Tag: Kingdom of Heaven

Obey the Lord!

Scripture reading for July 24th: 2nd Kings 9-10, Psalm 49, Matthew 7

Key Scriptures: Matthew 7:21-23 “”Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.””

As Jesus was ending His message, He gave a warning to the people listening and to His own disciples. Some who called Him “Lord” would not enter the kingdom of heaven! Confession of Jesus as Lord but with no repentance and obedience to God’s Word was futile. Even doing works in Jesus’ Name without a humble and submissive relationship would result in being cast out of God’s presence. These are sobering and searching words.

Psalm 49:7-9 “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I call you ‘Lord’ and desire to live a life of obedience to You and my Father in heaven. I trust fully in Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”

2nd Kings 10:28-29 “Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin–that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan.”

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Bring those children to Jesus!

Scripture reading for January 25th:  Matthew 19, Psalm 19, Prov. 19

Key Scriptures:  Matthew 19:13-15  “Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray.  The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”  And He laid His hands on them and went away.”

Jesus’ disciples tried to shield their Master from what they considered trivial ministry.  Children were not high on their priorities.  But Jesus rebuked them for rebuking the people bringing their children for prayer and blessing.  According to Jesus, the kingdom of heaven belonged to children because of their simple faith.  He gladly blessed them and prayed over them.  Children must learn early to come to Jesus for His blessing.

Faith’s confession:  Lord, I thank You that children are those that You want to be brought to You at an early age.  I will seek to bring my children and grandchildren to You each day for blessing and guidance.  (Action step:  Take time today to pray for the children in you life, asking Jesus to bless them and keep them from harm.)

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”  

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Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?

Scripture reading for January 19th:  Matthew 13

The Jews of Jesus’ day had a hard time figuring Him out!  He spoke to them with great wisdom and taught with authority.  He confounded the religious scholars of His day and they ended up seeking to kill Him!   He told parables that spoke plainly to those with ears to hear and seeking hearts but were meaningless to those who were proud and judgmental.  (Matthew 13:11-15)

Parables are stories that relay information at different levels of understanding, depending on the desire of the person to understand truth.  The disciples asked Him to explain why he used them.  “He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” ”  (Matthew 13:11)   Parables reveal truth to seekers, but hide truth from the hard of heart.  The parable of the sower was all about the sowing of the Word of God and the types of hearts that would not receive or would receive and produce fruit.  Those who received the Word would be like the good soil and produce a harvest!

He told a number of other parables and then went to His hometown to teach in the synagogue.  The people were amazed.  “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked.  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?  Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t His sisters with us?  Were did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at Him.” (Matthew 13:54-56)  Knowing Jesus as He really is requires more than a genealogy and answers to questions!   We must be open to truth about the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus could do no great miracles there because of their unbelief!  Is your heart “good ground?”

 

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Jesus preached the Kingdom!

Scripture reading for January 6th:  Matthew 4

Jesus had an awesome spiritual experience at His baptism!  He was filled with the Holy Spirit and got to hear His Father tell Him He loved Him and was pleased! Immediately, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan for forty days.  Jesus had to face spiritual warfare and suffered temptations like all humans but unlike everyone else, He remained faithful to God and His Word!  Jesus defeated each temptation with a Scripture quote telling the Devil truth. (Matthew 4:4,7,10) Satan had to withdraw and Jesus returned in the Spirit’s power to begin ministry to the lost! (Luke 4:1)

Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum  by the Sea of Galilee.  He began to preach saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4:17)  He also healed every disease and sickness as He went preaching the good news of the kingdom.   (Matthew 4:23)   The good news was that God loved all men and desired to see them turn from their selfish ways.  Repentance is a change of mind about who has the right to run your life.  It may also be described as a change of Kings and kingdoms!  In the kingdom of God, truth is the language of God.  Jesus was the Truth in human flesh and lived by that truth.  (John 1:12, John 14:6)  We are born the first time under the kingdom of darkness and Satan’s lies.  Repentance means turning from that kingdom to the kingdom of heaven!

Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven near to each person.  We have opportunity to respond to the good news as long as Christ has not returned! Today is the best day to turn to Him!  Now is the only time we know we have!  If you have not responded, please do it now!

 

 

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Blessed in the Kingdom!

Scripture reading for October 7th: Matthew 5-7

Matthew recorded one of the longest discourses of Jesus in the Bible that is known as the “Sermon on the Mount”.   The kingdom of heaven was the subject of this great teaching.  God was King over the nation of Israel and they were blessed to be His loyal subjects!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:3)   God’s kingdom people know that they can do nothing on their own.  They need God!  As a result, God blesses them with the kingdom as a gift!

