Sunday Evening 12-16-2012

Posted by Sherry


THE REAL MEANING OF THEIR GIFTS
Matthew 2:11
CBC 12/16/12 SN

---ILL>One of my favorite cartoons shows a little boy listening to his grandpa read the Bible, the Christmas story. The boy looks up at his granddad and says, “Gold, frankincense, and myrrh? I bet what he really wanted was a puppy.”

-a) GOLD.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold...”

--<>The meaning in the gift: JESUS IS OUR KING.

->The gold in any land was in the keeping of the king....held in the king’s “treasury.”
---The taxes, revenues collected from people in the kingdom were put into the treasure house of the king.

->So the wise men weren’t bringing gifts just to a “good man,” but to royalty...the King of Kings and ruler over all the rulers on earth.

---ILL>During his reign, King Edward VIII of England was especially concerned about social conditions. He once decided to visit some of the homes in a slum section of the waterfront where he was to christen a ship. He stopped first at a house in which lived one of the most disreputable men in the area. He had become a social outcast. Hearing a knock at his door, he shouted in a gruff voice, “Who is it?!” The answer came back, “I am your king. May I come in?” Thinking it was a cruel joke, the man refused to open the door. The king, a gentleman who respected the rights of a man in his own household, would not force his way in, so he turned and left. And this poor man missed seeing his king.

--<>APP>Don’t be confused...He might look like a baby, but that’s just the Creator/King who became flesh to dwell among us.

-b) INCENSE.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense...”

--<>The meaning in the gift: JESUS IS OUR PRIEST.

->Incense was used as an element of worship...it was lit and spread around the altar by the priests leading worship.
---In Scripture incense represents the prayers of the people...and we’re to pray in Jesus’ name.

->Hebrews tells us He is the only Mediator between us and the Father.
---He’s our High Priest who understands our afflictions, has experienced our temptations.

--<>APP>Don’t let the busy-ness of Christmas keep you from praying, from “connecting” with the Father through praying in Jesus’ name.

-c) MYRRH.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

--<>The meaning in the gift: JESUS IS OUR SACRIFICE.

->Myrrh was the embalming fluid of its day.
---It’s no wonder the Bible tells us Mary pondered all these things in her heart.
-----What a strange “baby shower” gift!

->The Magi’s gifts were probably given as much as a month to 6 months after Jesus’ birth.
---So the gift of myrrh was a further confirmation of what Mary had heard Anna and Simeon say on the 8th day after Jesus’ birth, when they presented Jesus in the temple to be circumcised...that this Child was born to die.

--<>APP>At Christmas we give attention to the cradle in the manger, but the cradle is meaningless without a cross that followed. So, each time we see the cradle, we should remember that Jesus’ birth would soon be given its full meaning by His death and resurrection.

->Did the Wise Men know all the details and how all these prophecies would unfold? Hardly.
---They were merely allowing the Lord to lead them in what they did, where they came, and what they gave.

