Little did I know…
Wow…who knew! I have been doing weddings for many years now. My job was as simple as showing up for rehearsal and the ceremony. I would go through the vows, pronounce them “husband and wife”, tell the groom he may kiss the bride, take a few pictures and then it was off to the party.
My how your perspective changes when you are the father of the bride! My house has been nothing but a frenzy of preparation for this one special day since Lauren graduated from VT. I mean, every day there has been wedding planning, running here and there for this and that. Looking at “countless” dresses for the bride, the mother, and of course the sister. Even as I write this the kitchen is a hustle and bustle of baking and truffle making for the shower.
And…let us not forget the cost. For some reason I have had little input into this whole wedding thing except for “the cost”. We do not EVEN want to go there!!!
Then it occurred to me, Father God is preparing a wedding day for His Son and His bride. It’s been in the planning and perfecting stage for going on almost 2,000 years. What a very special day it will be as well! Jesus will come and a massive wedding will occur with His bride, the Church. No wonder the things of the kingdom seem to be at the forefront in these last days and the devil is doing all he can to keep the bride’s dress from being spotless. He won’t succeed. God’s predestined this event and He will have a spotless bride for His Son.
God’s already “paid” for this wedding with the blood of the groom Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ!
…I think I’ll just enjoy this process of wedding preparation as best I can. It will only happen once for Lauren and I don’t want to miss a thing. I also think I’ll enjoy the processing of the Father as He prepares you and I for a one time event to come.
The Kingdom is Yet to be Perfected
As we continue to look into the things of the kingdom of God I believe it necessary to equip you with this thought, “The devil still operates with great cunning even in the Kingdom.”
Before we get into some New Testament scripture, let’s consider this from an Old Testament perspective. Genesis is the book of beginnings and it has been said that virtually every biblical truth may be found in seed-form right here. Genesis chapters 1 &2 tell us of a world created in perfection by God. However in Genesis chapter 3 we find there is a problem IN paradise, there is a serpent that doesn’t belong! This is satan in beautiful disguise. The devil who may at times appear as an angel of light. The wolf in sheep’s clothing. You know the rest of the story…
As we move into Exodus and the rest of the books of Moses we see the representation of a kingdom people in what has become the Nation of Israel. What we see is the worship of a golden calf while Moses is up on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments. What we see is a rebellious people who are forced by God to wonder in a wilderness for nearly 40 years.
As we move into the period of the kings of Israel, we see again heathen worship among portions of the kingdom people throughout their history. We see civil wars from the very beginning in David vs. the House of Saul, David vs. Absalom, the northern and southern tribes as they split off, the prophets taking a stand agains wicked king and queens of which Ahab and Jezebel are most recognized.
You can plainly see through these OT examples that there was always trouble IN the kingdom. But didn’t that all change in the New Testament? Didn’t that all change after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? Is not satan now a defeated foe? The answer is yes ultimately, yet no concerning his ability to still frustrate the will of God in the intermediary. As in the garden, the serpent still looks for willing vessels to deceive and use for his purposes. The answer is yes in that now spiritually everything is set in the blood of Jesus for the believer. Our salvation is secure and our destiny is set, the perfected kingdom of God will be our home for ever and ever. The devil is defeated. His ultimate fate will be being cast into the eternal lake of fire on that last Great Day! Praise God…I get Holy Spirit goose bumps just meditating upon that as I write!
Now let’s look at a NT passage from the lips of Jesus. A kingdom parable found in Matthew 13:24–30 (NASB95)
24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
26 “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
27 “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
29 “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
This is a kingdom parable and it is applicable to our day and time. The truth is evident, the devil still operates within the Kingdom of God. He is ultimately defeated and his works will ultimately be overcome, but in the mean time we must deal with tares (weedy people/the workings of the devil) even in the golden harvest (God’s true people/the fruit of kingdom labor.)
There are two reasons I show you this today:
Lastly, look at the end of the parable…no worries. God’s not up in heaven wringing His hands over all this. He’s telling us, grow, grow, grow in the things of the kingdom and let Him deal with the tares when it’s time.
The Kingdom isn’t for the lazy…
Let’s keep it real as we look into the subject of the Kingdom of God. It will never be experienced by lazy people. You may be as busy as a bee and work from daylight until after dark and still be lazy in the things of the kingdom. You may be full of zeal in some religious activity and still be lazy in the kingdom.
Remember the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10?
Luke 10:38–42 (NASB95) 38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Think about this story for a moment. Usually we are a bit hard on Sista Martha. How dare her be preparing Jesus a wonderful meal. How dare her build the fire for the oven, wash the dishes extra clean, and set the table so the King of Glory could have a feast among dear friends! I hope you get my point. Martha was doing a great thing and she was a little more than upset to go to Jesus and ask him to make Sista Mary help her. Yet Jesus turned the tables on Martha and told her Mary had chosen the better part of sitting at His feet while He visited them. Mary was actively LISTENING to the Him.
At the risk of being misunderstood, I must tell you that after preaching and teaching the Word of God for over 30 years, I have found far to many of God’s people who are flat out intellectually lazy concerning spiritual truth. The sad fact is if churches don’t put on some form of stage show every Sunday, many people are simply not interested. And, God forbid the pastor go more than 30 minutes or past the holy lunch hour.
