Animals in Heaven?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? -Matthew 6:26

This is a subject that often comes up for Christians who also happen to be animal lovers (particularly dogs). Many people say that animals are to be used or enjoyed in this life only and do not have eternal souls or any promise of life after death. Most would agree that the Bible is not clear on this subject one way or another. For those of us who love our pets, it is perhaps a matter left to hope and trust that whatever God’s plan is for our animals is best.

We must always trust that God knows what He is doing, no matter how ‘unfair’ or ‘cruel’ we might think it is. It isn’t that way at all; it simply is the way that our sovereign Lord has decided it to be.

We do know from the Bible that God cares a great deal about animals: A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. -Prov. 12:10 (NASB) What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. -Matthew 10:29 (NLT) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. “I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. -Psalm 50:10-11 (NASB)

Certainly there is plenty of proof that God cares about animals, but nothing is really said [apparently] about whether or not we will see them after this life. Sure, on the new Earth the Bible speaks of lions and lambs together, etc. But that does not necessarily mean they will be the loving dog or cat we knew while in this earthly life.

Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe produced a video detailing why they believe we will see our beloved pets again. One of the points he makes is that we should encourage each other in hope. I would encourage you to remember that, when we are spending eternity with God, the most important, all-consuming thing will be our worship and adoration of the Lord. On the other hand, there may well be time for other things such as loving our friends, animals and other beautiful things.

The reason I am spending so much time on this subject is that it is once again fresh on my mind. We lost a very dear pet two days ago, a sweet little character named Martha who was an apricot Toy Poodle. She was a couple months shy of fourteen and had been sick since before last January with kidney failure, a heart murmur and (we think) cancer. We did what we could to keep her as long as we could, while still maintaining some activity, appetite and a relatively pain-free life. Once that changed, we had the severely difficult task of taking her for her last vet ride. One could tell that she was ready. It was us that were not ready to let her go. Would it have been easier with some biblical certainty that we would see her again in the new Earth? I think that is safe to say. Did we have that? Sadly, no. What we do have is some biblical assurance that she mattered to God. That is something wonderful and will have to be enough as we move forward in our lives.

At least, when it comes to our own salvation and promise of eternity, we can be sure. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son. We know that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Do you have that blessed assurance? For your sake, I truly hope so.

61 Today

For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. -Prov. 9:11

I awoke this morning to best wishes from my wife for a happy 61st birthday. Where have the years gone? They have passed so quickly. Today is not a day to focus on things that were cherished in days gone by and are no more: love ones, my hair, etc. No, my friend, it is a day I am thankful for what I have. Today is a good day to reflect on the overwhelming love of God as evident in His grace.

They very fact that I made it to 61 years of age astounds me a bit. The life I lived in my younger years was one of excess: drugs, alcohol and other poor choices. The people I associated with were not people of “good character” as one might hope to have for companions. Many were the scrapes I found myself in — due to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. I think, when reflecting as a Christian who has some minimal knowledge of scripture, it is better said that it was through my sin nature that bad times abounded. Why God has chosen me to be in His family (and heir to all that is promised) is beyond me, but I count myself fortunate to have been called to be a part of the wonderful family of God in Christ.

Today I have great marriage to a wonderful wife, a fine career, decent home, lots of solid friends (brothers and sister in Christ). None of this would have happened, were it not for God delivering me from my own self-destructive sin-nature into the arms of our loving Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you say the same for you and your life? It is as simple as making a decision to invite Jesus into your life. He will never let you down. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. -James 1:17.

BACK TO PSALM 119!

I remember your name during the night, O Lord, and I will keep your law. This has been my practice, for I observe your precepts. The Lord is my source of security. I have determined to follow your instructions. -Ps. 119:55-57 (NET2)

Once again, back to one of my favorite Psalms! These verses stand out to me in particular right now, because I’ve been having some sleepless nights as I think about all of the things that are going on. I often get these bad nights when I am not focused on the LORD in prayer, meditation and the study of His word. Is the LORD your source of security? I hope that is the case.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Holy, Holy, Holy.

