How Do You Know You Value the Kingdom? | Part 3

Treasure

Maybe you have called yourself a Christian for a long time, but how do you know you value the kingdom?

The Parable of the Householder

The Parable of the Householder not only tells us what Jesus’ disciples should do, but what those who value the kingdom will do.

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52, ESV)

Jesus not only compares His disciples to the Scribes – the learned teachers of the day – but also to a household master. He pictures the master bringing out and showing off his old and new treasure.

The old treasure represents the familiar teachings of the day, while the new treasure represents the teachings Jesus revealed to the disciples.

What’s Jesus point?

Jesus’ point is that His disciples are to teach the people how the old and new truths He revealed integrate together. Jesus’ message doesn’t wipe the slate clean. It doesn’t replace the old. It fulfills it, and it is the disciples job to show how that’s the case.

Why Spread Jesus’ Message?

Problems will arise, if Jesus’ disciples carry Jesus’ message to the people. People will reject and hate them. Life will not be easy. Knowing that, why spread Jesus’ message?

The value of the Kingdom should cause Jesus’ disciples to spread His message.

You see, those who value the kingdom will tell others about it. They will talk about it, no matter the cost.

That’s because we talk about those things we value.

How do you know if you value the kingdom?

(1) Is Jesus apart of your conversations with others?

Do you talk about Him with you friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers?

We talk about those things we value. You can know if you value the things of God, you can know if you value the kingdom, you can know if you value Jesus, if you talk about Him.

How else can we know if we value the kingdom or the things of God?

(2) Do you read God’s Word?

If you value the things of God, you will want to learn more about Him. The way to do that is to read His Word.

(3) Do you pray?

If you think God is valuable, you will set aside time in your day to talk with Him.

(4) Do you seek to live according to God’s Word?

If you think His wisdom and commands are valuable, you will want to live by them.

(5) Do you give your money, time, and resources to kingdom work?

Those things we value, we invest in. Do you invest in the kingdom by giving your money, time, and resources to it?

(6) Do you put Jesus first in your life?

The things we value get first priority in our lives. So is Jesus first in your life, or is He 2nd or 3rd, or even at the bottom of your list? We give first priority to those things we value. So is Jesus first in your life?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do the questions above reveal you value the Kingdom or not? Why or why not?
  2. What other questions would you add to the list of six above?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

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Why is Jesus’ Kingdom So Valuable? | Part 2

Treasure

Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world and you should want to give up everything to follow Him. But why? What makes His Kingdom the most valuable thing in the world?

(1) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because those who are apart of it have a restored relationship with God and eternal life.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 13:47–50)

Jesus compares the fishermen picking out the bad fish with the angels work when Jesus returns. The angels will separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will face God’s punishment, while the righteous enjoy a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life.

Those who are apart of the kingdom, those who follow Jesus are no longer enemies of God. They enjoy a restored relationship with the Father because Jesus paid the price for their sins, taking the punishment they deserve.

How great is that? How valuable is that? It’s worth more than anything this world could ever provide.

(2) Jesus’ Kingdom is valuable because it will never fail us.

It’s the best investment we could ever make. It is guaranteed. It is no risk because Jesus follows through on His promises. He promises us eternal life. We get it. He promises us joy. We get it. He promises us acceptance. We get it.

On the other hand, the world promises us all kinds of things, but doesn’t come through. And if it does, it’s not lasting.

The World Promises Joy

You might find joy in a new car or home or phone. The joy, however, it provides is only momentary. It’s easily taken away. A car wreck. A dropped phone. A house fire.

The World Promises Satisfaction

You might find satisfaction in your job. What happens, however, if you are fired, disabled and can’t work, or if old age has caught up to you and you are forced to retire?

The World Promises Success, Fame, and Wealth

Take fame for instance. People chase fame all their lives, but it is fleeting and short lived. Think about all the sports stars, actors and actresses, and musicians who are now labeled “has beens.” They were famous for a while, but eventually grew too old or a new rising star stole the spotlight.

Fame is short lived. The same with success and wealth and whatever else the world promises.

The world is always going to fail us. Jesus, however, will never fail us. The kingdom will never fail us. It will be there for all eternity.

Conclusion

Jesus’ kingdom is valuable because:

  1. It provides us with a restored relationship with God and eternal life.
  2. It will never fail us.

With something so valuable, why would you ever want to go after anything else?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you think of other reasons Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?
  2. Do you believe Jesus’ Kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

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Why Should I Repent?

