Tag: kingdom of God

A new chapter of the Story

Scripture reading for April 6th: Acts 1

Key Scriptures: Acts 1:1-5 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, ‘you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. “”

The book of Acts is a continuation of Luke’s eyewitness account of the events and acts of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’ disciples following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. He wrote these accounts to Theophilus, whose name means “lover of God”. He was a Gentile convert to Jesus and Luke wrote to give greater understanding to the Gentile church of how our Lord empowered witnesses to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. Acts is the historical record of the growth of the early Church after the Promise of the Father came upon them. This book has inspired believers throughout history to be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow God to use them to further His mission to reach the ends of the earth before Jesus returns. It records the acts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned over 50 times, through Jesus’ followers. In a sense, it is still being written until Jesus returns.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for sending the Promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit to empower me and all Your disciples to reach the ends of the earth. Use me to add to the “acts of the Holy Spirit” in my life on earth and to multiply disciples who will take the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:10-11 “And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

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Bind the strong man!

Scripture reading for January 20th: Mark 3

Key Scriptures: Mark 3:22-27 “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and” by the prince of demons He casts out demons.” And He called them to Him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.”

A big part of Jesus’ ministry was casting out demons and healing those oppressed by Satan. So much so, that even His own family thought Jesus to be “out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21) The scribes came down from the religious rulers in Jerusalem and accused Jesus of using demonic power to cast out the devils. Jesus patiently called them to listen to Him and in a rabbinic posture, asked them a question: “How can Satan cast out Satan? . . .” He pointed out that a house divided against itself would not stand. He stated that in order to cast out demons (the strongman), they must be bound first. The rope or chain Jesus had used was His authority–authority from God the Father in the kingdom of heaven. He went on to warn these religious people about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the unforgivable sin!

Luke 11:19-20 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for demonstrating Your authority over the devil and demons, binding them with Your powerful Word. Give me greater discernment when I confront the forces of darkness and patience with those who lack understanding about spiritual authority.

2nd Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

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A Stone of Stumbling!

Scripture reading for August 13th: 2nd Kings 15-16, Matthew 21

Key Scriptures: Matthew 21:42-46 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priest and the Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they held Him to be a prophet.”

Jesus ended His ministry telling some parables that revealed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They had been entrusted with the Word of God and should have been listening and applying God’s Word as spoken by the prophets and by Jesus, Whom the people understood was a prophet. Jesus warned that God would take the kingdom of God away from them and give it to those people producing the fruit of an obedient life of faith. Jesus was the “Stone” that the builders rejected. Those who fell upon Him would be broken, but those He fell upon in the final judgment would be crushed.

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone are the Cornerstone of my life and I want to follow You and produce fruit. Help me to keep others from calamity at the final judgment by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, my Cornerstone!

2nd Kings 16:2 “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, . . .”

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Discerning our ‘latter end’!

Scripture reading for March 27th:  Deuteronomy 32-34, Psalm 13, Luke 13

Key Scriptures:  Luke 13:26-30 “Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.”  But He will say, I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Depart from Me, all you workers of evil.”  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.  And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.  And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”  

Jesus, in response to the question, “Will those who are saved be few?”, told them that the way of salvation was a narrow door (relationship with Jesus).  There would be few to which the door would be opened because those wanting in lacked real relationship with God.  Without a relationship, they would be shut out and left in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (hell).  Some who thought they were in would be left out while others that some judged would be left out would be let in.  Discernment was required!

Deuteronomy 32:29  “If they were wise, they would understand this; they would discern their latter end!”  

Faith confession and prayer:  Lord Jesus, I enter into a relationship with You through repentance and faith.   You have dealt bountifully with me!  Help me to tell others about this narrow way today!

Psalm 13:5-6 “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  

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The King Rules Within!

Scripture reading for March 26th:  Luke 17, Psalm 61, Proverbs 30

Key Scriptures:  Luke 17:20-21 “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!” or ‘There!” for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.””

Jesus preached the Gospel of the kingdom, proclaiming that it was near.  The Pharisees asked Him when it would actually come.  He answered them by telling them that it would come in ways that were not openly visible or able to be observed.  The kingdom of God would come inside of each person through the key of repentance and faith.  God’s kingdom would not be political or material in its initial appearance, but it would bring righteousness, peace and joy.

Faith Confession:  I believe that Christ’s kingdom rule is in my heart through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  I experience this kingdom rule through understanding righteousness by faith, peace with God, and joy of hope in all His promises.  Jesus is Lord of my life!

Proverbs 30:5  “Every Word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

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Righteousness, Peace, Joy!

