Why Focus on Heaven?

Heaven April 14, 2024 Colossians 3:1-4 Notes

Many Christians today seem to doubt and know nothing of heaven. What do you know about heaven? What do you believe about it? Are you focused on heaven?
Do you have questions like: “Do Christians immediately go to heaven when they die?”“What kind of body will we have in heaven?” “What about hell?” “What about the near death experiences people have reported about visiting heaven?” “What about the new heaven and the new earth?”

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he called believers to focus their hearts and minds on heaven.



Good morning, church. Good to see all of you here today. We're kicking off a new series today. Are you excited? We're going to be talking about heaven.

Heaven. It's better than you ever imagined. And over the next six weeks, that's what we will be talking about. Now, before we dig in, I want to give glory to the Lord and thankfulness for his faithfulness. On Easter Sunday a couple weeks ago, if you were here and you showed up a little bit late, you couldn't find a seat at either service.

Both services were packed. And I give glory to the Lord for his faithfulness. That he gave us a vision to make room for more people a few years ago and that we were able to be faithful. That he made it possible for us to be generous and sacrificial in our giving so that we could launch our other service that meets next door in the gathering place, so that we have the gathering place. If we hadn't had the gathering place, we wouldn't had enough.

We would have had to turn away about 60 people, both services. And it's pretty amazing the way the church is growing right now. So we're excited about that. And we want to give God glory, and we want to continue to be faithful, don't we? We want to continue to see God's faithfulness, and we want to continue to be faithful with our generosity and our service, so that we can be the kind of church that collaborates with other churches in our city to see the gospel saturate this city, so that every man, woman and child has repeated opportunities to see and hear the gospel.

And so we're excited about God's faithfulness. Yay, God, right? Amen. And so I wanted to give God glory for that, for the way he's growing our church right now. In fact, we just had a membership class last month, and now we're having another one today.

And at the end of the service today, we'll be presenting to you some more new members. And so the church is growing, and God is faithful. Well, now back to our sermon series. Over the next six weeks, we're going to be talking about heaven, and it's something that a lot of people have questions about and don't know a lot about. In fact, most of what we know about heaven tends to be from not the church, but from Hollywood or from some commercial or something on television.

We are christians, and we say that we are citizens of heaven, but we tend not to know much about it. Now, over the next few weeks, we're going to be trying to answer questions such as this. What's heaven like? Will we know one another in heaven? What will we do in heaven?

What do you do while you're in heaven? I had a member of my community group pull me aside a couple weeks ago, and he said, I know you got this sermon series on heaven coming up, and he got this look on his face like he was hesitating. I said, well, go ahead and ask, brother. What is it? He goes.

He goes, is it going to be like just one big, long worship service? And I said, no, it's not. I mean, that's what a lot of people think. A lot of people think heaven is going to be like. Like a thousand years of us in white robes playing harps, floating on clouds with fat, flying angels flying around us, you know?

You know, that's not what the Bible says heaven is like. That's actually an Angel Soft television commercial. That's what that is. And so he was relieved.

He's like, whew, okay, I guess I'll come, you know, to this thing. He's worried about what heaven was going to be like. We're going to discuss questions like, who goes to heaven? I recently listened to a sermon by doctor David Jeremiah, and he told a story about a Sunday school teacher. She was teaching a fifth grade class about heaven, and she said, look, if I sell everything I have and I give it all to the church, will I go to heaven?

And the children all said, no. And she goes, well, if I clean my house every day and I help my husband and I mow the grass and I do all this work, well, then will I go to heaven? And they all said, no. And she was like, well, if I love everybody and I love animals and I just love everything, will I go to heaven? And they all said, no.

She goes, well, what do I have to do to go to heaven? And it was quiet for a minute, and a little boy that was visiting for the first time, he was sitting in the back row. He shouted out, you have to be dead. You have to be dead to go to heaven. And you know what?

He's really right. You know, the death rate is 100%. The death rate's 100%. Everybody dies. Everybody dies, and everybody faces eternity.

And the Bible says there are two destinations for all of us in eternity, and it's heaven or hell. But we're going to be talking about heaven and those kinds of questions. Here's some more questions we're going to consider over the next few weeks. Do christians immediately go to heaven when they die? Do they immediately go to heaven?

What kind of body will we have in heaven? What about hell? What about the near death experiences that people report having where they claim to have visited heaven before they return? What about the new heaven and the new earth that we read about in the book of revelation? Well, these are some of the questions we'll attempt to answer over the next six weeks.

And as you're sitting in this service today, don't expect us to be able to answer them all in one sermon today. What we want to commit to is saying to ourselves that this is an important endeavor, that it's important that we learn to focus on heaven. That's the question we're going to answer today, is, why focus on heaven? Why should we seek after it? Why should we desire it?

Why should we be heavenly minded? The late Sci-Fi author and well known atheist professor of biochemistry, Isaac Asimov once said, “I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” He had a low view of the afterlife. He really didn't know what the Bible taught about heaven.

He saw it as a boring place. The brilliant British physicist and atheist Stephen Hawking said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail… There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” That's a sad testimony on these two men that now have found themselves in eternity without any knowledge or faith of what the Bible says about heaven.

But even more sad is how many christians today know very little about heaven, have never really given much thought to heaven. I must say to you that I have been focused on heaven since I was eight years old. It took this to get me there. And maybe some of you could relate to this. My father died when I was eight years old.

I'm the oldest of four children. I was a daddy's boy, and I looked up to my dad. He was my hero. He died when he was 39 years old of cancer. And I had questions.

In fact, my family was so concerned about me, they called the preacher over to the house to talk to me, and he had everybody leave the room. And he took me into my mama's kitchen, and we sat down at the kitchen table. His name was Fred Potter, preacher Fred Potter. He's with the Lord now. He said, Gary, I understand you have some questions.

And I said, I got some questions. I said, my first question is, where's my daddy now? Where's my daddy now? That's what I wanted to know. He goes, the Bible says, absent from the body, present with the Lord.

Your daddy was a believer, son. I knew your daddy. He trusted in Jesus. He's with Jesus now. Heaven.

I said, okay, well, I got another question. Can he see me? Can my daddy see me? Because it was really important to me. I reported into my dad every day, like, and I wanted him to be proud of me.

And I was used to talking to him about the things I was doing in sports and in school and those kind of things. I missed that. And I said, can he see me? And he says, well, I'm not as sure about the answer to that, but I think he can. The Bible says in the book of Hebrews 12:1, that there is “great cloud of witnesses” who watch us run life’s race, of saints who have gone on before, who are cheering us on and watching us as we run life's race.

He said, I suspect that your daddy can see you. I don't know how much he can see, but I believe he can see some of what you do. Now, may I say to you, I still. I'm 65 years old and I still remember asking him those two questions when I was eight years old. And ever since then I've been on a journey that I've never been able to get heaven far out of my mind.

Now, if you're here this morning and you've ever had a tragedy in your life, you've ever encountered the reality of death, then I guarantee you, you got some heaven on your mind. You got some afterlife thinking that you had to do. Now, for some of us, you stuffed it and you pressed it aside. But for others, like myself, maybe you said, I need to get to the bottom of this. And I believe that the Bible tells us all we need to know on this side of heaven, what we need to know about heaven.

And the first point I want to make today is the Bible encourages us to focus our minds and our hearts on heaven. In the book of Colossians chapter three, the apostle Paul told the Colossian believers there that they were to focus their hearts and minds on heaven. And I believe today that we can do that. We can learn to focus our hearts and minds on heaven. And as we look at the text today, we'll see four reasons why we should focus on heaven.

