Sunday, November 27, 2022

How to Stay in Hope in a Dark World

Showing up at the first pastor’s job 3 years ago was pretty scary stuff. It was me, a cook, a caseworker, and a driver. That was it. New officer, scared, unprepared, hoping that somehow he can make a difference in this crazy world. Not knowing a single person in the city, driving in late at night, and you get to work thinking to yourself, how can I possibly do this? And you wonder, is anyone going to join me in this mission?

Early on hope was in short supply, and I was scared. But there was one person who came along side me in this mission and really said "yes, I’m in."  His name was Scott. He did every single thing he could to help build the church, pick people up, pick up donations from stores, hand out fliers, come to events, and he never missed.

You have no idea what a big deal that was to me. One time I had asked Scott to stand at a kettle, because someone didn’t show up, just from 10 to noon. But when I came at night to pick up the kettle, there he was still standing there, because no one had came to relieve him. He stayed all day. And I got choked up in the car. I kid you not. And I got out of that car, and gave that guy a big hug. And I said, "I love you Scott."

Because guess what, my hope early on was hanging by a thread, and when someone gives you just a little bit of hope in that moment when you’re about to give up, it’s life changing! And I’ll love that guy til the day I die because of that.

And that’s what we’re talking about today. Today we’re addressing the codeword hope in our Christmas series. What is hope and how can we have it?

Hope is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Hope is something that inspires people to change the world. It all starts with hope. Hope that something can be better. Hope that something can be different. Hope that in the future we can see something different than what we see now.

In the cold, cold winter season, the sun gets dim, the stars are covered by clouds at night, and the snows cover the ground. Winter is often a hard time for me and many others. Many struggle with seasonal affective disorder, and battle depression over the winter months.

It’s a scenario of loss of hope. You can start to think that winter will never end. Growing up in Wisconsin sometimes it felt like winter was endless. It would be so frigidly cold day after day. And it was brutal.

But if we were wise we’d have hope growing up, that soon spring would come. And sure enough, eventually, spring would come, the weather would change, and it would get warm again.

Sometimes I would lose hope, and get depressed, and then as spring would come I would be honestly shocked, wow, is it really over? I didn’t think it would ever end.

One could say we all have a hope meter inside each of us, the amount of hope we have in any given moment. Maybe my hope meter is at 100% full up, I’m centered on hope, this is where jesus wants me to be, in my mind and heart.

But then I lose someone I love, a grandparent. Then my health is troubled, and I begin experiencing chronic health problems. I begin experiencing spiritual warfare, bad moods, whispering temptations, attacks through people, and such. Spiritual warfare. Then, I start having financial problems. I have problems at work. All these problems become not momentary, but increasingly long term problems that seem chronic and unending.

Often, our hope meter is affected. That hope that was at 100% drops down to about 30%, 20%, then 10% and we are near losing hope. Meaning, we start to surrender to our doubts, we start to surrender to our pain, we start to surrender to negative and cynical thoughts.

And eventually, this is a low place, but the hope meter can hit 0% and we believe in our hearts something very terrible, we believe through and through that this will never change and never can change, and it’s over, and I’m done.

That is a dark place. I’ve been there a few times. Sometimes we can drop down to 0% for a night or a few days and we bounce back up. Sometimes that happens. Theologians call that a “dark night of the soul.” But, when it sticks, and you stay at 0% that’s what you might call a rock bottom.

It takes a lot to get there I think. It’s devastating. And there may be times that the Spirit of God will allow us to get to that point, for some reason, maybe if we’re caught in a sin, the Spirit allows us to spin our tires in the mud until we finally realize, wait, I need to turn this over to God.

So be it. God will use the loss of hope in that scenario to bring us to faith and repentance.

But it is never God’s will that we dwell in a state of perpetual hopelessness. Because we have a rock solid hope. We have our hope stayed on the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has paid our sin debt, and given us new life, granted us the Holy Spirit and now walks with us everyday in victory. That is hope. And that hope is solid.

But the scriptures often speak of hope I think because in this world hope is often affected by the evil and struggle of this life. It’s not always easy to stay hopeful. So the goal here for this message is to edify and build in you a sense of renewed hope for the present and the future. That’s the goal.

