Sermon – What Do You Place Your Value In? – Part 4

Philippians 3:3-11

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

IV.  Place your value in Jesus Christ and your personal relationship with Him.

As Paul grew more and more in His relationship with Christ, he realized more and more what he should put his faith, value, confidence, and pride in.  It was not in his family lineage, his accomplishments, and his own righteousness; it was in Christ Jesus his Lord.  7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Compared to Christ, everything in his life was rubbish.  He counted it all as loss, and in reality, he gave all of his accolades, his accomplishments, his righteousness under the law up, so that he could have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  This Pharisees of Pharisees, this persecutor of the church eventually became a martyr for Christ.  This man who could have enjoyed a privileged life decided to endure stonings, beatings, imprisonings, revilings all to know Christ more.  Paul gave up the pride he had placed in himself and placed his dependence on God.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul said that he would boast all the more gladly in his weakness, so that the power of Christ would rest on Him.  All he ever sought was to have a closer walk with God.  All he valued in life was Christ.  The way he valued his life was by his relationship with Christ.  He saw himself as worthwhile, because he had a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of all.  When he preached, he did not use elaborate messages that drew people to him, but preached the simple message of the cross, because he wanted people to know that all that mattered was Christ and that their value and faith should be in Christ not himself.  Paul recognized the surpassing worth of being dependent on God.

We need to start considering our value by considering where we are in our relationship with Christ.  We should not judge whether we are worth something by the world’s standards of education and salaries.  We should not judge whether we are worth something by how righteous or good our actions are.  We should not judge our worth based on our family relations.  But our pride should be in our weaknesses, because it is in our weaknesses that we are most dependent on God.  In the past few weeks, God has been sharing lesson and lesson with me on pride.  He saw how dependent I was on myself and how I was seeking my own glory and wanted me to realize that what was most important was Him.  I needed to be torn down, so that I could see how much I needed Him.  Where I placed my value should have been in His cross, His love, His righteousness, not my own accomplishments.  Christ deserved my praise.  Christ deserved my love.  Christ deserved everything from me.  It was only when I started to value myself in this way that I started to realize how much I needed God and that produced in me a heart of gratefulness.  Take the time today to think of what you have been placing your value in and begin to place it instead on God.  Seek to know Him more.  Seek a closer walk with Him.  Seek a heart of dependence on Him, for everything else is loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.  Oh! To know Him more!

Sermon – What Do You Place Your Value In? – Part 3

Philippians 3:3-11

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

III.   Do not place your value in your own righteousness.

Paul goes on to describe himself in this way in verse 6, “…as to righteousness under the law, blameless…”  Paul would have easily been seen as a righteous man.  Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, and the Pharisees were the strictest party of the Jewish religion (Acts 26:5).  He would have followed the law to the uttermost part.  When the law said, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” and he was told that he was not allowed to walk a certain distance he probably cut that distance in half to make sure he would never break that law.  He was a stickler to the rules and a righteous man according to the law.  Compared to all the other people around him, he had every right to think that he deserved to go to heaven based on his works.  But when he met Christ on the road to Damascus, he realized that his righteousness meant nothing for what he needed was a personal relationship with the Savior.  He was moving through the world blind and needed Christ to let Him see.  His righteousness was based on his own merits rather on the saving grace of Christ.  And it was at that moment when his heart was humbled that he started to see what mattered most.

After what I have already told you about how I prideful I become because of my family lineage and educational accomplishments, it should not come as a surprise, that I have often lifted myself up because of my presumed righteousness.  Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, I have thought of myself as better than others, because I knew God’s Word very well.  I had read the Bible in its entirety multiple times.  I did not struggle with the common base sins that other guys my age struggled with.  I was teaching Bible studies, preaching when I was given the opportunity, and even writing a devotional blog.  I like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12 who thought, “‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”  I thought of myself as righteous and holy and upright and because of that, I did not put in the appropriate protections to keep me from falling into sin and temptation.  I even judged those who did fall into temptation as weak and unable to stand strong for God.  1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  And boy, did I fall.  I was flying so high that I thought sin wouldn’t affect me and then fell into sin that I never thought I would struggle with.  It’s so sad that I had to go through this to learn this lesson, but it helped me realize how much I needed God to fix me.  I wasn’t as righteous as I thought.  I wasn’t as independent and able to fight sin on my own.  I needed God more than anything, and I still need Him today.  My pride in my own righteousness was shattered, and I finally began to understand my need for Him.

