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Beginning to Beginning


I'm so excited I no can tell I'm already too perky you're all I get back that girl up it's the last week of the Gods story I'm so excited I'm both Stern I'm a discipleship pastor and will you welcome with me our sisters campus and then also our friends in Redmond and Madras are joining us this morning thank you for joining us you guys we're so glad you're here um if you're in Redmond or mattress would you turn to somebody next to you and say Rick Russell didn't want to preach this message on Revelation this morning just do that and then we're be done this is my last time we are at the last page of the story it's so fun revelation don't you love the book of Revelation don't you just want to wake up in the morning and read about some seven-headed beast with ten horns and stuff awesome it's gonna be good I promise I've had an interesting couple of weeks two weeks ago I spoke the Gospels message here and I thought I did okay on Saturday night but I always go home from Saturday night sort of like what do I need is fix what can I change what do we tighten up and I started feeling just really nervous about it and antsy and then I worry that I'm not gonna hear my alarm in the morning and I mean married people bless you you've got someone to do this to you but I didn't have that so I said like four alarms I'm like I've just was getting antsy and and then about 1:00 in the morning I realized this is an anxiety this is stomach flu and I really wanted to come preach the other three messages on Sunday morning but I couldn't stand up so there was no way so I missed it and then I got the stomach flu twice and I mean you have you've seen that whole thing I'm only one stomach flu away from my goal weight and I apparently was too because I was twice the universe knows you need and so then I was really excited to get out and run I hadn't ran in a week I was instead throwing up and so the first day I felt like I could get out I got out and I tripped like 30 times before I realized I don't think I'm totally well yet and then I took a rock funny I'm broke - and so this is my first time with like other real shoes on and I feel pretty like flat because I defend the short girls right to wear heels so today I'm preaching short not short short in stature not short in length do not even believe that I'm going to cut this one short because it's revelation so yesterday I got up to finish up the message and and do all that like the last like dotting the i's and crossing the t's which is my least favorite part of study and I like a blank slate I don't like trying to fix things um so I wanted to put it off so I decided what I should do before I study is try to powerwash the front of my house with a hose real fast and I didn't realize that my son's bedroom window was open until I see a pouring through just pouring through on the other side it would have been so cool if he'd have been there because his bed's just like right there so I'm pretty sure he came home to it last night so I didn't clean it up I had to study you guys that's what happens one thing is better than the other so you pick and choose and you end up like I really have to do this so it's not been my best month honestly but it's picking up things are gonna go well because now we're in the most encouraging book in the Bible right revelation it's not the most encouraging book in the Bible it is I would propose the most encouraging book in all of history ever written it's the most victorious triumphant permanently awesome book ever written and I hope to prove it to you in the next few minutes I'm gonna take my best shot in these flat shoes I don't know we'll see how it goes in order to know and you know it's funny because revelation didn't like Martin Luther didn't know what to do with it it was a last book incorporated in the canon martin luther wood I didn't know like what genre even to put it in like is it prophetic is it apostolic is it I don't know John Calvin wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible except revelation people have always wondered like what do we do with this thing even our teaching team when we got to this message we started to primer all like oh man not it I don't want to speak on it and so short straw I'm so glad though I'm sure it plays a theme in my life I'm so glad that I did it because I really have fallen in love with the book of Revelation but in order to understand where we're going we have to know where we've been so God's story we framed this series around a concept called narrative theology and I love narrative theology because I'm a words girl if you're a math who are the math people see you might would rather have like a bullet pointed list of the life of God but really story people wanted to be framed in pretty words and chapters and a story at bay adventure so that's what we've done and narrative theology is cool because it's compelling the downside of telling the gospel in the terms of a story is that it's hard to read an epic story and not picture ourselves at the center it's just hard I mean I loved Cinderella as a kid now I think it's pretty creepy but as a kid I thought it was awesome and I never once read it and imagined myself as the wicked stepsister never once and I'm a youngest of three daughters I probably was the wicked sister but I never saw myself that way I always saw myself as the kid with the tiara and the pumpkin and the stuff you know I