Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Tag: millenium

Light of the World!

Dedication

This book is dedicated to anyone who hungers for a greater sense of purpose in life. It seeks to inspire us all to cast off our human limitations and to believe that all things are possible with God. The “all things” we refer to are not foolish and vain possibilities but all things that pertain to the Kingdom of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures. If your desire to move forward and prosper in life by faith has hit a proverbial brick wall, I urge you to refrain from giving up. There is a drive, a fire within you that should not be quenched, but perhaps redirected.

This might sound like a cliche, but it is true: God has a purpose for you in this life. In this purpose you are invincible through Him. It is my hope that a fresh look at God’s glorious Kingdom purposes for this earth will widen your horizon and open your eyes to the significance of your role in them. At this point I must warn you. Some of the limitations we face are actually our own beliefs about God and His purposes. As many of our biblical heroes before us, we must be willing to allow God to change our points of view in certain areas. we are to be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds, “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Even if a hunger for a greater sense of purpose is not very strong in you, perhaps we could at least encourage you in acquiring a greater desire for God in the Person of Jesus Christ. That is certainly a worthy goal and something in which we should all be fulfilled and blessed. That kind of encouragement would be counted as success from my point of view!

Introduction

Over two thousand years ago, the Son of God appeared to the residents of an insignificant country as the son of a carpenter from an insignificant city. He gathered men and women from various professions and recruited them in His mission of heralding the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. They understood that He was calling them to make great sacrifices, yet it is doubtful they realized how difficult their future would actually be.

In the end they received the courage to follow Him. That courage is greatly responsible for the fact that His Name is known yet today. With the help of God and the power of the Holy Spirit moving in them and in the people they met, they testified in an amazing way that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and Lord of all, as witnesses to His resurrection!

Now the centuries have passed, and the knowledge of Jesus and His story has gone around the world. That knowledge has impacted governments and cultures in ways that cannot fully be measured. Some have misused and abused this knowledge. Others have seen the benefits of His life and message.

In this 21st Century, many are concerned about their future and the future of society in general. Jealousy, envy, rage, war, racial tensions, sexual immorality, drug addiction, murder and crime seem to be on the increase. Faith in Christ, at least statically speaking seems to be decreasing. How should we respond to the many crisis we are facing today?

This book seeks to challenge believers in Christ to greater faith, vision and courage. As a natural born coward myself, I know our only hope is in seeking the source of greater faith, vision and courage — Jesus Christ Himself. I believe by seeking Him, we will also recover a greater, deeper understanding of His message, His mission, and and the hope that it will bring. That message is the Good News of the Kingdom of God! It is a message that is very relevant to the issues of every age!

Thankfully we live in a time when more people are seeking to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. In this book I will earnestly try to incorporate what I have learned over many years from others and from my own study about the kingdom of God which I believe will embolden your testimony for Christ. Christians in many parts of this modern world are being ignored, ridiculed and often persecuted for their beliefs. Some of this might be their own fault, of course, but Christ Himself warned that we would face opposition for His sake. The many kinds of opposition are not all going to be detailed here, but the basic and fundamental elements of our struggle will be recognized.

The goal here is victorious faith in Christ, the very kind of faith that was seen in the first Christians! Have you ever wondered how they endured persecution and torture for their faith, when most of us recoil from the slightest insult? Have you considered how our petty squabbles among ourselves as believers can work against an effective witness for Christ to the world? Or how about this? Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you were created for more than mere existence? Most of us believe that there is a glorious future in eternity with Christ, but what about our lives today? Can they have more meaning and purpose and bring more glory to God right here on earth? Isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray, for the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven?

Writing this book is part of what I need to do in response to my concerns in these days for my family, my city, my country, our world, but mostly in response to my Lord Jesus Christ, who called me to Himself and revealed His glorious Kingdom to me. It is the result of my lifes work, my legacy, which I pray will come to the benefit of as many as possible!

Therefor I invite you the reader to listen for the voice of the Lord as you continue in these pages. He just might use them to give you a greater revelation of Him, His kingdom, His love, His power and His purpose for us all!

Chapter One: Are You Ready For An Adventure?

This universe in which we live is fundamentally one of order. What we call the laws of physics are basically that – laws that are constant and unchangeable. One plus one will always equal two. The moon revolves around our earth, and the earth revolves around our sun to produce days, months and years that help us to mark time and seasons. Those regular patterns are important to us and help to produce stability so that life can continue here.

On the other hand there is much room for diversity and even chaos! This universe is amazing and infinitely complex. We human beings are an integral part of that order, that complexity, that diversity and even the chaos! In all this we sense the need for security, and predictability. Sometimes in our search for security and comfort we neglect another of our basic needs. I believe we also need challenges, excitement and adventure! How else can we explain the thrill of an amusement park and a ride on a roller coaster? Why do we very often pay hard earned money on opportunities to needlessly risk our lives or at least the risk of injury? Of course there are a number of safer ways for getting the heart pumping and an adrenaline rush. Many of us like watching others appearing to be in danger on a big movie screen, or watching our favorite athletes in the sports arena. The popularity of these kinds of entertainment seem to prove my point that we do indeed crave excitement.

In my humble opinion these are all cheap substitutes for seeing life itself as an adventure, a quest with a purpose. As we gain a greater understanding of the kingdom of God and our place in it, even the ordinary, repetitive activities of every day can have richness of purpose and meaning. When Jesus, the son of a simple craftsman and laborer began His career as an itinerant preacher, many hours and even days were filled with the ordinary matters of moving from place to place. Other times were intense and dramatic. All of it was energized by His sense of purpose, that same sense of purpose that He passed down to His followers, which in turn has propelled His church forward unto this day.

