The Kingdom Focused Church – Embracing

Philippians 3:7-20

– The – Kingdom – Focused – Church.  Think about those 4 words for a second.  Each word has significant meaning.

– The – An article denoting specific, distinctive nature.  It identifies something which is special, unique, and even “one of a kind.”

– Kingdom – A kingdom is that which is ruled by a King.  It is His dominion, His sovereignty, and His reign.

– Focused – To be focused is to be zeroed in like a laser.   This can be seen in optometry.  If you wear glasses and take them off, the world is out of focus or blurry.  This can also be directed in the person who is focused on a goal.  A couple of weeks ago we saw Tiger Woods with focus that was unmatched win the Fed Ex Cup.

– Church – Although people call many things “a church”, a true church is “a group of Baptized believers, banded together to fulfill the mission and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– The Kingdom Focused Church, as we saw last week, has but one priority (the Great Commission), one philosophy (Whatever it takes), and one plan (to know and do the will of God while totally depending on Him).

– Hopefully, we can now identify the Kingdom Focused Church (Kingdom Focused Church), but that is not enough.  Thinking the Kingdom Focused Church is a ‘good’ thing, recognizing what is right, nor saying “it is good” fulfills our requirement as a church.

– The truth is this; as a member of the Kingdom of God, the Church of God (who are the Children of God), if we are to be obedient, we have no choice but to focus His Kingdom to the point of Embracing the Kingdom Focused Church.

– Take a minute and consider this word “embrace.”  Most of us think it’s a ‘hug’ and in a simpler sense it is exactly that.  Yet, it is also used of accepting, encouraging, carried to the point of participating in a project, event or goal.

– When I look to God’s word for a person to embrace the Kingdom Focused Church, I go to the Apostle Paul.  Every letter he writes is an encouragement to embrace this type of church.  Go with me to Philippians 3:7-20.  (Read) Be reminded of 2 things.

– First, Paul is writing this letter from his prison cell to the CHURCH.  They were people like us.  They met, prayed, worked, served, and played together.  So, by all accounts, they were and are “believers”.  Now against that backdrop, read verses 17 & 18 and you become somewhat uncomfortable.  Did you catch His words, their indictment?  Perhaps these two verses are the nucleus for a message entitled, “The Plight of the Church.”

– So exactly HOW does this passage call us to “embrace the Kingdom Focused Church” and exactly how is this done?  I’ll offer 4 thoughts.

– If we are to be a Kingdom Focused Church, here’s what must happen:

1)  There are some things we must “FORSAKE”.

– Consider the attitude of Paul.  We find it in verse 10 where he states his personal goal of wanting to KNOW CHRIST.  To this end everything in his past life is forsaken and counted “loss”, “garbage”, and trash.  It was all cast aside and forsaken.  Literally, turned his back on all of it.

– This is a common theme which Paul teaches.  He says we should put down some things, put off other things, put away even more.  Why?  Because the old things are passed away.  This is the life of the believer.  This speaks of repentance; it is the turning of our backs on the old.

– This concept or the requirement of forsaking is some thing which is not very popular to teach or preach, yet it is very Biblical.  For every person in this building, coming to Christ in faith was accompanied by something we had to forsake.  It may have been greed or gossip, pride or popularity, alcohol or anger, or any other traits which brings shame to the name of Christ.

– In this same way; almost any modern day Americanized church must do the same things.  We have come to believe our organization, our schedule, our fellowship, our prestige, our buildings, and many other such things give us a place in the Heart of God.  The heart of God is geared to an eternal perspective about people.  He desires for all people to be saved and for Him, there is nothing too sacred or too costly to achieve that purpose.  It may well be that one of the things which we must forsake is our “preconceived notions” about His work.

2)  There are some things we must “FORGET”.

– Some might argue that forsaking and forgetting are the same, but Paul said there are some things I counted as loss and other things I had to forget.  Certainly to forget one must forsake.  But I’m reminded of a story in the Old Testament.  As God was destroying Sodom & Gomorrah He sent His own angel to bring Lot and His family out of that debauchery which would be destroyed.   They left with the angel literally turning their back on the city.  That is exactly what Paul means to count loss.  However, Mrs. Lot may have had her back turned on it, but she couldn’t let go of it and had to take one more look.

– It is easy to make the case that both believers and churches today have given lip-service to turning away from their past and their problems, but somehow they cannot “let it go.”  Possibly we have turned our back to forsake, but we cannot turn loose.

– Have you ever thought about some things we need to forget? When I ask that question, I can almost hear the gasps of “is the pastor about to air out our dirty laundry?”  Well, that is a possibility.  But please listen, instead of me listing things in our past which me must both forsake and forget, why don’t YOU talk to the Lord about what YOU need to forget and forsake.  Let’s begin there.

– To become a Kingdom Focused Church, a church, which IS her members, must begin at this point, realizing that while we may not audibly list that which needs to be forgotten, God still knows.

SCREEN:  To Forsake and Forget are indeed required to break the cycle of days past and become a Kingdom Focused Church, but these are only the first steps.

3)  There are some things we must “FOLLOW.” (after)

– Paul says after I counted all the old as loss and have forgotten the past, I PURSURE or PRESS ON!  Did you realize that this word for “press on” in the Greek language is the same word used in Luke 17:23 and translated as “run after?!”  He is saying to run after, pursue, or follow after Christ.  To take seriously this challenge of being a true, New Testament, Kingdom Focused Church requires us to pursue, press, or follow.

– It is a tall challenge.  Every church body follows something.   For most American churches, we follow our traditions.  I don’t care to be offensive, but from what I’ve seen, generally this is a terrible path.  Why?  Because many if not most of the American (Bible belt) churches I have observed, are located in a community where scores of lost people sit at their doorstep and the church has little or no heart beat to reach them.  Sadly, many of these who will spend eternity apart from God are long time friends, neighbors and even family members.  If Christ were physically present, would He hover inside the church building singing hymns and taking part in a group which had no concern for those around Him.

– We could name all the things churches seem to be following today; tradition, the latest greatest, the culture, or the convention and the list goes on.

– The Kingdom Focused Church like the Kingdom Focused Believer must set their sight on Jesus, become like Him, desire to follow Him wherever He leads and respond to the community like He did.

– Be reminded of what it means to follow Him.  Jesus took His worst hits for going where church people are not supposed to go, hanging with the people church folks are not supposed to hang with, and making those people and places the “flash-point” of Kingdom building and focus.

4)  There are some things we must “FAITH.”  When I read the end of this passage in Philippians, it exudes with faith.

– The walk of the believer, the life of a church, the experience of the body should all be about “faith.”  Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is not about what we can see, touch, taste, or feel, it is about things NOT seen, things yet to come, things HOPED for.

– The Kingdom Focused Church walks the line of illogical because she depends so much on Christ.  The world says “no”, carnal believers say, “it can’t be done”, sensibilities say, “impossible”, but when the world walks out, the Kingdom Focused Church walks in with the power of heaven.  The Kingdom Focused Church doesn’t work under the premise of “having to see it to believe it”—they believe HIM to see it.

Embracing the Kingdom Focused Church is to abandon self and take hold of Him.

Jerry Watts
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