Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Christians are told to meet together on a regular basis for the spiritual work that needs attention.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Quite likely, this instruction was given in the prophetic light that Jerusalem would be destroyed 23 years later. In the midst of heightening tension between Israel and the Roman Empire, believers were to place courage into one another. They were also to push one another toward love and good deeds which are always needed in difficult times.

In those days, people lived in close proximity, probably all of their lives not much more than a few blocks away from one another. They went to the same well daily to draw water. They hung around during “down time”. Today, Christian relationships are spread out geographically. There is little time for more than just visiting when friends get together. This is a problem – because it is not what is being instructed in Hebrews 10.

Because these verses identify “encouraging one another” as a major purpose for meeting together, we can conclude that the emphasis to get together is spiritual – for living the faith in daily life. A practical way to do this are the 65 Togethers of Scripture that make it easier to recall hundreds of Bible instructions for helping one another along the path of faith, a road that should often be uphill to assure growth of our spirits.

Therefore, we need to intentionally insert into our time with friends the Togethers. In the Hebrews 10 verse, “Spurring One Another on to Love and Good Deeds” and “Encouraging One Another” are mentioned. These are two of the 65 Togethers of Scripture, so it is not a stretch to say that we need to prioritize spiritual duties so that they take up more than minimal time when we get together with our closest Christian friends.

The same priority for some time to be spent in spiritual growth and helping one another apply faith to life should happen in Christian families and Christian marriages. Just as friends arrange to get together at certain times and places, so should husbands and wives, as well as families, set aside time to spend together for the purpose of seeing what Togethers are needed for the situations persons are facing. Weekly sessions at the same time each week make sense for most families and marriages.

Wisdom leads us to be much more spiritually intentional when we get a chance to be with our Christian friends, Christian family members and Christian spouses. We need to “be on our toes” and more attentive to what is going on in their relationships with God and others. We need to be aware of our spiritual responsibilities within the time available. This is especially true when we meet with friends we do not see very often.

We need to avoid being trapped by television, digital entertainments on phones, computers and tablets, and anything else that eats up a lot of our free time from essential responsibilities. These things are dangerous distractions from helping one another become more like Jesus and prepare for heaven.

Normal and fun conversations should become gateways to spiritual discussions that open doors for whatever Together or Togethers are applicable to whatever in life is being talked about.

You might have heard of the concept of listening with the “third ear”, so let’s insert listening with the “spiritual ear”. We see one another visually. Bodies can be seen, but our spirits are invisible – and there lies the problem. We must become more aware that we are all spiritual beings – the deep part of us is our spirits that upon death go to heaven. There they have a spiritual form, or body, just as did Moses and Elijah when they talked with Jesus in what we call “The Transfiguration”.

So, let’s pay more attention to the spirits of those in our Christian Inner Circles. In light of living for Jesus and honoring God now and after death for all eternity, this is very important. If we want to make an investment in our Christian friends, Christian family members, and Christian spouses, helping their spirits grow into Christlikeness is the most valuable contribution to their lives. For now. And, for all eternity in heaven.

This is where that “spiritual ear” comes in play. Of all the Christians with whom we relate, we have the most regular contact with those in our Christian Inner Circles. With them, we listen to a lot of conversation. While our regular ears are hearing what they are saying, our spiritual ears should listen for their faith or lack of faith in what they are saying. When we see remarkable faith, we appreciate and affirm it. But, when we hear wavering faith or lack of faith, we make a mental note to remember, – then pray and receive direction from the Holy Spirit through what is written in the Bible or comes with peace into our minds, – and then patiently carry out a loving plan to help.

We must remember that Satan’s strategy is to divide believers and offer them things God does not want for them. The devil talked only to Eve in the Garden of Eden and made an offer she could have refused but did not because she did not have Adam’s help.

Therefore, the more often we meet with those Christians who have the closest, most trusting relationships with us, the less vulnerable we are to the evil one’s temptations. But, only if our meeting is more than about fun. Listening to what is going on spiritually with those in our Christian Inner Circles is insurance against the devil’s schemes.

The benefits of meeting together regularly now continue in heaven. There we want to be more than ready to meet other redeemed people with spirits strong in social interaction, especially for loving interaction and growing spiritually.

It is easy in today’s Christian culture to have only rudimentary skills in relating to other Christians about our faith. Church services are God-focused, as they should be, and opportunities for more significant love and transparency are rare. The structure of small group Bible studies allows little chance for conversation off topic from what is being studied. And the present struggles of life that need spiritual help are rarely the focus of study on a particular evening.

I have close friends who know much about this work to glorify God, help Christians become more like Jesus and enhance their lives in heaven, as well as open heaven’s doors to some through the gospel. A few recognize and make comments that I am spending time on this. Others ask how everything is going. No one has yet asked what difficulties I face and if there are any spiritual struggles associated with the tasks. The latter is what I really need, but I know that such direct, spiritual conversation goes against contemporary Christian culture. And I can even see my own deficiency in going far enough in my conversations with those in my Christian Inner Circle.

There are also Christians without confidence or desire to reach out to other people. Their spiritual activity is almost exclusively alone. Therefore, they reap too little spiritual growth from conversations with other Christians. When they get to heaven, what will they miss? How will they catch up?
There will be a lot of people in heaven with whom to talk and enjoy and grow spiritually. To prepare for that, we need to develop our spiritual social skills. We can meet with those in our Christian Inner Circles now and learn to face life together spiritually, allowing our faith to lead us. If we do, we will really enjoy fellowship in heaven.

Developing spiritual social skills should be done in our Christian friendships, Christian families, and Christian marriages. Heaven’s relationships, without sin negatively infecting them, will be more like these relationships than the more superficial ones we have with more distant contacts. We should assess how transparent we are within these closer relationships. How open are we about our lives? Can we naturally bring up spiritual victories as well as spiritual struggles?

The foremost two major considerations about preparing for heaven by developing spiritual social skills is to first want to please God in every interaction, and second to be loving and consider the other person’s needs. Next, learn to ask questions and be asked questions. We do this more naturally when we go to a museum. In our minds we ask what there is to see and learn. With other Christians, this is exactly what to mentally ask ourselves, “What is there to see and learn?”

Especially with those in our Christian Inner Circles we want to ask many questions out of curiosity to show that the other person is important and interesting to us. Since they are usually the ones who influence us the most, we cannot let ourselves be fearful of asking about their lives, what is happening and how they are handling things.

However, if applicable, it is important to first overcome any tendency to gossip and share with others private information we gather. For example, it might be okay to mention that Close Friend #1 told you she likes the beautician at Flora’s Salon but not that she doesn’t like her new dog. “When in doubt, don’t pass it on” is a good rule of thumb. People cannot be transparent, even with a great friend, if there is fear of gossip or indiscretion.

The underlying goal of these Christian Inner Circle relationships is a treasure hunt. The treasure we are looking for takes a few forms. One is identifying Togethers to implement in the relationship, which is to say ways to love one another that fit the present situations of life.

Another is related to a number of the Togethers, and that is to discover something to use in growing our spirits to be more like Jesus Christ.

The spiritual victories of those in our Christian Inner Circles can often show us our own deficiencies in our faith and provide opportunities to grow. The struggles of those in our Christian Inner Circles can often show us ways to help others attain a strength in the faith God has already given us or identify some area in which we also need to progress toward Christlikeness.

The key to all of this is asking questions, what I call dialogue. I have written extensively and even designed over 30 conversation games about dialogue and how it is the way to build relationships, solve interpersonal problems, and give kids social and thinking skills for lifetime success. For our discussion here, just realize that asking one curious, non-threatening question after another is the way to find the great stuff in other people as well as the areas where help might be welcome. This asking one question and then another clarifying question really is like mining for gold. Just a different way of digging.

Now think of heaven and eternity and all the time that we will have to ask questions and excavate great stuff out of the trillion residents of heaven. To prepare to meet with all the believers in heaven from across the globe and throughout at least 6,000 years of time, we need to know how to show interest in others beyond just “being nice”. Asking questions is the key. It will show interest in them and in the stories of their lives before death wherein God rescued them over and over again and taught them things about the faith. It will also open up stories from their history in heaven for however long they have been there. There will be treasures in these stories that will open up for us continual spiritual growth.

Since in heaven we will want to learn how God showered his grace upon people in the sinful environment before death, we want to hear people’s stories now and see God’s gracious hand in their activities as well as survival under attack. While listening, we want to say out loud or under our breath, “Praise God” because we will be doing that continually in heaven. It does not hurt to hit the streets of heaven running with the ability to discover God’s wonderful nature and merciful grace in the stories of heaven’s citizens and continue to grow our spirits in godliness.