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So Your Dead Now What - Week 3

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So, this guy died, and he went to Heaven. And Saint Peter was there at the Pearly Gates waiting for him, and Saint Peter said, "Welcome to Heaven. Before you go in and talk to the big guy, I'm curious. What's like one of the best acts of kindness that you did in your entire life?" And this guy, just excited to be in Heaven, he said, "Well, Saint Peter, believe it or not, one time I was just minding my own business, and there was a little old lady, who was about to be attacked by this huge gang full of Hell's Angels. They were some of the biggest and meanest looking guys that I've ever seen in my life, and they were about to attack this little old lady and steal her purse. And suddenly, this, this sense of bravery came upon me, and I stepped out in front and I said, "You will not touch her!" And Saint Peter looked on and said, "You're not a big guy. Did, did you, you really did that?" And he goes, "Yes, sir, I did." And, and Saint Peter said, "Well, when exactly did that happen?" And the guy said, "Well, I'm guessing two, maybe three minutes ago, or so, is when it all went down." Today, we are going to talk about the subject of Heaven, and truthfully, most people really don't have any clue about what Heaven will really be like. In fact, if you would ask people, "What do you believe about Heaven?" a lot of people would say that their beliefs about Heaven were formed, really, from hearing corny jokes like the one I just told you. Or, some people would say, "Well, I believe something about Heaven, because what I've seen in different movies. You know, if you grew up when I did, you might think that God looks like George Burns. Or, if you're growing up in today's world, you might say, "No, no, no. God looks much more like Morgan Freeman, or whatever the case would be. But the sad reality is, most people, and that would include maybe, perhaps, many of us, don't really understand what Heaven is like. In fact, a lot of people, it think, when they think of Heaven, they see this never-ending, eternal church service. You know what I'm saying? And, they see themselves in these choir robes, and we're all sitting around singing, and it's kind of cool for a little while, but then a hundred years later, you're going like, "When is this worship service ever going to end?" I mean, some of you, if you visualize that, you may be thinking to yourself, "We just sang four songs at church, and that was more than enough for me. I mean, how in the world am I going to do this forever and ever in Heaven?" The reality is, most people truly don't understand what Heaven is going to be like, and the reason I believe that this is the case is because Heaven is under attack. In fact, here's what scripture says. I Corinthians 2:9 tells us this, that "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." None of us can even picture or fathom what Heaven is actually going to be like, so as I talk about this message today, let me just say up front that I've already realized, and I've worked really, really hard on this message. I mean, I put in hours and hours and hours of agonizing research. And I tried one outline, and another outline, and put together all sorts of different verses, and I just had to recognize that no matter what I do, I am going to fail at this, because no eye has ever seen, and no mind understands all the good things that God has stored up for us. I was thinking, you know, "How can I put it into words?" And maybe, at all of our locations, some of you can think of a time where you just had one of those moments, that, one of those moments where you just think, "I wish this would last forever," and you thought, "Life doesn't get any better than this". How many of you at all of our locations, you've had a moment like that? You can think back to one of those times? We had one recently in my family. We were in the mountains in Colorado, and all of us were there, and we went to this waterfall that was the most spectacular waterfall I've ever seen. I mean, it seemed like it went almost to the sky, and there was this water just raging over the top and just flowing over these jagged rocks, and it was just absolutely breath-taking. We, we stayed there and we just watched it in awe for what seemed like forever, and then we came down to the bottom where the river was, was flowing and, and we sat down and I was just sitting there watching as my, my kids were playing. There was Katie, and there's Mandy, and there's Anna, and there's Sam, and there's, there's Bookie, and there's Joy, and they're all playing and Amy's sitting there watching over them, and, and we open up this picnic basket, and we just, we started eating. And you could just feel the mist of the water just brushing across your face, and I just looked on. I said, "It, I mean, it doesn't get any better than this." And then, Bookie dropped his pants around his ankles and just peed in the river. I mean, it was just a sight to behold, and when he did that, I thought to myself, "It just doesn't get any better than, than, than, this," but the truth of the matter is, for those of you at all of our campuses