I am a task oriented person and so I am always working towards the next thing that needs to be done, the next crisis to manage, the next person to connect with
As a result I don’t tend to look back at what has been accomplished and how far I might have come on the journey
I don’t tend to celebrate progress because I don’t often pause to notice it
I don’t think of landmark events in life and, if I do, I don’t think to celebrate
I am not a big fan of the fuss made over birthdays and anniversaries
Sometimes I Forget to Celebrate….
The three exception regarding celebrating are:
November 8th (1976) – the anniversary of my physical healing
November 9th (1976) – The anniversary of my salvation
February 9th (1977) – the anniversary of being Baptized in the Holy Spirit
These I celebrate and I mean “celebrate” … making a fuss, doing something special, getting excited.
Most people celebrate past events – birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, major events that happened to them in life
Very few people celebrate future events …. And yet everyone needs something to look forward to
As believers we should be looking forward to being with Jesus in Heaven one day
That is REALLY something to celebrate and yet, “Sometimes I forget to celebrate”
But, again. That is not something we think about on a regular basis – But maybe we should
The apostle Peter said something important about this.
He reveals an attitude we should have about heaven – notice the “looking forward” references
2 Peter 3:11b-14 NIV “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
We have something to celebrate – We are heading home to heaven and every day we are one day closer …
We could even be anxious about it – Remember as kids on a long drive somewhere: “Are we there yet” … anxious to arrive
Many of the well-known Bible characters celebrated forward … Not always looking backwards and celebrating things that have already happened
Hebrews 11:10 “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Even Jesus longed for Heaven, knew He was headed home, and thought His disciples should celebrate this future event ….
John 14:28 “If you loved me, you would be glad (rejoice, celebrate) that I am going to the Father…”
In Peter’s writing – three times he tells us to look forward
To anticipate what God has for us in the future:
- The return of Jesus
- The creation of a new heaven and a new earth
- An eternal home built just for you in heaven
- An eternity without pain, sorrow, suffering, sickness or disease
- A reunion with loved ones who knew Jesus and died before us
These are all things in the furture that we are safe to celebrate as they are promises made to us by our loving heavenly Father
We are to look forward to that city (a new Jerusalem)… where we will spend eternity
Our looking forward to that reward …
Should empower us to live holy, godly, and purposeful lives in this present age
Should enable us to live with a sense of excitement and celebration
Even to celebrate each and every day because we know that what we do today matters and may help someone else to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour
And that will trigger a powerful celebration in heaven
Luke 15:8-10 MSG “Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbours: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”
Ange Shepard grew up in a small town in scenic Nova Scotia, Canada. At age ten, she became enthralled with Southern California, particularly Los Angeles
She watched television shows filmed there and was fascinated by the big city, the celebrity lifestyle, the glitter, the palm trees, the incredible weather.
Ange learned that 323 was one of the area codes for the Los Angeles area, and she would get on the phone and dial 1-323 and then seven random numbers
Sometimes the call would be answered, and Ange would say, “Hi, is this LA?” When the person said, “Yes,” Ange would hang up, thrilled to have talked to someone in Los Angeles.
Her calls came to an end when her dad saw the phone bill — but her daydreams did not
Ange always imagined that one day she would live in L.A.
“I didn’t know when or how I was going to get there,” she recalls. “I just knew for certain I was going to leave my small town and live out my dreams in Los Angeles.”
She was twenty-four when she visited California for the first time — with a one-way ticket
Today Ange still calls LA home. She’s living her dream
Ange’s story interests me because she longed for a city
That city occupied her mind day and night and its glittering allure drove her dreams and guided her life. She even called to talk to random people simply because they lived in the LA area code
Anticipation for the heavenly city of God should be the driving force of our lives, especially because through prayer we can stay in constant communication with Someone who already lives there – Jesus
The Bible states: “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3;1).
C. S. Lewis says…
“A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.”
“The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
What then can we expect in Heaven that we can celebrate even now?
What kind of celebrations will we discover in God’s eternal home?
1> Look forward to a rousing welcome
Most of us are a little – or seriously, in a big way, – apprehensive about dying
Like the ancient Israelites crossing the Jordan, we “have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4)
But the Bible is full of information to alleviate your concern
The apostle Peter said that if you serve the Lord Jesus faithfully, “You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11 NIV).
It’s easy to underestimate these words.
Recently, a little boy in Ohio named Grady went back to school after having been diagnosed with leukaemia
He had missed a year with his classmates because of his treatments, but finally he was able to return for a few hours a day
On his first day back, the principal met him and opened the door. In front of Grady were all the students and teachers lining the hall holding strands of bright crepe paper. They yelled and cheered as eight-year-old Grady ran between them. At the end of the hall a giant sign said, “Welcome back, Grady!”
The children clapped and laughed, and teachers wiped tears from their eyes.
Arriving home later that day, Grady said, “This was the best day ever mom! I had so much fun… I didn’t know days could be this good.”
If school children could pull off a welcome celebration like that. Think of what Almighty God and His angels can do!
You are promised a “rich welcome” into Heaven
It will be your best day ever
You can’t imagine that a day could be so good.
Singer Michael Bublé loved his grandfather, Don Demetrio Santaga, who built a house in Vancouver 50 years ago and lived in it until his dying day. Santaga loved his house and hoped it would stay in his family after his death
During the final 8 years of his life, Santaga was unable to live alone, so Bublé hired a Filipina healthcare worker named Minette to care for him
At first Santaga resented having a nurse, but the two quickly became close. Bublé and Santaga came to view Minette as part of the family, and near the end of his life, Santaga shared his final wish with his grandson.
When the older man died, Minette took the opportunity to return to the Philippines to visit her family, whom she had been supporting with her income. While she was gone, Jonathan and Drew Scott, the celebrity “Property Brothers,” came to Vancouver and did extensive renovations on Santaga’s home. It was an amazing makeover.
When Minette returned, she was met with television cameras from the crew of Celebrity IOU. Michael opened the door and ushered her in, saying, “Welcome home.” Minette’s hands flew to her mouth and her eyes filled with tears. “It is so much, really so much,” she said. “I have no words right now. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s beautiful.”
“You can only imagine what it’s going to mean to her,” said Bublé.
We can expect to receive a “rich welcome” when you are transported by the angels to heaven and Jesus opens the door and says, “Welcome to your new home. Enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
He has gone ahead to prepare your future home!
You can only imagine what it will be like … and celebrate now that this is in your future…
2> Look forward to a rich reward
Among the joys Jesus mentioned will be the rewards given for faithfulness on earth
If you live life according to biblical principles there is a series of rewards for you described in the Bible. Jesus often said things like:
- Matthew 10:42 “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
- Luke 6:23 “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven…”
- Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great…”
Paul, the apostle, picked up the theme of rewards saying,
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”
Hebrews 11:6 says God is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
The Bible states that there are five crowns that are rewarded to believers according to the work that they did for the Lord while here on earth
What we did with what we have been given – ability, talent, skills, intelligence, time, energy, finances, relationships…
A> The Crown of life – James 1:12
Given to those who are faithful until the day they die
B> The wreath imperishable / The victor’s crown- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Given to those who do whatever it takes to fulfil their God-given destiny
C> The crown of exultation (rejoicing) – 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Given to those who were soul winners
D> The crown of righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:5-8
Given to those who live a righteous life-style as they wait for the second coming
E> The crown of glory – 1 Peter 5:2-4
Given to those who care for and were compassionate towards others
Go to www.ralphhoweministries.com and search for: “Rewards According to the Bible”
3> Look forward to a resurrected body … this is something to really celebrate
At the moment of our resurrection or rapture we are going to celebrate our new, glorified bodies
Lazarus rose and they had to unwrap his body
Jesus rose and His resurrected body passed right through his grave clothes
Lazarus rose to die again
Jesus rose never again to age, experience, illness, face weakness, or encounter death
Philippians 3:21 says that the Lord “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body”
At the moment of resurrection (or rapture):
1 Corinthians 15:51b-52 “… we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
Jesus’ resurrected body was:
- Incapable of aging
- Could not become ill
- Would never cease to exist or “die”
- Capable of passing through solid structures
- Capable of ascending into the air
- Capable of eating food, and touching His friends
His resurrection body is the pattern for our own resurrected bodies
That is something to celebrate
4> Look forward to a renewed assignment
You will need your resurrection body because you have a lot of work ahead of you
One of the greatest aspects of Heaven involves the prospect of more service for the Lord!
