HEAVEN

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

What is life about? The beginning, the middle, the end? Is it good or is it bad? Do we just live, or do we have a purpose in our living? For some people, it is just to get by. The Bible gives us instructions so that we can have a good life.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

This passage from the Bible reminds us that there is a good life to be lived. But what about the end, death and burial and mourning?

The Word of God affirms that there is something great beyond this life for all who have believed in and entrusted themselves to Jesus Christ. That is, that the believer will dwell with God forever in Heaven.

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the first born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of the just man made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)

All who believe in Jesus Christ are destined for Heaven:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building form God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. (II Corinthians 5:1)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

“But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

What is Heaven like? It is being a new person. It is being akin to Christ. It is being with God and seeing the magnificence and beauty of his glory.

“The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:19-22)

We do not want to demean this life. There are many good things for those who will believe in and honor God. Nonetheless, when we look about, we see the murders in Chicago, the awful behavior of Stephen Paddock who murdered fifty people in Las Vegas and wounded 400 more. Harvey Weinstein, prominent and successful in Hollywood, who sexually harassed scores of women. We could go further with Isis in the Middle East and Kim Jong-Un in North Korea.

The life that God calls us to is incredibly better than what we see on earth all too often. God calls us to his life and his kingdom—in this life and in the life to come. We have many reasons to be joyful.

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
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THE LIFE TO COME

"Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them." Revelation 21:3

“Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them.” Revelation 21:3  (Image from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel)

Many people in the USA are discouraged in these times. The increase in racial tension has been unexpected. The political differences within the nation have become sharper. Honesty and truthfulness have suffered. The brightness of a world, that we might have dreamed of, has lost much of its luster. Study the history of the world from 4000 B.C. to the present. We have never given up taking the property of others, killing and slaughtering one another, even rejoicing in the damage that has been caused. God warned us with the 10th Commandment:

“You shall not covet your neighbors’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant or his ox, or his ass nor anything that is you neighbor’s.”

God teaches us so that we may have better lives, and avoid the things that damage us. Do we value his teaching?

Of course, we should do our best in this life to make things good for others as well as for ourselves. We should be honest about our limitations. We need large sections of the teachings of the Bible to find as much truth and understanding, as is possible. The book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible. There are pictures and words in it that we may find difficult. However, it is a forward looking book that warns us of danger, but offers to us great hope.

1. Heaven is a holy place. Because God is holy, everything about heaven must be appropriate for enjoying the presence of God.

“But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Revelation 21:27

2. Heaven involves being a new person. The Bible teaches us that we each have a unique identity. We will surely retain that uniqueness in the life to come. Nonetheless, God begins a new work in our lives.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22,23

3. The life to come is being like Jesus Christ, not in his Divine nature, but in the quality of life that he represents.

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

4. Heaven is being with God.

“I heard a great voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them.” Revelation 21:3

Our knowledge will increase immeasurably. God is the greatest scientist. He is the mathematician par excellence. He is the consummate musician and artist. The expansion of one’s knowledge and capacity to reason in the future life will be absolutely incredible. Surely our senses will be greatly enhanced. Our Savior said that “we will be like the angels in heaven”. The gospel means “good news”.

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

HEAVEN

"...as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

“…as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

This life has its ups and downs. Its disappointments and victories. Its truths and its falsehoods. One can live a life of discouragement and loss—or one of sound hope and joy. If you think of life as a book, the last chapter has to be fulfilled. For the one who believes in Christ, the last chapter is Heaven, eternal joy with our great God. Hopefully, we all have visions for success in business, in education, in music, in politics, in writing and more—but all of these are just on the way; important and significant, but not final. Our destiny is either with God – or with eternal separation from God!

Someone asked me, “When we are in Heaven will we just sit on a cloud playing a harp? Is that all there will be in eternity?”

Similar questions illustrate the paucity of the knowledge and imagination of many when it comes to contemplation of the life to come. When we bring together all of the teachings in the Bible regarding Heaven (even though we do not see as clearly as we might like) we surely will realize that it will, indeed, be a marvelous, wonderful life!

