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Taste of Heaven - 2013-05-05

Taste of Heaven - 2013-05-05

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Published by John Partridge
What is heaven like? How can we know? In one small, but incredibly significant way, we can, and have, experience a taste of heaven on earth. As the people of God gather together, there, in the midst of them, is the power and the presence of God.
What is heaven like? How can we know? In one small, but incredibly significant way, we can, and have, experience a taste of heaven on earth. As the people of God gather together, there, in the midst of them, is the power and the presence of God.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: John Partridge on May 05, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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“Taste of Heaven”
May 05, 2013
John 14:23-29Acts 16:9-15Revelation 21:10,22-22:5
Have you ever wondered what heaven was like? We hear a lot about heaven both in scripture and in popular culture. Writers of fiction and nonfiction alike have imagined what heaven was like and some even claim to havevisited there for a time. But regardless of what we have all heard, and what we have read, and all that we have beentaught, we wonder what heaven is
like. Imagine that all your life you have been told what ice cream tasteslike. You have heard ice cream commercials talk about how wonderful ice cream is, you have read reviews of icecream in magazines and newspapers and you have read books that explain what ice cream is and how it is made,you have even seen drawings of what other people think ice cream looks like… but you’ve never actually
icecream. There is a limit to what you can really know about ice cream if you have never, personally, tasted it.Some of us have the same sort of problem with heaven. We’ve heard pastors and television preachers talk endlessly about heaven. We’ve read verses in the Bible that talk about heaven. We’ve read books and magazinearticles filled with what other people think heaven is like and we’ve even read some of those books by people whoclaim to have been there. But we’ve never seen it for ourselves. We’ve never tasted the ice cream. There is a partof us that feels left out because we have never made that personal, tangible connection to experience what heaven islike. But, we know we can’t because we would have to be dead to experience heaven, right? Well, yes, and no.We begin this morning in
Acts 16:9-15
where we meet Paul, Silas, and Timothy on a missionary journey to Asia…
 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedoniaand help us.”
 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis.
 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
One of those listening was a woman from thecity of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart torespond to Paul’s message.
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
The people of God were in the habit of worshipping together in the Temple in Jerusalem. If they were too far fromthe Temple to worship regularly, then they would meet together in the local synagogue. But what if they were far from home and there were not enough Jews to call a rabbi or to build a synagogue? In those cases and in those places, it was common for Jews and God fearers (those who had not been born Jewish, but who believed in andworshipped Israel’s God) to meet by a nearby river on the Sabbath day and worship together. And so, in Philippi,far from home, surrounded by a people who worship many gods, Paul, Silas, and Timothy head to the river to see if they can find any others who desire to worship together on the Sabbath day. A synagogue could be formed and arabbi called if there were twelve Jewish men, but here we find none. Instead, they find a number of women, whoare either Jewish, or God fearers. It may be that these women were married to Jewish men who were not regular in practicing their faith and did not gather on the Sabbath, or perhaps they were married to Gentile men, or perhaps,were single business women. In any case, there among the women, they meet Lydia who is a business woman, adealer in purple cloth, a woman who runs a cloth dying business, and who is, as far as we can tell, single. While1
she has a household, servants and perhaps a family that live with her, there is no mention of a husband, even whenthe entire household is baptized.So, what is it that makes the people of God want to be together? Long ago, God lived in the Tent of Meeting, andthen in the Temple in Jerusalem. The people went to the Temple to meet God and to lift up their prayers. Godresided in the Temple but God did not make his home in the synagogues. These were places of religious teachingand learning as well as community centers. Even before the coming of Jesus Christ, these houses of worship reallywere places to learn about God and simply to
be together.
The people found value in meeting together and prayingtogether and worshipping God… together.And then came Jesus. Jesus, like many others, was in the habit of going to the synagogue or to the Temple toworship and to pray. Even for Jesus, there was something of value in being in God’s house or just simply beingtogether with God’s people.The apostle John shows us something else. In
John 14:23-29,
we find Jesus giving his disciples some finalinstructions before his arrest, trial and crucifixion…
 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to themand make our home with them.
 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you.
 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in myname, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
The key here for us today is this, “
 My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home withthem.”
Jesus also speaks of sending the Holy Spirit to live with us. What changes, is that no longer will God betied to a building or to a place (as if he ever really was), but instead God will come down from heaven and dwellwithin us. Each of us who have believed the Gospel message has Jesus Christ in our hearts and the Spirit of Godliving within us. Now instead of gathering together in the Temple to worship, we worship anywhere, becausewherever two or three are gathered, there is God in the midst of them. Because God has made his dwelling placeamong men, because Jesus has come into our hearts, the temple of God is no longer in Jerusalem but within eachand every one of us. That means that whenever we gather together to praise and worship God, God himself is therewith us regardless of whether we worship in a tent, a church, a cathedral or in a cave in the middle of nowhere.Worship with other believers is, for us, a taste of heaven not only because are we praising and worshipping together as we will in heaven, but we are surrounded by the Spirit of God in a way that we are not when we are alone. Iunderstand that God lives within us and is just as present when we are alone, but there is something unique, peculiar, and special about the time we spend worshipping together. When we worship together as the Body of Christ we can feel the presence of God in ways that we most often do not when we are alone. When we worshiptogether, not always, but often, we leave feeling that we have been in the presence of God. We have, in this way,tasted heaven.This is for us, a foretelling of what will be, much like the vision that John saw and recorded for us in
Revelation21:10, 22 - 22:5…
 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God.
 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
The nationswill walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
 Nothing impurewill ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are writtenin the Lamb’s book of life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
 Nolonger will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will servehim.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
In those days there will be no Temple, no synagogue, no church. None will be needed. We will, instead, livewithin the presence of God himself. All evil and darkness will be swept away, all our needs will be provided, andall of our suffering and pain will be erased. And still, the people of God will be gathered together to worship andlift praises to God.From the very earliest of times, the believers of God have gathered together to lift praises to God and to worshipHim because they felt they should, but also because they recognized that there was power in it. Somethinghappened when they were together that was different than when they were alone. After Jesus’ death andresurrection he sent the Spirit of God to teach us and God began to live within the hearts of human beings. Now weassured that when we are together, the Spirit and the power of God fills us and surrounds us and draws close to usin ways that we do not often see or feel when we are alone. This is why, still, after thousands of years and immensechanges in culture and technology, the people of God continue to gather together to lift praises to God and toworship Him. Still we feel that we should, but also because we too, like so many who came before us, recognizethe power that is in it. We meet together and we feel the power and the presence of God as we do nowhere and no-
else. We can feel God draw close to us and we are changed because of it. It as if we are given food for which we were starving, but somehow forgot we needed. We leave, renewed, refreshed, energized and at peace.This is why the people of God continue to meet with one another for a time of praise and prayer.We have worshipped together.We have touched the face of God.We have tasted heaven.3

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