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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Citizen of Heaven

James Meehan - Citizen of Heaven

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    James Meehan - Citizen of Heaven
TOPICS: Kingdom of God

Well, welcome to part 3 of our series, Who am I. Where we are going on a journey together to discover the truth of who we are. Not based on what other people say about us, not based on even the things that we say about ourselves, but based on the truth of who God says we are. And throughout this series, we've been talking out this idea that as a human being, you are made in the image of God. That was the big idea from week 1. And we learned that being made in the image of God means that you're valuable. that you have a purpose, and you are loved by your creator. Last week, we talked about what it means for us to be sinners saved by grace. Because all of us as human beings. Everybody everywhere have fallen short of God's standard. We have been infected by this disease of self-centeredness.

But the good news of the gospel is that no matter how ugly our sin is, the gospel is bigger. It's better and more beautiful than any of that. And through Jesus, through his death on the cross, through his resurrection from the dead, we have been in to be cured of our sin, to be made right with God, and to be a part of his good plans to restore the world. This week, we're talking about what it means for you to be a citizen of heaven. Who are you? You're a citizen of heaven. Because God is our king. And he wants to be the king over every single part of our lives. Now, today's message is going to be taught in three different parts. Part 1, we're talking about chosen people. Part 2, we're talking about good news. And then part 3 is about wild animals.

Now I know that sounds weird, but it will make sense when we get there. Before we get to that though, in this series, we've been engaging in a practice known as scripture memorization, where we have been working on getting the truth of God's word so deeply rooted in our hearts. That the way we talk about ourselves and others starts to line up with how God talks about us and what God says about others. So that eventually our words will become God's words. That what we say and what he says will be so closely joined together. That these aren't just words that we say or hear, but they're words that we believe and we live. If you haven't taken the step to start this practice, the best thing you can do is subscribe to the YouVersion Bible plan, Becoming Like Jesus.

If you're watching online, then you can find the link to that in the description below. If you're Switch in real life right now, then your youth pastor will have some instructions for you on how to get signed up and subscribed to that Bible plan. And the goal of that plan is to just walk you step by step through a morning routine where you create space to experience the presence of God and you practice getting His truth rooted deep enough inside you to transform you. So that's what we're doing in the series. Learning who God says we are and allowing that to shape us and mold us into who God wants us to be. Now for part 1, we're talking about chosen people. These words that we're about to read are actually our memory verse for this week. They were written by Peter, a disciple of Jesus who was writing these words as a letter to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire, who were enduring significant persecution because of their faith in Jesus.

And here's what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9-10. He says that, "But you are a chosen people". You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. You are God's special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light. There was a time once where you were not a people. But now, you are the people of God. Once, you have had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. This is who Peter, a disciple of Jesus who is writing in the scriptures, inspired by God's spirit is speaking about you that you're a chosen person. You're a royal priesthood, a holy nation called and set apart by God to be his special possession. To be a part of his good plans for the world. And all of that, right there is so powerful.

But here's the thing about the Bible is that that one little passage, those two verses is chuck-full of references to other parts of the Bible. That the more we begin to discover what it is that was informing what Peter wrote here, the more brilliant all of this becomes. The Bible is not just a regular book that we read like every other book. The Bible is a collection of ancient documents written by dozens of authors over the course of thousands of years, that are all inspired by God to tell a single unified story that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus.

The Bible is kind of like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yep. I just said it. If you are not a Marvel fan, that's okay. Go with me. You're still welcome here at Switch. But if you are a Marvel fan, get ready. Because what I'm about to tell you might just blow your mind. So the Marvel Cinematic Universe is this universe of movies that have been created starting in 2008 with Iron Man. We had the Infinity Saga that released in 2019 that ended with Endgame. And this is a series of movies all set in a single universe that were directed by a whole bunch of different people, starring a bunch of different actors that each of those movies stands on its own, but they also come together to tell a larger story about the Avengers and their confrontation with Thanos, the big, bad evil guy at the end of the story.

The thing about the Bible is it's really similar to that. Because the Bible is a collection of books written by different authors, telling stories about different characters throughout history that is all leading up to Jesus and his confrontation with evil and darkness, the big, bad evil guy in the biblical story. And the thing that's so cool is that every single one of the books of the Bible can stand on its own and teach us incredible things about God's love for us and who he says we are. Every single one of the Marvel movies you can enjoy it on your own. But when you put it all together, you get something that is so much bigger and more beautiful. And then what's awesome too, is to find all of the references and Easter eggs scattered throughout the Marvel movies that are calling back to and pointing ahead and teasing out other parts of the Marvel Universe.

And I'm just gonna go there because I think it's absolutely brilliant. If you've seen Infinity War, spoiler alert. That's how words work. If you, you have seen Infinity War, you know what I'm saying. If not, it's been out for years now, so you've missed the boat. But Infinity War ends with the Avengers losing. And the story of Jesus, there's a moment where Jesus the Messiah dies and everybody thinks that's the end of the story. The Avengers separate, the disciples go and hide. But we know that's not how the story ends. In Avengers Endgame, the Avengers reassemble. They rally together to finally put an end to Thanos after he has wiped out life in 50% of the universe. In the Bible, on the third day, the stone is rolled away. Jesus is risen. He has conquered sin, death, and the devil. So that anybody who puts their trust in him could be safe, they could be made new.