and I just think we're inclined to put ourselves in the middle of any story even God's story and we are a part of it but we're not the star of it the star is God and if you remember a few weeks ago I told you we know he's the star of the story because he's the only one who never dies so in the beginning and this chart I do all the time and I know it I understand it I've done it for you but I do this chart before I study any scripture I have this big fat deli paper in my office stacks of it and I have magic markers and I contextualize every scripture I study on the timeline of history because it just helps get context so that's what we're gonna do this morning and so in the beginning God created the than the earth and mankind and we'll give him the face just cause it's better I think as I studied theology and not art the our history majors are so cool and this is gonna drive you nuts so God creates everything tree frogs and galaxies and planets and stars in the Milky Way and oceans and ecosystems and skeletal systems he creates everything and then he gives mankind one rule and the rule is don't eve of the fruit of one tree and that might seem mean but actually it's God's Way of giving them a choice whether or not they want to love him and so every good story has a hero and every good story has a villain I like to cook last night somebody in the front row said bad guy and so this story has a bad guy and in into the garden slithers a serpent and the serpent is Satan and Satan comes to Eve and he approaches her a couple of ways and then what works is he says to her wouldn't you like to be like God God knows the minute you eat this thing you're gonna be just like him now Eve would have already known what God was like because the Bible tells us they walked and talked every day so Eve of all people in all of history would have had a really good idea of what God was like and so apparently when the serpent comes to her and makes this offer she also has a really good idea that she is not yet like God and so she says I will take that deal I could be the star of my own story I could be like God what's not to love about that and so Eve heats and Adam eats the fruit after her and mankind falls we call it the fall and is pretty dramatic and it really is all humanity tumbles after them and then eventually God is sorry he even made the whole mess but he sees one righteous man one man who has a good idea that the plotline is not about him and that man is no good job that man is Noah God calls to Noah he saves Noah and his children out of the flood and we're all saved except then we fall back into building our own story in the lowlands back-end I have to make them name for myself I have to make a way for myself I have to build money for myself I have to build a life for myself I mean these people back in history were crazy they did crazy things and so then God calls to Abraham and God calls to him and he in Genesis 12:1 is probably I mean it's that drawing is just so pretty is anybody want that for your fridge so God calls to Abraham and a few weeks ago Pastor Rick Russell talked about on the Pentateuch and he said that we want to view the Bible through a missional hermeneutic or a missional lens we want to look at the Bible through eyes that are searching for God's mission what is God doing what is he up to and Genesis 12:1 is as good a mission all Scripture as any that we have can you throw it up on the screen for me i'ma try to read it over there because I can't see very well the Lord had said to Abram go from your country your people and your father's household to the land that I will show you I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you I will make your name great and you will be a blessing in in the Hebrew that's a very imperative sense it's like I will make your name great and you Abraham will be a blessing it's kind of a not a big ask it's more of like a tell I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on the earth will be blessed through you so this is the missional winds God says to Abraham through you I'm gonna move the knowledge of the storyline of God into the whole world so that scripture Genesis 12:1 is the reason you're here in these seats today because God has been at work for thousands of years to get you where you are now living aware of him so Abraham's sons Abraham Isaac Jacob whose name has changed Israel and Israel / Jacob have 12 sons and these guys do it really imperfectly I mean they mess up a lot in their family line we see a pattern of repeatedly stupid sin again I don't know whether you were thinking and so but they live in an awareness that God is at work that there's something bigger and that there's one God to serve and then at the end of Genesis Genesis 50 the children of Israel / Jacob number 60 people and that's when they go to Egypt and they end up in 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians and when we open up to Exodus 1 we find that now they number hundreds of thousands and so now the children of Israel are numerous but they are not a nation because a nation gets to have their own government and their own laws and they get to do it the way they want and Israel does not yet have autonomy and so God calls to Moses and he says Moses will you lead my people back into the storyline of God and Moses and Joshua help lead God's people into their promised land where they finally are an actual nation they they have judges who rule and but they answer to God they're