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Sermon (14-Aug): "We the Kingdom" Eph 2:19-22

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19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Big Idea:
The objective of this message is to recognize that we have been accepted into God’s kingdom; now it’s our turn to invite others in
“We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.
- J.B. Priestley, 18th century scientist. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
- American Christian Contemporary group “We the Kingdom…”
- Maybe you’ve heard of them?
- The name for group comes from the idea that the kingdom of God is not merely referring to heaven or the power of God
- The kingdom of God is here among us, after all what is a kingdom without its people
- God has called us to big things, great and mighty things, that we can’t even begin to imagine
- Franni Rae Cash, one of the group’s members, writes,
“The mission of the band is to take people who don’t know Jesus to the cross and to take people who do know Jesus to the throne room… to go there ourselves [We The Kingdom], is changing each one of us.”
- In the midst our society today, our lives have not only become more complex
- But it seems like we have become more individualistic—
- It seems like we are more focused on getting away from relationships to accomplishing things and milestones
- We live in an overly connected yet a so disconnected world
- What we find though is that once we give our lives to Christ and connect with him…amazing changes begin to happen
- Our lives become less “me-centered” and more “we-centered”
- Christ begins to build us into a spiritual house—individually and collectively
1 Pet 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
- We are placed into the family of Christ with brothers and sisters in the faith as a whole
- We are no longer isolated and Christ teaches us to grow in relationship and fellowship with Him and others
- That’s essentially what the kingdom is about
- The kingdom is about expansion of God’s family
- We the kingdom aren’t meant to be cliquish or exclusive
- No, I like to look at it this way we have an open, rolling membership
- And just like any other family; we accept that no member is perfect
- Yet, the good news is that everyone that is truly in the family has freely received grace, mercy, redemption and much more
- All that we have received, Jesus said it this way when He sent out the disciples,
Matt 10 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
- You and I have been tasked to share God’s kingdom as representatives on the earth
Transition: So, three points for today: We are Family, We are Messengers and We are Persistent
It’s what we do and who we are as followers and disciples of the King
1 – We are Family
- What I read at the beginning is our foundational passage
- Any time you think of the word citizen; automatically you think of a country
- You can liken that to God’s kingdom/country
- We have become citizens of a more distinct group of people
- And the foundation of our family goes back thousands of years to the time of Peter, John, and Paul
- We become God’s dwelling place spiritually through the Holy Spirit but He’s building us together as fellow citizens
- Being part of a family, known, wanted and loved makes all the difference
“A family traveled to a 3rd world country to adopt a little girl named Porscha. After two years of effort and paperwork, the family finally stood before a judge who read the following words, “Inasmuch as Porscha is unwanted by any family in this country…Inasmuch as no citizen of this country wishes to have Porscha…” When this recitation concluded, which gave the family custody of Porscha, the loving couple dropped to their knees, hugged their new daughter, and promised, “You will never have to hear the word ‘unwanted’ spoken of you again.”
- Now, maybe you can or can’t relate to this story
Has there been a time where you felt “unwanted” like an orphan like Porscha?
- Christ responds to all who come to Him like this adopting couple
- Like this couple, Jesus will never speak the word—unwanted—in regards to you
Have you ever considered how much God loves and wants you?
- He loved you this much—He sent His only begotten Son for you
- Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—intentionally died for you and me
- When I consider it, knowing who I am—there is no way that I could ever do it
- Yet, I am imagining the Holy Trinity discussing amongst each other that Jesus would die for our salvation
- It’s the crux and heart of the gospel
- The gospel is about God, His kingdom and His family
Transition: He wants to expands His family and chooses to use us as His messengers
2 – We are Messengers
- As His children, God wants us to share the message about Him and His goodness
- It’s what we have been called to do
- Jesus the Master Storyteller shows us the heart of the Father as He tells the Parable of the Wedding Banquet
- It’s told in Matthew 22:1-14
- I won’t read the entire passage but do want to allude to a few things
- Jesus opens with (Matt 22:2),
“The kingdom of heaven is like…”
- Jesus clarifies to the disciples and us what God’s kingdom and what heaven is all about
- We can overlook it if we’re not mindful of it
- This whole parable and illustration tells of how invitations are sent out but then rejected
- Every now and then we will face rejection which is hard to swallow on any level—
- Be it personally, socially, from afar or near
- Rejection stings just about everyone
- Yet, that doesn’t exclude us from all of whom God has called and commissioned us to reach via the highways and byways
- In light of the invitations and servants being sent, Jesus mentions that the “banquet is ready”
- Meaning it’s near time for the main event—warm food, various appetizers, side dishes are all prepped—
- The feast set just for a King is ready for the attendees to come and enjoy
And, who doesn’t enjoy a good feast among family and close friends?