Castle

In Matthew 4, Jesus begins his ministry. His first act is to preach, and His first message is:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Not necessarily a motivating message by today’s standards, or is it?

While many pastors desire to motivate their congregations to commit to Jesus with promises of health and wealth, Jesus motivates in a different way. Even though His call to repent and be His disciple is radical – He calls us to choose Him over our family, give Him the right to direct our career, our entire life, allowing Him to use us as His instruments for His purposes – it is worth it.

What is Our Motivation to Repent?

In the simple message Matthew records for us, Jesus provides us with motivation for why we should turn from our sins and become His disciple. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” He proclaims, making the Kingdom of Heaven our motivation to repent.

Why is the Kingdom of Heaven a motivating factor?

(1) The Kingdom of Heaven is ruled by God Himself and is a perfect kingdom.

There is no injustice or unrighteousness in it, no oppression or poverty, no disease or sickness. It is a perfect kingdom. A kingdom for which we all long, and it is here now.

Jesus has come to put everything right. Where the fall marred the perfect kingdom as sin entered the world, hindering relationships and bringing death and disease, Jesus has come to set class struggle, family breakdown, disease, sickness, and death, right. He has come as the perfect King to establish a new and perfect kingdom. A king and kingdom for which we all long.

(2) All those not in the kingdom will be judged and sentenced to an eternity in hell.

John the Baptist is the forerunner of Jesus. His preaching minister preceded Jesus’, preparing the people for Jesus’ arrival. In his messages leading up to the ministry of Jesus, he provides us with our second motivation for repentance. He tells those who came out to him:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:11-12)

He pictures Jesus with a winnowing fork in hand separating the chaff from the wheat. The chaff is burned, while the wheat is put in the storehouse. John’s message tells us that those who do not repent will be sentenced to eternity in hell. While those who do repent, will experience eternal life with Jesus in His kingdom.

For at least those reasons, we are motivated to repent of our former way of life and turn to the Lord.

Challenge

While the biblical motivation to repent differs from that of the world, it is right and good. So today, if you have never repented and turn to Jesus as your Savior, want you do so now? Turn from your sins toward the Lord. Call on Him as Lord and Savior. Submit to His rule over your life. Make the perfect King your King today!

Questions for Reflection

  1. Does knowing that Jesus is a perfect King who rules over a perfect Kingdom motivate you to follow Him?
  2. Can you think of other biblical motivations to repent?
  3. Can you think of other worldly motivations?

Resources

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Abraham: A Model For World Missions

Have you ever thought about how Abraham, a Jew, serves as a model for the Gentiles mission? I have been doing some reading and thinking in this area lately. Here is what I have discovered.

No Distinction Between Jews and Gentiles

In Galatians 3:27-29, we learn that there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. All who put their faith in Christ are offspring of Abraham. They are kingdom citizens who are grafted into Israel, and, as such, are heirs to the promise God has made to Abraham (Rom. 11:11-24; see also Eph. 3:1-6; Rom. 4:13-17).

This means the kingdom of God is a multinational community of faith, which includes Jews and Gentiles alike. That means us, all those who are non-Jews. We are apart of God’s kingdom. We are the offspring of Abraham. As his offspring, we are apart of God’s mission to bring redemption to the world.

Abraham: Our Model

In Genesis 12, Abraham teaches us how we might accomplish our mission. God comes to Abraham and tells him that He will bless him if he would leave his country and go to a land that the Lord would show him. In Genesis 12:4, we are told that Abraham listens to the Lord and leaves. In doing so, he exercises faith and obedience to God (Rom. 4; Gal. 3:6-29; James 2:20-24; Heb. 11:8-19).

If we use Abraham as our model, we learn that to be successful in, and apart of, God’s mission, we too must exercise faith and obedience. This means that Abraham’s faith and obedience to God are not merely models for personal piety and ethics. They are also the essential credentials for effective participation in God’s mission [1].

Christopher Wright says,

“Those whom God calls to participate in his redemptive mission for the nations are those who exercise saving faith like Abraham and demonstrate costly obedience like Abraham” [2].

He continues by saying,

“So then, what God promised Abraham becomes the ultimate agenda for God’s own mission (blessing the nations), and what Abraham did in response to God’s promise becomes the historical model for our mission (faith and obedience)” [3].

