Hey, everyone, I’m Tyler and I’m sure you weren’t expecting to see me today. I know you’re tired of seeing Justin’s wonderful face each week, so I decided that I was going to tie him up and stuff him in the janitor’s closet.
[knocking] Guys … Can I come out now? Guys?
Now that we’ve gotten him out of the way, here’s this week’s Need2Know.
Each month North Hills hosts a luncheon called Integrate as a way to help you stay connected to our global and local missions efforts. Since April’s luncheon was canceled, we put together an Integrate video for you to watch from your home. During this video Nathan and Allan give updates regarding some of our local partners and discuss how God is working in the Upstate. You’ll also get to hear a short update from one of our global partners as well. You can find this Integrate video by going to our website and clicking on the “Integrate” tab, which is located under “Missions” in the top menu. Don’t forget to eat while you watch. Otherwise, Nathan and Allan will be enjoying the tacos without you.
If you’re finding that you have a little extra time on your hands these days, now might be a great time to listen to the North Hills podcast if you haven’t already. You can find the podcast by visiting our website and looking under “Sermons and Media” or by visiting Podcast.NorthHillsChurch.com. You’ll find eight episodes covering a variety of topics from ministry and missions updates to topical discussions with some of our pastoral staff members. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you can receive notifications as future episodes are published.
There are so many opportunities to get connected to North Hills. Please visit the Need2Know section of our website to learn more about different ways to connect and get involved. That wraps up this week’s Need2Know. Have a great week, everyone. I guess I should probably let Justin out of the closet now.
Hey, North Hills, how was your week? Do you miss us — the pastors, the elders, the staff at North Hills? Because we really miss you. Every time I’m out shopping or getting gas and I see someone from my North Hills family, I’m like, “Oh, let me give you a hug!” No, wait, no hugging. Last week, I was shopping at Lidl, my favorite store, and a lady walks in, and she’s pushing a cart. And she said, “Hey, Allan.” And she was wearing a mask. And I could not for the life of me, figure out who she was. But I just said, “It’s so awesome to see you. How are you? How’s your family?” I still don’t know who you were, but whoever you were, you had a cart full of groceries, so I took a wild guess that you had a family. You had five pounds of ground beef. So, either you have a family … But seriously, COVID-19 has made us think in an entirely new way about our world. We were always aware that there are germs and illnesses. We always knew there are communicable diseases. But now everywhere we go and everything we do, we’re always aware it’s a broken, fallen world. And that’s why today’s passage of Scripture is a must read. Revelation 21.
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
New means no more viruses, no more face masks, no more sickness or death of any kind. And John writes,
“And I heard a loud voice . . . saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them.’”
So, the solution for every problem we have is the immediate presence of God himself. When God shows up, sickness cannot stay, tears are dried, hearts are mended, and we become everything we were originally created to be. Are you ready to think about that? Let’s get started now.
Psalm 103 invites us to sing and talk to our own souls. We get to talk to ourselves in worship and not be crazy. How fun is that? It says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, [Bless the Lord, Bryan.] and all that is within me, [praise] bless his holy name!” Worship who he is, what he’s like, all of his character. There’s no one like him. All that’s inside me, praise all that he is. Just make a big deal, celebrate all that he is. So, in order to help us do that, in order to be a little more aware of all that’s within me, let’s take a minute to breathe deeply, fill our lungs fully, exhale fully, say “thanks” to the one who gives us breath and just be aware of all that’s within me, what’s going on in my body and my emotions and my mind right now. Let’s unhurry, be present to ourselves, to each other, to God, so that we can just say, “Here’s what’s going on within me — good, bad, confusing, fun, all of it. It’s yours. You’re worthy. You’re so valuable and worth everything I can give.” So, let’s take a minute, breathe, focus ourselves on him as fully as we can.