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”  (Matthew 5:4-5)  Kingdom people are meek and mourn over sin.  They are humble and recognize their need of God’s mercy.  God promises them comfort and a great inheritance!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”  (Matthew 5:6-8)   They hunger and thirst for righteousness and are satisfied by their King, who is their righteousness.  They are merciful because they have received mercy.   Kingdom kids are pure in heart because they have a new heart given as a gift from their King!

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:9-10)    They are peacemakers for they are sons of their Father who gives peace!  These kids are blessed when they are persecuted for their righteousness because they have heavenly vision of the glory to come.   They have a reward in heaven that no one can steal or destroy. (Matthew 5:7-12)  They will see their King’s face one day and bask in His glory!

Kingdom kids are blessed to be the light of the world.  They reflect the glory of their King everywhere they go.  They are the salt of the earth! (Matthew 5:13-16)  They help stop the corruption of sin and bring out God’s saving and preserving message of Gospel hope.  They are a people who love God and love their neighbors from their heart!  What a blessed life!

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Shake off the dust!

Scripture reading for January 12th: Matthew 10:1-23, Psalms 9:1-10, Proverbs 3:1-2

Jesus first taught His disciples to go out and preach to those who were lost in Israel.  “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8)  They were empowered with authority to take the message of repentance to the Jewish people and to demonstrate God’s willingness and ability to heal and deliver.  They had not bought these gifts, but had freely received the power from Jesus and must freely give to all who would receive.  They were also to travel light and live off the gifts and hospitality of those that they would preach to.  Each worker was worthy of his keep!

Jesus knew that not everyone would receive them with hospitality.  Some would reject the message and maybe even mistreat these disciples.  He told them up front so they would not become discouraged or surprised by the treatment.  In fact, Jesus gave them some practical advice for dealing with those who would not receive: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.  I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.  I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:14-16)

When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people, we are doing more than we may realize.  Every time we share, God is offering eternal life to those that hear.  They will be held accountable for their actions.  If they refuse the messengers, they are rejecting God and bring eternal judgment of God’s wrath on themselves.  If they hear and accept, they bring God’s favor and and eternal life into their soul.  Jesus told the disciples that they were to shake the dust off their feet upon leaving the homes or town where they were not welcomed.  That dust would be a witness against those who rejected the Lord’s messengers.  They were not to waste time trying to argue or debate because they must go to others who would receive.   We are sent as messengers, not as lawyers!  This takes the burden off us as we freely offer God’s Gospel!

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Who can forgive sins?

Scripture reading for October 13th: Mark 1-3

Mark’s Gospel is concise and active.  It is alive with the Good News of God here with us and in love with us.  This revelation is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man!  Mark wastes little time with preliminaries of the Jewish history of the Christ and prophesies of His birth.  He gets right down to the action of Jesus living among His people and loving them by teaching, healing, and casting out devils.  He ate with the people and told them stories that opened up for them the kingdom of heaven and their own need for a relationship with the Father.

In Capernaum, a crowd gathered around a house where Jesus was preaching.   A group of men brought a friend who was paralyzed to Jesus for healing.  Because of the crowd there was no way to get him inside so they carried him up on the roof.  They opened a hole big enough to let the man down and lowered him into the room.

When Jesus saw the faith of the friends, He immediately responded to the man by saying: “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)  This caused some religious leaders who were present to begin to think about how wrong this statement was to come from a mere man.  After all, only God could forgive sins!  (Mark 2:7)

Jesus immediately understood their thoughts and sought to help them believe.  He asked them why they were thinking these things and asked them which was easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” or  “Get up, take up your bed and walk”?  In order to remove their objection, he told the man to get up, take up his bed, and walk.  This the man did to the amazement of the crowd!

This story should motivate us to seek Jesus for answers to whatever problems we face.  Jesus honors faith and no problem is too hard for Him.  We may not have faith ourselves, but believing friends can bring us to Jesus.  What friend do you know that needs help today to get to Jesus?  Take a few minutes of your day to pray for him.  As the Lord leads, get another friend or two and go and lift him to Jesus together!  Miracles are waiting for those who break through!  He truly is God!

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The wedding banquet!

Scripture reading for October 10th: Matthew 20-23

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.” Matthew 22:2-3

We read in the previous chapter that the chief priests and Pharisees knew that the parables they heard were about them.  They were jealous because many people were following Jesus and thought He was a prophet.  (Matthew 21:45-46)  As they were looking for a way to arrest Jesus, He gave them this parable that was a further warning of their dangerous path.