What’s the point of this message? Strengthen your hope. We see the battle. The solution is firm, steady hope. Do you have a firm steady hope in Christ Jesus?

When we talk about Christmas, the birth of Jesus 2000 years ago, we’re talking about the birth of hope. We’re talking about a whole new way of life. We’re talking about a different world. In the depths of winter, when all seemed lost, and our sins seemed endless, and hell seemed our only future destination, then Jesus was born.

I never knew what that meant. I didn’t quite understand. Most people don’t it seems. It’s easy to have the TV, the fridge full of food, the nice car, the house, the beautiful family, technology, medicine, science, education, and all of it, and it can seem like a enough. It can seem like, hey, I have all I need. I don’t even need God, is the thought.

But over the years ,the cracks start to appear. The angst begins to grow. The emptiness takes over. The shame grows. We try meditation to fix it. We try soothing music. We try “wellness” or going to the gym. We try yoga. We try reading self help books. We even indulge in new age spiritualism, maybe. We get into politics. We find some charities and non profits and causes to champion. But none of it quite fixes the problem. None of it quite satisfies. We feel empty.

For Israel the hope was obvious, in the birth of the messiah. For us in the wealthy nation of the United States, it’s often less obvious. It seems distant, far away, hard ot understand why Jesus being born was such a big deal. Even growing up, watching the peanuts Christmas special, and Lionis tells us the scripture about the coming of Jesus, I didn’t get it.

For Israel, they were under oppression, under the iron boot of Rome, beset by sin, and darkness, but us today, we seem surrounded by luxury, yet in all that, we find nothing that truly satisfies.

So in the end, we find ourselves, on that dark night in the depths of winter, December 24th, exhausted and stupefied from presents and gifts and money and food and desserts and videogames and toys, and romance, and we’re exhausted, and as we look out into the night, beryodn the Christmas lights, might we realize, that what we’ve always hungered for is really Jesus Christ, a real savior, who can really save us from sin, if we will give our lives totally over to Him?

Could that be the answer we’ve always been seeking? And perhaps you say, well I’ve already received Christ as my savior, but does he really own all of you, or are you keeping him to the side, maybe you need to see again this Christmas, all over again, that everything else pales in comparison to Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him. Nothing else matters. Set it all aside again. Lay it all aside again, and put Christ first in your heart again. Fall in love with Him again. Just like you did at the very beginning, when you first believed.

To realize everything this world has to offer is garbage, trash, nothing ,and only Christ is all, and His Holy Spirit we must submit to fully to lead us, and to see Jesus and love Him deeply, that is the meaning of it all. That is what hope is.

Maybe we lose hope because we lose focus on Him. Maybe we begin cynical because we’ve forgotten our first love. Let us then return to Him in honesty, like a little child, rushing toward Jesus, in total trust, and in total love. Total trust total commitment totally given over. All in for Him.

So this is hope, to believe the promises of God, that’s what we talked about. To believe God’s promises means, because we’re in them through faith, we cling to them. And that hope is belief that it’s really true. And it will really happen. And even, that Jesus is here right now. And loves us. Hope isn’t just in something future, but hope is present now in a living savior who is here now. And faith in His love for us.

We see a great statement about faith in Romans 5, “5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We find hope here and what it means. We have gained access to a place where we now stand, in the grace of God, under it, in it, awash in it, and we’re exciting celebrating and bragging on the hope of the glory of God, the hope of living in a new reality, a new place, a new future, a hope to live at the center of the glory of God, meaning, in perfect fellowship with God. Living with Him in the place where he is now. Forever.

Until then we know all of this planet growns in anticipation of that moment. We live in a fallen world. As it says in Romans 8:22-30…

It says, “22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

So secondly today hope is something we wait in. Hope is about waiting long periods of time, waiting for what God has promised to be ours. Hope is a marathon, it’s not a quick thing. I remember counting down the days to Christmas when I was young and it seemed to go by so slowly. But I kept hoping and waiting, knowing it was coming.

That’s how it is for me as well as a Christian, I’m waiting for the City of God. I know it’s coming. Plain as day. Plain as Christmas will come this year, the city of God is as real as that.

