CHRISTIAN LIFE & WORSHIP
Matthew 5:3-12a - "How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
"How happy are those who know what sorrow means for they will be given courage and comfort!
"Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them!
"Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied!
"Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them!
"Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God!
"Happy are those who make peace, for they will be sons of God!
"Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
"And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad - for your reward in Heaven is magnificent."
Luke 6:20b-23a - "How happy are you who own nothing, for the kingdom of God is yours!
"How happy are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied!
"How happy are you who weep now, for you are going to laugh!
"How happy you are when men hate you and turn you out of their company; when they slander you and detest all that you stand for because you are loyal to the Son of Man. Be glad when that happens and jump for joy - your reward in Heaven is magnificent."
John 15:10-11 - "If you keep my commandments you will live in my love just as I have kept my Father's commandments and live in his love. I have told you this so that you can share my joy, and that your happiness may be complete."
Romans 12:12a - Base your happiness on your hope in Christ.
Romans 12:15a - Share the happiness of those who are happy,
James 1:12a - The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man.
James 5:13b - If anyone is flourishing (or happy) let him sing praises to God.
1 John 2:9-11 - Anyone who claims to be "in the light" (as a Christian) and hates his brother is, in fact, still in complete darkness. The man who loves his brother lives and moves in the light, and has no reason to stumble. But the man who hates his brother is shut off from the light and gropes his way in the dark without seeing where he is going. To move in the dark is to move blindfold.
1 John 3:14-15 - We know that we have crossed the frontier from death to life because we do love our brothers. The man without love for his brothers is living in death already. The man who actively hates his brother is a potential murderer, and you will readily see that the eternal life of God cannot live in the heart of a murderer.
1 John 4:19-21 - Yes, we love him because he first loved us. If a man says, "I love God" and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if he does not love the brother before his eyes how can he love the one (God) beyond his sight? And in any case it is his explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother too.
Matthew 18:21-35 - Then (after Jesus had told the parable of "the lost sheep") Peter approached him with the question, "Master, how many times can my brother wrong me and I must forgive him? Would seven times be enough?"
"No," replied Jesus, "not seven times, but seventy times seven! For the kingdom of Heaven is like a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When he had started calling in his accounts, a man was brought to him who owed him millions of pounds. And when it was plain that he had no means of repaying the debt, his master gave orders for him to be sold as a slave, and his wife and children and all his possessions as well, and the money to be paid over. At this the servant fell on his knees before his master, 'Oh, be patient with me!' he cried, 'and I will pay you back every penny!' Then his master was moved with pity for him, set him free and cancelled his debt.
"But when this same servant had left his master's presence, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a few shillings. He grabbed him and seized him by the throat, crying, 'Pay up what you owe me!' At this his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and implored him, 'Oh, be patient with me, and I will pay you back!' But he refused and went out and had him put in prison until he should repay the debt.
When the other fellow-servants saw what had happened, they were horrified and told their master the whole incident. Then his master called him in. "'You wicked servant!' he said. 'Didn't I cancel all that debt when you begged me to do so? Oughtn't you to have taken pity on your fellow-servant as I, your master, took pity on you? And his master in anger handed him over to the gaolers till he should repay the whole debt. This is how my Heavenly Father will treat you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart."
- Images, descriptions, and other references to Heaven and the kingdom of God taken from the Gospels, Letters and Revelation:
Matthew 5:3,10-12a - "How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! .... (Verse 10 ....) "Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs! "And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad - for your reward in Heaven is magnificent.
Matthew 5:34 - Don't swear by Heaven for it is God's throne ....
Matthew 6:9b-10 - 'Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honoured; May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. .....'
Matthew 6:20 - "... keep your treasure in Heaven where there is neither moth nor rust to spoil it and nobody can break in and steal."
Matthew 8:11 - "I (Jesus) tell you that many people will come from east and west and sit at my table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 11:11 - "Believe me, no one greater than John the Baptist has ever been born of all mankind, and yet a humble member of the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he."
Heaven - continued
Matthew 13:24-50 - Excerpts from some of the parables about the mysteries of Heaven.
"The kingdom of Heaven is like:
(Verse 24b ....) "..... a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. ...."
(an explanation later follows starting at verse 37 ....) "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man," replied Jesus. "The field is the whole world. The good seed? That is the sons of the kingdom, while the weeds are the sons of the evil one."
