• Tony Birkhead

Heaven and Hell Week-3



We must train our kids to obey God’s commands now, so they’ll enjoy God’s riches for eternity!

INTRODUCTION

Upon the establishment of a new Heaven and new Earth, God’s people will serve Him, enjoy Him, and proclaim Him.


Are you a fan of any particular university or professional sports team? Which ones? Why do you especially love these institutions or teams?


What are some of the more outrageous ways you’ve seen people show their affections for these teams or schools?


While some of us may simply don a t-shirt or ball cap to show our support for a school or team, some fans go a long way to identify with and show their affections for their favorite teams with body paint, wigs and even vehicles painted in school or team colors. Either way, there is no question with regard to where one’s affections lie. Likewise, when Jesus returns, there will be no question where the affections of Christians lie. Revelation 22 teaches that God’s people will serve Him, enjoy Him and proclaim Him into eternity. He will be the center of their affections.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Revelation 22:1-6

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 2 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. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. 6 The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

Matthew 22:37-38

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Isaiah 65:17

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read revelation 22:1-6.

What elements in these verses show God’s dream for our world restored to its Eden-like state? (Refer back to Genesis 2).


The nearer John came to the center of the city, the more like a garden it became. It was like the garden of Eden, only better. A river watered Eden (Gen. 2:10); now a river gushed from the throne, a provision coming directly from God. Also as in the garden of Eden the tree of life is in the city. This tree of life mysteriously disappeared after being present in the first human home (Gen. 2:9; 3:22,24). Now it reappears in the final human home (Rev. 2:7; 22:2,14) wonderfully producing its fruit every month, unlike any tree now known. The tree’s abundant harvest, as well as the healing effect of the leaves of the tree, show that heaven is filled with everything life-giving and glorious. Everyone there is healthy all the time.


How does John’s description of heaven compare with your concepts of heaven or those you have heard from others?


Read verse 3. What is the final evil element missing from eternity? What does the removal of this element symbolize?


How is the new Jerusalem actually better than Eden?


he final evil element missing from the eternal state is any curse. The curse entered human experience at the fall into sin (Gen. 3:17). With the curse lifted, however, comes something better than Eden: the throne of God and of the Lamb is there. The final state surpasses the original state of humankind.


What blessings of eternity are listed in verses 3-4? Do any of these blessings surprise you?


In what ways might a life of service here on earth help prepare believers for heaven?


In what ways would having God’s name permanently affixed be reassuring, appropriate, and a delight? How would your life be different if you now bore a mark identifying you as God’s child?


With the curse removed, only blessing remains, and now three wonderful blessings of eternity are listed. First, God’s servants will serve Him. The Greek verb translated “serve” often implies worship. In eternity God’s people will be perfect in their worship. Second, they will see His face. Throughout Scripture, God’s people, however holy, were never allowed to see His face, His direct presence (Ex. 33:20). In this life sometimes God seems to hide His presence from His people as they endure many sorrows. With the curse gone, His people will gladly enjoy His full presence. Third, His name will be on their foreheads. The name of God on persons shows that they are genuine and that God guarantees to protect them (Rev. 3:12). All the saints receive God’s name to guarantee an eternity with Him (see Eph. 1:13; 4:30).


John’s description of the new Eden concludes with the most important point. Read Revelation 22:5 again. What is the good news in this verse, and how does it change your life?


Revelation 22:5 concludes at the most exalted point possible. This verse repeats the truths of 21:22-24. There is an end to all the darkness of sin and evil, represented first by the banishment of night and second by the eternal presence of the light provided by the Lord God. Jesus, the Light of the world, is the perfect Light for eternity. That this reality awaits us should motivate us to live with a sense of urgency, unleashing compassion in the world to help God restore what is broken. This sense of urgency permeates the close of Revelation and the canon of Scripture.


MOVING FORWARD

  • How does the truth of the gospel make you know the wait for Jesus’ return is worth it?

  • To what degree are you serving God? Enjoying? Proclaiming? Ask the Spirit to search your heart in each of these areas and empower you to improve in each of these areas.

