Posted in theology

Let us often think of home!

By Elizabeth Prata

The devotional is from GraceGems, a site stuffed with goodies from the past. Much to read and be edified by there.

Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. I pray you have a good church to attend. Gather with the saints in fellowship to worship, pray, sing, learn. This world wearies us, this is where we go to drink the Living Water, be refreshed, and go on in the week proclaiming His excellencies. Sunday is a day of rest, and don’t you feel rested after resting in Him? And just think of the eternal rest we will be given by our gracious Savior. DO think of home more often!

Tim Challies posted this from Dan Doriani:

Now on to James Smith’s devotional-

James Smith, (1802—1862) “A Devotional Glimpse at Psalm 23

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Psalm 23:6

Notice, David’s expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness, but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God, the family residence of the Father of mercies and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
  all our desires gratified,
  all our prayers answered, and
  our highest expectations more than realized!

There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.

There we shall dwell and worship–and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!

There we shall dwell and enjoy–and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.

There we shall dwell and obey–and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.

There, we shall dwell and rest–and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.

O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!

In our Father’s house are many mansions; and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
  every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
  every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
  every one ever born of the Spirit, will be there!

All God’s children shall be there–not one of them lost!
All God’s sheep shall be there–not one hoof left behind!

There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul, and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people–will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!

Well then may the Psalmist say, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!”

Let us often think of home!
This vain world is not our rest.
Here on earth, we have no continuing city.
Home, the home of the believer’s heart, is in the skies . . .
  where Jesus is,
  where Jesus reigns,
  where love is perfect,
  where there is always a full tide of joy,
  where God displays all his glory,
  where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul!

Posted in theology

Someday the fog will be lifted

By Elizabeth Prata

Driving to school in the morning I encountered heavy fog. To a New Englander, fog is an old friend. Its constant presence, threat of presence, or dissipating presence is part and parcel of the daily life of a Yankee who lives near the sea.

Those horizon level coils of wiry dark, looking like far off barbed wire wrapped in a pillow soft and damp, rolls in and rolls out. Its silent stealth can envelop you as you’re mowing, as you’re driving, as you’re sailing.

We encountered fog numerous times while sailing. Seeing the fog bank up ahead causes you to jump down to the navigation table with alacrity, take a few more positional calculations, check the soundings, and then, blink, you’re enveloped. Like a misty blanket, the fog surrounds you ever more presently until you cannot see the end of your own bowsprit.

You peer ahead for any landmark, anything solid. The mushiness of seeing through fog is disorienting. Suddenly you don’t know up from down.

So I was driving along to school in the wee, dark hours. I marveled that a loose conglomeration of mist droplets could seem so solid. It was astonishing how the fog, heavy as it was to subdue my headlights’ beams to mere slivers, yet seemed to enhance the Christmas lights on the houses I passed by into a glistening glow.

Everything I viewed along the ride was murky, distorted, at the same time beautiful and terrifying. I didn’t know what to be scared of and what to feel secure in. Was that a cluster of leaves blowing in front of the car, or an animal? Why are the white lights glowing so golden?

Then as I neared my school in a blink I was out of the bank. I popped out quicker than a grasshopper in front of a combine. Suddenly everything was sharp and clear. Though a fog bank is indistinct, it is evident. Though it is unformulated, it is palpable. And then it was gone. Or at least, behind me.

It made me think of life here on earth and life in heaven. The verse ‘through a glass darkly’ came to mind. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, we will see Jesus, as He is, his heaven, which is the REAL place to dwell. No more veil. No more sin-nature obscuring our vision and darkening our heart.

The blind will SEE! We see now, to be sure, but only through a fog of unreality and sin. When the fog lifts, we will see everything clearly. It will happen. It will happen abruptly, unexpectedly, but it will happen. We will see Jesus clearly in person, and what a sight that will be. When the indistinctness of life here in the dim dark clears to display diamond glittering brilliance of God’s glory, we may well indeed shout, Praise to the Father of Lights!

Posted in theology

Tree of Life, and 12 fruits each month?

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

This week I wrote about the question where is heaven? Also I wrote about what we have to look forward to in heaven. In that essay I’d compared Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22, noting that they were the only books of the Bible that were free of any description of sin. I’d also written that though Genesis 1-2 are wonderful for showing God’s power of His word in creation, Revelation 21-22 were even better.

