Hell

Goats and Sheep

Like any great piece of literature, as you read, it raises questions and makes you want to learn about the information that is not written to understand why it was written, that’s why we take classes, have book clubs, and participate in Bible studies. We are drawn to what is not there, not so much of secret or subliminal messages, but understanding what was said and why in its respective contexts, adding to the beauty and color, as well as deeper significance and meaning. On the other hand it opens up mysteries that the author wanted to hide,  demanding the reader or listener to seek out, which is often what we see in the parables Jesus told. Now there are many, but there is one in Matthew that has always baffled me.

Apart from the parable itself, I’ve heard it referenced in other settings and wondered what the difference is between goats and sheep. So I got the bright idea to look it up after reading it fairly recently in my devotion. If you aren’t familiar, long story short sheep go to Heaven and goats burn in Hell, but why? From the outside looking in, they are very similar in how they look and operate, maksheep-and-goatse similar sounds, and even move well together, but as you move past the surface you begin to see that they are quite opposite animals indeed. As I learned, it comes down to this one thing, sheep are dependent and goats are independent.

If you notice Christians are likened to sheep, just as much as Jesus to a lamb. Why? Because we follow. Every move a sheep makes is based on that of the shepherd, on whom it depends for everything. For example, the sheep rely on the shepherd fully for food and protection, and even if the destination is the slaughterhouse, the sheep will still follow to the end, just as Christ did for us. Thus, because sheep, Christ-followers, have made the choice to puSheep_and_goatt their dependence in God, placing their very life in the Shepherd’s hand, they receive Heaven’s reward. Okay, so what about the goat?

Generally speaking, goats can move with the sheep herd, but they aren’t followers. Instead, they tend to be stubborn at times and do whatever they want when they want, and we see people like this every day who have not surrendered their life [totally] to Christ for whatever reason, and desire to live how they choose and do what they want, good or bad. In the parable, the goats are the ones that burn. Whoa!

In our culture, the focus is often independence and doing what we feel, but the life of Christian is about dying to self daily. Still, even as a Christian we lose sight of that and fall into goat-like behaviors, depending on our own abilities, resources, talents, money, education, etc., when truthfully we should be living as if our very next breathe depends solely on God, because it does. Being you for a purpose means that every word, thought, and deed is guided and directed by the great Shepherd, the only one who is really worth following into a place of infinite possibilities, and the only way to Heaven.

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Mansions: Heavenly Ghetto

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There is a question that has lingered early on in the hip-hop culture, yet it may have come up before that. The question you ask, “Is there a ghetto in Heaven?”

Now I am sure you are asking yourself, is that even a possibility, considering our connotation of ghetto versus that of heaven, but in actuality it is a legitimate question. Why or how you ask? Most people are familiar with the verse in the John that tells us that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, but when you read it, it doesn’t say that He is preparing mansions; it only says that there are many mansions. So what?

The work we do here on Earth counts. How we live for Christ matters. You may think or have the assumption that your labor is in vain, as if you are fishing without catching a fish, let alone a sardine, but God sees you, and whether in this life or the next, He will give you all that you are due. God is watching and His angels are keeping records of every word every said and every action done, both good and bad, matter of fact both Daniel and John say that there are books about each of us open when we have to give our account of what we have done with our lives. What are they writing about you?

There is a song that says “I’m sending up my timber every day,” timber implying wood to build your heavenly residence. I think it’s safe to assume that we all desire to live in big mansion up on a hill next to the apostles or other great Christ-following leaders over the centuries when we get to Glory, which is all fine and dandy. However, Our Father who is preparing a place for us needs some material so that He has all He needs to build the mansions we desire, thus, the timber.

Our timber is simply how we live for Him. Being you for a purpose means that every opportunity you are given to send up timber; you are letting God use you as He so chooses, multiplying your strengths and efforts, and being the power, despite your weaknesses to serve Him. The material we send to Heaven is how we love others, especially those who won’t love us in return, how we treat each other and speak to and about each other, how we use the gifts and talents He has given us, how we forgive others, how we invest in our relationship with God, how we face temptations, attempting to live holy, how we give, how obedient we are to His Spirit, and how we walk in the perfect will of God. The more, we have, the bigger our residence.

