Speaking Notes New Horizon Luthern Church

Speaking Notes for New Horizon Luthern Church, Homerville OH
Sunday Morning Service on 6-27-2010

For those who follow my blog, this is an edited and expanded version of my previous blog titled, “Are We Using the Key to the Kingdom“.

So, we’ve said our little prayer to Jesus and asked him into our lives. We thanked him for the sacrifice that he made when he died on the cross for our sins. We acknowledge that he is God’s only begotten Son. We faithfully believe that he has risen from the dead. And now …. WE ARE SAVED!!! Really? Is that it? It that all there is to it? Matthew 7:20-21 tells us:

20Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits. 21Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. (AMP)

Did you get that? Not everyone … WHOA!! Wait a minute! Yep, that’s probably what the people standing around said, v 28 it  says,

When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching,

Let’s break it down by using the Message version of these passages:

21-23“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

24-25“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

It is funny how studying the Bible (not just reading it) can reveal what you already know, but don’t realize. Huh?? Think of it like this, how often do you think about the fact that you can walk or breath? You know you can walk, you know you can breath, but do you REALIZE it? I know there are people that may not be able to walk, but I’m just using this to paint a picture. You know things that you don’t take time to realize (be fully aware or cognizant of). I hope that some will come to a new realization today.

There are ultimately two Kingdoms we can live in, the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Satan. That’s really all there is. Whether we recognize it or not, we are all residents of one or the other. Let me ask you something … Can you live in one country and follow all the rules of another? Can you imagine someone from Australia being in the US and driving on the left side of the road because that is what they do in Australia? So if we say that we are from the Kingdom of God and still follow the same rules that we lived by before changing Kingdoms, we are going to have some trouble.

Here’s the thing, Jesus is our entrance into the Kingdom of God, there is no other entrance to the Kingdom but through the blood of Jesus the Christ. We say our prayer and we see Jesus for who he really is and we step over the line and move into the Kingdom of God. Yay!  We made it! Now what?

We have a few choices:

We can choose to go back. We all notice these people. They come to church for about a month and then start missing a week or two here and there. And before you know it, they aren’t in church anymore. They’ve gone back to their old life.

Or we could just choose to go back and forth. We can play the game of jump the Kingdom line if we want, not really staying in either Kingdom for too long.  This means that you are not really a resident of either Kingdom. This would be like, going to church on Sunday morning, listening to the message and saying ‘Amen’. And then going out and getting drunk on Monday night. Or reading your Bible everyday and then looking at porn on the computer at night. Or worshiping the Lord with all your heart, mind, body, and soul on Wednesday night and then cussing out your family or neighbors on Thursday afternoon. Jumping between one Kingdom and the other.

But what if the King comes to visit and shuts off the boarder? What if he just happens to come on a Monday night or Thursday afternoon. Better hope we are in the Kingdom we really want to be in because we just became permanent residents!  Luke 11:23 says,

“This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.

We can choose to stay where we are. Yeah, that seems like a comfortable idea. No major traveling, no struggling to get to a nicer place. No worries about the King thinking we are not with him.  We’ll just set up house right here. Just this side of the boarder. We’re safe here, if the King comes, we’re all good. But God says in Revelation 3:26:

But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17You claim to be rich and successful and to have everything you need. But you don’t know how bad off you are. You are pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. – (CEV)

Here’s the thing, God knows there are residences like this. He knows there are those camped out on the outskirts of the Kingdom, not making any real commitments. In Matthew 13:47-50, Jesus said,

47Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a [q]dragnet which was cast into the sea and gathered in fish of every sort.    48When it was full, men dragged it up on the beach, and sat down and sorted out the good fish into baskets, but the worthless ones they threw away.    49So it will be at the close and consummation of the age. The angels will go forth and separate the wicked from the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God)    50And cast them [the wicked] into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth.

So, what distinguishes the residences? Who will get to stay and who will be thrown out? It’s important to understand that Faith in Jesus gets us into the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus is like the border patrol. If you try to cross the boarder without him, you are just an illegal alien. Colossians 1:13-14 says,

13-14God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. (MSG)

But we have to go further into the Kingdom. We have to show our loyalty to the Kingdom. We have to be willing to serve the Kingdom. We need to head toward the center of the Kingdom and take up full residency. Instead of sitting on the boarder, we need to go through the gate of the city and venture further in, make some commitments, Matthew 7:13-14 says,

13Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.    14But the gate is narrow (contracted [k]by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.(A)

When we enter through Jesus, he gives us a “green card” for entering the Kingdom. We can take that green card and live in the city, but if we want to be a true resident, we need to deny any allegiance to the other Kingdom. In the natural world, when a person becomes a true citizen of a country, he must deny any previous allegiance he has had to another country. When you join the Kingdom of God, you must repent of your allegiance to sin and the Kingdom of Satan. This is done by repentance.

