The Kingdom of Heaven

<strong>The Kingdom of Heaven</strong>

The terms “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” are synonymous; they represent  the same thing.

“Many people think of the kingdom of God as heaven or as the church. However, the kingdom of God is not an actual physical place. A working definition of God’s kingdom from a biblical perspective can be seen as God’s universal reign as Creator and Christ’s exhaustive work as Redeemer. Since God is eternal, His kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom of God transcends time and space.” 

(Source:  https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god-10-things-christians-need-to-know.html)

Let’s see what the Bible says:

. . . and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Mt 18:3 NKJV)

In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one needs childlike faith and trust in the Lord.  Just as earthly children trust their parents for their daily needs, we also must place our faith and trust in God the Father for daily shelter, food, protection, and all of life’s necessities.

Jesus told them another story:  The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. 32 Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches.  (Mt 13:31-32 CEV)

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  (Mk 4:30-32 RSV)

The Kingdom of Heaven is compared, in these Bible passages above, to a mustard seed that grows into a mighty plant whose branches become a home for birds as well as a protection from the shade for other animals. 

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  (Joh 3:5-6 NKJV)

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of all who have become part of His kingdom by submitting to His authority, and by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.   

Wherever God’s faithful people are gathered is where the Kingdom of God can be found.  God will meet us wherever we gather, whenever we call upon His Name. 

A relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord is the basis of the Kingdom of God.  It impacts all actions, thoughts, relationships, families, institutions, and governments.  Everything on earth will come into contact with God’s Kingdom. 

This Kingdom has grown all over the earth, and is still growing and overcoming all obstacles in order to touch the hearts and minds of people everywhere.  Glory to God most High!

Joy & Safety

<strong>Joy & Safety</strong>

This may seem like a quirky combination to write about, but I hope that you’ll take time to study this along with me.

Not only does the Lord want us to be filled with joy, but He also wants us to know that we are safe and secure thanks to Him.

You have put joy in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine are abundant.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, have me dwell in safety.
  (Ps 4:7-8 NASB)

This Bible passage above acknowledges that the Lord has placed joy in our hearts.  He is the author of joy!  Also, it talks about our sleeping peacefully because the Lord causes us to live in safety.  What wonderful blessings!

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.  (Ps 92:4 NIV)

We may rejoice and have joy because of God’s righteous and upright acts. 

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.  (Pro 3:24 NKJV)

This verse again speaks about our sleep being sweet and peaceful because our faith in God allows us to be free of fear.  Glory to God!

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.  (Ps 3:5 RSV)

Even our ability to awaken on any given morning is because the Lord sustains our very life.  Think about that!

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  (Ps 16:8-9 ESV)

In this Psalm, David is discussing the fact that he was aware of God’s presence with him at all times.  David felt God’s face before him, and God’s presence at his side.  As a result, it filled David with joy and rejoicing.  This also made him feel secure (protected, sheltered, and safe).  We are just as beloved by God as David was.  God’s presence is always with us, and His Spirit dwells within each and every one of us.   We are His temple.  (1 Cor 6:19 NKJV)  Hallelujah!

God Speaks to Us

<strong>God Speaks to Us</strong>

The Word of God gives us multiple instances of how God has spoken to His people over the centuries.  The written Word of God, the Bible, is one way that the Lord communicates with His people.  In His Word, He gives us instructions and promises which will lead us, guide us, and encourage us.

. . . and said to Moses, “If you speak to us, we will listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die!”  20 “Don’t be afraid!” Moses replied. “God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won’t sin.” 21 But when Moses went near the thick cloud where God was, the people stayed a long way off.  (Ex 20:19-22 CEV)  The Jewish people who followed Moses didn’t want to hear God’s voice!  They wanted Moses to speak with the Lord and to be their intermediary.  They wanted to receive their instructions from a man rather than directly from the Lord. 

From heaven he spoke to you in order to teach you, and on earth he showed you his great fire from which you also heard his words.  (Deu 4:36 NET)  God speaks to us in order to teach us, to encourage us, and to bless us.

Then you and your son and your grandson will fear the Lord your God. You will obey all His Laws that I tell you, all the days of your life. And then you will have a longer life.  (Deu 6:2 NLV)  One of the Bible’s promises concerning obeying God’s instructions is that we will have a long life.

This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness together with the angel who spoke to him at length on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to you.  (Ac 7:38 NASB)  God’s Words are living words.  (See Heb 4:12)

There are multitude of ways that God communicates with mankind.  He speaks to us through the beauty and majesty of His creation.  Also, he speaks to us by the Holy Spirit through dreams, visions, and our inner thoughts.  As we’ve already mentioned, the Lord converses with us through the Bible. 

Two Bible passages remind us that we who follow Jesus, our Shepherd, hear His voice and know His voice.  (Joh 10:16, 27)  This should reassure us, and encourage us.  Place your faith in God and in His Word, for God cannot lie!  Glory to God!

Enduring Faith Through Temptation & Testing

Enduring Faith Through Temptation & Testing

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must learn to persevere and to prevail in faith even in the midst of trials, temptations, and testing.  The grace of God will carry us through such times if only we rely upon the Lord.

