LAYING UP REWARDS OF JOY IN HEAVEN FOR OTHERS
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
If you would like to hear a brief segment of this testimony on video, you can click on this link.
Do you know why God is going to grant us rewards in heaven based to some degree on what we do in THIS lifetime after we become born again Christians? To ultimately bring ever-increasing joy to HIM and OTHERS. As we bring more joy to others, which includes angels who have watched over us, our joy will ever increase. As others bring us more joy ... it will only motivate us to increase their joy. More about this later in this writing ...
I had a God-inspired dream unlike any other I've ever had that began my curiosity concerning eternal rewards. Allow me to share my dream:
It happened on April 22, 1989. I had been in great physical pain for a number of days due to a surgery that was giving me complications. I had also been experiencing a lot of discouragement in ministry. It seemed like no matter what I did on behalf of the Lord's work, no fruit was coming forth.
I have never been one to have a lot of supernatural dreams from God, so what I am about to share with you was highly rare for me to experience. Furthermore, of the dreams I KNEW were from God, they almost always were dreams of warning. They were dreams God was giving me to discern evil mounting an attack against me and/or my wife, Kathleen, so we could then diligently seek God in how we could escape the attack. This dream, however, was of a supernatural origin unlike I had ever experienced before, or since.
The dream started by me flying low over the tops of mountains and trees. It was at night; a full moon was glistening, lighting up the snow-covered ground. I was soaring like an eagle, but not in an airplane. My body was flying.
I was following the path of a highway that went down the side of a tall mountain pass. I started losing altitude, and eventually was able to only soar a few feet above the highway. As I rounded a sharp curve, I misjudged my aeronautical calculations, and plowed into a snow bank! As I burrowed into the packed snow, everything went dark, and I knew I was dying.
The next thing I remember was that I was in a big gymnasium. There was a carnival of sorts going on, with different booths set up to play games and buy nick-knacks if one wanted. Normal people were walking around, but what I noticed about myself was that I was able to float at will up to the top of the building ceiling, but the other people either were not able to do so, or they chose not to.
Knowing I was dead, I thought to myself ... This can't be heaven. I don't see any angels, and God is nowhere around either. Where AM I, anyway?
I willed to leave the gym, and traveled through a wall -- not through a door. That was pretty neat...I thought to myself. I saw some apartment buildings off in the distance, and decided to visit the inside of one just to see what I could see.
Inside, no one was there at the moment. Seconds later a middle-aged woman came through the door. She had a raincoat on and water was dripping off her hair and coat. It was obvious she was in great distress, from the look on her face. I didn't know who she was, nor did she know who I was, but I asked her if everything was alright?
"No," she answered me. "I'm tired of living. I want to commit suicide, and I'm going to do it very soon."
I walked up very close to her, looked her squarely in the eye, and said, "Oh please, don't do THAT. You need to accept Jesus into your heart, and He'll give you every reason to keep LIVING."
No sooner did I say that to her when immediately about a dozen people came right through the walls (not through any doors) and stood around her and I, and said in unison: "DON'T accept Jesus! Don't listen to this guy! You'll HATE yourself if you accept Jesus into your heart."
I recall vividly thinking to myself at that moment ... Where in the world am I? This SURELY can't be heaven; otherwise these people wouldn't be opposing me like this.
But I quickly said back to her: "Don't LISTEN to them! They're lying. I know what I'm talking about. Accept JESUS into your heart, and you'll LOVE HIM!'
They Screamed: "Don't Accept Jesus! You'll HATE Him!"
No sooner had I said that to her when two or three dozen MORE people came through the walls and gathered around the outside of the first bunch that was standing there. Together, they said again, only louder this time, with many more voices joining in . . . all in one accord: "DON'T accept Jesus! You'll HATE Him!"
There was so much power when they spoke this, and the lady looked at them, and I could see in her eyes that she was about to believe them. So I grabbed hold of her shoulders to hold her in place, and said to her more forcefully than before: "DON'T listen to these people. They are on their way to HELL, and they want to take you with them! Accept Jesus, and you'll LOVE Him!"
"Don't Accept Jesus -- You'll HATE Him!" They Yelled Again.
Her eyes met mine, and for a brief second, it appeared like I had won her over. I could feel her wilting under my fingertips -- seeing a little eagerness in her eyes to turn her life over to Jesus. But just before she could completely do so, MORE people crammed themselves into the apartment, and now it was jam-packed with dozens of more people. THIS time hundreds yelled at the tops of their voices, all in one accord at the same time at the woman: "DON'T listen to HIM! If you accept Jesus, you'll HATE Him!"
Once that happened, her face turned cold toward me, and I knew that I was losing her to them. There was just too many of them. They were far too persuasive with the loudness and unity of their voices.
