I have read the horror stories of people getting to the airport and realizing that they left their passports at home and missed their flights.
Or, even worse, being in another country and trying to leave and realizing that you have lost your passport!
Nothing spells stressed better than the fear of your friends and/or family leaving you behind, behind you can’t get through the customs agents and board the plane to head back!
Of course, customs in all countries have a method of taking your credentials and reissuing you a new passport, (albeit, it may take longer than you would like), yet they can still eventually get you back onto a plane and heading to your destination, your home!
My point here is actually one of two main points that I want to impart to everyone this morning.
First: It does not matter where I go, or how long or how short of a stay that I have while I am away; the moment that I know that I am preparing to head back to my home, there is such an awesome feeling of content that wells up inside of my heart!
It doesn’t matter if I have been staying at a 5 star resort at some tropical paradise, where your every thought and whim and desire are met for you and all you have to do is sit back and relax and enjoy all the of the best of the most succulent foods from culinary artists! (WELL, MAYBE THE PART ABOUT THE FOOD, I COULD GET HUNG UP ON!)
But, seriously, as I approach the state of Tennessee and when I know that I am only a few miles away, and when I see and walk through the door of my home, I feel such an amazing contentment and joy well up in side of me!
I am the poster boy, for the old adage and song, “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home”!
The opening line of that song, which was written in the late 1700’s, says,
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere:
Home! Home! sweet, sweet Home
There’s no place like Home!
There’s no place like Home!
My second point: As i was just mentioning about the customs agents at the airports; you MUST go through them, if you have any hope or desire to ever get back to your home!
It doesn’t matter who you are, who you say that you are, or how much money you have at your disposal! If you do not have the proper credentials that are required, you are not going through that gate and thus making it home!
I know and I am very much aware, that not everyone shares my sentiment and feeling of expressed joy and happiness about their home!
I know that the word “home” to many people brings thoughts and memories of pain and uneasiness.
I know that there are many, maybe even some of you here this morning, that would be content to never see your home, such as it is, or one from the past, ever again!
But, in any case, whether you share my enthusiasm of being home, or you loath the thought of it, there is something of great and complete and total joy and abounding peace that comes from the thought of HOME, as I am about to discuss this morning, that i wish each and every person had within themselves!
I am talking about HEAVEN this morning! HEAVEN, the dwelling place of our Lord and savior, Jesus and His Father, our great and all mighty God and creator, Yahweh!
I want to briefly talk about the place that we hear mentioned so many times in churches and in books and movies and songs; and yet it is a place, that I dare say not too many Christians probably ever really just stop and think about or put too much of there vested time and efforts into!
That is, are we knowingly and enthusiastically storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven as opposed to here on earth.
Think back in your life as believer, to when you FIRST heard the plan of salvation, you probably heard that when you become saved, you will one day go to heaven upon your death, right? And then, from that day of your initial salvation experience forward, you have probably seen the word “heaven” in the Bible (provided you’re reading it), in daily devotionals, in study guides and magazines, countless times, right?
We sing about heaven in churches, with songs like, “When We All Get To Heaven” and “Beulah Land” and we hear heaven used generically in secular songs and various forms of media.
But finally, as we age and/or draw closer to our finality through terminal illness, (whichever happens first, age or sickness), then our thoughts genuinely begin to drift more towards that eternal abode, known as heaven.
That is, we start thinking much more about our eternal destiny when we being looking at it in the face, RIGHT?
I want to suggest this morning, that we need to begin to put more of our thoughts and attention to the REALITY of heaven right here and right now, exactly where you are in your life and not wait until later.
Jesus said to us, that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, right?
Well, if your treasure is found in this life and in this time and place, then guess where your heart is?
And guess who is looking into your hearts to see your desires and thoughts love and attention?
You see, the more of a reality and a longing that heaven becomes in our lives, here and now, the more we will desire to draw closer to God and Holy Spirit and Jesus and we will begin to seek a life that is pleasing to Him in the kingdom here, before we cross over to the final kingdom there!
Listen to what Paul said to the church in Philippi, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”
According to a survey taken by LifeWay Research this past year, Americans are so divided on their belief and faith in the totality of the Word of God.
The survey said that 60% of people in this country believe that heaven is place that EVERYONE will eventually go to, to be with there loved ones!
64% of Americans believe that God is accepting and okay with the worship of all religions, including Christianity and Judaism and Islam!
84% of those who hold evangelical beliefs say hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ. (If you do not believe in the reality of HELL, then you cannot truly believe in the reality of HEAVEN either!)
