If It’s Not Part of Eternity…

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IF IT’S NOT PART OF ETERNITY . . .
IT’S ALREADY OUT OF DATE

Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.
Psalm 119:152

We have looked at much of Jesus’ teaching about His
Kingdom and it’s members. First, there is our relationship
with the King—that brings us into new life. Next, we have
relationship with other member of the Kingdom. We don’t
travel alone. Finally, we have the opportunity to take God’s
message of reconciliation to the world around us—we represent
Him as His ambassadors.

Then there is the matter of living in eternity. The truth is
that most people in our time do not see eternity as existing in
the present. In too many minds, eternity is separated from
time by the barrier of death. It is the common view that we
won’t be confronted by eternity until after we die. Thus,
people postpone thinking about eternity until they believe
they are nearing the end of their lives. Death, however,
always comes as an unexpected and unwelcome visitor. The
serious business of eternity gets postponed to a time when
we are unable to respond due to physical or spiritual
conditions.

Centuries ago, King Solomon sounded the alarm about
postponing such a serious consideration. He wrote, “Remem128
ber your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of
trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I
find no pleasure in them.’ ” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Regardless
of where you are in the seasons of life, there is no better time
than now to “remember your Creator.”

Jesus spent His entire earthly life on bringing people into
vital, eternal relationship with God. The training of the disciples
was to prepare them to carry on that great work of
reconciliation after He was gone. While Jesus spoke often of
after death consequences, those are forever settled now. To
illustrate the continuity between life present and future, Jesus
told the story about a rich man and a poor man named
Lazurus (Luke 16:19-31). Today and forever are inseparably
connected. Our relationship with God the Eternal One can
only be entered into in the present—right now. But we are
not alone in our questions about eternity.

The Great Fear
Jesus’ disciples also felt the tension in thinking of
eternity as present today. Once they recognized that Jesus
was the Son of God, their fear subsided. Although there were
many conflicting rumors, the Apostle Peter was emphatic:
We know “you are the Christ, the Son of the living
God.” (Matthew 16:13-16). As long as Jesus was with them,
they knew eternity was in their midst. But Jesus informed
them He was leaving. That rekindled the fear that if He
weren’t there, they would lose contact with eternity.

To dispel their fears, Jesus disclosed the relationship between
themselves and the God of three Persons—God the
Son, God the Holy Spirit and God the Father. He introduced
the disciples to the triune God: “I will ask the Father and he
will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the
Spirit of Truth.” (See John 14:6, 25-27; John 16:5-15).
Jesus made no attempt to explain the Trinity. It is one of
those mysteries that human minds are incapable of grasping.
It is a dimension of God’s Person revealed to and accepted
by faith. To help the disciples understand His view of eternity
and to confirm that they were living in eternity, He
unveiled two realities that affected their relationship with
God. One was the nature of eternity; the second was the
Person of God. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No
one comes to the Father except through me. If you really
knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on,
you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6, 7)

First, Jesus said the relationship with Him that they had
known on earth validated their relationship with the heavenly
Father. Jesus was telling them, “We are one in the same
Being. Your standing with God the Father is assured because
of your relationship with me.” That statement puzzled Philip,
one of His disciples. Like most of us, he was a little slow in
picking it up. So he blurted out, “Just show us the Father and
then we’ll understand!” Jesus reassured him and the others:

“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among
you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen
the Father.” (John 14:9, 10). Their relationship with God the
Father was not something different from what they had with
Jesus, their eternal Savior.

The fear set in after Jesus informed them He was leaving
them to be with the Father. They didn’t know if they could
handle that. So He took them a step further. “Yes,” He said,
“I’m leaving you, but just as the eternal Father sent Me to
you (so you could know Him), so I will ask the Father to
send the Counselor (God the Spirit) to be with you forever.”
You will not be left as “orphans” (John 14:16-18). As they
began to understand, it relieved their anxiety. Eternity would
be present with them forever because God the Holy Spirit is
not excluded from time—He is eternally present.

