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03.24.24 "Pilgrims On Earth (이 땅의 순례자들)."

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” - Isaiah 43:18-21 NIV


1. Pilgrims on earth are those who hold onto truth.

* The Lollard movement was a religious movement that existed from the mid-14th century up to the English Reformation. Its initiator was John Wycliffe. Wycliffe publicly criticized the corruption within the Catholic Church and declared that the Bible was the ultimate authority for doctrine and practice. He asserted that even the Pope should not be believed if his teachings contradicted the Bible, thereby taking a stance against the established church.

* Before Wycliffe, the Catholic Church allowed the Bible to be read only in Latin. However, in 1382, Wycliffe's followers broke this long-standing tradition by translating the Bible into English. To prepare for potential persecutions that could lead to the disappearance of the English Bible, his followers memorized all 66 books of the Bible. They deeply loved the Scriptures.

* They were nicknamed "The Great Heretics." They were outsiders who stood against the Catholic Church. The Lollard Bible movement spread beyond England to the European continent. Historians have called Wycliffe "The Morning Star of the Reformation." The Dutch theologian Erasmus described the Lollard movement as a revival that was "overcome but not extinguished."

* However, today's church often becomes a laughingstock to the world. Why? Because it fears being ridiculed by the world and thus speaks of things other than Jesus. It's like watering down wine with water.

* Therefore, I believe that a changing world represents a new thing and an opportunity. Verse 19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

* In times of wickedness and when the church loses its strength, we need the identity of being prepared for new things. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” The darker it is, the clearer the light shines.

* Here's the first verse of the song of “이 땅의 순례자 by Pastor Jeremy”: "Gathered before the Lord who makes all things possible through His Word and faith alone, becoming one in seeking His face, let us be set ablaze by His Spirit."

* Let's live out the unchanging truth in a changing world. Let's live with a worldview and values different from those of the world. Let's be a church that raises the torch of the Word, like a lighthouse.

2. Pilgrims on earth are the spiritual nomads.

* A nomad refers to people who wander, as opposed to those who settle. The Bible is filled with stories of spiritual nomads. The Nomads are people who leave. The life of Abraham, the father of faith, is a prime example of a nomad.

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." - Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV

* The lives of nomads are a series of departures. Why could they leave the places they lived? Because the place God's people long for is not this earth but the eternal kingdom of heaven. They are people who continuously walk through the wilderness towards the eternal kingdom. The purpose of life is not the riches and comfort of this world. God trains His people on earth not to be settlers but pilgrims to expand the kingdom of God.

* Consider the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness under Moses. What did God train Moses and the Israelites to do in the wilderness? To obey. They were trained to move with the cloud by day and stop with the pillar of fire by night.

* For nomads, home is wherever they reside. Nomads are not 'homeless' but 'houseless.' To them, the earth we live on is a temporary place on the way to the eternal. Therefore, they are not bound to this world. They are bound only to God, making them free people in this world.

* The chorus of “이 땅의 순례자” goes, "The wind of the Spirit, the fire of the Spirit, send it here now. Until we achieve the final victory, we will walk on." At Pentecost in the upper room of Mark's house, the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, descended upon the disciples who were praying and waiting. It was the first revival after Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel in the Old Testament.

“‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." - Joel 2:28 NIV

* There's a saying, "Settlers write history on paper, nomads write it on the wind." We are a moving church. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon us, we do not stop; we walk. Gathering is not the goal; we move forward to places without the Gospel. We come together to scatter. We gather diligently to leave, prepared by the power of the Gospel. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit to overcome the world.

* For the pilgrims on this earth, departure is a blessing, and departure is for a new thing. Departure is the expansion of God's kingdom. Moreover, a changing world is an opportunity. Verse 19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

* Although it's painful when loved ones leave the church, in today's digital world, it's entirely possible to disciple, build networks, and offer spiritual support online with those who leave. My dream is to engage in itinerant ministry. I hope that through our church, those scattered can settle and turn their tents into prayer houses in the city. To open their homes, invite neighbors, and host worship there.

3. Pilgrims on earth are all family.

* The movie 'Nomadland' is inspired by true stories of people living together in the California desert. In the film, the only thing the nomads own and live in is their vehicle. They each have a sad story, but you wouldn't know it unless they told you. Society might think they don't fit in, but strangely, the movie shows something that today's world really wants: love and togetherness. Nomads are lonely, wandering people who worry about each day as it comes. So, being connected to others is very important to them. They create a group that sticks together through tough times, sharing and living as one. To the nomads, everyone they meet is a friend or family. They live by sharing with each other.

* People who love hiking might get this too. If you've ever walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, you start out with people you don't know, but soon, everyone feels like family. When hikers meet on the path, they hug. It creates a strong connection among those who go through the same tough spots.

* The world can feel pretty lonely today. But I see this loneliness as a chance for our church to step in and make a difference. Even as technology moves forward, it seems to leave people feeling more alone. It's strange – we can fix so many things with just a computer, yet we end up feeling more isolated. We're all built to connect with others. The God who made us wants us to be in relationships. He made everything with the goal of being celebrated through those connections. Like it says in the Bible, “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."

* There's a line in the song “이 땅의 순례자” that captures this: "Be a shelter for the downtrodden, a guide for those who are lost, and a buddy for the lonely, envisioning the kingdom of God."

* That's the goal – to make the church a little piece of heaven here on earth for those wandering, a comforting spot in the harsh world. Jesus showed us the way to heaven is right here among us. It's up to us to spark change, to live in a way that brings a slice of heaven to earth. Instead of the world's chaos, let's spread the calming presence of Jesus.

* "Remember to welcome strangers, because by doing so, some have welcomed angels without realizing it." - Hebrews 13:2 NIV

* On a spiritual level, we're no longer under the control of evil – we belong to the kingdom of God. And in society, we're like travelers from far away, spread out across the globe. God didn't bring us to this place – the United States – by chance. We're here for a reason, not just to make it big, but because God has a plan. He's called us to take part in missions across the globe, starting right in our neighborhood. Those living near us aren't just people next door; they're part of a bigger story we're all sharing

"Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners because you were foreigners in Egypt." - Exodus 23:9 NIV

Urban Pilgrims is a Korean church located in Los Angeles California.

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