Let's dig in. Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV) 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  This is God's word. Amen.

We're going to be looking for four reasons to focus on heaven. Here's the first:

1. Because we are called to seek it.

We are called to seek it. Look at verse one.  Circle the word seek. If you're taking notes today, see that word seek?

In the Greek, it's in the present active imperative. In other words, present tense means ongoing. That you should seek and keep on seeking continuous action. And that it's an imperative means it's a command. The apostle Paul is saying to the church of believers at Colossae, I know there's a lot going on in your city right now, and I know there's persecution, I know there's difficulty.

But you should keep on seeking the things above. Keep on seeking the things of heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he says, keep on doing that. That's what I command you to do. That's what I call you to do, is to seek the things that are above. Why does he mention that Christ is at the right hand of God?

To say he's at the right hand of God is to say he's in the position of power and authority, and that we are to seek his authority and his power to live this life as Christians. And so to seek the things above are to seek his will for our life and say, Jesus, what do you want me to do with my life today? How do you want me to do this? Or how do you want me to do my job? Or how do you want me to take this test at school?

Or how do you want me to behave inside of my marriage? Or whatever it is you're doing as a believer? To be heavenly minded, to seek the things that are above is to seek God's will for your life. To seek the Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father, to seek his will for your life is to seek heavenly things. It's to seek things of heaven rather than earth.

And when we speak of earth, we speak of that which is temporary, temporal. But when we speak of heaven, we speak of that which is eternal. And so you're to seek eternal things, not just temporary things, not just things that would satisfy for a moment, but things that would fulfill for all time. And so that's what he's calling us to, to seek Christ and to seek his will and to pray for his will. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 (ESV) "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Perhaps you've heard it said, "He was so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good." Have you ever heard that statement? Well, that statement's not in the Bible. And it does speak of that person who has their head in the clouds. And maybe they're not practical, but the Bible says quite the opposite.

The Bible says to get a heavenly mind, to be heavenly minded, to order up your life in such a way, if you're a parent, the way you're raising up your kids. Yeah, I want to feed them and clothe them and make sure they get an education. But more than anything, I want them to go to heaven with me. I want them to go. I want them to be in eternity with me.

And so I want to order up my life as a father and as a grandfather, so that my children and my grandchildren join me in glory someday. And so I want to be heavenly minded. I want to seek the things that are above. And so this is what we're called to. If you will seek that first, all these things will be added to you.

C.S. Lewis said this, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” And so we're to aim at heaven. We're to seek heaven.

And you might be saying, some of you that have been readers of the Bible, doesn't the Bible say that you can't really imagine heaven, that it's really beyond your scope of thinking? Gary, why are you telling us to think on it when we can't really even imagine what it's like? Well, maybe you didn't read the whole passage. Let me go to that passage that you might be thinking of.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NKJV) 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit…"  Now, this is what I'm saying to you. Yeah. You can't imagine what heaven is like on your own. It's beyond the veil.

It's beyond this world. But the word of God has revealed it to us by his spirit. There's so much in the Bible about heaven, you won't even believe. I want you to be convinced over the next six weeks. There's a lot to look forward to in heaven.

Oh, it's good. It's better than better. I want to get us all to that place where we become heavenly minded so that we're ordering up our life according to heaven. Did you know how prominent the word heaven is in the Bible? It's in the Bible in the ESV translation, 692 times the word heaven or heavens or heavenly in the Bible. It's in the Old Testament 426 times and  it's in the New Testamen  266 times. The Book of the Old Testament that has the most occurrences is the book of Psalms. That's not surprising.

The Book of Psalms has its 76 occurrences. 76 times the word heaven or heavenly is in the book of Psalms in the New Testament. Might you guess what would be the most prominent book in the New Testament? It's Matthew. And mostly from  the mouth of Jesus, 75 times, which is more than any other place in the Bible except for Psalms, which is 76 times. The second most prominent place of the word heaven in the New Testament is the book of Revelation. It has it there 46 times. Gary, why are you telling us about all the occurrences of this word? Because of its prominence.

Because the Bible has a lot to say about heaven. Have you studied on this? Have you considered this? It's prominent. Didn't Jesus teach us how to pray so that we seek God's kingdom of heaven?

He says in “Matthew 6:9-10 (KJV) "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…" This is what it means to seek the things above. It means to seek God's will so that as God wills it in his throne room in heaven, so it is carried out through our lives on this earth.

To seek heaven, to be heavenly minded means to order up our lives in such a way that we know we are heaven bound, that that's where we're headed. So that's the first reason to focus on heaven. I guess I could just state it like this, because the Bible said to. The Bible called us to.

It said to seek things that are above, and it commands us to think on heaven. That's a good enough reason for me, but I've got three more, and so does Paul. So let's cover them. Here's the second reason:

2. Because it’s where Christ our true home is.

Notice the word where, in verse one, it says, seek the things that are above where Christ is. That word, where,  is a location word, isn't it? It's saying that heaven is a location. And the detail doesn't give us a very good gps coordinate here.

If you were trying to find your way to heaven, you might say, well, I don't know if I can get there based on that, but I would say to you, it's sufficient, it's a sufficient gps. How do you get to heaven? Well, it's where Christ is. Well, how do you get there? You got to know Christ.

It's where Christ is. And the only way to get there is via Christ. He's the key to being in heaven, and he's there now. He ascended to the Father. He's at the right hand of the father.

He's in heaven. And all the saints who have gone on before are there with him. And they await you and I as believers for our arrival. That's where he is, and that's where our true home is. That's where our heart's desire, our deepest heart's desire is.

Now, as I think about heaven, the word in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word in the Old Testament testament is "šhāmayim.” In fact, we find that word in the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

"Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz " it says in the Hebrew. "šhāmayim” means lofty, high and above. "šhāmayim” is the Old Testament word, the Hebrew word for heaven. The New Testament word is, and maybe that sounds familiar to you, it's the name of the 8th planet, "ouranos." And so it means heavens in the Greek.

Both mean lofty high and refer to the heavens, and both occur throughout the scripture. And yet the scripture also uses another word to describe heavens. It's the word paradise. Paradise. And some have been confused about what Paul says about it.

Let's read that today from 2 Corinthians, chapter 12. This is the apostle Paul talking about paradise. He says in 2 Corinthians 12:2-3 (ESV) 2 "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—"

And so he equates the third heaven with a place called paradise. Now, some cults have misunderstood this third heaven as if there were some kind of levels in heaven. That's not at all what the apostle Paul is talking about. To the Jewish mind, this would have made perfect sense upon hearing it, because we see throughout the scripture there are three heavens, or at least three ways the word heaven is used.

The first way the word heaven is used is found in Genesis 1:20 (ESV) And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  And so the first heaven is the atmospheric heaven. It's the heaven that if you walk out today as you're leaving the church, you'll see the blue sky. That's the first heaven, the atmospheric heaven. You see it all the time. That's the first heaven.

The second heaven is also found in Genesis 1:15 (ESV) And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years." Now, he's talking about the stellar heaven, and it's best seen at night when you look into the black sky and you see all the starry hosts. And so that's the outer space, the stellar heaven.

Paul is not speaking of either of those heavens, neither the atmospheric nor the stellar heaven. He's speaking of the third heaven, which he's calling paradise. And the third heaven is the present heaven. It's the place where Christ is at this moment. It's the place where our loved ones who believe in Christ have gone on before us.

It's a real place, and that's where it is now. Paul was caught up. He doesn't know if it was a vision or somehow God grabbed his body and snatched him up there. He doesn't know. It was so real to him.

