A Kingdom Torn in Two

Series: Preacher: Date: December 9, 2012 Scripture Reference: 1 Kings 12-16

As most of you know, like my father before me, I got my Masters Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I have lots of wonderful memories of the things I learned while I was on that campus and one is from my very first semester there. Shortly after I moved into the single men’s dorm (this was before I met Sue) I was asked to preach at a little church in the downtown area and I invited a fellow student and friend to go along with me.

After the service I asked him what he thought about my sermon, and at this point I’ll give you a little advice. If you don’t want to know what someone thinks about your sermon, don’t ask. I mean, if you ask for input, prepare to receive it, even if it’s not all together complimentary.

Well, my friend seemed pleased that I asked for his critique and so he gave it, very enthusiastically. He said, “Mark, your sermon was okay. A fair job in my opinion and I say ‘fair’ because you only had two points and no poem. My preaching professor in Bible College said that all good sermons have THREE points and a poem.” My friend wasn’t kidding. That’s what he had been taught and that’s what he believed. I imagine that’s how he preaches to this day.

And, whereas I don’t hold to that kind of legalism when it comes to sermon format, it is in fact fairly descriptive of my preferred preaching style. I like things well organized into solid points with a good introduction that leads into those points.  I like so arrange things according to some unifying theme and if I can get alliteration to work I’m a happy man. I also like to illustrate each point with stories, and poems, if necessary. I even like to use humor if I think it will open the minds of my hearers to one of the points I’m trying to make. And if you’ve been here at Redland any length of time, then you know this is true. You know I prefer to deliver sermons in outline form. Usually I even go so far as to print the outlines in the bulletin with blanks for you to fill in as I speak.  I preach this way because that’s how I learn best. Messages that are organized like this are easier for me to hear, understand, and remember.

But, please hear me, that’s just MY PREFERENCE, MY OPINION. And the truth is my preferred outline format is not always the BEST way to deal with a text. At times, many pastors, including both myself and my seminary friend, forget this and make the error of trying to FORCE a text into outline form, when it’s not the best way to study those particular verses because you see, not every verse of Scripture is meant to be taught with three points and a poem. Not every text is “outline-able.”  I bring all this up because I think this is true of today’s text. After my study this week I have decided that the best way to understand our reading is to “preach it” as it was written, or rather “told.”  These five chapters in 1st Kings are best studied in NARRATIVE form. Let me put it this way: It’s a part of God’s Story that is best TAUGHT as a story. So, let the story-telling begin!  Take your Bibles and turn to 1st Kings 11.  I want to us to read verses 9-13, a portion of Scripture that picks up where we left off last week and tells us about the things that happened at the end of King Solomon’s reign. In my mind, it serves as a good introduction to this morning’s sermon, or rather STORY. Think of it as a “…once upon a time…” lead-in, except of course this is a true story not some fairy tale, so here we go: ONCE UPON A TIME…

9 – The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, Who had appeared to him twice.

10 – Although He had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.

11 – So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept My covenant and My decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.

12 – Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son.

13 – Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David My servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.

If you did your reading this week, you know that the Bible goes on to say that from this point on, as a consequence of Solomon’s sin, God permitted adversaries to threaten Israel, adversaries that Solomon had to deal with, and because of these adversaries the “golden era” if Hebrew history became a lot less “golden.” Things weren’t peaceful anymore.

One reason all this happened is because there was a time in his later years when Solomon became indifferent to God and most preachers or “story tellers” believe as I do that this was due to his increasing love for and dependence on the things of this world. Solomon confessed as much in the opening chapters of a book he wrote called Ecclesiastes. He admitted that there was a time when his heart took delight in material things. Yes, he eventually saw the folly in that. Perhaps because of God’s judgment, but by then the damage had already been done. You see, this materialistic, indifferent attitude apparently spread to his people.  No longer was the fire of faith burning within the soul of Israel. No longer were the people attuned to God’s leadership. Material PLENTY had created a climate of spiritual POVERTY, and that’s what always happens if we are not very careful.  And please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not money itself nor the material things it can buy that cause us problems.  It’s the LOVE of this stuff that leads to all kinds of evil. Let me put it this way. The LOVE of the things of THIS world can make us indifferent to the things of the NEXT world!

As you know we are about to send our fifth medical mission team to the Dominican Republic. We have 41 going, which I believe is our largest mission team ever. A pastor named Carlos Soregaard serves in Hato Mayor and he is our host.  Throughout the week he takes us into towns and villages throughout the countryside where Carlos and the people of his church minister. All but one of these villages is very poor and the impoverished areas tend to be very open to the Gospel, but Carlos also takes us to a town that is fairly rich according to their standards. The homes are nicer and many even have driveways with cars in them. Carlos has told us that this particular town has been a very hard place to start a church.  He says it’s because these people have so much that it makes them forget that they are in need, in need of God’s love.

