The Gift of Home
How many people are excited that it is December? It is often creeps up on me the snow. I'm I'm one of those people who appreciates the snow for one month. The month of December. I really want it to snow except on Mondays when I go to Toronto. But mid-December I stop doing that cuz we're off of school for a little while. And so I really want the snow for Christmas, but then come January I wanted to become, Florida. Because I'm done with with the snow. I'm excited about the the sermon series that we're going to get into over the Christmas season. We've decided to match up the sermon series with the curriculum that the kids are doing for this Christmas season. And the reason that we have strategically done that is we understand as a church in the church leadership that discipleship actually happens at home more than it does at church. And so if you didn't know that if that's new to you news flash, you're only here an hour hour and a half a week and you're at home and off a lot more than that. And so we want to be able to equip parents to be able to have conversations with their kids and what better way to do that than have both the kids and US learning the same thing at the same time. Now, I'm going to step it up a notch. I mean we're going to dig in feel logically slightly more than the kids are. But just slightly and don't don't don't put the kids off trust me. They're pretty bright. They they can catch on to this stuff pretty pretty good. So that's kind of the premise behind what we're doing in the this month's series will focus on the gifts that God has given us through Jesus Through the birth of Christ the Christmas season and you don't have this Christmas season. It's like saturated with gift-giving with gift-giving and gift receiving but we need to focus in this season on the greatest gift that has ever been given It's not your iPad. Or an iPhone or an Android phone in Phil's case. pray for him
It's the gift of a savior the gift of Jesus Christ and so each week in the sermon series. We're going to be focusing on a gift that God has given us through his son. Today we're going to focus on the gift of a home the gift of home. Now. A lot of us have a home. I say a lot of us because in reality not necessarily all of us actually have a home. That's a sad reality in our society that there is people who are homeless, but most of us in this room probably have a home of some sort. And when I think of home, I think of numerous things I think of, you know back home where I grew up in Stratford Ontario. I think of that kind of loosely as home, but really I often think of Norfolk as home because that's where I am now, that's where I've been for many years. And so when I when I also think of home I move into thinking of my home the house that I live in anybody watch HGTV lately It's all about homes, right and end and everybody's like crazy addicted to a Carrie watches it all the time and then I'll walk in I'll kind of roll my eyes and then I catch myself 45 minutes later. Wanting to renovate the house and and change everything when we think of home. We think of where we live our community that we live in and specifically we think of our home our house our family that's in that hole or that we raised in that home. There's a lot of things about the home that that we reflect on. It's probably our largest investment. Even if you rent it's probably your largest expense unless you have teenagers. And then they become the largest expense but it it's something that we often as Society see is very important and something that we invest our finances our resources and our time into is our home and we may even drive around town and analyze other people's homes on how well they care for it. We may get frustrated with our neighbor for not caring for their home as well as we would expect them to but when we say home we think here
but when scripture talks about home It's not talking about. here That's only say the gift of Home certainly our homes here right now are a gift from God, but that's not the home that's scripture talks about scripture actually says that we are aliens that those who believe we don't actually belong here that were were exiled people that are home isn't here on Earth. Our home is in heaven. No Heaven, that's an interesting Concept in Hebrews chapter 13 verse 14. That's the flagship verse for this in the kid's curriculums that they're using in Hebrews chapter 13 14. It says this this world is not our permanent home.
So right away, it recognizes that it is a piece of our home, but it's not our permanent home. It says we are looking forward to a home. Yet to come.
This world as we see it what this passage is saying is not our permanent home yet. What we often do is invest everything we have into this home and not our Eternal home and as Believers in Jesus Christ, those who have received the Saving Grace of Jesus. We have a home that scripture says is being prepared for us as we speak. In John chapter 14 verses 1 2 3. Jesus is saying this to his disciples. He says don't let your hearts be troubled trust in God and trust also in me. There's more than enough room in my father's home. If this were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you when everything is ready. I will come and get you so that you will always be with me. Where I am.