self-governing individuals but they are a corporate people and then judges now there's a book I don't love to read really that's kind of a depressing book especially the concubine story at the very end and there are 13 judges only a couple of them are good and at the end of judges what we find is this nation of Israel who was made to be God's chosen people they were made to answer to God and serve God directly they cry out to the judge Samuel and they say we want a king and you'll remember pastor Jerry spoke about kings and kingdoms they say we want a king like other nations we'd rather answer to a king than to you we'll let the king answer to you and we'll just so God gives them Saul Saul doesn't work out God calls to David David it says is a man after God's own heart again David follows him perfectly but he lives in an awareness that God is at the head of the whole story he is the star of the show and so David leads the nation of Israel into their one brief moment as a superpower on the world stage David doesn't do an excellent job passing this down to his kids because after him come all the kings and in all the history of Israel there are only eight good Kings the kingdom's the kings and kingdoms look like this they're in and out of the storyline of God for 500 years until they finally fall into 400 years of silence and captivity - a couple of different powers and so at the end of Malachi we find the poor desperate nation of Israel all victimized in captivity stuck in their weird mindsets God is no longer telling them the story and then we turned the page to Matthew and God says I'm gonna go tell him the story myself I'm gonna package myself up and put my son in this human body he's gonna walk the streets of this dump we call home and he's gonna tell them the story of life and promise and purpose and abundance and all that there is available as they join back to the mission and purpose of God and so he does that some people love it some people hate it we end up killing him he's dead and buried he does business with hell for three days and then he ascends and then he gathers his followers to him and he tells them wait I'm gonna go back to my father but you wait for the Holy Spirit and that is the book of Acts and in acts 2 we see the birth of the church that's the church and the church is entrusted as the new Israel of God the church is entrusted to carry out the Genesis 12:1 mission of God the church's is entrusted to bless all the nations of the earth we will be blessed and through us we will bless everyone in all the world that's our teeny-tiny mission bless everyone in all the world and the church has carried that out perfectly no up and down up and down up and down sometimes really down and then the end of the story is revelation new heaven new earth God restores all things to himself so that's awesome um up and down up and down up and down we are so in and out of understanding that there's this big purpose running over our heads all the time we don't do so well following faithfully I mean I laugh at this chart and I look at them and I say of silly Abraham why would he lie about Sarah being his wife did he have no trust in God at all and then if you graph out like my August it's just like this it's exactly like this so we we don't do as well but God does super well his purpose is always the same it has always been the same it will always be the same you can say it in three words and I'm just gonna tell you right now that if you cannot save the three words by now I'll probably cry the three words the purpose of God that we have said seven million times over the last 10 weeks is create what else restore I love you ready 9 o'clock my favorite last night did not do so well you guys so create restore redeem that's the purpose of God and it's always in motion all around us right now we're planted on August 21st 2016 our feet are on this timeline we can't budge off of it and I don't know if any of you feel like a time traveler today but really we're pretty stuck right here in our temporary world but over our head runs the red line the eternal purpose of God happening when you walk into Starbucks after church you're gonna know there's this red line happening God is at work there he's at work here he's at work in Our Lives he's at work in our neighbors and we can choose to be aware of that or not we can choose to step up to the red line or build something shabby down in the lowlands and I'm gonna just tell you the life down here is gonna look safer it's gonna look kind of cool so that's his purpose and and we can look at the Bible often like it's finished like it's ancient history like I just try to find my story and this somehow but really revelation is what we're talking about today have the events in Revelation all taken place No so between Jude and Revelation you are here you are right here for a reason and I just have this theory that your story's gonna be written in the book someday what if the story is being written this is my husband's Bible and I was fascinating this morning when I looked at it because I realized he didn't take it with him isn't that interesting apparently he knew I would need it more than he would need it the Bible the story of God is so big for us and so let me tell you what revelation does revelation pulls back the curtain and lets us look up to the red line and see the purpose of God and it shows us something else it shows us that there are two lines in fact there are three lines there's