This is good – as I have little interest in sitting and relaxing for eons on end
You need some refreshing rest but not aimless monotony
Twice is the book of Revelation we are told we will be involved in meaningful tasks and acts of service in Heaven
Revelation 7:15a “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night …”
Revelation 22:3 “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be on it, and his servants will serve him.”
Randy Alcorn wrote extensively about this in his book on Heaven:
“Work in Heaven won’t be frustrating or fruitless; instead, it will involve lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fate, enhanced by unlimited resources we’ll approach our work with the enthusiasm we bring to our favourite sport or hobby.”
He goes on to say:
“In Heaven we’ll reign with Christ, exercise leadership and authority, and make important decisions. This implies we’ll be given specific responsibilities by our leaders and we’ll delegate specific responsibilities to those under our leadership (Luke 19:17-19). We’ll set goals, devise plans, and share ideas. Our best work days on the present Earth …. are just a small foretaste of the joy our work will bring us on the New Earth.”
When Jesus ascended and returned to Heaven, He didn’t retire from His work
He resumed His place on the throne, sustaining the universe (Colossians 1:17)
He was and is building and directing the work of His earthly Church (Matthew 16:18)
He is interceding for us – Romans 8:34
He is building our future homes – preparing a place for us (John 14:3)
Jesus said, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17 NIV).
If Jesus is busy in Heaven, how wonderful to be able to share in His work.
So, just like Jesus, we will have purposeful and interesting work to accomplish in Heaven
Your work on earth, whatever God is asking you to do right now, is preparing you for future work in Heaven.
That is something worth celebrating.
5> Look forward to the royal throne
By far the greatest energy and enthusiasm in Heaven will be around the throne of God when we cast our crowns at His feet and worship Him with full understanding and joy
Read Revelation, chapters 4 and 5 and get a sneak peak at what it is going to like
Revelation 5:13 “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!”
Can you even imagine the moment when tens of millions of us join the tens of millions of angels — all of our disabilities gone, all our problems solved, all our burdens lifted — and we lift our voices in a choir of billions and sing of God’s amazing grace.
That is something to celebrate
6> Look forward to an amazing reunion
Here is something to celebrate
As you gather around the throne, you will look over and see your loved one who died in Christ
You will instantly know each other and you will begin fellowshipping in Heaven where you left off on earth
All the saints of all the ages will be there, plus all the angels
No more separation!
No more sorrow!
You will see all your loved ones who were believers and who went to heaven ahead of you
Our lives are ordered by the Lord and He brings us together on earth in friendships, marriages, family units, relationships, and fellowship
The same God who brought us together the first time will reunite us, and we will pick up where we left off — minus all disagreements and personality conflicts
Bill Bright (Evangelist and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) wrote just before he died (2003):
“No reunion in history can even foreshadow what joy we will experience when we see loved ones and friends who went on before us. We are known. We are recognized (1 John 3:2). And we identify our loved ones, family, and friends. Brought together in the exquisite, all-surrounding presence of the Lord, our faces beam. Our countenances gleam, and we shout in such delight that angels glance at each other in wonderment: What full-throated, glad-hearted welcome these blood-washed sinners give each other! How they adore the Lord Jesus! How they love Him! How they love each other!”
7> Look forward to the Risen Saviour
And this is the single greatest anticipation about Heaven — Our risen Saviour
You will see Jesus Himself face-to-face
Revelation 22:4 “They shall see His face.”
This is your ultimate goal
This will be the single most phenomenal moment of your life
This is what you’re living for – what you’re waiting for — and what you are anticipating with all your heart
This is celebration with a capital C – for Christ
You shall behold Him
As the blind poet Fanny Crosby proclaimed, “And I shall see Him face to face and tell the story saved by grace.”
The closer we get to Heaven, the greater our longing for Jesus’ face.
What do you think you will be doing an hour after you die?
The answer from the Scriptures: You will be doing the same thing you were doing an hour before you died — seeking to please Jesus in all we are and do
2 Corinthians 5:9 TLB “So our aim is to please Him always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body and with Him in Heaven.”
Your location may change, but not your core purpose in life
The things that pleased Christ on earth will please Him in Heaven and our task is always to please Him in everything we do
So we have a lot to look forward to and thus a lot to celebrate
Sometimes I forget to celebrate … but I shouldn’t as we have such an amazing Jesus and more than an amazing future forever – for all eternity with Jesus