The Scriptures talk frequently about the ways in which we will face tribulations, adversity, and hardships in our walk of faith.  And to the overcomers, the Lord will give a crown of life.  Praise God!

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.  (Jas 1:2-4 CEB)

Such difficult and painful life encounters produce a tenacious and durable faith.  Exactly what we need for life on this earth.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (Jas 1:12 NKJV)

When we come through temptation victoriously, we will have tasted and experienced the sustaining grace of God at work in our lives.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  (Mt 10:22 NIV)

Expect to be hated and persecuted, because Jesus also experienced such treatment.

You greatly rejoice in this, even though you have to suffer various kinds of trials for a little while, so that your genuine faith, which is more valuable than gold that perishes when tested by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus, the Messiah, is revealed.  (1 Pet 1:6, 7 ISV)

Our faith is more precious than gold; and just like gold, our faith is tested and tried in order to purify, concentrate, and refine it.  Our coming through testing triumphantly results in glory and honor being given to Jesus.  What an honor!

Contend for Your Faith

Contend for Your Faith

CONTEND means to maintain, keep up, or to sustain something.  We are reflecting upon the Bible’s exhortation to us to contend for our faith in the Savior and Messiah.

We need to work diligently on holding tightly to our faith because life’s circumstances and the work of the enemy will try to separate us permanently from our faith.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  (Jude 1:3 KJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Tim 6:12 NKJV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Tim 4:7 ESV)

The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Messiah. then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you—that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel . . .  (Phil 1:27 ISV)

So how do we ‘fight the good fight of faith’?  There are a number of healthy, spiritual habits that we should form in order to stay connected to our faith and to the Word of God.  Here are some ideas:

  • Flee from sin:  literally, fly away from sin!  God will show you a way out of it.  (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Pursue righteousness. (Mt 5:6)
  • Get to know God and lead a godly life. (2 Pet 3:11)
  • Put your confidence [trust] in God and in His Word. (2 Cor 5:7)
  • Operate in love.  (1 Cor 13:13; Mt 22:39)
  • Be humble and gentle.  (Eph 4:2)

We must make choices every day of our lives to pursue God’s will, to obey Him, and to live by faith.  This requires perseverance and steadfastness.  God’s grace will supply us with His ability to hold fast to our course.  God bless you.

What We KNOW as Believers

What We KNOW as Believers

We, as Christians, don’t have to wonder or hope or try to get faith.  We need to stop and consider what we know.  Our key verse for this study is in 2 Timothy:

. . . for I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.  (2 Tim 1:12b KJV)

For we KNOW JESUS, our Savior and Lord, with whom we have a living, vital relationship—Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!  (Mt 16:16; 26:63; Joh 6:69) To KNOW someone means to have a relationship with, to comprehend, and to have experienced who they truly are as a person.

As a matter of fact, because we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer and Lord, we are now known as SONS OF THE LIVING GOD!  (Rom 9:26)  Hallelujah!

These are some of the vital things that we KNOW as believers:

  • That the Lord has set us apart for Himself; the Lord will hear us when we call upon Him!  (Ps 4:3) 
  • That because we are set apart for God (His anointed), He will answer us with the saving strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ps 20:6)
  • That the Lord is great, and He is above all gods.  (Ps 135:5)
  • That God’s works are marvelous.  (Ps 139:14)
  • That Jesus is the Holy One of God. (Mk 1:24c; Lk 4:34c)
  • We know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  (Lk 8:10)
  • We know Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  (Joh 10:14)
  • We know the Lord, because He dwells with us, and He lives in us.  (Joh 14:17)
  • We know that Jesus dwells in the Father; we dwell in Jesus; and Jesus dwells in us.  (Joh 14:20)
  • That wherever we go, we carry the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.  (Rom 15:29)
  • That we have received the Spirit who is from God through whom we know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  (1 Cor 2:12; 1 Joh 4:12-14)
  • We are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer.  (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19)
  • That we are in Christ because we keep His Word, and the love of God is perfected in us.  (1 Joh 2:5)
  • That Jesus was manifested to take away our sins and in Him there is no sin.  (1 Joh 3:5)
  • That we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.  (1 Joh 3:14)
  • We know the Spirit of God because we confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and He is from God.  (1 Joh 4:2)
  • That we are born of God and know God because we love one another, and love is of God.  (1 Joh 4:7)
  • We know that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of the Son of God and will continue to do so.  (1 Joh 5:13)

The Love of Money

The Love of Money

People who have an unreasonable love of money and a lust to accumulate it have fallen into a trap with inbuilt dangers.  These dangers plunge people into ruin and destruction.  The enemy of our souls uses this extreme love of money to control and rule the world, and even to destroy many Christians.

Let us turn to the Bible:

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless.  (Eccl 5:10 NIV, underscoring added)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  (1 Tim 6:10 NKJV)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  (Mt 6:24 NIV)

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  (Lk 12:15 NIV)

Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  (Mt 6:19 ISV)

From the Scripture verses above we learn:

  • When a person loves money, they can never have enough.
  • The love of money can drive people to commit sin and to perform evil deeds.
  • The love of money can drive people away from faith in God.
  • We cannot serve two masters:  we must choose to serve God or to serve money.  We cannot serve both.
  • Be on guard against covetousness (greed, materialism, avarice).
  • Learn to value eternal things over and above real estate; savings accounts; stocks & bonds; and possessions.  When we value the eternal, we please God.