This new home in this passage is our future home the Bible essentially the simple way to look at it as the Bible starts with a garden the home of Adam and Eve and then it ends with a new city. A new city, which will one day be our home a perfect City where God dwells. Jesus In this passage promises that he will come to get us one day to take us home where we actually belong the gift that we've been given through the Christmas story is the gift of eternal life with God. That is what we're celebrating with the birth of Christ. We've been given this Promise by Jesus that if we believe that one day we will live with Jesus in what scripture calls heaven.
Where Jesus calls home? The gift begins with Christmas a gift of a child born here this without a home. In a Manger who will is the story continues give up his life for us so that we can have this. Hope of a home in Eternal home a home that's with God where we belong disconnected to that in so many ways, but this concept of our true home being in heaven. It's actually extremely complex. There's a lot more to it than we will ever be able to understand that I know folks study and times and I know they try to figure all of this out good luck with that all the power to you. That's awesome. But there's people with doctorates that say, I have no idea. And Jesus gave us a little hint. You won't know.
What does this concept of our true home being in heaven? It's a complex concept and the challenge the concept of the current Heaven the place to which those who have passed but aren't actually in their permanent home. We call that current Heaven as the intermediate State now. I can't get into all of that in this in this the sermon today, but I did preach a sermon series on Heaven a year or two ago. And so you're welcome to go online. I have a whole sermon on the intermediate State and what the current have it is versus the new Heaven and the new Earth in theologically what all of that means so we are not going to unpack that mess this morning. Can I get an amen? Alright, we're going off charismatic here. It's awesome.
Heaven in the Hebrew term literally just means sky. So when the Hebrews are referring to Heaven, they mean that the sky and from a theological standpoint the Bible uses the word heaven to essentially describe a spiritual domain where God is right now where God dwells and where Jesus came from. So we need to get some fee logical things out of the way here. Jesus tells us that heaven is the dwelling place of God how many people have a pen and paper with them everybody raise their hand? All right. I am going to give you a ton of scripture this morning, but I'm not going to put all the scripture up in the screen and read it because we would be forever today. So I'm going to give you passages. I want you to write those passages down and I want you to use that as an exercise to study the gift of our home this week. I'm probably going to give you up words 250 passages. So as we unpack this, I want you to write down these different passages and I want you to check and see that the stuff that I'm telling you is not crap that I made this is actually researched and stuff. That's from the Bible. So Jesus tells us that heaven is the dwelling place of God and just a few references to that is Matthew chapter 6 and Revelation chapter 11. I do have 6 verse 9 and 11 1 2 3 but I think I'm just going to give you the chapters cuz you might as well read the whole thing. Play Matthew chapter 6 in Revelation 11 or just a few references to the fact that Jesus tells us that the dwelling place of God is heaven. And Christ came from Heaven. It's John chapter 1 and Jesus claims this in John chapter 3 and again and John chapter 6 and utterances from heaven. So any kind of Messengers or any other being so to speak from Heaven that brings out Aransas from Heaven also confirm that Christ came from Heaven that that's where Jesus is from and they confirm this in Matthew chapter 3 chapter 17 and in John chapter 12, just to name a few.
And in the upper room.
Which was already read Jesus said he was going to return there. So he's from heaven but he's going to return to having this would have been confusing for the disciples. Right because they have the physical person Jesus right in front of him. He sitting there having a meal saying I'm I'm going to leave you and they don't really understand what that means. But what this passage and John 14 verses 1 to 6 gives us evidence that heaven is a genuine place right now that to Jesus and his way of thinking theologically that heaven is real. It's a real actual place and it's real right now.
What is this In this passage? It also calls Heaven a temporary place and it refers to our permanent home to Heaven. Jesus speaks about is actually what the Bible calls the new heaven. I want you to notice in the passage from John's gospel that Jesus says he's going to go prepare a place for us and when it's ready. He will come. In Acts chapter 1 we see Jesus's Ascension.
