flowers sky woman joy

How to Realize Spiritual Joy. Don’t Miss Out/Spiritual Meditations

 

Joy is almost a mystery, isn’t it?  Sometimes we struggle to grasp the biblical view of the elusive “joy” because of the way it is defined and described in Western culture today.

What’s the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?

In particular, we often confuse joy with happiness. Happiness may be momentary, as it is a result of short-term contentment; but joy, being related to the inner self, is long lasting. It is a deep-seated sense of what God has done and what He is doing. Happiness simply pleases a person, while joy brings warmth to the heart, and contentment to the soul. Probably the easiest distinction to understand is that happiness is dependent on outward circumstances, whereas joy is a spiritual quality independent of outward circumstances.

That doesn’t mean that all worldly events are without joy. An appreciation of God’s creations, such as nature and music, can be a source of joy.  The “Kingdom of God” is the manifestation of the astonishing sovereignty and glory of God. Sometimes God displays His glory and power by healing (2 Kings 5:1-14). Sometimes He puts a believer in a position of power (Esther 8:1-2). And sometimes He blesses His children with material possessions (Job 42:10-17). The key is that it is God who blesses, and although we may appreciate the gift, we rejoice that He has chosen to pour out His love, sovereignty, and power on us. We rejoice in the Giver, not just in the gift.

The Sources of Christian Joy

Once you realize that joy is not the same as happiness, it becomes a more difficult feeling to recognize but I hope you will be able to identify it by considering your unique experiences in relationship to the following sources of joy.

Joy is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruits of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
“Fruit” here means “the result of labor.” The laborer is the Holy Spirit.  So, what Galatians 5:22-23 really describes are traits characteristic of a believer who has yielded to the Holy Spirit’s work in his or her life. One of these character traits is joy.

God’s Presence Brings Joy

In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalms 16:11).

“There is a joy which isn’t given to the ungodly, that of those who love thee for thine own sake, whose joy thou thyself art; and this is the happy life to rejoice in thee, and of thee. This is it and there is none other.” – Augustine

Joy is Found in a Personal Relationship With God.

The Holy Spirit is God’s spirit, so when you unlock the presence of God or the Holy Spirit you may be feeling joy. This is the source of joy that I identify with the most strongly.  As I write this, I feel my heart, my soul connected with the heart, the Spirit of God. It is an extraordinary contentment or heart happiness.

If you have not already done so, this is something you can experience, in time, by meditating on spiritual truths as described on my blog page entitled “How to Meditate to Reach Higher God Consciousness.  There is an expansion of this idea in my post entitled “A Clear Mind Improves God Awareness”.

The Knowledge that God Answers Prayer is a Source of Joy

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
We can feel assured, that all our needs shall be supplied from the fountain that is inexhaustible—and that “no good thing” will be withheld from us. We can trace every mercy, every blessing, to the hand of God, and know that God has sent them in all the kindness and tenderness of a loving Father.  Which brings us to the point that our answered prayers are those within God’s will.

Alignment with God’s Will Brings Joy

We are never filled with more joy than when we are in the center of God’s will. When God can’t be persuaded to do things our way or we can’t change our situation, we finally give ourselves over to the will of God. Let’s surrender to and commit ourselves to pursuing God’s will. In this there is true joy. Also read Acts 20:24 and James 1:22-25.

God’s Word Brings Joy

God’s Word can be a glorious source of joy for the believer. As you read the Bible you may come across passages that suddenly speak to you in the moment, touching your heart with the recognition that God has just spoken to or answered you.  What joy!

Serving God with Other Believers is Joyful

Philippians 2:2 tells us that “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”  If you have been inspired to work with other Christians to provide service to those in need, you know how the gratitude received and the goals accomplished bring you unbelievable joy and satisfaction.

The Joy of Hope During Difficulties.

Because joy resides in our soul, it may not prevent us from experiencing negative surface emotions. To the Christian, who is living near to the throne of grace, there are sources of joy unknown to all others. He or she can even “rejoice in tribulation,” and “be glad in the Lord,” while experiencing pain, suffering, and distress. Not that we are insensible to trial and affliction, or that we steel ourselves to their endurance; not that we can gaze unmoved on the wreck of all our hopes, or see, without a tear of agony, beloved ones laid in their silent grave.