65% of the people agree that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.
Fewer than half of all Americans, 47%, say the Bible is 100 percent accurate in all it teaches.
Look, the point is clear and simple with these stats from the past year; the TRUTH and the REALITY of the Word of God and all that is within it, including eternity and heaven, have become skewed and marred by false teachings and a people who have walked away from a true and intimate relationship with God!
But then, if I asked, “Are you excited to get to heaven”, that is, “Are you looking forward to the day when God calls you HOME?”, although, as a group, most Christians may respond with YES, the truth is, many would be thinking, “NO, I am not at all excited about death!”
And there lies one of the issues; our perception of life and death. (TALK ABOUT THE LIFTING OF THE VEIL AND CROSSING OVER- LIKEN IT TO STEPPING THROUGH THE THRESHOLD OF AMERICA TO MEXICO; MENTION THAT WHO WE ARE IS TRULY OUR SPIRIT, NOT THE VESSEL HOLDING IT!)
*Getting To Heaven* The pastor was talking to a group of young children about believing in Jesus and going to heaven. At the end of his talk, he asked, "Where do you want to go?" "Heaven!" they all piped up. "And what do you have to be to get there?" "Dead!” one boy yelled.
See, that is the thought that instantly comes to mind when we mention going to heaven; DEATH!
If someone says to you,“Mr. Smith is in heaven now!” your first thought is, “Oh, that’s so sad. Mr. Smith died!”
Wrong, Mr. Smith fell asleep and crossed over the threshold into HEAVEN!
Batteries die, trees die, insects die, cars die, but humans do not truly die, we just cross over (to one eternal place or the other, which is determined by what we do here). We are like the spiritual Energizer Bunnies......STILL GOING!
Faith and belief and having that intimate relationship with Jesus are so imperative when it comes to the condition of your eternity and what happens at that moment when you CROSS OVER, that is, when you “fall asleep”, as the Apostle Paul calls refers to death. The closer you get to Jesus in your daily walk, the more of a deep longing you begin to have to be where He is!
Imagine if you were terminally ill with no hope of a cure and suddenly and miraculously you were given a new lease on life because someone came forward and voluntarily donated their bone marrow and it was the exact and only match that would work to save your life, (even at the expense and cost of great pain to that person to do so for you!)Then, from that day forward, you were always corresponding with that donor vis messages and phone calls, because they lived all the way around the world. The more that you began to know of that person, the more you developed a true and intimate love for them as a friend and as the one who had given you a new lease on life! This unction and relentless desire to finally meet this person would grow deeper and deeper , year after year. Then, when the chance finally presented itself to go and be with them, you would embrace this wholeheartedly and without any hesitation, because of your deep longing to finally be with them!
How much more should your desire be to finally be with the one who saved you from the eternal second death, as the Bible calls it?
You should embrace this with excitement and fervor and zeal, not fear and begrudgingly!
TAKE A BANANA AND USE IT AS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS REAL AND WHAT I SEE AND WHAT I DON’T SEE. THEN PEEL THE BANANA AS AN EXAMPLE OF CROSSING OVER THE THRESHOLD AND THROUGH THE VEIL AND NOW SEEING WHAT IS THERE THAT WAS HIDDEN BEFORE BY THE VEIL; AND THEN TASTING THE SWEETNESS OF THE ETERNAL!
You see, I think that so many churches have put so much emphasis on this life and the importance of what we are to be doing in this life and our walk in this life (which are valid and important), and yet we don’t mention enough about what is coming for the believer and the glory that awaits us in that instantaneous transition!
Jesus said to Thomas, after His resurrection, in , “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
And way too many Christians, as they approach their life’s end, at whatever age that may be, they look upon this time with fear and uncertainty!
This should not be the case!
C. S. Lewis said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world, that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
The Bible tells us that we are to desire and look forward to this eternal destination, as we see in ,
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This is one of the reasons that I don’t get up in all of the near-death experience stories and all of the books and media about it.
We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit within us the reminder and the guarantee of our new bodies and our new abode!
Look at what Paul says again in ,
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
We are told to set our minds on the things that are in heaven, not here! This world is broken and marred and imperfect! Why do we cling to it, when it is destined to be destroyed and redone, as the Bible tells us!
This earth is not our home as a believer! We are strangers here, our citizenship is in heaven as we see in ,
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Again, look at ,
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
This is not where we belong! This is a broken and sinful place filled with a fractious people and a system/ a world that hates us.
