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“Focus on Heaven”

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Have you ever wondered what it will be like in Heaven? I’m fairly confident your
answer is “YES”. The wonderment that surrounds this question is common among most
all of us. For some, this consideration is part of a daily thought process that flows
through our mind, reaching into everything we encounter throughout life – questioning
the very thought of our eternity. Such is our worldly speculation, and our heavenly hope
in this life we live here on earth. This is part of the process (for the purpose of this
message) that I’ll call — “Focus on Heaven”.

By contrast however, not all folks in this world have such thoughts, beliefs or longings.
Consider these (perhaps not so quotable) quotes that reflect and promote such worldly
viewpoints and understanding — alive and well in the world we live in today.

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell — you see, I have friends in both
places.” — Mark Twain

“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so
absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and
angels.” — Pearl S. Buck

“The “kingdom of Heaven” is a condition of the heart — not something that comes “upon
the earth” or “after death.”” — Friedrich Nietzsche

What is striking in the quotes above, is that there is “acknowledgement of heaven”, but
denial of the Truth – essentially falling back into a brand of “worldly hope” devised as
intellectual understanding, and focused on that which one can feel, touch and see, etc..
Of course, worldly hope has its place, but it is absolutely finite and temporal. It is
precisely the limitations of this “worldly hope” that gives rise to thoughts of that which is
beyond this life.

At the same time, it is uncanny how the world has the ability to mask and confuse any
hope we may have beyond this world. Frankly, this is letting our spiritual nature
“follow” our sinful nature – a self-directed life. It should be the other way around – that
is, letting our spiritual nature lead us out of a sinful nature – a Christ directed life. Hence,
our focus on Heaven.

When we think about Heaven, compare the contrast of worldly hope to that of an “eternal
hope”. This begs such common questions as, “Where does one go when they die?”
“What is my purpose here on earth?” and other such curiosities that question our physical
mortality. The truth is, these are questions we typically don’t dwell on too much as we go
through our daily life – except perhaps in our trials or crises.

As Christians – we know that our promised hope is assured through our faith in Jesus
Christ. But what is this “hope” that we speak of? Try as we might to make this complex,
the answer is as profound, as it is simple. That as Christians (having accepted Jesus as
our Lord and Savior), that when we die, we will spend eternal life in Heaven — serving
God, seeing the glory of His face, and reigning with Him forever and ever.

That may seem mundane at first glance, but that is hardly the case! Especially when you
consider the alternative consequence of those who have rejected God – then finding
themselves eternally separated from God. Although in parable form, Luke 16:19-31
speaks of the hopelessness of eternal separation from God. This should scare the Hell out
of most folks, but sadly (ref. Twain, et al quotes above) much of the world continues
going along its merry way, ignoring God, and the serious nature of eternal consequence.
As for our “Focus on Heaven”… Wouldn’t it be nice if we could connect this focus into
our worldly life? I like how Rick Warren lays this out in his book “The Purpose Driven
Life”, which talks in practical terms about our purpose here on earth.

1 – We were planned for God’s pleasure (Worship)
2 – We were formed for God’s Family (Fellowship)
3 – We were created to become like Christ (Discipleship)
4 – We were shaped for serving God (Ministry)
5 – We were made for a mission (Mission)

In all this, we are to be obedient to God’s Commandments. Jesus gives us guidance to
help understand and put into practice this requirement for obedience in our life. In
Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “

It’s a fact that for all of us… That this worldly track we have been on, has been quite an
adventure. Oh… The stories we could tell! You guessed it – your life experiences are
what make up your Testimony! For some, it’s been a more than an adventure, it’s been a
roller coaster — one day you’re up, the next day you’re down (as the saying goes). But in
all this, do you realize that you have been equipped by God for this journey – ups, downs,
and all? What is your testimony?

The real beginning of your adventure began the minute you repented of your sins and
asked Jesus Christ to come into your life. By this significant commitment to Christ, your
worldly journey has now been enhanced with a heavenly journey – a focus on Heaven.

Your quest now is to be obedient to God, and walk in His Light. As Paul relates to us in
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let
us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” As this Scripture tells us, the race
we run is more about our Heavenly goals than our personal worldly
pursuits/accomplishments. God is asking us to raise our sights – Focus on Heaven!
This is why as part of our worldly walk, it is so important to spread the Good News of
Jesus Christ, so that those who have ears to hear might be saved. Saved from what?
Eternal damnation in Hell — eternally separated from God, where there is no longer any
hope.

Yeah… you say, “I know all this stuff!” Good… Then go out and tell people about it.
Tell them your testimony, and tell those that are in need of hearing the Good News of
Jesus! Tell them how Christ made an eternal difference in your life!

I’m reminded of John Lennon’s comment, “Life is what happens to you while you’re
busy making other plans.” In many respects, this parallels how one’s worldly vision gets
in the way of a “spiritual vision” (that is, Godly pursuit) – a mindset that culminates in
not being able to see the heavenly forest for the worldly trees!

Life at times can indeed leave any of us in some perplexing places. For all it offers, both
good and bad — none of us seem to be able to escape the grip of the world! Fortunately,
we have the Bible — God’s living, breathing Word. It has all the answers to life –
shedding Light on that which is perplexing to us, and otherwise – nothing is left
untouched. God’s Word speaks of our blessed hope, and helps each of us to focus on the
prize, to focus on the goal – to Focus on Heaven!

Back to the original question, “Have you ever wondered what it will be like in Heaven?”
Read what the Bible says about the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 where God reveals
how all things will be made new, the coming of the New Jerusalem, and the Glory within.
Verses 3 – 4 give us a hint of what we can look forward to – “And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live 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 or mourning or crying
or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Is Heaven worth focusing on? You bet!

In the astrophotography that I do, focusing the telescope camera’s highly sensitive CCD
sensor is a constant issue. For each of the exposures that are combined to make an
image, having the proper focus for each sub-frame exposure is critical to the outcome of
the final image. (This is analogous to the need for our having the proper daily focus on
God, which is critical to our eternal outcome.)

Just as “Focus on Heaven” is the theme for this message, try focusing on the object
centered in the image below. Can you see any detail or structure in this object? It is
actually a galaxy, along with myriad of galaxies shone in this image — adrift among a sea
of stars – whereby God knows each of them by name. Psalm 147:4, “He counts the
number of the stars; He calls them all by name.”

I imaged this object last week from my JMSM Observatory here in NM. It is called a
Spiral Galaxy, and is technically named M106. It has a unique “barb-like” structure
common to many galaxies in our universe. It is some 25 million light years distant from
our earth, which does make focusing a bit of a challenge!

Also notice the many “background galaxies” captured in this wide-field image. This
awesome display of God’s Glory is something for all to behold.
If only we could get a better “focus” to bring this object in greater clarity… Would you
care to get things in FOCUS?

Fortunately, we can zoom-in and get a better focus on this galaxy by using a “more
powerful” telescope. Shown below is the same M106 galaxy shown centered in the
image above – both imaged from JMSMO. Notice the elaborate structure in the galaxy
compared to the above image. This close-up view of M106 reveals intense star-forming
regions represented by the reddish/blue knots. You can imagine the tremendous forces
underway within this galaxy, with its twisted spiral formations being cast off into space.
When we view God’s Creation, including objects such as this beautiful and interesting
galaxy, it is just another reminder of the awesome power that God brings to our attention
– all designed to bring us closer to the one true God that makes all things possible.
This week, consider what you are focusing on. Better yet! Focus on Heaven!

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Have a great week!

Your Brother in Christ,
Mike Sherick

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