URC Daily Devotion Friday 24th November 2023

Friday 24th November 2023
Heaven 5

Philippians 3.13–14, 17, 20
This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. … Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. … our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The writer of the Epistle to the Philippians gives us a striking image of our relation to heaven when he writes that ‘our citizenship is in heaven’.
In one sense, the image is quite perplexing: after all, we have never been to heaven; we have no passport from heaven; and we pay no taxes to heaven.
However, this image is insightful in many other ways. Knowing that God rules over heaven indicates that God rules over us. Knowing that we are citizens indicates that we belong there in a very profound way. And knowing that there are other citizens indicates that we are far from alone.
Yet the point remains that we are not in heaven – at least, not yet – and heaven seems very far away.
The writer of Ephesians knows this well. And that is why they write of ‘straining forward’, of ‘pressing on’: we are not in heaven, not yet, but are invited towards it, directed towards it, even pulled towards it. The compass is the call of God in Christ Jesus, and we are already on the way.
In the meantime, we look for signs of heaven here and now, at this time and in this world. We look for those flashes of love and life which illuminate our lives and our world. They may not be as frequent or as fulsome as we might like … but they are there. God is not left without witnesses in the world.
And perhaps sometimes we must make bold to try to be witnesses of heaven ourselves, in ways sometimes small and sometimes great, sometimes visible and sometimes hidden. All this, as we move towards the prize that lies, for now, beyond – but will one day be ours.
Gracious God,
We are thankful that you sent your Son from heaven to earth, doing your will among us. Coming in our form, he has both shown us the way to live and made it possible to live that way.
Grant us the faith to walk in his path, to follow in his mission, and to believe in his triumph. In the face of all that assails us, help us to see the flashes of heaven, of your life, all around us.
In the courage of our faith, may our love stay strong, and may we not lose hope.

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