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Kingdom 2

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The priests wanted Christ dead and they wanted someone else to do their dirty work.

Pilate wanted to avoid the issue.  He had no quarrel with who Jesus was or claimed to be.  It’s a funny thing because we have always heard that Rome was into Emperor worship.  He was forced to crucify Christ by his own personal fears and concerns.

Jesus wanted nothing of their petty kingdoms.  He was disinterested in the politics of Rome.  It was of no consequence.  Jesus is disinterested in the things that you fear he would be interested in.

Most of us fight Christ – we resist his advances because we fear things that are not reality.

·         I thought that Christ wanted to take every pleasure from me.  I thought that in surrendering to Him that I would never experience certain things.

·         I thought he would ask me to do things that I didn’t want to do.  After I had settled the issue of my call to the ministry, then I began to hear about missions.  I felt that every earnest Christian should go to the mission field.  As much as I admired the ministry of people like Keith Green and others who echoed his sentiments, I just couldn’t embrace the mission field as a must.  He advocated that we should go unless God specifically told us to stay.

·         I remember when I was teenager, we had a rock and roll crusader come through town.  His name was Bob Larson and he convinced us that the devil inhabited vinyl records and rhythm.  He wanted us to go home and burn our records.  They used to talk a lot about things like “backmasking”.  It was the idea that there were subliminal messages recorded backwards in the music and it could somehow open a portal into your mind and the devil uninvited could possess you.  Then I remember a song being released by an old, much criticized group called “Petra”.  There were unintelligible words on one of their records.  I recorded onto a reel to reel recorder when I was in Jamestown NY.  Then I kinked the tape and played it which gave the clear message, “What are you looking for the devil for when you ought to be looking for the Lord?”

Why do we fear the possibility that Christ should gain access to our hearts?

The fighting is fiercest in the heart land.

Because there we are most vulnerable.  The hurts that He would heal must first be addressed and acknowledged.  Many people shove those things so far down and so far out of sight that they are all but forgotten but they impact us on a daily basis.  Some good comes out of these things as well.  They can make us better, more resolved to avoid repeating the past failures.

I remember a ball of food in my mouth and choking back tears, trying to keep my face from twisting in anguish.  I was trying to hide, to conceal my emotion from my father. I wasn't 5 years old anymore but I felt like it.  I was too old to cry now.  I was sure that he saw this as weakness or worse, he really didn't care about the effect of his temper on my heart.  I just lowered my eyes and fastened on the plate of food below me, hoping that I could make it through the mealtime, the place where we most often fought.  I couldn't taste the food, just the saltiness of swallowed tears.  It hurt like hell to hear my parents fight.  I loved them both and I hated the fact that they couldn't seem to love one another.  Their relationship just didn't work.

And then when I couldn't take it anymore, I would throw my fork on the table and run toward the screen door.  I never remember being able to see my way up the field and into the woods.  I just wanted to run away forever and never come back.  I think I prayed but I don't remember what I prayed about.  It was more waiting for the emotion to pass and then back to the house.  Perhaps Dad would be gone, the way that he usually followed a good fight.  He'd punch something, or slam a door or curse.  Then he'd fall asleep on the couch or climb in the old truck and take a ride.  It was usually late when he came home and he'd be just drunk enough to claim that we wasn't really drunk.  But he was different when he came home.  He looked like my Dad but he wasn't.  I resented the impostor who commandeered my father's body.  Probably why I hate alcohol to this day.  That's probably why I detest the way that people who call themselves Christians, play with this stuff.

I don't ever remember my Dad following up on one of these occurrences.  Perhaps he did but I don't remember it.  He never knew it but in my mind he was taking a long knife and plunging it deep into my very soul.  He was beating me inwardly, dashing my brains against some stony surface.  I could never tell him that.  I never did.  But I was a mess inside, just a broken mess.  So it was a relief when my parents divorced.  I can't believe to this day that God would have people to stay together in a marriage when they are destroying each other.  What could possibly be honoring about a marriage that doesn't work the way that God wants it to work?  I think it's actually dishonoring. 

