The Kingdom: The Gospel
Series: THE KINGDOM
Well, hello there buddies. How are you? Good to see you all. Hey, let me give a quick plug for the IBC. I'm not overstating the case when I say this to you, you will never have a better opportunity to learn the word of God than the Infusion Bible Conference, it's that good. I know that Brad's like, "Hey, cool." No, no, no. The people that he has, and it's not just like Brad and a bunch of his buddies got together and needed to do something so they scheduled a thing. These are the best of the best of the best. What they bring to the table is incredible. It is a huge honor for us to be able to have this conference in our building. It's a huge honor. The fact that they are giving it to us at half price if you're a member of Southeast, if you're part of Southeast, that's a gift. It's a gift that they're giving to us. I just want to encourage you, man this is an incredible opportunity for us to be able to have them here. The content is ridiculous in a good way, in a good way.
The last couple of weeks I haven't been here, you guys probably didn't notice. I was supposed to be in Israel and then it turns out there's this COVID thing going on. I don't know if you've heard about that. But what happened was, because we had those slots scheduled, Kelly and I took the opportunity to do some things that we don't ever get to do. It's always fun to go and see different churches and how does it... I look at church at a different way than most people do because it's my job. To just see what they're doing and what's working and what we can totally steal from them and all of that stuff. It gives you fresh creative ideas. We did that last week. We were able to be a part of the Meadows Church launch Sunday, which was really exciting. I don't know if you guys remember a few months ago Chris Lanier preached here, it's almost a year ago now. He preached here and he is just a brand new on-the-ground church planner and they launched last week.
It was great to be there with them, they had a great launch day. It was cool. We've been supporting them as a church and as a staff, we've been supporting them. It was really cool to be able to be a part of that. The good news is this coming up Friday we actually get to go to Israel. I'm excited. We're actually taking a group and we're going. The bad news is that means I won't be here for another two weeks. You're like, "Where's the bad news?" Here's the deal, never fear, those Sundays are well covered. You'll be excited about all the messages that happen. Just want to make you aware of that. Barring pray for us, we got to pass three COVID tests to get into the country this week. Two of them are in Tel Aviv, which is a problem if you fail there. Well. I blow the language. Anyway, pray for us this week.
All right. We're going to jump into this series on the kingdom and here's what I want to say about this series, this is important. What we're going to talk about in the next few weeks is important because the kingdom is the point. It's the thing. This is bigger than what church you go to. This is bigger than what country you're a part of. This is bigger than Christianity. The kingdom is the point. Jesus died for the kingdom. When you say, "Well, he died to redeem mankind." Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. From a theological perspective, that's true, but what was the accusation against him? King of the Jews. He called himself a king. The kingdom is Jesus' message. We have 28 recorded parables, 21 of them say the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God is light. This is his message. In fact, I'll make a bet with you right now. If you can show me a place in the scripture that it says, the gospel of salvation, I'll pay you 10 grand. But if you take the bet, then every place that the Bible says, the gospel of the kingdom, you owe me 10 grand.
Here's why I say that because I'm not a betting man. I win. When we're talking about the gospel, the very guts of what we believe as followers of Jesus, people say to me all the time, "You need to preach the gospel more." I'm like, "What do you mean?" What they mean is, tell people how to get saved. Here's the deal, the gospel isn't about salvation only. It doesn't mean it's not about salvation, but the gospel isn't a salvation message. The gospel, the good news, is that the kingdom came. The king came down, the king made contact and he's inviting us to be partners with him in this new kingdom. This kingdom is freedom, and goodness, and hope, and healing, all yours in Christ, because he's a good king. That's the gospel. If we don't get that right, then we start short-selling the message. There are some really profound sidebar effects on us that we ought to make sure that we pay attention to.
I want to talk through this series. I want us to begin this process of understanding the kingdom, the kingdom. The kingdom is the point. Everything about Jewish identity, everything that they see themselves, especially in the first century, but still true to this day, is tied to two major events. One is Babylon and their captivity in Babylon. The other is the Exodus. Every metaphor that they use, every teaching piece that they pull from, their theology, how they understand God, how they understand man, all of it. It's all rooted to these two events, Babylon and the Exodus. Even their belief in the afterlife. If you read the Old Testament, you will be hard-pressed to find any conversation around heaven. We as Christians are enamored with it, we're enamored with heaven. We want to get out of here so bad. In the Old Testament you won't find that conversation, because their goal wasn't about how to get out of here. Their goal was about how to live here well.