But the art and skill of hope is waiting patiently over extended periods of time, staying in hope.

It’s like resting in God’s grace. We’re in it right now. We could step out of it. But we choose to stay in God’s grace, by staying in faith.

Similarly, we want to stay “in Hope” we can leave hope too, and start to doubt, and get cycnical and depressed, and sorrowful. That’s when we start to abandon hope. We give it up, say no, theres no point anymore, I’m done. I’m giving up.

There are always nights and days when I struggle to not give up some level of hope, and allow just a little bit of cynicism in. So the battle of the heart and soul is to stay in hope even when life gets hard and crazy and long and painful and difficult.

But stay in hope. Remain in that place of hope. You can do that. It’s not easy. You can do that. Stay in hope.

Romans 15:8-13 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;

I will sing the praises of your name.”
10 Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I think in Romans 15 we see how God helps us to stay in hope.

Our hope meter starts to drop as we face difficulties. It’s at 100%. But then we get a bad flu. It drops to 90%. Then a family member dies. It drops to 70%, then we have work problems, disagreements with coworkers, 60%, then an argument on facebook, 55% then our bank account drops into the negative 45%, and on and on and pretty soon it’s down to like 10%.

And then God responds by rebuilding our hope. He rebuilds it with two things, joy and peace.

Joy is when we experience beautiful God-led moments. Family. Friends. Conversations. Worship. Excitement. Beauty.

Peace is when we experience a general comfort in life by living close to God in relationship.

Lastly, I want to point you to Hebrews 11:1-2 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.”

Let’s break it down.

Faith is confidence.

In what? In what we hope for.

Faith is assurance of real hope.

Our faith is a commitment to hope.

But it’s hard because it’s in things we do not see.

Hope is confident faith in God’s promises. It’s all connected back to God’s promises and knowing they are true. Then we have hope, which is confident faith.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

What is the Essential Goal of Christianity?

Essentially for the Christian worldview, the goal is to find a world without sin. Every human on planet Earth can easily admit the problem of evil. But by default we seem to resist good, or struggle to understand it, and much more, struggle to live it. 

The Christian worldview says there is no direct solution within ourselves to solve it, of ourselves.

It's both a troubling scenario and also hopeful. Troubling in that the world we live in is hopelessly broken and we are broken and in sin. Hopeful in that there is a solution available, yet there is also a time limit on receiving it. 

As the clock ticks from birth to death, we experience our last opportunity. Our current lives right now are simply our last chance to return to God, because our ancestors rebelled against God. No other worldview, philosophy, or religion so clearly indicates the problem of evil in the world and in our own hearts, as Christianity. 

Most religions say we need to do good works to get back to God. But with Christianity, it's all about what Jesus Christ did. That his life, death, and resurrection secures for us eternal life, if we will believe in Jesus and repent (turn away from, discontinue) our sins. 

Then Jesus lives within us, and changes us from within, to bring us slowly into alignment with the new paradigm God is developing. We receive the Holy Spirit to guide us through life, and this sets us on the course back to Eden, to paradise, a new perfect Earth, where there is no sin. 

Of all religions, this seems to deal the most soberly with the deepest root of the problem. It calls me out on my nonsense directly, instead of dancing around the issue. 

Boiling it down to it's simplest form: Believe in Jesus, repent of sin, and live for God, then we're made ready for paradise. The paradise is a permanent civilizational construct intended to restore order beyond the great controversy of evil and destruction. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

12 Principles of the Kingdom of God System

What is the kingdom of God exactly? It’s the new kingdom authority in the world that has slowly been replacing the kingdoms of Satan.

For us as Christians though it’s a practical way of life. You could say it’s our rules for life. If you’re a Christian, this is how you do it. This is how you live. Plain and simple, the Kingdom of God system is our rule for life.

Let’s compare it to the American way of life. There are certain rules by which we live as Americans, and when we live these things, we succeed in the American system.

It’s simple stuff. We have a bank account at a local bank. We work a job. We show up to work on time. We do our best at our work. We pay our rent on time. We buy groceries. We do our dishes. We do our laundry. We have some mode of transportation. We regularly clean our homes. We have an alarm clock that is set. We have a cell phone to communicate with others. We’ve learned to read, to write, to understand language. All of these things play into a successful American life. If I stop doing any one of these things, my American life starts to get messed up.

