Sunday, August 22, 2010

Living For The Hope That Awaits Us

David in Psalm 63 said, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will praise you…  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.”  These are incredible statements made by David and yet the burning questions that we face is can we really say this about ourselves?  All too often we have been swallowed up by a Christianity that focuses more on this life than the next. Just like in the parable of the young virgins, we can easily drift off and lose sight of our eternal hope and future. David writes with incredible passion and desire, a hope and assurance that consumes him more than life itself.  Just like the athletic imagery of Paul’s writings, we don’t run for the cups of water along the way, we run for the finish line.  This morning I want to focus on a faith that is ready for the finish line, an eager expectation for the day that we will see Him face to face.

What makes you jump for joy and what sends you into a deep discouragement – hope and hopelessness.

Consider getting ready for a date = hope; consider feeling unappreciated and your husband is late from work…hopelessness.
Hope was Paul’s prayer!          

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  Ephesians 1:18,19

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Eccles. 3:11

When we share about our faith and what God does for us, we almost become apologetic about the fact about eternity in the list of what life has to offer for a believer.

Who Am I – A person destined for bliss beyond this life
Where Do I Belong – There, diving deep into my Creator’s lake of inexhaustible pleasures
Am I Happy?  Only when I embrace hop in a glorious mansion of many rooms prepared for me.  For now the Comforter will ease the pain of the Fall and offer many good blessings as foretastes of my inheritance.  The blessings and the gifts of this life aren’t the good news of the gospel. 

It is the hope of being in the presence of my Father fulfilling the exact purpose He is preparing for me right now.

Life is about heaven, about great ecstasy and great pleasure for God is in both of these. 

In Revelation 21 and 22,  we have a guided tour of where we will be leaving.  This chapter is the most complete description of what we can anticipate of our new dwelling place.  We get a taste of what is in store for us.

Read  Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-6

When and Then thinking is how a lot of people live today.  When I win the lottery, when I get a new job, when I get married, then I will give, then I will serve, then I will get involved.

But as Tom Holladay describes God wants us to have Then and Now thinking!  Since we know what will happen then, what about now?  What does this mean for my life now?

1 John 3:1-3  Everyone who has this hope purifies himself!

Rev 21:1  John sees a new heaven as a fulfilled prophecy. 

The new will be made out of the old and it will be marvelous.  The old will not be wiped out altogether.  All of creation will be redeemed.  Jesus is our perfect example because after He rose from the dead, it was the nail prints in his hands that He was recognized by.

It is not white puffy clouds!  It is a place of perfection….a perfect waterfall, ocean, forest, a perfect sunset like we saw this past week.  The perfection of what is closest to your heart, family, parents that have gone on before you. The perfection of Jesus in all His glory now reigning forevermore.

When we invest in eternity, it will last!  In the light of eternity how much difference will this make?

The way I spend my life today determines my view of eternity and how real it is to me.  Where am I investing my time, my energy, my passion?

The greatest gift the HS can give us is hope.  Also it is truly profound that when your eyes are opened to the riches of our inheritance, that the blessings of this life take on new meaning and become richer, sweeter and more wonderful because they are a foreshadow of what awaits us.  This isn’t it as good as it might get.  When we fix our eyes on eternity everything takes on a significant perspective.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

Part of our challenge is rediscovering what hope means because for most people hope is just wishing for something good.  Do you remember the first day you were awakened to this hope and the scales fell from your eyes?  It’s difficult to describe.  But for the world around us, it just seems like foolishness. 
No one said that you would have health, wealth and success in this life if you came to Jesus.  Then why do we get so fixated on thinking that is all about what happens to me now?  the slippery slope into a slumber.

Unfortunately if you speak to people about the benefits of Christianity being the inheritance that awaits them in heaven, you will get blank stares.  Most people want to know what’s on the ticket for right now.

There can be no mistake about the object of our hope.  It is not in what we see now.  It is not in the gifts of the Spirit.  It is not a large ministry or a thriving church.  It is not a good marriage or good health or good food.  It is heaven!

We must dump the loads of expectations for nirvana in this life along with the burden of finding ultimate meaning.  The bliss we seek for awaits us in the next life.

For to me to live is Christ and to die in gain.  Really it is only after we die that we will truly live with Christ 24/7 365 eternity.  The reality is if you are unable to think about death, chances are you won’t think much about the afterlife.

Dying is all around us, the most recent tragedy is the flooding in Pakistan, but some would rather try to block it all and not watch the TV, pretend that maybe it isn’t as bad as it really is. 

Fear of death is Satan’s trump card.  Hebrews 2:14,15
We cannot live in fear of death, we need to conquer that fear.  1 Corinthians 15:54,55

Without a passionate hope for eternity with God, we will fall into a terrible slumber.

