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Heaven - Revelation 21

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 2nd December 2007.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.

Me:  Well please do sit down.  And it’s time for Daisy.  Shall we call her?  Ready, 1,2,3:  Daisy:

[Daisy appears looking sheepish]

Me:  Hello Daisy:  you look a bit sad:  what's the matter?

Daisy:  Well I’m feeling a bit sad. 

Me:  I can tell that.  But why?


Daisy:  Don’t know. 

Me:  What d’you mean you don’t know.  Have you been up to your naughty tricks again? What have you done this time? 

Daisy:  Well, actually, I’m feeling a bit guilty.

Me:  Because you ……   

Daisy:  Well you know those Blue leaflets you keep going on about? 

Me:  [hold one up + picture on screen]  What these ones which are on the Inforamtion Stand. 

Daisy:    [looking round at me/ the screen].  Yes, that’s the one. 

Me:  What about it? 

Daisy:  Well, after last month’s service, I overheard that new girl. 

Me:  What you mean Bryony. 

Daisy:  That’s her. 

Me:   OK, you heard Bryony saying what?   

Daisy:  I heard Bryony saying they’d nearly all gone.  And I thought, well they must be good if they’re shifting like hot cakes.  So when she wasn’t looking, I took one. 

Me:  Well that’s OK, because they’re free
 

Daisy:    Oh I know that. 
 

Me:  So what are you feeling sad and guilty about. 

Daisy:  Well as I read through the booklet, it made me think of all these banners we’ve been doing in church. 

Me:  What the ones that we rearranged earlier in the service.

Daisy:  Yes. 

Me:  And so….

Daisy:  Well when I’d read it through, I realised something.

Me:  What’s that then.

 

Daisy:  Well, I realised, that I’ve been saying no to God.

Me:  What d’you mean? 

Daisy:  Well, I’ve disobeyed my mummy loads, I’ve been unkind to my brother;  I’ve been rude to my Aunt Flow.  And last Monday at school, I .. . 

 

Me:  Last Monday at school, you… 

 

Daisy:    Well, when the teacher’s head was turned, I stuck my tongue out. 

Me:   That’s really disrespectful.

Daisy:  I know.  And that’s why I’m feeling sad.  Because I’m just like people in the Bible. 

Me:    What you mean, you’re just like Adam and Eve. 

Daisy:  And king Solomon, who ended up disobeying God. 

Me:  And you’ve been thinking about when God threw His people out of the Promised Land because they kept on disobeying Him. 

Daisy:  Exactly.  I know you’ve told us all about Jesus dieing on the cross.  But I still feel a bit like that disciple we looked at last month. 

Me:  What you mean: Doubting Thomas   

 

Daisy:  Yeah him.  How do I know that I’m one of God’s people?  How do I know if God’s forgiven me for all the bad things I’ve done.  Because otherwise….

Me:  because otherwise, you’re worried that God will punish when you die. 

Daisy:  Yeah. 

 

Me:  Well actually, that’s really good. 

Daisy:   What being punished by God in hell is good? 

Me:  No what I mean is, that it’s good you’ve understood the story of the Bible.  It’s good that you understood the reason why the world is such a mess. 

Daisy:  Because just like Adam and Eve and just like Solomon, we all want to do things our own way. 

 

Me:  Exactly.  And the whole story of the Bible has been about God’s big promises to sort out the mess.  And today, we’ve reached the end of the Bible’s big story.

Daisy:  That reading we had earlier was from the end of the Bible wasn’t it?

Me:  That’s right.   At the start of the Bible, Adam and Eve lived in God’s special garden, and they were happy and close to God. But the end of the Bible, God tells us there’s going to be not just a garden, but a CITY.  And this city will be home for all God’s people. 

 

Daisy:  What you mean that the Garden of Eden and the city at the end of the Bible are sort of the same. 

Me:  Sort of yes.  The City of God at the end of the Bible is a picture. It’s a picture of how things are going to be in the special place God’s preparing for His people. 

Daisy:  What, you mean heaven?   

Me:  Right again.  In the garden there was a beautiful river that watered all the plants and kept them alive. In the City at the end of the Bible, there’s a river too.  Can you remember the name of that river from our reading? 

Daisy:  ummmmmm.   - the river of the Water of Life.

Me:  Well done.  And in that reading, a tree was mentioned that Adam and Eve could have eaten from?  Can you remember what it was called?

Daisy:  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Me:  no, that was the one they weren’t allow to eat from.

Daisy:   But they did. 

Me:  That’s right.  I’ll give you a clue:  the other tree’s got something to do with eternal life.

Daisy:  The Tree of the Life.

Me:  Well done.  The Tree of Life. And if you ate its fruit, you could live for ever.   And just like in Eden, in God’s beautiful city there’s going to be trees like that all up and down the sides of the streets.

Daisy:  And because the tree of life is everywhere, that why it’s heaven.

 

Me:  Well partly.  because best of all, God’s in the city. And He’s going to rule over His people for ever and ever.  Nobody will disobey Him any more and there’ll be no more sadness or pain or crying. It’s going to be a wonderful place.  Even better than the original Garden of Eden.  Even better than the Promised Land of Israel under King David.  God’s people, living in God’s perfect Promised Land being blessed as they live under God’s perfect rule. 

Daisy:  Sounds like Heaven. 

