Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If Jesus is King - Part II

Some more thoughts on how we should live our lives if Jesus is King...

Memory Verse

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)


In our last blog post, we started thinking about Jesus as king, and not just any king, but as the Bible refers to him - the King of kings.

Imagine a king or queen came into your presence and gave you some written orders to carry out.  You would likely read the written document time and time again, making certain you set out to do exactly what the king or queen asked you to do.  The last thing you would want is to have the king or queen return and question why you didn't carry out their very clear written orders, and you definitely wouldn't want them concluding you never read their document closely in the first place!

The same is true with Jesus as our king.  The Bible is the written document that spells out very clearly how we should live.  The Bible isn't just for cherry-picking - in other words, you don't just pick out the parts that you like or find easy and ignore the rest.  The truth is the life Jesus calls us to in following Him is recorded in clear, written commands and is far different than most of us are living these days.  The king's written orders to us are to extend His kingdom from heaven to earth, and to do that we will need to deny ourselves and surrender everything.  That's why the king told us we cannot love God and money and that we should not store up for ourselves treasures on earth.  It's pretty radical stuff for our day, but it's the king's written orders.

So, how do we live our lives in the light of Jesus being our king?

First, we should make certain we are reading and familiar with the clear, written instructions He gave us.  II Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that Scripture equips us for every good work.  We need to make certain we are living the lives the king told us to live, even and perhaps especially when those lives are much different than the way everyone else is living.

Second, we should do anything the king asks, considering it a high honor that He has entrusted something to us that would extend His kingdom.  That brings us to our memory verses in Romans 12:1-2.  Chances are, what this king is going to ask us to do will seem pretty bizarre by the standards of most people, because the written orders are very clear that our minds will need to be renewed and our lives transformed - no longer conformed to the pattern of this world.  The written orders go so far to state that we should be living sacrifices - not living our lives for personal pleasure or even satisfaction, but living our lives to serve others in such a way that others will see it as worship of God.

I am from Boston and this past week has been a very difficult one for us as Bostonians.  We witnessed two people go out and take the lives of innocent bystanders.  Seeing this made me appreciate how different Jesus' message is to us.  We are not told to go out and take down the lives of others.  Rather, we are called to go out and lay down our own lives for others.  It's what our king has asked us to do, and it's what is needed to accomplish something as amazing as seeing His kingdom extended from heaven to earth.

Questions to Consider
1.  How familiar are you with the written orders given to you by the King of kings?
2.  Looking at your life compared to the pattern of this world, is your life more conformed or transformed?

Action Steps for the Week
1.  Set aside time each day to read the written orders from Jesus (from the red letters in some Bibles) captured in the Gospels and pray for strength from the Holy Spirit to carry out the orders that seem almost impossible.
2.  Identify one specific area in which you can lay down your life for others and serve them in a manner that will be like extending heaven to earth in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If Jesus is King... - Part 1

How should we live our lives if Jesus is King?

Memory Verse

 “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
Psalm 8:4 (NIV)

I have to admit that for most of my life, I never thought of Jesus as King.  Savior - yes.  Lord - on good days.  But King?

As the wisdom of age sets in, I am coming to appreciate that this kingdom we are focused on falls apart if we don't have a king.  The unbelievably good news is that Jesus is an unbelievably benevolent king.  As we will see in the weeks to come, it is the very fact that Jesus is this generous king that equips us to be so central in extending His kingdom.

Now stop for a minute and reflect on that truth - Jesus is king.  That means you are known by a king.  My guess is few of us are known by royalty, so how does that make you feel when you reflect on the fact that you are known by a king?  And not just any king, but the King of kings.  Let me start us with three thoughts for this post with more soon to follow (and I welcome your additions in the Comments).

First, we should live each day in awe that the King of kings is even mindful of us.  The Psalmist captured it in the memory verse above.  That should make you feel pretty special.

Second, we should not think too highly of ourselves in light of the King of kings.  Does your pride or ego leave room for the King?  Imagine a king or queen stepping into your church or office.  I doubt that you would be quick to ask "do you know who I am?"  No, we would remain humble in an attempt to keep royalty the center of attention.  Philippians 2 provides us with good guidance.

Third, we should reflect on all this King did to bring us into His kingdom.  The latter part of Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) captures it well:  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  This King endured the painful cross so that you and I could experience this kingdom.  Let's not also forget that He left His heavenly throne to live an extremely poor, high-risk life here.  That's what He did to extend this kingdom to us, and He calls us to follow Him.

Questions to Consider
1.  Is Jesus your king?
2.  If so, how is that reflected in your daily life?

Action Steps for the Week
1.  If Jesus is not really the king in your life, bow before Him and allow Him to assume that position.
2.  If Jesus is the king in your life, write down (at least) three realities that should be evident in your life given His kingship that may not be.