Entering Gods Kingdom
I have a problem at home. No, its not that type of a problem. But it’s a serious one at that, and its all my brother in laws fault. He introduced me and the boys to this online strategy game called Clash of Clans – ever heard of it? Ok, this game is more for the younger generation, but my brother in law gets to play the sophisticated, Uber-technical version called Dawn of Titans.
Now, just to give you a bit of background – these are games whereby you are given some ground, and a few resources and you have to build and develop and increase your territory. I used to play a similar game to this on my computer called Stronghold-Crusaders. It’s a War strategy game set in the age of Knights and warring armies in Arabia. You would get a king, couple archers and spearmen and a few subjects who would farm the surrounding areas, and your job would be to build up your industry, build up your farms and develop your army so that you can defend against other marauding bandits as well as attack other armies. It was really cool. I would lose myself in these games – build up my army and build my siege equipment and then attack- attack-attack!
Now all of these games are a virtual reality comparison of what used to happen in our world. You would have a King, he would want more land and territory, he would build up his military resources and then attack a neighbouring nation.
In those days, they didn’t call them countries or nations, but Kingdoms. A Kings Kingdom was His territory, property and land under his control or under his rule. He would charge Tax. (Yes, in those days they still had taxes.) And the King would sometimes live well , unless a stronger King came along and dethroned him.
Since the beginning of time, nations and tribes and countries would fight over new land and territory. They called it a Kingdom then, perhaps today we may call it a nation, or market share, or property or land…but behind it all is the desire for control and power and position.
The Jews were no different. Their Kings and Judges fought battles to control and build up their “Kingdoms- the Kingdom of God ( or Israel)
The Jews in the day of Jesus were familiar with the concept of a Kingdom. To them, a Kingdom equated with a physical territory and a government and when Jesus began speaking about the Kingdom of God they believed that Gods sovereign nation “Israel” would return to power. The oppressors and occupying force, the Romans would be toppled and destroyed. That would have been their reaction. (The Jews had grown up with the Prophesies about the Kingdom of God – to them that meant their beloved Israel.)
Even James and John, Sons of Zebedee believed this. “Jesus, would you do this one thing for us? they asked. Jesus asks them : “What do you want me to do ?” “Place us on the right and the left side of you when you take your throne.”
We read Mark 10: 35-45…
The Request of James and John
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “there is something we want you to do for us.”
“What is it?” Jesus asked them.
They answered, “When you sit on your throne in your glorious Kingdom, we want you to let us sit with you, one at your right and one at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup of suffering that I must drink? Can you be baptized in the way I must be baptized?”
“We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup I must drink and be baptized in the way I must be baptized.
But I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. It is God who will give these places to those for whom he has prepared them.”
When the other ten disciples heard about it, they became angry with James and John.
So Jesus called them all together to him and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority.
This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.”
James and John wanted position, and a senior position in Jesus’s cabinet. They wanted the vice president and speaker of the house positions. To them Jesus, their Messiah would topple the Romans and take control and power. That to them, is what the “Kingdom of God or Heaven” meant.
Even the religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees believed that the Kingdom of Heaven would have a physical presence. They may not have believed that Jesus was the one, or the Messiah, but they believed in the Kingdom of Heaven as being a real life, “physical- can see” structure with a King or ruler with an army, subjects and even perhaps a team of priests..
How wrong they were. How wrong they all were. Such is the Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven. They had misunderstood the mystery of Gods Kingdom.
It is why in Matthew chapter 13 Jesus spoke to them about this mystery, and taught them in parables so that they would recognize that there is a mystery surrounding Gods Kingdom and then again in Luke 17 vs 20 where he emphatically stated: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”
Luke 17:20 – 21 tells us this:
“Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen.
No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”
Gods Kingdom is within you….
The reign, rule and realm of God – Gods territory is within you.
In your heart,
In your mind –
In your your soul and inevitably displayed in your life.