So often today, people do not turn to God, because they think of themselves as “good.”  They help others when they need help.  They don’t hurt other people intentionally.  They go to church when they can and even serve on occasion.  They think that their righteous acts set them apart and make them good enough for God, but it matters not, for their righteousness are but filthy rags in the sight of God.  They still need God.  Though they pride themselves in the many good things they have done, it means nothing in God’s sight, for God values one thing – your relationship with Jesus Christ.  You can be as good as the Pope, Mother Teresa, or Billy Graham put together, but none of that matters without God.  The sad thing is that even Christians struggle with this, in that, after we are saved and start to grow in Christ, we start to think that we don’t need Him as much anymore.  As we conquer our past sin struggles and are no longer enslaved to them, we begin to think that we can be independent of Him, but we still need Him and then more than ever.  Because it is when pride creeps in that we begin to fall.  Instead of building up pride in ourselves, we should actually become more humble and willing to submit to Him.  We are righteous because of what Christ has done for us not our own good works.  Our value should not be in our own righteousness, but the righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, for it is not our works that saved us but His infinite grace.

Sermon – What Do You Place Your Value In? – Part 2

Philippians 3:3-11

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

II.  Do not place your value in your education or career.

In today’s culture, people have shifted from determining a person’s value based on their family lineage and now determine it based on their education and career.  Like I stated earlier, in science, this is all that matters.  The school you came from, the person you were trained under, the publications you received – these are what get you a good job.  There is no doubt in my mind that it is the same in other fields.  People don’t ask about your character in a resume.  All they care about is the place you got your degree from.  I didn’t realize how important this was, especially to me, until recently, when I had to decide where I would go to obtain my doctorate degree.  This might sound boastful, but I had offers to Harvard, Yale, UPENN, NYU, UCSD, and UCLA.  And I was even given an award for being a researcher with high potential for excellence at Yale when they tried to recruit me.  If I were to ask you all where you think I should have gone for graduate school, I can almost guarantee that most of you would have said, Harvard or Yale.  But the truth is that that wasn’t God’s plan for me.  When I prayed and asked God to give me a sign on where He wanted me to go, He pointed me to UCLA, a school whose reputation was nothing compared to Yale or Harvard.  I agonized over this decision up until the day I had to submit my decision.  The truth is that I waited until 10 minutes before the deadline to give my answer, because I was hoping God would change His mind.  But He did not; He continued to point me to UCLA.  That night, I had to decide what I wanted to place my value in, the education and career opportunities provided by Yale or the desire of God.  When I came into work the next day, my colleagues were shocked when I told them what I had chosen to do, because most of them thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life.  I tossed the guaranteed value of Yale for the unknown of UCLA.  I was putting my value in God.  Now, I will tell you that recently in the past few weeks, I have struggled with this decision.  I have thought over and over that I wasted my potential.  How could a valedictorian in high school, a summa cum laude in college, and a person who got accepted into Ivy League schools, be stuck here in this rut?  I pitied myself, because I valued my education and my academic accomplishments more than anything else.  It was where I excelled, where I placed my pride in.  And God had seemed to just tear it all down and said, “Enough!  It is time for you to place your trust in me instead of your own accomplishments.”  Now, I don’t know if that was actually the reason, but I can understand it if that’s what He felt needed to be done to make sure my heart was dependent on Him.

Like me Paul could have placed his value in his education and career, “…as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church…”  Paul had been taught under the Pharisee Gamaliel, who was one of the well-respected teachers of that time (Acts 5:34).  Gamaliel was actually so well respected that when he told the Pharisees to back off on the apostles after the Resurrection, they did.  Paul could have definitely boasted about his education.  When other people and other apostles were nothing but fisherman and tax collectors and people who had little to no formal training in the Word of God, Paul had a ton.  He was born and raised to do this job, yet he counted his education as nothing when he valued himself.  He did the same with his career.  He was a top dog with the Pharisees.  He would probably be considered the top persecutor during that time, and he did it with a heart full of zeal for God wanting to protect His name.  He was allowed to throw people into prison, persecute them, and make them recant.  He certainly must have had a high position, because when he asked for letters to persecute Christians in Damascus, he got them with no hesitation.  Paul career-wise was set, yet he threw it all away because he found his value in something else.  He realized that these things were nothing compared to Jesus Christ and gave them all up for Him.  His accomplishments were nothing; all he wanted was Jesus.