the red line and then there's our wobbly heart monitor line but then what we see is that the serpent in the garden is the dragon in Revelation and he has always had a purpose to and conveniently for my purposes his purpose is also three words can anyone name them steal kill destroy what do they want to kill steal and destroy I'm not quite sure it's our lives I think once I said yes to Jesus I think I'm pretty secure in that I kind of think what he wants to kill steal and destroy is this my ability to see and attach to the purpose God has for me while I'm here so revelation we see this cosmic battle unfold and we start to realize I'm a part of something really really big I'm I'm an I'm in a battle but the battle has already been certain and assured by the life of Jesus let me read you this quote real quick it's so good from a book I'm loving drama of Scripture much of the Bible shows us the history of humankind on earth and especially the experiences of God's people in this final book it is as if the curtains of God's heavenly throne room have been pulled back this allows us at last to see the spiritual battle that has all along been shaping our world's history a battle we could not see from our own earthbound and historically limited point of view we couldn't see the battle until John showed it to us in the revelation so what is the book of Revelation it was written by the Apostle John probably okay there's two viewpoints about when he wrote this we know that he wrote it to the persecuted church now the church was born into persecution and this is important for us to understand or else we won't read it right so the church was born in a persecution and the church has never known one minute when we look at this wobbly line the church from this moment until now this minute has never known one minute without persecution this church has but that church hasn't we don't understand what it's like to be a persecuted Church and so there were two areas of two seasons of persecution that were very strong one was during the reign of Nero Nero if you'll remember was a madman he went kind of crazy in 64 AD lit Rome on fire blamed it on the Christians and then that launched one of them fiercest seasons of persecution against Christians ever in fact some people have a view of Revelation that that some of the events have already happened and Nero was the Beast that is spoken of in it so there's James throwing that out you can research it I'm not gonna give any answers I promise I'm just not we don't have hindsight with revelation is the thing so then we can't look back on this so that's one view and then narrow narrow committed suicide in 68 AD and but it was four years of really intense persecution where he was literally lighting Christians on fire to light up his dinner parties so then the other one would be the reign of Domitian in the late 90s ad and that was another season of really fierce persecution for my money it doesn't really matter which view you take on this what we need to understand is that that John is writing to a viciously persecuted Church to people who choose Jesus at risk of their lives they choose Jesus really instead of their lives they choose Jesus instead of safety they choose him instead of reputation they choose him instead of success in business they are a whole different breed of people and this text would read differently to them and you know what I love that we have religious freedom I love it I prize it it's incredible to me but can I tell you just two things about religious liberty because I'm just hearing so many people be so scared right now we're gonna lose all our rights we're gonna know that we're gonna all this with whoever gets in the next we're just gonna be so bad Church is gonna be a little sniveling ball of something two things about religious liberty it's a relatively new concept limited in scope the other thing is the early church thrived without it they just did they did real good and you can't find anywhere in the New Testament where our success is a follower of Jesus is in any way connected to our political freedom to follow Jesus it's not there in fact 48 times in the New Testament it tells us exactly the opposite is through much persecution that you come close to the gate so here's my fear in America especially election 2016 my fear is that we will spend so much time and energy and passion trying to defend our right to follow Jesus that we will forget to follow Jesus the Pharisees came to Jesus and like Mark 12 13 something like that you can google it I didn't finish the loose ends that I was gonna do and they say what do we do about taxes they want to trick him and and who do we owe our allegiance to here because they why would we give our money to a government we do not agree and who is oppressing us so they want to trip Jesus up with this and Jesus takes a coin and the coin would have an imprint of Caesar on it in fact an interesting little aside is that in 3:11 Constantine the emperor of Rome had a conversion experience it's a little bit of an interesting one but people don't acknowledge his conversion experience is legitimate in that era because he still let his image be printed on the coin and the Jews considered that a graven image and then also he didn't confess Jesus till his deathbed deathbed cuz he still wanted to kill people in between so it was a little Shady so the Jesus holds his coin and he says to them give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God so