Eternal Realities | Week 3: Rise Above It (The Realities of Heaven)

We have many sources of stress in our lives. Jesus promised it would come. Some think God promised things would go well for you in life on earth and nothing would go wrong. Actually, He says…

Jesus: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God’s solution is that you would have peace in the midst of the storm. God gives you the capacity to have an experience that actually does not reflect the circumstance you are in. One of the passages that is just beautiful is Psalm 62.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Selah  Psalm 62:5-8

In these days, there’s a place you can go where there is rest for your soul. This passage highlights two main culprits of stress. Maybe you’re feeling them.

“Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind,and the powerful are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on the scales, together they are lighter than a breath of air.” Psalm 62:9

The people we would call successful, that success is a lie. The people you think are happy because their earthly success made them happy…it didn’t. They’re probably as miserable as you. Bottom line though is if you weighed the average person and the successful person on a balance, they have the same condition. Their time is short. They are a mist.

The first culprit of stress is TIME.

A lot of our stress comes from trying to manage our time and how we try to control our time. Our time management is getting rocked right now. People are burning out, busier than they’ve ever been. Others are going crazy with time on their hands.

The second culprit of stress is MONEY.

We’re nervous about money. We’re scared, we’re stressed. It’s consuming our thinking. It’s the number one fight in a family. People actually leave God over this issue.

“Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.” Psalm 62:10

Don’t think wealth will make you happy. Godliness with contentment is good gain. Money will not make you happy. Money will not make you secure. There is no such thing as financial security. So, how you how to rise above those stresses and actually find peace, and find what the psalmist calls the rock in the midst of the storms and stresses?

Colossians 3:1-2 says it this way…

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at Gods right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

We get our eyes fixed, as much as possible, on the unseen. Keep our hearts set on heaven. Lower your expectations of earth. Earth is not heaven. If you raise that expectation of earth to where everything has to work out here, you’ll stay stressed. When someone dies it’ll drive you crazy. “Well, I wanted them here.” But if you understand eternity, you say, “Well, I’m going there.” This perspective changes everything. Don’t put your hope in the wrong place. Lower your expectation of earth. Raise your expectation of heaven.

The reason we don’t get excited about heaven is we have a faulty image of it. We don’t realize how cool, how exciting, how incredible, how so much better than earth it’s going to be. Nothing is perfect on this planet because sin has broken the planet. What is heaven? Heaven is a real place. It’s not a state of being. It’s an actual place. It’s not some disembodied condition where you’re going to float around without a body. It’s not nirvana. It’s not nothingness. It’s not a dream-like state. It’s not something intangible and ethereal. It’s not a feeling. It is a real place.

The Bible doesn’t speak of heaven as a metaphor. The Bible actually measures it. Jesus took everything He said about heaven and hell literally. He showed us that on the cross. So, heaven is a real place.

“For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:19-20                                      

What does this passage teach us about heaven?

Heaven is your real home. Jesus said to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths or rust can’t destroy it, and where thieves can’t break in and steal it.” If heaven were just a state of mind, of being, consciousness, you couldn’t store anything up there. But He says you can store up treasure in a place designed for you – heaven. There’s more to life than just this life. You’re going to spend a century here at the very most, but that’s it. And really that’s a good thing. Because you don’t want to live in an imperfect place forever. You want to live in a perfect place forever. You’re going to spend to infinity and beyond in heaven. This passage says your citizenship is in heaven. What a great reminder it would be if believers carried a green card with them, because this is not your ultimate citizenship. You’re only here for a limited time. God says your ultimate home is in heaven. 

Heaven is where God lives and rules. Jesus Christ lives there. Things are under His control. It says when Jesus ascended, He went to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. Throughout the Bible heaven is called “the dwelling place of God…the house of God.”  It’s called, “the city of God.”  Thirty-one times Jesus calls it “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven.” It’s where God not only lives but He rules. You’re not going to have to deal with dictators, or people making heaven something it’s not supposed to be. God will rule there and He will keep evil things out.

Heaven is a place where we will have renewed bodies. In heaven, you will be you. You don’t become another creation when you go to heaven. You won’t be a god. You don’t become an angel. You’re going to be a human being. You. Adopted into the family of God. God wants you to be part of His family. You will have a perfected body. In heaven there are streets, trees, water and homes. It is a physical place. And you will have a physical body.

“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. 12 Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Revelations 22:3-5, 12-13

What will we do in heaven? 

We will honor Christ. We will worship in heaven. Whenever scripture peels back the curtain on heaven, there’s always a song. We will sing every day. But that’s not the only way we honor God.

We will be assigned work we enjoy doing. This is a difficult area of our life. Work is hard. On top of that we lose jobs. We get overwhelmed in our jobs. We work with bad people and gossip. Some spend their whole life looking for a perfectly satisfying job. Lower your expectation of earth. Can we find fulfilling work on earth? Yes. But it will always be tainted. However, in heaven, we will reign with God. We will be assigned work that we will enjoy doing, because God understands your shape better than you do. You will be given assignments in the kingdom of God. Now, the difference is, this isn’t going to be frustrating work, it’s going to be fulfilling work.

