The Kingdom of God
Posted on 08/26/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain every word found in the audio above)
Good morning, and welcome! A special greeting to all our visitors. If you have not received a welcome card, please get one from the sign in the foyer before you leave, along with a few free gifts.
Our purpose for gathering here today is not to philosophise, or speculate, or practice or spread religion, or just because we can't think of anything better to do. Rather, our reason for gathering together here today is to seek after more of God, to deepen our personal relationship with him, and to see a little more of his mind and his heart.
Let's all stand to our feet as we open today's service with prayer.
Lord God, thank you for this, yet another opportunity to gather together in your name and seek after more of you, as we seek to give you more of us.
We invite you, Holy Spirit, to have your way here today. Reveal the Word of God to us, convict us where we need conviction, change us where we need change; encourage, strengthen, and comfort those who need it, and draw all of us closer to Jesus.
We pray for Arsenick's friend's mother who has cancer and is unsaved. We know it's not your will that she enter the grave without knowing you, for "It is not God's will that any should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth."
So we ask, according to your will, that you would reveal yourself to this mother. Break through any barriers that would keep her from accepting the truth, and bring her into the Kingdom, in Jesus' name.
We pray for Tamara, who is weary and is seeking strength from you. You said in your Word that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary, and they will walk and not faint.
So we ask for this strength that only you can bring, Lord. We ask that you continue to draw Tamera into your presence, drawing her to seek after you like never before. And as she trusts in you, we stand together with her in asking and believing for the strength of your Holy Spirit.
We pray for the lady who has filed for divorce for just cause, and who has a small child. She desires for you to lead her life, so we ask that as she trusts in you with all her heart and depends on nothing and no one else, that you will direct her paths, making them plain and straight.
Bring her peace as she continues to seek your will, your ways, and your presence, and uphold her by your right hand.
And now Lord, we pray for the unspoken prayer requests, and for each person here and those listening or reading later. Pour out your Spirit upon each one. Meet their needs, and reveal Jesus to them in a deeper and more intimate way.
And we ask these things in the name of Jesus.
Feel free to follow along with the overhead or click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, as we worship God with song.
Thank you Lord for your precious Holy Spirit. Thank you for the Kingdom of God, which is here with us and within us today. We ask that you would continue to plant the seeds of your Kingdom, and that you would water them and cause them to grow by your Holy Spirit.
Teach us now by your Word, and make us a little bit more like Jesus.
And it's in Jesus' name we pray.
You may be seated.
Last week we talked about the Kingdom of God, and how Jesus compared it to a great treasure in a field, and a pearl of great price. Today we're going to take a closer look at the Kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, quite a bit, and told a number of parables to show us a little bit about it.
Today I'd like for us to look at a few of Jesus' parables about the Kingdom of God, and then we'll talk about it.
In Matthew 13:10-12 after Jesus had been speaking in parables to the people, we read this:
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
Jesus also said that this fulfilled the words in Isaiah, "While hearing they may not hear, and while seeing they may not see." The things of the Kingdom of God are hidden from those who are walking in darkness. They are spiritually discerned. While they are simple enough for a child, they cannot be grasped with the complex mind of pure reason.
So if you have not surrendered to Jesus, handing the steering wheel of your life to him and entering into a daily walk with him, then while your body is alive, and your soul is alive, your spirit does not have life and light.
So as we read the words of Jesus, if you feel something tugging at your heart, if you feel forces trying to pull you away to go somewhere or do something else, realize there is a spiritual war that is raging all around us. Out of absolute loathing of the Kingdom of God and the people God loves, satan has launched an all-out war for YOUR life. He doesn't care if you have pleasures now, so long as you don't find true life and as long as you are separated from that life forever.
And I pray right now, in the name of Jesus, that the veil that blinds us all before Jesus takes it away would be lifted. Together, we speak against any strongholds or forces of darkness which are keeping people bound and away from the Truth of Salvation and of the Kingdom of God, and we command you to loose those hearing or reading this message, in the name of Jesus.
Holy Spirit, blow through this place; blow through the room where each one is, and work the work of revelation, repentance, and deliverance that only you can do. In Jesus' name.
So let's look at a few parables Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?"
28 He said to them, "An enemy has done this." The servants said to him, "Do you want us then to go and gather them up?"
29 But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,
32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.
33 Another parable He spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,
48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
52 Then He said to them, Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.
So Jesus tells seven parables here about the Kingdom of God -- the man sowing seeds, the mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure, the pearl, and the scribe.