COPchurch: How to Have a Merry Christmas

Posted by Sherry


Sunday Morning 12-2-2012

Posted by Sherry


Gold, Frankincense and Much More
Matthew 2:1-12 
CBC 12/2/2012 SM

INTRO: Wise Men can recognize a King without a crown.
“Tidying up” the facts about the Wise Men & Christmas:
---No, there weren’t three of them...that comes from a wrong legend that has been added to over the years.
---No, they weren’t kings...advisors to kings, yes...regal, rich, upper class, yes, but not kings.
---No, they weren’t from the Orient....again, it might fit well into song lyrics, but it doesn’t fit the facts of the case.
---And no, they didn’t show up at the manger...they came to the house where Mary and Joseph had started staying some time after Jesus’ birth...despite the many Christmas programs we’ve seen with them making a grand entry coupled with the shepherds and other nativity characters.
<>Courageous travelers, absolutely...in fact their true wisdom is shown in their actions and their gifts.
<>And they are also great teachers...we can learn a lot from them even today.
TEXT:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [astrologers] from the east came to Jerusalem, asking,
2 Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east [a]at its rising and have come to worship Him.(A)
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him.
4 So he called together all the chief priests and learned men (scribes) of the people and [b]anxiously asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 They replied to him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are not in any way least or insignificant among the [c]chief cities of Judah; for from you shall come a Ruler ([d]Leader) Who will govern and [e]shepherd My people Israel.(B)
7 Then Herod sent for the wise men [astrologers] secretly, and [f]accurately to the last point ascertained from them the time of the appearing of the star [that is, [g]how long the star had made itself visible since its rising in the east].
8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search for the Child carefully and diligently, and when you have found [h]Him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.
9 When they had listened to the king, they went their way, and behold, the star which had been seen in the east [i]in its rising went before them until it came and stood over the place where the young Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.
11 And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts—gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And [j]receiving an answer to their asking, they were divinely instructed and warned in a dream not to go back to Herod; so they departed to their own country by a different way.

--ILL>A few days before Christmas two ladies stood looking into a department store window at the large display of a manger scene with clay figures of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and animals. Disgusted, one lady said to the other, “Look at that! The church is trying to horn in on Christmas!”

<>Well, the place to look for the real meaning and lessons of Christmas is not in department stores, on on-line shopping networks. 
--The place to look is in the Bible.
--And there are many lessons we can learn from the story of the wise men...the magi...and their trip to and from Bethlehem.

<>THEY ARE ROLE MODELS IN THEIR ACTIONS...

1) THEY NOTICED WHEN GOD SPOKE.
----Matthew 2:2 -- “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east...”

->God got their attention where their interests were...
He sent them a “private message” in the skies, among the stars.
---They were “magi,” known to have been astrologers as well as philosophers and advisers to kings.
---They were constantly charting the stars, watching the skies, so God got their attention in the middle of where their attention was.

->They recognized the message as being something important, important enough to personally “check out” its meaning.
***(HAVE YOU?)***

->Even with the distractions around them, the distance they were from Jerusalem, etc., they noticed and listened to God speaking to them.

--<>APP>This Christmas season we need to not let the “noise” of the trimmings keep us from giving God our full attention.

2) THEY DID THEIR HOMEWORK.
----Matthew 2:2 -- “Where is He who was born King of the Jews?”...

->They examined the Hebrew Scriptures and believed the “sign” in the skies was speaking of the long-promised King who would be born to the Jews.
---They weren’t Jews, but they invested their time and effort into reading and examining the Scriptures.

->They planned their trip and brought sufficient provisions, with sufficient security, etc., for such a lengthy trip.

--<>APP>We need to re-read the Christmas story in Scripture, re-examine it, because it’s there that we’ll discover and learn to appreciate the meaning of Christmas.
-----It’s not in store catalogs, on E-bay, not even in family gatherings or traditions.

3) THEY CONTINUED TO LET GOD GUIDE THEM.
----Matthew 2:9-10 -- “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

->They followed the star...knew they were heading to the land of Canaan, but they let God guide them day by day and night by night.
---It’s significant that God led them by night...it was much safer traveling at night with all the treasure they were carrying.
---And it means they probably slept in the daytime.

--<>APP>You see, “Pursuing Christmas” is just that...a pursuit...a continual, day-by-day pursuit in obedience and surrender.

4) THEY CAME TO JESUS.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “and they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother.

->They left the palaces of whatever kings they were serving at the time...and made their way to meet the newborn king.

->They knew the proper way to show respect for a king was to come in person and present themselves to him.

--<>APP>Likewise, the gift that God deserves from us, and wants from us...is US. 
---------He wants us to present OURSELVES to Him.

5) THEY BOWED BEFORE HIM.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...and they fell down...”

->The showed the kind of respect due a king...they acknowledged His authority and importance.

->They humbled themselves before Him.

