Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Building the Kingdom

Luke 11:1-2  Matt. 6:10
Having a 'builders heart' = can look back, see it done, see it still stands!!
This refers to more than buildings:  can be a movement, task, project, accomplishment, pursuit, etc.

Question?  If you were invited to be part of the greatest building project of all time??  Would you want to be??
NOTE:  You ARE invited!!!    

Definition:  Kingdom of God = sphere of His rule, reign, authority......

Which, on one hand = ALL (everything)  Psm. 95:3-7, 103:19
On the other hand = limited!!! --- by God's will.     
            #1.  The present Kingdom => that which voluntarily submits ... 
            #2.  The future Kingdom => when ALL will clearly, visibly submit .... 1 Cor. 15:24-26 - (Kingdom comes into being in the fullest sense.   Not voluntary anymore.

Kingdom of God is a major/primary theme of the Gospels
intro to John the Baptist - Matt. 3:1-2
Words of Christ - Mark 1:14-15
Charge to the 12 - Luke 9:1-2
Parables - "Kingdom is like......."
Summary:  Matt. 6:22 - see first the Kingdom of God

Again, you are invited to participate/assist/partner....
on one hand, God needs no partner!!
However, He offers us the opportunity/privilege.  So,  Col. 4:11 - workers for the Kingdom, not just in the Kingdom.

How to Participate?  (generally?)
If haven't already accepted, and if we choose ----

#1.  Listen - because it's by invitation only!!!
So, examine, consider, inspect ... AND LISTEN for the call

#2.  Decide - to be worker in the Kingdom.  Have to decide.

#3.  Submit - you enter the Kingdom by receiving the King (recognizing that Christ is truly King/Messiah) - John 1:11-13
This = A.  Recognition (of His Kingship)
          B.  Submission (to His authority) - "bow the knee" in heart and say, "You are Lord".
         C.  Allegiance (to Him)

#4.  Learn (discipleship)
        A.  Rules of the Kingdom (gracious, good laws established by God)
        B.  Methods of Service (because of differences!!  Matt. 20:24-28  Building according to His service rules.

#5.  Live Accordingly = Kingdom Ethics!  (contrary to the ethics of the world.)

Often = day by day - in the mundane - without miracles!!   Many times that's what we're called to - nothing glamorous!

#6.  Build Accordingly = Kingdom Methods - Mostly, that's the way you build the Kingdom.
usually = day by day .... brick by brick mundane stuff.

#7.  Promote the King and His Kingdom
"Ye shall be witnesses unto me"

And in the End???  (part of what awaits us)  - Matt. 25:31-34
It's your choice.  Your decision.  Your Re-decision.  It's easy to get caught up in building own kingdom instead of Christ's Kingdom.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Your Christian Story

Last week - "The Christian Message" - ie:  the gospel/good news that we've received and are to pass on.

Also noted our reluctance to Proclaim one on one - (because is offensive, confrontational, invasive)

So, today:  an effective tool to help in sharing.  IE:  your Personal Testimony - Your Christian Story

According to the Bridge Illustration in last week's sermon, Christ did it all.  Man did nothing.  And, not reconciled to God until cross the bridge.
BUT, when you do cross,  #1.  it becomes your story and #2. is a powerful witness to THE story.

Example:  Legion - Mark 5:18-20 - go share your story = powerful Personal Testimony!
Contrast:  Mark 5:14-17 - point being:  the miracle didn't open the hearts of the people, a transformed life and personal testimony did!!

Common objection:  My personal testimony is not so amazing!   
However, it is your story of your encounter, experience, walk with God.  IF it rings true, it can open the hearts of many people!!!

Illustration:  The simplicity of your Personal Testimony with a "timeline" - (3 events/4 chapters)
born                  born again                                           today
         #1                 #2                              #3                                  #4

Chapter 1 = the Process (of coming to Christ)
Chapter 2 - the Event (of receiving Christ)
Chapter 3 - your journey (since receiving Christ)
Chapter 4 = Your Expectations, after today, after death, at time of death (Christian hope)  (because you received Christ)

This is your story - no rehearsal necessary!!   It can be questioned/challenged/disputed, but it cannot be disproved!!!!!
Illustration:  healing of the blind man  John 9:1-38

2 Aspects of Personal Testimony:
#1.  This is what I know.
#2.  This is what I believe (think about what I know.

Note:  Blind man illustration:  1)  knew he was healed  2)  believed God  3)  healed through Jesus.
BUT, he couldn't point to Jesus as Messiah until was told that Jesus was Messiah!!!

