Summary: This is how things will be, where God is.
A young couple was on the way to their wedding ceremony and they were tragically killed in an automobile accident and they went to heaven. They were standing before the Pearly Gates and St. Peter was there. And they were kind of disappointed they never got married. And so, they asked St. Peter, they said, "Peter is there any way we can get married up here in heaven?" Peter said, "I don’t know. Nobody’s ever asked. Let me go check." And so he went away for the longest time. He was gone for like two months. And they began to wonder if this was really a good idea. They started to think about, "What happens if we don’t like each other? Are we stuck forever? You know, we’re in heaven, after all." And about that time, St. Peter came back and he was all bedraggled looking. He was tired and you could tell he was a little irritated. And he said, "Yes, you can get married in heaven." And they said, "Well, that’s great, Peter." They said, "But let me ask you a question. What if we don’t like each other? Is it possible that we can get a divorce up here, too?" And old Peter turned red with anger. And he threw his clipboard down. And he said, "Listen, man, it took me three months to find a preacher up here. Do you know how long it’s going to take me to find a lawyer?"
First of all, my apologies to the lawyers here this morning. We know heaven won’t be quite like that, but sometimes this home is. But I want to talk today about heaven on earth – the place where God is. We’re going to consider four characteristics of the place where God is. Where God is things will be lovely, things will be inclusive, things will be dependent, and things will be prioritized.
Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 84. This Psalm is titled “The Joy of Dwelling With God.” Our desire should be to dwell with God; to base our existence on Him.
I. Where God is things will be lovely (loving)
Read Psalm 84:1-2
I would like to think of verse 1 as saying, “How loving is your tabernacle, O Lord of Hosts!” Where is the dwelling place of God? Our hearts – and that dwelling place should be lovely; that dwelling place should be loving. Where does that love come from? God places it there, and maintains it there as we stay in relationship with Him. As our relationship fades, our love fades, for each other and for ourselves. The person out of relationship with God cannot be truly happy, and cannot truly love. John put it this way in 1 John 3:13-19 (READ) “We shall know by this that we are of the truth…” By what? By loving “not with word or tongue but by deed and truth.”
There is a sense of urgency in that love. Verse 2 says “My soul longs, yes even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” If we are where God is – if God is here – love will be a priority. The deacons’ wives in a Colorado church held a dessert one evening to welcome a new pastor’s wife. To further acquaint her with Colorado and the church, the secretaries hurriedly typed questions to be randomly selected and answered by the deacons’ wives. One question stole the show with its typographical error: "Why do you like loving in Colorado?" Naturally, the shyest wife got the question. She read it out loud, blushed, then stammered, "I guess ... uh ... because of the cold nights."1 Folks, when you live somewhere as cold as Colorado, love becomes a priority!
II. Where God is things will be inclusive.
Read Psalm 84:3,4
Did you know that birds that nested in the temple could not be driven away? God’s house is supposed to be a place of safe haven for all. Central Christian Church wants to be the “grace place.” The Psalmist says even the smallest, most defenseless, most insignificant bird, the sparrow, has a home at God’s altar. Where God is, all are welcome, and in order to be near God, we must be near all His children.
Not only must God’s place be a place of rest for all, but also it must be a place of acceptance and tolerance. Not acceptance and tolerance for sin, but acceptance and tolerance for each other. Notice the Beatitudes. What do they say? Blessed is… for theirs; for they; the Beatitudes are inclusive. They are for a group. It is God’s intent for us to be a group, a family, a support network. We cannot do that if we are exclusive rather than inclusive. We are called, as Galatians says, to “bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Listen to what Charles Swindoll says about acceptance and tolerance: