The Best is Yet to Come

Revelation 21:1-7     NIV, 1937

A New Heaven and a New Earth

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

            Revelation 21:22-26                              NIV, 1938

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

Revelation 22:1-2                                  NIV, 1939

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you, O God, our creator, sustainer and comforter. In the name of Jesus. Amen

  1. Go slow
  2. Today we finish up looking at what Heaven may be like. We really do not know, but we listen to Scripture to help guide us in our understanding.
  3. Last week we shared what we thought Heaven would be like — peace – happiness – the usual roads of gold – angels – God and Jesus — and many more.
  4. We have seen a video clip from Field of Dreams about the return of a baseball player to the farm in Iowa. The key words –“Is this Heaven? No. It is Iowa”. Heaven on earth was the theme.
  5. We have listened to a video music by Craig Campbell – sing on the Outskirts of Heaven” where heaven was green grass, shady trees, a front porch swing and dirt roads and plenty of fish in the river – the “outskirts of heaven.”
  6. The reality is that we really do not know what heaven is like—it is a predicament—
  7. Perhaps there is more heaven on earth than we realize. We seem to be dismissive of that statement with all of the troubles and evil inclinations that we see and hear daily.
  8. But God sent Jesus to restore – to reclaim – to embody heaven and earth together – not separate. This why we say in the Lord’s prayer – “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
  9. So, we come to believe the words that Paul says in Romans 8— that nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ-the even death cannot separate us of the God of creation.
    1. Our relationship with God begins here and now and deepens and becomes richer and more real as our life goes on.
    1. Yes, we have storms in our lives and there is a judgement for us, but our faith continually reminds us that God through Jesus is reaching out to us – seeking to reconcile us with our loved ones and neighbors.
    1. And, as our faith slowly moves to a deeper understanding and awareness of God’s love and grace and comfort in our lives, we begin to grow deeper in love with our Creator.
  10. A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes.
    1. She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral service, what Scripture verses she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.
    1. As the pastor prepared to leave, the woman suddenly remembered something else. “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
    1. “What’s that?” said the pastor.
    1. “This is important,” the woman said. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
    1. The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.
    1. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
    1. “So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, ‘What’s with the fork?’ I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!’
  11. The best is yet to come!
  12. Our Scripture lessons today come from Revelation. Seldom do we have Sunday sermon messages from the Book of Revelation. It is hard to understand. It has images that we can not picture and many times, people will use Revelation to point to the messages that are predicting that we are in the end-times.
  13. Revelation is included in the Bible, because it spells out a message that God will be with God’s creation. It is a powerful commentary on hope.
    1. During the time that Revelation was written, about 100 AD, the early Christian church was mercilessly persecuted by the Roman empire.
    1. The Christians were saying Jesus is Lord! The Romans believed that Cesar was god and hence the Christians were defaming the Roman leader and the Christian community was the blunt force of the powerful Roman aggression.
  14. Revelation was a powerful language to the early church — they needed to know that there was hope for the future in spite of the suffering and death that they were experiencing. What John was saying in Revelation, was words of hope and that the church will not succumb to the Romans, because the church belonged to God. The church belonged to God and not the Romans.
  15. For many of us, Heaven is a far-off place and in the future. We are more concerned about today and working through what life is throwing at us. We think that death is far in the future – and we have more important things to do that to contemplate death and even prepare for death.
    1. How many of us have an up-to-date will? Ann and I just seem to drag our feet in getting our wills updated. — our lives just seem to be deeply entwined in the here and now. — more urgent things need our attention. Sound familiar?
  16. But the reality is – no matter how much we wish to deny it, our pending death is a reality.
  17. So, can we accept the words of Scripture, that despite death, our life will continue – maybe transformed – but life will continue. Death is but a transition to eternal life.
  18. Heaven is more than just a place to go and be with God — it is where God resides, and our presence will be with God.
  19. One thing we can do is to become closer to God in this life – we can become more loving and more caring. We can be more generous with our time with family, friends and community. Actually, trying to be closer to God is stimulating. We begin to see the world through a different set of eyes. We become people of faith.
  20. When we as a church begin to see the world as people of faith, amazing things happen.
    1. Tell the story of the alcoholic mother. — no matter how much she tried to step away from alcohol – she was always caught in its snare. Always the people of the church would reach out to the family in a loving and caring way. Reaching out repeatedly to the family. Eventually the mother died of alcohol poisoning. – the church was with the family. Years later, the pastor met the son, who was now grown and was in the formation of becoming a pastor. When asked by the old pastor, why the son was going into the ministry—the son replied – “The church became my rock – the people were always reaching out to our family – even as my family was falling apart – “I am going to give my life to God in thanks for the church.”
  21.  To me the most important and hope filled passage about Heaven in Revelation is from Revelation 21 which is in our bulletin.  
  22. Revelation 21:4 — God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
    1. No more death – nor more mourning and no more crying. — can you believe life with out this. This is the promise that God is making to us now.
    1. Can we begin to accept this and really believe it?
    1. Tough isn’t it? But this is the hope that Heaven brings to us.
  23. Listen to a rendition of a song – “When I Get to Where I am going”         
  24.  When I Get to where I am going – Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton
  25. Do you hear and see: I will love and have no fear! — when I get to Heaven – I will love and have no fear – God’s promise to each of us.
  26. The Best is yet to come!
  27. Let’s pray: