What It Means To Be A Child of The King

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

What It Means To Be A Child of The King

There’s a lot of talk in churches and on Christian programming today about all the things that I can do because I am a child of the King. This statement in and of itself isn’t wrong, the problem lies in the intent.

God calls us His children over and over throughout scripture. Romans 8:17 tells us that we are children of God and even joint heirs with Christ, but it doesn’t stop there, read the whole verse, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Do you see that? If we are going to share in Christ’s glory, we must also share in His suffering as well. I realize that many are reading this and saying, “wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for this.” But the truth is that if you didn’t sign up for the suffering, you won’t be getting the glory.

You see, the problem with the statement at the beginning is that we tend to put the emphasis on us, rather than on the King. We say, “I am a Child of the king” instead of “I am a child of the King”. Our emphasis is on the child instead of the King.

But what does the Word of God tell us? When people started trying to give glory to John the Baptist, he said 27 “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:27-30. When people started praising John he redirected the praise to Jesus. He said that Jesus is the bridegroom, I’m just a groomsman. It’s all about Jesus, I’m just here standing with Him. Then he said in verse 30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” It’s all about Jesus!

Americans today, not just the millennials, have an attitude of entitlement. We think we are owed things, that we deserve certain privileges. We expect to get everything handed to us on a silver platter. Our parents or grandparents were from a generation that was hard working, they were called “The Greatest Generation”. They worked for everything they had. They came through the Great Depression, followed by World War II and rebuilt this country from the ground up. They had a saying, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, and that was their mentality. All that hard work paid off, and their kids and grandkids reaped the benefits. Now, we expect to get paid $15.00 an hour to run a cash register at McDonald’s, but don’t expect us to know how to make change. I have about thirty employees that I manage, and you wouldn’t believe some of the things they expect. The mentality today is that it’s all about ME!

The truth is, we only deserve judgment. Jesus said in Revelation 3:17, “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” That is our generation! We think we have it made, but without Christ, we are nothing. Look at the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-20. The first seven verses are talking about all the things he has and how he thinks he has it made, then in verse 20, we read, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?” Then He ends it in verse 21 by saying, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” You see, money is not the root of all evil, it’s the love of money, 1 Timothy 6:10.

As Christ followers…as children of the King of kings, we must get our relationship with Him right. We must get our priorities straight. The fact that we are children of the King is none of our doing. God adopted us into His family as we saw last week. Yes, we must accept the free gift of salvation, but it’s nothing we worked for, nothing we earned. That is why we can’t be good enough to get into heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” You see what it’s saying? Salvation is not something you can earn, so you can’t boast about it. Basically, these two verses are saying, It’s Not About You!

We were chosen to be children of the King so that we would glorify the King. Isaiah 43:7 says, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” You see, we were created to glorify God, not ourselves. God tells us over and over to humble ourselves. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” If you want to be honored, you must humble yourself, if you want to be a leader, you must become a servant. Jesus himself said it best in Matthew 20:25-28, 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

So, let’s start today by taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it on God. Let’s really be children of the One True King!

A Father’s Love

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

A Father’s Love

Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us how much God loves us. Paul wrote, Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” He starts out by saying that God loved us in Christ before the world was made. Think about that for a minute. God loved me, and He chose me before the world was made…that’s amazing. But, if you think about it, anyone who has ever wanted to have a family has loved their children before they were born, or even conceived. My oldest son Josh always wanted a big family and he loved those children even before he was married. He is now married and has five sons that he loves more than any children on earth. That’s what a father’s love is like, and that’s the love that God has for us.

This passage goes on to say that He chose us in Christ. Now, I know that this is a subject that has been blown completely out of proportion, but we need to keep this in context, as always. 1 Peter 1:1-2 tells us, 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” So, we are predestined to be God’s children, through His foreknowledge. God is all-knowing, and He knows the end from the beginning. Through His ability to see the future, through His ability to know who would accept Him and who would not, He chose us. God’s will is that everyone would choose him, as it says in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

So, what did God choose us for? He chose us “to be holy and without fault in his eyes”. As we’ve seen before, Holy means to be set apart. When Peter said in 1 Peter 1:16, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’”, he was quoting Leviticus 20:26 which says, “You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.” God has set us apart to be His very own…wow! 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” God has called us out of the darkness to be His very own…again, wow! He says we are “without fault in His eyes.” Why? Because we are covered by the blood of Christ, Colossians 1:22 says, “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Isn’t that beautiful? Because of Christ, we stand before God without a single fault.

Paul goes on to say, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ” See that? God decided IN ADVANCE to adopt me! Think about it, this isn’t like adopting an infant. God knew all of our faults, He knew all of our secrets. It takes a lot of love to adopt a baby, but it takes so much more love to adopt a teenager out of the foster system. You know going into it that this child could come with a lot of baggage. They were possibly taken away from their biological parents because of abuse or neglect and may have gone on to experience more abuse and neglect in their foster homes. But God adopted us knowing all of our baggage, knowing all of the bad habits we have picked up along the way. He chose us!