The concept of the afterlife really isn't in the Old Testament at all. To which people always say to me, "Well, what about being gathered to his fathers? What about that phrase, being gathered to his fathers?" Well, context matters! Okay, here's what that means. When you die in ancient Israel context, they have a family tomb. So you start with the body wrapped in the spices and all that stuff and it starts on a flat slab and the body begins the process of decomposition. Now, when it's about mostly done, they're only mostly done. When it's mostly decomposed, they take that body and they put it in an ossuary, which is a small stone box with a lid that's 10 inches wide. Why is it 10 inches wide? Because it's the width of the skull and it's 18 inches long. Why is it 18 inches long? Because it's the length of the femur, the longest bone in the body. Mine would have to be 14 inches wide. I got a big head. I can't help it's genetic. I was like, "Lord, give me something that I will always be able to use," large dome. I don't know what kind of joke.
Anyways. When they put the bones in the ossuary, the bones finished the process of decomposition. But here's the thing, this all takes time. If you have one tomb for an entire family, the potential is that other family members are dying while this process is happening. So you can't just leave them in there, you got to keep moving them. Well, in the center of the tomb is the final resting place for the bones. It's where all the bones... there's a hole that's dug out and all those bones get put into this place where all these generations of people who've died their bones are finally there laid to rest. That is called being gathered to your fathers. It doesn't have anything to do with the afterlife, and we're so fixated on it now. Now listen, here's the thing. I am so all about heaven. I don't want to live in this world one day more than I absolutely have to. I am ready to go home. But the kingdom is today. I don't know if you know this, but God isn't the God of some glad morning only. He's the God of right now, and that matters. That matters for us.
The belief in the afterlife for the Jewish people doesn't even really exist until in between the Testaments. Belief in the afterlife may be too strong. Much conversation around the concept of the afterlife doesn't really exist until between the Testaments. The first time that the word, kingdom of God, that phrase, is used historically is about 400 years before Jesus. It's in that space that they start to have this concept and there's all kinds of reasons for that. But here's what I want to do. I want to wrestle today with what is the kingdom? How does it come about and what are the implications of some of that? What is the kingdom? Well, first of all, the kingdom, from a Jewish perspective, is a partnership with God in his plan for the world. When we partner with God, we're part of the kingdom of God. It's been called that for 400 years by the time Jesus shows up. When Jesus starts using this phrase, kingdom of God, it's not new, it's not new.
Now, there's a difference though, between how we often think about kingdom and how Easterners think about kingdom. For you and I, when we think about kingdom, we think about space and place. We think about territories, and boundaries, and state lines, and we think about the fence around our yard. "I'm the king of my castle. I can mow my grass in 10 minutes, that's how much yard I have and I am just fine with that. My castle. I am a king of my..." this is how we talk about our space. Why? Because we think about space and place. That's how we think about kingdom. So when we're thinking about how do we expand the kingdom, we go buy buildings and real estate and stuff, we go do that stuff. That doesn't make buildings evil. It just means when an Easterner thinks about kingdom, they don't think about it the same way. For them the king is kinging wherever the king is in his kingdom.
Okay, wait, what? Let me give you an example of how that works. Kingdoms for them isn't about space and place. It's about who's ruling in my heart. Give you an example. Let's say that I am an ambassador for the kingdom of God. Good news, I am and so are you. We are ambassadors. What that means is as an ambassador, I don't represent myself. Think about from a government perspective, when a country's ambassador goes to another country's government to talk to them, they don't go on their own behalf. They go on behalf of the one that they represent. So they only speak what the one who they represent wants them to speak. Does that make sense? I'm an ambassador, why? Because the king is king in my heart. God is the king of my heart. Therefore, I am his ambassador wherever I go. Now, let's say that I go to a place that's not being ruled by the kingdom of God. It's dark, it's evil, it's whatever. You pick it.
Whatever your version of darkness and evil is, it's there. It's not the kingdom of God. You go, "Well, wait a minute. He rules the whole world." No he rules where he's kinging, are you with me? I go to this dark place. Does that mean that I am now a part of the kingdom of darkness? No, because the king is still kinging in my heart. Does that make sense? I'm still part of the kingdom of God as long as I am still acting on his behalf. As soon as I step out of that, I'm giving up ground for the kingdom of God. Are you with me? This is not about land and place, it's about how our heart posture is as we move in the world. That's what the kingdom of God is. Dallas Willard says it this way. He says, the kingdom is the range of your effective will. The range of your effective will. The range at which God's will is effective is his kingdom. I think we could all take a look around and go, "That over there, that thing that's happening, that's not God's will. That is God's will, that's not God's will." We can look at those things.