Second, Jesus told them the line between time and
eternity is artificial. God did not draw it. To make this life
and age attractive, Satan has emphasized it as if this life has
an existence by itself that is not part of eternity. However,
death is not a barrier between time and eternity. To be sure,
death creates in us a false sense of both fear and security. If
one is in good health, no need to get anxious about eternity.
You have lots of time. That is false security. On the other
hand, fear is generated by the idea that death is an
impenetrable wall, separating this life from future life. Death
is seen as the great terminator rather than the grand liberator.
It creates bondage, not freedom. But death is not the conclusion.
Let’s look at what Jesus said about that notion.

Lazarus, Jesus’ friend and brother of Mary and Martha,
had died. That happened four days before Jesus arrived at
their home. One thing Mary and Martha well knew: If Jesus
“had been here, our brother would not have died.” (John
11:21, 32). But before doing His greatest miracle, Jesus had
some teaching to do. You see Mary and Martha believed that
death was the great separator. The great divide “created” by
death was what Martha and Mary were staring into. So, as
Martha said, “I know (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection
at the last day.”

Jesus used her statement to open her eyes to the reality of
living in eternity in relationship with God. “Jesus said to her,
‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me
will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and
believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ” (John
11:24, 25; also see Romans 8:1-17). Jesus said that for the
believer, eternity is present whatever time or place. Regardless
of which side of death a person is, eternity is present. It
isn’t the calendar that determines eternity: It is God’s presence.
Thus, eternity is reality here and now and we should be
making the most of it. Repeating Jesus’ words, “Do you
believe this?” For the believer, it is hope we see, not fear.

The Great Hope
While death is the “king of fears,” it should not be for
anyone living in eternity today. The great hope is that eternity
is already in our hearts. God’s promise to those who
have taken Him into their lives is that nothing, even death
itself, “can separate us from His love.” (Romans 8:38).
Death is not the barrier to living in eternity: Sin alone is what
breaks relationship with God. That relationship is the fact
that defines living in eternity. The struggle is between the
business of sin and our all-out commitment to the eternal.

The Apostle John described that conflict raging within
us. There is a way of thinking, he said, that treats this life as
if it were not part of eternity. All of life’s energies and interests
are directed by what is considered important by our
time and our culture (I John 2:15). While warning us, he also
encourages us: “The world and its desires pass away, but the
person who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17).
John confirmed that we can be a part of God’s eternal
purposes right now. Living in eternity means being engaged
in God’s plans since God’s Spirit is present to guide our daily
living. He is the Presence of Eternity within us. The Creator,
not our culture, is calling the plays in our lives.

Maybe this is all new to you. You really haven’t heard
much about this kind of living. You may even be questioning
if this kind of living is possible. Has anyone ever tried it? To
find out, let’s return to the book of Hebrews. In chapter 11,
we find a long list of men and women who lived in eternity
right here on earth. That list is still growing. Let’s read
through a few sentences: “And they admitted that they were
aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things
show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they
had been thinking of the country (on earth) they had left, they
would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were
longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God
is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a
city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Can you see how their view of eternity changed their
living? Eternal life is that kind of life that enables us to see
the final destination as here already. Martha thought life in
eternity began at the resurrection, “at the last day.”
However, Jesus responded, “whoever . . . believes in me will
never die.” Eternal life, He said, has already started. We can
live in eternity daily, as “strangers and aliens” to this world.
The people described in Hebrews 11 were already living in
eternity. They were not waiting for the here-after. For them,
it was here-now, forever! That is what Jesus talked about.
They not only had vision—they acted on that vision.

Yes, the people of Hebrews 11 were looking beyond their
circumstances; by faith they had their eyes on Jesus. In the
next chapter, the author reminds us where to be looking. “Let
us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our
faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). On this side of the horizon
was the humiliation, torture and shame of the cross. On the
other side was the glory of God and the redemption of
humanity brought through the suffering Jesus endured. He
saw beyond the horizon. That is the great hope within every
believer. Nevertheless, great danger is around.

The Great Danger
Failure to recognize who is in charge of this world—that
is the great danger. Jesus announced that the religious rulers
of His time were under the control of Satan. He told the
Pharisees, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for
I came from God . . . You belong to your father, the devil, and
you want to carry out your father’s desire . . . he was a
murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for
there is no truth in him.” (John 8:42-44). Jesus said, “I am
the way, the truth and the life . . .” Right before He was crucified,
Jesus told Pontius Pilate that He came “to bear witness
to the truth.” Satan’s chief aim is to steer people away
from the Truth, away from seeing the Light of the world that
will lead people out of eternal darkness.

The Apostle John also warned about being under this
world’s control: “Do not love the world or anything in the
world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not
in him.” (I John 2: 15). Later, in the book of Revelation, he
wrote that Satan would be bound for a thousand years: “He
threw (Satan) into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over
him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until
the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free
for a short time.” (Revelation 20:3). As it was in Jesus’ time,
Satan is the great deceiver of this world and of our cul-ture.
Apart from membership in God’s Kingdom, we have no
defense against his attacks.

Nonetheless, as part of God’s family you and I are in a
state of holy war with Satan, our world and, yes, our culture.
Satan has control over everything here not purposefully
committed to God. We are at enormous risk if we seek
guidance from the world and its methods. The peril is that we
gradually begin to accept the world’s standards for living, for
measures of success, and for developing and achieving goals
for God’s Kingdom. When that happens, the great deceiver,
the devil, is winning the battle.

The Great Escape
No words of alarm are strong enough to warn of the
terror that awaits those who are seduced by Satan. Scripture
tells us he is often disguised as an “angel of light” (II
Corinthians 11:13-15). His followers come seductively
attired as well. That is why Jesus placed such a high priority
in His own life to daily communication with His heavenly
Father. In our time, too, that is the only place of safety. That
is what energizes us to live in eternity.

Where do we get strength for spiritual growth and development
to protect us from evil? Where do we go for help?
You recall we prayed for the Lord to “deliver us from evil.”
God answered that prayer. He gave us two primary sources:
The Scriptures and prayer. As we saw in the “Lord’s Prayer,”
we are to live in daily dependence on the bread of heaven,
God’s Word. God’s Word revealed our sinful condition and
made us aware of God’s holiness, and His provision to
deliver us from sin’s grip (Romans 6:16-18). There is no
other way to put it: The source of spiritual strength (growing
up in the Kingdom and becoming mature Christians) is daily
reading of Scripture and meditating on and praying over
what we have read. That keeps us in a living relationship
with and fulfills the intention of the Creator God. Without
that, we remain weak and fail to grow.

Jesus set the standard by what He said and what He did.
The Apostles followed Him and taught it. They also wrote
and warned us of the consequences of ignoring the teaching
and example of our Lord about prayer and His Word. “For
you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of
imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the
flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ ” (I Peter 1:23-25;
see also I Corinthians 3; Ephesians 4:14, 15; 6:10-20; I Peter
1:22; 2:1-5; II Peter 2:1-3; 3:1, 2). Without vital connecting
with the God of our faith, continuing in that faith is not
possible. For “. . . everything that does not come from faith is
sin.” Also, “ . . . without faith it is impossible to please
God.” (Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6).

The Old Testament carried similar instructions. The Lord
gave Joshua, that courageous leader of Israel who followed
Moses, direct advice for life: “Do not let this Book of the
Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:6).
King David, the great songwriter of Scripture, gave us the
same advice:

“Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of the mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord
and in his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:1-3).

David’s picture of a well-watered tree is its normal condition:
Growing and reproducing. He made the analogy to a
person who is “rooted” in the Word of God through daily
reading and meditation. As we read the remainder of the
Psalm, we understand that disaster will come upon those
who are not living in this vital connection with God. We
have the example of Jesus Himself right at the beginning of
His public ministry.

The Great Example
Do you remember when Satan confronted Jesus with
temptation? Jesus responded, “Man does not live on bread
alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of
God.” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus compared the need for spiritual
food (the Word of God) equal to food for the body. Although
Jesus had not eaten for forty days, He had maintained His
spiritual diet. He was spiritually fed and responded to Satan’s
attack with Scripture (Matthew 4:1-10). The Word was the
source of His strength. He prevailed. Jesus pointed the way
for us to follow.

