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Tag: Kingdom of Heaven

The Pearl of Great Price!

First the Kingdom part 36
The Pearl of Great Price

What is most important to you? What do you value the most? All to often we look at our behavior without considering what motivates us. As human beings we can easily become conflicted when our physical desires compete with those things we value the most. We need worthy values that can definitely keep us from becoming consumed by our unhealthy desires.

In my lifetime I have not been through 2 world wars or the great depression, but I have lived through times of both personal and national tragedies.

The assassinations of JFK, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King reflected the darkness of those times. The racial tensions of the 60’s and the war in Vietnam continue to affect us today. The Covid-19 pandemic is currently affecting people around the world, whatever they believe about it. America is more divided than I have ever seen, and even Christians appear to be divided over a great many issues.

Jesus gave the solution, the answer that we all need 2,000 years ago. It was the answer I needed over 40 years ago, which I continually need the think about. It is the reason I am bringing this 36th chapter in this series. Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He spent the entire 3 1/2 years of His ministry teaching and preaching about the Kingdom. He told us that seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness should be our first priority in life. In seeking God’s will for us we will learn to trust in His protection, care and provision for us. Yes, we can be free from overwhelming fear and worry!

Sadly, far too many people are being taught to seek power, pleasure and possessions. Some Christians even equate these things to the Kingdom of God! It is the times like those we are experiencing now that often reveal our faulty foundations. Those who value these things more than the love of God are the most vulnerable. Perhaps they have learned about His grace and have received His forgiveness without having grown through discipleship.

The proof of this can be found in the many failed marriages, addictions to chemical substances, and the casual sex among professing Christians.

But we are not here to condemn anyone. We are here to share in the work of Jesus Who brought us His Good News! This message brings an entirely new way to look at life, the world around us and eternity! It also represents a different value system that drives us internally to holiness, righteousness and love!

Jesus once told two stories about men who found something that was worth more than all they had owned.

Matthew 13:44-46:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
NIV

In the first story something valuable was hidden. In order to gain possession of it this man had to purchase something he did not want or need. But to him the treasure he found in the field was worth the price of the land, which cost him everything.

So the kingdom of heaven is like hidden treasure. I can personally testify to this. I grew up in church and in an extended family of serious believers. My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher in a time when we were like the underdogs of Christianity. Even though I believed from my earliest years that Jesus was my Savior and Lord, I could not quite get what the Pentecostal church was all about. I did not know until age 21 that within that “field” there was hidden treasure! While I admit there were some errors and confusion in the Pentecostal movement back then, I would not trade my experience growing up for anything.

When we think about other passages of scripture which emphasize the free gift of salvation, how are we to understand the moral of this story? Are we being asked, like the rich young ruler, to sell all that we have and give to the poor to find eternal life? Are we being told to buy our way into heaven? Let’s stop and think about this for a minute.

The man who found the hidden treasure is one who knew the value of this treasure. He is like those of us who have heard the Gospel, believed it and have received forgiveness and grace from God. Once our eyes have been opened, we see that the true treasure is Christ Himself! At this point, many thousands have followed through from that time forward and placed knowing Christ above all else. Like Paul the apostle, they pressed toward the mark, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ! They pursued eternal life on this side of the grave, for knowing Him IS Life Eternal! They did not consider the high price of following Christ. They were overjoyed that they have found Him and desired to know Him more!

On the other hand, there are those who are satisfied to seek for what ever pleasures they can find in an earthly existence. They are willing to look for eternal life only beyond the grave. Such a value system does not motivate heroism, sacrifice and servanthood. Much potential for the Kingdom of God is lost.

In the second example, the man was a merchant who knew what he was looking for. He did not stumble upon a hidden treasure. The precious pearl was in plain sight, and the seller knew full well of its value. He asked for the highest price the merchant could afford, everything!

My question for you today is this: Are you struggling to keep focussed on Christ in these confusing times? Do you lose your joy over trivial things, much less major shifts in society or the economy? Have you considered the early Christians and even those in our day whose faith have prevailed over much greater dangers than those we face?

