Friday, September 9, 2016

SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES!

Encore Post by popular request


 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YgpHa1oeHME/TUglNxKA4BI/AAAAAAAADAs/RtC2OOmfvEk/s1600/runners.jpg

MY CHEERLEADERS ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN
 
When I think about Eternity and what it's like to step over from this mortal life into the Life that never ends, I wonder what it's like - say - after a few hundred years or so. What are we going to be doing forever and forever? Praising God and singing, yes.

And then I think of Hebrews 12 which gives me another clue. That's when I smile. The saints are praying for us and cheering us on! By "saints" I mean who the Apostle Paul meant when he addressed his letters in the Bible to the Christian believers in various places. It means "holy ones"--those who are working at becoming holy during earth-time with Jesus' help. When they finally arrive in heaven, they are holy. They have become saints for real! They always remain human but are immortal now. They never turn into angels!

The Church teaches and the Bible affirms that our loved ones and friends are alive and well and now fulfilled and perfect in the presence of God. Jesus declared that those who believe in Him shall never die. Yes, I believe it!

According to the book of Revelation, those who died in Christ are aware of what's going on "back here" and they are able to pray for us to Jesus Christ our Lord who then intercedes for the requests as the one Mediator with God the Father through the Holy Spirit's help. (Romans 8:26-28) These "now saints" are a part of what the writer of Hebrews calls "the great cloud of witnesses."

So who is praying for me in Heaven? Revelation 8:3,4 tells me. Who is cheering me on when I'm flying low? Who is waving a banner or ringing a bell and encouraging me "You can do it!"? It may be that those who have been closest to us and who prayed for us while on earth are our biggest fans calling out, "Run, sweetie, keep running!"

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us." (Hebrews 12:1)

All glory to the God who sits on the Throne, who hears the prayers of the holy ones gathered there! Saints above, intercede for us all! And always, always cheer us onward in this present journey of faith.

One of the Christian doctrines that is easiest for me to embrace and so biblically right-on is the Communion of Saints, that is, the continuing union of Christians on earth with those in Heaven. Death does not separate us from Jesus' Body or from His Family. I prayed the Apostles' Creed ever since I was a teenager in the Presbyterian Church and I continue to do so.  But I never knew exactly what "the communion of saints" really meant. It means that we are still one in Christ although we may be temporarily separated from our loved ones by the death of the body!

I joyfully make it a practice to ask by name for the intercession of my "in Christ" departed loved ones, family, friends and the godly ones from ages past whom I have not known but whom I look forward to meeting in Eternity. I have special "saints" (both those on earth and those in heaven) whose prayers I ask for when I have specific needs, like wisdom for my creative writing or courage and strength to persevere in life's race. 
I have prayer partners on earth whom I call my "Praying Eagles," and I have prayer partners in Heaven--my "Cloud of Witnesses." Those in Heaven aren't able to actually DO anything tangible for me--that is exclusively God's business. Only He is omnipotent. But they can pray to Jesus for me. The answers to my prayers and theirs come directly from God the Father.

How exciting if we could see through the veil between our two dimensions to understand how really close to us our "cloud of witnesses" might be! Someday when we are on the Other Side, we'll find out. Nevertheless, by faith we are encouraged and energized to keep running our earthly race right now as they cheer us on!

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