what belongs to Caesar your money what belongs to God oh just your heart soul mind and strength and Jesus is essentially saying to them you have two systems at work there are two things that play in your life understand which one you belong to don't fight with the wrong system invest in the right system and trust God with the other one and I love that Jesus does that because again I think we could protect having in God We Trust on our money till the cows come home and never trust God with our money I know we've got to keep the main thing the main thing and sometimes our religious freedom in America has made us believe that we have built a system where we don't actually need the God we have the right to serve just that let's move on so they've chosen to follow Jesus a great risk and that means that we don't understand their mindset we can't that means that we have to approach this text humbly it's sacred it's beautiful I was trying to figure this out how do I do this and so the in the first chapter of John it states implicitly that John is meant to be I mean first chapter of Revelation John says Revelation is meant to be read aloud and that's the only book of the New Testament that has that instruction and I was like I wonder why why I read this funky book aloud I mean it's weird and then I just thought of the persecuted church and what if that was us and whenever I think of that I think of my grandchildren and I was just thinking about my son a lot Cory and my daughter Whitney and if we were living in an era where they didn't know if somebody would pound down the door and take Cory and burn him in their driveway if they didn't know that and they wake up in the morning and they open the book of Revelation and read aloud so that little ears can hear they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to death so that all of those words that we speak out into the atmosphere are constantly reminding us that we are at war and we will win it if we embed that in our spirit how powerful is that and I think if the persecuted church needed to always be reminded then how much more the safe church needs to always be reminded that we are at war we are a part of a cosmic battle so John opens the book with this beautiful scripture it's so cool and we're gonna frame the rest of this short message around it I John your brother and companion in the suffering and Kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus I John your brother and companion in the suffering and the kingdom and the patient endurance okay so that word right in the middle there is kingdom and that word is victory he is always gonna remind them that the kingdom of heaven is coming to earth it's not entirely here yet it is here some it is near us and it is coming but it is gonna common its fullness in a place when I think Colossians says the kingdoms of our world will become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ and so he is saying the kingdom is coming to you and it is gonna be fantastic and awesome and we are gonna win this but he frames that victory in two other words one of them is suffering and the other is endurance so he says Jesus has given us and he doesn't make any of them better than the other Jesus has given us the victory of the kingdom the gift of suffering and the gift of patience endurance so we are a kingdom people we are a people waiting for a king we are waiting for rescue we are looking for something victorious and God has promised us that we will win he promises that I think that the kingdom though and the victory is always ultimately so in the process of duking it out on planet Earth where Satan knows his time is short there are going to be some things that feel a lot like losses I think there are a lot of things I'm not qualified to say from this stage but I think I can say that one there are some things that are gonna feel like loss temporarily but I'm gonna take Steve is Bible back you know I don't know if I get to take it either but ultimately the promise is eternal life that's the promise but sometimes I think we look at the promises of eternal life as being about going to heaven like we go up to this cloudy home we escape the scorched earth thank God we're out of there that was sure a drag but actually the New Testament doesn't really support that idea the idea is that God is going to rebuild heaven on earth God is gonna come and restore all things this is what he's always been about we're not gonna stay in steady with building but God is real good at it his work ethic is excellent he is always building something better better better and so he wants to rebuild heaven on earth Antti right one of my favorite theologians says very often people have come to the New Testament with the presumption that going to heaven when you die is the implicit point of it all they acquire that viewpoint from somewhere but not the New Testament God's idea is that I'm gonna come and join with you to rebuild I'm gonna come and we're gonna build something beautiful here and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and it is a beautiful thing but it is cosmic in its scope it's not entirely about us it is some us but it is about the restoration of all things the plan that God set out from the beginning to new beginning is not just oh my goodness I need to get boaster to heaven not that it's the restoration of all things aj sobota talked a couple of weeks ago about heaven and he said heaven will look a lot like bend is my favorite