(I will write about Italy, but that is going to take a while.)
Our pastor just concluded a series on Heaven yesterday. I think it was 5 weeks long, & we missed the 3rd & 4th week so I haven't listen to them yet, but just what I heard has been really good. Not quite what I expected. But it has changed my thoughts & the way I view my circumstances & actions.
I want to tell you about yesterday's sermon, because it was very convicting to me.
1 Corinthians :11-15
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, & the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."
This scripture, when referring to the man that builds on the foundation of Jesus, means someone who has put their faith in Jesus to save them. It is speaking of believers (which means more than "I believe in God" or "I go to church, sometimes" or "I'm a good person" or just calling yourself a Christian but that is another topic); if you do not know Jesus this does not apply to you.
We are saved by grace, but our reward is based on how we live.
On Judgement Day, our lives will be presented before the Lord: every thought, word, action, every single little bit of our lives that we maybe think doesn't matter, everything will be judged (remember Matthew 12:36-37?). So, we are building our lives with the following aspects:
-the attitudes of our heart
-the way we spend our money (which is an expression of how we live our lives; what we value)
These things are represented by either gold, silver & costly stones, OR, wood, hay & straw. They either represent what the Lord is passionate about (love, patience, kindness, compassion, humility, etc) or what He despises (ugly words about other people, anger, lies, jealousy, disobedience to authority, coveting, etc). It will all be presented before the fire, & what is left is our reward. Some will not receive a reward, based on the way they lived their life.
I want a reward. I want to build my life with gold, silver & costly stones. Since yesterday I have noticed some of my thoughts that are definitely straw. I want to live my life aware of the thoughts & attitudes I have so I can make sure they represent gold. I don't want to live my life selfishly, living in the moment, responding out of emotion, instead of stepping back & seeing things the way God does - an opportunity to respond in kindness, not anger, or the chance to forgive instead of be bitter.
This is just my summary of the sermon, it is certainly not all-inclusive. You can listen to it & the rest of the Heaven series here.