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Making A Kingdom Impact
Years ago I use to fly from Las Vegas to Chicago. On these trips there were some difficulties like when the captain comes on the speaker and says, “We’ve got a slight problem,” or “We’re running into a bit of turbulence.” Now, the airplane is flying hundreds of miles an hour at around 15,000 feet, therefore there is nothing “slight,” or “a bit,” in my mind.
Or I love it when they say, “For your safety, please remain in your seats with your seatbelt securely fastened.” Frankly, this does not promote confidence.
One time as we were beginning our decent into the Vegas Valley, a “slight problem,” or “a bit of turbulence” would be an understatement. A lightning bolt exploded right outside the plane, which was immediately met with shrieks of horror from inside the plane. And when the stewardesses were told to strap themselves in, I knew this wasn’t going to be good.
But inevitably we landed and I heard the stewardess said, “If Las Vegas is your final destination; we would like to welcome you home.” I always wondered how many passengers made Las Vegas their home that evening?
But hearing those words, “If Vegas is your final destination, welcome home,” I wondered what it’s going to be like when this life is over and we’re standing before of our heavenly Father hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” How exciting will that be?
But until then we have an opportunity to live in a way that will make a kingdom impact. Someone said that a healthy church is not measured by the number of people who attend, the size of the building, or the number of programs that are available. Rather a healthy church is measured by how many within the church are making a kingdom impact.
Today’s message is based upon one of the New Testaments most notable teachings.
The Apostle Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
Now, most people know this part, but not always the rest of what Paul said. This is what I’d like to explore in our time together and to how we can make an impact for God’s kingdom.
Paul goes on to say,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)
There are three things in this verse that I would like to share with you about making an impact for the kingdom of God.
1. We Are Designed By God
“For we are His workmanship.” (Ephesians 2:10a NKJV)
The word, “workmanship,” in the Greek language means something that is made. But the use of the term would indicate that it wasn’t just anything, but rather that is was a work of art, which is why some translations say, “masterpiece.” In fact, the Greek word is where we get our English word, “poem.”
I like the word usage here, because God has written upon our hearts His law, that is, His word, therefore we are God’s “poem” to the world.
We are God’s work of art. I love the way King David expresses his appreciation for how God designed and created him.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14 NKJV)
Job tells us that it was the Lord’s hands that made and shaped us. (Job 10:8)
What Job recognized is that God has uniquely made us all, that is, we’ve been hand crafted by God, and as such no one else has the unique mix of gifts and talents that each of us have been given. In other words each one of us have uniquely been crated by God’s hand.
We are one of a kind, an original design.
This is true of everyone. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of the Lord God Himself, and as such we have a great value to God, but we’re not truly His masterpieces until we come into that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Paul is saying that being God’s masterpieces begins at the time of salvation, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God … For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:8, 10 NKJV)
God has uniquely made each of us; hand crafted us for His purpose and design. But to be His masterpiece we have to take it to the next level and ask Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. And when we do, then we’ll be that new work of art created in Christ Jesus.
To the church in Corinth Paul said,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
But this new work doesn’t end there; rather God’s just getting started. He continues to mold and shape us much like a potter with clay.
Through Jeremiah the Lord said,
“Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.” (Jeremiah 18:6b NKJV)
We are clay in God’s hand, and it takes the entirety of our lives for God to mold us into that masterpiece He has created us to be, into that poem for the entire world to read.
Now, if the potter’s wheel is going too fast, the potter has a hard time trying to create his masterpiece. The pot or vessel will also get out of round and away from its original design.
In fact, the clay will start to fly off the wheel altogether, which is how some of us are living our lives. So we have to learn how to slow down so God can shape and mold us into that perfectly formed creation; rather than allow the world to mold us into its chaos.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
To be conformed is to allow outside pressure to shape us, but to be transformed means be shaped from the inside out. Conforming is what the world does to us. Transforming is what the Lord does as He shapes us into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus.
And God does this best when we slow down; when we take time to get into His word; when we take time to pray, when we take time to build relationships with those who call upon the name of the Lord with a pure heart.
Sometimes we just have to slow down and hear from God. As the Lord said in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Sometimes we have to slow down so that we can return to the potter’s wheel.
Back in my youth I went backpacking in the mountains surrounding Aspen, CO. While reviewing the area on my map I saw a glacier lake. I knew I could make it in a couple of hours. So I set up base camp and went exploring. On my way I left a series of trail markers, but as the day wore on I realized that the lake was further than the map indicated.
I finally reached the lake and it was everything I hope for. It was magnificent. But it had taken longer than what I thought. So I raced back following my trail markers only to find myself at the edge of a cliff. You see, someone else had left trail markers like mine, and so I was following the wrong markers.
There wasn’t enough time to backtrack before nightfall, but at the bottom of the cliff was the stream where I had set up camp. So I climbed down the cliff, sometime hanging on by a single handhold, but I finally made it down and back to camp.
