Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Kingdom Restored

And They Lived Happily Ever After” is a familiar statement that follows many of the romantic stories that Disney has produced over the years. It can be beautiful in putting our hearts at ease and at the same time it can be haunting.   I am reminded of one story where ‘happily ever after’ became redundant, monotonous and loathed.  My kids have been watching Shrek, the final chapter all week and the message rings true that you really don’t know what you have until you lose it.  However in the grand story of God, there are a lot of misconceptions that happily ever after in heaven will just be really long church service.  God has set eternity in our hearts and we know that there is so much to live for that goes far beyond this life.

Seriously now –even though we were given Eden as our paradise, this whole wondrous world of beauty, intimacy, and adventure, in the life to come we will be sent to church forever because that’s better somehow?  There is no hope in that.  That’s not what’s written on our hearts.
John Eldredge

Intimacy WITH your Heavenly Father  Revelation 21:1-5

In the glorious Kingdom restored, we will experience the most profound intimacy with God
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. 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. 
But unfortunately in this world, many people have been sold the lie that this world is the one that you want to be all consumed with.  We live in a consumer culture and we have to fight that addiction every day.   Some of you are sitting here right now and it is killing you to know that so many people are beating you to the sales, but it wasn’t always that way on Boxing Day.  My children were just asking me yesterday about where this day came from.  Some of them thought it was the day for an epic boxing match or boxing up your Christmas decorations.  The reality is that it was an old tradition that started in Commonwealth countries like England and our own Canada.  Money was put into a clay box over the Christmas season and on the 26th it was broken open and the money was given to those in need.
 It all depends on what we are living for and what consumes us.

As for Act 4, we will be ushered into God’s presence like a bride on her wedding day.  We will be dressed in the brilliant, pure robes of our righteousness with Christ and as good as your Christmas dinner may have been yesterday, it will pale in comparison to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 19:9) At this meal, it won’t just be about the food as amazing as that will be, but it will be about the One at the Head of the table, the one who will understand everything that you have gone through, the one who will embrace you and completely heal the scars, lavish His love on you.

Intimacy with God is all about the wonder of dwelling with God in real time!

The message is symbolic and it is seen in the perfect cube like dimensions of the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21. If we take 12 000 stadia literally that would be about 2200km long and wide and the same in height. However if we look at the OT, we will see the dimensions are a perfect cube and mirror the look of the tabernacle. The holy of Holies was the place designed for God to meet with His people and that is exactly what the heavenly city will be, a place where God dwells with His people for eternity. So the tabernacle becomes a picture representation and it is especially meaningful to the people who first read this because the temple that they knew was no longer, it had been destroyed in 69 AD.

So we come to  v22 of Revelation 21 and  now we are told that there is no temple because God is the temple.  The point of the temple was to create the reality of the living presence of God.  In the OT, it was an actual place and it was glorious.  In the NT, the focus changed as the reality God wanted to give us was that His presence was living in us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

We will reign with Jesus     Revelation  22:1-5

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  In the new Kingdom there will be those designed and created to serve the Son.  There will be new nations and we will be called to reign in the most amazingly designed world.  It is all being engineered by Jesus now.  I never forget Keith Green, a prophetic singer / songwriter who said something along these lines,
so Jesus has been preparing a place for us in heaven and it has been 2000 years… it took Him 6 days to create this world, so man, so as great as this world is, we are living in a garbage can compared to what it will be like there!

It will be a place of restoration.  Look at Jesus’ life.  When he touched the blind, the could see all the beauty of the world opened up to them and when he touched the deaf, they could hear laughter for the first time, children’s voices as they played and music.  He touched the lame and they had feet to dance and the dead came back to life and their families had the most amazing celebrations.
It is understanding that yes as great as winter is for most of us Canadians that spring is coming and He will bring the brilliance of the trees, the flowers back to life.
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. 
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.
As one person I listened to said, ‘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!
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.  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 what difference is my life making now? 
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?  It is the slippery slope into a deep slumber. 
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.
We know we can hang on to the love and happiness of this world, we know that our health cannot hold out forever, we know that age will eventually conquer us and that our work will at some point remain unfinished.
And if that is the end, then the story is a tragedy. 
Macbeth said, ‘Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, and as John Eldredge writes, ‘sooner or later life will break your heart’.  The final enemy is death and 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.
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 obviously missing the point because we have crumbs right now compared to what awaits us.
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 and we were designed to obsess about our Creator
Dare to HOPE, to imagine!
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.
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.
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. 


In this great story of GOD, be consumed with the passion of being with God and being known by Him.
Remember this:
Things are not what they seem, realize you are at war against all that this world wants you to be consumed with…everything but God.
We are at war- there is a battle going on for the very souls and hearts of people
We have a crucial role to play!  We are called to be the intimate allies of the King…Revelation 17:14
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.  Fight the good fight of faith.

Check out Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven for a great picture of it.
Also check out  Slumber of Christianity  by Ted Dekker

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