It’s natural to feel good when things go well – your team scores, you land the fish, you bring down the elk, you get the diploma, you receive the promotion, you drive off the lot in a new car, your home remodeling is finished, etc. The euphoric chemicals are released in our brains and we feel good.
Jesus had sent some of His followers to various cities to heal people and to tell them that the kingdom of God was near. As each team came back, they couldn’t wait to swap stories of what they had witnessed. You can almost hear the exhilaration in their voices as they “returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.’” (Luke 10:17) They had witnessed the power of God surging through them as they set people free from diseases and demons with a command from their own lips!
Now, I don’t think Jesus was throwing a wet blanket over their joy, but He had a clear message for His followers. He said, “‘Don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.’” (Luke 10:20) He wasn’t telling them that it was wrong to be excited when God did great things through them. He wasn’t expecting them to deliver an emotionless report, like Spock.
Jesus is teaching them a valuable lesson about priorities in life. Though it is exciting when we see God work through us, there is nothing that beats having the assurance that the gates of Heaven will be wide open, welcoming our entrance the moment we close our eyes in death.
For those of you who have yet to receive Christ into your life, Jesus teaches that even if you lead the most adventurous and exciting life there is, if you don’t get your RSVP to Heaven turned in before you die, all those exciting encounters will be for naught.
It reminds me of the gal who sang at her friend’s wedding. When everyone went to the sit-down reception, she wasn’t allowed in because she had forgotten to return the invitation’s RSVP. She assumed that she would be allowed into the dinner because she had sung. But she was wrong.
Many people assume they will get into Heaven. Yet, if they don’t place their faith in Jesus before they die, they will be sorely disappointed. You see, the Bible indicates that God will hold court someday. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15)
How does one respond to God’s invitation and get their name written in this book? How do they turn in their RSVP in time to get on the list? By three simple steps that you can take day or night, anywhere you find yourself.
1. Believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin.
2. Believe that Jesus came back to life three days later.
3. Invite Jesus to live in you as Leader of your life.
These are not simply intellectual facts you accept as true. It is a deliberate surrender of your will to Jesus, asking Him, the living Savior, to come into your heart and be Lord of your life. If you haven’t yet done that, I hope you’ll do it soon. Jesus will immediately write your name in His book of life!