2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
What a mess? Looking at our life today, it appears that everything is falling apart on us. As if a giant tree shaken so fiercely by the wind that every nest, egg and bird goes tumbling to the ground in the midst of leaves swirling in its force. The storm has raged so long that we are used to being soaked to the bone. Our hands are tired and weary from holding to the anchor of hope that they become calloused sometimes to the sweet reality that is on the other side. Forever. That’s what waits for us. Forever. How can we look forward to living forever when it is so painful just to make it through a day? God is making a new life for us but it begins on the inside and must work its way out. Not a day goes by that His Grace and Goodness are not unfolding in our heart, captivating our mind and renewing our thoughts, at least that’s what the Lord is doing. There is far more to our life which is molded and shaped by God’s Hand according to His Plan and Purpose for us that leads to total satisfaction and fulfillment. But we must first be emptied to be refilled, a house must be cleared out to be renovated, a person must be filled with the Spirit to be a Child of God. Once the Lord face-to-face, He invites us to step in. He is the Gate but where does He lead us? He leads us to forever.
John 10:6-10 (MSG)
Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Jesus tells His People that “I am the Gate.” He promises “anyone who goes through me will be cared for, will freely go in and out, and find pasture. Now to a living, breathing sheep this would mean that the Shepherd would meet all their needs and that the animals would be well-cared for. They would be free to come and go and not bound by the neck (oppressed) or stuck in a pen somewhere (bondage). They would find pasture. Open pasture to a sheep would be the “big life” and represents prosperity. How? Well, if a sheep is with the shepherd in a pen then the sheep must eat from a trough or bucket, but let them loose into an open pasture then they can eat as much as they can hold. The Lord is trying to get the message across that by asking Him to be our Lord and Savior that He becomes like a Shepherd to us. He opens the door to forever for us. Grace allows us to come and go from the Presence of God. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever so He has not changed His Mind because you messed up and slammed the door shut. (Hebrews 13:8) He is the High Priest forever who sits with God interceding on our behalf. (Hebrews 7:24-26) Because Jesus is perfect every sin is covered and because He lives forever – it will always be this way. There will be plenty of grace to get you through the tough spots so you can enter forever with Him. Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life our substance and sustenance. (John 6:50-51) He is the basis of life and the One who keeps us going. There is no life apart from Jesus Christ. We would die once naturally and then eternally. This was difficult for the Pharisees and religious people to swallow (no pun intended, okay maybe a little). It was against the law to follow Jesus. But in reality, it was fulfillment of it to accept Him as Lord and Savior. By asking Jesus Christ into their heart, He would satisfy their soul. These men and women had built their life around the Law and not His Love so that when Jesus came they did not recognize God’s Son!
I Corinthians 15:51-53 (MSG)
But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
The greatest potential in our life is forever. We strive to make it through this world by faith with confident hope that there is more to life than this in Jesus Christ. But most of the time, we do it in word but not deed. What do I mean? Sometimes I wonder. We are all being changed. From the moment the Spirit of the Living God is given permission to come inside our heart by invitation only – He begins to work in us. It is immediate. However, not all of our flesh is always on board with that work that has begun. We must grab hold of God’s Vision. Many years ago when we bought our home, it was only a foundation with some cinder blocks when we signed the papers. We looked at the plans and a model home so we had an idea of what the architect and designers were doing but it was still their vision. At one point, they invited us to choose all the lighting for the house. Finally, a decision that we could make so with excitement and anticipation we arrived at the showroom. Within about twenty minutes, I was nearly in tears. What an overwhelming process! There were so many choices. We did not have the vision of those who had designed our home and were building it. We were not lighting experts. So before we both had a nervous breakdown from all the self-imposed pressure, we asked the experts to choose the lighting for our home. What a relief! We walked out fully confident that they would do a much better job than we would because they knew the plan and design of our future home. They were professionals who did this every day much better equipped for the task at hand. We have been given a second chance at life. Jesus Christ has made a way for you and I to enter forever once again. But He did not say that we had to do all the right things, say all the proper words, or follow His Law to the letter – He invited us to come into the Gate and let him care for us, release us from oppression and bondage of sin, and prosper us. He wants us to have life more abundantly now and forever.
2 Corinthians 3:9-15 (MSG)
If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation? Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity? With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.
God operates in forever. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and (yep) forever. We must expand our thinking into forever. Otherwise we will be bound in what keeps us in our light and momentary problems that we suffer today. You will never see the forest for the trees. Three things last forever – faith, hope and love. (I Corinthians 13:13) It really is that simple. We make life religious and hard because it is too unbelievable that One Man could do all that Jesus promises. Forever is incomprehensible to humanity because it is just to dang hard to make it through one day. You can thank the enemy of our soul for that little gem. Remember, Jesus said that there would be “rustlers” that hop over the fence to get to the sheep. The enemy comes to rob, kill and destroy. What is he after? Your hope. If he can convince you that forever is not real, you will abandon hope. Faith is the substance of what we hope for so if our hope is wavering than there is a faith problem. Fear and doubt are characteristics of compromised faith. Suddenly we take our eyes off Jesus Christ and choose to survive rather than thrive. Now, look at the fine mess we have gotten ourselves in to. Thank you God for your glory. Thank you Jesus for grace that allows me to live in God’s Glory in spite of myself.