Sorry, I'm struggling with a cold that it can you hear that in my voice and Acts chapter 1 Jesus Ascension. He's ascending into heaven and two angels remind the disciples we need this is Disciples of Christ. Right Angels people to remind us of things that have already been told to a six thousand times and we just don't get it. So they had Angels remind the disciples that Jesus would return again from heaven. So as he's ascending back into heaven, he had to remind us ridiculous human beings of everything that Jesus had already taught them for 3 years. Don't get too freaked out. He's coming back which also freaks out. And this is confirmed by the Apostle Paul 1st Corinthians 15 Ephesians 4 verse Timothy 3 just to name a few and this is also captured in what we call the Apostles Creed. And so the Apostles Creed is a Creed that was put together to make a statement of what we as Christians believe. And scripture talks of a wonderful place where when we die. If we believe we will go to be with Jesus. But also talks more about a future Resurrection. So this confusion in this this future resurrection and our permanent home called the new heaven or the New Jerusalem the new Heaven and the new Earth and that future Resurrection is an actual physical resurrection that represents very similar to the resurrection of Christ this actual physical resurrection of the Saints to live in this New Jerusalem this new heaven this new Earth. Now the new Heaven and the new Earth this isn't just a new testament concept. This is actually rooted in the Old Testament. And then we hear interpretations of it in the New Testament and Isaiah 65 verse 17, Isaiah says, look, I am creating new heavens and a new Earth and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. And Isaiah 66 verse 22, he says and surely as my new heavens and earth will remain so will you also be my people with a name that will never disappears? That's the Lord. Now the new Heaven and a new Earth. There's a lot more passages. I'm just pulling out two of them for you, but it is something you could plow don't Google it because Google can be misleading. just saying 2nd Peter verse chapter 3 verse 13 Peter says this but we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth. He has promised. A world filled with God's righteousness. Now that's important to understand. So we're looking forward to a new Heaven and new earth. It was promised to us by Jesus and it. New Heaven and Earth that New Jerusalem that Revelation talks about is a world filled with God's righteousness. Now that tells us something very clear. This world is not filled with God's righteousness. But this new heaven this new Earth will be filled with God's righteousness. Now Revelation 21 verses 1 to 27. They deal with the concept of this New Jerusalem and revelation 22 verses 1 to 5 deal with the Garden of Eden being restored. Now in my heaven sermon series. There's a whole sermon on just those that literally unpack Revelation 21 to 22 verse by verse and so we walked through that I think a little over a year ago, so I'm not going to get into them too much today. Happy reading. Have fun. The scripture gives us this beautiful picture of Heaven the current heaven and a new Heaven that will comp become our permanent home, but it also gives us an explanation of how Heaven relates to us right now right here on Earth. This is one of the beautiful things of the promises of Jesus and I I really get saddened when people make Heaven all about the future and not about now because the God that I know the Jesus that I know when he makes promises he actually Wars those promises out to us even now They may not come to their full for Wishin until the new Heaven and the new Earth but we see pieces of it through his church. We've been given the realities of Heaven here on Earth.
The Apostle Paul gives us the best explanation about this relationship between us and Believers in heaven. So I'm going to read you just a simplified. I'm going to read you an excerpt from the baker Encyclopedia of the Bible and along the way as I read this to you. I'm going to kind of give me some commentary because some of it is going to need explanation.
