The Fullness of God's Presence in the New Creation
There is a treatment update at the end of this message.
PHOTOPHERESIS ON MONDAY & TUESDAY
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"Come, People of the Risen King"
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What is your view of heaven? I hope you can get past the silliness of believers floating around on the clouds with harps. Today's WORSHIP QUOTE comes from a new booklet by Sam Storms. The Gospel Coalition is making available a free sample of THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS. He’ll help you think through judgment, hell, and eternal punishment in the context of God’s work to redeem his people and restore the natural creation. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/10/announcing-8-new-tgc-booklets/
THE FULLNESS OF GOD'S PRESENCE IN THE NEW CREATION
The fullness of God’s presence among his people necessarily demands the banishment of any and all forms of suffering associated with the old creation. Gone forever are the debilitating effects of sin (Rev. 21:3–4). Gone are the tears caused by grief and pain and moral failure (in fulfillment of Isa. 25:8). Gone is death, because its source, sin, will have been eradicated. Gone are mourning, crying, and pain. All such experiences are linked to the “first things” which have now “passed away.”
The New Jerusalem is said to have “the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). Whereas in the Old Testament the physical temple was the place where God’s glory resided and was manifested, in the new creation God’s presence will abide in and with his people. The absence of “night” (Rev. 21:25b) points to the unhindered access to God’s radiant presence as well as to the fact that there will be no darkness to dim the brilliance of divine splendor. Indeed, as Revelation 22:5 indicates, the absence of darkness is due to the continual illumination that God himself provides.
In Revelation 22:1 we find the first of several examples where John links the end of history with its beginning. In the consummation are features that characterized the beginning of time. It is not as though the end is a reversal to the beginning, “but the circumstances of the beginning are viewed as prophetic of the nature of God’s purpose in history. In all respects, however, the last things surpass the first in overwhelming measure, as we see in this paragraph.”25 If Genesis 3 tells the story of paradise lost, Revelation 22 tells of paradise regained. Heaven (on earth) is but the glorious consummation of God’s original design for the garden of Eden.
And what will we do in heaven? We will serve God (Rev. 22:3). We will see God (v. 4a; see Ex. 33:20; Matt. 5:8; John 17:24; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 3:1–3). We will enjoy the depths of intimacy with him (Rev. 22:4b). We will experience the fascination of his presence (v. 5a; cf. Num. 6:24–26). We will reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:5b).
What Christians have traditionally referred to as “heaven” is, as we have seen, eternal life in the presence of God on the new earth. It is there, as the Confessional Statement makes clear, that “God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.” We can do no better than to conclude with the words of Jonathan Edwards:
If we can learn anything of the state of heaven from the Scripture, the love and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous; impressing the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation, of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, animating, and engaging them, making them like to a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then the word “affection” is of no use in language. Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and the glory of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonderful works, and particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected, by all which they behold or consider?
—Sam Storms, THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS, The Gospel Coalition, Wheaton: Crossway, 2011, pp. 25-26. 978-1-4335-2684-8. Another sample from this booklet is available at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/10/announcing-8-new-tgc-booklets/
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Ministries
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
HEALTH UPDATE & PRAYER REQUEST
FOR CHIP STAM, CANCER PATIENT
PHOTOPHERESIS TWICE EACH WEEK
March 31 Treatment Update,
Dear praying friends and family,
Thanks for praying for us. Don't stop. We are still going to the clinic every single morning. I have been extremely weak, so they are moving some of my steroids to once a week, rather than three times a week. Other medications and treatments change as the doctors read the blood tests each day.
MONDAY & TUESDAY — PHOTOPHERESIS
One way to treat the rather intense GvH rash (flaking all over my body, including all the skin on the bottom of my feet) is a procedure known as photopheresis. They use a machine that is similar to the apheresis machine that is used to harvest stem cells and platelets, but this one gathers white blood cells and, and at the end of process each day, it exposes the white cells to a bath of ultraviolet light. Then they put those cells back into my body. I have to wear the "cool" wrap-around sunglasses for 24 hours after each day of treatment. I have had four of these treatments, and the doctors are very enthusiastic about the results so far. The treatment is done at the nearby Kosair Children's Hospital. Most of the nurses who are taking care of me at Kosair have been working with "Kosair Kids" for twenty years. These days are very long, and we need for you to pray for "stamina." The first day we finished at 6:45pm, the next day was 5:30pm. Yesterday, we got home at 6pm after arriving at the clinic at 7:45am. Needless to say, we are happy to have such good care, but we are exhausted. So we going for photopheresis two days week, and guess what? We still do our regular clinic thing the other five days of the week--just like before.
GOOPING THINGS UP
For the short-term, the doctor has asked me to discontinue Clara special diet with cottage cheese and flax oil. They say it glogs up the photopheresis machine.
STILL VERY WEAK
At this point, I still have to have a strong hand to help me get out of the car or get from a low seat of any kind. This too will pass we are told. I have a decent appetite; I am sleeping well. The bottoms of my feet are VERY tender because of the GvH pealing. I have been wearing cloth "Michael Jackson" gloves to help keep my hands from drying out and cracking. One day I wore surgical gloves for too long, and I got a bad infection on my palm. That is now getting better; thank the LORD.
POLUTED POWER PORT
I have had my Double Purple Power Port in my upper chest (left side) for almost two years. During the last week the daily blood cultures have shown bacteria in my blood. Even with anti-bacterial infusions every day, the infections are still there. The only thing they can do is take out my port (tomorrow morning, April 1), put in a pick line, and then put in another Power Port on Tuesday. This is a bit of a set-back in that it will probably postpone the next photopheresis treatment. God is in charge.
JESUS SAID: "DON'T BE ANXIOUS: STUDY THE BIRDS" (Matt. 6)
I have mostly been watching live video of barn owls, hummingbirds, and bald eagles. Here they are, and they are stunning:
www.ustream.tv/hummingbirdnestcam (Phoebe, the mother hummingbird, sitting on two young hummingbird chicks)
www.sportsmansparadiseonline.com/Oceanside_Barn_Owls (six young hatchlings being fed mice, moles, and gophers, PG13)
www.ustream.tv/channel/decorah-eagles (two bald eagles in Decorah, Iowa, sitting on eggs—amazing!
Well, "God is great; God is good." And the LORD's deeds are both great and good. We see it every day. Don't forget to care for and pray for the cancer patients in your sphere of activity and influence. They are there; I promise you. You could make a difference.
Love to all.
Jesus is LORD!
Keep praying. God is at work.