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Choose You This Day (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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September 29, 2021 6:00 am

Choose You This Day (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 29, 2021 6:00 am

Author and speaker Anne Graham Lotz discusses the choice each of us faces concerning where we will spend eternity, and explains why faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. (Part 1 of 2)

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You've taken their homework, their lunch, and even their trombone to them. Kids forget, but don't let them forget their Bible. Thursday, October 7th is Bring Your Bible to School Day across the nation. Encourage your kids to carry their Bible and empower them with Joshua 1-9. Teach them to let God's Word be honored, held, and heard, and never forgotten. Have your voice heard.

Sign up at And you know the Bible says that our bodies are something like a tent. And everything that we are, our personality, our mind, our emotions, our heart, our will, our character, everything that's on the inside just lives inside of the tent. And one day our physical bodies are going to die, and we're going to leave our tent behind, and we're going to go somewhere. If, God forbid, you were killed in a car accident going home, where would you be? As you leave your tent behind, where are you going to be? Well, a pointed question from today's guest, Anne Graham Lotz, and she's going to share with us a very vivid biblical description of what heaven is really like. Welcome to today's episode of Focus on the Family with your host, Focus President Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller. John, we have an outstanding two-part message from Anne Graham Lotz to share today and next time. And I know everyone will be riveted by her message. There is encouragement here for all of us who are looking forward to our heavenly home. And interestingly, in part two, Anne will compare what the Bible says about heaven with what it says about hell. And you will not want to miss that.

So if you can't be with us next time, be sure to get the CD or audio download or get our app for your smartphone. Anne Graham Lotz is a good friend of this ministry, and she is, of course, the daughter of the late Billy Graham. You'll hear echoes of him in her voice. She's the founder of Angel Ministries and is a world-renowned author and speaker. And in fact, she has a book on this subject called Heaven, My Father's House. You can get that book through us as a way of supporting the work Focus on the Family does.

Just call 800-AFAMILY or follow the link in the show notes. Well, let's go ahead and hear now from Anne Graham Lotz speaking at a women's conference that was sponsored by Focus on the Family a number of years ago. Earlier this year, Time magazine had a cover story on heaven, and the title was Does Heaven Exist? And I don't want to take up your time and mine by answering that question because the Bible clearly states that, yes, heaven does exist, but praise God. But I want to take time and let's just think about what heaven is like according to what the Scripture says because there are a lot of people who will talk about what they think heaven is like.

I want to share with you what heaven is like according to what God says in his Word. And if you'll turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 21, the Apostle John describes heaven. Now this is the same Apostle John who saw the miracles. He saw Jesus walk on the water. He saw Jesus feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. He saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. He saw Jesus on trial. He saw Jesus crucified.

He saw him buried. He saw him risen from the dead. He saw him ascended to heaven. And in Revelation chapter 4, the Apostle John says, I saw with the same eyes that saw the miracles of Christ and the same eyes that saw Jesus crucified and risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. I have seen heaven opened. And in chapter 21 he describes what he saw. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And one of the first things that John notices about heaven is that it's absolutely beautiful. On one of my trips to India, I made the time to go to Agra which is where the Taj Mahal is. And I saw the Taj Mahal sitting like a jewel beside a wide river. And the Taj Mahal was built by a pagan Indian prince as a tomb in which to bury his wife to whom he had been married for 14 years. It took him over 20 years to build. It took over 20,000 skilled craftsmen.

It cost him millions of dollars even in that day and time. It's all made out of marble. And the outside is hand carved and inset with onyx that depicts verses from the Koran. On the inside, it's carved and inset with precious stones just depicting birds and flowers, all the symbols of the Islamic paradise. It sits on a sandstone platform and at the corners are minarets that point like fingers to heaven. It's absolutely exquisite. It's just a jewel. And I was sitting there in a coffee shop overlooking the Taj Mahal seeing it reflected in all of these pools of water that surround it, thinking how absolutely gorgeous it is. And then I thought about heaven. And I thought, you know if a pagan Indian prince could take 20 years and 20,000 skilled craftsmen to build a tomb in which to bury his wife, what is our Lord Jesus Christ preparing for his bride?

Absolutely. And it hasn't taken just 20 years. It's been over 2,000 years. And He's not going to bury her. He's going to live with her forever and ever and ever. Heaven is an absolutely beautiful place. And one aspect of its beauty is that it's a prepared place because He says in verse 2, it's prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Now I have three children, a son and two daughters. My youngest daughter just got married in August and my second one is going to be married in December. And one of the first things I've discovered about a bride who's beautifully dressed for her husband is that she is prepared. And she's prepared in that she's chosen the right groom, God willing. And she's prepared in that she has chosen a day and a time of day for the wedding ceremony and a place and the ministers who will preside over the ceremony. And then she selects her bridesmaids and the groomsmen and what the bridesmaids will wear and what the groomsmen will wear and the kind of flowers they're going to carry.

And then I discovered you can have cascading flowers and nose-gay flowers and you can have wrap stems or exposed stems and you can put flowers on the ends of the pews or bows on the ends of the pews or greenery on the ends of the pews. And then you have all the decisions to make for the reception. And then one of the first things that hit me was just the invitation itself, the kind of print. And you could even choose different colors of ink and I mean every detail of a bride is prepared.

I will never again go to a wedding with the same attitude. I know when I sit in that wedding ceremony and you look around every little thing you see has been carefully prepared by somebody. And John says that heaven is prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, meaning every detail of heaven is prepared.

And back in Genesis chapter 2, the Lord God prepared the first home for the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. And it was so exquisite that we talk about it as paradise and we lost paradise. But somewhere in the universe God is preparing a place for you and me that is beyond what our eye has ever seen or our mind can comprehend, has never even entered into the heart of man what He is preparing for you.

Absolutely, exquisitely beautiful prepared to the last detail. And God knows just exactly what you like. In fact He knows what you love. He knows what makes you happy. He knows what makes you feel at home better than you know. And He is preparing a place just for you.

Jesus said, In my Father's house are many mansions or many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you and I'm going to prepare a place just for you. Now for five years I've had an empty nest and I don't tell my children this but I love an empty nest. So I've enjoyed that but I love my children and I love it when they come home. And when I know one of my children is going to visit, I get excited and I begin to prepare for their visit. Because when they walk through the door I want them to know they've come home.

And I'm excited to have them and the place has been prepared for them. Do you see, Jesus is preparing your heavenly home for you like that. He knows exactly what's going to make you feel at home. He knows exactly what you love.

He knows exactly what thrills your heart. And He's preparing it for you as though He's not preparing it for anyone else. Heaven is beautiful in that it's a prepared place.

And not only is it prepared but heaven is perfect. In verse 1 it says, the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. Now remember when I first read that I was a little disappointed because I love the beach and I love to go to the beach and I love to watch the waves and I love to see the ocean and there's no longer any sea. And then I thought well maybe this is literal, maybe it's not but you know seas separate things don't they?

Seas separate continents from each other, nations from each other, people from each other, families from each other. And I think perhaps one thing it's saying is that in heaven it's going to be perfect in that there's no longer any separation in heaven. And when you receive Christ by faith as your Savior and heaven is your home and you come inside of heaven, no one is ever going to tell you you have to sit at the back of the bus. And no one is ever going to tell you you have to sit on the back row.

And no one is ever going to tell you that's your place and this is a reserve section, you go sit elsewhere. There's going to be no separation in heaven. Praise God. In heaven there is no racial prejudice and there's no social class.

Amen. Nothing that separates, no hard feelings and no hurt feelings and no misunderstandings and no business trips and no divorce and no death and no family divisions or sickness or famines or floods or fires or hurricanes and nothing that will ever separate us from each other and from the Lord. Heaven is a perfect place.

No separation, perfect in that there are no scars. Verse 1 says, then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. And then down in verse 5 says, He was seated on the throne and He said, I'm making everything new. And heaven is fresh and heaven is new.

Our home that we live in in Raleigh is about 50 years of age and I know even if I scrubbed and polished and waxed and shined, which I don't have the time to do, but if I did, I still couldn't cover up some of the marks of age, the scars and the cracks and some of the things that just comes with having an older home. And you know, I think our lives are like that. And we can come to Jesus Christ and we can be saved from His wrath and we can have all of our sin washed away and we can become new creatures, but we can't have the scars erased, can we? And it may be that you're bearing scars in your life, scars that come because of your treatment from someone else or the way you've treated somebody.

I remember I was speaking at a university in Minneapolis and afterwards a woman came up to me and told me that when she was growing up, she had been abused by her father and her brothers and she'd reacted to that abuse by becoming very immoral herself and then one day she'd gotten married and she had children and she ended up abusing her children. And then she heard about Christ and she came to the cross and she confessed and repented of her sin and she was forgiven and she was made a new person in Christ, but she said with tears streaming down her cheeks, Ann, I just can't erase the scars and I still have the memories that haunt me at night. And all I could tell her was that I know there is power in the blood of Jesus and there's power in the cross to give her victory over that, but I couldn't tell her that her scars could be erased because they can't.

