Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Excerpt from the Luke Series 6 months ago

How Far Is Heaven... Expository series...Luke 10
Category: Religion and Philosophy

"How Far Is Heaven?"
There's this song that Los Lonely boys wrote and recorded and it simply asks, "How far is Heaven?" Good question. How far is heaven? The answer is it's as close as you want it to be…. that will make a whole lot more sense to you after I'm finished today

The Work of the Seventy-Two Followers

Last week Ben Talked about what it takes to be a disciple…the Cost of Discipleship and so forth.

Now that Jesus has trained and lived with these disciples for some time, He sends them out on a quest to "Proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven"

Not Necessarily "How to go to heaven when you die"
(Do you notice a lot of people view the church as a scam, selling insurance for the afterlife?)
Rather, "The Kingdom of Heaven is now close!"
We see this over and over
What is this Kingdom of heaven?
Heaven is Both present reality and afterlife

The Bible Says in Ps 115:16- The Highest heavens belong to the Lord But the earth God has given to man (collective "man" meaning human beings male & female- So the earth he's given to us)

In the Hebraic way of thinking, Heaven is a place where things are exactly as God wants them…

Jesus Preaches about heaven a lot more as a present reality than he does as an eternal destination…
- So earth is the realm we have been given control or dominion over.
- In Heaven things go God's way
- On earth, things go the way we choose
- With every decision we can choose to do God's will or our own…Live God's Way or some other way
- In Jewish mindset, God's way is heaven- Brings "peace" or "shalom" of God upon the earth.
- When We choose to live selfishly, our choices bring destruction…Hell, upon the earth
- With every decision we are choosing heaven or hell in our lives and those connected to us…
- As Christians it's our part to Preach the Kingdom of Heaven… by placing food in someone's mouth who is starving… by clothing the Naked… visiting the persecuted…

Mt 25:35 When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, 36and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me."

37Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? 38When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear 39or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"

40The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me."

In fact, Jesus prays (in the prayer we refer to as the Lord's prayer) "Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done down here as it is up there…"

For Jesus, this new kind of life in Him is not about just escaping this world, but also about making it a better place While we are here, right here and right now.

A Large part of the kingdom message was about us making the world a reflection of heaven.

For every one time Jesus talks about the afterlife, he talks ten times about some social issue (foreigner, fatherless, widow… taking care of those around us who are in need…Instead of living lives that are centered on ourselves )
He refers to this profound shift in thinking as the Kingdom way of doing things
Like I said it's both a present reality and a future destination
He sends them out to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven
To heal broken people,
To set free the spiritually oppressed,
To teach love
To let people know that there is a New Kingdom on it's way
A new Way of doing things, new life

Reading on…

Verse 3 Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. Don't take along a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals. And don't waste time greeting people on the road. As soon as you enter a home, say, "God bless this home with peace." If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you. Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because workers are worth what they earn. Don't move around from house to house. If the people of a town welcome you, eat whatever they offer.
Heal their sick and say, "God's kingdom will soon be here!"

Jesus is sending these 72 out as like the 1st missionaries and he's giving them instructions on how to do it…

Go to your place of ministry
Bless the people there,
Eat what they eat,
stay where they stay
proclaim the gospel with words and action (teaching & Healing).


Now our church (the Anchor Gaslamp) we are starting is a missional/ church…

What does that mean for us?

- We are not Just trying to start another church!
- This city doesn't just need more churches
- We want to become a community of believers who feel it is our calling to reach this city, love this city, and help transform this city by the power of God, starting right here in the heart of Downtown San Diego

1st let's talk about our city…that's the context of the mission we have been Given by God if we are true disciples…

We have many different cultures in our area:

