The Kingdom of Religion

Posted on 10/18/2015 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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JOYFUL JOYFUL

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!

Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us,
Brother love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.

SALVATION BELONGS TO OUR GOD

Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne
And unto the lamb
Be praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength

Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever, amen

And we the redeemed shall be strong
In purpose, and unity
Declaring aloud
Praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength


HOLY HOLY HOLY

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear


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Well,
we've all heard
about the
Kingdom of God.

And
we've all heard
about Religion.

Today,
for just a few minutes,
I'd like for us
to take a look
at both of these
together,
and ponder
exactly how
the two connect.


Kevin was a traveler,
a pilgrim, you could say.
And one day,
he finally found
that for which
he had been looking
his whole life.

And so he permanently
camps nearby,
and frequently walks
to his temple:

a patch of green grass
where he can gaze upon
the road sign
that points to Kansas.

"I was always
looing for Kansas,"
Kevin would say;
"And now I've found it."

Of course
we could tell Kevin
that he did NOT
find Kansas,
he found only
the road sign
that POINTS
to Kansas.

But every day,
he goes to the sign,
and,
since the sign
seems to point
up into the sky,
he looks into
that direction,
and,
in his mind,
gazes upon Kansas.

"You can't see Kansas,"
Kevin would explain.
"You just have to
BELIEVE it is there.
And SOME day,
in the sweet
by and by,
we WILL see it."

I have tried
to tell Kevin
that he is in
Oklahoma,
and the sign
is only
pointing him
to follow the road
so he can
LIVE in Kansas.

But Kevin
has OTHER ideas.

Oh well.


We go to church.

We read the Bible.

We pray to ourselves.

We love the road signs.

But we never go
to Kansas.


1 John 4:7-8 (KMV*) says this:

7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Now,
if you know anything
about Greek,
you probably know
that our word "Love"
has several words
in Greek
to specify
the different kinds
of love,
such as brotherly love,
or romantic love.

The word used here
is the word Agape,
which is the essence
of goodwill and
benevolence.

Agape Love
is described
in 1st Corinthians
chapter 13,
often refered to as
"The Love Chapter."

When we read
that chapter,
we are reading
a description
of God,
and of those
who are walking
in Him.

And that chapter
also seems to describe
someone who
is fully present.

Interestingly,
it does NOT
seem to describe
the average
self-proclaimed
Christian.

You can feel bad
about your sins,

you can stop doing
some of them,

you can say
a sinner's prayer,

you can go to church,
pray before meals,
sing in the choir,
and do daily devotions,

and be sadly lacking
in Love.

Or,
you could say,
and not know God.


1 Corinthians 13

(NASB)

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(TLS*)

8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will expire; if there are languages, they will come to an end; if there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
9 For our understanding is fleeting, and our prophesies are only for a time;
10 But when that which is perfect arises, then that which is temporary passes away.

(NASB)

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.


How about the first one:

Love is patient.

We might ACT patient.

When the line
at the store
is long and slow.

When someone
pulls out
in front of us
going 5 MPH.

When the computer
won't do
what we want it
to do,
and keeps
rebooting
instead.

We are only
at the first item
on the list,
and we fail
the Love test.

It is because
we do not TRULY
know God.

At least
not at that moment.

We know
ABOUT God.

Just like Kevin knows
ABOUT Kansas.

But he LIVES
in Oklahoma
and has faith
that his devotion
to road sign
means he has found
the dwelling place
in which he THINKS
he already is.


Religion has a purpose.

And that purpose
is the same
as the purpose of
Kevin's road sign

And just like Kevin,
if you fall in love
with the road sign,
and never move on,
you will never reach
that to which
it is pointing.


Attachments.

The keep us bound.

Even our attachments
to our ideas about God,
or our religious traditions,
or our beliefs,
or our practices.

Meeting with
other believers
is a good thing to do.

Reading the Bible
can be
a good thing to do.

Having monologues,
and maybe
calling them dialogs,
with Jesus
or God,
can be
a good thing to do.

But they are
road signs.

They are not
Love,
they are not
God,
and people who
practice them
with great dilligence
STILL
feel impatience arise
when the circumstances
are right.


I know Christians
who break the law,

who seek their own,

who feel jealousy,

who brag a little,

who are provoked,

who remember
what others have done,
and hold it against them.

And if what we read
in 1 John 4:8 is true,
then they do not
know God.

In fact,
some people
who do not claim
to be Christians
know God more
than they.

And when I say
"they,"
that could include
"us."

We ALL
have shown
that we have
not known God.

But that doesn't matter.

Unless you know God
NOW,
you don't know Him.

That is where
God is,
and this is
the only place
you can Live
in Love.

You come into
the Present Moment,
which requires you
recognize
you've been lost
in the head,
and you say "Yes"
to what is
here and now.

The results?

Patience.

Kindness.

Absence of jealousy.

Since you no longer
identify with
the mind-made person
you thought you were,
you do not brag
and are not arrogant.

You do not keep track
of what others have done.

Why?

Because
when you dwell
where God is,
you encounter Him.

And when you see Him,
you become like Him.


Jesus did HIS part by
paying for your sins,
demonstrating
a life walking with God,
and
pointing us to
that place in which
we are not lost
in time or mind,
but instead
we trust in
and dwell in
the Kingdom of God,
which is always here
and always now,
not in the world of form,
but in the formless realm,
the heavenly realm,
within.


7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.


You know a tree
by its fruit.

Do you know God?