Point/Distinction:  Your Personal Testimony prepares the ground for the gospel, but it IS NOT the gospel!!
Is a way of opening the door for the gospel to be presented.
So, Rom. 10:13-14  Illustration/Comparison:  lame man healed  Acts 3 & 4.  Personal Testimony doesn't replace the gospel, but compliments it.  The gospel is essential along with Personal Testimony.

Some Considerations:
1)  Your Personal Testimony is simply your story (no rehearsal necessary) - it's uniquely yours.
2)  It needn't be dramatic to be effective  Example:  "I was saved out of bad stuff" = good story
                                                                              "I was saved from bad stuff" = better story. 
Let the Holy Spirit use your story.
3)  Personal Testimony is not the gospel!  It is an excellent tool to prepare for gospel message, but the gospel MUST BE INCLUDED!!

Some IF's:
1)  IF you don't have a Personal Testimony, you need to ask "why?"

2)  IF your Personal Testimony doesn't match your current lifestyle, you need to ask "why?"

3)  IF your Personal Testimony doesn't match (is contrary to) Scripture , you need to ask "why?"

4)  IF your Personal Testimony has to omit "today", you need to ask "why?" - Today is Chapter 5 in the Timeline.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Christian Message

Next in Interrupted Series - Christian Hope, Christian Calling, Christian Response, Christian Reward.

Definition:  the message we (Christians) have Received
                 the message we are to Pass On

One one hand, message covers a lot of ground!  Examples:  the Bible, Revelation:  We believe God has revealed Himself to us.
On the other hand, "Christian Message" often (traditionally) refers to the core parts/the primary essentials of the message.  IE:  THE GOSPEL

Bridge Illustration:    
                            (Animation from Bellsnwhistles.com)

Illustration leads to the "Gospel" - which is the core.  Comes from (old English) god spel (good tale, story --> news)

We know the gospel has 2 sides:
     Bad news - sinners/separated/without remedy (hope)
     Good news - IN Christ, can find Redemption/Reconciliation/Restoration

This is the message we have Received.
This is the message we are to Pass On.

This is not a message we have contrived, made up, or has evolved over the years.

I.  The Message We've Received (handed to us)
Received From God -->Apostles-->Us - Eph. 2:19-20

Not like the telephone game, where passed from one to another to another to another and finally to you - see how message differs from what originally said.
But, because of a plethora of texts - we have thousands of manuscripts going right back to the apostles -
the message is passed from the Apostles directly to you (through translator)

II.  The Message we are to Pass On.
Examples:  1 Cor. 15:1-4  1 John 1:1, 5 - directly from Christ Himself

So, why so hesitant to proclaim? pass it on??
Because the message is:
1)  Offensive includes alienation/exclusivity/judgment, etc.
2)  Invasive:  intrudes into private life (heart/soul)
3)  Confrontational:  = a challenge with expectation of resistance!!
4)  Ancient - often considered primitive/old fashioned/out-dated

The Gospel IS offensive (not that you should be)
The Holy Spirit IS invasive and confrontational - so be careful
The Message IS ancient --- BUT, it is NOT out-dated.  As relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.  Nothing meets the needs of man like the Gospel Message.  Rom. 1:16

There IS no other way for man to be saved except through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

this = the message we have received and are to pass on!