How about the New Testament church? Functioning in
the Spirit with great power, we see that members were daily
in prayer and in study of God’s word. “They (the believers)
devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the
fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer . . . Every
day they continued to meet together in the temple
courts.” (Acts 2:42-47). As a result, individuals grew in their
faith and the church grew in strength as well as numbers.
Their daily diet of prayer and study of the Scriptures under
the Apostles’ care and instruction was not some new, creative
formula they discovered. Nor was it a gimmick they used to
insure prominence and power in their culture. No, the
hungering and thirsting after righteousness in their souls was
genuine, placed there by God Himself. Real, live bodies require
real food. Living in eternity can’t be sustained on a
starvation diet!

The New Testament church is not dead. It can live at any
time and in all circumstances. Perhaps earlier in your life, the
reading of Scripture had no impact in your life. Remember
that Paul, before he was “born again,” knew the Scriptures
well yet without positive effect. Yes, he studied and prayed
even as a child but something was missing. As Paul testified
before King Agrippa, “from the beginning of my life . . . I
lived as a Pharisee.”

To the Philippian church, he wrote that he was “ a
Hebrew of the Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; for
zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness,
faultless.” (Acts 26:1-5; Philippians 3:4-11). Things changed
for Paul. So if you are a new Christian, the study of God’s
word and prayer will become effective for you as never
before possible.

After His conversion, Paul was emphatically a man of
the Word. He wrote to counsel his own disciple, Timothy,
like this: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned
and have become convinced of, because you know those from
whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known
the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for
salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is Godbreathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness, so that the man (or woman) of God
may be thoroughly equipped in every good work.” (II
Timothy 3:14-17).

The Great Teacher and Counselor
Now back to the issue as to why the Bible may have been
a dead book to you earlier in life. Jesus explained what was
missing. He told His disciples (us, too) that He was going to
send “the Spirit of truth” to be with us and in us. He would
be our Guide and Counselor. “If you love me,” He said, “you
will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he
will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the
Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17). Jesus then revealed what
was to take place. He had been their Teacher. That was going
to change. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But
the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in
my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of
everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25, 26).

The Holy Spirit enables us to see what was not visible
before and apply it to a life that did not exist before. “We
have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is
from God, that we may understand what God has freely
given us. That is what we speak, not in words taught us by
human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing
spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit
does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God,
but they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand
them, because they are spiritually discerned . . . But we have
the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:12-16).

As we review Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, we know that
God’s Kingdom is made up of those who have been “born by
water” (repented), and have also been “born of the
Spirit“ (regenerated or given new life). (John 3:5-8). Jesus
chided him at that point because Nicodemus was not getting
it. He did not understand that living in eternity couldn’t be
realized without the presence of eternity in us. As one of
Israel’s leading religious teachers, he should have known and
given testimony to it in teaching others (John 3:10, 11).

The Apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching. He said that as
a member of God’s Kingdom (one who belongs to Christ),
the Spirit lives within us and is anxious to lead us into God’s
will and purpose for our lives. It is “those who are led by
God’s Spirit who are the children of God.” Those still
controlled by the sinful nature “cannot please
God.” (Romans 8:5-11). In short, before our conversion
(new birth, accepting Jesus as Lord, repentance and baptism,
etc.), the Bible was a “dead” book because we did not have
the Spirit of Truth within us to make it alive. We could read
it and talk about it and argue over it, but it never became a
living letter. We did not have the spiritual sight or insight that
is only brought by the Spirit of God.

The Great Transformation
Spiritual development begins with an event and advances
with a process. Let’s look at this kind of life within the
framework of growth. First, Jesus places within the soul of
every new-born Kingdom member His Holy Spirit. The
Spirit is the Presence of eternity. His presence in us makes us
members of God’s family. Without the Spirit we have no part
in the Kingdom. When He enters into our lives, He creates a
hunger and thirst in our souls for God’s right-eousness. The
Spirit of Truth, the Counselor satisfies that hunger and thirst
by leading us into all truth (John 16:13).

