For many years I made it a point to read one chapter in the Book of Revelation each morning along with my other Bible reading routine. Therefore, as I came across this verse more than once a month I would foolishly ask myself, "Why would I want to be stuck in the temple of God throughout eternity?" And I am not positive about what the word "overcometh" means but I believe it to mean overcoming the many temptations we face in this life.
I would consider all of the things I had heard of the streets of gold and mansions and joy and peace and, of course, all the things we can imagine our rewards will be like. And I thought, when would I be able to enjoy all those things if I am stuck in the temple of God forever. Did you notice the part where it says, ". . . and he shall go no more out, . . ." And on top of that, what kind of reward is that just for trying to be as good as I can be each day here on earth.
Well, first, before I go any farther let me say, I doubt I will ever be one of those who Jesus is speaking of in this passage. Maybe Billy Graham or Dwight Moody or one of those great men of God, but not me. So the bottom line probably is - I don't need to be worried about it!
But recently, as I read that again, I began to question my carnal nature and how foolish I really am. One aspect of our makeup is the worldly desires we all have. For instance, when I was a toddler my world was limited to the living room and maybe the back yard. A little later in life I got a bicycle and my world became much larger. And, when I received my drivers' license the size of my world was multiplied - and even became greater when I bought my own car. But wait! There's more. When I moved away from home to go to college - how much of a change was that! It goes on and on. I went to work and earned money to purchase things like boats and airplanes. And - well I think you can recall your own story of how your world changed around you through the years.
Now, back up to Heaven for a moment: Everybody seems to have their own ideas of what Heaven will be like. Many of these ideas are based upon passages found in God's word, but He gives us only a few details and leaves a lot to our imagination. I often tell folks that when I get to Heaven I will probably spend my first thousand years bowing before my best Friend, Jesus, thanking Him for being so forgiving of my many foolish mistakes. And, sooner or later someone will come by, tap me on the shoulder, and say, "You know, there are many other things up here waiting for you to enjoy." Therefore, my perception of what today's scripture passage is speaking of could be a lot different than what it will really be like.
Now, back down to where we live: Let's go back to when I was a toddler. Then, let's go back further to the day I was born. My memory is not that good but I suspect that was the most traumatic day of my life up to that point. Because in all the days prior to that I was cuddled and fed and loved. I had no cares or worries. And my world, although very small, was the only place I would ever want to be. But on that day, that small world that I had known suddenly became much larger; less secure, and filled with unimaginable challenges.
I know Heaven will have no challenges and it will be a place where we will be thrilled to receive the rewards awaiting us. And thinking it through, and considering how much God really loves me, I'm comfortable and satisfied with the knowledge that He, God, loves me enough to keep me that close by His side for ever. And I love Him and Praise Him for that.
But, as I said earlier, I may not need to worry about that.
I should probably begin with a short summery of my spiritual life: I trusted Jesus when I was nine years old at a Billy Graham campaign. I grew as a typical boy does with no remarkable spiritual growth until I reached high school and became involved in Youth For Christ. When I graduated my heart's desire was to attend Bible college and live full-time for the Lord. But that didn't happen due circumstances including poor or no counselling. Instead of Bible school I attended a secular college and began to backslide. I lived in that state for about 15 years, went through a divorce, remarried, and when I was in my mid thirties returned to my first love and have never departed since that time about 40 years ago.
So, it wasn't until I was in my mid thirties that I realized how much I needed the Word of God and how little time I had spent reading it prior to that point in my life. Once I realized how easy it had been to backslide and ruin my life and the lives of those I loved, my attitude toward God's word made a 180 degree turn, and I began reading it with purpose. And, for the past forty years or more I have sat down with the Lord and my Bible at 5:00 AM nearly every morning without fail. Had I started this routine 20 years earlier I am sure my life would have turned out much different. But God is faithful and has patiently waited for me to catch up and get much closer to Him.
If you follow these blogs you may have noticed that I used the same reference verse for this blog as I did for the last one. (Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.) It is strange how God speaks to us in all sorts of ways. As I was writing the last blog and thought about that verse the Lord spoke to my heart about a few concerns I have had lately (The past few years). The first is: I am beginning to have difficulty recalling the verses I have taken time to memorize over the years. It started by not recalling where they were found. The other concern is one I have had for the past several years: When I was young and busy for the Lord my mindset was, "I will put off memorizing this or that verse until I have more time later." And we all know how that always turns out. Now, I wish so much that I had taken time to memorize them when the Lord was speaking to me through them.
