Our Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Mt. 6:9-10)
The first thing we learn from our Lord Jesus Christ about prayer is to address God as “Our Father.” In the Old Testament people do not address God in this way. By calling God “Our Father” we have established a very close relationship with Him, something we did not have before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (Jn. 1:12) After we receive the Holy Spirit we even have a more intimate relationship with God. “And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:17-18) “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:14-15)
God is our Father in Heaven who is not only majestic and holy, but also intimately personal and loving. God’s sacred name is “YAHWEH” which means “I AM WHO I AM.” (Ex. 3:14) “YAHWEH” is a name that describes His eternal power, everlasting presence and unchangeable character. In a world where values, morals and laws change constantly, we can find stability and security in our unchanging God. In many world religions man go and seek their gods in various forms. The One True God of the Christians is the only one who comes down from heaven to seek after the lost ones.
The universe has two divisions – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1; 14:19) In the visible heavens are the stars and planets (Gen. 1:14-17) The apostle Paul wrote about “the third heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2) Heaven is the throne of God (Isa. 66:1). Jacob dreamed about heaven’s gate. “And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven.” (Gen. 28:17)
God has given us some truths concerning a few things that will be absent in heaven. What are they?
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow; nor crying; neither shall there be no more pain. For the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) What a wonderful thought to know that these things that are the curse of sin on this earth will not be in heaven.
The beauty, the excellence, and the attraction of heaven are indescribable. “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) What the apostle John saw in heaven is a description of a city that is built with the most expensive and precious metals. “And the construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. . . . And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: . . . And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (Rev. 21:18-21) Here is how God show that heaven represents the best, the most beautiful, the most precious and the most expensive things in terms that man can understand. God gives us the best things therefore He also desires the best things from us.
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught His disciples to say: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt. 6:10) There is no doubt what is God’s will concerning what He wants from His people on earth as it is in heaven. He wants the best. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness God instructed them to build a tabernacle. He gave them clear instructions on the quality of workmen who should do the work. “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:” (Ex. 31:1-6) God wanted only experts in their field of building and craftsmanship to work on the tabernacle. This is what He commanded the children of Israel. The tabernacle symbolizes heaven. It serves as “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Heb. 8:2,5) When the temple was built God had blessed Israel with workmen in abundance: “hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all types of skillful men for every kind of work. Of gold and silver and bronze and iron there is no limit. Arise and begin working, and the LORD be with you.” (1 Chr. 22:15-16) In obedience to God’s instructions only skilled and experienced building workmen can be used to build churches. Only the best design and workmanship in a church building reflect heaven and glorify God.
Oftentimes we discuss amongst ourselves whether or not we should build a cover over an area for cooking or a walkway to another building. The main consideration is whether or not we need it. The main function of any building is protection against the external elements of the sun, wind and rain. A building complex is not complete and functional if we are unprotected from the rain in moving from one part of the building to another. In California we may not need it, but in Houston we do need it because it rains so much. We have to distinguish between a need and a luxury. Building a covering is not a luxury but a need. The issue we are talking about is the improvement and progress of our church. If having a covering is an improvement then we should seriously consider it. Completely ignoring it is an indication that we do not want to improve ourselves, and that is not a good attitude for Christians to have. Our church must keep on improving in all spheres of activities.
Another thing we need to consider is whether or not we can justify spending so much money now when we may need to spend it on something else in the future. What does our Lord Jesus Christ teach us?
“And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor." But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." (Mt. 26:6-13)
The value of anything can only be measured by what you can get out of it. Jesus needed the costly flagrant oil at that moment. To the disciples it was a waste of money to pour it on the Lord’s body. They had plans to use the money for other purposes, but Jesus wanted it at that moment.
We have a building fund that can be used for improvements to our church. Using the funds to improve our church facilities is better and wiser than leaving it in the bank where it earns very little interest nowadays. Building is called real estate and increases in value in time. Money in the bank decreases in value due to inflation. Jesus wants us to be good stewards of money that can increase in value (Mt. 25:14-30)
When we built this chapel in 1983 I strongly recommended to our congregation to spend $15,000 to buy more dirt to raise our building and the parking lot to prevent flooding. It was a lot of money at that time especially when our congregation had less than twenty members. It is still a lot of money now. Our church members at that time loved God and one another and were all in one accord. We bought more dirt and today we are enjoying the wise decision that was made nineteen years ago. Our small congregation gave their best to God and heaven came down to earth.
In last evening’s Bible Study Brother Patrick said. “We pray to God and ask Him for direction and leading. He has given us clear directions and instructions in His Word. Why don’t we follow what the Bible tells us instead of keep on praying for God’s leading?” I totally agree with him. Let us do what God has already told us in His Word, then heaven will come down to earth and our Church will be richly blessed.
This article is based on the sermon preaced by Paul Wong
to a congregation in Houston, Texas on November 23, 2002