Heaven

WHY DID I CRY?

tears

While reading CJ Mahaney’s tribute to Jerry Bridges I came upon CJ’s statement “I’m glad he’s in heaven”. Just reading those words made my eyes well up with tears. Why would that be so?

I am not a friend of Jerry Bridges. And this was not my first news of Jerry Bridge’s death. I had read several other tributes of his death. In fact, I had written a brief blog in recognition of his life and influence.

I was surprised myself that reading the simple words, “I’m glad he’s in heaven” affected me emotionally.

What was the reason?

Heaven is a real place, and God gives us a heart that longs to be there.

We are now in union with Christ, and we rejoice over this wondrous relationship that has its culmination waiting ahead of us.

I don’t have to know Jerry Bridges to be thankful that he is joyfully in heaven. And I can personally appreciate that CJ although grieved, also rejoices that his friend is with Christ.

Our emotions don’t prove that we are true believers, but being a true believer will cause the realities of Christ to reach deep into our hearts.

I find it easy to see (and be discouraged) by the ways I don’t show my love for God. So it is good to take encouragement from each manifestation that reminds me that I do love God!

In CJ Mahaney’s tribute to Jerry Bridges, he includes this excerpt from Jerry’s book, The Gospel for Real Life. CJ commented, “As I read it, I cried. I think you will too”.

Our Homecoming

“What will it be like when we enter the presence of the Lord? Sometimes when I focus too much on my own shortcomings, of how often I have sinned against grace and against knowledge, of how little I have availed myself of all the blessings of God and opportunities that have come my way, I think I would like to somehow ‘just slip in the side door’ of heaven, unnoticed and consequently unwelcome. But that is because I do focus too much on myself and try to anticipate my welcome on the basis of my performance.

The apostle Peter, however, gives us an entirely different perspective in 2 Peter 1:10-11: ‘Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’” (pp.164–5).

SPEND MORE TIME DAYDREAMING

 

I enjoy planning and thinking about trips.

The anticipation and the preparation are part of the fun.

Time spent daydreaming about an upcoming vacation or a quick getaway, not only builds excitement – it brings some of the joy of this trip into life now

I think about . .

Places we will visit

Restaurants where we will eat

The company of friends we will enjoy

The churches where we will worship

The books I will read

Sleeping in – staying up

And the lack of deadlines to meet

Why not take a similar approach to our impending entrance into eternity?

As Christians, we believe we will be with Christ in heaven, but it does not seem real – so we give very little thought to this great reality.

There is much to think about and to be excited over:

Seeing Jesus!

The feel of his arms around us

Listening to the Heavenly host – and singing with them

Being perfected

Knowing that we actually do love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength

Reuniting with loved ones

Conversation and a meal with Moses, David, Mary, Paul, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards or any other believer you admire

If anything is worth daydreaming over, it is eternal life with our Savior in the new heaven and the new earth.

Add some anticipation to your worship and to your life – the plans that God has made for you are worth it!

 

ENOUGH?

Resource-Graphic_Never-Enough

 

Why does a man with a beautiful wife, pursue other women?

Why does the person with 2 billion dollars, want 3 billion?

Why does a king who rules over a vast empire still desire more land?

Why does a coach or athlete never have enough championships?

Why do the wealthy who live in beautiful mansions need still more homes in new places?

Why does the woman with closets stuffed with more fashion than she could ever wear, keep shopping for more?

Why does the celebrity who receives praise, awards and adulation, never get enough of it?

Why are we never fully satisfied?

Imagine an eternity filled with beauty, endless joys and wonderful experiences. Further imagine that this eternity had no pain, no worries, no troubles, no enemies and no sorrows. We would still end up dissatisfied and unhappy – if there was no Christ.

For we have been created by him, to know him and dwell in communion with him. We can only find true, full and lasting contentment when we are with Christ.

Hell, among other sorrows, will contain the endless gnawing pain of never being satisfied.

And so Heaven itself would become an eternal burden of emptiness without Christ being the center of it. All its glories would eventually become jaded and wearisome

The joy and glory of the Heavenly realm is the presence of Christ with us.

