What’s the greatest treasure you have? If your house was on fire, what is the one thing you would run and grab? (kids, dog…not cat, family heirloom, Bible, computer) We have a lot of treasures. Most likely you have more than you could grab.
Randy Alcorn, in his book The Treasure Principle, makes a really profound and biblical point that I want us to dig into this morning that radically changes our perspective on how we live and approach life. This morning, we will see where our true treasure is, and more importantly, where our true home is.
Heaven, not earth, is our home. I don’t know why, but I kind of think of ET a little when I hear this. “ET phone home.” But in a sense, that’s how it is. The Bible says that we’re pilgrims, strangers, aliens on earth (Hebrews 11:13). We’re ambassadors representing our true country (2 Cor. 5:20). “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). We’re citizens of a “better country – a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16). Just like ET, we are somewhere that doesn’t fully make sense and doesn’t feel exactly right. Our home isn’t here, no matter how homey we try to make it. Heaven is our home.
I love the imagery Frederick Buechner, my favorite author, in his book Longing for Home, paints in thinking about this desire for home.
“Home sweet home. There’s no place like home. Home is where you hang your hat…” Home is the sailor, home from sea, / And the hunter home from the hill.” What the word home brings to mind before anything else, I believe, is a place, and in its fullest sense not just the place where you happen to be living at the time, but a very special place with very special attributes that make it clearly distinguishable from all other places. The word home summons up a place—more specifically a house within that place—which you have rich and complex feelings about, a place where you feel, or did feel once, uniquely at home, which is to say a place where you feel you belong and that in some sense belongs to you, a place where you feel that all is somehow ultimately well even if things aren’t going all that well at any given moment.….”
This is what we often feel on this earth…a sort of homesickness that can’t be explained except for this place isn’t our home and we are longing for our true home in heaven with God. When we realize this, that heaven, not earth, is our home, it changes so much for us. You see, heaven doesn’t just matter for eternity. It matters for now.
Realizing that heaven is your home allows you to die well. How can someone be ready to die?You’ve lived your whole life here…Everything you have is here…Everything you know is here…How can someone be ready to die?
Story of college friend Kristen Fischer who died with Cystic Fibrosis. As she was going into surgery, she said, “If I wake up, I’m with you. If I die, I’m with Jesus. It’s a win win.”
How can someone be ready to die? They understand that heaven, not earth, is their home. They can say with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Last week Pastor Tim talked about the reality of hell. If you are in Christ, this life is the closest to hell you will ever get. But hear me, if you are not in Christ, unregenerate, God’s wrath still remains on you, heaven is not your home, and this life is the closest to heaven you will ever get. Christians die well because heaven is their home. Non-Christians are scared of death because even in their disbelief they still wonder, “What if I’m wrong?” And they are risking their eternity. And when you wager a large bet, everything you have, on something, there is no comfort in the meantime, in the waiting.
Christians die well because they know what awaits them. I love what George MacDonald once said, “If we knew as much about heaven as God does, we would clap our hands every time a Christian dies.”
John Wesley once remarked, “Our people die well.” Charles Wesley wrote to his brother, John, and told him that a doctor had said to him, “Most people die for fear of dying, but I never met with such people as yours. None of them are afraid of death, but are calm, and patient, and resigned to the last.”
Christians die well because we are going home. You know that homesick feeling? Don’t you get that now?
Realizing that heaven is your home allows you to suffer well.
Remember what Frederick Buechner said about longing for home that we read earlier. He said home is “a place where you feel that all is somehow ultimately well even if things aren’t going all that well at any given moment.”
The apostle Paul, who knew suffering better than anyone, said in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
In Hebrews 11 we see people live by faith, sacrifice much, and also suffer in this life in horrific ways. But we also see them persevere, and I want you to see why.
Hebrews 11:8-10 – 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:13-16 – 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11:35-38 – 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Realizing that heaven is your home allows you to take head on anything life throws at you. Having worked with many people through GriefShare who have lost loved ones, I have seen many people, once they have come face to face with the reality of death, begin to prioritize and live life for what truly matters. They still hurt in the meantime, but that’s part of the homesickness. We can persevere through the hardship until we’re home, though. Realizing that a perfect heaven of no more suffering awaits you allows you to persevere through suffering now. Think about it this way: Knowing pain is temporary and for good purposes allows you to persevere. Take vaccinations for example. You are willing to go to the doctor just to get a shot that you need because you know the pain from the stick of that needle won’t last long and the shot serves a good purpose.
