#2037 –Living in Light of Eternity (15 March 2009)

The Message

Pastor Francis Chan
Teaching Pastor, Cornerstone Church, California, USA

Special Guest

Brian Mackert

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
O God, Our Help In Ages Past
A Joyful Noise
All Hail / His Name is Wonderful /Jesus We Love
Jazmin Mendez – I Will Choose Christ
Living for Jesus

The Message

You know I was listening to Brian when he was sharing his story and mine isn’t as crazy as that, but from an early age, I understood what it meant to have loss and to suffer loss. My mother actually died giving birth to me, while she was giving birth to me and that’s why my dad sent me to Hong Kong to live the first few years of my life with my grandmother. But then my dad remarried and I came back to the states and we had our family together again but then my step mother died in a car accident when I was around eight years old. And then my dad got married again and so the family is back together but then when I was 12, my dad died of cancer. And so from a very early age, I understood what it meant to lose something or the other thing that it taught me early on was just the brevity of life. See only very few people who take every day as a special day. I don’t take today for granted. I don’t just assume that tomorrow I’m going to wake up. But from a very early age, I began to think about James 4 where it says that this life is just a vapor. You’re just here for a little while and then comes eternity. And so I understand that and so I don’t take these next few minutes for granted. I go okay you know what Lord, You still have me on this earth, I want to do something for Your glory. And I began understanding and thinking this way from an early age.

But honestly most of my serving of God was done out of a sense of duty. It was a sense of responsibility or even fear. I didn’t understand passages like Psalm 63 when it talks about this love relationship with God because so much of what I did in the past was out of religion.

See in Psalm 63, you have David saying oh God, You are my God. Earnestly I seek You. My soul thirsts for You. My flesh faints for You as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. David’s out in the desert, hasn’t had anything to drink in a long time and he’s saying God, You know what, as much as I’d love a glass of water, I want You even more than that. My soul is longing for You, the very person of God.I guess the question I want to start off with this morning is can you honestly say you are in love with Jesus Christ this morning? Madly in love with Him, the person. Where He says You’re love is better than life.

I’ve preached in a lot of places and met thousands of people and thousands of church goers, thousands of people who have done wonderful things in the name of Jesus Christ, yet I can honestly say I’ve only met a few people that I can say are genuinely in love with Jesus, in love with the person of God. There are many people who love the thought of there being an almighty being up there, there are a lot of people who are in love with the thought of that God loving us, but I’ve met very few people I can say wow, he or she is truly in love with this person.

One of the people that I’ve met who just madly in love with Jesus Christ is my wife’s grandmother. My wife’s grandmother is one of those people where my wife would tell me growing up, you know, grandma lived in the home and she could hear her in the bedroom next to her weeping and crying as she’s talking to Jesus every single morning. She told me about how, as a little girl, grandma would say gosh I always pray right there at that corner of the bed and even during the day when I would pass that corner of the bed, she goes I would get weepy and tell Jesus I can’t wait till tomorrow morning where You and I can just have that time alone together. She just loved, loved Jesus. I remember one time being at a play with my wife and several of her relatives and I was sitting next to grandma Clara and I remember during the intermission, I looked over at grandma Clara. She was around 90 or so, and I looked over at grandma Clara and I said how do you like the play so far? And she looks at me and she goes, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. And I was like why, there’s nothing wrong with the play, everything seems good and she goes I just don’t know if this is where I want to be when Jesus returns. She goes I think I’d rather be in my room on my knees praying for you and for the church, or I’d rather be helping someone but I don’t want Him to find me just sitting here watching a play. I want Him to see that I’m praying to Him and serving Him the moment He returns.

And that blew my mind because all my life I’ve heard about this book. I’ve heard people teach this book about Christ returning at any time and you better be ready, but that was the first time in my life I actually sat next to someone who lives that out. Who thinks every moment of her life wow, this could be the moment when the love of my life returns. This could be the moment when Jesus comes back and she just constantly, every time we called, she’d be talking about her relationship with Jesus and how much she loved Him. It wasn’t just this concept of a being up there, she was madly in love with Him. She modeled for me so much of what the scriptures teach when Paul says for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. It seemed like every time I saw her she would tell me about how she so wanted to die, not because she hated life on earth but because she so longed to see the face of God. Can you say that about yourself this morning, that you’re so in love with Jesus and the greatest thing that could happen today is for Him to return and for you to see His face.
See I meet far too many believers who secretly wish Jesus wouldn’t return just yet. But is the desire of your heart, like John says come, Lord Jesus.

