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Message Notes: Devoted – Heaven Meets Earth


Week 4: Heaven Meets Earth

Pastor Rick Henderson                January 20-21,2024

Welcome to the final week of our series Devoted. If you are a guest today, this isn’t normally how we do things. I always prefer getting to share the message live, and in person. I love you guys. I love being with you and getting to talk with you. That’s why I plant myself right in the middle of the lobby after every service. I love being with you. The reason I’m not physically present with you today is because I’m here.

Message Notes: Devoted - Heaven Meets Earth

Along with Pastor Otis and a small team from our church, I’m in Ghana. I hope you remember Pastor Emanuel Mustafa who spoke here last November.

Message Notes: Devoted - Heaven Meets Earth

We are working with him to plant churches in remote villages. We’re also doing leadership training for about 50 pastors. I’m thrilled about this partnership we have. In return I get to learn leadership from Muss and the pastors here. Muss might be the greatest leader I’ve had the privilege to know personally.

I’m so incredibly grateful to all of you who support our ministry through your own participation on a ministry team, through your prayers, and through your financial giving. Every time you give you are helping to fund the mission in Rochester and around the world. Thank you!

For the past few weeks, we’ve tried to slow down and really focus on our approach to life and the kind of people we are becoming. We all want a full and thriving life. We want to mature and we want to grow. Our constant anthem has been both sobering and encouraging.

SERIES THESIS: Maturity is possible, but it’s not INEVITABLE.

This is sobering. Maturity is not automatic. Just because we are getting older, it doesn’t mean we are getting better or looking more and more like Jesus. But it’s also encouraging. Maturity can happen and it doesn’t have to stop—no matter how young or old we are.

Message Notes: Devoted - Heaven Meets Earth

This is Sarah Simpkins. She dropped out of college 8 decades ago when she got pregnant. She eventually had 12 kids. Recently she decided she wanted to finish her degree. And she is going to graduate in the same class as her granddaughter. By the way, she has a 3.5 GPA.

Living things grow. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing him. It’s something we experience now, not later. Maturing in that life comes by being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and then doing as he did.

It’s the last one that we’re focusing on today: doing as he did. Jesus didn’t make it a mystery as to what that is. After his resurrection, but before returning to heaven, he gave crystal clear instructions to his followers. We can read it Matthew 28. This passage is so profound it’s been given a nickname. It’s called the Great Commission.

MATTHEW 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

I love how honest and gritty Matthew is when reporting this moment. The people who were closest to Jesus all gathered together with him. Jesus was clearly dead. Now he’s not dead. He’s alive and talking to them. Imagine being there. How do you get your mind wrapped around what is happening? They’re all worshiping and at the same time, some of them couldn’t even bring themselves to believe what they were experiencing as they were worshiping. And you know what, that’s OK. That’s allowed.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to have an answer to every question. Hear me on this. You don’t even have to be 100% sure where you stand with Jesus in order to receive what he wants to say to you today. Including all the doubters AND without judging them, Jesus said this to everyone who was there.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This is known as the Great Commission, and this is where our church gets our mission—lead people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. That’s the mandate he gave us. This isn’t something we do only when we travel to another country or go on a mission trip. This isn’t just for those who have the title of missionary, or pastor, or whatever. This is for all followers of Jesus, all the time, everywhere we go and in everything we do.

Believe it or not, the call to be a missionary is for you. We are his ambassadors, repping Jesus in every arena, in every corner of our lives. That’s why we end our services the way we do. The way we end each service is called a benediction. Every week we intentionally read the same verses. It’s not a rut. It’s a habit with a purpose. 2 Corinthians 5 says that we are compelled by the love of Jesus. We don’t live for ourselves. We live for him.

A couple of weeks ago I introduced this concept and said we’d talk more about it today.


Our lives are to be an INTERSECTION where heaven meets earth.

The gospel is just as much about getting heaven into you right now as it is getting you into heaven later. If you are a follower of Jesus, an encounter with you and an encounter with me is supposed to be more than a pleasant interaction with a nice religious person. Your life and my life are to be intersections where heaven meets earth. So, let me ask, what’s the state of your intersection? What does it look like?

Message Notes: Devoted - Heaven Meets Earth

That’s nice. But maybe you feel like yours looks like this.

Message Notes: Devoted - Heaven Meets Earth

I wish it wasn’t true. It’s just way too easy for my life to look and feel like this. Maybe you can relate. If this is what our lives are like, it doesn’t mean it’s unpleasant to be around us. But the experience does fall short of heaven meeting earth.