He doesn't know which one it was,  but he was snatched up to that place. Now, the word paradise only occurs three times in the New Testament. It only occurs three times in the Bible, and it's where we just read it in 2 Corinthians. But we also see it where Jesus is talking.

Remember, we just went through our series about the cross recently, right? We did five weeks of meditations on the cross, and one of the weeks we really focused in on that thief that was on the cross next to Jesus, who said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And what did Jesus say to him? He says, "Truly, I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise." And so that's one of the three occurrences.

Paul says it in 2 Corinthians. Jesus is quoted saying it in Luke. He says something very clear here, that we'll unpack more in the coming  weeks. He says, "today you will be with me in paradise."

And so we have that occurrence, and then we have a third occurrence in Revelation 2:7 (ESV) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ That's the third occurrence of the word paradise.

The word paradise seems to be a synonymous equivalent with present heaven. Now, the word paradise literally means a planted garden, a beautiful garden. And when the Greeks translated the old  testament from Hebrew to Greek, that volume is called the Septuagint. When they translated Genesis, whenever they encountered the Garden of Eden, they would say, the paradise of Eden. And so the word paradise is significant in the Bible.

In fact, if you looked at the ark of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, you would see the purposes of God. Begin the first two chapters. Now, mark this. The first two chapters of Genesis speak of that planted garden that God himself planted and placed Adam and Eve in. In perfection.

And in that was the tree of life. Okay? And then the last two chapters of the Bible in the book of Revelation speak of the tree of life and that paradise, that heaven comes back to earth and that God abides with man. He started it here, but then he pulls it away. I think paradise.

I think the garden of Eden, the tree of life, as we just read in revelation two seven, is currently in the presence heaven of until it will be revealed again in the future. Heaven is a real place. It's a prepared place. It's a future home for all of us. In the father's house.

Look what Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:1-3 (NKJV) 1 “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; that where I am, there you may be also."  It's a real place. It's the father's house.

It's a real place. Heaven is a real place, and it's a home for which our heart longs. Solomon talked about this in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end."

It's like we have this longing for a home that's not here we're looking for. It's like every one of us is looking for something that would last without change. It's like God has set eternity in heart, and so he has. C.S. Lewis says, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” And so we are. We were made for another world, and so we have a longing for heaven built within us.

Now, my mother passed away in 2001; her home was in Bristol, Virginia. Whenever I take my children and my grandchildren back up to visit, we'll often drive by the home place, the home. And whenever she died, we emptied the home and we divvied up the possessions between the four children, and we sold the home to a family friend.

That person still lives there, and we've had an open invitation all along that we could visit any time if we just wanted to come in and see the old house that we grew up in. We've never taken them up on it. I just don't want to really see how he changed the place, if you know what I mean. But I do drive with my kids and my grandkids now. My kids, if I drive by, they all get, like, you know, their lower lips stuck out because they remember being there.

They remember every room of the house and being there with Nanny and with all of us and having a great time and all the smells of the food and all the love and laughter. Now, the grandkids, I said, now, that's where I played ball, in that yard right there. And see that tree? I used to climb that tree. They all go, that's nice, papa, what are we going to do now?

They don't even know what I'm talking about. You know what I mean? But the kids get it. But you can't go home again. You know why it's not home anymore?

Because Mama's not there. Daddy's not there. Just a house. Your heart's hungry for, something that you can't get back to. Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you?

There's a longing that only Christ can fulfill, because Christ is our home now. If you believe in Jesus, your heart's home is in him. And where's he at? Where's Christ? He's in heaven waiting for you.

He's prepared a place for us, it says. Have you felt this longing for your true home, for Christ, our true home, that nothing on this world can satisfy? That's the second reason that we're to focus on heaven. Here's the third:

3. Because we are called to set our minds on it.

There are two imperative verbs in this passage. The first I've already covered, seek the things. Seek. That's an imperative. And here's the second one.

Set your minds. Set your minds on things above. And that's also in the present active imperative in the Greek. And it literally means to direct one's mind, to cause your mind to think on, to set your affection on.  As it says in the King James version translation, "to be heavenly minded." To choose to think about heaven, to peer in and to allow your mind to imagine the things of heaven.

We're called to this, and so we're called to set our minds on it, not the things on earth, not worldly, temporal things. It's so easy to get caught up in earthly things. Yesterday, the nation of Iran sent hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, and they came from various locations, from Syria, from Iran, and apparently very few of them got through because they have that ability there, that shield that that's been helpfully provided from the US. And so the Brits and the French and the US predominantly also joined the Israelis to protect that. And so you might be here today and go like Gary, what in the world is going on in the Middle east? Is the end at hand? Is Christ coming soon? Perhaps. The Bible says no man knoweth the hour.

So I'm not going to choose a time, because the Bible says no man knows. But the signs are present, aren't they? The signs are present. But am I concerned? No.

Look, I've got my mind set on heaven. Yeah, these things will happen, but I know my destination. How about you? This is the purpose of this series is as we launch, this is the launching pad of the series today is to agree with me, we need to set our minds on heaven. We need to set our minds on things above and not to be overly caught up in the things of the earth, so that we become anxious and troubled.

"Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me and my father's house."Right? Be focused on the father's house.

Set your minds. Why? Because you died. Your old life, this worldly life, is dead. And your, your life, your new life says, is hidden with Christ.

Verse three, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ."  We don't even know what it is God's up to with us. Oh, the glory that awaits us. The true life that you have is not even revealed to you yet. It's hidden in Christ.

In God. The word hidden in the Greek is the Greek word,  "kruptō." It's where we get the word crypto. Your life is encrypted in Christ. It's hidden in Christ.

But one day, verse four says, your life will appear. When Christ appears, it will be manifest, it will be revealed. But for now it is hidden. Your life is hidden. And so set your mind on where your life already is.

It's hard to get your mind around this mystery, but the fact is that we are already positionally in Christ at the right hand of the Father. Experientially, I'm still here. Positionally, I'm already there. I just hadn't caught up with that reality yet. That's what theologians call the "already not yet" of this promise.

We're "already there, but not yet."  But we should live like we're already there. We should focus our minds. Romans 8:5-6 (ESV) 5 "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." And so it's motivating to us to set our minds on heaven. In fact, Warren Wiersbe says this,  “Heaven is more than a destination; it is a motivation. Knowing that we shall dwell in the heavenly city ought to make a difference in our lives here and now.”

Knowing that we shall dwell in the heavenly city ought to make a difference in our lives here and now. And it is. It's more than a destination, it's a motivation. And setting our minds on heaven means living like strangers and exiles here. It often means that we'll feel like we don't fit in, because we don't, we're made for a different home.

Hebrews talks about it. Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV) 13 "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."

And I see several synonyms for heaven here, a better country, a homeland, a city. And these are all ways of talking about heaven.

It means that we are to be wise in numbering our days so that we are focused on heaven. In Psalm 90:10-12 (NIV) "Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  Recognize this. The death rate is 100%. Number your days so that you order up your life with heaven in mind.

Recently, we all reset our clocks because somebody said it was daylight savings time. We all just agreed nothing happened in the stellar heavens. The sun and the moon didn't change in any aspect of their orbits.

We just decided we're all going to agree to spring forward. And so we did. And for about a week or two, our bodies had to catch up. We felt a little bit lethargic and like, oh, my goodness, spring forward. I always like, fall back in the fall better than spring forward.

Can I get a witness on that? When I always feel better about fallback than I do spring forward? But it's all a little game we play with time. We just say, you know, we're going to reset our watches and our clocks, and we convince ourselves that actually this time is now, that time, and we all agree on it. And before long, we all believe it.

