Friday, August 1, 2008

What Next?

"What Next?" was the theme for our singles beach retreat last weekend. It was a study of what the Bible teaches us about Heaven and Hell. The majority of this study was a new concept...not about Heaven and Hell, but how there is (depending on your personal beliefs and background) 2 Heavens: an Intermediate Heaven and an Eternal Heaven (also known as the New Earth).

"And now, oh Lord for what do I wait? My hope is in you". Psalms 39:7

We grow up, graduate college, get married, have kids, and so on. But after all that, "What Next?"

Heaven is a physical place where God lives with his people. Heaven is not our default destination. No one goes there automatically. Unless our sin problem is resolved, the only place we will go is our default destination....HELL! The reality of Hell should break our hearts and bring us to our knees. If we don't focus on Heaven in our life here on Earth, then we will place too much focus on the "material" and unimportant things here on Earth.

Once we die, we will immediately go to the Intermediate (or present) Heaven. At this time, the Judgement of Faith (or salvation) occurs. This determines whether or not we will go to Heaven or Hell. This judgement strictly depends on our faith and NOT on what we have done during our lives. Salvation is a free gift to which we contribute nothing.

The Judgement of Works is where all believers stand before the judgement seat of God to give an account of our lives. 2 Corinthians says, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. This is a judgement of works and NOT of faith. Our works here on Earth affect our reward in Heaven. Rewards are about our work for God. And our rewards are based on faithfulness.

Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. Our longing for Heaven is our longing for God. We will be able to see glimpses of God all around us in Heaven.
2 Corinthians 6:16: "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall by my people..."

It's SO EXCITING to think about Heaven and imagine what it will be like. The Bible does give us specific scriptures that describe certain things that will be in Heaven, in addition to what living in Heaven will be like. We know for sure, that Heaven will NOT BE BORING! Heaven will be like this Earth, only better. Jesus will be our King and rule over us. Jobs and services will be our reward. Our jobs or services will relate to our gifts God has given us here on Earth in addition to our passions in life (as long as they serve and glorify God).

Take pleasure in the thought/imagination of Heaven. If you shut your mind out, then that gives Satan the opportunity to set our imaginations on other things. Think about reuniting with our loved ones. The Bible tells us that we will maintain our own identities and will be able to recognize each other.

Heaven should affect our daily activities and ambitions, our recreation and friendships, and the way we spend our money. Thinking of Heaven will motivate us to live each day in profound faithfulness for God.

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe" Hebrews 12:28

If you are not 100% sure that you are going to Heaven, then I strongly encourage you to talk to someone and learn more about God and the freedom he can give you. Hell is a HORRIBLE place. The Bible tells us so and gives us a gruesome and unappealing description. Make a decision to spend life in eternity with God and your loved ones, with no pain or suffering, with a lavish lifestyle glorifying God each and every day.