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Posted: November 19, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Grace Notes: See the place where God dwells

I rejoiced with drunkenness those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1).

This Sunday, we celebrated the grand opening of our new building. I know, I’ve been using the building of that thing as fodder for illustrations in this column for a while now, but if you’ve seen the place on Ga. Highway 212 between Bethany and Ga. Highway 81, you know why we’re pretty excited about it.

It’s beautiful, not just because of the stained glass or stonework, or even the bell tower with a real bell in it. It’s beautiful because God is here.

He promises that wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is with us (Matthew 18:20). And I know that can be anywhere: A school cafeteria (we’ve done that), a living room, even a double-wide, if that’s what we would have built. But our God is worth more than that. And he proved he can do so much more than that. And so we celebrate our new building, more for what it does than what it is.

All the beauty has a purpose. It’s designed to point our eyes to heaven and to our Savior that gives heaven to us. So our new home is not about how pretty this home is, it is about how beautiful our heavenly home is. And that is what our text from Revelation 22 is all about, where John describes his vision of heaven with absolute beauty and peace and prosperity: "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city," and he goes on and on, giving the real picture of our inheritance, reminding us of our victory, of our eternal home. We are, as God so clearly calls us, "Saints Triumphant."

We need to hear that. Too often, our lives look like we’ve lost. Just last weekend, my family was told to say our goodbyes to my wife’s dad because the cancer has spread again, and now it is all over his brain, too. They don’t think it will be long at all.

Last month, the body of the 2-month-old daughter of one of my very good friends didn’t wake up from her normal, healthy, afternoon nap. In that context, how victorious do you think you’d feel? Wouldn’t it be all too easy to get depressed or sulk in the misery of your life?

Sometimes God’s word just doesn’t let us do that. It has to go and confront us with the facts. Death doesn’t have the victory. As much as it might look otherwise, death has already lost on both of those counts and it will, every time.

That little baby is not defeated, but stands with her God right now. My father-in-law is not dying as an end, but as a beginning. They are saints triumphant. We are saints triumphant.

I know, it doesn’t look like it. A tiny casket doesn’t look victorious. Cancer doesn’t look victorious. We sinners don’t look victorious. As much as our pride might want to say we look like saints…as much as we may say we want to get away from all the pettiness of life and the hard feelings and the disagreements and the immorality and greed and pride and crassness of life in this world, and as much as we might want to just huddle up at church and hide from the rest of life in that beautiful place with all these saints, where everything should be happy, there’s a problem with that: We’re there. And in our hearts, we carry around the greed and pride and immorality and crassness of the world. We carry sin. There’s no hiding from it, even in church, as beautiful as it may be.

But do you remember what our text says about "there"? Literally, it reads: "No longer will there be any cursed thing." No longer will there be anything that is touched by sin or infected with sin. We can not say that about our building, but we can say it about where our building points us, to heaven.

But doesn’t that present a problem?

If nothing with sin can be in heaven, we have no hope until we see the source of the life-giving water in our text, the water that makes the whole city come alive, that nourishes heaven. The water of life is flowing from the "throne of God and of the Lamb." The Lamb of God, the sacrifice for our sins, has taken away the sin of the world.

You know the truth. "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." That makes the difference and that makes us Saints Triumphant. So we get to be at the place described in Revelation 22, where he is and where we get to eat from that tree of life, that feeds us the fruit of the Spirit and strengthens us with his word. We get to be where we can see God’s face fully and understand all the answers to all the questions that our hearts wrestle with. We get to be so secure in him that his name is written on our foreheads. We get to be where there is nothing to hide and no night — where we never have to stop doing what we will want to do more than anything else — praise God!

And here’s the thing — we get to start here. So come to church. Come, see the place where God dwells, and be reminded of the place where you will dwell with him forever.

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