First, we see that there were two crops growing together -- that of the master, and that of the enemy. Why do you suppose the enemy bothered to plant weeds in the master's field? Saying he was an enemy would suggest that this was a malicious act, perhaps an act of war. And the master's servants were ready to go into the field and do some heavy-duty weeding.
But what did the master say? "Leave them alone, lest while you are pulling up the weeds, you also pull up the wheat." So they left the weeds, the tares, until the harvest.
Why, when we were living in our sin, when we had not entered in to the family of God, why did God spare us? For those of you who have still been turning away from God's priceless gift, you just might be wheat, not a weed. No matter how far away from Jesus you are, none of us here can say.
Perhaps you even argue vehemently against Scripture and the God of the Bible, hoping to uproot some of the wheat along with you. But God has been pulling you, calling you, urging you to come to him and be set free, so that you can finally know and understand the truth.
And so here you are, sitting here today, hearing the Word of the Lord call you once again. And it's time to hear that voice and stop running and fighting. You belong in the Kingdom. And today is your day of Salvation.
And if you are part of the Kingdom, remember the words of the master: "Let them grow together." How often do we reject someone because, for example, they come into Second Life dressed like satan? How often do we forget that we're not in a country club, but we are here to shine the light and love of Jesus to a world desperately looking for someone who is really like Him?
So don't try to throw out the chaff, it's not your job.
Next Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. If you've ever seen a mustard seed, it is a very tiny seed indeed. And yet it can grow larger than any other herb, and is as big as a tree, so that the birds come and build nests in its branches.
When God plants his Kingdom inside of you, and you receive that seed and hold on to it, feeding the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of darkness and of this world, then it will begin to grow. You will start to see your life changing. You will begin to see your ground broken up, often times painfully but always to make room for new life. And over time, you will see something truly amazing and full of life and stability take center stage in your life.
Next Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a hidden treasure in a field, that when someone finds, he sells all he owns to buy that field so he can take posession of that hidden treasure.
Those who have not yet come to Jesus see only a field. A nice story. Another religion. Or a fairy tale. But that is only because they have not seen the treasure that is hidden within.
And we, the Church, have done our part to cover up that treasure with our own grand ideas, traditions, rituals, and other clumps of earth that we pack around the treasure niavely trying to make it look and feel better.
But the preaching of the pure Gospel, not the doctrines of man, is the power of God unto Salvation. We would do well to strip away all the junk mankind has piled on top of the great treasure of the Kingdom of God, and let its brilliance and beauty shine for the wheat to see.
And once you, dear unbeliever, get a glimpse of the unmatched treasure that lies within, you will gladly surrender your whole life and everything in it for the field in which this breathtakingly magnificent treasure lies.
Next Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a merchant seeking beautiful pearls who finds a pearl of great price, and he sells all he owns to buy it.
Do you realize that God sold all he had to purchase you? Perhaps when you look at yourself all you see is a rotten old clam. But Jesus did not say the Kingdom of God was like a pearl of great price, but that the Kingdom of God was like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. And the Kingdom of God is searching for you, because he sees your incredible worth and beauty.
Cry out to him right now, "Lord, here I am! I may not see my beauty and my great worth, but you call me a costly pearl, and I ask you to pry away this clam's shell, and make me your own, so I can shine with the beauty you have created me to be."
Next Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a dragnet that was cast into the sea and which gathered from every kind. When it was full, the righteous were separated from the wicked, and the wicked were thrown into the fire.
The fact is that each one of us who have come into the Kingdom are in the dragnet of the Kingdom of God. Let's make sure we're walking in daily fellowship with God and wearing his robe of righteousness. The net will soon be full.
And finally, Jesus says that every scribe instructed about the Kingdom of Heaven is like a home owner who brings out of his treasure things new and old.
The Kingdom of Heaven is more ancient than time itself, yet it is always new and alive. It is the immaculate balance between the ancient and the new, and is indeed timeless. Once you become a student of the Kingdom of God, your life will become an adventure.
Now the Kingdom of God is made up of male and female, white and black, old and young, rich and poor. But there's one thing that everyone who enters the Kingdom of Heaven has in common:
They enter it like a little child.
In Matthew 18 verses 1 through 5 we read this:
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 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.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."
If we come to the Kingdom of God demanding it meet our sophisticated, "superior" standards, we won't get in.
If we come to the Kingdom of God demanding that we be recognized and applauded for the great, wise pillars of superiority we are, we won't get it.
If we come to the Kingdom of God on anyone else's terms besides his, we won't get it.
Jesus said plainly here that unless we enter the Kingdom of God like a little child, we will not enter it at all. So let us come to the Kingdom of God in simplicity, humility, and trust, and see the depth, greatness, and power of God's Kingdom begin to grow in our lives.
Let's take a quick look at another parable Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, "Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all."
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, "Pay me what you owe!"
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you all."
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, "You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?"
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of forgiveness. While we shouldn't open ourselves up to being repeatedly used and abused, we must forgive. We used and abused the gift of God when we were living outside his grace, and we continue to do so when we willfully sin or let our relationship with him take less than first and central place. God is continuosely forgiving and rescuing us for our sins against the King of the Universe... And he requires that we forgive others who sin against little people like us.
We may never forget, but we should always forgive. Ask God to fill you with his spirit of forgiveness, and then choose to set your debtor free. And you and those you love will be set free in return.
In Matthew chapter 19 verses 16 through 26 we read:
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."
18 He said to Him, "Which ones?"
Jesus said, "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,'
19 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
It is very hard for us, rich in ideas, information, good and bad opportunities, strengths and abilities, and both experiences and expectations, to let go of our dependence on and worship of those things in exchange for the Kingdom. In fact, a camel has a better chance of tying a piece of thread on his tail and leading it through the eye of a needle than we do of entering the Kingdom of God.
And yet Jesus makes a statement here that can be applied to all of our lives: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"You know, I just can't get out of this depression." With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
"I will always be controlled by lust, I just can't control my eyes and my thoughts." With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
"I simply can't stop drinking or doing drugs, I've tried and I can't do it." With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
"I will never be able to forgive that person for what they did." With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
No matter what you've chosen to simply accept as fate, remember: with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
The Kingdom of God brings freedom from all these things that have us bound. On our own, entering in is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Let's take a quick look at three more parables Jesus taught concerning the Kingdom of Heaven.
1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:
2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."'
5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.
6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.'
10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
There is indeed a wedding feast coming, and we have all been invited. Have we been to busy with the things of this earth to enter in to his presence? Have we perhaps been too occupied with other things to accept his invitation at all?
His invitation goes out to you, whether you are the pillar of your community or whether you are the blacksheep of your family. The only thing that separated the first from the last is that the former did not come.
Of those who did come, one man was not wearing a wedding garment. He was not prepared. He was not clothed in righteousness.
Perhaps he was trying to earn his own Salvation, for Scripture tells us that our own righteousness is like filthy rags. Perhaps he was still living in sin, not trading it for righteousness. Or perhaps he simply was not walking daily in the Vine, being daily filled with the Spirit and practicing a daily walk with God.
But he was cast into outer darkness, eternal separation from God; hell.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that as you seek after God you need not be afraid, but if you take the gift of God lightly and push away seriousness with God to some other time and place, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.
1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'
7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
9 But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'
12 But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
How many of us are like the ten wise virgins? How many of us are like the ten foolish ones?
We'd all like to think we're in the category of the wise. And yet, it doesn't matter how wise we feel or how much wise knowledge we posess. It is our actions that make us either wise or foolish. For true wisdom is the right application of knowledge.
Just as our priorities are not necessarily what we say, but what we do when one thing tries to take our time and attention away from another, so our wisdom or lack thereof is made evident by what we do and the choices we make.
Are we taking action every day to fill ourselves with the Word of God, to spend time at the beginning and throughout each day in his presence, to pray earnestly for the lost, for his Kingdom to come in our lives, and for his Spirit to fill us afresh this day?
Don't neglect the daily filling of your lamps with spiritual oil, or you just may find yourself numbered with the ten foolish virgins who were shut out of God's presence in outer darkness and regret.
Starting in verse fourteen Jesus says this:
14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lordís money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'
21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
22 "He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.'
23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'
26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
What has God given you? And are you working to make it grow?
You might say, "God has not really given me any gifts or tallents or abilities. What I have is so tiny that it won't do anybody any good. I'm afraid to use it, because it's insignificant and people will laugh or think me stupid."
And yet God gave it to you because he expects you to use it and to work to make it grow. If you compare yourself with others or believe the lies your own carnal mind and the enemy tell you, then you will hide what God gave you in the ground.
But this is not acceptible. And it results in separation from God. Instead, dig up that gift from God. Work hard to make it grow. Pray for God ideas and for Holy Spirit guidance. And you will hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in to the joy of your Lord."
