Awaiting Christ -Full Sermon Transcription

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PASTOR: FORREST SHORT

SCRIPTURE READING:

PHILIPPIANS 3:17-4:1, ESV

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

4 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

INTRO

Good morning, my name’s Forrest. I’m one of the pastors here at Emmaus, and it is good to be with you. I did tuck my shirt in today for the first time in, like, 10 years. I can’t believe how many people commented on that. I was told I look like I’m from the 90’s, I was told I look more pastoral. So, I thought I would just address it so it wouldn’t be distracting. It’s not Easter, it’s … really, the bottom line is, this shirt looks bad untucked, so I tucked in it. That’s what happened.

But, anyway, we are continuing in the book of Philippians, in our series. And, hopefully the Lord has been at work in you as we have been going throughout this series. I know he has been in me. It’s always good to dig deeply into scripture. So, let’s pray this morning, and then we’re going to jump right in to it.

Jesus, we are grateful, Lord, for this truth, that we are citizens of heaven, and we await a savior from there. Lord, and Paul points us to this is now, by reminding ourselves this, by illuminating this reality, Lord, we are able to stand firm. God, I pray, as we look at your word this morning, that your Spirit would be at work opening our eyes, giving us ears to hear. Lord, we know it’s only by your Spirit that we are transformed into the image of Christ. So, may that reality be at work this morning. I pray for those in our midst who may not know you as Savior, Lord, I ask that you would, by your Spirit, draw them to yourself. We love you, and thank you, in Jesus’ name, amen.

So, in 42 B.C., just outside the city of Philippi, there was a battle called … anyone guess? The Battle of Philippi. There was a battle, and it was part of the Roman civil wars that were taking place at that time. And, this was one of the three battles that brought Octavian to power, in the midst of the Roman Empire. Shortly after the Battle of Philippi, a wave of veterans, retired soldiers from the Roman army, was sent into Philippi to take up residence. As part of that settlement, they were assigned land that they would have seized from the locals there at Philippi, from the people who are already living there.

Now, this was all part of Rome’s plan to make Philippi a colony. Now, some historians say that the genius of Roman rule was the system that Rome had of making colonies. This is how they spread their influence and their power. So, Rome, we know, was not the first empire to conquer the world. There were a few others before them, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and then just a few hundred years before, there were the Greeks. They were not the first to conquer the world, but they were the first to conquer the world and then sustain it over a long period of time. And, again, historians say it was due to their system of colonies.

Now, continue tracking with me, I promise a payoff here, we’re going somewhere. So, their understanding of colonies was that they were a microcosm of Rome. Even if the colony was in Greece, or it was in Egypt, if you were in a Roman colony, it was considered Roman soil. And, so they spread this power through a network of colonies that was more than a city when these colonies were planted. So, they would plant these colonies in strategic places, and then they would flood these colonies with Roman citizens who were given special status. They were exempt from heavy taxes, they would be given large plots of land, and they were given a generally favorable place in society.

This was the power of Rome. In short, Rome would plant these colonies so that through education, and the arts, and law, Roman rule and Roman power would come to bare among the world. This was their plan, and this is how they continued to move forward and continue to expand in their world domination. Now, this means that in Philippi, specifically, as a colony of Rome, the power of Rome was felt by everyone there. It was either felt in the sense that you were being overwhelmed by it, or perhaps you were privileged because of it. But, no one that lived in Philippi did not feel the power of Roman rule.

Now, imagine, if you would, with me, for just a little bit, from the perspective of a first century Roman veteran who lives in Philippi, who has spent years all over Macedonia with sword in hand, advancing Rome’s power. Who, has been given a plot of land free of taxes, and as a proud Roman, he would go to the temple every week, and he would burn incense, and he would give homage and worship Caesar as Lord. This was all happening in Philippi during the time of Paul’s writing.

Now, again, continuing to image from his perspective, imagine you hear of this guy named Paul that comes into the city of Philippi. And, he comes into the city and he comes with a very peculiar message. He shows up proclaiming that there was another Lord who was the true Lord. That, there is another king who is the true king, and he is actually a crucified king. Imagine, from the perspective of the Roman soldier hearing this. And, though Paul has left town, he’s left behind a gathering of people that have come to faith, come to believe what he has proclaimed. And, it was a gathering of men, and women, and masters, and slaves, and Romans, and Greeks, and Jews. And, you’re drawn to these people, you’re drawn to this community, you’re drawn to this gathering.

