A Video Update from Larry
Devotional on Heavenly-Mindedness
I want to begin this morning with a confession. I am tired. I am tired of this season that we have been unable to gather together over the last 10 weeks. I am tired of the coronavirus. I am tired of facemasks and physical distancing. I am tired of injustice. I am tired of pain and disease. I am tired of politics. I am tired of social media. Perhaps you, like me, find yourself tired this morning, and you could add to this long list of things to be tired of.
But what do we do with this weariness? What should we do with all this tired-ness?
Well, as Larry encouraged us last week, we look to Jesus, he who is the radiance of the glory of God, the founder and perfecter of our faith. He is our hope. In his encouragement, Larry brought us to a letter written to a people who were themselves tired and weary. But the author of this letter redirects their gaze again and again to their true hope. Read how he encourages them
[Read Hebrews 10:35-36]
Even as our governing officials extend their stay-at-home orders, we should not throw away our confidence, but our confidence does not stand without perseverance. We, like the original readers of this letter, are a people who still have need for endurance.
I like to think that this endurance is about making it through to the other side of our current situation (whether that be the pandemic or a specific trial in your life), but this is where we can tend to live with more of a worldly perspective than a biblical perspective. Our sights and our hopes often don’t go far enough. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “We are half-hearted creatures, . . . like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Those in Christ are not saved to settle for mud pies. We are rescued from our foolish and fast-fading pursuits to walk the path of life where “there is fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). We need to regularly revive a heavenly-mindedness that directs our attention to the eternal life received in Christ.
The source of our confidence, the fuel for our endurance, is not found in making it through this next season, but in the faith that looks to the things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), things that are far more glorious and joy-inducing than anything we will experience in this life on earth, pre- or post-pandemic or tragedy.
The writer of Hebrews looks the example of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob.
[Read Hebrews 11:8-12]
Abraham left his home, not knowing where he was going. Rather than building his own city and making his own home, he and his descendants lived in tents because they were “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
[Read Hebrews 11:13]
Don’t miss what you just read. The writer of Hebrews says, almost as an aside, that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob “all died in faith,” which is what we expect, but then he says, “not having received the things promised . . .” Their lives ended before they ever received what they hoped for. This is truth we must not forget.
The Christian message is not that if you have faith then you will get all that you want, or now all your problems will go away, or that by faith you can live your best life now. It could be that you have faith and life is really hard. You could walk by faith and die in faith not having received what you wanted. What Christian faith looks to transcends this life.
This is what the writer of Hebrews says was true of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has in mind Jacob’s words to Pharaoh, when he describes the days and years of his life as “sojourning.” Even as he dwelled in the land promised to him, he views himself as a pilgrim, a traveler, one who is not home. So, the writer of Hebrews says this next.
[Read Hebrews 11:14-16]
If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, only had eyes set on an earthly home, then that is all they would have had. But the author of Hebrews tells us that they were seeking a homeland, “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
As we wait to gather together again, as we wait for some kind of “normal” to return, let’s not confuse this waiting and this hoping with what we are truly called to wait and hope for. For us today, our hope is not in one day meeting together again (though we eagerly anticipate it). Our hope is not healing or security or restoration (though we long for and pray for these things). Our hope is in the glorious Christ.
In the nineteenth century there was a pastor/hymn-writer named Henry Francis Lyte. His was a life marked by the pain of death, losing his parents in childhood and his daughter as a baby. He also faced poor health, and at 45 his doctor told him, “Unless you slacken your sails and cast anchor for a while, your voyage of life will soon be over.” Lyte continued on, ministering under an imminent death sentence over the next decade.
On November 20, 1847, Lyte finally succumbed to death. His daughter records that his death “came on at last slowly, but surely, it came visibly robbed of all its terrors.” She went on to say, “His whole soul seemed so imbued with peace and hope, that the last agony and the darkness of the grave dwelt not in his thoughts.” One morning shortly before he died, he awoke and declared, “Oh! There is nothing terrible in death; Jesus Christ steps down into the grave before me.” Lyte knew that death truly had no sting because his hope in Christ was stronger than death.
In his life, he penned the words to songs that are still sung the world over, including “Abide with Me” and “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” One lesser known poem Lyte wrote was titled, “The Pilgrim’s Song,” which meditates on the reality of Hebrews 4:9 – “There remains a rest for the people of God.” He writes that though “afflictions may damp me, they cannot destroy; one glimpse of His love turns them all into joy.” He lived as a sojourner and exile in this world, looking forward to “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
As we wait, let us each look forward to the glory that awaits. This glory is found in Jesus Christ, the one who has redeemed us by his blood and given us his Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance. In the face of death, he is our hope. One pastor has written, “When the promises of God are vivid before our minds and warm in our hearts, the problems of life can’t compare with what we have in Christ. It’s not that the problems go away, or that we pretend they’re not there. It’s just that they can’t outweigh what we’ve been promised.”
We look forward to the promise of a heavenly city who’s founder and builder is God. As Christians, we navigate a world of anguish and pain as sojourners and exiles, but we walk with faith and joy, even in the shadow of death, because of our imperishable, undefiled, and unfading hope.
In the final stanza of Lyte’s poem he writes:
A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand, I march on in haste through an enemy’s land: The road may be rough, but it cannot be long; And I’ll smooth it with hope, and I’ll cheer it with song.
Amidst trials and tiredness, waiting and weariness, let us walk as a heavenly-minded people. We have a hope and a joy that should not and cannot be touched by the circumstances we face, no matter how dire, because we walk by faith and not by sight.
In faith, we look forward to a day when night will be no more and we will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be our light, we will reign forever and ever (Revelation 22:5). On that day we will begin what C. S. Lewis describes as “Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.” Read the vision God gives us of this coming day:
[Read Revelation 21:1-5]
Listen or Sing to These Songs
A Prayer Guide
Thank God for his unchanging character and faithfulness and that he is the one whose sovereign hand is in control of every circumstance we face.
Pray through the list of prayer requests that Nora sent out this morning
Ask God to bring this time to an end so that we can enjoy the benefits and blessing of gathering as the people of God in the presence of God.
Thank God that soon all the pain, sickness, loneliness, and tears will all be over when Jesus Christ returns for his bride. Ask the Lord to come quickly.
A Sermon to Listen To
Take some time today or this coming week to listen to and be encouraged by the below sermon from Rick Gamache that further looks ahead to the hope of heaven.