--<>APP>He might look like a baby in a manger, but He is ALMIGHTY GOD...and we should bow before Him.

6) THEY WORSHIPED HIM.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “---and worshiped Him...”

->Humbling themselves, bowing down before kings was the usual way of showing respect.

->However, this time they went beyond the normal...they didn’t just kneel down, they worshiped Him.

->They recognized He wasn’t merely a human being...they were worshiping Jesus as He really is...GOD in the flesh.

--<>APP>This Christmas we need to heed the invitation of the Christmas carol: “O come, let us adore Him.”

7) THEY GAVE OF THEIR TREASURES.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

->They gave sacrificially.
---These weren’t left-over gifts...they weren’t re-gifting them.
---These were gifts of great value.

->And they recognized that giving is a part of genuine worship.

---ILL> “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?”: “No, but then it’s not my birthday!”

--<>APP>It’s HIS birthday we’re celebrating...we ought to give Him at least as costly a gift as we give anyone else.

8) THEY WENT AWAY DIFFERENTLY THAN HOW THEY ARRIVED.
----Matthew 2:12 -- “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.”

Spiritual Explanation: ( as did the Leper, Mary Magdalene, Demoniac of the Gadarines & every true born again Christian...)

->The “practical” explanation is that they went back in a way they would not be killed by Herod.

-> the symbolic proclamation is found in the Jewish tradition of going home through a different gate in Jerusalem than whichever one a person came through when arriving to worship at the Temple.
---It was to signify that they had already and truly worshiped.

->The fact that Matthew records the fact that the Magi went home a different way was not lost on the Jewish readers of the Gospel he was writing to.

--<>APP>The true way to celebrate Christmas, to worship Christ, is to let Him bring change in your life, a fresh awareness of His love for you, and to allow Him to work His perfect will within you and through you.

BRINGING IT HOME...

-<>This Christmas we need to be wise men and wise women, wise followers and true worshippers of Jesus.

--->Listening for God to speak to us...amid all the hubbub and noise of the holiday, be listening for what God wants to say to us.

--->Bringing our worship to Jesus and only to Jesus.
-----After all, that’s what Christmas really means...the mass (worship) of Christ. 
-----Not worshiping tradition...not side-tracked by the tinsel and trappings associated with the holiday.

--->Bowing before Him, humbling ourselves and “extending our efforts,” being willing to give Him of our time and efforts.

--->Adjusting our activity to His will.
------He might not ask us to travel for several months and put our lives at risk....but what if He did?
------Would you be willing...as the wise men were?

--->Giving to Him gifts of value.
------It’s HIS birthday we’re celebrating.
------We ought to give Him at least as costly a gift as we give anyone else!
------We ought also to give of our time to benefit others, and give our priority to being present when He’s being worshiped.

--->And letting people see the change He as brought into our lives.

-<>We need to go out differently this Christmas than how the rest of the world goes out.
------We need to be truly known as worshipers of Jesus at Christ-mass.

-<>In pursuing Christmas this year, remember: WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM.

Sunday Morning 11-25-2012

Posted by Sherry


Thankful Living 
1 Thessalonians 5:18
CBC 11/25/2012

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP)

It’s clear from this passage that thankfulness is supposed to be a regular part of our lives. 
gratefulness is emphasized here because it is the perfect antidote to pride and selfishness and a host of other sins.

what is the opposite of thankfulness? 
complaining, 
arguing, 
selfishness, 
a sense of entitlement. 

Our sin nature wants to try and convince us that we deserve more, 
that we are in the right, 
that we have been taken advantage of,
that we really have it bad. 
a few people always seem to be victims, 
they always seem to feel like they should get more, 
they always complain about what they have or what they are given. 
That’s not what we are supposed to be like as believers.

