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Live as a Citizen of the Kingdom

Sunday, June 16, 2019

There is so much to appreciate about our times of worship at Kettering. They are reverent, inspiring, and uplifting. I felt that way Wednesday evening after Jim Grushon prayed, specifically mentioning some of our older members by name and one of our shepherds who had surgery the next day. In his prayer, Jim spoke of the hope ungirding their lives because of their knowledge that this world is not their home. I think as we grow older that realization becomes a little more clear every day. This world is not our home.

In Philippians 1.27 Paul wrote, …let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. In the original language, the words manner of life mean “to live as a citizen.” The emphasis here of course, is not as a citizen of earth, but as a citizen of heaven - the kingdom of God. I believe Paul intentionally chose this word because it carried great meaning in the Greco-Roman world.

Romans were very political. To be a Roman citizen was the highest honor. Philippi was a Roman colony, of which it was very proud. The city had a Roman mindset, attitude, and lifestyle. It had a refined culture. It’s citizens spoke Latin and dressed in Roman ways. People wore Roman names. They were very deeply into being Roman citizens. Also, living in that culture meant that a person did not live for oneself. It was about the good of the state and living in partnership with society. Individual citizens developed their talents, abilities, and skills for the sake of everyone.

When Paul says live as a citizen, it was something that would have resonated with the Philippians. He certainly wrote it in the context of Christianity. Will you live like a citizen in God's kingdom?

  • Will you love for the good of others, placing yourself in second place?
  • Will you live with a sense of pride in who you are identified with? Never forget you wear the name of Christ.
  • Will you live in a manner consistent with the values of the place you call home?

That Paul was thinking of heaven when he told the Philippians to live as a citizen, is clear when we read, But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself, 3.20-21.

You have been called to live in a partnership with other Christians. To live as a citizen inside a spiritual kingdom. To be governed by God’s laws, which consist of righteousness, faith, love, service, and worship.

Does this describe you?

— Matthew Allen

Roman Centurions in the New Testament

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Today’s sermon will focus on the second of nine miracles in Matthew 8-9. It is thought that the first three miracles in Matthew 8.1-17 happened on the same day. As Jesus entered Capernaum, He was approached by Jewish intermediaries who informed Him of the servant boy of a Roman centurion, who was paralyzed and suffering greatly. The story goes on to show the centurion’s great faith — which Jesus marveled over, 8.10. That this centurion, a Gentile, and maybe even a Samaritan, had such a faith is noteworthy. There are five other centurions mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, it is thought that at least two of them became followers of Christ. Here are the others we can read about:

Mark 15.39; Luke 23.47: The centurion at the cross. Amazed by all the events that happened on the day Jesus died, the centurion exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Luke says he said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” A fourth-century writing, The Acts of Pilate, says this centurion’s name was Longinus. The historian Bede (673-735) claimed that Longinus was murdered for his faith in 58 AD in Caesarea.

Acts 10: Cornelius and family were converted to Christ. Luke goes out of his way to describe the man’s character before he became a Christian. Cornelius was a man who feared God, gave alms, and prayed continually.

Acts 22.25-26: The centurion who rescued Paul from being scourged. Paul reported that he was a Roman citizen and the centurion immediately reported this to his superiors.

Acts 23.17-22: The centurion who saved Paul from a Jewish plot to murder him.

Acts 27.1: A centurion named Julius, who was assigned to guard Paul on the journey from Caesarea to Rome. This man prevented the solders from killing Paul along with all the other prisoners when the ship wreck occurred. He also seemed to have a growing trust and respect for who Paul was as the journey progressed, giving Paul privileges other prisoners did not have.

These men are all presented as men of honesty, integrity, duty, and having care for others. It challenges the typical assumption we might make regarding a member of the Roman Army. Many times their character and regard for other human beings stands in remarkable contrast to those who considered themselves as God’s people.

— Matthew Allen

So Much to be Thankful For

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Last week was definitely not a normal week in Dayton, Ohio. For most of us, Monday probably began like most Memorial Days do. It was a day off. We took time to remember those who have fallen in defending freedom. We celebrated with family and friends and may have enjoyed the afternoon at home or on the lake. But, for some of us, how Monday ended was very eventful to say the least. And because of that, life may not be the same ever again.

The series of tornadoes that came through Montgomery and Greene counties affected at least seven of our families at Kettering. The amount and degree of damage varied, but thankfully, no one was injured.

It has been so refreshing to see everyone rally behind those who were in the path, providing generators, food, water, ice, laundry and/or lodging, and cleaning up limbs and debris. So many of you actually responded, that it is impossible to list every person here. No one had to beg for help. Everyone just rolled up their sleeves and went to work. This is what Christians do. It’s what makes our Kettering family family.

If anything, driving around town this week and seeing the destruction should serve as a very visible reminder of the temporary condition of our world. What we have today may be gone tomorrow. This not only includes our possessions, but our life! You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4.14. Such events should serve as a reminder of how small and helpless we are. We are not in control … God is. We are dependent on Him for everything in life. Dramatic things like these should also remind us never to take anything for granted. Life is too short and fragile to hold grudges and stay away from those who we should love the most. Kiss your spouse and hug your kids. Let your family know how much you love them. Invest in their lives. There is no time in the future that is guaranteed.

Hard times are what bring us together. Days of difficulty are where we have the greatest opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others (Matthew 25.35-36; Romans 12.14-15). Thank you for your encouragement to those who are tired and hurting. True discipleship and loving service are genuine marks of this congregation. It is a blessing we should praise God for with the spirit of continual thankfulness.

