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Choose You This Day (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 03/24/2010

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Author and speaker Anne Graham Lotz discusses the choice each of us faces concerning where we will spend eternity, and explains why faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. (Part 1 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Anne Graham Lotz: And you know, the Bible says that our bodies are something like a tent. And everything that we are-- our personality, our mind, our emotions, our heart, our will, our character-- everything that’s on the inside just lives inside of the tents. And one day our physical bodies are going to die and we’re going to leave our tent behind and we’re going to go somewhere. If, God forbid, you were killed in a car accident going home, where would you be? As you leave your tent behind, where are you going to be?

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Anne Graham Lotz with a very direct question and she has more to say about your eternal destination. Welcome to Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, we have an outstanding two-part message from Anne Graham Lotz to share today and next time. And I know everyone is going to be riveted by her description of what heaven is really like. And this is a very timely message because, as many of you know, Anne’s father, Dr. Billy Graham, entered heaven’s gates on February 21st at the age of 99. He had a long and wonderful life in every way. Anne has really followed in her father’s footsteps as an evangelist. She is the founder of Angel Ministries and has been the featured speaker at conferences, seminaries, churches and universities on, I think, every continent in the world except Antarctica. She has written several books including one on this subject including Heaven: My Father’s House.

John: And of course you can get that book through us here at Focus on the Family and that’d be a way of supporting the ministry here. Just stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio to order it.

Okay, let’s hear now from Anne Graham Lotz as she was speaking at a women’s conference sponsored by Focus on the Family a few years ago.

Body:

Anne: Earlier this year Time magazine had a cover story on heaven and the title was, “Does Heaven Exist?” And I don’t want to take up your time and mine by answering that question, because the Bible clearly states that, yes, heaven does exist. But…ha ha…(Applause)

Praise God! But I want to take time, and let’s just think about what heaven is like according to what the Scripture says, because there are a lot of people who will talk about what they think heaven is like. I want to share with you what heaven is like according to what God says in his Word. And if you’ll turn in your bibles to Revelation chapter 21, the Apostle John describes what he saw.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” And one of the things that John notices about heaven is that it’s absolutely beautiful.

On one of my trips to India I made the time to go to Agra, which is where the Taj Mahal isand I saw the Taj Mahal sitting like a jewel beside a wide river and the Taj Mahal was built by a pagan Indian prince as a tomb in which to bury his wife, to whom he had been married for 14 years. It took him over 20 years to build. It took over 20,000 skilled craftsmen. It cost him millions of dollars, even in that day and time. It’s all made out of marble and the outside is hand-carved and inset with onyx that depicts verses from the Koran.

On the inside it’s carved and inset with precious stones just depicting birds and flowers, all of the symbols of the Islamic paradise. It sits on a sandstone platform and at the corners are minarets that point like fingers to heaven. It’s absolutely exquisite. It’s just a jewel.

And I was sitting there in a coffee shop overlooking the Taj Mahal, seeing it reflected in all of these pools of water that surround it, thinking how absolutely gorgeous it is, and then I thought about heaven and I thought, “You know, if a pagan Indian prince could take 20 years and 20,000 skilled craftsmen to build a tomb in which to bury his wife, what is our Lord Jesus Christ preparing for his bride?”

(applause) Absolutely! And it hasn’t taken just 20 years, it’s been over 2,000 years. And he’s not going to bury her, he’s going to live with her forever and ever and ever.

(applause) Heaven is an absolutely beautiful place. And one aspect of its beauty is that it’s a prepared place, because he says in verse two, “It’s prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

Now I have three children, a son and two daughters. My youngest daughter just got married in August and my second one is going to be married in December. And one of the first things I’ve discovered about a bride who’s beautifully dressed for her husband is that she is prepared, and she’s prepared in that she’s chosen the right groom, God willing, and she’s prepared in that she has chosen a day and a time of day for the wedding ceremony and a place and the ministers who will preside over the ceremony. And then she selects her bridesmaids and the groomsmen and what the bridesmaids will wear and what the groomsmen will wear and the kind of flowers they’re going to carry. Then I discovered you can have cascading flowers and nosegay flowers and you can have wrapped stems or exposed stems (laughter) and you can put flowers on the ends of the pews or bows on the ends of the pews or greenery on the ends of the pews.