Isn’t it wild that that God, Yahweh, the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation, wants to live with us? He could do whatever he wants. He could spend his time with whoever he wants, and he wants to spend it with humans. God wants to hang out with you and with me, and he paid the infinite price to make that possible through Christ. We’re going to sing in a few minutes, “Oh the mystery, oh the wonder. God has come for us himself. Hallelujah! God is with us. Praise the Name Emmanuel.” And usually that name, Emmanuel, is one we only sing around Christmas time, which is unfortunate, because that theme God with us is all over the Scripture from beginning to end. And it’s worth marveling at year round. So, we’re actually going to sing a couple songs that are traditionally Christmas songs that focus on that theme. And I know some of you are fist pumping, and some of you are rolling your eyes. But wherever you fall on the Christmas spirit spectrum, that’s not the point. We’re just focusing on this reality — God with us. That is so worth our attention and our celebration. And it just changes everything, doesn’t it?
So, in order to help us do that, we’re going to use the Bible. If it’s just you, you’re the spokesperson. If you’ve got a group of people, wherever you are, nominate one person, adult or child, as the spokesperson to grab a Bible or a Bible app and go to Revelation 21:3. Just this one verse, Revelation 21:3. Page 1041 in the Bible in the seatback in front of you. I’m just kidding. That’s just a classic North Hills phrase, isn’t it? Okay, Revelation 21:3. It says, “I heard.” John’s talking.
“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, [Look at this amazing thing. Behold] the dwelling place of God is with man.’”
So, we’re going to make that even more personal. For example, I’m going to say out loud with a loud voice, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with Bryan and Jenny and Tyler hiding behind the camera.” And you’re going to say with a loud voice, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with . . .” And say your name. Say the names of whoever is with you. If you’ve got 40 kids in the house, great. We’ll give enough time for all the names to be listed. God is with us. If it’s just you, you can say it a few times, let it sink in. And we’re going to play instrumentally and give space. I’m going to set it up. I’m just going to say the first half that verse, “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,” and then that’s your cue. Behold! Loud voice. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with . . . say, those names. Are we ready? “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,”
Very good. We’re going to sing, “Hark the Herald Angels,” just one verse. The lyrics are in a really, kind of a different order than we might be used to, just to help draw attention to this theme. So, pay attention, and let’s sing this together.
Can we just sing a phrase, God is with us.
We want to give a moment for you here to just meditate on Jesus defeating death, God with us putting an end to death permanently. We’re just going to sing a song. You may or may not know it, but it’s just a moment for you to listen, soak it in. Jesus laid death in his grave.
Hey, Church. I’m really excited to be with you to share God’s Word with you today. If you’re viewing, my name is Ryan Ferguson. I’m one of the pastors at North Hills Church. No cultural moment in my 47-year-old life provides a more unique opportunity than the past few months to consider what is normal. Driven into our homes; away from school, businesses, church, social gatherings, and all of our pre-COVID normality, we’re all attempting to define for ourselves a hopefully temporary, new normal.
The danger for us in this cultural moment is this: we can easily forget that today does not define the life of a Christian. Whether we experience celebration or sorrow, prosperity or poverty, pleasure or pain, it would appear that the writers of the Bible, and therefore God himself almost continually ask us to look forward. Look for the Messiah. Look for the day. Look for the prize. Look for the return. Look for the culmination. Look for the end. Look for Jesus. Therefore, we must not allow today’s difficulty to stifle the amazing beauty of tomorrow. We must imagine something better. North Hills Church gathered all around Greenville, we need our theology and our imagination to collide. We need a theology of imagination. Greg Boyd, pastor and author, writes this,
“Western Christians have forgotten how to use the imagination with regard to spiritual matters. Most of us only know God with our intellect, not our imagination. For many, faith is little more than intellectual assent to certain propositions and a commitment to live life in a certain way . . . If our faith is going to be powerful and transformative, it is going to have to be imaginative . . . This is the manner in which we need to embrace our faith, and our theology, if it is to satisfy our souls and transform our lives. This moves theological truths from mere information to my imagination.”