No! our affections are warmer and more tender; our sympathies deeper and stronger; our sensibilities more acute and lively, than those devoid of joy. We can feel and feel intensely the robbing of earthly joys. But then, we know where we can go for comfort, peace, satisfaction and hope and we remember the words of the Savior, “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
Given that the Bible tells us it is perfectly legitimate to experience mourning, sorrow, and grief, these feelings do not separate us from God. For we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4). The key is knowing. If we are to stand up under trials and experience joy, we must have a vision toward hope.  Remembering Jesus’ care for us and our ultimate victory in Him, we can experience joy even in our hidden hardships.

Jesus told His followers:

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!” — Luke 6:22-23

The writers of the epistles followed Jesus’ lead:

You received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. — 1 Thessalonians 1:6

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. — James 1:2

One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. They were beaten; they were imprisoned; and who knew what would happen to them the next day? But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. — Acts 16:25

The kind of joy that gets you singing in jail at midnight with your back bleeding and your life hanging by a thread — that’s joy worth cultivating!

In our culture of instant gratification and constant amusement, it’s hard to understand the suffering the apostles endured for the sake of the gospel. We’ll do anything to avoid trials and tribulations. But often, in an attempt to keep anything uncomfortable from touching us, we miss the very thing God wants to use to lead us to the joy in Him. We can’t avoid difficulties, but amid all our troubles — there is God and His effervescent love.

This doesn’t mean we deny or disguise our feelings. It doesn’t mean we can or should shrug off pain or disappointment or try not to feel sorrow when we have good cause. It means we place our trust in God, and He opens the door to a joy beyond anything we can know on our own: the joy of knowing we are in His hands forever.

Gratitude for Our Salvation Brings Joy

The moment of salvation is inexpressibly joyous. This is our eternal, spiritual delivery from separation from God and our entry into heaven. Jesus came so that we might be saved, and the New Testament testifies that this experience is an occasion for priceless joy; for those converted and for those involved in the process. Many tears of joy have been shed when someone estranged from God, or who has been an enemy of God, has become His adopted son or daughter.

In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories of precious things that were lost and then found, and each was an occasion for joy: the shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep to search for and find one lost lamb; the woman who lost a valuable coin and found it; and the prodigal son, who was lost but found his way home.
In each story Jesus spoke of the rejoicing that surrounds the saving of one soul, and He described the joy that results:
I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. — Luke 15:7
After the Ethiopian eunuch was saved, he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39). Luke recorded the conversion of the Gentiles “caused great joy to all the brethren” (Acts 15:3). The Philippian jailer and his family were filled with joy when they became believers in God (Acts 16:34). Never doubt that salvation, the most profound of new beginnings, is also infused with joy beyond description.

The Joy of Helping Another to Heaven

Soul winning is one of the greatest sources of joy a believer will ever experience both now and in the life to come.  Imagine the Apostle Paul in heaven. A great multitude walks by and the Lord says to him, “These are here because you cared, sacrificed and remained faithful to your call (Acts 20:24). Wow, what joy!

The Joy of Knowing Christ and His Love for Us.

The Christian rejoices because he has found Christ, “the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Jesus lived, and suffered, and died that “all that great debt” we owed to law and justice, was washed away.

The Christian rejoices in the thought, that Christ not only “appears in the presence of God for us,” but also that He is ever present with His Church and people on earth. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the ages.” “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” And He prepares us for the enjoyment of His heavenly kingdom.

How to Attain More Joy in Your Life

That brings us back to this matter of how we can be joyful as a matter of discipline or of the will. How is it possible to remain joyful all the time? Paul gives us the key: “Rejoice in the Lord always”. We all can certainly enjoy and appreciate God’s creation but the key to Christian’s joy is its source, which is the Lord. If Christ is in me and I am in Him, that relationship is not a sometimes experience. All our attempts to find joy will be futile if we do not abide in Jesus, because we cannot make ourselves joyful by our own power. But as we live in Christ, His perfect joy will dwell in us and make our experience of joy ever more consistent and full (John 15:10–11).

Even if Christians cannot rejoice in the circumstances, if we find ourselves passing through pain, sorrow, or grief, we still can rejoice in God. We rejoice in the Lord, and since He never leaves us or forsakes us, we can rejoice always.

You who have not discovered your personal relationship with God, have been overwhelmed with sorrow and grief at some time. But when you give your heart to God, He will turn your sorrow into joy. And nothing will be able to steal that joy from you.