So, what was the price of this adoption? If you have ever adopted a child, you know that there are costs involved, there is always a price. The price that God paid for our adoption was the life of His only begotten Son. So, knowing all of this. Knowing our backgrounds and the baggage we were bringing along with us. Knowing that it would cost Him the life of His only begotten son, why would He do this? Because, “This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” It gave Him great pleasure to adopt us into His family. It didn’t just please Him, it gave Him GREAT pleasure…that’s so humbling!

One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Don’t ever let anyone tell you that God is up in heaven, oblivious to our troubles. This verse says that He is living among us. It goes on to say that He delights in us with gladness and He will calm all our fears with His love. Then it ends by telling us how much the Father loves us, He sings over us! Just picture it. God holding us in His arms like a loving father holds his newborn baby and singing over us with joy. There is no better picture of a father’s love than that.

Do You Want Every Spiritual Blessing?

 

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

 

Do You Want Every Spiritual Blessing?

After Paul finished his greeting, he began his letter to the church at Ephesus by saying, in Ephesians 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

He begins his letter by praising God. I think this is something that we, as believers, miss far too often. We need to praise God more…much more! Not just on Sunday morning when we’re singing the worship songs in church or on the freeway when we missed a near accident, but all the time. We need to praise God in our homes, we need to praise God at work, we even need to praise God when we are stuck in traffic. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I love how Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it when he said, “We are not sitting here, and groaning, and crying, and fretting, and worrying, and questioning our own salvation. He has blessed us, and therefore we will bless him. If you think little of what God has done for you, you will do very little for him; but if you have a great notion of his great mercy to you, you will be greatly grateful to your gracious God.”

Paul goes on to say that God has blessed us. Christians today, especially those of us in the West, often see blessings as monetary. In fact, you can turn on the television any day and hear a pastor preaching this very message. But, what does Paul say here? He praises God for “every spiritual blessing”. Notice he doesn’t say anything about physical or monetary blessings, he thanks God for every spiritual blessing. Spurgeon also said, “Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.” Don’t you love that? Our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings! When was the last time you thanked God for spiritual blessings? For that matter, when was the last time you asked God for spiritual blessings? I noticed this passage years ago, and yet for me, it’s still not often enough. We are so focused on the physical that we often forget the spiritual. Oh, we might remember it in church, or when we read a blog about it, but we need to ask God to remind us of it daily. We need to ask God to open the eyes of our hearts to those spiritual blessings, He would be happy to, I’m sure.

David Guzik said, “If we have no appreciation for spiritual blessing, then we live at the level of animals. Animals live only to eat, sleep, entertain themselves, and to reproduce. We are the only creatures on this earth who are made in the image of God and He has something much higher for us, yet many choose to live at the level of animals. God wants us to know every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united in Christ.” The world keeps trying to tell us that we are just animals, but we know that we are much more than that. We are the only creatures who are made in the image of God. We are the only creatures with a soul, I’m sorry to break this to you, but all dogs don’t go to heaven, they don’t have a soul. We have a purpose, whether you have found your specific purpose or not, we are all here to glorify God!

The verse doesn’t end here though. It goes on to say that we have those spiritual blessings “because we are united with Christ.” I know that I often sound like a broken record, but this subject is just too important not to talk about. This is one of the key themes of the New Testament. Over and over again, the Bible tells us how important it is that we are united, and yet we keep dividing ourselves. In John 17:22-24, when Jesus was praying to the Father just before His crucifixion, He said, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” Did you catch what He said there in verse 23? He said, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” Christ prayed for our perfect unity so that the world could know that He was sent by the Father and that we are loved. Why doesn’t the world believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Because we have lost His perfect unity!

I’ve said it many times before, but if we don’t set aside our petty differences and unite as the body of Christ, we will never be effective in this world. Again, the only doctrine that matters is that of salvation by God’s grace, through our life-changing faith in Christ, that’s it. God wants us to be united in Christ alone. It’s time we stop following men and start following God!

Back to The Beginning

Day 289: Sunset from Low Key Hideaway Dock
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Back to The Beginning

We were having Easter dinner with some friends, and one of them asked me to share where my vision came from. So, here goes, the first thing I should explain is where the title of my blog, and subsequent book, come from, and what it means. This blog and book were born out of an experience that my wife and I had, that brought us to the realization that the Church isn’t operating the way it was meant to. The idea of a cathedral made of people is the fact that the building we meet in isn’t the church, the denomination we belong to isn’t the church. We are the Church, we are the Body of Christ, a Royal Priesthood, a chosen generation, and we need to start acting as such. Now, I can’t take credit for the title, it is the title of a song by the group Downhere, listen to it, you’ll see what I mean. This song says exactly what I’m trying to put across on this blog and my book. We are a cathedral made of people…all of us! Not just one denomination, but everyone. If you believe the Bible for what it says if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God…God in the flesh, if you believe that He lived on this earth, died on the cross, and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins, then you are part of that cathedral.