Scripture reading for July 2nd:  Job 27-29, Romans 14

Key Scriptures: Romans 14:7-9, 17 “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the  living.”  …”For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Paul, writing to the Roman Christians, encouraged them to refrain from judging one another based on human rules and traditions.  They were judging others based on their habits.  The kingdom of God was not based on external habits, but brings the fruit of inner righteousness, peace and joy through the presence of God the Holy Spirit within.  The Holy Spirit gives each person a healthy “fear of the Lord”.

Job 29:28 “And He said to man, ‘ Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit bringing us into Your kingdom.  Let me share the righteousness, peace and joy with others.  Amen.

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Faith working through Love!

Scripture reading for July 1st:  Romans 14

Key Scriptures for over-comers:  Romans 14:19-23  “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.  All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.  It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.  So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.  Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because it is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

In Paul’s time, eating meat sacrificed to idols was a big issue.  Some believed that this meat would pollute them spiritually.  Others were concerned that this would cause unbelievers to think that believers were serving idols too. Paul taught the law of love.  When we love others, we do what is best for them and try and keep peace.  Each person should serve God with a clear conscience, acting in faith in whatever they believe in these disputable matters.  This doesn’t mean that we ignore sin and fail to lovingly pray for and confront believers that are still caught in sinful lifestyles.  We must do all that we do to the glory of God and live by faith to please Him!

Observations for over-comers: “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 14:17)“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to You.”  (Psalm 51:12-13) 

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Flee sexual immorality!

Scripture reading for July 14th:  1st Corinthians 6

Paul used his letter to the Corinthians to answer questions about how believers should handle different problems.  One issue that Paul was concerned about was lawsuits between believers.  Paul reminded the church that they should not take their problems before unbelievers, but deal with disputes themselves.  “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life!”  (1st Corinthians 6:2-3)  Believers should work things out!  Paul stated the incredible responsibility that the Church will enjoy later.  We will be involved with the judgment of the world as well as angels!

Paul added a warning concerning immorality.  “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, now adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards, nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.”  

Today’s culture in America has now embraced sexual immorality and our Supreme Court made gay marriage legal across the land. Television and movies regularly show immoral sexual behavior as entertainment and some Christians regularly watch it.  Pornography is available to most!  But God’s Word clearly states that no sexually immoral person will inherit the Kingdom of God! Some of Paul’s recipients were in that lifestyle, but they were delivered through faith in Christ!  Christ’s sacrifice of His body and blood can deliver anyone who will repent and give them access to God’s kingdom and family!  Share this good news!

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Are you ‘weak’ or ‘strong’?

Scripture reading for July 2nd:  Romans 14

“For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  (Romans 12:3)  Paul had exhorted the believers to dedicate their bodies to God and renew their minds with His word.  He had instructed them to think soberly about their own lives, calling, and gifts.  Some, however, were not as strong as others in their faith and walk of liberty with the Lord.

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak eats only vegetables.  The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  (Romans 14:1-4)   Some of the believers with ‘stronger’ faith were passing judgment on those who limited what they could eat to vegetables.  Those with ‘weaker’ faith were also passing judgment on those who ate everything.  Under Christ’s New Covenant of grace, each person would answer to God in matters like diet that were disputable.

As New Testament believers and children of God, we must seek to please the Father by walking in faith.  It is Christ who will enable each believer to stand before the Father through what He has done on our behalf.  We must not judge one another on matters that are disputable!

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Rigtheousness, peace and joy!

Scripture reading for July 31st: Romans 14:1-23

The body of Christ is composed of people from different walks of life and different spiritual experience.  Some come from religious backgrounds.  Others come with no spiritual training and are eager to learn what is expected.   Paul knew that the church at Rome was very diverse, with many Jews and Gentiles of different backgrounds.  He wrote to help them understand how to practice the command of Jesus to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9-10)

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:1-4a)   We enter into pride when we judge someone else.  Some matters, such as eating meat sacrificed to idols, are disputable.  The strong person knows that the idol is nothing and that the meat is made clean by prayer and thanksgiving.  The weaker person may feel polluted by the meat and believe that they have sinned by eating it.  As long as what they do is motivated by their faith, neither one is to judge the other and cause disunity or division over eating meat!  We do not show love when bringing strife over matters like this.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14:17-18)  The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in loving our brothers and sisters, not in judging them on matters of conscience that are not clearly dealt with in Scripture.  We can please God by walking in love and faith that God will deal with each person according to their faith.

“So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.  Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:22-23)   Be quiet and live by faith!

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