I want to focus on a verse today, its Philippians chapter 3, verse 10. And Philippians 3:10, Paul says that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Paul talks about this obsession he has with Jesus Christ and he says this is all. He says everything else I count as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. And he says I just want to know Him and again there’s the idea I want to know Him. A lot of times, people attend church, not because they really want to know Him, they come because they want something from Him. They like Him for what He offers but how many really love Him. I read a quote a few years back that just absolutely floored me. It was in a book by a man named John Piper, called God is the Gospel. And in this book, he asks this question, he says the critical question for our generation and for every generation is this: if you could have heaven with no sickness and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ was not there. It was a great question. He goes come on, you can have everything, you can have heaven right now. No more pain, no more tears, all the friends you ever had, all the physical pleasures you’ve ever experienced, no pain, no conflict, all the beauty but Jesus wasn’t there, could you be content? Could you honestly answer no, I couldn’t stand that because I love Him. I’d have to have Him there. If He’s not there, then its not heaven. See that’s what it means to be in love with Jesus and not just the things that He offers. Otherwise it would be no different than marrying someone for their money. That’s about saying I love Jesus Christ. I love him.

I’ve been in some beautiful places around this earth, traveling around and it’s interesting because so many of those places as beautiful as they are, I don’t really enjoy it because maybe my wife couldn’t come with me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a place where everything’s beautiful except the person you love isn’t there. And suddenly it’s like oh, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the scenery is, it’s different because I wanted to experience it with her and is that true of your relationship with Jesus Christ, that it’s Him that you’re madly in love with. And heaven wouldn’t be heaven without Him because the other stuff is just stuff. I just meet far too many people who don’t really want to know Him. But they come to church for what He offers and they’re in love with what He might offer them rather than He Himself.

But Paul says in the verse preceding, in verse 8, actually it says 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. See the bible doesn’t say.. I meet many people who say well I’ll follow Jesus if: if I can have this or as long as I don’t have to give this up, then I’ll follow Jesus if. You guys, but the bible does not teach about following Jesus if. The bible is about following Jesus even if. The bible is Jesus saying look you may lose everything but am I worth it to you? And the apostles were the people who says look I’ll give up everything for You. I’ll follow You even if I lose my family, if I lose my money, I lose my home, Jesus says look foxes have holes, birds have nests in the air, in the trees, but I have no where to lay my head. Will you still follow Me? And His disciples were saying you know what I’ll follow You even if I don’t have anything. Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a treasure in a field and this treasure was so wonderful that with great joy, he went and sold everything else he had to get that field. Do you see Jesus as that treasure where you say you know what, I would follow Him even if I lost everything else. It’s the beauty of Jesus. It’s Jesus that you long for. And its Jesus that brings you contentment even if. He says I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Paul says I don’t just want to know Jesus, you know, I want to know Him and I want to know His power.

I remember when I was younger and I would read those passages about God and His power, it used to bring tremendous fear into me. I used to look at those passages, I mean there’s still a sense of fear and reverence, but I would read a passage like Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 6 would talk about this God sitting on this throne and the train of His robe filling the entire temple. And the angels covering themselves up, you know, and it’s from head to toe and scream holy, holy, holy. And I would picture myself standing before this being one day, sitting on this throne that filled the whole temple and these angels screaming out His holiness and I would look at those passages where the bible would say that there’s a being up there in heaven who dwells in unapproachable light. And His holiness and I would picture myself coming into His presence and I would physically shake because of the thought of the power of God. And while there’s still a sense of reverence for this God and absolutely a sense of fear like the bible teaches, I’ve learned to love the power of God. It’s become my greatest sense of security because the bible says if He is for us, who can be against us. And there’s a sense of wow that being sitting on His throne, that’s the love of my life. He calls me son. He calls me His friend. He calls those of us who follow Him His bride. And St. Paul says I want to know Him, I want to know the power of His resurrection and I would have loved if the verse ended there. For many years, I would have loved if Philippians 10 just ended there. I want to know Christ, I want to know the power of His resurrection but it doesn’t end there.

