I am participating in a study of heaven based on a book of same title by Randy Alcorn. I read the book several years ago causing me to preach eight sermons on the incredibly good news it offered through God’s word, the Bible. In today’s environment I find almost no mention of heaven and if I do it is because someone has mentioned hell. Did you know that Jesus mentioned hell more than anyone? Why? He wanted us to understand the reality of the darkness and the eternal consequences of choosing to go there. Yes, we have a choice, it is not God who wants us to go to hell, He wants that none should perish, but all to come to a knowledge of God through Christ Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). So back to heaven, a real place. Yes, heaven is for real a recent movie said. None of us can go there until we die, so what do we do in the meanwhile? “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2). This is the call to Christians as we wait for Jesus to return to take us to heaven as 1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us. The Apostle Paul also has some powerful guidance on the subject.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). Now this is great and difficult advise. Forgetting the past is one of mankind’s big issues. We remember our mistakes or we live in the glories of our past victories in high school track or whatever. Staying stuck in the past sends many to bitterness or the counselor’s office. So what does Paul say- “press on.” Keep walking in the Lord, or as Isaiah 30:21 says, Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘this is the way; walk in it.’” What are we pressing onwards towards? We are pressing or straining heavenwards. How do we do this? We do this by forgetting the past and also making it the “One thing.”
“One thing” is a determined resolve. I wrote about this last week in, “Resolved to Resist.” Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Notice that Mary, Martha’s sister, has chosen the “one thing” that is necessary the King James Version says. This is telling us that fixing our eyes above to where Christ is seated at the right hand of God in heaven is where our salvation and strength will lie. Some may say, “you are so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.” Well, I don’t think that this admonition is to be that, but rather to study, pray and meditate on our Savior and His words of encouragement about our lives. King David, the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” and “the man after God’s own heart” wrote in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” This is his heart’s desire, to seek after the Lord, and in so doing know for certain that he will dwell in heaven forever with Him. This was his hearts desire, to seek after the Lord. It should also be ours’. This was his resolution. Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher also wrote “resolutions” that are for our serious consideration today:The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (Edited and Abbreviated)
1. Resolved that I will do all I think or say to the glory of God and not to take into consideration my own comfort, profit or pleasure.
2. Resolved if ever I shall fall and grow dull so as to neglect to keep any of these resolutions, I shall repent when I come to my senses again.
3. Resolved never to lose one moment of time but use it to the most profitable way I can.
4. Resolved to live with all my might.
5. Resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were my last hour of my life or before the last trumpet blew.
6. Resolved to act in word and deed as if nobody had been so vile as I to live as if I had committed the same sins or had the same infirmities or failings as others to confess my own sins and miser to God when I am prone to look on shame at others.
7. Resolved to think much on the brevity and how short ones life is.
Psalm 90:17 :) Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom.
Psalm 90:17 :) Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom.
8. Resolved when I feel pain or the least of discomfort to think of the pains of martyrdom - the torments of Hell.
9. Resolved if I see a problem to try to solve it or if someone need help to help them.10. Resolved if I do help to never become proud or puffed up or seek the credit (glory).
11. Resolved never to do anything out of anger or revenge.
12. Resolved never to speak evil of anyone - to dishonor them unless for some real good reason.
13. Resolved to love all of mankind - walk in humility and look to my own faults and failings.
14. Resolved that I will live as to have no regrets or wish I had done something before I die.
15. Resolved to live each and every day at all times with the things of Eternity always on my mind and heart. Live for Eternal Purposes - may I not find joy in temporary things but in heavenly things.
16. Resolved to be self controlled in all areas of my life.
17. Resolved to get to the bottom of an evil thought or deed. I commit and repent and do it no more.
18. Resolved to examine carefully and constantly in me - what is the thing that causes me in the least to doubt the love of God and the assurance of His love to cast it away.
19. Resolved to study the scripture so diligently, constantly and frequently - as that I may find growth for me and others to observe.20. Resolved to strive every week to have grown in Grace and closer to God.
21. Resolved never to doubt that God hears every prayer I pray to Him - never to doubt His forgiveness - every sin I confess.
22. Resolved to live peacefully with all men as much as I can.
23. Resolved only to speak the truth or what is truthful, never vain, frivolous or empty talking.
24. Resolved to inquire every night as I am going to bed, where have I been negligent; what sin have I committed and where have I denied myself.
25. Resolved to inquire every night, every week, month, year - what would I have done better!
26. Resolved to frequently review my dedication to God to keep my love and heart solely His and to keep the love burning bright - to repent of a luke warm heart.
27. Resolved to never forget I am not my own but Gods and never to live for myself but God.
28. Resolved that nothing but God, Gods word and Gods will shall influence how I live to shun anything that is not of Christlike character.
29. Resolved never to allow any pleasure, grief, joy or sorrow, nor an affection at all, or circumstance to hinder my devotion to God.
30. Resolved to live in utmost respect and honor to all family members especially my own mother and father.
31. Resolved to look often at the state of my soul.
32. Resolved never to say -I only I could live my life over again I would have done such and such (no regrets)
33. Resolved to always be mindful of my Lord Jesus Christ to trust and confide and consecrate myself wholly to Him.
34. Resolved to live as if I had already seen the Joys of Heaven and the torments of Hell!
35. Resolved never to slacken my devotion and resolve to God.
36. Resolved when I fear misfortunes and adversities - to examine if I have been faithful to do my part and trust; repent of any sin and trust God for the outcome.
37. Resolved to act loving, respectfully, Godly towards all and when I am feeling ungodly to quickly repent.
38. Resolved in all situations to act Christlike in His nature and character. Did I speak lovingly?
39. Resolved to pray and groan and intercede with all my heart.“One thing” is a resolute mindset determined to do what is right in the eyes of God, not man. It requires self-discipline and courage, especially in light of the morally decaying world in which we live. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That is a good mantra or resolution. What about you? Have you made resolutions for life? I’m not talking the typical “New Year’s Resolutions” that apparently 98% of people forget within, two months, but life resolutions that will stick. These may change over time, but for me they will be words from the Bible. Perhaps I will start with a strong admonition from Jesus saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27).