Thinking thankfully 
Prayer
Philippians 4:6 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

In this passage the way in which we keep from anxiousness and worry is through prayer. 
When we present our requests to God, 
and give control over to Him, 
our load gets a lot lighter. 
When we pray with thanksgiving we are 
thanking God for the ability to pray, 
we are thanking him for answering our prayers, 
we are thanking Him for freeing us from worry. 
When we pray with thankfulness to God it has a way of adjusting our thinking so that it falls in line with what God wants. 


Worship also has a way of putting us in a mindset of thankfulness. 
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 
It’s hard to be grumpy, and bitter, and selfish when we are singing joyfully to the Lord, 
although I think sometimes we try. 
Singing:
lifts our spirits,
focuses our attention on God, 
puts us in an attitude of praise. 
* If that’s not happening to you when you sing, then you might be doing it wrong

Dwelling on the good. Our minds can sometimes be uncooperative. 
They keep wandering back to that nagging money problem, 
or some temptation
or to past failures, 
or other unproductive things. 

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are just chilling out or relaxing or spacing out in church, how a weird, random thought will cross your mind? 
Sometimes the strangest stuff just shows up there. 
Because of natural inclination towards evil, we have to train our minds to think about good things. 
We have to purposefully dwell on the good. 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.

This is a great thought filter. 
Ask yourself; 
are my thoughts...
true, 
noble, 
right, 
pure, 
lovely,
admirable? 
If not, it might be time to make an 

Talking Thankfully. 
It is important to express our gratitude from time to time. 
Talking thankfully involves 
praising others, 
praising God, 
sharing our gratitude. 
When was the last time you told your spouse, “I’m really thankful that I’m married to you.”? 
Do you tell you kids that you appreciate them? 
Do you thank your wife for cooking dinner and doing the laundry? 

Do you let God know how thankful you are for what He has done in your life? 
If you are a believer in God, saved by grace, you have a lot to be thankful for. 
No matter how bad life gets, you still can’t complain. 

It is also important that we verbally tell others what we are grateful for. 
Do you practice the tradition to go around the table at thanksgiving time and share what you are thankful for?
We all have so much to be thankful for. 
It is so amazing what God is doing in our lives.

Acting Thankfully. 
We need to demonstrate a life of thankfulness in everything we do. 
That begins with a heart of service
Serving is a demonstration of 
appreciation, 
respect, 
and love. 
It can be done in a selfish, ungrateful way, 
but when it is done right, 
it is a blessing both to the server and the servee.
1 Timothy 1:12 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
Are you thankful for the area of service that God has called you to?
Acting thankfully also involves sacrifice. 
It requires us to give something of ourselves. 
This is best demonstrated in our financial offerings to God. 
Giving back to God is a way of thanking Him for his blessing and provision. 
Even if we don’t have a lot, or a lot to give, when we give back to God we show that we understand that He owns it all anyway. 
Don’t give out of guilt or compulsion. 
Every time you write an offering check or put a dollar in the offering plate, take a second to say, thank you God for everything you have given me. 

Finally, we can act thankfully by sharing what we have. 
This might take the form of sharing some of our abundance with those who don’t have as much. 
It might be sharing with the homeless or needy. 
People who really understand thankfulness and appreciation usually are very good at sharing with others. 
They know how great it feels to give.
This doesn’t just apply to sharing our stuff, 
but, more importantly, sharing our faith. 
If you have a real understanding of who Jesus Christ is, 
what He has done for all mankind, 
and what He has done in your life, 
you are going to be looking for every opportunity to share that with others. 

We can best show our appreciation for our salvation by praising God and telling others. If our faith is truly transforming, and valuable, and important, we will share it with those who don’t have it. 

The best thing about living a thankful life is that it helps us put things into perspective. When we focus on the great things that God has done for us, ...
the annoying junk in life has a way of losing its importance. 
CONCLUSION:
During this thanksgiving seasons let’s begin to train our minds to think thankfully. 
Let’s take the opportunity to talk thankfully, 
and let’s demonstrate our appreciation by acting thankfully

1 Thessalonians 5:18 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If you are not giving thanks, you are out of God’s will.