And then you have all the decisions to make for the reception. Then one of the first things that hit me was just the invitation itself, the kind of print, and you can even choose different colors of ink and I mean, every detail of a bride is prepared.

I will never again go to a wedding with the same attitude. I know when I sit in that wedding ceremony and you look around, every little thing you see has been carefully prepared by somebody. And John says that heaven is prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, meaning every detail of heaven is prepared.

And God knows just exactly what you like. In fact, he knows what you love. He knows what makes you happy. He knows what makes you feel at home better than you know. And he’s preparing a place just for you. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” or many rooms. “If it were not so, I would have told you. And I’m going to prepare a place just for you.”

Now, for five years I’ve had an empty nest, and I don’t tell my children this, but I love an empty nest. So I’ve enjoyed that. But I love my children and I love it when they come home. And when I know one of my children is going to visit I get excited and I begin to prepare for their visit.Because when they walk through the door, I want them to know they’ve come home and I’m excited to have them and the place has been prepared for them.

You see, Jesus is preparing your heavenly home for you like that. He knows exactly what’s going to make you feel at home. He knows exactly what you love. He knows exactly what thrills your hearts, and he’s preparing it for you as though he’s not preparing it for anyone else.Heaven is beautiful in that it’s a prepared place.

And not only is it prepared, but heaven is perfect. In verse 1 “...the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea.” Now I remember when I first read that I was a little disappointed because I love the beach and I love to go to the beach and I love to watch the waves and I love to see the ocean and there’s no longer any sea.

And then I thought, “Well maybe this is literal, maybe it’s not, but you know, seas separate things, don’t they?” Seas separate continents from each other, nations from each other, people from each other, families from each other. And I think, perhaps, one thing it’s saying is that in heaven, it’s going to be perfect in that there’s no longer any separation in heaven.

And when you receive Christ by faith as your Savior and heaven is your home and you come inside of heaven, no one is ever going to tell you you have to sit at the back of the bus. And no one is ever going to tell you you have to sit on the back row.(Applause) And no one’s ever going to tell you that’s your place and this is a reserved section, you go sit elsewhere. There’s going to be no separation in heaven. Praise God! In heaven there is no racial prejudice and there’s no social class. (Applause) Amen! (Applause)

Nothing that separates. No hard feelings and no hurt feelings and no misunderstandings and no business trips and no divorce and no death and no family divisions or sickness or famines or floods or fires or hurricanes and nothing that will ever separate us from each other and from the Lord.

Heaven is a perfect place, no separation, perfect in that there are no scars. Verse 1 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” And then down in verse 5 says, “He was seated on the throne and he said, `I’m making everything new.’“ And heaven is fresh and heaven is new.

Our home that we live in in Raleigh is about 50 years of age and I know even if I scrubbed and polished and waxed and shined, which I don’t have the time to do, but if I did, I still couldn’t cover up some of the marks of age, the scars and the cracks and some of the things that just comes with having an older home. And you know, I think our lives are like that. And we can come to Jesus Christ and we can be saved from His wrath and we can have all of our sin washed away and we can become new creatures, but we can’t have the scars erased, can we? And it may be that you’re bearing scars in your life, scars that come because of your treatment from someone else or the way you’ve treated somebody.

I remember I was speaking at a university in Minneapolis and afterwards a woman came up to me and told me that when she was growing up she had been abused by her father and her brothers. And she’d reacted to that abuse by becoming very immoral herself.

And then one day she’d gotten married and she had children and she ended up abusing her children. And then she heard about Christ and she came to the Cross and she confessed and repented of her sin and she was forgiven and she was made a new person in Christ, but she said, with tears streaming down her cheeks, “Anne, I just can’t erase the scars. And I still have the memories that haunt me at nights.”

