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Monday, November 19, 2018

A Kingdom with a Mission


Introduction
Those who follow Jesus Christ--who fall down before Him and worship Jesus as Lord and Savior--are God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood.  We are citizens and kings and queens in the Kingdom of God.  We live in this world, which is not our home, as royal ambassadors.  Often, we find we live in hostile territory, for the people and systems and attitudes and philosophies of this world are opposed to the Kingdom of God and His rightful rule.  So, Christians trust in Jesus and we endure the trials of this life, even as we live with the dignity and confidence of God’s royal family.  We trust what Jesus said.  Jesus promised He was coming back and when He comes, the Kingdom of God will come completely.  This world and all it’s brokenness will melt away and God will make Heaven and Earth perfect once again.  There will be no more sin or sorrow or suffering or death.

It’s a wonderful vision of hope.  We long for the Day.  Unfortunately, Christians sometimes grow so comfortable with the hope that Someday Jesus will come and fix all the brokeness around us that we forget we have a job to do while we are here.  “Someday,” we think, “God will make all things right.  Someday, we will go to heaven.  Someday, we will sit on thrones and rule in the Kingdom of God.”

But Jesus gave us a mission to accomplish today.  We are not to stand idly by waiting for Someday to come.  In fact, Jesus had harsh words for all those who do nothing during the wait.  We are on a mission to spread the Kingdom of God all around us.  This is not optional.  It is what true followers of the King do.  It is how we live.

Jesus’ Disciples wanted to know when the world as we know it would come to an end and the Kingdom of God would be fully realized.  They wanted to know how they would know it was coming (Matthew 24:3).  Jesus gave them some clues. He said fear mongering, devastating wars, religious imposters, and natural disasters would all precede His return to usher in the full Kingdom of God.  He warned sin and persecution would be rampant in the world.  We already see some of these these signs in the world around us:  hurricanes and wildfires, political leaders and media outlets telling blatant lies, the Bible being scorned and forgotten, pastors caught up in scandals, and heresy being taught in the church.  

But Jesus also said in Matthew 24:14, “The Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

So the faithful have important work to do.  The signs of the times ought not to dissuades us from our important work.  To the contrary, it should make us more determine.  Our mission is urgent.  We don’t know how much time we have left--years, days, or hours?  But this we do know:  Jesus is coming again and we are closer now to Jesus second coming than we ever were before.

People need to be careful.  So many people--especially “good people” (and this includes a lot of people who go to church) have the mindset that everything is just going to be ok in the end.  That feeling of false-security makes so many complacent and lazy.  For if you feel like you don’t have to do anything but sit back and wait, then you’ll forget about God’s Kingdom and His mission.

Jesus warned His Disciples (and us) about that very danger.  And that’s the subject of my message today.  As a king in the royal priesthood of God, I share three warnings Jesus gave for everyone waiting for his return.  The warnings are found in three parables Jesus taught in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew about what His followers should do while they wait for His return.  These are some of the last lessons Jesus taught before he was arrested and crucified. 

Read Matthew 25
Parable 1 - The Parable of the Ten Virgins - Matthew 25:1-13 
Parale 2 - The Parable of the Three Servants and the Master's Silver - Matthew 25:14-30
Parable 3 - The Parable of the Sheep and Goats - Matthew 25:31-46
The overall theme of all three parables is this:  Jesus is coming, but no one knows when.  Therefore, we can’t waste any time.  We need to get ready and stay ready, because we don’t know the day or the hour He will return.  You can’t wait until the last minute to get ready.  You must use all the time you have to prepare for the coming of the King.

Jesus’ First Warning - Make Sure You Spirit is Ready.  (The Parable of the Ten Virgins - Matthew 25:1-13)
In order to be ready spiritually, you need to have the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  I preached a whole sermon series on these recently.  You can read them on my blog or watch videos of the sermons on my church’s Facebook page.  

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  These are the virtues the Holy Spirit wants to grow in us.  Now, you can’t grow these yourself.  They are a product of the Holy Spirit.  They grow in us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.  We can’t make them grow, but we can create in our hearts an environment that nurtures their growth.  

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit takes time.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  That’s why it’s imperative that you don’t wait.  You need to start now!  Jesus said it’s urgent, because you don’t know when He might return.  We you be ready?  Will you have enough oil for your lamp?  You see, you can’t borrow it from anyone else.  

Our mission then (besides making sure we have “oil in our own lamps”) is to make encourage our friends, our family, our neighbors, everyone to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit too that He might grow in their lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  We can’t give them these virtues, but God can and He will if they will turn from their sins and turn to Jesus Christ.  We must urge them to, because the Kingdom of God is near!

Jesus’ Second Warning - Make Sure You Invest Your Resources in the Kingdom
(The Parable of the Three Servants and the Master’s Silver - Matthew 25:14-30)
The Kingdom of God has a mission.  We want everyone to repent of their rebellious sin and turn to God.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, the rightful ruler of all.  We want everyone to willingly bow before our King and know the joy of His love.  This mission--to make disciples of Jesus Christ--is our number one priority.  It comes before everything else.