The Story Behind Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Reginald Heber was born in 1783 to a wealthy family in west England. Reginald attended Oxford and won several awards for poetry before he became rector for his father’s church. Reginald become Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and served his people for three years before dying of stroke. “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” read Reginald Heber’s widow. Among her dead husband’s papers she found the words of one of the most powerful and beautiful hymns ever written. But years would pass before the lines took their place in worship services around the world.

In 1861, a publisher rediscovered the words. He asked John Bacchus Dykes to furnish him with a tune. It made sense for him to turn to John who had a natural aptitude for music (he graduated with a music master that same year). John had been a church organist since he was ten-years-old and was co-founder and president of the Cambridge University Musical Society.

John accepted the words. Within thirty minutes he wrote the tune “Nicea,” which carried the praise of the Trinity.  (taken from Godtube.com)

And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” -Rev. 4:8 (NASB)

A Powerful Weapon

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit. -Prov. 18:21 (NET2)

One again, I think I will expound upon the virtue of keeping one’s mouth shut when the situation calls for restraint. Having been married for a while I know how difficult it can be to live with someone and have conflict, even though you may love that person very much and not wish to imagine life without them. Still there are times in any couple’s life (in fact, any human relationship) where disagreements occur and need to get resolved. Sometimes, they require some temperance of tongue to find the needed resolution. James understood that well, as did the author of Proverbs. In fact, an interesting thing is that the very next verse in Proverbs discusses the benefit of finding a good wife! There are no coincidences with our LORD. I thank God for my marriage and the difficulties that sometimes happen, as they are catalyst to grow closer to the Lord and each other. As a result, our marriage bond is strong and I would not wish to think about going through this life without it. Such can be the case in any human relationship where God is involved.

For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water. -James 3:7-12 (NET2)

There is much more in James 3 than just the verses I listed above. I think it would do anyone good to sit down and read the chapter, prayerfully meditating on what it says. Perhaps you might want to ask yourself if you have said or done anything today that might adversely affect another human being, be they a brother or sister in the LORD or someone who you should be trying to win to Christ? I know I sometimes do not like the answer I receive when I spend quiet time with the LORD in self-examination.

What are your needs?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

There are those who would abuse this verse by trying to make it fit their prosperity teaching. Please don’t confuse worldly riches with those of God’s.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Ps. 37:4 (ESV) Here’s another verse that one could easily twist to try saying that God is taking shopping lists for material things to fill. Nope. Sorry. Not what He is saying here. If we are truly regenerated by God and wish to do His will, then our desires will be for those things that are pleasing to Him. Jesus was clear on His feelings about accumulating “treasures” here on Earth: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Let us never forget this most famous passage: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. -Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

Easy believing… No.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. -2 Corinthians 7:1

While it is true that we are saved by grace and not for anything we have done, it is important to know that certain things are expected of us as children of the most high God. Throughout the New Testament, we are told such things as “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”(Phil 2:12) and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). Sounds a little confusing sometimes, especially if you are new to the family. Please understand, it is not about mixing in some works with God’s grace. Believe me, the Bible clearly teaches us that God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

If you’re truly worried about this, there is a very good chance you are saved. But… we can’t take chances on something so important that has such an eternal consequence. We are assured that we can know of our salvation. Do you love Jesus? Please note that I did not ask if you ever sin or do things perfectly. No, none of us do. Read Romans 7 and you will see that even the Apostle Paul had his struggles with the flesh and its sin nature. But, we must be careful to know that we are not ‘all set,’ just because we had an emotional moment at a crusade or church service and answered an altar call. No, that is not how it works. It’s about giving our heart to Him. There is a change that will take place in our lives, sometimes major and sudden — but often subtle and gradual as we grow and develop in Christ. As we grow, we will begin to experience the fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians and start to see some of the works that result from accepting Christ as our LORD. That is not mixing works with faith, it is experiencing works as a result of faith. May you have what is the title of an old and popular hymn: Blessed Assurance.

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. -John 8:31-32