Sunday Evening 11-11-12

Posted by Sherry


The New Jerusalem
Rev. 21:1-8
CBC 11/11/12 SN

This is the capital of the eternal kingdom. God has, by this time, destroyed our universe, our heaven and earth, and this is a new one. And this is the capital city!

Will there be room for everyone? Sure! First of all, not as many will be there as is commonly believed. [“narrow is the way, few there be that find it.”] But it will be 1,500 miles squared…a perfect cube…in other words, it’s that high, that long, that wide! There would be room for every human who has ever lived if they had all been saved.

6. Heaven is a Place of Refreshing
v. 6 Ever been really thirsty?…maybe this week! You don’t want milk. Sometimes you want a soda or tea or lemonade, but even those won’t do when you’re REALLY thirsty…you want what? Water!

How satisfying! And in heaven, every righteous desire that we have will be perfectly and completely satisfied, once and for all!

Here on earth we pursue happiness, but don’t ever completely find it, but in heaven that thirst will be quenched!
Friendships/relationships/knowledge/more about God/wealth/health/answers to questions…why?


WHY?
By Jack Hyles

I have heard the white-tipped tapping cane,
Which leads a blinded eye.
And then a darkened, lonely voice
Cries, “Preacher, show me why.”

I have caught a fiancée’s burning tears,
And heard her lonely cry.
She held an unused wedding gown,
And shouted, “Pastor, why?”

I have heard the cancer patient say,
“’Tis gain for me to die;”
Then look into his daughter’s face,
And mutely whisper, “Why?”

I’ve heard an orphan faintly say,
Who gazed into the sky,
“Tho Mom and Dad have gone away,
My preacher will know why.”

I have sat beside a tiny crib,
And watched a baby die,
As parents slowly turned toward me,
To ask, “Oh, Pastor, why?”

I tiptoed to my Father’s throne,
So timid and so shy,
To say, “Dear God, some of Your own
Are wanting to know why.”

I heard Him say so tenderly,
“Their eyes I’ll gladly dry,
Tho they must look through faith today,
Tomorrow they’ll know why.”

And so I’ve found it pleases Him
When I can testify,
“I’ll trust my God to do what’s best,
And wait to find out why.”

And in heaven, we’ll know as we are known…all life’s thirsts quenched!

7. Heaven will be a Restricted Place
v. 8 Right here in the middle of this positive, beautiful description of heaven, God gives us a list of some who won’t be there.
Why does God include this info? Perhaps to show that the sin which has cursed and ultimately destroyed this world will NOT be allowed into the next! 

The fearful—never accepted Christ, afraid to take the stand.
The unbelieving—didn’t believe at all in Christ or the Bible.
The abominable—not just sinners…these have committed abominations. From God’s perspective, there’s no difference between big and little sins…but this is encouragement of what WON’T be there and we need to understand from a human perspective. What are some abominations?
Lev. 18:22 says homosexuality is.
Deut. 17:3 says astrology and horoscopes are abominations.
Deut. 18 says consulting a medium, fortuneteller, a wizard, or somehow communicates w/ the dead, they have committed an abomination.
Prov. 20 says cheating in business is an abomination. “false balance”
Prov. 12 says compulsive lying is an abomination.
Prov. 16 says a heart full of pride is an abomination.

And heaven is off limits to all of these things. Don’t miss this truth however: any of these people can get saved, and you don’t have to commit an abomination to be lost, just 1 sin!

…and murderers. 
This would include all forms of homicide as well as infanticide. [it’s being legal doesn’t make it moral] The true Supreme Court is in heaven, and has already decided this case!
You can be saved if you’ve had an abortion, and see that child one day!
…and whoremongers.
Addicts of sinful sex.
Premarital sex/extra-marital sex/wrong gender/wrong species/pornography, etc.
They can get saved, too!