When we voice our concerns to God and allow ourselves to be reminded of His goodness, we release our burdens. Jesus said,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
But it doesn’t stop there. Paul goes on to say,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
After we have given our requests to God, we keep a proper perspective. We think on things that are pure, full of splendor, excellent, right, and praiseworthy. We do not dwell on our heartache but on the goodness of God and the beauty He infuses into our lives. This is important to remember when circumstances are less than joyful. James 1:2 says,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.
In trials, joy is not found in the immediate situation but in the promise that God’s Kingdom will be revealed through the situation. 1 Peter 1:7-9 says that current trials bring an assurance of faith, making the future joy even greater when Jesus returns. Similarly, James 1:3-4 says that trials will strengthen our character. We can rejoice in that trials point to a future gift.

Conclusion

True joy can be found in Jesus (John 15:11). If you look for God’s work and gifts in your life, you will always have joy. Even in hardship, your joy remains, because it depends on God and His promises, which do not change.  If you get caught up in temporary hardships and worldly desires, your joy will be fleeting and weak.

Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are and why you are. The joy of the believer is not bestowed by any man and, therefore, cannot be taken away.  When you need nothing more than truth and the love of a good God to bring you peace, then you have settled into the abiding joy that is not rocked by anything.

Love of God is an essential ingredient of joy, I think, something not necessarily true of happiness.

Relevant Scripture

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)

Break forth into joy, sing together, For the Lord has comforted His people. (Isaiah 52:9)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:1-4)

May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The LORD be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long.  (Psalm 35:27–28)

I encourage you to save this post to be reread on unhappy days, thereby realigning your perspective and reminding you of all you have to be joyful about.

If you found this article useful, interesting, inspiring or informative, please share it using the social media buttons.

References

“Difference Between Joy & Happiness” on DifferenceBetween.net

“Christian Joy” Grace Gems

“Sources of Joy” by Dr Gary Linton

“The Source of Joy” on Ligonier Ministries

“Joy vs. Happiness” by Sandra L. Brown M.A.
night sky milky way cross

Stunning Vision Reveals Heavens Lobby/Spiritual Meditations

Is a revelation during a coma, a dream, a vision or something else?
 
Throughout the Bible, God spoke to people in many ways, each unique and wonderful, including visions and dreams. Many people use these two words interchangeably, and they are similar. Both involve our Lord giving direct revelation. However, one of the main differences is that dreams come to us during sleep, while visions occur when we are awake. But what if a revelation comes to someone during a coma?  Is this a dream, a vision or something unique?
 
Some will say that God uses dreams primarily to speak to us, reveal His plans, enable Spirit-directed communication, warn of impending trouble, and establish prophetic revelation.  And that He uses visions to reveal Himself and His glory.  If these are the only two options, then my friend Matthew experienced both or perhaps a combination of the two.  He will tell you his experience and you can ponder the answer.  But first a little more depth on visions and how we should respond to them.

Characteristics of a God-given Vision

Each of us goes through life-changing moments when a new vision is given, but questions often arise. Before the interpretation or meaning of a vision is provided, the receiver can experience confusion and begins to seek God’s interpretation of what was seen.  These are the primary ways a believer can accept that the vision is from God:
 
• A God-given vision reveals His holiness, glory, and power
 
• A God-given vision exposes your own humanness and frailty.
 
• A God-given vision will leave you astonished and sometimes even numb for days.
 
• A God-given vision will always be followed by its interpretation.
 

Four Steps to Turning a Vision into Reality

It’s one thing to receive a vision. It’s another thing when you don’t understand it or know what to do with what you’ve received. Thankfully, the prophet Habakkuk revealed what you must do to bring your “waking dream” to fruition:
 
1. Pray
Prayer is the key to dreams, visions, revelations, interpretation, and knowledge. Pray and ask God to reveal the meaning of your “waking dream” to you.
 
2. Write the vision down
Time can dim your memory.
 
3. Act upon the vision
Step out in faith and act upon what God has shown you. The instant you begin to act upon what you have seen, you begin cooperating with God to bring it into being.
 
4. Wait for it
This may sound contradictory to acting upon the vision but waiting is an important part of making the vision a reality. In the videos and conversation below, Mathew will tell you how parts of his vision have been revealed but not all at this point.  Even as you step out in faith, we must realize that God’s timing is crucial: For the vision is set for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it. (Habakkuk 2:3) It will always be fulfilled.
 
Let’s look at a few select visions mentioned in the New Testament.