The next phrase says and may share in His sufferings. See I didn’t like that. I’m good with the first part. I want to know Christ. I’m good with the second part. I want to know His power, but share in His sufferings? See the truth is, I didn’t want to be like Jesus, I wanted what He offered but I didn’t want to be like Him. I didn’t think, you know, it wasn’t like first John where first John says anyone who claims to know Him must walk as Jesus walked. See I didn’t really want to walk like Jesus walked. When I first became a believer, I thought no I want His power, I want to go to heaven, I want a relationship with Him but I don’t want to be like Jesus. I don’t want to sacrifice like Jesus sacrificed. I don’t want to suffer like Jesus suffered. I want to be a little more popular than Jesus. I want to be a more popular version of Jesus where people didn’t hate me and people didn’t curse me and those types of things. And certainly I don’t want to crucified like Christ was. But Paul says no I want everything of Jesus. Then I struggled with this and then you know what changed me, helped me understand this was my first trip to Africa.

My first trip to Uganda, I remember just seeing these kids. You know I always saw it on television, you know, the starving kids and you know sponsor a child this or that, but when I got there, and I began to meet these children, I began to love these children and all those verses came to my head of love your neighbor as yourself and all those verses like Matthew 25 came to my mind of whatever you do for the least of these, you’ve done for Me. And I’m thinking well I need to treat that little orphan like Jesus. And I began to love on these children and then I came home and I looked at my church and I go gosh, I was just in this village where the kids and they don’t have anything to eat, you know they don’t have anything to wear, they’re not being educated, they don’t have anything. We’ve got to do something. And I remember my church responded and we started giving hundreds of thousands of dollars and we started building schools and orphanages and everything else and a couple of years ago, I got to go back to this place where there was nothing and now I’m seeing a schoolhouse, I’m seeing you know kids getting vitamins, clothes, shoes, everything else and they’re in this room, hundreds, picture hundreds of Ugandan orphans in this room. They’re singing praises to God during school and I just kind of snuck in in the back. As I snuck in the back, the teacher stops the class and says everyone, I want you to stop and look to the back of the room. She goes in the back is Pastor Francis Chan. And there were hundreds of kids in the room and she goes I want you to know that every single one of you is sponsored by someone in His church. They’re the ones that built the school, they’re the ones who take care of you, and to have several hundred orphan kids stand up and start screaming at the top of their lungs, and clapping with these big smiles on their faces, at that moment it may have been the happiest moment of my life. I started welling up with tears. I started thinking wow I could die right now. This is just the greatest. I’m telling you, it finally went full circle where I understood. You know what Jesus says it’s better to give than to receive. And I tell you that moment you felt it. That moment I go okay, you tell me, you tell me driving a nice car is better than this feeling I have right now. You tell me its better to be in a big house or have a big bank account than the feeling I feel right now, seeing these orphans, seeing their joy, being able to give and be a small part of that. See it’s not about sacrifice in the sense of us being these martyrs.

I want to close with this passage. It’s Matthew 19, verse 28, after Peter is talking to Jesus and says Jesus we gave everything up for You. And Jesus says this: truly I say to you, in the new world, when the son of man will sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sister or father or mother or children or lands for My name sake, will receive a hundred fold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last and the last will be first. He tells Peter I know you sacrificed a lot. He goes but just remember at the end, those of you who are last, you’re going to be first. Don’t think oh look at me, I gave up so much. God looks at him, Jesus says you’re going to receive a hundred times that in the life to come. It’s this focus on eternity and living for that moment when we see God because our life on earth is just a vapor. And we have to be getting ready for that day.

Can I pray for us? Father, keep us focused on our eternity with You. May we not fall in love with the things of this world. But may we be people who are just madly in love with You and can honestly say Your love is better than life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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