Growth only takes place when there are two elements:
Life and food. When we accept God’s life, transforming
spiritual growth can begin. Without His life, there is no spiritual
life. From that starting point, we must partake of God’s
food. Read how Jesus talked about it: “Then Jesus declared,
‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go
hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’
“ I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the
desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down
from heaven which a (person) may eat and not die.
“Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this,
Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What if you see
the Son of man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit
gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have
spoken to you are spirit and they are life.’
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask
whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my
Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves
to be my disciples.” (John 6:35, 48-51,61-63; 15:7, 8). As we
read through these verses we find God’s activity on our
behalf and Jesus’ life on earth focused on having us grow in
our relationship with Him. It’s not optional! God did not plan
for us to sit around, forever infantile in our Christian
experience.

Not only did He provide for spiritual growth–He expects
it. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to be fully the children
and heirs of God, now. “Those who are led by the Spirit of
God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that
makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of
sonship. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we
are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs
—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ . . . ” (Romans
8:12-17).

The high call of Jesus is, “Be perfect even as your
heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 4:48). God directed
Moses to proclaim to Israel, “Be holy because I, the Lord
your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2). Understand that as a
member of the Kingdom, we stand before God as perfect.
God sees Jesus standing in our place, holy and complete:
“Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who
come to God through him, because he always lives to
intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:23-25; see I John 2:1, 2). So
our standing before Him is a magnificent promise: He saves
us completely.

Nonetheless, while He pleads our case, He expects
growth toward the standard that He set. The writer of
Hebrews placed these two issues into perspective; “ . . . by
one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are
being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about
this. First he says:
‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that
time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I
will write them on their minds.’ ” (Hebrews 10:14-16). The
writer is showing both our status and our state: In our status,
we are perfect before God through the blood of Jesus; in our
state, there is always room for improvement. We are “made
perfect” and “are being made holy.” Another way of saying
this is we are perfect in our position but we are imperfect in
our condition. God wants us to move from our present
condition to the position in which He has placed us. That is
the goal and process of spiritual transformation. The writer
carries this forward in 10:17-25, and in 13:12-14.

As members of the Kingdom we already declared that we
want His will “to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Heaven is not the expansion of the “good life” from earth
into heaven; it is the extension of the “God life” from heaven
that Jesus wants us to experience and grow into now. As we
fulfill living in eternity now, we are preparing for heaven.
We are aiming for heaven because it is the place of unlimited
fellowship and perfect relationship with God.

Growing Our Relationship
Is spending time daily in prayer and Bible meditation
essential to spiritual growth? If your answer to that is something
like, “Not really,” then here is the follow-up question:
How often do you eat? If you think about it, a person
wouldn’t last very long by eating just once a week on Sunday
morning between 10 and 11 A.M. Life in the Kingdom
of God is no different. Starvation has the same deadly
spiritual consequences as in the physical. If there is no desire
to grow in our relationship, we may seriously question if we
are indeed His children. Isn’t it contradictory to express our
love and praise to God and never spend time reading His
Word (His love letter to us) and talking with Him in prayer?
It is the experience of thoughtful Christians that if we
don’t set aside time for God as regularly and firmly as we do
for eating, we won’t grow. We want to set up a regular time
to grow and strengthen our relationship with God. For me, it
is the first thing in the morning. By starting the day with my
God, under His control, I know I have started right. I’ve
talked with my King before anyone else. I like that! Our first
step is to recognize that God intends for us to strengthen our
relationship with Him. Since that is our heavenly Father’s
will, it should also be a priority in our lives.

Here are some practical suggestions on how to grow and
strengthen your relationship with God through Scripture and
prayer.

1. Bible Reading
Get yourself ready to meet privately with God.
Select and set aside a time period and a place so there
won’t be any interruptions.

