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!

Support Missionaries & Evangelists

Support Missionaries & Evangelists

We should always be hospitable to and support fellow Christians, especially those who have served as missionaries and traveling evangelists.  The Bible tells us that we should aspire to become fellow workers for the Kingdom of God.

. . . because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.  (3 Joh 1:7-8 NKJV)  We should receive fellow Christians and missionaries into our homes as a way of supporting them.  The Word says that by doing this, we may become fellow workers.

Here is the same verse in the New International Version:

It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.  (3 Joh 1:7-8 NIV)

Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.  (Phil 4:3 NIV)  This verse is appealing to a Philippian friend to help and support the women who labored in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Hospitality is one way of doing this.  Another way was to befriend these women and stay in relationship with them. 

As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.  (2 Cor 8:23 NIV) 

All of these Scriptures remind us to be hospitable and supportive of all those who preach the Word and share the Good News of Jesus with the unsaved.  When we obey these verses, we reap blessings upon ourselves and our families.  Pray for, encourage, and help those who are missionaries and evangelists.  God will reward you and credit you as co-laborers with them.  Now that is good to hear!

Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

All believers have the life of the Spirit of God within them.  We carry His glory in our ‘earthen vessels.’  (2 Cor 4:6-7)

The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock.  They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.  (Zec 9:16 NIV, emphasis added)

The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.  (Isa 60:3 NKJV, emphasis added)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Mt 5:16 NIV)

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  (2 Cor 2:14 ESV)

We who follow the Lord Jesus, as obedient and loyal human sheep, have been privileged and blessed to carry the kingdom of God with us.  It is our calling and our honor to shine the light of God’s love, mercy and wisdom into every situation and exchange in which we take part.

When unsaved, hurting and needy people interact with us, they should walk away with the sense that they have encountered someone who is out of the ordinary, good, and encouraging.  This is because we are called to perform good works and good deeds.  We are called to SHINE a light into dark places, into dark troubles, and into evil practices.

We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 2:14 that Christ leads us in triumph and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of HIM everywhere!  A fragrance is defined as:  a pleasant, sweet smell; a sweet or delicate aroma; and a pleasing odor.  It is true that the experiential knowledge of Jesus and a deep relationship with him is evidenced by a positive atmosphere, and even an attractive fragrance such as a perfume. All of these Scriptures encourage us to be a force for good as representatives of the Kingdom here on earth.  Go ahead and leave a little sparkle (of the love and goodness of Jesus) wherever you go!

Two Important Instructions

Two Important Instructions

We are instructed by God’s Word to do two central things: 

(1)  do good deeds, and

(2) to search for and practice being at peace with all people.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  (Ps 34:14 NIV)  Turn away from evil (in thought, word, and deed).  Do good to others and look for (and chase after) inspired ways to be at peace with all people.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .  (Heb 12:14)  Follow peace, and practice peace—as well as living a righteous life; for without these things, no man will see the Lord.

Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  (1 Pet 3:11)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  (Gal 6:10)  We are told to do good to all, especially our brothers and sisters in the faith.

This is not as easy as it may sound!  “DO GOOD TO ALL” does not give the impression of being difficult, right?  However, when you think about “doing good” to people you don’t particularly like, to a malicious co-worker, to a mean store clerk, or to those who are unappealing and unpleasant, then the challenge comes much more clearly into focus. 

The Lord also wants us to be at peace with these kinds of people:  all who are obnoxious and unlovable. 

We were created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and God loves each and every human being.  He wants all people to be saved.  (2 Pet 3:9)  People are won over to Christ and to the gospel of salvation through our lives and through our testimonies.  They are also won over by our kindnesses and our good deeds. They are persuaded by our actions to those who are unlovely.

Following Christ’s example will bring forth eternal fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Working Hard Has Benefits

Working Hard Has Benefits

We can’t bring any glory to the Lord or to the Kingdom of God by being lazy.  There is no honor in laziness, nor is there any glory in being idle.  I want to make it clear that I’m NOT talking about people who yearn to work, who have searched rigorously and urgently for employment, but haven’t been able to obtain it.  That’s not the same thing. 

What these Scriptures are addressing are people who prefer to be idle, and those who choose to engage in gossip and spreading rumors rather than performing true, diligent labor.  

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  (Pro 14:23 NIV)  This verse teaches us that working hard brings us the benefit of being paid for our labor.  Those who only talk about working, but who actually do nothing, earn no wages and can buy no groceries.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.  (2 Thes 3:10-11 NKJV)  This excerpt from 2 Thessalonians demonstrates the truth that people who won’t work will have nothing to eat.  In addition, when people don’t work they have lots of time on their hands which the enemy can turn into opportunities to sin against God.  While all sin is displeasing to God, the sin of gossip displeases the Lord greatly. It is the reason that the Scriptures describe such persons as busybodies.

