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James Meehan - Temple of the Living God

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    James Meehan - Temple of the Living God
TOPICS: Identity

Welcome to this week of Switch, where we are wrapping up our six part series titled, "Who am I"? where we've been going on a journey together to discover the truth of who God says we are. Because as followers of Jesus, we believe that our worth, our value and our dignity does not come from what other people say about us, it doesn't even come from what we think about ourselves, it is rooted in who God says we are. And what's so beautiful is the timing of this message and things that are happening in my own personal life to make this illustration perfect. So in case you aren't aware, there's a TV show known as "Survivor". It has has been going on for now 42 seasons. And this is a show that my family have been diehard fans of since we were little kids like season two, that's 20 years ago is when we started watching this show together. Eventually I moved outta my parents' house, I stopped watching it, but they stayed committed.

My sister Tory applied to be on Survivor every year, every season since she was old enough to actually be accepted. And finally, this season, season 42, my sister Tory is on survivor. It is her dream come true. And as her family, we are so proud of her, a little bit embarrassed by of the game decisions she's made early on. We're hoping she makes it far, but it's been a really cool thing to see this person that I've known forever, that we love so dearly get to see one of her top dreams in life come true. But here's what was really interesting is after the premiere of survivor, she had a conversation with somebody where they were asking about her experience, what was it like to see you on TV, that the entire world could see your dream has come true? What was it like? And Tory responded by saying, yeah, that ain't it. I kind of just feel empty.

And she went on to clarify that it's not empty in like a negative sense, it's just empty in the sense that she thought that having this dream come true, getting to be on this show, to be in front of the entire world, to showcase her talent, her passion, her wit, all of that, that, that would be a lot more satisfying and fulfilling. But what she's come to to realize, the thing that hopefully you are trying to discover is that our value and significance doesn't come from being famous, it doesn't come from being on TV, it doesn't come from being celebrated by others, but actually according to my sister, Tory, she would say that this experience has just further reinforced the idea that her value comes from her relationship with Jesus and understanding that she is not who others say she is, but she is who God says she is. And that's exactly what we've been talking about this entire series.

And in honor of survivor and my sister being on it, I want to kick off this message the way that 40 some odd seasons of Survivor have begun by stating previously on Survivor. But this time previously in Switch, I wanna take us on a journey back to the beginning of the semester, tracing where we have been going to help us have the full picture of what it is that we are trying to discover because we started off our Switch semester by exploring the question who is God, because what we believe is that ultimately who we are is dependent upon who he is. And so in the very first week, we talked about how God is our creator. And that means for us, we are made in his image. And we talk talked about the idea that God is our redeemer and he wants to rescue us from sin. And we, because we have been saved by the grace of that redeemer, our sinners saved by grace. And we talked about what it means for God to be king and how, when we step into a relationship with Jesus, we become citizens of his heavenly kingdom.

And then we went on to talk about the Trinity, the God who is three and one, God the Father who will never stop loving his kids and how we are his children. We talked about Jesus, the Son of God who came full of grace and truth and what it means for us to be his disciples. And now what we're talking about is how the Holy Spirit is God and he wants to be our guide. And we, we are the temple of the living God. Who are you? You are God's temple. You are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the same spirit that raise Christ from the dead is alive in you. Now, fair question, what does that mean exactly? Because we are human beings with flesh and blood, not temples made of brick and mortar. So what does it mean that we are the temple of the living God?

Well, first let's talk about what it means for something to be a temple. Throughout the biblical story, this is what a temple is, it is the focal point of God's presence on earth, it is the place where God's space, heaven, and our space earth overlap because in a lot of ways, that is the theme of the biblical story. God's space and our space, heaven and earth coming together with us as earthly creatures, being united to God, our heavenly creator. And to help us better see how this theme shows up through every chapter of the biblical story, we're gonna take a second to watch a video from our friends at the Bible Project who do an amazing job of taking big, powerful, biblical ideas and making them simple and easy to wrap our minds around with some really gorgeous animation in the process. So with that being said, let's check out this video from the Bible Project.

