Will Heaven Be Boring? (Isaiah 65:17-23)

A cleric found himself wondering whether there were any golf courses in Heaven. He even began to ask the question in his prayers. One day, in answer to his prayers, he received a direct answer from on high. 

“Yes,” said the Heavenly messenger, “There are many excellent golf courses in Heaven. The greens are always in first class condition, the weather is always perfect and you always get to play with the very nicest people.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the cleric, “That really is marvellous news.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” replied the messenger, “And we’ve got you down for a foursome next Saturday.”[1]

 A few years I was running with Mercedes, and we had an interesting conversation. Actually, we have had many philosophical conversations as we run. So, a few years ago she asked me if we will have to go to the bathroom in Heaven. I don’t have a good answer to that, though I understand the question. She was five at the time, she is now eleven, and one of the major stressors of a five-year-old is to make sure she makes it to the bathroom in time. I remember being a child and thinking about how in Heaven I hope that we can have peanut-butter pie. I remember thinking that we could eat as much as we want without getting sick. Some of those thoughts have worn off as I’ve aged. Why don’t we think like children about Heaven anymore? Why can’t we use our imagination?

A common misconception about eternity surfaced in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. A member of the undying “Q continuum” longs for an end to his existence. Why? Because, he complains, everything that could be said and done has already been said and done, and now there’s only repetition and utter boredom. He says, “For us, the disease is immortality.” Finally he’s allowed to end his existence.[2]

Can Christians have fun? Why not?

Is Heaven to be boring?

Theme: Heaven will not be boring, Heaven will be fun. Heaven will have all the blessings of this life without the hardships, pain, and suffering. Heaven will be with Jesus.

WHAT WILL WE DO?

We will worship the triune God.

We will rule and administrate.

We will have different positions of authority.

We may rebuild cities.

We may build homes.

Some will compose and write music.

Some will play musical instruments.

We will serve.

Some will farm.

Some will cultivate orchards.[3]

  1. It seems that the New Heavens and New Earth will be a reflection of how earth was to be before the fall.
    1. Things God created that have been distorted by sin will be made right and perfect.
    2. We live in a fallen world, but I believe the Bible shows that Heaven will be as God intended the Garden of Eden to be before sin entered the world.
    3. We can read Revelation 21 and 22 and see the comparisons with the Garden of Eden. In the eternal Heaven, in Revelation 22 it seems that that Heaven reflects the first Garden of Eden. We will see a Tree of Life again in verse 2 as there was a tree of life in the first Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). We see a river in the eternal Heaven in Revelation 22:1. We see two rivers in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:10 and 13. It does seem that the eternal New Jerusalem Heaven is going to be like the Garden of Eden was meant to be, only much better.
    4. We have purpose now and we will have purpose for all eternity.
    5. Just think for a moment about your best moments on earth. Think about your most exciting times.
    6. Think about how you felt when you first found out you were going to be a dad or a mom. Think about how you felt when you were first engaged or newly married. Think about the joy, comfort, and excitement on a vacation. Just think about how excited you were to get a new job or do a certain job. Just think for a moment about how much you love a certain hobby. Now imagine that joy, those feelings, that excitement going for all eternity. Imagine for all eternity doing what you love to do, but without being tired, without sickness or pain. I wouldn’t limit eternity though. You may get bored fishing for all eternity, but why would you do the same thing? What if you fished for a while and then played golf and then accomplished a task? It does seem that we will have purpose.
    7. Look with me at Isaiah 65:17–25 (ESV)

New Heavens and a New Earth

17   “For behold, I create new heavens

and a new earth,

     and the former things shall not be remembered

or come into mind.

18   But be glad and rejoice forever

in that which I create;

     for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,

and her people to be a gladness.

19   I will rejoice in Jerusalem

and be glad in my people;

     no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping

and the cry of distress.

20   No more shall there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not fill out his days,

     for the young man shall die a hundred years old,

and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

21   They shall build houses and inhabit them;

they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22   They shall not build and another inhabit;

they shall not plant and another eat;

     for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,

and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23   They shall not labor in vain

or bear children for calamity,

     for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,

and their descendants with them.

24   Before they call I will answer;

while they are yet speaking I will hear.

25   The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;

the lion shall eat straw like the ox,

and dust shall be the serpent’s food.