- That has always been the desire of my wife…sitting at the family table sharing life together
- Difficult and encouraging conversations happen at the family table
- Discussions about current events, struggles and successes can happen at the family table
- It’s a place where there is shared fellowship
- It’s a place where we can get to know and be known
- I know that the idea and reality of the family table was a struggle for me
- Thankfully, my wife embraced and championed it better than I ever could
- Looking back over our lives, it’s definitely something that I could have done better in so many ways
- Even outside of our natural family, I picture the symbolism of the family table
- In today’s world, that atmosphere and environment is needed
- Just like the natural family cannot afford to be dissolved
- Neither can God’s family—our spiritual family—afford to be dissolved
- The solid foundation of the family both naturally and spiritually is vital to our society, world and church today
Who wouldn’t want a fellowship like that?
- The church family is like no other family
- There are ups and downs but the benefit is that once you are a part of the family—locally and universally—
-You are TRULY a part of the family
- Family is blood particularly Jesus’ blood but so, so much more
- God is intent on filling His kingdom and wants the whosoever to sit at His table
- It’s not limited by color, race, age or gender so it’s not an exclusive club
- It’s only limited by the love of Jesus and the Father—Who seeks a heart that is after His
- I read a quote this week by Pastor Mark Batterson,
“If we’re not hungry for Christ, we’re probably too full of ourselves.” – Pastor Mark Batterson, National Community Church in Washington, D.C.
- Instead of being comfortable where I am
- I wanted that quote to challenge me…to make me think
- I had to ask myself, “In spite of all that is going on in my world, each day am I hungry for Christ?”
- It’s challenging but not impossible for any of us
- Jesus has to be at the center of all that I do and pursue
- And, sometimes maybe even most times, we need to reorient our lives to the heart of Christ
- Remember the heart of God and Christ is His children, the church—the body of Christ
- It’s important for us as His children to invite in as many as possible
- We are not looking to build up one location meaning one church
- We are looking to build the universal church through the preaching of the gospel
- St. Frances of Assisi stated it this way,
"Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words."
- In other words, we preach with our actions, lifestyle and choices and when necessary—our words
- It will take our energy, time and will be costly in many accounts
- It is not for the faint of heart but the banquet is [indeed] ready”
Transition: As Jesus is still building the church, there’s still room for more family members at the table
3 – We are Persistent
- As I mentioned, for God’s family/kingdom/table to be filled…it will take time
- Relationships take time, energy and effort
- We are persistent meaning we don’t give up
- Most of us now, myself included, have gotten used to isolated lives—thanks but no thanks to COVID
- But even before that, we were trending more towards isolation rather than connection
- Now, even more than ever, we have to be intentional with connecting with others
- The very nature of my calling and job requires me to be more extroverted than introverted
- Whether it’s in counseling or visitations…most times I’m mindful of Who I represent
- Like it or not, you and I represent the King and His kingdom
- There’s a harvest that awaits each of us as we tend to the call
- Galatians 6:9-10 says;
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
- And, who better to speak to this than the Apostle Paul
- The same one who was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, mocked, imprisoned, and more for the sake of sharing the gospel with others
- As much as he went through, you would think that he would get weary and give up
- But to the very death, he endured
- Some say, “I can’t be Jesus” thinking that He was some type of super-human
- But, look at Paul—He endured much and was rewarded very little this side of heaven
- He is indeed inspiration for each and every one of us
- A former persecutor of believers now He’s a template for what faith, longsuffering and obedience to the call of God looks like
-These light afflictions He says (2 Cor 4:17),
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
- Each of us in our own rights have had to overcome some stresses and strains to get to where we are today—
- Both physically and spiritually
- Those who haven’t yet believed in Jesus are no different; they’ve had heartaches and pains as well
- Hopefully, we identify with the One who has the answer—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
- We cannot promise them answers to every situation they face in life
- Still, there is a Comforter to every situation we face
- We may not always know the why behind what we are going through
- But trust is an essential part of every good relationship
- And, if we are looking to build that relationship with Christ, we can brag that the reason we are persistent
- The reason why we don’t give up…is Christ
- The wise songwriters (Bill and Gloria Gaither) penned these words:
Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives (He lives)
- As I close, God’s kingdom is about relationships
- We start our spiritual, faith-filled journey with the most important relationship which is with Him
- Then, we go out in the truth and Spirit of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19),
“19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words]”
- More than you know it, He’s interested in you, the one on your left and right…your neighbor, co-worker—your family
- We can trust Christ to build His church and we are His kingdom
- Just like the group “We the Kingdom,” we too should seek
to take people who don’t know Jesus to the cross and to take people who do know Jesus to the throne room.”
- The king sent servants far and wide to invite others in
- Our King invites us to do likewise—We the Kingdom
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