Yes, the reality of Gods Kingdom that can be seen, and felt and experienced will one day exist before our very eyes –
We read about this promise in Revelations 21-
A New Heaven and the New Earth
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea vanished.
And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband.
I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: “Now God’s home is with people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God.
But that same Kingdom is being grown in spiritual terms through the work of the Church and through the work we do in our hearts soul and mind – The Kingdom of God is within us and is growing… and one glorious day, at the end of this age, Christ shall come down in all His Glory and there shall be a New Heaven and a New Earth and God will be with us.
But what about now?
How do we build and grow Gods Kingdom? How do we live out in our daily lives the prayer Jesus prayed and taught his disciples as found in Matthew 6:vs 9:
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
As we begin with this series in January, and reflect on the theme of Building Gods Kingdom at Dalpark in 2018, let me share one of three important principles that God has been laying on my heart in the last few weeks.
The first Principle is found in Matthew 18: 1-4 and John 3:16
How do we enter Gods Kingdom?
Nicodemus was a teacher of the Law and came to Jesus one evening and said “Rabbi (Teacher) we know you are a teacher who has come from God, for no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.
Jesus replies in verse 3 and 5 “I tell you the truth, no one can see or enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again, unless he is born of water and the Spirit
1. You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God – a spiritual rebirth.
2. You must be like a child to enter the Kingdom of God.
Now this second point is important, not only is it life changing but it is fundamental to being born again.
We read in Matthew 18: 1-4 –
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked
“Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them, and he said:
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”
Think about the character and personality of a child – I’m not talking about being playful or childish, and neither do I mean that we should model ourselves after a ten year old or a teenager – they are virtually adults..
But a young child who puts aside selfish ambition. A young child is not proud or egotistical, a young child trusts implicitly.
When you enter Gods Kingdom, you need to start trusting God implicitly and putting aside your pride and ego and selfish ambition and humbling yourself before God.
The greatest sin that breakdowns any Christ follower and their relationships is pride, the opposite of humility.
Don’t worry God, I’ve got this
I will do this my way God…
I don’t need your help God.
It’s my way or the Highway people -but what about Gods way or Gods will?
Principle one – We enter Gods Kingdom as a Child.
We become great in Gods Kingdom by being like a child, by taking on the spiritual attitude of humility before God in anything and everything we do.
Imagine how much of an impact our churches would make if we dispensed with the adult attitude of pride, ego and even false humility?
Imagine the improved relationships we would have with the people around us if we were more humble in our dealings with people?
I know its not easy. Its tough. We have grown up developing these character traits of feeling proud, and developing a sense of independence.
I’m not saying we must lose our sense of independence, I’m not saying that by becoming like a child we become weak, (or even weak willed) as people.
Being “Like a Child” in Gods Kingdom means that we become more willing to listen to Gods voice, and obey his urgings and direction for our lives.
Being Like a Child is our starting point for growing in Gods Kingdom and for Building Gods Kingdom. It allows for a heart – transplant, a transformation of your attitude and life.
It means we declares unto the creator of this world and universe:
“GOD, YOU ARE MY KING – YOU ARE MY HEAVENLY FATHER – MY ABBA and without you I am nothing, and with you, in you and through you, I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST BECAUSE GOD IS MY EVERYTHING.”
Think about that.
And now, think about these questions –
“Where are you right now in Gods Kingdom?”
“Are you like a child before God and others in His Kingdom?”
“Are you humbling yourself before the Almighty?”
I want to close with the most important question for you today, possibly the most important question in your life – If Jesus were to return today and take us to His Kingdom, would you be with him? Do not leave it if you don’t know if you belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, or if you are a part of Gods Family. Don’t take that chance…..
Finally, next week we will continue looking at the Kingdom of God and will look at the other two principles of the Kingdom of God. But I want you to reflect on these 3 points this coming week –
Think inward – ARE YOU Kingdom minded?
Look upward – ARE YOU Christ Focused?
Move outward – ARE YOU Mission Minded?