456:  Embracing the Kingdom

456: Embracing the Kingdom

I love this quote, “The definition of a fanatic is someone who loves Jesus more than you do.”  So true.  But as a culture, we have always had a love/hate relationship with total commitment and self-abandonment.  We admire those whose commitment leads them to do great things, like win an Olympic Medal or lose a tremendous amount of weight.  And we applaud their commitment because we value the object of their goals.  But on the other hand, we detest the commitment of terrorists, idealogues, and others like that.  We brand them as activists, fanatics, or extremists.

But in Jesus’ day, this is exactly how the world saw His followers.  They were activists who wanted nothing more than to see the entire world come to the same understanding they had regarding Christ.  They were extremists who sacrificed everything for a cause greater than themselves.  And they were fanatics, no longer interested in the things of this world because they had their life focused on something unseen, mystical, and illogical.

And of these, the Lord said the “world was not worthy” of them (Heb. 11:18).  My, how we have changed today.

Today, the church falls into two main camps.  One, the camp where our relationship with Christ is defined by rule-keeping and our ability to follow the law.  And two, those who view their relationship with Jesus as something profitable to add to their already busy lives, much like sprinkles on a cupcake or sweetener to our coffee.  But there is another option.  And these are the ones whose relationship with Christ is not based on guilt, religious duty, the hope of heaven and eternal reward, or the fear of hell and eternal punishment.  No, this select group is drawn to Christ because of His overwhelming beauty and glory and the irresistible power of His Kingdom.  The very kingdom we are commanded to proclaim today.  Remember?  We are to proclaim, like Jesus, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  And we are to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matt. 4:23)

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matt. 9:35)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

But what is the “Gospel of the Kingdom”?


The Gospel of the Kingdom

In the first century, the words “gospel” and “evangelize” referred to heralding the good news that a new emperor had been installed in the Roman Empire.  Heralds would go out to proclaim the good news, informing people that a new era of peace, salvation, and blessing had begun.  They then exhorted people to get down on their knees to worship the new emperor, their rightful king. The apostles used the same term to describe the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom of God.  The gospel that the apostles preached was the announcement, the heralding, that Jesus of Nazareth had become this world’s true Emperor (Lord), launching a new era of peace, salvation, and blessing, and because of it, everything has changed.

And it was this message that turned the world upside-down during the first century.  But it is a message seldom preached today.  Did you ever wonder why?

Once we begin to see the glory of Christ and the wonder of His Kingdom, everything changes.  He is no longer a historical figure, but Someone we literally adore and long to be with.  He is Someone we will gladly abandon all to follow.  Are you interested in knowing more about this glorious Christ and His wondrous Kingdom?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on What it Means to Embrace the Kingdom of God.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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444: It All Comes Down to Denial

444: It All Comes Down to Denial

When Jesus instructed His disciples, and the others, about what it meant to follow Him in Matthew 16:24-25, He spoke of “desire to come after me” and then “let him deny himself.”  We looked at desire in our last message, and now we will turn our focus to what He meant by “deny himself.”  Note the requirement and sequence in the verse below.  First, there must be desire (“if anyone desires to come after Me”).  Then, a denial and the corresponding action showing the commitment to deny himself (“take up his cross”).  And finally, the invitation to “follow Me.”  Jesus shows surrendering to Him must follow in this order.  In essence, first meet the conditions, and then come “follow Me.”

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” – Matthew 16:24-25.

The word deny (aparnéomai) when followed by the pronoun heautón (oneself, himself) means “to deny oneself, or to disown and renounce self and to subjugate all works, interests, benefits, and enjoyments to another.”  The word is also translated “to speak against, contradict, to avoid, reject, nullify, to stand firm against, resist, oppose.”

When Jesus said we must “deny” ourselves, the impact of our denial affects all areas of our life.


Deny, Denial, and Denied!

In Matthew 10, Jesus speaks of confessing Him before men or risk having Him deny us before His Father.  It is an extremely troubling warning from Christ that left no room for doubt or excuses.  He said,

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” – Matthew 10:27-28.

Who is the One we are to fear?  Exactly, the Lord.  If so, do you have the fear of the Lord in you?  How has that fear changed your life so far?

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore (the consequences of speaking what the Lord tells you to say); you are of more value than many sparrows” – Matthew 10:29-31.

But then it gets quite serious for those who do not heed the Lord’s warning.

“Therefore whoever confesses Me (where) before men, him I will also confess (where) before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies (refuse, avoid, reject, resist, oppose) Me (where) before men, him I will also deny (refuse, avoid, reject, resist, oppose) before My Father who is in heaven” – Matthew 10:32-33.