And God can take them if you surrender those scars to Him and He can turn them into beauty marks and He can give you a heart and a compassion for other people who've been scarred like you, but when we get to heaven, there are no more scars, no more memories, nothing that comes back to haunt you at night. Heaven is perfect, perfect in that there's no separation, perfect in that there are no scars, perfect in that there's no suffering. In verse 3, it says, and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.

God Himself is going to take your face in between His hands and wipe the tears from your cheeks. Listen, are you suffering today? In what way are you suffering? Are you suffering emotionally because your husband has walked out on you? Maybe your husband has just lost his job right before he was due to retire. Maybe you're suffering financially and you've had to go back to work. Maybe you're suffering intellectually in that your husband is your intellectual superior and you feel somewhat foolish around him. And what about physically?

Perhaps there's heart disease, migraine headaches, some type of arthritis. Whatever it is that you're suffering is, one day God is going to wipe away all tears and there's going to be no more suffering, no more pain, no more death, and nothing that causes that. Praise God. There'll be no more hospitals and no more funerals and no more abortion clinics and no more orphanages and no more grief and no more broken homes and no more broken hearts and no more broken hopes and no more broken dreams and heaven is going to be absolutely perfect. No suffering at all. Sometimes we think that this life we're supposed to be happy and healthy and wealthy and prosperous and problem free.

And that's just not reality is it? We have problems and struggles until the day we see Jesus face to face but the day we see Jesus face to face there are going to be no more problems and no more struggling and no more suffering and we're going to be set free. Hallelujah. Amen. Heaven is a prepared place and heaven is a perfect place and heaven is a physical place.

Oh, did you know that? Somewhere in the universe God is preparing a new heaven and a new earth and it's a real literal place. And I think that's one emphasis from verse 15 when it says the angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold and he measured the city, its gates and its wall. The city was laid out like a square as long as it was wide. He measured the city with a rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length and as wide and as high as it is long. And if we take those measurements I think one of the things he's saying is just that if you could find heaven right now and you had a measuring tape you could walk it off. It is an actual, literal, physical place that the angel could measure. And if we take the measurements that the angel came up with it turns out to be a 1500 square mile cube.

In other words it covers an area from Mexico to Canada, from the Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean but it's as wide as it is long as it is high as it is deep. And if there were 20 billion residents of heaven, now that's more people than I've ever lived, but if there were 20 billion residents of heaven every single resident would have 75 acres for themselves with enough room left over for parks and public buildings and things like that. And not that we should take this literally but I think the emphasis is that heaven is a big place and it's big enough for you and it's big enough for your whole family and it's big enough for every single one of your friends and your neighbors and the people that live in your city and everybody in the whole world.

Don't worry about overpopulation or overcrowding. It's big enough for everybody. Jesus said in my father's house are many mansions, many rooms.

There's room enough for anybody and everybody who would choose to go there. And as John looks at this heavenly city he says in verse 9, one of the seven angels came to me and said come. And he carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God and it shone with the glory of God and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel like Jasper clear as crystal and it had a great high wall with 12 gates. And then John goes on and describes the wall in verse 18. He says the wall was made of Jasper. And one of the first characteristics of this physical place of heaven that John noticed was that the wall was 200 feet thick and it was made of Jasper.

Jasper is like a diamond. Now that's spectacular to see a city with walls 200 feet thick made of diamond-like stone. But I think it means that heaven is not only spectacular to look at but heaven is safe. If the walls are 200 feet thick nobody is going to be breaking through them. Have you ever been afraid?

Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime? Has something happened to one of your loved ones and perhaps when you're alone in your house at night you hear a strange noise and your heart begins to beat and suddenly you panic and you just get paralyzed from fear or in some other way you've been afraid, maybe afraid for your children or afraid in some other way and heaven has walls 200 feet thick made out of diamond. You're safe inside of heaven. Nothing is going to break through and harm you ever again. And if something bad has happened to you or one of your loved ones, when you get to heaven nothing bad will ever happen to you again.

You'll be safe inside of those walls. And John as he's describing this city with the 12 foundations and each one a layer of a different precious stone, he sees that his name is written on one of those foundations. And I wonder what John thought. You know this is the John who had witnessed the miracles and had seen the crucifixion and been there at the resurrection and seen the ascension and then he had been there at Pentecost and he knew what it was like to receive the Holy Spirit to fill his life and he'd heard Peter preach, 3,000 people converted in one day and John had gone out and preached to the whole world and established the church and he had been beaten and mocked and persecuted and imprisoned and he ended his life in exile on Patmos. But when John looks at this heavenly city with 12 foundations and his name written on one of the foundations, I wonder if his eyes just began to bug out and he saw his name there and he said, you know, it was worth it.

