Who is in heaven

Posted Aug 24, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
    Where could I go to escape your presence?
8 If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
    If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!
9 If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
    stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
10    even there your hand would guide me;
        even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
11 If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
        the light will become night around me,”
12    even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
        Nighttime would shine bright as day,
        because darkness is the same as light to you!

Acts 17:24-28

24 God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. 25 Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else. 26 From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. 28 In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Reflection Questions

This phrase of the Lord’s Prayer translated the Greek word ouranos. We typically think of “heaven” as an unspecified location, usually “far, far away” like the galaxy in which Star Wars claimed to have taken place. But ouranos also meant “air,” or “atmosphere.” God is greater than our one little world, but God is also as close to us as the air we breathe, not separated from us by vast galactic distances.

  • Christians don’t just believe ideas—we believe in Someone. The Hebrew psalmist and the apostle Paul, speaking to philosophers in Athens centuries later, described the kind of personal God they believed in and trusted. What helps you to place your faith and trust in God’s life-giving, loving person, not just a vague, abstract force?
  • Paul went on to tell the Athenians, “We have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone image made by human skill and thought” (Acts 17:29). Few in today’s first-world cultures specifically worship gold, silver or stone images. But more broadly, many of us are tugged to give a life priority to lots of gold, silver, or stone objects (as well as many other materials). What helps you maintain a focus on the God who “isn’t far away from any of us”? In what ways does God’s presence make your life better?

Prayer

O God, I believe in and trust you as a personal being who loves me and my world. Help me live and act in ways that show that your love has touched my life. Amen.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

We live in a culture that has a fascination with "how the other half lives” as evidenced by the “Maps to the Stars” available in Los Angeles & the many TV shows about celebrity house hunting, fantasy homes, & vacation homes.  Thus, it isn’t too surprising that we are interested in God’s residence & what it might look like. 

An old preacher shared the legend that God once hired a painter to spruce up His heavenly home.  Unfortunately the painter was rather unscrupulous & watered down the paint with turpentine.  God was displeased with the result & declared, “Repaint! And thin no more!”  (Exactly how old was this preacher? – Editor.)

Here’s what we know about God’s abode: He resides in a house with many rooms. This house is in a city with a crystal clear river, many fruit trees, streets of pure gold, & has walls adorned with jewels. (Scholars disagree about the physical location of heaven, but some conclude it is almost in West Virginia. Um, I don’t think John Denver counts as a Biblical scholar – Editor.)

This description of God’s home seems a tad lacking. Since we know it has to be absolutely fabulous, why aren’t we given more details? Maybe God is reluctant to share details of his home because He doesn’t want us to just kill time until the afterlife to encounter Him. 

1,500 years ago, our Celtic friends developed an interesting concept called “Thin Spaces” – places where we experience the divine & feel closest to God, like Calanais or Proleek Dolmen. Today, we might think of these places as being in the midst of a mountain hike, or watching the sunset over the seashore, or in places of worship where God’s presence is palpable.

What if we tweaked this idea of focusing on locations where we felt spiritual & instead considered “Thin Moments” – instances where we have felt God’s presence?  It could be in the middle of a funeral, where you have an inexplicable feeling of peace/calm, almost bordering on joy, in the midst of our grieving.  Or it may be while holding a sleeping infant & you capture a hint of God’s love for us.  Or it might be in a worship service where a Scripture verse or vision from a hymn or a phrase from a sermon creates such an “Aha!” reaction that you scramble to write it down as fast as you can before it slips away.

Because these “Thin Moments” seem to be so rare & fleeting, it can lead to frustration.  But what if we were more intentional about creating time for these moments in our lives & actively sought out God’s presence each week?  It might be taking a few minutes after a prayer to just be still & to just listen or it could be volunteering to lead a teen Sunday School class & listening as a young man drops some Godly insight that is other-worldly.  (You know it is supernatural because it is void of any references to the Royals, Chiefs, or Fortnite video game.) 

Maybe God is deliberately vague about His home because He doesn’t want us to focus on where He resides but rather on where He is – actively dwelling amongst His children each day.

Taking a cue from a vintage American Top-40 Song Chart: Before we seek to climb the stairway to heaven & start knockin’ on heavens’ door, we might be wise to first recognize that heaven is a place on earth & then we could be in seventh heaven(Casey Kasem – Disc Jockey & Biblical Scholar. Who knew? – Editor. Young associate editor: "Casey Who?")

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