I have some thoughts I want to share with us this morning that I trust will bring us into greater love for God and each other. I want to start with a Scripture that can help us to center on the King we love and serve. In Hebrews 12:28-29 the writer tells us, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” There are a lot of things being shaken right now in the world and in the church, but the Kingdom of God is not one of them. God’s Kingdom is enduring, unchangeable, immovable. However, many people are shaken over disasters that are confronting them; fires, hurricanes, earthquakes etc. We look at the news, which mostly tells us “bad reports”, which is unbiblical. We are confronted with wars and rumors of wars and politics, all of which clamor for our undivided attention. Believers and unbelievers are prophesying about why these things are happening. In the midst of all of this what kind of people are we to be. There are four kinds of people that I want to identify this morning; Kingdom people, thankful people, worship people, obedient people etc.
The Gospel Matthew is a “Kingdom Gospel”. From the beginning of Matthew Jesus preached and taught on the Kingdom of Heaven; Matt 4:17; Matt 5 – 7; Matt 10:7; the Parables of Matt 13, 18, 20, 21,22, 25; Matt 16:19; Matt 19:14; Matt 24 – “what will be the signs of your coming and the end of the age”; Matt 26:29; and Matt 28:18. There are many things transpiring in our country and the world around us which can lead to question what is going on. There are prophets prophesying – remember to make sure that no one deceives you… There is fear and insecurity… There is persecution… Love growing cold… Israel in the news… “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’” (Mt 24:29). There is a lot of shaking going “in the last days” in which we live.
In the midst of all this shaking there is a counter culture aspect that distinguishes Kingdom People. In other words, we are to be different than the world around us. We stay true to God’s Word and make sure there is no deception, we understand that persecution and suffering are part of being followers of Jesus. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Mt 24:42). In other words, pray and then pray some more.
How can we be counter cultural in the midst of so much shaking and fear? Do not fear is repeated over and over in the owners Manuel. Therefore, we need to take notice. Whenever God says, “Do not fear” he is giving us the understanding that his grace, empowering and ability are available to carry us through. We are to be strong and courageous. We are to be loving and kind. We are to be pure and holy. We are to be anxious about nothing but praying for everyone.
One of the best solutions for all this terrible shaking is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving takes our minds off the problem onto the solution. So many people today are trapped in the troubles that they have no time to be thankful to God for all that he has done for us. Psalm 107 is a wonderful Psalm about troubles and thanksgiving. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men… (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31).
· Psalm 107:4-9 – wandering, hungry and thirsty followed by thanks equals provision.
· Psalm 107:10-16 – darkness, prison, rebellion followed by thanks equals freedom.
· Psalm 107:17-22 – foolish, sinful and dying followed by thanks equals sacrifice and joy.
· Psalm 107:23-32 – hard work with challenges followed by thanks equals praise.
The world around us needs to see a counter cultural display of gratitude and thanksgiving empowered by God not followers of Jesus who engage in the spirits of this world. Thanksgiving opens the door to God’s grace and kindness being demonstrated through our lives.
We all understand the importance of being worshipful towards God, showing him our desire to honour him and have no others gods before him. The word used here for worship carries with it another aspect of our worship towards God – service. In others words, Worship People in the midst of a world that is being shaken are servants to God but especially towards those struggling in their calamities. Worship is more than the songs we sing on Sunday; it is about being selfless and caring for others. Oftentimes when trials and tribulations assault people they tend to lose their footing, their sure foundation becomes a little shaky, and those things they trust in become questionable. It is in those times that true Worship People can offer service; food, clothing, safety, and the reason of their love and kindness.
Lastly, I want to focus on what is means to worship acceptably with reverence and awe before our consuming fire. The Fear of God is clearly a biblical theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is a knowing of who God is in his love and holiness, his power and majesty, righteousness and justice (and so much more) and then living appropriately and obediently before him and our fellowman. Obedience is one of the greatest weapons we can use in our resistance before whatever challenges, circumstances or especially the attacks of the enemy.
How do we live victoriously in challenging times? We need to remember that our citizenship as be believers in Jesus is in an unshakeable Kingdom. We are Kingdom People that must ask these questions - What am I doing? What am I thinking? What am I saying? I hope that our actions, thoughts and words accurately represent Kingdom truth. Thanksgiving needs to be an intentional aspect of our walk with Jesus. We must worship God appropriately while serving those in trouble. All of this is followed up by followers of Jesus who live righteous and obedient lives before God and our neighbour.