What Exactly Is the Kingdom of God?

pray_at_cross

“Passport, please.”

I handed the officer my passport and anxiously waited for him to motion me through the gate.

“What is the purpose of your visit?” He asked.

“Vacation.” I answered.

“How long will you be staying?”

“Four days.”

He handed my passport to me. “Next.”

I was in.

A citizen? No. Just a visitor.

How can we seek His kingdom unless we understand what His kingdom is?

Recall the words of Jesus.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 New American Standard Bible

The Greek word for kingdom is basileia. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words notes that this is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, or dominion. It does not refer to a physical territory but to the reign of God.

To seek His kingdom is to seek His reign over our lives. A king demands full authority over his subjects and expects absolute allegiance from them.

Although a visitor must follow all the rules, citizens are expected to be loyal.

Unlike an earthly king, God does not force His authority over us. It’s my choice to submit to Him, and submission must include every part of my life.

I can’t claim God as my King if I have not given Him full authority over all areas of my life.

Consider these steps:

  1. Prayerfully ask God to reveal those areas that have not been submitted to His reign.
  2. Write those areas down.
  3. Begin with one area and ask God to tell you how to turn it over to Him.
  4. Follow His direction.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each area on the list.

If we’re serious about putting Jesus first in our lives, we need to quit playing around with our relationship with Him and do what He said. Seeking God’s reign in my life is not an option.

Until next time, #Jesusfirst2016.

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The Cart Before The Lion

 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 New American Standard Bible

We want “these things” but are unwilling to wholeheartedly seek Him first.

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We Are Built to Last

I’m privileged to have a guest post from Carole Sparks. Please see her bio that follows the post.

We Are Built to Last

By Carole Sparks

My pen ran out of ink this morning; I threw it away. We finished a box of cereal; I put the box in the recycling bin. My son stained his white t-shirt (not just a little bit—a huge stain), so I dropped it in the garbage. Disposable. So much of what surrounds us these days is disposable, and that perspective infiltrates our culture.

We live in a world now of plastic and glue Disposable honor, replaceable truth If a pot breaks, why fix it, man, what’s the use? It costs less to buy it brand new

-“Built to Last” by Heartland (courtesy of metrolyrics.com)

It’s easy to go from disposable pens to disposable electronics to disposable homes to disposable…well, people. But we are not disposable. God did not create us in order to throw us away someday.

Back in the Old Testament book of Micah, God gave His prophet certain words to be proclaimed among the people. The people needed correction; they were corrupt, unfaithful, and greedy. The Lord delayed for a long time, but now judgment was coming. But here’s the kicker: the remaining few faithful people (i.e. the Remnant) were mixed up in that judgment along with everyone else. So when Micah got around to the hopeful part of his prophecy, God had him say, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief” (Micah 4:6). Did you catch that? It’s easy to miss. God said, “those I have brought to grief.” God caused their pain. God knew, when the judgment started, that faithful, innocent people would get swept up in it, but He also knew they could endure it. He knew they would endure, be gathered up, and form a new nation: “I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation” (4:7).

Why would God do something like that? Why would He let his faithful people be hurt? The answer is simple but hard to swallow. It was necessary for His greater glory. Earlier in the chapter, Micah prophesied about a new temple to which people from all nations would stream—one that far exceeded that used by the Israelites (4:1-2). This judgment was a necessary part of that plan. In our lives, too, difficult times are part of His plan and enlarge His glory.

Still, how could He let that happen to weak and vulnerable people?

Maybe we’re not as weak and vulnerable as we think. Let’s use an example. Grains, such as wheat, grow with a tough outer shell. Before we can grind the wheat into flour, the grains must be beaten to remove that shell, the “chaff.” (Both Ruth and Gideon did this, if you want Biblical references.) The Creator designed those kernels of wheat to be able to withstand the necessary beating. He did that for us, too. We are designed to withstand those difficult times, to endure even judgment that we personally don’t deserve. We are built to last. That judgment may leave us crippled or cast away, like some of the grains get broken or pushed to the side on the threshing floor, but we will endure! And also like the grain, we are far more useful for the Kingdom after such a beating.

grain

I know this from experience, my friend. Even when you don’t have any confidence that you’ll make it through the beating or judgment or trial (whatever you want to call it), He already knows because, when He created you, this difficult time was already in His mind. Be sure, you are built to last!

Oswald Chambers says it well: “We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God?” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 4).

 

CaroleSparks

Carole is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

The World Is Really Screwed Up. Now What?

The world is really screwed up.

Last Thursday 43 people were killed by suicide bombers in Beirut, Lebanon. Then on Friday 129 were killed in Paris by terrorists. Back in April 147 people were killed at a university in Kenya by terrorists.

The list could continue.

The world is really screwed up.

When discussing situations like those in France, Lebanon, and Kenya, Christian speakers and writers will most likely proclaim that “God is still on the throne” or “God is in control.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

But I’m bothered by our response to those statements. They can many times end a conversation. Then we just sit back and let God handle it. We become complacent. We go on about our day.

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How Can a Christian Effectively Moon Someone?

Surprise

Ever been mooned? I was once. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. Have you ever mooned anyone? No? If you’re a Christian you really need to learn how to moon. Actually the Bible requires it.

“Seriously, Stan,” you may ask, “the Bible requires a Christian to moon people?”

Yep.

“Scripture, please,” you demand.

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The Grace Response

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 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

That familiar verse is Jeremiah 29:11 from the New American Standard Bible.

Many times you and I have quoted and claimed the promises from that verse. It speaks to our needs. We don’t want calamity. We do want a hopeful future. It affirms our faith in a personal God who does, in fact, have a purpose for each of us.

Some claim that verse has been lifted out of context. I disagree. Other verses and passages confirm God’s desire to give us a life of purpose and a hopeful future.

In fairness to those in the lifted-out-of-context crowd let’s take a look at that verse within the context of Jeremiah 29.

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3 Ways to Make Your Days Count

Number

There are obviously more than three ways to make our days count, but it’s easier to remember three ways than to remember thirty-three ways.

Consider this verse from Psalm 90.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

“Number our days.” What does that mean? Is it simply counting the days we live here on planet earth, or is there a deeper meaning?

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