So, one evening, you know up at one of the very first converts in the planting of Philippi. You show up at Lydia’s house, at sundown. And, a meal is shared, and prayers are given, but there’s a guest that night. There’s someone who’s come a great distance, and he’s come with a letter. His name’s Epaphroditus, and he’s come with this letter from Paul. He’s visited Paul in prison, Paul, the one who planted this church, who proclaimed this message, this peculiar gospel.

And, Epaphroditus stands up, and begins to read this letter, and you begin to listen with rapt attention as he reads of Paul’s love for the Philippians, as he reads of his admonition to live for Christ, the one who humbled himself, who gave himself up. Of, how the followers of Christ, then are to shine as a light in the world. And then, Epaphroditus comes to the following words … but our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself …Imagine how that lands for the Roman soldier in the midst of that world.

These words arrest his heart, and he knows that if they are true, his allegiance has been misdirected. If these words are true, then the Roman rule, and the idea of Roman rule and Caesar as Lord is really just a kingdom façade. It’s not the true kingdom, it’s not the real kingdom, with the real power. That, there’s another who is Lord. There is a greater King, who subjects all things to himself, and a greater kingdom of which he has been invited into. There is a truer reality.

Your true citizenship is in heaven, not in the governments of this world. And, you know that your loyalty, in that moment, he knows that his loyalty must shift from Caesar to Jesus, the one who subjects all things to himself. It’s as if a veil has been lifted of a whole entirely different world, to reveal another world, a truer world, a world that demands your allegiance if it is true, and a world in which there is true life, if it is true. The gospel declares the same thing to us today, doesn’t it? It calls us away from the tears of today, the façade kingdoms of today, to the person of Christ, and to the reality of his kingdom.

Now, you might say, what are the Caesar’s of today? What does that even mean? And, I have a question that I think would be important for us to do some hard work as we go throughout this sermon this morning. What do we mean by Caesar’s of today? Here’s the question we can ask. What, apart from Christ, seems to hold power over you? And, perhaps a secondary question, what is your allegiance to that power?

This could be just about anything, right? It could be sinful mindsets, sinful acts of the heart. It could be the reality of allegiance to a government as over or against allegiance to Christ. What are the Caesar’s, what are the things that overpower you in your life apart from Christ? Have that in mind as we continue. We just have two points this morning, a desperate blindness, and a hopeful reality, and we’re going to spend the largest chunk of our time on the last one.

A DESPERATE BLINDNESS

But, Paul then says, in light of this, here’s what I think Paul is bringing to the surface. If you notice, in chapter 4, verse 1 …

… Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord …

In other words, in this way, this is how you stand firm. And, he’s going to talk about those who are enemies of Christ, which we’ll look at in just a second, and then he’s going to contrast that, and he’s going to say, but we, we are citizens of heaven, awaiting a savior from there, from where? From heaven. That is how you stand firm in the midst of the world. The veil being lifted on this reality.

So, Paul says, then he begins the portion of this text in verse 17, he says, to imitate me and watch what others who walk like we do. In other words, those who walk as citizens of the true kingdom, awaiting the true king, awaiting a savior, watch them, imitate them, follow them, cause they’re standing firm.

But, then, Paul very quickly, in verse 18, points us to a desperate blindness. He says, there are those who are enemies of this king and this kingdom. There are those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. He says that they don’t see this reality, this veil that’s been lifted. All they see is what’s right before them. And, they have a desperate blindness. We see this in verses 18 and 19, a desperate blindness. We’ll read those two verses …

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things …

Now, Philippi was located along a major trade route called the Via Egnatia. And, this traveled from east to west in the Roman Empire, and it went right through Philippi. So, this means, part of what we hear as we’ve been going through Philippi is him talking about teachers and this, kind of, here are the enemies of the gospel. And, part of this was because of this trade route. This meant that there was a stream of various kinds of teachers and philosophers that were coming through. And, they would preach and they would teach and they would gain followers, and they would stir up different kinds of religious devotion in the city of Philippi. And, Paul’s saying that there are some who are coming through, and what’s taking root, is they are enemies of Christ.

So, some of these teachers were solid, and some of them weren’t. What he’s saying here, is there are those who are not awakened to the reality of the lordship of Christ and his kingdom. They’re just not awakened to it. And so, they become enemies of it. And, he gives us … and, I should say this, it’s like a parent with great love, with great affection. Paul says that many times in Philippians. He highlights his love and his affection for the Philippian church. And so, it’s like a parent with great love and concern for their children. He warns them with tears to watch out for these enemies of the cross of Christ.

