Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Heavenly Places

“…And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 2:6 (KJV)

What elevation!  What wonder!  To think that God would reach down to sinful man and raise him up, bring him into contact with others who have been raised up, and that He would allow us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!  It is glorious to read about, to dream about, to wish for….but, when it happens to you, it is a wonderful, life-changing experience.

I just experienced one of those heavenly places.  I found myself surrounded by people who were some of the most sweet-spirited, full-of-the-love-of-Jesus, Godly people I have ever met.  People who were so filled with the Spirit of God that there was an actual heavenly, holy atmosphere surrounding them.  People who made me want to dig deeper in God to attain the heights of spirituality they have achieved.  People who aren’t afraid to freely worship and praise God!

As I sat there basking in God’s glory, drinking it in like a very thirsty sponge, they began to sing the beautiful, old hymn penned by Doris Akers, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”…

There's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place,
And I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord.
There are sweet expressions on each face,
And I know that it's the presence of the Lord.

Sweet, Holy Spirit, sweet, Heavenly Dove,
Stay right here with us, filling us with your love,
And for these blessings, we lift our hearts in praise,
Without a doubt, we'll know that we have been revived,
When we shall leave this place.

I have loved this song for years, but it truly took on new meaning to me when I heard it this time.  Being there, hearing firsthand the voices of God’s people singing it out of pure and clean hearts that had been completely filled with the precious Spirit of God, almost overwhelmed me.  This was real.  The people singing these words were singing from true life experience of knowing and walking with the Spirit they were singing about.  We were sitting together in a heavenly place in Christ Jesus.  It spiritually refreshed and revived me more than anything has in a very long time.

As I thought back over those precious services and the powerful blessings I received, I began to ponder on how they happened.  What was the component that had been lacking in my worship for so long?  The thought came to me that God inhabits the praises of His people.  (Psalm 22:3)  To sit in a heavenly place in Christ Jesus, to be elevated up into that realm of worship, we must praise God.  We must worship Him and exalt His name. 

Too many years, I sat through so-called “worship” services, only to feel underlying tension, resentment, and discord in the spiritual atmosphere of the congregation.  Those types of services are earthbound, and my soul longed and cried out for heavenly places in Christ Jesus!  I yearned to rise above the carnal…to reach the spiritual.  God inhabits praise!  That is where He dwells.  That is what He deserves.  To enter those “heavenly places in Christ Jesus”, we must praise.  That unlocks the door!  David had discovered this profound truth when he wrote, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise:  be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”  Psalm 100:4 (KJV)

Man was created with a longing that only God can fill.  Our immortal souls cry out for intimacy with our Creator.  He has so much for us!  Heaven will be beyond wonderful, but we can have a foretaste of Heaven right here by entering these heavenly places in Christ Jesus!  I am so grateful to be a part of the earthly body of Christ!  It transcends denominations, sects, man-made creeds, groups, and labels.  It is hard to leave the kind of atmosphere I described above, and it saddens our hearts to part ways.  But, just think!  One day there will be no good-byes, and a “heavenly place” will be our permanent home!

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