who are believers in Jesus, not only does it get better, but in Heaven, it is infinitely and indescribably better than you could ever imagine. The reason, though, so many of us can't even get our minds around it, as I said a few minutes ago, is because Heaven is under attack. Isaiah 14 tells us about Lucifer, who is now known as the prince of darkness, Satan, the father of lies, and he was a guy who actually was in Heaven, a very important player in Heaven. And the story tell us that when he wanted to be like God, God said, "You can't have that position," and God cast him out. And a third of his angels followed him out, and they became known as what we call the demons today. And so, I believe, since that time, Satan, the father of lies, has been lying to us, especially about eternity. Last week, we talked about the reality that Satan is probably trying to convince us that hell does not exist, or at least it's not that bad, because if he can, then we will have no fear of God, whatsoever, and secondly, we will have no real sense of urgency to tell people who are far from God about the love of Christ. I would also argue that our spiritual enemy is attacking Heaven, and I'll give you two lies I believe that Satan wants us to believe about God's Heaven. The first one, if you are taking notes, is this. He wants us to believe that Heaven can wait. That, that Heaven ... it may be a good place to go, but we shouldn't be in any sense of urgency to get there, because the reality is, a lot of us, we are pretty happy with the way things are on earth. And if we were really, really honest, many of us would have to admit the incredibly hard truth, and that is that our treasure is more on earth than it is in Heaven, that our hearts drift more toward the things of this world than they do toward the things of the world to come. In fact, one preacher was talking to his church, and he just said to everybody there. He said, "How many of you guys want to go to Heaven today?" And, most people raised their hands, except for one guy. He thought, "That's strange." He said, "Well, those of you who want to go to Heaven today, would you just stand up right where you are," and everybody stood up except for this one guy. And the preacher was so bothered by this, afterwards, he want up to the one guy and he said, "Sir, do you not want to go to Heaven when you die?" And the guy goes, "Well, absolutely, I want to go there when I die, but I thought you were getting a group ready to go up right now." You see, a lot of us, yeah, we may want to go there one day, but our hearts doesn't drift toward Heaven today. If we are really honest, we think that our life here is so great, how could Heaven be any better? In fact, I want to share with you Psalm 84:10 and let this verse sink in. Scripture says that, "Better is," what? Would you, all of our campuses, say it aloud? "Better is ..." One more time. Say it again, "Better is one day in your courts, O Lord, than," what? "than, than a thousand elsewhere." Better is one day, one moment, with God in Heaven than, than your best days anywhere else. In fact, I would argue that your most dull, meaningless moment in Heaven far exceeds your greatest moment you've ever had on earth. Better is one moment with Him than thousands of years elsewhere. In fact, if you've ever had one of those moments and you said, "I wish this moment would last forever," let me promise you, on earth, it will not. Boom! That moment passes away, because all we know is temporary pleasures. But here is what scripture says. Psalms 16:11, "You will find joy. You, you will fill me with joy in your presence with," what? Would you say that word aloud? Those words, "eternal pleasures at your right hand." Today, all we know is temporary pleasures, but with God, you will know eternal pleasures that will never pass away. First lie is, Heaven can wait. Second one, if you are taking notes, is this. And this is so important. The lie is that most people are going to Heaven. In fact, if you interviewed people today, most of them would say, "Well, absolutely, I think I'm hopefully going to Heaven." In fact, I found a study that showed very clearly that for every one person in our country that believes he or she is going to hell, for every one who believes that they are going to hell, there are a hundred and twenty who believe they are going to Heaven, a hundred and twenty compared to one. What does that tell us? That many, many people are greatly deceived. Look at what Jesus said. Listen to His words. Matthew 7:13-14, He said, "Enter through the," what kind of gate? He said, "Enter through the, the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction," and how many are on it? He said, "and, and a bunch are on it." He, He said this, "But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life," and how many find it? He said, "Only, only a few find it." Broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many are on it. But narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. You see, a lot of people, they, they think that Heaven is our default destination, but it's not. Because of sin, hell, that's the place we studied last week, is our default destination, until we realize and accept the grace