Can you imagine being denied by Christ before the Father?


Fear and Excuses

But if I confess Jesus, my friends will not include me.  Or my spouse will reject me even to the point of separation or divorce.  Or I’ll lose my job and source of income.  Or I’ll be persecuted, even to the point of possible imprisonment.  Or… you choose the excuse.  They are all the same, lame.  But Jesus anticipated these excuses.  He continued:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law ’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is (what) not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is (what) not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is (what) not worthy of Me. (Therefore) He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life (why) for My sake will find it” – Matthew 10:34-39.

Or are you a follower of Jesus according to what works best for you?  Have you truly counted the cost of being one with Him?  Is He the center of your life?  Is He your very life?  Do you want Him to be?  If so, everything begins at the beginning.  And it all begins with desire.

Do you want to follow after Jesus?  No matter what?  Come what may?   If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on What it Means to Follow Jesus.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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429:  Signs of the End:  Deception

429: Signs of the End: Deception

In this message, we begin a deep journey into the prophetic words of Christ found in Matthew 24.  Why?  Because we are truly living in the last of the last days and it would do us well to see what our Lord has to say about the events that precede His coming.  And we will especially look at the first sign Jesus told us would point to the beginning of the end, deception.  That’s right, deception is planáō in the Greek and means “to cause to wander, to be led astray, to mislead, to seduce, to cause to err.”  Or, simply put, good old-fashioned deception.

Which raises just a few questions.

How are we being deceived today?
And, if we are being deceived, how would we know?
Are there other places in the Scriptures that warn us against deception?
What kind of deception can we expect?
And what was the specific focus of the deception Jesus spoke about?


How Important is the Coming (and Present) Deception

To see how rampant deception is in our society, and as a sign of the end, look at how many times Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24:

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” – Matthew 24:5.

“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” – Matthew 24:11.

And how powerful will that deception be?

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” – Matthew 24:24.

Did you catch that?  If it were possible (and we know that it’s not), even the elect, those chosen and sealed by Christ, would be deceived.  It’s gonna be bad.


Who Do You Trust?

One final question regarding trust and deception.  Ask yourself this one question:  Who do you trust?  If you’re honest, your answer may shock you.

Do you trust your government?
The media?  Hollywood?
Do you trust what you read in the news or on Facebook?
Do you trust what you are taught in school?
Do you trust our economic system in this country?
Do you trust the church?
The family?
Do you trust your friends or spouse?

There is so much more to talk about regarding deception.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 24:1-4.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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402:  Are You a Murderer?  Probably So

402: Are You a Murderer? Probably So

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates anger with murder (Matt. 5:21-22), in much the same way He equates lust with adultery (Matt. 5:27-28).  Later, John adds the following:

1 John 3:11-15 – For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love (agapaō) one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his (Cain) works were evil and his brother’s (Able) righteous.  Do not marvel (wonder, be surprised, astonished), my brethren (fellow believers), if the world (kósmos) hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) you. We know (eidō) that we have passed from death to life, (how) because we love (agapaō) the brethren.  He who does not love (agapaō) his (personal) brother (fellow believers) abides (rest, make their home) in death.  Whoever hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) his (personal) brother (fellow believer) is a murderer, and you know (eidō) that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.


Anger + Hatred = Murder

John also equates anger and hatred with murder.  And he states that “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”  This is a profoundly important point.  Which raises a couple of questions:

Have you been angry with a fellow Christian?
What was the cause of your anger?  Was it the holiness of God?  Or some personal preference about which you felt slighted?
Are you still angry with that person?  And if so, why?
Did you know that, according to the Scriptures, you are guilty of murder?  Why?  Because the one you hate and murmur about was created in the image of God.  And to hate someone created by God, who is also made in the image of your God, is to hate God.  You cannot love the Creator and hate His creation.

The Scriptures call this murder.  Are you confused?  Do you think hatred and murder are two different things with two different penalties?  Do you want to know what the Scriptures say about anger and murder?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:21-22.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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370:  When Our Saved Life Looks Like Our Lost Life

370: When Our Saved Life Looks Like Our Lost Life

When we look at the chilling words of Jesus that tell us “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20) we are perplexed.  And rightly so.  When we then see the requirement of becoming a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) in order to possess the “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” we are faced with even more questions.

Are you a new creation in Christ?
Has God changed you from the inside out?
Do you possess a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?
If so, how do you know?
Can your friends and family tell?

And then one more:

Does this describe you?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23).

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  How did you answer?  What does it mean if your answers to these questions are, no?  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:20.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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