 

Me:  It is.   That’s what this month’s banner is all about. 

Daisy:  [Looking at the banner on the puppet theatre/ screen]  So the crown is God. 

Me:    Yep.  And the people are smiling. 

Daisy:  So that means they’re blessed by God. 

Me:  Exactly, because they’re living in God’s Promised Land, the City of God.

Daisy:  with the tree of life and the river of life.

MeWell spotted Daisy. 

DaisyBut I still don’t know.   

 

Me: you still don’t know what? 

Daisy:  How do I know for sure I’ll be there when I die.  How do I know if I really am one of God’s people. 

 

Me:  Well do you believe that God made you.

Daisy:  Yep.

Me:  And do you believe that Jesus is the King. 

Daisy:  Yes.

Me:    And are you sorry for all the bad things you’ve done, like disobeying your mummy?

Daisy:  Yes, I’m really sorry. 

Me:  And do you believe that King Jesus died on the cross taking the punishment you deserved?   

Daisy:  That’s the story of Easter we looked at a few months ago.  Yes, I believe all that. 

Me:  And do you want to be forgiven and go to heaven when you die? 

 

Daisy:  Of course I do, that’s what I’ve been worrying about.  Am I forgiven and how can I be sure?

 

Me: Well let’s talk to God about it shall we?

Daisy:  OK.

Me:  We’ll use these words coming up on the screen.  And maybe there are other people out there who want to say the same prayer to God.  Maybe you’ve understood the story of the Bible for the first time;  maybe you’re sorry for your sins;  maybe you want to thank God for what he’s done;  and maybe you’re ready to ask for God’s forgiveness.  And if that’s you, then pray along with Daisy.  And if you think you’re already a Christian, but you’re not sure, then the prayer’s for you too.  The words aren’t magic, we’re just going to say, sorry, thank you and please.  Maybe I’ll read it through first and then anybody who wants to, can all join in with me and Daisy.  OK. 

Daisy:  OK.

Me:  “Dear God, I’m sorry that I haven’t treated you as my king.  I’m sorry that I’ve said no to you by not doing what you say.  Thank you that you sent Jesus to die on the cross to take away my punishment.  Please forgive me, and help me to live with Jesus as my King from now on.  Amen.”

 

 

 

Me:  OK ready Daisy.  Ready out there.  Together…

Dear God, I’m sorry that I haven’t treated you as my king.  I’m sorry that I’ve said no to you by not doing what you say.  Thank you that you sent Jesus to die on the cross to take away my punishment.  Please forgive me, and help me to live with Jesus as my King from now on.  Amen.”

Daisy:  [Singing to Nemo tuneI’ve said it, I’ve said it, O yeah, yeah yeah, no punishment for me, no punishment for me, cos I’m forgiven.  [Stop singing]  I am aren’t I? 

Me:  If you really meant those words, then you really are forgiven;  you really are a Christian.  And one day you’ll be with Jesus in Heaven for ever.  Guaranteed.

Daisy:  [To tune]  There will come a day, the Lord did say, when my people will be made new.  Jesus came to seek and save, and I have been made new.    [Stop singing]   What guaranteed.

Me:  Guaranteed.

Daisy:  What nothing can stop me from going there.

Me:  if you really meant that prayer, then no.  Nothing can stop you going to heaven.  It’s guaranteed.

Daisy:   That’s amazing.  I’m off to tell my mummy. 

[Daisy dash exit]

Me:   Well lots of other children and lots of grown ups too get very confused about heaven.  But the end of the Bible’s big story simply tells us that heaven’s not out there somewhere.  No heaven is when Jesus comes back.  Heaven is the end of the world as we know it;  heaven is the start of a brand new world.  The new heavens and the new earth.  A new world just like this one, except it’s going to be perfect.  A world with no more bullying, no more terrorism, no more cyclones, no more death, no more crying and no more disobeying God.  A perfect world.  But only God’s people will be there.  Only Christians will make it.  Not because they’re perfect, but because only Christians are forgiven.  And only forgiven people can live in God perfect new world. 

And so like Daisy, the issue is:  are you one of God’s people?  If you are, then great: make sure you say thank you again today for what God’s done for you.  If you said that prayer along with Daisy for the firstly time today, then that’s great too.  Come and tell me after the service so I can pray for you by name. 

But maybe you’re still thinking all these things through.  And if that’s you then do make sure you pick up one of those Blue leaflets from the book stall [slide up].  The prayer Daisy went through is at the back of the booklets;  so if you pick up a leaflet, when you’re ready, you can say the same prayer to God by yourself at home.    But maybe some of you, whether you’re already Christians or not, might want to go over the story of the whole Bible again.  And if that’s you, then after the service we’ll be giving away these yellow booklets which sum up the whole story.  The story of the whole Bible:  Genesis to Jesus for Kids.    But it’s not just for kids.  It’s for all of us.  And while we’ve had lots of fun in these services, it’s a deadly serious message:  who’s going to pay the penalty for your sins when you die:  you or Jesus.    Let’s Pray.

Closing prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank for teaching us the story of the whole Bible.  Thank you for creating us and sending Jesus to die for us.  We’re sorry that we’ve often rejected Jesus the king and failed to follow him as lord.  Help us to say sorry, and to keep on saying sorry, and help us to live with Jesus as our king both now, and for ever in your coming new Creation.  Amen.

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