This Sunday we wrap up our six-week series in the Revelation of John. We have largely been finding during this time a combination of comfort and confrontation. John has brought the church through all the ages to a place of confrontation, as we seem to continually need to battle against things such as apathy, false worship and selfishness. But at the very same time John is confronting, he is comforting us with God’s promises and a picture of our final eternal home.
This Sunday we will look at the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22. In this passage we are brought into the imagery of heaven and the prayer of the church to once again be united with Jesus. The prayer is very similar to the one we have prayed at the dinner table as long as I can remember – “Come, Lord Jesus!” I grew up with it and we still pray it today.
It took me many years to learn the comprehensiveness of these three simple words. As an “old guy” I now operate with that prayer as a constant cry of my heart. Now, on one level it is the prayer of the Church to once again look upon the face of Jesus just like I can look upon your face on Sunday. In other words, it is asking Jesus to come and take me to my eternal home. This is always a great and comforting prayer.
Then there is the “Come, Lord Jesus!” prayer that is asking for Jesus to invade every moment of my life in this world before I get to my eternal home. This cry of my soul is based on my desperation, as well as the hope filled promise that I am loved by my creator. This is a position of my mind and will that recognize how good Jesus is and how much He loves me.
Come to us, Lord Jesus! COME!
This life is filled with lots and lots of really good stuff. For instance, my daughter is marrying a man in ten days that I trust to love her, I visited with a great friend late into the evening last night and I listened to the beautiful sounds of thunder last night as I comfortably drifted in and out of sleep. I could go on and on! I have no doubt that most of you could also easily create a list of good things in your lives as well.
I love dwelling upon enjoyable things that make me smile, laugh and in general, feel good about life. It feeds my soul to see what is beautiful, good and true. As a believer in the Creator God, I believe the love of God and His presence can be found every day.
But then there is the other reality of today – we live in a broken and fallen world. Sin and death are real. I will face enemies and situations that are just simply too much for me to handle on my own. Our souls cry out for something more than this world has to offer. There is no doubt, we are not in heaven yet!
This Sunday we continue our look into some of the key passages from the book of Revelation. The vision that God gave to John meets us in our present situation but also brings us into a hopeful future. We are given strength and hope for today. While at the same time, experiencing an anticipation and expectation for a perfect day to come. We live in God’s presence today and then we look forward to the day we will actually gaze upon the face of Jesus. What a day that will be!
Here is our text for this Sunday’s message from Revelation 21.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
In God’s perfect love and power, He can move into our present situation in a way that brings glimpses of heaven to earth. Through His Spirit and His Word, He invades our lives even today with aspects of the eternal joy and hope of heaven.
Living in the hope of heaven,
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
For the past 16 years I have lived out the blessing of being your pastor. It has been a joy and a privilege. It has been filled with laughs and tears as we simply lived our lives together. I had personal expectations and even hopes, that this would be the position I would hold until that final phase - “retirement.” But as most of you know, it was announced last Sunday that I would be moving to a new ministry area in a few months.
I wanted to pass along some basic information on what I will be doing. Here is an overview of my new position based on some of the information in my letter of call. I would greatly appreciate your ongoing prayers as I step into this role in August.
The North American Mission [NAM] Director leads the overall North American disciple-making mission, overseeing the priorities of congregational vitality and church planting.
The NAM Director will be responsible to:
• Advance the CLB disciple-making movement by providing day to day leadership and resourcing of congregational vitality
• Define vision for and a definition of CLB disciple-making within our theology and missionary character, which will serve to clarify and animate the church as a disciple-making movement
• Seek and call (with Synodical President) a North American Mission Associate Director who will oversee a CLB church planting initiative (with strategic plan)
• Define and develop a NAM disciple-making philosophy of ministry and strategic plan, including the development of resources and strategy for:
a. Assessment of congregational health
b. Teaching resources for congregational vitality
c. Training opportunities for congregational vitality including workshops, webinars, conferences (CLB and other), etc.
d. Providing cohort collaboration of pastors and congregations for congregational vitality
e. Provide or identify coaching resources for congregational vitality
• Communicate vision for and work with the Office of the President, Lutheran Brethren Seminary, and congregations to prioritize pastoral and lay leadership identity and modeling of disciple-making
I will be claiming the following words from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi for Oak Hill, Barb and myself during this period of change and opportunity.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I love spring!
The green, the increasing warmth, buds popping everywhere and rain instead of snow. Another thing I thoroughly enjoy is the chorus of birds greeting me as I head to work each morning. I walk out the door, thankfully not hearing the crunch of snow under my feet, but the sweet chirps from the trees above. It truly warms my spring soul.
Nature is once again declaring the “Easter Effect.” There is a new beginning. Here we go! For some reason, each spring brings me a sense of expectancy, a feeling that even in the midst of the world’s turmoil and brokenness, God’s ways will always prevail. Spring comes after winter, just as God planned. The trees and flowers that once looked dead, now will proclaim beautifully the glory of their creator just by being what God created them to be. I find myself naturally joining in with David’s words in the 19th Psalm.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Isn’t nature an amazing declaration of God, His design and His power? As much as I enjoy nature, on its own it can never provide an answer for my greatest problems of sin and death. I need something more, something far more! This Sunday we continue our six-week series in the Revelation of John. This week we will be looking at the fifth chapter where the Lamb of God opens the scroll that makes Him worthy of all praise. This heavenly scene could be argued to be the real reason all of nature rejoices in the spring.
Jesus, the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, has opened the way to life for each of us. Because of Easter we are given a glimpse of heaven and the eternal this week as we consider Revelation 5. So, this spring I invite you to enjoy spring with me and everyone else, but I also invite you to consider the main thing to celebrate – Jesus has conquered sin and death once and for all. There is no power in heaven or on earth that can separate you from the love of God found in Jesus Christ (Romans 8).
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
Pastor Nick Mundis