Summary: A sermon examining the fact that Heaven is waiting for the believer, but there is still work to do on earth.
Living On Earth, Longing For Heaven
Just a few weeks ago our church said goodbye to one of our faithful members. This man had fought a long hard battle with his health and spent months in the hospital. I visited with him several times and was amazed at his positive outlook on life even while his health rapidly deteriorated. At his funeral I shared his last Facebook post, which reads as a testimony. Listen to what he said -- I have been left on earth 5 times by God. Dec. 18, 2016 I asked the Lord Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Lord and Savior, one of the prayers I asked during my stay in the hospital, and since I got home was, If he left me on earth to be an ambassador to him, or either took me to be forever with him in eternal life, either is fine. The way I see it......win/win
What a testimony! Whether Tim knew it or not, his desire was the same as the Apostle Paul. Here in our selected text Paul describes his great dilemma, he greatly desired to go and be with Christ his Savior, but he also knew that there was still a great work for him to do here on earth.
This is an issue for many born again children of God. When we look at what is waiting for us there is a great desire to go to be with the Lord. I am not referring to suicidal tendencies... I am talking about being homesick for our Heavenly Home. We long to be reunited with loved ones who have already gone to that place. There are troubles, trials and tribulations that we long to escape. But greater than that those things that are in Heaven and greater than what will not be in Heaven is the fact that when we leave this walk of life we will forever be in the presence of God our Father and Jesus our Savior.
Though Heaven is enticing we must not forget that we are on Earth for a reason. In fact, the reason that you are still on this earth is because God is not finished with you yet! There are people all around you who could (and should) benefit from your life for Christ. There are lost people who need to hear about salvation through Christ and there are saved people who need to be mentored, encouraged and discipled. So, just like Paul... many of us find ourselves in a dilemma. We are Living On Earth, but Longing For Heaven. That is the subject that I would like to consider today. Let's walk through Philippians 1:21-26 and consider some desires of those who are "Living On Earth, Longing For Heaven".
As Paul struggled with this great dilemma, he had several different desires.
1) He Had A Desire To Leave
2) He Had A Desire To Live
3) He Had A Desire To Labor
For many of us who are born again we have those same desires simultaneously. Look with me to verses 21 & 23 as we see that:
I. THERE IS A DEIRE TO LEAVE - v21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.......v23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better
It is clear that Paul greatly desired to leave this walk of life and enter into eternity with his Savior. This is understandable considering the struggles that he had endured. He described some of these difficulties in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. He states that he had been in and out of prison, whipped time and again, five separate times he had received 39 lashes, many times he had faced death. On 3 occasions he was beaten with rods, he had been stoned, shipwrecked and lost at sea. He had traveled many weary miles, been robbed and beaten, he was persecuted by Jews, Gentiles and hypocrites. He encountered danger in cities, deserts and on the sea. He did without food when he was hungry and sufficient clothes when he was cold. Along with all of this he carried a heavy burden for all of the churches. It is no wonder that Paul was homesick.
The Apostle had had faced even more hardships since he had penned those words in II Corinthians. In fact the words we read in Philippians were written while Paul was bound in a Roman prison. Not only was he imprisoned, he was getting older and his health was failing. Though his body was deteriorating, his soul was getting stronger and every day he longed for Heaven more and more. The same is true for many of us... we look at the troubles of this life and we get homesick for Heaven!