And, he gives us four markers of these enemies in verse 19. And, we see why he’s weeping as he’s mourning. We see why, when we look at these markers. First is … their end is destruction… the endword there is the Greek word telos. And, it’s the end goal. Remember, a little bit earlier, in chapter 3, Paul says his telos is the resurrection. Because, his veil has been lifted, and he’s seen this true king, this savior … he’s coming to the reality of being a citizen of heaven. But, he says, their end, their telos, is destruction.

There god is their belly …Now, this was … it doesn’t just mean they like buffets, right? This is a Greek euphemism for bodily appetites, food, and drink, and sex. And, they find that their appetites are their authority, the greatest authority in their life. And so, this is essentially their Caesar that they are serving. There god is their belly, or their appetites, or their desires. It’s unchecked, they’re unchecked.

They glory in their shame …Now, it’s one thing to do something shameful and hide it, right? Still not good, but it’s natural to want to hide it. It’s another thing to glory in your shame, to put it on display, to have zero shame about the thing that you should have shame about. He’s saying this is a marker of an enemy of Christ.

And then, finally, the fourth thing is … their minds are set on earthly things … Colossians 3 unpacks what he means by earthly things, and he gives a list there of sexual immorality, and I’ll read just a little bit of it … Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry … And then, he goes on a little bit later in verse 8 … But now you must put away all anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouths …So, he’s saying, these things are what comes to the surface when our mind is set on earthly things. This is how we respond to circumstances; this world becomes our authority when we set our minds on earthly things. They are consumed, essentially, I think you can sum it up by saying they are consumed with what’s right in front of them.

Rather than the veil being lifted, and seeing this other reality, this truer reality, they are consumed with what’s right in front of them. This is the desperate blindness that he talks about.

A HOPEFUL REALITY

Now, we don’t know who these enemies of the cross were. Some say it was the epicureans. Epicurus is the one who said, “You are what you eat.” So, some people think, ah that probably fits. Some people say it was the Judaizers … [BREAK] … All we know for sure, is that they were those who were not awakened to the reality of the lordship of Christ and his kingdom, and so they responded, they preached another gospel, and it was a desperate blindness, and the end result of that is destruction.

So, Paul weeps. He’s pastoral heart weeps, and he warns at the same time. But, then he brings them and us to a hopeful reality … But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ …But, our citizenship is in heaven. We are not them, we are not enemies of the cross. So, he’s contrasting these two realities. Paul, here, points to the deeper reality, then. He points to a very hopeful reality in the midst of what was a persecuted church.

Remember, Paul himself writing from prison with great hope, and he says, this, this reality is what gives me that great hope. And, there are a couple of aspects here to this hope. One, our true citizenship is in heaven. No greater allegiance. We are citizens of heaven. Paul says, remember that in the midst of the world. And, he tells us, remember that in the midst of this world.

And, two, from it, from heaven, we await a savior. Now, he’s not saying simply this: as citizens of heaven, awaiting a savior from heaven, we belong to another world, another place, and I’m going to go there when I die. Now, that’s broadly what evangelicals believe about heaven. And, while there are some grains of truth in there, it’s not the whole story on the reality of heaven. Heaven, quite simply, is the dwelling place of God, the place where God’s presence uniquely dwells. It’s the place where everything is as it should be. It’s a place of perfection.

And, it’s not a concept, it’s not a state of mind. Scripture tells us it’s a real place. Now, when believers die, we know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We know that when we die, our souls will leave our bodies to meet the Lord, and to be in his presence. So, that’s true, but this is temporary. It’s an intermediate state, right? We will also return, when Christ returns, and there will be a union between our bodies and our souls, and God, Jesus Christ, the savior, the one who subjects all things to himself, he brings heaven to earth.

Now, that’s a big one. I think sometimes we think of eternity as somewhere else. When this first hit me, I was amazed. I was like, oh, my work here matters. What I do here matters on earth. Why? Because, heaven is coming to earth. And, in some way, I don’t know how exactly, but as I join Christ in his work, when it’s all said and done, some of it will be redeemed, and will continue into the new heaven and new earth. This is why we say at Emmaus, we are called to join God in his work of making all things new. It’s a gracious invitation that he gives us.

So, when we think of heaven, don’t think primarily of escaping, and everything here is going to burn. Cause, that’s not what scripture teaches. Everything will be made new. It actually teaches the opposite of that, that everything will be made new. So, heaven, then … if this is true, and Paul is saying we stand firm by understanding something of heaven, it matters how we think of heaven, right? And, if we misunderstand heaven, it’s going to affect how firm we can stand in the here and now. So, heaven is not just this ethereal thing out there. I know we always run to the clouds and the babies in diapers and stuff, right? That’s the easy go-to. But, we have a lot of skewed thinking about heaven, but it matters.