Jesus’ Vision(s)

Jesus may have had numerous visions.  Was it a vision that told Him where the colt was that He was to ride into Jerusalem before His final Passover there?  Was it a vision that showed him the man the disciples were to follow to discover the location for the last supper?  Perhaps, or maybe, being fully anointed with God’s Spirit, He just knew.  However, the Bible clearly says that He saw Nathaniel under a fig tree before He met him.
 
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
 
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
 
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
 
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
 
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
 
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
 
Jesus said, “You believe[ because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you,  you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on  the Son of Man.”   (John 1:45-51)

Peter’s Vision

Through his vision, God told Peter that the Gentiles were to be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Represented as food that was forbidden under Jewish law, he was told that they were not to be considered unclean.
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.
 
Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
 
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
 
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
 
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
 
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
 
While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
 
Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
 
The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”
 
Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
 
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.  (Acts 10:9-23)
 

Paul’s Visions

Paul experienced many visions in his lifetime. (2Corinthians 12:1)  He had a vision of Ananias coming to him to restore his eyesight (Acts 9:12) and a vision or a dream of a Macedonian man beseeching him to come to his region with the Gospel. (Acts 16:9,10)  Following is another example of a vision he had.
“When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
 
“‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
 
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”  (Acts 22:17-21)
You will find an extensive list of Biblical visions in the Relevant Scripture section below.

Visions Today

In many parts of the world, God seems to be using visions and dreams extensively. In areas where there is little or no gospel message available, and where people do not have Bibles, God is taking His message to people directly through dreams and visions. This is entirely consistent with the biblical example of visions frequently used by God to reveal His truth to people in the early days of Christianity. If God desires to communicate His message to a person, He can use whatever means He finds necessary—a missionary, an angel, a vision, or a dream. Of course, God also can give visions in areas where the gospel message is already readily available. There is no limit to what God can do.

Matthew’s Spellbinding Vision

Matthew was 26 when he suddenly became seriously ill.  To allow his body to have a better chance of survival, doctors put him into a coma, during which he nearly died.  The doctors were unable to safely bring Matthew out of his unconsciousness after one to two weeks as initially planned.
 
He remained in the coma for 28 days during which he experienced a nonstop vision that continued each time he fell asleep after he  came out of the coma.  What he saw was truly amazing and the lengthiest vision I have ever heard or read about outside of Revelation.
 
Many near-death experiences include the soul walking toward a bright light and this is included in one part of Matthews vision, not regarding himself, but watching someone else walk toward that light.   He describes this in the second video below.
 
Matthew’s vision elevated his soul into a starry universe, sometimes referred to as the Second Heaven,  where he saw other souls moving along a pathway of stars that led into infinity.  And Jesus was his tutor.
 
In this home video Matthew provides an excellently detailed description of what he experienced.  You will be mesmerized.
 
 
After watching Matthew’s video, I had a couple of questions for him.

Me: Have you ever wondered if your illness/coma was INTENDED to provide the vision?

Matthew: “YES!  I tell everyone that God brought it upon me on purpose. I was in a place in my “salvation” where God could not really speak to me. (Prideful and focused on earthly things.) He had to slap me out of it. I call the experience “my walk in the wilderness”.

I believe we experience tribulation and hard times to refine us in Christ. They are sometimes out of chastisement to correct us, and sometimes to just open our eyes. ALWAYS for correction of some type. (Or in some cases as example to others also). But I don’t think I would have payed as much attention if it was just a dream. This experience got my attention BIG TIME and still has my attention 20 years later.

 
Daniel 11:35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”
 
Me: What do you think was God’s purpose for your vision?  What was He trying to tell you? Is this something you have discovered or is it still to be discovered?
 
Matthew: ”I grew tremendously closer to the Lord through that event. I no longer fear tribulation and death. (I still don’t like them though… LOL) But I also believe God was preparing me for the end times ministry he has set up for me, whatever that should be. Much of what I was shown 20 years ago is starting to happen now… Soooo… It really has me looking back at what I was shown and re-looking at it.
 
I have been shown answers to some, but other parts are still being revealed. I was shown a lot. We’re talking near a month of a continuous vision, then continued visions for weeks after I awoke. That’s a lot of information to process.”

As an example of something that has been revealed to him, Matthew sent to me this video regarding death and the importance of intercessory prayer.

 
 

Conclusion

According to Catholic documents, most people have their visions early in life and move into greater spiritual communion with God after that. In that sense the vision achieved its purpose, boosting one along the spiritual path to something richer.
 
However, we must be careful when it comes to visions and the interpretation of visions. We shouldn’t measure ourselves against these experiences or pursue them as they are clearly not prerequisites to grace and are meant only for those God chooses.
 
