Holiday Club Family Service - Revelation 21:1-5
Now I want to begin this morning by asking for two of our Desert Detectives from the Holiday Club to come and help me dig for some treasure that is hidden in this desert dune here at the front. Volunteers come up- so let's get digging and see what we can find. Item 1: A brand new handkerchief. Item 2: A Postcard. Item 3: Some antiseptic cream.
Now (Acetate 1a: Mighty GodSword- Reveal first bit) over the last few days in Holiday Club all the desert detectives have been trying to find a hidden treasure, the Mighty God'sSword. And at last on the final day, on Friday, we found out what this amazing treasure was. (Acetate 1b: Mighty God's Word) In fact, it wasn't the Mighty GodSword at all, but Mighty God's Word. (Acetate 1c: Jesus the Word) And we found that God's word became a man, and came to earth and his name was Jesus. And throughout the week we have been seeing God's plan for the world which he tells us about in the Bible. But when God sent Jesus into the world to rescue us, that was not the end of the story. Because the last book in the Bible tells the end of the story, the book of Revelation. And the end of the story which the Bible tells us is heaven. So today, we're going to look at the end of the story is heaven, when all God's people will be together with God forever, as many as the stars in the sky. And those three things that the desert detectives dug up in the pit will help us understand three things about heaven. And our passage that Pippa read for us from Revelation 21, which is the very last book in the Bible, tells us these three amazing things about heaven, which is the end of the story.
1) Heaven is a Perfectly New Place
(Acetate 2- Titles- 1st point only) And the first thing we find in our reading is that heaven is a perfectly new place. Verse 1: 'The I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed awayAnd the first item that the detectives found was the brand new handkerchief. And it reminds that heaven is a perfectly new place. And the amazing thing is that at the end of time, God is going to remake this world into a beautiful new place spotless and clean, perfect in every way which is what the Bible calls heaven. Heaven is going to be a wonderful place to be. And John who wrote the Revelation that we read says that heaven is like two things.
a) First it's like a beautiful city. It's the sort of city that looks so bright and clean. Everything is wonderfully decorated and so delightful to look at. (Acetate 3- Snow) It's a bit like walking into your back garden on a cold winter's morning, when there's been some snow, and the thick blanket of snow looks perfect. Nothing has walked across the snow yet, and it looks perfect. And God's city, heaven, will be like that. It won't be smelly and horrible, it won't be full of smoke and cars. It will be a beautiful place.
b) But the other thing we find in John's book Revelation is that heaven is like a beautiful garden. (Acetate 4- Beautiful garden). It comes in chapter 22 of Revelation where we find that there is a river of life flowing through the middle of the city with lots of trees doing the sides of the river. If you remember when God created the world, he made Adam and Eve a beautiful garden to live in. They could eat almost everything in the garden, and there were many different types of beautiful trees to eat from. Everything was perfect. And heaven is going to be even better than that. Now the Bible describes what heaven is like. It just says it's like a city or like a garden. In fact, heaven is going to be so beautiful that it is beyond words. These descriptions of heaven being like a city or a garden are only pictures to help us see what it is like. It's going to be far better than words can describe.
So the first thing we learn is that heaven is a place which is perfectly new. And it will be a wonderful place to be. And I don't think there are any of us here who do not want to be in heaven.
2) Heaven is about being with God
(Acetate 2 again- 2nd point). But then secondly we see that heaven is about being with God. Let's listen again to verse 3 of our reading: '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.' So the second amazing thing about heaven is that not only is a perfectly new place, but also it will be where God is. In other words, the people who live in heaven will be with God personally, seeing him face to face and God will live with his people together forever. And if you love God, then there is no better place to be than in heaven with him.
Now during the summer, I have received some postcards through the post from some of my friends who have gone on lovely holidays. And here is a picture of one of the places one of my friends visited. (Acetate 5- Beach). Doesn't that look fantastic. And if you remember, this postcard was one of the things the Desert Detectives dug up. So let's read what my friend wrote to me: 'Dear Nathan, I am here having a wonderful time. The sun is shining, the place is beautiful, the food is great. I only wish you were here to enjoy it with me.' Well isn't that nice. It's a shame he didn't pay for me to go out there with him. But do you know the most important part of this postcard for me are the words wish you were here. Because I know that we would have a great time together. My friend wants me to be with him enjoying his holiday.
