What about Heaven? Part 1
Why did Jesus tell the story of the rich man and Lazarus?
Why is the rich man not named and Lazarus is named?
Who was Jesus talking to and what was He confronting?
Jesus preached dozens of stories and parables. What is it about stories that capture our attention? Why do we love a good story? Why would the greatest preacher of all time use a story to be one of His greatest ways to communicate?
Jesus knew that we naturally remember stories. He intentionally communicated powerful truths through the details of His stories. He always confronted misconceptions that were ingrained in people.
Jesus cared so much about the religious leaders that He started with His story about a rich man, knowing that this would instantly connect with His audience. When the religious leaders heard about the rich man, heard he was helping a poor, sick, needy man, they instantly thought the rich man is the hero of the story. Jesus wanted the religious leaders to identify with the rich man. In their eyes, the rich man was the true servant, helping the needy. The rich man must have been blessed by God in order to meet the needs of others. Later in the story, Jesus reveals that the rich man is the one who is calling Abraham, "Father Abraham," revealing that they are in the family of the Nation of Israel. Jesus also reveals that the rich man knows the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets. So, Jesus is using the rich man to be a metaphor for the religious leaders.
Then Jesus does the great reversal. He uses the heart, mind and identity-shocking preacher's tool. He flips the story. The hero is in hell. What? The blessed man is in hell? The servant is in hell? In other words, the religious leaders might possibly go to hell?
I wonder what this did to the hearts and minds of the religious leaders?
I think Jesus was clearly communicating to all the religious leaders that He does not want anyone, not even His enemies to go to hell. I think Jesus was trying to wake them up to their misunderstandings on how to connect with God and get to Heaven. "Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekial 18:23
-Rich man, blessed by God for the purpose of serving people in need is not a reason and the way to get into Heaven.
-"Father Abraham," revealing that the rich man was born into the family of God, the Nation of Israel, is not how anyone can get into Heaven.
-Knowing the Scriptures, "Moses (author of first 5 books of the Bible) and the prophets," does not get you into Heaven.
Jesus confronts these three common ways of getting into Heaven as false ways of salvation.
How do you know that you are going to Heaven?
What truths are you standing on in order to know that when you die, you will go to Heaven?
What is Jesus saying to you in this story?
Next Encourager we will continue with this life-changing story of Jesus.
Praying for Jesus' story to change our lives.
Are you ready for God's DREAMs?
God is a God of new things.
As God's family (the Nation of Israel) struggled with taking God for granted, enjoying slipping into their temptations and neglecting God and His mission, God interrupted them with a hopeful, circumstance changing message through Isaiah.
"See, I am doing a new thing." Isa 43:19
Last Sunday, I had the privilege to share five of God's dreams for His family; five new things God wants to do in us. This year are you going to let God do these DREAMs in you?
Discover where you are stuck.
Isa 43: 22-24 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel. You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices... You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses."
Remember who you are in Christ.
Isa 43:1 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Eyes on God to catch His new thing for today.
Isa 43:19-20 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."
Act in Faith.
Isa 43:2-3 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
Make God known.
Isa 43:8-13 God said, “Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth? “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!”
These DREAMs of God are daily. Are you letting God live out His DREAMs in you today, tomorrow and every day?
If so, you will never be the same and others will experience Jesus Christ through you. Are you ready for God's DREAMs in 2016?
Praying for you to team up with God to enhance this world.
As we start a new year, we are one year older. One more year closer to Heaven. One year less to make a difference in this world. Have you accomplished what you think God wants you to accomplish on this earth? How are you going to let God do great things in you and through you? How are you going to team up with God to change your life, your attitude, your character, your actions and words to be more like Jesus? What are you going to do differently to connect with God and team up with God to do great things?
Do you remember when Jesus was 12 years old and talking with the leaders in the Synagogue? After that challenging conversation and situation, "Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and favor with men." Luke 2:52
We see the second person of the trinity, Jesus, growing in four important ways. We need to always continue to follow Jesus' example in growing in these areas as well.
-Intellectual Growth: What do I want to learn this year?
"Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper." Pr 19:8 (GN)
-Physical Growth: What will improve my health this year?
"Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time." Pr17:22(GN)
"In Favor with God"
-Spiritual Growth: What will deepen my relationship with God this year?
"Grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 3:18 (LB)
"In Favor with men"
-Social Growth: What will be my ministry to others this year?
"God has given you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other." 1Peter 4:10 (LB)
Take time to pray, think, reflect and write down what God is calling you to do. A dream becomes a goal when we write it down.
Praying that each of us would become more like Jesus and grow in these areas.
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.