Monday, August 3, 2009

reasons to gaze upon heaven now.

When I erase all my excuses, I am utterly convicted as to how seldom I think about heaven. For believers who have placed saving faith in Jesus Christ as LORD, heaven is home. There is no other home in comparison to heaven for the Christian. Some reasons have come to my mind as to why we should gaze upon heaven now.

First, we must gaze upon heaven now because heaven is the eternal home for every Christian. Second, we must gaze upon heaven now because this forces us to live heavenly-focused lives instead of earthly-focused lives (which is what Hollywood and most other aspects of culture point us to). Third, we must gaze upon heaven now because that will transform us as we live through, endure through, and triumph through trials, struggles, discouragements, and persecutions in this life. That trials are tough is not the issue; the issue, rather, is how the Christian endures and perseveres through the trial with a God-centered and a heavenly-centered focus. When these are in order, the trial is manageable—yes, even more, the trial is profitable to strengthen our faith to the greater glory of God!

Fourth, we must gaze upon heaven now because that will force us to not store up treasures on this earth but rather to store up lasting, eternal, and glorious treasures in heaven. We will become less consumed with our earthly houses here and become more enraptured in our eternal dwellings made by God Himself. Fifth, we must gaze upon heaven now because this will inevitably remind us of the cross of Jesus Christ and the blessed gospel of God. Indeed, the only reason the Christian may gaze expectantly on heaven is because of God’s grace and mercy in sending Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice for sinners who place their faith and trust in Him. What a glorious reason to gaze upon heaven! For the cross and heaven to be daily gazed upon is to feed oneself with the insoluble nourishment from God Himself.

Sixth and finally, we must gaze upon heaven now because heaven is where the believer will meet his Savior, Redeemer, and Lord face to face. If there ought to ever exist in our hearts a lovesick passion or a longing to meet someone, it should be the Christians insatiable passion to meet Jesus Christ face to face—which will most certainly happen! As a wife expectantly waits for her husband to return home from a long journey to a distant land, so should the believer wait with an eager anticipation and an all-consuming passion for the blessed reunion with his King, Lord, Savior, and Friend.

May we live today—and every day—gazing upon heaven! Indeed, heaven is our home, not this earth. Let us live like Christians bound for glory, not Christians bound by this earth.


St. Louis GRANDMOM said...

I love this reminder, honey! We are bound for the Celestial City!

Dad said...

From Derek Thomas' sermon on Christian crossing the river to the Celestial City..

I think Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and particularly these closing, moving chapters as he describes how Hopeful and Christian must cross the River of Death to enter the Gates of the Celestial City are very appropriate to us today.

Richard Baxter wrote a hymn,

“Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care

Whether I die or live;

To love and serve Thee is my share,

And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad

That I may long obey;

If short, yet why should I be sad

To welcome endless day?

Christ leads me through no darker rooms

Than He went through before.

He that unto God’s kingdom comes

Must enter by this door.”

You remember the story of John Wesley, when on horseback stopped by someone who puts to him this question as he’s traveling hither and yon preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in various towns and villages as was his wont, “What would you do if you knew you would die within 24 hours?” And apparently he went into his saddlebag and brought out his diary to see what he was doing tomorrow, and he said, “Precisely what is written here.” Living each day as if your last...estimating everything, evaluating all that we do in the light of how significant and how important they will be on our death day.

And then, another principle, I think: that you and I ought to dwell and meditate on heaven as a daily spiritual exercise at least once a day, at least for a few minutes every day, to deliberately ponder the life that is to come; to think about the golden streets of Jerusalem, to think about that robe of righteousness that we will be given; to think about the transformed soul and reunited body after the intermediate state is over with and Jesus has come again, and our bodies have been raised from the dead to be reunited with our souls, and we can walk and talk in the streets of that Jerusalem – so that crossing the River, yes! Actually to be anticipated!

You remember the wonderful account of Stonewall Jackson. On Sunday, May 10, in 1863, Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson passed from this earth, a devoutly religious man. When notified that he had not long to live, Jackson replied, “It is the Lord’s Day. My wish is fulfilled. I’ve always desired to die on a Sunday.” Capt. James Power Smith, who all night long kept his General warmly wrapped and undisturbed in his sleep, would later write:

“And here, against our hopes, notwithstanding the skill and care of wise and watchful surgeons, attended day and night by his wife and friends, and the prayers and tears of all the Southern land, thinking not of himself but of the cause he loved and for the troops who had followed him so well and given him so great a name, our chief sank day by day with symptoms of pneumonia and some pains of pleurisy until 3:15 p.m., in the quiet of a Sabbath afternoon, May 10, 1863, he raised himself from his bed saying, “No! No! Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” And falling again to his pillow, he passed away over the river, where, in a land where warfare is not known or feared, he rests forever under the trees.”

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