Paradise?

Reign of Christ Sunday | November 24

What do you think of when you hear the word Paradise?

Jeremiah 23:1-6 • Luke 1:68-79 • Colossians 1:11-20 • Luke 23:33-43

33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:33-43 New Living Translation (NLT)


What do you think of when you hear the word “paradise.” If you put the word into Google’s search engine, you see beautiful sunsets, beaches, island paradises, and other things that we consider to be earthly paradise.

This Sunday ends the church year. We call it “Reign of Christ Sunday” or “Christ the King Sunday.” I’m reminded of the Gaither song “Get all excited!” This Sunday reminds us that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the one who has the authority to grant access to paradise.

I love the scripture from Colossians 1:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20

Jesus is the ultimate ruler – Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord – Jesus is above all and in all. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

To those who surrender their life to Jesus, to those he gives the keys to paradise, or what we call heaven. The Apostle John writes what this paradise will look like: (Revelation 21)

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” 

Revelation 21

In the last chapter we hear these words:

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22

Paradise is available to all who place their trust in Jesus.

  • Admit that you have sinned
  • Believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead
  • Confess your faith in Jesus Christ and make him the Lord of your life

If you do, you can join Jesus in paradise.

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-christ_the_king.jpgAlmighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reign of Christ Sunday

reignofchrist1Reign of Christ – (November 20, 2016)


Colossians 1:11-20 | New Living Translation (NLT)

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.


This week finishes up Year C of the church calendar.  This Sunday is known either as Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday.  Either way, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.  The text above is one of my favorites.  It is even more so since I learned of the song “God of the Ages” which is included below.  Colossians 1:15-20 is arguably an ancient hymn that Paul quotes.  One of the things that I love about this passage is that Paul reminds us that Jesus Christ is supreme over all – He is the King.  Jesus will reign forever.  I’m reminded of the Isaac Watts’ hymn “Jesus Shall Reign.”

1 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2 To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.

3 People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.

4 Blessings abound where’er he reigns:
the prisoners leap to lose their chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.

5 Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen.

I think it is appropriate that we remember that Jesus is the forever reigning King, especially on this last Sunday of the church year and right before we start Advent.  More on Advent next week.

I saw this posted on Facebook this week, and I think this sums up the text and what it means for us as believers:

If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”

Jesus Christ came to reconcile us to God and bring the world’s peace.  If we are his followers, I believe that he has called us to do that as well.  He has called us to reconcile the world to himself and he has called us to be his agents of peace.

I want to share two things this week.  One is “God of the Ages.”

The second item is a video that I put together called “That’s My King.” It features S.M. Lockridge in a sermon preached many, many years ago.

Remember Jesus is the eternal king, and he reigns forever.

Prayer for the Week

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reign of Christ Sunday

Christ_the_King (1)Reign of Christ – Proper 29 (34) (November 24, 2013)

Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

Luke 1:68-79

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.

76 “And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”

This Sunday marks the end of the church year with a Sunday known as Reign of Christ Sunday or Christ the King Sunday.  Either way it is a Sunday that recognizes that Jesus Christ is the King – that He always was – He is – and always will be King Jesus.  On this particular Sunday the Psalm has been substituted with a passage from Luke’s gospel.  This is Zechariah’s song.  Last year our senior pastor was out, so I was able to preach about this king.

S. M. Lockridge has a famous sermon called “That’s My King.”  Here is one of the several “text videos” of this sermon.

Jesus is the King that will reign forever.  Someday he is coming to gather his people home.  As Advent begins we will look at this theme.  I love how the last Sunday of the church year (Reign of Christ) and the first Sunday of the Church year (Advent) are linked together to create an seamless loop.  It is a loop that reminds us of Jesus.  The whole year is set up to remind us of Jesus.  Advent (the preparation for his coming.) Christmas – the celebration of his birth; Epiphany – a reminder that Jesus was God in the flesh – Emmanuel – God with us.  We celebrate his baptism and transfiguration; Lent – a preparation time where we remember Christ’s suffering and prepare ourselves for Easter; Easter – a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the power that He has over death, hell, and the grave; Pentecost – a celebration of the Holy Spirit coming to the lives of the believers so that we can live as Christ lived.

So this weekend we celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lord.  Blessings….