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (I Corinthians 2:9)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23:6)

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

An important observation that we might make about heaven is that it gives substance, meaning to life; for living this life according to the will of God. Rene Pache wrote in his very fine book, The Future Life,

“If another world does not exist, nothing in this life makes any sense.”

All that is wrong will be made right by God. His judgment will come upon those who disregard him, and his blessing upon those who believe in him. Awareness and belief in the life to come is vital to maintaining the present life in its proper perspective. We are limited, both by our experience and by the limitations of human reason, because we are not yet ready for the full disclosure of the heavenly vision, just as a three year old is not ready for many of the realities of adulthood.

Heaven is a holy place (in full trust with the character of Jesus Christ). Everything in heaven must be in harmony with the presence of God.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

“Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:13)

Wherever we are—in success or failure—in sickness or in health, we can always rejoice in our Lord and in his salvation!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Lady Reading Crystal Ball

 

As we look forward to the New Year, most of us hope for something better. Many make New Year’s resolutions—hoping that their behavior will be better in some significant way. When we look back a year, we might wonder whether 2013 was better than 2012. If anything, the situation in the Middle East was worse with more conflict and no solution to the continuing slaughter in Syria. Conflicts in many African nations have increased. The federal debt in the United States increased: 2012, 16 trillion; 2013, 17 trillion. Many of the divisions that we have in the United States seem to have sharpened rather than lessened.

However, in our families and homes things may be different. Some may be healthier than they were in the previous year. Perhaps for the majority, things are about the same. In a nation of 317 million, how many lottery winners did we have last year? As we look forward to the future, we know that there are uncertainties. We may be surprised by good news or devastated by bad news. Our health may be very good or we may become seriously ill. Promises made to us may be fulfilled—and some not.

In contrast to the uncertainties in many areas of life, our Savior gives us a positive perspective. We are all created in the image of God. We are all loved by God. If we will allow it, we all have a purpose in life. And if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior we have many wonderful promises. Let us consider some of them as we look forward to the new year:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war nay more.” (Isaiah 2:3,4)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and rase your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28)

The future is in God’s hands: if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we are, for sure, in God’s hands.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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The Magnificence of God

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

milky way

The Milky Way, Photo Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Spitzer

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1,2)

Psalm 19 reminds us that the heavens declare the glory of God. As we consider the universe which God has created, we must be stunned at its enormity, its complexity, and its magnificence. In his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul reminds us that God’s creative work demonstrates the reality of God.

“Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20)

The best cosmological science tells us that the universe appeared out of nothing about 13.5 billion years ago; that from its beginning, it has been expanding, and that its extent is such that it is beyond our comprehension. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Estimates are that it would take about 28 billion light years to travel from one end of the visible universe to the other.

Our galaxy is the Milky Way. The estimates are that it contains more than 200 to 400 billion stars, and that there are perhaps 100 to 200 billion galaxies. The only stars that we can see from Earth are in our own galaxy. The “stars” that we see beyond our galaxy are other galaxies. Some of the stars in our galaxy are incredibly enormous: Antares is 173 million miles in diameter; Betelgeuse 190 million miles in diameter; and Alpha Hercules 500 million miles in diameter. If we began with the Sun, Alpha Hercules would fill all the space in our solar system beyond the orbit of Jupiter! These are three of the billions and billions of stars in the universe.

How are people properly to respond to the magnificence and grandeur of God? As we contemplate the greatness of God, we must recognize that most of us do not direct our thoughts toward God as we should. We allow matters of small import inappropriately to fill our lives. The result is that much that is best in life is crowded out. The knowledge, contemplation, worship, and adoration of God should be at the center of every person’s life.

The word of God is firm and sure. Whatever God intends, he can do. He is well able to fulfill every promise that he has made. The scriptures are unequivocal, God has created everything: the entire universe, planet Earth, and all forms of life, including human beings, who are created in his image—destined for a beautiful eternal relationship with him so long as they believe in him, love him, and turn to him for salvation.

Foster H. Shannon

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.