When launching PRN Pastor, my goal was to make a concerted effort to post a weekly message to my readers. Life, however, often takes us, as it did this past week, on unexpected journeys.
Sunday before last, we received the news that the senior member of our former home-church Church family had been promoted, at the age of 92, from this life to the next. He was not only our brother in Christ, but also Donna’s and my beloved friend.
Having shared so much history with him, his wife, and their family; Donna and I consider them kinsfolk. Together, they and we have thanked God in the good times and sought God in the bad. They still, although Donna’s and my time at our home church has ended, love and acknowledge me as Pastor Keith—and I hope they always will.
I was humbled and honored when our friend’s family asked, as they did at his wife’s passing, that I plan and conduct the memorial service. What follows is a portion of said service, which was written and delivered straight from the heart.
For Heaven’s Sake
Born of the flesh, we are born into the kingdom of earth. Born of the Spirit, we are born into the kingdom of heaven. People often wonder, “Where is the kingdom of heaven?” We tend to think of the kingdom of heaven as being a great distance away in outer space.
I believe that the kingdom of heaven exists on a different plane, rather than a different place. I believe that the kingdom of heaven is so close you can almost reach out and touch it. I believe you might, at times, even hear a note or two of angel song or the rustle of angel robes as they travel, on assignments, to and fro.
In John 14:1-7, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven:
John 14:1-7 (King James Version)
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
The Word of God reveals that He gave certain individuals the power to peek through the veil that separates the kingdom of heaven from the kingdom of earth. In the Holy Bible, We read of only six men who actually saw the kingdom of heaven.
In the Old Testament, there were three:
- Micaiah, Prophet (2 Chronicles 18:18)
- Isaiah, Prophet (Isaiah 6:1-4)
- Ezekiel, Prophet (Ezekiel 1,10)
In the New Testament, there were also three:
- Stephen, Church Deacon (Acts 7:55-56)
- Paul, Apostle (2 Corinthians 12:1-4)
- John, Apostle (Revelation 4-6)
Of the six men listed above, only three wrote of what they saw:
I know what you’re probably thinking:
Okay, Pastor Keith, but what must I do to see the kingdom of heaven?
I am going to answer with a simple, yet effective sermon illustration.
The very wealthy Englishman, Baron Fitzgerald, had only one child, a son―who was understandably the apple of his father’s eye, the center of his affections, the focus of this little family’s attention.
The son grew up; but, in his early teens, the mother died―leaving just him and his father. Although grieved over the loss of his wife, the father devoted himself to raising the son.
Tragically, in the passing of time, the son became very ill and died in his late teens. In the meantime, the father’s financial holdings greatly increased. He had used much of his wealth to acquire art works of the masters.
With the passing of more time; the father, himself, became ill and died. Prior to his death, he had carefully prepared his will and set forth explicit instructions as to how his estate would be settled. He had directed that there would be an auction in which his entire collection of art would be sold.
Because of the quantity and quality of the art works in the father’s collection, valued in the millions of English pounds, a huge crowd of prospective buyers gathered expectantly on the day of the auction. Among them were many museum curators and private collectors eager to bid.
The art works were displayed for viewing before the auction began. Among them was one painting that received very little attention. Of poor quality and painted by an unknown local artist, the painting happened to be a portrait of the father’s only son.
When the time came for the auction to begin, the auctioneer gaveled the crowd to attention. Before the bidding began, the attorney opened the father’s will and read, “The first painting to be auctioned is the painting of my beloved son.”
The humble painting had only one bidder, an old servant who had known the son, loved him, and served him. For sentimental reasons, the servant offered the only bid. For less than an English pound, he bought the painting.
The auctioneer immediately stopped the bidding and asked the attorney to read, once more, from the will. The crowd thought it quite unusual. They hushed, however, and listened intently as the attorney read, “Whoever buys the painting of my son gets all my art collection. The auction is over!” ¹
What must you do to see the kingdom of heaven? Just as the son of the earthly father was the passport to the kingdom of art, the Son of the Heavenly Father is the passport to the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is our passport, the Holy Spirit is our travel companion, and the Holy Bible is our travel guide. Are you fully packed and ready for the journey?
Yours in Christ,
To accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all you need do is open your heart to Him, earnestly repent of your sins, and pray the sinner’s prayer.
¹ Gray, Alice (July 1, 1997). More Stories For The Heart. pp. 126-127.
Photographer Unknown; Will Your Items Sell Best At Auction?; The Magnusson Group; Morristown, New Jersey; Color Photo; Date Unknown