Heaven Is My Home
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 22, 2007

 

Main Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NLT)


As I mentioned earlier, Beulah Camp finished up last weekend for another year. But don’t worry, it’ll come around again next year. Because every summer in early July in Browns Flat, NB, over the span of 10 days, thousands of people gather to worship God, to hear some good preaching, to spend time hanging out together, and to just enjoy being there.

And in my thirty-seven summers, there have only been two summers when I didn’t make it there for at least part of Beulah Camp. And it’s really amazing to me… It’s always a very intensive and reenergizing time simultaneously. And I always look forward to it.

Now, if I used my calendar right, next year, Beulah Camp will begin on Friday July 4, and run through Sunday, July 13. I know that’s a year away, but I want to invite you to come with us next year. But in order to do that, we’re going to need to book some rooms. Now, at Beulah, there are some old rustic rooms that will cost you only $12 a night, and there are some much newer and much nicer rooms that cost about $50 per night. And the thing is, there’s always a waiting list of people wanting to get in.

And so, I want to get our names on the list now. So without making a firm commitment, if this is something you’d be interested in, then circle “C” for camp on your communication card, and I’ll make sure your name is added to the waiting list. Okay?

And that’s pretty easy for me to do. It’s easy for me to put you on the list because that’s my job while I’m there. Every pastor in our district is assigned a job while they’re there in order for the camp to function. And my job is in the rooms office. I help reserve rooms and take people’s money when they arrive.

And if I’m honest with you, it’s a pretty cushy job. I mean, it’s busy, but it’s easy. At least most of the time. Some pastors are on garbage duty, or on kitchen duty, or they go around cleaning the bathrooms… so I’m quite happy with my assignment. At least, most of the time.

There are times when it becomes a little bit complicated. Because when people come year after year after year, they start to treat it like home. Which in many ways is good. But not always. Because what will happen is this: They’ll arrive and go to the room that they have reserved, but if they see another room that’s empty, they might spread into that room, too. You know, put all their luggage in there, or put their kids in there… and so when the people who actually have the room reserved show up, there’s somebody in there. And it can take hours to track the people down and get them out.

That’s one of the things that happened to me a week ago Friday. It was right after the ordination service on Friday morning, so I was in my black suit (which most of you have never seen me in) and I just had to make a quick stop in the office before I headed to my family’s cottage for lunch. It was lunchtime… the office was closed… I wasn’t on duty that afternoon anyway… I just had to make a 30 second stop to pick up something… except that somebody saw me go in.

So in comes this woman, along with her two young children and her mother or her mother-in-law… and she wanted to know where she was supposed to stay. Which is a pretty reasonable request and so I wanted to help her with that. And I found out that she was supposed to stay in the MacDowell dorm, room number 8.

Now, this was her first time at Beulah, and she didn’t know where she was going, so I led her across the campgrounds… I’m still in my black suit… it’s scorching hot and I’m sweating profusely… and I take them down to MacDowell dorm. I go in, go down to room eight, and… it’s occupied. I mean, the people aren’t there, but there are sleeping bags and laundry baskets and food… somebody was staying in that room. I don’t know who it is, I don’t know how to track them down, I don’t know if maybe we made a mistake and double-booked the room… all I know is that this woman and her family can’t move in.

But while I was there, I checked some of the other rooms and found out that there were three other rooms that were empty. As far as I knew, they were all booked. So I couldn’t tell them to just move into one of those other rooms. And so I sent them off to lunch at the cafeteria while I tried to sort it out for them.

Well, after doing a little bit of checking, I discovered that one of those empty rooms was booked… somebody had just left and somebody else was coming in that night. One of the other empty rooms was also booked, and that person must have left early without letting us know. So it would be available for one night, but someone else had it reserved for the next night. And the third empty room, well, there was a guy from Dorchester who had that booked all week, and he didn’t bother to show up. And he also didn’t bother to tell us he wasn’t going to show up. So there was an empty room sitting there all week that we could have rented multiple times.

Anyway, that meant that I had a room I could tell this family to move into, which is what they did. And I would later find out that the first room, where they were originally supposed to stay, was occupied by somebody that was supposed to have moved to another room the day before but didn’t’ want to bother.


Now, that was all a bit frustrating for me. I mean, I was hot, I was sweating, I wasn’t even supposed to be on duty… and I was a little ticked off that people can be so inconsiderate. But what really bothered me was that this family who had arrived with a reservation, couldn’t get into the room they had reserved. They had to wait around for an hour and a half until I was able to work it all out. That was their first experience of Beulah Camp. Not the impression I wanted to give them.

Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever shown up someplace only to discover that you didn’t have reservations? Or that maybe your reservation had been lost? How frustrating was that for you? How upsetting was it?