Jesus warned against people putting their pride in their accomplishments in the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16-21, “16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  He put his treasure and value on the things of this earth rather in Christ, which eventually puffed him up and made him think of himself without God.  Just look how many times, he uses the word I.  He thought he accomplished so much by attaining all these things and did not even consider that they were all blessings from God.  His heart was not of gratefulness to God but of pride in himself.

We may place our pride and our value in our careers, education, and other accomplishments like all the people on this earth do, but there is something much greater for us to put our values and pride – God.  Place your value in God.

Sermon – What Do You Place Your Value In – Part 1

I occasionally watch a show on the History Channel called “Pawn Stars,” which is a reality-based TV show relating the everyday business activities that go on in the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Like any other show, it has an opening credit scene, and in that scene, Rick Harrison, the owner of that pawn shop always says, “Everything has a story and a price.”  And it’s true, because for the thirty minutes of that show, you see people tell the stories of their items and haggle out a price to sell it to the pawn shop for cash.  Every item has a price.  But the major question is how do they determine the price of an item?  What is it worth and how much should they buy it for?  Usually, they evaluate the item based on its condition, its rarity, its age, its desirability, and sometimes its uniqueness.  For example, if a classic novel was brought in like Pride and Prejudice, the first thing they would do is check the edition.  First editions are always worth a lot more, because they are harder to find and more desirable.  Next, they will examine its condition, checking the spine of the book, the pages, the binding; they make sure that the book is presentable.  Of course, if the book is much older, they give it some leeway.  But a good condition book always fetches more.  Then, they decide if they can work out a price to buy it.  Books are usually one of the easier things to value and make decisions on.  Sometimes though, they get these weird items like collectible toys or plates or letters from famous people.  In those cases, they usually look to an expert in the field who then evaluates it on the same premises.  Again, the value is fairly easy to assign by the expert.  The only time things get difficult is when a unique item is brought in like a bullet or a Native American tomahawk or a barber’s chair.  In those cases, the item is usually bought simply for its unique quality or history like if the bullet was used to shoot a famous person or the barber’s chair was used by Al Capone.  Then, Rick will often buy the item just to have it be displayed at the store.  Although the primary purpose of the show is entertainment, not surprisingly, you actually learn quite a bit of history, being that it is on the History Channel.  Even a cousin of mine when he was back in high school, once told me that he passed his history tests simply by remembering what he learned watching “Pawn Stars.”  Surprisingly though, what I find most people learn more about from the show than history is how to value an item.  After watching multiple episodes of the show, you quickly learn how to tell if an item has any value and approximately how much you can get for it.  Derrick for example started to get into this antiquing phase after he started watching the show.  He knew exactly what something could be worth on Ebay and bought it for resale accordingly.

But placing a value on an item is actually much easier than placing a value on a person.  The people who are usually good at this work in sports or entertainment.  Very often, you hear about how people know how much a player is worth in basketball, baseball, or any other sport.  They comment on whether a team spent their salary caps wisely in obtaining a superstar free agent or not.  For example, many people commented on whether Kobe Bryant was worth the millions that the Lakers paid him being that he is nearing forty and the end of his career.  They valued him on his age, his athleticism, his ability to shoot the ball, make clutch shots, win percentage, and all these other statistics.  Some people included his leadership skills and his drive into the mix when evaluating his value as well.  Nonetheless, people in sports are valued by their ability and potential to win.  In other fields, people are valued by other things.  For instance, I work in scientific biological research.  In this field, people are valued by two things:  your previous research experience, specifically who you trained with, and your publications.  If you published in a high impact factor journal that is widely recognized like Science, Nature, or Cell, then it is easy for you to get a faculty position at a university, because your peers automatically assume that you are smart based on that.  The alternative way of getting that position is to be associated with a famous professor in the field, which once again causes your peers to assume that you were well-trained because of that.  Your value in science is determined by who you know and your publication record.  In every field, your value is determined by different things.  Your value in business is determined by your ability to make money, in education by your grades, in gaming by your kills, and so on and so forth.