We are blessed with many different resources--time and money (of which there never seems to be enough), but also our talents and abilities (reference Last Wednesday’s talent show).  All these things are given to us by God and He expects us use them in the Kingdom’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t care how much you have.  Some have more ability than others, some more time, some more talent.  But we’ve all been given something to invest.

We won’t be judged on how well we did so much as whether we tried.  God knows our ability and our limitations.  He is not upset when we try and come up short.  What disappoints God most is when we are too afraid to try or (worse) too distracted by other things to invest ourselves fully in God’s Kingdom.  What will you do when you come face to face with the great King of kings and must reveal what you did with all He gave you in this life?  Will you say with trembling voice, “I was so afraid to use what you gave me so i buried it and kept it hidden away.”  Or worse, will you find you must confess with fearful tears in your eyes, “I wasted most of my life and most my time and most of my money and most of my talent chasing the fleeting things of this world instead of investing in the Kingdom’s noble goals.”  And where will all your trophies be then?  What will you have to show for all your striving.  Nothing.  And there you will stand, empty handed before the Lord of lords.  And what of your friends and neighbors, your family, and those you worked with?  What will you do when they testify against you, “She knew King and she never introduced me!  He saw me running towards destruction, and he never cried out to warn me!  They knew how to be saved and they never told me!”

Jesus’ Third Warning - Make Sure You Show Compassion to Those in Need.  (The Parable of the Sheep and Goats - Matthew 25:31-46)
God has been so patient and compassionate with us.  Jesus’ amazing grace saved us from our sins and restored us to a perfect relationship with our Creator God.  He brought many of us out of very miserable situations; some of us are still in the process of being rescued.  He makes us kings and queens in His royal priesthood when we trust Jesus.  It’s all too magnificent to believe!  We have so much to be thankful for this week!

We may be tempted to set back and just enjoy basking in the glory of it all—to spend all our time feasting in the Kingdom.  There are times for that.  Thanksgiving is a feast to celebrate all for which we are thankful.  Chief among all our blessing is the gracious gift of salvation is Jesus Christ .  And every Sunday is an occasion for us to come and worship—to sing praises to the God of our salvation, to join with our brothers and sisters in the royal family of God and glorify his name and lift up our hearts in joyous adoration.

However, we can’t be lazy or complacent in God’s Kingdom.  There’s too much at stake.  Jesus is coming soon and we better be ready.  There’s too much hurting and suffering in this world.  There are so many others who need compassion and saving too.  To forget or neglect them is the ultimate insult to the Savior who gave everything to come rescue us when we absolutely didn’t deserve it. 

So, Jesus’ final warning to the royal family of God is to make sure you show compassion to those in need.  And I want to make sure you know this about Jesus’ warning.  He specifically instructs His followers to show compassion to certain people.  In Matthew 25:35-36 he said, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Jesus clearly wants us to focus on helping people who are in need—people who are hungry and thirsty, people who are considered strangers, people who are naked (not adequately clothed and are vulnerable), people who are sick (physically or mentally), and those who are in prison.

Now, most folks who go to church regularly don’t mind sending a card to a friend when they’re sick.  We don’t mind going out to lunch with someone from our Sunday school class after church.  And we love it when a new family visits church on Sunday—especially if they seem like a nice family who has it all together.  But what about feeding a hungry stranger down at the City of Refuge on a Monday night?  Or how would you feel about sitting down to eat with a complete stranger who stopped by the church for a Wednesday night supper even though they looked dirty or smelled like cigarette smoke?  And when was the last time you visited someone in prison?  Have you ever?  Have you ever even written a letter to someone in prison?

At the end of the Age, when Jesus comes back, some people will inherit the Kingdom He prepared for them and others will be cast into hell and Jesus says the decision will be based on how we treat—not the rich, not the well-to-do family who visits our church, not our friends we feel comfortable around, but on how we treat—those who are hungry and thirsty, who are strangers to us, who are don’t have adequate clothing, and those who are sick and in prison.

Invitation to Join the Mission
Those who believe in Jesus Christ, who have been saved by His grace and bow to Him as Lord, are on a mission.  Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ—to share the Good News about God’s Kingdom throughout the whole.  We have plenty to share it with right here in Whitfield County.  There is a time for celebrating and a time for work.  For many, this week will be a time of resting and celebrating Thanksgiving.  Sunday worship is also a time to celebrate.  I hope you enjoy the rest and celebration.  But then remember, there is a time for work too.  And we serve in a Kingdom with a mission.  When the feast is over, when the celebration is done, it’s time to get back to the work of the Kingdom.  I invite you today to make a commitment to join the mission—to intentionally choose to:
· Make sure your spirit is ready
· Make Sure You’re Investing Your Resources in the Kingdom
· Make Sure You Show Compassion and Love to Those in Need