So, if that’s true, when does God call upon his people to imagine? I would argue from the very beginning. As the curse is given upon mankind, even then God calls upon humanity to imagine a day when the serpent is crushed. God calls upon Abraham to imagine a land that’s flowing with milk and honey that he’s never even seen. God calls upon the children of Israel to imagine a Messiah, the perfect King, a humble Servant who will rescue them. God calls upon exiled peoples to imagine a place called Home. In the book of Hebrews we read, that when people went out and followed God,
“they were looking forward to a city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God!”
When they were leaving their town, they were imagining a city that God was going to build. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are called upon to imagine this Day, a Day of the Lord, the Day of the return of Jesus, where he will come and set all things right. God continually calls upon his people to imagine what his promises will look like fulfilled. God continually calls upon his people to imagine what his promises will look like fulfilled. And Revelation 21 is perhaps God’s most audacious call to use our imagination. God asks us to imagine the unimaginable, comprehend the incomprehensible, know the unknowable, grasp the infinite with a finite mind, behold perfection without the ability to know what perfection looks like, experience safety without any threats, imagine a life that is perpetually pain free, and have the great God who is seated on the throne be our dad in a world completely free of evil and those who would do evil. Use your imagination for that.
In Revelation 21, God calls us to imagine a future we can’t imagine. Imagine a future you can’t imagine. This is John’s culminating moment in this wild and weird and wonderful letter. John has challenged struggling churches. He’s described Jesus and angels and creatures, and he’s painted a portrait of God in vibrant technicolor. John delivered to us potent imagery of war and judgment. And now, at the end, he’s providing the point of it all, the focus of the photograph, the main image in the portrait, the climax of the story. Imagine a future you can’t imagine. Revelation 21 will fall flat, collapse, wilt, melt, and dissolve without imagination. The impact of Revelation 21 will be anemic, weak, tepid, boring, preposterous, silly, fairy-tale without imagination. Reading Revelation 21 without imagination is like eating a gourmet dinner with a sinus infection. It’s like swimming in sand, or it’s like celebrating Christmas morning on July 25. Without imagination, Revelation 21 will be tasteless, senseless, and meaningless. So, today we have to imagine what we can’t imagine. In a very real sense, doing that is our best hope for today.
What fuels you to finish a day? Just a regular day, even a pre-COVID day with work and school and checked checkboxes? What gets you through the day? Is it coming home for dinner? Is it curling up with a good book and a glass of wine? Perhaps it’s Stranger Things on Netflix? That’s what gets you home.
But what about a hard day? A day where maybe you make a really bad grade on a test, or you completely ruin a project at work, or you have conflict with a friend. What about those days? What fuels you on those days? Does dinner turn into two pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? Does that glass of red turn into a bottle of red? But what about the really hard days? These are the days we all hate. You lose your job. The phone call comes at 5:30 a.m., and you discover your dad’s going to die today. You find texts from your spouse on their phone to someone else. The doctor walks into the office with a furrowed brow, thick paper, and utters the word cancer. Is there enough food to make you feel better on days like that? Is there anything on Netflix good enough to help you deal with the loss of your dad?
What fuels you to finish your regular hard and really hard days? Would you do something with me? Would you take just 15 seconds? And before the Lord, in your own heart, really ask yourself the question. Again, just 15 seconds. What is your fuel? What gets you through the day? Let’s think about it.
I wonder if we were in a large room altogether and could have a conversation, how many of us would answer, “I thought of the ultimate future when God sets everything right.” Maybe some of you, that was your first thought. And if that’s you, that is awesome. But if I’m honest, if I’m kind of vulnerable here for a moment, I don’t think that’s my fuel every day. Until very recently, sure, I could throw in a little nod to heaven and say something about the future that might be helpful. But it was kind of vague spiritual talk until Revelation 21 and until February 5, when my dad died. Now, I try to connect these dots all the time.
John engages our imagination about the future, and as we imagine that future, we find fuel for today. If Revelation is a jet plane taking us on a tour to see Jesus, then Revelation 21 is the most powerful jet fuel in existence. Let’s take a moment together and listen to Len Stemann read Revelation 21:1-8.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. He 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.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But 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 sulphur, which is the second death.’”
This is the word of the Lord.
