Kingdom Residents

Living as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven is not always easy. Kingdom living requires us to embrace the paradoxical teachings of King Jesus. What exactly am I writing about today? Consider these examples of upside down thinking that characterizes living in the Kingdom of God.

Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”   Mark 9:35-37

The first shall be “last of all”. Success in the Kingdom of Heaven arrives by putting oneself last, not first. This thought is counter-cultural and even offensive to our generation which embraces a selfish view of life and self. Yet, the call to put others first is strong and unavoidable.

In the Kingdom, the greatest shall be the “servant of all.” Greatness in God’s economy does not flow to us by chasing after earthly power, earthly plaudits, or earthly treasure. Rather, we rise in the Kingdom by serving others. Jesus is the perfect example of this as He came not to be served, but, to serve and give His life for us. (Matthew 20:28)

Christians are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom. The standard of conduct for the Christian is much different than the worldly system.  May we, as God’s people, embrace the challenge of living in this way as it honors God and shows forth His love.

Tony French

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A New Way

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’; But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. f anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Matthew 5:38-42

How do you end a feud? One way is retaliation. This is what Jesus describes in v. 38 when he quotes “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” from Leviticus 24:20.

The problem with this method is that it never tends to end. More and more revenge and retaliation is needed to settle the score.

Jesus gives us a new way. This way can be summed up as non-retaliation and forgiveness. Christ uses hyperbole to make the point of non-retaliation. Turn the other cheek and non- resistance are the way of kingdom living. If the Roman soldier’s compel you to carry there armor a mile, carry it two miles. These examples serve to illustrate the importance of not seeking revenge.

Forgiveness is not mentioned explicitly here but it is in view in light of the totality of Scripture. Biblical forgiveness means to cancel the debt. One can certainly see how forgiveness fits into Jesus teaching at this point. In the Kingdom of Heaven, Christians do not seek revenge and retaliation, rather, we are to go forward in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Jesus shows us the way by being our example.

Tony French

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Unending Joy

God’s people should be filled with joy. Joy should be a defining characteristic of the life of a Believer. We have joy that lasts and is not dependent on our circumstances. An examination of the reasons for our joy is in order today.

*We have joy because we are forgiven. Our debt has been paid through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Be joyful, dear Christian. You are forgiven.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.  Ephesians 1:7

*Joy is available to us because of God’s mercy. God has mercifully withheld from us what we truly deserve. Jesus took the punishment that was rightfully ours. As a result, we receive mercy. We deserved death but God has given us life. We earned Hell but God has promised us Heaven. We merit separation from God but He has reconciled us. Be thankful today for God’s mercy.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:4-7

*Joy flows to the Christ-follower as a result of God’s grace. Not only has God withheld from us what we rightfully warrant, He has given us blessings that we do not deserve. We have relationship with God, the power of the Holy Spirt, and the promise of His abiding presence. And frankly, we do not deserve any of these things. Yet, through grace we have “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” Jesus paid the price and we reap the rewards of God’s grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

We have every reason to be joyful. May joy mark our lives and identify us a Christ-followers!

Tony French

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Keep Your Promises

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus attention now turns to the keeping of promises, dealing with mistreatment, and loving those around you in this passage of Scripture. As you read these, please keep in mind that Jesus is giving instruction for living as a Christian. That instruction is radically different from what we hear in society and even what we think in our fleshly selves. We are presented with an entirely new way of living in the Sermon on the Mount. We ought to learn these principles and seek to live as a resident of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Making vows was an important aspect of the Jewish religion. Therefore, many vows and promises were made by the people to God and to others. However, vows and promises were often broken as the limits of humanity and the frailty of life proved to be too big of an obstacle to overcome.

It is out of this context that Jesus addresses vows. He teaches that it is better not to make a promises than to make one and break it. It is better not to “swear an oath” by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or even our own heads. This seems to imply that elaborate wording was not the most important aspect when making promises and vows. 

What was the most important aspect? KEEPING the vow is what truly matters. If you make a promise then keep it. Otherwise, don’t make a promise or vow.

Jesus said “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” If you say “yes” to a vow then do everything in your power to keep it. If you say “no” then stick to your word. Flowery words are just words. Being truthful is what matters most of all!

Tony French

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I Love The Church

love the church!  God has given me the opportunity, throughout my life, to serve the church as a worship leader, youth leader, a servant, and as pastor. I have given my life to the church and I have no regrets. 

