When we lose something important to us, or someone important to us, we feel the absence. We feel the need to be repaid for what we once had and are now missing. At the same time, when we receive something from someone else, either as a gift or because we were selfish and took it from them, we feel the need to repay them. We feel the need to give back in the form of thanks, service, or repayment. Job felt ripped off. He felt that God had taken from him, and that God owed him something. As has become abundantly clear, this perception was in error. God didn’t take away anything that wasn’t His already. God didn’t owe Job anything. Everything and every one we have in our lives isn’t really ours. It’s all on loan. It has been given to us to take care of, to watch over, and it all belongs to God. The reality is that God has given to us. We owe Him. When we have the right perspective we will deeply feel the need to give back, to thank, to serve, and to repay a debt that can never really be repaid. Not only does everything we have belong to Him, we belong to Him. If you are in Christ you have been purchased by God with the blood of Jesus. You are not your own. You are His. God takes care of His stuff. He puts His name on it. he makes it presentable and sends it out into the world and says, “Look what I can do!” The next time you experience loss, take a moment and do a reality check. Are you mad at God because He took something from you, or are you thankful that you belong to Him?
I remember a particular job that I had for a grand total of two weeks. I was capable of doing the job. It was a hard job, but not impossible. I didn’t get fired, I quit. Why did I quit? Because my boss didn’t communicate what was expected of me both in performance and scheduling. I did the best I could with the information I had, but it got to the point where I was being condemned for not doing things I didn’t know I was supposed to do, and didn’t show up when I was supposed to show up because no one told me to. In Malachi 3 there is something similar going on. “How have we robbed you? How have we spoken against you?” The people were ignorant. The difference between my situation and theirs was that they had God’s word and the prophets telling them exactly what was expected of them, and they chose to at best ignore it, at worst pervert it. We have the word. We have great Bible teachers. We have Christian bookstores, radio, television, and internet. We are without excuse. Get into God’s word. Get God’s word into you. Get into the world and show them what it looks like when someone has the word and the Spirit of God in them.
Just as there has been confusion over Satan and Hell there has been an equal amount of confusion over Heaven. When the believer dies, do they go to Heaven or Heaven? What? Is Heaven streets of gold and pearly gates? No, it isn’t. That’s the New Jerusalem. When talking about the afterlife, Heaven is that dimension where God dwells. When a believer dies they go to be with the Lord in Heaven, but they don’t go to the place with streets of gold and pearly gates. That place doesn’t exist yet. It won’t be around until after the new heavens and new earth are created. The New Jerusalem is the place Jesus went to prepare for us. It is where our reward is. It is a place we will go after we are physically resurrected. Just as Satan, his crew, and those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will spend eternity separated from God in the lake of fire forever and ever, so we will spend eternity with God in the New Jerusalem where there is no temple, no place we have to go and meet with God because He is the temple. It’s going to be an amazing thing to behold. Where will you be?
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