(Verse 31b) ."... a tiny grain of mustard-seed which a man took and sowed in his field. As a seed it is the smallest of them all, but it grows to be the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, big enough for birds to come and nest in its branches."
(Verse 33b) "..... yeast, taken by a woman and put into three measures of flour until the whole lot had risen."
(Verse 44b) "..... some treasure which has been buried in a field. A man finds it and buries it again, and goes off overjoyed to sell all his possessions to buy himself that field."
(Verse 45b) ".... a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he has found a single pearl of great value, he goes and sells all his possessions and buys it."
(Verse 47b) ".... a big net thrown into the sea collecting all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore and sit down and pick out the good ones for the barrels, but they throw away the bad. That is how it will be at the end of this world. The angels will go out and pick out the wicked from among the good and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret."
Heaven - continued
Matthew 18:1-4 - .... the disciples came to Jesus with the question, "Who is really greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?" Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. "Believe me," he said, "unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18:10 - (After acclaiming the simplicity of children, Jesus continues .....) "Be careful that you never despise a single one of these little ones - for I tell you that they have angels who see my Father's face continually in Heaven."
Matthew 18:19 - "... I tell you once more that if two of you on earth agree in asking for anything it will be granted to you by my Heavenly Father."
Matthew 18:21-23,35 - .... Peter approached him (Jesus) with the question, "Master, how many times can my brother wrong me and I must forgive him? Would seven times be enough?" "No," replied Jesus, "not seven times, but seventy times seven! For the kingdom of Heaven is like a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. .... (now follows the parable of the unforgiving servant. Jesus concludes in verse 35 with the words) ... This is how my Heavenly Father will treat you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart."
Matthew 19:13-14 - .... some little children were brought to him, so that he could put his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples frowned on the parents' action but Jesus said, "You must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children like these!"
Heaven - continued
Matthew 19:23-26 - .... Jesus remarked to his disciples, "Believe me, a rich man will find it very difficult to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I repeat, a camel could more easily squeeze through the eye of a needle than a rich man get into the kingdom of God!" The disciples were simply amazed to hear this, and said, "Then who can possibly be saved?" Jesus looked steadily at them and replied, "Humanly speaking it is impossible; but with God anything is possible!"
Matthew 20:1-2,16 - "... the kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer going out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. He agreed with them on a wage of a silver coin a day and sent them to work. .... (now follows the parable of the workers in the vineyard paid the same wage. Jesus concludes in verse 16) ... "So, many who are the last now will be the first then and the first last."
Matthew 22:2-3,14 - "The kingdom of Heaven," he said, "is like a king who arranged a wedding for his son. He sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the festivities, but they refused to come. .... (followed by the parable about the invitations to the banquet for the king's son, ending in verse 14 ....) For many are invited but few are chosen."
Matthew 22:30 - "....in the resurrection there is no such thing as marrying or being given in marriage - men live like the angels in Heaven."
Matthew 23:22 - ".... anyone who swears by Heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by the one who sits upon that throne."
Heaven - continued
Matthew 25:1-46 - In three parables - "the ten bridesmaids", "the talents of money", and "the sheep and the goats" , Jesus teaches about the end-times and the kingdom of Heaven. Excerpts follow:
(Verse 1) "... the kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. .... (Verse 13) .... be on the alert - for you do not know the day or the time.
(Verse 14) "It is just like a man going abroad who called his household servants together before he went and handed his property to them to manage. He gave one five thousand pounds, another two thousand and another one thousand - according to their respective abilities. Then he went away. ..... (To the trustworthy and reliable ones, he says in verse 23b ....) Come in and share your master's pleasure.' (But about the wicked and lazy one, in Verse 30) '... throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where he can weep and wail over his stupidity.'
(Verse 31) ".... when the Son of Man comes in his splendour with all his angels with him, then he will take his seat on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from each other like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left." .... (Verse 46 ....) "And these (who failed to help the humblest of Jesus' brothers) will go off to eternal punishment, but the true men to eternal life."
Mark 16:19b - ... the Lord Jesus was taken up into Heaven and was enthroned at the right hand of God.
John 3:3,12-13 - (Jesus speaking with Nicodemus the Pharisee ...) "a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again." ..... (Verse 12 ....) I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven? No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven.
