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A Country Called Heaven series
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We need to see the greatness of God's love and the greatness of His purpose for us. His purpose is to have us before Him as sons in the place where He is. Jesus called Heaven "My Father's house." That is where God wants us. He wants us with Him as His sons in "the Father's house."
"The Father's house" is our home for eternity.
Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross, not just to save us from hell, but to bring us to God. The Bible says, "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…" (1 Peter 3:18).
We see this in the account of the Lord's crucifixion. Two thieves were crucified with Him. One of these thieves believed on Jesus. He said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus turned to that man and said, "Today you shall be with Me in paradise." Jesus not only saved this man, but He took him with Him to "the Father's house" in Heaven.
This man went from the lowest, deepest, darkest place of misery and suffering into the brightest, holiest, most blessed place of everlasting happiness and joy with Christ. This is the salvation which Christ has obtained for every believer by His death.
"The Father's house" is our home now.
From God's Word we know that, when a Christian dies, he goes immediately to be with Christ. (See Philippians 1:21-23.) But we may not know this wonderful truth: By Christ's death we are entitled to live in "the Father's house" now! The Bible says, "…[Christ] died for us, that, whether we wake [live] or sleep [die], we should live together with Him." (1 Thessalonians 5:10).
Christ died for us, that, whether we live or die, we should "live together with Him." How this touches our heart!
Where is the Lord Jesus living now? He is living in "the Father's house." The Lord Jesus is saying to us, "There is a place in the Father's house which is yours. It belongs to you. I purchased it for you with My own blood. It is the Father's will that you live together with Me in the Father's house, not just when you die, but right now!"
What is "the Father's house" for me now? It is living together with Jesus in the presence of the Father, enjoying His love. Some day I will actually be in Heaven, but I have the right and the ability to enjoy "the Father's house" now!
The "upstairs" and the "downstairs"
A Christian is a person who lives in two worlds. In his body he lives in this world, but in his spirit he is united to Christ in Heaven. The Bible says that he has died with Christ, been raised with Christ, and seated with Christ in heavenly places.
There is an "upstairs" and a "downstairs" in the Christian life. The "upstairs" is the Father's house where I have all spiritual blessings.
The "downstairs" is here on earth, where I am living now. What do I have here? I have the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of God's people, and God's earthly mercies. I also have many trials and troubles.
What does the Lord Jesus want me to do? He wants me to live "upstairs" with Him in my spirit so that I may serve Him down here. We should be like the believer who had his residence and his business in the same building. He put this sign on his door:
Do we love the Lord Jesus enough to turn our back on the sinful pleasures of this world that we might live "upstairs" with Him? The story is told of a shoe repairman who truly lived "upstairs" with the Lord. His wife said of him, "He lives in Heaven and only comes down here to mend shoes!"
How do I enjoy "the Father's house" now?
The Holy Spirit is the One who "takes me by the hand" and leads me "upstairs" to the joys of the "Father's house." He has come down from Heaven to bring me into the enjoyment of everything Christ has accomplished for me. He is here to glorify Christ and make Him real to me.
As I spend time alone with the Lord in the study of His Word, the Holy Spirit magnifies Christ and makes Him everything to me. My part is to believe. The Bible says,
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
The Father is delighted when we enjoy His house now.
It is a wonderful day for us when we see God's side of salvation. God makes us His sons and daughters and brings us into His house, not just for our joy and happiness, but for the satisfaction of His own great heart of love. I can never be completely happy unless I am where the Father wants me to be, and He wants me to be with Him in His house.
The story of the prodigal son shows us what a great salvation we have in Christ. God has given us the place of sons, and the son's place is in the Father's house! We belong there! God wants us to enjoy His house, His presence and His feast.
When we come to the end of the story of the prodigal son, what do we find? We find the prodigal, received and accepted as a son, made suitable to his father in every way, sitting at his father's table, enjoying his father. The Bible says, "They began to make merry."
This is a picture of our spiritual portion and place as sons of God! God is doing all this to satisfy His great heart of love for us. It is His delight to have us in His presence, enjoying Him and all that He has provided for us. I have not satisfied my Father's heart until I am in His house, enjoying Him.
Steps to enjoying God
There are a number of practical things you can do to help you enjoy God.
• Think rightly about yourself.
God is pleased when we take up our true spiritual position as having died with Christ and being raised as a new person in Christ, having ascended with Him, and being seated with Him at the right hand of God. This is foolishness to the unsaved, worldly man, but it is God's truth to His spirit-taught children.
The prodigal's father was pleased when his son accepted the best robe, the ring and the sandals. He was pleased when his son sat at his table and enjoyed all that his love had provided for him. God is likewise pleased when we enjoy all that He has provided for us.
• Settle all controversies with God.