I wanted to bask in that glorious vision a bit more so I kept mulling over the verses in Revelation 21-22. I was struck when I read Revelation 22:1-2, “The River and the Tree of Life”. Some things jumped out at me. You know how that happens, you read it a million times but THIS time, some things capture your attention in a huge way like you’ve never read it before?

The River and the Tree of Life

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2).

Though there are a LOT of things to ponder in just those two sentences, the two things that jumped out at me, were the tree’s location and the fruit.

EPrata photo

First, the tree. No matter the translation I read the verse in, it says the tree stood on either side of the river. How can THE tree, singular, stand on BOTH sides of a river? John Walvoord was puzzled too, and so are other commenters, according to him. He wrote:

“Interpreters have puzzled over this expression that the tree of life is on each side of the river. Some take this is as a group of trees. Others say that the river of life is narrow and that it flows on both sides of the tree. The tree of life was referred to in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22, 24), where it was represented as perpetuating physical life forever. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the fruit of this tree. Earlier in Revelation (2:7) the saints were promised the “right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Walvoord, J. F. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 987). Victor Books.

We do know that Ezekiel 47 is another place where heaven is described. Trees are mentioned on the banks of this same river flowing out from the throne of God. In Ezekiel 47:12 we read,

And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12).

But the Bible is consistent where the Tree of Life is mentioned, that it is A tree, or ONE tree, or THE Tree of Life.

But it could be that it’s as Ezekiel describes, a cluster of trees lining the banks of the River of Life. Or it could be as John describes in Revelation, ONE tree, on both sides of the river, possible since the eternal state does not necessarily have to abide by the laws of physics we have now. Or it could be as Roy Gingrich describes it below in his commentary on Revelation- the tree is in the river.

“A river of the water of life proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s street. In the midst of the river is the tree of life with its branches hanging over each bank of the river.” Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 94). Riverside Printing.

Whichever way it is when we see the configuration of the tree of life and the river of the waters of life, it’s a fantastic thing to think of, the Tree of Life and the river of the waters of life, crystal and pure, ever-flowing.

The other thing that struck me was the fruit.

This tree monthly bears twelve kinds of fruits. If the Tree of Life is indeed one tree, how can one tree bear different kinds of fruit? Doesn’t the vegetation bear only its own kind? We read in Genesis 1:12,

The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw that it was good.

Luke 6:44 says, For each tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.

However again, the dimension we will live in when we are glorified may not have the same laws of agriculture as we have now. Or perhaps since it is THE Tree of Life, it holds all life within it, including all kinds of seeds which bear all life-giving properties. It’s fun to think of.

By the way, the translation in the King James Version that we’re used to, that the tree’s leaves are for healing, doesn’t mean healing as in someone who is sick needs to get well. In the eternal state there will be no illness. As MacArthur said, rather than the leaves being medicine for healing, rather, they are like vitamins for flourishing. Both MacArthur and Gingrich commented that it may be more symbolic. That the expression used for tree and healing are anthropomorphic-

Its leaves are for the purpose of giving continuous health (not “healing,” K.J.V.) to the nations. The river represents the Spirit of God and the tree represents the Word of God. These two, the Spirit and the Word, keep the nations in perfect health. The variety of the fruit and frequency of the fruit picture God’s full and constant satisfaction of man’s religious and moral hunger. Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Book of Revelation (p. 94). Riverside Printing.

MacArthur: Well, time has no part of eternity, but it does remind us that there are cycles. And it’s just another one of those anthropomorphic expressions to say something to us in terminology which we can understand. There will be a regular cycle of joyous provision, filled with variety, changing all the timeThere’s going to be provided in heaven infinite variety, and there are going to be all kinds of things available in heaven, demonstrated by the symbolism of the leaves of that tree that are just going to energize life and just make it rich and full and exciting. (Source)

If you are feeling down, or troubled because of the times, firstly, avoid the secular news if you can. Secondly, pray to Jesus and lay your anxieties at His feet. Thirdly, read in the Bible of the wondrous things Jesus has in store for us. He is preparing that place and He will come back to retrieve His Bride from this polluted earth and play out His end plan. When it’s all over we have a glorious future ahead. The crystal River of the Waters of Life, Tree of Life, Street of Gold, no sin! And best of all, Jesus with us!

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Posted in heaven, theology

Where is heaven?

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to linger in thoughts of the supernatural. God is supernatural, of course. He is above us here in the natural world. The Trinity is supernatural. Who can understand it? The creation in 6 days is supernatural, and amazing too. His omnipotence is surely on display right from the first verses of Genesis.

Angels are supernatural. Sometimes invisible hordes are all around us (2 Kings 6:17). And demons (unholy angels) are supernatural. They are real, led by satan, formerly the highest angel. The Bible depicts demon possession. Jesus spent quite a bit of time casting them out. Just because 2000 years have gone by does not mean the demons are gone. They are still around, and will make an even more prevalent appearance during the Tribulation. (Rev 9:3, Rev 16:14, Rev 18:2, Matthew 24:37).

Do you ever wonder where heaven is? Is it right there, in a nearby dimension we can reach out and touch? The unseen gathering chariots at Elisha’s battle were there and became visible after Elisha prayed and God graciously opened his servant’s eyes. (2 Kings 6:17-20).

Heaven is absolutely a real place, it has physical properties, inhabitants, and activities within it. Bible verses say that it is above the earth, or people are called to ‘come up here.’ Or that they ‘went down’ from heaven to earth. But that could be language indicating that its heights are gloriously high because of the One who dwells there.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was changed as His glory shone out, and ‘suddenly’ He was speaking with Moses and Elijah personally and bodily. Is heaven parallel with us, alongside with us the whole time? After all, Jesus is omnipresent, and always ‘near.’ As Daniel was praying, before he even finished his request, Gabriel appeared. (Daniel 9:21). Is heaven that close?

There is a story told by Dr. David Leininger at The Presbyterian Pulpit about heaven.

I love the old story of the rich man who, on his death bed, negotiated with God to allow him to bring his earthly treasures with him when he came to heaven. God’s reaction was that this was a most unusual request, but since this man had been exceptionally faithful, permission was granted to bring along just one suitcase. The time arrived, the man presented himself at the pearly gates, suitcase in hand – BOTH hands, actually, since he had stuffed it with as many bars of gold bullion as would fit. St. Peter said, “Sorry, you know the rules – you can’t take it with you.” But the man protested that God said he could…one suitcase. St. Peter checked, found out that this one would be an exception, prepared to let the man enter, then said, “OK, but I will have to examine the contents before you pass.” He took the suitcase, opened it, saw the gold bars and asked quizzically, “You brought PAVEMENT?”

Certainly this cute story makes the point to us that what we value here on earth will not be what we value in heaven, wherever heaven may be now or in the future. We will value Jesus above all, His glory, His ways, His nail-scarred hands and riven side. We will value each other as HIS trophies of grace, having no pride, love and care for our brethren as Jesus cares for us. We will value past salvations borne from His grace, the cross, His plans and ways.

The most precious commodity currently on earth, gold, will then be just dusty matter under our feet, our eyes not upon its glitter any longer, but upon the glorious Light shining from every corner of the Universe, Jesus.

These are fun things to ponder. One of our Elders always says ‘Think Eternally!’


Further reading

My essay was just a few thoughts, not an exhaustive or scholarly treatment of the location of heaven. Others have written aobut that, in the following links that may be of interest to you:

Grace To You: Where is Heaven?

Randy Alcorn at Ligonier: Heavenly Mindedness

Alistair Begg: Our Heavenly Dwelling

Posted in theology

What we have to look forward to

By Elizabeth Prata

I love beginnings and endings, borders, edges. I love to see how things begin and how they end. That’s why I love Genesis and Revelation as my favorite books of the Bible.

Did you know that those two books are the only books of the Bible that have no sin in them? Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22. No sin. Bask in those chapters, my sisters, because those are a glimpse of what is to come. The rest of the Bible displays man’s sin-sin-sin all over the place. But Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21-22 are pure and beautiful.

In Genesis 1 and 2 we have the honor of watching God create the world. His intellect is stupendous, the variety of the landforms, flora, and fauna are incredible. Even more so to know God did it all in 6 days. Even more so to understand He did it with a word.

Revelation 21-22 are even better than Genesis 1 & 2. Why? The glory of the LORD shines even brighter in people who have been redeemed by His son, and who have no more chance of sinning. The Sword of Damocles no longer hangs over Adam and Eve, and the glorified Bride shines in sinlessness in a place where no sin ever touched. How good is THAT?

In fact, the only man made thing in heaven will be the nail scars on Jesus’ hands.

Both the aforementioned chapters of Genesis and of Revelation have the Tree of Life. Eden had a river flowing out into the world past the Tree of Life, but New Jerusalem has the River of the Water of Life flowing past the tree! There was a marriage in Genesis 2, (Adam and Eve), but in Revelation 21 there is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

This world is terrible. It has been since Genesis 3:1. Sin gushed in. I looked for named or blatant sins in Gen 3-9. We have the Original Sin: Disobedience to God’s word. Then shame and blame. We have murder, mocking God, lying. We have polygamy, violence, and threats of violence. And I’m only up to chapter 4. When God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door waiting to have him, He wasn’t kidding. Give sin an inch and it will take the world. And it did!

