Posts Tagged Kingdom of God

The New Kingdom

Romans 14: 17

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has already established his kingdom here in the earth. He called it the Kingdom of God and it is mentioned no less than 51 times in the gospels. It is said that Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God (Luke 8: 1) but what are the characteristics of this kingdom? We get different segments of that answer in the New Testament, especially in the gospels but also in the letters. In today’s verse Paul writes about the values of the kingdom.

I have read many English versions of this verse and in so doing arrive at a much clearer understanding than in reading only this, the New American Standard Version. For example, the New Century Version reads, “In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The picture begins to reveal itself. Paul is defining what has value in the Kingdom of God. The Passion Translation reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.” The Kingdom is not all about rules. In the Kingdom what is most important is that we follow God, follow His ways. The Kingdom is not about works of the flesh or self-stylized righteousness. In Jesus’ Kingdom, legalism falls at the feet of love and devotion to God and our fellow human beings; even in devotion and kindness to all of God’s creation including the animals and the earth itself. Further, the Kingdom of God is living in the realm of the Holy Spirit. That is what the kingdom is and in that place there is ever-abiding joy, peace and righteousness.

There is a difficult lesson in this. This verse flies in the face of the law. Sometimes we separate God made law from the man-made laws which has so imprisoned us. The problem here is that there were laws about food which were given by God. Food and drink choices were a major separation between Jews and all the other nations. Now Paul writes that the rules about food are not important in the Kingdom of God. Other laws fall as well because Paul is revealing that living in Christ is the key, not legal adherence to rules of law. Living right with God is righteousness, being in your right place with Him and that trumps law. This teaching would have been a major challenge for the first century church who stood upon the law. It challenges us as well but let us look at another translation.

The God Word Translation brings the image of the Kingdom of God into even greater clarity, “God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives.” Do you see that the Kingdom of God is not a work-based realm? The right to live in it is not earned either. Our right standing in God, or living right with God, was purchased by Jesus. When we live in Him and the Spirit rather than in the work of our hands and minds, then we are in the kingdom and to live in the Kingdom means you automatically have God’s approval. You do not have to earn it. You do not have to measure yourself by a book of rules, and you do not need to worry. God is for you. He approves of you just as you are. Isn’t that a refreshing concept? You have favor with God.

Jesus established His kingdom in the Holy Spirit. He came preaching this kingdom which depends upon living in the Spirit and the Spirit living within you. Jesus’ message confounded and infuriated the preachers of his day because membership wasn’t earned and, equally important, because he consistently spoke about us in him and him in us, and his being one with the father, all of which was crazy talk to them. The same is true today, really. Revelation still tends to blow the top off our heads but that is Jesus’ way. As soon as you get a handle on one thing, he stretches you over to the next mountain top. But, truly, it is a fun way to live and we see from this verse that when we take the giant leap of faith to live in and by the Spirit of God, there is complete peace, shalom. Paul also lets us know that if we are not in joy, then we are not deep enough in the Spirit. Joy is in the Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus said he left his peace here for us to live in (John 14: 27). Then he gave us his Spirit. Therefore, it is an easy conclusion to reach that joy and peace are ours in him.

In Him, then is the Kingdom of God. And in the Kingdom there is complete approval, joy and peace. Is that good news? If you have ever felt left out or unaccepted it is time for your joy to come to full measure because in Jesus’ kingdom, the Kingdom of God, you are accepted. It is no longer about the rules but rather about seeking the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and leaning into him daily.

Kingdom Fruit

Matthew 21: 43

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

This discussion on bearing fruit is an important one. It is quite easy for us to slide into complacency as regarding our faith. With the weight and urgency of so many things pressing upon us, focusing on our spiritual growth may not always get the attention it requires. From there it is an easy slip into carnality. I think so often, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” It is so easy to slip just a bit, and then more and we have all experienced it. The next thing you know, the fruit on your tree is beginning to wither. People see it on us. You can tell just being around me if I am having enough time with my Father or not. It just shows.

This lack of production of good fruit is a problem for Jesus, well, not so much for him as for us because he has already revealed how the problem is handled from his end. He will give the Kingdom of God to those who are producing the fruit of it. Does his statement cause a little trepidation in your heart? It does mine. So, what is the test? Do you remember from last week? The best test I know for checking our fruit is to ask how we are treating people around us.