And all I could tell her was that I know there is power in the blood of Jesus and there’s power in the Cross to give her victory over that, but I couldn’t tell her that her scars could be erased, because they can’t. And God can take them if you surrender those scars to him, and he can turn them into beauty marks and he can give you a heart and a compassion for other people who have been scarred like you, but when we get to heaven there are no more scars, no more memories, nothing that comes back to haunt you at nights. (Applause)

Heaven is perfect, perfect in that there is no separation, perfect in that there are no scars, perfect in that there’s no suffering. In verse 3 it says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, `Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’“

Program Note:

John: You are listening to Anne Graham Lotz on Focus on the Family and a quick reminder-- you can get a CD of this program to share with a friend or Anne’s book on the subject, Heaven: My Father’s House, when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or learn more and get the audio download at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Anne Graham Lotz on Focus on the Family.

End of Program Note

Anne: God himself is going to take your face in between his hands and wipe the tears from your cheeks. Listen, are you suffering today? In what way are you suffering? Are you suffering emotionally because your husband has walked out on you?Or perhaps you’ve recently been widowed. Are you suffering, perhaps, because your parents have cut you off from the inheritance or maybe your husband has just lost his job, right before he was due to retire.

Maybe you’re suffering financially and you’ve had to go back to work. Maybe you’re suffering intellectually in that your husband is your intellectual superior and you feel somewhat foolish around him.

And what about physically?Perhaps there’s heart disease, migraine headaches, some type of arthritis. Whatever it is that your suffering is, one day God is going to wipe away all tears and there’s going to be no more suffering, no more pain, no more death, and nothing that causes that. (Applause) Praise God! (Applause)

There will be no more hospitals and no more funerals and no more abortion clinics and no more orphanages (applause) and no more grief and no more broken homes and no more broken hearts and no more broken hopes and no more broken dreams and heaven is going to be absolutely perfect. No suffering at all.

Sometimes we think that this life, we’re supposed to be happy and healthy and wealthy and prosperous and problem-free. And that’s just not reality, is it? We have problems and struggles until the day we see Jesus face-to-face, but the day we see Jesus face-to-face, there are going to be no more problems and no more struggling and no more suffering and we’re going to be set free. Hallelujah! Amen! (Applause)

Heaven is a prepared place and heaven is a perfect place and heaven is a physical place. Oh, did you know that? Somewhere in the universe God is preparing a new heaven and a new earth and it’s a real, literal place.And I think that’s one emphasis from verse 15 when it says, “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold and he measured the city, its gates and its wall. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with a rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length and as wide and as high as it is long.”

And if we take those measurements, I think one of the things he’s saying is just that if you could find heaven right now and you had a measuring tape, you could walk it off. It is an actual, literal, physical place that the angel could measure. And if we take the measurements that the angel came up with, it turns out to be a 1,500 square mile cube. In other words, it covers an area from Mexico to Canada, from the Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s as wide as it is long as it is high as it is deep.

And if there were 20-billion residents of heaven--now that’s more people than have ever lived, but if there were 20-billion residents of heaven--every single resident would have 75 acres for themselves, with enough room left over for parks and public buildings and things like that. (small laughter)

And not that we should take this literally, but I think the emphasis is that heaven is a big place, and it’s big enough for you and it’s big enough for your whole family and it’s big enough for every single one of your friends and your neighbors and the people that live in your city and everybody in the whole world. Don’t worry about over-population or over-crowding.

It’s big enough for everybody. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions, many rooms. There’s room enough for anybody and everybody who would choose to go there.” And as John looks at this heavenly city, he says, in verse 9, “One of the seven angels came to me and said, `Come.’ And he carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. And it shown with the Glory of God, and it’s brilliance was like out of a very precious jewel like jasper, clear as crystal, and it had a great high wall with 12 gates.”

