“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for this world were those who thought most of the next.” – CS Lewis
Are You Living Up to Heaven?
According to 1 John 3:2-3, the reality of Heaven produces a purifying hope – a motivation to real, spiritual change (sanctification). Jesus told us to pray in faith for His kingdom to come to earth, so we should expect that to happen in us first, then through us (His kingdom is His authority, power, & glory manifested in beauty). First, Christ delivered several revolutionary principles to live by: the Beatitudes. If we would dare to live by them, we would experience Heaven within us (Matthew 5:3-12). After Heaven has come to us, then we will be ready to be salt and light in our dark and deteriorating world – and Heaven will come through us (5:13-16). [This is not an endorsement of amillenialism, but rather a plea to live in and love God’s kingdom until it comes in its fulness.]
Are You Loving Up to Heaven?
Relationships aren’t just part of life, they are life itself (both now and later). Too often, we make light of the ‘things’ with the most value. Actually, these ‘things’ are really people. God loves people; Jesus died for people. But some people make it downright difficult, don’t they?! Our Lord loved with incomparable compassion, mercy and pity, and He expects that of His followers, too (Matthew 5:43-48). The Challenge: to see people the way Heaven sees them and to treat them the same.
Are You Laying Up in Heaven?
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus requires generous management of God’s resources of His faithful disciples. We have two choices and only one dollar. If we invest in Bank A, we might earn 6% (annually), but if we invest in Bank B, we could earn 6,000%. The only catch is that Bank B requires a lifetime investment – that’s right, you won’t be able to touch your investments until you’re dead! I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying: “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” What most people don’t really understand is that there is a real (literal) bottom line in Heaven! As CS Lewis said, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.”
Do you believe that? We all know that a hearse doesn’t have a hitch for a U-haul – but do you really think we actually get literal rewards. Many Christians lose motivation because have bought into one of three myths: a) OVER-SPIRITUALISM: they believe Heaven’s rewards aren’t real; b) CASTING CROWNS: they think that they will just throw all their rewards at Jesus’ feet; c) HEAVENLY SOCIALISM: Jesus gives everyone in Heaven the same things and we won’t want / need rewards.
God loves rewarding His people & their service! Here are three examples of guaranteed rewards from the Sermon on the Mount:
*Great Possessions – for generous giving here on earth (see Matt 6:4; 1 Tim 6:19; Rev 3:18)
*Great Pleasures – for secret fasting here on earth (see Matt. 6:18)
*Great Power – for humble praying here on earth (see Matt. 6:6)
Are You Looking Up to Heaven?
It’s easy to lose focus on what you’ve never seen – that’ what makes the faith-life so difficult! Without an eternal perspective – worry, stress, fear, anxiety make our out-of-control lives too hard to handle. But when we stay focused on the One who is total control, then we rest in His power and wisdom (Matthew 6:25-34). An eternal perspective brings peace and keeps our priorities in order.
In 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim the 25+ mile Catalina Channel. After many hours of enduring the cold waves, as the evening fog blocked view of shoreline, she gave up – much to the dismay of her coach and mother in nearby boats. As she was pulled into the boat, she realized how near to the shore she really was. She wept as she said, “If could have only seen the shore, I know I would have made it.” Two months later, she attempted the grueling task again – this time finishing in record time. She told reporters that when she struggled and was tempted to quit, she just recalled that sight of the shore in her minds eye and that gave her enough strength to push on to the end.
*A Word of WARNING:
– Your words alone don’t secure Heaven (7:21) – There are lots of ‘claimers’ (false professors).
– Your actions don’t secure Heaven either (7:22) – There will be many religious surprised / disappointed.
– True believers say & do what Jesus Christ, the Word of God, requires (7:24).