Paul says, remind yourselves, you are a citizen of heaven, and you are awaiting a savior from heaven. And, that matters in the here and now. He’s saying, there is an unveiling that needs to happen. Because, otherwise, we just become so earthy oriented, that all of these … this list that Paul gave us in Colossians 3, we begin to operate and live in those ways, which is the opposite of standing firm. So, Paul’s saying, remind yourself of this reality, remind yourself of this truth.

THE REALITY – PICTURED IN REVELATION 4-5

Now, we’re going to go and we’re going to read a big chunk of scripture to end this. We’re going to go to the book of Revelation. Now, you might go, why in the world would we go to the most confusing book in the Bible to try to unpack heaven? Because, it’s actually not … it is in depth, but we forget that Revelation is a book of worship, and it’s a book of hope, and it’s a book that assures us that Christ will make all things new.

So, we’re going to read Revelations 4 and 5, both chapters. Can we handle that? Yeah, we can do that. Now, let’s set it up so we can engage it well here. The genre of literature Revelation is written in is apocalyptic. Now, when we hear apocalypse or apocalyptic, we think Mad Max, right? We think end of the world, post-apocalyptic movies, everyone’s dressed in black, no one has gasoline or water, people have chains around their necks and, you know, whatever it is, we immediately think destruction. But, this is not what first century apocalyptic literature was about. It wasn’t catastrophic, it was revelatory. Revelation means an unveiling. Remember how we said from the beginning with this roman soldier? It’s like an unveiling of a reality I never knew. That’s what Revelation is, it’s an unveiling.

In other words, there’s a significant reality that is hidden, and that desperately needs to be uncovered. Here, what’s going to be uncovered, some for us, is the reality of heaven, of which we are citizens, and we await our savior. So, these realities are hidden perhaps by appetites, desires within us, by our minds being set on earthly things, rather than heavenly wants. And, there are a myriad of things that keep us from seeing. Revelation is meant to pull us up out of the mire and help us to see.

So, why Revelation 4 and 5? It was a letter written to seven churches who were in the midst of great persecution in Asia. And, they, to some degree or another, have compromised. You can read about that in Revelation chapter 2 and 3. And, in each of these seven cities, there was a façade of Roman rule. And, each of these seven cities’ temples were built so that worship could be offered to Caesar. And, when Caesar would appear in public, he would surround himself with servants who were dressed normally in all white, declaring their praise to him. So, this was happening in the cities that were the recipients of this letter.

So, in other words, persecuted Christians, counterfeit thrones, and façade kingdoms. Does it sound familiar? For all of the grand vision of Revelation, though, it’s both worshipful and practical. Whether we realize it or not, this is what we need to behold the most. So, as we read, it’s good to understand that chapter 4 is the setting, and chapter 5 is the drama that unfolds in that setting. Alright, let’s read together, Revelation 4 …

REVELATION 4 - 5, ESV

4 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings[a] and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.8 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.”

5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

   and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

   from every tribe and language and people and nation,

10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

   and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!”

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 honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Amen. This is a veil lifted for us, into the reality of heaven. Chapter 4, verse 1, John finds himself in the heavenly throne room of God, face to face with the holiness and the majesty of God. And, in verse 3, when he sees him, all he can say is he had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. And, for the rest of the chapter, all he can do is talk about is around the throne or before the throne. It’s as if the reflective glory is too much for him to bear.

There is this transcendent beauty that evokes a sense of awe, which is why in verse 5, he uses the language of thunder and lightning. The seas, it was the most foreboding, awesome thing that they beheld in that day. In verses 6-9, we see that the creatures never cease to say, Holy, Holy, Holy … Honestly, what else could they say? In verses 9-11, the elders worship continuously in perpetuity. Like kings, they sit on 24 thrones, with power it seems. But, they leave their thrones and they cast their crowns down at the feet of the true king, the one with the true power.

And then, in chapter 5, the drama begins to unfold. Attention is brought to a scroll in verse 1. And, a scroll that can only be opened by one who is authorized to read it. It says that it’s written on the front and the back. And, at that time it was normally only written on the front. So, it means to communicate to us that the message here is urgent, and it’s comprehensive. It’s for the world. The scroll signifies the fullness of God’s revelation and purposes and decrees for human history, that will come to pass. That includes you, and that includes me.