Sometimes, "Well, do we really know?" When a husband hits his wife, that's not God's will. That's kingdom of darkness all day long. There are some things that are obvious. Another way to say the kingdom of God is this, it's the rule and reign of God advancing here on earth bringing healing and wholeness by pushing out chaos. In other words, it's the opportunity for you and I to partner with God in going to broken places to bring healing. Shalom to the chaos of this world, because that's God's desire. For many of us, we come to the kingdom of God. We say yes to Jesus so that he'll protect us. "Well, I want God to be my protector." God is your protector. He is, and I'm not taking that away. But what we mean by that is that God's going to put us in a safe little house, in a safe little neighborhood, in a safe little, safe little, safe little, safe little. I don't want to get all technical on you, but that's what... we want safe and little. Neither one of those things are God, right?
I love The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when the kids are going to find Aslan and they are hanging out with the beavers and they asked the beavers, is Aslan safe, and the beavers are like, "No, but he's good." That's God. It's brilliant. C.S. Lewis is brilliant. He's not safe but he's good. He'll protect. But here's the thing. God's heart is that his kingdom would bring Shalom to the broken places of this world. So if you're really going to be a part of his kingdom, you're going to have to find those broken places and get in it because that's where God is. We can't get away from that. If we try, then we're actually giving up ground because the king isn't kinging. If we're really going to let him king in our hearts, it's going to take us to broken places, not keep us from them. By the way, not for the purpose of being consumed by those broken places, but for the purpose of changing them.
We expand the kingdom of God when we obey. Now, that's not legalism. That's not a works righteousness. That's not, "Well, you don't have the right to tell me what to do. I have freedom in Christ I'll do what I want." Let me say this about freedom, because I think our country's missing it right now, our culture is missing it right now. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want, that's anarchy. Freedom is the desire and choice to do as you ought. There is obligation in freedom. There's obligation in it. You have to steward it correctly or it's not freedom. The reality is freedom requires discipline. It requires it or it's not freedom. "I don't like discipline." Then you don't like freedom. If you want to experience bondage in your life, live however you want without any boundaries. You'll find addiction in bondage real quick. Because escapism is really, at the end of the day, what's left.
This isn't legalism to call people to obedience, it's rule and reign. It's God ruling and reigning in my heart. It's God is God and I'm not, and he has the right to set the rules. It doesn't matter how I feel about it. When my feelings don't line up with God's desires, who's right and who's wrong? I'm wrong every time on that. I know that people are going to go, "I don't like that." Well, here's the thing. If this was your problem, you could get over it. It doesn't matter how you feel, God's God. If all it takes for you to abandon the kingdom is to say, "I don't feel like it," then I guarantee you Satan, being who he is, is going to make sure that you don't ever feel like it. Your feelings aren't God. My feelings, your feelings, feelings are fickle. They're not evil, they're just fickle. Feelings are manipulated by so many things. They're manipulated by how much sleep I got and what I ate before I went to bed and whether or not I have gas. What somebody said or how fast the person in front of me that I don't even know what car it was, but they were driving and it set me off.
Feelings are fickle. It doesn't matter what you feel. It's about rule and reign. We do hard things spiritually even though maybe we don't want to. Why? Because it's about telling the world who our God is. Does that make sense? So this whole thing about the kingdom, how does it come about? There are three pieces to the kingdom of God that are actually really important, all of them. They're rooted in the Exodus. Remember I told you all their identity pulled from Babylon and the Exodus. They're rooted in the Exodus, and they're all rooted in scripture, and they're all over rabbinic writing. This is not my stuff, I didn't come up with this, okay? This is all over the rabbinic literature. We want to talk about this. How does the kingdom come about? Number one, the finger of God, everybody do this. You guys, finger of God. You should pray like this. Every staff meeting that we do now we start with the Shema prayer and we stayed in Hebrew and English. We pray with the finger of God raised, right? The finger of God as a reminder of who he is. The finger of God has to act against the spiritual forces that keep us suppressed.
