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Welcome

THE EXHORTER

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” Acts 2:40

The Palmer Road church of Christ, Westland, Mi.                                                  December 14, 2014

Jump Start # 1228

Titus 2:13 "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus"

Paul, writing to Titus, reminds the preacher that the best is yet to come. There was something to look forward to. The best days are not behind us, but still in front of us. Peter wrote, "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, spotless and blameless." The "These things" that Peter said they were looking for is the fulfillment of God's promise for a new Heaven and a new earth. Although Christianity is about the Cross and we use the ancient ways to define and pattern ourselves, there is a forward look about us. The Colossians were told to set their minds on things above. "Looking for" is an important part of our faith. When there is nothing to look forward to, hope disappears. When all hope is gone, some take their lives. Without something to look forward to, we might as well just stay in bed all day. Looking for...there's something out there to look for.

Looking forward-we do this all the time. You leave for work in the morning, but look forward to coming home at the end of the day. We look forward to the weekend. The holidays are coming and we look forward to having some time off and seeing family. Kids look forward to Christmas and presents. I look forward to Sunday. It's the best day of the week. We get to be together as a church family and we get to worship God.

The list is long for the things we look forward to. We would include vacations, retirement, the kids being on their own, grandkids. Great things.

How about spiritually? What do you look forward to spiritually?

The Scriptures tell us that the apostle Paul looked forward to death, so he could be with the Lord. That is opposite of the way the world thinks. The world sees no value in death. The world avoids that subject at all costs. The world would do anything to put off death. Not Paul. Bring it on. It means out of this place and being with the Lord. Strong faith sees death as simply a door to the next room. Paul said being with the Lord was a "gain" or an advantage.

Let's give some thought to what there is to look forward to spiritually. Let's give some thought to what it means to be in Heaven. Looking forward to Heaven-what a great thought.

First, it means we would be set from our bodies. I don't know what all was involved in the selection of our bodies to match us personally, but it is interesting how different we look. I have a son-in-law that is 6'7". One of my best friends has a booming deep base voice. Another dear friend played professional baseball. In his day he was the shortest player in the major leagues. Some of us have a head full of hair. Others have no hair. Some have big ears and long noses and others have tiny ears. Some of us have the bluest eyes. We've been with our bodies for so long, we've gotten use to the bum knee, or the bumps and scars, or the voice that is hoarse in the mornings, or the hair that just has a mind of its own. We look forward to not limited with our body. Our vision gets dimmer with age. Our hearing gets quieter and quieter with age. It takes more medicine to get going. We get tired. The older one gets the more they find that they can't do anymore. Sometimes the back goes out more than the person does. Freedom from such things. Released. Heaven means no more false teeth, hearing aids, glasses, medicine, doctor visits, tests, hospital stays. A day is coming when we will say goodbye to our bodies. They have served us but they have also confined us and limited us.

Second, it means so many things that we do every day will change. Just today, I've been on the phone. Paid a bill. Turned on an alarm system. Locked my car. Drove by a cemetery. Turned on lights. Wrote an appointment in my calendar book for next year. Ate lunch. Shaved. Got wet in the rain. Got chilled because I left my coat in the car. Checked the time. Not one of those things will be done in Heaven. Not one. Heaven will be so different than here. There will be no other place to draw our attention. We won't be in a hurry because we have to be somewhere else. Heaven is the end of the journey. There is no other place to be. There is no other place we will want to be. No medicines. No bad news. No death. No sorrow. No tears. In Revelation it says the "first things have past." All things are new. We won't age. We won't grow tired. We won't be tempted. We won't worry about things. Those things are this life. Those things will cease. Heaven will be the best. Satan won't be there to spoil it or ruin it. All things bad won't be there.

Third, it means that grand fellowship with God's people. This is always a question some have on their mind, "Will we know each other in Heaven?" If we don't, what's the alternative? A large group of strangers? I've been in settings like that. Didn't know a person. It's rather awkward and not very warm and welcoming. Is that Heaven? I don't see that in Scriptures. There's enough here and there in the Bible to make us believe that yes, we will know each other. Peter knew Elijah and Moses when Jesus was transfigured. He didn't confuse them with Abraham and Daniel. He didn't think one was Abel. He seemed to know. How he knew, we are not told. But, he knew. God will take care of that. My great-grandmother died before I was born. I'm told she was a believer. Her death was recognized in a church bulletin that I have. Some of her earlier people were among the first ones in Indiana who recognized and restored the New Testament pattern. I'd love to sit and visit with those people. Then there are a few preachers I have read about through the years, I'd like to spend some time with them. There's a growing list of people that I have known that are now on the other side, including my mom, that I'd just love to spend an afternoon with. I'd like to tell each of them how much they meant to me and how much they helped me without even realizing it. I look forward to being with God's family and we don't have to have a closing prayer and leave. That's one of the saddest parts of worship. I don't like the leaving part. I wish we could just be together all the time. We can, in Heaven. Won't that be awesome. Can you imagine sitting down with Paul or Timothy? Can you imagine walking through Heaven with David as a guide? How about some time spent with Isaiah? WOW! These heroes of the Bible that we have read, talked about, studied and tried to figure out, are in our presence. Together, them and us. Amazing!

Fourth, it means being with Jesus. The one we have believed, obeyed, followed and tried to be like. Jesus. Our Savior. Our Friend. Our Redeemer. He has blessed us. He has forgiven us. He has never left us. Now, face to face with Jesus. All those songs we have sung about Him. All those passages we have read about Him. We can quote His words. He has helped us more than anyone else. He has wanted us there in Heaven more than anyone else. And now, here we are, with Him. Together. Never to leave. Never to apologize to any more. Never to disappoint ever again. Never to ask for forgiveness again. You and Jesus. You, me and Jesus. That's something to look forward to. 

No sir, the best is not behind us. There is so much to be looking forward to. I hope this helps you. I hope this makes you want to be there.

Roger Shouse