If you are all like me, you might have found yourself at times wondering about your purpose. Maybe you have wondered about what we are doing in the church? Are we simply doing what we do because we have always done it that way? Have some of our churches and our leaders lost that sense of purpose that was given to us by Jesus? When we read and study the bible to learn about God’s will for us are we reading it through the lens of our current traditions and culture, or are we reading it to hear what the Holy Spirit would teach us? These are things that you and I must work out between ourselves and God, but at the same time we can help each other, learn together and challenge one another in it.

Not all of us feel the need for excitement or adventure. Sometimes life itself provides all the challenges we can handle. We look for times of peace and tranquility. we come to a typical Sunday church service looking for comfort and encouragement. we go to great lengths to find ways of getting our minds off of our troubles. At this point I would really like to share a personal experience of mine. Many years ago I had come to a place of great despair. The thought of ending it all actually crossed my mind. Thankfully that thought was wiped away by the realization of the many people who loved me and my child who depended upon me. The fact that I was taught from my early years by my mother and others in my life about God and the bible had to be the most important factor that kept me going. One night while I was all alone in my home after putting the baby to bed, I began to cry out to God with all my heart.

When I began to realize how He continued to love me and to send wonderful, godly people into my life after all the years of resisting Him, I finally broke down. He was there all the time, just waiting for me to return to Him. That was my moment of total surrender, even greater than when I first gave my life to Him. The result was the lifting of that heavy load of guilt, worry and fear that I had been carrying for so long. The following morning the world seemed so bright and new! Even though my problems had not left me, I was lifted above them somehow! To this day I cannot put it into words. Back then but I tried to tell others about it immediately. Eventually I was able to talk with others who knew exactly what I was experiencing. Perfect words with them were not necessary. Since then I have met with people in many other parts of the world who also immediately understand me when I try speak about it. They too have had encounters with the Living God!

What came next is so important. I mentioned I was already a Christian. In fact I was saved and baptized at the age of 12. At this time I was about 21. For this entire time my devotion to Christ was up and down, hot and cold. It was many times a struggle for me to maintain a consistent testimony. I would see other young men who were bold in their faith, and envied them. Being backward and shy by nature did not help. Now that I had this powerful experience I began to understand where this boldness came from for them. I knew they had an experience, but I also knew that their knowledge of the Bible had a part in it. So I took up my bible and started to read in the first book of the New testament, Matthew.

The first thing that jumped out to me in Matthew’s Gospel was the preaching of John the baptizer. He claimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand! In a later chapter I read that Jesus also began preaching the same. I immediately thought: if the Kingdom of heaven was near to them then, how close could it be to us today, two thousand years later? I began to wonder if what I was now experiencing could be a taste of that very Kingdom! When I began to ask other more mature believers about this, I was amazed to learn that I was correct! In fact, they were able to show me even more evidence in the scripture that the Kingdom of God was already here for us who had experienced this righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit of God! (Romans 14:17)

Of course that was only the beginning of this adventure for me. I would have many more questions, and gain answers in time, but I am still not finished with my story. As I said, my problems were still with me. I was overwhelmed at the time, and felt helpless to do anything about them. What I needed was direction from God. I found this as I continued to read in the Gospel According To Matthew. When I came to chapter 6 I knew verses 25 through 34 were speaking directly to me. I had been worrying not only about my physical needs of food, shelter and clothing, but about the future in general. To Jesus, this did not make sense since I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me. How could I get a handle on this? what could I do to get my mind focused in the right direction?

The most powerful instruction I had ever received, which has guided me for the rest of my life was found in these words: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) While I had spent so much of my energy worrying and stressing over my problems, now I would change my focus. I would put my pursuit of God’s will, His ways, His Kingdom first above all other things. It seemed a bit risky at first. But what did I have to lose? My methods have failed me, trying to work things out on my own for years. Could I really trust in God that he would provide what I needed if I pursued His Kingdom first?

What followed was just too amazing. In a matter of months, my health improved, my financial situation began to improve, I found myself among a wonderful group of worshippers and had a new job working for a minister who taught me the bible every day as we worked together. The first steps for me were to return to my former church, to pray everyday, to read the bible and Christian writings everyday and to fast regularly. As I began to grow spiritually, the Holy spirit would teach me and lead me in other areas of His will for me. I have continued on this path to this day.

Going on 50 years later, I continue to be challenged by God to keep moving forward in Him. When things begin to get easier, or the road gets smoother, we can rest a while. However if we get too comfortable, that sense of adventure can diminish. Along with that our joy and passion for Him can fade and the worries of this life begin to take over again. No, it’s life right now, in the Kingdom of God for me. How about you?

Citizens of Heaven!

Citizens of Heaven

Philippians 3:20-21:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (NASU)

If you have ever visited a country other than your native country, you might have felt a little strange or uncomfortable. I live in the US, and our neighboring country Canada, has a similar culture to ours. It is not so strange or different as some other countries. Still, when I visit there, I cannot expect to claim the exact same privileges that a Canadian citizen would claim. The same could be said of Australia, where my wife and I visited in the nineties. Other than their wonderful accents, and the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road, we felt quite comfortable there.

