The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation .” - Psalm 24:1- 5 KJV

 

There are certain rules you will have to follow if you come to my house. If you smoke, you will have to put it out before you come in, because the rule is no smoking in our house. If you swear, you’ll have to use some mouthwash before you come into my house, because in my house we don’t allow profanity.

 

If someone were to come into my house and say, “I hate this furniture. The colors on the walls are all wrong. I think they’re horrible,” well, so what? That person’s opinion is irrelevant, because last time I checked he or she didn’t pay for the furniture or the paint on the walls.

 

It’s ok for someone to have an opinion about my house, but that opinion doesn’t carry much weight with either me for one simple reason: It’s my house, not theirs!

 

So when you come to my house, you have two choices. You can either stay and adjust to my furniture and my color scheme, or you can get out.

 

God says, “This world is My house, operating by My rules.” That means unless you and I want to go out and create our own universe, we must adjust to the rules of God’s house or suffer the consequences of our rebellion. To acknowledge God’s sovereignty is to acknowledge His jurisdiction over every sphere of life, and to acknowledge His jurisdiction is to acknowledge the validity of His legislation in and over every area of life.

 

But like stubborn teenagers, we say to God, “Not only am I going to stay in Your house, God, I’m going to bring in my own rules. I’m going to complain about the furniture in Your house, but I’m still going to come to church and tell You to feed me, clothe me, and bless me. I want Your goodness in Your house, but excuse me if I give you a hard time…

 

Wal Mart is famous for its discount prices. People come there and stand in long lines because they can purchase items for less than the full price.

 

That’s what a lot of people do on Sunday. They come to church looking for a “discount God.” They want God on sale. They come saying, “God, I want You and your kingdom, but I want it at a discount. Give me a sale price on Your kingdom. I want a little of this and a little of that but not the whole package. So give me 30 percent of the ticketed price.”

 

People don’t want a God who is sovereign, a God who says, “This is the package. When you get Me, you get My kingdom. And when you get My kingdom, you get My rules.” There are no discounts in God’s kingdom. He is sovereign. He rules over all.

 

Verses 1-2 of Psalm 24 make it clear that everything on planet Earth belongs to God. Now, if everything belongs to God, how much belongs to us? Nothing . We may use the things of earth, but we don’t own them.

 

Living in God’s kingdom brings blessing, but you don’t get the blessings of the King if you’re not willing to live for His kingdom. You don’t get to enjoy the blessings of the King if the King cannot have you. You don’t get the King who owns everything if you keep demanding a spiritual discount.

 

To show up at church on Sunday when God doesn’t own your Monday through Saturday is a waste of time. It is a false dualism to say, “Lord, You can have Sunday, but don’t bother me on Monday, because I have to go back to the real world.”

 

Living for his kingdom: No. #1 - The demands of discipleship

1. Listen, if you are going to be a part of the kingdom…you have to meet the demands.

 

The story is told of a farmer who put an advertisement in the classified section of the newspaper. It read, “Farmer with 160 irrigated acres wants to marry a beautiful woman with a tractor. When replying, please show a picture of the tractor.” This farmer didn’t want a wife to love, just one to use.

 

That describes the relationship a lot of Christians have with Christ. We don’t really want to deal with the Savior. We just want Him to bring the goodies along. Some Christians only love Christ because of what He can supply.

 

In Luke 14 , Jesus made a difficult statement. He turned to the large crowd that was following Him and said, “ If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple .” (v. 26 ).

 

Now when He talked about hating people, He was not talking about your affections. He was talking about your decisions.

 

#1.) Jesus must be so important to you that He transcends your most intimate relationships. He wants to be more important to you even than you are to yourself. You must hate your own life. The idea is that when you put your love for Jesus next to your love for anyone else, there should be such a big difference that the other love looks like hate. Jesus wants to know that when you have to choose between Him and everyone else, everyone else loses. This is a serious demand.

 

#2) Jesus also wants to be more important to you than your own comforts. Look at Luke 14:27 . “ Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple .” You must carry your own cross, not Jesus’ cross.

 

We have some messed-up ideas about what it means to carry a cross. A physical problem, bad in-laws, or noisy neighbors - none of those things is a cross. So what does it mean to carry your cross?