  • Jesus didn’t come to live for Himself. He came to serve others, meet their needs, show them love, and show them the way to God. What service opportunity do you sense God calling you to be a part of?

PRAY TOGETHER

Close in prayer, thanking God for the picture of hope that closes out the Bible. Pray that as we move forward in our daily lives, this hope will be on the forefront of our minds, motivating us to worship God wholeheartedly, live for Him daily, and share the gospel urgently.

COMMENTARY

Revelation 22:1-6

22:1-2. After the opening prologue (1:1-8), John received his first vision. In that first scene he saw the risen Lord walking among the lampstands (churches) during the present age (1:9-20). Now we come at last to the final scene of John’s final vision. It perfectly balances the opening scene, for it shows the reigning Lord present with His people throughout all eternity.

At the heart of the New Jerusalem John saw the river of the water of life, no doubt flowing from “the spring of the water of life” (21:6) that gushed from the throne of God. In Eden a life-giving river had nourished the garden (Gen. 2:10); now a life-giving river nourishes New Jerusalem. The river, flowing as it does from God’s throne, can only portray that eternal life is entirely due to God’s gracious gift. The water is as clear as crystal, indicating its absolute purity.

We also see again the Tree of Life. Here is the only vegetation specifically mentioned as part of the eternal state, and a feature that deliberately reminds us of the garden of Eden. In Revelation 2:7, Christ had pledged, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Here is the fulfillment. This symbolizes the complete undoing of the curse in the garden. Eating the fruit symbolizes all the divine blessings of the eternal state.

22:3-4. The garden of Eden had its river and its tree, but it did not contain the throne of God and of the Lamb. For this reason the city surpasses the original paradise. The throne equally belongs to the Father and the Son—God and the Lamb. Further, the garden had been the place where the curse entered (Gen. 3:14,17). Now, the city is the place where no longer will there be any more curse. Here at last is the seventh and greatest of the seven things that will no longer exist in eternity (sea, death, mourning, crying, pain, and night are the others; 21:1,4,25). Where the curse has been banished, only blessing remains. Three of the greatest specific blessings of eternity now follow.

His servants will serve Him. The word servants can be rendered “slaves,” and the verb serve usually means religious worship. Eternity will never be boring. We cannot imagine exactly what it will mean for us to serve and worship God throughout eternity or even that He would desire such. The implication, however, is of great activity, not passive lethargy. In this life, His servants truly served Him, though sometimes halfheartedly and often with incomplete obedience. In eternity this will change to perfect service. The first blessing is faultless active usefulness.

They will see His face. One of the truths embedded almost from the beginning of biblical revelation is that no human can see God face-to-face. Moses’ experience with the Lord was the model (Ex. 33:20). In the Christian era, God’s face is glimpsed through Christ. Sometimes, however, the way seems dark, and God’s face has appeared hidden even to the greatest of saints. In eternity with the curse removed, all God’s servants will see Him face-to-face. The second blessing is immediate divine presence.

His name will be on their foreheads. To bear God’s name was a privilege, but it also provided protection. The seal or name of God on someone authenticates that person as genuine, guarantees God’s protection, and is a token of His reward to the overcomers. The third blessing is eternally guaranteed reward.

22:5. This verse concludes the vision at the highest possible level. It repeats and summarizes the teaching of Revelation

21:22-24. No more night pictures the complete end of all the darkness that sin and evil brought. This can happen only because of the direct personal presence of the Lord God who will give them light. Just as Jesus is the “Light of the World” during the present age (John 8:12; 9:5), so in eternity He is the everlasting light. So neither the light of a lamp (to illumine the night) or the light of the sun (to illumine the day) can add anything to the light of God’s presence. The concluding promise is that the city’s citizens will reign for ever and ever. Exactly what this means is not clear, but it is evidently part of their service to God.

22:6. The glory now fades. John is back on Patmos. Little more does he see, but several voices speak. The first voice John hears is the angel who guided him through the fourth vision. John had been commanded earlier to write down the contents of the third vision because it was trustworthy and true (21:5). Now he receives a similiar command for the fourth vision. The words are reliable because they issue from the same Lord who has always been the God of the spirits of the prophets. The message will show His servants the things that must soon take place. These words are identical to those in the opening verse of Revelation. Since all Christians are God’s servants, then the message is for them all, not just a select few. The events must take place because of God’s settled determination. All days are “soon,” for Christ may return at any time.


DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

My wife and I have three kids aged three and under. One toddler and newborn twins. Needless to say, we may as well live in a circus tent! Parenting is hard work—but it is one of our highest callings as Christians. So, what does that mean? It means we have one of the hardest jobs (parenting) to do the hardest job (discipling sinners)! Today’s verse highlights how crucial this discipling is while our kids are young. And I believe we can apply it in at least two ways in at least two life stages.

MAKE TIME

Sing worship songs with your kids at home. Lift up your hands when you worship Jesus at church. Model what it looks like to be a worshiper. Even if you can’t carry a tune, you’re called to worship through music. God commands it: Help them understand it by working to understand it yourself. Help them apply it. Kindle their love for hearing from God.

This takes time—but it is time well spent. Especially when they are young.

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

However, if you’re children are older, and you didn’t spend much time doing this while they were young… Be encouraged that it’s never too late. Prioritize your walk with Jesus and let it saturate every area and relationship in your life.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

1 John 2:28

Recently I’ve been looking some of my biggest fears straight on. And frankly, I want to run and hide. And then stay hidden forever. To be honest, my deepest fear has everything to do with the fear of man: fearing what “they” will think of me. It can feel crushing sometimes, can’t it? God calls us out upon the waters, to do the unknown, unthinkable, or unheard of, and then, as true as we know God to be, we begin to look around. We feel different. We may even feel like a freak. But oh, the catalyst to freedom this can prove to be… if we let it.

MAN’S FAVOR WILL FAIL The truth is, when we look to man for our value, we are never protected from shame. Mankind is incapable of perfect love. Mankind is broken, hurting, enslaved by the power of not knowing perfect love, and in this, man is ignorant. We know not what we’re doing… nor what we’re talking about. This is not to shame humanity! This is to remind us that we aren’t free in human love. Darkness doesn’t free darkness. Light frees darkness. And God is light. Jesus kept this in mind constantly. We could say he was the weirdest one of all. He didn’t teach what the others were teaching. He didn’t live as the others were living. For this, he was constantly and notoriously the object of man’s judgment. “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men… for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25 NASB

GOD’S SOLUTION Rather… “…while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him…” 1 Peter 2:23 NASB When God calls us onward, upward, and to the unheard of, our catalyst to freedom will be, not looking around, but looking to him. Abiding in—practicing conscious awareness of and faith in—his perfect endless love is our solution to all fear and shame.

GOD’S FAVOR WILL PROTECT Do you know that God does not shame? Do you know that? Perfect love does not shame. It only calls us to itself. For this reason, we can live in a world of fury and judgment all around us, yet be at perfect peace and rest within. Friends, it is this we must train in! If we look again at the verses we began with, we’ll see that the ultimate call to trust in his perfect love will be realized when Jesus returns for us. And it is to this end that every confrontation with fear and shame is for. He wants us to learn to not fall for it. When he returns for us, he will be coming for us all. Because he loves us all passionately and unconditionally. Yet, if we are not practiced in trusting his love, we will witness him in all his beautiful glory and will agree with the lie that we should be ashamed before him. Just like Adam and Eve did. (Gen. 3:8) And history will repeat itself.

CONCLUSION But oh—there is no fear in perfect love, is there? Rather, perfect love casts out fear, doesn’t it? Friend, lets let fear be our training ground. Let’s let it become the greatest catalyst to freedom we’ve ever known. Let’s recognize it, call its bluff, and move onward, accepting perfect Love’s sweet invitation in its stead. “…God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment…” (1 John 4:16-17)

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Have you ever found a recipe online that sounded delicious, but despite your best efforts, didn’t turn out when you attempted to make it? Chances are, you were missing a key ingredient or a vital step in the process needed to bring all the flavors together. Many people have the same experience with the Bible. Those who attempt to read it usually do so because they long for a meaningful connection that they have seen others experience with God’s Word. Yet, despite their best efforts, they simply don’t get similar results. Why?