Last year I took a class that we offer here that was taught by Pastor Svea. It’s a class about practicing the Sabbath. I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you about my approach to that class, but you make it safe for me to be honest. I went into the class with a bad attitude. I’m pretty good at having a day off. I wasn’t sure that I saw the value of studying sabbath. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Following God’s very own example and practicing the sabbath transformed my life. My life doesn’t feel like this anymore. I’m convinced that life like this is keeping far too many of us from experiencing a thriving life with Jesus. We have another Sabbath class coming up soon. You might want to look into that.

I want to share with you something from Rich Villodas. He’s a pastor who has buckets of wisdom to share.

Our souls were not created for the kind of speed to which we have grown accustomed. Thus, we are a people who are out of rhythm, a people with too much to do and not enough time to do it…Our lives can easily take us to the brink of burnout. The pace we live at is often destructive. The lack of margin is debilitating We are worn out. In all of this, the problem before us is not just the frenetic pace we live at but what gets pushed out from our lives as a result; that is, life with God. –Rich Villodas

You guys are the smartest church I’ve ever been around. I’m sure you already know this. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

It's easy to confuse being BUSY FOR Jesus with BEING WITH Jesus.

About 20 years ago, I was a new youth pastor. When I started, I discovered that I had this all-star volunteer. This dude was there all the time. He was above and beyond proactive. He even showed up to help with projects without being asked. He was an all-star. Then I discovered that he had relationship friction with his wife and friction with his kids. And it became pretty obvious that showing up at church was just easier than showing up at home.

I’m not judging the guy. He wanted a life that felt better than what he had. He thought he could find it by being busy for Jesus. But Jesus didn’t give his life so that being busy for him would be our approach to life. Peter Scazzero is another pastor I’ve come to appreciate. In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality he lists 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spiritually. Number one on his list: Using God to run from God.

That is exactly what my man was doing. He was using church and ministry busyness to run away from life, not into it. I going to put some truth on the screen. Some of us may need this desperately today.

  • Following Jesus probably looks like doing less, not doing more.
  • Following Jesus probably looks like slowing down, not speeding up.
  • Following Jesus isn’t about adding to our lives. It’s exchanging our lives for his.
  • We don’t accept Jesus into our lives. He accepts us into his life and his way.

My all-star volunteer was busy doing good stuff, but it wasn’t the stuff of life. He was busy for Jesus, but he wasn’t with Jesus. He wasn’t covered in the dust of his rabbi. If we are going to be apprentices of our rabbi, we will have three driving goals.


  • Be with your rabbi.
  • Become like your rabbi.
  • Do as your rabbi did.

If this is new, give yourself the gift of watching the sermons you missed in this series. Jesus is our rabbi. We are his apprentices. We want to be fully devoted followers of him. We use three words to bring that into focus: authority, identity, and activity. Today, we’re zooming in on activity.


  • Activity: I find joy in doing as Jesus did and loving others the way he loved me.

This is what we’re talking about today, but this is not the starting point. I can make you a promise. If our approach to life with Jesus starts with doing—it is going to go wrong. We don’t start with doing. We start with being. Being with Jesus first. Out of that flows becoming like him and doing as he did. I want everyone to get here, but I don’t want anyone to start here.

Luke was a doctor and a historian from the first century. He wrote a biography of Jesus’ life based on interviews with eyewitnesses. If you read it, you’ll find the first public sermon that Jesus gave in his home town. I want us to read it. This is Jesus standing on business. He tells us what he is all about. This is what he did with his life. We want to do as he did.

LUKE 4:16-20 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Let’s recap this real quick.


  • Good news for the poor
  • Freedom for prisoners and the oppressed
  • Recovery of sight for the blind
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

Do you know what this is? This is Jesus putting love into action. What would you think if I told you that Jesus expects his followers to do the exact same things that he did?

JOHN 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

I am fully aware of how far-fetched that sounds to some of us. With my own eyes, I’ve seen the power of God show up in ways that blew my mind, in ways I don’t know how to explain. And yet, I don’t walk around doing miracles. You don’t walk around doing miracles. I want to take this seriously. And I can understand why it’s hard to take it seriously.

I for sure know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be the guy who spends my time and mental energy trying to explain this way. I’d much rather spend my time and energy trying to understand, and trust, and take Jesus seriously in this. I appreciate John Mark Comer. He’s the one who wrote the book, Practicing the Way. I hope you get it and read it. JMC says this.

Greater? Than miracles? New Testament scholars debate what exactly Jesus means here by ‘greater things than these.’ But on this they align: Whatever he means by ‘greater things,’ he doesn’t mean lesser things! –John Mark Comer

I don’t think Jesus meant that we would do stuff that is greater in quality than what he did. I do think he meant greater in quantity and even greater in extent.

