Living for Heaven
Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11 has been aptly called, "The Hall of Faith" chapter. One striking characteristic of this record of God-fearing men and women was that they were living for heaven as they were passing through their pilgrimage here on earth. They lived in faith, and they died in faith. What was it that sustained these saints and gave them the courage to press on in spite of the odds or opposition? The promise of a heavenly country, the Builder and Maker of which is God. I can only imagine how much bolder these saints would have been if they knew what you and I know today. As we embark on the year 2017, I am reminded by the Scriptures that there is nothing new under the sun. While the names of world rulers and the current events may vary from one generation to the next, this much we know. God remains on the throne and is faithful to His promises. He promises to bless those who wait upon Him. “For this reason the LORD is ready to show you mercy; He sits on His throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the LORD is a just God; all who wait for Him in faith will be blessed.” (Isaiah 30:18 NET) He promises perfect peace to those whose mind is stayed upon Him (Isaiah 26:3).
Precious church family, amidst all of the uncertain challenges that the next year has in store for us personally and as a congregation, let us make a firm resolution to encourage one another to live a Hebrews 11, living-for-heaven lifestyle. This heaven-focused lifestyle will put us out of step with the "ways of this world” (Ephesians 2:2). As Paul wrote to the Colossians, living for heaven is setting our affections on things above, not on things on the earth (3:2). Living for heaven is a life that is girded with the kind of fearless courage to go against the flow of this present evil world because of the promise that we are destined to live with Christ in glory forever. Think of the odds that were against Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. Today is no different. The days we live in are like those spoken of in Isaiah 5:20. People are calling evil good and good evil. Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should not view those people as our enemies, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). They are our mission field that we are called to love and pray for daily. Living for heaven means that we will live our lives for the glory of God. Living for heaven means that we will not give in to fear and despair, because we know that all things are working together for good (Romans 8:28).
To inspire us to live radically for Jesus, Scripture repeatedly reminds us about our future glory in heaven with Christ. Let me share a few.
Jesus said in John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
The apostle John declared in Revelation 21.1-5 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Beloved, the exceeding great and precious promise regarding our being in heaven with our precious Lord is the spiritual fuel that enables us to look upward, and not outward. Paul's prayer for the church at Ephesus in chapter three verses 14-21 is my prayer for each and every one of you who call Koinonia your home away from home. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is name, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Much love in Jesus,