We must keep in mind that the Bible is finished, and it tells us everything we need to know. The key truth is that if God were to give a vision, it would agree completely with what He has already revealed in His Word. Visions should never be given equal or greater authority than the Word of God. God’s Word is our ultimate authority for Christian faith and practice.
 
If you believe you have had a vision and feel that perhaps God gave it to you, prayerfully examine the Word of God and make sure your vision agrees with Scripture. Then prayerfully consider what God would have you do in response to the vision (James 1:5). God would not give a vision to a person and then keep the meaning of the vision hidden. In Scripture, whenever a person asked God for the meaning of a vision, God made sure it was explained to the them. (Daniel 8:15-17).

Relevant Scripture

In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  (Acts 2:17)
 
The Most High God covenanted with Abraham in a vision. (Genesis 15:1-21)
 
God spoke to Jacob in either a dream or a night vision. (Genesis 46:2-4)
 
Balaam experienced a vision of the Almighty. (Numbers 24:1-19)
 
Samuel experienced a vision as a child. (1Samuel 3:1-21)
 
Nathan experienced a night vision concerning King David. (2Samuel 7:4-17; 1Chronicles 17:1-15)
 
Iddo, the seer, received multiple visions concerning Jeroboam.  Exactly what his visions and writings were concerning is not stated in the Bible.  He did write genealogies and kept records of some of Israel’s Kings. (2Chronicles 9:29; 12:15)
 
Job experienced both visions and dreams. (Job 7:14)
 
Isaiah experienced a vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (Isaiah 1:1)
 
Isaiah also saw the Lord sitting upon a Throne in His Temple. (Isaiah 6:1-4)
 
Ezekiel experienced multiple visions. (Ezekiel 7:13; 8:1-4; 11:24)
 
Daniel apparently received both dreams and visions of the Lord. (Daniel 2:19; 8:1-27; 9:21-24)
 
Obadiah received a vision concerning Edom. (Obadiah 1:1-21)
 
Nahum received a vision of the destruction of Ninevah approximately one hundred years after Jonah preached there.  Apparently, they had backslidden again, and it was “time to pay the piper.” (Nahum 1:1-3:19)
 
Peter, James and John had a vision (The Transfiguration) of Moses and Elisha while on the Mountain with Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-13)
 
Zacharias had a vision of the Angel of the Lord. (Luke 1:11-22)
 
Ananias had a vision of the Lord concerning Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 9:10-12)
 
Saul of Tarsus had a vision of Ananias coming to him to restore his eyesight. (Acts 9:12)
 
Cornelius had a vision of an Angel coming to him to reveal how he could hear the Gospel preached. (Acts 10:1-48)
 
Peter had a symbolic vision of the Gentiles being accepted into the Kingdom of God. (Acts 10:9-48)
 
Paul had either a vision or a dream of a Macedonian man beseeching him to come with the Gospel. (Acts 16:9,10)
 
The Lord appeared to Paul in either a dream or a vision bringing him encouragement and guidance. (Acts 18:9,10)
 
Paul experienced many visions in his lifetime. (2Corinthians 12:1)

References

How to Recognize God-Given Visions” by Benny Hinn Ministries
 
“Prophecy Visions And Dreams” by OpenBible.info
 
Supernatural Biblical Guidance” by Paster John Hamel
 
What are Visions” by Alice L. Camille
 
 
 
 
light rays

A Thought-Provoking Question That You Might Face-Spiritual Meditations

There are no statistics on how many people are given an opportunity to answer this important question. Some people know what their answer would be while others have not thought about it. If asked, another segment of the population will say it depends on their circumstances at the time. Where do you stand?

This is an experience told to me by a friend of a friend.

Roberta’s Near-Death Experience

It was November 6, 2006 when Roberta and her husband, Al, left Alaska to winter in Arizona for the fourth year. The nighttime flight landed in Phoenix in the early morning after which they had a 3-hour drive to their winter home.

Upon arriving, Al started turning on the utilities and preparing their home for occupancy. Roberta went inside and shortly thereafter experienced the worst headache she’d ever had. When he came inside, Roberta told Al about her headache and he suggested that she lay down. As she turned to do so she blacked out into his arms. As their phone was not yet connected, Al ran to the next-door neighbors to ask them to dial 911.

