The Moment Between Two Moments October 22 Sermon Transcript

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Message by Jonathan Heppner

Is there something really beyond life? Is there a purpose to all of this? What is this thing we’re leaning into?
It distilled some yearnings that we all have as we search for ‘how does this all make sense?’ how we labor, how we suffer, what we struggle for. Are there things in the scripture that help us understand how the way things are, and we wish things were?

You only need to live a couple if minutes in this world to realize that things in the world as not as it should be. How does the story of God interact with the tragedy and the trauma of the world?

6 Questions as we look at the trajectory of the story from Genesis to Revelation. Where is thing headed?

GenesisThis is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

These are images of creation. What’s interesting is that God gave the responsibility of naming the animals to the man. Gos is able to name all of that which he has created yet he gives this responsibility to Adam.

Question 1: Why did God choose to take this task and hand it to man?

God is gladly and willingly able to partner with man to name and care for a world in which he put man.

It was not need that drove God to give Adam this task. It was a desire for connection, partnership, love.

From the beginning, part of God’s objective is to find ways to extend an invitation to that which he created; join him in a work in the world. God was looking to partner with those he created in proclaiming his great story. He look at what he did and asked himself, how can I involve Adam in the process of what I’ve created?

Invitation. Partnership. Together. Help. Creativity. These are God words. God has this incredible habit of inviting humans to work with Him.

This is one of the clearest pictures we’ve been given of what it means to live with divine purpose. Meaningful labour where God creates man to do something that has meaning attached to it. God says to Adam, let me give you work that means something.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Naked Not just ‘without clothes’. It is the coming together of two people in intimacy, with nothing hidden.

Our idea of intimacy is, without clothes but everything is hidden.

For Adam and Eve, int he initial experience of intimacy, there was nothing hidden.

In ancient Hebrew culture, bones are a symbol of strength, flesh a symbol of weakness. This carries an idea of interdependence. Adam looked at her an said: This will be strength of my strength, and the weakness of my weakness; where I’m strong she’ll be weak, and where she’s strong I’ll be week. There is the idea that we will be in need of each other in the fulfillment of all God wants to do.

If a director wants to storyboard this narrative, there are four dominant pictures you could imagine:

1. Creation. A creative demonstration in the form of all that we know to be tangible earth.

2. People engaged in meaningful labour given to them by God.

3. People in harmony in relationship. With God. With His creation. With each other.

4. There is a tree of life.

Question 2: Why is the tree of life placed there?

What is the purpose of this tree of life?

To understand the purpose of the tree of life, we have to look at the end of the story.

Revelations paint the same metaphorical image of what God is doing:

Revelations 21:1-5 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.. 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. ‘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.”

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.”

At the end of the story, you have this proclamation of God saying ‘I’m gonna make all things new.’

The end is some sort of beginning.

Revelations 22 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.

Here we see again a tree of life, whose leaves carry with them all these dynamic of intimacy and nothing hidden, and healing, wholeness, and restoration, interdependence and shalom.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 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.

The idea of reigning here is actively participating with God in caring for, cultivating, ruling, working with Him, stewarding this new heaven and earth. The same idea of reigning is seen, the same way as it was in the beginning.

We see the same story board.

1. Creation. A creative demonstration in the form of all that we know to be tangible earth.

2. People engaged in meaningful labour given to them by God.

3. People in harmony in relationship. With God. With His creation. With each other.

4. There is a tree of life.

If scriptures were a film, it seems to open and close with identical scenes.

We are living between these two scenes.
Between these two realities.
Between these two dreams.
Between these two trees.
We are in the moment between these two moments.

Perhaps we don’t wrestle with the bigness of this enough.
Genesis is the book of origins. Revelations is the end of all things. And human history is somewhere in between.

Question 3: What does the tree(s) of life represent? What does this imagery tell us?

