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An essential part of one’s “Plan for the End” is the anticipation for heaven and eternal life with Christ.

We’re about to finish well with this final study, so congratulations! I hope you’ve been with us on each step of this journey, which today takes us to the final essential on the importance of anticipating heaven.

This study used to be part of the sixth essential, but I broke it out as a separate session because it is so essential to finishing well to look ahead to the goal and make it our desire and commitment to run a strong race and cross the finish line right into the presence of Jesus. What better motivation to make these aging years our best years than to look into the face of our Savior and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


That’s what I’m looking forward to, and I believe you feel the same way. I want to be with Jesus and enjoy Him forever. But I think sometimes Christians don’t talk about heaven enough, which is really a shame because it is going to be our eternal home. Think about the last conversation you had with someone about heaven and all the joys awaiting us there, and I think you’ll see what I mean. We need to take this conversation from the funeral home to our living rooms and churches.


The apostle Paul didn’t need any urging to talk about the joys of anticipating heaven. I believe Paul looked forward to heaven every day of his life. He told the Philippians in chapter one verses 21–24 that he was torn between his great desire to go and be with Jesus, and the need for him to remain on earth to strengthen and encourage the churches. But Paul’s mind and heart were never very far from thoughts of heaven. He whetted our appetite for heaven when he wrote in First Corinthians chapter two verse nine that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart can comprehend all the wonderful things that God has prepared in heaven for those who love Him.


We may not be able to comprehend all that awaits us in heaven, but we need to think about it and anticipate what is ahead for God’s people. It gives me strength to run the race of life when I know there is a reward at the end that will make all of it worthwhile. King David gave us a taste of heaven when he wrote in Psalm 16 verse 11, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right had are pleasures forevermore.”


I recently led a group through this study on the seven essentials and asked them some questions when we came to this last part. Let me ask you, What do you think about when you think of pleasures forever in eternity? Can you imagine what heaven will be like without anything that dissipates or falls short or disappoints like so many things in this life? Heaven will be enjoying the presence of God, watching Him work, living and serving Him joyfully with our fellow believers in our realms of responsibility.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fulness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16.11)


David also said in the final verse of the 23rd Psalm, “I will dwell I the house of the Lord forever.” Our grandkids love coming to Pop’s and Grammy’s house because we make sure there are things for them to do and enjoy. Multiply that an infinite number of times and you begin to get just a small inkling of that it will be like in God’s house forever. It's amazing to contemplate that.


Another good reason to anticipate heaven is the assurance it gives us today that no matter what happens, our eternal home is secure. On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, His disciples were distressed at His announcement that He would soon be leaving them. But Jesus put their hearts, and ours, at ease when He said in John chapter 14 verses 1 to 3: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” 

My friend, that promise is as good for you and me today as it was for Jesus’ disciples that night in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Someone has well said that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. I believe that we as God’s people need to mediate about and talk more about the goal of our journey here, the anticipation of being with the Lord forever in His house. We’ll be there along with all the saints who have trusted God, from Adam and Eve to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, right on through to our friends and loved ones who will be there with us in God’s presence forevermore.


And the apostle John reminds us in First John chapter 3 verses 2 and 3 that anticipating heaven and seeing Jesus should also have a purifying effect in our lives now. John wrote that “everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, Jesus, purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Anticipating heaven is not daydreaming or wool-gathering, but a real hope that helps us make each age and stage of life count. And the fact that most of us who study the seven essentials are a lot nearer to heaven than we used to be ought to make us even more excited about heaven and do all we can to get ourselves ready.


But even with all the joys of heave awaiting us, there is still a natural reluctance to talk about death. In the upcoming study you’ll learn that a man named Ernest Becker wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book decades ago called The Denial of Death. He said we live in a culture that denies death because we want to live forever. We want to stay young and do everything we can to our bodies to keep us young. For many people, this life is their heaven, and they don’t want to leave.


“Departures are all alike; it is the landfall that crowns the voyage.” C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

It's natural not to want to leave your loved ones, and we want to live as long as we can. But if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, this life is not your heaven! And you don’t need to deny or fear death. First of all, death is inevitable for all of us. It’s not like we can escape it. So there’s no use denying it.


And there’s no reason to fear death when you realize it’s just the transfer point from earth to heaven. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The moment you close your eyes on earth, you’ll open them in heaven. Now that’s something to anticipate!


So with this in mind, let me send you into our seventh and final study with this benediction from the little book of Jude:


“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. “


What a tremendous promise of the joy we will experience in God’s presence because He is able to deliver us into heaven. I want to thank you for journeying with us through these seven essentials. I hope you have been encouraged throughout this discipleship process. Let's keep growing and loving and leading and everything else that can make these aging years our best years. God bless you!

NOTE: This text is an edited transcription of the ESSENTIAL FIVE: BE AVAILABLE video by Dr. Hal Habecker, edited by Philip Rawley.


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