This is step one of the kingdom. This is actually rooted in the Exodus. If you look at Exodus chapter eight, starting in verse 16, here's what it says, "The Lord said to Moses, say to Aaron, stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth so that it may become gnats. All the land of Egypt, and they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand and with his staff and struck the dust of the earth and there were gnats on man and beast." Like Alaska in the summer if you've ever been there. All the dust of the earth became gnats and all the land of Egypt, the magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats but they could not. Now, if you remember the story, what's happening is this is not the first of the plagues. But as the plagues have gone on, Pharaoh's magicians have been able, by their dark arts, to reproduce some of the things that Aaron and Moses have been doing. So Pharaoh was like, "Oh, I don't have to pay attention to that." Well, this one it says that they tried to do it but they couldn't. There were gnats on man and beast.
Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." The Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he would not listen to them as the Lord had said. Why is this connected to God acting against the spiritual forces that keep us oppressed? Here's why, because the 10 plagues aren't just 10 random places where God tried to bully them. The 10 plagues are a direct front on the top 10 gods of the Egyptian Patheon all the way up to Ra himself. Pharaoh was Ra incarnate and Pharaoh was always Amun-Ra's firstborn. What's the last plague? Death of the firstborn. You have to understand, God's not just acting in these random ways like gnats, who thought of that? No, it's a direct attack against the gods of Egypt. Why? Because the gods of Egypt are keeping them oppressed. You can go, "Well, they're fake." Nobody ever claimed that the gods were fake. What they claimed was that they were demonic and that's not the same thing. Demonic is very, very real, but powerless before God almighty.
These demonic gods, are there to keep them oppressed. They're there to take advantage of them, to use them, to demean them because the demonic goal is to help you as a human to become less than what God wants you to be. Why sin? Every time you sin, you make a choice to say, "Satan, you're right. I'm not going to ever become what God wants me to be." You all sin. I say that to myself, "Why do I struggle with this?" I know in my head that this is me selling out, but somehow I won't let God be God, I won't let him king in my heart. So step one in the kingdom of God coming is that the finger of God has to act against the spiritual forces that keep us oppressed. Jesus picks up on this actually in Luke chapter 11 starting in verse 14. Here's what it says, that he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the people marveled. But some of them said he cast out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons.
Others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste and a divided household falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand. For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?" Don't miss that statement. "Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Why? Because that's step one in the kingdom coming. Now, by the way, has the finger of God acted in your life to break the spiritual forces that keep you oppressed? The answer to that is yes. If you don't believe me, Easter's coming. Yes he’s acted. The spiritual forces are broken. Look at the New Testament, it's a really fascinating thing. Jesus is casting out tons of demons and then you have a few in the book of Acts but then the rest of the New Testament there's nothing. Why? Because the power's been broken.
We want to make deliverance about making people's lives better. Listen, the deliverance was about proving who's God. Demon possession, demon exorcisms, was about... the problem is like in today's deliverance ministry what we see is people are hours and hours screaming, and chanting, and throwing water on them. "What's your name?" Which, by the way, literally the worst. I don't care what their name is, I want them gone. I don't need to be buddies. Just get out in the name of Jesus. If you look at what Jesus does, he's like, "Hey, go." Really anti-climactic. But he broke, he broke the power of the spiritual forces that keep us oppressed. He did it. The king has come and the kingdom is available to you and me. Now, the second piece of the kingdom of God is this, people recognize the finger of God and call him king or Lord. We hallow his name. Which, by the way, sounds an awful lot like what we've been talking about over the last few weeks, right?
Exodus 15:1. Here's what's happening. Moses leads the children of Israel out and they come out of Egypt to the shore of the Red Sea. They're there camped out and the Egyptian army decides to come in behind them. Now, the Israelites have seen God do incredible miracles. They've seen him time, after time, after time deliver them. At their first opportunity to trust him they say, "Moses, did you bring us out here to die? We couldn't have died back there?" They're not even a couple days out. Moses goes to God and he goes, "Hey God, what the heck?" That's in the Aaron Couch paraphrase version. God goes, "Moses, what's the problem?" Moses goes, "Well, got a big sea on one side, got the world's global superpower military on the other side, we got a problem." God's like, "No, we're good. Just go ahead and stretch out your arm and your staff over the water like you do." The water goes (water sound) and they walk across on dry ground. Here's the funny thing. If you read the rabbis about this, they'll give you a paragraph about the water parting and 13 pages about why the ground was dry, which is real, that's dumb.