To the outside world, it looked like Roberta was unconscious, but, for Roberta, there was much more happening. She was drifting toward a light that gradually enveloped her. It was pure and peaceful like nothing she had experienced before. Roberta saw no one, no deceased family, no angels…she was totally alone but unconcerned. It then came to her mind that she had a decision to make. She was being given the choice between heaven and earth…between additional life in the world or eternal life in paradise.

Which would you choose? Would your health or financial situation cause you to select heaven? Or do you have family that you are not ready to leave? Is the prospect of paradise more enticing than your life on earth? Or do you have unfinished projects that you want to complete? This is a big decision that you may get to make, but probably only once…what would you do?

Roberta decided to spend more time with her family and she was immediately returned back in her home. As she was being lifted onto the stretcher, the medics asked what medications she was taking and, surprisingly, Roberta woke up long enough to tell them. This was her last memory until one month later when she awoke in the hospital, survivor of a bleeding brain aneurysm.

It wasn’t until her release and arrival outside her Arizona home that she realized the enormity of what had happened when a neighbor happily greeted her with “There’s our miracle!” Roberta had been a woman of faith but now she was a woman of knowledge. There is an afterlife.

Relevant Scripture

2 Corinthians 6:2 Living Bible (TLB)

For God says, “Your cry came to me at a favorable time, when the doors of welcome were wide open. I helped you on a day when salvation was being offered. Right now God is ready to welcome you. Today he is ready to save you.

 

a question mark formed of clouds over the ocean and in a clear blue sky

What is Heaven? | Spiritual Meditations

80% of Americans believe in heaven and most expect to go there when they die. When considering your forever home it is important to know more about it. After all, if you’re wrong about heaven, you’re going to be wrong for a very long time.

Although there are well documented near-death experiences, we have only one known experience of someone being in heaven and then on earth.   His words are recorded in the New Testament Gospels of the Bible. The only information that we have about heaven is revealed in the Bible,  but it doesn’t tell us all that we are curious about.  Some questions require us to make deductions based on those words. Everything else is just speculation.

What Does Heaven Look Like?

What the Old Testament Says About Heaven

The Old Testament says very little about heaven. It says that God lives there, has a throne and that heaven it situated above the clouds.

The greatest Old Testament prophet, Isaiah  describes heaven as a place with many pastures, where hunger and thirst do not exist and the desert heat and sun will not beat upon us. This would be sheer heaven for the people of that time.

Although there are many societies today which would welcome these very things, the societies in first world countries are more likely to envision heaven as a place where they have time for hobbies, get daily food delivery, and have a swimming pool.

The point is;  Life (or afterlife) is good.

The New Testament says a bit more.

What the New Testament Say about Heaven

In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus tells the disciples that he will be in heaven, sitting at God’s right.  He tells them they will have a place to live in heaven.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).

Other New Testament books tell us that heaven is a paradise built by God in which an eternal residence has been prepared for the righteous. There will be better and more enduring goods than what we experience on earth. Heaven will be a place of rest, from which the wicked will be excluded. And there will be innumerable angels.

Heaven Will be Better Than We Can Imagine

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, “God said I could … one suitcase.” St. Peter checked, found out that this man would be an exception, prepared to let the him 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?”  [Note: This story is from the sermon “Heaven” by Dr. David Leininger, March 30, 1997]

I couldn’t resist sharing that.  The idea of streets made of gold is written about in Revelation.

The Revelation

The Apostle John tells of his vision of an apocalypse while he was in a “mystical trance”.  Near the end, he gives a brief description of heaven.

He tells of a place where there is no sun or moon. There is no darkness as God’s glory provides light at all times. The city of God is made of gold, precious stones and pearls. There is a crystal clear river of water and the tree of life, which bears 12 kinds of fruit. The leaves of this tree have healing properties.

The gates to heaven are never closed. Heaven will be inhabited by the glorious and honorable people from every nation and they will all wear white robes. Heaven will contain no lies, abominations or anything that defiles it. John also says that God’s servants will see His face.

But think twice before formulating your image of heaven based on the book of Revelation alone.

Nearly every religion has it’s concept of an apocalypse and this was John’s from his perspective based on the political and religious situation at the time he wrote it.  His imagery was drawn from portions of Jewish writings in the Old Testament books of Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel and Zachariah, and occasionally from Persian pagan culture.

S. MacLean Gilmore, a Bible commentator, gives an example of how events current at the time of John’s writing found their way into the account of his vision:

“Every tribe, tongue, people and nation” is indicative of the multicultural church of John’s day and, in heaven, the church triumphant – those who remained loyal despite the pressures of persecution and threats of death. The white robes may indicate the martyrs.”