— Matthew Allen

Ways You Can Get Involved

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Today’s sermon will be based on Luke’s report on Peter’s work of edification and evangelism across Judea in the years after Paul’s conversion. After the death of Stephen, the church entered a period of great persecution with many saints being scattered away from Jerusalem. Now with Paul converted and living in Tarsus, Acts 9.30, the church enjoyed a brief period of peace. In fact, Luke tells us the saints were being edified and the church was multiplying, Acts 9.31. It was during this time we observe Peter traveling outside Jerusalem to work among the churches and spread the gospel. He healed Aeneas in Lydda and raised Tabitha from the dead in Joppa.

Acts 9.32 contains a nugget of information that shows us how Peter became so effective in service: Peter went here and there among them all. Peter didn’t just stay home in Jerusalem barking orders as an apostle. Peter got out among the people demonstrating his care and love. Here is a principle we can mine out of this passage: The people who are already involved are the ones who have the most effective personal ministries. If you want to be used of God, you have to get up and get going.

Will we each resolve to refuse to sit around and watch others do the work?

Here are some things you can do in service for the Kettering family:

  • Pray. Take this bulletin home today and refer to the prayer list throughout the upcoming week. Ask two or three people to get together to pray. Begin a prayer group that meets here at the building or in each other's homes. (See Acts 2.42.)
  • Teach. Don't wait for someone else to act, take the initiative and hold a Bible study / get together for our young people, new Christians, or your family and friends. Volunteer to teach or assist in one of our children’s Bible classes on Sunday or Wednesday.
  • Serve. A widow may need their yard mowed, limbs picked up, or house cleaned. Some of our family members with limited financial resources may need help getting through the month. A sister or brother may need your help coping with their health condition. Someone might need food prepared.

Do something. Go in some direction. God uses His priority jobs for those who place Him in the priority place. When you serve others, you never know how far reaching the effects will go.

— Matthew Allen

Parenting: From This Side of Life

Sunday, May 19, 2019

I know many young parents may just pass off what I’m about to say, — because my wife and I did — but, enjoy your kids while they’re home because it will all go by very fast. Maybe we dismissed that because it sounded like something our parents would say. But, here we are ... in our mid 40’s with one gone and one ready to go. And, looking back — it did fly by, ...the teen years especially. You may not be able to believe this now, but sometime over the next decade or two, you’ll be making remarks about how fast it went ... just like we are now. (We do sound more like our parents as we age... )

There was no way, in 1996, that we could imagine our life experience and situation in 2019. And, while we had a plan and knew a lot more then than we do now, the joys, fun, smiles, laughs, challenges, disappointments, setbacks, success and growth leading to the life we have today were impossible to see. Some of the things we said our kids would never do, they did. Some of the things we said we would never do, we did. But it all did work out. And, of the things that aren’t quite worked out yet, we trust that they will. We didn’t do things perfectly, and neither will you. There were many things we did do right, and so will you.

So, what are some words of encouragement for those coming on behind, with kids still at home?

Commit your marriage and family to God’s way. You will need to be just as determined as Joshua who said, as for me and my family, we will worship the Lord, Joshua 24.15. Your kids need to see you fully committed to the Lord and have zero doubt that everything in your family will be measured by His standard — not the world’s. Any pressure to conform will be resisted and not apologized for because God’s way is what is right.

Remember the way you live is the way you communicate. You can constantly expound on your faith and trust in God, but what your kids will emulate is what they actually see. It has been said, the eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear: fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear. Desirable outcomes in our children will be largely produced by our determination to live out our values in the small moments of life. Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no,” James 5.12b.

Be intentional with your time. As the years go by, it is easy to get caught up in your career, tending to aging parents, hobbies, or recreation. It is also easy to take for granted that the time will always be there.The years where they are young and constantly cling to you will disappear as the teen years approach. You’ll be much farther down on their priority list (except when they need money) and you’ll be wishing for more time with them. So, be intentional to make time to talk about God, read Scripture, and learn the pleasure of living for the Lord, especially when they're young. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, Deuteronomy 6.6-7.

Be humble. No matter where you are in parenting, you do not know it all. And, the current techniques and pop psychology found in magazines, websites, the universities, and television will never replace the eternal, time-tested principles of God’s word. Don't neglect the wisdom and experience of those Christians who are farther down the road than you. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old, Job 12.12. You may not agree with every parenting style, but the principle remains the same ... there are others who have been there and done that. And many of them are eager to help you avoid the pitfalls they experienced. Not everyone in previous generations got it wrong and they bring a wealth of information, grace, and love to the table — and are very desirous to come up along side you for any problem you experience.

Don’t ignore reality. Those who have been through decades of parenting will tell you this is not the same world it was when they began. Times have changed and the social / moral fabric of our nation is declining with increasing rapidity. This is not pessimism — it’s reality — and you need to be vigilant in protecting your children. You may tire of hearing about the need to monitor their social media, their YouTube, SnapChat, text messages, online friends, and real friends, but you must go out of your way to do so. Today’s teens are comfortable with leading a double life with an increasing brazenness. Know your kids. Know their friends. Know where they are. They will think you are over-the-top, but it doesn’t matter. One of your primary jobs is to protect and shield them. Do not shirk this responsibilityIn the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly,. Stay away from people like that. 2 Timothy 3.1-5 (NLT). This passage is more than adequate in describing the times we live.

The Psalmist said, Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him, Psalm 127.3. This is so true. I remember when we found out Becky was expecting Emilea. I remember thinking how much our life was going to change ... and boy did it ever. ...And as we reflect back, it’s been so good. We are so blessed with two children who love others so much and are both committed to serving others. If we had to do it over again, we most definitely would. Tell them every day you love them and how important they are to you and everyone else in the family. Never, ever, ever, take any day for granted, because every day is a blessing from God.

— Matthew Allen

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