Friday, June 3, 2011

Planning Your Way to Heaven, Part I

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit

God has a home of infinite goodness prepared for those who know Him and love Him. He wants to share this home with every person who is ready to receive it. He has promised us that this home is a place where there are no tears, no death, no sorrow, no sadness, no fear, no pain, no disease, and where all come and go as they please for there is nothing there to hurt them and no one who lives in this home would ever do anything to hurt anyone else because they are the ones who have learned how to live without hurting others. This home is called Heaven, and the angels live in this place alongside God.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father in heaven.

God has told us, though, that not everyone will get to be in heaven. Not everyone is going to be willing to do what it takes to learn how to live without hurting others. We have to meet certain requirements in order to be able to gain entrance, and our lives will be reviewed according to these requirements to see if we have met them. If you thought your graduate school entrance examination was tough, just wait until you see the entrance exam into heaven!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.

Don’t worry, though. A God who loves us so much would not set us up to fail. God gave us the best possible teacher. God sent us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to show us how to live our lives so that we can get into heaven. God doesn’t want even one soul lost. He created every one of us, and loves us with an unending love. When we suffer, God suffers with us. If we fail our exam, it will only be because we chose to spend an eternity away from God. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We can follow the example of our teacher, Jesus, and chart a course that will take us straight there without any unnecessary side steps along the way. What a relief!

John 14: 2-3 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am there you may also be.

Jesus has gone to Heaven to prepare our place with God. In His place, He sent the Holy Spirit who in turn works with Christ’s Bride, the Holy Church, to give us the instructions we need to make this plan and to be sure that this plan will lead us in the right direction. The Holy Spirit, in communion with the Holy Church, put together the Bible and the Bible is our survival guide as we walk the path on the road to Heaven. The survival guide is a reference book, telling us about landmarks along the way, helping us to identify the various dangers which lurk just off the path,suggesting useful tools for us to bring with us when we set out for the journey, and even providing helpful suggestions on how to get help in the event of an emergency. However, just as you would not want to go to the jungles of Africa armed with only a survival guide, you should not be navigating the earthly plane without a living guide who is knowledgeable about the terrain and has experience guiding people on the kind of journey you are looking to take. It is for this reason that Christ provides us with Holy Mother Church, His Bride, and the Holy Spirit who work together to provide that guidance along the way. You don’t get much more experienced than a Church with over 2000 years of successfully guiding souls to heaven.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. —Proverbs 21:5

Imagine for a moment that you were going on a journey to another country. Rather than planning the trip, you simply left your house and headed out in an arbitrary direction. You brought with you no food, no water, no money, and no map. You've never been to this country before and have only a vague notion of where it is. It is statistically possible that you might get to that country before you die, but it is also highly improbable. This is, sadly, how many people approach life's journey to Heaven.

Matthew 6: 19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal.

Planning your way to Heaven is a little like career planning, but with the ultimate goal of eternal happiness rather than the goal of more money or power. After all, when you get to heaven, you aren’t going to need those things because everything you desire will be freely available. Since the stakes are so much higher, this kind of planning is also a LOT more important so don’t wait, act now!

Psalm 127:1-2 Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch. It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, to eat bread earned by hard toil – all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.

As Christians, we can’t sell ourselves short by following the kind of planning the world normally does. Most planning books will tell you to start with what you want and what you think is good for you, rather than starting with God. However, this is a backwards approach since only God knows what plans He has for you and thus only God knows what will truly satisfy you and give you the abundant life He wants you to have. If we truly want to “be all that we can be” (Go Army!), we need to ask God what HE has in mind for us.

Sirach 14:20-21 Happy the man who meditates on wisdom, and reflects on knowledge; Who ponders her ways in his heart, and understands her paths

If you’re not Christian, but you were curious to see what kind of advice I might have to offer in this series, stick around. This advice is for you, too, because the type of planning we’re going to do will not only be healthier for you but will help you become a happier person as well. It will help you to realize the full potential that is hidden inside of you, and will help you to take all of those gifts and talents which God gave you at conception, combine them with your experience and education, and turn them into tools which will get you started on the road to success of a kind you’ve never experienced before. To put it more simply, this series isn’t about getting a job or a career – it’s about getting a life!

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