And then John goes on and describes the wall in verse 18. He says, “The wall was made of jasper.” And one of the first characteristics of this physical place of heaven that John noticed was that the wall was 200-feet thick and it was made of jasper. Jasper is like a diamond. Now that’s spectacular to see a city with walls 200-feet thick made of diamond-like stone. But I think it means that heaven is not only spectacular to look at, but heaven is safe. If the walls are 200-feet thick, nobody’s going to be breaking through them.

Have you ever been afraid? Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime? Has something happened to one of your loved ones and, perhaps, when you’re alone in your house at night you hear a strange noise and your heart begins to beat and suddenly, you panic and you just get paralyzed from fear?

Or in some other way you’ve been afraid? Maybe afraid for your children or afraid in some other way. And heaven has walls 200-feet thick, made out of diamond. You’re safe inside of heaven. Nothing is going to break through and harm you ever again. And ifsomething bad has happened to you or one of your loved ones, when you get to heaven nothing bad will ever happen to you again. You’ll be safe inside of those walls.

And John goes on and says not only the walls 200-feet thick, made out of jasper, but it has 12 foundations. In verse 14, “The wall of the city had 12 foundations.” And down in verse 19, “The foundations of the walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.”

And John as he’s describing the city with the 12 foundations and each one a layer is a different precious stone, he sees that his name is written on one of those foundations. And I wonder what John thought. You know, this is the John who had witnessed the miracles and had seen the crucifixion and been there at the resurrection and seen the ascension, and then he had been there at Pentecost. And he knew what it was like to receive the Holy Spirit to fill his life, and he had heard Peter preach; 3,000 people converted in one day. And John had gone out and preached to whole world and established the church, and he had been beaten and mocked and persecuted and imprisoned, and he ended his life in exile on Patmos.

But when John looks at this heavenly city with 12 foundations and his name written on one of the foundations, I wonder if his eyes just began to bug out, and he saw his name there, and he said, “You know, it was worth it, every sacrifice I made, every cost I paid, every price. All of the hardship is worth it. This is my home!”

And Abraham, we’re told from Hebrews, left Ur of the Chaldees to follow God and a life in faith, but it said, “He was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God; a city that had foundations.” And Abraham is going to come to that heavenly city, and he’s going to see it and say, “You know, this is it! I found it! I found what I’ve been looking for all of my life. I’ve come home.”

I wonder if you’ve ever really had a home. Were you raised in an orphanage? Were you in some sort of a situation where your family moved from place to place to place? Maybe you live in a tent. Maybe you live in a trailer. Maybe you live in an apartment or condominium. You’ve never really had a place that was your own. Well, listen to me. Up in the universe there is a heavenly home that has your name written on it. And John, as an apostle, is representing you and me as the Church and heaven is your home, and it’s my home when we place our faith in Jesus. You don’t ever have to worry about wandering around again, or not having a place to call your own. Heaven is a place you can call your own.

John said, “I saw the foundations and my name was written there.” But I thinkalsoit means that heaven is a very stable place. When it’s got 12 foundations, heaven doesn’t move. And…in our society today, what was wrong yesterday is right today, and what was totally an abomination yesterday is an accepted lifestyle today. And things we wouldn’t have thought of watching on TV now, are there for family viewing. And you know, there are so many changes socially, racially, morally, our world is just fluctuating.

And if that’s not enough, there are changes in the world of nations and all of the instability in the Middle East and in Asia, between North Korea and China and so many areas of the world that could blow and plunge us all into a world war. You and I are living in a very unstable environments.

But heaven is stable. It doesn’t move. It doesn’t change. It rests on 12 foundations, and we don’t ever have to be worried about an instability, insecurity, again. Not only are there 12 foundations, but the streets in verse 21 are of pure gold, like transparent glass.

