Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

The best is yet to come

Could you use some good news this morning? I could. This hasn’t exactly been an awful week. I’ve absolutely had worse, but every day this week has felt gloomy, as though I’ve been living in some kind of hazy shadow world. Every day has felt like the mornings when the fog is thick on the roads and even if you try to shine your light brighter all it does it reflect back in your face and blind you.

I’ve finally just hit the point where I want some good news. It doesn’t even have to be great news. Just something good. Just something positive and uplifting. Something to remember on the foggy, dreary, gloomy days when all I want to do is stay in bed and give up.

So I needed this bit of good news today.

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Romans 8:18-27.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Know what this set of verses means?

The best is yet to come.

That’s what it means.

I get bogged down by life easily. My life is just so full, and that’s a good thing. But it can get too full pretty quickly, and before you know it, I get caught in the trap of thinking that this is all there is. I mean, theoretically I know that this world isn’t my home and that heaven will be better and that God’s going to make a way where there seems to be no way. I know that He’s a strong tower. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that when the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

I know all that. But that’s tomorrow. And I’m stuck in a perpetual today. So how do I focus on what matters, how do I keep pressing forward, how do I keep taking aim over and over and over knowing that I’ll miss even when I do my best—and do all of that cheerfully?

I know the best is yet to come. But how do I live like it? Right now I’m like a tired old horse struggling under the weight of a plow in a field too dry to work. And this set of verses says I’m supposed to wait with eager hope? Well how do I hold on to eager hope when the hope I feel is more like dragging an anchor along the bottom of a muddy lake. Hope is more like a chain around my neck than a set of wings that lets me fly. At least, that’s what it feels like on these gloomy days.

Maybe it’s cliche and maybe people are tired of reading it, but the best verse to remember when you’re trying to hold on to eager hope is the verse that directly follows the passage above: Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Want to know how to hold on to hope when it feels like everything is going wrong? Want to know how to keep living in the light when it feels like everyone around you is lost in the darkness? Want to know how to react when you don’t get what you want or what you think you need? Remember Romans 8:28.

If you are following Christ, if you are seeking Him first, if you are partnering with Him to make a difference (no matter how big or how small), God is working out the details in your life. And even when it seems like everything is falling apart, God still has a plan … and it’s a good plan.

If you’re down and facing a lot of discouragement, just remember that God has a plan. And remember that this world isn’t the end. There’s something beyond this world, a life beyond wonderful, and when God is finished with us down here, we get to go there.

Tomorrow may be hard to face, but hold on to hope because God is working things out down here. And when He’s done working things out down here, we get to go home. And once we get home … well, even our best days here pale in comparison to what our worst day in eternity will be like.

 

Something to look forward to

Have you ever noticed that Christians talk a lot about hell but we don’t talk much about heaven? There’s this prevailing idea in American culture that heaven is a place full of clouds where angels float around plucking harps all day. That concept of heaven isn’t supported anywhere in scripture. Honestly, I’m not even sure where the idea of angels playing harps came from. I know angels are musical but first and foremost they are messengers. And angels aren’t going to be the focus of heaven. Heaven is all about one person: Jesus. And if I know Him as well as I think I do, sitting around listening to harps all day would bore Him out of His skull.

The verse for today is Revelation 21:2-4 and it’s a popular one that floats around the church. At NewSpring you’ll especially hear it during Judgement House.

2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Forgive me a Judgement House Tour Guide moment . . . . “We don’t know all the glories of heaven, but we do know that Jesus will be there ready to welcome us home.”

Heaven is a wonderful place. And maybe that’s why we don’t think about it. Maybe we don’t talk about it because it’s going to be so incredible that we are afraid to imagine it. In any case, I think we need to spend more time contemplating what heaven will be like. After all, it’s going to be our home for eternity. Shouldn’t we want to know everything we can about it?

Like here. If you know you’re moving, do you just pick up all your belongings and move to a new city without learning something about the city? Maybe some people do. But it’s a good idea to learn about the schools. To learn about which neighborhoods and areas of town are best avoided at night time. To figure out where the closest Wal-mart is. To make sure there’s a library close by.

Granted, we don’t have a lot to work with as far as knowing what heaven is like. From the Revelation we know that it’s beautiful and extravagent. I find it ironic that gold costs so much down here and in heaven they use it to pave the streets. That tells you how much gold is worth in heaven. But I am less concerned with what heaven will look like than I am in what life will be like there.

It’s a given that heaven will be beautiful. Earth is beautiful. The mountains. The oceans. The plains. Canyons. Trees. Clouds. Flowers. Earth is a wonder and it’s broken. Earth is incredible and God made it in six days. Imagine what He has done with 10,000 years! Imagine what He has made without us crazy human types up there to screw it up! The scenery of heaven isn’t going to be clouds and blue sky. It will be like Earth. Just better. Flawless. Unbroken. Whole.

But life in heaven? No. We’re not going to sit around playing harps all day. Well. Let me take that back. If you love to play the harp, you’ll be able to do that.

I really believe that whatever gift God has given you is what you will do when we get to heaven. There’s this concept that all we’ll do is sing hymns and play music. Maybe. If those are your gifts, that’s great! But the real point is that in heaven we will spend all day, every day worshipping God. And the very simple truth is that worship isn’t just singing. Worship isn’t just playing music. Worship is living life for God. Making every moment of your life about Him. Intentionally living every moment of every day for Him, doing what He asks, listening when He speaks, going where He tells you to go, and staying when He tells you to stay.

You can worship God when you drive a car. You can worship God when you mow your grass. You can worship God when you drink a cup of coffee (right, Colonel?). Worship is a lifestyle. And when we get to heaven, worshiping God with every breath will no longer be a challenge. Pride won’t get in the way anymore. And that’s what I look forward to most. Being able to use the gifts God has given me without the fear of me taking over, without the danger of pride having a part in my actions.

I don’t think God would have created a world of people with vastly different personalities and talents and gifts only to snatch them all up in the end, stuff them in angel robes, thrust a harp in their hands and expect them to float around plucking strings all day for eternity. That’s not God’s style. If He’s given you a gift, He expects you to use it, both here and in the life to come.

So it might be a good idea to figure out what your gift is. =)

I know for me, I can’t wait to get to heaven. I’ll be able to tell stories all day long. And then fearing dangling participles is no longer a concern. =)