So the baker encyclopedia says this about Paul and his view of Heaven. It's appropriate presents one of the fullest statements and scripture of the relationship of the believer to heaven. He asserts that in heaven, the believer will be made conformable to the Glorious body of Jesus Christ. Now you ready for your scripture? Philippians chapter 3 in so doing palkein for confirms. So to speak John's teachings know what you see in scripture. If you really dig in description, you start the study of scripture actually interpret scripture. And so often when you find a theological Concept in scripture and you start to leave that theological concept we call that Systematic Theology when you start to weave that system through the Bible that you will find that John will confirm things that Paul is saying and Paul will confirm things that John is saying and so on and it's how we go about building our doctor and then we never build doctrines off of narrative. There's a lot of different reasons why in other words you can't build an entire theology out of the book of Acts. What you need is is different authors to confirm the different things that are written in acts in order to build that theological thinking. She said Paul confirms John's teachings in 1st John chapter 3. And adds that the Believers true citizenship is in heaven. Thor actual citizenship isn't here it's in heaven And the term citizenship, that's the King James version or Commonwealth which is the revised Standard Version and Plies a colony of individuals. Listen to this colony of individuals who live in a foreign country. Well observing the laws of their Homeland instead of the land in which they reside
acts 22 What is essentially saying is that our relationship with Heaven as confirmed through Paul and John is that are true citizenship is in heaven not here on Earth. So we are Exiles living here. But us living here as the church are supposed to manifest what's in heaven.
Did you catch that? Observing the laws not here but the laws of our homeland which is heaven instead of the land in which they currently reside. The implications for believers is quite clear. The encyclopedia says they are to live according to the moral and ethical principles of God as revealed from Heaven regardless of the standards proclaimed by the world. They've been raised together with Christ and have been instructed to seek things that are above we're going to unpack that passage at the end where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. That's Colossians 3. From their Christ has blessed his followers. Listen to what he's saying from. Their Christ has blessed his followers right now. with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places
That's Ephesians chapter 1. The expressions in the Heavenly places is peculiar in a fusions. You can see chapter 1 verses 3 and chapter 24 to chapter 3 verse 10 and chapter 6 verse 12 Justin Ephesians that suggests that the blessing of the spiritual world. Are not relegated to some remote future time or place.
What can be perceived by faith here? and now this is why Believers are said to have been made partakers already in the Heavenly calling. Now that's that language of partakers already in the Heavenly calling. We find that in Hebrews chapter 3 and Hebrews chapter 6
I want you to understand what this author is saying. Our future home where we actually reside kind of like where we need where we should be is with God, but that future existence with God can actually manifest itself through the church.
It's a put it in very layman's terms the church can bring A Little Piece of Heaven to Earth. That it's actually the the the Jesus who came to be with us Emmanuel God With Us the Christmas story that he came to be with us to show us. What's that piece of heaven? Looks like and where then as Believers called to live Heavenly rather than worldly. It so we can't talk about this gift of a home as clearly being a future gift when Jesus is saying it's also a gift right now. We're receiving this blessing of home now and it will come to full fruition in the future. And that also is very Likens to my sermon in the kingdom of God, isn't it? You've heard this the steam before here's the difference though. the new heaven the new Earth will be absence of Tears. Anybody cry Lily? I mean sometimes a good cry is just great, right? But what's behind the good cry? Usually sorrow and pain sometimes Joy. But the new heaven this future heaven, so these things are reality in on Earth right now, but the Future Hope is that this place will be absent of Tears absence of Sorrow absence of pain absence of death. They'll be no need for light. Because there is no Darkness.