You know down on Earth, gold is one of our most precious possessions.We wear gold, and we work for gold, and we hoard gold, and we accumulate it in our bank accounts, and we work to get more gold, and we just love gold. My mother says, “You can tell what God thinks about gold because he paves the streets of heaven with it.” (laughter)

And you think about it for a minute. That the finest, most precious commodity you and I can have on Earth, and it doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe you own paintings done by some of the old masters--absolutely exquisite arts. Maybe you have a designer-decorated home and the most luxurious automobile in your garage. Maybe you have a perfect body and all of these other things, but you know the finest, best, most exquisite treasures that we can have on Earth, they’re just tawdry compared to what we have in heaven. And that’s why Jesus said, “Don’t lay up your treasures on Earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal. Lay up your treasures in heaven.” (Applause)

Closing:

John: Anne Graham Lotz has been our guest today on Focus on the Family and she’s going to continue this message about heaven next time.

Jim: Oh John, I love that picture Anne painted just a few minutes ago that heaven is a place we can all call our own. It’s our true home as believers. And I can tell you, as an orphan, I would have loved to have had that imagery of heaven as my real home. That might’ve made it easier to pass through all the other families and the homes-- 23 different homes by the time I was 18.

John: Wow.

Jim: That was a tough time and that kind of message I know would’ve brought me hope. And I hope it brings you that kind of confidence. I am so grateful, as an example, to my coach Paul Morrow who invited me to a Christian camp when I was 15 where I really understood for the first time the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. From that point on, heaven was my home. But I didn’t know all of those wonderful details that Anne shared with us today. What a great encouragement!

John: And I really appreciated that idea that she expressed about that truth of the scripture, that there is no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering in heaven-- that is such an encouragement!

Jim: And what a great thing to hold onto, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of difficulty in your life right now. A lot of people are, I know that. Whether it’s the constant burden of chronic illness or the emotional pain of a prodigal child or some other source of suffering, it’s important to know that as a Christian; your pain is short-lived compared to an eternity in heaven. And, boy, if you’re not a Christian yet or if you have more questions about it, call us here at Focus on the Family or go to our website and do some research. We have a free e-booklet called Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family that lays out for you the steps you need to take to become a believer in Jesus Christ. And a resident of heaven, as Anne’s talking about! And if you’re already a Christian and you appreciate the effort we make to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, would you please pray for Focus on the Family and consider making a donation. Together, we can touch so many more lives! Every day we hear from people like Rachel in Utah, who said this: “After becoming a foster parent, I realized I needed parenting help and I started listening to your podcast on a regular basis. Through the wisdom of your guests, I gained the parenting skills I desperately needed and began to develop a faith in God. I began to see God working things out in our family. One day I walked into a church and received Jesus Christ as my savior. I’m so grateful to Focus on the Family for bringing me and my family to the faith.”

John: Wow.

Jim: That’s it! I mean, that’s what we’re trying to do, folks! Rachel’s note illustrates our mission perfectly. To provide helpful advice for your marriage and your role as a parent and to introduce you to a relationship with the Creator of family, Jesus Christ! He’s the one who is going to help you grow and that’s why we’re here.

We are listener-supported, so if you believe in our mission, make a donation. And when you make that donation of any amount, we’ll send you the CD of the complete message about heaven from Anne Graham Lotz. Maybe you can share it with a friend who has some questions about why Christians believe in heaven and even hell, which we’ll hear more about next time.

John: And meanwhile, you can reach us here by calling 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or stop by and donate and request the CD at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

If you enjoyed today’s program, please tell a friend to listen along next time as we hear more from Anne.

Teaser:

Anne: Heaven is described as a place where the glory of God gives it light and there’s no night there. Hell is described as a place of great darkness.

End of Teaser

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Guest

Anne Graham Lotz

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Named by The New York Times as one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation, Anne Graham Lotz has followed in the footsteps of her father, Billy Graham, by traveling around the globe to share God's Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is a best-selling, award-winning author of 16 books, including Wounded by God’s People, Fixing My Eyes on Jesus and her latest, The Daniel Prayer. Anne is also the founder and president of AnGeL Ministries, an organization providing messages of biblical exposition so that God's Word is personal and relevant to ordinary people. She and her late husband, Danny, have three grown children and three grandchildren. Learn more about Anne by visiting her website, www.annegrahamlotz.org.