These are all people who died in their sins, never repenting!

…and sorcerers.
Could mean witchcraft, but there’s a deeper meaning. The greek word here is pharmacia, and I believe it’s talking about drugs and other chemical dependences.

…and idolaters.
You have an idol if you love something more than God. 
Matthew 6:33 
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

…and all liars.
Cat-faced liars as well as those more crafty, who lie by insinuation, and exaggeration. Heaven is the ultimate truth and no liars will be there, praise God!

Now, most of us have fit into one or more of these categories at some point in our life. Some might be convicted this moment that they are still living that way, tho’ they are saved.

1 Cor. 6:11 
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 

-------------
The New Jerusalem, Pt. 3
Rev. 21:9-22:5

10 Facts about The New Jerusalem: [we’ve covered 7 so far]
1. Heaven is a Real Place
2. Heaven is a Remaining Place
3. Heaven is a Readied Place
4. Heaven is a Place of Relationship
5. Heaven is a Place of Relief
6. Heaven is a Place of Refreshing
7. Heaven will be a Restricted Place

[read 9-14, 18-21] If I was going to move somewhere, say to Wahoo, Nebraska or otherwise, I’d send off for info., search the web, etc. And we should study about Heaven, for we will spend eternity there!

8. Heaven is a Place of Riches
• Foundations=represent permanence
• Walls=protection
• Gates=provision
• Streets=praise

Foundations—building foundations are usually underground, and cannot be clearly seen, but this one is visible, and not only visible, but 12 layers thick! And each of the 12 foundations is garnished w/ a different jewel. 

The jasper will be clear crystal
Sapphire-blue
Chalcedony-greenish blue
Emerald-deep green
Sardonyx-white w/ brown streaks
Sardius—blood red
Chrysolite-yellow quartz
Beryl-green
Topaz-yellowish green
Chrysoprasus-apple green
Jacinth-blue
Amethyst-purple

Just picture this…all of these colors represent something about the character and nature of the Lord Jesus.
Blue=deity, white=purity, purple=royalty

[Just like the multi-colored veil in the holy temple]

I believe these foundations will also represent His manifold grace and His manifold wisdom. [I Pet. 4:10, Eph. 3:10]
1 Peter 4:10 
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
Eph. 3:10 
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 

Manifold=multi-faceted, multi-colored. There are many different shades to the grace of God/wisdom of God…it’s manifold!

His ways/thoughts are high above our own. His grace is greater than our comprehension!

I believe the primary interpretation of these foundations is permanence. You see, you can build a dog house on dirt, a storage shed on a simple slab, but if you’re gonna build a house and you want it to be there in 100 years or more, you’d better have a good, strong foundation.

And every time we look upon those foundations we’ll be reminded of it’s permanence. “10,000 years, and we’ll just be started!”

Walls=protection.
v. 12 v. 18 In Bible days, walls were all about protection…an un-walled city was vulnerable, an easy target.
And the enemies of earth will be no more…sickness cannot scale those walls, heartache cannot tunnel under…no crime or perversion, nothing to harm, nothing to molest, nothing to injure, nothing to destroy, and so, nothing to fear! No viruses, no disease, no pestilence, and no public enemy #1…death!

We’re all trying to outrun death…that’s why we go to the dr, health club, eat right, etc. When we were kids, we thought life would never pass us by. If life was a book then the pages turned sooooooooooo slowly, didn’t they.
“oh, I wanna be 10 like the big kids/13 and be a teenager, 16 and be able to drive, I want to be 18 and graduate, I want to be 21 and be able to vote, and do other things! [if not saved!]”
But ever since then life has flown by! And we try to outrun death, but eventually it catches us down here, but not “up there!” Old man death won’t be allowed in!

Gates=provision.
v. 12-13, 21 Who started the stories about St. Peter standing at the gates of heaven? It’s not Biblical. But each of the 12 gates is guarded by an angel. If every gate is 1 pearl, they are gigantic…and it’s a reminder of God’s provision.