So who are you? You are the temple of the living God, you are the focal point of God's presence. The place where God's space, heaven and our space, earth overlap. Because there was a time in the beginning when God created everything where heaven and earth were joined together. But because of the sin of humanity, because of our rebellion against God, heaven and earth were ripped apart, our relationship with God was fractured. And so God put a plan in motion to bring these things back together. So he formed a people that became the nation of Israel. He filled them with his presence, he gave them a mission to represent his goodness and grace to every corner of the world. But there was a problem because those human beings, the nation of Israel were still infected by this disease called sin. And so God needed to do something pretty significant. He needed to deal with the disease of sin that was running so deep, that was corrupting his people to the core.

So God became Jesus, and in Jesus, heaven and earth were perfectly joined together because Jesus is fully God and fully man, the presence of God, his fullness was found in Jesus and everywhere Jesus went, he was bringing heaven with him and he was forming a new community of people that would become the church, that's you and that's me, that's the people of God filled by the Spirit of God, living under the rule of God. This is who we are. This is the chapter of the biblical story we currently live in as the church. And we have been given a mission to continue the work that Jesus started, knowing that there will come a day when Jesus returns to finish what he started, when heaven and earth will be fully brought back together, where sin death and suffering will be removed. And the presence of God will once again fill all of creation.

That's what we look forward to. But until then, we have a job to do because we are not just ordinary people, we are filled by the spirit of our extraordinary God. And this theme shows up over and over again throughout the biblical story like we just saw in that video. And it shows up over and over and over again in the writings of the New Testament authors because of how important this is. Because the thing that we have to understand about Christianity is that Christianity sees us as human beings as immensely valuable because we are made in the image of God and we are filled by the Spirit of God. And when we allow that truth to get buried deep enough inside us that we start to take it seriously, that changes everything.

And so what I wanna do is I just wanna run through a couple of different places where the New Testament authors talk about us as the temple of the Holy Spirit, starting in Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 17, he says, don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you. God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple, for God's temple is holy and you are that temple. Notice that what Paul is doing is he's saying that all of us together as the church, the community of believers, we are God's temple. But then in this next passage, he stops talking about us as a community and starts talking about us as individuals where he says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20, don't you realize that your body is the temple of the holy spirit who lives in you and was given to you by God, you do not belong to yourself for God bought you with a high price, so you must honor God with your body.

Together, we are God's temple, and you as an individual are God's temple. We are a representation of God's presence here on earth. We're not the product of random chance but we are the home of the Holy Spirit. And then in 1 Peter, 2, 4 and 5, Peter ties all of this together. He starts with Jesus as the cornerstone in the foundation. Then he talks about us as individuals, living stones, being built into a community that is the temple. In verse four, he says, you are coming to Christ who is the living cornerstone. He is the foundation of God's temple. He was rejected by people but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priest through the mediation of Jesus Christ. You offer spiritual sacrifices that please God, this is who you are. You are the temple of the living God, the God who is living inside of you is not some dead abstract spirit, but it is God in the form of the Holy Spirit who is animating our very bodies, and he lives inside of us. He makes us holy and he guides us into truth to help us live in the way that God has called us to.

And so what I wanna do is kind of summarize all of this with this statement that because we have been filled by the Spirit of God, we can be freed from the curse of sin and formed into the image of Christ. Three big parts here, we are filled by the Spirit of God, we are being freed from the curse of sin, and we are being formed into the image of Christ. That's why our memory verses for this week are found in 2 Corinthians through 17 and 18. And as I read this passage to you, I want you to notice how those ideas being filled by, freed from and formed into show up in this passage where the Apostle Paul tells us that the Lord is the spirit and whatever the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

So all of us who have had that veil removed, we can see and reflect the glory of the Lord and the Lord who is the spirit, he makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. You by the temple of the living God, and that means that because you have been filled by the Spirit of God, you can be freed from the curse of sin and formed into the image of Christ. And so maybe you find yourself in a situation where you've been dealing with some struggles, some addictions, some bad habits and practices that are hurting you and hurting others, and you want freedom from that. The good news is, is that because you are filled by the Spirit of God, you can find freedom or maybe for you, it's less the bad things you want to stop doing and more the good things that you know you should do, but every time you try to, you don't and you end up doing something else.