I’m going to show you a video clip here from a movie called “The World’s Fastest Indian” starring Anthony Hopkins. In this scene, Hopkins character shows up to participate in a race to break the world’s land speed record, only to run into a complication…

VIDEO – The World’s Fastest Indian

Poor guy… he showed up at the race only to discover that he hadn’t made the necessary reservation.


What I want to talk about this morning for the rest of our time is our ultimate reservation. I want to talk about Heaven. I want to talk about the prospect of us having an eternal home in Heaven. And since we’re talking about Heaven, I think it’d be good to follow the advice of Charles Spurgeon…

“When you speak of Heaven, let your face light up. When you speak of Hell, well then, your everyday face will do.”
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

So what is Heaven? Well, that’s a question I get asked periodically, and I don’t have a complete answer for that. I know it’s a real place, I know it’s the dwelling place of God, and I know it’s where all followers of Jesus Christ will spend eternity, living in communion with God. That much I know.

But if you ask me to describe Heaven, I can’t do that. Because Heaven is a place of such beauty and such joy and such happiness and such peace that it defies description. It exceeds our imagination. So I can’t explain it to you, but I know it’s where I want to spend forever.
 
And you know what? I can. And so can you. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ… if you’ve committed to following Him and loving Him and living for Him… if you are a disciple of Jesus… then He has promised you Heaven. Here… take a look…

John 14:2-3 (NLT)
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

That’s that promise of Jesus to His disciples. To His disciples then, and His disciples now. He has promised Heaven.

Now, we can’t earn Heaven. We can’t do a bunch of good deeds and be a good neighbour and earn our way into Heaven. It doesn’t work like that. We don’t get into Heaven because of what we’ve done; we get into Heaven because of what Jesus has done. We get into Heaven because Jesus died for us. He died to pay the penalty for our sins. He died so we wouldn’t have to. He died so we could be forgiven and receive eternal life. And then He rose from the dead, and today He welcomes everyone to receive this forgiveness and life and promise of Heaven.

Our role in all this is to accept that what Jesus did He did for us. He paid the price for our sinfulness, so we have to confess our sin to Him and ask His forgiveness.

If you haven’t done that already, then why not? What’s holding you back? Consider that, and we’ll come back to that in a few minutes.

But for those of you who are followers of Jesus Christ… those of you who have this hope of Heaven… what does it mean? In your notes…


The Promise of Heaven Gives Me…


1.    A home to look forward to.

The verses we looked at earlier in John 14 said that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me. And He’s gone to prepare a place for you. He’s preparing your eternal home. Your forever home.

My home right now… I’ve got to tear out some carpeting and lay some flooring. I have a couple soft spots on my roof that may be rotting. I have some shingles that need to be replaced. I have a furnace that’s due to be replaced any day. I have a water pump that can’t seem to give me any water pressure in my bathroom. And there are lots of other little things that need to be taken care of in my current house.

But I’ve got a home to look forward to. And it’s going to be perfect. It’s not going to need renovations. It’s not going to need repairs. It’s going to be perfect. Jesus Himself is preparing it for me. He’s promised it to me, and I know His promises are true. I mean, I’m not going to arrive to discover that He’s double-booked, or that somebody else has claimed my spot. He’s preparing my home, and He’s promised it to me. It’s reserved, and my reservation is guaranteed. He’s preparing a home for me, just like He’s preparing a home for you. He’s promised it to you. Trust Him. Count on it. You’ve got a home to look forward to.

2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the promise of Heaven. And that means you have a home to look forward to. It also means you have…


2.    A goal to aim for.

I mentioned earlier that you can’t earn your reservation in Heaven. That’s true. You can’t earn it. It’s not about what you can do; it’s about what Jesus has already done.

But… once your reservation is made, there is work that needs to be done in you. Jesus said that He was preparing your home, but you also need to be prepared to occupy that home. When you come to faith in Jesus Christ, when you commit yourself to Him and become His disciple, He begins a work in you.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So if you are a disciple, God has begun a work of transforming you into the person He wants you to be, and He’s going to keep working in you until His work is complete and you’re at home in Heaven. But the thing is, you have to cooperate. He’s begun to transform you from the inside out, but it’s a transformation that you participate in. You go along with what He’s doing. You give Him permission. You put some time and energy and effort in growing spiritually. You have the goal of becoming a little more like Jesus every day.

The apostle Paul recognized that God was working in Him, and that he himself needed to cooperate. And so he wrote… read it with me…

Philippians 3:12 (NLT)
…I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

He recognized that there was a work being done in him, and he recognized that he had a role to play. He had to invest his own energies into what God was doing in him. So he set his aim as being transformed.