The king was God the Father who sent His only Son Jesus to earth.  His plan was to gather a bride for His son from those who would believe in  Him.  He came to the Jews first and invited them to the great wedding banquet.  Israel was long considered the betrothed wife of God!  When the banquet was ready, servants were sent to remind the guests and their need to come.  These servants were the prophets.  The people of Israel gave lots of excuses and most failed to respond.  Worse than that, they beat the servants of the King and killed them. (Matthew 22:5-7)  The king sent his army and destroyed those murderers and their city.  This likely refers to the Babylonian captivity.

The King then instructed His servants to go into the highways and on the street corners and find those who would come to His Son’s wedding banquet.  Many responded  to the urgent invitation.  One attended the banquet not properly clothed.  This person was confronted and then escorted out.  This man was speechless because he knew the proper clothing but in rebellion chose not to wear it.  He was bound and cast out into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 22:13)

“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)  Jesus concluded this parable with these sobering words.  The invitation to His wedding banquet has gone out to all the world.  Many have responded and others have chosen to not respond.  Their excuses will keep them out of the King’s presence.  Others come on their own terms and will be forcibly cast out at the last judgment.  Only the robes given by the King’s Son will be proper attire.  Have you accepted the King’s invitation?  Are you wearing the proper garment?

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The midnight cry!

Scripture reading for February 6th: Matthew 25:1-13, Psalm 26, Proverbs 7:24-27

As Jesus was closing out this last message and answering His disciples questions about the end of the age, He told a parable about ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to come for them.  This story would have resonated with those in His culture immediately because of the customs there surrounding a wedding.  When we understand what they did, this parable opens up another emphasis on being prepared and the perils of lack of preparation.

It was the custom of the day for the bride and her bridal party to prepare for the wedding day for up to a year prior to the actual wedding.   The bridegroom was busy preparing a house for his bride and would come to get her when it was ready.  The exact time was not set because this was part of the mystery and excitement of the wedding.   As the date approached, the bridal party knew that the bridegroom could come at any time and take them to the wedding feast.  The bridal party in the story knew that the bridegroom would come soon and went out to meet him.  He delayed his coming and the virgins fell asleep. (Matthew 25:1-4)

“At midnight the cry rang out; ‘Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil’ our lamps are going out.’  “‘No;’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you.  Instead go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’  “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.  The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.  And the door was shut.”  “Later the others also came.  ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said, ‘Open the door for us!’  “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.'”  “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:6-13)

Five foolish virgins were not prepared.  The delay had exposed their lack of preparation and consequent need for oil for their lamps.  At that late hour, there was no time to get what they needed.  When seeking entrance to the banquet, the bridegroom refused them entrance!  Not all the visible church will attend the wedding!

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The Capstone!

Scripture reading for January 30th: Matthew 21:28-46, Psalm 19:7-17, Proverbs 5:19-20

Jesus was well aware of the religious leaders plans to have Him killed.  He told a parable about a landowner who had a vineyard that he rented to some farmers.  At harvest time he sent servants to collect his share of the fruit as the rent due.  When the servants came, the tenants seized them and beat them and killed some.  Others were sent and were mistreated too.  Finally, the owner sent his only son to collect the rent.  When the tenants saw the son, they plotted to kill him and take his inheritance for themselves.  Jesus asked the question: “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”  “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” (Matthew 21:40-41)  This parable should have revealed truth to the religious leaders, if they had been wanting to hear.

Jesus then quoted for them a familiar messianic passage: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.'” (Psalm 118:22-23)  An alternate translation renders ‘capstone’ as ‘cornerstone’.  Jesus is the cornerstone of the new temple.  He was telling them that they would loose out on the kingdom and it would be given to those who would produce the fruit of the kingdom.  They must humble themselves and fall on Him for mercy or He would fall on them and shatter them in judgment! (Matthew 21:43-44)

This teaching was hard for the proud religious leaders to swallow.  They knew that Jesus was talking about them and wanted to silence Him rather than listen and obey.  They wanted to arrest Him then and there, but were afraid of the people.  Proper response to Jesus through humble brokenness and obedient faith would have brought cleansing and their addition into the new temple that had Jesus as the capstone (cornerstone).  Have you cast yourself on the Stone of Jesus?  Do you know that you are anchored to the Rock that is the cornerstone?  Take time today to reaffirm your faith and love for Jesus!  Religious people are in the most danger!

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