Imagine a future you can’t imagine. Imagine heaven and earth reformed and reconnected. The Bible begins with the forming of heaven and earth and ends with the reforming of heaven and earth. Genesis 1:1 says this,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
As we read Genesis, we discover that the earth itself is good, that the creation of plants and animals and stars and planets and all their host reveal God’s pleasure in his own creation. The Garden of Eden was a space where God and man lived together. The beauty of this locale was unmarred by pollution, pestilence, or pain. The realm of God (heaven) and the realm of man (earth) overlapped in harmony and joy. However, the choice of man turned harmony to discord. In a foolish and self-focused moment, humanity chose its own path rather than following the one God had prepared. As a result, heaven and earth no longer overlap, the realms were disconnected. They were separated. And now we discover that the earth itself groans for the day when they’re going to be reconnected and reformed. Earth and heaven once together, now separated, until John declares,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.”
The first version ceased to be. The first heaven and earth affected by the fall of man and sin of humanity is no more. And in its place is a new heaven and a new earth. The future holds a world where the heavens and earth are reformed. They’re made new. God and man dwell once again in the same space. They are reconnected. John then tells us to imagine that type of space with absolutely no possibility of chaos or evil. How does he do that? John says this. John describes the new heavens and the new earth by saying, “the sea is no more.” Now, that doesn’t mean that God is anti-beach and ocean. What it means is that this new heaven and earth are chaos and evil free zones. The sea or the ocean in the Scriptures is often connected to chaos and evil. So, in this new heavens and new earth, God is declaring with no sea that there’s no chaos, no evil allowed. Then in his vision, right after the new heavens and new earth, John sees a new city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven. This city appears like a bride ready to come down the aisle at her wedding. She’s stunning. Now, John just mentions her here, mentions the city here, and then he’s going to describe the city later. We’ll get to that next week.
But for today, imagine all of the heavens and earth around us completely new. Imagine a life where chaotic and evil interactions and intentions are banished. Imagine with this description of this new city coming that we don’t fly up to heaven to meet God in some golden city with harps and flowy white robes. God says he will come to us. God will bring heaven and pair it with earth so that we are always living and moving in his realm. Imagine a future you can’t imagine. Imagine God and man reunited and restored. God and man reunited and restored.
Remember at the fall of man in Genesis, God’s realm and our realm are disconnected. Separation and distance dominate where once connection and intimacy ruled. The disconnection was more than just heaven and earth. God and man were separated. They were now apart. Imagine what it would have been like when God and man were together. In Genesis 3:8 we have this beautiful and poetic moment that describes for us what that would be like, God and man together in the same space. Now, in this moment, Adam and Eve already made their foolish choice. They sinned against God, and they discover themselves to be naked, and because of that, they’re ashamed, and the couple attempts to sew clothes for the first time. Sin and shame almost always hold hands. Now the couple puts on clothes and covers themselves from the gaze of their own Maker. And then in that text in Genesis, we see this phrase.
“And they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”
Now, most of the time this passage is brought up, we focus on the fall of man and the effects on Adam and Eve and their shame and what they were doing. But it would be great for us to stop and see, what does this say about God? Can we imagine that God enjoyed taking walks in Eden later in the day when it was cooler? And does it not stand to reason that more than likely, Adam and Eve walked with God in that garden on those cool walks in the afternoon?
Imagine if Cleveland Park and the Reedy River were perfected. Cleveland Park was just beautifully lush, and the Reedy River flowed clear as crystal. That will take a ton of imagination, but imagine that. Then imagine walking through that perfected Cleveland Park with God, talking about how nature works in animals, how animals gather, and how they operate, and how this plant grows and its flower, and how we can take all of these different parts of creation and build culture and art and beauty. If you can imagine that type of interaction with God, then you’re just beginning to get a glimpse of what it was like for those realms to overlap, for God and man to be together in the beginning.
