Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20 & 21
The Jews thought about the kingdom were mainly political. They'd been looking for the coming Messiah for years. They expected Him to come to them, set up an earthly kingdom, free them from the rule of Rome, etc.
Jesus was NOT what they had in mind as a Messiah.

The Kingdom of God is a broad subject, a controversial subject - every person, denomination, etc. has an idea as to what the kingdom is - and it is difficult to define. It is abstract but a very REAL kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is The sphere of His rule.
On one hand, that is everything. Psalm 130:19 Psalm 93:1
On the other hand, He is not exercising His authority over all things. There is evil, suffering, ungodliness, etc. ruled by the kingdom of Satan, of man, etc.

So..... How do we understand the Kingdom of God?

First, note - there are 2 aspects of the Kingdom.
#1. Future - He'll rule fully, visibly, absolutely, even forcefully. Rev. 19:15

#2. Present - His rule over what and who voluntarily (willingly) submits to Him.

This will be our focus. We live here and now. We can make a difference in the Kingdom.

So...... The Kingdom of God (present sense) Luke 17:20 & 21

I. It is within you. There is a throne (control center) in each heart.

But it's more than that!!!

II. it is all around you. Matt. 21:31 John 3:5 Matt. 7:21 It's not primarily that the kingdom enters me, but that I enter the Kingdom.

So, on one hand it is a domain within the heart.
but, on the other hand, it is a domain we enter

Matt. 3:1 & 2 - right here Mark 1:14 & 15 - we can enter in Matt. 12:28 - is here with you, in your presence.

III. it will come to you. In the future sense, it will be completed, consummated. Then we will walk by sight instead of by faith.

So, when I enter the Kingdom

A. the Kingdom enters me (or at least the King does)
B. I become part of the Kingdom - a citizen 1 John 3:2
C. I possess the Kingdom (in part) Matt. 5:3
D. I will inherit the Kingdom (future/fullness) Matt. 25:34

So... How do we enter the Kingdom?

John 3:1-7 - by being born again
Matt. 18:1-4 - humble yourself like a little child
Matt. 7:21-23 - do the will of your Father in heaven
Matt. 5:20 - be more righteous than the Pharisees and teachers

Additionally: John the Baptist - repent and Jesus to the rich young ruler - "sell all you have and give it to the poor, and follow me... etc."

Question: What to do? choose one? all of the above? some of the above???

Answer: Jesus gave varying answers, instructions, specifics ----
BUT, always the same Basic (fundamental) process. in other words: you enter the Kingdom when your make Him the King.

Accept Jesus as your Lord. Which means...
#1.Recognize His Lordship - (His right to rule)
#2. Accept Him as Lord - (yours personally)
#3. Receive Him "enthrone Him" - consciously, sincerely, verbally
#4. Follow Him - submit to Him

new question: Can I accept Him as Lord without accepting Him as Savior?
Many would accept Him as Savior and not Lord.
But some would accept Him as Lord and NOT as Savior. (ie: Not admit to need for a Savior)

Question: How can I accept who He is and reject what He's done?
This is not an either/or proposition, BUT a both/and proposition.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Declaring His Message

Rom. 10:9-15

We are to carry Christ's presence into the presence of other people. It is important that we LIVE the Christian life. BUT , it is also important that we DECLARE the message of Christ.
Living the Christian life in front of others does not lead them to salvation. It may lead them to live a better life, more moral, more loving, etc. BUT, they must HEAR the message in order to understand who Christ is and how to be saved.
John 3:18 John 8:24 John 14:6

Point #1. Gospel specifics must be shared.
On one hand, don't expect to convey the Gospel message without good works.
BUT, don't expect to convey the Gospel message WITHOUT the Gospel message. It can't be done merely with good works.

There are several methods for sharing the Gospel: the Bridge Illustration, the Wordless Book, the ABC method (admit, believe, confess), the Roman Road, Bible Study, etc.

Point #2. God uses people to share the specifics. (He uses other ways as well, but primarily people.)
Matt. 28:19-20 Acts 1;8 2 Tim. 2:2 2 Cor. 5:20

He uses: A. Common people. example: the disciples Acts 8:1 & 4 1 Cor. 1:26-29
B. People who are unworthy, unable, and hesitant. Examples: Isaiah, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul 1 Cor. 2:1-3
C. People who don't have all the answers. Example: Paul - 1 Tim. 3:16
On one hand, you DON'T know it all.
But, you DO know what you KNOW!!

So --- Some lead up questions (to be used at the appropriate time)

#1. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Everybody does .... so LISTEN toe them!! Don't correct, don't instruct, just Listen!!

#2. What do you believe about Jesus? (who He is/was) again, listen. Don't try to share what you believe. (if they shut the door, leave it be.)

#3. Do you think there is a heaven? hell?

#4. If you died tonight, where would you go? WHY?

#5. If what you believe was untrue, would you want to know?

#6. Can I show you some things from the Bible?
if the answer is yes ... Rom. 3:23 Rom. 6:23 John 3:3 John 14:6 Rom. 10:9-10 Rev. 3:20

Don't be intimidated.
All people live by faith. The universalist, scientist, atheist - all live by faith in what they believe. We have far better grounds for our faith than they do.