Is it possible that a fresh look at Jesus Christ and his message, the Gospel of the Kingdom could renew your joy in Him? Could a greater understanding give you a new perspective on His purpose for your life in the present reality of His Kingdom on earth? Yes, there is a realm that is beyond our imagination, which will be made known to us in the ages to come! But there is also a dimension of life to be lived on this earth now, and a future that we can help build as we participate with Christ today!

God is on the move in this earth today! We need to arise and become a part of what He is doing. We can be workers together with Him! The Kingdom of heaven is this treasure, this pearl of great price. When we realise how wonderful and real it is, when we can see the beauty and wonder of God’s plan working in this earth, we will gladly and joyfully give ourselves to serving in it!

Citizens of Heaven, Part 2


First the Kingdom, #35, Citizens of Heaven, Part 2. “Where Do You Dwell?”

Colossians 1:3-14:
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.


For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

In a previous discussion we read a statement the apostle Paul made in his letter to the church at Philippi. We learned the exciting fact from him that we believers in Christ are Citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). This is in fact a marvelous privilege. We understand that the first initial step in becoming a citizen of the kingdom of heaven is to repent of our sins, and to take on a different perspective. In this new perspective the universe is not all about me. It is all about God Who created it! From Christ we have learned that He created everything with good, loving intentions. Therefore, to understand how the universe is centered around Him is a wonderful and encouraging thought!

In my personal experience, this rejection of my old ways and thoughts and my surrender to Christ was truly like a change in location! Before I was living in a world of discouragement and defeat, now I am living in a place of hope, peace and victory! My thoughts became aligned with God’s thoughts! This change is not only psychological but also spiritual. Our minds and bodies were designed from the beginning to be connected to the spiritual side of our being and to God. The further we drift from Him, the darker our thoughts become. Thankfully, Jesus Christ through His atoning sacrifice has reconciled the world unto Himself!

By faith in Him we are relocated back into the land of peace, love an light!
Sadly, I do not always live in that heavenly place in God. what I mean to say is that I sometimes forget to renew my thoughts in Him. The world, the flesh and the devil all conspire to bring me down to that former level of defeat and darkness. We are in a battle, and we have spiritual weapons that can help us to maintain our victory! I personally need daily fellowship with God and with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I need to meditate upon His Word, the Bible and I also need to hear it ministered to me through fellow believers. Another key is in the sharing of it with others. This opportunity I am taking right now is a joy and a blessing to me!

Belief, trust, faith in the Word of God not only brings us into our initial salvation, but it also carries us forward to our ultimate victory over sin and death! The challenge is not to manufacture holiness in ourselves. The challenge is to cling to Christ against all opposition, while He works in our hearts and minds to make us holy.

Have you ever considered the freedom of living under His Lordship? This means I can no longer serve fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy or frustration. I am a citizen of heaven! My king is the Lord of life, righteousness, peace, love and joy! To often people see His Lordship as restrictive and as something to be resisted. They prefer their petty attitudes, their habits and addictions over His liberating truth. Even some Christians want to debate whether or not submission to His Lordship is necessary for salvation.

The fact is that God in Christ has lifted His people up. He has raised us up from our sin and death and caused us to sit in heavenly places in Him! It is not His will for us to live a mere earthly existence. The question is: Why would we not want to live in the fullness that He has for us?

In these times believers all over the world are facing the temptation to sink back into the place from which He has lifted us. If we are not careful, our minds can become filled with corrupting thoughts. Hatred, anger, fear, resentment, revenge, greed, vice do not belong in the place where we dwell. Our citizenship is in heaven! We are called to freedom in Christ!
Yes we are being tested to prove that we serve Christ and will not follow fallen humanity into slavery to the prince of lies. But I say this to encourage us. Jesus Christ IS the Lord of all! Hear the Word of God, the Truth that makes you free! You are not a slave to sin, fear, anxiety and darkness! You have been translated from that realm and into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. Let this truth dwell in you richly and let it grow to maturity. Let His thoughts and feelings overwhelm you. Consciously choose to dwell as King David did, in the House of the Lord forever.

