Sunday, April 24, 2011

YOUR RESURRECTION SUNDAY MORNING DEVOTION!

TODAY – IN PARADISE!
by

Bernie Lutchman

Paradise means many things to many people!! To some – it’s a vacation in Hawaii, to others, it’s a retirement of golf and blue hairs drinking bloody Mary’s down at the Villages in Florida! To yet others, it’s a happy home with perfect children and the house paid off and to reckless...it’s a casino 
down by the Mississippi river where they can find fortune!

The word “paradise” is actually from of all things – a combination of two Persian words! “Pairi” means “around” and “Daza” means “a wall”. Back in the day, it was common for the rich and beautiful Persian nobility to have exquisite, colorful gardens with a beautiful wall around it…or a Pairidaza. These folks were excellent landscapers and as you can see from Persian rugs, craft and artistic genius are personality traits!
When God created the heavens and the Earth, it was in the same general region. The location of the Garden of Eden is no mystery. Genesis 2 tells the actual location. Years ago, the Discovery Channel using both Satellite and X-ray imagery, actually proved that the four rivers listed in this Biblical account actually existed where the Bible says it did!!  

Here is where the Garden of Eden, the original Paradise, was located “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four [river] heads. The first is named Pishon; it is the one flowing around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is of high quality; bdellium (pearl?) and onyx stone are there.
The second river is named Gihon; it is the one flowing around the whole land of Cush. The third river is named Hiddekel [the Tigris]; it is the one flowing east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates Genesis 2:10-14 (AMP).


PARADISE FOUND


Instead of a wall, this original paradise had four rivers, two of which still exist to this day – Tigris and Euphrates- flowing out of it. But what else does the Bible say about “PARADISE” and why did Jesus say to the dying thief (Luke 23:43) on the Cross “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”!!


“Paradise” used here is the same as the original Persian word.  It is not used in the Old Testament but used three times in the New Testament! Apart from the verse above, 2 Corinthians 12:4 “I was caught up to Paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell” and Revelation 2:7 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the Paradise of God.


Each time it is used, it is meant to represent or is synonymous with – HEAVEN! From all these amazing verses, we see Heaven/Paradise as the following:
-          The Home of Christ
-          The Home of God the Father
-          The Hearing Room of Heaven
-          The Heart of the Gospel
-          The Hiding Place of the Believer
-          The Habitat of the Tree of Life!

All of the above are true and one particular thing to note here in Revelation 2:7 is its relation with Genesis 3:3 where Jesus told Adam and Eve NOT to eat fruit from this same Tree of Life! Yet, this same Jesus is promising to give “fruit from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God”!! How about that! This revelation from Revelation is revealing to the last Truth of the Full Counsel and last Power of the Mighty Cherubim (i.e. Angels of the Highest Order) whose flaming swords protected this SAME TREE OF LIFE - East of Eden!


I used this rather lengthy introduction as a backdrop to introduce what happened during the time of Christ’s death and burial at Golgotha and the Resurrection on Sunday morning – or the 3rd Jewish day. One thing will be perfectly evident once we get to Heaven – we have no clue of the 99% of Supernatural Activity which has occurred from Eternity past to Eternity future! Christ Himself said But Jesus replied, "My Father is always working, and so am I."


When they put the Lord Jesus in what Isaiah prophesied as “He was put in a rich man’s grave (Isaiah 53:9d); He was not lying around waiting for Sunday! Here is what happened:

1 Peter 3:18-20 (Amplified Bible)

For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, in which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God's patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water.

PARADISE LOST

Contrary to some teachings, Jesus did not go down to “limbo” to release church “fathers” from purgatory! There is no such thing. BUT there is a wall between Paradise and Hades or Hell! When a person died before the death of Christ on the Cross, he or she went immediately to either of these two places because of what he or she believed!  Luke 16:19-31 tells the graphic and real story of the Rich man and Lazarus the Beggar! The Rich man was only wealthy while on earth while Lazarus had nothing. In eternity – roles were reversed! Now if Lazarus had cursed his poverty on God, he too would have been in hell with the Rich Man! But apparently he had faith and like all Old Testament saints, who did not bow the knee to the baal (the pagan gods), he rested in Paradise, in the Bosom of Abraham!

*Luke 16:19-31 make the following perfectly clear:
- We all face different physical environmental circumstances, even if we’re in this together.
- The choices you make in our brief time on earth, determine our PERMANENT eternal home!
- Paradise or Heaven is real but just like any beautiful garden; it has a WALL around it!
- Hell is not a metaphor, but a real place for those who refuse to obey or believe!
- There is no bridge or “going back and forth” and a permanent chasm exists there!
- When it comes right down to it, when it’s all said and done, it all comes down to which Cross we’re on …are we on the Cross with the thief who cursed and rebelled all his way into hell (where he is right now) or are we the thief who repented on the Cross, was saved and was the first man human to be taken into the Kingdom by the Lord Jesus Christ!