and the beauty and the love of God's sinless Son, Jesus Christ. Let's do this. In the rest of our time together, what I want to try to do is try to get a glimpse into Heaven, and admittedly, this is tough because it's, it's so rich and so challenging, but we are going to look at Revelation 21:1-4 and let these verses speak to us. This is John, who was exiled on the isle of Patmos, and he had a vision of Heaven from God and here was his vision. He said, "Then I saw a," what? He said, "Then I saw a, a new heaven and a," what else? "And a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had," what? They had, they'd "passed away, and there was no longer any sea," which was really bad news if you owned a boat. Okay? Not really. In fact, when, in the new heaven and the new earth, we will have water, but when he said there was no sea, that was a very real picture. In their time, the sea represented turmoil. It represented chaos. It's where all the storms would brew, and he was saying, "All that, those hard times, they are going to be gone." In verse 2, he says, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven," and, and, "from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Verse 3, he said, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying," pause right there. He said, "I heard a loud voice from the throne". This was the twentieth time this phrase was used in Revelation, and it was the final time this phrase, "a loud voice from Heaven," was used. And the very next words you are going to find are most likely the most important words to the heart of God. The twentieth and final time scripture says, "And I heard a loud voice from Heaven saying this," and here's the big announcement. "Now the dwelling of God is," what? "The dwelling of God is with men, and he will do," what? God will "live with them." Now, check this out. "They," us, "will be his people, and God himself will be," where? "God himself will be with them and be," what? He will "be their God." And, what's He going to do? "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more," what? Help me out. All of our campuses, "There'll be no more death or no more mourning or no more crying or no more pain." Why? Because, "the older order of things has passed away," a glimpse into eternal Heaven. Now, what can we understand? What kind of heavenly conclusions can we draw from these four verses? I want to show you three heavenly conclusions. The first one, and this may be new to you, but I believe this is Biblically accurate. There are different opinions on this, but most conservative scholars would agree that this true. Number one, and that is this: God will establish a new Heaven and a new earth. Following the return of Jesus, following the one thousand year reign, God will establish a new Heaven and a new earth. Very clearly, verse 1, scripture says this, "Then I saw a," what? "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth," what did they do? They, "They passed away." What does this mean? The very same God, who offers you new life in Christ, the very same God who gives you a new resurrected, glorified body, will also bring a new heaven and a new earth. If you remember last week in Luke 16, we studied that the dead without Christ ... remember the rich guy, he went to a place called Hades. It was a place of torment. It was actually translated in some versions as hell. We know, though, that eventually, scripture says, that death and Hades will be thrown into the eternal fire. So, there is a place of torment, Hades, that exists now. But one day, there will be a final separation from God in the Lake of Fire. We also know this, that to be absent from the body, Paul said, is to be present with the Lord. Jesus said to the criminal on the cross who repented, "Today you'll be with me," where? He said, "Today you will be with me in, in a place of paradise." That, many people believe, is Heaven as we know it, a beautiful place where people dwell in the presence of God. But one day, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Some other verses ... Let's look at the Old Testament and the New. Old Testament says this in Isaiah 65:17, "Behold, I will create," what? He said, "I will create new heavens and a," what? "And a new earth." Very plain. New Testament, II Peter 3:13, scripture says this, "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to," what? "We are looking forward to a, a new heaven and a, a new earth," and it will be "the home of righteousness." Going along this line of thinking, and we can't be sure, but if there is a new heaven and if there's a new earth, and if believers one day inherit the earth, and if we are called to rule and reign with God on the earth, then chances are pretty good. Most of what you enjoy on earth now, chances are pretty good you will be able to enjoy most of those things in the new heaven and the new earth, only there will be no sin and there will be no pain. If you enjoy playing golf, chances are good, and I can't prove it, but you'll probably get to play golf on the most beautiful courses that there have ever been. Only, the green field will be much cheaper, praise God, in Heaven. I might actually play if it wasn't so expensive. If you enjoy