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Kingdom Focus


by Mark Barnes

Have we been focusing on the wrong thing?

Have you ever had a wake-up call? For me, I had one when I was planning on becoming a missionary pilot but found out that I get very sick in small planes!  I realized that I needed to make some major changes in my career plans. I would also say that I’ve had a wake-up call as we have been studying the book of Matthew on Sunday mornings. For many years, I thought the message of the gospel was simply to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior so that I could go to heaven one day. And while eternal life is certainly a part of the gospel message, as we have begun our study of Matthew’s gospel it strikes me that Jesus seems to be focused on something different, God’s Kingdom. He acts as if what’s important is happening right here, right now, and not just someday in the distant future after we die. 

A few times when I was in school, I had to read a novel that I thought would take far too long to read. So, I would skim bits and pieces of the book and then focus on the last chapter, trying to make sense of the whole book (come on, don’t act like you haven’t done this). Amazingly, I never found any of these books to be very good. I wonder why? Of course, looking back, I realize how foolish it was to think that I could hope to soak in all of the richness of a story by focusing primarily on the ending? 

So, let me ask you this, is this what our Christianity has become? Have we focused on the end of the story, missing all the truth, richness, and life that Jesus offers? Have we made the gospel storyline this; Pray to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. Then do your best to get through this life’s difficulties, pain, and sorrows. And hope that there really is a great retirement plan in heaven someday?

In John 10:10, Jesus seems to offer much more. He says that he is the good Shepherd, and that there is a thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy but that he came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Or how about what he says in Matthew 11:28-30 when he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” These things don’t seem to be things offered to us after we have died. Jesus seems to be talking about this life.

One of the scary parts of writing a blog is the feeling that I should conclude with some wise words that bring all of my thoughts to a brilliant conclusion. Um, sorry to disappoint you. I feel like I’m just here to ask the question, “What does following Jesus really look like?” I want to encourage all of us to read Matthew’s gospel as if we have never heard the words of Jesus before. Listen when he talks about the Kingdom of God being near. Or when he tells us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come & that God’s will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven. And take note when he says that we shouldn’t worry about things like what we will wear, eat, or drink, but instead, we should seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, letting God take care of those things. Are you willing to join me in thinking and praying about what this might look like in our lives if we were fully surrendered to Jesus? Let’s ask God to give us fresh ears to hear the words of Jesus and great boldness to follow our King!

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Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

When, by the grace of God, a person puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone, they are made a part of His body (the CHURCH) and filled with the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God works through a believer by giving divine unction (motivation), strength, and power (manifestations) to accomplish His will in and through the Church so that Christ's life and His kingdom may continue to be made manifest in the world. Those motivations and manifestations of the Spirit are referred to as Spiritual Gifts or Gifts of God's grace.


Our big idea from Sunday was that "when the body of Christ is

functioning well, God is glorified. It is crucial that each part of the body understand

and engage its function well. It also stands to reason that is God's desire as

well. We can believe that God wants us to know our spiritual gift and how to

use it.


The most effective way I have found to pursue an understanding of

spiritual gifts is through the lens of motivational gifts. Discovering your

Motivational Spiritual Gift is a perspective of the gift passages in the

New Testament. From this perspective, Romans 12 is a list of motivational gifts or what God does

"to us", 1 Corinthians 12 is a list of manifestation gifts or what God does "through us", and Ephesians 4 lists vocations or God's grace

given to and through people to equip the saints.


As I mentioned on Sunday, 1 Peter 4:7-11 offers two broad categories

of giftedness, speaking and serving (or doing). It is a good

place to start in your discovery of spiritual giftedness. Ask this question; do

you use words or actions more? The question isn't about being more comfortable

speaking in front of people or serving behind the scenes. Instead, it is a question

about whether you find yourself using words or actions more frequently in your

interactions with others, especially believers.


From 1 Peter, I would encourage you to head over to Romans 12. The

whole chapter offers insight into how to function well as the body of Christ.

In verses 6-8, we get a nice tight list of 7 gifts. The importance of the

number 7 is one reason why I believe this is a complete list of motivational

gifts. Another reason is that Romans is

Paul's most comprehensive and well-organized book of doctrine.


Here is what I would recommend then. Read Romans 12. Identify the 7 gifts mentioned in the chapter. Begin praying about them. I believe that God wants you to know and use your spiritual gift. Ask him to reveal it to you. After reading the chapter and prayerfully reflecting on it, read through the document Discovering Your Motivational Spiritual Gift on our website.


My prayer is for you to understand and apply your identity, gifting, and calling in Christ so that you grow in spiritual maturity. Our expression of Christ's body here at MCF will function even better to the glory of God.

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