Another country we have visited is India. Now I can tell you that it is a different world! The culture is very different in some ways. The food is different, the language of course is different, the money is very different. All the things we take for granted every day can become challenges when in another culture. While Canadian money is in dollars close to ours, Indian rupees do not easily translate to US dollars. Back then I would often hesitate when thinking of spending 1,000 Rupees until I did the math. That sum today amounts to only about $14 US dollars!

Some people possess dual citizenship. In one sense, a follower of Christ also possesses dual citizenship, living in two worlds. We live on this earth, and because of our love for Jesus Christ, we serve the inhabitants of this world for whom He gave His life. However our service will be more effective and powerful when we fully understand how our primary citizenship is in Christ, and in His Kingdom! This might not be as easy as it sounds. I was born into this world first as an earth-bound creature. Over time I developed this internal sense that something was not quite right, or complete.

At an early age I began to hear about the Word of God, and the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. This ignited that internal sense with a spark within me that has continued to grow and burn brighter year after year. I live in a material world that was created by God for His glory, but that world has become filled with corruption, sin and death. I am reminded of this fact every day of my life.

The knowledge that I am more than a material being has created a hunger for heavenly, spiritual things. I am not only talking about the future bliss that all believers know is real. I am talking about a present reality! This heavenly reality is where we all belong, and it includes the abundant life that Jesus came to bring! How often we overlook this fact: the mission of Jesus was to bring heaven to us! Everything he taught was to turn our way of thinking around towards this heavenly reality!

When I surrendered my heart and life to Christ my old life died and was buried with Him in baptism, in order that I can rise with Him from the grave as a new person! I have been translated from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son of God! (Romans 6:4, Colossians 1:13)

The central message of Jesus was for us to “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near!” Certainly we all have sins for which we must repent, but we could legitimately take repentance even further. The original Greek word in the scripture means “to think differently.” The source of our sin is in our attitudes and patterns of thinking about ourselves and God. Paul the apostle once stated that repentance goes further than sorrow for sin, which is good. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, or a change of mind. (1 Corinthians 7:10)

The bible has much to say about our minds and habits of thinking. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize how important this matter really is. Truly we are greatly blessed to know our future is secure in Christ. Even when we fail, His love for us does not fade. However, in the mean time, there is a purpose for our being here and for our dual citzenship.

This cannot be better spelled out than in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:14-17:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (NASU)

Jesus Himself told His disciples that they were the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hid! This city is even now representative of another dimension known as the kingdom of heaven. The light that is in us should not be hidden from the world around us. It is naturally seen as we allow God to change our thinking to align with His.

Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
(NASU)

While no human can plumb the depths of God’s infinite wisdom and love, we are called to repent in order to receive from Him great increases in wisdom, knowledge, understanding and love. His Word comes to us and His Holy Spirit reveals unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. (1 Peter 1:3). Our life in Christ begins and ends with the work of the Word of God challenging us and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and empower us.

God Himself calls us and reveals His will unto us to bring us into the state of grace, forgiveness of sin and a fresh relationship with Him. This is only the beginning. The same power that called us to reconciliation calls us to a higher life, a heavenly life. That life is described in the bible as one characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and self-control. But these attributes do not come from a self-improvement plan or 12 step program. They come from living in relationship with God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us!

Colossians 3:1-3:
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(NASU)

So what are these higher things? He goes on to explain:

Colossians 3:12-17:
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
(NASU)

The “things of the earth” are not simply the material world, which God created and described as very good. In using heaven above and the earth beneath as descriptive terms, He is showing us that there is a lower plane of existence in things like: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech and lying. (Colossians 3:5-11).

Earlier I mention my visits to India. Before I could enter that great country, I had to get permission from a representative of India in the form of a visa. So I contacted the Embassy of India in Washington D.C.to receive directions for the application. The Embassy of India receives authority from a country that is more than 8,000 miles away. That authority is very real. In fact, I could not even get on a plane bound for India without a visa from the embassy.

2,000 years ago Jesus Christ established a colony on this earth which represents the Kingdom of heaven. It is the gathering of the community of those who have been born again to the new life and the new values of the kingdom. It is not defined by the organizations of men, but by the holiness of God that sets His people apart from the self-worshipping, self-serving ways of fallen humanity. Jesus personally trained those who would lead others into the Kingdom of God and gave them special authority much like embassadors that reside in other lands.

This authority is the Word of God, and it has the power to transform hearts and minds, to heal broken people and communities, to demonstrate the character of God, and to lighten the way in this dark world. Everyone who receives Christ, submits to His will, and is trained by Him can be commissioned by Him as an embassador of the Kingdom of heaven. And yet the newest believer born of the Spirit is already a genuine citizen of heaven!

The small community of apostles and other men and women that Jesus gathered has grown tremendously throughout the centuries. The number of true believers cannot be known by us. Jesus promised that His kingdom would be like the yeast that permeated the flour which rises to become a loaf of bread. Like the rock in the dream Daniel interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar, it is bringing all other kingdoms to naught as it fills the earth. Yes, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord is filling the earth! The Kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ!

As citizens of the kingdom now we are privileged to enjoy the blessings of heaven and to usher in the appearance of heaven to earth. No act that originated from the mind of God is too small or insignificant in His plan. For 2,000 years we have been praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That prayer is being heard and will be manifestly answered, but we can see and experience the reality of the wonderful reign of Christ even now!

As Citizens of Heaven!