Well, material prosperity had the same effect on the Hebrew people. They became indifferent to God and one indication of this is seen in the process of selecting Solomon’s successor.  If you remember in our reading of prior chapters of The Story, in the beginning of both Saul’s and David’s and Solomon’s reigns, God’s will and approval was sought. But no one thought to seek God’s will in the selection of the king after Solomon and this should remind us that whenever we get caught up in the world’s way and the world’s wisdom, whenever we allow our love of temporary things to get out of hand, we are headed for trouble.

And as I said that’s what happened here. Solomon’s love of wealth and the things it can bring, not to mention the influence of his idolatrous wives, all this led him to make decisions that caused the disaster that was to come. In military aviation they have a saying, “The accident occurred already; we’re just waiting for the plane to arrive at the crash site.” In 1st Kings 11, page 157 in The Story, we see the fatal error that caused the crash of the nation of Israel, and as I said, Solomon was the pilot who made that error. This wise ruler made a series of foolish decisions that guaranteed the eventual crash of the nation, and of course God saw it coming and told Solomon as much.

This part of the story should remind you and me that we aren’t the only ones who suffer because of our sinful choices.  Think of it. We all suffer sickness, disease, and death because of the sin of Adam and Eve, and the same principle holds true when it comes to our actions.  When we sin it hurts more than us. It hurts others.  Many times our own friends and family suffer for our disobedience and foolishness.

I like how Sarah Groves puts it in her song, Generations. The Lyrics go like this:

“The results of our choices are vast. Eve was the first but she wasn’t the last.

And if I were honest with myself. Had I been standing at that tree…

…my mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit.

Things I shouldn’t know and things I shouldn’t see.

Remind me of this with every decision.

Generations will reap what I sow.

I can pass on a curse or a blessing.

To those I will never know.”

Ms. Groves’ lyrics hit home because experience has shown that sin hurts more than the sinner. And I think Solomon eventually realized this because in Ecclesiastes 9:18 he wrote, “One sinner destroys much good.”

But I digress, back to the narrative. One of the adversaries that Solomon’s subjects had to deal with because of their ruler’s sin was a man named Jeroboam and remember that name because Jeroboam will play a big part in today’s story. Jeroboam was a man of standing. He was one of Solomon’s officials, part of his cabinet.  In fact, at one point Solomon respected him so much that he put him in charge of the entire labor force of the house of Joseph.

Well, one day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, perhaps he had been there for a cabinet meeting or something, I don’t know, but on his way out Abijah, the prophet came up to him and did an odd thing. This prophet took off his brand new robe and tore it into 12 pieces. He told Jeroboam to take ten pieces to represent the fact that God was about to tear the kingdom of Israel out of Solomon’s hands and give Jeroboam ten of the tribes because Solomon had worshiped false gods. He also told Jeroboam that He would make him a great king of those ten tribes, as long as he obeyed God’s commands. Well, this conversation must have been overheard because word somehow got back to Solomon and he responded by issuing a death warrant for Jeroboam so Jeroboam fled to Egypt where he lived until after Solomon’s death. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam succeeded him as king.  Apparently back then “boam” was a popular suffix for male names. Today its BrandON and CarsON or BillY and BobbY… but then it was “boam;” Rehoboam, Jeroboam.  If it were still popular we’d see names like Bobbyboam, Billboam, Kevinboam, Markboam. Just in case you missed it, I’m using humor at this point of my message!

Well, King Rehoboam went to Shechem, an important city for the Hebrews both for its central location and its history. You may remember from your reading in weeks past that Abraham built an altar there. Jacob’s well is there and so is Joseph’s tomb. In short, Shechem was a very special place for the Hebrews and so all of Israel gathered there to crown Rehoboam king. The tribes recalled Jeroboam from Egypt to be their spokesman at this gathering. Jeroboam was to represent them to King Rehoboam.  At this point think of Jeroboam as the leader of the Hebrew equivalent of the Tea Party because he went to King Rehoboam in Shechem and said,  “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us and we will serve you.” (1 Kings 12:4) Apparently toward the end of his reign, Solomon forced the people to labor in all his building projects and financed these expensive projects, not out of his own very deep pockets, but by heavily taxing the people. So Jeroboam says, “Lighten our load and we’ll serve you happily. I’ll forget about God’s promise that I would rule ten tribes.” Rehoboam said, “I hear you, and I appreciate your offer, but give me three days to think about your request and then come back to me. I’ll have an answer for you by then.” (1 Kings 12:5) During those three days Rehoboam consulted the elders that had served his father, the men who had served in the former “president’s administration.” He told them what Jeroboam had said and asked, “How would you advise me to answer these people?” (1 Kings 12:6) They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” (1 Kings 12:7)

And, at this point we need to remind ourselves that the best leaders, the ones people love and follow, are servants. The best kings, presidents, and even pastors are “servant-leaders.” Truly GREAT leaders are humble, they believe their job is to serve the people, not the other way around.

