“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
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