Sunday, November 27, 2011

Grace & Glory


The Kingdom of Heaven offers both Help for this lifeand Hope for the next Help for this life is sometimes understood as God’s Grace and Hope for the life hereafter is the Hope of Glory. Look at it this way:

The Kingdom of Heaven is both -

A Kingdom of Grace

A Kingdom of Glory

Grace covers our imperfections but only the Glory of God can truly change us, save us, protect us, make us perfect and keep us throughout eternity.

We now walk in God’s Grace but we are called to one day abide in His Glory.

Grace is the unmerited favor of God
Glory is the magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, majesty, power and perfection of God’s presence

It is one thing to be liked by God … it is another thing to be like Him.

I like to be liked by God but I’d also like to be like Him. The one is Grace the other is Glory. You see …

There is a Kingdom of God’s Grace on the earth
There is a Kingdom of God’s Glory in the heavens

We now stand in grace with the hope of glory

Romans 5:2 Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

We stand in God’s grace waiting for His glory. God’s grace covers our imperfections but His glory will make us perfect.

I’m not saying that we don’t see some measure of God’s glory now in this time but for certain, it is a measured portion. Even Jesus, in all His earthly gloryawaited the true glorification which only heavenaffords.

John 17:5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

We are told that the Kingdom of God suffers violence in the earth and must be pursued forcibly by all who want to enter in. There is a divided Kingdom at present. This is no doubt why Jesus instructed us to pray: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

(Matthew 6:10) Because it was not so … Something different is presently ongoing in heaven than on earth. The grace of God covers us here on earth but the glory of God will one day change us.

This morning we are going to discover a Kingdom principle and put some concrete examples in place which will help us to understand and achieve God’s best for our life. We’re going to use a message which Jesus preached in to His disciples in order to learn more about God’s Grace and God’s Glory.

To begin our journey today, let’s turn to Matthew 5.

Each time I take a group to Israel we visit the Sea of Galilee. Situated on the northern shore overlooking the city of Capernaum is a hill believed to be the “Mount of Beattutides”. While there I always gather the group and we open our Bibles and each one in turn reads a portion of scriptures from Matthew 5, 6 &7. You can feel the presence of Jesus there. People who travel with me tell me that it is one of the most powerful spiritual moments they have ever experienced. Indeed, it is powerful.

However, imagine how powerful it was that day when Jesus taught these truths Himself. Let’s read the account.

Matthew 5

1 And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit …”

Through the years scholars have debated this phrase and to whom it actually refers. Some wonder if these “poor” are the physically poor or are they the spiritually poor. The reasoning behind the debate lies in the multitude of scriptures which make reference to the special class of physically poor among which Jesus is often found ministering.

Also in this consideration is the prophecy of Isaiah, repeated by Jesus in His first recorded sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth.

Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel, (good tidings), to the poor …” (Isaiah 61:1)

There is no doubt that Jesus loves and cares for the condition of the poor. However, to imagine that financial insolvency leads to eternal life is a bit of a stretch to say the least. The care and consideration of the poor is always a work of the Church but Jesus is referring to much more than a physical need here in Matthew 5. He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit’, For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

More than simply someone who knows they are in need, Jesus specifically refers herein to the person whorecognizes their spiritual need.

Poor in spirit

Greek: Ptochos Pneuma

To crouch down and beg; a display of meekness or humility

The Spirit as that which is, and that which gives, life

This is a picture of one who understands their ownpowerless condition and therefore humbles themselvesand cries out for spiritual help.

Blessed are those who are wise enough to recognize their spiritual need and humble enough to ask for help.

Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven … Both a:

Kingdom of Grace
Kingdom of Glory

A Kingdom of Grace in that everyone who seeks will find help for their soul and help for their needs here onplanet earth, now in this present time. If you knock, seek and ask, you will find what every other person who has ever humbled himself and called upon God for spiritual help has found … including such people as the Apostle Paul …

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

You will find that God’s grace is sufficient to meetyour every earthly need.

Not only will you find grace to help in the times of need but you will also find that God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Glory. There is a power in God’s presence that will more than meet your earthly needs God’s glory will endure throughout eternity and He wantsshare His glory with His children forever.

This shared glory comes through the salvation which isfound in Jesus the Christ, God’s Son, our only Savior,the Promised Messiah of the Jews, and the Lord of all creation.

When we recognize that the help we seek, both for our immediate earthly need and for our eternity, comesthrough a relationship with Him, we have taken thefirst step towards glory. Next we must complete the journey by humbling ourselves and asking God toforgive our sins and save our soul.

Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again to see the Kingdom.

Whether you are looking for help for today or hope for tomorrow, they both come through recognizing your spiritual need and humbly asking.