A couple weeks ago Sue and I went to see the new movie, Lincoln, with Sarah and Becca and the movie did a good job of showing Lincoln’s servant mindset. It opened with our 16th president sitting on a crate late one night in the pouring rain talking to common soldiers, patiently listening to them, encouraging them to fight on. It also showed that Lincoln risked everything to end slavery, and that doing this eventually cost him his life at the hands of a southern extremist. Well, this is why Lincoln is so loved even today, because he was a leader who realized that he was a servant of the people more than he was their ruler. His example shows that servant leadership is the way to go. It makes the best bosses, the best husbands, the best wives.  The fact is we all do better when we follow Jesus’ example, and HUMBLE ourselves and put the needs of others above our own.

Well, Rehoboam didn’t do this. He PRIDEFULLY rejected the advice of the elders and instead consulted his peers, the young men who had grown up with him. He asked them how they would reply to Jeroboam’s offer and here’s what they said,  “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’—tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” (1 Kings 12:10-11) And Rehoboam took the advice of his young friends. Three days later the new king met with Jeroboam and the people and gave them a harsh answer, a direct quote of the advice that had been given him. And, don’t miss the imagery that Rehoboam used to characterize his father’s regime. A “yoke” is something you put on a beast of burden in order to get work out of it. A “scorpion” was a lash that had a single handle with up to twelve leather straps, each with pieces of bone or metal on the end. Obviously Rehoboam did not think of himself as a servant leader, quite the opposite.  He followed the example of his father and looked at his kingdom as a people to be driven, forced to labor. He saw his as a slave-master relationship in which the people served the king.

And at this point I need to say two things. First, it is usually foolish to ignore the wisdom of “older” people, Christ followers who have gone further in their spiritual journey than we have.

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, but it seems to me that many young pastors these days think that the wisdom and experience of their elders should automatically be rejected. Somehow they have it in their heads that they know more than people who have done more than they have and they think it’s always best to change things. I know they think this way because I used to be young, and that’s how I thought back then, but over the years I’ve matured a little.

I’ve learned that it is important to be open to new ideas, but that just because they are new doesn’t mean they are automatically good, and just because they are old doesn’t mean they are automatically bad.  In fact, I chuckle when a young pastor comes up with what he or she thinks is a new idea, when we “old people” have been doing it for years. In any case, I like how fellow “old” pastor Bob Russell once put it. He said, “The church needs the vision and vitality of youth to be balanced with the wisdom and experience of age.”

Another thing we can learn at this point in the story is that insensitivity to the needs of others is ALWAYS a divisive thing. Hear me on this. When we love one another such that we strive to bear one another’s burdens, when we show that we care about each other’s problems by working to solve them, when we realize that we are all sinners, we are all broken, and let this serve as motivation to be compassionate and full of grace toward friends who sin, this attitude STRENGTHENS our church. It makes our spirit more sweet. It makes us more effective. In fact, it draws other hurting people to God! But when we do the opposite, when we don’t care about others, when we become indifferent to each other’s problems and heartbreaks, when we let hurting people fall through the cracks, when we become pious and holier than thou and refuse to be driven by our experience of God’s grace, this is divisive. The fact is people leave the church when they don’t feel that others care.

Paul addressed this principle in his first letter to the Corinthian church. He said,  “In order for there to be NO DIVISION in the body, the church, its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored… every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

Well the carless indifference of Rehoboam and his young peers led to the division of the nation of Israel. When the people heard their new king’s heartless ruling on their request, it was like the people who fired the first shot on Ft. Sumter in that they succeeded from the union on the spot.

Listen to verses 16-19:

When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’ So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death.  King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

Understand, from this point on Israel would be a divided kingdom. Ahijah’s prophecy came true to the letter. Now the Hebrew nation would be referred to as Israel in the north and Judah in the south. This map gives us a picture of what that division looked like.