3.    An anchor to cling to in difficult times.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Now, there are a lot of things that can make life difficult. Work stresses, money problems, dysfunctional relationships, injustice, pain… lots of things. None of that in Heaven. Maybe you’re even treated differently or perhaps even abused because of your faith. This is what Jesus had to say about that…

Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”

All of that difficulty will be gone in Heaven. You’re not going to have to put up with it any more.

And, of course, health is a big concern here for us. We know about the challenge that Bev faces now. And so we pray for her. And our God is completely capable of healing her according to His Will. But the truth is, most if not all of us will face health crises. As we age, we’ll experience failing health. That’s part of life.

But even in those health-related difficult times, we have an anchor. We have an anchor of hope. And it’s an anchor so strong that not even death can destroy it. Because once this life is over, we have Heaven.

Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”


So we have an anchor of hope to cling to as we look ahead to Heaven. But for now, during this lifetime, the promise of Heaven gives us…

4.    A mission to motivate us now.

Because listen, if you and I have this great hope of Heaven to look forward to, and if it’s going to be such a wonderful place that we can’t even describe it, and if in the meantime God’s working in us to make us more like Jesus so that our hearts are filled with love and compassion for the people around us… the very people who need to be offered this hope that we already have… then nothing should stop us from sharing it with them.

You know, the mission of the Church has been explained in many different ways. There have been volumes of books written on the subject, it’s been summarized in countless cute little statements, and one common factor among all Biblically based descriptions is this:

We are here to depopulate Hell.

If we have this hope of Heaven, then nothing should stop us from sharing it with others. We should be about the business of depopulating Hell and populating Heaven. Get it?

Jesus told this story…

Matthew 18:12:14 (NLT)
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

That’s the kind of care and compassion that God has for those who are far from God. It’s His desire for every single person to come to Him and spend eternity with Him forever. That’s His mission… to seek after those who are lost. And if we really have the heart of the Master formed in us, then it will be our mission, too.


5.    A confidence for those who have gone before us.

This past Tuesday, I received some startling news. A girl that I had grown up with was found dead. Roxanne and I had grown up in the same church. When I was young, my mother used to pick her up and take her to pick her up and take her to the children’s program at our church. I remember those drives. We attended the same youth group. She was always there involved in every meeting and every activity. We went to the same high school and ate at the same table. She even went to the same Bible College for a time. And then she pursued a music career. A number of years ago while I was a pastor in Bedford, she came an sang at the church there.

So it was startling news for to hear. And they haven’t been able to identify the cause yet. She wasn’t answering the phone, so her mother went to check on her and found her dead.

The guy who told me the news was someone else who had grown up with me. In fact, Roxanne, this friend of mine (Peter), and myself… we even sang together once in a trio. And the song we sang was called, “Then Came the Morning.”

It’s actually a song about Easter, and it starts out be talking about how dark a day Good Friday was. Jesus was dead, the disciples were defeated, everything seemed lost. It looked like that was the end.

But then came the morning… Easter morning. The stone was rolled away, night had turned into day… Jesus had risen. Death had given way to life.

Well, when I heard the news about Roxanne and started thinking about that song, it occurred to me that for her, the morning has come. She may have died here, but that just means that she has entered into the presence of her Creator.

You know, I expect we’ve all lost people who were very close to us. And we miss them. We mourn their absence from our lives. But for those disciples of Jesus who die, that just means the morning has come.

2 Corinthians 4:14 (NLT)
We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.



You know, if I’m to be honest with you, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Heaven. Other than when I’m preparing sermons about it, that is. I tend to get wrapped up in the affairs of life. I worry about what I need to do, where I need to go, what I need to say… I think about paying bills, I think about becoming a better pastor, I think about cleaning the house… I think about it, I don’t actually do it… I think about all kinds of different things. But I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Heaven. I don’t tend to keep that in the forefront of my thoughts.

But I wonder, what if I did? How much better would my perspective on life be? How much smaller would my problems seem? How much easier could I endure hardships? I think it would make a big difference. And so I’m going to try it. And I’d encourage you to do the same. View your life from the perspective of eternity. And see what difference it will make. Paul said…

Colossians 3:2 (NLT)
Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.

Let’s try to put that advice into action, okay?

And if you’re here and you’re not a follower of Jesus and you don’t share this hope of Heaven, I want to give you that opportunity this morning. I want to invite you to decide to follow Jesus, starting right now.

So I’m going to ask everyone to just close your eyes. I want you to be able to make this decision privately. If you would like to become a follower of Jesus this morning, then let me know by just raising your hand. I’m not going to embarrass you, but I do want to see your hand so I can pray for you.

PRAY


Okay, if you decided to begin to follow Jesus, then you need to tell someone about it. Tell me, tell the person you came with, but tell someone.

And let me say, welcome to the family. I’m looking forward to spending eternity with you in Heaven.

 

 

 

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