 

The Romans invented crucifixion. When the Romans wanted to put a condemned criminal on public display to humiliate him, they paraded him down the street carrying the crossbeam of his cross. Carrying your cross to the place of execution was a public display that you were guilty of the crime you were condemned for.

 

Listen, to carry your cross means to bear the reproach of Jesus Christ. It is to be so identified with Him that when they accuse you of being a Christian, you say, “I am guilty.” When someone accuses you of being His disciple, you say, “You got me.”

 

To carry your own cross is to admit publicly that you are guilty of the crime of being committed to Christ, guilty of placing Him first. Guilty!

Carrying your cross is when a girl tells her boyfriend, “ I can’t sleep with you because I am a Christian .” It’s when a businessman says, “I can’t do that unethical thing, because I am Christ’s disciple. I am living by a different agenda.” Carrying your cross is dying to yourself and what you want and putting Jesus first .

 

It’s not comfortable to carry a cross…but Jesus must be more important than your comfort.

 

#3) He also must be more important than your possessions. “ Not one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions ,” Jesus said ( Luke 14:33 ).

 

That always upsets people. “You mean I have to give up my car, my house, my money!?” Yes.

 

Did you expect me to say no? I say yes, we must give up these things if they become possessions. The problem is not in having something. The problem is in possessing it. To possess it means that I hold on to it so tightly even God can’t pry it loose from me.

Some people would gladly give up certain family members. They might even say, “I’ll go along with the idea of carrying my cross. But don’t be touching my stuff!”

 

A boy once got his hand caught in a vase. His parents kept trying to get it out, but they couldn’t pull his hand out of the vase. They told him, “Son, we’re going to have to break this vase to get your hand out.”

 

The boy replied, “Mom, would it help if I let go of the penny I’m holding on to?”

 

You cannot possess your possessions and expect to possess Christ too.

 

No. #2 - Grow up! “… We have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that uses milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe …” - Hebrews 5:11-13 KJV

 

If you have ever had a baby in your home, there are some things you have readily observed. As much as you love them, babies want their own way. They want what they want, when they want it! Also, you will note that babies seem basically lazy. That is, they lie around a lot.

 

They do not (and cannot) wash any of the dishes, make any of the beds, or pick up any of the dirty clothes. The fact is they have simply not grown enough to make “mature” decisions and perform certain duties. Another obvious characteristic of a baby is that he or she is taken up with personalities. As far as we know, a baby cannot look beyond a personality to have a spirit of discernment. The biggest mass murderer in America could come into their room and utter a few ga-ga’s and goo-goo’s and have a baby smiling. One of the most evident characteristics of a baby is that he can play while big things are happening. Some families can be going through the heartache of divorce or death, while all the time the baby is down on the floor playing with a ball. Finally, babies get easily upset. If you do not believe it, just do not give a baby a bottle at the time he thinks he needs it and see his reaction!

 

All of the above are signs of babes in Christ. They may be seventy years old, but if they have never matured in their faith, their feelings are the same spiritually as those babies are physically. Babies in the church always want their own way. They have no spirit of submission. They are not interested in what other church members think. Babies in the church are basically lazy. You will not find them out on outreach night or involved in other ministries.

 

They are unconcerned about others. They are taken up with personalities. They have no spirit of discernment between the spirit of good and the spirit of wrong. One of the most tragic facts about babies in the church is that, like physical babies, they play when big things are happening. Tremendous transformations take place in people’s lives, and people are saved and pass from darkness into light, but it really makes no difference to a spiritual baby since his/her greatest concern is getting to the cafeteria line and making sure the service does not go past noon. Spiritual babies also become upset easily [like some who may be listening to this particular sermon right now….]

 

We know what children need. All they need is to grow up! And it is impossible to brow up as a Christian apart from the Word of God…!

No. #3 - Set Your Mind on christ “ If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth .” - Colossians 3:1-2

 

Where you set your mind is so important because what you set your mind on will penetrate and dominate your thinking. When you watch television, it is penetrating your thinking even when you don’t think it is.

 

If Christ is not penetrating and dominating your thinking, then His power will not be available to you.

 

Listen, setting your mind on Christ requires dedicated, sustained effort and discipline. You say, “Well, I go to church every Sunday. Isn’t that good enough?

 

Let me answer this way. Suppose you were to go to a cafeteria for dinner tonight. You come to the meat section and order a steak and mounds of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. Then you get a helping of macaroni and cheese with extra cheese. And you make sure to get plenty of bread and real butter.

