August 24th, 2021 Turning On the Lights! Tuesday Morning August 24th. We live in strange and powerful times. How does the Christian and the Church move through such wicked darkness? How does the Christian navigate these deep waters? Mind you now, I am n
1Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT)
17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:17-24 NLT)
Question… Am I the only one called by the Lord at Churchtown?
I think you know the answer to that, especially if you have taken the time to read the passages above! The answer is, of course, no. Every person who places their faith in the atoning work of the cross is reborn a child of called and thus called to the ministry of reconciliation. (reconciling broken spirits with God through faith in Jesus Christ) In one way or another, Paul implores all of the people in all of the churches that he serves to, “live a life worthy of your calling.” And so we too listen to his wisdom – the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit.
What does this mean? Fundamentally it means that we submit to the prayer that we are taught to pray, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven.” You see, if this is truly the way it works, and I believe with my whole heart that it is, then our calling amounts to living out GOD’S will in our lives. What does that look like exactly? To be sure we have some descriptors in scripture. For example, Paul goes on in Ephesians 4 to tell the congregation, “25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
30And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Pretty good advice, to be sure; but your calling also looks unique to you and your circumstances. I, for example, do not know what it means to live my calling as an accountant, or an attorney, or a construction worker, or a police officer et… BUT we can be assured that wherever we are and whatever we are doing in this world, God wants us to be those ministers of reconciliation who will lead the people that He places us among into the Kingdom.
So here’s the bottom line… God has been very intentional in bringing about the salvation of His human creation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we truly repent and place our faith in the completed work on the cross, then we should be very intentional about living in the relationship with The Almighty that has been restored.
What was it I wrote the other week? Love, Pray, Obey – Repeat.
Those are all verbs.
Over the next two weeks, we will be looking at the Kingdom of Heaven. You see, the Gospel is all about the Kingdom of Heaven – the Good News, in fact, is that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
I know that we have been conditioned to think in a shallower way about the work of the cross – that Jesus willingly sacrificing Himself on the cross is about our personal salvation – our, “ticket into heaven,” and indeed it is about being saved from the power of sin and death; but at the same time, we are adopted into the family of God and brought in from the dark – into the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven – you will also hear, the kingdom of God – is more complex in its nature than we may think. The kingdom has existed from creation, but at the same time has been prophesied to exist in the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. At the same time, followers of the Christ live in the kingdom of heaven on earth now – as we wait for the second coming of Jesus and the fruition of all that has been promised. The kingdom is often described, and it is a succinct way of thinking about it, as both existing and becoming simultaneously.
The Good News is that we are saved by Christ and adopted into the kingdom – the unseen yet very real kingdom of heaven on earth while simultaneously holding onto the hope that is imparted to the believer through the promises of the new heaven and the new earth where the physical and the spiritual will exist in perfect harmony.
1When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
2John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting,a or should we keep looking for someone else?”
4Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.b”
7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’c
11“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing,d and violent people are attacking it. 13For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come.e 15Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
16“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
17‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’
18For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19The Son of Man,f on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
This little passage from Matthew chapter 11 (verses 1-19) talks about how the prophets foretold the coming of Jesus and thus the coming of the kingdom. Jesus, as usual, does not mince His words when discussing the nature of the kingdom and how it is under constant attack. He then goes on to expressly speak on what we expressly speak on every Sunday – that as an individual, you will have to decide in which kingdom you will live.
Will you live as an adopted son or daughter of the Most High and submit to the authority of God the Father through Jesus Christ the son? Or will you give yourself over to the kingdoms created by the minds of men and submit to the authority of the father of all lies?
Pastor Brian is the senior pastor of Churchtown Church of God and regularly shares his thoughts & insight here - he invites you to join in the discussion of life & faith!