You see, God’s grace is sufficient and His love is eternal … you can experience both … the journeybegins with a simple choice. What you decide in the next few minutes can change your life forever and secure you a home in heaven for all eternity.

But, not only do we need a home in heaven, each one of us also needs a spiritual home here on earth while we await the glory of God. We all need a spiritualfamily – a Church where we belong and serve God’s purpose together.

The Psalmist told us that God sets the solitary in families” (Psalms 68:6) – He is talking about belonging. The Bible also says that God sets every person in the Church as it pleases Him. It is God’s will that each one of His children has a Pastor to help guide, guard and ground them and that each one be connected to a local Church family. As family we work and learn together to enhance and advance Kingdom of God and watch it continue to grow through each generation until Christ returns.

Perhaps you have never made a public commitment to Christ or to His Church in this way. If not, this morning I want to give you an opportunity to make this Church your Church home. I believe that Church membership is an important step in our recognition that we need spiritual help. In joining we humble ourselves by making our choice public. (Matthew 10:32)

God’s Kingdom is both a Kingdom of Grace and a Kingdom of Glory. God’s grace covers our imperfections but His glory will one day make us perfect. While we enjoy God’s blessings every day we can also be a blessing to God by recognizing that none of us are sufficient in ourselves – we need Him and we need each other. God adds to the Church to grow His family.

Perhaps you feel that God is adding you to this Church Family today. You can respond and take the first step right now. Won’t you come and begin your blessed life while we stand together.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s a Kingdom of Grace and a Kingdom of Glory

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No Other Way


Avoiding sacrifice we often embrace compromise.

In writing his first letter to the Church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul was reflecting on the time he spent with them, teaching them about the Kingdom of God. In this reflection he said:

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Jesus did not become the Son of God because He was crucified. Nor did Jesus become the Son of God when He was crucified. Jesus was the Son of God without the cross and would have continued to be the Son of God even if He had not gone to the cross.

You see, without the cross:

· God would still be God

· Jesus would still be the Son of God

But, without the cross:

· You and I would have no Savior

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Sometimes there is no other way … no other way for us and no other way for others. This morning I hope to challenge you to a higher walk in Christ.

When Jesus was facing imminent arrest, torture and crucifixion, He asked His Father God if there was any other way … you know the answer. I am satisfied, as was Jesus, that if there had been any other way to accomplish His Kingdom plan, God would have chosen it without question.

The message of the cross saves us. It reveals several “Life Truths”. As we picture the cross in our minds the first thing we discover is that:

1. God is Just

a. Not fair … just (it was not fair that Jesus pay for the sins which He did not commit, the sins of others, but … it was just)

Justice often demands what fairness cannot deal.

b. Not equal – just (God did not make everyone go to the cross nor does He give to everyone the same blessings, benefits or burdens of life – God did not make everyone equal because He is Just) Justice serves a higher truth than equality may permit.

c. Just is often the difference between what is good and what is right (what is good for one may not be good for everyone and therefore good is not always right) Justice can only be judged from God’s vantage point, and for that, we must trust God.

God cannot be judged by man’s sense of fairness, equality or what we think is good. God rules from a higher plain, His thoughts are not our thoughts … He asks that we have faith and trust His decisions. The cross teaches us that God is Just and number two, that:

2. Jesus is Committed

a. Committed to the cost

i. He knew what needed to be done

ii. He knew what it would take to do it

iii. He committed to pay the price anyway

b. Committed to the course

i. Not only to the product but also to the process

ii. It’s one thing to commit to pay, it’s a totally different decision when it comes time to pay

iii. He could have called ten thousand angels …

1. Tempted – but – Committed

2. Twice Jesus was tempted to take another route

a. Once by an enemy

b. Once by a friend

Early on in His course, Jesus was tempted to accept the crown without the cross … but He was determined - no cross, no crown!

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ’You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’"

Also near the end of His course, Jesus was once again tempted to avoid the cross and claim the crown.

Matthew 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Life can be a struggle and at times we are tempted to avoid personal sacrifice and pursue a course which promises success without cost.

iv. Many times however there is simply no other way

3. We Are Loved

a. In this we know the love of God …

b. Christ died while we were yet sinners

c. Ought we also to love one another

Matthew 16

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

In following Christ what must we do? We must strive to:

· Be Just

o More than fair, more than equal, more than good – be right

· Be Committed

o Count the cost

o Pay the price – No crown without a cross

· Lay Down Our Lives For Others

o No greater love than this …

o True love cost and those who truly love willingly pay

o To avoid sacrifice is often to embrace compromise

o Sometimes there is no other way