Say that I stop doing my laundry. I’m going to survive for a while. I wear dirty clothes over and over. But pretty soon this causes me problems, and I get into trouble and can’t function right.

Let’s say I don’t use an alarm clock. Ok, I do ok for a while, but eventually I miss work, and eventually I lose my job, and pretty soon other areas of my American life system are messed up as well.

You see this with someone who starts drinking too much, it begins to affect every area of their life. They can’t hold a job. They stop doing their dishes, they pile up, they don’t do laundry, lose their cell phone. And eventually everything is out of whack.

It’s the same way with the kingdom of God. If we ignore certain parts of the kingdom of God system, we start to see our Christian life disrupted. And it disrupts everything else. If we stop praying, it starts to hurt other areas of our Christian life. If we stop forgiving others, we start getting bitter, it hurts our walk with Christ. If we stop going to church, if we disregard prophecy, if we go too comfortable in our salvation, if we start allowing sin a foothold, all these things can cause us to do something the Bible calls “stumbling.”

We start to stumble. The Holy Spirit convicts us, to make a change. If we do, we stop stumbling, and we get back on track. If we refuse the Spirit’s leading, we start to stumble more and more, and eventually we start to “fall.” The Spirit urges us to get back up, so we do, and we stumble along, and eventually find our footing again.

In any case, it’s very similar in the kingdom of God, if we live by the teachings of Christ in the parables, we find a smooth Christian life, we walk with Jesus, it’s not easy, but we’re able to fly above the storms of life. If we don’t it starts to get more and more difficult.

The kingdom of God as explained in the parables is kind of like the armor of God. It’s a complete picture of how to live rightly in this world. With all the principles of the kingdom of God, we are able to live a proper Christian life, honoring God in all things.

So let’s take a look at the parables as one big picture.

First, the parable of the prodigal son identifies our position apart from Christ, a child who has gone astray. Squandering their inheritance. Ruining themselves. Ruining the gifts God gave them. But God’s heart is for the prodigal to grow so weary in the emptiness of this fallen world, that the prodigal returns to Him. And the Father runs out toward the prodigal, covers him in a new robe, and throws a celebration, he’s so excited he's returned to Him.

That’s the heart of God to the lost.

Principle #1 Our Return Home
That’s the first principle today, the ultimate purpose of the kingdom of God is God’s glory and victory in our wonderful return home.

Or not. Free will is baked into this whole equation. We can return home or we can face judgment and condemnation. Oddly enough both scenarios bring glory to God, mercy or justice. But God prefers we return home safely.

The parable of the good Samaritan mirrors the prodigal son, God says, this is my heart toward you, like a Father coming to welcome his lost son home, now do the same with the lost and hurting around you, rescue those who are in danger, show them my love, through your actions.

Principle #2 Redeemed Redeemer
Principle 2 is that once we’ve returned, we help return others. Makes sense. We’ve found precious gold, now help others find it too. Basic.

Remember the parable of the old cloth on a new coat, or the new wine into old wineskins? When the Father puts his garment on the prodigal son, just as when he puts his garments of righteousness on us, we become new people. And we are called to a new way of life. The old human can’t be the kingdom of God in the world. Only a born again person can be.

Principle #3 Transformation
Only the new can inherit eternal life. This can only be accomplished by God changing us inside. The truth is written on our hearts. We are new people, this is God’s work in us.

So as we build this new life, we’re told to count the cost, recognize the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Therefore be a wise builder, who builds on the rock of Jesus Christ. That’s similar to the wineskins parable, because we can’t build on the old way, we have to build on the new way, having been transformed by Christ. We are a new project, a new creation, and we’re being transformed over our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ. 

Principle #4 Commitment
Count the cost, and the dedication needed to complete this journey. The way is narrow that leads to life. You must take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. You must forsake the world, and follow the new path completely. It’s a big commitment.

Luke 14:27 says, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." And again in verse 33, "So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." 

In short: Go all in. 