The Increase of the Kingdom

First the Kingdom part 24, The increase of the Kingdom

In my early years I remember hearing that eventually the numbers of believing Christians would be reduced world wide. Very few people would be saved like in the days of Noah when only 8 people survived. That upset me. I hated to hear it, hoping that it was not true. Back then I only heard the passages of scripture that seemed to support this dire expectation.

You can imagine the excitement I felt when I began to learn of other passages of scripture which helped to explain the plan of God more clearly! While I admit of my bias against the old negative outlook I have confidence in the positive one for several reasons. First of all, it presents Jesus Christ as the wonderful, powerful and victorious Savior who I have come to know! He is so very real to me and has been so for over 40 years! It is inconceivable to me that he could ever possibly fail in His purpose. His Word has penetrated my heart, my mind, my life so thoroughly and completely to the point that it is more real than what I can see, hear and touch with my senses!

Over the past 40 years I have found countless others who have also been so touched by our Lord Jesus, Who is Lord of us all! We are not like those who have a shared illusion. Not at all! We have a shared reality that is not only subjective and personal to us alone, but can be backed up by hard evidence as well! In spite of the many trials and failures, the Lord Jesus is still building His church, and the gates of hell have NOT prevailed against it!

Every passage that appears to be showing otherwise must be weighed and considered along with many more that glorify God, revealing His wisdom, power and love for His creation.

A well-known passage from the prophet Isaiah that is often shown on Christmas cards tells us of Christ’s incredible victory:

Isaiah 9:6-7:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”
ASV

Here we do not have a picture of a diminishing reign, but one of unending advancement! The entire bible presents the reign of Christ as more than territorial. It is about the power of His character, His virtue, His justice and love at work in the hearts of people. His goal has never been to destroy humanity. He has gone to great lengths to restore us to sweet fellowship and communion with Him that existed in the beginning.

2 Peter 3:9:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
ASV

The message of Jesus was the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He called everyone who heard Him to repent of their sins and to believe in His Good News. When He was eventually crucified it did not at all appear to be good news. However his resurrection, His ascension to the throne in heaven and His outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers on the Day of Pentecost proved that the time for the reign of the heavens had finally come to mankind!

His power was not to steal, kill and to destroy but to give life. He was lifted up on the cross that He might draw all mankind unto Him! The fact is that everyone was enslaved, even the Romans who had long oppressed the people of God in Israel. Even the religious leaders who hoped to control them were in fact victims of Adam’s fallen nature. Christ died and rose again so that even they could be free!

His strategy was simple. He would gather unto Himself the humble and teachable. He would then empower them to spread the Good News through their words and actions. They became a city on a hill that could not be hid! Violent and evil men tried to suppress them as they do to this day. Yet, for 2,000 years the Kingdom of God has continued to increase in the earth. It does not depend upon the political or the economical power of this world. Too often Christians forget this fact. Our power is our faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit Who lives within us!

Every time a sinner hears and believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is changed by the Holy Spirit from within, the Kingdom of God advances. Every inch of spiritual growth is Kingdom growth. Every time believers gather in love for christ and one another, there will be an increase in the reign of Christ. Each time one discovers and operates in his or her spiritual gift to build up the Body of Christ, Christ will be seen and His will can be revealed.

This is not so much about visible church attendance but about our individually and collectively demonstrating the good, acceptable and perfect will of God! God’s kingdom comes to us, and His will is done in us as in heaven when we trust in His wisdom and love! The increase of His government and peace will never end!

In some quarters my words are considered heresy. Some believe that such optimism is naive and only belongs to liberal humanists or New Age adherents that deny the sinful nature of mankind. To them I would answer that the sin of mankind is no match for the grace, wisdom and love of Christ, and only their unbelief is standing in the way of their part in the greatest turning to God that the world has ever seen!

If any of these words ring true to you, I would encourage you to embrace this optimism that can only come from the Creator and Lord of all. If you have questions about bible prophesy, there are greater scholars than myself who can guide you through the difficult passages and can reconcile the different views for you. But most of all I hope you will join with those of us who proclaim that Jesus is Lord NOW, and who desire to live as citizens of heaven today, working to advance His reign by sharing His life day by day!

Building in the Kingdom

First the Kingdom 18, Building in the Kingdom

In a well-known passage of scripture Jesus said that He would build His church, and in that context He also spoke of the keys to the kingdom. It is being said today that only Jesus can build His church and His kingdom. But is that true? Are we simply passive spectators, watching the rise and fall of worldly kingdoms while we wait for that glorious day in the future when Christ finally comes to set up His Kingdom?

Maybe the ancient philosophers were right. Maybe God is like the two great powers, Fate or Fortune who control everyone’s lives. Or maybe the Eastern Guru’s could teach us how to passively accept the way things are — their path to inner peace?

The apostles of Christ and the First Century Church evidently did not have this information. They took risks every day as they carried out His directions. Some were beaten and killed. others were driven out of their homes because they were driving back the very gates of hell! All of these troubles could have been avoided if they had simply stayed to themselves and quietly meditated in private.

Of course we must always remember, Jesus said without Him we can do nothing. Absolutely nothing! I cannot take my next breath without Him! However He also said that all things are possible with God! With God. In Christ. Through Christ. These words describe the reality wherein believers in Him have power. The earliest believers were said to have God working with them! They are also described as being filled with God the Holy Spirit!