“As an apocalypse, Revelation is concerned with the events of it’s own time and with those that it’s author expects to take place in the immediate future. We can relate it to the historical and religious situation in the Roman Empire….toward the end of the 1st century. [It is] not written for people thousands of years later….but for people of his own generation” [who would have an understanding of the symbolism used.]

The symbolism and metaphor in Revelation is extensive and difficult to understand in modern history. It has been interpreted in many ways by many scholars and is far more than can be explored here. If you would like an in-depth study,  the Bible Gateway commentaries on Revelation is a good place to start.

Although Revelation does not satisfy our curiosity about the appearance of heaven, Gilmore says this about it:

“Revelation is a drama of a high order set on a cosmic stage….which rises again and again to heights of sublimity and grandeur that have inspired some of the worlds greatest literature, poetry and art. John created a work of singular vividness, power and intensity”.

What Will Life be Like in Heaven

What Happens to Us in the First Minute After We Die?

The Bible indicates that when we die we enter immediately into God’s presence if we belong to Christ. From our earthly point of view, death looks somewhat like sleep—but not from God’s point of view.

Paul declared, ‘We are confident (of eternal life), I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8). Elsewhere he wrote, ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far’ (Philippians 1:23).

However, I think the most definitive words regarding the swiftness with which we will  ascend to heaven are the words spoken by Christ to the repentant criminal from the cross.  The criminal asked “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” and Jesus replies “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23:42-43)

When We Die, does an Angel Accompany Us into Heaven?

The Bible indicates that when a believer dies, the angels will escort them safely into Heaven.  In A Glimpse Through the Thin Curtain Between Life and Afterlife a modern lady is prepared for ascension by her heavenly relatives.

In a parable, Jesus told about two different men. One was a wealthy man, who lived only for himself and ignored both God and others. The other was a beggar who had no earthly goods, but had faith in God and His promises. When the rich man died, he received what he deserved: a life of misery, separated from God forever. But “when the poor man died, the angels accompanied him safely into God’s presence. (You can read this parable in Luke 16:19-31.)

Will We Know Our Family and Friends?

There are many accounts of near-death experiences in which loved ones meet the temporarily deceased Too many to have any doubt.  Spend as much time as you have to read these fascinating accounts.

The writers of Bible Study Tools present some additional thoughts of interest on who we will know in heaven and how well we will know them:

God knows us completely, intimately, thoroughly, inside and out, with nothing hidden but everything seen as it really is (Psalms 139:1-4; Hebrews 4:12). When we get to heaven we’ll know each other, as God knows us because all the imperfections of this life will be removed.  We can be ourselves with no shame, no pain, no embarrassment, and no covering up. We will be individuals, each with our own memories and God-given gifts.

In heaven we will know every person and all of them will be friends and loved ones to us.  The essence of who we are will remain throughout eternity-yet vastly improved by God’s grace.

excerpt from Bible Study Tools

What Will Our Resurrected Bodies be Like?

Paul teaches us about our resurrected bodies in 1 Corinthians 15. They will not be like our current bodies which are subject to aging, disease, and death. Our resurrection bodies are incorruptible. You will never get old nor grow tired. You will never suffer disease or disability or death.

‘The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed’” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Will there be Animals and Pets in Heaven?

There is considerable evidence of animals in Heaven. Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot pulled by horses (2 Kings 2:11), and the book of Revelation makes references to horses (6:2-8, 19:11) and eagles (4:7) in Heaven. Isaiah 65:25 describes wolves, lambs, and lions.

Billy Graham had a good answer when a little girl asked him, “Will my dog, who died this week, be in Heaven?” Because heaven is paradise for each individual, Dr. Graham replied, “If it would make you any happier, then yes, he will be.”

Will We Learn in Heaven?

Randy Alcorn points out that we will continue to learn based on  Ephesians 2:6-7. “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms…. in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.” Alcorn instructs that the word “show” means “to reveal.” And the phrase “in the coming ages” clearly indicates this will be a progressive, ongoing revelation, in which we learn more and more about God’s grace.

We can expect an eternity of growing to be more and more like Christ.  We will be “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What we learn here carries over after death.  The relationship we build with God will continue.  We can begin this joyful process here and now, and there’s every indication it will endure forever.

If you have knowledge that will contribute to this topic, do not hesitate to leave it in the comments on this site.

If you found this article interesting, informative, inspiring or useful, please share it.