gardening, imagine gardening in a place like the Garden of Eden, a place with no curse. It, it is so hard to describe. It's a little bit like this. When I look at the world, it looks beautiful to me. I see colors everywhere. I see, this is a blue shirt. I've got brown inside there, my wife, I see colors. But in the second grade, I took a test that made me cry all afternoon because we had to find these little numbers in these stupid little circles, and I couldn't see them all. And I found out that I'm colorblind. I see colors. To me, it's normal, but sometimes, I don't, I can't differentiate them. I've worn brown and black socks on so many occasions, it's incredibly embarrassing. I've come into the office on Monday, and people would say, "Craig, you know that outfit you wore this weekend to preach?" I'm like, "Yeah." They said, "Don't ever wear that again. Don't put those colors together," because I'm colorblind. So, when I look at the world, it looks beautiful to me, but one day, one day, I will see it as it really is, and it will be the New Heaven and the New Earth, and I will have new eyes and I'll see it. So when I try to describe what this new place will be like, I am going to fail, because I've never been there. And if you think this world is good, here's what you need to understand. All you know is this world under the curse. When it's redeemed and when it's restored, then, if someone talks to you about a million years of happiness and joy and harmony and peace and security and intimacy and fellowship and worship, then when the curse and brokenness of sin has been removed, you will know what it's like to dwell with the glory of God. Then you'll see the colors as they really are, when God restores the earth, creates a new heaven, and a new earth, where we dwell with Him in Glory forever. The first conclusion we draw from this is that God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The second thing that we can learn from this is very powerful, and that is that God will do away with death, mourning, and pain. Let's look at it again, because it's such good news. Revelation 21:4-5, scripture says that "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more," what? Help me out. All of our campuses, say it together and mean it. "There will be no more death and no more mourning and no more crying and no more pain, for the old order of things has passed away." And, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' " Imagine this. I want you to think about what it is that bothers you, what it is that hurts. Some of you, you've got headaches. No more. Some of you, your back aches. No more. Some of you have arthritis. No more ... ever, ever again. Some of you have sickness. It will pass away. Many of you, right now, you're worried. You're tense. You've got stress about your job and, and finances, and, and the economy, and, and gas prices, and braces for your kids and fights in your marriages ... no more! It's all passed away. Think about this. Have you ever lost someone that you love, and you know the pain that goes with that? Or you've worried about losing someone? No more death, ever again. For those of you who, who hurt, and you've been burned by someone and you find it difficult to trust. No more sin in relationships. You will know, and you will be known, and you will share your heart, and you will be loved intimately. Think about the world, the New Heaven and New Earth. No more poverty. No more kids, babies dying today because they lack nourishment. No more disease. No more, no more, no more death. No more geneticide. No more Aids. Imagine a world with all of this gone, and think about this. Think about this. Any tear that you shed, for whatever reason, God, Himself, will comfort you and He will personally wipe away those tears. What will Heaven be like? There will be no more death, and there will be no more mourning, and there will be no more pain. The first thing we can conclude from these verses is that God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Second is that God will do away with death, mourning, and pain, and number three, and this is, this is the most profound of all of our conclusions, and this is, this is earth shattering when you recognize just how powerful it is. Number three, we understand that God, Himself, will dwell with us, that the Creator of the universe will live with us, and this is the most shocking statement to anyone who understands the transcendence of God. In fact, when you look just at what scripture says, no one can look upon God and live. You can't handle His glory and His goodness. When Moses said, "I just want to see. Give me a peek, God. I just want to, I just want to see You," well God said, "You, you can't handle it. I'll tell you what. You go bury your face in the side of a mountain, and what I'll do is, I'll put my hand over you and I'll fly by. And when I go by, I'll let you see just the very end, the tail end of My glory, because anymore than that, you couldn't handle it." You will get to dwell with that God. In fact, the Old Testament, the high priest was only allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God, only one time a year, and tradition tells us that when he went in there, they'd