In a way, this is kind of what Paul is talking about here. He says, stop setting your time on temporary earthly time. Set your clock, your heart clock, your mind clock on heavenly time, so that you're thinking with eternity in view, and do this intentionally, choose to think, will this matter in eternity? What I'm worried about today, what I'm concerned about today, what's got me all worked up today? Or will this other thing matter more?

And so I say to you, what really matters is what you can take to heaven with you. People say, you can't take anything to heaven with you. Well, yes, you can. Everything you give away, you send ahead. And every person you tell about Jesus to, they join you there.

And so I would say to you, keep your mind on heaven. Now, here's the fourth reason. We've gone through three. We've talked about how we're called to seek it, how it's our true home in Christ, how we're called to set our mind. And then, finally:

4. Because it’s where our true and future life is.

We're on verse four now, and it talks about here, when Christ appears, who is your life.

Verse 4,  "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." When he appears, that which was hidden, your true life, which was hidden even from you, will now appear. When he appears. Now, when he appears here, what is it speaking of? I think it's probably speaking of his rapture of the church as my belief here.

But it might also be speaking, or perhaps speaking of his second coming. At either aspect, either one of these. It's when Christ appears and our bodies are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and so we become glorious with him. And so what? We're going to be friends.

You have no idea. As believers, one day you're going to look around at each other that we see together as family, this church, and we're going to go, oh, my goodness. How glorious, how beautiful, how magnificent you are. I knew you were my friend, and I knew I loved you. But I had no idea what God was doing in you.

It's hidden right now. But one day, we will be like him. We will appear with him, and the most glorious of all will be our redeemer, Jesus Christ. Our true home, our true savior will be like him. In fact, we read in 1 John 3:2 (NLT) "Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is." That verse right there, in 1 John 3:2 is one of my life verses. Because when I was a little boy, I wanted to be just like my daddy. That was my I want to be.

I want to grow up to be just like my daddy, like that. But as I grew and as the Father in heaven became my father, and as I would call out to him, that wound of losing my daddy when I was a little boy was replaced by the comfort of the father. This 1 John 3:2, I know it in the King James," We know not yet what we shall be, but when we see him, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

I want to be like Jesus, and I'm glad, because that's what he's doing. When Christ appears, we'll go, oh, that's what you were up to. You're making us like him.

And he's not the only one we'll see there. We'll see our redeemer. We'll see our relationships. Those have gone before us. Is there anybody over on the other side of Jordan that you want to see?

I know we all want to see Jesus. Do you know somebody that's already over there? You know, the older you get, you often will start thinking, you know, I feel like there's more people over there than there is over here with me. And so it is. And our riches and our reward is in heaven.

But mostly important. Do you have a reservation for heaven? It says in Revelation 21:27 (ESV) "But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life."  Do you have a reservation for heaven? Have you got your reservation in?

Are you headed to heaven? You know, Hollywood says everybody's going to heaven. People think, oh, well, I think if you're good enough, you're going to heaven. But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says, "narrow is the way and broad is the path to destruction." Narrow is the way to heaven.

Remember earlier when I was talking about John 14, where Jesus was talking to his disciples about how he was going to be crucified and raised again on the third day? And he saw that they were troubled, and he said, "let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go there to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also."  But he doesn't stop there because he goes, and you know the way to where I'm going. You know where I'm going. And Thomas goes, time out here.

I got a question. It's very practical. We don't know where you're going, Lord, so how can you say we know the way? I'm glad for Thomas because I have those kind of questions, too. And Jesus said, I am the way.

I am the truth. I am the life. No man comes to the father except through me.

You see, that's your gps right there. You want a reservation for heaven? There's only one way. It's through Jesus. He's there waiting for us.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to talk about the beauty and the wonder and the magnificence of heaven and why we should think about it. But today, do you have a reservation? Here's the good news. God is still open for reservations. Heaven is still taking reservations.

And how do you get one? Well, you ask Jesus to save you. You ask Jesus to be your lord and savior. As I was preparing this sermon this week. I kept hearing a song in my head.

And I hear old hymns. Because back in the day, people used to write a lot of songs about heaven. And this is the one I heard in my head this week because of my mama. And it's an old song by Jack Brumley called. I'm bound for that city.

My voice is not in good shape today. But I think the Bible says to make a joyful noise. So I'll try that.

I’M BOUND FOR THAT CITY There's a city of light where there cometh no night for the sun never sets in the sky In the bible we're told that the streets are pure gold and a cool gentle river runs by I'm bound for that city, God’s holy white city, oh yes I am I’ll never turn back to this world anymore any more No matter how rough may be the way No matter how oft I stop to pray I'm bound for that city on that evergreen shore

You got your reservation? Are you bound for that city? The Bible says that we're to focus on heaven. Let's pray.

Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for Jesus. I first of all pray for the person today. That maybe it's you. My friend, you've never made your reservation.

You've never asked Jesus to be your lord and savior. He's the way to heaven.

You can pray with me right now, right in your seat. Prayer is just an expression of faith. Pray like this. Dear Lord Jesus, right where you are. Dear Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner.

I repent of my sin. And I turn to you. I believe you died on the cross for me. For my sin. And that you were raised from the grave.

And that you live today. Come and live in me. Forgive me of my sin. And make me the person you want me to be. Adopt me into your family.

I want to be a child of God. And I want to follow you all the days of my life. As my Lord and Savior. If you're praying that prayer of faith. Believing he'll save you.

Others are here today, and you're a believer. You already know that you're a follower of Jesus. But you've had your mind on so many things. You're worried. You're troubled, you're anxious.

Would you lift your eyes right now and say. Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for being so caught up in the things of this day. Lord, help me to begin to think more and more about you and about what your will for my life is and how. Am I teaching my family?

Am I teaching my kids? Am I grandkids? Am I teaching? Am I telling others about you? Because, Lord, we don't know how soon it'll be, but we feel like you're coming soon.

Lord, help us to prepare for you and to make sure those we care about are prepared for you, too. Lord, forgive us for being so caught up in other things. Help us to focus on you. In Jesus name, Amen.



Good morning, church. It's good to see all of you. We're going to be in the book of colossians today. If you got your bibles with you, we're starting a new series this morning on heaven, and I hope that's something that you'll be. If nothing else, you're going to be encouraged by this series.

There are some things in it that will be convicting, I think, just by the nature of what God's doing in his word. But overall, this text, this series, is probably going to make your heart swell. I hope. That's kind of my aim, is that over the next six weeks together we would consider heaven and that it would truly be better than we ever imagined. That even as we get into descriptions, as we tear through our word together, we're going to find out there's so much mystery there, there's so much wonder there that it is absolutely going to be better than we can preach.

It's going to be better than we can imagine together. But we're going to do our best to really consider some things. We're going to ask a few questions over the next few weeks. Today we're asking this question, why should we focus on heaven at all? Why is it important that we focus on heaven?

We're not there yet. We're not dead, obviously. So why should this be something we look forward to? And we're going to give some key reasons today on that. But over the next couple weeks, we're going to be asking some other questions, like, what's heaven like?

Are we going to know each other there? What are we going to be doing in heaven? I get these kinds of questions a lot from people who are perhaps when they've just lost a loved one or are just considering it for some reason. They'll ask a lot of these kinds of questions. And some of you in the room have an idea of heaven that perhaps needs a little bit of adjusting because you're a little concerned you're going to get bored up there.

And if that's true, you're thinking of the wrong place. You might be thinking to yourself, I don't want to be one of these babies and diapers with harps and wings. I don't want to do that. Well, good. Neither do I.

That sounds horrible. That's not heaven. So we're going to get into that for the next few weeks together. Christians, after all, should be seeking, desiring, setting our hearts and minds on this place. Now, here's what's interesting.

