Let's see how the headlines have changed in a week. Today's news is as follows:
- Qusay Hussein took a billion dollars-one quarter of the country's hard currency reserve-out of the banks just before the war started. The financial result on a country about to rebuild will be even more difficult.
- The 100th Victim of a Rhode Island nightclub, after two-and-a-half months of suffering, has died.
- The body count left behind by a series of tornados in the Midwest is now near 40.
Is there any good news out there? Actually, yes. GOP Activist William Bennett has openly admitted that he is giving up gambling.
Which, sadly, can only mean there was a problem in the first place. Gambling, like so many other addictions, attack even God's children. Pornography-yes, within the realms of the Church-is at an all time high. In fact, according to Jack Samad, Senior Vice President of The National Coalition for Protection of Families and Children , 41 percent of those warming the pews of our churches on Sunday and 25 percent of the pastors, priests, etc. who shepherd the flock are within the clutches of sexual immorality or in their behavior, violated biblical sexual ethics.
So why be joyous?
A Look Back At Part One
In Part One of this six-part series, we began by looking at the words of Peter in 1 Peter 1:6b, 7: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
The question is this: In what do we rejoice?
In this, Peter said. The first thing we looked at was verse 3, which reads: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...
Now let's see what other areas Peter concluded we should be joyous in, as found in verse four: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you...
What Have You Inherited?
I come from two families who believe in heirlooms. Things are already marked in the homes of my mother and father. The joke is: when you come home, bring the label maker!
There are two items that have been passed down in my father's family, which my brother and I are jockeying in position for. One, an oak occasional table that at one time belonged to his "Grandmother Dubberly." Two, an old "fireside chats" radio. It doesn't work but it survived two home fires and has been beautifully refinished and I'm certain we can find someone, somewhere who can make it "sing" again.
I know that doesn't sound like a lot for a family that believes in heirlooms, but remember that nearly everything owned by my father's family was destroyed by fire. Twice.
My mother's home is a different story. Furniture, china, crystal, silver, quilts, jewelry, old bottles, antique school desks, and dinner bells.... The list goes on and on. These items are multi-generational. In fact, just in jewelry alone I personally own rings worn by my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
When I received the ring that at one time had been worn by my great-grandmother, the band of it had broken apart and the gold had to be replaced. Additionally, the diamond had fallen out and it, too, had to be replaced.
Heirlooms-or inheritances-can cost money. They are made of materials that can perish, spoil, and fade. If we want them to remain as they were originally, we must put work and money into them or set them high atop shelves where they can never be touched or possibly broken.
Our Inheritance As Believers
The Greek word for inheritance is "Kleronomia" and it means: a) an inheritance, properly received; and b) the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is to be expected after the visible return of Christ. 1
This word is used only fourteen times in the New Testament, four of them within the Gospels and-out of those four-three of them dealing with the same parable.
In the "Parable of the Tenants," Jesus told this story:
"A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven't you read this scripture: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
Jesus was, of course, speaking of Himself as the owner's son. The inheritance He spoke of was eternal life in a kingdom of such splendor even Solomon's cannot compare to it. Quite frankly, I don't care if it were spent in a pup tent. As long as my Heavenly Bridegroom is there to dance with and my Heavenly Father is there to be near to and the Holy Spirit blows through with such joy....
Oh. There's that word again. Joy.
Why Be Joyous?
Did you know heaven is not the first inheritance the Jews had heard about? One of those "servants" sent was Moses and he led the children of God to another inheritance: The Promised Land.
Last year, as I toured Israel, I visited a lot of ancient sites. Ancient relics. Ancient ruins. While the Holy Land is among some of the most beautifully diverse patches of Earth, it will eventually be destroyed. And, like my father's family homes, by fire. But not our Eternal Home; no.
There are two things to note in conclusion.
1. That inheritance which will never perish, spoil, or fade is "being kept in heaven."
The Greek here is "Tereo," and means, "to guard." Our inheritance is being guarded! Like the antique china and crystal kept safe within the locked cabinets of my mother's home, our Eternal Lives are being guarded. If that doesn't make you joyous, then I can't help you.
2. My Heavenly Siblings...we don't have to jockey for position or bring our label makers with us to Heaven. We each get a share and we share-share-alike.
And that is just one more reason to be joyous!
1 NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon (Strong's Number 2817) found at Crosswalk.com Bible Study Tools
Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams & Summon the Shadows and an award-winning national speaker. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to her website here.