Enthrone the King Whose kingdom is the heart

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Enthrone Kingdom Palm Sunday

Sunday 03/24/24

Title: Enthrone the King Whose kingdom is the heart!

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Enthrone the King Whose kingdom is the heart

We’ve been working our way through the letter to the church of Ephesus and today we will be in chapter 4.

I told you last week that while on the surface of it, this chapter does not look like a likely candidate for a “Palm Sunday” teaching, I assure you that in every way that matters it is!

But in keeping with the day let’s begin with a “Palm Sunday” – “Triumphant Entry” into Jerusalem  passage…

Luke 19:28-44, “(28) When He had said these things, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  (29)  As He approached Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of the disciples  (30)  and said, 

“Go into the village ahead of you. As you enter it, you will find a young donkey tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. (31)  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say this: ‘The Lord needs it.'” 

(32)  So those who were sent left and found it just as He had told them.  (33)  As they were untying the young donkey, its owners said to them, 

“Why are you untying the donkey?”  

(34)  “The Lord needs it,” they said.  

(35)  Then they brought it to Jesus, and after throwing their robes on the donkey, they helped Jesus get on it.  

(36)  As He was going along, they were spreading their robes on the road.  

(37)  Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:  

(38)  Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!  

(39)  Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, 

“Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  

(40)  He answered, 

“I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!” 

(41)  As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it,  (42)  saying, 

If you knew this day what would bring peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. (43)  For the days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. (44)  They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.

Usually what comes irresistibly to mind on Palm Sunday are the false expectations that blinded nearly all of Israel to their Messiah and King. 

His “Triumphant Entry” into Jerusalem was literally anything but!

It was little more than a superficial hero’s welcome by the Jewish community into Jerusalem. They were still awestruck by the recent resurrection of Lazarus

In addition to this there were probably more than a few who had kept up with the math of Daniel’s vision and knew THAT VERY DAY was THE day marked out as the compilation of the 62nd week of his prophecy. The Son of ManMessiah had come!

The problem with this is that all of this was coming from a place of selfishness and blind misunderstandings of the scriptures.

They wanted Messiah, but only one Who fit their preconceived ideas and fed their earthly passions and desires. In other words, they were welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem for many of the same reasons people come to church in our day.

Ironically, the disciples were probably among the most unprepared for in that they would never have expected it! 

All the weeks leading up to this moment were fraught with dangers and threats on Jesus’ life. In fact that is one of the reasons He was on the far side of the Jordan when news arrived of Lazarus’ impending death. Never in a thousand years would they have expected a kingly procession back into this city!

So with all of these facts in abundant supply it has always seemed quite natural to examine that day, which we refer to as Palm Sunday through that lens. And it is still an appropriate way of thinking through this week of His passion. 

False expectations are still a primary obstacle between us and Jesus – even though we have come to know Him as Lord and Messiah.

Nevertheless today I thought it wise to look at how can we do better than they did.

Obviously we need to bring expectations of Christ that are in keeping with His Own words and promises – not our desires.

This begins with a sincere love of Him, a deep and abiding reverence for Him, unwavering trust in Him followed by absolute obedience to Him.*

These were the conditions of heart which Jesus displayed to the Father God when He was here on earth as a human. He lived in the kingdom of His Father with a sincere love of Him, a deep and abiding reverence for Him, unwavering trust in Him followed by absolute obedience to Him.*

How do we do the same?

Well, as I have taught you many times, the entire Bible is ultimately a revelation of the Kingdom of God and her King.

Jesus taught almost exclusively on the Kingdom of God as did Paul and the other New Testament writers.

Luke tells us this is true in Luke 16:16

“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” 

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we learn that…

Matthew 4:23, Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people.”

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He tells His disciples…

Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

So the kingdom of God which Jesus taught is the SAME GOSPEL which Paul and the New Testament writers preached. 

It was and is THE GOSPEL or THE GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom!

The Kingdom is mentioned in more than 119 references in the Gospel’s alone. The overwhelming majority of these were in Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God.

All of these parables had elements in them which tell us all we need to know about the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Himself tells us that the Kingdom… 

  • Is very valuable. 
  • It is like a seed which at first is small and seemingly insignificant but in the end is greater than all. 
  • It is for the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness sake. 
  • It is only available to the humble. 
  • It is for those born of the Spirit. 
  • It is only for the sincere and devout. 
  • It is for those who repent. 
  • It is NOT for those who cause others to stumble or who practice lawlessness. 
  • It is NOT for those who trust in wealth. 
  • Those IN the Kingdom should preach the kingdom. 
  • It is NOT for the hesitant or those who still long for the world. 
  • It isn’t something you can find, grasp or obtain intellectually by simple observation. 
  • It is NOT of this world, but is located IN the hearts of those who love, trust and obey the King of the Kingdom.

In other words the kingdom of God is the rule and the reign of God in the hearts of mankind.

Kingdom taken from Jews and given to the believing Gentiles

Something Jesus taught in Jerusalem the very week following His triumphant Entry is found In Matthew 21:33-44. Like most of what Jesus said and did that week this teaching was profoundly unpopular.