 

Next are the desserts. You get several pieces of pie…

You starting to get the picture? You’re carrying this high-calorie, high-fat dinner on your tray. Then, when you come to the drinks, you order a Diet Coke!

 

That Diet Coke may help to ease your conscience about eating all that fattening food, but that’s about all it will do.

 

Some folks use church the same way. They want “diet worship” on Sunday after getting fat on the world all week. They come to church, saying, “Give me something to offset all this junk I have been eating all week long.”

 

Never mind that they have been thinking junk, hanging out with junk, walking with junk, talking junk, and looking at junk all week. They want to get a diet drink on Sunday, hoping it will cancel out all the junk.

 

Well, I have bad news for any Christian who is a “junk-food junkie”: “Diet church” on Sunday won’t solve your problem. You must set your mind on the King and His things.

 

When Jesus Christ dominates your mind, your hands don’t have to do what they used to do. Your feet don’t have to go where they used to go. Your mouth doesn’t have to say what it used to say.

 

Your mind doesn’t have room for Christ and the world. You are either going to think about Christ or about the world.

 

No. #4 - Moral purity Read 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 KJV

Listen, if you need help from the Lord, you won’t get help if you’re compromising Him in your moral life. Moral purity is high on God’s Kingdom demands for the body of Christ…especially for single people ….

 

Sex is so crucial because it is so intimately related to who we are. And it’s the area in which many single believers find their biggest struggle.

 

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 , Paul discussed sex outside marriage. The bottom line of his argument was that sex outside of the marriage covenant is sin and that bedrock truth never changes in any culture or any setting.

 

Paul was arguing that sexual purity outside of marriage is demanded because of God the Father, it’s expected because of God the Son, and it’s possible because of God the Spirit. Some Christian singles falter in this area because they lose sight of the theology and limit themselves to the anthropology involved.

 

In other words, whenever you hear someone saying, “But I’m only human,” that’s an anthropological argument. You are a saved human, and you have God’s power for purity resident within you.

 

Some people say sex is like food. When you’re hungry, you eat. No big deal. But Paul answered that in 1 Corinthians 6:13 . The stomach may be for food, he said, “ yet the body is not for immorality .”

 

Young ladies, if your date tells you he washed his car and bought a new suit for this date and expects something more than a good night at the door, tell him, “You washed your car? OK, I will help put the dirt back on your car. And you bought a new suit? I’ll go with you while you take it back.” You are far too valuable to be used by undisciplined men for their gratification.

 

God created your body to be used for His glory, not simply to satisfy either your own or someone else’s passion unless it is within the proper functioning of marriage.

 

See, God does not condemn sex outside of marriage because sex is bad. He condemns sex outside of marriage because it’s so good when used properly within marriage.

 

You say, “Wait a minute, preacher. Let’s get practical. I have the same passions as married people. Where do you expect me to get the ability to control my normal passions?” From God the Father. Christian singles have the same power available to them that God used when He raised Christ from the dead.

 

Sex outside of marriage is so destructive because it is far more than a physical act between two people. There is a spiritual union that takes place when two people engage in sexual intercourse. It is like a marriage in terms of the intimacy, but it is deadly because there is no marital commitment to cement the union.

 

So if sex is simply an act of temporary gratification, when the two people pull way from each other, a part of their spirit tears away and remains with the other person.

 

And for the Christian, there’s more. Because we are joined to Christ, whatever we do sexually, we bring Jesus in on it.

 

Sex outside of marriage for a believer is such a damaging sin because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (v. 19 ). And Paul had warned earlier, “ if any many destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are …” - 1 Corinthians 3:17 .

 

A person who engages in sex outside of marriage is like a man who robs a bank. He gets what he wants in a hurry, but when it catches up with him he has to pay for it a long time.

 

But the morally pure single is a depositor in the bank. She keeps saving and gaining interest so that when it comes time to make a withdrawal, she can enjoy her life’s savings.

 

No. #5 - obey your leaders

In Hebrews 13:17 , the writer also said to the church, “ Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for them ."

 

In the kingdom of God, there must be a chain of command that is marked by obedience.

 

Why should you place yourself under the authority of your leaders? Because of God’s principle - God’s blessing flow to the individual members of the body through the leaders who shepherd the flock.