Hispanic 891,442 29%
White 1,577,029 51%
Black 163,766 5%
American Indian 15,942 < 1% Asian 298,740 10% Hawaiian & Pacific Islander 13,046 < 1% Other 7,893 < 1% Besides different cultures based on racial backgrounds, there are many subcultures. We have: - indie–rockers - rap culture - skaters - techies - nerds - surfers - balers - subcultures based on religion, sexual preference, occupation, socio-economic standing… etc. We need to reach these cultures and subcultures! www.sandiego.areaconnect.com 54% under age of 34 70.4% under age 44 median age= 32.5 about 50 % between 20-40 Young City. Focused on professionalism, health and success. Most of these young business professionals are single… 39.8% single/non-family households…we're full of singles almost 40% Other Facts… www.sandiego.gov SD= 7th largest city in USA/ 2nd in CA 4th least segregated city in USA median household income = $47,067 USC.EDU Evangelical Groups % of of of % of Churches People Pop. Adherants S. Baptist Conv. 104 27,228 1 2.2 Presbyterian USA 31 24,008 0.9 2 United Methodist 43 20,799 0.7 1.7 Evangelical Lutheran Ch.Amer. 39 17,873 0.6 1.5 Assembly of God 72 16,770 0.6 1.4 Episcopal 38 16,284 0.6 1.3 Independent Non-charismatic 16 15,580 0.6 1.3 Total Evangelical Christians = 5% 11.4% Jesus tells his disciples in this passage to look at the fields that are ready to be harvested, but they need laborers… We call those people missionaries and we normally think of them as people who go to other countries (AKA Mission Field) to preach the gospel. BUT… …America is a mission field San Diego County is at highest estimates, about 11.4 % evangelical Christian Mainland Communist China is about 8% evangelical Christian! We are only 3.4% more "Christian" than they are! We need to talk about doing missions there as well as places like China If I said we are taking a special offering today to send missionaries to Communist China to convert all the communists, you would say, "YAAAY!" San Diego is not far behind China folks! San Diego has some weird religions, perverted lifestyles, and people hungry for something their not getting: Jesus Question: how does Jesus reach them? The Answer: If We are true disciples of Christ, he has sent us. Say "I am a missionary" Who are we reaching for? Let's look @ most San Diegans

- They don't want church

- They don't want customs, traditions, or dry religion

- They are hungry for social justice

- They are hungry for the spiritual (Kabala, scientology, Buddhism)