Today, the distance between God and man is vast. It’s the difference between the clearest spring in Colorado and the Reedy River. But even with that distance, we know that Jesus came to close that gap of separation between God and man. It’s even in his name. Jesus is named Immanuel in the Bible. Immanuel means “God with us.” Jesus, in a sense, came to earth, pitched a tent, and lived among us. His time among us ended with his death on the cross, his placement in a simple grave. And three days later, Jesus overcame the power of death through resurrection by the power of God. That moment in history — the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection of Jesus — is part of what closed the gap between God and man. By faith in Jesus we can have a restored relationship.
But, the realms of God and man are still distanced. The Bible describes it this way, we walk by faith, not by sight. We’re not presently taking side-by-side strolls with God in the middle of a perfected Cleveland Park. John says this,
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven 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.’”
Jesus pitched his tent in the middle of broken people. Jesus closed the gap between God and man. Now imagine God and man completely united and restored. God is bringing heaven to earth. God will close that gap completely. He’s going to come to us. He will dwell with us. God, like Jesus, will pitch a tent and live among us. Walks with God in the garden in the cool of the day are back on the table. Eden is back. It’s returned. Imagine a future you can’t imagine.
Finally, imagine death and pain comforted, then ejected. Death and pain comforted, then ejected. John pictures for us how completely God will overhaul creation when he comes to dwell with us. John says this, God “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.” Notice how God acts in this section. God will wipe every tear from their eyes. God is gentle. So far in Revelation, God is the one who is seated on the throne, and he is portrayed with powerful, awe-inspiring, majestic, and magnificent language. And that same God, in a sense, in this new heaven and earth, comes down off the throne and wipes tears from the cheeks of his kids.
We should notice how God acts. Parents, you know what this is like. That first time when your kid’s young, and he scrapes his knee learning to ride his bike, and it’s a pretty deep one, and it hurts. And those big tears come down the cheeks. You run over and grab a hold and talk about, “Oh man, that hurt.” Then you reach up on that cheek and move tears out of the way. Imagine God doing that with you.
We have to notice in this section that God recognizes the pain of the first earth. Don’t miss this. God recognizes the pain of the first earth. People have tears, God sees them, and God wipes them. The transition from the first heaven and earth to the new heaven and earth first involves recognizing and banishing the pain of the first. God will comfort his people for tear-causing events. God wipes tears from cheeks that will never feel another tear fall.
And then the great news. God ejects death. Death is no more. Death is no longer a thing. John then lists out everything else bad, some of which is even connected to death that could happen in this realm — stuff like mourning and crying and feeling pain. That won’t be any more. Very few of us have been unaffected by death. Since February, three of the pastors at North Hills have all lost a parent. This morning, I was texting with a guy from our church who lost his mom this morning. In recent weeks, we’ve actually had ticking calculators of death put in front of us online and in the news with those who’ve lost their life because of COVID. Death is daily. When heaven and earth are new, death is unknown.
Now, push your imagination here. Let’s also get rid of crying and pain and mourning. If you remove death, crying, pain, and mourning from our lives, what would be the cumulative effect on the quality of our life? And for a moment, literally, just think practically. If those four things are removed from our version of life, what would that be like? What would happen to things like drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, emotional trauma, abuse of any type, divorce, orphanages, the opioid crisis, credit card charges, relationships, emotional and mental health? Imagine those things gone. What is that life going to be like?
John wants us to imagine the unimaginable. We’re so used to pain and death being part of our lives that to imagine a life without them is functionally, in a way, impossible. It’s craziness. But my friends, we have to try. It’s the promise that we hold onto that something better is coming. That type of thinking about tomorrow is fuel for today.
John then ends this moment by basically just blanket saying, “the former things have passed away.” Our way of life today dominated by death, crying, mourning, and pain is gone. It’s just passed away. Death has died. Death is banished. And pain isn’t even a memory. God steps in and then speaks to John and says, “Behold!” We need to bring that back into our language. When you want somebody to really listen to you, throw in a “Behold!”
“Behold! I am making all things new!”
The God of creation, who in Genesis 1 created everything with just the sound of his voice, once again reprises his role as the great Creator and steps in and re-creates everything new. Imagine if I had the power to give you a new thing for everything you own: a new house, a new car, new clothes, new silverware, plate ware, glassware, lawnmower, house, anything. Anything you own I could give you a new thing. Imagine that power. Now, imagine God doing that with everything in his created existence. He is making all things new.
