The prizes of life
come at journey’s conclusion.
Not at the start line.
The prizes of life
The prizes of life
come at journey’s conclusion.
Not at the start line.
Habits direct you.
repetition will make them
easy to perform.
I’m still stuck on Mother’s Day. Even though it was a week ago. I was reflecting, “Why is it so hard to be a mom?” Actually, it’s me and you as kids. We make it hard on moms. I remember a time they were fixing the road in front of our hose. They had put down fresh asphalt and I rode my bike on it! My mom saw me fall in front of the big machine that rolls the concrete flat. She thought I have may been flattened! Dad came home to a crying mom and boys who are laughing. Us boys used to play tag with real bow and arrows. It’s just dawning on me that I was a part of the problem. You gotta realize this. Call your mom again to apologize (Ha!)
Now, this teaching series has given us is a good opportunity to address the “christian words” we use. One guy asked me after a meeting, “What is salt and light? You were talking about that on Sunday and I didn’t know what you were talking about.”
Remember, not everyone knows all the fancy Christian words.
Today, we are going to learn about King and church. We’ll teach about God’s Kingdom. Not simply as a place that you have a ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven when you die. Jesus talked about God’s Kingdom on earth.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
Jesus teaches with many metaphors of the Kingdom:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Dave thinks that OHC takes it’s definition of God’s Kingdom from the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Definition: God’s Kingdom is where God’s will is done
God’s Kingdom is not just in heaven. We get to be agents of the Kingdom here and now. What a great challenge!
We get to be God’s Kingdom in many ways
Illustration: Larry Novak
Illustration: Farmers donating resources
The farmers who farm those 100 acres as a service of others is a picture of God’s Kingdom
Illustration: The translator through our sponsor children
The people who sit with the families and translate our letters and prayers is a powerful picture of God’s Kingdom.
We have babies coming in our congregation more than once a week. When you hold the baby, there is something about that moment. That baby will cause a lot of strife for a long time, yet you can feel God’s Kingdom right there.
Illustration: Volunteering with Kids
There are small group leaders right now who are sitting with kids. That’s God’s Kingdom.
One thing about mission trips is the veil between the kingdoms is thin. On the Haiti trip a witch doctor converted to Christianity. We can see that and know the spiritual power in that, without question.
Yet Jeff Mickey tells Dave about a college student who gave up smoking after experiencing a worship service. It’s easy for us to think “Wow, that must have been a good service.” No, it’s the Kingdom at work.
We are called to become fully devoted followers of Christ through our five communities. We will do that through faith, families, friends, and service.
When we know what we’re about we can cheer on other congregations who are also making an impact.
God is building a people, it’s called his church. He’s asking those people to build his Kingdom here.
Illustration: Love Cedar Valley
Do you have the courage to ask that question? That is the challenge for today. We can be agents of the Kingdom.
The kingdom of Heaven is a pearl of great value. When we believe the gospel and become a follower of Jesus Christ, we not only get an eternity with God in heaven, we get to begin eternal life right now and be used by God to bring His kingdom to earth.
Here I am, Lord. Use me to…
teach yet devour my years.
Grace is one of my wife’s favorite words. She likes it so much, she even named one of our dogs “Grace.” We have great memories of grace.
Grace is one of those “tough concepts” of the Christian life. Forgiveness as well.
Philip Yancey gives us this idea of grace by contrasting it with justice and mercy:
When you get what you deserve
When you don’t get what you deserve
When you get what you don’t deserve
Illustration: Mailing money
None of us make it through life without getting hurt. Someone somewhere has hurt you. At sometime you have been a victim. So we almost decide, “How many payments will I demand?”
It may not be a check. But there are other ways: Silence, distance, carefully chosen words, messing up moments, etc.
“Justice is served… until I’m reminded about it and then I demand it again.”
“Hurt becomes hate, and hate becomes rage as we become junkies unable to make it through the day without mainlining on bitterness.”
In the book of Matthew, Peter asked Jesus this type of question:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
Peter is worried about Jesus being over-forgiving.
If you measure your grace then you’re not about being gracious. Jesus points out that you’re always to be about grace.
We’re not all that different than the servant who owed an un-payable debt.
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
God’s grace isn’t little, our faith tends to be. We don’t realize how much we’ve been forgiven!
The servant must have felt like he was still in debt. Why else would he act that way? Why would he squeeze the other man to pay the money? The servant
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled
When we miss the grace of God, the potential for bitterness is great.
Where we catch God’s grace, the potential for forgiveness is great.
2 Timothy 2:1
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus
Paul could have told Timothy many other things, yet he focused on being strong in the grace that is Jesus.
Do not miss the grace of God.
The further we step into the pool of grace, the more likely we are to give grace. This is important for us to understand. Could that actually help us with some of our anger management? Could that be the secret that would free us to be enslaved to un-forgiveness?
The key to forgiveness is to focus on what God did for you. Quit focusing on what they did to you and focus on what God did for you.
“Someone must pay” may still be on your mind, preventing you to forgive. Well, someone did pay. Jesus.
Un-forgiveness always leaves us in prison. Prisons of anger, guilt, and depression. God doesn’t throw us in jail, we throw ourselves in.
One dies in his full vigor,
being wholly at ease and secure,
24 his pails full of milk
and the marrow of his bones moist.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having tasted of prosperity.
Illustration: “The Liar’s Club”
The truth of the Bible tells us that you will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has given you.
Forgiveness is an act of faith. Forgiveness means you’re trusting that God is better at justice than you are. You leave the scales of Mercy and Justice in God’s hands.
Forgiveness is hard, not fair, and unnatural.
“Lord, if you can’t make me thin, then make my friends look fat.”
Forgiveness is holy stuff. It is made up of heaven. It terrifies us but at the same time it gives us hope. It is the way to grace.
Grace is the story of the Bible. It’s the story of Christmas, it’s the story of Easter.
Today is Mother’s Day. Truth is, some family gatherings bring pain and hurt. Things left unforgiven. The prayer today is that God’s power of grace may come through us.
God forgave us.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.