Scripture: Jeremiah 17:7-10; Luke 17:20-21
Pastor Tom Millner
SpiritSong Worship Center
Adam and Steve longed for a place to worship as a couple. They decided they would check out the First Self Righteous Church on Main Street. On Sunday morning they got dressed with the anticipation of worship. When they arrived the greeter welcomed them with a tentative eye and seated them three rows from the front. Pastor Cornelius was strolling down the aisle scanning the pews when he noticed Steve clasping warmly to the hand of Adam. The service was about to begin so he hurried to the pew where the young men sat. He asked them to kindly follow him as he led them directly to the front steps of the church. "We do not welcome your kind here," he said, and turned to swiftly assume his position at the pulpit. Adam and Steve sat on the front steps of that church and wept in each other's arms. Suddenly, they each felt a hand on one shoulder. They looked up and there was the face of Jesus staring back at them. "I know just how you feel" Jesus said; "I've been trying to get into that church for years."
Today's sermon is about life in the Kingdom. One writer explained that the Kingdom of God is right now and not yet. In our scripture today, we read about Jesus describing the Kingdom as within us – not out there somewhere or someplace obscure. If the Kingdom of God is within, why are so many living without?
John 3:16-18 states "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." So, when is that eternal life? NOW! Where does it begin? WITHIN! The moment one believes and trusts that God's WORD is true regarding Jesus and His purpose, one then steps into the Kingdom eternally. And all is bliss and peace and void of all suffering from that point on, right? WRONG! That mustard seed of faith, that kernel of the Kingdom does not bring the world's version of bliss to unfurl before us. In fact, the Kingdom never unfolds to be like our world view. You see, our trust in God has nothing to do with our circumstances here. If our trust in God were contingent upon our circumstances, then our trust would only be present when times were good. Hmmm; sounds familiar, doesn't it? Living the Kingdom life transcends the circumstance of this physical world. It sustains us in the face of trials, heartaches, disappointments, grief, suffering and pleasures. It is the substance of things not seen; it is our hope in the face of hopelessness. When Jesus asserts in Matthew to "…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well," He wasn't whistling "Dixie." He had the Kingdom life in mind.
The "Kingdom Life" is so vastly different from the life we know. We strive to climb the corporate ladder in this world – in the Kingdom life; we fall to the servant's quarters. In this world, we expect to be rewarded and or acknowledged for the service we give; in the Kingdom Life we serve the One who has acknowledged us by His blood and rewarded us with life eternal in His presence! In this world, we seek to live an adult and independent life. In the Kingdom Life we become like little children, not seeking "rights" but the joy of fellowship in family, knowing that our parent has everything under control. In this world, we invest to see our fortunes grow (or so we hope). In the Kingdom Life we relinquish any right to earthly fortune with recognition that His kingdom first is sufficient to sustain for all eternity. If all I have and all I've gained amounts to nothing in the Kingdom; why seek the Kingdom?
Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world during his time. Where is his gain today? Howard Hughes was considered the father of modern aviation and was the world's wealthiest man at one time. Where is his wealth today? Marilyn Monroe was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time. Where is her beauty today? Why seek the Kingdom? Because that Kingdom is eternal! For the Christian, today is the day of eternity. Today has everlasting and ever after consequences. God calls us to seek Him today; call upon Him today, and today's needs will be met for eternity!
I often hear complaints of how this, that, or the other isn't "moving me" or encouraging me, or inspiring me. Complaints of not getting out of service what has been put in – not up to a certain standard of perfection in that person's perception. The task to which we are called in the Kingdom life is that of sustaining our rigor in the quest of living in the character of Christ. Paul stated it brilliantly in his letter to the Philippians where he states: "(2:1) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,(2:2) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.(2:3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.(2:4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.(2:5) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:(2:6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,(2:7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.(2:8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!(2:9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,(2:10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,(2:11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
One cannot sustain the Kingdom life and complain about the condition of one's circumstances. One cannot complain about what one hasn't and sustain a presence that seeks Him first.
The Kingdom Life is not some obscure thing; it is right here, right now, and yet to come. We are called to sustain our vigilance in seeking our presence therein.
Are you and complainer or a sustainer?