Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thy Kingdom Come . . .  It’s all about the Kingdom.  The Kingdom is the Good News.  While among us, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God -- revelation that came of His intimacy with the Father.  Jesus urged us to pray that the Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. [Matthew 6:10]  Jesus came as the Living Word, and He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Teacher and Comforter that we might have a taste of heaven -- a precursor of God’s coming glory --dwelling with us and even in us, here in this world.

 “And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the LORD, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, all of which is from the LORD, who is the Spirit.”  -- 2 Corinthians 3:18

 And Jesus then He told us to occupy until He returns, to go to the nations and make disciples, and to do great exploits in His name. [Titus 2:11-13, Matthew 10:7-8, John 14:12]

May this monthly message be a catalyst for Kingdom living.  May it inspire you as you labor to usher in the Kingdom each day, and as you present all that you are as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, and pleasing to God.  [Romans 12:1] Brokenness . . . breakthrough . . . breakout . . . blessings -- my prayer, in Jesus’ name, for you!  Amen.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s delight to give you the Kingdom.”  -- Luke 12:32
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The Red Carpet Treatment.  [April 2011]  Am I a “Hollywood” Christian?  Does my “act” line up with what I know of God’s Word?
Scripture teaches us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. [James 1:22]  Since we can’t do what we don’t know, it’s clearly a good thing to read and understand the Bible.  Yet doing what we know, performing in a way that agrees with God’s Word, is better still.  In fact, it’s required of those who wish to mature in the faith.  Once we consistently meet this goal, however, does it mean we’ve arrived?  Can we then expect the “red carpet treatment”?

As Savior, Jesus came to cleanse us of all our sins -- those we’ve already committed, those that tempt us even now, and those which may defile us in times to come, especially if not acknowledged and confessed.  All these sins -- past, present, and future -- are already forgiven because of the love and all-sufficient grace of God.  Hallelujah!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  -- John 3:16

If we are in Christ, sin no longer defines who we are.  We are set free to be the righteousness of God. [John 8:36, 2 Corinthians 5:21]   Jesus is Lord of all things past, present, and future.  He is also Lord of the memories which shaped our past, the conscious mind which shapes our present, and the imaginations which will shape our future.

“Jesus Christ is the same today and yesterday and forever.”   -- Hebrews 13:8

Jesus is to be Lord of the body, heart, and soul, and we are to be like Him, conformed to His image.  All that Jesus represents, all that is written in scripture, and all that the Holy Spirit leads us to believe and do -- all of this is holy and true in the heart and eyes of God.  And all this is applicable to all persons, all places, and all periods in time.

“He Himself is before all things and all things hold together in Him.”  -- Colossians 1:17 

Now, back to our opening inquiry.  Does my act line up with God’s Word?  And, having become consistent in performing the Word, have I arrived? 

“The LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  -- 1 Samuel 16:7

When did you last ask of the Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Show me if there be any deception or wickedness within”? [Psalm 139:23]  How is your heart?  A good act, even one birthed from truth and the desire to obey, will produce a godly walk and heavenly reward only if flowing from a heart filled with God’s gifts of love and faith.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  -- Hebrews 11:6

 Any other work, no matter how godly it may appear on the outside, is only chaff that will be burned in God’s all-consuming fire.

 “Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or set their hopes on such things which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides to us all things for our enjoyment.  Tell them to do good, to be rich in kind deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others.  In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future, and so lay hold of what is truly life.”  -- 1 Timothy 6:17-19

If we are to see God’s Kingdom manifest in this world, in our lives, and in the lives of others, we must ask, “Am I a doer of the Word, or a hearer only?”  We must also ask, “Am I being conformed and transformed into the image of Christ?  Does God’s Word represent not only what I do, but also, in the deep places of my heart, who I am?”

We are not called to walk the red carpet after all, but rather the narrow way that is the path of the cross.  For Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for us, this path was made scarlet by the shedding of His blood.  Are you willing, even if it causes you pain, to lay down your life -- your thoughts, your feelings, your will, your “rights”?  Will you be a living sacrifice for the Kingdom of God so that others might live and come to know His love and saving grace?