He is your dwelling place, your sanctuary, your home.

Coming in Power!

First the Kingdom part 17, Coming in Power.

From the beginning of our discussions concerning the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven, We have tried to bring a back a balance which constitutes a major change in perspective for some. For many years I was taught that the Kingdom of God only belonged to the future. For the most part I heard about the experience believers would have in heaven with Christ after they die. In other times I was told about His eminent return to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom then. I was told nothing about the presence of the Kingdom of God in the earth now.

Please do not misunderstand me. While I have made a serious effort to show from the scriptures that Jesus Christ has already begun His reign in many, we do not discount the many passages in scripture which point to a grand and glorious future in the Kingdom. In both the old and new testaments we find many places that speak of indescribable power, glory, peace and joy to be experienced here on earth as well as in eternity. To claim all such events as in the past or present is to weaken the very force of the language and weaken the very hope that God has placed within our hearts! It is even difficult for me to understand how anyone who has truly spent any time in the presence of Christ could possibly be satisfied with the present state of humanity! We of all people must know that He would not be satisfied!

Let me tell you now that while all of the encouragement and joy I have in the present comes only from the presence of Christ in my life, much of that comes from what He has revealed to me by His Spirit about our future in the Kingdom of God! The difference in how I have come to understand it all today is that you and I have a part now in the Kingdom as that future unfolds!

Christ has come in power already many times. First He demonstrated His power over sickness, disease, and even nature. Finally He submitted to the judgment of evil men for the glory of God and to atone for our sins. In glorious power He returned from death in a resurrected body, and gathered his followers to confirm His Lordship in them.

After that He promised that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them, and that by His power they would witness of Him throughout the world! In Luke’s record in Acts, we see that promised power in action, bringing thousands into the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit has always been with us since that time, and has often expressed that same power through His church in marvelous ways throughout history. Those of us who truly know our own weaknesses also know how dependent we are upon His sweet presence and mighty power to live as effective witnesses for Him!

Like immortal words of the great entertainer, Al Jolson, who said “You ain’t heard nothing yet!” concerning the glory of Christ we can say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

The Spirit of God in His prophets have given us a few small snapshots of what is in store for those who love Him. From these and the witness of the Holy Spirit in us we can actually be “caught up,” as the apostles Paul and John were to see the future even clearer!

1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
NKJV

Perhaps you have seen some strange things coming from people who believe the Holy Spirit is leading them. I hope that does not cause you to shrink back from considering what the Spirit of God might teach you as it lines up with the apostles and prophets of Christ when He was certainly leading them! Consider the more abundant life that Christ said He came to give you! That is one with victory in your life today and even hope for untold millions of others on this planet! God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance!

There is a great and wondrous mystery surrounding the future coming of Christ to the world. In all honesty I cannot comprehend it! There are aspects that in the Bible seem absolutely terrifying! And yet every true believer and lover of Christ has this tremendous longing for His full and final appearing. Even today we recognize that He has appeared to us in some form, and that very appearance has changed us. From the Word of God we know that our transformation is ongoing and that we can continue to experience Him progressively. However from the Word we also know that there is a change coming that will eclipse anything that anyone in the history of the world has ever seen.

It thrills me to think about it! It also thrills me to know that we are not simply waiting for some great event in the future. We are tasting the powers of the age to come now, and we get to participate it it today! Eventually I want to talk more in detail about that participation. For now I hope we can simply revel in the knowledge that the Creator and master of every single atom and molecule in this entire universe has a wonderful purpose and destiny in mind for us all. The vision of that purpose can become brighter and brighter each day as we move toward it with each step.

At the end of the journey our Lord Jesus Christ awaits for a meeting with each of us face to face. At the end of history every eye shall see Him! His reward to those who love Him and faithfully serve Him is that final transformation. When we see Him as He is, we become like Him! When He finally and fully appears, we get to appear with Him in glory! Then the groaning of the physical creation will end. When God’s sons and daughters come to the measure of the stature of His fullness, when they are fully conformed to His image and are finally revealed, then the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of death and corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God!

