Monday, October 29, 2007

Kingdom Living VII: It’s A Wonderful Life!

Your death: Deny it, delay it or embrace it!

A disciple is one who has learned the most important thing to do is to live in the kingdom of God.

As a result of that they are arranging & rearranging their affairs so that will actually happen.

Israel's National Parks Authority, according to Time Magazine, "has approved a 262-ft.-long transparent bridge to be built just below the surface of the Sea of Galilee so visitors can follow in the footsteps of Christ... After it opens in August, local lawyer and contractor Ron Major expects up to 800,000 people a year to pay a minimum fee to walk on water. Lifeguards will be on hand in case anyone strays from the true path.”

Is that the only way to actually follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Or is there another way to find life in the kingdom?

If I had walked on water it’d be on my resume. Wouldn’t you want it on yours, even if was only for a short time?

Today you can be a Christian for many years and not actually be challenged to be a disciple.

What is this new life actually like?

Colossians 3:1-16
He Is Your Life
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

These are positive directions for the kingdom life. ‘Put to death’…

For some of us anger has been an old friend, we hate to see it go.

‘No Jew or Greek’- they had a thing with each other back in those days. They really didn’t like each other & it seemed to have something to do with who was better. Could be Hutu or Tutsi, black- white, servant- master, male –female.

The distinctions we use to control one another & put each other down- well they’re gone in the kingdom!

We’re in the process of transforming the inside, our heart, and our attitude.

We become people who are oozing forgiveness and forbearance. We are given the grace and power to live as Jesus lived, including his death. It’s not a transparent bridge we walk on to fool others or ourselves.

John 12:24-25
"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.”

You might be saying to yourself, “I just can’t do that.”

Well, you’re right you can’t but Jesus Christ can through you! Risk it!

John 14:15-21
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Obey my commands and I will send the Spirit to help you. What comes first?

“And overall these virtues put on love.” Some translations use ‘charity’- pure givingness. Love is a distorted word in our day. 'I love chocolate.'

“Peace of Christ” is in the body- not an individual thing.

Galatians 5: love, joy, peace- peace is founded on joy, which is founded on love.

Do you know real peace? Real peace is not feeling like something bad is going to happen. Some of us live in fear 24/7- something bad is going to happen. The shoe is going to drop.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” I used to think you just read a passage once. After that it’s ‘been there done that’.

Imagine a community, a group of spiritual friends where that actually takes place. Community that is focused on the wisdom of Christ. Wow, that’s what our hearts yearn for. That’s what the world will take notice of.

What songs do you naturally sing?

As an early teen I sang this song out of my loneliness...

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I'd love you to love me.
I'm beggin you to beg me.
Didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?
Oh, didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?
Feelin all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin.
Oh, didnt I, didnt I, didnt I see you cryin?

For the last number of years, especially since my son James was born, I sing this song from James 1:
“Father of lights..”
Father of lights, You delight in Your children
Every good and perfect gift comes from You
Father of lights, You never change You have no turning

Turn off your MP3, CD, and tape player and actually sing with God.

This life we’ve been looking at was actually played out in Acts. Acts is a picture of the life that is not of the world- it’s genuine kingdom life in action!

In Acts the kingdom of God is taking a form that it never had before. It was unleashed from political realities.

Acts 1:6
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

These early Christ-followers were lived Power without position. The new life doesn’t depend on human recognition or standing. (Similar to the book of Judges)

Step into His kingdom and do His commands. His power will be there. There is no position. Paul describes themselves as ‘refuse’.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Welcome to the gathering of refuse, of putricity.

No positional power. He that is greatest is the servant of all. The servant of all is the one on the bottom of the pile.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. You simply step out where you are- your neighborhood, school, workplace, family.

The followers in Acts waited. They spent a lot of time together waiting, prying and talking while they continued to wait on God. We can find a place to wait for God to come upon us.

Abraham, Sarah, Jonah, the list could go on of characters in the Bible who waited. The temptation is always to take it into our own hands.

The curse of the church is to decide to do it on our own. Good ideas not God ideas. I know, I’ve been there done that.

If we run ahead of God we’re going to have to do it on our own. Some of us are still happy to do that.

The early church showed us that We are an inhabited people. Metaphysically God is everywhere. Manifestly He is not. God will manifest Himself in our presence. Some will experience the Holy Spirit. We usually say of those people, “He or she walks with God.”

Some people are not willing to see and so often cannot see. There was a time I was too rational to see, and also fearful, suspicious, and so I missed out. I chose that. “There will be no miracles here.”

Romans 12
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our bodies can manifest holiness or sin. Sometimes there is a conflict. In the Christ followers in Acts there was a manifest presence in the people.

This little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine.

Let the manifest presence shine through you. There was real healing power in the early followers.

Halloween & power- we have nothing to fear!

Acts 8
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me."

Repentance in action. When you start a fire you don’t just lay a match on the wod and expect it to go. Or two, or twenty matches. The temperature has to be raised for the match to ignite and light the fire.

What’s my temperature? What’s your temperature?

Do you want the fire to break out like in Acts?

Is your motto, "Come as you are; leave as you came."

Let your life flow with love. Wear it more and more...


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