First, it’s important to understand that the Bible is no ordinary book. It’s much more than just ancient text full of stories and a bunch of rules for life. The Bible is God’s divinely inspired word designed to give us direction and purpose for our life. Bible is also God’s living word, meaning it’s as relevant and meaningful now, as it was when God originally spoke to its authors. This means that if we, the readers, truly let the Bible’s message sink into our hearts and minds, it will meet us wherever we are in life. It shows us who God is and who we are as children of God. It transforms our hearts. It makes sense of our fallen world, helping us discern what is of God and what is of man. And it can cut to the heart of any matter we’re facing in life. So we shouldn’t just read the Bible, we should let it speak to our innermost being.

But how? How do we let the Bible engage us at such a deep level? The key ingredient in making the Bible truly come alive for us is faith. Faith activates God’s word. But if you lack faith, then what? Are you simply predestined to never connect with the Word of God? Absolutely not.

In order to activate God’s Word, you must start by studying the Bible—even if you have doubts—and try applying it to your everyday life. Over time, reflect on any changes you’ve noticed about yourself and how God’s word has helped you move forward. These “ah-ha moments” are revelations from God and little by little, they activate your faith. Journal these revelations and reflect back on them often. Then, return to the Word. Focus specifically on the passages that have had the greatest impact on your life. You’ll find that, even with the tiniest degree of faith, the scripture now has more meaning. Make an effort to put these verses to memory. Then, move on to other areas of the Bible and repeat these steps. This is the process of building faith—the key ingredient needed to activate the power of God in your life.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

“What is going on in the world?” You’ve probably heard people say this. And as Christians, we sometimes wonder how we are to live in a culture that seems to be on a downhill trajectory ethically. Since Jesus said of His disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16), we can certainly conclude that our lives should look different from unbelievers’ lives.

The darker things become, the more pronounced should be the contrast between our way of life and the world’s. And one of the most obvious differences should be in the area of love. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul warned that in the last days (a period just before Jesus’ return) mankind would be lovers of self, money, and pleasure rather than of God and others. Such misplaced affection results in arrogance, ungratefulness, unholiness, and all the other tragic descriptions found in this passage. When love becomes distorted, these vices inevitably follow. And today we see the evidence of this all around us, don’t we?

Even the technology that makes life easier is drawing us apart. Face-to-face conversations and phone calls are increasingly being replaced with emails and texts. Everywhere we turn, eyes are looking down at phones rather than seeing the people right in front of them.

The good news is that we can make a difference by intentionally living and loving differently from the world around us. As the Lord told us in Matthew 22:37-40, the way to fight the lovelessness all around us is by loving God and our neighbors.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world--from east and west--and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 8:11

I have read that we only use five percent of our brains. Presumably, when we get to Heaven we will be able to tap that other ninety-five percent, perhaps even more. It will be glorious beyond our wildest dreams, and I look forward to it.

Another great thing I am looking forward to in Heaven is not only being reunited with my son and with my loved ones, but also to the fact that we are going to eat in Heaven. Isn’t that good to know?

We are told in Revelation 19:9, “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ And he added, ‘These are true words that come from God’” (NLT). Not only will we be eating together, but we also will be in some pretty good company. The Bible tells us that they “will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 8:11 NLT).

Heaven will be amazing. And that is why the Bible tells us that we all should be more heavenly minded: “Since you have been raised to 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. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:1–2 NLT).

We spend the majority of our time thinking about things on Earth, things that we are concerned with and stressed about. The Bible isn’t saying that we shouldn’t think about these things. Rather, it’s saying that we shouldn’t stress about these things. Think more about Heaven. When you do, it will put everything else in the proper perspective.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

Isaiah 65:17

0 views

LIVING WATER

1284 SUGARLOAF ROAD, 

HENDERSONVILLE, NC 28792 

828.698.4664

SERVICE TIME: 10:30AM