 

 

 

 

Sunset over mountains and trees

A Glimpse Through the Thin Curtain between Life and Afterlife | Spiritual Meditations

When a Loved One Dies

There have to be many many people who have experienced something unusual at the time a loved one dies.  But how often do we hear about it?   Almost never.  Because “people will think we’re imagining things”.  But I’m going to tell you about a couple of times when the curtain between my world and the afterlife became pretty thin and then a friend is going to tell you about an astounding experiences just before her mother died.

Listening to the Still Small Voice

My grandmother was a saint on earth, so I’m sure she is doing great things in Heaven.  On the day she died I had visited her at the nursing home for the last time.  We told each other how we loved each other and said our good-byes.  She died a few hours later.  Because we were traveling, that night my husband and I were in a hotel room where I was talking to God about “granny’s” passage when I felt a presence so strong I turned to see who was there.  But there was no one visible.  If you’ve ever felt like there was somebody behind you without seeing them,..it was like that.  I knew this was granny whispering through the life/afterlife curtain something like “I’m still around, I’m doing good, I love you and I just wanted to let you know”.  She was always so considerate.

My dear mother’s health had been declining for over a year.  During that time she had had at least 3 of her 4 noticeable mini strokes, as well as surgery for colon cancer.  She tried to remain cheerful and I tried to do whatever was needed to make her happy, but it was hard to keep up with her changing needs and whims.  A few days before she left this earth, she told me ‘I heard my mother’s voice’.  Of course, I wanted to know what words her mother spoke, but she couldn’t tell me.   A day and a half after her earthly death, I received a beautiful bouquet from colleagues.   You know how when you are grieving and somebody does something nice, you just breakdown?  Well that’s what happened.  I was deeply grieving when I felt a ripple of happiness.  I thought it was rather odd, but didn’t realize until the next day that it was mom telling me, through the curtain, that she was now happy.  Such a comfort.

A Spiritual Experience That Can’t Be Missed

These are examples of the little messages that God sends us, that we could easily miss if we aren’t  listening, but sometimes we have spiritual experiences that can’t be missed.  This was true for my friend Lynda.  At the end of her life, Lynda’s mother was bed-ridden in Lynda’s living room.  Days before her passing, the Hospice pastor visited Lynda’s mother.  As he was standing next to her bed, with wonderment, he said to her ‘I can feel God in this room….Do you feel it?’  Her response was ‘Yes, He came in with you’.  Lynda looked out the open door and saw what looked like the sun so bright that it filled the universe.  The pastor, who had been with many people during their last days on earth, was speechless with awe and so was my friend.

I’m going to let Lynda tell you the rest of her spiritual experience:

The experience that I would like to share is one that will always stay close to my heart.  We have those right?  Those experiences that you absolutely know as truth because you were there, perhaps not as a participant but as an observer.

I never met any of my mother’s family members.  There were not many of them and they passed away before I was born.  They lived in my mind through stories my mom told me as I grew up.  I know them as strong, kind, spiritual and fiercely protective.

My mom was nearing the end of her life.  She was under the care of my brother, myself, my sister-in-law and hospice caregivers.  Her bed was in the living room and I slept on the couch in the same room next to her, in case she needed me during the night.  Most nights were quiet and we slept well.

However, during her last night, I was awakened, hearing much rustling and hushed conversation.  All around my mother’s bed were shadowy, graceful figures fussing and smoothing the bedding, making my mother comfortable, murmuring to each other, and working together as though they knew exactly what their purpose was to be there.  I simply watched and took in the awesome event taking place with my mom.  Somehow I knew their purpose and felt strangely calm.  They were those loving spiritual family members coming to check on my mom and get her ready for her journey home.

The next morning my sweet mother joined her mother, father, grandmother and aunt.  They had prepared her well, welcoming her to her heavenly home.

Remember John 14:2:  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

What  a wonderful experience…to witness part of the journey we will all eventually take…a  rather large opening in the curtain between life and afterlife.

The Torn Temple Curtain – at the Time of Another Transition

At the time of Christ’s death the temple curtain was torn.  Matthew 27:51

It is not a slight rent through which we may see a little; but it is rent from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, and rent from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage!” (Spurgeon)  

The tearing of the temple veil signified at least two things. First, now man has free access to the throne of grace by the cross. Second, no one should ever think again that God dwells in temples made with hands.  (David Guzik)

Please contact me if you have a spiritual experience that you would like to share.  I’d love to hear it.