Friday, February 17, 2012

Creating Kingdom Culture

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 NIV1984
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed 
to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Definition of AMBASSADOR from Mirriam Webster's on line dictionary.

: an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment
a : an authorized representative or messenger b : an unofficial representative ambassadors of goodwill

Culture: As defined by Wikapedia:
  • The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group
Culture is:  the system of beliefs, disciplines, practices, and how we agree to live together in relationship with one another that characterizes a particular group of people. You can look back in history and see that there were qualities that defined Greek Culture, Roman Culture, Jewish Culture or even our American Culture. The culture that I want to adress today is the culture of the Kingdom of God.  Messiah had long been prophesied and expected to come by the people of Israel. However it is foreign scholars who see the star and know the meaning of it and come from afar to worship the new born king. His birth is attended by shepherds, the rough low life of that time. He is welcomed not even into a inn but is born into a smelly cave barn.  Jesus seems to be a surprise to the very people who he is sent to come to. He finds more faith in a Roman centurion in Luke 7:1-9 than he has found in all of Irsael. He found great faith in a Greek woman from Syrian Phoenicia. He finds faith and belief in the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-26 and in lepers, tax collectors, and out casts. He does not find it in the religious leaders and people of the day. The people who should have known and should have been ready for him to come are against him. At some point he shifts how he is doing things and rather than ushering in his kingdom to a waiting people. He changes and begins to speak in parables. In Matthew 21:43 he says “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

 In Matthew 16 we get to see who it will be given to.
Peter’s Confession of Christ
 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ,  the Son of the living God.”  17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,  and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. 

Simon Peter gets it - He understands that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. Because he understands Jesus goes on to say that He is going to build his church upon those who possess this understanding. The keys to the kingdom are passed on from those who should have received Jesus to those who would produce fruit. 

You and I as believers have the task of being kingdom ambassadors according to our verse today. We are tasked with bringing message of reconciliation to people who are still held captive to the kingdom of this fallen world. Matthew 5 Jesus tells us we are to be salt and light.
Salt and Light
    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.    14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

We are to be His light in the darkness of this world helping people see there is a better way. We are to be a preserving agent, we bring flavor, we are to make people thirsty. We should be modeling Kingdom culture in every aspect of our daily lives. Jesus is not supposed to be a Sunday duty, kept in a box. His life, nature and principles should over flow in to every part of our life. We cannot effectively model or be an ambassador for his kingdom if we don't take the time to know Him and endeavor to become more and more like him. 

He wants to set you free from the stuff that continues to hold you captive. He wants you to spend time to know him, to become like him. The he sends you out just like he did his disciples giving them authority to set people free. 1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.  Before you go thinking those guys were some how special and that this does not apply to you I want to remind you of John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  We need to quit being spiritual couch potatoes who sit in church each week soaking up the truths of God having our little worship parties and then doing little or nothing with them outside the four walls of our church. It is time to grow up and get out of spiritual diapers. It is time to become doers of the word not just hearers. It is time to take a good look at the things Jesus was spending his time doing and for the light bulb to go on to the realization that we should be doing what he was doing. Duhhhh he was setting people free, he was reconciling them to the Father, he was modeling kingdom culture. He was training, discipling and equipping them to to go out and do what he was doing. He is calling you and I to more than a life of being entertained by a big flashy show on Sunday and ministering to fat sheep. He is calling us to make a difference in the world that we live in. Start in your home. How can you help your own family to be free and reconciled to God? How can you model kindgom principles in your work place or school?  How can you move from being entertained each Sunday to actually doing something to make a difference.

WAKE UP!!!!! You've been lulled to sleep by the distractions of this fallen world. The enemy has no problem with people who give their lives to Jesus and then do nothing with them. He is quite happy to let you sleep.  Romans 13:12 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

I leave you with Ephesians 5 to ponder.
 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
   “Wake up, O sleeper,
   rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 1920 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Dear Lord,
I pray that your church would wake up. That we would be about the things that you were doing. Help us to be aware of the multitudes of people in the valley of decision. Help us to get an attitude of leaving no one behind. Help us see the lost, the broken, those held captive and to rise up with faith in you to bring them out of darkness and into your glorious light. Help us each in our own way to take a step of faith today to make a difference. 

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