Category Archives: Kingdom

Commitment and Cost

When lawyers took over the religious aspects of the nation of Israel, the two major parties were the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They argued about orthodoxy (“right opinion”), and made laws about what could be believed. Since they disagreed about what should be believed, the strongest party always shifted the “truth” toward their opinion.

In Germany, under the leadership of Hitler, many Germans, both military and civilian, gave as their defense argument when the war was over that they were just “following orders.” The Roman Church declared that Martin Luther’s teachings were “unorthodox,” and threw him out of their church and tried to kill him. The Church of England declared that the teachings of John and Charles Wesley about holiness were unorthodox, and refused to let them teach in their buildings. They therefore launched a movement that gave birth to Methodism, the Salvation Army, the Nazarenes, Wesleyans, the Church of God (Anderson), Pentecostal Holiness, Assemblies of God, and many more. Their influence produced leaders in the English government that abolished slavery in that empire.

Jesus was killed by the writers of orthodoxy as a heretic. Your adherence to the opinions of those who declare the statements that are orthodox in the denomination where you serve is not as important as your adherence to the instructions that the Holy Spirit delivers to you. Do not fear making mistakes if you feel that there is more to the life we are called to than the leaders of your denomination think there is. Find the Truth. Surrender to it. Walk in it. Spread it.

 

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;

his tongue speaks what is just.

The instruction of his God is in his heart;

his steps do not falter.

(Psalm 37:30-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

 

An Inheritance

What it means in practical terms to “inherit the Kingdom of God” is not spelled out in Scripture as clearly as how to miss the inheritance is. A basic layer to God’s grace to us is that we can be born of Him by faith, transforming our spiritual lives into having the strength to access abundance and the power to overcome evil. We can overcome the evil in our own hearts and lives, and cooperate with Him to overcome evil in the cultures around us.

Just that basic shift – gaining supernatural life by being born of Yahweh – means that our names are written in His book of life, as described by John in the Revelation of Jesus:

Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Just not being thrown in the lake of fire means that I don’t experience the “second death.” It doesn’t mean that I have experienced the “life” that is implicit in the presence of my name in the “book of life.”

Experiencing that life happens when I am seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness. That means living in the place where I find His instructions and His ways. Learning to listen to Him and learning to obey what I hear from Him is the access we have to doing things rightly – walking in righteousness.

Not learning rules – developing a relationship with the Ruler. The two judgments are based on two different criteria: one is identity, the other is works. Everyone experiences both. The works judgment is a Kingdom exam. The identity judgment is a Church exam.

The one that ends in the lake of fire is not based on works. Did you gain an inheritance in the Kingdom? Will you be alive to experience it? Will you be alive, but miss the inheritance by being focused on unimportant things instead? Those are the judgments.

The Sower and The Seed

You have read the parable of the sower and the seed (Luke 8:4-8).

Notice that Jesus did not begin it by saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” He just started telling the story. When His disciples asked for an explanation, He described people failing to become believers, people becoming believers but not having the strength to bear tests, or the focus to bear fruit, and finally, successful believers. These listen to what God has spoken to them, hold on to it, endure the tests that come with it, and as a result of this type of life, bear fruit. It is a description of living in the Kingdom as believers. The Church at work in the Kingdom.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. The seeds along the path are those who have heard. Then the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the seeds on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.”

(Luke 8:11-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

 

Leaven of Pharisees

Jesus warned His disciples to beware of teachings from Pharisees that He called “leaven,” (Matthew 16:5-12). Leaven is yeast, or some similar agent of fermentation, like malt. It creates gas.

In Matthew 13:52, He told them that someone who had knowledge of Scripture and gained knowledge of the Kingdom was like a landowner (prestigious and wealthy) who could bring things of value that were both old and new from his storehouse. The old has one value, the new has another. John the Baptist only had the old, and could not recognize the new (Luke 7:11-19).

Leaven swells things up with gas. The Holy Spirit fills things up with Life.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

 

The Tares are not in the Church

He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’

“‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.

“‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.

“‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.'”


Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Therefore just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

(Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Jesus told the parable of the wheat and tares, and when asked, then decoded it. He made it clear that the parable was about the Kingdom, not the Church. The seeds are believers, but He started the parable by saying that it was about the Kingdom. Read it more than once, and look for a picture of what it looks like in the earth in the places where the King is obeyed. That is the Kingdom.

Why Laws?

When you are learning to ride a bicycle, training wheels help in the process. When you have learned, training wheels are in the way. When you are building the walls of a building, scaffolding helps in the process. When the walls are done, the scaffolding is in the way.