This is the beauty of us being filled by the Holy Spirit, is the Holy Spirit wants to transform us from the inside out to make us more like Jesus, to help us become the kind of people who can love God with every fiber of our beings and who can love others the same way that God has loved us, because this is who we are. We are the temple of the living God, we are the focal point of God's presence here on earth. We are a present day preview of God's future kingdom that is coming on earth as it is in heaven. And just like we have throughout this series, we are practicing a discipline known as scripture memorization, because it is one thing, I get it to hear these words and to read these words, and it's another thing entirely to believe them so deeply that you begin to live them.

And this is why we are taking time throughout our weeks to take these passages of scripture and to study them, to memorize them, to get that truth deep enough inside us that eventually the words that God says about us start to shape the words that we say about ourselves. Because until we believe that this is true, we will never live like it's true. And there is so much freedom that comes from understanding and embracing who God says we are, because you are not an accident. No, in fact, you're a masterpiece. You are not just a meat bag filled with organs, you are the temple of the living God and the God of heaven and earth risked everything, he died on a cross to bring you back to him, to bring heaven and earth back together, to bring us back into a relationship with him. And that, that really does change everything. So who are you? You are the temple of the living God, and that's a really big deal.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that we get to be a part of something that is so much bigger than ourselves. It is a story that you have been writing from the beginning of time until now. And it is a story that you have invited us to be a part of, to act on, to act in that you would use us for incredible things. And so God, I pray for everybody that's listening to this message, me included that we would allow these words to change the way we think, to change the way we see, to change the way we live, that we would trust who you say we are, that we would live as your temple, joined together and showing others just how good you are. We pray all this in Jesus name, amen.

Now, maybe you're watching this message and there's this piece of you that just doesn't buy it, because you've got doubts, you've got questions. When you've looked at the church, when you've looked at Christians, you see something that you would describe as anything but the temple of the living God, something that maybe represents something but not at all Jesus and yet even still, there's still thing in you that's curious, that's interested to learn more, that's because you were created by God and God created you for the purpose of being in relationship with him. And right now, God's holy spirit is reaching out to you, drawing you back to him because that is what we were made for, union with our Heavenly Father. And we can go searching for that feeling and that fulfillment in all sorts of different places, but those desires will only be met in a relationship with God.

And this is why the Gospel is such good news because God became a person named Jesus. He lived on this earth, a perfect and blameless life, hide a brutal death on the cross for your sins and for mine so that we could be forgiven, we could be set free. And then God raised Jesus from the dead so that anybody who puts their trust in him would be saved. We would be healed, we would be made whole, our relationship with God would be put back together. And maybe that's why you're here today, to respond to the grace of Jesus, to say yes to the relationship he's inviting you into, to allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out to make you who you're meant to be.

If that is you, and you're saying, you know what? I wanna give this a chance, I wanna put my trust in Jesus. If that's you, wherever you're watching, just raise your hand right now, all over the place if that's you, type it in the chat and say, I'm giving my life to Jesus. There's no better choice than you can make than that one right there to begin a relationship with God, your creator because he wants a relationship with you. And when you choose to step into a relationship with him, his Holy Spirit fills you and it begins to free you step by step from the curse of sin. And so, as people are making that decision, saying yes to Jesus, I want us to all pray together out loud as a family, because that is exactly what we are. So repeat after me:

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin, I'm turning toward you. I need your love, I need your grace, I need your mercy. Fill me with your spirit in Jesus name, amen and amen and amen.

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