The bible continually references the idea of an infinite God. A God who is before time. A God who is beyond time. A God who has no beginning and no end. A God who exists forever and has existed forever. The scriptures insists that God is way bigger than what we can ever imagine. He stands outside of time, no borders and edges, no beginning and end.

Revelations 22:13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Exodus 3 … I AM

This brief moment we live in between these two trees, two moments, the scope of this moment as Leonard Ravenhill puts it is a dressing room for eternity that’s all it is.

The way we read time is based upon units like days, hours, minutes, months, and years–based on the rotation and revolution of the earth in its axis, or around the sun.

God in the beginning created celestial being and used this celestial things as a way for us to measure time.
He begins in Genesis with the creation of these celestial things, and ends in revelation saying that there will be no more sun.
Because God himself will be our light.
We live in a momentary period where time is required. Because before creation, and after creation, there will be no time.
Time is only used and only relevant in this moment called now.

When you do something you love, time just flies by. We use phrases like ‘I got caught in a moment’, or ‘I lost track of time’.

Question 4: Are those moments when we are most caught up, most fulfilled, most passionate, most focused, most alive, most ‘all there’, God’s way of giving us glimpses of what will be?

When we’re fully alive, and engaged, and vibrant in the moment were in, is it possible that it’s God’s snapshot of forever? That’s who you’re made to be. That’s what a life fully engaged in the purposes and the power of redemptive movement of God feels like. If you’re in forever, you won’t be in forever but you will be in the now.

If I was the enemy of the soul, and I need to develop a strategy to distract the work of God in your life, and didn’t want to see people connect  with this redeemer, and didn’t want them to find purpose, what would I do? I will get them out of the moment. I’ll keep them from capturing the moment when they’re most alive. Maybe I can fill them with things that aren’t meaningful. Because their lives will be marked by busyness, stress, conflict, rat race.

How many of us struggle with being present? When you’re there, but not actually there. How many of us struggle with being here but preoccupied of thinking about tomorrow? Never actually being in a moment where we can’t be fully alive.

If all of us are honest, the way we live in speed is not satisfying our souls. In the end, we adhere to religion or a relationship but we have nothing to offer, because we’re not present to the work of Christ in us.

Question 5: Have we confused accomplishment with purpose? Volume with meaning? Achievement with success?

Have we become confused as to the why’s of what we do?

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you toiling and burdened ones, and I will give you rest.
John 11:26 And whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

Something happens when you connect to the author of creation that death has no hold on you.
There’s so many of us who are alive but we’re dead. There’s no life, joy, passion, vigor, yearning.
We become the walking dead.

Jesus never speaks of eternal life as something that happens one day.
Jesus teaches that eternal life is something that happens now.

We’ve pickup up lingo in Christianity that doesn’t represent the value of Christ.
Jesus never talked about eternity as something that will happen.
Eternity doesn’t begin after human death.
Eternity begins at the awareness of a relationship and partnership with your Creator.
We are living in between these markers of forever.
The images punch that how I live now has an implication for eternity.
Jesus suggests that how I live these moments affect those moments.
What we do now will echo through eternity.

Equation of responsibility = How I live the life I’ve been given now affects the life after that tree.

How I handle the ingredients, paints, dynamics, gifts, curses, everything that makes me who I am now – how I respond to those things, will affect what happens after that tree.

This changes the way I see life.
Because it’s not just about now.

Jesus uses parables to communicate that how you live in between the eternities has eternal significance. This is now about salvation. The assumption is you have connected with Jesus.

This not about not doing enough stuff. It’s about how you’re living with what you’ve been given.

Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Mark 10:29-30 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

What you do matters now, but also matters after that tree.

God is asking you to be faithful in this moment so you can be trusted in that moment.
Your faith is the measure of your trust in God…
Your faithfulness is the measure of how much God can trust you.
It’s not a reflection of what God feels about you. God looks at us with all equal amounts of passion and yearning.
But at the end of the day the rules reign and what you do now matters.
So use what you’ve been given.

