THINKING ABOUT HEAVEN

The Baptistry Ceiling, Florence, Italy

A few weeks ago, my Sunday morning message at Woodland Church was about the promise of heaven. I experienced so much joy preparing and preaching that message. Since then I have had two funerals of close friends to preach. These men were passionate followers of Christ. I prepared with a mixture of sadness and joy. Along with their families, I miss them but I can only begin to imagine the joy they are experiencing.

I can’t seem to get heaven off my mind and it fills me with joy. I want to reflect on that with you this week. If you are going to spend an eternity somewhere it makes sense to learn all you can about the place. Our family enjoys planning vacations. We learn as much as we can about where we want to visit. The dreaming and planning are always fun. Having good directions about getting there is important. Once I made an international flight of 19 hours only to arrive at the wrong location! My travel agent got it all right with the exception of the last leg of the itinerary.

Eternity is forever and ever and ever.

John Newton got it right, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, Than when we first begun.”

No less days, try to wrap your mind around that. Eternal joy! J. I. Packer said it so well:

“Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.”

God has actually told us a lot about heaven. This week I will recommend some books as we go along and a couple of songs. First thing though. There is a present heaven and a future heaven. When a Christian dies he or she goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. This is what many theologians call the present heaven. Home with the Lord forever!

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8, NLT)

However, there is something even better coming! The future heaven. Those who are with the Lord now, await with eagerness, with anticipation for the resurrection of their bodies. There is coming a day when time as live now, will end, our earthly bodies will be resurrected.

“Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-43, NLT).

Pay attention to this, raised to live forever; raised in glory; raised in strength! Come on victory!

When I go to a cemetery for the graveside service, the thought always grips me. One day the resurrection will happen. We will rise again! I can’t wait to share more with you!

Peace!

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