It's actually important because that's an awful lot of people to be walking through mud at the bottom of a lake. All that silty, plus their cattle and their carts and things. That's a lot. That's a lot. The fact that the ground was dry was the key. Then the army comes in behind them and then water falls on them and God delivers them. Which by the way is such a powerful thing. When you do things God's way, it didn't cost them a soul. If they had tried to go to war with Egypt by themselves, they'd have been wiped out. But because they let God be God in it, he took care of it without any casualties on their side. In Exodus 15, they're standing on the other side of the Red Sea. It says, "Moses said to the people of Israel..." Moses and the people of Israel sang a song to the Lord saying, "I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and the rider he's thrown into the sea."
Now, if you go on in chapter 15 versus 20 and 21, it says, "Then Miriam the prophetess," that's the sister of Aaron, which is consequently also the sister of Moses, "Took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing," which raises an amazing question about where they got them because they were supposed to just pack the essentials. I don't know how a tambourine makes it in the essentials kit. But maybe, this is just a thought. Maybe they just believed that God was going to do something worth worshiping, and when he did they were going to be ready. Which raises a really interesting question for you and I, did you bring your tambourine? Not really, that'd be weird. But metaphorically, when you get up in the morning and you go to work, you go, "I'm not leaving without my tambourine because I want to look and see where God is going to do something worth worshiping today. When he does, I will be ready."
Miriam is saying to them, "Sing to the Lord for he's triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea." Now, so this is step two. Step one, finger of God acts against the spiritual forces that keep us oppressed. Step two, people recognize the finger of God and call him king or Lord. Step three, and here's the hard one, people do God's will as the king. This is the hard one because there's many of us in the room that would say, "Yes, God has acted against his spiritual forces that kept us oppressed. Yes, I recognize his finger. Yes, I call him king. I call him Lord." We had two baptisms today already, right? We have another one coming up later. Just today we've had at least three people that we know that maybe for the first time have said, "Jesus, you're the king. You're the Lord. “We have this happen all the time here. Lots of people saying, "God, you're my king now. I've seen what you can do. You're my king."
But here's the hard part. If you want to be a part of the kingdom of God, you have to do God's will because he's the king. He's the king and I'm not. What we want is all the privileges of Christianity without taking on the responsibility of it. The analogy that I used in first service give me a lot of trouble. I'll say it again. You think about in our society there's this push about equality between men and women, which I think is important. There's this equality between men and women, there should be equal pay for equal work, blah, blah. I believe all those things. I believe in all of those things. I believe in all of those things. But here's the thing. Women don't get to say, "We want equality, but there's men's work." That's a double standard. You want equality, go mow the grass. Privilege and responsibility, right? We want the privilege of it, we want the... "Well, no that's men's work." Well, what's women's work? "Nothing."
I'm not saying women don't work. I'm just saying there isn't any work that's dubbed, women's work, right? Here's the thing. Just hang with the illustration. Don't make it more than it is. We don't get the privilege of it without taking on the responsibility of it. Does it make sense? I'm not getting at anybody. Men do this too, right? Men are like, "Yeah, women, you need to step up and do more and do more and do more." But men often use that as an excuse to be lazy. Don't be a lazy man. There's a really good word for that in the Bible, it's called sin. Get up and go to work. Which, by the way, I'm going to say this again. I'm probably going to say this every time it comes up. I went to five different stores yesterday for different things. All five of them are hiring, all of them. If you're, "I can find work." Come with me.
In fact, I was at King Soopers and they had a lady standing at the door going, "Hey, we're hiring. If you need a job or if you know anybody that needs a job, we'd love to talk to them. Send them to kingsoopers.com and go to the job search." I was like, "Really?" You're that desperate that you have a Walmart greeter now telling me I need to go to work for you. That's where we're at. That's where we're at. Men, don't you dare be lazy. No excuse. Well "I don't want to work at King Soopers." "Oh, you're too good for that." That's another sermon for another day. They're like, "That job won't pay my bills." "Okay, then get two. Get two jobs." "I would work all the time." "Yeah, good. You don't have time to get in trouble." My son and I have this conversation. When I was in college, I went to college full-time. I was in ministry full-time, and I had to work at a home improvement store full-time, and I was married, and we had a baby. He's like, "Dad, how'd you do it?" I said, "Because I didn't watch TV or play video games." It's amazing what time it frees up.