Romans 5:2,5  God wants to give us a hope that doesn’t disappoint us.

This past week I got an email from the church in Guelph letting me know that the brother of the youth pastor had died in a motorcycle accident.  He was 22 and planning to go to Bible School.  It would also seem wrong from a human perspective and yet as I talked to family, I learned that the mother spoke the other night about how God told it was his perfect time and how she had incredible peace flood over her in the midst of all this.  They would end up having a time of worship that night that went past midnight because they knew this life is not the end.

We live for the hope that lies within all of us.

Matthew 25:1 – In the parable of the 10 virgins, they were told to keep watch = HOPE

Only five applied themselves to a kind of preparation that protected them from a weakening resolve, from running out of oil.  The virgin’s responsibility was to secure oil.

How deep in your reservoir of hope?

The oil of hope is something that the HS gives as a downpayment for our inheritance.

The journey to a wedding feast is brightened by the hope for the wedding feast.

Is it only  the elderly and the terminally ill have this kind of hope?  No, we are bviously missing the point because we have crumbs right now compared to what awaits us.

David was a man who was obsessed with God!  And He was the one who it was said of, a man after God’s own heart.  God is obsessed with you.  He is determined to save you from His wrath.

Matthew 6:21 A life fixated on what is to come. 

Find out what lights up a Christian’s eyes to know where their passions, dreams and hopes are about.  Talk about heaven and the bliss of glory and you will probably get a blank stare.  Talk about the Carribbean, Hawaii and people light up?  Why?  It is because they have a poor view of eternity

Take up your cross and follow me.  Christianity hinges on the resurrection, Christ’s resurrection and our hope of our future resurrection, but in the meantime we take up our cross

We were designed to obsess about our Creator

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, not the substance of things proved.  Paul’s faith came from a knowledge informed by his hope.  Hebrew 11:1

Hope resides in the mind and in the heart where emotions reside.  We desire the fulfillment of a dream we have seen with our minds.  We see heaven with the eyes of our heart.

We need to understand the richness of heaven that will fuel our desire.  Paul’s plea was to envision heaven.

Use your imagination:  the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses.

Appreciate imagination as a gift from God – a better definition – the God-breathed ability to consider something not perceived by the senses in our immediate reality.

Hoping is not dreaming.  It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain… it (hope) is imagination put in the harness of faith. Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience.

Vision- another image, vision drives our plans for the future, fundraisers and it builds our church.  Vision is basically raw imagination,  or a picture of the future that produces passion within us.  Bill Hybels

Where there is no vision, the people perish or fall into a deep sleep.

Set your heart on things above… set your heart on the hope of heaven!

How should we imagine?

Meditate on heaven….I know I’ve heard the same saying…they are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. 

The problem with most Christians is that their descriptions of heaven are terribly vague. 

Randy Alcorn -  a great novel on Heaven and increasing our vision of it…

Come to realize that this life will not produce lasting satisfaction, but heaven alone can and will.  The good stuff is but just a foretaste.

Page 193 Slumber of Christianity  by Ted Dekker

Intentionally set your mind on heaven
Enjoy pleasure to draw you to heaven
Allow pain to push you into the Creator’s arms
Hope is made real by a fully fleshed vision of reality that awaits just beyond this one.

Philippians 2:12-16

The practical application of that hope to which we have been called is that we are ‘invited in Christ to leave beautiful marks on creation’ and on the people He has created, to know that everyone we meet has a story and to be called to enter into their story, their life.

Continue to leave your fingerprints on this community which when done in faith, hope and love and the hands of God.  1 Corinthians 13

Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

The story of heaven is a story of redemption and ultimate reconciliation.  Lead the way by the power of the HS in everything you see and do.  Be the first to seek others out, leave the 99, go for the one.  Be the first one to seek forgiveness, be the first one to listen.

It is time to take on an ever greater sense of ownership of the vision here, my prayer is that Southside will be a community of believers turned inside out!  We go inside for His glory and go outside in His grace towards others loving them as Christ has loved us.

Keep fanning the flame of the gift of God inside you that others (on the outside) may feel His passion and His love for them.

Be bold in your faith.  God has not given us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline. 

This is the time more than ever for those of you on the sidelines to step up to the plate, to be involved, to minister like nothing else for the honor and name of the King.

May it be said of Southside that this is a place where God can bring the joy of heaven on earth, the hope of the nations that come here to worship, the testimony to the fact that we serve a God who still speaks today by His still small voice. 

Keep in the moment.  Be still, fix your eyes on Jesus, allow the flow of His thoughts to flood your heart and mind and journal it!

You are a huge part of my life, I will continue to pray and I’m sure see many of you going forward.  I’m not that far away and I’m watching you and I LOVE YOU!

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