Repentance is defined as “an inward decision or change of mind resulting in the outward action of turning from sin to God and righteousness.”

Acts 20:21 calls it “repentance toward God.” By the act of repenting you turn away from your sin and leave the Kingdom of Satan.

Repentance is a personal decision to change your allegiance from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. This change of mind and turning from sin cannot be done in yourself. Acts 11:18 tell us that it is the power of God which actually brings the change in the mind, heart, and life of a sinner:

Then God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)

And Acts 5:31 says that repentance is a gift of God:

Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance…(Acts 5:31)

Although emotions may be involved in repentance, true repentance is a decision, not just an emotion. Sorrow for sin and the shedding of tears is not enough in itself. This must be accompanied by an inward decision that results in an outward change.

When we become a citizen of the Kingdom of God, we have to make some changes to our life styles. We can no longer live the way we did in the other Kingdom. The King says this in James 1:22-25 says,

22Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget. (CEV)

We have to stay on the narrow path and make the journey to the center of  His Kingdom, there is a home waiting for us there in 2 Peter 1:3-11. The shortest version of this is probably the Message version,

3-4Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

5-9So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

10-11So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

But as we read this we can’t miss the requirements for true citizenship in the Kingdom of God listed here. It’s important that we understand what they really mean. It’s important that we study the laws of the land so we don’t find ourselves driving on the wrong side of the road!

Here’s the thing that Christians seem to miss, we miss that it doesn’t matter how much we study the laws of the Kingdom (in the Bible), if we don’t change (from driving on the left side) when we learn something new (drive on the right side), we are heading right for a wreck. And one day, our chance at changing, will be closed off. One day, the King is going to come back and he’s going to say, okay, everyone in this Kingdom that hasn’t been studying and trying to follow my ways, you’re out! He’s not interested in the ones that were just “saying” they were citizens. He’s tells us in Matthew 7:21 that He is interested in those that are really citizens.

21Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

We enter the Kingdom of Heaven through the blood of Jesus the Christ. It is only through Jesus that we can be saved, there is no other entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. We establish citizenship through repentance. Through repentance is how we prove our allegiance to the King, show that we have truly accepted what Jesus has done for us, and that we are ready to follow God’s ways and not our own. Without repentance, we are only giving verbal allegiance.

Once the truth is discovered, we will find that in the Kingdom of Heaven no one puts up permanent homes because it truly is a Journey and there is always more and more land to discover!, remember that 2 Peter 1:4 says,

your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust

Participation, that’s means action.

So we’ve come through Jesus, gotten our citizenship, made it to the center of the city, now what?. This is where many Christians like to stop. This is where things are most comfortable. Now what? Is that all there is to setting up residence in the natural world? No! This is just when the real work begins. There are things required of the residents of this Kingdom. You have to pull your weight.

You see, if you remember correctly, I said in the beginning, there are two Kingdoms. And Luke 11:23 says,

“This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.

This is a war! There are two Kingdoms at War. The Kingdom of God vs the Kingdom of Satan. The reason we tend to forget this is because this is an invisible war. The invisible spiritual war is a battle which involves all men and all women. Because the Kingdom of Satan is a spiritual kingdom…That is what it tells us in Ephesians 6:12

…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Every person alive is engaged in this battle, whether he realizes it or not. There is no neutral ground. Unbelievers are in bondage to evil and have been taken captive by the enemy forces. They are victims of the war. Believers have been freed from the enemy through Jesus Christ and are victors, but they are still engaged in the war. Notice in that verse it uses the word ‘wrestle’. “Wrestling” involves close personal contact. No one is exempt from this battle. No one can view it from a distance. You are in the midst of conflict whether you acknowledge it or not. If you believe it will get better, you are wrong. The Christian warfare never ceases.

Satan fights to maintain control of the kingdoms of the world. He does not want them to come under God’s authority. The battle also rages within the hearts, minds, and souls of men and women. Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers and attacks believers in the areas of worship, the Word, their daily walk, and their work for God.

