Friday, January 31, 2014

"The Kingdom and the KING!"

Day #35:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - February 1st

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 11 - 13 ...

Politicians and leaders all over the world make promises as they rule over the people in their nations.  They promise prosperity and all kinds of things that they have no way of guaranteeing.  Their power is limited and their ideas of prosperity have little to do with anything but the present and the immediate future.  Of course, their promises are attractive to people who want immediate gratification.  Jesus never made such promises (though some make those kinds of promises now in His name!).

When Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven, he talked about good news for the weary that went beyond this life.  He did heal the sick, and even raised a few people from the dead, but that was not the purpose of His coming - just so people could live longer in this world.  He had more in mind.  He came to reveal the Father and His love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him," Jesus said (11:27).  Then He said to the weary, "Come to me ... and you will find rest for your souls" (11:28-30).

As the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by accusing Him of breaking the Sabbath (12:1-13) and casting out demons by the power of evil (12:25-32), those who saw their own need wondered, "Could this be the Son of David?" (12:23).  Could this be the Messiah?  The Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus (12:14).  Can you imagine that?!!  He was challenging their understanding of God and their "religion."  They were counting on their own righteousness to get into the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus was making them uncomfortable by calling ordinary people to follow Him, to come to Him, to find forgiveness.

So Jesus talked about bringing forth good fruit and told the Parable of the Sower.  God always knows those who are His - not because they are trying hard to be good, but because they are responding to His love and desiring to live lives pleasing to Him out of love for the God they have come to know.  To these Jesus says, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them" (13:11).  "Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear" (13:16).

Have YOU seen and heard of God's kingdom?  Are you good seed that is bearing fruit?  We know that we are saved by grace, but the EVIDENCE of God's work in you will always be a heart in love with God, in tune with His Spirit and in pursuit of holiness.  There will finally be a separation between the wheat (the good seed) and the weeds (the bad seed).  The good seed is made good by God Himself.  It is in believing in Jesus that we find the assurance that God has made us His children by grace through faith.

The kingdom of heaven is a treasure worth giving everything to possess.  Living for yourself or for the things of the world is, well ... "fruitless!"  It is worth NOTHING!!  The teachers of the law "took offense at Jesus" (13:57).  But those of us who know WHO Jesus is and who rejoice and give thanks for His life, death, resurrection and ascension, look forward to the fulfillment of God's kingdom when Jesus returns.  There lies our hope and that is enough to give us strength to persevere, to endure and to overcome!!

May God give you ears to hear, a mind to understand, a heart to accept and then use your life to bring forth good fruit for His kingdom, for then, and only then, will you receive Jesus' promise:  "REST for your soul!"

"Heavenly Father, the message of the coming of Your kingdom inspires us to seek it above all else - to seek YOU above all else.  Take away the desire for the things of this world and replace it with love for You and a heartfelt desire to seek first YOUR kingdom and YOUR righteousness.  May we bear fruit for Your kingdom daily as we live in obedience to Your Word and give the praise and glory to You, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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