actually tie a rope around his body because, just in case, when he was there in the presence of God, if he dropped dead, they'd just pull his dead body out with a rope because they knew, even the high priest may not be able to survive in the presence of God. And yet, here is what scripture says, "You will dwell with Him." That is absolutely Heaven at its best. Look at Revelation 21:3. Let's look at the scripture again. "Now the dwelling of God," where is it? Help me out. The dwelling of God is, where is it? It is "with men, and," what will He do? "He will, He will live with them." They are going to be what? We are going to, "be his people, and God himself will be," what? "He will be, he, with us, and "He will be our God." Do you understand that that verse fulfills the greatest dreams of God? Finally, He has unbroken fellowship with us. Those of you that maybe have kids or grandkids and you have them together maybe once a year, and you just, and life has its best meaning at that moment for you, because you are all together, that's God's dream for you. Here is what scripture says. Revelation 22:3, "No longer will there be any curse." The curse is gone. It's broken. "The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him," and what are they going to do? What are we going to do? Scripture says, "We will," what? "We will see his face," and it's in that moment when you truly see Him that your life will be truly altered, when you see His goodness, when you see His glory, when you see His mercy, when you see His grace, at that moment all of His attributes are going to come, come real for you. All of a sudden, you are going to look at Him and you are going to say, "You are my rock, and You are my salvation, and You are my redeemer, and You are my righteousness, and You are my provider, and You are my comforter. You are everything I've ever desired." Right there, "all in one, every dream desire that I have ever had, You are God. You are my Jehovah Nisei. You are my Jehovah Raphi. God, You, You, You are the fire of God, and You are my salvation, and You are my sanctification. You, Oh, God, everything I ever thought I wanted, no, You. You are what I want." At that moment, you are going to start to worship, because you can't do anything else. And you are going to worship, and you are going to worship, and you are going to worship, and you are going to worship, and when you have worshipped for a really long time, the words of Amazing Grace, they'll take on new meaning to you. What are those words? The song says this, "And when we've been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun". When you see Him. When you see Him. So, Heaven's under attack, and your spiritual enemy wants you to think Heaven can wait. Live for earth today. Live, live for things. Let it be all about you. "Don't you dare ... don't, don't, don't dare buy into an eternal plan. You can actually store up riches in Heaven that you can, that you can be great by serving ... no, no. Let it be all about earth. Yeah, Heaven, maybe one day, but not now. Don't even let your mind go there now, because if you did, you might truly become like Christ, and you might truly become great, and you might truly become a Kingdom player, and you might truly leave a spiritual legacy that would change generations. If you ever really focused on what life was all about. No, no, no." Satan says, "Heaven can wait," and the second thing he wants you to believe is, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every, everybody's going to Heaven. It's the default destination." That way, you never really have to examine yourself and ask, 'Am I truly a disciple of God's Son, Jesus?' No, then you can float through life like so many do, completely deceived. "I'm a pretty good person. Yeah, I go to church every now and then. Yeah, I've done some good things; therefore, I must be going to Heaven." Because Jesus said this: "Narrow is the gate that leads to life, and only a few find it, but broad is the road that leads to destruction, and so many are on it." So, for those of you without Christ, may the Holy Spirit of God burn an eternal message in you and draw you close to Him. And those of you who are in Christ, may you live for the real rewards, the rewards of Heaven, and understand the horror of hell, and recognize this, when you do meet Christ and He blesses you with a beautiful life on earth, the greatest moment that you could ever have, when you want to say, "It doesn't get any better than this," understand it does. For the believer in Christ, it is indescribably and infinitely better than every dream you could ever imagine. All of our campuses today, let's pray together. "Father, would You do a work in us? Make us different. Help us to set our mind, God, on things above and not on things below, so we could live in a way to honor You." All of our campuses today, as you are praying, some of you, you are going to recognize right now, you really are living for the things of this world more than you are living for the things of God. And quite honestly, when I look at my life, man, I'm like in and out. One day I'm like really on track, and the next day, man, I am so much of this world it is scary, and I, I'm asking God to make me a