And it would serve us well to remember, what Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Do you understand, that when we pass from this life to that one, we are given new and glorified bodies, that will never die! You become immortal, as Paul says that mortality will take on immortality and corruption will put on incorruption!
I am not calling these people liars, but I do not put any stock in man’s account of heaven and their going there.
Do you understand, that when we pass from this life to that one, we are given new and glorified bodies, that will never die! You become immortal,as Paul said that mortality will take on immortality and corruption will take on incorruption!
As I have told you before, I will not use the accounts in my teaching to validate anything about the abode of God, because the only thing that can validate and verify the Word of God, is just that; THE WORD OF GOD!
Well, John the revelator, in his vision that was given him in the book of , says this of what we can expect of heaven and our new and eternal life,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “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.”
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “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.”
Listen here, everyone one of you, both young and old; YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. (That is, in the natural physical sense, your body is going to cease to breath one day.) And at the exact moment this happens, you will instantly and without effort, walk through that spiritual veil to the other side.
Just think about that for a minute. Let it sink into your mind of what this passage is saying.
There will be NO more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain, no more sickness and disease. God, Himself, will wipe away every tear, so that you will NEVER again cry because of hurt and offense and tragedy and sorrow! THESE THINGS WILL NO LONGER EXIST!!!!
And if pain and sorrow and tragedy and rejection and loneliness and abandonment no longer exist, then what does exist? The antithesis of each of these: comfort for pain, joy for sorrow, blessings for tragedy, acceptance for rejection, loved for loneliness and cherished for abandonment!
Even more unfathomable than all of this, is the fact that John says God, Himself, will be with us!
The very creator of the universe and the one who sent His only Son to save us, will be in your midst!
And YES, if God is there, then this also means, who else will be there? JESUS the CHRIST!
Heaven is the thing in which our reward resides, but heaven is not the reward, Jesus is!
Paul said this in ,
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
And what is the prize? What is the reward? Well, go back a few verses in that passage and Paul answers it. says,
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
Gaining Christ, coming into the presence of Jesus and being with Him, is the prize, the reward of the believer.
Heaven is the residence of Jesus and His Father, but He is our true prize!
And in line with this, let me mention something else that many people put their eternal focus on, with regard to heaven, and the atmosphere, or physical status of heaven.
What I mean is, when you ask many people what they envision when they think of heaven, you will hear, 9 times out of ten, about the streets of gold and the elaborate and great mansions that we will have!
As far as the streets of gold go, the only mention that we have about this, is found in with the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven.
And to this, I will say, that to God, the purest and most precious form of gold, (as men covet and kill for here on earth and in this life), is worth nothing more than the pavement that He uses to make the streets!
But, as to the mansions, let me address this, by looking at .
In this passage we find Jesus talking with His disciples after the last supper and after He has begun to tell them that He must go away.
This is where people have gotten the understanding of mansions from. Just like the song titled, “I’m Building A Mansion In Heaven”, or “Mansion Over The Hilltop”, which has lyrics like,
“Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely I'm not discouraged I'm heaven bound I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city I want a mansion, a harp and a crown!”
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Jesus isn’t saying this right before His ascension into heaven, but rather, right before He is going to the cross!
He is saying that His Father’s house (God’s eternal dwelling place) has many rooms, many dwelling places, MUCH SPACE! And that Jesus is going to prepare (hetoimazo - to make ready, to make the necessary preparations), He is making a way for us to come and stay with His Father in His dwelling place!
It'll be my reward by-and-by I'm sending a pillar each day of my life And the deed will be mine when I die The things that I do in this life here below By praying and lending a hand Will all be recorded in God's book of life For my mansion in heaven so grand.
NOTE: The word translated ‘rooms’, ‘dwelling places’ (monai) is rare. It is not found in the Greek Septuagint, and occurs only twice in the NT, both in verses (1, 23). In 14:23 Jesus says, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home (monēn) with him.’ The text speaks of the Father and the Son making their ‘home’ with believers, i.e. making themselves present with them. When we unpack the metaphor of 14:2, then, we should think not so much of ‘rooms’ in God’s house (much less ‘mansions’ as the AV has) but of the privilege of abiding in God’s presence.
ARE YOU GOING HOME, ON THAT CERTAIN APPOINTED DAY?
Hebrews says that we all have an appointed time to die, in the natural/physical sense. And short of Jesus coming back and taking us out of here, this is non-negotiable!
Are you going to make it through the entrance into heaven?