Why? because the son of God will be there. if I'm not in Revelation 21 revelation 21 verse 4 & 27 + 22 verse 3 & 5
In the resurrected state, so this resurrected state that scripture talks about that. We will be in which I hope I'm skinny. Play I think I get my 19 year old body back. That means I have hair. I don't wear glasses. All the things you see this is not Jeff's resurrected body. This is Jeff's Earthly awesomeness. So I hope to that hope that I'm resurrected as a 19 year old with a 43 year old's mind. amen
In our resurrected State, they'll be no marrying or giving in marriage. You can find that in Luke Chapter 20 verses 27 to 38. Now it's interested cuz in the Old Testament, we see a guy by the name of Enoch and you'll find him in Genesis chapter 5 and you also find a reference about him in Hebrews 11 and the guy named Elijah in second Kings chapter 2 both of these people in scripture work translated directly into the presence of God into heaven. The only two people other than Jesus that we see this happening where they literally laughed and they've never been seen since they didn't actually die. They were translated directly into the presence of God into heaven in addition to Paul statement. Paul talks about if you start to study heaven and you start to dig into Paul the Apostle Paul's theology. You're going to it's going to drive you crazy. This Paul starts talking about some of these different concepts. He tells a story about a time about a man he knew
This guy he knew that was caught up into the third heaven. Is it when you read something like that, you're like what would happen to have in one and have him too and what's his third have ended and so on and so forth. And so I again I'm not going to get too deep into that. But essentially what Paul is saying is the third heaven in this is a break thought that the third heaven is the heaven that God resides in it's the heaven of the heavens the heavenlies. And so he talks about the story about him being taken up into the third heaven. John was also called into heaven in Revelation chapter 4 a heaven that is intended. He says to be populated 1st Thessalonians 4 16 and 17 in Revelation 19 verse 1 It says all believers will ultimately dwell in heaven in the resurrected bodies, which they will receive when the Lord comes for them from Heaven 1st Thessalonians, 4 16 and 17 Revelation. 19 1 2 4 The Lord will also give us treasures and rewards at that time. now that's an awesome one because it while I'll give you all the passages that it talks about treasures and rewards Matthew Chapter 5 1st Corinthians chapter 9 2nd Corinthians chapter 5 Second Timothy chapter 4 James chapter 1 First Peter chapter 1 and chapter 5 Revelation Chapter 2 and chapter 4 Now those aren't that's not an extensive list. Those are just some of the ones that I pulled out that the Lord will also give his treasures and rewards at that time in heaven, except. We don't know anymore.
I know we have hymns that claim to know more.
Like do we really think that heaven will literally have streets of gold?
I don't know. But we can write it in a him but we can't make it our theology. All we know is what scripture tells us and we can't expand beyond what scripture tells us what scripture tells us that we will have Heavenly treasures and rewards based on how we lived here. on Earth I struggle with people really riding that and I do throw out a warning about that. You don't live your life for Christ here on Earth trying to earn these credits in heaven. If you do that, your heart scripture says will be judged in that way. In other words. You're doing it for all the wrong reasons. The reason that we as Christians love show compassion show the love of Christ to others is because work transformed into the likeness of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Gifts and rewards become the him that you sing the heart might actually be in the wrong place, which means no gift and reward. You follow me. And so I know that we have Generations that have really ridden that and I just want to pull it out from underneath you and say we don't know much about it. But what we do know is that scripture calls us to live our lives for Christ to the fullest here on Earth.
The gift of Heaven is also right now as I've hinted that Heavens both of future stayed in a present reality through faith. We experience pieces of Heaven is what scripture says through faith. We experience pieces of Heaven through faith. We can bring pieces of Heaven to Earth. This is the gift the Christmas. bring the gift of our true home the gift of Heaven on Earth and a future home. A true home is a place where they're like I said no pain no tears. No sorrow no death no need for light. No Darkness. There's no need for doctors because there is no sickness.
We should get an amen for that imagine.
What is often what's bringing our sorrow? Carrie and I were out on visits last night. Spending time with Henry and Betty in the in a few others in and just dealing with sickness. With health issues imagine a world that's full of God's righteousness and absent of all doctors. No hospitals, no need for any of that. That's the gift of a home that scriptures talking about. Our world is a messed up place. The place where sin is obvious and send 10th dominate but through the birth of Jesus. We've been given hope It's the Christmas season is all about I know we give it lip language. But how many people don't feel a lot of Hope at Christmas time at what they actually feels a lot of stress and anxiety. You see we need to wipe that out of Christmas and make it about the gifts that God has already given us and then we gift it to others.
Jesus gave us. Hope hope for a future in heaven with him. But the Christmas season isn't just about the future. It's about a gift that we've been given called the kingdom of God right here right now. The Apostle tells us how we should live the Apostle Paul tells us about how we should live within our gift of home here on Earth and Colossians.
