This morning I am thinking about Heaven being a state of mind and I am reminded of something I heard many years ago. “We cannot get to Heaven until everyone does.” To me that means if I am seeing ungodlike traits in anyone, that can keep me from experiencing joy and peace. We need to see others as God sees them; not the rough and sometimes nasty exterior. So often, they are coming from fear. Just like at Halloween, we don’t believe the scary costumes at our door, when the children come to “trick or treat”, but know the purity and innocence beneath that apparel.
Luke 6:37 states “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Only then, can we experience Heaven.
Years ago I heard a story of a man who died and was at the pearly gate. St. Peter told him he was pleased to escort him into Heaven and opened the door. Before him were tables filled with beautiful food and drink and there was music everywhere The utensils were gold and large and everyone was feeding another. The man was in awe but asked St. Peter if he could just take a quick glimpse into hell and St. Peter agreed.
As he opened the door, he saw the same tables, food, drink and huge gold utensils, but everyone was attempting to feed himself, losing the food in the process. There was so much complaint and swearing that it drowned out the music and food was all over the floor. Don’t we experience Heaven when we are helping others and filled with gratitude and praise! Don’t we experience hell when we are self-absorbed and afraid of lack of Good. Don’t we make our own Heaven and hell?
Lamentations 3:22-26 states “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Today, I will see Heaven everywhere.
This morning I have been reading the 20th chapter of Matthew which compares a landowner with the Kingdom of Heaven who goes out to hire laborers and paid each a denarius a day. He continued to hire more throughout the day and paid them each the same amount. The llth and 12th verse reads “When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner. Saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.'”
This tells me that it is not what we do humanly, but our expectancy and receptivity of the Good God gives us! Today, I will practice accepting and expecting Good!
While reading this morning about the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Heaven”, it was brought to my attention many Bible scholars believe these to be the same. The Bible also states that God is Love, Spirit and Life and when we substitute those synonyms as in the Kingdom of Love or the Kingdom of Spirit, we can certainly realize that is talking about now. Matthew 10:7 states “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” That, to me, means we do not have to wait until here after or here later but is available to us right now where we are!
This morning I have been thinking about peace and harmony and how I can seem to lose those feelings when I am inconvenienced. There are times it appears someone is late for a meeting that puts a hardship on others that are there on time. This just happened to me last night and I entertained “irritation”. While driving home, I did some prayer work because I noticed that it was me giving my “peace” and “harmony” away. I then thought of how I have always “prided” myself with my punctuality and “judged” others when they were late or didn’t show up for a pre-agreed meeting.
My thought then went to knowing “pride and fear” have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven but “gratitude and humility” can always lead one there. Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Later on last night, I received a telephone call for prayerful work and I thank God that by then, I had my peace and was able to assist the caller.
We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we view it. Love and compassion are always the answer.
Yesterday, I read a post on Facebook that said “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Heaven had visiting hours?” Immediately, I thought “Yes, it does and as a matter of fact, it is open twenty-four seven!” Why do we think we have to relocate to experience Heaven when joy surrounds us? We have a choice on experiencing Heaven or Hell any time. It is always our views on a situation. So often, man thinks things will be better hereafter or here-later when Heaven can be right here, right now!
By being grateful for blessings we already have opens us up to more. John 17:1 reads “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said, Father the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:” Not tomorrow, but now.
Some years ago, I attended a convention where, during the devotion, a true story was told about a famous golfer who had been commissioned by a Middle Eastern Shah to come over and teach him how to putt. Of course, all expenses were covered and a large amount of money paid to him for this endeavor. Afterwards, before returning back to the United States, the Shah asked the golfer what he would like to have as a gift and he replied nothing since he had already been paid. The Shah then told him it would be an insult to be refused and once again asked what he would like.
Reluctantly, the golfer told him he loved golf clubs. Several months had passed since the golfer’s return and from time to time he would think about golf clubs and envision sterling silver ones, or diamond-encrusted ones, etc. Then one day he came home to find a certified letter from the Shah with a deed to a large Golf Club in a nearby state. He was shocked and had never in a million years dreamed of a Golf Club!
As I was studying and praying this morning. I realized just how limiting our prayers can be at times when we are outlining them, and I thought about Isaiah 55:8-9 where it reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”