“It’s Time to Look Up”

1/10/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog

I remember when Judy and I were engaged to be married, my walk with God wasn’t as strong as it should have been, so my thoughts were not always what they should have been. And as we know, what we think, will determine how we live. But I thought on many occasions, “Man, I sure hope Christ doesn’t come back before I get married!” Pretty stupid, huh?

But before you think too badly of me, haven’t you had those same thoughts? Well maybe you haven’t, but surely, I can’t be the only one to ever think like this! Haven’t you planned a wonderful weekend or vacation and think, “I sure hope Jesus doesn’t come back before we get to go on that 7-day cruise.” Or “I sure hope Jesus doesn’t come back before we win that big softball tournament,” or “before I have kids,” or “before I get that new ______” or “before I get to fulfill my ultimate dream.”

OK, that is enough… I am closing this personal confession booth before you think that I am one of the most nonspiritual people you know! Can you imagine anyone believing that a softball tournament, a 7-day cruise or more stuff could be better than heaven? What was wrong with me!!

As I think about my sermons, as I listen to messages on radio or TV, I have noticed that there aren’t many messages on heaven. In my adult Sunday School class, I have been teaching through the book of Revelation. Recently we have been studying all the devastating things that lead up to the 2nd coming of Christ and ultimately leading to our eternity in heaven.

So, I thought it might be a good idea to do a study on heaven in prayer meeting. So, this Wednesday night will be our first session on this topic. But as I have been preparing for this study, God has made me aware of two popular misconceptions. One is believing that anything, even a softball tournament or the most wonderful vacation I could ever imagine, could be better than heaven.

The other misconception many have is that heaven is something that happens in the future. In fact, the truth about heaven should be affecting our lives today. And when we are not allowing heaven to affect our lives today, we see Christians living defeated and discouraged lives. And sadly, to say, we even see some walk away from the faith.

To help you understand this, visit John 13 & 14 with me. Jesus is spending His last night with the disciples. Within a few hours Jesus will be arrested, taken to a kangaroo court, and eventually crucified. Jesus has given the last 3½ years of His life preparing these men for this very time. He has prepared these men to take over in His absence.

In John 13 Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, broke bread with them, and after Judas left the room to betray Him, Jesus is sitting with 11 ordinary men. Men, that, if we were to be honest, we would probably not have picked for our team to change the world.

Nevertheless, they are there. If you were Jesus, what would your battle cry be for them? Be strong, be vigilant, hang tough, don’t get discouraged…“when the going gets tough, the tough gets going? Jesus understood what the future was for these men. He knows that they would be rejected, persecuted, and that every one of them, except for John, would be martyred for their faith.

Jesus knows that the Holy Spirit will lead them to preach the gospel in countries and cities that will plot against them and reject them. He knows that their families will also suffer for the things that will happen to them. Jesus knows all of this and what was His battle cry? What were the words and the final thoughts that He would leave with them?

“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

Amazing! Jesus’ last words to them was ‘look up.’ Jesus knew that a clear view of heaven and their future home would be the very thing that would get them through those very difficult and painful times. Jesus knew that their hope of heaven and the promise of being with Jesus would motivate them to persevere.

Because Christians today have a distorted view of heaven, some actually believe that there are things better than heaven. Because we view heaven incorrectly, we allow the troubles and disappointments of this world to overwhelm us. We are easily seduced to think that the things I can attain now are much more important than the things that God is preparing for me later. Please know that having the wrong view of heaven has very practical implications, not only on how I live now, but how I will live for all eternity.

Paul taught: if you are discouraged today, if you are struggling with your spiritual walk, if you are living for the wrong things; it is time to look up…. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

When our children, Jamie and Heather, were very young, their first “theology teacher” was Psalty. Here is what Psalty has to say about heaven. Be encouraged…