward to in Heaven, absence of pain. All the pain and suffering will be behind us. We will leave all the pain on earth.

5 – No More Temple

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:22-23.”This text tells us that in Heaven there will be no more temples. God and the Lamb is its Temple. The presence of God and the Lamb will be there. The whole place will be a temple.

6 – No More Sun or Moon

The light will not be artificial anymore. We will have the real light. God’s glory will shine all over the place and we will not have darkness anymore.

7 – No More Abominations

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:27.”The last thing that John tells us is that there will be no more abominations in Heaven. All that bad stuff that we are sick and tired of seeing and suffering from in this world will not have a place there.

As you can see my friend, Heaven is a wonderful place because of the things that will not be there.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Heaven is a wonderful place

“Heaven is a wonderful place
Filled with glory and grace
I want to see my Savior’s face
Heaven is a wonderful place”

Do you remember that hymn? I used to sing it in our Sunday school class and youth camp in Brazil. Of course the translation was a little bit different, but the meaning was right. Heaven is a wonderful place filled with glory and grace. I wanna see my Savior’s face. Heaven is a wonderful place.

Unfortunately many people, even Christians, have a different and wrong idea about Heaven. Some people do not believe that Heaven exists. They think that it is a creation of the church to attract people and to comfort those who have lost loved ones. It is interesting that Heaven or something close to that is present in almost every religion in the world.

People believe that life does not end in the death. They believe that life will continue somehow in one form or the other. The challenge for Christians is that there are so much misinformation that they do not know what Heaven looks like. We have many myths about Heaven, and people really believe in some of them. Let me share a few with you.

1 – Heaven is Boring – The first one is that Heaven will be boring. The images that we have about Heaven sometimes do not tell the whole story. People think that we will be in a big place with clouds all over, doing nothing FOREVER. That really sounds boring. Heaven is not like that, and it is not boring at all. This myth could not be more wrong. Heaven is a wonderful place with so many things to do and to see that the word boring will not exist there.

2 – We will have religious service all day long for the rest of eternity – The second myth that we have about Heaven is that we will have religious services all day/night long FOREVER. For some churches that does not sound too bad, but for others, that would be very hard. Remember the first myth, yes; it applies to this one too. Heaven will not be boring. For some of us church services are boring, not in Heaven, they will be totally different.

3 – We will have wings and fly all over the place – Another myth about Heaven is that we will have wings and fly all over the place. This is a very popular myth that we use to say mostly when a child died. We say that they got their wings, and became an angel or something like that. Let me emphasize again, THIS IS A MYTH. We will not have wings and use them to fly around Heaven. Angels were created to serve God and His people. We are children of God, so we cannot go to Heaven and be demoted from our position.

4 – We will learn how to play the harp – Finally, some people believe that we will learn how to play the harp, and we will play them for the whole eternity. Some times we see those images and cartoons of people in Heaven sitting on a little cloud and playing the harp. Sometimes they have wings and sometimes not.

Those are the ideas that some of us have about heaven. Some people really think that Heaven will be like that. These are very poor and baseless images of Heaven. I could add a few more, and probably you have your own myths about that place.

When we come to the Bible and principally to the accounts of John in Revelation we learn that Heaven is totally different from what we had in mind. If you read the Book of Revelation particularly chapter 21, you will see something that the apostle John saw and reported to us about Heaven. It is a beautiful description of that place, worthy of our contemplation. In the next weeks we will meditate on some aspects of Heaven. Join us in this wonderful journey.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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