In the natural world a king is the sovereign ruler of a kingdom. All the territory and people in the kingdom belong to him. He has the power of life and death over his subjects. The same is true in the spiritual world. You are either part of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Satan. Either God or Satan has power over your life.

How do you prove you are a citizen? How do other’s prove they are citizen to you? Remember what the first scripture I read said? Matthew 7:20-24

20Therefore, you will [o]fully know them by their fruits. …  24So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a [p]sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock.   – Matthew 7:20-24 (AMP)

Fruits. Acting upon what God says in the Bible. Doing it, not just talking about doing it. When you guys go out and do these gas buy downs, deliver groceries and milk to those who need it, those are fruits. Those are actions of someone who is truly of the Kingdom of God. Taking care of the orphans and widows, Jesus said in Matthew 19:21:

“Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'”

You don’t prove your allegiance by showing up for church on Sunday. You don’t prove your allegiance by just giving your tithes every month. There may be some sitting here right now that are really only walking around here with a “green card” and aren’t true residences of the Kingdom of God. It’s what you produce, what you do for other’s that shows which Kingdom you belong to. The other Kingdom is all about destruction, John 10:10 says,

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Our job in this Kingdom of God is to reach out the victims. To bring them aid, supplies, food, hands to help. It’s important that we move along the boarder and pass out things through the fences. Let them see us working, let them see what we have. They will want that and then they will want to cross over. This will bring them in direct contact with Jesus. And he will offer them a choice. It’s up to them what they do with that choice. By watching us, they will be led right to Jesus. Not by “listening” to us, but watching us.

When you came in, we passed out stickers. We asked you to choose a color. Without moving from your seat, I’d like you to look around and see if you can tell which color those around you choose.

Could you tell? I’m sure some of those sitting next to each other know what the other person picked. But did you just “tell” each other the color or did you take time to turn around and show them? When someone “told” you the color, did you want to “see” it for yourself? It wasn’t about what someone told you or said, it was about what you saw that convinced you they were telling the truth. And for the majority of the people in the room, you haven’t had the chance to see what they chose. Why? Because everyone is sitting down. No one is moving, no one is working, no one is DOING anything, no one is showing you anything. It’s the same with the Kingdom of God. The residence of this Kingdom are workers. They have purpose, they have a goal, they realize they are in a war. If you choose not to work, or choose to sit in the pews on Sundays and Wednesdays and be comfortable and not participate in the war, then you have really chosen the other side. The Kingdom of Satan. How do we know this, because Jesus said so.

One of the parables told by Jesus illustrates that all men are either part of the Kingdom of Satan or the Kingdom of God. Jesus compared the world to a field. The good seed in the field were children of the Kingdom of God. The bad seed, which resulted in the growth of tares (weeds), were children of the wicked one, you can read this in Matthew 13:38:

There are only two divisions in the invisible war. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). You cannot be neutral in this war. You are on one side or the other in this spiritual war. Even some believers, because of their fear of confrontation with the enemy, try to ignore the war and form a truce with the enemy. They think if they ignore Satan, he will not bother them. This is one of Satan’s main strategies. He tries to render members of God’s army immobile by his terror tactics.

But there is no neutrality in this war. You are either a victim or victor. The spiritual “call to arms” is going out…Are you on the side of good or of evil? Are you part of Satan’s Kingdom or the Kingdom of God? To which kingdom do you belong? Are you a victim or a victor in the invisible war? Are you laying on the ground dieing, or are you up fighting? It’s all a matter of choice. And it’s all a matter of action. Remember

20Therefore, you will [o]fully know them by their fruits. …  24So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a [p]sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock.   – Matthew 7:20-24 (AMP)

And Matthew 22:36-40 records that Jesus said,

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Those are not things to say, those are things to Do. These are also not things that only happen within the four walls of this, or any other church. These are things that happen outside the church building, in your homes, in your work place, in your community. So, which side are you SHOWING you are on?

Let’s pray:

Lord, you are such an awesome God. We want to be on your side of this war, to be in Your Kingdom, even here on earth. We want to serve you, doing your will in our everyday lives. Thank you for providing us with the weapons and knowledge and strength we need to participate in this battle. We thank you for providing your Son, Jesus, as our way into your Kingdom. We gladly serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord. Father, we trust that you will provide the protection we need from the enemy. And we live as victors in your Kingdom, by your power, for your Glory. Amen.

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