Our math is twisted:
We see a single mom who’s been abused and abandoned, working all her life to sustain her life and the lives of her children. Her journey is littered with pain and sorrow and heartbreak, and everyday she chooses to get up and fight again. That’s faithfulness. But we look at it in terms of success: someone who has crawled out and now’s economically stable. And that’s not what faithfulness is. Faithfulness is dealing with what you’ve been given today that honors God and just keep leaning to hope.

God sees the struggling and says, I see that you’re faithful. And God sees the privileged and He says, you’re not event trying. What are you doing?

For those of us who are privileged, the equation of responsibility is not a comparative tool, it’s solely about you. What have you done with that you’ve been given?

The scriptures are filled with the stories of men and women who lived in this tension of human experience.

Their lives were the canvas upon which God painted the message of grace in the midst of pain, suffering, grief, hope, faith and possibilities in the midst of the questions that clutch at the human soul.

He is still painting.
We are His brushes.
The experiences of life are the paints.
The message He is painting is represented by the lives of his people.
Your life matters because it becomes the resonating voice of God in a world that’s looking for the song, leaning into hope.
We are living in the only period of eternity that is marked by time.
And in this measured moment, we are being invited to participate and extend His reign.
God’s saying, I’m remaking the world and I’m using you do it.

When you look at the darkest parts of our country, city, the world – the way those places are remade, redeemed, and transformed, is God uses people who have chosen to be faithful with what they’ve been given and lean into hope. Those who say, what I can do, I will do. Those people recognize that it’s not about succeeding. It’s about us looking in the mirror and saying I’ve given what I have and it’s enough.

We don’t grasp how significant we are.  We miss the uniqueness of what God made us to be. Thinking that God will use somebody else, or God will never use me. We dismiss the idea that God made us with purpose and invited us to a place where he said you can be my voice, my hands, my feet, my life, in every place that you live.

Your kingdom extends as far as when you ‘will’ something, it happens.

Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].

The collective of God’s people is called the church and there’s something about the dynamic of the church when we recognize when Jesus said, you are the light of the world.

John 1:5 AMP The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it.

We’ve been told to live for ourselves, when we’ve really been called to be the light for the ones around us, to live for a cause that’s bigger than us. When one can say, “I don’t know if I will make a difference but I will lay down my life trying.”

The Bible called Christians aliens, strangers, people from another place. People look at you and say how do you live like that? They look at your marriages, friendships, businesses, relationships and say  How do you do that?

We are in a moment in between moments and we’re making this moment more what He intended it to be.
We shouldn’t just be surviving, we should be change agents.
With people who have chosen to give up their kingdoms for His.
With people who have said, not my will, but yours.
THESE kind of people become redemptive forces in the world.
Human history is marked by men and women who saw what others did not.
Believed when others did not.
Chose life when others chose death.

1 Corinthians 15 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Question 6: How is death conquered?

The alpha and omega steps in the now. The one beyond the constraints of time chooses to live in time. He conquers death by engaging the only period of time that knows death. He dies and comes back victorious. Between this moment and that, I am alive.

We don’t know when time will be done. No one is guaranteed with time. The incredible thing about engaging the story of God is, we won’t fear the end of time because we’re already part of the beginning of the new time that has no time.

How many of us have been pressured by the this and now, but all that matters is when we lean in to what will be. To be present in the moment, to live with passion and purpose. Loving and leading. Learning to be Jesus here. To be present is to lean into eternity.

When you spend time with the people you meet, manifest the knowledge that the God beyond time, stepped into time that he might reveal himself and bring hope, life, love, and transform all that is meant for evil to something that is good.

The question is: Are you present? Are you here now? Aware of the work of God in your life? Are you distracted and tormented by what you think tomorrow should be? Are you aware that the God who’s beyond time has stepped close to you now? We could be missing all the things that He is doing because we are not present. We’re regretting or worrying. But we should be living.

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