Now here's the deal. I graduated with a 1.75 GPA. The moral of that story is D is for diploma and that's all that mattered. In that moment I tell my kids, "Do as I say, not as I do." But here's the thing, we did what it took to survive. We didn't have another option. We didn't have another option. We want privilege without responsibility and that's a train wreck waiting to happen. You don't deserve the privilege if you're not willing to earn it through the responsibility. Matthew chapter six. Here's what it says. We've read this a few times in the last few weeks, "Pray then like this, our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day or daily bread and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you." Which by the way is Jesus saying, "If you forgive.... I'll forgive you."
There's numbers of times, by the way, that Jesus talks about judgment day. He's like, "God's going to separate the sheep from the goats according to what they've done." "That’s works righteousness. You're telling me what to do. You're telling me to earn my salvation." No, I'm telling you that when Jesus is the king of your heart, it looks like a thing. It looks like Jesus is the king of your heart. You don't get to claim Jesus is king and then live like the devil. That's a lie. It's time that somebody loves the church enough to be honest about it. I have some implications enough, some implications. Number one, when we do hard things spiritually we extend the rule and reign of God here on earth. Which means we've got to be willing to step into those things. Don't throw yourself at the throne of grace without being willing to at least try to take on the responsibility that comes with it.
Number two. Living in the kingdom of God is less about where we go to church and more about allowing God to rule in our hearts. Here's the thing. I wish that I could make coming to Southeast Christian Church a criteria for getting into heaven. I would. Like, "You don't come here." People are like, "I live in Africa." I'm like, "Better get walking." That was a joke. I wish but we can't. The church is not the mediator between God and man. It never was and never will be. The church needs to be a place that helps empower people to become everything that God wants them to do so that God can rule in their hearts. It's not so much about where we go to church. We just want to make sure that we're part of a church community that invites us to grow up in our faith. Number three, our commitment to the Lord is best demonstrated in how we treat others. The fruit of the spirit, the evidence that the spirit is working in our life, is love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and goodness, and generous, and faithfulness, and self-control. Any of those not relational.
The evidence that the spirit is working in our life is how we treat one another. Number four, when we're obedient and allow God to reign in our hearts, he extends his reign into the hearts of people around us. This is how we partner with the kingdom. This is how we partner with the kingdom. We lift Jesus up. Because what Jesus says is, "If I be lifted up I'll draw all men to me." I don't have to cook up anything, any cool strategies, any new things. I loved what Dr. [inaudible 00:43:05] talked about last week with form and substance, right? We get so lost in form and we miss substance. We need lives of substance, lives that lift Jesus up. The form will take care of itself because he'll reveal what the form should look like, but we've got to have lives of substance where we lift him up. When we do he'll draw people to himself. I don't got to tick boxes for God.
"But you've been talking about doing stuff the whole sermon." Yeah. Listen, being in God's hip pocket is not an idle exercise. It's very active. But it's rooted in what he says, not in what I want. As we move into our communion time this morning, I would maybe just ask you, in a minute we're going to spend quiet time with the Lord, to wrestle with this question of, "Where am I letting my own desires get in the way of God's kingdom? Where is he not ruling and reigning in my life? Where is that happening?" I got good news for you. You are not alone in knowing where that spot is. Every single one of us in here, including me, has those places where we're like, "God needs to rule in that space more." The goal in this isn't perfection. The goal in this is progress, progress, focus. What are we doing that's getting in the way of the rule and reign of God in this world. Let's take a minute and sit with the Lord as we prepare our hearts for communion.
On the night Jesus was betrayed he took bread and he broke it. He said, "This is my body which is given for you. So whenever you eat this bread, do it in remembrance of me." Let's remember him this morning. Then after the dinner he took a cup and he said, "This cup, this is the blood of the covenant which is shed for you. So whatever you drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me." Let's pray. Lord, thank you for your grace and God thank you for the fact that your rule, your reign, is not just right. It's not just stronger than my own, but it's better than what I can come up with on my own. God, thank you that you're a good God. That in your tender mercies you don't leave us and you don't forsake us, but you keep inviting us forward. God give us the mindset, give us the courage, the heart posture that in the name of Jesus we will step into those uncomfortable places to be more of what you've intended us to be in Jesus-
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