Remember the Heavenly Highway Hymnals? Prominent hymns included in that hymnal included, “I Have A Mansion (Over the Hilltop),” “Meet You in the Morning,” “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” “Beulahland,” and the ultimate heavenly standard, “When We All Get to Heaven.”
Just about every hymn in the Heavenly Highway Hymnal was a song about Heaven, and for decades, those hymnals adorned the church pews of rural Baptist congregations across the nation.
Time goes by, hymnals wear out, new hymnals are purchased, and the worship repertoire changes. Modern worship hymns and choruses like “Indescribable,” “Here I Am to Worship,” and “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” proclaim God’s grace, greatness, salvation, and love.
Such is always appropriate, and always lifts my soul from the angst over the darkness of this world. I love the modern hymns. I love the traditional hymns. I’m the kind of guy that can sing “Old Rugged Cross” and then turn around and sing along with Michael W. Smith’s “You Are Holy.” However, modern hymns seem to be missing that “Heaven” element. Sadly, modern preaching seems to be missing that element as well.
Think about it. When was the last time your pastor preached on Heaven?
Today’s seminaries are teaching young preachers to find application, relate scripture to what the listener is enduring at this particular moment, and to not get caught up into higher theology.
As a result, church-goers are being treated to sermons on salvation (which is good), sermons on Godly living (also good,) and sermons on how God works through the pain in our lives (also good). However, through this search for relevant sermons, pastors often miss the one thing the Bible offers to keep our focus on the Lord. Heaven.
Scripture tells us the Gospel. It teaches us of God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation. It offers practical teaching on living, and encouragement to endure the hard times. But, scripture also tells us about Heaven.
In Zechariah 2, the prophet Zechariah encouraged the nation of Israel to rebuild Jerusalem, promising that the Lord would bless the effort, that the Temple would be rebuilt, and God would restore the nation.
As part of that prophecy, he showed that Jerusalem would one day be a city without walls, with a multitude of men and cattle therein. This was an Old Testament way of promising perfect peace and prosperity, something that is impossible in this world, but will be a way of life in God’s Kingdom which will follow the destruction of this world.
In a sense, Zechariah was encouraging the nation of Israel to return from the Babylonian captivity and to rebuild Jerusalem by reminding them of Heaven. God will one day lead us into His eternal Kingdom of peace and prosperity, but to follow Him there, we must first follow Him here. For the Israelites, that meant rebuilding Jerusalem. For us, it means to have faith in Him and to follow His word.
I don’t know what you are going through. I can tell you that whatever it is, God is working through that situation to refine you and to strengthen you, and you will come out on the other end better off.
Still, at the end of our struggles and strife through this life, we have the assurance of knowing that one day, we will enter God’s Kingdom, into a life without pain nor suffering, the glories of which are incomparable to the challenges of this life.
One day, the Lord will deliver us once and for all. Our problems are temporary distractions until then.
Trust the Lord. Trust Him to save you, and trust Him to deliver you.
May God bless you.
–contributed by Pastor Leland Acker. You can follow Pastor Acker on his blog at LelandAcker.com, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/LelandAckerMinistries.