People, if they understood the true nature of sin itself, would never, ever, sin. For “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and the consequences of sin lead to a highway of utter damnation, torment, loneliness, and pain. Hell is not some “fun” place to be; it’s the worst place ever conceived: utter separation from the One who made all, and who is goodness itself. Instead of the wide path, take the narrow path of salvation and goodness.
1. Do we understand what, exactly, hell actually is?
2. Knowing what it is, do we then pray for greater strength to not sin as much as we used to, day by day, with His power and strength?
Challenge: Lord, please give us power to avoid the wide highway of pain and torment (hell) and help us to join with you, forever, in peace, happiness, and contentment, with the Stairway to Heaven (which is by your power and salvation through faith in you, Jesus Christ). And, help us to pray for others to do so by coming to Christ, as well. The narrow path is the better path, always. Amen.
We know that we sin, though we know that we ought not. What happens to us if we continue to do so, even though we try not to? There is a power that can help us to combat sin, but it does not come from us (we’re too weak, and easily relapse). We should call upon God’s power in the Holy Spirit to in order to war against sin and go to the place opposite of the hell for our eternal rest.
1. What are the sinful things that our mind, or bodies (or both) engage in that we know we shouldn’t?
2. Do we pray for power over both, and allow God to overcome our own selfish and sinful nature?
Challenge: Lord, please save us from our own sinful desires and actions, which separate us from you, our savior and Lord. We do not wish to be separated from you and your Heavenly kingdom. Help us to overcome whatever sinful things we do, think, and say, so that we may know that we will join you in blissful eternity in your Kingdom. Amen.
As we do remember that there is a hell, we must also remember that there is a Heaven, and it will be coming to show itself when Christ returns. The “heavenly city” is not a mere allegory. Are we ready for that time, and the beauty of what it will be?
1. Have we prepared our hearts, and those of our friends, neighbors, etc., to be believers so that we may know and truly experience the coming of the new heaven and earth?
2. Do we remember, also, that there will be trials and tribulations prior to that time, and pray accordingly?
Challenge: Lord, help us to remember the wonderful time when the new heaven and earth will be revealed to us in all of its beauty. Help us to pray to be faithful, and to have others join us in receiving Christ, so that we all may embrace that beautiful day and time. Amen.
If ever Christians were wondering what happens to those who do not accept the salvation of Christ, God is crystal clear to what lies in store for those who refuse it, and it’s literal hell. However, to those who embrace the power, grace, love, and salvation of Jesus, we escape it, and are headed for another, opposite, destination.
1. Do we downplay the actual existence of a literal hell?
2. Do we think about those who may find themselves there because they reject the salvation of Jesus? Do we pray that we can bring His message of love and salvation to them, as He leads us to?
Challenge: Let us remember that through the blood and power of Christ Jesus, we escaped the hell that would’ve certainly been our final destination, if not for His sacrifice and love. Let’s also remember to pray for our brothers and sisters not yet saved by Christ, and to help in witnessing to them. Seek that they may be saved, along with us, to be with God forever and ever in heavenly paradise. Amen.
We know that there is a devil, just as there is our Lord. Oftentimes, we forget about him, and the evil he and his legions do to us and to the world. But, he will lose, in the end, and God’s will and power will triumph, as it always was going to. God Himself will make sure of that, as you can see by reading Matthew 25:41.
1. Do we sometimes forget that Satan and his demonic legions exist?
2. Do we also forget to ask for power over him and his evil plans for us and everyone we know and don’t know?
Challenge: Lord, help us to remember that you are the Lord of all, including the one who originally defied you, and was cast down from Heaven. Help us to remember that you and your angels protect us from the one who would do us the ultimate harm, but who, himself, will come to that harm in the end. Amen.
It can be easy to put heaven in the “by and by in the sky” category—something that sounds great but is so far in the future (we hope) that it doesn’t affect how I live today. The truth is that our perspective on heaven and eternity will impact just about every decision we make. Planning for eternity as opposed to, say, planning for a retirement that might last, at best, 40 years should adjust our priorities. It will also alter how you view life’s day-to-day setbacks.
1. How often does the reality of your life in eternity enter into your daily and long-term planning?
2. What area of your world—finances, relationships, time, etc.—would most benefit from a shift to a heavenly perspective?
Challenge: I have heard it said that we spend more time planning for a 2 week vacation than we do planning our life. The first thing we plan with a vacation is the destination. If your destination is heaven, what do you need to do to prepare for it? When vacationing, I want a great tour guide. Are you mentoring someone towards heaven and are you being mentored? If not, consider finding these people in your life today.
Heaven is described in the Bible as, beautiful beyond description, illuminated by the brilliance of God Himself and a perfect place without death, mourning or pain. For some of us who live with the guilt and regret of our previous actions, it can be hard to believe we could ever be admitted to such a place. How could God forgive me? But Jesus makes it clear as he talks with the career criminal on the cross that there is only one requirement for admittance to heaven—faith that His sacrifice for us was sufficient to cover all our sins.
1. What guilt or regret is keeping you from fully enjoying God’s grace and deepening your relationship with Jesus?
2. If you’ve come to fully appreciate the gift of grace and the hope of heaven, who have you shared that truth with lately?
Challenge: In your mind, place yourself on a cross by Jesus. Tell Him your unconfessed sin. Imagine His face. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? Can you taste your tears? See His blood? He did this for you! He loves you! Love yourself enough to forgive yourself. He has!
Just about anyone who has traveled has had the experience of waking up in a dark hotel room totally confused about where you are. You know you’re not home…it just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes our life can feel a little like that. There are many wonderful things about our earthly home, but for believers, it often feels like we don’t quite fit in. We’re looking for where we truly belong. That’s heaven.
1. Is it appropriate to long for heaven? Why or why not?
2. Do you ever find yourself longing for heaven? What situations or circumstance are most likely to make you feel like you don’t quite fit here?
Challenge: “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through”-lyrics to a song we sang when I was a child. Write down ways that today you showed those around you that you believe the things you own, love, and hold dear are just temporary and that your real love is for your final destination.
In any faith discussion today it is increasingly common to hear words like, “You have your truth and I have mine.” What stands out about Jesus is the fact that He didn’t lay out a variety of ways to connect with God and achieve eternal life with Him beyond the grave. He was blunt and exclusive—He was the only way to the Father, and those who chose Him would have a place in heaven. Our faith is all about Jesus. If He is who He said He was, then there is only one door to heaven, and that is Jesus.
Challenge: We are a culture built on the value of choice. Just check out the peanut butter aisle! Ask 5 people today if they believe there is only one way to heaven. Their answers may or may not surprise you. Be ready to share your thoughts with them.
More than just the title of a recent book and movie, the reality of Heaven is critical to the Christian faith. Throughout both the Old and New Testament, the great men of faith and, of course, Jesus, spoke often of heaven as a very real place. Jesus knew it as both the place where He had come from and His ultimate destination. If there is no eternal place where God reigns and we are perfected, then all of them were wrong and our faith—and eternal future—is suspect.
1. How important would you say the belief that heaven is real is to your faith? Why is it or is it not important to you?
2. What is the strongest piece of evidence in the Bible that might support an argument for the reality of heaven?
Challenge: Today we are thinking about the reality of heaven. What does heaven look like in your mind’s eye? Share that vison with someone and ask them what they think heaven will be like. This is a great conversation starter!
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
Receive this devotional in your inbox every Monday - Friday.