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Today's Devotion: The Labyrinth of Life

The Krubera Cave in the Arabika Massif is one of the world’s largest caves. It’s so deep, so beautiful, and so complex that only skilled cavers can descend to its subterranean depths. It contains rivers, lakes, springs, and pits descending deep into the earth—a labyrinth of wonder, filled with deadly charms.

The same God who created the intricate interiors of earth also designed the mysterious blueprint of our life. Sometimes the mysteries appear deep and dark. But when we give our life to Christ, it’s as though a switch is flipped on, flooding the way with light. The Lord knows every twist and turn, every rock and river. When we don’t know the way, we needn’t worry. He does, and He will lead us. Even the darkness will become light around us.

This is the theme of Psalm 139—the Lord knows the way through the labyrinth of life. Our finite minds will never fully grasp God’s complex blueprints, but as we seek His will, He will lead us.

How precious also are thy thoughts, O gracious God, to me! And in their sum how passing great and numberless they be!
The Scottish Metrical Psalter (Psalm 139:17)

An old poem by the missionary C.T. Studd says, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." As Christians, we sometimes struggle to balance thoughts of eternity in heaven with our present reality on earth. Almighty God has revealed details about heaven, so we are wise to study it. However, Jesus clearly taught that we are to keep busy with His work until He returns (Luke 19:11–27). We must not become so consumed with thoughts of heaven and the Rapture that we overlook the work He has for us now. While creation awaits Christ's glorious Second Coming, the angels are actively engaged in three activities that we, too, are called to undertake. Let's consider these three tasks.

Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our worship.

  • They worship attentively (Matthew 18:10, 22:30, 24:36). In Revelation 5:8, we see the angels holding "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." How are you engaging in worship each day? What precious prayers from you have helped fill those bowls as they rest in the holy hands of angels today?

  • They worship obediently. Angels understand their purpose: their job is to bring glory to God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:11–12). What is interfering with your obedient worship? Is there idolatry in your heart that needs to be confessed? Have you prayed for His will to be done in your life, just as it's already done by the angels in heaven?

  • They worship reverently (Psalm 89:7; Proverbs 9:10). If these holy creatures cry out in praise of God's holiness day and night, how much should you? What is the attitude of your worship? How are you demonstrating reverence for God's holiness?

  • They worship freely. Scripture is filled with descriptions of the angels' jubilant, unrestrained worship, and it provides similar instructions for us (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 7:12, 11:16–17; Psalm 100; John 3:8). Would others describe your worship as joyful? How does your worship demonstrate thankfulness for God's goodness?

Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our work.

  • They embody their mission. There are different types of angels suited to different purposes, and angels have been known to take on different forms depending on their assignment. How are you using your God–given talents to honor Him? How are you stretching yourself to fulfill His purposes?

  • They follow God's instructions precisely. Angels receive different instructions for different people in different circumstances, and they respond accordingly. What decisions are facing you today? What would obedience look like in that situation?

  • They work diligently. When God gives them an assignment, angels are faithful to complete it (Daniel 10:12–14; Revelation 22:6). How have you asked God to show you His specific will for your life today? How have you been faithful to follow through on His guidance?

Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our witness.

  • They protect God's people. According to Psalm 91:11, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways." Matthew 18:10 describes angels who look out for God's people, and it challenges us to treat each other, particularly "little ones," well. How are you treating God's people? Is there someone who needs your loving protection? How are you honoring your family commitments?

  • They communicate God's messages. Along with other important messages, angels have proclaimed Mary's pregnancy, Christ's birth, and His Resurrection (Matthew 1:20–21, 28:5–7; Mark 2:10–12). Now, our risen Lord has given us a message to share with the world:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
—Matthew 28:18–20

Have you prayed today for God's kingdom to come? Have you prayed for His kingdom to be born in the lives of your family and friends and neighbors whom you love, but who are not yet believers? How are you sharing the Good News with others? Who in your life needs to hear God's truth? Have you accepted Jesus' lordship in your own life?

Until the Lord returns, let's serve Him faithfully through our worship, our work, and our witness.

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

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Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

Much speculation has been offered about what those who populate heaven will look like. Will they appear as angels? As "ghosts"? The Bible makes it clear that believers will have corporeal bodies that are recognizable, but which are free from all limitations of bodies on planet Earth. Covers I Corinthians 15:35-49.

When the Lord's trumpet sounds at the moment of the Rapture, we will receive perfect and complete resurrection bodies.

These glorified bodies will not be ghost–like apparitions that all look the same. We will be identifiable to those who know us. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognized by Jesus' disciples (Matthew 17:1–4). Earlier Jesus had said, "many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). It would be hard for anyone to sit down with Abraham if they couldn't tell who he was!

Paul indicates our new bodies will be "raised in glory," which literally means "brilliance." Philippians 3:20–21 gives us an idea of what Paul is referring to as brilliance. He says our "lowly body" will be conformed to Christ's "glorious body." These new bodies will be like the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle John wrote that "it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Paul concludes this thought in 1 Corinthians 15:49 by saying, "And as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Christ]."

Our best glimpse of Jesus' glorified body (and what our resurrected bodies will be like) is found in the forty–day period between His resurrection and ascension. There are five identifiable characteristics of His body during that time:

1. Jesus Said That His Body Was Real (Luke 24:39).

When Jesus met with the disciples after His resurrection, He invited them to touch Him so that they would know His body was real: "Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Jesus had a physical, corporeal body after His resurrection from the dead.

2. Jesus Ate on at Least Two Occasions (Luke 24:42–43; John 21:12–13).

This is the most frequently asked question about heaven: "Are we going to eat in heaven?" Apparently so, since Jesus ate in His post–resurrection body. He ate a piece of fish and some honeycomb while in Emmaus (Luke 24), and shared fish and bread with His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21).

It seems that the role of food changes from being a necessity to a pleasure. We won't need to eat to stay alive because our bodies will be imperishable. Instead, we will enjoy the pleasure of eating just as Adam and Eve would have done in the Garden of Eden before they sinned.

3. Jesus Told Thomas to Touch His Body (John 20:27).

When Thomas doubted that Jesus had really been raised from the dead, Jesus encouraged him to reach out and touch His wounds, to see that it was really Jesus in the body in which He had been crucified.

4. Jesus Told Mary Not to Hold on to Him (John 20:17).

When Mary encountered Jesus in the garden after His resurrection, He cautioned her not to cling to Him—not to throw her arms around Him. He would not have said that if it had not been possible for her to do so. His body must have had physical substance.

5. Jesus Communicated With Others (Acts 1:3).

Each of these encounters makes it clear that Jesus communicated with His followers after the Resurrection. An additional passage in Acts says that He spoke "of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."

Since our glorified bodies will be like Jesus' body, they will be physical; they will be recognizable; they will enable us to eat, and they will enable us to communicate. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." In heaven, we will know and be fully known. We will be ourselves, just an ideal version of ourselves!

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