DNA of CLJ : A Kingdom Mentality
- Presenter: Gregory Bishop
- Date: February 8, 2009
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
There are those who do their duty because they’re part of a larger kingdom and … they’re part of a larger army and kingdom, and they’re fulfilling that purpose, their duty. I think the World War II generation had this… you know, they would live through the Depression, they lived through World War II. They knew what it was to get out of boats on the beaches of Normandy and risk their lives for a larger cause.
The sense of you do the right thing and you don’t look for applause, you don’t look for rewards, you don’t even worry about self fulfillment or being happy. That is all secondary, to fulfilling a duty to a kingdom, a duty to a set of moral principles. And they knew that.
Part of our church, thank God, is we have a lot of immigrants if you haven’t noticed. We’re an immigrant church, immigrants know what duty is all about, sacrifice. I think of my grandparents coming with nothing, you know, just working, two, three jobs and they knew that most likely they were never going to see the benefit of those sacrifices, they did it for the kids and to the grand kids. Duty, obligation.
And our church we have many, you’ll see this, many of our people who give the most sacrificially and people who have the least, a sense of commitment, it’s about the kingdom and so they give and they serve. That’s part of our DNA, it’s part of our….
So anyway, as we think of that, we think of having that discipline. There’s three different images that Apostle Paul uses in his letter to Timothy. I just want to mention them briefly. It’s part of the discipline of a duty oriented kingdom mentality.
One, he calls us to think about the image of a soldier who doesn’t get tangled up in civilian affairs. A soldier can’t wear any kind of hair style, he or she wants, they can’t dress however they want, they can’t go on… they’re not, to a certain sense they yield their freedom to the discipline, military discipline. They say, look, if I am sent station somewhere I go, if they say jump you say how high, you know, that old thing from the movies. That military mindset, image number one.
Image number two that the Apostle Paul uses. He compares the …. Athlete that has to compete according to the rules and going to strict training in another part of …. It talks about the athlete who abstains from certain things and is not thinking about whatever that person wants to eat or do, they’re thinking about winning the price. And they have to compete according to the rules. They can’t be like that runner in the Boston marathon that took the train to cut ……… No shortcuts, I mean, do it right, do the right thing in the right way, that’s part of a kingdom mentality.
The final one is the farmer who’s hard working. Just good old fashioned hard worker. That’s part of the kingdom mentality. Duty and discipline, the ultimate example of this is our Lord Jesus Christ that was on the garden of Gethsemane and he knew he had to go to the cross.
Did Jesus want to go to the cross? I mean, we know for a fact he did not want to do it in his humanity. He said, Lord, Father, if there is any way may this come pass from me. He is like, is there any other way of …. But of course he knew the answer… but Lord, not what I want but may that will be done. He was saying, it’s not about me, it’s not about what I want, it’s about what you’ve called me to do. Duty and discipline.
How do we do this? How do we fulfill the sense of duty and the sense of ….. and I want to sum that up with the final one, that I will call a sense of destiny. That’s knowing that even though that I am more insignificant than a speck of dust in the larger the picture of the universe, that God knows me by name and he has called me for some reason to be part of this awesome, cosmic, vision to conquer the world for the Kingdom of God. I have a destiny. I have a purpose and for this I want to use the example of Abraham.
Abraham, a man in the ancient…………. Who was just there………. Genesis, chapter 12, if you want to look for it, otherwise I’ll just read it to you. The Lord shows up to Abraham and out of the blue he says, leave your country, your people and your father’s house and go, where? You know, that’s what I want to hear, to the promised land.
But you know what God said? He just says, go to the land that I will show you. He doesn’t even tell him how it’s all going to turn out. He just says, go, I’ll show you what to do. How about that? You know, I thought of this once in a message I gave years ago, how did Abraham explain this to his father in law? I mean, I …. My father in law why I was going to take his precious little princess out of Orange county and bring her across the country to nasty winters of Boston. How’s he going to explain this? Where are you going? What? We’re going. When? Oh, we’re going tomorrow. We’re taking everything. He said, where? God will show me. The suegro was very happy about that.
Home, leave your home and I love the way this is explained. I think God is trying to make us think about what God was calling Abraham to sacrifice. He doesn’t just say, go. He says, I want you to leave your home, or leave your country, leave your country. Does anyone know what is like to leave your country? I think some people here do.
For some reason God chooses to make immigrants out of some of his most special servants. I think he likes them, throughout the Bible and even Mary and Joseph and Jesus had to hang out in Egypt for a few years. God often calls us out of our native place to make us really get in touch with what is our real identity.
Am I a gringo from Boston or am I a citizen of the Kingdom of God? What defines me who am I? what is my security and so much comfort. You know, it’s like if you are an immigrant when you go back home and you smell the arroz con gandules y ….. whatever is …. And you are there, things just smell and feel familiar. You’re in your element again.