 

About Christ the King Sunday

From CRI Voice:

Christ the King Sunday is celebrated on the last Sunday of Ordinary time (last Sunday after Pentecost), before the beginning of Advent that starts the new Church Year. As the last Sunday of the Christian Church Year, Christ the King Sunday is the climax and conclusion of the Church’s liturgical journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message. Its purpose is to celebrate the coming reign of Christ as King of the Earth and his completion of the renewed creation that marks the fullness of the Kingdom of God. That hope is born from the entire life of Christ and his teachings that have been celebrated in the seasons of the Church Year during the past twelve months. In celebrating the Reign of Christ the King, this Sunday also provides an appropriate bridge to the new Church Year that begins the following Sunday on the first Sunday of Advent with an emphasis on hope and expectation, the longing for the coming of the Kingdom of God amid the darkness of a sinful world (see Advent).

As such a bridge between the completed year and the beginning of a new year, Christ the King services often use Scripture and song to provide both a retrospective and introductory overview of the journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message that the Seasons of the Church Year provides. This offers not only an opportunity for a worshipful reflection on the significance of the life of Christ, it also presents opportunity to remind people of the meaning of the various seasons of the Church Year.

A Kingdom of Love and Justice and Peace

Reign of Christ – Proper 29 (34) (November 25, 2012)

2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-18; Revelation 1:4-8; John 18:33-37

23 These are the last words of David:

“David, the son of Jesse, speaks—
    David, the man who was raised up so high,
David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.

“The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me;
    his words are upon my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke.
    The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The one who rules righteously,
    who rules in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning at sunrise,
    like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
    on new grass after rain.’

“Is it not my family God has chosen?
    Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail.
    He will ensure my safety and success.
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away,
    for they tear the hand that touches them.
One must use iron tools to chop them down;
    they will be totally consumed by fire.”

This Sunday we complete the yearly cycle known as the church year and this coming Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday or Christ the King Sunday.  This passage alludes to the King who is coming from David’s throne – to reign forever and ever.  The one who always was, who always is, and who always will be.  He is a ruler that rules with justice and he will judge the nations with righteousness and justice.  He is the King and one day, whether we want to or not – every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

 

The Good Shepherd

Reign of Christ – Proper 29 (34)
November 20, 2011

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

 11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them justice!

This is the final week of the church year.  It is known as Reign of Christ Sunday.  In some circles this is also known as Christ the King Sunday.  This Sunday sets us up for flipping the calendar back to Advent.  I love this passage for Sunday.  It reminds us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd — that He cares for His people.  It also reminds us that Christ is the King and that He will reign forever and in the process, justice will finally be restored.

A "Royal" Waste of Time

To start this morning’s message, I want to quote from an “old” hymn. Most of you have heard these words before and yet not recognize that they were from one of the oldest hymns to Christ that we have on record. In fact, several times during the apostle Paul’s writings, he refers to hymns of the ancient church. Another one of these passages is found in Philippians 2 from which I read a segment last week. The hymn fragments we are going to read this morning comes from Colossians 1:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body. He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This morning we want to examine who we worship. From the very beginning of this service we have been asking the question, “Who is this King?” “Do you know Him?” Paul makes it very clear in his language – we have heard it from the old hymns of the church and the new hymns of the church. We heard it pronounced through the gospel songs and through the newer expressions of contemporary worship that we often call choruses. When we conclude our service today, we will sing another old hymn called, “Jesus Shall Reign.” It’s new to you, but it is another great hymn of the church and on the reign of Christ and it was penned by Isaac Watts who is also known for When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, and O God Our Help in Ages Past.

I’ve named this sermon, “A Royal Waste of Time.” I want to ask some questions and I want you to consider this morning, “Why do we gather here?” What is the purpose of our gathering here? Is is to see one another? Is it for encouragement? Is it to put a lift in our spirit? Is it for us? Who is worship for anyway?