A pearl—how is it created? There’s not much to it, really. If you crush it, you’ll have a handful of powdery lime…the same substance as ordinary chalk. And the value of a pearl is not about how it’s cut, like a diamond…for if you cut a pearl you ruin it. It’s value is in the way that it’s made. 
A pearl is made in the depths of the sea in the heart of a living oyster. Something invades that oysters shell, like a little grain of sand. It begins to cut, irritate, and dig into that soft oyster. The oyster begins to secrete that white, milky substance…layer after layer, it hardens, and finally you have a perfectly formed, brilliant, round, shiny pearl.

The pearl is the oyster’s answer to that which wounded it! The pearl owes it’s existence to the will of the oyster to “cover” that which hurt it!

2 parts in the formation of the pearl: the cutting and the covering…what a wonderful spiritual lesson there is there for us. For there’s the same 2 basic parts to salvation! Sin invaded God’s perfect world, and it cut away at the heart of God, but He was willing by His own blood to cover it!

Ours was the cutting…God’s was the covering!
“Calvary covers it all, my past with it’s guilt and shame,
my sin and despair, Jesus took on Him there,
and Calvary covers it all!”

Calvary was God’s answer to man’s sin…and as we walk thru those gates we’ll be reminded of this fact! We cannot enter in and of ourselves…we won’t be there because of us, but because of Him, and He made us His pearl of great price!

Streets of gold=praise
v. 21 Gold is a symbol of the glory, honor, and majesty of God. That’s why so much gold was used in the OT temple. Won’t it be great to truly be able to lift up the Lord in the way He deserves w/out the restraints of this sinful human flesh?
Ill.—Uncle Bud Robinson, an old tongue-tied preacher of years ago, and he was often criticized for how much he shouted and got happy in Jesus. Somebody asked him why he always praised the Lord so audibly and outwardly. He said, “I just can’t hep it, when my left foot hits the floor it says hallelujah, and when my right foot hits the floor it says, praise the Lord, and so it’s hallelujah, praise the Lord, hallelujah, praise the Lord, everywhere I go!”
And that’s how it will be for us walking down those streets of gold in heaven!

So, heaven is a place of riches…

9. Heaven is a Place of Righteousness
v. 15-17 1,500 miles squared…that’s huge! From the tip of Maine to the s. tip of Florida, over to Colorado…and then, it’s that high too! I’m not even sure what that means, so, Lord, surprise me! Either way, this will make NYC look like a little village! A perfect cube stands for balance and order…perfect in it’s materials, majesty, and even it’s measurements!

It will be filled w/ the righteousness of God, and w/ the “righteous” of God, us!

10. Heaven is a Place of Refuge
v. 22-27 4 things that won’t be there:
A. No Sanctuary
v. 22 Why no temple? Because the sanctuary localizes and confines God to 1 location…but all Heaven will be filled w/ His glory!
B. No Shadows
v. 23 The light will be everywhere, the night will be vanquished!
C. No Secrets
v. 24 We live in a war-torn time where people meet behind closed doors and there’s top secret things like this movement grid the Russian sub got stuck in last week! But there will be no secrecy there, all will be out in the open and peaceful. 
A survey of 6th graders 50 years ago asked what they were most afraid of. The most common answers were “the dark”, and “mean dogs.” They repeated that survey recently, and the top 2 was “mom and dad getting a divorce” and “nuclear war” was the top one. 

Isn’t that sad, how realistic those fears are? They can fit a nuke in a briefcase now and we are scanning now in major cities for it!
D. No sinners
v. 27 How do you get your name written there? By grace alone, thru faith alone, in Christ alone, plus nothing, minus nothing. Put your faith and trust in Him alone as your only hope for heaven!

If there was a place like we’ve had described here on earth, wouldn’t you do anything you could to go there? It’s real, it’s the New Jerusalem. And Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”