Archive for the ‘Kingdom’ Category

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Todays blog is from Heather Lidwell. For more from Heather check out gracepluszero.com

The man stood in front of the children and pulled out a long, gleaming, golden chain. Attached to the end of it was a thick, round pocketwatch engraved with a black railroad engine. He grinned big as the children looked it. One boy, in particular, reached out to grab it. The grubby, 5-year-old fingers ran almost reverently across its surface as the man asked, “Do you all know what this is?”

The boy nodded enthusiastically, and one cried out, “It’s a pocketwatch!”

“Yes, it is!” he affirmed. He turned the pocketwatch over and said, “Right here, it reads the words, ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ Guess whose watch this is? It’s mine!”

The kids grinned, and a few chuckles popped up like the beginning of popcorn from the crowd that had gathered on Sunday. Each week, right after the choir sang, the kids all gathered around while someone from the congregation, usually someone in children’s ministry, told the children a story or taught them a lesson in front of everyone. Every Sunday, without fail, one of those kids would say something off-the-wall, touching in its innocence, or mesmerize all the folks with wisdom beyond their years. It had become a favorite of everyone, the short 15 minutes it took to show us all how the kids were growing up in the Lord.

“I want to tell you a story about this watch. When I first got it, it was the best gift ever. I wore it every day. I wore it to work. I wore it to church. I wore it to special events. Everywhere I went, the watch went. Then, I started getting worried something might happen to it, or that it wouldn’t look as nice if I took it everywhere. I didn’t want to wear it out, so I decide I would just take it out and wear it on Sundays and on special occasions. So I put it up on the shelf and only wore it to church on Sunday morning and to family reunions, things like that.”

The kids nodded. They didn’t really know where he was going with this, but I did. I felt the pit of my stomach sink, because I knew this story all too well. I knew what conclusion he was going to draw, how wonderful he would think it was going to be, and what an impact it would make on the children. My throat tightened, and I looked down as he continued.

“Have you ever had a toy you really loved, and then just kind of stopped playing with it as new toys came along? Well, that’s kind of what happened to this watch. It got too hard to remember to take it out on Sundays and special events, so I decided only really to take it out for Christmas and Easter. I decided it would keep looking really well if I only took it out those few times a year.  It would keeping it look brand new, even years later.”

He then raised it up, gave it a shake, and held it up to his ear and shrugged, “But guess what?” He asked.

The kids all asked. “What?”

“Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this watch?”

He held it out for them all to see, and one by one, they listened for a sound that never clicked. A moving hand that never moved. A spinning wheel that never spun.

“It don’t work!” one girl said and shook her head.

“No, it sure doesn’t,” he said gravely. “It was a prized possession, but because I neglected it… that means, I didn’t take it out when I was supposed to, I didn’t check on it every day, didn’t polish it, didn’t watch after it, didn’t care for it… well, it stopped working on me. I could hardly even find it to bring it to show you all.”

And, of course, that’s when he said what I’m sure those children will remember forever.

That’s how Jesus is.”

One little boy turned his head. A tear welled up in my eye and slid down my cheek as I endured again in silent frustration and anger as my Savior and King was described in the most hopeless, worst way possible to eager ears and young hearts for whom He is fighting, whom He has spilled His blood, who He longs to save and love, rule and reign with, protect and dwell within.

The man nodded sadly, “That’s just how Jesus is. You accept Him into your hearts, but then you just go about your life, and you forget. You don’t read your Bible, you forget to come to church. You don’t pray like you should to Him. Then, one day, when you really want Him, when you really need Him, you won’t hear Him. He’ll be silent, because it won’t work for you anymore. Just like this watch.”

He put it in his pocket and then pointed a finger, admonishing them.

“You may not even be able to find Him. You’ll look everywhere, but He won’t be where you left Him. Don’t let that happen to you.”

And then it was quiet, as many of the “righteous” nodded their sanctimonious heads in agreement.

Those same fears were instilled deeply into me when I grew up believing in this kind of “relationship” with God. It took so long, with so many years of humbling, of learning about His unfailing love and mercy, of His abiding grace, to learn the truth about my Savior. Still, it is all I can do sometimes to sit back and listen while this kind of unbelief and fear is perpetuated in our children. In grown-up children too, sitting in the pews still, after all these years, searching for their pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when young Bobby is hooked on crack one day, and, sitting on the toilet, with a needle shaking in his hand, getting ready to put it in his vein, he cries out in desperation, “Oh, Jesus, please help me!” as he searches for his pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when Gayle sobs when she sees the little double line appear, confirming her worst fears that she’s pregnant. She puts her hand on her still-smooth, young belly, and wonders if, just fingerbreadths above the little baby growing in her uterus, if her pocketwatch is still there in her heart, when she accepted Him so long ago?

I wonder what will happen when Darren lays wide-eyed, in bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to reconcile whether or not a pocketwatch even exists, this idea competing with all the worldviews he’s learning in college. Who to trust in. What to believe. I wonder if he will even go looking for something that must be maintained every day to be real.

The day will come all too soon when there will no longer be men in suits with broken pocketwatches, ladies in flowery dresses giving admonitions, and concerned members of the local church to turn to with their theology. The day will come when each of these children will need to listen for the voice of the Lord. The ticking of the watch. The hand of the King.