  • It’s pretty great when we get to partner with a couple who is on the brink of divorce and walk with them on the road to forgiveness restored love.
  • It’s pretty great when we get to bring medical care to people who had no medical care.
  • It’s pretty great when we get to plant churches where there was no church.
  • It’s pretty great when we get to help someone experience recovery from a hurt, habit, or hang up.
  • It’s pretty great when we get to make sure that kids in our town don’t go to bed hungry.
  • Isn’t it great that we get to walk with people out of death and into life with Jesus.

I think Jesus meant exactly what he said. And just like him, everything we do is done while 100% reliant on the Spirit of God who is in us and with us. Let’s turn back to the sermon Jesus gave.

LUKE 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.


  • Good news for the poor
  • Freedom for prisoners and the oppressed
  • Recovery of sight for the blind
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

This is how we do as Jesus did and love others the way he loved us. This is how we join him in putting love into action. The reason we are able to do this is that the Holy Spirit of God is with us and in us. We aren’t alone and this isn’t based on our efforts and abilities. It includes our effort and abilities, but it’s based on the power of God, through his Spirit, in and with us. What does that mean?

Our lives are to be an INTERSECTION where heaven meets earth.

What would happen if you took that seriously? What would happen if we all took it seriously? What would happen if we were so gripped by the fact that the Holy Spirit of God is with us and in us, empowering us to do as Jesus did, that we started thinking like and acting like this were true?


I want you to imagine intentionally, purposefully, mindfully engaging these arenas of life as though Jesus was living your life. This is so important to understand and remember. The goal is to be like Jesus. Things may get fixed and get better. They may not. That’s not really the goal. Instead of thinking about how you can fix something, would instead focus on what you want to contribute? This is our contribution: in full dependance on the Spirit of God, we get to do as Jesus did and bring heaven to earth.

  • Politics

In the way we vote. In the way we post about it. In the way we talk. In the way we engage those who vote and believe differently than us. I know it’s crazy. But could you imagine the reputation of Christians and politics being different than what it currently is. Right now, everyone expects us to be just like everyone else. Get power, keep power, use power to achieve an agenda.

What if we engaged politics as though Jesus was living our lives?

  • Do you think Jesus would give allegiance to a presidential candidate?
  • Do you think Jesus would marry himself to one party?
  • Do you think Jesus would casually explain away pride, deceit, egregious moral failures, and lack of character?
  • Do you think Jesus would ever engage an issue from fear and worry?

Please hear me. I’m not suggesting that we be cynical and dismissive of political engagement. I’m suggesting that we be so captivated by Jesus, that we seriously engage it all, from local politics to national politics with the intent of people experiencing heaven meeting earth in their experience with us. Imagine if by you doing as Jesus did, that the way you engaged in politics caused others to catch a glimpse of good news, freedom, recovery, and God’s favor.

If you struggling to imagine that, would ask God to expand your imagination for how you can do as your rabbi did, even in this?

  • Money

Does what I do with my money look like heaven meeting earth, or does it look I want as much earth as a I can get? Do my money habits reflect that I’m an apprentice of my rabbi and I’m about joining him in good news, freedom, recovering, and announcing God’s favor.

  • Reputation
  • Sexuality
  • Time
  • Neighboring
  • Conflict
  • Work/Retirement

Pick anyone of these categories or all the others I don’t have time to mention and begin to think about your life as though Jesus was living it. What about your work life?

  • If you’re in the service industry, how can you contribute good news, freedom, recovery and favor in the way you show up to serve people?
  • If you’re in medical care, how can you contribute good news, freedom, recovery and favor in the way you show up to people with medical needs?
  • If you’re manager, how can you contribute good news, freedom, recovery and favor in the way you show up to provide oversight?
  • If you’re an educator, how can you contribute good news, freedom, recovery, and favor in the way you show up to teach?

What we’re talking about is intentionally living our lives on mission with Jesus. This is the stuff of the Great Commission. If you don’t know who Dallas Willard was, he was a brilliant philosopher and author. He dedicated much of his life to understanding spiritual formation—growing in maturity with Jesus. This is a long quote, but it’s so rich.

There is a special evangelistic work to be done, of course, and there are special callings to it. But if those in the churches really are enjoying fullness of life, evangelism will be unstoppable and largely automatic. The local assembly, for its part, can then become an academy where people throng from the surrounding community to learn how to live. It will be a school of life (for a disciple is but a pupil, a student) where all aspects of that life seen in the New Testament records are practiced and mastered under those who have themselves mastered them through practice. Only by taking this as our immediate goal can we intend to carry out the Great Commission. –Dallas Willard

We all have an approach to life. I hope what we’ve covered in this series inspires you to know Jesus and adopt an approach to life that’s based on being an apprentice of Jesus. As we do, we will experience life that is truly life—life all the way to the full. And we get to help others come to know and experience it as well.

First, go be with him.

From that, become like him.

Now, let’s all do as he did.