One way to make today richer!

Yesterday, at Faith Discovery, I spoke about Heaven. There was a time in my life when I thought that pastors who spoke about Heaven needed to ‘get a life.’ In the heyday of my 30’s, I wondered why anyone would concern themselves with that. I was a Christian, had an assurance that Jesus had a place prepared for me, and I seldom thought much about it except when I preached a funeral service. Ah, the conceit of youth. 

The truth is that the promise of Heaven makes life richer, right now. Paul writes that “You trust in Christ Jesus and that you love all of God’s people. You do this because you are looking forward to the joys of heaven—as you have been ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.” (Colossians 1:4-5, NLT)  Anticipating our home in heaven is not an escape from life’s reality. It is the lens that makes us see clearly, so that we can keep our priorities in order.

Just 2 miles up the road from my house is a sacred spot of ground I visit often. There are stones there marking the graves of my wife and my parents.  That cemetery is for some a grim place, only a reminder of life’s end. For me, it is a holy place that reminds me that earthly life is finite, that heaven waits. God has prepared a whole new, wonderful existence for those who are ‘in Christ’ without pain, endings, sin, or grief.  

Is your understanding of heaven inadequate, a kind of mixture of romantic notions, cultural myth, and wishful thinking? Let’s go deeper, willing to grasp the hope that is promised.

Kevin Miller illustrates the difficulty that we have in reaching beyond our limited understanding to the amazing existence that God has made for us. He writes this fun little parable.   
“Let’s imagine that I tell my four-year-old son,
“Andrew, when you grow up, if you get married, your honeymoon will be one of the most delightful and wonderful times of your life.”
He says, “Oh, you mean I can take my toy dinosaurs along?”
“Uh, no . . . you probably won’t want to. But you’ll still have a fantastic time.”
“Well, can Jeffrey from next door come along on my honeymoon?”
“No, sorry,” I tell him.
“I don’t know if I want to go on a honeymoon, Daddy. It doesn’t sound like any fun.”

“Trust me, Andrew: you will enjoy it, even though you can’t understand it right now.”
Heaven will give us incredible joy—but at a higher, richer level than we’ve ever experienced. It’s natural not to understand it all now.”
 Discipleship Journal : Issue 57. 1999

The writers of Scripture saw visions and tried describe what they saw using the language and images that were available. Isaiah, Zechariah, and John tell us about amazing creatures that circle a Throne, about smoke, and seas of glass. Their words are best understood by realizing that they are using earthly language to tell us about a completely unearthly place! If we force the metaphors too literally, we may miss the true wonder of what God has planned for our eternal home.

What do we know about Heaven that brings us hope and keeps us on track while we wait to go there?

God is there!
The God we’ve loved from a distance, Whose purposes and plans sometimes confuse us, Who actions are beyond our figuring out, will be our Friend, will be accessible, and we will worship Him “face to face.” John attempts to show us the wonder of that moment and says, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT)

The beauty is beyond imagination.
John talks about dazzling splendor, streets of gold, and pearly gates!  No, he’s not talking about some incredibly over the top luxury hotel. He’s not describing an eternal upscale lodging in a place like Las Vegas. He is reaching for words to help us to see the beauty of a place that God has created for His people. The same God that designed Creation, that paints sunsets, that let’s the sunlight sparkle across the river – all for a world that is temporary, has made us a home that is eternal. What must that home be? Yes, Christian, when we wonder at the beauty of a wild flower or colors of a bird’s plumage, let’s get enthused about living in that forever home He’s prepared for His people.

All things are made new- no rust, no death, no sin! 
“And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5, NLT) Everything we know is subject to decay and all living things ultimately die. New things deteriorate. Babies grow into aged people. Shiny things become dull. Heaven knows no time, no depreciation, no aging. Jesus urges us to “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy…” (Matthew 6:20, NLT)

Joy will be complete! 
Life’s happiest moments always end. Grim? No, just the truth. The joy of a baby’s birth is offset with the certainty of a grandparent’s death.  The pleasure of an amazing friendship comes to an end when the company brings relocation. Summer’s warm is always followed by winter’s chill. Heaven knows nothing of that kind of thing. There only joy reigns. There no ends are anticipated, no sorrow invades, no disappointment lurks in the shadows.

The BIG question is this – are you prepared for Heaven?

You will not enter because you are good enough, joined a church, or were  a ‘nice’ person. We are saved by grace through faith – period.  I am going to Heaven because of Who I know, not because of what I have done. Christ died to save sinners.  In Him this is our promise: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34, NLT)

Do not lose sight of Heaven. The promise keeps us on track when the Enemy tempts us with sin. Heaven’s promise gives us hope when life’s challenges rise up and seem ready to crush us.  And, Heaven is our inheritance.

Here is a word from the Word. As you start this new week, spend some time meditating on the promise of eternal life, asking God to make Heaven real in your heart and mind.

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3, NIV)  I believe it, do you?

___________

Here As In Heaven

The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here
Overflow in this place
Fill our hearts with your love
Your love surrounds us
You’re the reason we came to encounter your love
Your love surrounds us

Spirit of God fall fresh on us
We need your presence
Your kingdom come your will be done
Here as in heaven

A miracle can happen now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Matthews Ntlele | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye © 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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