This journey started for me on the 4th of July weekend 2009. Michelle and I were sitting at LAX, watching the fireworks go off all around us as we waited to board a plane bound for a little island community in North West Florida. This was no third world country, this was a quaint little fishing village that my parents had retired to. Dad had passed away in 2002 and mom was there taking care of her father who had a stroke a few years prior.

Two weeks after arriving, Michelle and I were talking and realized that God was telling both of us, individually but at the same time, to plant a church on the island. God had given both of us the same vision, but as always, there were some hurdles to get over. There were four big hurdles:

  1. I had never been a Lead Pastor and, quite frankly, had never wanted to be one.
  2. We had never been part of a church plant from the start, so we didn’t know where to start.
  3. This little town was, by all means, a mission field with a large number of its resident’s being alcoholics and addicts.
  4. With a population of 900 people and 4 existing churches, everyone was telling us we were wasting our time.

Since problem number one was that I had never been a Lead Pastor, and didn’t really want to be, we set out trying to find a pastor. Most of the candidates were just looking for a job, but there were a few great men of God who saw our vision but said that God gave us this vision and the passion, so we needed to follow through with it. After about a years and a half of preparation, we met a Christian couple, Ken and Vanessa, who wanted to start a praise night in homes, and that birthed our church group, The Gathering.

But, this isn’t a blog about The Gathering. This isn’t a blog about starting a church. This is a blog about the Church, with a capital “C”. During that first year of preparation, we prayed about the church gathering that God had called us to start. Since we had never started a church group before, and because there were so many church formats and denominations out there, we started asking God to show us what kind of church He wanted us to start. His answer came almost immediately. God told us, very clearly, to look at the first Church, so that’s just what we did. Spending that first year studying what the first church was like, God began revealing things that were extremely disturbing. Of course, the first Church was not disturbing, but what it has become was. Looking at the Church today and comparing it to the first Church, we saw how short we have fallen. We were no longer one body, we were divided, separated and segregated. We were not fulfilling the Great Commission. You see, the Great Commission tells us to make disciples, we make congregations, we are just filling seats. The Church has become a corporation at best. The Church today has become little more than a Religious Organization split into different denominations with different goals.

In studying the first Church, God revealed several things. One thing was that the first Church didn’t meet in fancy cathedrals, they met in the courtyard of the Hebrew Temple and in homes, and even in the street, Acts 2:44-47 says, 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” I am not trying to say that a church building is bad, what I am saying is that we need to ask ourselves if this building is wise stewardship of God’s money, and is it being used for ministry more than once or twice a week.

The second thing was that they didn’t meet on Sunday, they met daily, as we saw in verse 46 of this passage. This doesn’t mean we should meet for an hour every morning, sing worship songs and listen to the pastor preach. They did life together, they studied the Word together, they prayed together, they ate together…they were a community. Remember, in Matthew 18:20 it says, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Here’s a little food for thought, how many of your local church family do you see outside of the church building? Just sayin’.

The next thing I noticed was that when Luke wrote the book of Acts, he stuck his church bulletin in it. In Acts 2:42 we see their order of service, 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” So, they studied the Gospel, they fellowshipped and shared meals together, and they prayed. Is that what our church services look like today? Not most of the ones I’ve seen.

The fourth thing, and probably the biggest, was their unity, as we see in the verses above. In fact, the unity of the Church is one of the key themes of the New Testament. If we can’t get this right and be united as the Body of Christ, we will never be effective in this world, Matthew 12:25 says, “Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” Yes, we may grow our congregation, we may even become a “Mega Church”, and we may bring people to Christ along the way. But if we want to change our world, we must change from within. We have all heard sermons on 2 Chronicles 7:14Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”, but it’s time we take this passage to heart. This verse says, “if my people”, that’s the Church. We are His people, His Body. This verse doesn’t say if a few of my people, or if some of my people, or even if most of my people, what it is saying is The Body of Christ…all of us, must humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked and divisive ways, and yes, the Hebrew word translated as wicked is the word “Ra`” which means; wicked, disagreeable, malignant, and divisive. We must unite as the Body of Christ! Now, before I’m lynched, I’m not talking about throwing out doctrine and uniting, but I am talking about taking a hard look at the doctrines that separate us, and like I said in the beginning, there is only one doctrine that should define us, that is salvation by grace through faith.

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