There is power in the message to change lives. Rom. 1:16 & 17

Your job is NOT to persuade but present. John 6:44, 65

God is with you. "go.... and I'll go with you"

QUESTION: are you unworthy, unable and hesitant to go and tell?
You are in good company.

QUESTION: Where do you stand in relation to these 6 questions?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Manifesting His Presence

The last two weeks dealt with the ever present Christ.

This week - manifesting His presence - (making His Presence known in your life)
Our illustration, example, model is Christ John 1:18 John 17:26 John 14:9
Jesus came to reveal God to us.
If He is always with us and in us, there ought to be times when my presence with someone should put them in Christ's presence.

The similarities of the situation are: 1. we have Christ WITH us and WITHIN us all the time.
2. we are His earthly witnesses/representatives
3. As people encountered God in Christ, so should they encounter Christ in us.

The difference is: We're NOT Jesus!! Heb. 1:3 - Jesus was the exact representation of God. He did it all perfect. We, on the other hand, are poor, distorted representatives, but we ARE His representatives nonetheless.
2 Cor. 5:20

We need to approach this with BALANCE.
On the one hand, don't get too mystical or weird with this.
BUT, recognize: A. God often chooses to reveal Himself THRU His people!!
B. You ARE His ambassador.
C. He IS present with you. His PRESENCE is with you. - "Go.... and I will go WITH you!"

So, HOW do I manifest (reveal) His Presence? What should I do?
Answer: You (like Christ) make Him Known.....

I. Through your actions.
A. Proclamation - example: the apostles - they shared information and God revealed Himself. Acts 2:37 Acts 10:44 These were dramatic existences of common occurances.

B. Imitation. "WWJD" (what would Jesus do?)
1 Thess. 1:6 Eph. 5:1 Matt. 5:44-45
Imitate more than His deeds..... ALSO His patience, perserverance, faithfulness, compassion, concern, etc.

C. Obedience - a spectacular example: feeding of the 5,000.
- more common example: Katelyn's baptism this morning

D. Ministry - 1. God's heart revealed in Jesus; ministry - example: footwashing
2. People often experience His Presence in your ministry.

E. Good Works - Matt. 5:16 How often do you do the work and the recipient Thanks God? Why? Because God has worked through you.

II. Through Your attitude - Good deeds can be done in a way that is appreciated, but not warm, inviting, attractive, engaging, etc.
Phil. 2:5 We can't imitate Christ's deeds. BUT, we can imitate the ATTITUDE of Christ.

III. Through your allowance. In other words, by making yourself available and allowing yourself to be used as, if, when, HE sees fit!! Matt. 26:39

and, sometimes -
IV. Through your presence. Just being there in person can manifest Christ to someone.
Example: the little girl afraid during a thunderstorm. When her mother told her that God was with her and would never leave her alone, and she didn't need to be scared, the little girl said, but I need someone with skin on.

WE are God with skin on if Christ is always with us and in us.

Again: don't get too mystical or weird with this, but DON'T overlook, deny, or make light of what God is trying to do IN the world THROUGH you!!

Closing Observations:

#1. Do your part. Whether He chooses to reveal himself through you is His choice and His decision. Your part is DO YOUR PART!!

#2. Make an attempt to reveal Him. Work at recognizing opportunities and taking opportunities.
This doesn't mean a full gospel presentation at every encounter.

#3. Leave the final results to Him.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sensing God's Presence - cont.

Deut. 51:6 - God as their Father.
Heb. 13:5 - written to Christians. God is Father in truth to the Christian. Comes from the scripture in Deuteronomy.

Some observations:

#1. for MOST believers sensing His Presence is not the norm. This doesn't mean that they NEVER have or NEVER do, BUT it's not an everyday experience.

#2. Whether this is His WILL for us is open to question and debate.
On one hand, a relationship IS an experience and a presence.
BUT, "we walk by faith, not by sight". So, even though His Presence isn't experienced or felt, it IS still with us.

#3 The sense of His Presence (experience) may differ according to temperment, personality, make up, etc. EXAMPLE: women claim to feel His Presence more than men do.

#4. The whole thing is SUBJECTIVE (impossible to measure outside the individual)
THEREFORE: A. A Claim of experiencing His Presence is NOT NECESSARILY TRUE!!!
On the other hand: B. A claim NOT to have the experience of His Presence may ALSO be false and untrue.
Have you ever experienced calm, peace, comfort, a certainty, confidence, a revelation, epiphany, clarity, conviction, correction, rebuke? COULD these NOT be God's Presence?

#5. The sense of His Presence is within HIS control. He determines it.
A. We're not to seek the EXPERIENCE - we're to seek GOD.
B. We're to be SATISFIED with our experience (provided we've done our part)

A Biblical example of believers in difficult times and how the Issue of His Presence was handled.

JOB - His situation. His questions: why is this happening? Why won't You answer?
He kept questioning and challenging God, BUT he NEVER STOPPED BELIEVING!! Job 13:13-16
Compare that to: John 6:66-69

We have something Old Testament believers never had:
The additional evidence of God's love, concern, Presence in"
A. the incarnation - emptied, came, became - showed His love for us
B. His teachings -
C. the cross/crucifixion - Rom. 5:8
D. the Resurrection = assurance in Christ and hope for the future.

His heart drove him to question, but his head forced him to believe.