Get a Bible that is easy for you to read and understand.
Before beginning your reading, ask God to help you
understand and apply to your own life what you are
about to read.

Have paper and pencil ready. As you read, you’ll want to
jot down things that are important, items you want to
think about. If you want, underline or highlight those
important thoughts or verses so you can come back to
them later (Psalm 1:1-3).

Memorize verses that have special meaning for you. It’s
easy and very rewarding (II Samuel 22:31-33; Colossians
3:16; Hebrews 4:12).

Read in all parts of the Bible. Don’t ignore anything. Be
systematic (Acts 17:11; II Timothy 3:15-17).

From my experience, The One Year Bible is an excellent
tool. It divides portions of Scripture so the entire Bible can
be read in a year. Daily portions are selected from both Old
and New Testaments. During the year, you read through the
Psalms twice. Each day, there is a verse or two from that
great book on practical living, Proverbs. This study method
is available in several versions of the Bible.

2. Prayer Time.
As already mentioned, begin your devotion time by
asking God for illumination and understanding
(Acts 1:12-14, 24-26).

Follow through with prayer to God on anything the Holy
Spirit brought to your attention during your reading of
His Word. God might bring some person to mind, an
incident that grieved Him that needs His forgiveness
(I John 1:8). Always take care of those things first.
Remember, Jesus died to take away your sin. Don’t hang
on to it.

It’s all right to have a list of people or situations that you
want to talk with the Lord about. Ask Him specifically
for what you desire, and pray that He will reveal His will
to you about it (James 1:5, 6).

It’s also good to keep track of things you pray about.
When did you begin praying about it? What were the
results? Have you thanked the Lord for His answer?
When? (Colossians 1:9-12).

Keeping a prayer journal can be helpful, with headings
such as: Concerns/Answers/Dates. Also use this to list
people you have met and need to pray for.

Petition the Lord for relatives and others you know who
are not Kingdom members. Ask God for opportunities to
share your testimony. Partner with God in His great work
of reconciliation. Keep track of how things go (I Timothy
2:1-4)

Remember in daily prayer members of your immediate
family. They are your closest contact where you are
expressing God’s love. It’s often your greatest challenge
(John 17:20, 21, 24). Also pray for yourself—that God’s
grace will be seen in how you live (II Corinthians 4:6, 7).
Seek God’s direction in supporting missionaries, pastors
and other leaders who honor the Lord with their lives
(Ephesians 6:18-20). Uphold them with your praying as
well as you giving.

Throughout your prayer time, be generous in your praise
and thanks to your heavenly King (Revelation 5:13).
Be generous, too, with your time of devotion. And if you
have a day with extra time, give that to Him–perhaps a
quiet fast as a gift to God. If done during holidays, there
can be physical as well as spiritual benefits.

How much time should I set aside for my devotions?
Well, it really never ends. There is never a time when you
can’t simply lift up your thoughts to the Creator of the
Universe. He’s always around! However, don’t allow this
to substitute for your specific, daily time commit-ment to
meet Him.

3. Practice God’s Presence During the Day.
Your meeting with God should not stop at the end of your
devotional time—that’s just the beginning. Develop the
habit of continuing to talk with your King through the
day. This can be done anywhere: driving, walking,
waiting for appointments, times when you can’t sleep
and many more. We won’t be ready to scale the heights
of mountains unless we have practiced on the hills and
valleys! Be ready at any time to “make a joyful noise to
the Lord.”

4. Get Started!
Don’t procrastinate. As soon as you get to this point in
your reading of this book, take action. Find or buy the
materials you need to start and set a time to begin. Delay
can ruin your good intentions.

In the parable to the Great Banquet, Jesus illustrated the
principle we have just discussed. A certain man invited many
guests to a banquet. When the day of the feast arrived,
several guests declined. One said he had bought a field that
he had to inspect. Another had purchased oxen that he
needed to test. A third had just gotten married. In all cases, of
course, the guests found something more important to
themselves than spending an evening at dinner with the host.
As significant as these other things might have been, they
were not the priority of life. In the end, the invited guests
were excluded from the feast (Luke 14:16-24). Jesus followed
this parable with stories about counting the cost of
being a member of the Kingdom. And, Jesus said, “He who
has ears to hear, let him hear.” (14:25-35).

