My (personal) prayer: God you want me to succeed. Humbly, I ask you to open my eyes and heart to the text. Speak through me and guide my study. Thank you Father.
Facets of the Kingdom
Goodmorning everyone, my name is Piper and I work with the intermediate students here and I appreciate the opportunity to open Gods word here with family. You know what they say: "When the Pastor is away the youth minister will play" - actually I made that up. I do want to open with prayer though. God thank you for this opportunity to open up your word and seek after your heart. I pray that our hearts would be impacted and that you would guide my mouth so that I can speak your words. Thank you Father. Amen.
If I asked you to describe heaven to me, what would you talk about? What do you think heaven looks like? -Encourage Feedback-
We are going to explore this concept today abit as we jump on into it. Unlike last time I was up here, I'm going to attempt to keep it to 20 minutes, no promises though : ) We will be covering some ground today. If you would open up to Genesis Chapter 18 with me- now I know it says on your newsletter that we will be looking at Hebrews 13:1-2 , and no Andrea didn't make a mistake when she put this together, but to get where we want to go today we have to start back in the beginning.
Genesis 18:1-3 (read)
A recently displaced man named Abraham had moved from a land he knew well at the command of God and was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. If you have been to the middle-east, you know mid-day it's a true scorcher and you don't want to be doing anything that resembles work. Abraham looks up and sees three men that approach him, and he immediately takes the posture of servant by bowing low. He jumps up and begins making preparations for them. He invites them to sit down, as he pulls out all the stops to ensure a feast would be in the works. He entertain these men without any second thought, he even encourages his wife to make haste. He addresses their comfort needs, provides water for those stinky sweaty feet.
- I don't know if anyone else can relate to being on the road or not showering for days...
Brief Guatemala story/ Abrahams:
I had the opp to work with kids in wheelchairs, and I lived in a dingy single room concrete flat. In this apartment I had a super dangerous shower called "the widow maker" which I wasn't afraid of bc I'm not married. It had exposed wires and.... As I traveled out of the town en route to Honduras I stopped at a flash house. I was blown away by all of the standard amenities the western world is use to. Hot shower, real washing machine, a television and a bed that wasn't on the floor... It was a huge blessing in the time of transition. It ministered to me in a big way
Taking a closer look at Abrahams heart we see that he spontaneously engages them, showing tremendous hospitality- from the moment he sees them, selflessly attending to their needs. His excitement builds, he wasn't doing this just because he knew he should, but out of a genuine heart of love.
Transition to Hebrews 13:1-2
Now let's jump into the text, where we will be spending most of our time.. Hebrews 13:1-2
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
The author of Hebrews was keenly aware of his time and place. As numerous Jews had converted to Christianity, this caused tremendous tension amongst the Jewish/Christian community. With a sadistic roman emperor bearing down hard on the Christians bc of their faith, Christians were considered atheists as they only worshipped 1 God... Judaism was accepted- This new way of life, the Christ-like life was under siege from all sides.
-This was written to new Christians thinking about abandoning the faith, and returning back to a life they knew.
This passage was written as a loving reminder, that there was something bigger going on , something more at stake. Both Abraham and the Christians in the time Hebrews was written would of had great excuses to not share.... maybe there was a temptation to feel like they had nothing of value to give.
Where these rag tag Christians correct? What did they have to offer?
A loving family, maybe you have been apart of one/ Maybe you only saw what a loving family looked like on television, but the family in which you were brought up in didn't resemble much of anything that looks like love.. As a teenager (at least for me) you complain about the family that you have, then you realize that they weren't so bad after you move out and experience some of the world. In recent months, I was invited to live with a family here, the Quirkes. It has been such a sweet time. I had all but forgot what daily family life looked like in a family. What I saw was a family that tremendously loved each other, and I wanted in. I wanted to know where I could serve or help. I didn't understand everything that Quirkes did, but still I knew I wanted in.
In the same light, the original church was being exhorted to continue as they had fellowshipping. Acts 2 Spontaneous meeting, giving... meeting with each other. From an outsiders view, I would imagine, they might say. "Ok I don't understand everything these Christians say and do, but I see the way they love each other, the community, the fellowship and the way they love other and I want in."
The reason why it is so important to remember this is because at the time Christianity could have just faded away. as an aspect of it so unique to the world is the ability to love strangers, or even a step farther strangers/enemies/outcasts. The author reminds them, "never forget the love shown to you, share it with others- this is a practical outworking of your faith!"
Don't just tell people the gospel, live it, model it, ... be the gospel . -At times things might start off easy but then, excitement fades.
John 13:35 says... they will know you by your love for one another- keep in mind it doesn't say anything about skills, talents or money, or how impressive your argument is that Christianity is the only true religion. It's love.
This reminder to keep engaging the world is nothing new... Theologian John Calvin wrote of the 16th century that "hospitality" is all but extinct.We as the church family, have the chance to provide family to those who don't have one to those that don't have one, With a loving father at the head that loves his children.
Maybe you have nothing to give... but if your in a loving relationship with God the father you possess something of the greatest worth. and you can extend that love and that community to those who don't have it, maybe even those you think don't like you.
Acts 3:6 "money and things I don't have but what I do have, but what I do have, I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ..."
The WAY of Christ.
Q:So what does heaven look like?
What are we saying when we say "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done?"
In Revelation 19 Heaven looks like this ...
, wedding supper of the lamb, we will be sitting at the largest most fantastic table you could ever imagine, sharing stories with one another, ( can you pass the butter? yes I can!) laughing-suffering will be no more. Sharing a feast with the King of Kings. A community of people together that love each other.
While Christ in his human form was on earth, he extended his table to anyone. He was open and ate with the most unlikely of characters. As followers of Christ we have known the verse "Iam the way , the truth, the life" - to follow the way of Christ is to open ourselves up to the people we are around everyday ... To be a follower of Christ our hearts should be fixed on Christ, our eyes heavenward, seeking to bring what we see there here to earth, expanding his kingdom on earth.
I believe one of the most beautiful songs ever written is Come thou Fount of every blessing. The line says: "Jesus sought me when I was a stranger, wandering from the folds of God." Let us never forget that at one point, no matter how brief we were strangers to Gods family, and what that felt like.
So maybe you today are a weary traveler in search of rest... maybe even a family./ or Maybe you feel God is distant and he hasn't spoken to you in the longest of times. You hear stories about him doing amazing things through other people and you say "He could never do that with me- I'm average"
Maybe as we open up to others the way Christ did, God will minister to us in the most unlikely of ways. As we operate in love, without a fear of surroundings (what the world can do to us) something beautiful occurs. We as Christians are not miracle workers, no , that is the power of the holy spirit, we can only create spaces for them to occur. By opening up our homes and hearts to the world around us, in doing so we openly ask the God of the heavens to use us.
So what does heaven look like, ? my prayer would be that today it would start looking like the life you and I live day to day, one of openness to strangers... loving people with abandon, no matter the circumstances, the way Christ loves others.
Want to be apart of the family? Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Our father who is in Heaven, most excellent is your name- may by the power of your holy spirit we expand your kingdom here on earth.
God we love you, make us more like your son Jesus. Amen
-May you be filled with Gods grace this week.
-I would now invite this community for a tea and coffee- in the building next to us.
I Preached 28-30 Minutes total including Church response.