Questions for Reflection

  • Why do you think it is true that the faith and obedience of Abraham is a historical model for our mission?
  • Do you believe, like Abraham did, that God will use you as His kingdom agents to bring redemption to the nations?
  • How are you doing with exercising faith that God will use you?
  • How are you doing at being obedient to God’s command?

Resources

[1] Christopher Wright, The Mission of God’s People, 80.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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The King and His Kingdom

Yesterday, while preaching over 1 Corinthians 4:17-21, our pastor talked about the Kingdom of God. In doing so, he told us Paul delivered a message from the king to the kings citizens (that would be those who live in the King’s Kingdom as redeemed humanity ie Christians). The message Paul delivers to the citizens is the message of the cross, which is both the way into the kingdom and how we can live in the kingdom.

The Message of the Cross is the Way Into the Kingdom

Here is where the worldly idea of a king and his kingdom is turned on its head. In Christianity, the King comes down from His throne, takes the form of the rebels in His kingdom, dies for them, and purchases, by His blood, a way for those who are living as rebels in His kingdom to live at peace with Him in His kingdom.

In biblical language, we would say Jesus is the King, who came down off His throne in heaven, took the form of a man, and went to the cross for the sins of those who oppose Him (rebels). His death on the cross, and man’s subsequent belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, restores their relationship with God, so they can once again live in the kingdom as peaceful citizens. After Christ’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection, God showed He approved of Jesus’ cross-work by giving Jesus the name that is above every name and making Him the King who rules over His kingdom (Philippians 2:5-11).

The Message of the Cross is the Way to Live in the Kingdom

As Christians we live in God’s kingdom, through the sacrifice of His Son, who is now the rightful ruler of the kingdom. Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time event that secures the citizenship of all those who make Him their Lord and Savior. Instead of earning their right to live in the kingdom daily by performing works that please the King, Christians, whose citizenship was bought by Christ’s blood (the King), are made citizens forever in the kingdom by God’s grace. This means, citizenship into, and forever in, Christ’s kingdom cannot be bought by good works, it can only be bought by the blood of the King Himself. What a wonderful thing to know that our citizenship is not contingent on our works; rather, it is the result of Christ’s sacrifice. A perfect, once for all sacrifice that is sufficient to restore our citizenship in the kingdom for all eternity.

With that in mind, we see that Christianity says both our entrance into and our stay in the kingdom of God are secured by the King’s sacrifice. Whereas, all other world religions are about doing something, Christianity is about believing in someone.

Christianity tells us that when we get up in the morning, we do not have to work to get God on our side, nor do we have to earn His gift of citizenship daily, His grace is already their waiting for us.

Implications

So then, when we feel like we need to work to earn God’s favor, or we are not feeling it one day, we need to preach the message of the cross to ourselves, in order to assure ourselves that our citizenship in the kingdom of God is both real and secure.

It also means that we live as citizens of the kingdom now. Paul tells us our citizenship is not of this world (Phil. 3:20). And he also tells Christians that if they want to live as citizens worthy of their citizenship, they are to stand firm against their enemies and be united with one another (Phil. 1:27-2:4). This shows that we live in the already, not yet. We live in the world, but our citizenship is not of this world. Rather it is of the kingdom of God.

However, Christ is reigning on His throne now over His kingdom, which includes both heaven and this world. As Christians, we are rightful citizens of Christ’s kingdom, and we should live as citizens of that kingdom now because He is ruling over His kingdom now. This means those who are not Christians, are living as rebels to our king and are living as such alongside us in Christ’s kingdom. So then, instead of viewing Christ’s kingdom and our citizenship in that kingdom as a distant reality, we need to view it as happening right now. This should have massive implications for the way in which we live, and the way we view those who reject Christianity and the rule of our King.

It also should have massive implications for the way we deal with our own resources. Christ is the King who is ruling over His Kingdom right now. As such, He has control over the resources in His kingdom. This means we should not feel that the resources (money, job, property) we have are ours and that we somehow earned them apart from the King providing them for us. Since these resources are not our own, but the Kings, and the King is the one who gave them to us, we should feel free to share our resources with others in the kingdom, knowing that our good and benevolent King desires to take care of His citizens by providing for them.

Image: Nick Coombs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net