Thursday, January 11, 2018

Whet The Appetite

I went to a great football game, the stadium was packed, and there were a couple of guys in front of us who were just slamming down the brewskies. By the time the national anthem was playing, one of these well-saturated guys turned to his friend and said, "It doesn't get any better than this."
 
Unfortunately that's true—for some people, as good as it will ever get is a few beers at a ball game in Seattle. But for others, it's going to get a lot better; they have a place called heaven to look forward to. Some Christians say that you can be so heavenly minded you're no earthly good, but I agree with what C.S. Lewis said: "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."
In Revelation 21, the apostle John described heaven as a place of perfect sinlessness, perfect fellowship, perfect service, perfect glory, with a perfect government, where there will be perfect worship. I want to give you three monumental experiences you can expect when it comes to heaven, three things that will whet your appetite about the believer's final frontier.

Number one is that our intimacy will be restored
: "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God'" (Revelation 21:2-3). A tabernacle is a tent or a hangout place, so saying that God's tabernacle will be with men speaks of having a restored and perfect way of communicating with God.
Look down at verse 7: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son." This is language of fellowship, closeness. There is a level of intimacy we have with God now that can be quite satisfying, but full intimacy with our Creator will not be reached until we get to heaven. That's what the psalmist was talking about when he said, "I will see you face to face and be satisfied" (Psalm 17:15, NLT).

The second mega experience in heaven is that our misery will be removed: "'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new'" (v. 4-5).


We're all familiar with sorrow and pain, aren't we? I think of December 10, this past month, our worship pastor, Jeremy, suddenly and unexpectedly lost his wife Kelsey. Teen daughters without their mother.  Days of tears. But we are promised there will come a time when all tears—those of loneliness, misfortune, poverty, sympathy, and persecution—will be a thing of the past. There's coming a time when you won't even have the capacity for sorrow, pain, death, or aging.
The third and final thing is that our community will be redeemed: "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (vv.6,7)  Heaven, the New Jerusalem, is a city for believers only, despite the idea that if you're just good enough or sincere enough, you'll be saved. But you can only get to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.
And that's our final frontier. Does it get any better than this world for the believer in Christ? You bet. So let heaven be more than a destination to you; let heaven motivate you to live differently in 2018, to look ahead and know that the best is yet to be for the child of God.

Love God – Love People


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Traditions...

I read that this past Christmas season Americans used 28 million rolls of wrapping paper and 17 million packages of tags and bows, sent out 372 million greeting cards, and set up 35 million Christmas trees.
Some of our Christmas traditions are just that, traditions. Jesus was probably not born on December 25, for example. And the Christmas tree is based on the celebration of the reincarnation of Nimrod. The ancient Babylonians burned a “Yule” log (the Chaldean word for infant) in the fireplace, and the next day a symbolic evergreen tree was placed inside the house.
This pagan ritual is hinted at in the Bible, in Jeremiah 10:1-4. But before you get worried, I want you to know that if you come to Pasco Christian, you’ll find Christmas trees! And you know what? Most people born in this country don’t know the origins of these things, and we aren’t worshiping Babylonian gods and goddesses. It’s not about that. (And it’s good to remember that Martin Luther was the first guy to put a Christmas tree inside the home.)
At the same time, what are we to do with some of these traditions? Let’s look at what Jesus did when He was faced with a festival that had a lot of tradition, some of which may have been true and some not. In John chapter 10, He was in the temple for the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. You won’t find it in the Bible anywhere; it dates from the period between Old and New Testaments. But Jesus was celebrating Hanukkah, and He used the Festival of Lights to shine the light on who He really is (see verses 22-30).
And I suggest that’s what we do with Christmas. You can say, “Bah, humbug!” You can get “Santa Claustrophobic.” You can run from it. Or you can use it to shine the light on who Jesus really is.
People are singing the words we preach in evangelical churches every week: Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail, incarnate deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. Hark, the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king!”
At least some of them don’t know what they’re singing, but that’s where we come in. We can redeem it by reminding them. Does it matter when He came? No, it matters THAT He came. Since the celebration is already ongoing, I say let’s use it to remind them of Him.

Love God Love People

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankful...Really?!

Next week is Thanksgiving, and many in this country are facing severe economic hardship or trouble of other kinds. I don't want to belittle anyone's situation, because I understand the worry about what the future might hold. Things look pretty dark to many people. But I want to offer some perspective on suffering.
When our pilgrim forefathers came to this country, what they were up against was far worse than anything we face now. The first year, over half of their band of 110 died. Our pilgrim fathers dug seven times more graves for the dead than they built huts for the living. And yet during that same period is when they decided to carve out a day where they could say, "Thank you, Lord, for all of your benefits." One of their leaders, Edward Winslow, wrote of that first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621: "And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, in the middle of a terrible civil war. He said the country's blessings were due to the "ever watchful providence of Almighty God... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." And he asked for the "Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it."
That's our history. I think that kind of thankfulness pleases the Lord. And as a country, we have a lot to be thankful for, but as Christians we have even more.
This idea of giving God thanks; it's God's will! People ask me all the time, "How can I know the will of God?" One part of the will of God for your life is that you be a thankful person, that you have an "attitude of gratitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives a series of short little commands like "rejoice always," and "pray without ceasing." In verse 18 he says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." One of the things God loves is when we're thankful, even when we don't understand, even when we're going through hard times. So let's not forget the "gracious gifts of the Most High God."  
You know you want to say it.God Is Good All The Time

ThankfuLove God Love People