Is there something in your life which God keeps bringing before you? It may be a wrong relationship or some point where you are saying "No" to God. If you have no rest or joy, you must be holding on to something that God wants you to give up.
You might as well face the fact that you will not enjoy God or make any progress in your Christian life until you say "Yes" to God in this matter. Why not do so right now?
If you are not honestly willing to do what God is telling you to do, at least you can say to Him, "Lord, I am not willing to do this, but I am willing for You to make me willing." If you are sincere, God will begin working to change your heart.
• Deal with sin and guilt.
We cannot enjoy God if we are holding onto some sin in our life. God loves us, but He hates sin in the life of a child of His. Whatever that sin is, that wretched thing that is so displeasing to God, give it up! If you do not, it will rob you of your joy.
If you have sinned against God, confess that sin to Him and count on Him to do what He says He will do. God's Word says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
To enjoy God, you must not only be right with God, but you must be right with other people. The apostle Paul said, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).
If you have wronged someone, go to that person and make things right. Do not make excuses or say, "I know I was wrong, but you were wrong too."
Confess your part fully. Say something like this, "God has shown me that I was wrong in _____________ (name the sin). Will you forgive me for this?" If they say "Yes," you might ask, "Do I need to say any more about this?" Deal with the matter thoroughly. Bring it to a close.
If you have stolen something or caused someone to suffer loss, you should try to pay them for it. Make things right, and then go on. Don't "whip yourself" by going over and over your failures.
• Forgive others.
An unforgiving spirit is a grievous sin in God's sight, especially in the life of a Christian. (See Matthew 18:21-35.) God has in love forgiven us, and He sometimes gives us the privilege of forgiving others as He has forgiven us.
• Declare your faith at the start of each day.
One of the happiest Christians I have ever known gave me his secret. He said that he began each day by saying to the Lord words to this effect:
"Lord Jesus, You died for me, and in Your death I died. I died to sin, to Satan, and to the world. I was buried with You, and I rose again with You as a new person in Christ. I ascended with You, and I am seated with You in heavenly places. You sent Your Holy Spirit to live in me, and the life that is in me today is Your resurrection life. By Your grace, I purpose to live a life, dead to sin, and alive to You."
I begin each day with the confidence that Christ lives in me and that He is sufficient for anything that happens to me today.
• Faithfully attend and support a Christ-honoring church.
It is God's will that believers assemble regularly with other believers for the preaching and teaching of the Word, for fellowship and for prayer. Nothing can take the place of this. The Bible says, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering … Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…" (Hebrews 10:23, 25).
Do not be ashamed of Christ. Confess your faith in Him by your words and by your actions. If you have not confessed Him by water baptism, do so at once.
• Obey the Lord.
Determine that you will obey the Lord, whatever the cost. Begin now! Do the next thing you know you should do. Believers are obeyers. The Lord Jesus manifests Himself to those who love and obey Him. (See John 14:21.)
• Set your affections on things above.
If we want to have joy, we must know where to look for it. For us, real joy cannot be found in this world. Our joy is where our Savior is—on the other side of death. Our life, our joy, our future and our riches are all in Christ glorified and exalted at the right hand of God. The Bible says, "Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).
The new life which God gives us is resurrection life. If we want to enjoy this life, we must set our love and our affections on the things of Christ. The Bible says, "If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1, 2).
• Love Christ supremely.
Jesus Christ is the center and glory of Heaven. Every creature in Heaven loves, adores, and praises Christ. One of the proofs that we have been born into the family of God is that we love and appreciate Christ.
God wants to make Christ everything to us. When our spiritual eyes are opened to see the greatness of Christ and we begin to love Him with all our heart, we bring pleasure to God's heart. Jesus said, "The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God" (John 16:27).
If we really love Christ, it will be proved by our wanting to know everything that is possible for us to know about Him. Believers do not love Christ very much if they neglect their Bibles, if they do not spend time alone with Christ in the study of His Word and prayer, or if they neglect meeting together with the Lord's people. These things are the tests of our love for Christ.
• Set aside time for God each day.
A daily Quiet Time with God is not something that you can take or leave. It is absolutely essential if you want to enjoy God and have your life count for Him. An honored servant of God wrote:
"A life of victory hinges on three things: an initial act, a fixed purpose, and a daily habit.
"The initial act is that of surrender to the Lord Jesus as Master. The fixed purpose is that of doing that which will please Him, and only that, at every turn, in every matter, regardless of the consequences. The daily habit is that of spending a Quiet Time in prayer, alone with the Lord over His Word.
"After the initial act of surrender, the secret of a strong, winsome [attractive] Christian life is in spending time daily alone with God over His Word in prayer." (S.D. Gordon)
Begin to enjoy God and His love now! God loves you and accepts you because you belong to Christ. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more than He loves you right now. He loves you as He loves His own Son. (See John 17:23.)