The presence we have now

The relationship we can grow in now

The Christ who loves us now

The Christ we can rest in now

If heaven would be empty without our Jesus, how absurd, foolish and wasteful it is to ignore him as we walk through this bruising world.

 

WE CANNOT STOP IT

Death, it is not an every day subject, yet it is an every day event around us. We know it is real, and sometimes death thrusts itself in our faces, but generally we try to keep the subject of death as far to the edges as possible.

This is natural, because we don’t want death to come within our circle. Death tears, grieves and burdens our hearts. We often hear that death is a part of life. But actually death represents the brokenness that sin has brought to life.

Still, we all face death for ourselves and for everyone we will ever know. Death is hard, but it is both real and we might even say – ordinary.

Whether we think about death or not, it is not just coming, it’s on its way. Preparation for death should be in the mind of each one of us. Thankfully by God’s gracious mercy, death does not need to bring fear (although we cannot help that it brings sadness).

Part of God’s grace is to make very clear what is behind the veil of death. There are only two (eternal) options. The judgment of God in Hell, or the salvation of God in Christ’s Kingdom.

Because of our sin, all of us are driving to judgment. The only deliverance is through Jesus Christ. This is because only Jesus has resolved our sin problem by dying to pay the penalty of that sin. The Bible puts it this way:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

Those who trust in Christ as their deliverance have the guarantee of Heaven, because Jesus has fully removed from us the one reason that could keep us from Heaven.

Whatever our eternal destiny, death is a door we all go through. Since we know death is coming, preparation for death should be more central in our attention than the edges of our mind.

And if we are in Christ, death brings wholeness, rest and delight, all of which will never know interruption. This too is worth keeping in the center our minds. 

GETTING TO KNOW THEM ALL

Thinking about eternity in Christ’ Kingdom is a feast of contemplations.
 
Most of all I find rest in knowing all striving against sin will cease; whether they are the sins which pervert our world or the sins which still worm their way into my own heart.
 
Often I imagine the enveloping sound which will come from the heavenly chorus made up of the angels and all who love the Lord. 
 
Or, I take joy in anticipating the full restoration of relationships. Conflicts in the church and between all believers will be healed. 
 
But today, my thoughts traveled the path of what it will be like to enjoy perfect fellowship with each believer who has and will ever live. 
 
Our relationships will not bear the pressures of pride and our souls will be bare of those masks we now collect. Instead we will enjoy heart to heart conversations which flow like playful streams, alive with love and listening. 
 
Oh, how many fascinating people we will get to know and how many amazing stories of grace will bring forth praises to the wonder of God’s sovereignty. 
 
Christ’s kingdom will hold an awesome host of people who will not be faceless crowds. Each face will be that of a dear friend that causes our heart to smile. Every person will be better loved than our dearest loves now, and they will never fail to love us with the full measure of Jesus own stature of love. 
 
Stretching over the timeless ages we will have the pleasure of getting to know the God given uniqueness of all heaven’s citizens. And we will have the fun of sharing endless unmarred experiences together in God’s perfect new creation.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.01.13

“Three Words About God”             

Our ability to adequately communicate the wonder of God, is limited not by His nature, but by our understanding and language. However, there are three words which stand out (in my estimation) as most the important words about God.

#1.  The Glory of God (Psalm 72:19)

Glory conjures up thoughts of fame and accomplishment. With God, glory is not his accomplishments as much as his being. God does not simply do some glorious things, He is all glorious God 

Ephesians 1:17 calls God “the Father of Glory”. He is the source of all that is glorious

God’s glory is His surpassing majesty and His infinite worth

Everything about God is greater than . . .

You may be thinking, “All that may be interesting for a theology class, but I live in the real world”

Here is the reason why God’s glory is of great value to you:

Because God is glorious, there is a heaven

God’s kingdom will reflect His character, where God reigns, goodness in its highest form will abound

Then “Why, doesn’t God bring that glory to earth?!”

