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OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR LIVING IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

22 NOVEMBER 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

2 Samuel 5:1-5
Matthew 12:22-26
Colossians 1:9-12

The kingdom of God is open to everyone who truly desires to be there; but with our entry, we become responsible for our own lifestyle and that of the world around us.

Yes, kingdom living is for the here and now.

For if we do not wish to live in the kingdom today, we won't be ready to enter heaven when we die.

We must learn to recognize Jesus Christ as our king and live in His kingdom, no matter what nation we live in now.

Kingdom living is a lifestyle.

Kingdom living is a life commitment.

Kingdom living is beyond every nation and every earthly power.

And without kingdom living, every nation and method of government fails.

In Matthew 12:22-26, Jesus confirms this.

Let's turn there in our Bibles, and follow along with what is taking place.

22. Then there was brought to Him [Jesus] a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.

Jesus didn't care why this man was possessed by the devil, or what his previous lifestyle was like before he was brought to Him.

Jesus only cared about this man as he was at this moment, and he trusted in the faith of those who brought him to Him.

He had compassion for those who brought him, and for the man himself; thus, He healed him.

23. And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?"

The people knew that only God could do such a thing, and they recognized the previous prophecy of Messiah through the Son of David.

But not everyone wanted to see the truth.

24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."

25. And knowing their thoughts He said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

Abraham Lincoln paraphrased this verse when he made his stand against slavery and tried to heal this land.

Jesus is telling the Pharisees and all the people that as long as they deny the truth, and fight against it, in part or in whole, they will fail.

And in the next verse, He even says this of the evil world.

26. "And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?

If we have read the end of The Book, we know that it won't.

But the kingdom of God can and will last for all who want it to last.

We can't fight over doctrine, or over any other thing; for strife is not of God.

We can't let our own pride deny the truth, as did the Pharisees, or we will spawn division, for others will recognize the truth.

Do you remember after Saul was made king, that he didn't follow God?

And do you also remember how Saul kept falsely accusing David of being against him, even though David was really trying to help Saul?

This began a division, and some followed David, and some followed Saul.

When Saul died, the tribe of Judah made David king, as Samuel the prophet had said; but the other ten tribes followed the son of Saul.

Thus, the kingdom was divided for seven and a half years, and it was filled with strife.

Then there came a day for healing.

Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Samuel 5:1-5.

1. Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.

2. "Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.' "

If the people knew this truth, then why did they follow the son of Saul in the first place?

More than likely it was because they were as stubborn as we are in this nation, and for that matter, everywhere else in the world, too.

But remember, it isnít important what we did in the past, but what we are going to do from this point forward.

David recognized this fact, as should we; for when there is a time for healing, we should allow the wound to heal.

3. So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.

Samuel had previously anointed David king, as God told him to do.

There was no need for further anointing, but David never said this to them, for love and compassion are greater than tradition.

So if they wanted to anoint him king again, so what!

4. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

5. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.

It was a time for healing, and David encouraged that healing.

David held to his responsibility for living in the kingdom of God.

Yes, he made mistakes, and he got into trouble with God over what he did; but he never left the kingdom, or fought against it.

His goal was to keep a united kingdom.

And when once again the kingdom became divided following the reign of Solomon, the nation failed.

We have a responsibility for holding the kingdom together, if in fact we are part of the kingdom of God.

Let's look at another example.

The city of Colossae was a very worldly place, but in its midst were some true believers; and they had a struggle trying to live in the kingdom of God.

In Paul's letter to them, he speaks of God's grace, so that they would be strengthened in the faith.

Please turn with me to Colossians 1:9-12.

9. For this reason also, since the day we heard of it [your faith], we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

10. so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11. strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously

12. giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

The word of God tells us that we can't be passive and still live in the kingdom of God.

First of all, we must have the desire to grow spiritually.

We are not worthy of the kingdom if we say we believe, but are unable or unwilling to express our belief in both word and deed.

We are to be filled with the knowledge of God's will; and that can be hard for those who don't read their Bibles, or who don't attend church, or who don't attend a Bible study, for the world is full of lies, and those who wish to lead believers astray.

Knowing the Biblical will of God helps us overcome these lies and distortions of the truth.

Additionally, we are to have spiritual wisdom and understanding; something that comes only from the Holy Spirit, to whom we must open our hearts and minds.

For without this spiritual insight, we cannot walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, for we won't understand His will; and thus, we also wonít be able to please Him in all respects.

If a fruit tree always remained as a sapling, it would probably die; or someone would cut it down, because it was taking up the same space as a productive tree, yet without producing anything.

The confessing of our belief in Jesus Christ, in both word and deed, is just the beginning of our faith, for we are as the sprouting of a sapling.

In the kingdom of God, we are required to grow year by year.

We are required to mature.

We are required to bear fruit.

We are to be the peacemakers, for the whole of creation, who follow the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

We accomplish this by doing what God wants us to do, and as with a fruit tree, we must also continue to grow and be pruned, so that our knowledge of Him might bear even more fruit in the year to come.

God doesn't want us to struggle to do this on our own; not only will He help us directly, but so will all those who are also maturing with Him.

We know when we are growing in our faith and in the will of God, for we will feel His strength and power and love and compassion increasing within ourselves.

And as this maturing increases, we naturally find ourselves being more sure of our faith.

We find ourselves becoming more patient.

We are filled with love and compassion for all of creation (humans, animals, and the environment).

We have a joy inside that just overflows in thanks giving.

And as we reach this stage of maturing, we begin to understand the extent of God's love and grace.

For it is the Father's love and grace that qualified us, who have sinned against Him, to be worthy to share in His glorious kingdom, and to share in the inheritance of everything He has given to His Son and to the other saints who have entered His light.

Let us each pray that we never forget our own responsibility for being offered so great a gift.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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