A stranger in Heaven

I saw an old friend yesterday and it was such a surprise. You know the feeling where you suddenly see a face you recognise but you didn’t expect to see that person. It’s really a special feeling. I wonder what it’s going to feel like when we get to heaven and meet Jesus face to face. Are we going to be surprised at His appearance or are we going to know His face. Is it going to feel like we’re meeting someone we know intimately or are we going to feel like we’re meeting a stranger for the first time? Have you ever thought about it? Let’s look at some character traits of Jesus and see if they are familiar? Some of these verses are out of the Old Testament and were spoken prophetically while other are from the New Testament either being the words of Jesus himself, the witness of His disciples or  words spoken by people to whom Jesus revealed His character. Jesus still reveals His character today to his followers so that we can get to know Him.

Matthew 9:36, But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Luke 19:41, Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,

Luke 23:34, Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Isaiah 11:5, Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.

John 1:14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 7:18, He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you;

He is just and having salvation,

Lowly and riding on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.

Isaiah 40:11, He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm,

And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

2 Corintians 5:21,  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Hebrews 7:26-27, For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Isaiah 53:7, He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He opened not His mouth;

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,

And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

So He opened not His mouth.

Isaiah 53:9, And they made His grave with the wicked—

But with the rich at His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

1 Peter 2:22, Who committed no sin,

Nor was deceit found in His mouth

1 Timothy 1:16, However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

Philippians 2:8-11, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Would we recognise Jesus from these verses? There are many, many more such references and we could be busy for days just finding them. We need to spend time in the Word to get to know our Saviour so well that we won’t be meeting a stranger in Heaven.

God can do it!

The Syrian army had besieged Samaria. There was a famine and obviously food was at a premium.

Donkeys head – 50 shekels – R4867.50

1.2 litres dove droppings – 5 shekels – R44.25

It was so bad that people were cooking and eating their own children. It was really, really terrible. The king was blaming God and he wanted Elisha’s head as retribution. 2 Kings 6:33, “Surely this clamity is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”  Then Elisha answers the king and tells him that the next day

17 litres of barley – 1 shekel –  R17.70

8,5 litres of flour  – 1 shekel   – R8.85

An officer of the king answered Elisha and said, “Look if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be? And Elisha said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

If you don’t believe the word that God has given there is a real chance that you won’t see it come to pass.

Samaria was surrounded and their food was disappearing fast. There was no way in or out of the city and the people were going to die as sure death. The circumstances were plain for all to see. At the entrance of the gate were 4 lepers. They were also on the point of starvation. They debated whether to sit and die or whether they would surrender to the enemy. They reckoned that the Syrians would either allow them to live or put them to death, and if they stayed where they were they would die of starvation anyway. As the sun went down they went to the Syrian camp, and it was deserted. God had caused the Syrian army to hear the sound of horses and chariots and a great army marching. They believed that the king of Israel had hired the Hittites and the Egyptians to attack them. They fled, leaving the camp exactly the way it was. Those 4 lepers had the time of their life. They ate and drank and carried away silver and gold and clothing, which they hid. Their consciences got the better of them, and in spite of being outcasts because of their disease, they notified the king of what was happening.

They king sent out some of his servants to make sure it wasn’t a trap. They found the trail the fleeing Syrian army had left. The road was full of garments and weapons the army had cast off as they ran away. Then the people went out and took everything they could from the Syrian camp. The words of Elisha came true because 2 seahs of barley and one seah of flour did indeed sell for 1 shekel of silver. The other thing that happened was that the kings man who said they it would never happen, was put in charge of the city gate, and when the people left the city, he was trampled to death. So he ever got to see it happen.

What I am illustrating with this story is that sometimes our circumstances look terrible. They look worse than terrible. It looks like a lost cause. And suddenly, usually when we expect it the least, God does something so unlikely, so unlike anything we would have thought of, and everything changes.

And God confused more than one army in the bible. Armies were very well trained and disciplined. They weren’t a bunch of cowards.  If God can confuse an army, think what He can do for you. If your circumstances look dark. If it looks like there’s no way out and everything is lost, then you are in a very good place to start trusting God. You are in the perfect place to cast each and every one of your burdens to Jesus and to trust that He is going to be with you in the fire.

Now you may ask what if you are in the situation you are in because of your own bad decisions. I think most of the time that’s what happens. We make stupid choices and we land up in trouble. Emotional difficulties, financial problems and even health issues. Will God help us if we caused the situation we are in?

The answer is a resounding YES! Absolutely. We need to repent of our errant ways and ask God to forgive us. Then we need to start trusting Him 100%. No doubting, just trust.

Look what He did for Jonah. He was in that fish because of disobedience, yet, when he repented, God saved him. If you trust God it doesn’t matter whether you are in a fiery furnace, surrounded by an army, or in the belly of a fish, Jesus is right there with you.