There are times to be passive as we await the Spirit’s direction. There are also times when we know what to do and that is nothing! This should not define the overall mindset or mode for those following Christ. The accounts we have of the lives of men and women in the Bible are there for a reason. It is not always that we should copy their actions precisely, but we can certainly learn from them. We can easily see that God often moved them to actions which impacted situations in the world around them. When they moved with Him, He moved with them.

Prayer to God was always the undergirding force. They were people who knew their God. Some of them were educated and intelligent. Some were simple people. Some were important figures in the world, others were virtually unknown. The important thing was that God wanted to use them, and that they responded to His call.

There are many instances in the Bible where God used people instead of His direct intervention. I am convinced that He is still working for the being He created in Genesis to reflect His image, and to care for His creation. Our participation is required in that process. One does not become responsible overnight. As a child my mother did everything for me. Gradually I learned to feed and to dress myself. Amazingly I can still remember being taught to tie my shoes. That was a rewarding experience! I was growing up, and I felt the satisfaction of that simple accomplishment!

God knows His children are not ready to command the wind and the waves, and to rule over creation under His authority. He only gives us greater responsibilities as we are able to shoulder them.

Sadly, many people are denied the privilege of growing in both their natural and spiritual responsibilities and the satisfaction this growth brings. They are being tricked by the same snake in the garden that fooled Adam and Eve into relinquishing their rightful place in the universe to him. The same desire for physical pleasure and foolish pride keeps people today from finding the greatest pleasure and fulfillment of them all, the glory of God!

Jesus proved without doubt that human beings were here for greater things. He demonstrated the dominion and power that was available to those who return to the simplicity of living in and loving the One Who designed us for that very purpose. We were never intended to be subservient to the powers of nature. Jesus revealed the future He has in mind for the creation. As God’s people grow unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, when they are finally revealed to be who they really are in Him, the groaning of the creation will end. As we fully find our place in his plan, and as we demonstrate that we are free from the results of the fall, so will creation be set free. Then will this planet be ruled and cared for by the nature of God revealed in humanity!

But we have to start now, by assuming the responsibilities God gives us little by little, day by day. He has brought those who have repented and placed their trust in Him into a special place. We are in His Kingdom now! We are learning to be faithful in small things so He can allow us to be in charge of greater things later. Having a view of the goal is important, but taking steps toward that goal is even more so.

People who believe that it is not yet the time for God’s Kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done in the earth now are constrained by false limitations. They put off important Kingdom activities to a future time when Christ Himself will do it all. They see these efforts as doomed from the start. I admit that the mission Christ has given looks more like the Mission Impossible, or the Impossible Dream of Don Quixote sometimes. And yet He often surprises us through simple people who are naive enough to believe Him! Jesus said some amazing things to those who believed in Him. He announced that from them would rivers of living water, and that they would do greater works than He had done!

Jesus also said He would build His Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Why then do we see ourselves as weak and unable to obey Him? It was Paul who called himself a wise master builder and a fellow worker with God. I submit that the proper perspective is that we are helpless without Him, but also more than conquerors though Him! Our mission is not doomed to failure, but only because it is God’s desire and plan. He cannot fail. Next time we will look in detail to see how each of us has a different part in His plan to transform this world.

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 Mustard Seed Conspiracy, Part 2

First the Kingdom, part 11: The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, Part 2

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to nature in the manner of its growth. He said that the tiny mustard seed had the potential to grow far beyond its original size. He also noted that amazing things happen in the earth while we sleep. A farmer does not have to stand over the area where he prepared the ground and planted the seed. The seed gradually absorbs moisture and nourishment from the ground, and extends its roots very quietly and steadily. Most of the growth is hidden at first, and even when visible it is not much to look at. Many months go by before the goal of the farmer is actually reached. Finally in the harvest season, he can bring in the visible proof of this process, providing food for many!

In modern times many are in such a rush to achieve their goals. They need to see results fast. I have noticed how excited people get in the process of new church buildings. They are usually eager to give money and time to something they can physically see come into view. I know buildings do not grow up overnight, but you can see fairly soon that digging has begun. All the heavy machinery is there throughout the process of preparing for water, gas and electric lines. Then the foundation is laid, walls go up followed by the roof. Sometimes progress is seen daily. Often it is at least weekly, unless held up by unfavorable weather.

Actual spiritual growth is different. Maybe that is why patience is so emphasized in the Bible. There are times when the seed is being sown, but very little growth is seen. The message of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ are being shared, but it takes time for hearts to be changed, and lives to reveal what God has done in them. This is both true with individuals and groups of people. Because things often move slowly, some become discouraged and even give up in the effort to spread His Word.

A common way to generate enthusiasm in a church is to start another building program. This really sparks interest. Today however, some folks are finding the joy of Other wonderful efforts that can equally spark interest. These might not draw as much attention, but they can be powerful expressions of the Kingdom of God in the earth. Things like prison ministry, small group Bible studies and House Church networks, prayer groups, recovery groups, serving the homeless or young families etc. These activities are the Church in action. They mirror the forward movement of the First Century Church.

