School shootings, discrimination, unemployment, and other depressing stories—why even watch the news? Maybe we are at the end of a short rope and we just need a knot to hang on to. But let’s not give up so quickly!
Though Jesus’ time on earth was short, He lived it fully so we could better understand the kingdom of heaven. Each day, He did the work of His Father. After all, He had tasted heaven, and He knew how vastly different this earth had become from what God had intended. He knew that life itself could be much more as well, so He led by example.
Jesus spent time showing us what real freedom in life looks like. He told us not to worry about worldly things. Jesus knew that our daily tasks should be about what God wants. He understood that eternity would far surpass anything we could experience here on earth.
But how can we get a taste of heaven while we’re still on earth?
Spend time with a group of people who serve others, and join in what they do!
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10 NIV).
Back in September, we attended the International Mission Board’s Celebration of Emeriti in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. It was invigorating to reunite with friends and reminisce about days on the missions field.
Most entertaining to me was sitting at the table watching people come through the lunchroom doors. Eyes were fixed on two doorways to see who would come out next, and we were thrilled when we saw dear friends. We heard people say things like, “Hey, look! There’s Fred! Is that Aunt Linda?” I found myself wanting to run up and take their trays to the table.
It was a little touch of heaven watching our missionary family walk through the doors, as we knew they had finished their overseas service well.
Knowing that heaven will be even sweeter than this is exhilarating. We know from the parable in Luke 14:15–24 that the kingdom of God is like a banquet. As His children, we want to invite more guests to dine with us in God’s kingdom. We might even get to serve them at the feast, too!
Being with missionaries might teach us how to serve, but we don’t have to go overseas to live like missionaries. Serving others should happen wherever we are.
The churches we attend should not be buildings, but families of people who serve together. Let’s challenge one another to be the church that serves together, starting with us. A wonderful thing about serving is that the more we serve God, the more joy we experience here on earth.
Ask God to bring to mind someone who needs encouragement today, and take steps to encourage that person!
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV).
Bobbye Rankin is one of those women who makes me smile. There’s something about being with her that lifts me to another level. She serves people with the poise of a princess and is constantly about God’s work.
One humid day in Bangkok, she walked into my house dripping with sweat and carrying a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Our husbands were traveling together in Vietnam. She knew that I’d be home alone with our three small children for several weeks. In those days, there were no cell phones, emails, or even an easy way to contact our spouses when they traveled. Inevitably, something would break or someone would get sick, and our job as missionary wives and mothers was to simply take care of it.
Knowing this, Bobbye took it upon herself to walk the extra mile or two that day in the sweltering heat to bring me flowers along with her graceful words of love and encouragement. Even with sweat dripping from her nose, she was the most elegant person who graced my door during those weeks. She came to spur me onward.
Her words were kind and memorable, “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24b NIV).
We live in a world where social media can provide instant communication, but we should not completely exchange it for live interaction with others. I feel confident that even if social media had existed on that day in Bangkok, Bobbye would still have come to my door with those flowers to visit me personally. Her personal visit spoke volumes to me.
Each of us can offer encouragement to someone who needs it. We may need to turn off our phones while we’re in our community interacting with others, or we may need to go across town to visit someone in person.
Regardless of our method of communicating, when we sense God showing us whom to encourage, we need to take steps to do it. An extra blessing is that our encouraging them will also bring us joy. It might even seem like eating a heavenly snack.
Focus on what God asks each day, and enjoy an exciting journey with Him!
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17 NIV).
Is it possible to find a taste of heaven as we work?
The early bird gets the worm and bring home the bacon are idioms that point us to the importance of work and its connection to our having food on the table. To take it further, I read an article in USA Today about a study showing that the key to happiness at work is free snacks. Imagine that!
Work allows us to eat, pay bills, and provide for our families. But when we get to heaven, we want to also know that we served God through the work we did on earth. A job may require 40–60 hours each week, a significant amount of our time.
While many work for money, Christians should also be doing God’s will, wherever they work.
That doesn’t mean that secular work is less significant than full-time ministry, but it does mean that we need to be seeking God first every day.
In Matthew 6:31–33 (NIV), Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Jesus made this clear to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray. He reminded them to ask God to give daily bread in Matthew 6:11. The prayer shows our dependence on God to provide for us as we do His will daily.
So let’s meet God daily, asking Him how we can joyfully serve Him each day through our work. Journeying with Him may be more exciting than we realized.
We may find a taste of heaven here on earth as we join in serving others, take steps to encourage others, and seek God’s kingdom each day.
Claudia Johnson, CWLC leadership consultant