There's a lot of people around even, perhaps even believers at times that really don't want to spend any time thinking of the afterlife, but especially those outside the faith. You may have heard of this man, Isaac Asimov, famous author, a well known atheist, a professor of biochemistry. His works are pretty interesting. They're very fascinating. He said this, I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell or fearing heaven even more.

He says, for whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse. Interesting. The brilliant british physicist and atheist Stephen Hawking said, I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when all of its components fail. There's no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers. That is a fairy story, he says, for people afraid of the dark.

Well, he might be right. Every once in a while I do get a little afraid of the dark. I'm not gonna lie to you. If I watch a scary movie, it just does me in. I'm not the scary movie type, but he's wrong about some things.

And sadly, there's many brilliant men that have no knowledge or faith of God and what he's revealed about heaven. And if they had, perhaps if they could get a glimpse, as I hope we will, of what heaven is and will be, it would change the way we live. It would change the way we think. I think sadly for a lot of believers, a lot of churchgoers, a lot of christians, we know or doubt many things about heaven. And so I want to spend the next few weeks with you today, next today and including the next few weeks really focusing in and finding out what we believe.

So we're going to be in the book of Colossians today in the Apostle Paul's letter, and here in chapter three, he called believers to focus their hearts and their minds on heaven. We're called to do this. Did you know that? We're called to focus our hearts and minds on heaven. So why?

Why do we do this? Why are we called in this way? I think the text is going to give several reasons to focus our hearts and minds on heaven. Here we go. Colossians, chapter three.

Just a few verses together. If then you've been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ and God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him. Glory.

God bless the reading of his word. Amen. Wow. This is amazing stuff that Paul describes in just these few verses. And he gives us some very careful reasons as to why we should focus on heaven.

Well, here's the first. The first reason to focus on heaven is because we are called to seek it. We are called to seek it. I've still got that permanent tickle. If you guys have been with me a couple of weeks, I'm just forever gonna have this random cough tickle thing going on.

It's the new me. I don't know if I like the new me, but anyway, we're called to seek after heaven. That's where he begins this whole conversation. He says, if you've been raised with Christ, if you call yourself a believer, essentially, what should you do? Seek the things that are above.

Wow. Okay. If then is how he begins this, you'd have to go back and read chapters one and two of Colossians. I didn't want to do all that with you today, but he's really built a case that because of what Christ has done and because of who we are in him, we should set aside manmade religion. We should set aside all this foolishness that tempts us on the outside and completely focus where on things that are above.

That's why he leads with if. Then. If. You've been raised in Christ. Now, he's careful to say that because he wants to really paint a picture.

The holy spirit of God wants to remind you this morning you are no longer what you were. He could have said, if you believe in Jesus, but he doesn't say that. He says, if then you have been raised with Christ, that is the old man. The old self is gone. He's dead.

In fact, if you missed it in verse two, verse three says, you have died. Your new life is hidden with God. Now, I know that's a stretch for some of you who are really literal, and you're sitting here thinking, I'm clearly still breathing, I'm clearly still kicking. What do you mean by that? This is this ongoing conversation throughout the gospels, throughout the text, that what has happened in Christ Jesus is that old self has been dealt with.

That old man, that old lady, that one who you were before, has been totally paid for. That old sin, that old life is totally dealt with. And so now if then you've been raised in Christ, what? Seek the things that are above. Now, this word seek is definitely in the imperative.

There's a few imperatives here. Seek and set. He says, you absolutely as believers should be seeking, that is, meditating on thinking about striving for that. You're hungry for the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. These things that are above, what are they?

What does he mean by that? Does he really mean that we should be hungering and seeking for this afterlife, this thing that is to come? I think absolutely. That's absolutely what he's talking about here. I have a theory that part of the reason that Christians nowadays don't think about or sing about heaven like our grandparents and great grandparents did, because if you go back to the old, you go back to some old dusty hymnals, you'll find a bunch of songs about heaven.

Why? Why do you think that is to me? I think it's because we as Americans, have done our very best to make heaven on earth, and we've not nailed it at all. But we've. We've come as close as we thought we could.

Guess what, my great grandparents, they did not have running water at their house. There was outhouses. This is. This is the old homestead. If I go up and visit it in the hills of Bristol, Virginia, if I go up in there, it's still like that.

There's outhouses and chickens running around, and things were a little bit harder to do. It took them a while before the refrigeration. Just consider the kinds of cool things we get to do on a daily basis. I get to wake up every morning and take a hot shower if I want to. There were times where this was not so.

I have a refrigerator which keeps my food cold. It's wild. I get to go on my phone and play games. Ridiculous time wasters. I can just.

I can watch whatever show. Did you know there are not just thousands of hours, probably millions of hours of entertainment at your fingertips on Netflix and every other streaming device. What have we done? We have tried our best to make heaven on earth, and we've not even come close. But as a result, it's almost like we've been inoculated from thinking about or considering this greater place, this true city, this wonderful place.

Our ancestors didn't have this problem. You go back to some of these old stories and these old hymns and the old poetry, you'll find people considering and thinking about heaven quite a lot. Why? Because they were longing for something better. And perhaps we as christians, I shouldn't say, perhaps we absolutely should be longing for something better.

That's what Paul says to the believers here in Colossae. And now to us, through the word of God. Seek the things which are above. Seek heaven on earth, but in the real sense, that Christ would come and that he would bring about his holy kingdom, that we're seeking, that we seek heaven first and trust God with those earthly results. This is what we see in Matthew, chapter six.

He says, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Writer Cs Lewis wrote, aim at heaven and you'll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you'll get neither. You won't get heaven or earth. Some people would argue, though, doesn't the Bible say heaven is beyond our imagination?

Like, why would I waste my time seeking it and setting my minds on it? And you'll hear this verse quoted a lot when people say, you know, I don't really want to think about heaven because the Bible itself says it's beyond our imagination. Well, here's what it does say. First corinthians two, you may have heard this as it is written, what no eye has seen, no ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. And a lot of people will quote that and stop there.

And yet the very same verse goes on in verse ten to say these things God has revealed to us through the spirit. Okay, so, yes, there's some stuff that's wonderful and more than we could possibly imagine, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't consider it and that the word of God hasn't revealed a great deal of it to us. The prominence of heaven. Just so you know, in the Bible, the word of God, heaven is in there 692 times. Some of you are like, wow, that was a lot of work this week.

Google's pretty great, y'all. I'm just saying, I didn't. I looked at a lot of these words. You can give me a little bit of credit, but I didn't figure this out on my own. There's 426 of these in the Old Testament, 266.

In the New Testament, psalms has the most occurrences. 76 times the psalmist sings and writes poetry about heaven. In the New Testament, Matthew, believe it or not, has the very most 75 times. And then, second, no surprise to any of you, the second most quoted of heaven is in revelation. But Matthew, the kingdom of heaven is in there a ton.

It's amazing how many times that the writer Matthew, when hearing the words of Jesus and considering them, he kept penning kingdom of heaven. Why? Because Jesus teaches us. And now his disciples and his apostles are continuing the thought of seek first the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven. Seek.

Set your minds on things above seek the things that are above. That means on a daily basis, we would look outside of ourselves, outside of the drama we're dealing with and look to the Lord and say, what are you up to? What would it look like for the kingdom of heaven to be happening in my life right now? In fact, this is how Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. This is one we've often heard of as the Lord's prayer.

It probably would be more accurately called the Lord's model prayer. There's some other places where Jesus prays, and you could certainly use those as examples. But his disciples actually asked him on one occasion, Jesus, how should we pray? And here's how he begins. This is in Matthew six.