Money is not evil.  It can be used for good or evil.  King David was wealthy, but it didn’t control his heart. 

Do not give your heart to money or allow your monetary concerns to control your decisions or your actions.  Tithe and give offerings faithfully as the Lord guides you.  Be generous and help others wherever and however you can as the Holy Spirit directs you.  Use your abundance to bless and help others and to earn the blessings of God in response.  Don’t be stingy with your prosperity.

Be content with what you have and with your situation in life.  If you would like things to change, pray and ask for God’s direction.  He will hear and answer your prayers.

Don’t rely upon or trust in money.  Trust in and put your faith in the Lord and in His Word.  Obey the Lord and His Word and maintain a loving relationship with our Savior. Cultivate an eternal perspective.  We all must remember that wealth cannot go with us into eternity.  But Jesus will be with every believer throughout eternity as long as their relationship with the Lord is alive and vital at the time of their death.  Hallelujah!

Everything Is Possible for a Believer

Everything Is Possible for a Believer

While Jesus was on the earth, He made many bold and challenging statements.  At least, many of His statements challenge human beings in this day and age.  However, His disciples, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, didn’t seem to have any trouble in taking Jesus at His word.

They had listened to the Words of our Savior:

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  (Mk 9:23 NIV)  Jesus says that EVERYTHING is possible for the person who believes.  But believes what, exactly?  We need to place our faith in God and in His Word.

And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  (Mt 17:20 ASV)  We must use the faith that we have.  Remember that faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8); it’s not something that we need to TRY to have or to whip up.  It is a matter of taking God at His Word, and trusting Him to fulfill His Word.

 I tell all of you with certainty, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ if he doesn’t doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  (Mk 11:23 ISV)  Here, Jesus has given us an instruction for how to use the faith that we’ve been given. 

Romans 12:3 reminds us that each one of us has been given a measure of faith.

The Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  (Lk 17:6 MEV)  A grain of mustard seed is a very tiny, round seed.  It would be easy to lose and easy to miss if it was in your hand.  But Jesus says that even so small an amount of faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to uproot, move and plant a mulberry tree in the sea!  What an astonishing image of faith! 

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive it all.”  (Mt 21:21-22 NASB)  In this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us that pure, unwavering faith is able to move mountains and cast them into the sea.  And He added that WHATEVER we ask for in prayer, believing that we have already received it, will be done. This demonstrates to us that pure faith that has no doubt or fear mixed into it will bring results that are unstoppable, inevitable, and unalterable.  This faith is the gift of our good, loving and merciful God. Praise God!

Pray for the Increase of Evangelism

Pray for the Increase of Evangelism

As believers and followers of Jesus, we’re called to pray for the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread over all of the earth. 

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you . . .  (2 Thes 3:1 NIV)  Pray for your Pastor and the missionaries that your church supports that God will bless and prosper their work.  Pray also for the family of your Pastor and the families of the missionaries that you support.

. . . for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.  (1 Cor 16:9 NIV)  Remember that there are spiritual opponents and challengers who stand against the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But the Bible reminds us that God has given us the victory.  It is part of our calling to pray for that victory to be manifested in every evangelistic outreach.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor 15:57 NKJV)

But the word of God increased and multiplied.  (Ac 12:24 NIV)  By the grace and mercy of God, our prayers can turn a situation around by faith in Jesus.

. . . therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Mt 9:38 NIV)  Ask the Lord in your prayers to send out more evangelists so that His good news of salvation may bring about the end-time harvest.

Of course, we should pray for our unsaved relatives and friends to be saved.  It’s a measure of our love for them that we desire to pray for their salvation.  Remember what the Bible tells us: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (Joh 15:7 NIV)  Rejoice!

Self-Control Is Ours: Use It

Self-Control Is Ours: Use It

The dictionary definition of self-control is ‘the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.’    Another explanation of self-control is ‘restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.’

The Word of God talks about self-control and how important it is in the life of a believer.

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.  (Pro 16:32 NIV)  The Bible says that a person with self-control is better that a person who conquers a city!  Wow!

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.  (Pro 25:28 NIV)  The Scriptures compare a person without self-control to an unprotected and broken-down city.  This is a small insight into how critical our need is for self-control.  We leave our souls unprotected and open to assault and harm without self-control.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23 NKJV)  This is a list of the fruit of the Spirit available to all who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Self-control is one of the gifts provided to us by the Holy Spirit.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness . . . (2 Pet 1:5-6 NKJV)  This passage of the Bible teaches us how to diligently build upon our faith in Jesus Christ, which is the foundation for our lives.  There’s an order and a method to the process which the Lord wants us to know.  Each and every part of this process is important and very necessary to our spiritual lives.

One of the greatest points to remember about the gift of self-control is that its ultimate goal is to choose Christ over everything else!  Hallelujah!