And the thing that's so beautiful about these verses that Peter has written is that there are so many little Easter eggs. That if we follow them to where they go in the other parts of the Bible, they will even further bring these words to life. Because what Peter's referencing here, this idea that we are a chosen people, that we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, a people that have been called out of darkness and into God's wonderful light. What he's talking about, he's talking about the gospel. He's talking about the freedom we have from sin. The rescue that Jesus made to pull us out of darkness and bring us into God's kingdom of light. He is referencing the things that God has done, that God is doing, and God is will, still do because of Jesus. This is why it's called the gospel because it's really good news.

And that brings us to part 2, good news. You see, Peter, who wrote those words we just talked about, was actually a pivotal part, according to tradition, of what is contained within the Gospel of Mark. Mark is one of the four gospel accounts that tell the story of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. And Mark is believed to have been a really close friend of Peters. And tradition tells us that actually, Mark got his information about Jesus, his life and his teachings directly from Peter. Pay attention to that because it's gonna come back up. What we're gonna do though, is we're gonna jump into the first chapter of Mark's gospel, starting in verse 9, where Mark is going to tell us about Jesus' entry into his ministry. The things leading up to it and the announcement of what he came to accomplish.

So starting in verse 9, here's what we read. At that time, Jesus came to from Nazareth in Galilee and he was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son whom I love, with you I am well pleased". Isn't it beautiful that even Jesus, the Son of God understood that his identity doesn't come from what other people say about him. It is rooted in the truth of who God says he is. And what God declares about Jesus is also what he says about you. That you are his child. That you are loved. And when you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you become one with Christ. And so the same words that God spoke over Jesus apply to you that with you, he is well pleased.

Now in verse 12, it continues. And we read that at once the spirit sent him, Jesus, out into the wilderness. Pause here for a brief tangent. There are some of you right now who are so preoccupied with trying to get famous, that you have ignored the calling of God for you to go into the wilderness. You see, the reality is that when we put our trust in Jesus, when he makes us new, he gives us a new purpose to be a part of his plans, to bring the goodness and grace of God to our world. And for so many of us, we've been caught up in the celebrity culture of our modern world that we think the way we're supposed to make a difference is by being famous on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Hollywood, wherever. But more often than not where God calls us is not into the spotlight, but it's actually to serve behind the scenes. Because it's often in the wilderness, the place that nobody sees, and most people don't even look to where God does the biggest work in us to prepare us what God wants to eventually do through us.

And so maybe for you, that is the takeaway from today's message. None of the other stuff, but the fact that maybe you've been so focused on getting famous, that you haven't been listening to God as he's leading you into the wilderness. Picking back up verse 13 tells us that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days. He was being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals and angels attended him. Then in verse 14, after John on was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news, the gospel of God. Here's what Jesus says. "The time has come. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news".

This is the announcement of Jesus' mission. What he came on this earth to do. To announce that the kingdom of God has come near. But what does that mean? So just to break it down, when it comes to understanding the Kingdom of God, it starts with understanding what a kingdom is. A kingdom is a realm ruled by a king. It is a people, a nation where a king is the one in charge. So what is the Kingdom of God? Well, the Kingdom of God is the realm where God rules. It is the people of God living under the rule of God. And the realm where God currently rules is in heaven. It is the place where things are as they should be. Where God's goodness, his justice and his righteousness are ever present. Where love is the law of the land. Where peace and power are at hand.

And what Jesus is telling us is that that kingdom is coming near. Jesus is announcing that God's rule and reign is taking root in history. That the place where things are as they should be, where the king of creation is ruling in authority. That is coming near. This is the good news that Jesus is announcing. This is why we say that the gospel is the good news. That the Kingdom of God is coming on earth as it is in heaven. And everyone. Yes. Everyone has been invited in. That means you've been invited to be a part of God's kingdom.

Now the question becomes, how do we accept this invitation? Well, the answer is what Jesus says right after that. He says, "Repent and believe the good news". Repent and believe the good news. What does it mean to repent? There's kind of two primary meanings. The first one is like the literal definition of the Greek that the word repent comes from, where it means to change the way you think. To change the way you think. The second understanding comes from the Jewish culture, where repentance is all about returning. Returning to God. Returning to the way of life he's called you into. Returning to the light and the goodness that he has offered and he wants to extend into your life.

That is what repentance is. It's changing your mind about who God is, about who you are. About what the good and the true and the beautiful life is really supposed to look like. And returning to God to allow him to be the king over every single part of your life, Because the kingdom of God is coming on earth as it is in heaven. And every single one of us has been invited in. And when we step into that invitation, when we say yes to becoming a part of God's kingdom, you know what happens? We become a part of God's chosen people. A royal priesthood, a holy nation. God's special possession. A people that once we're not a people, but now are the people of God. A people who have been called out of darkness and into God's wondrous light. This is what we've been invited into. The good news, the mission of God that is here and it is now, and all of us have a part to play.