thing aj Swoboda has ever said and i like a lot of the things aj says because God is gonna rebuild and restore and it's gonna be beautiful that will be victory heaven will be the fulfillment of God's original plot line to create restore and redeem our whole world and then so we are Kingdom people and we are a battle people and that is not that great of news if you're somebody who doesn't love a good fight we're a battle people we're built for battle I think we're also built for the garden but we're also built for battle if we're not then God has made a huge mistake trusting us with his mission but he hasn't because we can he builds through battle he refines through battle he builds his church through battle he destroys his enemies through battle in the last enemy to be destroyed will be death last one so we were made for it but our war and this is where I think we get tripped up our war is not with the world our war is not with the Republicans or the Democrats or Donald or Hillary or Isis or Putin our war is not with the public education system our war is not with any sort of political agenda or the government our war is with the dragon our war is with powers and principalities and we cannot fight them on our own but thank God we're part of the red line and so we're built for battle but let's fight the right ones yeah because when we don't we start to fight each other and that's when we become yucky as a church I don't know a better way to say that we just get yucky you know then war broke out in heaven Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back that he was not strong enough and they lost their place in heaven the great dragon was hurled down that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan who leads the whole world astray he was hurled to the earth and his angels with him then I heard a loud voice in heaven say now have come to salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah for the accuser of our brothers and sisters who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down they triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb by the word of their testimony they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death therefore rejoice you heavens and you who dwell in them but woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come gone down to you he is filled with fury because he knows his time is short first John 5:19 I think says the whole earth lies under the sway of the evil one I mean thank God there's a red line thank God God's purposes are at work all the time because we are part of a battle and I would love to interpret for you what that crazy scripture means I promise I studied it and you'll find 700 interpretations of all of that stuff but when you don't know what interpretation is right and you don't trust yourself you don't feel like a theological genius I can't figure out all the intricacies if the Angels being cast and hurled and when and where and how did it happen and what was it what you can do is settle on what you really do know from that scripture and what we really do know from that scripture is there is a battle it's bigger than us and we're gonna win it in the end if we stay faithful to God's purpose that's what we need to know so we are a battle people and we are awaiting people the church to whom John wrote was not just waiting for Jesus they were waiting for physical rescue I'm not sure we understand that mindset I'm really not I think that our lives grow comfortable and then it's hard to understand that we're living in a temporary situation I I think that I I've had loss this year and and my friends have had lost this year and one thing that I hear people say is it makes it brings heaven so close when when you experience loss like that and like the great spiritual the great songs written by people in slavery in America in the early origins of our country always are focused on what heaven them the harder our life gets the more heaven becomes important to us and the more comfortable our life gets oftentimes the less necessary that viewpoint becomes and revelation holds our feet to the fire on that and says you're waiting and so even you have you ever had the moment when you can be sitting in a nearly perfect moment and still there's a longing in your heart for something and you just can't quite figure out what it is God has placed eternity in our hearts so that we would long for it but what we often do instead is try to stuff it full of other things other temporary things that we hope will feel an internal void we are waiting people and so we wait we wait as those who hope in God who know the red line is always running over our heads we wait with patience and we wait with a heart toward those who need to know the Grace and ways of Jesus Christ we wait as people motivated by the good news of the gospel we wait as people who fight a hard battle and know that there's gonna come a day when we will see victory with our own eyes and we will touch it with our own hands we wait because we know that the end is really the beginning Jesus we adore you and we thank you for the gift of the blood of the Lamb that covers us today that holds us that keeps us and God we ask that you would make us strong in battle and that we would be those who love you with our heart soul mind and strength no matter when you come back no matter what we endure we promise to love you well in your name we pray amen

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