There’s a saying I’ve heard whose source I cannot identify, though I’ve searched for some time. It says, “This ain’t hell; but you can see it from here.”

You and I don’t have to look too far into a news feed to see that hell is close enough for a good look. Amid the Russian attacks in the Ukraine arise stories of war crimes in Bucha, Kharkiv and Kiev. Afghans who trusted the promises of American allies for twenty years are abandoned to the Taliban’s assassination teams while country after country blocks their borders to Afghan refugees. Nearly 43,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in little more than a decade. While they were on another rampage earlier this year, Boko Haram abducted 17 more Christian girls, while indiscriminately spraying gunfire at innocent civilians and burning down two churches in the process. In North Korea last month, security forces broke into a secret worship meeting and executed several dozen Christians.

Yeah, you can see hell from here. But that’s not all.

Our verse today tells us –

I’ll be the first to admit that keeping your heart pure in the midst of a constant onslaught of news that turns the stomach is a massive challenge. But God’s promise is that, if we keep our hearts pure, we will see Him. So that begs the question – HOW?

Well, though the future state of His creation and our presence with Him is certain, that’s a promise too far off. John the apostle writes of the time when he was shown a new heaven and a new earth, a time when the first heaven and the first earth had already passed away. He saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, and heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, I am making all things new.” As encouraging as that promise may be, if you’re like me you’re looking for a more present promise.

I know that when He appears we will see Him. But we who serve Him are God’s children NOW. And NOW is when we need to see Him and His presence. NOW is when we need His grace; grace upon grace poured into our lives. NOW is when we need to have His Spirit continually filling us with His power. NOW is when we need to see His signs, wonders and miracles.

As a father, two words that got my focused attention whenever I heard them were, “Daddy, HELP!” You and I have a Heavenly Father who responds to our cry for help, too. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. He’s listening.

In my early days of walking with God, the condition to that promise used to throw me. God’s word says, “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous;” but as I looked at my life and the number of times I fell into sin I felt like I had no chance of Him really listening to me. I wasn’t thinking about His grace. I’d forgotten that my position as a forgiven child of God is guaranteed by Christ’s sacrifice. If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the truly righteous one. Because of HIM, God sees me as righteous. So I can stand on the promise that He gives.

Even as my eyes are on hell’s fury, HIS are on me. He counts me among the righteous, because Jesus’ blood covers all my sin; and because of Jesus the Father’s ears are open to my prayers. Yes, He truly is listening.

But today’s verse ISN’T about God listening. So how does it tie in?


We see God with us in trials because we are not walking through them alone. Like the three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace, we are in the company of the Son of God. Never alone, never abandoned.

So we who are pure in heart see God with us as the flames of hell flare up and threaten to consume us. But there’s even more to the story because, when we face the trials and assaults of life in His power, those around us see something, too.

First, they can see God with us. The king looked into the fiery furnace and asked, “Hey fellas, if we threw THREE bound prisoners into the furnace, why do I see FOUR people walking free inside?” The king even commented that the fourth guy looked like the Son of God. And the king was right! I wish I had time to unpack all the lessons here, because these verses are filled with spiritual treasure; but we just don’t have the space or the time to do it justice. So let’s look at the other aspect of this verse.

Second, they can see God working through us. We see God, and we see what He is doing. And, like Jesus, we do what we see the Father doing. In this we bring glory to God, and honor to His name. As we do, we are like lights set upon a stand or like a city on a hillside. Our light shines brightly into their darkness. Our light draws them. And the closer they come, the better their view of God. He will allow them to see God in us, so they will come close enough for us to tell them how to receive God in themselves.

Light is most clearly seen in the darkest of places. In the first two weeks of the war in Ukraine, over 25,000 people who were looking for hope and answers in their crisis found hope in Christ and gave their lives to Him. And those are just the numbers reported by Global Media Outreach, a ministry that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ online and connects new believers to local churches. Today as Ukrainians are fleeing for the safety of surrounding nations, followers of Jesus are also going TO the Ukraine to be bright lights shining in the darkness. They’ve set up hospitals. They’ve evacuated the wounded, the disabled and the aged. They’ve brought in tons of urgently needed medical supplies. I know this to be the case because the CEEC.CHURH has played a small role in helping to organize, connect and coordinate the aid. And we’ve passed along generous donations we received to vetted partners on the ground.

No, this ain’t hell. But it is a pitched battle between the armies of evil and the Church who serves the Living God for the souls of those who are not yet saved by grace through faith in Jesus.

No, this ain’t hell; but you CAN see it from here. Its gates are trying to hold those who have not yet heard inside its devilish prison. You may have heard that Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that gates don’t move. Gates do not attack!! It is we, the Church, stepping into the fight to shine the light of Jesus Christ into the deepest and darkest of places who are on the attack. And the gates of hell don’t stand a chance.

No, this ain’t hell; but you can see it from here. So our target is in sight. Let’s roll.


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