Why All the Talk About the Kingdom?

For 400 years God had been silent.

Then, suddenly, the book of Matthew opens with an eccentric fellow wearing camel hair as his choice of clothing, and arriving on the scene telling everyone within earshot…

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (3:2)

People from all over Israel flocked to John the Baptist to hear about this coming kingdom.  They repented from their sins, an action that was a foreign concept until now.

Before, they simply carried a lamb or doves to the priest to sacrifice in order to have their sins removed.

But suddenly they were discovering a new way to commune with God.

The word, “repent,” in this context actually means “to change the way you think.”

In order to grasp this kingdom mindset, Israel had to learn to think differently about God and how to approach Him.

Not much time passes when Jesus makes his entrance to one of John’s baptismal events and asks John to baptize Him.  Reluctantly, John agrees (knowing he, himself, needed the baptism of fire Jesus would offer later).

The story continues with Jesus now preaching…

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (4:17)

Everyone was buzzing as they flocked to John the Baptist, then to Jesus, to hear about this kingdom that was on the verge of emerging.

Little did they know this kingdom was of a spiritual nature and not an earthly one.

Israel had been under Roman rule and knew the Scriptures foretold of a coming Messiah who would free them from captivity and oppression, but what they didn’t understand was that it was not a political freedom, but a heavenly one.

Heaven was about to invade earth.  Jesus was about to demonstrate what heaven looks like.

sky with light rays

Jesus brought the kingdom with Him.

The kingdom was everything Jesus represented, and still is.

Like Israel in Jesus’ day, we often miss the point about the kingdom.

We keep waiting for Jesus to come back and get us and take us to His kingdom, but I have exciting news for you…

You’re already in it!

Colossians 1:13 explains it clearly

 “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son…”.

Christians often forget that we have a dual citizenship.  

We are human beings that live on the Earth, but we are also spiritual beings that belong to a kingdom.

It would behoove us all to learn to think kingdom-minded rather than earthly-minded because the kingdom far outranks the physical realm.

To understand what you’re a part of, you have to know Jesus’ mission.

When Jesus began His ministry, He went to the temple in His home town of Nazareth to announce the purpose of His coming.

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, 

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:16-20

Jesus’ mission was to preach the gospel, or “good news” to the poor–you don’t have to be poor anymore!  I have come so you can live abundantly!

To heal everyone who had been broken by life.

To bring freedom to those held in captivity to their emotions, mindsets, sickness and sin.

To open the eyes of people who truly couldn’t see, or who were blinded by thought patterns and wrong-thinking.

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

In ancient Israel, Moses instituted by God’s command the Year of Jubilee.

  • It occurred every 7 years.  And after 7 sets of 7 years, a culminating Year of Jubilee after the 49th year.
  • During the Year of Jubilee on every 7th year,  the land rested from planting, and the people rested from their labors.
  • And after the 49 years, the Jubilee Year was not only a time of resting, but all slaves were freed and those who owed debts were released from those notes.

It was a great time of rest and freedom.  Of course, it required that Israel trust God totally that year to meet their needs since they would be planting no crops, and especially after the 49th year, in which the land would lay dormant on the 49th year and 50th year.

Plus, debts had been cancelled and monies would not be flowing in as repayment.  Trust in God was crucial for survival.

When Jesus read that He had come to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, what He was actually meaning was

That we could live in the Year of Jubilee EVERY DAY!

We would simply need to totally trust God for our survival.

Many Christians do not grasp the depth of this reality, let alone live in the reality.

  • We are free from striving to earn our way into God’s grace–He has given us rest.
  • We no longer have to be slaves and captive to bondages–He came to set us free!
  • We are no longer indebted to pay for our sins–Jesus paid the debt for us!

And now, God just asks that we trust in Him, rest, and enjoy living the abundant life Jesus came to give us.

1 John 3:8 sums up why Jesus came…

To destroy the works of the devil.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did.

Everywhere He went people flocked to Him to hear about the kingdom…

How it is like a treasure hid in a field that when you find it, you sell everything you have just so you can buy the field…because all you need is in that field!  (Matthew 13:44)

And they didn’t just listen to Him teach about the kingdom.

They watched Him demonstrate the Kingdom

Something many churches have lost today-the ability to not only talk about the kingdom, but to demonstrate it.

Matthew 4:24 explains that Jesus became famous quickly for His demonstration of the kingdom so that many people were brought to Him and

“He healed them all.”

Never did He turn anyone away.

Never did He tell them to clean up their life first, then He’d see what He could do.

He never turned anyone away.  Never.