III  The Message Entrusted to us.
2 Tim. 2:2 - committed to our care/keeping

As Stewards .... we've no right to:
1)  Alter the message, whether we think offensive or not.
2) Withhold the message - have an obligation to share.
3)  Reduce the message - water it down to make more appealing
Example:  Love of God is essential to the Gospel BUT = 1/2 the Gospel)
Doesn't mean we mush share the whole gospel every time we share the Love of Christ, But to be complete/effective, we must share the whole story.  Rom. 1:16 (again)

How, when, opportunity to share left to the individual - all have different gifts and different ways.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living in the Kingdom: (Patrick Brown, Youth Pastor)

Last week:  4 areas of expertise or areas should be highly trained or in training in:
           1.  God and His Kingdom
           2.  Entering the Kingdom (sharing the Gospel)
           3.  Living in the Kingdom
           4.  Understanding and defeating things that are against the Kingdom

Question:  Are you getting these done? - If not, lack of effort/action??  Lack of opportunity???  Lack of knowledge??

Today:  Living in the Kingdom -
             1.  w/focus on Love (Agape/Godly) and Knowledge and how it shapes the way we live.   Will look at:  what Godly love is, and how knowledge is a necessary component of true love.
             2.  You can have knowledge and NOT love, but true (Godly) love requires knowledge.
             3.  Agape requires knowledge and action - action may include:  time, money, prayer, etc.

LOVE:  "What's love got to do with it?"
           A.  Some general info about love:
                  1.  Can be hard to define, same word means different things to different people and therefore is easily abused.
                        a.  "I love pizza", "I love my wife", "I love my dog"
                        b.  Must get our meaning from the context
                 2.  Definition of love from dictionary - strong feelings of affection for something or someone
                 3.  Different types of love:
                        a.  Philadelphos:  brotherly love
                        b.  Philoteknos:  love one's children
                        c.  Eros:  sexual desire
                       d.  Agape:  ' not selfish'
                             i.  Sometimes referred to as Godly love
                            ii.  Affection, good will, love, benevolence (be kind, give gifts), brotherly love
                           iii.  Wanting whats best for someone
                           iv.  Hoping/desiring what's best for someone
                           v.  Agape must be the ultimate motivation for all Kingdom work.  If work not done out of love, as far as God is concerned, it is pointless.
                          vi.  1 Cor. 13 - The Love Chapter
                4.  Two different reasons for love:
                     a.  Love as a desire to satisfy natural or selfish urges:  not commendable (fallen love)
                          i.  to eat
                         ii.  To be happy
                         iii.  To be loved
                         iv.  Sexual appetites
                         v.  To be popular
                        vi.  Gain entry into heaven
            Things we do out of selfish motivation are not the "keys to the Kingdom"
                 b.  Love for God and for others due to the realization:  God is ultimate good, people are made in God's image and therefore good (even if rotten in their actions), that love is good.  This is commendable
                      i.  Is mental or thinking love and requires knowledge
                     ii.  Love is key to all things.
Matt:  5:21-22 - Opposite attitude of Agape love.
           5.  Love requires knowledge - how can I love God if I don't know him?  How can I be benevolent to someone if I don't know what is right or good for them?
          6.  What love does not require:
               a.  being best buddies:  love your enemy
               b.  liking someone
               c.  wanting to spend every moment of every day with the person
              d.  Always wanting to do the action necessary for loving
         7.  Entailment of  Agape love
              a.  Effort and action - often sacrifice
              b.  Knowledge
              c.  Opportunity

    B.  Don't have to build a case for love being important, but will look at some scriptures.
            1.  Mark 12:30-31 - Greatest of Jesus' commandments - knowledge of God required and definitely takes effort to love neighbor.
            2.  John 13:31-35 - sign that others can see
            3.  John 14:15 - must have knowledge to keep commands
            4.  If you hate your brother, are not in the Kingdom:  1 John 4:7, 12, 16, 20-21

       A.  Rom. 10:1-4 - necessary for salvation/entrance into Kingdom
       B.  John 17:3 - eternal life is knowing God and Jesus as the Christ

      A.  What does "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" mean? - often quoted to stress love over knowledge.  This taking words out of context and assuming that love and knowledge are mutually exclusive:  THEY ARE NOT!!
     B.  Read passage and see what it mean
     C.  Love requires knowledge

CLOSING:  Think about what Agape Love is - and how important it is in living in the Kingdom.
Where is your love lacking?
       1.  Effort or action?
       2.  Opportunity?
       3.  Knowledge?
       4.  Expertise?