     They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

  1. Isa 65:17: God is going to create a new heavens and a new earth.
  2. Former things shall not be remembered or come to mind… This is likely just an expression. This does not mean we will not have any memory. We will talk about that on another Sunday.
  3. Verse 18 references Jerusalem.
  4. Verse 19 talks about God rejoicing in Jerusalem and God being glad with His people. There will not be any more weeping. Verse 20 is interesting. On one hand it is saying there will be infants, but people will live very long. An infant will not only live a few days. Even the person who dies at 100 will be thought accursed… Why is there death? This is because this passage seems to be blending the Millennial Reign with the eternal New Heavens and new earth. This is called a merism which is blending the New Heavens and Millennial Reign together. This is a figure of speech taking two extremes like I searched night and day.
  5. So, we can conclude that Isaiah is writing about both. The Millennial reign and the New Heavens and New Earth. They are both a renovated state.
  6. Isa 65:21-22 references houses and inhabiting, as well as vineyards and eating of the fruit.
  7. Isa 65:23 references labor and bearing of children.
  8. Mixing Isaiah 65 with Revelation 22 shows the details of a city and a garden alongside the details of a vineyard.
  9. Isaiah is called the fifth gospel. Isaiah prophesied about the future of Israel and he prophesied destruction, but then in Isaiah 42; Isaiah 49; Isaiah 50; Isaiah 52:13-53:12 we have the four servant songs. These are all about the Messiah. We see the suffering Jesus would go through. Then Isaiah chapters 56-66 are prophesies about the future times until the end. Isaiah 65 even anticipates the spread of the Gospel in Acts. Then, this passage. This passage looks to Heaven.
  10. Why? Because of the Suffering Servant. This is still all about Jesus.
  11. When we talk about Heaven, this is all about Jesus.
  12. Randy Alcorn writes: Isaiah 65:21 suggests that we’ll build houses and live in them on the New Earth. If so, we’ll no doubt decorate them beautifully. Buildings on the scale of the New Jerusalem reflect extensive cultural advancement. Human builders will learn from God’s design, just as Leonardo da Vinci learned by studying the form and flight of birds while working on his flying machine. What will clear-thinking human beings— unhindered by sin and the barriers that separate us— be able to design and build? What would Galileo, da Vinci, Edison, or Einstein achieve if they could live even a thousand years unhindered by the Curse? What will we achieve when we have resurrected bodies with resurrected minds, working together forever?[4]
  13. It is quite likely people will continue to compose music, write stories, discover things.
  14. Suppose people continue to explore, but now they can explore all these new oceans. Suppose people can explore outer space and go even further than ever before.
  15. A major point to be made is that we will have resurrected-perfect bodies. In 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter on the resurrection, Paul writes about our resurrected bodies. I don’t know if we will be able to, but Jesus was able to walk through walls (John 20:19), Jesus was not limited by gravity (Acts 1:9). That could be because Jesus is God, but who is to say that our resurrected bodies will not have more capabilities than we have now.
  16. The Bible does NOT give any indication of a disembodied boring state. No, on the contrary, the Bible shows an embodied existence in a real place of activity.
  17. We will also be with all of the believers who have gone on before us, and they will NOT be boring.
  18. Hebrews 12:22–24 (ESV) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
  19. David Jeremiah writes quoting Jonathon Edwards: As the famous American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote, “No inhabitants of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those that they love. Or that their love is not fully and fondly returned …. There shall be no such things as flattery or insincerity in Heaven, but there, perfect sincerity will reign through all in all. Everyone will be just what he seems to be and will really have all the love he seems to have. It will not be as it is in this earth where comparatively few things are what they seem to be and where professions are often made lightly and without meaning. But there, every expression expression of love shall come from the bottom of the heart, and all that is professed shall be really and truly felt.”[5]
  20. The greatest reason heaven will NOT be boring is because we will be with Jesus. Revelation 21:3. Jesus is NOT boring.
  • Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
  • 11  You make known to me the path of life;
  • in your presence there is fullness of joy;
  • at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  1. Let’s apply this.
    1. Look with me at Revelation 14:13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
    2. Did you notice that? Their deeds will follow them. What we do on earth will follow us, so it is best that we store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
    3. Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God will not forget the good things we do.
    4. We can look forward to Heaven. Heaven will be greater than anything we can imagine.
    5. We can share the Gospel knowing that we are inviting others to paradise.
    6. We can also know that if we have extra suffering here and now, we won’t have that for eternity.
    7. Some of us would love to do certain things, but can’t because of health. You can do all that and more in Heaven. If you can’t go fishing anymore, you can in Heaven. If you can’t run anymore, you will be able to in Heaven. If you can’t play golf anymore, you can in Heaven. If you can’t read anymore, or travel, or hear, in Heaven these things will be restored. In Heaven you will be able to be active without pain. In Heaven you will be able to have energy which you cannot imagine now.
    8. I am amazed by the energy of children. They can move so fast! I am amazed at my young age how sore I can feel in the morning. I cannot imagine life without having to think about energy levels, but in Heaven this will be fixed.
    9. However, our experience in Heaven is determined by our faithfulness to Christ now.
    10. Remember we are saved by grace, but we will have rewards for faithfully serving Jesus.
    11. So, just like how in this life the mistakes we make now catch up to us later, it is true for all eternity. Serve Jesus faithfully now and you will have more opportunities to serve Him forever.
    12. This whole message, this whole series is contingent on us knowing Christ.
    13. We must know Him. God came to earth and took on flesh. He lived the life we could not live and died the death we could not die. He did this for His glory, and He did this to welcome us into Heaven. These passages are all about Jesus.
    14. We talk about what we do in heaven, but what is most important is that we are with Jesus.
    15. Are we living with Jesus now?

Close:

I love C. S. Lewis’s profound perspective in his book Mere Christianity, when he writes,

The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”[6]

We are created for eternity. We are created for Heaven and it will not be boring.

Heaven will not be boring; Heaven will be fun. Heaven will have all the blessings of this life without the hardships, pain and suffering. Heaven will be with Jesus.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://jokes.christiansunite.com/Heaven/Golf_in_Heaven.shtml

[2] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 7599-7602). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3] Enns, Paul P. (2011-03-01). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 153). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 7599-7602). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[5] Jeremiah, David. Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven (pp. 70-71). Turning Point. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ingram, Chip; Witt, Lance (2016-02-23). The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says (Kindle Locations 1380-1388). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Where are They Now (present Heaven versus future Heaven)? (Deut. 26:15: Heaven is where God resides; Revelation 21; Phil. 1:23; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11)

Where are They Now (present Heaven versus future Heaven)? (Deut. 26:15: Heaven is where God resides; Revelation 21; Phil. 1:23; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 15, 2023

Today, I want to talk about the present Heaven versus the eternal Heaven.

Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher, often spoke of Heaven. He said, “It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven . .  . to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?”[1]

So, let’s look at Heaven.

It is really difficult to talk about Heaven without looking up a lot of passages, but for flow I only want you to have to turn to one passage. In Revelation 6:9-11 we see a scene of martyrs interceding in Heaven. This is a scene in Heaven, and we can draw some conclusions from it.

Today, my theme is to teach on the present heaven versus future heaven with a goal to help us meditate on our eternal home.

Revelation 6:9–11 (ESV)

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

  1. Context of Revelation 6:9-11
    1. In a minute, we will draw applications from Rev. 6:9-11.
    2. This passage is the last book of the Bible and there is a lot going on here. There are differing views of Revelation. But let’s put this in the narrative of the Bible.
    3. In Genesis 1-2 everything was created good.
    4. In Genesis 3 sin entered the world. Ever since sin entered the world things have been fallen, depraved, messed up.
    5. So, that is the state we were left with all through the Old Testament.
    6. Then Jesus came and He died on the cross for our sins and rose again. That is the New Testament.
    7. Now, we are in the end of the Bible and also the future consummation of all things.
    8. Rev. 6 takes place during the tribulation period and that is the period when God is pouring out judgment on all the world.
    9. The tribulation period will be followed by the Millennial Reign and then the New Jerusalem which will be the new heavens and the new earth.
  2. Now let’s differentiate between the two Heavens.
    1. We find in Scripture that the future Heaven is not until the end of the Bible. In Revelation 21 we find the reference to the future Heaven and that is the new Jerusalem. We find other references throughout the Bible to the New Jerusalem and that is the eternal Heaven.
    2. We also find through the Bible references to the millennial reign. We find this in Rev. 20:2-6 as well as Old Testament passages. This is not the New Jerusalem, nor is it the current Heaven.
    3. When we think of passages concerning the resurrection of the body, that will be for the new Jerusalem and maybe the millennial reign. When we think of passages about Jesus wiping every tear from our eyes and no more crying, etc (Rev. 21) that is the New Jerusalem. A lot of what we will talk about in the coming weeks will concern the New Jerusalem and eternal Heaven, so today I want to talk more specifically about the current Heaven.
  3. For the rest of the message, I want to draw on 5 encouraging applications about the current Heaven. I will substantiate these applications from the Rev. 6:9-11 passage and a few others.
  1. We can be encouraged that we go straight to Heaven when we die (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23).
    1. Heaven is where God resides, and we will go straight to Heaven. We can know that we go to be with God because those saints are with God, and they are interceding for others.
    2. We also know in Luke 23:43 Jesus told the thief that that very day he would join Jesus in paradise.
    3. In 2 Cor. 5:8 Paul wrote about being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
    4. In Phil. 1:23 Paul also wrote about departing and joining Jesus.
    5. We go to be with God in Heaven when we die.
    6. Now, where is Heaven? Scientists at Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, among others, postulate that there are ten unobservable dimensions and likely an infinite number of imperceptible universes.[2]
    7. I find that fascinating. Heaven is in a realm that we are imperceptible to, but God is there.
    8. We see it happen in Scripture, such as 2 Kings 6:17 when Elisha’s servant’s eyes are opened in order to see God’s angels all around him.
  2. We can be encouraged that we will have consciousness in the immediate Heaven (1 Samuel 28:16-19; Luke 9:31; 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11).
    1. We see in Scripture that we will be conscious. If we simply think about this passage in Revelation, they are conscious and they are actually interceding for the persecuted church.
    2. We also see consciousness in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
  3. We can be encouraged that we will have contact with those who have gone before us (Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11: they worship, not one merged identity.
  4. In the Rev. 6:9-11 passage they are worshipping together. We see the people together again in Rev. 7:9-10.
    1. We see a group of people together.
    2. There is no reason to think that when people die they are not reunited with their loved ones as well.
    3. By the way, these Scriptural examples are specific cases, it seems that Heaven is far greater than anything we can think or imagine.
    4. Worshipping Jesus is exciting, standing before His throne, but Heaven will be more than worship.
    5. Heaven will be fellowship; we see that indicated in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
    6. Paul desired Heaven more than earth so it must be greater than we can think of.
    7. In 2 Cor. 12 Paul wrote of some type of near-death experience and said that he saw things that he was not permitted to speak of. He also did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body.
    8. Now, is a good time for me to also say that it seems that the immediate Heaven is physical, not purely spiritual.
    9. Listen, the physical body is not bad, it is good. It is Christoplatonism to think that it is bad. Remember I shared that last Sunday. Greek philosophy, Platonism, impacted Christianity to think the physical is bad, but it isn’t.
    10. These descriptions in Rev. 6:9-11 and in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus give physical descriptions. They had voices to cry out. They were wearing white robes.
    11. “The rich man and Lazarus are depicted as having physical forms. The rich man had a tongue and a thirst that he wished to satisfy with water. Lazarus had a finger, and there was water available to him in Paradise, into which he might dip his finger. Of course, these references may be entirely figurative. But they might also suggest the possession of transitional physical forms, existing in a physical Paradise, to sustain and manifest human identity between death and resurrection.”[3]
    12. These bodies and this physical realm are still different than the New Jerusalem and the bodies are not our resurrected bodies, they may be temporary bodies, but it does seem physical.
    13. The physical can go in and out of the spiritual. We see that all throughout the Bible when God interacts with humanity. Of course, God is spiritual (John 4:24), but the angels are physical and they interact with our realm (Hebrews 13:2; Genesis 18; the Lord’s appearance to Abraham; Genesis 19 the angels visiting Lot).
    14. We also know that God is unchanging, that does not mean that Heaven is unchanging. God can change Heaven as He sees fit. This means Heaven can be a certain way now, but then transition when the New Jerusalem comes down from earth.
  5. We can be encouraged that in Heaven we will have a memory of life on earth, otherwise we would be a different person. (Luke 16:19-31).
    1. In the passage in Luke 16:19-31 the rich man and Lazarus had memories of their life on earth.
    2. I like how Randy Alcorn points out that without our memories we would be different people.
    3. Also, in 1 Samuel 28:16-19, Saul wrongfully tries to bring up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel and Samuel remembered Saul and really was alert to what was going on.
  6. We can be encouraged that it is likely our past family members and friends are interceding for us now (Rev. 6:9-11).
    1. We see this in Rev. 6:9-11. They are interceding for the Christians on earth.
    2. Actually, their intercession is more valuable than our prayers because they are with Jesus and so they are righteous. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, and they are righteous or they wouldn’t be in Heaven (James 5:16).
    3. This means they are interceding for us, but that does not mean we should pray to them. We can pray straight to Jesus, why pray to anyone other than Jesus Who is Lord and God (Hebrews 4:14-16).
    4. Just imagine that your friends and family are in Heaven interceding for you, isn’t that amazing?

Conclusion:

So, we go straight to Heaven and then eventually to the New Jerusalem.

To illustrate, imagine you lived in a homeless shelter in Miami. One day you inherit a beautiful house overlooking Santa Barbara, California, and are given a wonderful job doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Many friends and family will live nearby.

As you fly toward Santa Barbara, you stop at the Dallas airport for a layover. Other family members you haven’t seen in years meet you. They will board the plane with you to Santa Barbara. Naturally you look forward to seeing them in Dallas, your first stop.

But if someone asks where you’re going, would you say “Dallas”? No. You would say Santa Barbara, because that’s your final destination. Dallas is just a temporary stop. At most you might say “I’m going to Santa Barbara, with a brief stop in Dallas.”[4] Similarly, the Heaven we will go to when we die, the present Heaven, is a temporary dwelling place, a stop along the way to our final destination: the New Earth. Another analogy is more precise but difficult to imagine, because for most of us it’s outside our experience. Imagine leaving the homeless shelter in Miami and flying to the intermediate location, Dallas, and then turning around and going back home to your place of origin, which has been completely renovated— a New Miami. In this New Miami, you would no longer live in a homeless shelter, but in a beautiful house in a glorious pollution-free, crime-free, sin-free city. So you would end up living not in a different home, but in a radically improved version of your old home. This is what the Bible promises us— we will live with Christ and each other forever, not in the intermediate, or present, Heaven, but on the New Earth, where God will be at home with his people.[5]

This heaven is all possible because of Jesus.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 352-354). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 997-1005). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 1443-1447). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] http://www.epm.org/blog/2015/Apr/22/present-heaven-future-heaven

[5] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 978-981). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Heaven Is For Real



Heaven is for Real and you were Created for It!  (2 Cor. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:8)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 8, 2023

Years ago, I moved to a different city from Cincinnati, though I am originally from Dayton. One day I walked in a barber shop, it was a small barber shop that a local recommended, but when I walked in, I felt like I stood out like a Steelers fan in the Dawg Pound. I saw a few guys shootin’ the breeze there and one of them asked me, “You’re not from around here, are you?” I said where I was from and they made me welcome, but I will never forget walking in there. The realization hit, “No, I am new in town.” It has only been 16 years since I lived in the Dayton area, but everything has changed. Sometimes I like to go to the website of the school I graduated from or check it out on Facebook because it has all changed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, stays the same. In 2015, they tore down my high school and built another one. I attended the same school district from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it is all different. I like to think back; I think I do that more as my daughters get older. I think about what it was like when I was eleven and what my dad was doing, though my dad was younger than I am now when I was that age. Everything changes. So, having moved just less than four hours from home, I am amazed at people who move overseas. I am amazed at people who left Germany, or Ireland in the late 19th century to begin a new life in the states. Where are you from? Do you long to think back to the area you came from? Or, maybe you long to think back to a different age? Are you longing for something, or somewhere, or sometime?

We may long for a place, a time, or something else, but what we are really longing for is Heaven. God created us for Heaven.

I have homework for you. Today, I begin a sermon series on Heaven. I would like to ask you to think about your questions about heaven and submit the questions that you have. If they are not covered, I will try to cover them on the last sermon in the series. You can write them down and give them to me, or you can email the office at bethel2771@gmail.com.

Theme:

My theme is simple: Heaven is real, and you were created for it.

My application is hopefully encouraging: Long for Heaven, Heaven is paradise.

  1. Heaven is real and you were created for it:
    1. Randy Alcorn: Heaven:
    2. The sense that we will live forever somewhere has shaped every civilization in human history. Australian aborigines pictured Heaven as a distant island beyond the western horizon. The early Finns thought it was an island in the faraway east. Mexicans, Peruvians, and Polynesians believed that they went to the sun or the moon after death. Native Americans believed that in the afterlife their spirits would hunt the spirits of buffalo. The Gilgamesh epic, an ancient Babylonian legend, refers to a resting place of heroes and hints at a tree of life. In the pyramids of Egypt, the embalmed bodies had maps placed beside them as guides to the future world. The Romans believed that the righteous would picnic in the Elysian fields while their horses grazed nearby. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, said, “The day thou fearest as the last is the birthday of eternity.” Although these depictions of the afterlife differ, the unifying testimony of the human heart throughout history is belief in life after death. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God-given, innate sense of the eternal— that this world is not all there is.[1]
    3. The Roman catacombs, where the bodies of many martyred Christians were buried, contain tombs with inscriptions such as these:              
    4. In Christ, Alexander is not dead, but lives.                
    5. One who lives with God.                
    6. He was taken up into his eternal home.
    7. One historian writes, “Pictures on the catacomb walls portray Heaven with beautiful landscapes, children playing, and people feasting at banquets.”
    8. In AD 125, a Greek named Aristides wrote to a friend about Christianity, explaining why this “new religion” was so successful: “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.”
    9. In the third century, the church father Cyprian said, “Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us from this place and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. Anyone who has been in foreign lands longs to return to his own native land.  .  .  . We regard paradise as our native land.”[2]
    10. Our native land is not here, nor is it overseas. Our native land is Heaven. We were created for it.
    11. S. Lewis wrote: If our deepest desires cannot be satisfied in this world, then we must have been made for another world.” He pondered this and other truths, which led him to Christ.
    12. But, today we do not long for heaven do we?
    13. There’s cartoonist G. Larson’s “Far Side” which shows a guy strumming a harp on a cloud in heaven saying: “Wish I’d have brought a magazine.”
    14. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain portrays a similar view of Heaven. The Christian spinster Miss Watson takes a dim view of Huck’s fun-loving spirit. According to Huck, “She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. . . . I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.”
    15. The pious Miss Watson had nothing to say about Heaven that appealed to Huck. (And nothing, if we’re honest, that appeals to us.) What would have attracted him was a place where he could do meaningful and pleasurable things with enjoyable people. In fact, that’s a far more accurate depiction of what Heaven will actually be like. If Miss Watson had told Huck what the Bible says about living in a resurrected body and being with people we love on a resurrected Earth with gardens and rivers and mountains and untold adventures—now that would have gotten his attention!
    16. When it came to Heaven and Hell, Mark Twain never quite got it. Under the weight of age, he said in his autobiography, “The burden of pain, care, misery grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead, pride is dead, vanity is dead, longing for release is in their place. It comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness.”
    17. What a contrast to the perspective that Charles Spurgeon, his contemporary, had on death: “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.”[3]
    18. Part of the problem is that we have an inaccurate view of Heaven. Let’s begin to change that.
  2. Heaven is a place
    1. I am beginning a series on Heaven, so I don’t want to spoil the series today, instead I just wish to set up the series.
    2. I will talk about several passages, and you can look them up at home.
    3. Sometimes we think things in Heaven are only spiritual. This is not true.
    4. If things in Heaven are only spiritual then why does God use so many material objects to illustrate what we’ll have in Heaven, like “house, dwelling, clothed, rooms (Jn. 14), white robes (Rev. 6:10-11), rivers, gardens, and the tree of life in Heaven. Both Rev. 2:7 and 22:2 refers to the SAME Tree of Life that was physical in the Garden of Eden in (Gen. 2:9).[4]
    5. Randy Alcorn writes: Christoplatonism: Plato was “the first Western philosopher to claim that reality is fundamentally something ideal or abstract.” “For Plato . .  . the body is a hindrance, as it opposes and even imprisons the soul (Phaedo 65– 68; 91– 94).”
    6. But according to Scripture, our bodies aren’t just shells for our spirits to inhabit; they’re a good and essential aspect of our being. Likewise, the earth is not a second-rate location from which we must be delivered. Rather, it was handmade by God for us. Earth, not some incorporeal state, is God’s choice as mankind’s original and ultimate dwelling place.
    7. To distinguish the version of Platonism seen among Christians from secular forms of Platonism, I’ve [Randy Alcorn] coined the term Christoplatonism. This philosophy has blended elements of Platonism with Christianity, and in so doing has poisoned Christianity and blunted its distinct differences from Eastern religions. Because appeals to Christoplatonism appear to take the spiritual high ground, attempts to refute this false philosophy often appear to be materialistic, hedonistic, or worldly.[5]
    8. But Heaven is a real place. Jesus reminded His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
    9. In the Bible it will refer to multiple heavens: 1) the atmosphere, the universe and where God resides.
    10. There are many scriptures on heaven, but consider just a few. Look at these Scriptures:

Psalm 2:4

The One enthroned in heaven laughs…

2 Cor. 12:4:

I was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

2 Cor. 5:6, 8:

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

2 Tim. 4:8:

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

  1. Heaven is a destination,
  2. It will not be boring,
  3. It is paradise.
  • Significance of Heaven
    1. Have you lost loved ones, you’ll see them again if they were in Christ.
    2. Are you having trouble walking or maybe you cannot walk, you will have a perfect body someday.
    3. Maybe your eyesight is failing, you will have renewed vision.
    4. Maybe your memory is struggling, you will know more and remember again (1 Cor. 13:9-13).
    5. Maybe you are watching a loved one suffer through something, know that this is not how God intended it. This is because of our sin-filled world. Your loved one will live again without these sufferings.
    6. Do you have trouble getting up and facing each day? Do you experience pain constantly? This will end and you will have a perfect body.
    7. Do you experience depression or mental illness? In Heaven this will be gone.
    8. Do you have a loved one that you cannot talk with because of Autism or something else? You will have conversations with that loved one in Heaven.
    9. Jesus reminded His disciples to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
    10. Have you ever been at a family reunion, and you wanted to see and talk to so many people, but there just wasn’t time? There will be in Heaven. And you will be able to talk to Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah and all these other people.
    11. Do you want to see your parents again? Your grandparents?
    12. In Christ Alone: No guilt in life, no fear in death…

 A few years ago, a family of five died in a car accident. They were young parents, 29 years old, with three children. They were soon going to Japan as missionaries. The youngest was 2 months old. Their car was hit from behind by a semi and they died at the scene, all of them. That broke my heart. But upon further reflection, this is cause for praise. They all went to Jesus together. They could have experienced 80 years of suffering in this life, but instead they are in Jesus’ presence. They are in Heaven.

What are you longing for?

When Meagan was pregnant, both times, we longed for the day of our daughter’s birth.

But you know what we all, all of us as humans long for? We long for Heaven. We try to duplicate Heaven in our homes, malls, amusement parks, vacation destinations. We desire Heaven because we were created for Heaven.

Prayer

[1] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 265-274). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid, Kindle Locations 287-288.

[3] Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Alcorn, Randy (2011-12-08). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations 8723-8724). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Through Joseph’s Eyes

NOTE:

This is a different type of sermon titled “A Story Told.” I am giving the sermon as Joseph.

Good morning, you’ve probably heard about Jesus’ birth from Mary, at least I hope you have. My beloved Mary dictated her thoughts to Luke, the beloved physician and Luke has written them in a scroll. You know what I am talking about, right? Luke wrote a scroll, you might call it a hmm, hmm, what is the word? A book. Luke wrote a book about the Gospel of Jesus.  I’ve read how Luke wrote Mary’s account. He did a good job, a real good job. Mary is very detailed. She has quite a memory. It doesn’t appear like she left anything out. Well, almost anything, because of space, and the obvious fact that Mary is not me, there may be a few blanks to fill in. I am Joseph, stepfather to Jesus, Immanuel, in case you didn’t realize.

Occupation: I am a man who works with my hands. I know it has been said that I am a carpenter; to be a carpenter simply means “one who works with their hands.” I actually do all types of jobs. I work with stone, I work in the fields, and many other jobs. Rarely do I work with wood. As Jesus grew up, He learned my trade, or should I say, He learned the many trades that I do. Well, I suppose you want to hear about Jesus’ birth.

Mary and I, we were engaged. Engagement in our day and in our country was a little different than it is today.  Please, allow me to explain. You see many times our parents would arrange our marriage long before it actually happened. Our engagement was a very important event. There was an actual Jewish betrothal period. This period would last about a year. During this time, we were not to be married, nor were we to have marital relations. To break off an engagement was a big deal, it meant a divorce.

Okay, so we were engaged, I was so excited the day this betrothal period started. I was, let me think, I was seventeen years old when we were engaged. If my memory serves, Mary was thirteen years old. I couldn’t wait, I tell you, I couldn’t wait to be married to Mary. It was not only about being married. Mary was a great young lady. Mary was smart; she was a very smart young woman. No, she had very little education. But she knew the books of the law and the prophets. She knew what you would call the Old Testament.  She grew up listening to her father tell her about the books of the Law. She grew up learning how to keep the law. She knew them and believed them. She was eager to see an anointed prophet come and deliver Israel from the yoke of Rome. Oh, but she didn’t realize that she would be mother to the deliverer. Mary was very resourceful. She grew up learning from her parents how to keep up a house, and how to provide for the needs of survival. Also, Mary was a beautiful young lady. I was eager to be married to her. I was eager to start a family with her.

In my eagerness to be married to her I was preparing a place for us to live. I was preparing a small home for us. I was building some furniture for our home. I was saving some money for some animals to provide milk and other needs.

Imagine my surprise one day when Mary told me she was pregnant. Actually, Mary didn’t have to tell me, I could tell as she walked towards me. Mary had been away for a while. When she returned, she came to see me. As she walked towards me, I was working. I looked up and saw her, beautiful as ever, but pregnant. My heart sank. I thought, “How could she have done this? We are in a betrothal period.” Then I thought, “Maybe it wasn’t her? Maybe someone took advantage of her, she was traveling.” Sooner than those thoughts raced through my head Mary was in front of me. We exchanged hellos and then through tears she told me how an angel visited her and told her that she was favored. She was to have a baby. She was to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She was to have a baby who will be the Son of God. He is to be King, an everlasting King.

I was shocked, but you know, I believed her. Mary was an honest woman. Even though I believed her, I was going to divorce her. Remember how I said that to break an engagement meant an official divorce. This could mean public humiliation for Mary, so I decided to do this quietly. Even though I believed her, others didn’t. I went to work, and I was talking with a friend, David was his name. We were working in the field. David said, “What is going on with Mary, I notice she is pregnant. You are going to divorce her, right?” I said, “Yes, but I am going to do this quietly.” David said, “quietly! Humiliate her! She had an affair in your betrothal period!” I replied, “Well, David, she says that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she is to give birth to the Son of God who will be king.” David replied, “Joseph, Joseph, I know that you really like this woman, she has been all you’ve talked about, but pregnant by the Holy Spirit!!! I guess when you’re in love, you’ll believe just about anything!!! Divorce her! She is not pregnant by the Holy Spirit but pregnant by another man.”

I thought about that conversation. But not long. That same night I had a dream. In a dream an angel appeared to me. The angel said to take her as my wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I am to name Him Jesus which means “The Lord saves.” He will save His people from their sins. I was excited after that dream. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the betrothal is to stay. I had been raised being taught about the prophesies of a future King, a time when God will save us from our sins and save Israel from the other countries. What an honor, the Savior is to be born and I am to be His stepfather and Mary is to be His mother. Mary was telling the truth. 

 Soon after the dream Mary and I had to leave to my hometown of Bethlehem because of a census. Mary was greatly pregnant and the four day journey was difficult. We made it to the small city of Bethlehem just in time for Jesus’ birth. But there was no room for us to stay at anyone’s house. All of the guest rooms were full. Someone let us stay the night in the cave where they kept their livestock. Jesus was born and laid in a feeding trough. That same night shepherds came and worshipped this baby, our baby, God’s son.

Later on, we were able to get a small house in Bethlehem, then wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. Soon after that, He was about two years old, and I had another vision from God. We were to take Jesus to Egypt. Herod sought His life. We went to Egypt for several years and then came back and raised Him in Nazareth.

It was a hard journey, raising Jesus. But it was worth it. We didn’t know what was in store for us or humanity. Mary didn’t know, I didn’t know. But Jesus saves us from our sins. Amen

Jesus Came and Brought Joy (Luke 2:10)

Jesus came and Brought Joy (Luke 2:10).
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on December 11, 2022


THE LIGHT OF HOPE

As Craig T. Kocher states, "Christian hope is fundamentally different from optimism. Christian hope locks its steely eyes on the devastation of the world around it, and readily acknowledges that things may not get better. Christian hope does not bury its heat in Yule-tide cheer and artificial lights, but like an Advent wreath glowing stronger and brighter each week, this hope pushes its way into the brokenness of the world clearing a path in the wilderness so the true light might burst into the darkness."

Kocher then goes on to cite a story told by Tom Long, about a rabbi Hugo Grynn, who was sent to Auschwitz as a little boy. In the midst of the concentration camp, in the midst of the death and horror all around them, many Jews held onto whatever shreds of their religious observances they could, without drawing the ire of the guards. One cold winter's evening, Hugo's father gathered the family in the barracks. It was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights.

The young child watched in horror as his father took the family's last pad of butter and made a makeshift candle, using a string from his ragged clothes. He then took a match and lit the candle. "Father, no!" Hugo cried. "That butter is our last bit of food! How will we survive?"

"We can live for many days without food," his father said. "We can not live a single minute without faith and hope. This is the fire of hope. Never let it go out. Not here! Not anywhere!" [Pulpit Resource, Logos Productions, Inc, 2005]

Jesus is our Savior and He brings us hope. Through our hope we have joy. Do we have joy in Jesus? 

Advent candle:
The third Sunday of Advent is the candle of Joy. For many in this world joy may be far away. They stand alone, uncertain, lost and confused.  There is no security in their lives. There is no joy. There is no knowledge of Jesus. 
But we can share our hope. We can let others know of the joy that comes through Christ; that no one needs to be alone and joyless.  We light the candle of Joy knowing that we can share that light with others. We can be Hope and Joy.  In this time of Advent, we know that we have that promise.

Today my theme is:
Jesus came and brought Joy
Luke 2:8–14 (ESV)
8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 
10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 
12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 
14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

I.	Context…
a.	What is the context of this passage?
b.	Jesus has just been born and this is the passage in which the angels visit the shepherds. 
c.	The meaning of the word angel: Angel. The Hebrew word malak simply means “messenger”; it may refer to a human messenger (1 Kings 19:2) or a divine messenger (Gen. 28:12). The basic meaning of the word is “one who is sent.” As a divine messenger an angel is a “heavenly being charged by God with some commission.”1 The word is found 103 times in the Old Testament. The Greek word angelos occurs 175 times in the New Testament; however, of men it is used only 6 times. The word angelos is similar to the Hebrew malak; it also means “messenger … who speaks and acts in the place of the one who has sent him.” 
d.	The shepherds were in the same region.
e.	They were out in their fields.
f.	They were out there for the purpose of watching their flocks by night.
g.	A lot of study could be done about shepherds and the humility of that job. We often hear shepherds were the lowest class. They always go back to Genesis where Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph to shepherds but those were Egyptian shepherds, or Egyptian views of Shepherds. There is some Rabbinic literature negative of shepherds but that is from the 4th century AD.  Dr. Rydelnic does not think they were the lowest class. Dr Rydelnic agrees with the Life Application Study Bible that these might have been the shepherds supplying the lambs for temple sacrifices that were used for forgiveness of sins. This would be true regardless of the season.  
h.	They [the shepherds] were literally guarding their flocks for the night.
i.	Verse 8 tells the place. Verse 9 is about to tell what happens.
j.	This is all happening simultaneously to the previous verses. Jesus has been born and it seems that at the same time as His birth, or right after His birth, this happens. 
k.	An angel of the Lord “appeared” or “stood.” The NASB says “suddenly.” 
l.	The Greek verb for “stood” carries the idea of “suddenly.”  
m.	What is it like to have something appear suddenly? 
n.	The shepherds didn’t see the Angel coming over the hill.
o.	The shepherds didn’t hear the angel of the Lord be given clearance for landing.
p.	There is also Theological debate about what “Angel of the Lord” means. Sometimes that can mean an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, Christophany. Or, a bodily appearance of God the Father, which could be Christ, Theophany. In this case I think this is a high-ranking angel. 
q.	The “glory of the Lord shone around them”
r.	What does this look like? Ezekiel chapter 1 is similar. 
s.	We do know they were scared.
t.	R.C. Sproul makes the case that this is the Shekinah glory of the Old Testament. The angel of the Lord is bathed in the Shekinah glory. 
u.	The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means “he caused to dwell,” signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:20–22). 
v.	The shepherds were terribly frightened.
w.	The Greek uses the verb for “frightened” once and then a noun describing them as frightened along with an adjective to describe them as “greatly frightened.”
x.	Verse 10: The angel now speaks. 
y.	We are going to come back to verse 10 in a minute, but let me explain the rest of the context. 
z.	The angels are telling the shepherds that the Savior has been born and further they tell the shepherds where to find the Savior. 
aa.	Then we have this amazing worship of the angels. 
II.	Good news of great joy…
a.	Jesus has come and this is good news. 
b.	Notice that Jesus’ birth is good news. 
c.	Further, Jesus’ birth is news that brings great joy. 
d.	Notice the modifiers. 
e.	Jesus’ birth was not just any old news. 
f.	Jesus’ birth was good news. 
g.	One source shares: This translates the Greek verb euangelizō, which means to preach the good news. The noun (euangelion) is translated by the word “gospel.” This verb is found eleven times in the Gospels, and ten of these are found in Luke. 
h.	Jesus’ birth did not just bring joy, no, His birth brought great joy. 
i.	Where is our joy?
j.	Tony Evans shares the following: 
k.	SOMEBODY has come up with a great concept—putting playrooms in doctors’ offices. Many parents bring their kids to the doctor because they are sick and they need the doctor to see them. The playrooms are designed to distract the children from the pain of their problem until their problem gets fixed. The playroom gives them joy in a bad situation.
l.	That’s the way God works. Even though things may not be going the way we want them to be on the outside, God has designed a “playroom” in our soul. In the midst of our circumstances, His joy can distract us from our pain or discomfort, until He makes provision for our change or healing.520 
m.	The is good news for all people. 
n.	This includes gentiles. 
o.	One source shares: Are Gentiles included here, or is this a reference only to the Jewish people? Luke envisioned the gospel as being for all people, including the Gentiles (Acts 15:1–29; 18:10); but here, as in 3:21; 7:29; 8:47, the people of Israel were primarily in Luke’s mind. The singular “people” refers everywhere else in Luke to the people of Israel. 
p.	So, this passage directly refers to the Jewish audience, but later Luke will include all people. 
q.	Luke was written to a gentile audience. Remember that he wrote Acts which shows the Gospel going to all people. 
r.	The Gospel is good news for all people. 
s.	This is great joy for all people. 
t.	Where is our joy at Christmas time?
III.	Applications
a.	Does Christmas bring you joy?
1.	Christmas should bring us joy. 
2.	Christmas should bring joy for all people. 
3.	The joy is that the Savior has come, and the Savior is for all people. 
4.	Do we realize that Jesus’ death and resurrection is for everyone?
5.	Our ultimate joy must be from the gospel not Christmas lights, presents, or many other good things, but from Jesus. 
6.	Our joy comes from life with Jesus (John 15) and life eternal. 
7.	Our joy comes from having hope. 
8.	Our joy comes from salvation eternal. 
9.	We must focus on joy in Jesus this year. 
10.	We must pray that Jesus brings back the joy of our salvation (Ps 51:12).
b.	The amount of funerals I pastor are in phases. In 6 years serving a church in Alliance I pastored 46 funerals. I do not know how many I have pastored here, but I know that I have pastored over seven since August. Most of the time the deceased is an older believer who was ready to go home to the Lord. Most of the time I can declare that at the service. 
c.	The difficult funerals are those that I am unsure about. 
d.	Once I was at a cemetery and I looked in the grave. I saw roots next to where the coffin was to be buried. It hit me. This person’s casket will be down there. Her body will be down there. That is why the Gospel matters. 
e.	The Gospel matters for the fuller life now and eternal life later. 
f.	Listen when we know Jesus death is a non-factor. 
g.	That is why Jesus’ birth is good news of great joy and for all people. 
h.	Jesus changed everything. Death is not the end. When Jesus was hanging on the cross He told the thief next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Through death, we pass into paradise which is Heaven. 
i.	C. S. Lewis—“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?”
j.	A weary traveler’s most dreaded sign is NO VACANCY, but that is not true with our home in Heaven. There is always room in his house. This speaks of God’s care for his own. 
k.	We can go to Heaven for all eternity because of Jesus.
l.	Jesus gives us abundant life now and eternal life later. 
m.	This is good news of great joy. 
n.	Certainly, when the angels came the people had been burdened trying to keep the law for their salvation. Jesus died and rose again and by grace we are saved. 
o.	This is good news of great joy. 
p.	This is for all people. 

A MOTHER was having a gathering to celebrate the birth of her newborn son. She invited a bunch of friends over to celebrate his arrival. She welcomed her guests, and they all had a great time celebrating, eating, and drinking.
After a while, one of the ladies said, “Well, bring the baby out. Let us see it.”
The mother went to get the baby from his crib—he was nowhere to be found. She started to panic and feel fearful. Suddenly, she remembered that the baby was still at her parents’ house, where she had left him that morning. She and the guests had been having so much fun they had forgotten what the party was about in the first place. During the Christmas season, many people get busy with celebration and forget that the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason for the season.147 

Jesus came and brought us good news of great joy for all people. 

Do you know Him?

Pray