And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.  (1 Tim 5:13 NKJV)  Here again, the Bible warns us about idle hands and minds being turned toward evil, unrighteous pastimes. 

As we see from Proverbs 14:23 (above), the Holy Spirit says that ALL hard work brings financial gain and advantages to the ones who work diligently.  The Bible encourages believers to work hard, to be responsible and kind, and to live honorably within our communities so that we are an asset to them.  God will reward us with His blessings as we live obediently to His word. Praise His Name!

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

God Will Turn Us into a Blessing

Let’s see where the Bible addresses this topic of turning believers into a blessing.

And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.  Do not fear, let your hands be strong.  (Zec 8:13)

Though their present state was humble, God wanted Israel to trust in His promise of blessing.  He also wanted them to allow His promise to inspire them to diligently and robustly serve the Kingdom of God.  In the above passage, believers are instructed to have no fear and to be strong.  Notice that the Lord says that AFTER He saves His people, THEN we will be a blessing to other people. 

In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”  (Isa 19:24-25)

As we read above, the Word says that God’s people shall be a blessing in the heart of the earth.  The truth in this Scripture is based upon the fact that the Gospel of salvation was birthed in Israel through the birth of Jesus Christ; and through Israel and the gospel of salvation, all mankind would be blessed to learn of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.

‘Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’  (Hag 2:19)

In Haggai, the Lord declares that His blessings shall be upon His people.  We may safely put our trust in God’s promise to bless us, though we see no observable indication of its realization.  For our God cannot lie (Tit 1:2), and His Word is unfailing—it is always fulfilled.  (Ezek 12:28; 1 Thes 5:24)

We’re called and designed by God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the earth, and in doing so, fulfill our destiny to be a blessing on this earth.  Glory to God!

Jesus Shall Stand Upon Earth

This topic is dealing with what is called the End Times; End of Times; the Last Days; or the Final Days.  This is a complex and difficult topic, which I don’t typically address.  There are different approaches and different conclusions offered by various Bible scholars on this subject.

This article is going to focus on just one facet of this broad and complicated subject.  We’ll be contemplating the statement that Jesus shall surely stand upon the earth at some point in the future of mankind.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.  (Job 19:25 ESV)

This verse clearly says that our Redeemer (at the last) WILL stand upon the earth.

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.  (Zech 14:4)

In this passage, the Bible tells us that one day Jesus will stand upon the Mount of Olives—a very specific location on this earth.  This area of the map may serve as a focus for our attention in coming months and years.

For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.  (Mic 1:3)

This is a poetic verse from the Bible informing us that Jesus, the Lord, will come from His place (Heaven) and walk upon the “high places” of the earth.  When the Bible refers to “high places,” it is referring to places of worship on elevated areas of ground.

The truth is that wherever the Lord Jesus will stand upon the earth shall instantly become a “high place” because Jesus is worthy of all praise, worship, honor, glory, and power forever and ever.  (Jude 1:25; Rev 4:11; 5:12)

Jesus is the Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer sent to earth by God the Father.  When He does, indeed, stand upon the earth again, Jesus’ presence will stimulate and provoke uncontrollable worship and praise from all over the earth.  (Rev 15:4)  All who have served the kingdom of God will rejoice in that day.  Glory to God!

King of Kings

King of Kings

Back in the 70s, there was a sweet worship chorus that said, “Oh!  Let the flag fly high on the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there.”  Since we serve Jesus who is the King of Kings, it is fitting that our hearts be portrayed as the castles where the King mercifully reigns in love and righteousness, in power and glory.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (Mt 6:10 ESV, emphasis added)  Every kingdom has a King, and Jesus is our Redeemer King.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …  (Mt 25:34, emphasis added)  Our King has prepared a kingdom for each one of us.

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner …  (Ex 17:15)  The Lord Jesus is our banner:  His image is on the flag that flies high over our lives; He is our standard—the rallying point for all spiritual power and resources in battle against the forces of hell.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isa 11:10, emphasis added)  This verifies that Jesus, a descendant of Jesse, is our banner.

The King whom we serve is filled with love and compassion; mercy for the lost and the wounded; and health and healing for those who are sick.  He is good all of the time, and His plans for us are good and give us hope and a future. (Ps 34:8; Jer 29:11)

He brings reconciliation to relationships and to families.  (Jer 31:17; Rom 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18-19)  All glory to His name.

Jesus is a King whose grace humbles us without ever demeaning us, and who exalts us without causing us to puff up with false pride or ego.  Walking in a consistent relationship with Jesus, the Lamb of God, will mature us and grow us into mercy-filled, loving servants of the Kingdom of God.  Praise the Lord!

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Ac 7:59-60)

Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed!  Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them.  Then he dies. What mercy!  What forgiveness!  Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.

According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.  The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness.  (Ps 130:7 GW)

In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons.  As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows.  The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom. 

Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both.  This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.

Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God.  History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them.  Glory to God!

Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things.  Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death. 

This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.