In verses 2-3, we’re taken to the worldwide search for someone worthy to open this scroll. The strong angel declares, who is worthy to open it? And, no one is found. So, in the only moment, tears and heaven are pictured to coexist. John weeps loudly. Why? Why does he weep? Because, he cannot bare the possibility that the purposes of God might not be known. No relief from pain, no justice for suffering, no sight for the blind, no salvation for the lost. He cannot bear the thought of that reality. It is the same tears of Paul’s in Philippians, that we just read about. Tears that the enemies of Christ might continue in their blindness to their own destruction. He cannot bear the thought that this could be the reality of the world, and so he weeps.

And, many of us have wept the same kind of tears, haven’t we? At the prospect that the power of sin and death might have a final word. But, there in the midst of his weeping, and I think we can say ours, one of the elders comes to John. And, he tells him simply, in verse 5, weep no more. Weep no more. And, John dares to stop. And, I say dares, because it takes boldness to have hope in the midst of a broken world.

The elder then tells him, we have found the one to open the seal, and he says, he’s the lion of the tribe Judah, the root of David, he has conquered. These are messianic titles from the Old Testament that promised that there is one coming who will rule in righteousness. And, he’s saying, that is the one who rules here in heaven, in this heavenly state, he has conquered, and he rules in righteousness. The prophet Amos says, the lion has roared, who will not fear? Heaven is place where the lion has roared.

And, John looks up to behold the king, the one worthy to approach the throne and take up the scroll. And, though he is a lion, it is the lamb that takes up the scroll. Standing as though slain, it is Jesus Christ, the one who is so beautiful and so majestic that all descriptions are found wanting. Yet, Isaiah tells us that his appearance was so marred that he was beyond human semblance. Isaiah 52:14 tells us that this lion with power and strength did not roar. In fact, he was wounded and oppressed, and did not open his mouth.

Your hope is utterly sure because he came and he is coming again. And, you will behold him, too, the lion and the lamb. And so, worship begins, in verse 9, every tribe and tongue will be gathered, and will be able to agree on this. In the midst of a culture where it seems like we can’t agree on anything, all the world will come into agreement with this reality, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is worthy to be praised, that salvation belongs to our God.

Verse 11, he says, then I looked and I heard … he’s overwhelmed by the unified chorus of living creatures and elders and angels, and myriads upon myriads, saying with one voice, worthy is the lamb. Notice in verse 13, he uses the phrase again, under the earth, from verse 3. These were, in verse 3, the unworthy ones, who were not able to approach the throne and take hold of the scroll, to approach the throne and break the seals. And now, they sing. Now they sing around the throne.

Who are those under the earth? That is us. That is us who have been redeemed by the finished work of Jesus Christ, the one who rules in righteousness. The lion and the lamb was slain, so that we could have a place before the throne where everything is made right. Where, the power of sin is finally, and forever defeated, and hope becomes our new reality.

This is the deepest and truest reality. This is the vision that all of us need, here and now this morning, in every single stage of life. What are the Caesars in your life? What are the things that overpower you in your life? Paul says, remember, lift the veil. Don’t become earthly minded. Remember, there is one who rules in righteousness, and he is making all things new, and he is making all things right, and you are a citizen of that kingdom, and you are awaiting him from there, from heaven, and he is coming again.

This morning, may it comfort us when we doubt God’s love. May it console us when life seems too difficult to bear, and may it steady us when our world seems to fall. May it gave give us great hope, cause, he is coming again, and we can hear the words, weep no more, no we sing. Let’s pray.

Jesus, we are grateful for the reality of heaven. Lord, not as simply an escape, Lord, not as an ethereal, distant, reality that has nothing to do with the here and now. Lord, we pray this morning that you would make us people who get a glimpse, a grasp of heaven. In the midst of a world of Caesars that seek to conquer us and overpower us, Lord, ultimately that would lead us to destruction had you not intervened by your grace. Jesus, we ask this morning that you would give us a glimpse, once again, of heaven. Lord, remind us that our citizenship is there. Remind us that we await a savior from there, who is coming again. Lord, where we will get new, glorious bodies, and we will live in the true, eternal, powerful kingdom, singing of the one who has subjected all things to himself. Lord, I pray no matter the level of despair in this room, God that you would bring hope by your spirit. Lord, I pray that the rejoicing that is also just as real in this room, I pray that it would point us to this reality, unveiled reality of a ruling and reigning king who is our savior. And, we thank you this morning in Jesus’ name, amen.