A New Heaven and a New Earth

I wonder what your favourite Christmas present was? Perhaps you got some new clothes, or a new device such as a phone? Maybe some new books to read or something connected to your favourite hobby?  Most of us enjoy getting new things, but when we do we quickly lose interest in what we had before. Last year’s prized possessions get forgotten as they are superseded by new ones.

New Year too, often signals time for reflection on the year gone by and thoughts turn to hopes and aspirations for the year to come. Whatever 2015 was like for you it is natural to hope that 2016 will bring joy and happiness, and that the disappointments of the past will be left behind.

The Christian faith has much to say about newness. For example Paul wrote that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ (2 Cor 5:17 ESV). This amazing statement describes a present reality for all who truly believe in Christ. However the message of the Bible is not simply comfort for this present life. Rather it offers us hope for a glorious eternity.

John, the Evangelist, was privileged to be given a wonderful vision of the future of creation which he recorded in the book of Revelation. Towards the end of that revelation John sees ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev 21:1 NIV) which he then goes on to describe. We learn that this present world with all its pain and suffering, disappointment will cease to exist. In its place God will create a new, eternal order. In this new world God himself will dwell among his people. It will be a place of outstanding beauty and incredible happiness. We are told: ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4 NIV)

Wow! There can be few people who would not wish for such a world!

My desire for everyone that reads this is that 2016 is truly a Happy New Year for you. I hope that every day from 1st January – 31st December is full of joy and hope. The experience of Christians throughout the centuries is that the greatest joy and hope is found when we have assurance that our eternity with Christ in the new heaven and new earth is secure. The joy and happiness of the new heaven and new earth will surpass the greatest pleasures we could possibly know in this life. The joy and happiness of the new heaven and new earth will more than compensate for the deepest sadness of this present life.

Whatever else you do in preparation for 2016, make this the year you secure your place in the new heaven and new earth by becoming a follower of Jesus!

This blog post featured in the January 2016 edition of Hook Focus

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A Place in the Sun

In just a few weeks the schools will break up for the summer holiday. Many families will be packing their bags and heading off to destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond, to chill out and relax. Whether it is a traditional week by the sea, lazing by a villa in the sun, a city break exploring the sights or engaging in more active outdoor pursuits, my guess is that having good weather will be a priority. Like an oasis, holidays offer refreshment and escape from normality. We look forward to escaping the hum drum routine of daily life, the pressures of work and school, even the sorrows and disappointments that accompany life.

For many people their dream home would be located in the kinds of locations that we favour for our summer holidays. The Channel 4 TV show ‘A Place in the Sun’ taps into our desire to live in a warm sunny climate, beautiful surroundings with proximity to the sea. No matter how comfortable our present circumstances may be there seems to be an innate longing for something better.

At the heart of the Christian message lies an expectation that this life is not the best it gets. We look forward with expectancy to the day when heaven and earth will be renewed and we will spend eternity in paradise with Christ. Our eternal home will be a place of such beauty and peace that even the most idyllic holiday destination will seem bland in comparison. After a while, even those living in a dream home find that there are chores to do and sorrows to be experienced, but we will never get bored exploring God’s new creation which will be full of joy and free from sorrow.

The Christian message also tells us that this eternal hope is a gift to be received rather than a reward to be earned. Many people give hours of thought to planning a holiday in the sun, which lasts an all too brief few weeks, yet give no thought about preparation for eternity. If you would like to know how you can be certain about an eternity in paradise then please visit us on a Sunday or contact us during the week in the church office.

 This blog post featured in the July/August 2014 edition of Hook Focus