To Be with God
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To Be with God
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Our opening song this morning was “On My Way to Heaven” written and sung by Dennis Quaid. We may know him as well-known actor who performed in many different movies for the past 50 years. However, what you may not know is that he is also a song writer and recently finished an album called “Fallen: A Gospel Record for Sinners.” This particular song was written at a time in his life in which he was getting off of drugs. He wrote this for his mother so that she would be at peace knowing that he was ok. He said at an interview that it was because of him and his addiction that his band had broken up even though they had a record deal at the time. God met him in his darkness and brought him back into the light. He had traveled around the world and was seeking God. He read the Bible, and various other religious books such as the Quran but then came back to the Bible and was transformed through the red letters of Jesus in the Gospels. His album is written for the sinners of the world, inviting them into a relationship with Jesus. This story is proof that Jesus wants to save all and is willing to give grace to all.
Revelation 7 reveals to us a glimpse into Heaven and what it will be like to be with God. Before our morning passage we can find the number of people from the tribes of Israel who will be there in Heaven for their names are sealed in the book of life. The number totals 144,000. 12,000 from each tribe. However, our passage reveals to us another group of people. We are told that this is a multitude that is too large to even count. John is asked by one of the elders who all of these people are. The question is not asked because the elder does not know who they are. It is asked I believe to see if John already knows who they are. John responds basically surprised that he is being asked for it is the question asker who already knows the answer to the question. The elder explains that these are the people who came out of the great tribulation. These are those who suffered in the world but who chose to follow Jesus even if it meant more suffering and they have washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb so that they are now white and pure. They are now in the presence of God and serve and worship the Lord, day and night. Though they suffered in the world they are now sheltered and protected by the Lord. They are in his presence and before the throne. They will never thirst or feel hunger again. They will not feel the sun beating down on their heads as it did when they labored for their food. The Lamb is their shepherd and He will lead them to springs of living water and they will not cry for the Lord will wipe away their tears. It will be great joy in the presence of the Lord. It is a place that John attempts to paint a picture of for us with his words. It is a place that is truly glorious.
The question then is, how does one make it into the multitude? 1 John 3:1-3 tells us that we must become children of God. “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him… We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” What is it that we must endure to receive such a blessing? The blessings in life for following Jesus are as follows, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be a part of the multitude we must be poor in spirit. It is ok to be less and not the largest in life. It is ok to be humble and to live as such for such as these will be with God. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” There will be times of mourning and loss in life and in the tribulation however, those who experience mourning shall be comforted by the Lord himself. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Those who are humble and lowly or seem to be the weakest of these shall be kings of the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Do you desire righteousness as much as you desire food to eat? Is it more important to you to fill your soul than to fill your belly? “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” If you want forgiveness and mercy then you must be willing to also give it yourself. How can you receive what you are not willing to give? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Oh, what a promise here. The promise that if you are pure in heart then you shall see God. This is how we will see and be with God. How do we become pure in heart? Jesus purifies us and then we remain pure by following him and living as he would live. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Those who seek peace over war, who seek justice, such as these are the children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” There will be great persecution during tribulation all simply because we choose to live differently than the rest of the world. When we choose to be kind instead of evil people will make fun of us, try to take advantage of us and harm us. They may try to throw us into prison. They may fire us from our jobs for saying a prayer. They may put us in jail for trying to save the innocent or for telling the truth because the truth shines a light onto the darkness that the world wants to live in. However, those in the multitude are blessed because they were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
John gives us a glimpse in his account of Revelation in what this reward will look like. We will be with God, we will see God, we will be with each other, we will never be hungry or thirsty, we will never grow tired or weak, we will never shed a tear or feel sadness, we will feel joy and peace for all eternity. There may be great sufferings in the world. Sufferings of loss, sufferings of poverty, sufferings of physical pain or illness. But great is our reward in heaven for experiencing these sufferings. We will be with God. What can be better than being with God for all eternity? Therefore, welcome the blessings of suffering, humility, hunger, and persecution. For these are blessings from above so that we may be blessed for all of eternity. Amen!