Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Reality of Heaven

Today was part 3 of 3 in our pastor's series called "Trusting God in Hard Times."  Today's message was entitled "The Reality of Heaven."

Grasping the reality of heaven changes our perspective on life.  This is exactly what God has already been revealing to me in the last week or two.  How awesome to know that He wants me to understand it, and He weaves the same message through different parts of my life (my personal Bible reading, my blog reading, my prayer time, my pastor's sermon, and even my Sunday school lesson).  

Here are my sermon notes:

The Reality of Heaven

Trusting God in hard times means:
  • To allow God to do something in my life without fearing the outcome.
    • "The Lord has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet."  Nahum 1:3 (NKJV)
    • "In God I trust, I will not be afraid."  Psalm 56:11 (NIV)
  • To run into a shelter or hiding place; to seek refuge in God.
    • "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"  Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)
    • "In you my soul takes refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."  Psalm 57:1 (NIV) 
  • To lean the weight of your soul on the faithfulness, reliability, integrity or friendship of our God!  (Pastor Brock compared this to leaning a ladder against a wall and trusting the wall to hold the ladder while you climb on.)
    • "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
  • To get a new perspective.
    • "We do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)  Some of my favorite verses!
    • "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)  Pastor kept pointing out the comma ("perplexed COMMA but not in despair") and then he asked which side of the comma we live on.
    • "I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."  Philippians 3:14 (NLT)
    • "I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus.  I'm off and running and I'm not turning back.  So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us."  Philippians 3:12-15 (Message)
Here it is...

I.  Where is Heaven?
  •  Heaven is up.
    • "Lord, I look up to You, up to heaven, where You rule."  Psalm 123:1
    • "Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food."  Mark 6:41 (NLT)
    • The point is that heaven is above all of the daily, earthly things that we see.  
  • Heaven is home.
    • "But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland."  Hebrews 11:16 (NLT)
    • "But our homeland is in heaven..."  Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
    • "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."  Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
    • This is not all there is!
II.  How does knowing heaven is real make a difference now?
  • It removes your doubt about going to heaven.
    • "This is what God told us:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."  1 John 5:11-12 (NCV)
    • "I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing.  You did not save yourselves, it was a gift from God.  It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it."  Ephesians 2:8-9
  • It replaces your anxieties with thoughts of heaven.
    • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV) (see above under "To get a new perspective.")
    • "Let heaven fill your thoughts, don't spend your time worrying about things down here."  Colossians 3:1-2
    • There will always be troubles and stuff to worry about, but we can focus our attention toward heaven.
  • It refocuses your energies on treasures in heaven.
    • "... store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them.  Your heart will be where your treasure is."  Matthew 6:19-21
    • "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new.'"  Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)
We closed with the hymn "When We See Christ."  You can view the lyrics here.

The song that spoke the most to me was one we sang at the beginning of the service.  It's "Desert Song" by Hillsong United.  I love it!

The end of the last verse says:

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow 

This is where I am.  I am filled.  Things are going so well that I have feared what's about to fall through.  But God's Word says that there will be troubles as long as I'm on earth.  So I can stop worrying that something troubling is about to come--because it's guaranteed that something bad will eventually happen!  But there's no room for fear when I'm trusting God.  

I've been emptied before.  And God was there.  He brought me to this place of being filled again.  "The seed I've received I will sow" means I accept that the circumstances in my life are in God's hands and I choose to let Him grow my character in the midst of it.  

I hope this little sermon series has been as encouraging to you as it has been to me!


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