Jesus is preparing a place for us, the question is what, because it didn’t say they are all mansions, only that there are many. So that left me thinking, so what else is there? Is it the possibility that those who received salvation, their down payment to break ground, because He is truly preparing a place for all of us, but because they didn’t live a life worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1), they didn’t send up enough timber, if any, God was limited by what He was able to do, and thus instead of a nice heavenly home, they received a shack?

I am convinced that not only the dwelling place, but the location to an extent, will be determined by the lives we live on this side of Glory. If that is the case, then it may be not so strange to say that Heaven has a ghetto. Of course, don’t get me wrong, making it to Heaven, even if by the skin of your teeth, even if I get a cardboard box to live in, it is infinitely greater that Hell. Furthermore, the heavenly ghetto is completely different than the ghetto as we think. I mean for starters, there is no sin, no crime, no craziness; no need to worry about the water or electricity bill, for there is no need for light since his full glory will light up the universe and there is a river of clear life water; no busted concrete streets, but rather streets of gold; no homeless people for every has a place to live, and no poverty for we will be feasting with Christ and there is a tree of life with 12 different fruits in bloom in its season. God is gracious enough to at least promise a place, no matter what, which is another example of His awesome love.

Being you for a purpose means not settling for anything less than God’s absolute best, in this life or the next. Make your life count so that you when it’s all said and done, God will personally give you something to show for it, for all the sacrifice, all the pain, all the tears, all the hurt, all the suffering, all the struggling, all the loneliness, all the frustrations, all the fight, all the effort, and all that you had to endure on your way home in Heaven, and the insane part is that mansions are just the beginning. Trust me, it will all be worth it.

Be you for a purpose and overwhelm God with all your timber in order to hear those coveted words, “Well done. Welcome home.”

 

A Screwtape Perspective

So, if you are unaware, we are living in the final days. Now to give you a time frame or a IMAG1165-1-1date, by no means will I attempt to do so, but I will just say, open your eyes. Jesus laid it out flat when the disciples asked him for the sign of his return in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. For some time I wondered why such bad things foreshadowed his return, but if you haven’t read either of those passages, here are a few things: wars and rumors of wars, nations against nations, weird weather in random places, lack of love, children going against their parents to the extreme, brothers fighting each other, Christian persecution, pestilence, fearful events, and increase in natural disasters or events (famines and earthquakes).

Now if you just watch the news or read through Facebook, you can see the truth of each of these happenings, whether a random shooting, children killing their parents, parents killing their kids, monsoons, earthquakes, diseases and sicknesses, or wars and tension between nations (ie Russian, Ukraine, US, Iraq, Egypt, Liberia, Libya, etc). It’s heartbreaking to be honest and it again just makes me wonder why things are getting so ridiculous. I understand God is sovereign, but it’s like seriously. Then I think well, many of our problems are a result of our desire to not want anything to do with Him or His Word, just in the US alone, not to mention the persecution of Christians around the world.

Besides all that, I have been reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters.” So far the book has blown my mind to get a further glimpse into the mind of Satan and the tactics of him and his counterparts. Nonetheless, in one of the letters, Uncle was speaking on how the idea that war or pestilence are a shoe in for attacking the faith alone is an exaggeration and can actually hinder the Enemy’s desire for people to undermine their faith and keep people from turning to God. The reasoning is that in the midst of things like war and pestilence, people tend to call out and seek redemption from a higher power, the Enemy of the Enemy.

To bring it all together, through all the terrible things that are happening in the world we live in, God is getting our attention so that we can get right with Him before it is too late. If Jesus would come back when the world was all honky dory, there would be no incentive to get right, and more people would be lost. With all that is going on, people are seeking help and an answer for what is happening. I am hear to say Jesus is that answer an he is on his way back, and with everything occurring, he is providing more and more opportunities for people to come to a saving knowledge of His love, mercy, grace, power, and redemption and salvation. Uncle Screwtape (a high ranking demon in the book) even said so Himself, it’s through the suffering that people turn to God, and the Devil and his demons don’t like that; misery loves company and they will do all in their power to bring as many people to Hell with them.

Open your eyes. Your God-given purpose, your destiny, your calling is so pertinent to giving and or providing an answer to the struggles of so many others. By choosing to be all that God made you to be, being you for a purpose, you will help usher in the coming of the Lord Jesus, in a way that only you can, providing hope to those that need to hear and know that a better day is coming.