And I have to stop at this point in our story to say something. I’ve said it numerous times before but it’s important so I’ll say it again. UNITY is a powerful thing but it’s also a FRAGILE thing, and our adversary knows this. He knows that the best way to attack a church or a family is not from without but rather from within, because when we yield to his temptation and stop loving, stop caring, stop forgiving, breaches are formed, unity is lost. This is why I tell you every Sunday, we are CALLED to peace. This is our Lord’s command. We must never forget that for when we do, when we fail to protect and preserve our unity, when we stop caring for each other, we lose our effectiveness as a church.

Well, at this point Rehoboam decided to go to war. He mustered 180,000 soldiers to attack the north and force their obedience, but before he could attack verses 22ff says,

This word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: ‘Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, “This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is My doing.”  So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.

God was saying that there must be no bloodshed, because this division was the punishment for Solomon’s sin. It was a consequence of Solomon’s disobedience.

Well, the new NORTHERN king, Jeroboam, fortified the city of Shechem. He got ready for an attack and up until this point in your reading you might have thought that Jeroboam was the good guy, and whip-slinging Rehoboam was the bud guy. After all, God promised Jeroboam that he would lead the north, plus the people in the north are always the good guys in civil wars, right?

Wrong. By the way, in the film, Lincoln, Spielberg showed that many people in the north were just as prejudiced as people in the South, the film showed that there were “bad guys” on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  The same principle is found in the Hebrew civil war. Remember, God promised Jeroboam a long and happy reign, but only as long as he followed God’s commands. And Jeroboam didn’t keep up his part of the bargain. He became afraid that his people would eventually decide to follow Rehoboam because their center of worship, the temple with its sacrificial systems and festivals, was in the south. So, Jeroboam repeated and even multiplied the sin of Aaron. Listen to verses 28 and following:

The king made two golden calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there/ Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made.

Of course God saw all this and sent a prophet to speak against Jeroboam’s sin.  He said that as proof his words were from God, the false altar would split in two. When Jeroboam heard this he stretched out his hand and ordered his soldiers to seize the prophet but when he did, his hand shriveled up, and the altar split apart just as God’s man had said.  At this point Jeroboam repented and asked that the prophet would pray for God to heal his hand. The prophet did, and God did. But Jeroboam still continued his idolatry. He continued to lead the people to follow his “substitute religion.”

You know, our culture here in the United States has become very good at finding substitutes for almost everything in life. Walk the aisles at Giant or Safeway or Harris Teeter and you’ll see all kinds of food substitutes: sugar and salt substitutes, cheese substitutes, egg substitutes.

We use “I Can’t Believe It’s NOT Butter!” – because it’s not. It’s a substitute. Speed cameras substitute for policemen. Generic drugs substitute for name brands. Wig and hair pieces substitute for the real thing, and all this is ok, but there must be no substitutes for God in our lives. You may be thinking,  “Of course not, and this is why I don’t have any gold calves at home.” But ask yourself, is there anything or anyone that has edged God out of the number one spot in your life? Do you follow the example of others today and “worship” at the altar of our modern, more subtle idols, things like materialism or sexual indulgence or personal power?

And what about the most popular idol of our day? I’m referring to the idol of SELF.  Charles Swindoll describes an editorial cartoon he once saw in which the words, “I, ME, MINE, & MYSELF” appeared as an enormous monument, each letter chiseled out of granite. At the base of this strange “monument” were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people with their arms held up high, as if worshiping at a shrine.  Surrounding the borders of this picture were four familiar lines from well-known phrases: “Have it YOUR way.” “Do yourSELF a favor.” “You owe it to yourSELF.” And then in very small letters, this caption appeared at the bottom, “speaking of American cults….” Sadly, this cartoon was proclaiming accurate truth, we DO constantly applaud the “I-me-mine philosophy” in our society. We make books on the subject of selfishness bestsellers by purchasing them by the millions. We make every effort to “look out for number one.” Let’s face it, ours is an age of gross SELFishness. This is the “ME” era. I agree with Dr. Laura Schlessinger who said, “One could read the Second Commandment as follows: ‘Do not make yourSELF an idol.” because our society does exactly that. We idolize our individual FEELINGS, we make and base major decisions on how we FEEL rather than on what God says. We worship happiness and self-esteem at all costs, we care more about personal rights than God-given responsibilities. We worship how we look… and so on.  Listen, whenever anything other than God becomes the absolute focus of our attentions and activities, that SUBSTITUION is idolatry.  Nothing in our lives, especially not SELF, should make God take a back seat, nothing should interfere with our relationship with Him.