Does the checkout clerk at the grocery store feel the negative emanations coming off of you? Or, conversely, do you try to cover it up with platitudes and she senses how fake and superficial you are? I know I have been guilty on both accounts. Or do you see folks with Jesus bumper stickers on their cars cutting off other people in traffic? Don’t you sometimes wish they would remove the stickers? What message is conveyed about our faith when our actions are self-oriented and inconsiderate?

And here is the big test. If you could be completely honest with yourself, what do you honestly think your family members would say about the things you do and the way you speak to them? Do your words edify or demean them? How are people going to believe in our Christianity if we do not bear good fruit?

Jesus said the Kingdom of God has been reserved for those who will produce its fruit. Actually, what he said is worse than that because he said he would take the Kingdom away from us and give it to those who will produce the fruit of the Kingdom. I think we should ask ourselves, and our Lord, what the fruit of his kingdom is. Secondly, we need to learn to walk by the Spirit daily so that he can lead us in the way.

Let’s take this fruit inspection seriously. If we evaluate our own fruit, of course with the Lord’s help, then we will not be disappointed. He will lead us in the path that will bless us and others.

Stocked Refrigerator

Mark 1: 14

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

This comes from the very early days of Jesus’ ministry. This is one of those cases where reading the footnotes is as enlightening as the verse. The notes reveal that what Jesus was communicating to the people there was that the Kingdom of God had come near them. It is at hand, or maybe better said, it is here. Jesus told them that the time they had look forward to was fulfilled and the kingdom was no longer a promise but rather, a reality. Well, if it had come to pass 2000 years ago then we certainly are not waiting for it today.

There is another interesting footnote. Jesus said to repent and believe in the gospel. The fullness of what he was saying about belief is in the word “trust”. Jesus told them to trust in the gospel. What does that mean? How does he intend that we “trust” in the gospel? Is this something our heart does? Or, does it perhaps involve our actions as well? Either way, I think Jesus is telling us, even as he spoke to those saints 2000 years ago, there is something we are supposed to do now that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Jesus told people several times that the Kingdom of God had come near them. It was right within their grasp. The same is true for us. Everything Jesus is has come within our reach. There is an action involved, however, and that is the part which so often trips us up. We must reach out and grasp all that Jesus won for us. I wish it would just rain down on me and I wouldn’t have to lift a finger. I don’t want to do the emotional and spiritual work necessary to receive his Kingdom victories but I guess that is just laziness. It is like someone has stocked the refrigerator. I want a drink. I want the benefit that drink will give me but I don’t want to get out of my chair and go get it.

Some of us just didn’t realize Jesus has stocked the refrigerator for us. We are dying of thirst when there is every kind of drink waiting for us. We have to learn to trust this gospel and expect the refrigerator to be loaded. We should begin to expect that the coming of the Kingdom brought with it life-altering properties. Certainly, this would be a great subject for our walks with Jesus. You can ask him to tell you exactly what he meant by, “repent and trust in this gospel.” I don’t want any of us to miss out on the Kingdom or its resources. The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is here. Repent and trust in the gospel.

Little Children

Matthew 19: 14

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I wish to solicit your help today in writing the Word of the Day. What do you think Jesus meant by this statement? What are the characteristics of children that Jesus found so attractive? What are these characteristics which distinguish children from adults? Post your insights to the site and we can have a worldwide dialogue on this question.

Jesus wants us to be as children and he tells us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are as children. So, what are these important traits? Jesus must have had childlike qualities because, surely, the kingdom of God is his. I will offer one trait of children that I admire.

Children are honest. That is one of the things I so like about them. Sometimes it is difficult to have the same level of relationship with adults because of honesty issues. There are folks you know that you cannot trust the words coming out of their mouths. I find these people and relationships with them tedious. Sometimes it feels like too much work to be in relationship with them. Even those who are not intentionally deceptive in their relationships are sometimes misleading because they have lied to themselves for so long that they don’t even know their true selves. You know the good news though. His name is Jesus.

Jesus’ indwelling presence within us can heal, inform and resurrect our lives. If we will open ourselves to him, if we can be honest with our feelings and our thoughts before him, he will rejuvenate the spirit within us so that we will be reborn in every sense. Then our reborn selves will be childlike.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Go to https://iveyministries.org/word-of-the-day/ to post your suggestions.

