Living the Kingdom Experience

As we begin a new year, my heart is drawn to 1 Corinthians 4:20 which says: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” Warren Wiersbe writes that “the church has known for 2,000 years that Jesus is coming again, and yet many believers have become lethargic and drowsy. They are no longer excited about the soon-coming of the Lord. As a result, there is little effective witness given that the Lord is returning.”

Is this you? Be honest here – are you an effective witness for the Kingdom of God or are you just a lot of dull talk? Do you have an excitement for sharing about the Good News of God’s love with others? And, have you ever truly responded to the Good News of God’s love for you?

The final part of the Matthew 25 addresses the final judgment of the entire world. Leading up to this, there are four parables that (Matthew 24:43–25:30) have all alluded to judgment, and have concentrated on right living in this life. So although this last part is told using illustrative language, like a parable, with the final judgment being compared to a shepherd separating sheep from goats, it is not a parable. Jesus ends his teaching here in Matthew 24 & 25 with an emphasis on the eternal judgment of the entire world.

It reads almost like an exact description of what will happen when Jesus comes again, as if Jesus wants to make explicit what was implicit in the parables. This is a very moving and very solemn passage. It reminds us of certain things that will be true about the return of the Lord. From this passage there are four things we learn about the return of the Lord. First, He returns in glory (v. 31). Second, He returns as the Judge & for final judgment (vv. 32–33). Third, He returns to bring us into His Presence for Eternity (vv. 34–40). And fourth, He returns to confront wickedness (vv. 41–46), a truth that should compels us to not delay in seeing others come to know Jesus Christ personally – to be fully committed to daily living the Kingdom experience this next year.

So how do we do this?

We have to actually apply these truths from Matthew 25 to our lives. Start by pointing others to His glory by living a vibrant, Holy life. Secondly, let God, be God – let Him be the Judge others. And lastly, we must not forget that others need to know the truth about Eternity in His Presence. Much like the first truth we learned from Matthew 25, we must also recognize that with all of our holy living that the conversation about eternity must still happen. Being “Christian” is just the start to this – sharing Christ consistently with others is what makes the good news of Jesus Christ powerful, real and authentic – so share your story!

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We must not forget what 1 Corinthians 4:20 said: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” When you and I are living by God’s power, there should be an infusion of the Holy Spirit within us that makes us and our way of living refreshing & exciting to those around us. Are you an effective witness for the Kingdom of God or are you just a lot of dull talk? Are you living the Kingdom experience daily?

What Jesus shares in Matthew 25 was meant to clearly communicate what it means to be ready for His return & how to live until He comes. We must be an effective witness for the Kingdom of God and we must not waste our opportunities. You may feel as if you may not have a great deal of ability to reach others, to impact them, but you can choose to be faithful with what you do have – for all of us must be faithful, as we daily seek to live out the Kingdom experience by pointing other to His Glory by living a vibrant, Holy Life; to let God, be God – to let Him be the Judge of others; and to be faithful to share with others their need to know the truth about Eternity in His Presence forever.

May you live the Kingdom experience throughout this year and may those apart from God, see your action, your desire to live by God’s power each day, and praise Him for it – drawing closer to the Lord as their Savior, their Creator, their Healer and Redeemer!

(Originally written for: Nevada Appeal, Faith and Insight Article – December 2015)

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neglecting the journey

I am one of the those older 20-somethings that is on Twitter. I tweet. I follow other and their tweets. And, I’m cooler because I do so. One of the people I follow on Twitter is a dead man, A.W. Tozer, and he tweets every day…so beat that.

Now, all joking aside, a recent tweet was this: “Many Christians are satisfied with their destination but they neglect the journey.” What a powerful statement. I of coarse reposted this on Twitter and facebook because it was one of those encouraing and convicting statements. Over the past few days my mind has really thought through what it means to be focused on Heaven and advancing the Kingdom of God, while not neglecting my daily Spiritual life.

The secrurity of our salvation through Jesus Christ is not always as evenly matched with our daily practice of living out our faith by practically loving and serving others. When I invited Jesus Christ into my life and I surrendered my life completely to Him, it was far more then just a prayer. It was an invitation for Jesus Christ to invade every area of my life. There are aspects of our life that keep us from living lives of service and sacrifice.

There is an assualt on our lives, and assualt that demands our time and engery and money. This assualt keeps us at bay from truly enjoying this journey God has ordained for us to live out. Most of us don’t neglect this journey purposefully. No one who truly loves the Lord wakes up each morning and declares, “I am going to put myself, or my family first, before I spend time in the Word with the Lord.” We wake up and we are late so we have to rush. We wake up and someone needs something so we focus on that. In an attempt to not neglect our structure of time managment or personal responsibility to our family, or job needs, we often neglect our daily relationship and journey with the Lord.

And it is after constant neglect and disconnect like this that they demands of every day life begin to take a toll on us. We lose our joy and we act out towards a spouse, a child, a co-worker. We struggle because inside of us our soul is desperate for revival and intimacy with Jesus but we get pushed down with our guilt or shame of not spending time with the Lord. Our identity in Christ get’s all messed up. Our neglection is compromising the gift God has already given us in Christ Jesus and that’s eternity in Heaven.

This is where God’s grace get’s me the most. Regardless of how hard I try, or how much I do, it doesn’t change how much He truly loves me. I think this knowledge is why it pains my heart so much to see so many people choose to do so much, rather than to be focused on seeking more of the Lord. Sure, people put into their schedule “Jesus time.” They spend a few hours at church on Sunday, maybe even get into a mid-week Bible study or they get coffee with a friend for a time of encouragement and accountability. But is our scheduled “Jesus time” each week truly enough? Have you ever written out your daily schedule and compared how much time you spend go and doing things, rather then being with Jesus?

How are we ever to the be the husband’s and wife’s, the children, the father’s and mother’s God desires us to be if we spend more time doing, then being with Him?

God will change your church and the impact it has on your community if you truly made the sacrfices necessary to cultivate your journey in life with Christ. Marriages would be different. Parents and their role as being the chief discipler of their children would change dramatically. Our hearts would be less judgmental as we more intimately understood the grace in which we are saved ourselves. We be able to clearly walk in our identity as one belonging to Christ.

We’ve been commanded by God to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19) but we can’t go and make anything unless we are committed first to be and become a disciple of Jesus daily. We can no longer ignore the journey because when we do we are ignoring the depth and power of the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives.

We can reclaim the power found in the journey with Christ one person at a time. It is a choice we must choose to make. One person in a family can be the one to make a difference. One family in a community of believers can make the difference. Even if they are the only one faithul for years, we are to serve the Lord with our faithfulness. Take a stand and say, “but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” and look at what needs to be elimanted in your life and from your schedule that robs of you from the intimacy found in our journey with the Lord.

Be practical. As you take small steps towards elimanting these things that clutter your life you will be able to do more and more, so set tangible, realistic goals at improving your journey with the Lord. Speak out what you want to change. Have a trusted friend hold you accountable from now until enternity so that you may never return to those things that rob you of your joy and intimacy. God is faithful towards us with His unending grace, may we be faithful in our pursuit of Him. When we are, it will change our lives and every life we affect and influence. Our disciple making process will forever be changed and our personal discipleship process is changed to reflect a life bent towards the things of Heaven. May we let the love and grace offered us by God compel us to live Holy lives in true and continued intimacy with our Savior.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:19-24)