And John tells us in Revelation that the most important part about heaven is not what it is like, not that it's like a beautiful garden or a beautiful city, but rather who we are with, and the best thing about heaven is that we will be with God. God will be with his friends for ever and ever. And if you are a friend of God by trusting in what Jesus has done for you on the cross, then you too will enjoy heaven together with God. We will see God face to face and be with him forever. And that will be the best thing about heaven.
Now that may come ad a bit of a shock to some of us. Because often we think that heaven is about enjoying ourselves and doing what we want. Actually the Bible says something every different. Heaven is about enjoying God forever and being with him, and that's why heaven is only for those who love God and who go his way.
And the whole Bible is if you like a postcard from God telling us how to live on our way to heaven. And God is longing for us to be with him together forever. And he'll help us to keep loving him and serving him all the way to heaven. So that's the second amazing thing about heaven is that heaven is about being with God.
3) Heaven is a place with no suffering
(Acetate 2 again- 3rd title) But the third and final thing we discover about heaven is that heaven is a place with no suffering. Let's look again at verse 4: 'God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death and no more crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' And if you remember, the third object that the desert detectives dug up for us was the antiseptic cream, which helps to take away pain and make us better. And the amazing thing about heaven is that everything that hurts us and pains us, everything that makes us sad and brings us problems will be taken away. Everything will be good.
Now (Acetate 6- Sad Person) here I have a picture of a ordinary person who is living in this world, just like you and me. And we have to bear all sorts of problems as we go through life. Maybe we get ill or sick and that gives us trouble. Maybe our hearts are broken through a difficult relationship or will lose someone we love and that makes us sad. Maybe we are tempted to get angry or bitter, or we're tempted to do wrong things. All sorts of troubles come upon us. And they weigh us down and make life hard. (Acetate 7- Happy person) But in heaven, all these things will be taken away. So John says in our reading that there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death. All the things which trouble us are taken away. I cannot imagine what a wonderful thing that will be to have all our troubles taken away. But that is what the Bible says heaven is like. A perfect place where there is no sin and death and sickness. No more tears! Because heaven is a place with no suffering.
Now (Acetate 2 again- Titles) I don't know about you, but heaven, to me, sounds a wonderful place. It's a place that is perfectly new, it's a place which is where God is and it's a place where there is no suffering. It's certainly somewhere I want to go when I die. But the Bible makes it clear that none of us here in this room deserves to go to heaven. We've all done wrong things, we've all not lived the way God wants us to live with him as our Lord and King. And if heaven is a perfect place, then how can any of us live there with God. None of us are perfect. Not one. We are not good enough for heaven, because heaven is a perfect place. So we need to be perfect. So what's the point of learning about heaven if none of us can get there?
Well the wonderful news is that God has made it possible for everyone in this room to get to heaven if we trust in his rescue plan. (Acetate 7- Cross) And the way he has done it is by allowing his own Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross. He's taken the punishment we deserve for doing wrong and so the we can be forgiven and washed clean. We can be perfect in God's eyes, because when God forgives a person, he not only forgives them but he forgets their sin. And that is possible by accepting that Jesus died for you on the cross. So we can get to heaven when we accept what Jesus has done and begin to follow him again as our rescuer and King. And it means that heaven is not full of really good people. It will be full of forgiven people.
So as we finish. Let's remember that the end of the story is a great one if we accept what Jesus has done. But it's a sad ending if we ignore God's rescue and face him unforgiven. So why not take the opportunity today to ask God for the forgiveness he offers, to accept the rescue and come back to the God who made you. There are plenty of little booklets at the back to help you, or else to talk to one of us at the back. Because it's only through Jesus that we can enjoy heaven as God made it- a perfectly new place, a place where God is with his people and a place where tears and suffering are no more.
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