Not things present nor things to come

So, I’m on the schedule to speak to my youth group next week.  I was supposed to speak two weeks ago, but ended up being called in to work so I had to reschedule.  To be honest, this was a pretty tough topic and I’m not sure why I picked it.  When I chose it I originally thought it was going to deal with loneliness or how nothing can separate us from GOD, and in the larger sense, that’s what the series is about.  It’s a three topic series, the first deals with persecution, mine is actually the second and it deals with eternity, and then the third is about loneliness.   Personally, I should have chosen the third one, but for some reason I chose the second.   Do you know how hard it is to explain eternity and make it relevant to teenagers?   Shoot, it’s hard enough for me to wrap my head around the concept of eternity.   Well, this was my attempt.   It’ll probably be a little different when I speak because I’ll do a lead in on the main verse, and then expound a  little bit where the SPIRIT leads.   I included the small group questions and the verses I’m using.  I have to keep it to around 15 minutes, which, for me, is kind of hard because I like to dig deep, and that often leads to long winded and deep in the weeds type kind of messages.   Feel free to comment

Text: Revelation 21:1-8
Topic: “Nor things present nor things to come,” Eternal Life
Big Idea of the Message: An eternal life, filled with peace, hope, and happiness, is promised to those who follow Jesus.

“In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.” – Mother Teresa
Often, people are too scared to talk about death. We need to though. In this message, ask the students how they feel about death. Use this passage as a way to encourage them.
Open with the thought, “On your deathbed, what do you want to say about your life?”

Question for you guys: “On your deathbed, what do you want to say about your life?” That’s a pretty weird question to ask anyone, let alone teenagers who, typically, don’t consider death or eternity.
This series is called “Nothing Will”, with our key verse of Romans 8:38-39 which says:

Romans 8:37-39
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nate focused on Persecution and loneliness aspects of how nothing will separate us from GOD’s love, tonight we’re going to look at a topic that isn’t very comfortable to talk about for some people, and that’s eternal life. Eternal life is a difficult concept to talk about because we truly can’t comprehend eternity. People talk a lot about forever, which is a synonym of eternity. We talk about “BFF’s”, how will love someone “forever”, but let’s be honest, friendships aren’t always forever and love, for the most part, doesn’t last forever. So what does the BIBLE mean when it talks about eternity? Revelation 21:1-8 gives us an idea:

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Did you see that in verse 4? “There will be no more death”. As it stands now, in our humanity, when we talk about Eternity, we are talking about death because, to be honest, for us to see eternity at this time, we have to die. Death is not a comfortable topic to talk about at any time, let alone in a youth group setting. Typically, most teenagers either don’t comprehend death or don’t even consider it. Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Both are inescapable, people try to avoid paying taxes, but trust me, you can’t avoid taxes. The same with death. We are typically scared to death of death. We avoid talking about it, and especially as a teenager, we don’t even consider it possible, but we have to. Hebrews 9:27 states: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. EVERYONE has an appointed time, we can’t escape it, we can’t avoid it, and we can’t bargain our way out of dying. There are extremes to the belief about what happens when we die, and how we live. Here are two of the extremes:

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle. ”
Albert Einstein

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.”
Edvard Munch

Those two quotes are examples of the vast extremes of thought when it comes to the belief of eternity and living. God has placed us here for a purpose, a reason. Each of us have a part to play in this life, whether it be a small contribution to someone’s life, or a huge life/world changing role. The point is, we don’t know right now how our life effects eternity. We don’t know that’s the point. Eternity is a concept that’s hard to wrap our heads around. We live a finite existence, which means, at some point our existence is going to end. And that’s scary.
But let’s put this in perspective. Let me show you Hebrews 13:5-6:

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”[a]
6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]

What did God promise? NEVER. In other words, For Eternity, GOD will be with us. PERIOD.
Christ HIMSELF said in John 10:27-29:

John 10:27-29New International Version (NIV)
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

That’s a pretty definitive statement.
No one knows when their time is, a popular meme going around instagram and facebook states “some people die at 25, but aren’t buried til their 70’s”. People are consumed with wanting to make a difference in their world in some way, but for the Christian, I believe there’s even a bit more pressure. You see, for the Christian, it’s not so much for what we can gain here on earth (even though if you admit it, it’s nice to get that public recognition), but for most Christians, our desire is to please GOD and have an offering to HIM when we reach Eternity. I want to be careful about one thing though. As Christians, we have a hope for eternity, and a promise of eternal life, but I want us to be clear about one thing and that GOD expects us to live. LIVE a life dedicated to HIM and others and not ourselves. God has a purpose for you, HIS child and that purpose you have to discover. In order for you to receive your reward in eternity, you have to discover the role you have to play in the adventure that we call life. Right now, you may have a vastly different perspective about your life. It may be perceived as boring or the opposite extreme as a nightmare, but change your perspective to the understanding that GOD will NEVER leave, forsake, betray, you and that GOD will always hold you in the center of HIS hand no matter what. That’s the point and promise of eternity. That GOD will NEVER {enter negative behavior} and HE will ALWAYS {enter positive perspective}!

I want to read Ecclesiastes 9:1-12:
-What do you think is the point of life according to the author?
– What are your thoughts on these verses?
2. Read Titus 1:1-3
– What do you think are the key words to this verse?
(“promised”, “beginning of time”, “does not lie”, Etc)
-How did Paul Identify himself? Do you think this is important in the topic of eternity?
– When was eternity promised us? Why do you think this is significant?
3. Read Romans 6:22-23
– What is the result of sin?
– Is the gift of GOD salvation or the opportunity of Eternity?
(the opportunity of eternity can only happen because of salvation)
Read John 6:39-41
-In Christ’s own words, what is GOD’s will?
-What is the key to attaining Eternal life?
(for leaders: everyone who looks to the SON)
Ecclesiastes 9:1-12
So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.4 Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Titus 1:1-3
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,

Romans 6:22-23New International Version (NIV)
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 6:39-41New International Version (NIV)
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble

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