But the question I want to ask you today is “How do you value yourself?”  What do you find your value in?  Is it your career and how much that job allows you to take home each year?  Is it your family lineage and who you are related to?  Is it the friends you keep and who you know?  Do you value yourself by your educational degree and where you got it from?  Or maybe you value yourself based on your righteousness?  The way you value yourself is usually where your pride is.  And pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).  We need to make sure that we place our value on what Christ wants us to, so that we will never be puffed up.  The passage we will talk about today is found in Philippians 3:3-11, where Paul describes all the various things he could have placed his value in, but in the end, he finds that the only thing worth putting his value in is Jesus Christ.  This sermon in and of itself speaks to me personally, because much of what we will be talking about today are things that God has been taking out of my life, so that I can learn to place my value in Him.  He has been slowly tearing down the things that I pride myself in so that I can humbly submit to His calling.  To serve God, we must come to Him in humility and to do that we must value ourselves the way God values us.  By looking at this passage, we can evaluate whether we are finding our value in the right things or not.

Philippians 3:3-11

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

  1. Do not place your value in your lineage.

More often than not, people are valued based on their familial relations.  This was actually a common practice up until recently, when people started to become more independent, separating from their families and becoming their own separate people.  Royalty was always treated well and with respect simply because a person had some blood-ties to the king or queen, baron or baroness.  The person’s character never really mattered; what mattered most was that that person was related to someone with power.  Just think of the number of romantic movies or books that are based on the plotline of a person from a wealthy family wanting to marry someone out of poverty.  Just last weekend, I watched Pride and Prejudice with my dad, and one of the key reasons why Elizabeth’s sister Jane had a hard time marrying Charles Bingley, a wealthy man, was because of the state of her family.  She was born into a poor family and was valued so.  Look at Romeo and Juliet.  Each young lover was only seen as an enemy because of their family line – one a Montague, one a Capulet.  They were valued solely based on their family lineage.  The sad thing is that we continue to see this today, in that, people who are related to celebrities or government officials often get special treatment just because of their parents.  Look at how many children today get a role on TV or in a movie simply because they have famous parents.  We uplift people as well as break them down because of their family lines.

The first thing Paul describes that he could have put his confidence in was his lineage (vs. 5), “…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews…”  Paul was the crème de la crème of people who could have said that they were chosen by God.  Remember God selected the people of Israel out of all the people of earth to be His people.  This alone gave Paul an advantage from all the Gentiles he was talking to in Philippi.  In addition, he came from the tribe of Benjamin, a favored tribe in Israel – the tribe from which Saul, the first king of Israel was chosen.  Certainly, he could have boasted more if he had come from the line of David in Judah; but nonetheless, he had a great lineage – one that he could have easily placed his faith and value in.  Paul could have used his lineage as a way for him to increase his value in his own eyes, yet he didn’t, because he realized there was something greater to put his faith, courage, and pride in.

Turn to Matthew 3:7-10.  Matthew 3:7-10 “7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  In these verses, John the Baptist rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees who placed their faith in their lineage.  They thought that maybe they could escape from God’s upcoming wrath and judgment on sin simply because they were children of Abraham and were chosen people of God.  They thought they would get special treatment, because of their family line; but John corrected them letting them know that their lineage didn’t matter but the condition of their hearts.

This hits home with me, because I come from a great family.  We aren’t rich and famous like the Kardashians.  We aren’t from a royal lineage of emperors in China.  We are nothing like that.  But as a pastor’s son, I take pride in my spiritual lineage.  I thought of myself better than others simply because I came from a pastor’s home and was raised in a Christian family.  I figured that I was more approved of by God than the next guy.  Like many people who were born into Christian families, I for a short time even road the coattails of my parents, thinking that their faith could probably get me to heaven.  But it cannot, for the only way to the Father is a personal relationship with Him.  Don’t get me wrong.  Being raised in a Christian family is certainly influential in bringing a person to Christ, but it cannot save.  Only Christ can do that.  Your family lineage is not where you should place your value or pride in, for it matters not in the sight of God.  Rather than allowing it to puff me up, I should have been grateful for the blessing that God had given me to be born into a Christian family.  It should not have led to pride and a judgmental attitude but a drive to share the Gospel with those who were not as fortunate.

The Color Messages – GOLD

We have talked about BLACK, RED, WHITE, GREEN, and now, we will talk about the last color in our series of “Color Messages” – GOLD.  But before dive into the color, let me share with you the full song that I learned in elementary school.  The song goes like this:

My heart was BLACK with sin,

Until the Savior came in. 

His precious blood I know (The color RED is shown here.),

Has washed me WHITE as snow. 

And in God’s Word, I’m told,

I’ll walk the streets of GOLD.

To grow in Christ each day, (The color GREEN is shown here.)

I’ll read my Bible and pray.