Know this, you have a heaven that awaits you where there’s no more pain for all eternity. Any pain you face now is momentary compared with eternity. And whatever trials you are facing, God has a good purpose for them, and he is working good even if you can’t see it. You don’t have to see the good from your pain to know that God is good and that he is working good.
I find so much hope in the end of Hebrews 11, of which actually seems like a hopeless verse.
Hebrews 11:39-40 – 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
They never saw the good out of their suffering, but God was working something good far down the road in us and through us. God is working something good, and he is good, even when you cannot see the good. That is our hope of which heaven informs.
Realizing that heaven, not earth, is our home not only has implications for our dying well and persevering through suffering, but it has important implications for our life as well.
Realizing that heaven is your home allows you to live well. Realizing that heaven, not earth, is our home completely changes how we live and how we view life….or at least it should.
It is when we set our gaze on our heavenly home and hope in God that we find ourselves more able to impact a seemingly hopeless world. Perhaps C. S. Lewis said it best in “Mere Christianity”:
“Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that 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 most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
Think about it this way, by way of analogy, how realizing that heaven, not earth, is your home affects your life. Say your job moves you to France for 2 months. You’re living out of a hotel for those two months…would you ship all of your home furnishings to that hotel room? No. Would you spend your entire check each week in France? No – you would send it home.
Where we choose to store our treasures depends on where we think our home is. When we view our lives on earth biblically, we realize that we’re living in a hotel room. We’re just passing through. We would never store our treasure in a hotel room.Then why do we live our lives to store up treasure here? Hear what Jesus says about this.
Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If you think you don’t store up treasures here, take some time to evaluate your daily life. How many hours a day do you spend at your job? How many hours a day do you spend on your hobbies? How many hours a day do you spend on leisure and entertainment? How many hours a day do you spend sleeping?
Calculate these and your probably well past 24 hours, and we haven’t even got to the next question: How many hours a day do you spend on building redemptive relationships or discipling someone or serving or having people in your home or studying scripture?
I tell you, families, churches, and this world would be so much stronger if God’s people had an eternal perspective of their lives and lived that out. Parents would invest in their children’s spiritual lives, training them in the way they should go – being the primary disciple makers of their kids. Churches wouldn’t have 20% of the people doing 80% of the work – pastors wouldn’t suffer burnout – the church would thrive. The world – the world would be evangelized. There would be no unreached people groups, because Christians would be going, and if they couldn’t go, they would be giving. There would be no more orphans and no abortions because people who claim to be pro-life would be living it out instead of just saying it. They would be adopting and fostering and helping single mothers and giving, and doing all that even though it’s hard. Because doing all of these things is investing in eternity.
Just like the principle that you store your treasure where your home is, also…We put our time and money where our heart is.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34 that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where is your heart set? Is it on the things of this earth? Don’t be overly spiritual right now. That helps no one. Be real and honest with yourself. If someone was looking into your life, where would they say your heart is set? Set your heart and mind on things above.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:1-4
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is yourlife appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Listen to what he also says in Philippians 1:23-26
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus
Paul, like us, longs for heaven. His mind and heart is set there. But he knows he has a work to do here, even as he sets his gaze there. His longing for heaven fuels his passion for life and ministry here and now.
Our hearts and our minds need to be focused on eternity. Christ is of far greater worth than all the riches of the world. So, set your heart and mind on things that are above – on Christ. If you are in Him, He has gifted you with eternal life – in all His glory – where there is no crying, there is no pain – no death or mourning – where every provision is accounted for – where we live in perfect community with one another, the saints of old, your loved ones, and with Him – the Almighty King – The Creator of the Heavens and Earth – The Lamb that was slain – our Bridegroom. If we are in Him – this is our inheritance! – This is our home! So, we should live this life in light of that reality. We should send our treasures ahead.
But for some of you here today, the cold hard truth is that you cannot have a heavenly perspective, because heaven is not your home – your citizenship is not there – you don’t have a glorious inheritance. You need this reward – You need Him. Make Jesus your King today and let heaven become your home. Heaven is a free gift. But like all gifts, you must receive it.