DECLARING VICTORY!

Back to 1 Peter 3:18, we see a phenomenal thing happen. After evil men and sin from the beginning of time had caused God to send His Own Son down to die a horrible, abandoned death, this same Son went down into the bowels of death and told them what had happened!

Peter, Jesus’ main disciple saidIn His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, in which He went and preached to the spirits in prison”.

Which spirits? Here is the answer:
-          The demons and fallen angels who joined Lucifer in rebelling against God right before Jesus created the earth and where kicked out of heaven.  These demons were chained and thrown into the pit until a still future judgment! However, being in chains for thousands of years, they had no clue about God’s plan for Redemption!

-          Not just these fallen conspirators with Lucifer was there but every horrible pagan, perverse and persistent in sin person from the day Cain killed Abel until the Great Flood in Genesis chapters 6 through 9 was in hell there.

-          Then God said this in Genesis 6:5-8The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have madethem.  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

These are the spirits talked about to whom Jesus had to go and declare victory of sin, self and Satan!
The mention of Noah here is significant because before the Great Flood, not only was mankind involved in mortal sins of the flesh and idol worship, but several of the fallen angels “looked down and saw how beautiful women were”. In order to follow through  on the desires of the flesh, these one of a kind created Angels (called Sons of God) , were having sexual relations with the daughters of men and women and creating an ENTIRE new race of humanity – Giants and the Nephilim was born!

So in the final analysis, it brings us back to this unique Saturday after Good Friday when Christ was doing the Father’s business, He also revealed something about Paradise.  While His job was to tell the demons and guilty about what to expect on Judgment Day as well as the Cross conquering death and hell, True Believers were in Paradise “in Abraham’s bosom”.

Some scholars hold that Abraham’s bosom was a general place where the Old Testament faithful were kept until Christ paid the final Atonement which finally satisfied God. They suggest, and it makes sense, that it was only after the Cross those long dead faithful were truly forgiven!

We are more fortunate than those saints! While they had the distinct honor of seeing Jesus Face to face telling them, on the way back from giving the disobedient demons the business, “come on fellas, let’s go! Out of here – Paradise, Here we come!! I paid the entire freight”!! With HIS BLOOD!! BY HIS WOUND WE ARE HEALED AND RESTORED INTO PARADISE!

This is how the great Apostle Paul described this totally incredible significant event:
Ephesians 4:8-10 AMP says “Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest)”.

WHAT DOES PARADISE LOOK LIKE

Therefore, just briefly, what does this look like high above the heavens? Does his walled off beautiful garden, which is predefined, really exist? Judge for yourself from Revelation 22: 1-2 AMP THEN HE showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the tree of life with its twelve varieties of fruit, yielding each month its fresh crop; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing and the restoration of the nations”!

Here it is again!! The TREE OF LIFE!!

This time, God did not put any restrictions on EATING FROM HIS TREE OF LIFE, which first resided in the Garden of Eden!
This time, we have fruit bearing abundantly…and for those who think Heaven is boring…a new and fresh crop monthly!
This time, instead of cursing the ground and pain in childbirth for Eve and her descendants, the Tree of Life gives healing restoration to all who will come!
This time, these same nations who will be restored because of the death, burial and RESURRECTION will be coming to the Feast with Adam, Abraham, Enoch, Elijah, Daniel, Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Paul, Cornelius, Peter, Polycarp,  Joan of Arc, Obadiah Holmes, Patrick Henry, John Knox, Hudson Taylor, Elizabeth Elliott, Jim Elliott, Corrie Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Franklin Graham, AW Tozer, J. Vernon McGee, Adrian Rogers, Ray Comfort, you and I and more…millions more as far as the eye can see!

All because, the Angel moved the stone and the Lord Jesus came out of the Grave!
All because, He ascended into the Heavens where He rules today!
All because, the Ancient of Days holds the Keys for the Promise of Tomorrow!
All because, Paradise is now open 24/7 for business…and cost is free because He already paid!
All because, He is waiting for you and me and there are no more walls in the Paradise, where He restored the Garden of Eden to its original intent!


*LUKE 16:19-31
19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
 22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.[e] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead.[f]There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
 24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
 27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

CREDITS:
Images courtesy Google Images
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Amplified Bible (AMP)Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

  






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