But the world will be remade so there will be no death or bones or sin. Everything will be pure, holy, and joyous.

What a day that will be.

Posted in theology

Days of Noah

By Elizabeth Prata

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37).

“Jesus’ emphasis here is not so much on the extreme wickedness of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:5), but on the people’s preoccupation with mundane matters of everyday life (“eating and drinking…marrying and giving in marriage – v. 38,) when judgment fell suddenly.” ~John MacArthur

“They had received warnings in the form of Noah’s preaching (2 Peter 2:5), and the ark itself which was a testimony to the judgment that was to come. But they were unconcerned about such matters and therefore were swept away unexpectedly in the midst of their daily activities.” ~John MacArthur

Whenever I had read those passages either in Genesis 6 or Matthew 24, I did always focus on the extreme wickedness. I liked the nudge from my study Bible to look at the mundanity of the people instead. I can relate to that. It is so easy to go along every day, day by day, and be involved in the details of living. Gradually our heads lower and view becomes myopic- preparing that next meal, getting ready for tomorrow’s work, fixing the car…we get so wrapped up with today’s tasks sometimes we forget the eternal tasks.

It is important to always lift our heads to envision heaven. We look at the glory to come, rest in the hope He gives, see the future, too, not solely the now.

Did you ever hear the phrase, “She’s so heavenly minded she’s no earthly good?” That is wrong. It is false. You can’t be too heavenly minded. Our great God should occupy our thoughts constantly. He should be the motivation for our deeds always. His glory is paramount!

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Posted in theology

Heaven Week: Links, Wrap up & Resources

By Elizabeth Prata

This past week, I published 6 essays looking at what heaven is from the Bible. I did this because I sense that in my world here in America it’s darkening at an extremely rapid pace. Our once free and open capitalist society is sliding down fast into socialism and totalitarianism. John MacArthur said

Continue reading “Heaven Week: Links, Wrap up & Resources”
Posted in theology

Heaven Week #6: What we can’t understand and what we can

By Elizabeth Prata

This week we have looked at heaven. If we focus on Jesus and His heavenly habitation, we tend to enlarge our perspective and fixate less on the darkness flooding the earth at present. It was an encouragement week here at The End Time, and a reminder that as dark as things get, we will not be here forever. It’s only our temporary home. We have a permanent citizenship in heaven, where everything is perfect.

Continue reading “Heaven Week #6: What we can’t understand and what we can”
Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Heaven Week #3: Heaven won’t have time

By Elizabeth Prata

Missionary to Vanuatu in the late 1800s, John G. Paton, writing about the death of one of his first native converts in his book Thirty Years Among the South Sea Cannibals, said:

“While staying at Aneityum, I learned with as deep emotion as man ever felt for man, that noble old Abraham, the sharer of my Tannese trials, had during the interval peacefully fallen asleep in Jesus. He left for me his silver watch one which I had myself sent to the dear soul from Sydney, and which he greatly prized. In his dying hour he said, “Give it to Missi, my own Missi Paton; and tell him that I go to Jesus, where Time is dead.”

That converted cannibal had a real and profound grasp of his position in Christ. I have read many times that in heaven sin will be dead, tears will be dead, sorrow will be dead, but I never read anything put quite like that. In heaven, time is dead.

Continue reading “Heaven Week #3: Heaven won’t have time”
Posted in theology

Heaven Week #2: It’s a real place

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday I wrote about heaven and we defined terms and talked about how exciting the first space trips were when we got to look back and see earth from the heavenly perspective. How wonderful it will be to look to Jesus when we are all really in heaven and see the universe from HIS heavenly abode!

J. C. Ryle wrote:

There is a glorious dwelling place provided by Jesus Christ for all His believing people. The world that now is, is not their rest: they are pilgrims and strangers in it. Heaven is their home.
There will be a place in heaven for all sinners who have fled to Christ by faith, and trusted in Him : for the least as well as the greatest. Abraham took care to provide for all his children, and God takes care to provide for His. None will be disinherited; none will be cast out; none will be cut off. Each shall stand in his lot, and have a portion in the day when the Lord brings many sons to glory. In our Father's house are many mansions.
Continue reading “Heaven Week #2: It’s a real place”