And I wonder how the King feels about being described in such terms, having given His life’s blood to pay the price so that they might hear Him in their darkest hour. I can only imagine. If someone ever told my sons or daughters that “Mommy loves you now, but if you forget to call her for awhile, or if you forget to do nice things for her, or if you get wrapped up in your life, and you don’t come to her birthday parties, forget it, kiddo. No more mom for you. She just won’t pick up that phone when you call if you really need her,” I would be filled with so much rage and hurt that I’m not sure I’d be able to respond in a godly way.

Because of this root of fear, I had at one time forgotten about important scriptures such as these, when it was my moment to seek. “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me,” He says again, “If you seek me, you will find me.” “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him,” “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who seek God.” “You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” “Blessed are they who … seek him with all their heart.” “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “Seek and you will find.” “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” “He rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Thankfully, when I cried out to Him, when I looked for my pocketwatch, I heard it ticking loud and clear. Full of life. Full of safety, assurance, love, reception, and reconciliation that would have been denied me, had I believed the “pocketwatch dogma.” I thank my Savior, who is Christ Jesus, who is able to save children even such as myself from the legalistic lies that are taught to them that might keep them in bondage. Whatever you might ascribe to my King, please do not forget that He is real and will demonstrate in the power of the Holy Spirit His reality, majesty, and Lordship over what is His. Be sure your theology and what you teach others is in agreement with that. It is an awful thing to be on the wrong side in the matter of reconciliation of Jesus and who the Father has given to Him to hold in His hand. This is His kingdom. The pocketwatch does not stop.

Three months ago I began a process of healing. I found myself with a torn ACL and meniscus. Although this could have been a terrible time, it has been one of the most interesting, exciting and illuminating in my life.

I know sitting around with your leg in a brace, not being able to do what you have been used to in the past doesn’t sound like much fun, but let me explain.

Most of my days have been spent just unraveling truth from the Word of God and spending time in His presence. The greatest thing He has shown me is TRUST. I am learning to trust more and more in the finished work of the Cross than ever before. It really all hinged on His righteousness.

I feel I should explain that while I have been recovering I have been unable to perform my regular duties at work.  Naturally, this has caused a significant loss of income. I say this not for any sympathy but to show you the goodness of my Father and His promises.

Before my surgery, the doctors told me that I would most likely be completely unable to attend work throughout most of my recovery period, but by the Grace of God I was given favor and a light duty desk job to help with the bills.  I knew in my heart that everything would work out just fine but I also knew that I would have to Trust Him like never before for finances just to get by.

I truly believe in tithing 10% of my income to my local church, and it is the first thing I do when I receive each paycheck, so it really began to bother me when the tithe money just wasn’t there.  This is not to say that I was not trusting God with my finances, so all you pastors and preachers please relax before you become short of breath or choke on your coffee.  I simply said that the money just wasn’t there.

I do get it. Tithe 10%, the first fruits. So how can I say it wasn’t there? Well something was going to have to be late or unpaid. I have discovered He is God the Father not the Godfather. So as I was on my way home and began talking to my Daddy, letting Him know that it was really bothering me that I felt like it wasn’t there to give Him the first 10%. He brought up my biggest lesson again. TRUST. He said “Can you trust me with your finances even if you don’t tithe? My response was just one of peace, of course I could. He promised if I would seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness all these things would be added to me. Mat. 6:25-34

The next morning I received a phone call letting me know I had an extra $500 waiting on me. Not because of anything I had done or not done, but just because He is good.

My question to you today, can you trust Him? Even when you’ve done right, even when you’ve done wrong, or even when you’ve done nothing at all? Can you trust that His grace is sufficient even though you don’t deserve it?

For a while now I have been seeking.

Seeking what?

Honestly I didn’t know, but I’ve worked really hard doing it.

What a difference the Gospel of Grace makes.  You see, I knew I was saved, and I had faith that Jesus died for me, right? I knew His blood washed away all of my sins.

What I didn’t know was how to be righteous, holy, sanctified, justified, and all that other stuff Christians tell me I have to do to be a “good Christian.”  I have been told do this and do that and “You’ll get there!”  Well, all that got me was tired and frustrated.  Joy, peace, and rest – I had – but only sometimes when I felt like I had been good enough.

Then, I began to read the Word of God.

It’s so simple.  How did I miss it all this time?

Let’s start here in Matt. 6:33:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

First you can’t have a Kingdom without a King.  Our King is Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  So we found out that the Kingdom is Jesus.  Now we have to seek His righteousness.  What part of IT IS FINISHED didn’t I get?

2 Cor 5:21:  “For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Rom 5:1:  “Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Did you see that Jesus took all my sin so I could become the righteousness of God in Him?  Have faith.

How about the part in Romans that talks about “having been declared righteous by faith through Jesus.” Having been – that’s past tense.  Nothing else to do to become righteous.

If you’re seeking righteousness through your own works, or your own behavior, you’ve missed it.  Maybe if I help the old lady next door, if I go visit someone that’s sick, or if I never miss a church service…  then maybe I’ll be righteous.  Granted, these are all good things, but that’s not His righteousness, that’s yours (i.e. self-righteousness).

So here it is:

Jesus’ part:  Live a sinless, perfect life.  Get beaten, humiliated, bloodied, spit on, crucified, then take all your sin and die.  Defeat sin, death, and hell, and be declared the King of Kings by God’s standard.

Your part:  Believe in your King and be declared righteous because you are now in His kingdom.

Grace is a gift that Jesus paid a high price for.  Enjoy.  Relax.

IT IS FINISHED!