consistent Heavenly player. I'm way too inconsistent. Many of you, you are going to recognize that I'm inconsistent. "God, make me consistent. Help me to live consistently for the things that last." That's you today, All of our campuses, would you lift your hands high right now? Just lift them up. Thank you for hands all over the place. Many of you right now, you recognize that people that you love, family members and friends, they are very likely on the broad road and you want to pray that they would enter through the narrow gate and be on the road that leads to life eternal. Those of you that have someone you know and love that they're not walking with Christ, and you want to pray for them today, would you lift your hands high right now, just all of our campuses? "God, we just bring these two groups before You, and God, for the very first one, I pray for us, God, that we would be different, that, that when other look at us, they would see that we're not living for the temporary things of this world, but our heart and love for You would be so real that it would be revealed in all of our actions. God, draw us consistently to the things that last forever. Change us, Oh God, and Father, for those that we love that are, are not walking with You. Give us a heart that breaks for them and a supernatural love to reach out to them. God, give us a sense of urgency and a sense of wisdom as to when to speak and when to be silent. And God, even more than our words, I pray that our actions would speak so loudly as to the love and the grace of Your Son, Jesus, and that He would be revealed through our obedience to You and our good works, and then when our words are spoken, it would compliment the lives that we live. God, we pray for those who are without You, that Your Holy Spirit would draw them to You. Make us available at any time to respond to Your spiritual promptings. God, use us to draw people to Yourself." Still praying today at all of our campuses, some of you are going to recognize that if you looked at your life, chances are you are walking down the broad road. Man, I can tell you very honestly that I was a guy, who was going to church. I went to college on a partial religious scholarship, and every bit of me was on the broad road. I looked just like everyone else. My life looked just like everyone else's. There was no difference in me. I wanted to believe, "Hey, yeah, I, you know, I'm a good person. Yeah, I kind of, I kind of believe in God. Yeah, that Jesus, He, He probably did something for me," and I wanted to believe that I would spend eternity in, in eternal life, but, but man, I look back at my life and I would not of, I was totally deceived. And so are many of you. So are many of you. As you examine your life right now, you may recognize that and, and you may feel drawn to God, and that is the Holy Spirit of God drawing you. He's pulling you toward Himself, and He's loving you. You may say, "Okay, so I want to clean up my life and get on the narrow road." Well, actually, you can never, ever be good enough to deserve to be on that road, because the truth of the matter is, you can never work your way to God. It is completely impossible. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus. That's why Jesus lived a perfect life and died the most horrible death, so that you could call on His name, the resurrected Christ, and when you do, scripture says that all of your sins will be forgiven and you will be brand new. There are those of you here today, you recognize, "You know what? I'm walking on the broad path, but today there is going to be a change. By faith, I believe that Jesus is the way and I enter through His gate. I want to follow Him. I want to pursue Him. I want my life to count for Him. I want to be forgiven of my sins and I want to follow Jesus. I want to be adopted into His family forever." There are those of you, you are here and you know it. It is for this moment God brought you here. It is your time to say, "Yes, Jesus, forgive me. Be the Savior, be the Lord of my life." At all of our campuses, that's your prayer today, would you lift your hands high? Right now, say yes to Him. All of our campuses, lift up your hand and say, "Yes, Jesus, forgive me. Save me." As hands are going up at all of our campuses right now, God is working. He's speaking. More of you, say yes to Him. "Yes, save me. Forgive me." All of our campuses, as you pray together, would you, all of you together join your hearts and your voices together. Pray aloud. Pray, "Heavenly Father," all of you together. "Heavenly Father, save me from my sins. Make me brand new. I believe Jesus is Your Son, who died for me so I could live for You. Take me off the broad path. Put me on the narrow road that leads to life. Jesus, You're my Savior. You are my Lord. Thank you for new life. Now, take all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray." All of our campuses, would you worship and celebrate new life in Christ, a God who makes all things new ... [applause]

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Duration: 34 minutes and 56 seconds
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jun 28, 2010

SYDNW Week 3

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