Daily Devotion Tuesday, November 3, 2015
This week the inspiration for our Daily Devotions will be drawn from the sermon that I preached this past Sunday for All Saints' Day--a sermon on grief, loss, hope, life, heaven, Heaven and resurrection. If you would like to read the transcript of that sermon, you can click HERE. The Scripture that we used as our guide was John chapter 11--the story of Jesus raising of Lazarus from the dead.
When I was young I wasn't that keen on going to heaven--at least the heaven that was described to me. My Sunday school teachers, pastors and youth leaders would talk about heaven as a place with streets of gold, pristine furnishings, mansions, jewels everywhere...
It sounded kind of awful to me at the time. It sounded like an old lady's parlor--the kind of place where you can't touch anything, and can only sit uncomfortably on a plastic covered sofa that you kept sliding off.
I was also told that in heaven all we would do is worship and sing, which sounded a lot like church. When I pointed this out once to a Sunday school teacher, she brightened and exclaimed, "Why yes! That's exactly what it's going to be like--a church service that lasts forever!"
Since I pretty much hated going to church, I decided that heaven was the last place I wanted to go. It didn't sound like heaven at all, honestly. It actually sounded like---hell.
In the sermon I preached on Sunday, I talked about how there is a difference between heaven with a small "h" (where we go when we die), and Heaven with a capital "h" (God's ultimate goal for the universe). So, what do Christians believe about Heaven (with a capital "h")? What is it going to be like when God's kingdom is finally established and all things (including us) are made new?
According to Revelation chapters 20-22 we get the idea that if Heaven has a gate, it will have a sign on it that says "No More!" and then there will be a long list of things that will not be part of God's kingdom.
Here are some of those things that will be no more in Heaven:
- No more Death - Instead of death there will be endless, new creation life.
- No more of the Accuser (Satan) - The one who accuses and twists good to evil will finally be silenced.
- No more heaven with a small "h" - We'll be resurrected, and the world along with us.
- No more pain and tears - God will wipe away all tears, and fill us with joy.
- No more thirst and hunger - There will be plenty of everything for everyone at last.
- No more impurity and evil - All the ways God's good gifts and creation have been twisted to darkness will be reversed forever.
- No more sickness, pain, suffering - Wholeness, life and vitality will remain.
Imagine the world as it should be. Imagine a new creation, a renewed world with all of the existing beautiful, lovely, life-giving aspects of the old one and none of it's awful-ness.
There are signs of this new world all around us. Moments when people push back against the darkness, and join Heaven in saying "No More!" We have glimpses of the end of suffering---miraculous examples of God's new creation breaking through to effect healing that we can't explain.
Spend today praying that God would open your eyes to these glimpses of his kingdom--of Heaven. Learn to expect them. Let these glimpses of Heaven fill you with hope and the courage to tell others what you have seen. This is the Good News that Jesus told his followers to share--the kingdom of God is on it's way and is even now springing up all around us.
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