When we are learning righteousness, rules help in the process. When we have learned how to listen to the Spirit of the King, rules are a distraction from listening to Him for directions. If someone had managed to prevail on the day Jesus was to be crucified with an enforcement of the law “You shall not kill,” there would have been no Sacrifice.

Why the law then? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was ordered through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not for just one person, but God is one. Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law. But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.

The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:19-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Surrendered to Rules or Ruler

I have seen many Native American descendants in and around the area where I live who have been influenced by Christians to believe that what pleases Yahweh is obedience to the laws He gave Israel through Moses. It is heart breaking to see some who won’t have anything to do with the Church because they believe that the legalism is right, but they don’t want it. It is very difficult for them to be convinced that He calls His family members righteous without regard for what the ten commandments might condemn them to.

At the other end of this spectrum is a mindset that Christians are only responsible for trying to be nice most of the time, and generous (at least during Christmas.) We don’t really have any particular requirements over our lives unless we have the misfortune of sensing that we have been “called to the ministry” by the Lord.

I trust that the center of this narrow road with broad shoulders is the idea that is in the mind of the King: that He is the Lord of Heaven and Earth; that the Earth is His, and all who dwell in it; that one day every person will stand before Him when He sits for the first time as Judge of all that He has created, and all that He has redeemed.

It seems clear in the Book and in the Spirit that He desires (demands) absolute surrender to His intentions in every life. When we agree, He makes it become possible to surrender at that level.

Are you still holding on to some part of your life that you want to control? Any possessions that you don’t consider His, on loan to you? When we are all dead, He is the One Who will have all the belongings. Trusting Him with them now will make them assets now and later.

The Greatest of the Gods

In Exodus 18:1-12, a reunion is described when Jethro, the father of Moses’ wife Zipporah, brought her and Moses’ sons to him in the desert. Jethro had heard much of what Yahweh had done to the Egyptians when He delivered the Israelis from them, but Moses gave him more details and told him of additional events.

Part of Jethro’s response was, “Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all the gods, because they were arrogant against Israel, but He was above them!” His idea was that nations pick their gods, and that as the nations fight, the gods do the prevailing. Part of this world view believes that a strong nation with a weak god can’t prevail over a weak nation with a powerful god.

This mindset still prevails in much of the world. I think that it should prompt us to pray that the United States would prevail over Muslim murderers in the earth, and that the power struggle would prompt people who have been slaves of Islam to seek what they would perceive to be the greater God, since they have the misinformation that the US is a “Christian nation.”

As they seek Him and His Kingdom, they will come to understand that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, in spite of the false part of the narrative about His relationship with the US.

One Upping

So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.
(2 Corinthians 10:17-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible®  ©)

There is a dynamic in us that wants to find things we have in common with people we meet. It listens to their experiences and brings to mind similar experiences we have had. It wants to connect.

When this dynamic is influenced by pride or by fear of rejection, either of these powers can change it into a wrestling match instead of a connection tool. Some people call this “one-upping.”

You tell me about the time you lived through a storm, and I tell you about the bigger storm I lived through. You tell me about a trick your dog can do, and mine can do better. No matter how impressive your shared experience it, my response is “That’s nothing! I…”

Some problems with this bad habit are: People want to connect, not wrestle. When everything you did is declared to be better than what I did, I begin to suspect you of being a boaster, which is unpleasant, and eventually untrusted. If it is fear of rejection that is the secret motivation to boast, your actions fulfill your fears.

When your God commends you, or when someone else who loves you commends you, it is much more valuable than having to commend yourself.

Retirement Plans

Somewhere between 20 % and two thirds of Americans’ retirement plans include hoping to win a lottery, depending on who’s poll you trust. 21% of Americans polled believed that buying lottery tickets is a valid wealth building strategy. Current spending on lottery tickets is $62 billion annually. Some people call this industry, especially the portions of it that are government-sponsored, a tax on the poor.

For millennia, the earth has been filled with profoundly rich and desperately poor humans. The only answer to the situation that can bring improvement is the Kingdom of God. Socialists have a plan for wealth distribution that includes Robin Hood’s economic strategy. It is their version of the Kingdom, minus the King.

Only supernatural generosity and mercy can manifest the process of taking people from every culture and walk of life and bringing them into their destinies. As individual believers interact with people who need salvation and the practical necessities Jesus listed in Matthew 25, their need to be set in Family and receive God’s provision will be met.

As people seek the Kingdom of Heaven and the righteousness of Jesus, all their needs will be met.