A Road Trip to Heaven (7/27/14)

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Sermons | 0 comments

What’s heaven like?  Pastor Jim’s sermon on July 27 took us into the book of Revelation to take a look at the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21:8 – 22:5.  The title of his message was, “A Road Trip to Heaven.”  Scroll down to the bottom of this post to access the audio recording…

Here’s the scripture passage (Revelation 21:8 – 22:5)…

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18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.

19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,

20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.

24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.

25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.

26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city.

27 Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

22 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.

4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.

5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Road Trip

When you’re about to move into a new town,  you may want to take a drive and check it out.  Where si the park?  Where’s the school?  Where is the nearest hospital?  And, most importantly… where’s the Bakery?!?

We are, rightfully so, focused on the here and now.  But still, it’s not such a bad idea to take a glimpse at where you’re headed.  We may not plan on being there for a while, but looking at what the Word has to say about heaven (“the New Jerusalem”) can remind us that we can experience a little of heaven on earth.  God is in heaven, but the  Holy Spirit is in us.

The story is told of a boy in during a worship service during which the pastor asked the congregation, “Raise your hand if you want to go to heaven.” Everyone’s hand shot up, except for this one boy’s.  When the pastor asked him later why he didn’t want to go to heaven, the boy replied, “Oh I do want to go to heaven.  But if you’re planning on taking a field trip right now, I’m not interested.”

But let’s take a quick “road trip” and get a sense of what heaven is all about.  Some day we’re going to move into that “new development”- we shouldn’t shy away from a book like Revelation and avoid trying to catch a glimpse of heaven.

Heaven is Real

Solomon said the “fool says in his heart there’s no God.”

When we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit we can experience heaven on earth.

Let’s drive by and take a look at some of the “houses” that God’s built for us.  Along the way, we’ll take 5 stops:

1:  Heaven is a Place of Absolute Beauty…

Creation gives us a glimpse of God’s beauty.  Imagine a rainbow, or a sunset, or the innocence of a child.  But the precious stones and gold mentioned in the scripture passage tell us that the beauty in heaven is beyond anything we could ever imagine.  It’s bright, but there’s no sun (because the SON is there).

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”  NIV

 

2: Heaven is a Place of Joy…

God wants us to experience His joy.  Wherever God is, there is joy.  Take a look at the joy wrapped up in the worship scene described in Revelation 4.

In John 15:9-11 Jesus said:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  NIV

In Luke 10:20 Jesus told his disciples who just returned from a successful mission trip:

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” NIV

 

What’s all that Spontaneous Joy?

If you’re listening to the recording, you may notice at the 22 minute mark that things kind of break down into some laughter.  What’s going on???

One of pastor Jim’s “shticks” is to challenge the congregation to belt out an “Amen” at a 100% level.  As soon as that happens, he promises to end the sermon.  Of course, he’s the sole judge of the “Amen” level.  At the beginning of the sermon, any “Amens” aren’t usually worth any more than 20%.  But as he gets closer to his planned end, the threshold gets lower and it’s easier to hit the required 100% level.

The laughter you’re hearing was brought about by one member of the congregation who (before the service) handed out paper plates with the word “Amen” written on the back of them.  At this point in the sermon, she held up her “Amen Plate” and the rest of the plate holders followed suit.

Apparently written amens don’t count, because Pastor Jim continued the sermon.

Pastor Jim keeps saying that worship is supposed to be Fun!!!  This was a taste of it. 

But the sermon continued…

 

3: Heaven is a Place of Rewards…

Revelation 21:5-7 tells us that Jesus is making all things new and that we’ll inherit free access to the “spring of the water of life.”  In Matthew 5:12 Jesus says that even though there are hardships in this life”great is your reward in heaven.”  We’ll be face to face with God!

God has put heaven into us, and He is calling us to share that taste of heaven with others.  That’s why our conference has set up a program called “A Future with Hope.”  Together we are helping to rebuild homes those who lost so much during Hurricane Sandy.

A Ray Boltz song that our choir has sung several times over the  years is called “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.”  It pictures a scene in heaven where a recently deceased man is greeted by many people who were touched by this man’s life and deeds during their lives.  What a reward it will be to see the fruits of how God used us in our lifetimes.   We don’t have the whole picture during our time on earth, but in heaven we’ll be able to clearly see- and praise God for His amazing grace!

4:  Heaven is a Place of Total Healing…

In Revelation 21:4, God says that He will “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.” NIV

Something known at a funeral-“The cancer is dead. Dad is healed!”

Helen Keller (who was deaf and blind) said “death is no more than passing from one room to another. But there’s a difference for me.  In that room, I will be able to see.”

Fanny Crosby, the composer of over 8,000 hymns, was born blind. She once remarked that the first thing I’ll ever see is the face of Jesus.  She saw her blindness as a blessing because of the immense joy of the healing which awaits her in heaven.

Issac Watts’ wrote a famous song that everyone associates with Christmas,  but it’s really about eternity and Jesus’ second coming.  The hymn is called, “Joy to the World“.

The third verse says, “no more let sins or sorrows grow, or thorns infest the ground.  He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”   Not only will God heal our own personal pain, He will also heal mankind’s pain which is caused by sin and separation from God.  The “thorns” and “curse” described in Genesis 3:17-24 will be removed and undone in heaven. God will make it good.  There’s room for Joy!

 

5: Heaven is a Place of Reunion…

In John 14:1-3 Jesus gives a familiar (but still amazing!) promise:    “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.”  NIV

The church is the “bride of Christ.”  In Jesus’ day, a groom would add on to his father’s house to make a place where he would live with his bride after the wedding. Revelation speaks of the wedding between the Bride (us!) and the Lamb (Jesus).  Jesus has already gone ahead to build a room (mansion!) for us in His Father’s house.

Pastor Jim related that during funerals when he lays the flowers on the casket, he frequently taps the side of the casket and says “See you later.”  For Christians, death is simply a temporary goodbye.  A comma, not a period.  Heaven will be a glorious time where we will reunite with those who have gone on before us.

– – – – – – – –

Heaven is our real home.  It’s the country we’ve been looking for; we’re homesick.  Every time we do something in the Name of Jesus Christ, we’re showing a bit of what heaven looks like.  People all around us are homesick too.  We need to take the GPS; our guidance from the Holy Spirit- and share that direction with them so that they can be in heaven with us one day.

 

Quiz Time!

OK.  Pastor Jim always says that worship is supposed to be fun!  So… just for the fun of it, try the quiz below.  Don’t worry.  Heaven does have a “book of life”, but our website doesn’t have a “book of grades.”

Today’s sermon was about heaven, as described in the book of the Revelation.  How much do you know about this book and this passage?

 

When you’re done, click the “Review” button to see the right answers.  If you missed any questions, re-read the scripture and try it again.  If you’re stuck (or disagree with the answer!), feel free to post a comment.

 

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Click the “Play” button below to listen to the 11:00 sermon…

Bolton Intro- service sermon _2382

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