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“But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you…I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.” — Philippians 1:22-25

Caught between two worlds. That’s how we live. Suspended between two glorious alternatives: to enjoy this wonderful gift of life, working, serving God, taking care of our families, loving others, living in Jesus’ name, living life abundantly. Or…go to heaven! We can take a cue from the apostle Paul. There are reasons we are here, even when our hearts say it is time to go to heaven.

The apostle DESIRED to be with Jesus in heaven. The literal translation of that desire is an intense craving, a deep longing. What he wants most. But, he realized that God had a call on his life. To stay “is more needful for you.”

We are here for people.

A friend of mine admits that he has trouble sitting in church because he’s heard so many sermons for so many years, and he’s restless when it comes to sitting still. But then, he said, besides acknowledging his need for fellowship and hearing the Word, he also needs to be there for others. Every week, he makes it a point to be available to someone who needs to talk, pray, or just to greet people.

God does not give us this desire for heaven (“eternity in our hearts,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 says) just to deny us year after year. He leaves us here on earth, suspended, vessels of His love and grace, to experience the joy of loving others — and the blessings of His love through other people.

“We are all strings in the concert of His joy.” —Jacob Boehme

Pastor Ray Bentley

Love God. Love People. Pastor Ray Bentley lived by those words. His love for the Lord and the people he served was demonstrated every day through his actions, leadership, ministry, teaching, sharing, and caring.

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