The Mansion Just Over the Hill

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Welcome to Meditation Moments.

Some time ago Ira Stanphill, a well-known songwriter, passed a humble house, somewhat run-down, and he asked the little girl who was sitting outside if she lived there.1 She said yes, but that her father was building a nicer home for them just over the hilltop. Now this was the inspiration for the well-known song, “I’ve Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop.” This song has been in my mind a great deal this past week because we’ve heard that word “mansion” so very much out here on the Pacific coast this week. That’s because of the great fire that has ravaged many of the finest mansions out here, many of them worth $50,000, some in the hundreds of thousands, and a few half a million. It’s been a terrible catastrophe, and our hearts have really gone out to the homeless. That’s why this song has been on my heart.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these who had such a mansion here had also a mansion over there in the Father’s house. I’m sure that many who have lost their homes, of the 400 who have done so, that there are numbers of them that have mansions over there. But there are others, and some of those in the entertainment world, for whom life is just a round of pleasure and selfish living. Perhaps some during that inferno have thought of the mansion over there.

One man told how this was the second time he had lost everything. A number of times over the radio this week during this time of trial I have heard the words “I’ve lost everything,” or “All is lost.” That, of course, is according to how you look at earthly possessions. If the heart and soul are set upon earthly possessions, then when you lose them, all is lost. If there has been a misplaced attention—the emphasis in life on just things, home, possessions—then when the loss comes, the hurt and the tearing loose from such things you love is something terrific. The emphasis has been in the wrong place, on the temporal instead of the eternal.

Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matthew 6:21). Some people quote that “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” But that isn’t the way it is. The Lord said where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Then we know this passage so well, but let’s read it again: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s in John 14:2. And Matthew 6:19–21 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt.” This might have said, “and fire burns.” “And where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there the heart is also.”

I wonder what you treasure most. Where is your treasure? Have you laid up treasures in heaven? You may be poor and yet have no treasures in heaven. This is not a question of poverty or riches, but it’s a question of have you laid up treasures in heaven?

I don’t think God puts any premium on poverty, nor do riches shut the door of heaven, though Christ made it very plain that it’s hard for a rich man to enter. He said, “How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God.” That’s Mark 10:24. Yet we’ve known some wonderful Christians who are rich. It is possible. It’s just according to where you put the emphasis, and whether you have God first. But note He said it’s hard for them that trust in riches. That’s the word—it’s where you put the trust: the trust in riches.

In Luke 12, the rich man with many barns was called a fool because he was not rich towards God, not because he had riches. In calling him a fool, the Lord said this, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.” (Luke 12:20–21) Oh, there’s the crux of the whole matter: “Not rich towards God.”

I heard Joey Brown the day before yesterday sadly tell how his lovely home had burned to the ground, and with it his scores of trophies—almost 100 trophies burned also. He lost them all, and he prized them so highly because he wanted to leave them to his children and his grandchildren. But Joey can leave them a better heritage, and so can you and I—a better heritage than such trophies. We can leave them eternal treasures, instilling into them faith in God and confidence in the blessed book of God, and all the joys of real salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, so they’ll be rich towards God and have a mansion in heaven.

I’ve been searching my own heart to see if I’m deeply, truly rich towards God. What about searching your heart? Are you putting the emphasis on the right things: eternal things? Or on material things, occupying all of your time and thought with the material? If so, then you’re not rich towards God. You’re not laying up treasures in heaven. Paul said that he counted all things but dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Listen to what Paul said, it’s so rich: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Isn’t that wonderful! I can say “amen” to that.

I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold;
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined.

I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old;
And some day yonder we'll never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold.

Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged, I'm heaven bound;
I'm just a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown.

From the Gospel song, “Mansion Over the Hilltop,” by Ira Stanphill, 1949

And I know you do. God grant that you have a mansion over there. He wants you to. He loves you, and He’s still on the throne, and prayer changes things.

  1. Ira Stanphill (1914–1993) was a well-known American gospel songwriter. By the age of 10, Stanphill had already learned to play the piano, organ, ukulele, and accordion. At 17, he was composing and performing his own music for church services, revival campaigns, and prayer meetings. As a singer evangelist, Stanphill traveled to forty countries over his career to preach and perform his music. Entertainers such as Elvis Presley (Mansion Over the Hilltop) and Johnny Cash (Suppertime) are among those who have performed Stanphill’s works. “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow,” “I Walk with His Hand in Mine,” and “We’ll Talk It Over” are a few of his titles that are familiar and still performed today. (Wikipedia).