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So he has already got this mindset of the way in which I pray is I consider the father who is above. And then I begin to seek and ask that the will of God be done in my life as it is in heaven. Seeking the things of heaven means praying and doing the things that bring you into alignment with heaven's rule under King Jesus.

It means organizing your life, your time, your talent, your treasure, in such a way that it's focused on the future. So what does this actually look like? You're hearing me speak on this and you're going, okay, am I literally just supposed to sit back and just be pondering what's going on up there? No, it's this idea that I've got my heart so set on what is to come on eternal things, that I began to bring that about in my current life. This is not an uncommon thing to say, that you would live as if today is your last.

Live as if. In fact, I think there was a whole book written on this. Live as if you were dying or something is the name of that title. But this is this concept that you would have such a mindset on future things that you would begin to live and be motivated by that. Now, I have to admit, that's terribly convicting.

Now, this whole message series is supposed to be like, yes, heaven, hallelujah. And it is, and I hope it will be. But there's a conviction that hits me that there's a lot of stuff I'm messing with and working with that has no future value. Zero. Now, you got to put this kind of in perspective for yourself.

You've got to wrestle with this for the Lord because there's a sense that I need to make a living so that I can eat. There's a sense that if my car is messing up, I shouldn't just say, well, it's not eternal. I'm just gonna let it go kaput. That's not really being a good steward. There's other principles, biblical principles that apply here.

But if all I do with my life is spend time thinking about how do I get up the next ladder of my career? When's my next vacation? When do these kids finally get out of my house? Like, when I'm constantly living in a future. But it's not that future.

It's not that glory. Then I am wasting my time. I am not seeking and setting my minds on the things that are above. Cause the things that really matter. Oh, and y'all love this?

You know what really matters? Those people sitting next to you. Yeah. Even the ones you don't like. You better get used to heaven.

Cause some of them scoundrels are coming up there with you. So you better. You better maybe go ahead and just start making amends now, because you're gonna. I mean, you got a long time. Eternity seems very long to me.

You got a long time to maybe make amends up there. But you better start getting prepared now because you know what's eternally valuable, people? There's really hardly anything else. There's some other things that I think are valuable, like time spent with the Lord. This.

These are building blocks to. To your long, eternal future relationship. This is eternally valuable. Spending time with him. Boy, that's never gonna get old.

And thinking about others. This is the kind of thing that thinking and setting and seeking your minds on things above begins to make you look at all of your stuff and go, eh, some of this stuff's not that important. You know, I spent all day mowing yesterday. Y'all know I like some of you know this. I like to just hop out there and.

And cut grass. Why? Because I get to see the lines when I'm done and go, look what I've done. And weed eat. I just like that stuff.

Some of you are like, you're weird, but I enjoy that kind of stuff. And at the end of the day, I'm walking around my yard like, look. Look what I've done. And I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about things I want to fix and things I want to do.

And then this word comes to my mind and I go, okay, I've got a kind of. I've got to kind of balance that out a little bit. Does God really care that I have a fire pit over here. I'd really like a fire pit over here. That'd be pretty cool.

And then I start thinking about, wait a minute. But what would it mean to seek the things that are above? It doesn't mean I can't have that thing. But if that's all I'm wasting my time doing. You see what I'm saying?

That there's a balance that comes to seeking the things of heaven. That gives us an eternal perspective. That's the first reason, because we've been called to do it. The second reason is this. It's because this is where Christ, our true home, is.

Now, some of you might be confused on this. You're thinking, well, if I spend all my time thinking about that, I'm going to be, like, out of my mind. But the real question you should ask yourself is, where is my home really at? If I'm looking at this place over here at 112 North Applewood court, that is not my home. I don't even know if I'll live there forever.

That place has got issues, all right, but that's not my home. It's not where. I'm not a rocky mountain. This is not my home. I'm not even an American.

This isn't my home. My destination is where Christ is. This is my home. Where is this heaven? We're going to get into more about what that looks like and where this place is.

And Paul simply says things that are above that are beyond, if you will. In the Old Testament, this word heaven is shamayim. Sorry, I about said hashemaim. That's a different word, shamayim. It means lofty, high or above or up.

Even so, as they're describing it, they're literally something beyond. The New Testament's not so very different. It's the greek word ouranos. It's where we get the planet Uranus. That's Uranus from the Greek.

They're both translated heaven in the scriptures. But I want to give you a little bit of something here. They're described as three different heavenly realms in the text. You may have bumped into this before and been really confused by it. Paul says that he visited the third heaven one time.

This is in two corinthians, chapter twelve. He says, I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up to the third heaven. If you've ever read that before, you're like, I kind of thought there was only one. Don't know what's going on here, where. Whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know.

God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into, he says, paradise. Whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know. God knows. So Paul's talking about a third heaven.

Now, when you read that, perhaps you kind of have a biblical understanding. You go, I don't think he means that there's three heavens. Perhaps you even know this, that the way they viewed a lot of these old testament words, where you see Shemayim appear heaven, they could be talking about two things we can see and one thing you can't. So here's the first heaven. It's what some might call the atmospheric heaven.

That is, the sky, the clouds, the atmosphere is, in the old testament called the first. The heavens, the skies. Look, Genesis chapter one says, God said, let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures and let the birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens. Is he talking literally about that paradise? No, he's talking about the atmosphere, the sky.

Here's the second heaven. We might call it the stellar heaven. Genesis chapter one says, let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let there be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years. So the first heaven is what you can see in the sky, in our atmosphere.

And then the second heaven is the stars, some of which you can see, and then beyond into the universe. This is the second. So what is the third? Well, it's described many times as paradise. Now, just a few weeks ago, we talked about the man beside Christ on the cross and how he had a very elementary confession of faith.

And Jesus says to him, today you'll be with me in paradise. Today you'll be with me in this present heaven. We're going to have a lot of fun in this series because there's some questions floating around out there that you may have not even asked. And now I'm going to answer something. You're like, that wasn't even a problem before.

Now I'm confused. I'm going to try to confuse you first and then unconfuse you. And so this present heaven, this third heaven, is called in the Bible, paradise two, corinthians twelve, which we've just read, Luke, chapter 23, where the criminal is promised to go to paradise. And then revelation two, when Jesus described it in his letter to the church of Ephesus. Here's what he writes in revelation two.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches, to the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Okay, if you're a student of your word at all, you haven't seen that tree of life for a while. That thing goes back to Genesis one, two, and three. You're thinking, where did this come from? In revelation, the word paradise actually means a planted garden.

It means a planted garden describing really most often the Garden of Eden. In fact, if you go back and read Genesis through the septuagint, which is simply the greek translation of the Old Testament, some of you know this. The Old Testament is originally written in Hebrew, but then in the first century, it's translated a little before the first century, it's translated into Greek. And the word that the Greeks use for shemayim in the hebrew heaven, the word they use is paradisos. It's also the word they use for garden.

So when you see Garden of Eden, it's paradisos, paradise. And the Bible is doing something. It's painting this great arc that what God has created, he is returning to its original state. God has created a planet, created a people that he wants to commune with and wants to be with. He creates this wonderful garden, this wonderful opportunity, where it says in the word of God, he walks in the still of the night with his people, and they're working and they have tasks and they're loving it, and everything's good.

And the foods, you get the impression are beyond anything we've ever tasted. They might look like an apple, but it's something far more fascinating and tasty. And you're walking with the Lord. Now, that's all happening in Genesis one. And then sin enters the picture, and that's the rest of the text.