He told the story of a land owner who had a vineyard.

The workers of the vineyard represented God’s covenant people Israel.

The land owner sent messengers to check on the fruitfulness of the land. These represented the prophets who Israel said they trusted in, but Jesus told them that these messengers – one-by-one were each killed by the workers.

Eventually He sent His Own Son and they saw that with Him was the kingdom and so they rose up and killed Him hoping to take the kingdom for themselves – this represented the religious leaders of Israel who were seeking to kill Jesus that very week.

Then Jesus asked them, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?” 

These religious leaders said…

(41)  “He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told Him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest.”  

(42)  Jesus said to them, 

“Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes? (43)  Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit. (44)  [Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder!]

So the question is how do we enthrone our King in way which is worthy of Him?

How do we respond better, more noblely than they?

Today’s teaching is entitled, “Enthrone the King Whose Kingdom is the Heart”.

It is a call and an invitation to do today and everyday, what the Jews of the 1st century failed to do when Jesus was revealed to them!

I adapted the words of a song from Michael Card for the title of this message – it is not original with me. 

The Lord had this song playing in my heart several times this week and it had been a very long time since I had heard it. So I took my cue as a clue and realized it was a message to me and to you. A message quite fitting our celebration of Palm Sunday.

Ironically, the song is a Christmas song, but I think you will find that the words are appropriate any time of year!

They are these…

… On a day like any other, in our search to find the truth

We turned so many musty pages, in our hope to find some clue

Then the words leapt from the parchment from Jacob shines a star

That a wordless One Who is THE WORD will be worth a journey far

… We will find Him, we will find Him, we will follow His star

We will search and we will follow, no matter how far

In castles, through kingdoms, we know where to start

To find the king whose kingdom is the heart

… It was a night like any other, so cold and black and dark

And it told us all too clearly of the night inside our hearts

Then the star tore through the darkness and like an angel shone

To guide us to that one true light Who became flesh and bone

… We will find Him, we will find Him, we will follow His star

We will search, and we will follow, no matter how far

In castles, through kingdoms, we know where to start

To find the king whose kingdom is the heart

… He stilled our secret syllables

And hushed our wisest words

In the silence of the stable there

Was wisdom finally heard

… We have found Him, we have found Him, we have seen the true light

What was darkness, what was shadow in His presence is delight

This one born so lowly the heavens declare

Will someday reign without a rival there

But this kingdom is only manifest in the hearts who know, love, respect and obey Him.

Kingdom is within yo

Luke 17:20-27,“(20) Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was coming, He answered, “The Kingdom of God does not so come that you can stealthily watch for it.  (21)  Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ –for the Kingdom of God is within you.”

What does that look like? Well I’ve already described the conditions of heart one has if they are in the Kingdom of God. Trust, love, reverence, obedience, worship – these are all things done in and from a heart surrendered to Him.

So turn with me to Ephesians 4 and we will see what the Holy Spirit teaches us this morning about living the kingdom in a way which honors and enthrones our King!

Last week we ended in Ephesians 3 where Paul was encouraging them to not lose heart at his tribulations and persecutions for them.

After all the devil knows the value of the kingdom and fights against its formation in any human heart.

Paul told the early church in Acts 14:22,  

We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 

So far from forsaking Christ due to persecution or growing faint-hearted at the threats of the enemy against God’s kingdom Paul says…

“(14)  FOR THIS REASON I kneel before the Father,  (15)  from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.  

(16)  I pray that according to the wealth of His glory He will grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner person,  (17)  that Christ will dwell in your hearts THROUGH FAITH, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,  (18)  you will be able to comprehend WITH ALL THE SAINTS what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  (19)  and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God.  

(20)  Now to Him Who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think,  (21)  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 4:1-32, 

“(1) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,  (2)  with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,  (3)  endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

(4)  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;  

(5)  one Lord, 

one faith, 

one baptism;  

(6)  one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  

(7)  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  

(8)  Therefore He says: “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”  

(9)  (Now this, “HE ASCENDED”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  (10)  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)  

(11)  And He Himself gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors-teachers,  (12)  for: 

  • the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, 
  • for the edifying of the body of Christ,  (13)  
  • till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
  • to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  (14)

[with the intention…] “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”

That by the way was one of the reasons the Jews of Jesus’ day did not recognize Him or receive Him as their Messiah King. Their false expectations of Him were based upon misteaching, misunderstanding and reading OVER those portions of scripture which to them did not make sense or line up with their expectations of Him.

“(15)  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (16)  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.  

(17)  This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  (18)  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;  

(19)  who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  

(20)  BUT YOU have not so learned Christ,  (21)  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  

(22)  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  

(23)  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  

(24)  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  

(25)  Therefore, putting away lying, “LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR,” for we are members of one another.  

(26)  “BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,  (27)  nor give place to the devil.  

(28)  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  

(29)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  (30)  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  

(31)  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  (32)  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Blessings!

Tri

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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