If this message does one thing, I hope every one of you who feels insignificant in the Body of Christ will come to realize how powerful in Christ you really are! Paul in his letter to the Romans strongly urges his brothers and sisters in Christ in this way. In chapter 12 he tells them the greatest act of worship is to offer our bodies, our lives in service to God. This is different from the world in general and requires the transformation of the renewed mind. If you are feeling insignificant, then you need to have your mind renewed! Hear the Word of the Lord! God has given each of us a special capacity to serve and to bless others! Notice in Romans 12 that this is not limited to leadership gifts. He simply gives examples of some of the things that God might want to do through you. Don’t worry if your gift is not included in that list. It is the principle that counts. I have often noticed that the best environment for discovering your purpose is in the fellowship of small, dedicated groups of believers.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he explains how important it is for each person to fulfill his or her purpose. As each organ and part of the human body needs to do its part for the body to be healthy, so it is with the Church, the Body of Christ. As each part functions, the whole body becomes stronger and grows to the full potential that it has in Christ. This is real Kingdom growth. While a church building with a sign on its door can become filled with people, that does not necessarily translate to the growth of the Body of Christ. In fact, up to half and even more in some situations are not even born-again children of God!

The growth of the Body of Christ cannot be measured by the size of the building or the numbers in the seats. Thank God for buildings full of people who are hearing the Gospel and learning about Christ! But thank God also for the small groups all over the world that only God can count. Those who deeply love Jesus, and one another. It can become a problem in our modern culture for the people in large meetings to miss the growth the comes through true fellowship. To some, church is sitting in a pew for an hour and watching others perform. Then they go home and return to their ordinary lives, missing the joy of participation in the adventure that is the Kingdom of God!

If you have ever tasted of the vital church experience that even in a small way resembles that of the Church in the book of Acts, you know what I am talking about. I have found that I can no longer be satisfied with anything less. While I love large gatherings with dynamic music and powerful preaching, I have found that face-to-face gatherings and one-on-one fellowship are much more important to me. This is where I learn of the great value that Christ has invested in my fellow believers.

In this context I have watched when an individual confesses a need, and others who never speak up in the public service rush in with compassion and support. Then there are the times when I discover that someone was confused by what was said from the pulpit, but was not free to ask a question. This is where the small group can greatly help bring understanding and at the same time build relationships with one another. This is where we discover that we are not a corporation, but a family!

Speaking only from my own experience, it is only too easy to think of people as a necessary component of the church, and not the church itself. Sometimes we even tend to think that the people are there to support the pastors, teachers and evangelists so that they can do the work of the ministry. As a matter of fact, in God it is the other way around! These are gifted to the Church to equip the members for their individual ministries!

We need the Biblical view that each follower of Christ is a member of this supernatural Body in which Jesus Himself lives! The material building is only important for how well it provides a place for the Body of Christ to meet. The Early Church met from house to house and in the Temple courts in Jerusalem. Elsewhere they took advantage of any suitable venue. In fact, the true temple to them was made up of individual living stones, that together made up the House of God!

It is important to notice that during the period before the building of dedicated church buildings, the growth the Church was phenomenal! The Kingdom of God is about transformed hearts, minds and lives. This hidden work is much more effective in transforming society than a great show of success on television. History will bear this out. George Whitfield along with John and Charles Wesley did most of their work in the open air in 18th Century England. Then they organized small groups for discipleship outside of the established Church. During this period the Gospel of Jesus Christ transformed England in many visible ways. Look it up!

It is time that God’s people allowed themselves to realise that He is not confined to special buildings we call “churches,” but He is everywhere His people are! If we return to the simple pattern we see in the New Testament, we will see how the Holy Spirit of God can work through us in wonderful ways as well, and we will experience the true freedom that He has always desired for us!

We hope this series on First the Kingdom has been helpful to you. To continue in this study with us, we invite you to “like” and “follow” https://www.facebook.com/livingtruthcom/ or subscribe to our blog on https://www.livingtruth.com

The Mustard Seed Conspiracy

First the Kingdom, part 10, The Mustard Seed Conspiracy

What we have been discussing in these podcasts is nothing less than the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ over the whole earth. For thousands of years the prophets foretold of His reign. Then from the very beginning of the New Testament, it was announced that the time for His reign had come. Everything Jesus had to say was related to the Kingdom of God. Great crowds of people rallied around His message and to receive the benefits of His healing powers. But most finally rejected Him when He failed to meet their expectations of Him.

A small band of followers stayed with Him and became His closest friends. To them He explained the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Yes, it was real and very near. Yes it would come in power and the glory of God. Yes it would change everything. But only those who would patiently trust and learn from Him would be prepared for it. Only they would have special insight into what form and how it would appear.

In the story of course, it does not appear that the disciples and apostles understood everything perfectly. Their greatest struggle was with how He should die on a cross. After His resurrection, He was able to make things clearer. In fact He took them through the writings of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms and opened their understanding of the scriptures concerning Him. (Luke 24:44-45). This is the work of what Paul called the “spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Christ.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told them that the Spirit of Truth, Who was with them, would soon be in them. After His resurrection, Jesus explained the Kingdom of God to them even further before He ascended to His throne of authority in Heaven. Soon after, about 120 of them were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and began with great authority to declare His Lordship to the world! You see, there is intellectual truth, and their is also experiential truth. His Lordship was not academic to them. His Lordship was real and wonderful. The Kingdom did not come unto them from looking at the skies, or observing the political scene! The Kingdom of God was within them, to demonstrate His power in the earth!

Even then they struggled to understand the relationship between the Old Testament or Old Covenant and the New Covenant that Jesus introduced. In time the Holy Spirit would work this out, but they were already on their way in this adventure to “turn the world upside down!”

We have the advantage of hindsight in looking back at what they experienced and what followed. There were times when the Kingdom was so overwhelming that it looked as if paradise would be returning to the whole earth in a matter of weeks or months. Many gladly sold their possessions and freely shared with those in need. The euphoria did not last, however. The comfort of the Holy Spirit would never leave them, but circumstances would often test their faith in the future of God’s people and His Kingdom.