Guess what happens at the end of revelation? Paradise. Paradisos is redescribed as a garden. So God has painted this ark, if you will, if you want to picture the Bible as almost this grand ark, where from garden to garden, from paradise to paradise, this planted garden, this is what he's talking about here in revelation two. So there's coming a time before Christ returns.

Like if you pass in this time period before the Lord Jesus has come back, you will go to this present heaven, which is described as paradisos, paradise, where apparently the tree of life is okay. So in a sense, we're getting the garden scene all over again. Now. It's really simple, actually. Why did the Lord God, it says in Genesis, why did he hide this paradise, this garden?

In fact, he didn't just hide it. He blocks it with angels, with like, flaming swords. Go back and read that. It's wild. Why does he put the guard up there?

Because he's guarding this tree of life, which now those in Christ, beyond this life, beyond death, get to eat of it, because eternity is in store for them. Look, heaven is a real place. It's a prepared place. It's a prepared paradise. It's our future home.

Jesus says in John 14, let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father's house, there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will receive you to myself. That where I am, there you may be also. It's the home where your heart truly longs. Church.

This is why. This is why each and every one of us are trying to build little paradises in our backyard. Some of you are. You may have not ever even thought of it this way. Some of you are the indoors type.

That's why you want. You just want. I want a really nice smelling candle in this room. Just so this room smells like paradise. I'm gonna bake cookies today.

Not really. So much so I can eat them. I just want to smell them so I can have a little smell of paradise. Me, I'm an outdoors guy. I'm thinking I'm gonna build Shangri la in my backyard.

That's what I'm thinking. I'm gonna make a little piece of paradise back here. It's as close as I can get to heaven on earth. I'm thinking maybe I'm not even putting the thoughts to words, but in the back of my head. Why?

Because my heart longs for heaven. It does every human being. We are completely alike in this. We are made for heaven. We long for it.

And sometimes we do everything in our power to try to experience it now, but we should seek it and set our minds on it. This is what, this is what Solomon writes in ecclesiastes, chapter three. He says, God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart. But even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.

He has planted eternity in your heart. That's why you long for it. That's why you long for it. Cs Lewis again, he's got some great quotes on this. If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

And he's right about that.

I have to admit there's a lot of things about heaven that we don't know and we can't know. And I think that's on purpose, that there's a mystery God has left out here about this heavenly realm that we would long for it, but without perfect knowledge of it. And I think the reason for that would be this. If we knew full well, if we knew exactly what this place was going to look like, we would be so ready to go there. We would be sick of this life.

We'd be tired of this. Have you ever been on a long trip? And this is assuming you have a family you would like to go back to. All right, I'm just going to assume that. But have you ever been on a long trip and when you first go, it's all good and maybe you've got tasks, maybe it's even something you're really passionate about.

But by the last day or two, you're kind of like already feeling like you're ready to go home. You know, your mind is almost already going there. And so that the last few days of this trip, you're just like, give me home. I wish, I wish they would invent teleportation so I could just immediately be home to my family. And my mind and my heart are already there where my wife and my kids are.

A few years ago, I went to Uganda and for like the first, it's like a 1617 day trip. For the 14 days, I'm like, woo, let's do mission. Let's have fun. Those last days where I know we're packing up and getting ready, I'm like, can we just instantaneously be home? I long for home because I long for the people.

I long for my people, if you will. The last time I visited my nana and papa's house, they've gone on to be with Jesus now. It just wasn't the same. The gardens were still out. The house was still arranged in the way I remembered, but the people that made that paradise were gone.

So at the end of the day, what makes heaven heaven? Why should we seek it and set our hearts on it? Because it's the place where Christ, our true home is. Pastor John Piper, when writing on this, he says, you know what if heaven was a place where in fact, you could fly and you could eat amazing foods and you could do the things you love the most and you could see all the people you love the most and there would be no pain and there would be no sorrow, and there would be no sin, and all those things were true, and you could have all of that, but not Christ. If he weren't there, it would cease to be heaven at all.

Why should we seek it and set our minds on it? Because it's the place where our creator, the one we were made for, where he is, and he's prepared a place for us. And we get to spend eternity with the one who knows us, created us, and loves us most beyond in an unconditional way that no human could possibly love us. Oh, why should we seek that place? Why should we set our minds on that?

Because that is where our savior is. Here's the third reason. Because we are called to set our minds on it. We're called certainly to seek it, but also to set our minds on it. Verse two says, not on things of this earth.

Why? Because you have, in fact died. Your life is now hidden in Christ. The word hidden here in the Greek is the word crypto, where we get the word encrypted. This is the idea that this life we're now living, if we could somehow peer in and get past the code, get through the encryption, we would see that actually Jonathan is already heaven bound.

We would already see that this man's life is already hidden with Christ Jesus. That, in fact, who I really am is not at all this flesh and bone. It's actually heavenward. Those who set their minds on things above on the spirit experience life and peace. Now, Paul writes to the Romans, he says, those who live according to the flesh, they set their minds on the things of the flesh.

But those who live according to the spirit, they set their minds on the things of the spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death. But to set the mind on the spirit is life and his peace.

How fascinating that is, that the greatest focus of life and to understand life and peace in this world is actually to set one's mind on heavenly things. That's fascinating. Pastor Weirsby says, heaven is more than a destination, it's a motivation. Knowing that we shall dwell in the heavenly city ought to make a difference in our lives here and now.

Hebrews, chapter eleven. It says, these all have died, died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from far from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return to it. But as it is they desire a better country.

That is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. I imagine there's a few of you in the room who feel very much like strangers and exiles in this land now. Perhaps it's because many years have gone by. Perhaps it's because there's some people on the other side that you long to see.

Perhaps it's because you recognizing more and more that your destination is not this world. The writer of Hebrews says, that's how we should all be thinking. I'm finding myself in this way. For me, the more people that are on the other side, the more I long for that place, the more I can't wait to see them again. But in fact, this shouldn't just inform my hopes and my dreams.

This is what we're getting into today. And I hope you get this, if you get anything today. That the reason we might seek and set our minds on things above is because it should change the way we live right now. That I'm not just longing to see uncles and aunts and grandparents and loved ones. That's not the only reason that I would go and peer beyond the veil, that I would look on the other side and long for that.

No, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that if we begin to see ourselves as seeking and desiring a better country that's been prepared for us, that there's a city where my destination truly lies, that that should motivate the way I live now, because I'm no longer looking at my stuff and all of this and thinking this is my destination. Instead, I've set my hearts and minds on something more. So now, when I live as a stranger in an exile, if that's who I am, it changes how I live. You get what I'm saying? If I'm not, actually, I'm not a citizen of this earth.

I'm just passing by. You ever been to a foreign country and just, you knew, you, I'm not staying here. You might, you might, you know, buy a couple of mementos, things that you want to take home. But you're not thinking, hey, while I'm here, let me. Let me make sure to buy a plot of land.

Let me make sure to get everything organized in this place. Even though at the end of the day, I know I'm leaving this place and I may never come back. Hey, that's the way we travel. In fact, this is why. This is why some of you, when you go visit hotels, you get, you get real grossed out.

You're like, some of you are the type that you bring your own pillows and sheets because, you know, everyone else who goes to the hotel, they're thinking, this isn't my home, so I'm gonna ruin this place. Some of you do that, too. The way you visit hotels, you're like, as soon as you walk in the door, it's like, I don't know why. I just wanna tear stuff up. Do you feel that?

You're all looking at me like I'm crazy. Quit acting like I'm crazy. You just wanna walk in there and just turn everything on. Cause at my house I'm like, lights off, thermostat set, y'all quit running up the bill. But when I go to the hotel, I'm like, let's just turn all the stuff on.

