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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mercy-grace-21585658I went to the grocery store with all three of my children. The youngest is buckled in and the older two walk beside the cart, holding on. This is standard protocol for the Emery kids. We got some fresh fruit and then some milk. My youngest is learning that he can’t just have whatever he wants, whenever he wants it – he is not even two years old yet.

As we walked past the greeting card section of the store he saw an inflated ballon and really wanted it. He got loud about his want. My face turned red as heads turned and stared at me like I was a three-headed monster. What was only like 15 seconds of instruction and redirection seemed like an eternity.

With things now calm, we grabbed a few other essentials and headed to the check out stand. Hanging there at the top of the isle was another ballon and little man saw it and quickly asked for it. Now before he even got upset and loud, the person behind me sighed loudly and told me to get my child under control this time.

That loaded statement, small and maybe intended to be innocent, it was hurtful.

We think things that are judgmental, and maybe we don’t even realize it. And we say things that are judgmental too. No one, myself included, as not struggled with being judgmental. Rather than operating with an abundance of mercy and grace, we can be quick to judge others. And the scary part: we try to justify our judgmental tendencies. And yet mercy, should triumph judgement. Being judgmental is hurtful. And our judgmental ways are hurting our impact on the Kingdom of God.

God’s perfect work of mercy, can be displayed through imperfect people. James 2:12-13 says: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” Whatever we say or do – we will be judged by it and often mercy lacks within us because we have a poor understanding of God’s mercy for ourselves and for others. It is easier to be judgmental, than to be conduits of mercy.

As disciples of Christ, we must talk and act like one who is centered in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. We must still speak boldly to the issues of our culture that are contrary to the Word of God, but we must act and speak from a place of mercy, not judgement. And if we cannot display mercy to guy in the car next to us, or to that parent in the store, then how will be able to operate from a state of mercy and grace with bigger issues – eternal issues – Biblical, Christ-centered issues – ones that we must address and speak to as disciples of Christ?

We must never compromise the standards set before us in God’s Holy Word. Nor should we compromise God’s calling on our lives to not just experience His mercy, but to be conduits of His mercy and grace. We have never been commanded to be the judge of others. Yes, we can and should assess and judge others actions by the fruit their lives produce. And yes, we can see the consequences others face because of their decisions and make an assessment, or judgment on that.

As followers of Christ, we must speak and act in such powerful ways of mercy and grace that those we encounter will see God in us, because of the extravagance of mercy and grace that we display in our lives. When you speak and act, do people see Christ in you? Regardless of the situation, big or small, do others see God at work in you and at work through you?

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – May 2015)