God has always looked to be with humanity. From the Garden of Eden through the times and lives of Abraham, David, the old testament prophets to when Jesus came God had been working and promising for an even closer relationship. Through the work of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, Christians are a God-indwelt people. So whatever you are going through, you can know God is with you or you can surrender to Jesus and experience His presence.
During the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus talked to his followers about the nature of His Kingdom. One key reason for this was that Jesus’ kingdom is far different in how it works than the kingdoms his followers or we today are used to. They had all sorts of wrong ideas about when it would come, who it was for, and how those within the kingdom were to live. This morning we’ll look at some of the things Jesus said about his ‘upside-down’ kingdom.
In this message, former Faith EMC pastor John Stanley calls for followers of Jesus to not settle to ‘do’ church, but to ‘be’ the church. “God has called us to the greatest thing ever… to be his representatives to a hurting world.” Being the church is not an easy road to take however. There will be disappointments, obstacles and failures. Despite this, God’s view of us never changes. We need to hold onto God’s view, so we can allow Him to do His job through us.
Peter, despite his passion for the ministry and mission of Jesus, was actively resisting that very ministry and mission. The problem was Peter’s agenda for the Messiah and Jesus’ agenda were not the same. And when our agenda is different than God’s we face the decision of resisting God or submitting to Him.
The soldiers who crucified Jesus were just doing their job. They had no idea that morning when they woke up they would be executing the Son of God. It was just another day, another execution to them. The events surrounding Jesus’ death caused them to change from mocking Jesus as the King of the Jews to hailing Him as the Son of God. How will we respond to the event of Jesus’ death for us?
As a disciple, Judas was close to Jesus. The pattern of behavior was a spiral downward. Judas could have resisted Satan’s temptation, but he didn’t. We have choices to make. We can resist the Devil and he will flee and we can draw near to God and He will draw near to us. Application: In what ways can (do) you show love for your enemies?
Anger comes when we don’t get what we want or deserve or think we deserve. We feel and believe that the person who wronged us owes us a debt for what they’ve done. Anger is not wrong in itself, but if it is not addressed and remains in our hearts it will spill over into our other relationships. The key to removing anger from our hearts is forgiveness. Jesus taught forgiveness is about cancelling the debts owed to us. Just like God cancelled our debt to Him through Jesus.
Connect in Service is the 3rd of our 4 Connects language. We are called and equipped by God to be able to serve others. We can sometimes see the call to service as an addition to our already busy schedules. But Jesus in the Great Commission instructs us to see service not as an addition to our schedule, but as the underlying purpose in what we are already doing.
Jesus came to save people from their sins. We often settle in thinking that Jesus came to save us of our sins. There is a big difference, and if we are settling, we are missing out on more of the abundant life Jesus came to bring to all who would follow Him.
We don’t often think about Christmas from God’s perspective. Why did God see becoming human as worthwhile doing? What is God looking to communicate to us through coming as an ‘infant lowly’? Why did God need Christmas to fulfill His plan for humanity?