In our series of messages, I purposely placed GREEN before GOLD, because I felt that we need to talk about the Christian growth that we will experience here on earth before talking about the heaven that GOLD represents.  So we will finish with one of the glorious rewards we will receive when our lives have passed, and time has come to an end – Heaven.

What do you think of when you first hear the color GOLD?  I can almost guarantee that at least one of your first few thoughts was actual gold/riches – whether it be gold jewelry, gold teeth, gold coins, or gold bars.  Some of you may have thought of Fort Knox which is America’s gold reserve.  Some of you may have thought of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold.  Some of you may have thought of the Golden Fleece in Ancient Greek mythology.  Gold has always been a treasured thing even since ancient times.  For example, in the Temple that Solomon built, almost the whole interior was covered with gold, likely to show the magnificence and honor that should be shown to God.  Gold has and almost always will be a precious commodity.

In a spiritual sense though, the color GOLD stands for the streets of gold in heaven, but to make the association a little more broad GOLD stands for heaven in general.  So the big question we need to answer is “What is heaven like?”  What’s there?  What’s not there?  Will there be pearly gates and streets of gold? Will there be the Tree and River of Life?  Will sin, sickness, pain, and death be missing?  According to Revelation 20 and 21, all those things are true, but the exact details of what heaven will be like I cannot share with you, because I haven’t been there.  But what I can share is an acronym using the color GOLD to help remind us of what the Bible describes heaven as in Revelation 20 and 21.

G – Heaven is having GOD’S PRESENCE with you all the time. 

Revelation 21:3 – “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

When we were talking about the color BLACK and how it represented sin, we discussed how the letter “A” represented how sin resulted in the ABSENCE of GOD.  For the color GOLD, “G” represents the complete opposite, because heaven is having the Presence of God with you all the time.  When we think of heaven, normally, what we think of is a place up in the sky, but the most important thing about heaven is being able to be in God’s presence all the time.  It is having that close, tight-knit relationship with God for every moment of every day.  My dad has always told me, you can experience heaven right here on earth right now even before you die.  I used to have a hard time understanding what he meant by that, but when I considered that the most important thing about heaven is the presence of God, it started to make sense.  Here on this earth right now, we can already have a close and intimate relationship with God.  We can feel His presence throughout our lives; we can speak with Him daily; we can spend every waking moment in communion and communication with Him.  In a way, if we maintain our relationship with Him, we can experience heaven on earth, or at least the most important part of it.  The one difference is that we right now are not in the physical presence of God, but when we do get to heaven, we will be; so for that, we will have to wait.  Nonetheless, heaven will be an amazing place, because we get to spend 24 hours, seven days a week with the person we should love more than anything in the world – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

O – Heaven is an OMISSION of sin, tears, sadness, pain, and death

Revelation 21:4, 8 – “4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away…8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Now that we know what the most important thing in heaven is – God; we should discuss what things are not in heaven. Revelation 21:4 and 8 clearly tell us what is not in heaven – sin and those who continue to commit it, tears and crying, pain and sadness, and ultimately death.  As mentioned when we were talking about the color BLACK, sin leads to the absence of God, and where God is absent, sin and its consequences will reign free.  But if God’s presence is there eternally, as it is in heaven, then sin and its consequences must also be omitted, for sin cannot be in the presence of God.  It is just like light and darkness; when light is present, there can be no darkness.  The darkness can be outside the light or around the light, but it can never exist where there is light.  Where one is present, the other is absent.  In heaven, sin is banished from the sight of God.

With the omission of sin, we also get the omission of anything that is a consequence of sin.  Before the fall of man, the world was perfect.  There was no rottenness, no degradation, no corruption, but when sin entered the world, all that began to happen.  No person is unaffected, for when we all are born, our bodies start to die, and as we grow older, we start to feel more pain.  And eventually, as we age, we will come closer and closer to death.  In this world today, we experience pain, suffering, disease, and death for almost every minute of our lives.  We know of people who are suffering from cancer.  We know of countries ravished by war.  We know of those who are being abused and ridiculed and scorned.  And of course, we have experienced deaths in our families.  All of those things are a consequence of sin.  But all of that is gone in heaven.  There will be no tears of sadness.  There will be no heartache.  Sin will have no power any longer, for it will be defeated.  When Christ did on the cross and defeated sin, death was defeated as it states in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’”  Christ has defeated sin and death, and in heaven, we will experience that freedom.

L – Heaven is a place of LOVE. 