God, ok, now I’m home. When you’re away you’re out of your element and there’s no … I’m not made for this world. I’m made for another kingdom, for another world and I’m not to get too comfortable here because it’s not permanent. He was meant to leave his country, and then he had to leave his family and the way .. says, leave your people, deja tu gente, leave your people and your father’s household.
You know, there’s something so beautiful about having people know you. People just know you who you are, and then you’re walking around Boston and no one knows you. You’re nothing, you’re nobody, you’re just another face on the train, you know.
Leave your people, your family, leave and go to the land I will show. You’re leaving your security. You don’t even know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. We’re leaving our security. The only way, one of the most powerful texts in Scripture is in verse 4 of Genesis 12, it says, “so Abraham left as the Lord had told him…” and …..
No details, no description of his thought process, just, Abraham left. God calls and he went. How could he do it? How could he give up everything and not even know where he was going? It’s because it wasn’t a step in the dark, God had promised, if you leave your country I will make you into a great nation. If you do that I will bless you. Give up your blessings in hand and receive the blessings that will come from me, and trust me, they’re better than anything you could make for yourself.
If you do this, if you give up all this, you will have descendants, you will have a family. You’ve left a family but you’re going to have a new family. One night God took Abraham out and it wasn’t Abraham yet, he was Abram and he said, look at the stars. I don’t see a whole lot of stars here. In my last message there’s only one star I can see from …. Luckily it’s a really nice one, I think it’s a planet, but how many of you have been out to places where you can actually see stars? And you know think of that night when you just see everything, just millions of stars and God took Abraham out one night and he said, look at the stars, so shall your offspring be. If you could count the strings of sand, that would be the way your offspring would be. They change his name from Abram to Abraham which means, father of nations.
If you were willing to give up your family, I’m going to give you a new and true family. If you’re willing to give up your security, guess what, I’ll be your bodyguard. Those who bless you, I will bless, those who curse you, I’ll deal with them. You want to look out for yourself, or you want God covering your back.
Abraham made a calculated risk, he pushed the chips all on the table and he said, I believe that this kingdom, this promise is for real and I’m willing to stake it all that God will come through on what he’s promised. It’s about the kingdom. It’s about God’s calling ….., it’s about being willing to take that step, to have that external perspective.
You know, there are some places in the Bible where the New Testament writes about what happened in the Old and ….. best Bible commentary you can ever find because it’s the Bible talking of the Bible. In Hebrews 11, starting in verse 8, look at it if you want to, we’re kind of wrapping things up, Hebrews 11, verse 8, it says:
“… by faith Abraham when he was called….”, before that it says, “… Abraham, yeah, yeah, this is good, one of my favorite verses here I’m about to read, Hebrews 11, verse 8, “.. by faith Abrahm when called to go to a place he will later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going…”
Did you ever say, God, just tell me what you do and I’ll follow you. There’s a song with that, tell me what to do and I’ll follow you. I want God to tell me what to do, but sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes you just have to follow him without knowing where we’re going, but we know we need to go. So we move and trust that he’ll lead us some way.
Then verse 9, “… by faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country, he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise for he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God….”
And then a little later it says, as he talked to our people says “…by faith Abraham even though he was past age and Sarah herself was barren, was unable to become a father because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so, this one man, he was good as dead, his descendants as numerous as the starts in the sky and as countless as the sand of the seashore…”
He says, all these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. And then later it says, people who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they’ve been thinking of the country they left they would have had opportunity to go back. Instead they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one, therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared the city for them.
God has prepared a city, if I believe this is talking in liberal terms, some day the cities of this world will be really …….. and glorified, the world preparing to that day. But also here in this light, I believe that God has a ……. That God has a city for me, he has a place for me, he has a …… for me. If I will be about his business then he will be about my business in the way that’s best, whatever that needs. My concern is to be like a little …….. who said, I have to be about my father’s business. It’s a choice. It’s a choice that we need to make.
Now, when someone is, we need to make that choice definitively ………. Sixteen years old, I’m decided, I’m going to receive Jesus as my Lord and savior and I’m going to follow him. But then it’s a choice that we need to make periodically. How many of us know that one decision it needs to be renewed ongoingly in every different stage of our lives? And not everybody says yes to that call completely. Sometimes we say yes at first but then we don’t finish the kingdom calling on our lives.
You know, in the book of Genesis, chapter 12, and if you want to look at it, if you’re there, chapter 12, you know, Abram wasn’t the first one in his family to try to go to Canaan. Anyone know Abram’s dad’s name? Anyone know? Anyone know? Ok, Terah. Now, was that a household name? Everyone knows who Terah is? Not many people know who Terah was. That was Abram’s dad.