John 6:38-40 - "... I (Jesus) have come down from Heaven, not to do what I want, but to do the will of him who sent me. The will of him who sent me is that I should not lose anything of what he has given me, but should raise it up when the last day comes. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and trusts in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up when the last day comes."
John 14:2-3 - "There are many rooms in my Father's (heavenly) House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home (in heaven), so that you may be where I am."
Heaven - continued
Acts 3:20-21 - (Peter speaks to the crowds in Jerusalem after he has healed a crippled man ...) .... he (God) will send you Jesus, your long-heralded Christ, although for the time he must remain in Heaven until that universal restoration of which God spoke in ancient times through all his holy prophets.
Acts 17:24 - (Paul addressing the philosophers in Athens ...) God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands ....
Romans 14:17 - ... the kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of whether you get what you like to eat and drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 4:20 - ... the kingdom of God is not a matter of a spate of word but of the power of Christian living.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - Have you forgotten that the kingdom of God will never belong to the wicked? Don't be under any illusion - neither the impure, the idolater or the adulterer; neither the effeminate, the pervert or the thief; neither the swindler, the drunkard, the foul-mouthed or the rapacious shall have any share in the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:50 - ... it is utterly impossible for flesh and blood to possess the kingdom of God. The transitory (the perishable) could never possess the everlasting (the imperishable).
2 Corinthians 5:1b - .... we have a permanent house in Heaven, made, not by man, but by God.
Philippians 3:20-21 - ... we are citizens of Heaven; our outlook goes beyond this world to the hopeful expectation of the saviour who will come from Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will re-make these wretched bodies of ours to resemble his own glorious body, by that power of his which makes him the master of everything that is.
Heaven - continued
Hebrews 9:24 - Christ did not ..... enter into any holy places made by human hands (however truly these may represent heavenly realities), but he entered Heaven itself to make his appearance before God as High Priest on our behalf.
Hebrews 11:13b-16 - They (such Old Testament people as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah) freely admitted that they lived on this earth as exiles and foreigners. Men who say that mean, of course, that their eyes are fixed upon their true home-land. If they had meant the particular country they had left behind, they had ample opportunity to return. No, the fact is that they longed for a better country altogether, nothing less than a heavenly one. And because of this faith of theirs, God is not ashamed to be called their God for in sober truth he has prepared for them a city in Heaven.
Hebrews 13:14 - For we have no permanent city here on earth, we are looking for one in the world to come.
James 3:17-18 - The wisdom that comes from God (in Heaven) is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favouritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness - in other people and in themselves.
1 Peter 3:22 - .... he (Jesus) has now entered Heaven and is at God's right hand, with all angels, authorities and powers subservient to him.
Heaven - continued
Revelation 21:1-4,9-26 - Then I (the apostle John) saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had disappeared and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride dressed in beauty for her husband. Then I heard a great voice from the throne crying, "See! The home of God is with men, and he will live among them. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more, and never again shall there be sorrow or crying or pain. For all those former things are past and gone." ...
(Verse 9 ....) Then one of the seven angels ...... came to me and said, "Come, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." Then he carried me away in spirit to the top of a vast mountain, and pointed out to me the city, the holy Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, radiant with the glory of God. Her brilliance sparkled like a very precious jewel with the clear light of crystal. Around her she had a vast and lofty wall in which were twelve gateways with twelve angels at the gates. There were twelve names inscribed over the twelve gateways, and they are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. On the east there were three gateways, on the north three gateways, on the south three gateways and on the west three gateways. The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on these were engraved the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The measurement of the city
The one who was talking to me had a golden rod in his hand with which to measure the city, its gateways and its wall. The city lies foursquare, its length equal to its breadth. He measured the city with his rod and it was twelve thousand furlongs in each direction, for its length, breadth and height are all equal. Then he measured its wall, and found that to be one hundred and forty-four half-yards high by human measurement, (which the angel was using..
The splendour of the city's building
The wall itself was built of translucent stone, while the city was of purest gold, with the brilliance of glass. The foundation stones of the wall of the city were fashioned out of every kind of precious stone. The first foundation-stone was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth cornelian, the seventh goldstone, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth green goldstone, the eleventh zircon, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The street of the city was purest gold gleaming like glass.
The splendour within the city
I could see no Temple in the city, for the Lord, the Almighty God, and the Lamb are themselves its Temple. The city has no need for the light of sun or moon, for the splendour of God fills it with light and its radiance is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. The city's gates shall stand open day after day - and there will be no night there. Into the city they will bring the splendours and honours of the nations.