1 John 4:8 – “…God is love.”

The Beatles had a #1 hit back in the 1960s called “All You Need Is Love.”  The song went on and on about how all the world really needs is love.  And truthfully, it seems like that is what everybody craves each and every day of their lives.  Being a single guy, I understand that feeling, because I often long for the chance to love and to be loved by a person that I could one day call my wife; but I digress from the point.  If love is all we really need, then what we really need is God, for God is love.  In heaven, we will be in the presence of God 24/7, meaning that we will be able to experience His love all the time.  There will be no feelings of loneliness, despair, rejection, or depression.  Instead what we will feel is God’s presence and love.  I don’t think much else can top being loved by the Creator of the Universe and the Lord of all.  But in addition to that love, we get to experience love from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  In heaven, we will all be filled with the Holy Spirit and will have Christ’s love overflowing through us time and time again, and that overflowing love will be extended to our fellow believers.  Heaven will truly be a place filled with love.  Not love of the lustful kind, but true love, a love that gives and gives and gives without expecting anything in return – the love that Christ displayed for us on the cross.  If what we want is love, then what we want is heaven, for there we will be able to experience God’s love all the time.

Heaven is not only a place for us to experience God’s love, but it is also a place where we will be able to share our love for God.  In heaven, we as believers will be united in worshipping and praising God.  We will express our love to Him using the various spiritual gifts that He has given us.  There is no discounting that we can do that here on earth now, but in heaven, we get to do it all the time with no distractions.  Here on this earth, we often are interrupted by the cares of this world, but in heaven, where those things are gone, we can express our full love to Him all the time.  It is a place where we can truly give our all to Him.  While here on this earth, sin can still detract from our love to Him, but in heaven, where sin is absent, we can be completely filled by His Spirit and give Him the love He deserves.  Heaven is a place, where we get to experience the love of God all the time and in return express our love to Him all the time.

D – Heaven is a place of DELIVERANCE and DEVOTION

 Revelation 4:8-11 – “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’  9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”

In the past three letters, we have already talked about how heaven is a place where sin and the consequences of sin is absent, and again the letter D will act as a reminder that we have been delivered from sin and death.  In heaven, Christ will have the ultimate victory, and death and sin will be defeated.  Because we have spoken so much about it already, I won’t belabor that point.

But the letter D also stands for devotion.  In heaven, we will be fully devoted to God.  Our hearts, our actions, our lives, our all will be fully devoted to God.  We will worship Him 24/7.  Now, if I asked any one of you whether you would like to be in church 24/7, many would probably say, “No.”  Listening to a sermon, singing worship music, and praying for all hours of the day may seem a little taxing; this is usually the picture of heaven that is given to us – “people sitting on clouds, playing harps all day long.”  But I don’t think heaven will be like that.  Heaven will be a place, where we get to do the things we love to the glory of God.  I don’t mean sin and things related to sin, of course, because those are things which we should hate as we draw closer in our relationships with Him.  But the talents and skills that God has given us, the passions that He has endowed us with – these things will be used to worship Him.  If you like to draw, you will draw for His glory.  If you like to play music, you will play music for His glory.  If you like to sing or write or dance, you will do all those things for His glory.  In heaven, your one passion will be God, and all your talents and skills will be used in devotion to Him.  It is said that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders never cease praising God in heaven, and I think that will be the same for us. We may not say the same words described here in Revelation 4, but our hearts and actions will be devoted to praising Him all day long, for our lives will be fully devoted to Him – no distractions, no other cares, no other loves.

The last color in our “Color Messages” is the color GOLD, which represents heaven.  In heaven, we will experience God’s presence eternally; we will be free from sin and its consequences; we will experience the greatest love the world has ever known forever; and we will devote ourselves to the One who gives that love to us.  Heaven will be a glorious place, for all believers to unite in worshipping God and experience Him fully.

In this series of “Color Messages,” we have talked about sin and how it separated us from God; we have talked about Christ’s blood and how it redeemed us; we have talked about the newfound purity we have in Christ and the growth we can experience as a Christian and how we should use it to honor Him; and lastly, we talked about heaven and how it is our eternal reward.  This series of colors are a perfect tool that can be used to share the Gospel with anyone from the youngest child to the oldest senior.  It is simple and to the point.  I hope that you will take these lessons and use it to help those who are currently experiencing the BLACKNESS of sin to see Christ’s RED blood as their redemption, so that they can experience the WHITE purity, the GREEN growth, and the GOLD heaven that we all as disciples of Christ get to experience today.

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