Thankful for Heaven: Part 1

Heaven1

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whoilove “On Sundays”
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I admit, I know how I would truthfully answer if somebody asked me, “Are you obsessed with heaven? Do I desperately long for heaven?” uhhh not really.

I need an awakening of a HOPE of what awaits us because of Jesus.

I am more than excited for this 3 part series from Molly. I expect nothing less than some sort of revival of a HOPE I have misplaced someplace in my heart. Thank-you Molly!

I have to tell you that there is nothing I am more thankful for right now than the hope that we have in Heaven! Many skeptics will tell you that there is no such thing — that it’s just a figurative place — but I have been on a journey the past two years in my study of Heaven. And I can tell you whole-heartedly that I believe that Heaven is REAL and it is more wonderful than we can ever imagine! I had the incredible and humbling opportunity to help our pastor preach on Heaven, and over the next few post, I would love us to dive in further on what I taught and to be thankful…thankful for Heaven!

May I ask you:

What do you think Heaven will be like? What has the world taught you Heaven will be like? What has the Church taught you?

In January of 2007, my world changed. My mom, Susie, an absolutely unbelievable mother, Christ-follower, friend, and woman, found a questionable spot on her shin. This spot would turn out to be melanoma, (which was really no shock to us because my mom LOVED the sun and the water). After the initial surgery, we prayed we were in the clear. Then, I got married in March of 2008, and what an incredible gift it was to have my mom happy and healthy and standing by my side that day, almost a year and a half after her initial diagnosis. But in July, we would discover that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, then later her brain, and finally her liver. On April 27, 2009, she went to be with Jesus.

It is because of all of this that Heaven became a very real topic in our family.

My mom was angry about dying and missing out. She didn’t want to miss out on the three other weddings that my other sisters would have, the slew of babies that were sure to be born, and even the coffee dates and world traveling that would not get to happen now. Watching her, a strong woman of faith, go through this season with unanswered questions and echoing fears was more than we could handle at times. Frankly, we didn’t know how to handle it.

We knew she would die and go to Heaven, because we all were sure of her faith in Jesus Christ. And we all knew that we should be happy for her about this. But we weren’t. We wanted her here. With us.

I was unsure of Heaven. From all I could imagine, I thought that the streets of gold would probably lose their luster after a couple weeks, and singing all day for eternity and floating around in ghostly bodies just didn’t sound all that great to me. At least, in the way I pictured it.

But then someone gave us a gift.The devotional, Fifty Days of Heaven by Randy Alcorn, was about to change all of our lives.We started reading it as family, and my dad would read some to my mom every night. It became part of their nightly routine in those last couple months. As we began to read about Heaven, our attitudes changed and our hope increased…as a family. I remember sitting beside my mom one day just dreaming together about what it would be like. We had already had our last earthy “coffee date” together by this time, and so we set a couple dates regarding what we would do once I got there, too, and most of them included coffee.

I would love to share with you some of what I have learned during this season.

Paul says, “To live is Christ, and to die is GAIN”( 2 Cor. 5:6), but DO WE REALLY BELIVE THAT? Do we really believe that dying and being with Christ would be a gain compared to staying here on this earth?

To live is Christ, and to die is GAINPaul 2 Cor. 5:6

I can tell you one thing – Satan is doing everything in his power to convince us that that is a lie. He whispers to us that this is as good as it will ever get, that we should be afraid of dying and leaving what we already know. He loves that the people around us put doubt in our minds about Heaven, and he loves that we feel so comfortable here on Earth that we would never want to leave it and go to some other place…like Heaven. It is scary to think about; yet he is the one who sprinkled that fear into our lives. If you only knew how Jesus describes Heaven, you would be set free!

Playwright George Bernard Shaw writes, “Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seashore.” That is how I felt! Is that how you feel today? Does it seem dull, useless, and maybe even miserable to you to leave this earth?

Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seashore.George Bernard Shaw
The early Christians view was in stark contrast to this. Roman catacombs showed beautiful landscapes of Heaven, with children playing, and large banquets and feasts. Sermons in the 1700s often focused on Heaven. But, when was the last time you heard a sermon or did a Bible study on the subject? We rarely talk about it!

We have believed the lie that THIS is as good as it gets, and ignored the many Biblical promises of a redeemed universe!

If we gain a new understanding of Heaven, we will no longer be “conformed to the patterns of this world, but will be transformed by the renewing of our minds,” and our lives will literally change FOREVER! (Rom. 12:2). And I can tell you that my life has absolutely been changed because of what God has taught me about Heaven!

Do you believe that Heaven is a physical place, or just a place in our hearts and minds? Jesus wants us to KNOW that Heaven is a physical place. He uses PHYSICAL terms.

My father’s HOUSE has many ROOMS; if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a PLACE for you?John 14.2
He used tangible, common, every-day words to describe an actual place, where we would go and be with Him. After all, we are physical people, made FROM the earth and FOR the earth. We were designed for a physical place. We were designed for this Earth!

In Genesis, God created man to live on the earth and rule the earth. He hasn’t abandoned this plan! I love this! This is so exciting to me! One day, his plan is to RESTORE this earth and us who have been corrupted by sin. He’s not wiping everything out and starting over, but he will make all things NEW! He is in the business of restoration – marriages, relationships, individual’s relationships with Him, and the Earth! And as Peter says, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13).

In the United States, we want and want and want, but when it comes to Heaven, here is an area where we have been content with too little! C.S Lewis says,

If we consider the unblushing promises of rewards in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, (and we are) like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.C.S. Lewis
“If we consider the unblushing promises of rewards in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, (and we are) like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

When it comes to understanding Heaven, have you been content with too little? I hope you will continue to join me as we dig into some questions like: What will we DO in Heaven? Can people in Heaven see me now?

I am so passionate about this topic, and my prayer is that this will light a fire in your soul for the Hope of Heaven that we have Jesus Christ!

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