God then steps in and gives a little word to John, and he says, John,
“‘Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.’”
Right in the middle of this call to imagine this future, God takes a moment to tell us about himself. God speaks truthfully. God tells John, “Write this stuff down, John. Journal. Journal, John. This is trustworthy and true.” God is making and will make all things new. Count on it, North Hills. Trust him, North Hills.
We see that God completes his plans. God, in the middle of this says, “‘It is done,’” which for us is a fascinating moment. As we look at these actions happening in the future, it’s still a guarantee. It’s so solid, it’s as if it’s already been done. When God says it is done, it is done. When Jesus finished his work on earth on the cross, he uttered the phrase, “It is finished.” When God finishes his work of re-creation he utters, “It is done.”
We see that God envelops all of existence. Where do we see that? Well, we could think of it this way. All of English communication is housed within A to Z. If you’re going to communicate, you have to always use A to Z. All of Greek communication is Alpha to Omega, everything from beginning to end. And God says, “I am that. I envelop everything.”
Imagine a future you can’t imagine. Now imagine it being better. How can you do that? God will not only dwell with us, not only are we his people, but at the end of this section God declares this:
“The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
It gets better. When we dwell with God, we’re not just citizens in the new heaven and new earth. We’re going to do so with a deep relationship. We are his sons. This isn’t about gender, it’s about genealogy. We’re now God’s kids forever. God gives his kids a heritage, and what is that heritage?
“To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
The heritage is this: life forever without cost, eternal life that you neither purchased nor earned. Who gets that? The one who conquers.
Now, if you’ve been around with us since about a year ago, at the beginning of Revelation in chapter 2 or 3, hopefully your ears remember that word “conquer.” It’s in all of the seven letters to the churches at the beginning, telling them to conquer. And we discover there that conquer is, in a sense, continuing to trust in the person of Jesus Christ. Remaining in Christ is conquering and remaining in Christ reveals and gives a relationship of love and inheritance. God loves his children, and God will give them an inheritance equal to that of Jesus Christ.
Here at the end of today’s text, we are called upon to imagine living with God in this completely unbelievable realm like his son, Jesus Christ. We’re also called upon to imagine what happens if we reject Jesus. John says at the end,
“But 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, there are lots of things in that warning that can trip us up, that can be thorny and controversial, theological issues. Which, to be honest with you, I’m not going to talk about right now. I think the most difficult thing about that warning is whether or not you see yourself in the list. Or do you see that as “other”? Because outside of trusting in Jesus, everyone who’s hearing this and the guy who’s talking, we’re that list. Conquering in Jesus through Jesus is what saves us from that end, what saves us from additional death. This passage is saying everyone inherits something. Everyone has a heritage. Everyone has a portion. Either we stake our lives upon the reality of Jesus and experience the joy of living with God in the new heavens and earth forever, or we reject the claims of Jesus, and we experience additional death.
And as much as it pains us, as hard as it is, maybe even as unpopular as that notion is, we’re called upon to use our imagination to think of that as well. God cries out to us, imagine what you can’t imagine. Fuel yourself to make it through today and tomorrow and every day until the new heavens and new earth, where the heavens and earth are reformed and reconnected, where God and man are reunited and restored, where death and pain are comforted then ejected. Imagine that.
So, my friends, I have a request for you. This week, during your week, during your regular days, your hard days — and for some of you, you will have harder days this week — will you take at least three moments to imagine the future right in the middle of those days? That’s how we can live out this text this week. John gave us this imagery to hold on to. Something better is coming. And I want you to do that this week in real life, three times. And then after those experiences, will you take five minutes to just journal down your thoughts. What did you think about? What did you go to? And if you’re really courageous and willing, send me an email and tell me about it. My e-mail is right here. Ryan Ferguson. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brothers and sisters, imagine a future you can’t imagine. Imagine today’s life in light of the promises of God for tomorrow.