Set your minds on things above. (Colossians 3:2)
All of us are on our way, either to something that is infinitely better, or to something that is infinitely worse. People sometimes talk about “living your best life now.” That’s only possible if you are going to hell. If hell is your future, your best life is now.
But if you are going to heaven, your best life is to still to come. For a person outside Christ, this life is as good as it gets. But for a person in Christ, your pain in this world is the only pain you will ever experience. Your struggles in this world are the only struggles you will ever endure.
This is as tough as it gets for you, because your future is absolutely glorious! Without Christ this world is as near as you will get to heaven. With Christ this world is as near as you will get to hell. It is better to suffer any illness, endure any sorrow, carry any burden and be in Christ, than it is to enjoy any lifestyle you can imagine without Him.
Today, I have the joy of lifting your eyes up to your future joy in heaven, so that you will find strength, courage, and comfort to endure the difficulties of life that confront you today.
In heaven, you will serve God as you always wished you could
They are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple. (Revelation 7:15)
Every Christian serves Christ, but none of us serves the Lord as we would like to serve Him. All who love Christ worship Him, but none of us worships as we would like to worship. Don’t you find yourself at times asking, “Why is my heart so sluggish? Why is my response to the grace of God so restrained, so calculating?”
Every Christian wants to serve Christ, but we find ourselves in conflict, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). We throw ourselves into serving Christ and into living for Christ, and then we get tired or we become discouraged. We get bogged down in our unsolved problems and our unanswered questions, but it will not always be so. In heaven you will serve God as you always wished you could. “Day and night” they serve Him. No tiredness there!
Here, we go through seasons of feeling distant from God, and we want to have a new and fresh experience of God. But in heaven you will be before His throne. You will be with Him, and you will enjoy Him forever!
In heaven, Christ will lead you into ever increasing joy
The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water. (Revelation 7:16)
You may think, “Heaven’s going to be a wonderful place where I’m going to discover all kinds of marvelous things.” Yes it will, but John is telling us, “It’s better than that.” What’s missing?
Christ is the great Shepherd of His people. He feeds them and that is why they are never hungry (7:16). And He leads them—Christ does this for us on earth, and He will do this for us in heaven too, “the Lamb will… guide them to springs of living water!” The great joy of heaven is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will lead you into ever increasing delight.
Perhaps you have a favorite place to vacation. You keep going back, and over the years, you’ve gotten to know it better and better. After many years, you know most of what there is to know. You have eaten at every restaurant. You have shopped at every store. But you will never get to that place in heaven. Heaven will be an infinite world of new discoveries, and Jesus Christ will unfold them to you.
Thomas Boston says, “The divine perfections will be an unbounded field, in which the glorified shall walk eternally, seeing more and more of God; since they can never come to the end of the infinite. They may bring their vessels to this ocean every moment, and fill them with new waters.”
This joy will go on increasing forever! Think about looking through a photo album. The joys you experience in life remain in your memory so that you continue to derive happiness from them—things that happened ten years ago or twenty years ago.
Jonathan Edwards asks, “Do you think it will be any less in heaven?” The joys of heaven will accumulate: “Their knowledge will increase to eternity; and if their knowledge, their holiness; for as they increase in the knowledge of God, they will see more of his excellency (beauty), and the more they see of his excellency (beauty) the more they will love him, and the more they love God, the more delight and happiness they will have in him.” Friends, we are talking about exponentially increasing joy! What will that be like after a million, million ages?
In heaven, all your wounds will finally be healed
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)
Every tear! Literally, the tears will be wiped “out of their eyes.” This is telling us God removes, not only the tears, but also the source that produces the tears—even our tear ducts! The baggage you carried—there’s nothing to carry now. It’s gone. The temptations you battled—there are no battles now. The pain you suffered—there’s no suffering now.
John sees the glory of heaven, the presence of Jesus, the glory of the new creation, but then like a drumbeat you have this repeated statement of what will not be there: No death; no mourning. No sins to confess; no temptations to overcome. No sickness to suffer; no pain to endure. No crosses to carry; no fears to face.
All your questions will be answered. All your doubts will be resolved. All your longings fulfilled. All your needs met. Your joy will be complete. And God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. If you have been washed in the blood of Christ, it will not be long before you are there too.
Longing to depart, ready to stay
Look at what lies ahead of you, and it will help you to face whatever you are facing today. Donald Macleod reminds us that heaven is our Father’s house: “What a grief it must be to God that so few of His children want to go home! Here we are, in enemy territory, amid the sufferings of the present time, beset by sin and seeing our Father’s name dishonored all around us and yet we want to stay!”
Macleod recalls Paul’s longing to depart and be with Christ, which the apostle says is “better by far.” But at the same time, Paul says that he has to be ready to stay and continue serving the church. “This surely is the healthy Christian attitude: Willing to stay, for the sake of the work still to be done, but longing to get home.”
Serving Christ will be your great delight in heaven, so find joy by serving Him now. Following Christ will lead you to springs of living water in heaven, so find life by following Christ now. Christ will wipe every tear from your eye in heaven, so find comfort by drawing near to Him now.