My hope is that our hearts and minds can be filled with the vision of His glory today, but also that such a vision will empower us to fulfill His will for us. Yes there is a future ahead that is beyond words to describe it. That future begins now, as we continue to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We may not even understand all of what that means to us at the moment, but He will reveal all in His time.

For now we can cry out with our brother John in the Revelation, “Even so come Lord Jesus!”

The Promise Of The Kingdom

First the Kingdom Part 6, The Promise of the Kingdom

One of the great blessings of my life was to be born into a family of believers, and into a church family that values the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testament. They understood how the New Testament was concealed in the Old, and how the Old Testament was revealed in the New. To put it in another way, Christ was concealed in the Old and revealed in the New!

Even if one decides to start their reading of the Bible at the beginning of the New Testament, this will become evident. In the Gospel according the Matthew there are so many references to events in the narrative that fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. I submit that the New Testament cannot be fully understood and appreciated — that Christ Himself cannot be fully understood and appreciated without the foundation that was laid in the these ancient scriptures, which Jesus referred to as the Word of God, and that Jews today recognize as their Bible.

When John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” the people of their day already had a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm built in them for the Kingdom. The prophets of ancient times had planted the seeds for that anticipation. Looking back we have the advantage of understanding their perspective better, but more importantly we have God’s perspective of the message that John and Jesus brought!

We have looked at the “Original Blessing” that the Creator spoke over the Creation and the humans He created. Then we saw how David, the King of Israel wondered how humanity could be worthy of this high calling to rule the creation and be reflections of God’s divinity. This is the context within which the entire Bible was written. In the Old Testament there is the promise and the mystery concerning how it will be fulfilled, and the New Testament is where the fulfillment begins to come into view.

First let us look at some of the outstanding promises found back there.

From the fall of Adam and Eve, things became progressively worse. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and was warned of the great flood that was to come upon the whole earth. (Genesis 6:8, 13).

After the Lord saved Noah and his family along with all the animals in the ark, He renewed the Original Blessing to be fruitful and to multiply.

Genesis 8:20-21:

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD  smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”
NASU

Genesis 9:1-2:

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ” Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.  “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.”
NASU

So while sin had entered in and death because of sin, God was still intent upon blessing us! As we continue, the plan to fulfill that blessing is revealed a little more each time. Until then He reassures us that a cataclysmic judgment to destroy every living thing will never happen again!

In Genesis chapter 12 we see the call of God to Abram, who would later be called Abraham.

Now the LORD said to Abram,

“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. “  (Genesis 12:1-3)
NASB

Abram believed God and followed Him. Little did he know how these promises would come to pass. This was an early indication that the full original blessing might still be available. Abram would both be blessed and a blessing! He was to be fruitful and multiply in the way God had originally planned. Of course we know that things were not perfect for him and his descendants. This is still the time of promise.

Isaac would be born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, and Abraham’s faith would be tested through him. Abraham proved willing to obey God by offering his promised son, and would make a powerful prophecy himself. He declared that the LORD would provide Himself a sacrifice instead of Isaac, and 2,000 years later God would provide His only Son Jesus to sacrifice for our sins to restore the Original Blessing to humanity!

Abraham’s descendants were to be as innumerable as the sands of the seashore and the stars of heaven! This foreshadowed the 2 groups that would inherit his faith. Those descendants that were born from the natural process and followed in his footsteps, and those who would come later through Christ and their trust in Him! (Galatians 3:16, 26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22)

This great nation of both Jews and gentiles is God’s instrument for blessing all the families of the earth. It is a nation that incorporates every member in the world-wide Body of Jesus Christ! Do you see yourself as a recipient of a blessing, but also as a blessing to the nations of the world? If not, maybe you need to dig into the Old Testament a bit more!

We hope you will stay tuned until the next installment, as we continue to explore the wonderful promises presented from Genesis through Malachi! It is easy if you simply “like” Living Truth on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog at livingtruth.com

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