Let's see what all, everything does. And throw sheets around and let's jump on beds. No one jumps on beds at my house. Why do you treat it that way? Cause you're just passing by, just a stranger there.

That changes the way you live, doesn't it? I'm just an exile in this place. I'm just a stranger. My destination is heavenward. So let me start living that way.

I'm not going to worry and stress so hard about the things of this earth that will be dust. Instead, I've got my heart set on something more. This means having wisdom to number our days and knowing that they're short and making them really count matters. The psalmist writes in psalm 90, our days may come to 70 years or 80 if our strength endures. Yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow.

They quickly pass and we fly away. So God, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Every year we do this as a people. We set our clocks back. We just did this recently and everybody was thrown off by that 1 hour for like two weeks.

That 1 hour just totally messed us up. We set our clocks back. Why did we do that? Because. Because we had, we have this ancient thought that we need more daylight.

You know, there's a few farmers out there, I guess that this matters to still. But most of us are like, what in the world are we doing this now? Today I'm pretty happy about it because today I got up at 06:00 a.m. And the sun was already thinking about peering up and it's still going to be up at like 830. Hallelujah.

I like all that daylight, but we set this stuff back just really on a hope, on a whim. And we set our times in advance. If you've ever been on a traveling, if you've ever been on a trip, you go ahead and set it to that time so you can go ahead and get ready. Get ready for that future time clock that you're going to be on. This is what the writers are saying here.

Set your clocks, set your time to things above. Have you the wisdom today to number your days? You don't have to wait until you're older to do this. I do think there's a wisdom to this, that a lot of people who are more experienced in years are better at numbering their days. Perhaps they start making them count a little more.

Here's the fourth reason and final y'all are thinking four. What are we doing today? It's heaven, y'all. I need four, because it's where our true and future life is. Verse four says this really wild thing.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory.

Now, that's mysterious, I have to admit. I think there's a couple of things that are occurring right here. And let me just. This is what I believe the Bible is teaching, but you work it out for yourself and come to a conclusion. What I believe the Bible is teaching here and in other places is that those in Christ, when Christ appears again, when he comes a second time, and he's coming different a second time, at least the book of revelation and in other places make this disappearance of Christ as the conquering king.

He's coming not as the suffering servant as he did the first time. He's coming now as the conquering king, and he's coming in a blaze of glory. And there's places like this that describe that. When Christ, who is your life, appears, when he reappears in this place, we're going to be with him in glory. Now, what I think that means is, first of all, those who have already passed on, those who are already on the other side, they're coming with him.

When he reappears, they're reappearing. But what about those of us who are still walking around? Like if Christ reappeared today? Oh, the saints of old, bam, they're with him. But this verse makes it.

He's speaking to people in the present. He says, then you also will appear with him in glory. So I think there's this twinkling of an eye thing the Bible describes here where we are immediately changed. We never, I guess, taste death, if you will. We're immediately changed into the glorified body.

And we're with him. So this is a wild thing. And some of you are like, well, that's far fetched. Well, that's what the Bible seems to be describing here, is that when Christ comes again, the saints of old are with him, and we are immediately changed. I like the sound of that.

That's gonna be pretty exciting. I wouldn't mind to still be walking the earth when such a thing happens. Like, come now, God. That'd be pretty cool. Come today while I'm preaching, Lord.

Boy, what a. That would be awesome for me. I mean, I know that sounds selfish. I'd like him to come while I'm preaching and not while I'm goofing off doing something stupid. Please come while I'm up here being obedient to you.

This is where your true and future life is. When he reappears in glory, we will be with him. What we're becoming is hidden now, but will soon be revealed. We know this much. We will be like him.

One John three says, dear friends, we are already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

Pastor David Jeremiah calls this. He calls. Calls us to consider how precious heaven is. He says, first this, that our redeemer is in heaven. Then our relationships are there.

Our loved ones are there. Our riches and our reward are in heaven. And he writes, most importantly, our reservation is in heaven. So our redeemer, our relationships, our reward, and our reservation. Believers in the room.

You got a place set for you? There's a reserved place. He's been working on it a long time. He made the earth and everything in it in seven days. He's been up there for 2000 years preparing places.

I'm excited. I think it's going to be pretty nice. Revelation 21 says, nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the lamb's book of life. I wonder, my friends, do you have a reservation? Do you have a reservation to heaven?

This true and future life, how do you get one? How do you get one of these reservations? How do you get your name written in the lamb's book of life? Well, the Bible's pretty clear on that, too. That all those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and believe that God has raised him from the dead will be saved.

They have a place reserved, so I don't know what you're waiting on, if nothing else, as we preach for six weeks on heaven, I'd like to know that I have a reservation. I pray you do too. That today you would make a decision no matter who you are in the room. We all could make a decision today. Either I need a reservation or I already have one.

But I'd like to live a life that's future minded, that has heaven mind. Jesus says in John 14, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. Have you given your life to him? Are you bound for that city?

And have you set your hearts and minds on that place? Let's pray now together. Heavenly Father, we ask first boldly that you would begin to refocus our thoughts, our hearts, that we would be the kind of believers in the room who would live lives that clearly paint a picture that we care about what is to come. That people truly matter, that the things that are eternal, the things that really matter in eternity, we would care about them. That when we seek and set our minds on things above, that it would actually in one light, God, that in one light, it would remove a lot of worry and stress, that there's some stuff related to our job and our home life and other things that are.

They're not eternal things. They're not. They're eventually going to be dust. Some of these things that. That would actually encourage us, that we could set the worry and the anxiety and stress.

We could set that at your feet, knowing that you've got that. Help us now, Lord, as your people, to set our minds and our hearts on you, on things that are above. Help us to know what that looks like in our own life, that each one of us were working different jobs, we got different families, we've got different things we're working through that you would. You would inspire us right now in prayer, that some things would come to mind about what it would look like to have to be heavenly minded, what it would look like to live a life in this place before, before glory. What it would look like right now to live in such a way that we have heaven on the mind.

How would that change us, God? Would you inspire each and every one of us in that way? I've got some things in my mind. I know what they look like. I pray you would do that in each and every one of us today.

That as we consider things above, that it would move us and motivate us in this life. God, I know that there may be someone in the room today that this is challenging in a different way because they're not sure they have a reservation. Well, that sounds good. A place where the savior is a place where my loved ones are. A place where there's no pain and sorrow.

A place where wonder and miracles and joy and this fascinating place. But I'm not sure about my reservation. If that's you today, if you've come in this place, maybe you've been holding off, making any decisions, any yeses for the Lord. There's no reason today to put off any longer. Go ahead and make that call.

It's simple. The reservation isn't difficult. And Christ is with you.

It says in his word, as we quoted earlier in Romans, chapter ten, if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, he's in charge. He's creator, he's savior. And believe that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. Friend. If that's you today, you're ready to make a reservation.

Please pray with me. Simply this. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for me. That my sins, my brokenness, my shame, my guilt is paid for. You've done it.

I believe that today. And Jesus, I believe you are Lord your king. You're in charge of not just my life, but you're in charge of this world. This is yours, which you created. I believe that.

And God, I believe that you raised Jesus from the dead. And today, Lord, I'm putting my faith in that. I'm asking boldly, Lord, put my name down. I'd like a seat at the table. I'm making a reservation today.

Lord, I believe that Christ has done it. He has paid all that is necessary. That I would be free in this life and the next. Dear friend, welcome to the family of God. I pray that God begins to already move and stir in your life.

And we're praying right along with you, Lord. Lord Jesus, help us to see in this life how we might live as those who have an eternal perspective motivate us this week that we would make eternal things matter. Pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.

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