Jesus once tells a parable and he ends with saying “Well done, good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful with a few things; I will now put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” God says, when you get to heaven, I’m going to put you in charge of something, but it’s going to be based on how well you managed what you were given here on earth. If you’re faithful in the little that I gave you on earth, I’ll give you more fulfilling work in heaven. It’s a reason to be faithful with what we’re given here.

We will be rewarded for our faith, hope and love. When you read the Bible, it’s a little confusing until you understand that there are going to be two judgments for eternity. There’s one judgment for eternal destination. There’s one judgment for rewards. One’s a bad judgment and one’s a good one. If you have trusted Christ with your life you get to skip the sin judgment automatically.  That’s good news. Jesus already faced that judgement for you. Trust in him.

Salvation in heaven and rewards in heaven are two different things. Salvation is by grace. You can’t earn your salvation; you can’t work your way into heaven.  The only way you’ll ever get into heaven is through the grace of God. Put your faith in God’s forgiveness, His goodness, His grace. But the rewards are the things that God’s going to give back to you for making your life count for eternity.

You can waste your life, and there a lot of ways to waste it, you can spend your life, there are a lot of ways to spend it, or you can invest your life.

The greatest use of life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. That’s called living in light of eternity.

So, it’s valuable when you press in to know Christ more. You fast, pray, stay consistent in your pursuit and desire of Him and you love and respect the word of God. You help other people know Him. You’re leading small groups, connecting with people deeply and helping them find freedom in the name of Jesus. You’re sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. There’s a reward for enduring trials and hard times yet, you hang on to Jesus.

You’re going to be rewarded in heaven for the times you wanted to give up but didn’t. The Bible says, you will be rewarded in heaven for your endurance, for your resilience. What you believe about eternity will impact how you live your life today. So, how should we live if we’re going to Heaven?

If you know you’re going to heaven, you need to understand that it completely changes your value system. All of a sudden, we’re no longer living for here and now. We want to store up those rewards by our actions, generosity, thoughts, decisions, words, kindness, putting up with criticism and by responding to evil with good.  We’re not living for now. We’re living in light of eternity.

God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I dont mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” Philippians 3:9-13

Don’t be discouraged by trouble. When you live in light of eternity, when you live in light of heaven, trouble just doesn’t bother you as much anymore. The guy who wrote this he’d been beaten, shipwrecked, put in prison, gone without food and clothing. He’d been persecuted. He’d been left for dead. He says, “These small troubles…” It’s all a matter of perspective. The trouble you’re going through right now, it’s not going to last. Even if it lasted your entire lifetime, it’s not going to last. Don’t be discouraged by trouble.

Don’t be distracted by temptations. Remember you’re just passing through so don’t let the sins of this world catch you off guard. Right now, people are falling for temptations and traps left and right. Drinking is way up. Churches are closed and liquor stores are open. New dating apps and hookup apps are going wild. Friends, the mark of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. Have you noticed that little kids don’t know the difference between “no” and “not yet”?  They don’t know that “not yet” does not mean “no.” Often times we act like a three-year old. We go into debt because we just can’t wait until we have the money. We take things on we shouldn’t and do things with the wrong timing. We dishonor the marriage bed because we just can’t wait until a wedding. Anybody who’s going to make anything of themselves has to learn delayed gratification. Don’t be distracted by temptation.

Focus my energy on what will last. What’s going to last? People. God’s purposes. His ways. The Church. Heaven. Focus your eyes and your energy on what will last.

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14

We need to start living in light of eternity and start thinking more on banking in heaven instead of banking here on earth. Because this is not all there is. Praise God. Jesus offers more than a better now He offers a better place.


 

Check Back

Check back on your discussions from the last week, “The Realities of Life” — Did anyone read the book of Romans? Any more thoughts on the discussion from that message?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Big Idea

Life is full of stresses. But God doesn’t offer us only a better now, he offers us a better place. Heaven is the absence of everything bad, painful and evil and the presence of everything good, pleasing and glorious. What you believe about heaven impacts how you live now.

Read Philippians chapter 3

Discussion & Application

  • What are some misconceptions you’ve had about heaven?
  • Did any of this message reframe how you think about heaven? What are you looking forward to most?
  • What do you think it looks like to live believing your citizenship is in heaven?
  • How does your specific view of heaven change the way you live on earth? Which of the three points on how to live if you’re going to heaven do you need to be reminded of most?
  1. Don’t be discouraged by trouble
  2. Don’t be distracted by temptations
  3. Focus my energy on what will last

Prayer Focus

Ask the group for how you can pray for and support one another this week. Maybe this prayer could guide you or spark your prayer time. Be bold and pray with power: God, we love You. Thank You for preparing a place in heaven for us. Thank You for sending Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Teach us to seek You and Your will on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to share the hope we have with others. Amen!!

Next Steps

What actions will you take in response to this message series?

Who can you talk to about your eternal hope?

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