This weeks readings have taken us from Galatians 5 through Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1& 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy 5.
The word Kingdom occurred eight times in this week’s readings.
Twice we were reminded that those that practice sin will not enter the kingdom of God, Gal. 5:21, and Eph. 5:5
We were informed that there is a kingdom of darkness that it influences the lives of those who are not committed to Jesus Christ as His faithful followers. Eph. 2:2
We were called to give thanks to God for qualifying us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light, because God has delivered us from the power of the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Col. 1:12-13.
In 1 These. 2:13 we are encouraged to walk worthy of the kingdom of God, and in 2 Thess. 1:5 we are told that our sufferings in Christ assure us that we will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. That kingdom has been planted here, but it’s fullness is not yet experienced by us, and so we pray: Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This time of year many turn their attention to the amazing story of the birth of Christ. For a lot of people in our world today this historical event is considered to be a legendary myth. How can anyone in our modern scientific world believe that a virgin gave birth to a baby. Well, back in those days, it was hard to believe too. In fact, Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, didn’t believe it either. That is, until he was told by an angel that it was true. And so Joseph, like Mary, believed the heavenly message and were blessed.
What happened was a miracle of God. God interrupted our human history in a very unusual way. For God to cause a virgin to conceive is nothing compared to what happened behind the scenes to bring that about. Think about it! Consider WHO this was that was conceived in Mary’s womb! Talk about “Christ in you!” It doesn’t get more literal than that! And what happened with Mary depicts what happens with all of us who belong to God in Christs! Christ is in us too! That is, if we believe the heavenly message.
There was much more going on than simply a virgin conceiving. God, the Father, sent His only begotten Son to become a human embryo. He whom heaven could not contain became a tiny vulnerable “seed of woman” within a young Jewish virgin. Think Genesis 3:15. The glorious, eternal, almighty One, emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient, even unto death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God’s coming, is worthy of our celebration and attention, wouldn’t you say? He who is King eternal, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself. He took on flesh and blood, temporal human form, weakness and vulnerability. Why? Why would He do that?
So He could be one of us, one with us, and could die for us and take the punishment for sin that we deserve. He let go of glory so He could bring us to glory! He let go of immortality so He could give us immortality. He let go of eternal riches so we could have the treasures of heaven. Why?
Because: say it together with me (John 3:16 on screen)- “For God so love the world, He gave us His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life!”
God wants us to know His love for us. God wants us to enjoy sternal life together with Him. God wants to give us an inheritance in eternal glory, a kingdom that will never perish, an inheritance that is beyond anything we could ask for or even imagine. This inheritance is ours IN CHRIST and WITH CHRIST.
God wants you! God loves you! This is why Jesus Christ came. This is what His birth is all about. BUT… this is not all about YOU. This is all about HIM! All about HIS AWESOME GLORY, HIS UNSEARCHABLE LOVE!
This is the time of year when a lot of us tend to spend a lot of money to buy a lot of stuff for family and friends to impress upon them that we love them. Christmas presents are all about that. Some of us just LOVE that! Others really HATE this. Why? Because it’s not about real need so much as trying to make an impression. But just how impressive are all those gifts, really?
What did you get for Christmas last year? How about five years ago? How about 10 years ago? Even if you are one of those who remembers every gift you’ve ever gotten, or someone who forgets the day after Christmas what you unwrapped, I think you’ll appreciate what I’m about to say.
Raise your hand if a special gift from someone who cares about you makes you feel loved?
That’s the real point of a Christmas gift, is it not? Some of you are really good at this, and others, like me, are terrible at it. You can ask my wife.
So, what’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received? Who gave it to you? What difference has this made in your life?
You know where I’m going here. But let’s let the scriptures give us the words:
Ephesians 1-3 describe God’s gift to us. God’s ultimate life changing gift of love and sacrifice.
When God demonstrates His love, heaven moves to earth, takes up residence among us and gives His live for us.
Listen: Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Did you get all that?
Just think of all that happens for us in Him. Do you know where Jesus Christ is today? He is at the right hand of the Father, reigning with all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus Christ has been given the name that is above all names, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Everyone who is in Him and remains faithful will receive this inheritance too, that is to reign eternally with Jesus Christ! If you think this earth has a lot to offer, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Look at verses 18-23.
Do you have any idea what the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints are?
Can you begin to fathom the incomparably great power for us who believe?
Do you realize that God has given to us the calling into His eternal kingdom to reign together as co heirs with Christ? Does that register on your imagination’s screen?
Look at chapter 3:14-21. Did you hear those words? Do you believe this gift is real and that it is for you?
Jesus Christ said, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” He’s talking about reigning together with Him in the coming kingdom of God forever!
Some of you remember Robert and Sarah Boyd. Robert was my barber for years. Every time I’d go get a hair cut, Robert would want to talk about the Lord and spreading the gospel.
Robert suffered a lot in his life. The last year of so of his life I would visit him and Robert always wanted to talk about what happens after we die. He would tell me how he looked forward to it and encouraged me to preach about it more.
Philippians 1:20-23 Only those who have received God’s Kingdom gift of Christ can honestly say this.