In a final desperate attempt I grabbed her, as she was slipping away from my grasp, and bent her over like I was in a dance position with her, doing one of those "dipsy-doodle" maneuvers on her. As she was bent over halfway to the floor, totally dependent upon me to hold her up, I stared into her eyes and said again with as much persuasion as I knew how to give: "DON'T listen to them! Accept Jesus, and He'll rescue you!"
This time her face was unresponsive, and again the hundreds if not thousands of voices around us screamed louder than before: "DON'T accept Jesus! You'll HATE Him!"
As soon as they yelled that, she vaporized in front of me, and like a puff of smoke, slipped out of my grasp. She then re-materialized as she approached them, and those closest to her put their arms around her -- hugging and congratulated her for making the decision she had just made.
I thought inside myself ... Well . . . I tried the best I could. She's made her choice. She chose to listen to the masses, rather than her heart. She will spend eternity away from God.
Then an intense anger rose up inside me, and without giving it any more thought, I suddenly yelled out: "Get OUT of my way, in the name of Jesus!"
Instantly every one of them blew over backwards and hit the floor like an atom bomb had just exploded! Wow! ... I thought. I've got POWER here in this place!
I climbed up over the top of all the dead bodies that were stacked on top of each other, stomping real hard on them, and walked through the wall of the apartment.
Next I began walking down the center of a paved street that was going into a business section of a city. People were walking on the sidewalks on either side of me, going about their business like they would in any other city I've ever seen. The only thing different was that there weren't any automobiles on the road, nor any other motorized means of transportation that I could see or hear.
As I continued to walk and explore this strange place I was in, I thought to myself, 'I wonder what it would be like to sing up here?' [You have to understand WHY I would think such a thought as this. I don't sing very well, and I was curious if being dead and on my way to heaven might have changed my ability to hold a tune.]
The words, "Jesus I love you" . . . came to mind, so I thought I'd sing them and see what would happen. As I did, I was amazed at how well my voice sounded, and what amazed me even more was the sudden knowing that I had unlimited air in my lungs to hold a note unlike anything I had ever experienced during my time on earth.
As I made up my own melody to just those four words: "Jesus I love you," people began to stop and say to each other: "We've never heard such beautiful singing up here. Listen to this guy sing! Listen to how long he can hold his notes and how beautiful they are."
To my utter amazement, the more I sang just those four words: "Jesus I love you" . . . the more air and intensity and volume and angelic resonance came from my mouth. And even more amazing was THIS phenomenon: a tingling-like electricity substance was forming on my fingertips and toes, and it felt incredibly pleasurable. As this electricity-like JOY sparkled and danced on my fingertips and my toes, it began moving up my arms and legs, the louder I sang those simple four words: "Jesus I love you."
I continued to walk down the road, singing out loud, experimenting with my new gift. I was singing unlike anything I could have ever imagined. People were now coming out of the stores to see who was singing so beautifully, and with such volume and power. Everyone on the streets was stopped now, focusing their attention on my singing.
I had the supernatural ability to create different sounding notes with those four simple words unknown to humankind. The more I sang them, the more beautiful became my ability to make them sound even better. And all the while this was happening, this liquid - electric joy was moving up my arms and legs, consuming my entire body.
This joy was indescribable that was consuming my body. The only thing I can compare it to is the momentary rush of pleasure that a married couple experiences at the culmination of their love-making, but it was 10,000 times more intense, and getting longer and BETTER . . . as I continued to sing those simple four words.
[I need to pause here and explain something that had happened a few days prior to this dream taking place, for you to next appreciate what I'm going to say. I had been reading in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 4, verse 8 where it reads: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come."
Upon reading this particular scripture passage, I thought to myself: What a BORING thing to have to do in heaven. I hope God doesn't make ME spend eternity having to say something like that. I want to explore and do creative things once I get to heaven. I want to have FUN. Those four weird creatures have the most BORING job in heaven I could think of!]
Now going back to the dream: my entire body became covered with this sparkly-like joy. I was walking in living ecstasy, experiencing pleasure and joy beyond what any possible words could attempt to convey . . . from singing this simple love song over and over to Jesus.
"How Could Heaven Get Any Better Than THIS?!"
Then it dawned on me. These people standing and listening to me sing couldn't SEE this joy covering the outside of my body. All they could hear was how beautiful the singing WAS. They had NO IDEA that the louder and longer I sang, the joy would continue to grow more intense. Wow . . . I thought to myself. This is awesome! How could heaven get any better than THIS?!
Now that my entire body was engulfed with this sparkly - tingling joy, suddenly it entered my mouth. Then it slowly moved down my throat, and into my insides. The pleasure growing inside me was better - more intense than it was on the outside. I then became aware of the full knowing that if I sang these simple four words 'Jesus I love you,' for all eternity, the joy and pleasure and ecstasy would never stop; never plateau or level out; but only continue to INCREASE!