No More Famine

Ezekiel 34: 29

And I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore.

Do you want to understand how God and His kingdom work? This verse shows us when we stop to pause and consider. Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a seed (Mark 4: 30 – 31). When God restored the nation of Israel He didn’t promise to feed them. He prepared for them good ground where they could sow seed and it would produce such a crop that they should never hunger again nor be at the mercy of other nations.

God is always working through seed. That is why He tries to get us to sow our money seed. It is not that He needs the money. For goodness sake, His driveway is paved with gold. God does not need our money. He is, instead, trying to get a harvest for us. He has provided good ground so that we will never hunger. We should never be at the mercy of the Philistines either because our seed ought to produce a crop.

This is God’s remedy for us, to provide the means by which we will always have everything we need. He prepares the ground and then protects our seed. Our two obligations are sowing and harvesting. This is how the kingdom of God operates. God does not intend that His kids should experience famine. This is the method through which God intends to meet your need. Talk with Him about what seed you should plant and where that fertile soil is which He has prepared for you. Then do not be bashful. Sow generously and harvest bountifully.

Be a blessing & Be blessed

Proverb 10: 22

It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich , and He adds no sorrow to it.

I wrote yesterday that the fastest way to bless yourself is to pray for those in leadership positions above you. Frankly, you ought to be praying for those people in the organization who are below you too but that topic is for another day.

Do you know it is okay to be blessed? Even financially? Well, think about it. Who should be the most blessed, the kids of the King or the heathen unbelievers? There are a lot of components to being rich but it would be pure foolishness for me to suggest that financial wealth isn’t one of them. Dad wants you blessed in every area of your life. that, truly, is the only way you can be rich. You gotta have health, money, a great relationship with your heavenly father, and good friends. You are not, however, going to have these things if you don’t believe the father wants you to have them. If you think any part of the blessing is prohibited then you are going to choke off the flow. Believe it!

There is a reason Solomon wrote this verse. He conveyed two messages in it. First, wealth comes from the Father. Period. There are no qualifiers here. God is the Lord of the blessing. He is the one who sends the blessing to you. Secondly, Yahweh means for you to have the blessing and to be rich without guilt. He is the one who blesses you. What reason would you have to feel guilt over what the Father is doing?

Here is the point I want to get to though. As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, the way to be blessed is to bless. If you will hold up your leaders to the Lord, praying for them and refraining from speaking negatively, then good will come. Now, here is the rest of the secret. The remainder of the blessing comes on the same highway. Father God is the Lord of provision. No doubt about that. He has warehouses full of provision with your name on it. The easiest and the best way to requisition what He has already laid up for you is to give to someone else? Be a blessing and be blessed. That’s how this thing works. “That’s crazy!” you say. Yep! It is. The Kingdom of God does not work the way the world does and that actually makes sense too. The world has been perverted, which means it has been twisted where it just doesn’t work any longer the way it was designed to work. So, knowing that, you really wouldn’t expect the world and the Kingdom to work the same way. The secret is in knowing how the Kingdom works and applying those procedures. That is why I am telling you this, so that you can apply the Kingdom principles and get yourself blessed. Doesn’t that sound great?

Bottom line? If you want to be blessed, be a blessing. Kinda weird, very cool, but most importantly, it works.

A Kingdom in a Seed

Mark 4: 30 – 32

And He said, “How shall we picture the Kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”

Jesus was trying to illustrate the Kingdom of God for us. He compared the Kingdom of God to a seed, and not just any seed, but the smallest of all seeds. He tells us, though, that once this seed is sown, it yields the greatest harvest of any seed of the garden. The mustard plant not only yields a food crop, as do the other garden plants, but it also provides shelter and protection for the birds. God is telling us that we need sow only a small seed in order to reap a large harvest, a harvest which will provide our food as well as our protection and shelter. Everything we need is contained in that small seed. Operating in the Kingdom of God is easier and more fruitful than operating in the world. The world is like the rest of the garden where you labor and yet reap a smaller crop. The Kingdom of God operates in faith and efficiency. You can sow smaller seeds and yet gain all that you need.

As you meditate on this scripture, you will find more and more depth in it. Read it then think about it then re-read it. Remember, this is Jesus trying to demonstrate the Kingdom of God to us so it is probably in our interest to glean all of the understanding from this that we can.