Persecution, famine, and various trials would come on the young church, and yet it continued to grow. over time, the hope for the Kingdom on earth was replaced with contentment to experience it in the next life. It was left to people like Peter and Paul to keep the expectation and the vision of it alive. To them knowing Jesus and that He said His reign had begun was enough.

We live in a time when many have failed to see the long-term the progress of the Kingdom in the earth. The freedom it brought us has long been taken for granted. When modern Christians see the rise of crime, immorality, terrorism, injustice, pornography, addictions and abortion, they become discouraged. All that is left is to await the end. Those of us who continue to look for more of the Kingdom to come, as God’s will is being done in this earth, are ridiculed. They think we are like those who would “polish the brass on a sinking ship,” or those who “rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

It is only by Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that we can see the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is Lord of all right now! He came to reconcile mankind to God two thousand years ago, and began His reign in the heart of a few. Like that grain of wheat or mustard seed He fell to the ground and died. He planted His life in the hearts of His followers and also in the collective consciousness of humanity. The world can never be the same! As evidence of this, we mark time around the world from the approximate date of His birth in Bethlehem! (Mark 4:26-34, John 12:23-25)

The heart of the Kingdom of God is of course the converted sinner, who lives to love and serve Him. But changes in society are also the result of the leaven of the Kingdom of God, leavening the whole loaf. Rome itself eventually bowed to Jesus Christ. The empire imperfectly served Him as did institutional Christianity. In spite of the imperfections, the drive for a better and just society has persisted. We realize that every advance of the Kingdom has been met with great opposition. Some through violence and others through subtle deception.

It has to be either fear or faith. When we consider only the outward appearances we might become overconfident when things go our way, or discouraged when the other side begins to succeed. The key is to stay focused on Christ and the work He is doing. Everywhere great victories are going unnoticed, just as in the days of the Roman Empire. Will we trust in the methods of Jesus, and follow Him to where ever He leads? Or will we assume the methods of the world, force, intimation, putting forth a false image, trying to impress people instead of pleasing God? If a shepherd boy could stand before a giant armed only with a slingshot and the Name of the LORD, Why do we think we need Saul’s armor?

As for me, I will stand with the meek and humble, those who believe that all things are possible with God. They take the Word of God and live in it by His power and grace! They know that the Father will take the hidden things that are pure and faithful to bring down tyrannical kingdoms that exist for their own glory. Next time we will take a closer look at the simple, and yet effective strategy that Christ has always used to extend His Kingdom here on earth.

We hope this series on First the Kingdom has been helpful to you. To continue in this study with us, we invite you to “like” and “follow” https://www.facebook.com/livingtruthcom/ or subscribe to our blog on https://livingtruth.com

The Time is Fulfilled!

First the Kingdom part 8, The Time is Fulfilled

It has been said that in the Old Testament the New Testament is concealed, and in the New Testament, the Old Testament is revealed. This is not immediately evident. This realization comes over time and after much searching and illumination of the Holy Spirit. The writers of the New Testament almost force us to this conclusion. Because they had to deal with the biblical scholars of their day, they went to great lengths to show how everything that had transpired in the life of Jesus had been foretold in the Scriptures.

Jesus Himself pointed out that He came to fulfill everything that was written about Him in the ancient writings. (Luke 24:44). Paul also basically said that everything He came to teach and proclaim was based upon what was written in the sacred Hebrew scriptures. (Acts 26:22)

These things were concealed in such a way that even His disciples first missed them until Jesus “opened their understanding.” (Luke 24:45) Paul explained how this was the operation of the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” that is available to believers who receive it. Many of the prophetic predictions concerning Jesus and the coming Kingdom we have discussed in the previous lesson.

There are many fascinating studies of the Old Testament references to Jesus and His ministry which the writer to the Hebrews called “shadows” and “types.” Special events and the Levitical system of animal and grain sacrifices depict the manner in which Jesus would finally atone for our sins and give us an example to follow. Even the stories of many Old Testament individuals like Joseph, Moses and David would also become examples of some of the traits that Jesus would fully display in the New Testament era.

This series is mainly focusing on the importance of the Kingdom of God in the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament looks forward to it, the New Testament reveals the way in which it is fulfilled. In fact, Mark’s Gospel states this from the start. After telling of John, the forerunner baptizing Jesus, and the following temptation of Jesus, he writes:

Mark 1:14-15:
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ” The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” 
NASU

Let us look at this closely. We know that God has always been sovereign over His creation. There has never been a time when He was not in control. However, the coming of the Kingdom of God is related to this specific time. Something was near that was not so near before! Change was coming to that place and in that time, according to Jesus and John. There seems to be two tendencies when people think of the Kingdom of God. One is that the Kingdom has to be more like an earthly authority that is exercised by force, the other is that it is only like a personal spiritual experience.

Even among those who followed Jesus there was confusion about what to expect. In fact they were shocked when He told them that He would be crucified in Jerusalem, and even more shocked when it happened! After His resurrection they were of course relieved, but He continued to explain the Kingdom to them during the 40 days up to His Ascension! They must have understood things somewhat better then. Earlier when He told them He would have to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come, they were full of sorrow. Now, when His physical form was taken from them, they were actually rejoicing! From that time forward they proclaimed Him as Lord and King, ruling from heaven, and sending them forth to declare His Kingdom had come!