If you look at it in verse 31 of Genesis 11, it says, “… Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter in law Sarai, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan…”
Now, Ur, again we’re going to a little geography lesson as we ….., Ur, What? Sumer, guau, someone is studying ancient …….. feel the anointing coming here….. Ur is a sort of a Kuwait Irak,…. Right, we all know Iraq geography better than we would like to right now, right? Right where the rivers meet, the Euphrates and the Tigris. Ur. Now, he left Ur and traveled all the way up the Euphrates to I don’t know, Syria reaching, where Haddam lives, thank you, that’s good. They got there and then it says they got to Haran and then they settled there.
Now, he was going to Canaan, so they went up, they went to Haran because, you know, just a better travel route going up the river and then they just had to come down to Canaan and go the last length of the trip. But for whatever reason that we don’t know, and will never know they decided to settle in Haran outside of the Promised Land. Now, we need to be real careful when we read between the lines in Scripture. I don’t know what happened with Terah but I know that could it be perhaps, we could conjecture that God had called him to go to Canaan maybe, which is so ……. And he didn’t make it, he started going and then got comfortable and settled down and the project passed to his son who was willing to go through it. I don’t know.
But I know that it’s a very good picture of what happens to many of us. We say yes to God, we come, but then when push comes to show, when the persecutions comes, the difficulties come, just like Jesus talks with the seeds growing, many of us get chocked out and we don’t give the kingdom fruit that we hope to give. We cease to be about the Father’s business, but we start to focus more on our own dreams and goals and plans.
You know, I want to close with a personal story. When I was 18 years old I served a summer in a teen challenge in Hartford. I grew up in the suburb and I visited a teen challenge who’s ….., drug and alcoholic program. Anyone know a teen challenge a little bit? …. Christianity , I love it, and I went and I was in total fish out of water but I had a great time, you know, ‘cause I …. Done drugs, who do I think I am. But …if I just listen and pray that it was ok, God moved …. A good experience.
The guy who was my mentor there, his name was Paul ……, he was also from a suburban quiet context, had been called to go to the city, became bilingual and served there. And he was my mentor and I would with him from day to day and I watched him and I’d feel like, you know, I was 18 and he was 30 or something. I wanted to be just like Paul …. You know, and one he sat down with me, he said, you know, Greg, you have to make a decision. …… you have one life to spend, you …………… why ….. into. And he talked about Moses who chose to suffer reproach from the people of God, rather than to be comfortable as a prince in the palace of Pharaoh. He said, you’re going to have to make a decision. And he says, God, and he took out a little napkin and he scribbled out a few lines and he said, God is going to call you to do a, b, c, d, he said, I don’t know what that is, but you know you will know, and God will show you, he says, a, b, c, d, but then it’s not automatic. You’ve got, and then he put and x and dotted line and says, you’ve got to sign on the dotted line.
And you know what I did, I took that napkin and that was 22 years ago and I still have, I framed it. And I tell you, a week doesn’t go by and I mean it, a week doesn’t go by that I don’t look at this, it’s in the office, kind of floating around obviously ‘cause I don’t have it ….. but I just have it there.
And when I have something to do that I know that is part of the Kingdom of God and maybe I would rather not do it, maybe there’s a difficult conversation that a person needs to have, I need to have, an apology I need to make or some sort of commitment that I know is going to be a little difficult for me, I look at this and I realize, and I feel that question, what are you going to do? What are you about?
Will you sign in the dotted line? And it’s a decision to be made over and over again, it’s part of our DNA as disciples, it’s part of our DNA as congregation Lion of Juda. I will send it around.
I’m going to invite you to stand up with me………………….. just as a group, we are sort of a new a fledgling ministry of this church, it’s really important for us to affirm that dotted line and decide what we will be about, that kingdom mentality and now more than ever, so let’s ……..
Father, in Jesus’ name I thank you that you who called Abram were faithful not just to call him, but to fulfill your promises in his life. God I thank you that you promised that if he would leave his blessings you would bless him and you would make through him to all the nations of the earth would be blessed, that his life became something of cosmic significance, because he agreed to get up and go.
Father I pray our lives be far beyond the ordinary. God that it would be trapped in the line scale of our own limited vision for who we think we are and what we’re called to do, that we would say yes to you and to your kingdom, that we would salute and say I’ll go where you tell me to go and do what you tell me to do, I’ll say what you tell me to say and I’ll follow you even when I don’t see where the path is leading exactly, but I know who I’m following.
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you’re ….. I thank you God that when we live for you and your kingdom ……… I thank you that you’re a good shepherd and God ….. green pastures, that makes our lives …. For you
Lord Jesus I pray that each one of us here, and as a group, Lord, that we would sign on the dotted line today. I say Lord I belong to you, I’m a member of your kingdom and I want to pray to see your kingdom come through me, through my life, through our lives together as a church. Lord let it be, let it be Jesus, we pray.
|Sermon delivered by Gregory Bishop
taped January 25, 2009 at Congregation Lion of Judah