It hurt when they separated, the finality of it, but at least I found peace.  It still hurts though.  That has never gone away.  I still want to run away when people I love can't get along together.  I tense up inside, I want to create a diversion, get them focussed on something else.  And I still cry.  But I try to do it when no one else can see me.  The day I leave the ministry, this will be one of the things that I will look forward to.  I will no longer have the responsibility of trying to get people to love each other.  It's a disgrace when Christian people don't work at loving one another.  The way that I understand the scriptures, it is one of the greatest testimonies that we have.

This is one of the areas of my own "broken-heartedness" that still affects me.  I deal with it and perhaps I have experienced healing to a degree but I think that I have a long way to go.  I guess in many ways, I am a wounded healer.



Point #1 – A Conflict of Kingdoms

Point #2 –

As we read the scripture lesson this morning, I find myself inwardly disturbed and angry.  I am mystified when I think of the ways that Jesus Christ was misinterpreted while He walked on this earth.  As a matter of fact, I am mystified today when I try to understand why people hold Him away from their hearts.  I see nothing but good that Christ would bring to our lives.  But we fight so hard against His tender advances.

We want God to explain himself to us but it’s not really knowledge or understanding that we are looking for.  It is simply some inner fear that if we let God have His way in our lives He will do something to us that we don’t want done or He’ll take something away from us that we are not ready to release.  So to disguise our fears we pose our questions.

Or our pride refuses to allow for the possibility that perhaps we need help.  Perhaps there’s not enough gas in the tank to go the distance.  There are people everyday who run out of gas.  They break down by the roadside and life rages on in some frantic pace that ignores the soul.  There have been many travelers who felt that they had everything that they needed to make the trip.  Do you know what pride is?  It is really self-deception based on a lie.  The lie is that you were meant to make the journey by yourself.  The lie says that this is the ultimate proof of worth – to be able to stand alone.  And it’s difficult enough to surrender to God and to admit our need.  There are people who come to Christ and admit that they need Him but never admit that they need a faith family as well.  And you do you know.  You do need a faith family.  Cut from the herd you are just bait.

1 Peter 5:5-9 (NIV)

5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud

but gives grace to the humble.”a

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. [1]

More than the fact that you are vulnerable on your own, you are a target for the devil.  The sort of prey that he is looking for.  On your own you stand no chance of spiritual survival.  My opinion is there is no such thing as a solitary saint.  They come in packs.

Another reason perhaps that we hold him away is that we are simply in rebellion.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NKJV)

22 So Samuel said:

     x“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

     As in obeying the voice of the Lord?

     Behold, yto obey is better than sacrifice,

     And to heed than the fat of rams.

23     For rebellion is as the sin of 4witchcraft,

     And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

     Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

     zHe also has rejected you from being king.”[2]

This scripture is spoken by Samuel the prophet to Saul the 1st King of Israel.  He failed to follow God’s direction regarding the conquest of the Amalekites and he

“amended” his orders to suit the moment.

In rebellion we do the same thing.  We modify God’s direction for our lives in order to suit our own desires.

And today, the scripture lesson shows Christ in full blown conflict with people whose own will stood in conflict with the will of God.  It is a lesson of Kingdoms in Conflict.  As we look at it today, let me ask you if you are in “conflict” with God today or are you “cooperating” with His will for your life.  Actually the idea of compliance or cooperation is not nearly enough.  Let me ask you if you are able to joyfully accept the kingdom of God for your life today?


a  Prov. 3:34

[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

x  Ps. 50:8, 9; 51:16, 17; [Prov. 21:3; Is. 1:11–17; Jer. 7:22, 23; Mic. 6:6–8; Heb. 10:4–10]

y  [Eccl. 5:1; Hos. 6:6; Matt. 5:24; 9:13; 12:7; Mark 12:33]

4  divination

z  1 Sam. 13:14; 16:1

[2]  The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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