- What they do not realize is that they are searching for what Jesus brought 2,000 years ago… What did Jesus Do? Jesus came from eternity, entered time, and dwelt among a people, ministering to them. He took up his Cross. He died, was buried, and rose again. That's the Gospel. (We identify with that backwards. We identify with his death, burial, and resurrection in the new birth experience – we then learn to take up our cross- and then we learn to live as he lived…in a culture ministering to people. "to live is Christ," Paul said. We need to observe how he lived!) Jesus was born into a culture. He participated in all the cultural customs of his day. He went to the parties. He ate the food. He sang the songs. He dressed like them. He talked like them. He incarnated (that doesn't just mean he came in flesh. It means he came to us through a people and a culture). I know it's a funny way to think about it, but God became a missionary! (I Tim 3:16) What does a missionary do when they go to a country? They do what Jesus instructs the 72 to do in our scripture tonight. They stay where the people are. They learn the language and cultural customs of the group of people they have been called to. They eat their food. They often wear their clothes. They take the Gospel message and contextualize it for that culture in terms people can understand. None of us have a problem with that. We say, "Well sure…They're going to China." Well same thing if they're going to Indie-Rock Culture, or Hip Hop Culture, or Techie Culture. If they're going out into the Suburbs with families, or into the city with all of us crazies, we have to find a way to speak and live that contextualizes the gospel where they can relate to it without leaving their culture. (We don't try to make them fit our mold. I got news for you. Jesus never wore a suit and tie…. In fact, Jesus had a beard and wore sandals to church. That's preposterous in some churches! I think it was CS Lewis who said "If Jesus returned to this world today, would he even associate himself with Christians. OR Would we be the Pharisees…. would we want to crucify him?" … Many Christians want people to get saved and fit into Their church's culture. "They'll learn to like hymnals." BUT, Jesus went to their culture. He hung out with the low-lifes of his society…. the religious people were the ones having a cow). Paul was also a master @ this. Read the scripture sometime in the book of Acts and how he wins the Athenian Greeks @ Mars Hill. This Passage demonstrates what it means to be a missionary Paul sought to understand the people he was reaching and relate to them in their cultural context. His approach was controversial then, and still is. What did he say to churches @ Corinth… "To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews…to those who are without the law I became like a person who is without the law… to those who are weak I became weak so I could win the weak. I have become all things to all people so I could save some of them in any way possible. I do all this because of the Good News and so I can share in its blessings." 1 Cor. 9:20-23 (NCV) "…Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him. I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the blessing I myself receive when I see them come to Christ." 1 Cor. 9:22b-23 (LB) Just as Jesus Christ came to live among us, we dwell with the people around us. In many ways we are like them. BUT We are also changed and transformed, and because of that we seek to change and transform. God has blessed us, so we seek to bless others. God gave everything to us, so we seek to give everything to him…including our ideas… our will, our way of doing things. "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done!" That should always be our attitude! However many religious people have a cow @ this… as they did in Jesus day…He even addresses it when he says… Verse 10 But if the people of a town refuse to welcome you, go out into the street and say, "We are shaking the dust from our feet [d] as a warning to you. And you can be sure that God's kingdom will soon be here!" I tell you that on the day of judgment the people of Sodom will get off easier than the people of that town! The Unbelieving Towns So he points to Sodom (Sodom & Gomorrah), then he goes on this tirade against cities that have rejected truth! 13You people of Chorazin are in for trouble! You people of Bethsaida are also in for trouble! If the miracles that took place in your towns had happened in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have turned to God long ago. They would have dressed in sackcloth and put ashes on their heads. [f] 14On the day of judgment the people of Tyre and Sidon will get off easier than you will. Throughout history, God has dealt with many cities, and a number of these have had their destiny foretold Babylon Egypt Rome Petra Jerusalem TYRE, the island city in the Mediterranean Sea, (which is THE CITY CAST INTO THE SEA…by Alexander the Great…) had been prophesied about in the OT by prophets such as Joel, Amos, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, because it was a city that never listened to the voice of God Fascinating study done @ http://preacherstudy.com/tyre.htm Of Course Jesus also mentions Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities destroyed by Fire raining Down from the Heavens…Literally judged by God…But maybe not because of the reasons we jump to… Ezekiel 16:49 " 'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant (stuck on them selves), overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Apparently, Jesus lists their arrogance and total indifference to those around them in need right up there with their other more notorious sins The Return of the Seventy-Two 17When the seventy-two followers returned, they were excited and said, "Lord, even the demons obeyed when we spoke in your name!" 18Jesus told them: I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19I have given you the power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you. But don't be happy because evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven! Then Jesus prays and tells everyone how lucky they are to be witnessing all they have seen…every great prophet throughout history wished they could see this day … Moving on… The Good Samaritan 25An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to have eternal life?" 26Jesus answered, "What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?" 27The man replied, "The Scriptures say, `Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.' They also say, `Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.' " And we see another place in scripture when Jesus is asked "which is the greatest commandment?", this is his response.. he even says on these 2 commandments hang ALL the LAW and the Prophets… so since this is bulk of Jesus message… …28Jesus said, "You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life." 29But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, "Who are my neighbors?" And this is the part that messed everybody up… 30Jesus replied: As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. 32Later a temple helper [i] came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side. 33A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine [j] and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, "Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return." 36Then Jesus asked, "Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?" 37The teacher answered, "The one who showed pity." Jesus said, "Go and do the same!" Now I'm gonna mess with your theology for a moment, because - We are always taught to be good Christians - Turn the other cheek When someone strikes you - Love your Enemy Many Christians I know can't even seem to get along with other Christians… Some churches today view non-Christians as outsiders So who is my neighbor?? Everybody!!! Let me explain something about this passage: Jesus was a Jew. He saw himself as one of Abraham's descendants. Abraham's original contact with God involved a kind of purpose or mission statement: " I will bless you," God said, "And I will make you a blessing to others. I will make your name and nation great," God said, "and through you all nations will be blessed" One of the greatest heresies (false destructive, divisive belief) in monotheism results from taking the first half of God's call to Abraham (I will bless you, and make your name and nation great) and neglecting or rejecting the second half (I will make you a blessing, and all nations will be blessed through you). Do you see the difference? It's tragic! If we take the 1st part of God's call to Abraham more seriously than the second part, we are not carrying out God's true mission. One scholar says, "Remember, in a pluralistic world (world with many different beliefs), a religion is valued based on the benefits it brings to it's non-adherents." In other words… To the people we are reaching, our gospel only matters if it helps others… especially those who do not believe like us. Are you nice to Muslims? Do you go out of your way to help them and show the love of Christ? How about people struggling with lifestyles you don't agree with? How about people who are not from our country…what about homeless? What about ex-cons? What about rich people? Do you go the extra mile to show them God's love? The Gospel should bring blessing to all…adherents and non-adherents alike. In our world, which is basically "flat," if you've read the book by Thomas L Friedman, everyone is our neighbor… Martha and Mary 38The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. 40Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!" 41The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her." Mary Chose the better part not because she was a slacker, but because she knew how to have hang time with God… What good is it to live for God and do all kinds of things for God and not even know him… It's not about religion (things we do for God) but it's about relationship (…After just about every great miracle session, we see Jesus get alone with God and pray) None of this stuff we have talked about tonight matters if you don't take time alone with God -vince larson

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