In Matthew chapter six, Jesus tells us what priority the pursuit of the Kingdom of God should take in our lives. Let's read this in Matthew chapter six, verses 25-34:
25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When we're told to "seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness," it's important to remember the meaning of this word "first."
Our idea of a priority list is numerical -- first, second, third, and so-on. But the Jewish idea of a priority list was circular -- central, revolving around that, revolving around that, and so-on.
So we can read this like so: "Seek first and central the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
If our pursuit of God is #1 and our relationship with our spouse is #2, then they can be seen as two separate things. However, if our pursuit of God is central, and our relationship with our spouse revolves around that, then developing our relationship with our spouse is something that revolves around and helps to strengthen our pursuit of and relationship with God.
We tend to buy into the lie that we can keep the things in our lives compartmentalized. And yet this is not reality. The truth is that everything is interconnected. We cannot, for example, participate in the fantasy that we are escorts in the virtual world, and then somehow think we are Christians in our physical life. Or we cannot live like the world throughout the week and truly be holy on Sundays.
If the Kingdom of God is our center, then everything else must revolve around that, and must reflect that. Being double-minded therefore has no room in the Kingdom of God.
So the pursuit of the Kingdom of God as the center of our lives, our thoughts, and our activities and choices is what God is looking for. And Jesus says that when our priorities are structured in this way, God will take care of our every need.
If you have decided to seek after the Kingdom of God, you need to take that first step. This first step toward entering the Kingdom of God is found in John chapter three, verses one through five, which say:
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his motherís womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
So to enter or even comprehend the Kingdom of God, you must be born again. This second birth is something only the Spirit of God can do, and he will do this for you when you accept Jesus as the Lord and savior of your life.
In 1 Corinthians 4:18-20 Paul writes,
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
So words alone won't result in being born again, and words alone will not bring you the Kingdom of God. Just quoting Scriptures will not buy you favor with God. True seeking after God with your deepest, innermost being will find him. For it is not in words, outer appearances, rituals, or traditions, that the Kingdom of God is found, but it is through the power of God.
1 Corinthians 15:50 says, Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Just as we cannot enter the Kingdom without being born again or through words and rituals, so we cannot enter the Kingdom of God with carnality. There are those who teach that it doesn't really matter how we live as long as we've been saved. But this disagrees with Scripture, and we see here that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
In our carnal minds, through our own devices, in our own strength, by our own goodness and efforts, we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. It is only in childlike humilty, trust, and obedience, and by the Spirit of God that we can enter the Kingdom of God.
And what is the Kingdom of God?
Romans 14:17 says,
17 The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
True righteousness produces a peace within you that you cannot experience outside of Christ. Out of that deep, unbreakable peace bubbles forth a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
It is only by the Spirit of God that we can live righteous lives of faith, and as we walk after the Spirit instead of after the flesh, the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit will be ours.
Wherever in Scripture we see the Kingdom of God preached, we see miracles taking place. The blind can see. The lame can walk. The deaf can hear. The mute can speak. The bound become free. And the dead rise up and dance.
Such is the nature of the Kingdom of God. It is life, it is liberty, it is healing, it is deliverance.
When the religious leaders accused Jesus of using satanic means to cast out demons, he ended his reply by saying that if he casts out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of Heaven has come near to them.
When the Kingdom of God begins to grow within us, when we being to clear the things of the world out of our hearts and minds and seek first and central God's Kingdom, when we beging to get the junk out of our lives and seek to please God in all things, when we daily eat his Word, seek for the Holy Spirit to bring it to life, and then apply it immediately to our lives, and when we bend our ears to hear his voice and then quickly obey, then we will begin to see the Kingdom of God grow into that large tree that the birds come to for shelter. And great and wonderful things will begin to happen in and through us.
I'd like for the ministry team to come to the front, and I want to ask you a very important question:
Where are you in the Kingdom of God?
Are you on the outside looking in?
Are you on the inside looking out?
Are you one of the wise virgins, or one of the foolish?
Are you using your gifts so they will grow, or are you hiding them in the ground?
Is the Kingdom of God and seeking after that Kingdom first and central in your life, or is it just one interest out of many?
Wherever you are today, it's time to move forward and take the next step.
And if you're ready to take that next step forward, come to the front, saying by your coming, "Here I am Lord, I'm ready to step forward. And I can only do it in your power."
If you would like prayer or ministry, please instant message someone on the ministry team.
After your time of ministry or time with the Lord is finished, you're all invited to hang out with us in the fellowship room, which is the room to your left.
Come, and move forward in the Kingdom of God today.