It would be difficult to deny that Jesus did come to bring a spiritual experience. My problem is with those who limit it to that. As I have pointed out, there is a time element to the Kingdom of God. It was alluded to in the book of Daniel. In the days of the kingdoms that came down to the days of the Roman Empire, the God of Heaven would set up a kingdom that would consume all other kingdoms and be established forever! We cannot disconnect the words spoken by God before from the Words of Christ Who came to fulfill them. We are concerned with the whole counsel of God!

It does take a spiritual experience, being born from above to see the Kingdom of God has come! And yet, the same Holy Spirit can and will transform our lives to the extent that others can see it too! Moses had to prove to Pharaoh that his was the true God. Jesus proved He was the Messiah to His own people by undeniable miracles and teaching with great authority. But the nation of Israel as a whole did not see the truth because Rome appeared to still be in power in the end.

If they had understood the parables of Jesus they would have understood that Rome’s days were truly numbered. The Kingdom of God did come in power 50 days after the Crucifixion and religious Jews from all over the Roman Empire witnessed it! Thousands of pilgrims who came to the yearly ceremonies were caught up into the wonderful presence of God along with the early apostles and disciples. Jerusalem was the first “beachhead” to borrow from a World War II analogy. Later, Samaria, Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria, and Rome itself would become infiltrated with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!

There were both great explosions of supernatural transformation and small, unnoticed advances as well. Jesus explained that growth often takes place in the darkness of the earth and in the chemical reactions between leaven and bread. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. All the while the great Rock is rolling over the kingdoms of hatred, jealousy, murder, and injustice around the world, even impacting the political forces that express them, until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea! (Isaiah 11:9).

We hope this series on First the Kingdom has been helpful to you. To continue in this study with us, we invite you to “like” and “follow” https://www.facebook.com/livingtruthcom/ or subscribe to our blog on https://livingtruth.com

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

Seeing the Kingdom

First The Kingdom, Part 4: Seeing the Kingdom

Our perspective in life can strongly determine the direction we take for many years. We can have either a positive or negative “outlook,” which has little to do with our eyesight. The way we “see” the world around us, and the way we believe things work or should work — that is what we mean when referring to our perspective or our outlook.

My generation came up in a time when common values, goals and outlooks on life were beginning to be questioned. wait, that seems to be true with every generation! The nineteen sixties did, however, set in motion a greater level of doubt and questioning that has greatly expanded in this the 21st Century.

Certainly many ideas, beliefs and practices should be re-examined. Some have always been in error, but others were only right for that particular time. Change is all around, and we must learn to adapt at times. On the other hand, the chaos that change can bring can be unsettling. I for one look for stability in things that have proven the test of time. My greatest source of stability is found in God and in the record of His dealings with humanity found in the Bible. The more I learn about Him and His ways in both my relationship with Him and in my study of His Word, the more peace I find.

In this series I hope to share a perspective, a way of seeing life, purpose, and the reason we all are here. This perspective gives meaning to our existence, and great satisfaction. In the most difficult times I have been able to “stay the course” that was set for me many years ago when Christ first saved me. I admit that at first the journey was shaky. I stumbled many times along the way. It was not until I caught a vision of the magnificent Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom that everything changed.

In the Bible we find powerful metaphors concerning life. We are on a road or path, moving toward a goal or destination. To see the path we need “light,” or understanding. The wisdom of God not only tells us about our destination, but how to make the best decisions when we find a fork in the road. There is both a destination, and a journey. Like Oddyseus in Greek mythology, we also have a prize at the end or our quest!

Too many of us go from day to day without even knowing why we do what we do. We are driven by various desires. Some of them are virtuous, others are destructive. Some people do not face the results of their decisions until it is too late. Yet we can wrongfully believe that good results mean that we are on the right track. At other times, when we are doing the right thing events seem to turn against us. Is it possible to ever be sure?

Throughout the centuries, the Spirit of God has empowered and illuminated prophets and teachers, parents and leaders with spiritual vision. His Light has given them a vision that sustained them through every kind of struggle in this life. This power belongs to everyone who simply believes in Jesus Christ, and trusts their future with Him!

Proverbs 4:18-19 tell us that:
“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.”

NIV

Can you accept this as your destiny? We who love God and His Truth are on a path of ever increasing brightness!

What I am asking of you who are hearing this or reading this writing, is that you invest some time to seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Become open to the possibility of recieving a greater vision of the Kingdom of God for your life. Consider the passages of scripture I have been sharing and will continue to share. It might just open up a whole new world unto you!

John in his gospel wrote that those who receive Jesus are given by Him the priviledge of being called the children of God. They are born of God! (John 1:12-13) Jesus said that a person who is born from above can see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3) The key to envisioning a better existence is in receiving the Word of God concerning you! The Word is calling us all to repentance and faith, obedience and trust in what we inherently know to be true.

Our God is good and wonderful beyond our wildest imaginations! He earnestly wants us to know that about Him but our willingness is required. Eternal Life in Christ is something we can begin to experience even now. To know Him IS Life Eternal! (John 17:3) The life that He has in mind includes you but it is bigger than you. Seeing the Kingdom of God is seeing God’s plan, seeing His present reign in your life now and the continuing expansion of His reign throughout all the earth! This is truly an exiting time to be alive! Lord, open up your servant’s eyes to see your wonderful and glorious victory that we might live victoriously in it!

© 2022 Living Truth

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