Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Life brings many hurtful things that are aimed to take us out of serving God and battling evil. Therefore, we are told to rescue and restore one another, to put one another back on our feet and back into the battle of being a Christian, sometimes in hostile surroundings.

This Together has to do with things that damage a believer’s health or relationships with others as a result of their being a Christian confronting evil in the name of Christ. Believers can be wounded and taken out of battle by (1) their own poor choices when under fire for their faith, (2) intentional hurtful actions by others because of their faith, (3) collateral damage from another Christian’s behavior, and (4) being in tough battle for the Lord in their ministry.

To obey this Together we must know what each other is going through. We have to make it very safe to express hurts and tell others when we are under attack. There are so many different things another believer might need to be rescued from that there is no simple formula. Each rescue and restoration will have its own requirements.

Rescuing and restoring is seldom a job for one Christian, and most situations require many Christians working together. Most rescues and restorations will require the Togethers of “Hurt with One Another”, “Comfort One Another”, and “Counsel One Another”. Self-inflicted damage will usually require the Togethers of “Confess Sin to One Another”, “Carry One Another’s Burdens”, and once in a while “Face Discipline and Judgment Together”. Other Togethers might also come into play in rescuing and restoring one another to battle.

Nobody can restore someone as well as trusted Christians in one’s own Christian Inner Circle. In close intimacy and caring, those who are tired, beaten up and wounded can be loved, encouraged, affirmed and counseled. Daily telephone calls can be made to check up on how the wounded person is doing. Expressions of caring and concern can be made at the same time. The person can be prayed for, asking the Lord to fill that individual with strength, comfort and healing. If wounded individuals have doubts or resentments that God has not kept them from certain troubles, those in the Christian Inner Circle can soothe those hurts and in time explain God’s behavior as helpful.

It probably is safe to say that there will be no need to rescue and restore in heaven. So, how will doing so now enhance our eternal experience there? The answer is that there will be a great deal of celebrating in heaven. And some will have the ability to celebrate more than others.

Many people don’t know how to celebrate the victories of others. (Some don’t even know how to celebrate Jesus, which will definitely be a great honor in heaven.) This Together, along with “Honor One Another”, prepares us to be able to celebrate the achievements of others in heaven.

Now is the time to celebrate accomplishments of those who have been rescued and restored to go on to do something important. These are those who serve bravely, some a bit reluctantly, but still nobly – and the effort wears them out or beats them down. When we rescue them and get them back to battle in the theater of sin, we will really have something to celebrate! And, in celebrating them now once they are back on their feet, we are gaining the skills that in heaven will allow us to be more exuberant celebrants.

Many movies touch our hearts with stories of someone or some group trying to do something and getting knocked down and becoming discouraged. Finally, someone comes along and helps. Such rescue and restoration produces a success that brings tears to our eyes. Something good has happened in spite of initial defeat.

Or think how a parent feels when a wayward child, rescued by a teacher or someone from church, turns his or her life around. Every accomplishment in the future is celebrated more fervently because of what might have been disaster. The teacher who rescued will have felt great satisfaction and will enter heaven with increased ability to appreciate the accomplishment of another who struggled to attain victory. The parents will grow in their ability to celebrate, their previous limits having been stretched by their child overcoming adversity and achieving.
Rescuing, restoring, and then celebrating the victory now will be great preparation for a more wonderful eternal life. More parties and celebrating in heaven! Hooray!

Hopefully, we have all experienced at least one celebration about the accomplishment of another or others that was stupendously enjoyable. Those of us who are Denver Broncos fans just felt it when our football team won Super Bowl 50.

Celebrating in heaven will be a regular enjoyment. But each one of us will have a different capacity for such exuberance.

Those who did much rescuing and restoring of others so that Christians could go on to serve God even more powerfully than before will have maximum ability to celebrate when they see someone accomplish something difficult in heaven. Those who hardly noticed Christians who needed to be rescued and restored will have less experience and less tendency to celebrate others.

Here is a story to illustrate what I have been telling you.

When Sadie learned to excel at crag leaping in heaven, a sport unheard of on the old earth, there were 489 citizens of heaven cheering her on. These were those who came to heaven ready to celebrate the accomplishments of others. And, did these folks know how to celebrate! Their parties were something to behold.

Sadly, there were hundreds more citizens who looked on from a distance at these celebratory assemblies, not quite able to participate with the same desire or enthusiasm. These are those who came to heaven with many eternal skills, just not the skill of being overjoyed at someone’s overcoming great difficulty and succeeding. These folks are not envious or unhappy, just not able to fully participate in celebrations. It would have been much better for them if in their life before death, had they watched to rescue and restore other Christians to their service for the Lord.