Principle #5 First Importance (Value)
The parable of the hidden treasure in the field, or the pearl of great value, reminds us of the immense value of the salvation we’ve found in Christ. It’s everything. We should value it in such a way that our whole way of life is transformed. It’s a pearl of great value, infinite value.

Jesus tells the parable of the good shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the lost sheep. If a Christian gets lost, Jesus comes seeking after them, to bring them home. How important is it? The most. 

The lost coin parable, of a woman who loses a coin of great values and sweeps the house and finds it, illustrates the value of God's kingdom. She celebrates to illustrate the excitement of heaven when one sinner turns to Christ.

Principle five of the kingdom reminds us nothing is more important than what we’ve found in Christ. Therefore, keep God first in your life, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). 

Principle #6 Humility
Many of the parables indicate the incredibly important value of staying humble in your walk with Christ. Pride is perhaps the single greatest danger to a Christian, pride tells us to take credit, to judge others, to think of ourselves as better than others, the humility of Christ reminds us to stay so focused on the reality that God is all and my job is to love and serve others.

The parable that best displays this is the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, one man beat his chest and cried out for mercy humbly, and the other, a Pharisee said thank you lord I'm not like this evil tax collector. Which one did God justify? The humble one.

These are all sidelines and boundaries for a kingdom saint, you, and how you’re to live.

Principle six is guard against humility (pride is the chief danger to the kingdom of God system). How? We must guard our hearts.

Principle #7 Forgiveness
Several of the parables outline the concept of forgiveness, that we must forgive those who have hurt us. That’s how the kingdom works, our sins are forgiven by Jesus own blood so we are commanded to forgive others their wrongs against us, with the caveat, that if we don’t forgive others, we also won’t be forgiven on the last day.

This is illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. The master cancelled a large debt for his servant, but then the servant went and had a man imprisoned who owed him money. The hypocrisy is searing. We who have sinned so terribly against God have no business holding up unforgiveness to those who have hurt us. Forgive quickly. 

Principle #8 Persistence
Do you recall the parable of the persistent widow? She kept bothering the judge day and night asking for justice and as a result, she finally received what she asked for. That’s how the kingdom of God on earth works too, we must keep praying, keep seeking God, keep crying out, and He answers. But the key is dogged persistence, never giving up, day and night always persistent (Luke 18:1-8). 

Principle #9 Faithfulness

The test of God in the kingdom system is faithfulness when no one is looking. Will I keep serving God? Will I be committed even when the master is delayed? 

The parable of the faithful servant reminds us to be faithful day in and day out, committed to God, because we don't know when His return will be. 

As it says in Matthew 24:45-46, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns."

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus reminds us of the consequence of a faithless life. The rich man lived a self-serving life, rejecting God, rejecting the ways of the kingdom, and he paid for it by being sent to hell. And Lazarus had nothing but God, so he received salvation, because he had faith.

Principle #10 Action unlocks the kingdom

In the parable of the two sons, the father asks the sons to go out and work in his field. One son says yes, but never goes. The second refuses, but later changes his mind and goes and works in the field. It points right at hypocrites pretending to be part of God’s kingdom and says: Your words don’t matter as much as your actions. They prove who we are. It points to the concept of fruit bearing, you will know people by what their actions produce. That's a key kingdom secret. These are keys that open doors in the kingdom of God. Without them we’re blind and we don’t understand how to live rightly.

Many of the parables are aimed at Israel and how they had failed to recognize the coming of the messiah, and so the kingdom was being passed on to gentiles ahead of them. This is indicated in the parable of the wedding feast where the people invited to the wedding won't come, so the king sends out his servants to the streets and the markets and invites anyone who wants to come. And they come and they celebrate the wedding.

Many of the parables deal with the end times and the final judgment, Jesus clearly wanted us to consider the day when we’re judged and prepare for it carefully.

It all fits together. The parable of the talents reminds us that we will be held accountable for how we use the gifts God has given us. We must prove ourselves faithful in our actions. 

Principle #11 Watchfulness
The parable of the wise and foolish virgins emphasizes supremely the concept of watchfulness, of having the expectation that Jesus will return at any moment, and so we should we watchful and ready, seeking God day and night, storing up oil for his arrival, like the wise virgins did.