So part 1, we talked about chosen people. Part 2, we talked about good news. Now, we're moving on to part 3 where we're gonna talk about wild animals. And it's really important to remember that the Bible is constantly calling back to what came before. It's constantly looking ahead to what God is going to do in the future. And it's always reminding us that God has never stopped working. That he's always bringing goodness and grace to our world. And so let's go back to this little detail that we just read through in Mark's gospel. It's in verse 12 and 13 where we read this. That at once the Spirit sent him, Jesus, out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

So in that passage, there's kind of two things. One of 'em doesn't seem that weird. And that's the wilderness piece. The other thing that does seem weird is the wild animals, because it's actually only Mark's gospel that includes the detail about wild animals. And as I was hearing for this message, I was just kind of trying to see where else the chosen people language shows up in scripture. And I found this passage in Isaiah, that includes some details that made it just so cool to see how interconnected the biblical story is. To recognize that when Peter was writing, 1 Peter 2:9-10. When Peter was relaying the story of Jesus to Mark, the details that made it into those documents were calling back to this passage found in Isaiah, a prophet from the Old Testament. And we're gonna read this and I want you to pay attention to those two words, wilderness and wild animals.

And I want you to look for the connections in this passage to the passage that we've read from Peter about us being a chosen people. You ready? Starting in Isaiah 43:16-21. Here we go. "This is what the Lord says, 'He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there never to rise again, extinguish, snuffed out like a wick.'" And here's what God says, "Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it Springs up, do you not perceive it? I'm making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me".

I don't think that's an accident. I think that is the Holy Spirit drawing these passages together to point to the truth of who God is and what he is doing through Jesus. So the wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. Who is it that Peter said we are? He said you're a chosen people. That you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God's special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light. Once, you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once, you had not received mercy, but now, you have received mercy.

Who are you? You are a citizen of heaven. The good news of the gospel tells us that because of what Jesus has done, because of what Jesus is doing, because of what Jesus will do, the Kingdom of God is coming on earth as it is in heaven. The place where things are as they should be, where God is ruling in justices and righteousness with holiness, with grace, with mercy, where all the things that we wish were true in our world are true. That is coming near. And we've actually been invited to be a part of that right now. Because even though the king of God is not yet here in full, it is here in part. And we have been called to be a group of people living today under the rule of God as our king. That's who you are. When you put your trust in Jesus, when you receive of the mercy that God offers, he calls you out of darkness and he brings you into a kingdom of light. So who are you? You're chosen people. You're a royal priesthood, a holy nation. You are God's special possession. Because of Jesus, you are a citizen of heaven.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for the good news of what you have done, of what you are doing, and what you still will do because of your Son, Jesus, through his life, his death, and his resurrection. Gotta pray for all of us that we would allow these words to not just be something we hear, but that these truths would get planted enough inside of us that your words eventually become our words. That what we say is a reflection of the things that you have spoken. That God, we would step into the calling that you have given us, to live as citizens of heaven, to be reminded that our worth, our value, our dignity, our purpose does not come from what other people say about us. It comes from who you say we are. And you tell us that we're loved. It's in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Now, for those of you who are joining with us online, maybe you're hearing all of this and there's this thought racing through your head where you're like, "Yeah. That sounds good. But I don't know if it's for me. Because of the things that I've done. Because the lies that I've been told. Because the things that people have said to hurt me. All of that sounds good for somebody else, but I'm not convinced it applies to me". And I just wanna remind you that the good news is available for everyone. The good news is for you. That all of us as human beings, we have fallen short of God's standard. We are all sinners. And that sin separates us from God. But God was not okay with that because he is our creator. And he wants a relationship with you, his creation.

And so what God did is he entered the world in the person of Jesus. He lived a perfect life. He died on the cross for your sins and for mine so that we could be forgiven. And then Jesus rose from the grave. He defeated death, sin, and the devil so that anybody who puts their trust in him would be welcomed into God's kingdom. They would be adopted into his family. They would be reunited with their Heavenly Father and made one with Jesus, their Savior. And maybe that's why you're here today. To begin a relationship with Jesus, to put your trust in him. To become a part of God's people, to receive the mercy of God. Because it is a mercy that changes everything.

And so if that is you, and you're saying, "Yeah. I want that. I want a relationship with Jesus. I want my life to be different. I want to become a part of God's family". If that's you, then you can just simply raise your hand or type it in the chat saying, "Jesus, I give you my life". As people are making that decision, I need you to know that there is no better choice you can make on earth than to choose a relationship with Jesus. The one who died for you, the one who rose from the dead so that you could have life in him. And as people are making that choice, what we're gonna do is pray together as a Switch family. Because we are the people of God. And we are United in Christ Jesus. And so, even though you had to make that choice on your own, you don't have to pray alone. So all together, out loud, repeating after me:

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning to you. I need your love, I need your grace, and I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life. In Jesus name. Amen, and Amen, and Amen.

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