Every sacrifice I made, every cost I paid, every price, all of the hardship is worth it. This is my home. And Abraham we're told from Hebrews left her of the Chaldees to follow God in a life of faith but it said he was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God, a city that had foundations.

And Abraham's going to come to that heavenly city and he's going to see it and say, you know, this is it. I found it. I found what I've been looking for all of my life. I've come home. I wonder if you've ever really had a home. Were you raised in an orphanage?

Were you in some sort of a situation where your family moved from place to place to place? Maybe you live in a tent. Maybe you live in a trailer. Maybe you live in an apartment or a condominium. You've never really had a place that was your own.

Well, listen to me. Up in the universe there is a heavenly home that has your name written on it and John as an apostle is representing you and me as the church and heaven is your home and it's my home when we place our faith in Jesus. You don't ever have to worry about wandering around again or not having a place to call your own. Heaven is a place you can call your own. And John said I saw the foundations and my name was written there. But I think also it means that heaven is a very stable place.

When it's got 12 foundations, heaven doesn't move. And in our society today what was wrong yesterday is right today. And what was totally an abomination yesterday is an accepted lifestyle today.

And things that we wouldn't have thought of watching on TV now are there for family viewing and you know there's so many changes socially, racially, morally. Our world is just fluctuating but heaven is stable. It doesn't move.

It doesn't change. It rests on 12 foundations and we don't ever have to be worried about an instability, insecurity again. Not only are there 12 foundations but the streets in verse 21 are of pure gold like transparent glass. You know down on earth gold is one of our most precious possessions. We wear gold and we work for gold and we hoard gold and we accumulate it in our bank accounts and we work to get more gold and we just love gold and my mother says you can tell what God thinks about gold because he paves the streets of heaven with it. And you think about it for a minute that the finest, most precious commodity you and I can have on earth, it doesn't matter what it is, maybe you own paintings done by some of the old masters, absolutely exquisite arts. Maybe you have a designer decorated home in the most luxurious automobile in your garage and maybe you have a perfect body and all of these other things but you know the finest, best, most exquisite treasures that we can have on earth, they're just tawdry compared to what we have in heaven.

And that's why Jesus said don't lay up your treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal, lay up your treasures in heaven. John Graham Lotz has been our guest on today's episode of Focus on the Family and she'll continue this message about heaven next time. John, I love the picture Anne painted just a few minutes ago that heaven is a place we can call our true home.

That's really something to hold on to, especially if you're experiencing a lot of difficulty in your daily life. And many people are, whether it's the constant burden of chronic illness or the emotional pain of a prodigal child or some other source of suffering, it's important to know that as a Christian your pain is short-lived compared to an eternity in heaven. And boy, if you're not a Christian yet or you have more questions about it, please give us a call or visit our website.

We have a free e-booklet called Coming Home that will lay out the steps you need to take to become a believer in Jesus Christ and a resident in heaven. And if you're already a Christian and you appreciate the effort we make to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, would you please pray for Focus on the Family and consider making a donation to support the work here. Every day we hear from people like Rachel in Utah who said this, After becoming a foster parent, I realized I needed parenting help and I started listening to your podcast on a regular basis. Through the wisdom of your guests, I gained the parenting skills I desperately needed and began to develop a faith in God. I began to see God working things out in our family. One day I walked into a church and received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I'm so grateful to Focus on the Family for bringing me and my family to the faith. That's wonderful. I love hearing that story.

It's the best. And Rachel's note illustrates our mission perfectly. To provide helpful advice for your marriage and your role as a parent and to introduce you to Jesus Christ and to help you grow in your faith. That's why we're here and we are a listener supported ministry so if you believe in our mission, please make a donation today. And when you make a donation of any amount, I'd like to send you a copy of Ann's book called Heaven, My Father's House.

And you can reach us by calling 800, the letter A in the word family. We'll have all the details in the episode notes. And if you enjoyed today's program, please do some social media work for us.

Tell a friend to tune in next time. Ann's going to be contrasting the biblical descriptions of heaven and hell. Heaven is described as a place where the glory of God gives it light and there's no night there. Hell is described as a place of great darkness. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for this Focus on the Family podcast. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-18 19:31:05 / 2023-08-18 19:41:21 / 10

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