Those who do not participate in the corporate life of the church are missing so much. Tremendous blessings are found as one serves alongside their fellow members in the Body of Christ. We learn so much from one another simply by meeting together regularly, serving together faithfully, and living our lives in the shelter of the people of God. 

The church is not perfect. This should not surprise anyone as we understand that the church is comprised of imperfect sinners. But, even our imperfections allow us the opportunity to both give and experience forgiveness. Our faults allow us the joy of experiencing a love from fellow church members that is not based on performance. We should seek holiness and avoid sin at every turn.  It’s good to know, however, that when we fall, there are those who will stand with us and not forsake us in the Body of Christ.  

Are you a part of the church? Are you searching for a place where you will experience true meaning and purpose? I encourage you to be a part of the local church.  Jesus loves His Body and He is building the church for His glory (Matt. 16:18). It for all of these reasons that I love the church!     

Tony French 

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God With Us

” Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel ,” which translated means, ” God with us .”

Matthew 1:23

God with us. What a beautiful thought. The Lord is with His children each day. How is God with us?

**God is with us personally

**God is with us perfectly

**God is with us purposefully

**God is with us permanently

You are blessed today, child of God. Jesus is with you. And He is all you need!

Tony French

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Stay Away

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30

Jesus words here are strong and precise. Lust is equated without spiritual adultery in no uncertain terms. Jesus reasserts the importance of the law and uses the phrase “But I tell you” to amplify the point of reestablishing the truth of Scripture above any traditions or additions. Avoiding the outside act is not enough. Our hearts and minds must be pure as well.

Verses 29 and 30 employ hyperbole (an extreme, absurd exaggeration meant to amplify a point) and are not meant to be taken literally. We are not told to literally pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands. Jesus’ plea is to avoid sinfulness at all cost and to be ready to employ extreme measures to protect yourself from lust and unrighteousness.  It is better to lose a body part and be temporarily in pain than to lose your soul for all eternity.

Dear Christian, stay away from sin. The grace of God is no excuse for disobedience. Save yourself from trouble and strife in the future by seeking obedience to the Lord now.

Tony French

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Give Thanks

Do you need motivation for thankfulness this Thanksgiving? As a Believer, Consider these………………

1. Salvation

Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

2. Provision

Philippians 4: 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

3. Hope

Ephesians 2:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.

4. Victory

1st Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Those four things seem like valid reasons to be thankful. As always, be encouraged Believer!

Tony French

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Holy Spirit Lessons

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:25-32

In this passage, Paul commands us this way in verse 30; “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”  The word grieve means to “make sorrowful or to offend someone.” The apostle is teaching us that we can grieve or offend the Holy Spirit by how we live.

Grieving the Holy Spirit has consequences for us as Christians. For instance, we will not have power in prayer when we grieve the Holy Spirit. Our prayer life will be weak and ineffectual when we are living contrary to God’s word.

So what exactly does it mean to “grieve” the Spirit of God? Consider the following:

**We grieve the Holy Spirit when we lie to each other (V. 25)

**We grieve the Holy Spirit when have uncontrolled anger (V. 26-27)

**We grieve the Holy Spirit when steal from others (V. 28)

**We grieve the Holy Spirit by being lazy and untrustworthy (V. 28)

**We grieve the Holy Spirit when talk unkindly about others (V. 29)

After telling us what not to do, Paul concludes by giving us the way we are to live. He encourages us to put away bitterness and wrath. We are to be kind and tender toward each other. Finally, the apostle reminds us of the importance of forgiving. Forgiveness should replace bitterness and kindness should replace anger in the lives of Christians.

Let us be careful to not grieve the Spirit of God. We ought to examine our speech and our attitudes regularly. And let us be careful how we speak to one another.

Let us not grieve the Spirit of God. Without Him, we have no power at all.

Tony French

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Reconcile

 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:23-26

Since we are sinners, reconciliation will always be needed as we seek to live in community and serve together. Forgiveness is commanded and should be practiced among Christians. (Matthew 18) Jesus gives us a few principles for reconciliation in this text.

Reconciliation should precede worship. We are to reconcile before worship takes place. Evidently, we cannot be right with God in worship until we are right with one another in relationship.

Reconciliation should be personal in nature. We are taught to go to our brother and be reconciled. We are not to send envoys to do the work of reconciliation. It must be done in person.

Also, reconciliation should take place quickly so the problem will not grow and worsen. That thought seems to be what Jesus was leading us toward in V. 25-26 of this passage. Don’t allow the conflict to fester by ignoring it. Confront it quickly so that healing can take place. Confronting conflict is not always easy and simple but it worth the effort and the work.

Tony French

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