On the same topic, Jesus called a crowd of people to
Himself along with His disciples and said, “If anyone would
come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross
and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save
it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet
forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his
soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in their
adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be
ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the
holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38).

Jesus put full commitment on the line for those who
wanted to be His followers. Nothing known to mankind is
more powerful in a person’s life than meeting daily with
God. Remember that Jesus was in continual contact with His
heavenly Father. Living in eternity means a personal, growing
relationship with the King.

A Final Look Beyond the Horizon
Although we have examined our preparation for battle
with the enemy of our souls, we must look beyond to the
final scene. To do that, we want to examine an additional
truth not yet touched on.

As Jesus neared the time of the cross, He talked with His
disciples and others about a permanent, universal Kingdom
(Matthew 24:36-44; 26:64). While He did announce He was
leaving them, there was to be another chapter: He will return
to this earth! He answered the disciples’ questions about the
end times as He prophesied to the high priest: “ ‘Yes, it is as
you say,’ Jesus replied, ‘But I say to all of you: In the future
you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the
Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
” (Matthew 26:64; also 24:36-44). Jesus Christ will return to
earth in great power and glory.

To those already living in eternity, the promise of Jesus’
return is a great encouragement. The Apostle Paul explained
the importance of that event when he wrote to Christians of
his time. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven
with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and
with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise
first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be
caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord
in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore
encourage each other with these words.” (I Thessalonians
4:16-18). This filled them with confidence in difficult times
and it should do the same for us.

Jesus’ return to earth should also have an extraordinary
impact on our living. As the Apostle John explained, it
should be life changing. “How great is the love the Father
has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of
God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not
know us is that it did not know him. Dear Friends, now we
are the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been
made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be
like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this
hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (I John
3:1-3).

John is reminding us in this passage that eternity is here.
We are the children of God right now. If we know that
eternity is present now, John says it’s going to transform our
living. That is the greatest emancipation proclamation ever.
The future for Kingdom members is beyond our wildest
imaginations. It liberates us to live our lives flat out for God
and His Kingdom.

Jesus said all along we are living in eternity. The only
trouble is many people are not aware of it. Some who are
aware have no intention of letting eternity change their lives.
Still others are overwhelmed by the tide of our culture
(Matthew 13:18-23). Seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness
first, Jesus commanded us. That’s the Word He brought
from eternity. All other activities and priorities are mired
down in time. But by the Grace of God, the vision, the power
and the authority to live in eternity belongs to members of
His Kingdom.

The words of a hymn written nearly 70 years ago by
Alfred H. Ackley express the reality of living as a member of
God’s Kingdom:

The King of my heart is Jesus,
A Kingdom eternal has He;
His throne is established forever
In lives purified and made free.
The King of my heart is Jesus,
His scepter of love rules my soul;
Each thought of my life and each action
Is kept in my Savior’s control.
The King of my heart is Jesus,
From sin I forever am free,
For Jesus in love and in mercy
Has founded His dwelling in me.
The King of my heart is Jesus,
O hasten the day when the call
Shall sound from the gateway of heaven,
To crown Him the King over all.

God’s Kingdom is here already in hearts that have accepted
the King. The King’s invitation to relationship remains
open. It all comes down to one person: What will you do
about living in eternity? “For the word of God is living and
active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates
even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges
the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all
creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered
and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give
account.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has
gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold
firmly to the faith we profess. Let us then approach the
throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive
mercy and find grace to help us in our time of
need.” (Hebrews 4:12-14).

With the power of God’s Word and access in prayer to
God’s throne of grace, you can be fully prepared. It’s time to
abandon living for the present age because we can be living
in eternity. This is God’s plan and purpose that Jesus came to
reveal (John 17:1-5). He made it clear: If it’s not part of
eternity, it’s already out of date!

“The world and its desire pass away, but the person who
does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17).