Well, as I said, in spite of the warning from God’s prophet Jeroboam continued HIS idolatry, he continued to lead his people to substitute false idols for the one TRUE God, which as we will see in our study of The Story, led to the eventual downfall of the northern kingdom. And in the Southern kingdom things weren’t any better. Rehoboam pretended to obey God’s rule against war but in reality, like Jeroboam he got ready to fight. He fortified fifteen of the cities in his territories, strengthened their walls, stocked them with provisions and weapons and staffed them with a heavy military presence.

Rehoboam also followed in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather in that he married pagan women. He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines. He also led his people into idolatry, and as I inferred, it was Solomon’s fault. He was an absent father at best so the biggest influence in Rehoboam’s life was his mother. She was an Ammonite and worshiped the god Molech. Solomon had consented to her religious practice by building temples to this false god that demanded child sacrifices. Swindoll writes, “The sin that mom loved and dad allowed ensnared the son. So it should come as no surprise that Rehoboam led his kingdom into the same deadly trap.” Listen to 1st Kings 14:22-24: “Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree.  There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.”

In other words, it got to the point where God’s chosen people behaved worse than the pagans who were living in the Promised Land when Joshua led the Hebrews to cross over the Jordan.

The Promised Land was polluted with the same idolatrous filth that Joshua had cleansed earlier. The people had become exactly like their new king, utterly contemptible and totally decadent on the inside and out.

Well, God did not allow this to continue unpunished. In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s rule King Shishak of  Egypt attacked. Remember, Egypt was Jeroboboam’s friend and ally. So the Egyptians captured the cities Rehoboam had fortified and carried off the treasures of the temple, including 500 GOLDEN SHIELDS that Solomon had made. These shields were used as a decoration to show how powerful the kingdom was at that time. They would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars today, and Shishak took them. Well, seeing his fortresses knocked off one by one shook Rehoboam to the core. He embraced sort of a “foxhole faith” and repented of his sin and arrogance. As you know, in the heat of battle, many soldiers become very Godly, until they are safe back in the barracks.  Then everything returns to normal, and that’s what Rehoboam’s repentance was like. But in His great mercy, God took his plea at face value and promised to spare the kingdom complete destruction, reducing it to an Egyptian slave state. And understand, in his actions, Rehoboam lost everything. The Hebrews were slaves to Egypt once again. Oh, he replaced the shields, so as to make it look like nothing had changed, but he made them of cheap bronze and only brought them out for special occasions. They were a façade, and so was Rehoboam and the southern kingdom.


That IS the end of this part of the story and I wish we could say that everyone lived happily ever after but I can’t because they didn’t. As we’ll see in future reading the kingdom remained divided until both sides fell to invaders, first the north and then the south. What lessons can we take from our story? What led to the division of this chosen nation? I’d like to suggest four things, and they all begin with the letter “I” so I’m a happy man.

1.)   First, there was INDIFFERENCE toward God caused by the people’s increased love of and dependence on the things of this world.

This should remind us that when things become more important to us than God, we are headed for trouble.

2.)   And then there was INSENSITIVITY to the needs of the people, caused by Solomon’s heavy taxation and forced labor.

This show the importance of our being sensitive to each other. We must not become so busy that we can’t see the pain and heartbreak that is being experienced by others. When a church family ceases to love one another, and feel each other’s pain, and work to help, well, it ceases to BE a family!

3.)   A third cause was the INFLEXIBILITY of Rehoboam when it came to the advice given him by the elders.

Rehoboam had made up his mind before he asked for their advice and refused to be moved by their wisdom. We need to respect one another here at Redland, no matter what our age.  God often speaks to us through others.

4.)   One final cause of this split was IDOLATRY.

When the kingdoms stopped following God, they fell apart.  Churches like ours would do well to remember this. If God is not NUMBER ONE, we can never be ONE. He is the source of our UNITY.

As I said, this part of the story didn’t have a happy ending, but to keep you from leaving sad I would remind you, this isn’t the end of the story. We have 17 more chapters, or stories, to go! And in those chapters we will read that because Jesus was born, because of that first Christmas, a time has come when divisions can end.

First, our division, our separation from God, can end. Jesus took the punishment for our sin so we can be forgiven. We can live in UNION with God! If you’re hear and you’ve never made a commitment to follow Christ, you can experience that union today. You can experience the NEARNESS of God, in your own life, because when Jesus died on the cross He took the punishment for your sin. The sin that separates you from God can be removed. All you have to do is ask.

We can also enjoy union with other Christ-followers. We can have friends that stick closer than a brother.  If you’re here today and you don’t have a church home, ask God if he’s leading you to Redland. We would love to be your spiritual family, love to welcome you into our fellowship.

But best of all, we look forward to a time in the future when we will all be together with God throughout all eternity in the new Jerusalem. No more death, no more separations!

Let’s pray.

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