Forever is the Glory of God. It is the place prepared for us by our loving Father who will stop at nothing to bring all of His Children home. When I am closed in by circumstance or feel separated from my hope, I must begin to focus on forever once again. Like Dorothy in her ruby red slippers, clicking them furiously and saying there is no place like home, there is no place like home, I must regain my focus. But not a farm in Kansas that will be subject to the next great storm that rolls through but my forever home with my Forever God. God operates in forever so sometimes what He is doing in our life is beyond our perspective unless we decide to focus on forever too and not the daily problems that we are going through.
Forever is defined as endless or without ending; eternally; continually, incessantly; always; and at all times. Words used with forever are never, unfailing, always, all, guaranteed, and in full. Some people say, “Never say never.” My mom used to say that all the time as a warning. But I say go ahead and say “Never” if you find it in His Word. Like “He will never let the righteous be moved.” (Psalm 55:22) The Lord will “never fail us”. He will never leave us. (Hebrews 13:5) His Love is unfailing. It never runs out. It never stops. It just keeps gushing out of God for us – His Children. God is good forever and filled with unfailing love. (Psalm 100:5) Everything He does is just and good. His Commandments are ALWAYS trustworthy. He paid our sin debt in full. (Psalm 111:7-9) His Eyes are focusing on me forever. (Psalm 121:1-8) Jesus Christ secured our place in forever – forever. (Psalm 148:5-6) Life is found in forever. (Psalm 16:11) If you read Psalm 23, it is a picture of this life walking into forever. God’s Plan for my life is forever. (Psalm 33:10-11) He takes care of the godly forever meeting their needs. (Psalm 37:18-19) When I began looking at all these passages and found words like “forever”, “always” and “never” I realized this was God’s Signature on my promises. He is showing me in His Word that there is more to life than this and that this world is not my final destination.
Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.
I remember the day vividly that He became my Forever God! I was in the doctor’s office with our youngest who had been battling rapid onset asthma for about six months. It was so bad that we were frequenting this place about three times a week. The medication did not keep her airways open long enough. Her physician was perplexed and very concerned. Our little girl looked like the “Michelin man” all big, white and puffy from all the steroids. But we were not just fighting this battle medically but had also sought the services of the Great Physician. Praying and learning about using our faith in everyday life from our pastors. We prayed for our baby girl. We read the word and learned about healing. Meanwhile, following all the instructions and regimens laid out by the doctor. When I woke up that morning after another long night of treatments, I decided that this day would be different. Although we still would have to make a trip to the doctor, this was the day that the Lord made and I WOULD REJOICE and be glad in it. So that’s what I did. Singing praise songs on the way and laughing with my baby. Her meds finally were showing some efficacy so I just focused on that. When the doctor examined her, he agreed that the regimen of medication was working. Then he said the words that changed my life. He said, “She will be on this regimen – forever.” He was writing the medication list while talking to me and when he got to the end wrote the word “FOREVER” in all capital letters and underlined it several times. Heaven and hell collided in that room and he did not even notice. I could hear screeching and screaming so loud in my head that things became a bit blurry. That is when I realized someone had tried to step over the fence into God’s Place and He would not have it. Our daughter was completely healed of asthma that day. She went from taking six medications that day to not another one after we left that office. God performed a miracle and a year later the doctor would agree. The same little girl is eleven years old today and has not had a single asthma attack since that moment. She has not had a crackle or wheeze. That is the day that He became my Forever God. It has prepared me for the days ahead because even though our situation is grave – God will never let anyone or anything step into His Domain and mess with His Kid’s Future and Hope. He is my forever God! He is mine forever!
I Thessalonians 4:16-18 (MSG)
And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.
Three things that last forever are faith, hope and love. (I Corinthians 13:13) Faith allows us to enter forever. Hope lets us live there. Love is the reason we found forever. All three are co-dependent in successfully making Him your Forever God. Forever changes today so if you do not see your future there is no need for hope. If you do not have faith, you will not have hope. If you do not discover the Love of God, forget about faith and hope because forever is compromised. But don’t worry – He is our Forever God so no matter how many times you take a wrong turn or walk away from the Gate – He will open it again and again. There is no right way to enter or wrong way – there is only One Way. His Name is Jesus Christ. As the old hymn proclaims, “Because He lives – I can face tomorrow. Because He lives – all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future – life is worth the living just because He lives!” If you are struggling in your troubles today, take a moment to look ahead into the future by faith and hold that vision by hope. If you do this when you get to the end of your rope, you will find that He will be right there to meet you. For He truly is our Forever God!
Revelation 21:3-5 (NLT)
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”