Friday, June 22, 2012

Just some information ...

I am on vacation next week. We are taking a trip where I doubt I will have internet access. So, there will probably be no posts next week.

Kingdom - 13

Jesus tells a story about a rich man going on a journey. (This story was told at the same time and place as the previous story.) The rich man called his servants and entrusted each one with a portion of his wealth. They were supposed to keep an eye on it while he was gone.

In his absence, some of the servants used the wealth to earn greater wealth for their master. But one hid his portion, because he was afraid his master might get angry. When the rich man returned, he rewarded those who invested his wealth, but he punished the one who hid it.

There is a time limit on the kingdom. And there are expectations placed on its citizens.

  • They need to realize they have been given a tremendous gift. Of extraordinary value.
  • They also need to realize that the gift should not sit on the shelf. It should be used. It should be utilized to produce what God’s values most.
    1. An increase to his glory.
    2. People added to his kingdom.
    3. Healing and restoration.
    4. Lives growing to live in agreement with his expectations, values, mission and will.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

God's Will

If the will of God is defined as something that happens that God intends/wants to happen, then God’s will is broken every day. God declares that stealing is wrong; it should not happen. Every liquor store hold-up, every mugging go against God’s will.

So, is God not all-powerful?
Is God uncaring?
Is God not active in time and space?

The power of God is axiomatic. The creation of all, parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan, calming of storms are argue for God’s power.

It is Christ on the cross that argues for God’s love and concerns the most. We were all condemned, sitting on death row, when Jesus took our place and our punishment.

It is Jesus incarnated that argues for God’s active intervention in the world. Jesus taught, looked people in the eye, healed, touched and met people where they lived. He worked at their point of need.

I don’t understand why God allows evil to continue. Is he giving rom for personal choice? Is he preparing for final judgment? But God, in Jesus, demonstrates he can act, he does care and he has not stopped influencing the affairs of men.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kingdom - 12

Jesus told a story about a wedding. The guests were waiting to hold the celebration. The bride and groom had not arrived yet. (The wedding party was probably taking pictures somewhere.) Some of the guest had oil lamps; and some of those had extra oil.

When the wedding party finally arrived, it was very late. The oil for the lamps was running low. Those with extra oil refilled their lamps. Those without extra oil had to go buy some. And when they finally got back to the celebration, they could not get in.

It seems like there is a time limit on the kingdom. There is a cut-off date and all applications must be in by that time. So, don’t waste your time. Get ready. Get the application, fill it out and send it in. Thankfully it is a quick and easy to process and approve.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Gospel

The gospel is not a philosophy; it is not about the church; it is not about church history. The gospel is about a person who came to reconnect us to God.

If we expect to come up with a solution to all the problems in the world, we will fall flat on our faces. We are neither big enough nor smart enough.

If we expect to be a perfect example of who God made us to be, we will have equally injured noses. It is humanity’s moral failure that caused all this in the first place. And we are now all warped. We could not fully function in God’s image if we wanted to. (And a large part of the issue is that our heart is warped too, so even our “want to” is broke.)

We are designed to live, to be and to act in a certain way. We are designed to consume certain fuels to produce these outward results. And if we have re-aligned our allegiances, choosing to live with God as our first priority, then he chooses to begin an extreme make-over of our lives, our “want to’s”, our pursuits, our heart, our though processes and our actions.

The best we can do right now is pursue our relationship, invite him into any and every circumstance, and follow as completely and thoroughly whatever he calls us to do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kingdom - 11

Jesus told a story about a king who invited people to his son’s wedding celebration. (Imagine being invited to the wedding of Charles and Diana, or William and Kate.)

When the time for the wedding arrived, the king sent servants to inform people it was time. But the people ignored it. Some even mistreated the servants.

Because of the mistreatment, the king sent his army to deal with those people. And the king sent out to invite others to come. The way was open for anyone to come.

God’s kingdom has become a volunteer organization. People choose to belong. And its current citizens all function as recruiters, welcoming committee and naturalization service.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kingdom - 10

Jesus told a very short story about the kingdom. A man had two sons. He told both of them to go work on the farm. One son refused, but he later regretted what he said and went to work. The other son agreed to go, but he never went. When we consider which son really obeyed his father, it would be the first son.

The essence of the kingdom is pleasing the Father. It is not what one says; it is what one does. The religious leaders, Jesus was talking to, talked a good game. Some worked hard at obeying the religious rules. But they ignored the thing God considered of prime importance, mercy, and humility.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Kingdom - 9

A man came to Jesus and asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life.

First, we ought to point out that he asked what he should do. Jesus’ basic answer was that he should obey the Law. But the whole tacking of Jesus is that no one can keep the Law. People only attain eternal life by going through the bridge that Jesus created on the cross.

The man said he had kept the Laws. Was there anything else? We have just said that no one can keep the Laws. Did the man set the bar low enough for him to easily manage it? It is possible to do that.

Jesus responded “to be complete” sell you possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. Now, the man was pretty rich. The problem was not that the man had lots of possessions. The problem was that those possessions controlled the man. The heart of the man was caught up in those possessions.

God designed man to have a relationship with him. One that connects man’s heart with God’s heart. Nothing should interfere with this connection. A person with many possessions can connect with those possessions first, giving them priority over his connection with God.

This man valued his relationship with God. But He valued his possessions more.

Kingdom - 8

Jesus told a story about the kingdom. A king had servants who would invest money for him. He decided to give an audit of these servants. They checked the book of one, and the auditors discovered a very large discrepancy. Billions were missing.

The king suspected theft and was going to sell everything – home, wife, children – of the servant’s and throw him into prison to recoup some of the loss. The servant fell on his knees and pleaded with king for patience, he would pay this totally impossible amount. The king had compassion, and forgave the servant. He cancelled the whole debt.

The servant, thanked the king profusely, left his presence, and spotted a fellow-servant who owed him a $100. He demanded his money. The second servant pleaded for patience. But the first servant had him thrown into prison.

When the king heard about this, he called the servant to him. The king said that since he had forgiven the servant billions, he should have forgiven his fellow servant the hundred. And the king threw him into prison.

The story is obviously about the importance of forgiveness in the lives of the citizens of the kingdom of God. God takes this very seriously. Jesus said if we act like the servant, we will be treated like the servant.

The heart of the kingdom is forgiveness. We petition for admittance by faith and repentance. We are admitted by the Father’s forgiveness.

The Bible says the forgiveness is woven into the nature of God. (Justice – ie punishing wrongdoing – is also woven into the nature of God.) It is also his intention that our nature grows to become like his nature. Forgiveness should be woven into our being.

Moreover, there should be a radical confrontation of where\what we were, and where\what we are. We were like the first servant. We owed billions! To be forgiven billions is such a tremendous gain that no debt we had against anyone can compare. The release of our debt should produce profound effect in our hearts.

It was the first servant’s reaction to the second servant that demonstrated being forgiven had no effect on his heart. His repentance was not real; it was only words. His focus was not his life, its failures and the justice coming to him. His focus was solely on avoiding punishment. In other words, it was selfish motives.