Then the thought went through my mind at that moment, flashing back to the Revelation 4:8 passage I had pondered a few days earlier: Those four living creatures were NOT bored. They were experiencing inner joy like I was NOW experiencing unlike anyone could POSSIBLY comprehend!
Next - this thought entered my mind...I don't want to do anything else throughout all eternity but simply sing these four words: "Jesus I love you."
How could there possibly be anything BETTER in heaven than the pleasurable ecstasy that I was now experiencing . . . knowing it would never stop, and knowing that it would only GROW in intensity for all eternity
About that moment an Afro-American man walked down the road towards me, and walking up next to me, said, "YOU'RE the one singing?! Man - do you know we can hear you singing 10,000 miles away? We have NEVER heard such beautiful singing up here, and with such volume and power. Do you realize that if you keep singing like you are, your voice will reach to every universe there IS?!
I hadn't thought about it. I was so consumed with the pleasure of the joy that was now growing with indescribable intensity that had first started at my feet and then slowly started moving up my body and eventually covered the entire outside of my body ... like about a foot thick covering of electricity-like substance, because it was alive and sparkly and tingly ... though it wasn't electricity, but bubbly, pleasurable JOY of the most indescribable kind ... and now because the outside of my body was completely covered with it and I was being enraptured with joy on my outside because of it ... it was continuing to spread -- going into my mouth ... inside my being. And here was a sudden knowing that began to happen. I knew that as long as I sang those same four short words, "Jesus, I love You" ... that joy would continue to KEEP growing inside me and never stop growing in terms of how pleasurable it was.
Let's take a momentary pause from my dream experience and talk more about eternal rewards. The greater our obedience to Jesus Christ in this life, the greater capacity we will be rewarded with to contain greater joy once we pass from this life into glory. You may find this a bit strange, but God has so much joy to give His faithful saints that not everyone can contain that joy as well as others can, initially at least. But once we learn that joy will be given to us to ultimately bring joy to OTHERS ... heaven will be more perfectly fulfilling than what our human mind can now possibly comprehend.
A big reason why Christians will be given glorified bodies will be to enable them to glorify God more fully -- to bring Him and others increasingly greater joy. Another reason will be to experience personal joy more fully.
Each of us were created for the purpose of glorifying God. To bring God increasing joy -- increasing pleasure. All in heaven with God will receive joy from understanding and experiencing the awesome glory of God, but not everyone will have the same capacity to receive as much revelation of His glory as others will have, initially anyway. Thus the greater capacity God grants to those to comprehend His glory, the greater joy that will come with it, to in turn bring even increasingly MORE joy to God and others.
This bears repeating. The reason God is going to give His people rewards will be for them to use them to ultimately bring God ever-increasing joy, and others ever-increasing joy. The more joy we will bring to God and others, the more joy we'll personally be granted ... yet ultimately ONLY to bring more joy to OTHERS.
God Is Going To Give Us Rewards To Bring Others Greater Joy
Saying it another way, God is going to give us rewards to ultimately GIVE AWAY -- to bring OTHERS joy unspeakable. That's why Christians should never shrink back from "laying up rewards for themselves in heaven." (See: Matthew 6:19-20). The joy that those rewards will ultimately bring to God and others, which includes angels, will be priceless!
Speaking of angels, have you ever given much thought to how many angels God has used (and has YET to use, since you're not dead) since we were born to make it in this life? Dozens? Thousands? Millions? Have you ever considered the possibility that we are going to get the opportunity to return blessings to those angels? (Reward them in other words). Oh yeah ... it's more blessed to give than to receive!
Heaven is going to be one eternal JOY-FEST. It will be a joy-fest of focusing on bringing God and others joy. As Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." That truth will be realized to the fullest in heaven throughout eternity. (It will also be implemented on earth during the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ).
There will come no end to comprehending the glory and majesty of God! God will allow us to actually help EXPAND His majestic glory. He will grant to his saints creative ways in which to expand the majestic glory of God forever and forever. And with that gift will come greater depths of joy both for the saint and other saints as well as angels, but most importantly, God.
"At His right hand are pleasures forevermore." (See: Psalm 16:11). Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. The Body of Christ and the holy angels are the recipients of the right hand of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever heard the theory of a "perpetual motion machine"? Heaven will be likened as unto a "perpetual joy machine", if you will. Joy will foster more joy (pleasure), for eternity, without end.
Now then, back to the encounter with the man in the street in my dream.
Amazing...I thought to myself again...all these people are hearing is my singing. They have NO IDEA about the joy that is on the outside of my body that I'm experiencing, and is now growing on the INSIDE my body, permeating every cell and molecule of my being until I'm about to explode from pleasure beyond what words could possibly describe (yet I knew I would never explode from it).