With the pressures of the world building up, pressures from our jobs, family and friends, we start getting further and further way from our base of operation. We start looking at the world around us and what others are doing, and soon we find ourselves moving away from our base, that is, away from God and His word.
We need to come back, but we need to be carful not to follow someone else’s trail markers. We must be careful not to follow the world’s advice or what others say. We must instead follow the true markers, and that is the truth found in God’s word.
The secret of making a kingdom impact is to keep ourselves close and available to the Lord, our master potter, and if we find ourselves straying we need to start listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, letting the Bible and truth of God’s word be our guide.
2. Created To Do Good Works
“Created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Ephesians 2:10b NKJV)
Here’s a concept I hope we all catch, and that is we’ve been created for a contribution. This is what God was saying to the prophet Jeremiah.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you (set you apart for Myself); I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV)
Like Jeremiah God has set each of us here on earth for a special assignment. If all God wanted is for us to believe and become Christians, then the moment we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God would have taken us home to heaven.
But God left us here because He has something for us to do, a special assignment. He leaves us here because there’s a contribution we can make for His kingdom.
It isn’t the duration of our lives that counts, but rather it’s the donation of our lives that makes a difference. It’s what we add to life that makes a kingdom impact.
Yet no matter how much we talk about it, hear about it, or know about it, there’s still that part within us that isn’t sure. There’s a gap that exists between knowing and experiencing.
We can know we’re to make a difference and a contribution, and we can know that God has created us unique and has a special assignment for us, but unless we start serving, we’ll never know the amazing joy that awaits.
One of my favorite places to eat is the Cheesecake Factory. There’s one dish, the Southwest Chicken Salad, and one desert, the Key Lime Cheesecake that are my favorites.
When I was in California going to seminary, I would take my daughter there when she came for a visit, but she was always afraid to try these. She heard how good they were, but she would always go for the Tuna Fish sandwich and the Strawberry Cheesecake.
Well, one day she tried my salad, and right after that I was eating her Tuna Fish sandwich. And come desert, when she tried my Key Lime Cheesecake, well let’s just say I never got another bite.
This is true in our serving the Lord. We can know that He wants us to serve Him by serving others. We can know all about the joy of fellowship. We hear these messages from famous preachers and teachers of God’s word, but until we do what the Lord created us for, then we’ll never experience the joy that comes with it.
Now you may be saying, “If only he know what was going on in my life he wouldn’t say this.”
We all have limiting factors that hold us back from achieving what God has designed for us to achieve. We all have reasons: too young, too old, not enough time, don’t feel qualified, too busy, too much stuff, too much drama, too much TV or Internet, or maybe it was a hurt or illness.
And while I don’t want to be insensitive, I do remember what God said to Paul when he wanted to be healed, because he believed it was causing a hindrance to his ministry.
God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
All of us have been given a wonderful gift and an opportunity to make an impact for God’s kingdom. What we have to do is to push through these barriers so we can move forward in a positive way.
What I’d like to do is pray that God will take these objects that is holding us back and let God use them. Maybe we need to approach this differently. Maybe we need to look at them as God grace to get us to that place where He can use us, where His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.
Before we move on in our message, I’d like to offer up such a prayer for all of us.
Prayer: “Lord, we all have something that is holding us back from being everything You have created us to be. So I’m asking, please take these limitations, take these hindrances, and in and by Your grace use them as You continue to mold us into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.”
And if you think the time isn’t right, think about what Solomon said.
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NKJV)
In other words, if we’re waiting for the right time to be used, then we’ll be waiting forever, because the right time is now, not later.
This then brings us to our last point.
3. Take Action
Since we are God’s masterpiece, now is the time to take action. Paul ends with these words.
“Which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10c NKJV)
Each of us is God’s unique creation, and God wants us to use the potential He has created within us for His kingdom purposes. Becoming a Christian isn’t just about knowing Christ; it’s also about discovering our potential in Christ.
Serving and contributing is about what God created us to be for His purposes in order to further His kingdom.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NKJV)
Jesus came to serve, not to be served. We see this in the great example He gave. It was a picture of a servant. Jesus took up a towel and washed the disciples’ feet, which was the lowest form of serving in that day.
God is waiting for us to make a kingdom impact, not by ruling over others, but by serving them as He served.
This is an amazing adventure we’re on. It’s where God can take people like you and me and shape us into vessels of honor to be mightily used for His kingdom.
Yes we can continue as we’ve always continued, or say it isn’t time yet, or “I’ve done my duty, it’s someone else’s turn.” But by doing or saying these things we will never truly reach our fullest potential, the masterpiece God created for us to be.
Further, if we just continue as we have always have done, then the church will not reach its fullest potential, that is, everything God desires for it to be, because God’s word says we are all members of one body. Therefore the hand cannot say to the foot it has no need of it, not if it wants to be what God created it to be.
Can you imagine what this church and this community would look like if we were all working in harmony with the gifts and talents given to us by God? We could truly be a kingdom impact church.
So let’s get back to that potter’s wheel, back to God’s word and prayer, and be the kingdom difference makers God has created for us to be.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study