He did!  The creation story keeps repeating the descriptive phrase, “and God saw that it was good”

Sorrow and brokenness appeared when humanity rejected God’s reign

We have tried to replace God’s glory with our own

But our glory has the staying power of a field of summer flowers (1 Peter 1:24)

Heaven is a great hope, because God is eternally glorious

#2.  The Holiness of God (Revelation 4:8) 

We hear the word holy and think of religious formality and moral rigidity

But that is just a human caricature of holiness

On human terms holiness means to be “set apart” for God

Holiness is when we see our life is for God, so we live for Him

For God, His holiness is the summation of all His perfections

God’s perfection “sets Him apart” from everything else

God is not merely without flaw, He is all perfection can be

Why is God’s holiness important for us?

Because God is holy, there is a hell

Holy God must be perfect in His standards and judgments; He must bring every sin to justice

We quickly respond, “but I’m a good person”; by whose standard?

We may not like it, or want to hear it, but that does not diminish the reality that we are sinners who have earned God’s judgment

Yet, we act if can we brush these realities aside

We even take it a step further, and think we can declare what God will or will not do; by what conceivable authority or knowledge? All that we know about God is in His revealed word, the Bible

If we want to believe in heaven – we must accept there is hell

God is holy, so the judgment of sin and hell must be true

#3.  The Mercy of God

This word is not the most important, but for us, it is the most precious

God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved.  Ephesians 2:4-5

God must punish sin, yet He is also filled with love and mercy

Because God is merciful, there is a cross

God intervened into our need, by sending Jesus His son, to save us

(1)  Jesus went to the cross, took the guilt of our sin, and received the punishment we deserve

(2)  When Jesus arose from the grave, it proved the debt had been paid in full

(3)  Whoever confesses their sin and puts their faith in Christ is fully and forever saved

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 

God who is glorious and holy, has mercy for all who come to the cross

Is there any good reason why you will not call on Him today to save you?

If you have trusted in Christ, will you not live for Christ? Will we live as if these three words are true?

EASTER SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.09.12

“Is there someone we can count on?”

You have heard the saying; “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. We can add this disclaimer: Who you know, better be in power!

When it comes to having a hope for heaven, whose name carries weight?

Buddha claims he discovered the way to ‘enlightenment’

Islam follows Muhammad, saying he was the final prophet of God

Mormons teach that Joseph Smith received a newer revelation

Christians follow Jesus Christ; we believe he alone can save

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)

What are we to do with these different opinions?

Can we just choose any name and expect to get the same results?

Do all these opinions reveal that no one really knows?

There are three questions that need an answer

#1. Why is any help needed to enter heaven?

Because in our present condition heaven is a closed door

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

For those who are thinking, ‘but I’m good person’; have you ever lied, stolen, lusted, been unfair, gossiped, been self-centered, or ignored the needs of others? We all have done many things we don’t want others to see

God who is perfectly just, must punish every sin. Hell is just as real as heaven

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Nothing we have done or can do, will change the reality that we are sinners

In our name we cannot enter heaven; our sin is always in way

Some people are offend by this and for that reason they reject it. But I ask you, does our rejecting God’s judgment change it? Isn’t it wiser to find out what God says will enable us into His kingdom

#2.  Why does the Bible say Jesus is the only name that can save us?

Because only Jesus has taken action to remove our sin problem

The founders of human religions merely give us directions saying these are things you should do

Jesus came and did what was needed to save us

Jesus is the only person who lived a sinless life

Jesus died and took the Father’s wrath on himself, to pay the penalty God requires for our sin

When we put our faith in Christ, he removes our guilt

“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)

Human religions have no power over sin, death or heaven

What is the proof Jesus can exercise power in these areas?

Only Jesus has risen from the dead!

Buddha was cremated and there are temples that hold his ashes

Joseph Smith is buried in Illinois

Mohammed’s grave is a shrine visited by millions

Jesus grave is empty; he is alive to save those who cry out to him!

#3. What keeps you from asking Jesus who lives, to forgive and save you?

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)

Jesus said, whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37)

Christ will fully and forever save all who trust in him

Right now, are you willing to confess your sin and ask Jesus to forgive you?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

If you asked Christ to forgive you, or if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you. I am also glad to send you materials that may be helpful. khuber.wellrooted@gmail.com