Tag Archive for Kingdom of God

Let’s Work Together

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I disagree with most of the political views I see you express. I disagree in the very strongest terms.

But bottom-line, I want what you want: a just and godly society.

Friends, let’s face the truth head-on: no election, no political party, and no candidate will bring that about. Harsh political talk will not lead to more peace and goodness – only more division.

Let’s focus our thoughts, words, and efforts on the only Person who will bring about what we all want: Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Let’s do what Jesus taught: “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” knowing that God Himself will take care of all our other concerns (Matthew 6:33).

The Golden Kingdom

Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with difficult questions. So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones. 

When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. Solomonanswered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.  

Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:1-9, NASB)

The early chapters of 1 Kings describe the reign of King Solomon. God blessed him with wisdom, wealth, and luxury beyond description. Even other kings and queens, accustomed to all the best, found Solomon’s kingdom beyond imagining.

But the whole story is not so glorious. This wisest of kings married many foreign women, and they led him into idolatry. Political and military troubles increased in his later years. Under Solomon’s son, ten of the tribes of Israel broke away and formed their own country, leaving Solomon’s heir with only two tribes to govern. The Golden Kingdom was gone as quickly as it had come. The wisest and richest of kings left a bitter legacy.

But Solomon’s kingdom, however imperfect and short-lived, foreshadowed Christ and pointed us to Him. The greatest of earthly wealth and wisdom proved to be only a foretaste of the boundless gifts God gives to His people in His Anointed One, Jesus Christ. In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3, NASB). In Him “something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42, NASB).

Father, may what little I do, no matter how flawed and temporary in itself, point people to Jesus Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Complete in Jesus Christ
Printed Music & Lyrics

Your Kingdom Come, Father!

The mall near our house isn’t doing well. As a business person myself, familiar with the pain of financial struggle, I empathize. It saddens me to see so many store spaces unrented and so many shops crammed with merchandise but empty of customers. The mall’s attractive façade puts on a smiling face, but its emptiness sings a mournful song of failure and loss.

But today, Father, You whisper to me that this is the story of all our world. Separated from You, separated from its Creator and His life, His wisdom, and His power, this world is bankrupt. It is doomed to struggle, emptiness, bitter disappointment, and utter failure.

But I hear new management is coming to the mall, and they have a vision. They have a plan, and they are working. They hope to transform this shell into a bustling, useful, successful shopping area.

You are working as well, our Father. You have promised that You will transform our dying world into a new creation, overflowing with life, love, fulfillment, fruitfulness, and joy. We have seen You work before, and we know You always accomplish Your purpose.

Your Kingdom come, Father. Your Kingdom come!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Hallelujah Hymn
Printed Music & Lyrics

Children of the King

Jesus said that when we believe in Him, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. He taught us about living in that Kingdom, and many of His teachings seem strange, difficult, or even backward to us: “Do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25); “Love your enemies…” (Matthew 5:44); “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). According to the Beatitudes, those who are blessed in God’s Kingdom are not the rich, powerful, and popular, but the poor, meek, and persecuted (Matthew 5:3-12).

As citizens of God’s Kingdom who live in this world as well, we feel that tension. We’re called to simply trust God when fear and worry feel more natural. We’re commanded to love some very unlovely and unkind people. We’re told to be lowly servants when our ego craves gold and glory.

But here’s the key. As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we live in the court of the King. This King is our Father, and we are His royal children. He is loving. He is wise. He is infinitely powerful. And this King is always, always, always with us, constantly looking out for our good, eager to provide for our every need.

Jesus teaches us that we should think and live as such royal children, in the immediate presence of our Father. When we do, everything changes! God is love, so we want to love everyone He loves. His resources are unlimited, so generosity is natural and affordable. Jesus’ upside-down teachings suddenly start to make perfect sense! When we trust ourselves to our Father’s care, we are free to live and love and give as Christ taught.

Remember: you are living in the presence of the King!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: What a Strange and Wonderful Kingdom!
Printed Music & Lyrics

God’s Kingdom Comes

As I study the gospels, I repeatedly encounter events that appear small from a human perspective but loom large from God’s perspective.

The Transfiguration
(Matthew 16:28 – 17:9)

Jesus referred to the Transfiguration as “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:28, NASB) and “the kingdom of God…come with power” (Mark 9:1, NASB). That’s quite a build-up. And to be sure, the transfiguration provided a spectacular glimpse of the true glory of Christ, in the face of His coming humiliation and suffering. But only three disciples experienced it, and apparently only for a few fleeting moments. How is that the powerful coming of Jesus in His Kingdom?

John the Baptist and Elijah
(Matthew 17:10-13)

The appearance of Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration caused the disciples to ask about Elijah. Prophecy had promised that he would return and prepare the people for the “great and terrible day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5, NASB; read vv.5-6). Jesus said that Elijah would “restore all things” (Matthew 17:11, NASB) and that John the Baptist was this returned Elijah. But John the Baptist’s ministry was relatively short, and his acceptance was limited. Herod silenced him, bringing his life to a premature and brutal end. To say that John restored all things seems a wild overstatement.

The Triumphal Entry
(Matthew 21:1-11)

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had consistently discouraged any open proclamation of His being Messiah. But then He arranged His own parade, encouraging Jerusalem to welcome Him as their Messiah. When the Jewish leaders protested, Jesus emphasized the absolute necessity and inevitability of such praise, saying that if His followers were silent, the very stones would cry out. But on a human level, all this seems a false promise. In this very city, within the week the civil and religious leaders would arrest, humiliate, execute, and bury this Messiah as a pretender and a criminal.

Cleansing the Temple
(Matthew 21:12-13)

After triumphantly entering Jerusalem as a conqueror, Jesus went to the temple and cleared it of commercial interests. He did this in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1-3, which foretold that the Lord would come suddenly to His temple and purify it completely. Jesus also connected His actions to Isaiah 56:3-8, where God promised to make His house a house of prayer for all nations, a place where outsiders would be welcomed and blessed. Yet it is unlikely that Jesus’ cleansing of the temple had any lasting effect. It doesn’t seem to measure up to the dramatic promises of Malachi and Isaiah.

The Resurrection
(Matthew 28:1-8)

We Christians make much of the resurrection of Jesus. But apparently the risen Christ appeared only to His followers, not to anyone else. Forty days later He was gone. Meanwhile, this whole world suffers on in the iron grip of death. Every one of us continues to die.

So why did Jesus and why does Scripture make so much of these events? To human eyes, they seem so partial and passing.

But indeed, the changes begun by each of these events are dramatic, deep, and very real:

  • The Kingdom of God—the presence and rulership of God—has come to us in Jesus. It has come in power and glory. By faith we see and interact daily with the glorified Christ.
  • The repentance and forgiveness preached by John are even now restoring right relationships between God and us and among His people. We are living in the peace of these restored relationships.
  • With exuberant praise, we His disciples welcome Jesus as our Messiah, our conquering hero who is delivering us from all oppression.
  • Jesus Christ is Himself the holy temple of God among us. He is purifying us to make us part of that holy temple.
  • Even now we are breathing the undying, unbounded life of Christ, and we will breathe it forever.

The Kingdom of God has come to us in Jesus Christ! It is growing in and among us through His Spirit. And in Him, it will soon come in all its power and glory.

Jesus’ life is a promise of all that soon will be for each and all of His people.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: See His Kingdom Come in Power
Printed Music & Lyrics