1 Corinthians 4:6-7 - I (Paul) have used myself and Apollos .... as an illustration (of those who have preached the Gospel), so that you might learn from what I have said about us not to assess man above his value in God's sight, and may thus avoid the friction that comes from exalting one teacher against another. For who makes you different from somebody else, and what have you got that was not given to you? And if anything has been given to you, why boast of it as if it were something you had achieved yourself?
the HOLY BIBLE
Matthew 5:17-19 - "You must not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (of the Old Testament); I have not come to abolish them but to complete them. Indeed, I assure you that, while Heaven and earth last, the Law will not lose a single dot or comma until its purpose is complete. This means that whoever now relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men to do the same will himself be called least in Heaven. But whoever teaches and practises them will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 7:24 - "Everyone then who hears these words of mine (the Sermon on the Mount) and puts them into practice is like a sensible man who builds his house on the rock.
Matthew 22:29 - "You are very wide of the mark," replied Jesus to them, (the Sadducees questioning him about rising from death) "for you are ignorant of both the scriptures and the power of God.
Matthew 24:34-35 - "(As Jesus teaches about the end-times ....) .... this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place. Earth and sky will pass away, but my words will never pass away!
Luke 11:27b-28 - .... a woman in the crowd called out (to Jesus) and said, "Oh, what a blessing for a woman to have brought you into the world and nursed you!" But Jesus replied, "Yes, but a far greater blessing is to hear the word of God and obey it."
John 5:24 - I solemnly assure you that the man who hears what I have to say and believes in the one who has sent me has eternal life. He does not have to face judgement; he has already passed from death into life.
John 12:47-50 - "....if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him - for I did not come to judge the world but to save it. Every man who rejects me and will not accept my sayings has a judge - at the last day, the very words that I have spoken will be his judge. For I have not spoken on my own authority: the Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and what to speak. And I know that what he commands means eternal life. All that I say I speak only in accordance with what the Father has told me."
John 20:30-31 - Jesus gave a great many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that in that faith you may have life as his disciples.
the Holy Bible - continued
Romans 1:16-17 - .... I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Greek. I see in it God's plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: 'The just shall live by faith'.
Romans 15:4 - ... all those words which were written long ago (in the Old Testament) are meant to teach us today; that when we read in the scriptures of the endurance of men and of all the help that God gave them in those days, we may be encouraged to go on hoping in our own time.
1 Corinthians 10:11 - ... these things which happened (in the history of Israel) to our ancestors are illustrations of the way in which God works, and they were written down (in the Old Testament) to be a warning to us who are the heirs of the ages which have gone before us.
Galatians 1:9 - You have heard me (Paul) say it before and now I put it down in black and white - may anybody who preaches any other Gospel than the one you have already heard be a damned soul!
Ephesians 6:14-15,17 - (In Paul's guide to spiritual warfare ....) Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, .... (Verse 17) .... salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 - ... we are continually thankful that when you heard us (Paul and his companions) preach the word of God you accepted it, not as a mere human message, but as it really is, God's Word, a power in the lives of you who believe.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 - Remember (Paul writing to Timothy) .... how from early childhood your mind has been familiar with the holy scriptures (of the Hebrew Bible, now the Christian Old Testament), which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.
the Holy Bible - continued
Hebrews 4:12 - ... the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man's being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man's heart.
1 Peter 1:23-25 - ... you are the sons of God now; the live, permanent Word of the living God has given you his own indestructible heredity. It is true that: 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever'. The Word referred to, as far as you are concerned, is the message of the Gospel that was preached to you.
2 Peter 1:19-21 - The word of prophecy (about Jesus as the Christ) was fulfilled in our (the apostles, including Peter's) hearing! You should give that word your closest attention, for it shines like a lamp amidst all the dirt and darkness of the world, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts. But you must understand this at the outset, that no prophecy of scripture arose from an individual's interpretation of the truth. No prophecy came because a man wanted it to: men of God spoke because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 1:3a - Happy is the man who reads this prophecy and happy are those who hear it read and pay attention to its message ....
Revelation 22:18-19 - ... I (John) bear solemn witness to every man who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds to these words God will add to him the disasters described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of prophecy in this book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city which are described in this book.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate