Reading John 14:1-7
I don’t know about you but I feel the weight of the years I have accumulated – there is a weariness that I feel with life and living, Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that I’m fed up with life, just that at times I have to force myself to gather enthusiasm for it and for all the things that I need to do.
I had this dream that as I got older life would become slower and easier – the reality is that it busier and harder, at least for me. And there are moments when it is really hard just to keep going.
I read a story just last week of a girl who set out to swim a channel, it was a hard swim, a long swim, a demanding swim of 24 miles. When she was two thirds of the way across her strength began to fade but her mother travelling in the support boat encouraged her on. And she continued and then she stopped swimming and even though her mother called her to go on she just wouldn’t, felt she couldn’t – before her a fog lay on top of the water and she couldn’t see what lay ahead. They pulled her into the boat and headed through the fog – they were only half a mile from the shore. The lassie said, when she discovered this, if I had known I would have continued despite the pain and the exhaustion.
It seems like a fairly straightforward story but it certainly spoke to me. It whispered to the depths of my heart - don’t give up striving for Christ, don’t give up serving the Lord because of weariness and aches and pains and anxieties –through the fog of the future lies goal of all your journeying.
Now is not the time to slow down, not the time to give into weariness
Don’t give up, your journey is nearing its conclusion, behind you lies the vista of the years already travelled and before you, although you can’t see it, is the destination to which you have been doggedly heading. Don’t give up, keep serving. You may be tired, discouraged, disheartened but keep going, you’re almost there.
You don’t need me to tell you that there is much in this world that can bring a sense of overwhelming discouragement down upon you, the Christian is not exempt from these things - After having served for decades in Africa, a missionary couple, were returning to New York to retire. After years of service they had no pension and their health was failing. They were worried and discouraged. They were on the same ship as President Theodore Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his African hunting expeditions. No one paid any attention to the missionary couple. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President and his entourage.
During the voyage, the missionary said to his wife, “Something is wrong. We have given our lives in service to God in Africa all these years and no one cares a thing about us. Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.”
When the ship docked in new York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of news of the President’s arrival. No one was there for the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East side hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.
That night the man said to his wife, “I can’t take this, God is not treating us fairly.” His wife replied, “Why don’t you go into the other room and tell that to the Lord? He did just that and returned a short time later but his face was different. His wife asked him what happened. “The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one even met us at the dock. And when I finished complaining, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said ‘BUT YOU ARE NOT HOME YET.’” This world is not our home.
Our fleeting years here on earth are but a minuscule portion of our journey. There is another whole realm of life beyond this sphere in which we now exist. It is a place where God will make right all the wrongs of this life. It is a place where we will know life in all its richness and fullness. Heaven will be wonderful, beyond our wildest imaginations. As believers, we are just pilgrims journeying to our heavenly home. strangers and pilgrims on this earth (Hebs.11:13). Phil.3:20 our citizenship is in heaven” so don’t give up on the journey of striving and serving the Lord.
Just before His impending death, Jesus spoke to His disciples about this place called heaven. Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also. John 14:1-3
When Jesus said, “in my Father’s house,” the very words He used changed the whole character of the abode of the dead.“No longer was death to be viewed as an eerie journey to an unknown and frightening destination. For the first time people were able to think of death as a going home to their heavenly Father. It was seen as an entering into the presence of their Creator where all would be joy and light and love” (Maclaren). It was viewed as the one place where all the wrongs and inequities of this life would be made right. It was seen as the place where we would finally be reunited with loved ones who had died in Christ.
“When Jesus said- In My Father's house are many mansions; - the Greek word that He used for mansions also means ‘abiding places.’ - A very familiar image from the days of Jesus underlies these words. It was customary for travellers in those days to send some of their party on in advance to find lodging and make arrangements for them in distant cities. Many a time a disciple went ahead of Christ to make arrangements before He arrived for a gathering. That is what happened on the night of the first Lord’s Supper as two of the disciples, at Christ’s bidding, went before Him to make the arrangements.
The meaning of this passage is clear: Christ has gone before us to prepare an abiding place for us in heaven. He has made the arrangements for us. We can be absolutely certain that heaven is our final destination. Why can we be certain of heaven?
Simply because 2,000 years ago God sent us a Saviour. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and speaking of Mary said, “…she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins.”
In John 3:16 Jesus said, For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Heaven has been purchased for us through the shed blood of Christ. When we repent of our sin and receive the Christ of Christmas as our Saviour, we are given the gift of eternal life in heaven. That is Christ’s promise to us. Heaven is gained through faith in Christ. And so we can be absolutely certain of heaven. 1 John 5:13 I have written these things to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have everlasting life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. Not hope or wish but KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt!
Since we can be assured of heaven, we need not fear death and dying. Physical death is for the believer a triumphant gateway to the glory and splendours of heaven. Don’t give up!
WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE?
Let me encourage your hearts by reminding you of heaven. The only place we can go to find out what heaven is like is God’s Word. As a result of the limitations of our minds, Scripture is limited in its revelation.
Heaven is unfathomable to the human mind. Heaven is a place that defies our imagination. In 1 Cor.2:9 God tells us that - Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. Heaven is vastly superior to anything our minds can conjure up.
But there are some things about heaven that we do know. God has revealed to us some very important truths about heaven.
NO HEARTACHE, TEARS, PAIN OR DEATH - One thing we do know about heaven is that it will be a place where there will be no heartache, tears, pain or death. Rev. 21:4 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Heaven is our ultimate dwelling place or home.
UNHINDERED FELLOWSHIP - We also know that heaven is a place where we will enjoy unhindered fellowship with God. Our present fellowship with God is limited, hindered and distorted by sin, at times God seems distant and far removed.. We don’t always sense His presence. That will never be the case in heaven. 2 Cor.5:8 absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. In this earthly life we do have fellowship with God, but it is limited. In this life there are times when the Christian experiences God’s presence most clearly, when He feels so close. Wonderful moments! Yet fleeting moments – These times are only a foretaste of the how wonderful the presence of God will be in heaven. In this life you and I experience the presence of God intermittently; in heaven it will be uninterrupted. In this life our fellowship with God is marred by the sin of our lives; in heaven our fellowship will be unencumbered.
The time is coming when we shall know the Lord and be with Him. When our fellowship with Him will be unhindered. We will know God in a way that we cannot now even imagine.
We will experience the awesome Presence and glory of God. With that fellowship will come an unimaginable peace, contentment, and fulfilment.
HEAVENLY BODIES - 1 Cor.15:50 flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;. At physical death we leave behind our mortal bodies. The body dies but the soul lives on. The real us continues to exist. Our souls enter into the presence of Christ. - Eventually, in God’s timing at the return of Christ, our souls and bodies will be reunited – but those bodies will be renewed, changed, be made fit for the presence f God – perfect bodies. The effects of sin – decay, illness, disease, disorders – all will be gone.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. When we leave this life we will be like Jesus in many different ways not the least of which will be our resurrection bodies.
INCREASED KNOWLEDGE - Our knowledge of things will be greatly increased. We will know each other, We will even know those whom we have never met on earth, people like Moses, Abraham and the apostle Paul. We will know loved ones who have gone before us and now wait for us.
In 1 Cor.13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. Here on earth we see things imperfectly, - we know in part - and our knowledge of things is mixed with error. That is why we often reach wrong conclusions about God and His love. “In that day (when we get to heaven) we shall know as God knows us, and all that has puzzled us in this life will become clear”
In heaven we will be granted fuller knowledge of things and far greater insight. We all have a lot of unanswered questions about the sordid, sad and sinful things that occur daily in this world. We have a lot of questions about God and why he allows evil and suffering. There is so much about God that we cannot understand. Someday we will have answers to all these perplexing questions.
The story is told of a time when Albert Einstein was going on a train to an out-of-town engagement. The conductor stopped by to punch his ticket. The great scientist, preoccupied with his work, with great embarrassment, rummaged through his coat pockets and briefcase to no avail. He could not find his ticket.
The conductor said, “We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it. Everything is O:K.”
The conductor walked on down the aisle punching other tickets. Before he moved to the next car, he looked back and saw Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees looking under his seat trying to find his ticket.
He came back and gently said, “DR. Einstein, please don’t worry about it. I know who you are.”
Einstein looked up and said, “I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going!”
Do you know where you are going when you leave this life? You can know with absolute certainty. Heaven is a gift that is freely bestowed upon those who are trusting Christ to save them. Have you come to Christ for forgiveness? Are you trusting Him as your Saviour and Lord? If you are then you can, according to God’s Word, be guaranteed a place in heaven.
Thanks to the Christ of Christmas, a new and beautiful day will dawn when we close our eyes in death. We will leave this life and enter into our Father’s heavenly home. In the midst of life’s disappointments, trials, heartaches we need to remember that we are not home yet. Heaven is our home. So don’t give up, don’t stop striving for Christ, don’t stop serving Christ – carry on, be found labouring on when He calls you home.