Monday, October 22, 2007

Kingdom Living VI: When Did You Die?

The kingdom of God is about living life with Jesus Christ each and every day. We define it as the range of God’s effective will. If God has His way in our lives we’re in the kingdom. If he doesn’t have His way in our lives, perhaps we’re not a part of the kingdom either!

God wants you to become the kind of person whom He can trust to do whatever you want.

So what do you want?

To do what He wants.

My desire for the past several weeks was to help us see a vision for living our lives before the open heavens. Key to that is what Jesus walked around saying, ‘repent’. That’s really to have a broken & contrite heart. It’s the entryway to death to ourselves in order to live into a new reality & life that is so much better than we currently experience.

Once you get the vision we must have the intention to die to ourselves. Jesus doesn’t wrestle us onto the cross. He went willingly & expects the same for us. Honestly I had renewed my desire to be there, and God met me in profound & humbling ways in the past week.

When we make the intention to cooperate with God, to move out of our impulsive will God speaks very clearly. When we’re not liberated from our impulsive will we’ll usually attack when we encounter resistance. We’ll attack others, our circumstances, even God. We get good at these attacks too, very adept at putting in a little dagger, a little needle in someone else; give a little poison here & there.

In our every day life we’ve lost the sociological explanation of sin. We can’t say it. It’s true in society & in many communities of faith. I always find it amazing that the church of Jesus Christ, the one place where in order to be a part of it you say you’re too messed up to deserve being in, & that’s the price of admission, once you get in you start saying ‘I wasn’t really that bad.’ It’s crazy!

It’s like a farmer who can’t say ‘weed’ or ‘bug’. I planted, & I fertilized but I’m not getting any crops. The farmer says, ‘I just don’t get it.’

We are complaining about the ants at the picnic when the bears are eating our children. Blaise Pascal

Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrange­ments our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.

What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things hewants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a pro­ducer of confusion rather than harmony? (from the Big Book)

Romans 1:28-32
Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

Our core issue is that we like to play God. 'They didn't want to acknowedge God.'

"The hypocrite always complains about all of the sex and violence on his VCR."

2 Timothy 3:3- 'unforgiving'. Some translations read ‘irreconcilable’ or 'implaccable'..

They cannot be appeased. They are hardened living in the pride of life. Those who make vows like ‘you will not put me down anymore to God or anyone else’.

James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is strife. Always has been that way & always will. They are running their own kingdom & not living in the kingdom of God.

Isaiah 6
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

How can you be a sinner and yet full of joy at the same time?

It’s because we see God! It’s life in the kingdom.

"There was a day when I died, utterly died to George Muller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and family and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." George Muller

When did you die?

We’re supposed to forgive but we usually can’t. It’s too good a feeling holding onto our anger.

But if we choose to forgive we can. God will help us. You can’t crucify yourself; if you intend it, if you will it you can because God will help you.

May be we should all lie down on the floor and symbolically die, saying to God, “I give you all my will, my desires, my wants, my needs. They can’t be mine anymore- they are yours Jesus.”

If you’ve been dominated, abused or hurt badly the way out isn’t to assert your own will- it’s to discover God’s will- the kingdom life and choose to live there.

Monty Python & The Black Knight

We're all a little like the Black Knight: we're invited into a greater story, but we want to run our own little kingdom. We'll fight whoever challenges us including God. In the end what's left?

Wonder where you have yet to die? When did you last get angry? What was it about?

Stand against injustice but don’t get angry. MLK wasn’t an angry man. He wasn’t mad.

Look at the record of the early Christ followers in the book of Acts. Paul & others were beaten, left for dead. Then they had great prayer meetings where they railed against God and invoked harm unit those who hurt them. Oh, sorry, those are just my fantasies.

They rejoiced that they could be counted to suffer.

1 Peter 3:8-17
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Let’s get used to dieing- it’s good for the soul!

Our God is a consuming fire. Heaven may be a lot hotter than hell.

As we gather for communion, consider where God is asking you to let go. Where are you still holding onto the old life?

Where are you emotions amplifying beyond the circumstances? Perhaps with grief, sadness, guilt or shame. Often it's a numbness.

Who’s in control here? is the operative question in the spiritual realm.

When did you die? Come to communion Unashamed...


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