Colossians chapter 3 Paul gives us an amazing discourse. Colossians chapter 3 says this since you've been raised in New Life with Christ set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand soap set your reality. That's us right now set your sights set your realities on heaven or Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand think about the things of heaven. We should actually be spending time with that. Think about the things of Heaven not the things of this Earth. So think about a world absent of Sorrow of pain of sickness. He's saying right now think about that. Not the things of the Earth. Why does he say this though? He says for you died to this life.
And your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
And when Christ who is your life is revealed to the whole world. You will share in all his glory. So put to death now, he's going to talk about how we go about living now. So put to death Earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality impurity lust and evil desires. Don't be greedy for greedy persons is an adulterer worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins the anger of God is coming. Used to do these things when your life was still part of this world, but now he saying now those who believe but now not later but now is the time to get rid of anger rage malicious behavior slander in dirty language. Don't lie to each other for you stripped off your own sinful nature and all its Wicked Deeds. Put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Process of sanctification that's what they call that in theology. We're in this process of becoming more and more like Christ. In this new life. It doesn't matter if you are Jew or Gentile circumsized or uncircumsized barbaric uncivilized slave or free. Christ is all that matters and he lives in all of us.
I wish some of us would remember that and how we treat people.
Since God chose you to be the holy people. He loves you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted Mercy. Kindness humility gentleness and patience make allowance for each other's faults.
Make allowance for each other's faults. I think of think of your marriage. If you made my my wife makes amazing allowances for my faults. If she didn't we would struggle in marriage. Fortunately, I don't have to do the same cuz there isn't any.
See that guy says how it's done.
Make allowances for each other's faults and forgive. Listen, listen what it says and forgive anyone who offends you it doesn't scripture does not give you the option of deciding who you're going to forgive and who you're not going to forgive. It says to forgive anyone who offends if you were holding on to something and you are not forgiving you're not letting it go I plead you in it in order to experience a Piece of Heaven Let It Go
Now, I mean, I'm not saying condone it say it was okay, and that's not what I'm saying. That's not what forgiveness is. But letting it go and moving on. He says remember the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others. Above all Paul goes on to say clothe yourselves with love which binds us all together in Perfect Harmony see the absence of Love brings disunity the presence of love in Perfect Harmony.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. There's the key.
Or the member of One body you were called to live in peace. Remember that in March at the AGM?
And always be thankful. Think about if every morning you woke up and you're like, thank you.
Like I'm 43 years old every morning. I wake up in my crew who made it through another day heart still beating that my feet are going to hit the floor. I might slip and fall.
I might have aches and pain. Thank you. Thank you always be thankful. It says that's like the state of our posture to be thankful left a message about Christ and all its riches fill your lives teaching Council each other with all the wisdom. He gives sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts and whatever you do or say do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus giving thanks through him to God the Father.
We are partakers of the gift of home. Called to live our lives in the spirit. God has given us a future promise, but he's empowered us for the Holy Spirit to live in that promised here on Earth.
Heaven is our true home. We are meant to be with God. What are rule here on Earth is to not build our permanent home here? But to give this broken world of view of our future home. 10 amazing promise a home that perfect living with our creator what a gift folks
The season of Christmas is a season to celebrate celebrate our future reality and going home, but also celebrate our current calling to bring Heaven to Earth. We need to remember that Christmas is about the gift that we have been given the gift that we give the World by being the presence of Christ in a broken world.
The church folks is that presents and Christmas for the church needs to be about Christ and sadly. It often ism. It's about the hustle and bustle of what the world has defined Christmas to be.
We have a home.
It's with Jesus. And it's a gift. from God those that are serving communion can come on up if we just transition in our service the Big Ideas simply this.
God gave us his son on Christmas day to lead us back home to show us how to live here on Earth and to give us the Future Hope Of Heaven. Christmas is all about the birth of a savior and the gift that's savior brought us the gift. of a home Now I'm hoping that that this sermon lays a foundation for what we're going to be getting into in the weeks to come because there's more gifts that the Lord is offering through the season of Christmas. I think of foundational pieces this gift of home and recognizing that it's not just a future gift. I don't know about you but that really motivates me.