In heaven, we will all be reassigned new tasks to do, new things to do with our lives that keep us occupied. They’ll be things that you like to do, not some bad tasks like some bad job here on earth. God understands your shape. He knows how you’re wired. You will be reassigned things to do that are fulfilling in heaven. Contrary to popular opinion, when you get to heaven, you’re not going to sit on a cloud in a sheet and play a harp. (To me, that would be hell!) I can’t think of anything more boring. And this whole thing about heaven being all white… Heaven is going to have lots of color. God invented color. If you think the world is beautiful – and it’s an imperfect place – how much more is heaven going to be beautiful. It’s going to blow your mind. Your senses will be fully aware because there won’t be any sin there to hold them back and harm them. You will be reassigned work to do.
We talk about this a lot at NewLife. Life is not an accident. You were made for a reason. You were made for a purpose. God has a plan for your life. Your parents may not have planned you but God did. No baby is ever born by accident. There are illegitimate parents but there are no illegitimate babies. If you’re alive and you’re breathing and your heart and pulse are going, that means God has a plan for your life.
Now God’s plan is a good plan. It’s not a plan we have to worry about, that we have to be afraid of, be anxious about. It’s a good plan.
God says this in Jeremiah 29 “`I have good plans for you’, says the Lord, `I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.’”
Is that something you can thank God for?
God’s plan is so good and so great that He even takes our mistakes, our faults, our failures and the things that other people do to hurt us and weaves them in and brings good out of those. God’s plan for your life is not all happy, all comfortable. God’s plan includes pain in your life. And God’s plan includes some disappointments. And God’s plan certainly involves some discipline. If you were never disciplined, you would never have any character. God’s plan in your life involves some unanswered prayers.
I want to share with you a way I think you can make this Thanksgiving different. It starts with first realizing that everything you own, everything you are comes from God. Without God there would be nothing in your life.
The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 29 ”Everything has come from You and everything belongs to You.”
If you did not have God in your life, if God had not even created you, you would have nothing. So it all starts with God. So when we start saying, “What can we be thankful for?” we really have to thank God for everything.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8 “You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.”
What is grace? Grace is everything God does for you even though you don’t deserve it. Grace is God giving you what you need, not what you deserve. The Bible says that everything you have comes by grace. Everything God does in you and through you and for you and to you and by you is by grace. You don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you don’t work for it. It’s just a free gift.
In Psalms 103, there’s a laundry list of just some of the things God does in our lives by grace. He says, “I will not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love. He fills my life with good things. He is merciful and tender to those who don’t deserve it. He is slow to get angry. He never bears a grudge. He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.”
Are those things to be thankful for? I’d say so!
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give you what you deserve?
Aren’t you glad instead that God gives you what you need?
The Bible says this in James 5:16 “Admit your faults to one another [notice it doesn’t say to God. It says admit your faults to one another…] and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Let me clarify this. If all you want in life is to be forgiven for your faults just confess them to God. But if you want to be healed of them, if you want to get over them, the starting point is to share them with somebody else. Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. You know those habits you don’t like? You’re never going to get well on your own. You need other people. God wired the universe that some things we only improve on with the help of others. We have to team tackle them.
Not only does the Bible talk about this, science has confirmed it over and over and over that you’ll live longer and you’ll live healthier if you have healthy friendships. If you don’t have healthy friendships you’re going to die sooner than you imagine. People without friends don’t live as long as people with deep friendships. They’re not as healthy. One of the reasons is friends give you a place to unload your negative emotions.
The other day I heard a guy tell me. He said, “I don’t have time for friends right now in my life; I’m just too busy for relationships.” I looked at him and I said, “Then you’re too busy.” Because life is all about relationships and you will regret this later on in life.
One of the great tasks of life is building great friendships. And if you don’t build them in the early and middle stages of your life you end up later in life pretty lonely. Pretty lonely.
Since God wants us to learn how to love, it’s one of the key things God put you on earth to do is to build deep friendships.
In the Bible the phrase “one another” is used fifty eight times. There are fifty eight commands that the Bible says “Love one another; Care for one another; Help one another; Serve one another; Greet one another; Encourage one another.” You can’t do that. There are fifty eight commands you can’t obey if you don’t have good friends. So you need friends for spiritual growth and for emotional support.
