Paul often used the word citizenship in his letters. In the 1st century citizenship meant being a good citizen of a nation. Even if a person lived hundreds of miles away from Rome, they were expected to act as a good Roman citizen.
The Christian has citizenship in heaven and earth. Our citizenship in heaven ought to make us a better citizen on earth. As a heavenly citizen we should not be attracted to things of this world, for our focus should be on eternal values and not passing fads.
When Jesus returns he will, “subdue all things unto himself,” (Phil 3:21b KJV). This word subdue means, “to arrange in ranks.” Isn’t that our problem today? We do not arrange things in their proper order. Consequently we waste our life on useless activities that cloud our vision so that the return of Christ is not a real motivating power in our lives.
A citizen of heaven lets Christ Jesus arrange the things in their life according to their proper rank. This means we live with eternity’s values in view, and dare to believe God’s promise that “He that does the will of God abides forever” (1John 2:17).
Everyone seems to agree that all we have to do to reach God is fly a little straighter, pray a little harder, live more nobly, become more religious, and perform more charitable deeds. What is the idea behind this thinking? It simply is the thought that we are piling up enough positive things in our lifetime that in the end of our life we will somehow be entitled to live in the presence of a Holy God.
What an eye opener are the words of the prophet that point out the foolishness of such an idea, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6).
I must be candid, at one time I too was absolutely certain that the way to gain God’s favor was to perform, achieve, and strive. Then one day I met the Son of God in a powerful way and learned that the only way to gain his favor was to accept his gift of grace. Upon accepting his grace my soul was overwhelmed by His peace and love. On that day He put an end to my useless striving, and changed my entire world.
I saw one of those electronic billboards along the freeway. It is sponsored by a local church and the ad’s tag line reads, “Win at life.” I don’t know the context of their tag, so it may be on point, but at 65 mph I felt it was not.
I well imagine many people drive past the sign, read it and say in their hearts, “I just lost everything, my wife died of cancer, my son is ill, my husband was murdered, I’m addicted, I’m dying, or I can’t live with my pain anymore.” The farthest thing from their mind is playing another game, for to win implies one might lose, and they have already lost too much to play another game.
I thought of a Bible verse, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him, if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 4:29). Here is God’s word to those I imagined; “If from there.” If from just where you are you will seek God, closer is He then breathing, and nearer than hands and feet. If from there you will seek God, you will find life.
Sought, and found,
Due to computer problems, the regular “Thinking About” will be delayed, hopefully to return on time next week.
Visit NVCC’s web site (http://www.nvccphx.com) to see what we’re up to, or visit our Godtube page at http://www.godtube.com/nvccphx to view sermons by Pastor Kirby and other NVCC activities.
The Bible consists of sixty-six books by about forty authors over a fifteen-hundred year period, and yet it is one book. Therefore, to the casual reader the Bible appears to be a book filled with contrarieties. In Acts 2 God funnels these contrarieties down and coalesces them into a sermon delivered by Peter.
Before this Peter had been an impetuous, braggadocios, self-seeking man, but here his mind had been opened to the meaning of the Bible and with this new found clarity he stood and delivered the first Gospel message. This is a tremendous passage of Scripture that is to be appreciated, for it is the first public proclamation of the Gospel message of what God had done.
Peter’s point: God has raised up Jesus to the heavenly realms and seated him at His right hand. Peter’s proof: This Jesus has gifted to us the Holy Spirit. Peter’s lesson: God has done this so we might know the incomprehensible riches and grace of God. Peter’s conclusion: The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have the Son does not have life. Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.
On an episode of the Simpson’s Homer asked his neighbor Ned Flanders where he had been? Ned replies, “We went away to a Christian camp. We were learning how to be more judgmental.” It’s funny because Ned and Homer are cartoons. Unfortunately it gives the world ammunition to respond, “Yeah, those Christians are always judging.”
Jesus taught not to look for the speck of dust in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in your own eye (Cf. Matt 7:1-5). He used the eye as the foundation for the teaching because it is the most sensitive part of our body. He was teaching to look at yourself first when you must judge, and then to be sensitive when judging.
Often when judging others we are actually complimenting ourselves that we are not that way; we are saying we are not a sinner, and that is a lie from the very gates of hell. Here’s my point: Instead of judging, start preaching the Word and doing the work of Jesus, for that is what changes people. For the most part leave the judging to Jesus, but when you must judge, look to yourself first and then be discreet.
I’m a sinner and so are you,
With today’s sermon on John 19 we find the cast of characters are all in place for the greatest moment in man’s history to take place; the crucifixion of Jesus. It is interesting as the pre-crucifixion events unfold how each of the characters acted: Judas betrayed, the priests sought to kill, Satan tried to thwart, the disciples argued, and Peter denied. However, Jesus did not waiver.
Today, I think we are pretty ho-hum about this event. This should not be so, for this was the moment in time when heaven and creation collectively gasped at the magnitude of the event. Together they watched the Son of Man prepare to drink the cup of God’s wrath; Jesus became our propitiation; a sacrifice that turns away God’s wrath.
If we have become ho-hum about the crucifixion, is it because we have become concerned about our own self-interest? If this is true, then answer me this: If it played out so badly for those involved in the crucifixion, how does it play out in our lives? The obvious answer is: it hurts our relationship with God.
Dare to take in the magnitude of this event,
Thanksgiving is one of our nicest holidays. It has not gotten out of hand with commercialism. It still remains a time for family, a time for reflection, and a time to thank God for his blessings.
As we approach this great holiday I thought of something Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” These are great thoughts for us to reflect on during this time of the year.
When you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, take a moment to remember Dr. King’s words, and then pray for the church. Remember our progress as a church is not inevitable and therefore, we need to continuously stand watch over it. Not resting on our story, but letting God write his story in us.
It’s early Saturday morning and I’m heading down to a men’s Bible-study at a coffee shop off Happy Valley Rd. One thing about having life in abundance, the city of Anthem’s tag line, is there are a lot of coffee shops to choose from. Two years ago I noted that we had four Starbuck’s within a five mile radius of my house. Today we have five; apparently we really like cappuccinos.
One of the biggest hindrances to our spiritual walk is living a life surrounded by abundance, for our mindset becomes one of looking for only big things to do. Against this mindset we read Jesus act of drudgery; stripping to his waist he took a towel, a basin, some water, and washed the feet of fishermen (John 13). Jesus said, “I give you an example” (Cf. 13:15).
The question becomes: In our life of abundance can we use a towel as Jesus did? Can we use the ordinary things of the mundane, things like a towel, sandals, and washing to reveal Christ to others? If we take our example from Jesus then the answer is yes! Then no task is beneath us, or too insignificant for us to do.