But God is so good and comforting to the soul. As I thought about those concerns He began to speak to me about what that verse really is saying. Let me begin by reviewing how we memorize a verse. (Some folks are better at it than others.) We start putting the words to memory by repeating them over and over until we can repeat them without having to look at the page. But within a short time we need to return to the page because, although we have them almost perfect, we find ourselves having to refresh our memory on how they are supposed go together. And, finally, after many, many attempts we can say that verse, word-for-word every time.
The previous paragraph was covering how we place a Bible verse into our memory; into our mind. At least that is how I find myself doing it. But over the past week or so the Lord has been pointing out my misunderstanding of what that verse is really saying: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Wow! (I thought) Am I the last person to figure this out?
We are all born with a brain. My mom used to wonder about me, but it is true. Our brain is where our memory is located. That is where all those verses were stored as the years have gone by. But the brain is flesh. I was born in the flesh with that fleshly brain. Memorizing verses dealt with that old physical brain of mine. Verse after verse was placed in some chemically changed memory cells through some reaction that took place. There was no Spiritual connection involved.
But as I was considering these things the Lord pointed me to that one, important, word - "HEART." And all of a sudden I understood. He is so kind. It was as if He was saying, "Don't be kicking yourself because of your old age. It is because of that old age that you have had time to HIDE My Word in your HEART."
His precious Word may be slipping from my mind day-by-day, but over the years and even today that precious Word (not words) is stuck like glue in my heart. And in my heart is where He has been all these years, watching over me and guiding me as I sat down with him each morning to read and refresh my heart with all I could find in His Word.
Can you imagine a pair of glasses that has the same technology they use in fighter jets called the head-up display? A pair of glasses that have a computer built into the ear pieces which feeds the internet, email, YouTube or anything of your choice to a HUD display on the lenses. You can still go about your day as usual but if you need a map or music or information it is there, right before your eyes. And there doesn't even need to be a computer in your new glasses. The display can simply be drawn from the blue tooth connection with your Apple watch which is on your wrist. Sounds simple to me!
Revelation 13:16, 17 ("And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.")
Hmmm - My glasses are close to the forehead and my watch is close to my hand . . . . As you may have heard recently, Apple corporation is the most wealthy business in the world. I don't know the details. I just heard it on the news. And Apple now has a watch which connects to the nearest cell tower and works as a phone etc. It won't be long until it can do all that your IPhone can do. So, what is this blog about . . . ?
Last night, as I write this, our church had a "family meeting." In it we discussed the new direction the pastor is taking as well as the switch from using the King James Version of the Bible to another modern version. This blog has nothing to do with that meeting. But it has everything to do with the struggle I faced as I spent time with Jesus this morning.
I grew up with the King James version of God's word. I love it and want to share with you the most important reason why:
Genesis 22:15-18: ("And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.")
As you may know, this is one of the many types in the old testament pointing to our Savior, Jesus. As you may also know, Isaac's birth was a miracle of God. And so was that of Jesus. Isaac's parents were far beyond child-bearing age when he was born. God, Himself, had to be involved in this miracle. But there is a problem with this type because if Abraham would have trusted totally in God's promise, the angel could have said, . . .hast not withheld thy son, thine only begotten son" But Abraham didn't believe God and his first son was Ishmael, born to his handmaid. It is still a type not as pure as it could have been.
Almost anyone you ask can quote John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That is the King James Bible version. Many of the new versions leave out that precious word. They simply say, ". . . gave his only son," The King James version of the Bible recognizes the deity of the blood of Jesus.
Up until a couple of months ago I had two daughters, but one has moved to Heaven to be with Jesus. So now my daughter, Chloe, is my only daughter. But she is NOT my only begotten daughter. When a man begets a child, the process of conception transfers his blood line into the child. Abraham's blood line was transferred to Ishmael, and, Isaac. Obviously, God did not recognize Ishmael as being a son of Abraham because he was illegitimate. When you read the context of John 3:16 you hear Jesus speaking of the physical birth.
Jesus had other brothers born to Mary by her husband Joseph. But Jesus was begotten by God's Holy Spirit while Mary was still a virgin. That's the miracle of the birth of Jesus. God was the begetting father of Jesus. His blood ran through the veins of Jesus - His sinless blood. If His blood had not been sinless blood, He could never have been able to pay the price He paid for my sins, and yours. When I put my trust in that sinless blood, the same Holy Spirit that conceived the body of Jesus came to dwell within me.
But, since that day back in 1951 I have experienced the many changes that have taken place as the Book of Revelation describes what accompanies the last of the seven churches. All of the technology spoken of in Revelation and Matthew 24 is here around us. We are in the period of the last of the seven church ages mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3. No one can deny that.
So, that is why I love Jesus - and - The King James version of the Bible.