Let me say up front, yes, I know that I’m meddling. You’ve heard me say before that music is only one aspect of worship. There is prayer, and reading God’s Word – there is the worship aspect of us giving our offerings and there is the proclaiming of God’s Word. I told you last week of a wonderful time of worship we had while at FLAME – a time of worship that was powerful and yet not a note was played on any instrument – not a note was sung by any voice. This is probably some of the worship that is described in heaven as they shouted or they said. One of the important aspects of that time of worship was that we waited. We are told in Revelation that at times even in heaven we will wait. Have you ever waited in worship in holy expectation of what God was going to do? It is an amazing place to be. One of the places where God has done that in this congregation since we have been here is on Sunday nights. I always love when God “shows up.” Now the reality is that God is always here – He is here on Sunday morning – He is here on Sunday evening – He is here on Wednesday nights – He is here whenever there are believers present. I’ve felt that presence while worshiping, or praying or even preparing a sermon. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite places is God’s house – his sanctuary. Like I said, the reality is that God is always here, but there are special times, when his presence is felt even more and it’s more than an emotional response. Sometimes I think we are afraid of emotion. We have reacted strongly against abuses of the past, but there are times that God is here (at least as we feel it) more than others. Keith Drury calls it a move of God. Some of you have been here to experience those moves of God and they are wonderful times. I say all that because I feel that sometimes we are in too much of a hurry to worship. Why does this happen? Sometimes we forget who it is that we are worshiping. We not coming here simply to sing a few nice songs, pray a little prayer, and hear three points and a poem. No there is so much more to worship and really – it’s not about us! It is all about Jesus – It is all about this wonderful King we worship. When we realize who it is we worship, it become much easier to spend time with Him. Last week I mentioned that when we realize what God has brought us from – that He has brought us from being wretched sinners to marvelous life in Christ — As Paul writes; 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. – we should be thankful – and that should want to make us praise Him and worship Him.

Let’s go back to our scripture this morning: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Think about that for a moment. We will look at this more in the coming season of Advent. Christ – who was and is and always will be – God – came to earth as a baby – he was incarnate – he came in the flesh – to dwell among his own creation – because he was here in the flesh – we have a better idea of what God is like. This passage makes it very clear that God and Jesus were together in the creation of the world. Jesus is the supreme over all creation – that means in other words – He is the ultimate ruler – He is King – He is the King of all Kings – He is the Lord of All Lords – and when we realize that – we must worship Him – just like subjects to a king bow before a king – we must (for we have no other choice) bow before King Jesus. To paraphrase the old Fram oil filter commercial – You can pay him now – or you can pay him later. The Philippians passage that I referred to last week ends this way: “Because of this (Christ’s humility and ultimate death on the cross) God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I don’t know about you, but when I look at these passages so far, I see that worship is more than an hour on Sunday – It is something that we should want to do all the time. It’s interesting to see what people (including many Christians) will put in front of being in the Lord’s House on Sunday. Sometimes I really wish we could get rid of the order of worship in the bulletin, because it becomes a checklist of what we need to finish. May I suggest that worship isn’t a checklist that we need to finish – in reality we should never finish worshiping our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ and that attitude doesn’t exist in the scriptures. Remember that this God – that this Jesus made everything that is visible and even the things that are invisible. This is the God we worship.

God even placed Jesus Christ at the head of the church. I know some pastors who think they are the head of the church. I know laypeople who think they are the head of the church. Both of them are dead wrong – The head of the church is Christ. We are his body – can you imagine if the rest of the body didn’t want to go along with the head in the physical sense – the same thing happens in the church – when the church separates itself from the head – the head is Christ – not the congregation – not the ministry leadership team – not the pastor – not the district superintendent – not the District Board of Administration – not the General Superintendents – not the General Board of Administration and not even the General Conference – Christ is the head and all of this structure simply follows Christ. And I say all that as a Wesleyan pastor and someone who loves the Wesleyan Church and what it stands for – I am proud to be a Wesleyan pastor and I wouldn’t want to be a pastor in any other denomination and I wouldn’t want to pastor a non-denominational church either – It is my desire as your pastor to follow Christ – to be in submission to Christ – That is my desire as your pastor for you, the congregation – to be in submission to Christ – as it says in Ephesians, then we should even be in submission to each other – the pastor to the congregation – the pastor to the board – the board to the congregation – the board to the pastor – the congregation to the pastor and the congregation to the board – not only do I submit to the local congregation, but I submit to the denomination I call home. Now isn’t that a refreshing change of pace.

When you think about it – it really does come down to the attitude that Jesus had of humility and submission – that is how he became great – it wasn’t himself – he didn’t exalt himself – he was exalted by God the Father. Why does Christ deserve to be worshiped?

Christ is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

When we look at all of this, we see that worship is not a waste of time as some would like to think, but worship is a natural response to what God has done for us and who He is and He is coming to reign the whole earth – not just a part. All Hail King Jesus! As we conclude this morning – I want to teach you this wonderful Isaac Watts hymn – Jesus Shall Reign – I want you to listen to the words – If you know the melody, the words will be on the screen and you can sing along – but most important – I want you to concentrate on the words and what they mean about this wonderful King of kings, about this wonderful Lord of lords, about this wonderful God of gods that we serve.