Head in the Clouds, Eyes on God
The Road to Redemption
We get so wrapped up with this world and the things in front of us that we forget everything here is actually temporary. I’ll be the first to admit that a big closet full of stylish clothes and shoes, nice houses, fancy dinners, fun vacations, and lots of money is fun. However, when life itself stops, none of that comes with us.
Do not be discouraged; I have good news for you. The best is yet to come! When this life ends, another begins…and that one lasts for eternity. Wherever your soul goes next is home forever. Let this comfort you more than it scares you.
None of us know how long our lives will be, but anyone who’s ever lost someone can attest to how short it feels regardless of when the clock stops. In the moments I have with you here today, I’m going to tell you how to make the most of your time in the way that matters — for this life and the next.
We all have bodies. Yet, they’re not here to stay. Think about the body you get to experience this life in as a temporary carrying case for your soul. Later, your soul — the intangible aspects of your being — will live eternally elsewhere. When it comes to where we go next, there aren’t many paths to choose from. God has narrowed our options down to two: Heaven, or hell. By the grace of God and in Jesus’ name, it’s Heaven for me.
By the grace of God and in Jesus’ name, it can be Heaven for you, too. But don’t take my word for it. Let Jesus tell it, as he does in John 5:24:
“I say emphatically that anyone who listens to my message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life, and will never be damned for his sins, but has already passed out of death into life.” | John 5:24 TLB
We serve a loving, gracious God who sent Jesus — a physical manifestation of Himself to die on the cross. For our sins. Jesus gave his life for sins he didn’t even commit! All so that we, a bunch of sinners, wouldn’t have to carry the burden of being broken humans forever. Because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, we get to experience God’s grace. Thanks to God’s master plan and Jesus’ self-sacrifice, you and I are eligible to have our sins washed away and have an eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father (1 Peter 1:3–6).
But there’s a thing that has to happen first, and a series of other things that will happen consequently…IF you choose to receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through you.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. | John 14:6 NIV
The road to Heaven begins with whole-hearted belief. Belief in one supreme God who exists in three equal parts.
- God the Father: The highest level of consciousness. The creator and overseer of life as we know it. He transcends space, time, and matter.
- God the Son: Jesus Christ- a physical manifestation of God. Born into this world to walk the earth and carry out God’s will in human form.
- The Holy Spirit: The supremely divine energy that flows between all parts.
The Holy Trinity may seem like too bizarre of a concept for some to grasp; but it really shouldn’t be. If you find yourself trying to wrap your mind around how God could possibly be three-in-one, think about the fact that you have a mind, a body, and an intangible soul. You exist as all three at all times! We were created in God’s image and made to represent Him, so the fact that our identities are comparable in this way is really no coincidence (Genesis 1:27)
While our God exists in three parts, there’s only one way to Him.
Through Jesus. This means to worship God is to believe in and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.
This would also mean that worshipping God within the context of anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is not the way. The denial or replacement of Jesus not only goes against God’s will, it also robs you of salvation.
Many deny the need to know Jesus at all. The popular sentiment is, “I’m a good person on my own. I care about others, help them when I can, and don’t cause harm. Isn’t that enough? Do I need God? How do I know if he’s even real? Or even a he? What if God is a woman?”
Some others choose to claim the universe as their god. There’s no doubt — trees, air, the sun, the moon, the stars, life’s invisible flow of energy — are all inspiring! But they’re inspired (in spirit) by God.
Without the Holy Spirit empowering all aspects of the universe, they’re just things. Things cannot save you. The universe is the total sum of creation, and every creation has a Creator. He’s God, and Jesus is the way to Him.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”| Acts 4:12 NIV
In the end, any attempted path to Heaven outside of Jesus will prove to be futile.
Ask God to order your steps. May they lead you to Him and only Him.
When one fully accepts Jesus into their lives, something happens. In a very real and personal way, mere belief begins to grow into something palpable. The Holy Spirit goes from something you only hear and read about, to something you feel at work within you. This is not something you or I can earn or acquire by our own good works. The Holy Spirit is a promise from Jesus to disciples.
From John 14:26, we know the Holy Spirit is sent to us to carry out things we’d fail to do on our own. Things that — without the help of God — just wouldn’t be in our nature.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. | John 14:26 NKJV
How great is it that since God made us, He knew we’d need help! Within Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described as an Advocate (NIV), a Helper (ESV), a Comforter (KJB), a Counselor (CSB)…depending on which version of the Bible you’re reading from. In all cases, we know the Holy Spirit has a distinct identity; one that serves a major purpose. That is to represent God!
Which is no easy task, seeing as how we are flawed and God is perfect. But remember, we have an advocate. We are not alone, without help.
Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. | Colossians 3:10 CEV
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, humanity has been separated from God. But as we can see from Colossians 3:10, we have the opportunity to draw closer to our Creator and better understand Him. For the sake of becoming more and more like Him!
We are not God. The point isn’t to try to become Him; we could never. The point is to walk in His image, like Him. The Holy Spirit is an internal guide that helps us shed the problematic, troublesome, sinful, ways of the world that weigh us down. In place of habitual sin, we have the opportunity to learn and understand God’s love so that we start to embody Christ-like characteristics. In doing so, we become new.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! | 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
Our old ways die and we become better. Not by our human standards, but by God’s Heavenly standards.
But know that we don’t follow God in order to get things. We strive to do life God’s way because order and obedience please Him. We become new so that we may give Him glory! In turn, blessings come down where God sees fit. In a sense, we make earth less hellish to deal with while we’re here waiting for Heaven’s gates to open. And when they open, you’ll want a room.
The good news is, if you’re breathing, you’ve still got just enough time to reserve your room!
God doesn’t play favorites. There’s no politics in Heaven, and entry is not based on merit. God has no less love and acceptance for someone who was saved today than anyone who’s been saved for years. We know this from The Story About Vineyard Workers found in Matthew 20:1–16. I encourage you to read this short passage, but for now let’s focus on one part. The last verse in this passage reads,
“In this way the last will be first, and the first will be last.” | Matthew 20:16 GW
From this we know that God is loyal to all who are loyal to Him. Regardless of when you call on Him, you’re as equally valuable as anyone else. We come to Him on our own time.
However, this is not a pass to wait until your last breath to call on Jesus. If your plan is to use God as a last minute panic-button, you’ve missed the point.
You can experience a relationship with Jesus now. Why delay that?
This world and these bodies are home for now, but they will not be forever.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.| Romans 12:2 NLT
Getting to know God and building a relationship with Him in this life is what it’s all about. Allowing The Holy Spirit to work within you while striving to become more and more like Christ is how God’s will manifests through us.
What steps should you take?
- Relationship with God: God cares less about the title you place on your faith and more about the ways that you actually connect with Him. In other words, calling yourself a Christian is one thing; intentionally developing your relationship with the Lord is another. How does a relationship with God begin?
First, know that although we do not see God, He is near. He knows you by name, and He is ready to meet you wherever you’re at. You won’t experience unconditional love in a better way. Knowing that our Father is ready for you, open your Bible.
Read it often. Start where you can. That may mean five minutes per day, which will grow to 30 mins, to an hour. Life is one big test. Put bluntly, it’s pass or fail. To pass is to go Heaven. To land in hell would be a big fail.
The good news is, this is an open-note test, given by a Teacher who cares about the class’s well-being. God isn’t a teacher who wants to over-complicate things or trick us into failure. He’s given us the master study guide.
Open your Bible. If you don’t have access to a physical Bible, click here.
Also, pray often. Prayer is how we communicate with God. Talk to Him. He already knows you and He’s ready to hear you! Thank Him. Open up about your needs, desires, hopes and fears. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Be honest; there’s no reason to be anything but.
- Recognize: Recognize that we all are broken in one way or another. This is what separates us from God. Ask God to reveal to you what areas in your life displease Him. What habits, friends, mindsets interfere with your relationship with God? Warning: conviction is hard to face. It’s uncomfortable to face the fact that we are all born sinners, but you can and should process this. Especially because God already knows us all, through and through!
- Repent: Once God reveals the sin holding you captive, the next step is to detach from it. Let it go! When you hurt someone you love, doesn't the first step to repairing the damage involve admitting where you were wrong, plus offering a sincere apology? It is no different for your relationship with The Lord. Repent. Ask God for forgiveness. No matter where you are, what you’ve been doing, or what your life looks like, Jesus is a redeemer. Repent for any and all wrongdoing and let God make you new.
- Repeat: You receive the full benefits of salvation when you choose to continue consciously. Yes we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but the closer you draw to Him, the less appealing habitual sin becomes. So choose to show up in your relationship with God mindfully. Don’t cling to the habits, people, or activities you’ve already asked God to wipe clean from you.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. | Romans 12:2 NLT
Allow God to mature you in your relationship with Him, and never turn back. It’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made!