Then in a moment -- in a split-second -- everything went black. In one moment I was experiencing pleasure and joy and ecstasy that one would have to personally experience themselves to comprehend. The next moment I'm in total blackness; total darkness.
I next remember saying, "Jesus, where am I? Where are YOU? Have I died, or am I ABOUT to die? What's going on? Please - speak to me, or show yourself to me."
I waited for His response, but none came. I spoke again, "Please, Lord, send an angel if you have to, to get me out of this place. I don't know where I am. This darkness is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's so black it's THICK with blackness, wherever this place is I'm now at."
"He Who Wins Souls Is Wise."
Moments later I heard a voice say: "I have special rewards for soul winners that no one else will receive.
"NOW do you have a GREATER understanding and APPRECIATION of what I'm talking about in Daniel 12:3 where it is stated: Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and in Proverbs 11:30, where it is recorded: and he who wins souls is wise?
"Keep being faithful in your efforts to plant and water seeds of the Gospel truth to help win lost souls. Keep publishing the testimonies I called you to publish. You are laying up rewards in heaven beyond your wildest comprehension. Keep exhorting other Christians to do the same."
(Please forgive me, but I feel to add an insert here before continuing. As the years have passed well beyond 1989, I've come to understand that "winning souls" encompasses far more than just trying to bring the lost to Christ. It also encompasses discipleship. Discipleship essentially meaning: Helping a new Christian grow in their relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit -- balanced out by the Holy Scriptures (the Bible; God's Word) as one's anchor of spiritual Truth.).
Then everything went quiet again. The dark blackness was still there. I was completely helpless to do a thing about it. Then I vaguely became aware that I was very, very sleepy, and part of me just wanted to fall back into this deep, deep sleep; a sleep so deep that I never wanted to wake up from it.
However, there was another part of me afraid that if I went back to this deep sleep, I might not be able to wake up from it. I didn't want that to happen either, so I called out one more time: "Lord - please help me. If I'm asleep, I need you to help me wake up. I don't know if I'm in a coma, if I'm unconscious, if my heart is about to stop beating, or if it has already stopped; I don't know WHAT state I'm in. Please help me to know."
Then the thought came to me: If you're in bed, reach over to your left with your hand and feel and see if Kathleen [my wife] is lying beside you. With all the will power I was able to muster,I willed my left hand to move. It felt tied to my side. t would NOT move. I felt petrified; dead to the world. 'Please help me, Jesus, to move my hand. I can't.'
Then another thought came to me...If you were in a dream state, try to open your eyes and wake up. I tried that. My eyelids felt sewn shut! Everything in me told me I was not able to open my eyes either.Try as hard as I might, I couldn't open them.
Never in all my life had I experienced such a helpless feeling. I couldn't move my hand. I couldn't open my eyes. All I could see was total blackness, and didn't know whether I was dreaming it or literally experiencing it. Everything in me wanted to allow myself to just fall back into the deepest sleep I had ever known, yet another part of me had to know WHAT in the world was going on.
Again I pleaded..."Lord - you've got to help me I can't do anything in the state I'm in."
Then the thought came to me again ... Trust Jesus to help you move your hand so you can feel if your wife is lying beside you.
AHHH ... I thought, that's what I need to do: Trust JESUS!
So I willed myself to trust Jesus to help me move my hand. It slowly began to move. Centimeter by centimeter at first, then slowly an inch and then two were gained. What seemed like the most difficult thing I had ever attempted to do, the back of my fingers felt a warm body lying next to me.
"Yes,"...I thought to myself ... "I've been dreaming. I'm not dead. I'm alive, but I've been so deep in sleep, it's just much harder to wake up than ever before."
Next I told Jesus I was going to trust Him to help me open my eyes. After the longest time, with so much difficulty, I was able to open them. It was dark still in the bedroom, but I recognized our bedroom window. Customary light filtered through the cracks of the window blind.
After what seemed like eternity, though it had to be only a few minutes, I was awake. Yet STILL a part of me wanted to fall back into that deep sleep, especially in hopes that I could experience the joy I had been experiencing earlier!
Yet I wanted to wake Kathleen and share this incredible experience with her, which is what I did. As one could imagine, she was near speechless. She ended up eventually going back to sleep for a short while, but I was so wound up that it was impossible for me to go back to sleep. I stayed up and prayed and quietly worshiped God . . . just reveling in this experience He had given me . . . and pondering all that He had spoken about eternal rewards of joy.
Here are some precious golden nuggets of hope and promise from God's Word regarding rewards I feel to share:
The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:8-15 NIV).
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
Whatever You Do, Do It As Though God Is Your Employer
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentarily, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and JOY [Emphasis mine] in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
In conclusion . . .
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor. 15:58).
A highly recommended writing on this topic of "eternal rewards" can be found HERE.
PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON BECAUSE...
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)