In 1 Peter 5:3 a leader is not to be heavy-handed and dictatorial. A shepherd needs to be gentle with the flock, but the Bible doesn’t allow for disrespect of leadership. As long as what leaders are asking people to do is in line with the Word of God, the people owe them obedience.

 

God doesn’t want reluctant, foot-dragging obedience….

 

Why is it important for the members to obey their leaders? Because the leaders will have to give account of their leadership. They have a lot to be responsible for, and when their people are disobedient and give them a hard time, it makes their ministry a burden instead of joy. And nobody profits from that kind of situation.

 

Members will give account to God too for the way they obeyed or failed to obey the Word given through their leaders. The more disobedient believers are, the less God will honor and bless them.

One reason believers may not be seeing blessings in their lives is a rebellious attitude. Disobedience is unprofitable for the people as well as for leaders. It also kills the joy of ministry on everybody’s part.

 

It would be easier being a traveling evangelist, because then you don’t have to live with the congregation members’ problems, needs and rebellion.

 

Sometimes being a shepherd brings grief and pain. If you don’t do something t he way a certain person thinks you should, that person can start a movement to discredit you…!

 

No. #6 - Serve the body of christ

Leaders are given by God to equip His people for service. There is no such thing as a Christian who does not serve the kingdom by ministering to the church. You can’t build a home without all the members doing their part, and you can’t build a church without all the members doing their part. “ We are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love .” - Ephesians 4:15-16 KJV

 

Every member of the body has a part to play in making the body function. The job of leaders is not to do the ministry while the people watch. That’s why it is a sin for a person to benefit from the ministry of the church and yet not contribute anything.

 

The body of Christ already has too many people who come to church and say, “Preach to me. Sing to me. Serve me. If I’m sick, visit me. If I’m hurting, comfort me. If I need encouragement, encourage me. But don’t expect me to give any of my time or ability to this work.”

Such a member is a church leech, sucking the lifeblood of the church’s ministry without making any meaningful contribution. That’s a sin and an insult to the Father who has invited us into His family. We are not in His family because we deserve to be here. We are here by grace ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ).

 

God did not call 20 percent of the church to serve the other 80 percent. He called 100 percent of us to serve each other.

 

No. #7 - Impact the world [the salt of the earth]

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus told us, “ You are the salt of the earth .”

By declaring His people the salt of the earth, Jesus was making a clear statement about the decaying condition of this world and the role of Christians in delaying the decay. Of course, salt has been used as a preservative for thousands of years. Rubbing it into a piece of meat helps to preserve the meat from decay, because salt is an antibacterial agent.

 

Jesus put His church on earth to act as a preserving influence on a rotting world, to slow down the decay of sin. Evil ought to slow down and take notice when it gets in the vicinity of the church, because we are being salt.

 

But salt can’t do its job when it is sitting in the shaker. The church gathered in the house of God is salt in the shaker. When the doors open and we go out into the world, that’s when the shaker should get turned upside down to spread the salt where it is needed. It’s easy to be salt in the shaker, because we’re all together and doing the same thing. But the decay is out there in the streets, and that’s where we need to infiltrate the evil and spread the preserving salt of God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

 

If our neighborhoods are going to be better, and if our families are going to be stronger, then the salt must be at work. Every time God uses His people to bring a sinner to Christ, set a young person on the right course, rebuild a disintegrating family, or take a public stand for righteousness on an important issue, the salt is doing its job. Every local church needs to ask itself whether its community is better, stronger, and spiritually healthier because that church is located there

 

We live in a world that has lost its morals and its standards. Our public schools are falling apart. Criminals are dominating our neighborhoods, and we’re just having church rather than being the church. That’s not good enough.

 

We need to break the huddle and go out and let the world know that Jesus is Lord. We have too many “secret-agent” Christians. Too many spiritual CIA representatives. Too many covert operatives for the kingdom. Everybody else is coming out. We might as well come out too.

 

It’s time for the people on your job to know where you stand. If you stand with Christ, stand up and be counted. People in your neighborhood ought to know where you stand. They ought to know that there is a standard, and God is that standard.

 

Our world needs truth. It needs the truth of God from people who know it. When you fear God, it rolls over to your home. And then it rolls over from there into your church.

 

And then we will see the betterment of the community. We will see the impact of Christ around the world. We will see the difference the cross can make…

 

Rev. Arlee Turner Jr.

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