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, [We’re commanded to do that.] and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”
If you’re not helping out with any other friends you’re not fulfilling the law of Christ which is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
One of the verses you need to memorize whether you’re a parent or not. Every person should memorize this verse. Write it down. Proverbs 24:16. You need to teach this verse to your children.
Proverbs 24:16 “Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up again!”
I love that verse. It says even good people fall. The word there actually in Hebrew is the word “righteous.” “Though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again.” Even when good people fall, even the best people, well intentioned, they stumble. They mess up. They flub. They say the wrong thing. They do the wrong thing. We all fall. We all stumble. We all mess up.
And when we fall that’s not the important thing. It says good people get back up again even if they fall seven times. That’s the difference between a success and a failure.
Anytime you compare anybody to anybody else you’ve made a major mistake in life. Why? Because everybody’s unique. Everybody’s different. There’s nobody in the world like you. You are incomparable. And the Bible tells us not to compare. You should never compare your wife to anybody else. You should never compare your husband to anybody else. You should never compare your lawn or your house or your job to anybody else. You certainly should never compare your kids. “Why can’t you be more like your brother? Why can’t you be more like your mom? Why can’t you be more like your dad?” I’ll tell you why! Because I’m not them! And neither are you.
Comparing never, never works. And when you do it it’s unhelpful. It’s unfair. And it’s lethal to any relationship. You start comparing your wife to somebody else you’re heading for divorce court. It’s lethal. Just stop. The Bible says over and over again you should never compare. Let me show you one verse.
Galatians 6:4 “Each person should judge his own actions [let me be the judge of my own actions] and not compare himself with others. Then he can be proud for what he himself has done.”
Wait a minute! I thought pride was a sin. There’s a good kind of pride and there’s a bad kind of pride. The good kind of pride is “I did the best I could with what I had. I’m proud of what I did.” The bad kind of pride is “I’m better than so and so over there.” That’s comparing.
If your marriage is going to last to the ages, you’re going to go through enormous amounts of change. We’re not the same people we were when we got married. If you stay with the same person for life you grow and you don’t stay the same. So your marriage will succeed or fail by your ability to learn how to deal with change. And to realize that change can be a good thing. It can be a bad thing. It can be a good thing and it can keep you from boredom.
But let’s talk about the kind of change, the things that don’t change in life. Like your personality. That’s not going to change.
When you kind of look over at each other and go, you are never going to change! And believe me every relationship hits those moments, those kind of stuck places where you realize that the person you are married to, has some habits that drive you absolutely insane. And the likelihood that that will ever change is remote and dim. So then what are you going to do about it? How do you deal with it?
We do drive each other crazy! Sincerely, honestly…
We’ve been married twenty nine years. Even today we still see things totally different. How do you deal with those things? Here are three or four suggestions. One of them is stop using incompatibility as an excuse. People say, “We’re just incompatible so we’re going to divorce.” I don’t believe in that term. I think the word “incompatibility” is a word made up by divorce attorneys to justify divorce. The truth is you’re not compatible with anybody. You will never meet anybody that you are compatible with because nobody agrees with everything you do. So no matter who you marry you are incompatible.
There’s another word for incompatibility. Selfishness. When people say, “We’re incompatible,” I have two words for you: grow up. Because given the right situation if you choose to love you can fall in love with anybody and stay in love with anybody. That’s another thing that’s important.
Realize love is a choice. People think love is a feeling. Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Love creates feelings. Love creates great feelings.
Genesis 1:27 says this: “So God created people in his own image; He patterned them after himself – creating both male and female with his image. [So males don’t have all the image of God or females. We both get parts of God’s image.] Then God blessed them and commanded them, [Here is the very first command God gives to the human race. I want you to read it aloud with great gusto. Ready! Here we go. God commanded them…] Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth!’”
So God’s first command to the human race is get married and have sex. That, by the way, friends, is the only command of God the human race has been able to keep!
And we’ve done a pretty good job at that one. There are seven billion of us on the planet because your parents and their parents and their parents and their parents and their parents were fruitful and multiplied and filled the land, filled the world. So we’re all here.