Let’s say that a neighbor in heaven finally learns to fly a space ship capable of traveling light years to some unknown planet. Perhaps it took twenty years of training. We would want to have the ability to celebrate that accomplishment from deep down inside of ourselves, not just going through the motions of celebration, but being absorbed in the celebration.

But, there is another joy we want to have in heaven that requires skill built by rescuing and restoring others back in the dark world infected with sin. We want to see and celebrate people in heaven we run across whom we actually once rescued and restored. Knowing what they were rescued from and how they are serving God for all eternity at some higher level because they were rescued and restored will make our hearts jump with joyful celebration.

It seems logical that God, being a person, would want to hang out more with those who joined His team with the purpose of rescuing and restoring His servants. And, the more we were a part of that team’s rescues and restorations, the more God would be with us. In other words, God would want to be with us proportionate to the amount of effort we put in obeying His wishes for us to rescue and restore others.

Here is a story to highlight this point. It happens in heaven.

There is another Rescuer’s Banquet tonight in the Great Hall of the New Jerusalem. These are such wonderful times with exquisite food. And enough time for Jesus to make the rounds and hug everyone. Yes, there are other fantastic banquets, and we all want to go to as many of them as we can. But this Rescuer’s Banquet is so much more exuberant. Everyone there has an “expert rating” as a Celebrator from before they came to heaven. The Lord only wants at this particular banquet those who before death were very active on his Search and Rescue Team.

We all make wrong choices when under fire, some of us more often than others. But, when we do, God wants us to be rescued by other Christians, if necessary. We are not to have the attitude that if a Christian gets himself or herself in a jam, he or she will have to get out of it without help from others. If the Christian cannot climb out of the daunting circumstances, rescue and restoration are ordered by God in Scripture. Getting that person back to fighting evil in its many forms is critical. Wounded warriors must be rescued and restored. Their part in the Lord’s battle is at stake.

We need to rescue and restore people who have hurt themselves while serving God. For example, a Christian whose family and/or relatives are hostile to her or his Christianity might fight back with hurtful hostility and create deep division in the family and suffer from great remorse and regret. Or this could happen at his or her place of employment. Or a Christian with his or her non-profit ministry might embezzle funds and be facing legal charges.

The better we have done the other Togethers in our Christian Inner Circles, the less we will need to rescue people from self-defeating choices. For example, if we examine one another’s faith, one of the other Togethers, we will have seen areas of faith to teach about and strengthen. We won’t know what danger we prevented, but many times we will have thwarted something hurtful.

We need to rescue and restore people who have been intentionally hurt by others. We will probably know when someone we are close to has been attacked by someone, possibly an unbeliever at work or even a critical relative or acquaintance. Some will be under attack rather constantly, as from an unbelieving spouse or a cantankerous workmate.

At times we can advise how a person can protect herself or himself from hurt. At other times we can help the person take the hurtful action against them in stride, with grace. Especially when a person is demeaned, we can express our counter opinion and point out that we are more objective and even speak for God.

But, when the person is hurt by another Christian, we might need to obey another Together, “Forbid Mistreatment of One Another” which often takes brave and assertive intervention. We should not have to rescue a person from a hurtful Christian over and over again as we might when an unbeliever is hurtful.

We need to rescue and restore people who have become collateral damage from evil. Someone in your Christian Inner Circle might be avoided at work because another Christian has been arrogant and judgmental and turned people against anyone who is battling evil by loving others with open recognition of Jesus Christ. Your friend may have withdrawn from others at work and her or his opportunity to share the love of God stifled.

Or a close relationship with someone close to accepting Christ as a result of your love could be taken out of the sphere of your witness by unloving actions by one of your friends or by a new non-believing boyfriend or girlfriend. This could discourage seeking out people to bring to Christian faith.

We need to rescue and restore people who have become victims to life in general. There are people active in Christian outreach and ministry who find themselves in some pretty impossible situations because of bad things that happen in life. A downturn in the economy can cause loss of a job. A storm can do very costly damage. Health insurance premiums can skyrocket. Cancer can hit. Any one of these troubles can discourage a Christian from continuing their active ministry, whatever form that might be.

We need to rescue and restore people who have been hurt in serving the Lord. There are those in our midst who have stepped out in faith and been squashed in one way or another. For example, perhaps they have become exhausted. When this happens, the Christians in that person’s Christian Inner Circle should pool resources to rescue and restore. Perhaps they need to see that the person gets a break from the pressures of ministry. This could include locating a cabin for a week of relaxation, providing the equivalent of lost salary for a person to take time off without pay for rest, and seeking prayers for restoration.

We, like God, need to be accessible and ready to be called upon to rescue and restore others. However, most people are too ashamed of their need to ask people for help. They will ask God for help in their distress, and most often God will want to rescue them through us. (Not everyone gets a miracle.) That is why we need to be more aware of the urgent needs of others and want to be called upon by God to go out to rescue and restore.