The parable of the watchful servants also underlines this principle of waiting up late for the masters return, always watching carefully the times which we live in.

Principle #12 Preparation
The sheep and the goats reminds us that the proof is in the pudding. A cook can talk about what a great cook he is, but the proof will be in if his food is delicious or not. So, we too, will be proved out by how we live. We can say we’re Christians all we want, but our actions will prove it. Similarly with the sheep, they practically served God, meeting needs, food, water, shelter, visiting prisoners, providing clothing, and the goats did not. So at the final judgment the sheep are accepted, the goats are rejected.

And of course the parable of Drawing in the Nets reminds us that at the end of the age there will only be two camps, the bad fish and the good fish, the bad fish are tossed out, the good fish are brought in. We see this also repeatedly explained as a harvest being brought in, where the wheat is harvested and brought into the barn, and the weeds are burned in a pile.

The final principle is preparation. The kingdom man or woman is preparing carefully for the day of judgment, living a faithful life of love, fearing God, loving God, living in faith, and in deep relationship with God, while also actively living out what it means to be a Christian through practical acts of service, sharing the gospel and meeting needs in His name.

To Review:

1. Our Return Home (or not) - The chief goal of the Kingdom of God system is to open the door for the return home of every lost human being. But it's not forceful. It's a choice. The door is open. But you can also say no. 

2. Redeemed Redeemer - The Kingdom of God's redemption of the person immediately charges them to guide others toward redemption as well. 

3. Transformation (born again) - The old person can never inherit eternal life, the Kingdom of God system requires that the person be born again according to the new birth in Jesus Christ. 

4. Commitment - We're told to count the cost of being a disciple. We may have to give our lives for Jesus. We may lose friends, lose family, lose wealth, and prestige. We go all in for Jesus, full commitment and we never look back. 

5. First Importance (value) - the Kingdom is not one of many interesting things to add to our lives, it is the most important thing, and the kingdom system commands that we value God first. Nothing less will do.

6. Humility - The kingdom system places much emphasis on humility, rejecting pride, and coming to God as a little child. We're told to think of ourselves as "Servants who have only done our duty" (Luke 17:10). 

7. Forgiveness - A kingdom child is a forgiven forgiver. We're instructed to forgive others quickly when they hurt us, just as God has forgiven our sins. Holding unforgiveness is unacceptable. 

8. Persistence - We're told to keep being persistent, keep praying and never give up. The journey will get long, but keep staying encouraged and serving God. 

9. Faithfulness - One who is given much must prove themselves faithful in what they steward. It's a natural aspect of God's kingdom system. 

10. Action - Don't be hearers of the word only and so deceive yourselves, do what it says (James 1:22). Action is vital in the kingdom of God. Anyone can talk about doing good things or believing, but it's proved out in how we actually live our lives. 

11. Watchfulness - the kingdom system commands us to be watchful of the times we live in, redeeming the times, being salt and light to civilization. We're charged to be watchful of what's happening in the world, what God is doing, and how we can best participate in God's will. We also watch for the second coming of Jesus. 

12. Preparation - in the kingdom of God the saints of God are called to watch over their lives carefully, to give careful thought to their ways, and to prepare for the day when they meet Jesus face to face. 

Further Reading: Check out this follow up examining 12 additional principles of the Kingdom of God System

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

10 Questions I would ask Jesus if he gave me a hearing

1. How does salvation work? How does sin work after salvation? 

2. Why do most people end up going to hell, and why is hell so bad? What's wrong with people that they don't want salvation?

3. What happened exactly in heaven when Lucifer's rebellion began? How did it play out? 

4. What will the millennial reign of Christ be like on Earth after the tribulation? 

5. What is heaven like? What's are the adventures that occur there?

6. Why exactly did Adam and Eve turn against God, since they were innocent when it happened?

7. Why did you want to make humans in Your image? 

8. What is the destiny of humanity, what's our purpose beyond death?

9. What does a mature Christian look like practically?

10. Who are you really? What are you, exactly? You aren't human obviously, so what kind of being are you? Infinite in nature, and beyond us, yes, but help me understand more, though I know I can't ever fully understand.