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A New Perspective

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Three years ago, I was feeling restless, discontent and unsatisfied. I kept asking questions about Heaven, wanting to gain a better understanding of what lies ahead for us in eternity. My questioning led me to the book, Heaven by Randy Alcorn and I also later read NT Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. Both are similar in their thoughts and biblical perspective on a New Heaven and a New Earth that I had not heard of before and which was extremely invigorating for me.

In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date (©2004), Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it—a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.

God has put eternity in our hearts. Now, Randy Alcorn brings eternity to light in a way that will surprise you, spark your imagination, and change how you live today.

If you’ve always thought of Heaven as a realm of disembodied spirits, clouds, and eternal harp strumming, you’re in for a wonderful surprise.

This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering on a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.
-from the book flap, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn

God has definitely placed eternity in my heart and I imagine many of you experience the same questions and longings for Heaven as I do. The things that I now look forward to in Heaven are:

Being with God and enjoying worship WITH God in our midst
Seeing and experiencing His entire creation the way He intended us to when he created the Garden of Eden
Having no physical or financial limitations to fully experience life
Restored relationships as we all become the best versions of ourselves, without sin weighing us down
Meeting great heroes of the Christian faith and those whose stories we don’t yet know. I’m quite interested to talk to Phoebe, from Acts 16.

This new perspective has helped to bring me peace when I am hurting, contentment when I am dissatisfied, joy when I am discouraged, perseverance for our life here, and a sacrificial spirit to do God’s will. It’s not that these things come easily and naturally to me, but when I am feeling worn out and when I choose to turn to God and the promise of His New Heaven and New Earth and the hope that I have, these refreshing, life-giving feelings fill me up so quickly.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-3

With a new perspective on eternity, we can whole heartedly embrace the work that God has given us to do, to show His love to those who are hurting and need Him. We can do this, not because we are trying to earn God’s favour or love, but in thankfulness that He gives it all so freely to us. We can, more easily, give up our selfish desires, our bucket lists and our materialism. We can surrender our apathy and joyously live for God in this short life with all its disappointments and heartaches, trusting Him to give us the best, perfect, love filled, amazing eternity. It makes Isaiah 58:6-8 sound doable.

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
   Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
   Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
   Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
   Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
   “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
   Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.

If you are looking for ways to enhance your view on a New Heaven and a New Earth, I don’t necessarily recommend the books that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. You need to be quite motivated to work through them as they are very wordy readings. I’ve recommended Heaven many times before and received poor to mediocre reviews because of the wordiness. For quick inspiration and encouragement, I would suggest:

Reading blogs by NT Wright or Randy Alcorn.
Following one or both authors on Facebook.
Picking up 50 Days of Heaven or Touch Points, both by Randy Alcorn (shortened books).
Simply discussing Heaven with someone and dreaming together of those wonderful promises God has offered us.

There is SO much more than what we experience in this life and, I first of all, pray, with Paul, that we may all have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is (Eph 3:18), and secondly, pray that we will be filled with a life-changing hope for eternity.

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