To take this a step farther, many Christians will simply turn you off the first time they hear something which doesn’t fit their traditional understanding. They don’t even try to comprehend. That my friend is pure intellectual and spiritual laziness! Jesus said time and time again, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He didn’t mean to just hear His words, He meant for His words to be HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, MEDITATED UPON, and most importantly to let His words change the way you think.
You will not discover the truths of the Kingdom by being lazy in your thinking. Most people today know and understand more about their computers than they do the things concerning the kingdom. Neither is God pleased with all your service at the expense of your spiritual growth. It shouldn’t be an either/or choice, it should be both! The Holy Spirit wants to work with your mind. He wants your mind to work with Him so He may teach awesome truth to you.
One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is found in Matthew 6:33 (NASB95) 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Seeking the kingdom is an ongoing process of spiritual growth. Once you say “that’s it,” that’s it. It’s all you will ever have. There is always more in the kingdom. This passage is also a tremendous promise in context as well. The “all these things will be added to you.” are the needs of life which the world seeks to understand how to acquire. Jesus said YOU AS A KINGDOM CITIZEN come to seek and understand the things of the kingdom and all your needs will be met.
Don’t hide your spiritual laziness behind the smoke screen of even christian service. Remember, it’s not either or, it’s both. So sit down Martha and learn of the ways of the kingdom’s King, Jesus. There will be plenty of time to fix dinner.
Have You Seen the Kingdom Yet?
Ah the Kingdom of God. What an incredible place to live. Have you seen it?
There is nothing like gazing upon a special place for the first time. There are several physical places on earth which I have been privileged to see for myself. The images are burned deep into my memory as well as the “feelings” I had when I first looked. Places like the Grand Canyon with its depth and awe inspiring beauty as well as the Dead Sea with its deep blue waters set in the stark white of its desert surroundings. Even as I write I get the “goose bumps” and I want to go back some day!
Seeing the kingdom for the first time however, was far greater than either of these two physical experiences. And the best part? I haven’t had to leave. I’m a resident in it and you are too if you have the spiritual eyes to see.
We must understand the Kingdom of God is not something to be seen with physical eyes, but rather spiritual ones. That is why it is such a mystery to those who are blinded by the realm of the flesh. Let’s just take a look at a couple of principles to get us started.
You must have spiritual eyes and spiritual revelation to “see” the kingdom. But no worries! As a born-again believer you are equipped by the Holy Spirit to see! Jesus said so in John 3:3 (KJV 1900) 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. The implication here is if you are born-again, YOU MAY SEE this awesome place. This kind of dispels some super spiritual attitude which says only the elite have access to the kingdom of God.
Jesus said this in Mark 4:11 (KJV 1900) 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: Jesus spoke these words to his disciples to let them “in”. He was not telling them the Kingdom was some unapproachable place but rather that those who don’t want it will never be able to understand it. The sad part is He was referring to the religious leaders of his day. They were comfy in their nice neat religious ritual which they could control without the presence of God.
Jesus on the other hand was declaring the rule of God had come and He was calling all people to come under it. I find it interesting that Mark’s gospel records the first words of Jesus as these, Mark 1:15 (KJV 1900) 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Jesus said to repent which literally means to have a change of mind or to turn. He said to believe the gospel which literally means “the good news”. What was this good news? The King and the Kingdom was here.
The problem was (and we will look at this in another blog post to come) the kingdom didn’t come as expected in the physical realm. Nope. It came in a far greater way in the realm of the Spirit. It is not a place you can go to, it is a place you reside in. We have the mentality that we go to the church not realizing the church is not a building, but rather a people who are in Christ. I fear we have the same mentality about the kingdom believing it is a place we will go to rather than a place we now live in! It is a NOW kingdom which is all around us and is far more real and far more lasting than the physical world in which we now reside. It’s eternal. Can you see it?
The truth is you may if you’re willing to look through spiritual eyes with faith. Paul said we as believers were to walk by faith not by sight. Are you willing? Are you willing to believe what the Word of God teaches in this area so that you may recognize the greater purpose for your life? Are you willing to believe you are now citizens of another kingdom, the Kingdom of God which operates virtually opposite of the natural world we live in? A kingdom whose resources never run out, whose blessings never fall short, and whose King is alway loving and benevolent towards you even in dry seasons and moments of discipline?
Why not ask the Father today to show you His Kingdom? My friend, once you “see it” you will never settle for anything less in teaching nor experiential living!
Let’s get real with the Gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus actually preached.
The fullness of the Kingdom of God was never about individual men, women, movements, churches, or denominations nor was it about individual nations, races, or cultures. All of these may be instruments of the kingdom, but they in and of themselves are not the bigger picture of the Kingdom that Jesus taught and demonstrated while upon the earth.
Furthermore, there was never meant to be an “official religion” of the Kingdom, much less an “official denomination”. The New Testament is about making followers of the resurrected Christ, not followers of a form or ritual which we have squeezed into a neat little sixty minute “worship” service in a building we call “church”. The Kingdom of God, its government, and true worship in the Spirit is far greater. We wonder especially in the American Church just where have all the miracle gone? They have gone the way of the true kingdom message, lost to ridged tradition and a loss of Kingdom understanding.
The Kingdom of God is entered through the born-again experience initiated by the Spirit of God when we repent of our sins and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! We are baptized into the Body of Christ, the one true Church and we are translated into an entirely new kingdom from the kingdom of darkness, we become citizens of a whole new governmental system.
…This blog is dedicated to helping you bridge the gap between religion and relationship, form/ritual and true life in Christ. Let’s follow Him as He leads us into kingdom living for today.