As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that if all the miracles Jesus did were written down, the world could not contain all the books it would take to record them. (John 21:25)

This Kingdom still exists today

Jesus didn’t take the kingdom back to heaven after He brought it.  His original intention was always to leave it with us.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He included God’s desire in the Lord’s prayer…

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:10

It is God’s will that heaven come to earth.  Jesus taught it and demonstrated it.

And He instructed us to pray and demonstrate the same thing.

In Mark 6: 7-12, Jesus called His disciples together and sent them out by two’s challenging them to demonstrate the kingdom.  And they did.

“And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.” (verse 13)

These amateur believers were able to bring heaven to earth.

We should be able to do the same.

Paul called us Christ’s ambassadors to the world.  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Paul also make it clear that

“For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power”

(1 Corinthians 4:20)

Not only are we to think kingdom-minded, live kingdom-minded, but we are to act kingdom-minded by demonstrating the kingdom to a world that doesn’t even know it exists–even some churches that no longer know it exists.

Ask yourself, “Have I seen a demonstration of the Kingdom of God’s power in my church lately?”

If the answer is “no,” ask God to reveal to you more of His kingdom.

Search the Scriptures for Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom to come to know more about this great world you are part of and the power that is at your disposal.

So much of what you need and long for is already within your grasp.

Purpose to live as though you are the heir of this kingdom, because

You are.

 This is a great reading resource for anyone interested in understanding God’s will and how you can help bring heaven’s agenda to earth.

And check out my You Tube channel by clicking the link below for more for more everyday living truths.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-3G4uQk83J7eJngyymDpFg

A Ministry of

Amazing Grace Worship Center

 

A Friend of God

If you had to give an answer to this question, would your answer be GOOD or BAD?

How does God feel about you right now?

I am reminded of something a teenager told me during a counseling session when I asked the reason she felt she needed to meet.

“I don’t think I’m a very good Christian”

I went on to get information from her that had caused her to arrive at this conclusion, and basically what it boiled down to was what it boils down to with all of us.

Sometimes we are good and sometimes we are not-so-good at the Christian walk.

I asked her if she cleaned the house every day and cooked dinner every night would her parents love her more?

“No,” she replied.

We talked about how it would make them feel proud and bring them satisfaction that perhaps she was learning some of the values they had tried to teach her, but in the end, that her parents would love because they were her parents, and she their daughter.

It’s the same with God.

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more

and

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less

He just loves you.

There are things that do cause us to be distant from God, like lack of communication with Him.  And there are things that can cause us to be separated from Him, like sin.

But as long as we are trying to live our lives with our Father’s values at heart, you can rest assure you won’t be distant.  For if we truly value what our Father values, our hearts will line up with His.

I am reminded of something Joyce Meyer wrote.  She explained she had always been worried about “missing God.”  God finally told her, “Joyce, if you miss me, I will find you.”

If we are living according to what we are learning from God’s Word and walking in love (because God is love), then we won’t have to worry about sinning all the time.

I am reminded of a time in my life when I felt I had horribly missed God and really messed things up.  My prayer time consisted mostly of me apologizing for my faults and asking God to help me overcome them.  I was so busy with trying to correct myself that I didn’t have time to pray for anyone else.

God finally told me during my prayer time to stop focusing on my shortcomings.  And so I began to pray for others and steadily, those shortcomings became non-existent and I became more like my Heavenly Dad.

One of the best things you can pray for is to ask the Father to help you develop the fruits of the Spirit.  If we are full of His Holy Spirit, we will display the right kind of fruit.  Fruit like love (because God is love), joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, kindness, temperance and faith.

So, despite how your behavior may have been lately, know that God is on your side.  I am reminded of a song by Danny Gokey entitled, More Than You Think I Am.  In this song, we are reminded that God thinks of us as His best friend.

Wow!  That’s a stretch for some of us, isn’t it?

But James 2:23 tells us that Abraham was called the friend of God.

And do you know what he did to get this awesome title?

He believed God

That’s all our Heavenly Dad is asking.  That we take Him at His Word.

He said He loved us enough to give His very best for us. (John 3:16).

Jesus said that He was come so we could have an abundant life (John 10:10).

Our Father says that He has great plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, believe that God is for you, not against you.

He wants to see you succeed even more than you do.  Think of your own kids. They aren’t nearly as nervous as you are when they walk up to the batter’s box, football field or volleyball court.  You are their biggest cheering section.

Picture your Heavenly Dad that way.

Then, you own children grow older and so often become our best friends.

Our Heavenly Dad is the same.

Our Heavenly Dad now appreciates the person we have become, and calls us His best friend.

So whether you made some mistakes lately or not, know that your Heavenly Dad still smiles when He thinks of you.