Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kingdom Devotional

I had the privelidge of doing a devotional for our church's youth group on Wednesday.  I decided to do a study on the Kingdom of God.  Since I spent the time to write it out I figured why not post it here for anyone to read.  So here it is -

Who can tell me what event of significant importance took place on July 22, 2013?

It was the birth of the Royal baby; known as Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.  Born into, position, prestige and power through his INHERITANCE.

-Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the third in line to the throne was born at St. Mary’s hospital in London, he was named for former kings and relatives,

-Third in line to the throne of England after the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge. (Prince Charles and  his son William)

-He stands in a long line of royalty.  If he ascends to the throne he will be the 43rd King of England since William the Conqueror in 1066.     

-Heir to the Crown Jewels, valued at over 40 million dollars 

-Heir to 13 fully furnished royal palaces including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and St. James Place and over 20 other palaces and castles which unoccupied. 

-Likely to be waited on hand and foot, no cooking meals or making the bed.  

-Heir the Commonwealth, would be head of state of England, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Papua New Guinea and others…  

-At one time the British Empire encompassed over 60+ countries.  Companies with royal charters would bring diamonds, rubies, spices, linens, furs, and all sorts of other goods from the farthest parts of the world to the King or Queen of England.

The king receives his position, his prestige; his power which put all together could perhaps be called his ‘Kingdom’ through his inheritance, that is, because of the family that he was born into. 

But I want to turn the subject here and highlight the fact for everyone that in Christ we are inheritors of an even greater Kingdom.  If we are born again we are co-heirs with Christ of the Kingdom of God.  The fact that we are co-heirs with Christ is clearly spoken of in the New Testament in Romans 8 and again in Galatians 3:

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17)

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…  (Galatians 3:26)

What is the nature of the Kingdom of God? 
1. There is a future aspect; when Christ returns the Kingdom will be consummated, that is, brought to complete fulfillment. 

You can read about this in many places in scripture.  For example; Revelation chapter 19 gives us a picture of Christ returning with the armies of heaven to overthrow those on earth who ultimately refuse to give him allegiance.  At that time God will judge every person according to what they have done.  To those who are born again he will say - ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ (Matthew 25:34)

When Christ returns we will reign with him. 

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him  (2 Timothy 2:11,12)
In Revelation John gets a glimpse into the throne-room of God and he has this amazing vision where 24 elders and 4 living creatures are playing harps and they sing this song -

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a Kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”  (Revelation 5:9,10)

2. There is also a present aspect, Jesus is currently reigning in heaven at God's right hand as all dominion power and authorities are progressively placed under His feet.  Just like we learned during our study of the Apostle's creed; 'Jesus ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of the Father'

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”
The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”  (Psalm 110:1-2, quoted in Hebrews 1:12)

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
(1 Cor. 15:20-25)

Even now we are born again into God's Kingdom.  At the present time, right now, you are part of an incredible Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

This is present tense.  Right now we are born again into God's Kingdom.  At the present time, you are part of an incredible Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (he is talking about Jesus!), and has made us to be a Kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revlation 1:5-6)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

3. Unlike all earthly Kingdoms, Jesus Kingdom will be forever, eternal, unending.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

Kingdoms of the earth fall and rise. 

Look at the world; the Egyptian pyramids (a tourist attraction), the Greek Parthenon is still standing, but is mostly rubble.  The Roman empire was probably the largest most powerful empire our world has known…  where is it today?

Even the British Empire, of which young Prince George is an heir:  The British monarch once ruled over 60 countries, but now it is much fewer.  In reality, though they enjoy many privileges, the present monarchy serve only as figureheads and there are many who would disband the monarchy all together because of cost.

Compare this to Jesus Kingdom.  Before Mary gave birth to Jesus the angel foretold about Jesus that:

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his Kingdom will never end.”  (Luke 1:33)

4. The Kingdom commission.  In ancient world a King would give a charter or commission to a group of people, or to a company and charge them to go trade, do business, and 'subdue' a part of the world for the sake of the empire, and to bring a portion of the wealth back to the King.   

Jesus has charged us with a royal commission as well, he entrusted it to his disciples before he left and we are the heirs of this commission -

 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

5. Characteristics of the Kingdom of God.  In contrast to Prince George;

Position: accepted by God standing in a state of grace, love, forgiveness and blessing. 

Prestige is replaced by service.  Whoever would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven will be a servant of all, the wise men are ones who prove it by their good life and by "deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom".  The most prestigious are the ones who most serve.  We are to follow Jesus example; 'For the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

Power: In the Kingdom of God is full of God's power.  The spirit of God gives us power, love and self discipline (2 Tim 1:7).  The Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17-19).

Why does all this matter? 

Let me tell you a personal story - when I was finishing high-school I was 18 or so I was really torn up over whether I should be baptized or not.  I was a Christian, and I went to church and youth group and I enjoyed it, but the world was attractive to me.  I like church and youth retreats, but I also liked parties, girls and just going along with the typical worldly things that most high-school people are about.  

Even though I knew I should really commit my life to Christ through the act of baptism I was having a really hard time doing it.  It was the night before the baptismal service and I still hadn't decided for sure if I was going to do it.   

We decided to rent a movie, 'A Knight's Tale' with Heath Ledger.  It's not an amazing movie, but it spoke to me.  It is about William Thatcher a young man who (if I remember the plot correctly) pretends he is of royal blood so that he can compete in jousting competitions.  He is really good at it and has lot of character, people follow him and support him, but in the end it is found out that he isn't royalty.  His father (who he never knew) is discovered to be just a no-account bum who deserted him as a child.  Suddenly this 'hero' is brought to nothing; he can't compete in the jousts anymore.  

 But… in the end the real prince, who has heard of his character declares him to be royalty so that he can compete and win.  The price says this line - 

'He may appear to be of humble origins, but my personal historians have discovered that he is descendent from an ancient royal line. This is my word and as such is beyond contestation.'

It seems almost silly, the movie wasn’t that amazing, but this line really got to me as I was watching it.  It made me remember that as Christian's we are part of the most ancient and most royal line.  Being called by Christ to be born again and follow him is something special, in fact beyond special, it is incomprehensible.  We may appear to be of humble origins, but we belong to an incredible and powerful eternal Kingdom greater than anything this world will ever know.

For me it was consideration of the Kingdom of God that led me to resolve to be baptized (I did get baptized the next day) and to truly desire to serve Christ completely with my life.  I pray that each one of you will get this vision of the Kingdom of God.

God’s Kingdom has a future aspect; Christ will return and consummate the Kingdom and we will reign with him on a new heaven and new earth.  But, Christ is also reigning in heaven right now, all dominion power and authority has been given to him by God and is presently being placed under his feet as the gospel is carried over the entire world, as disciples are being made and as people are being taught to obey Jesus.  

Christ is the great king, and we are his brothers and sisters through adoption, co-heirs of an inheritance that can never spoil or fade.  We are part of the Kingdom that will never be shaken. 

Everything in this world, every earthly Kingdom, government, country, every power; they will all pass away, but Jesus dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
This is more than a movie, this is the greatest story ever told.  This is the reality of life, history, the universe and everything.  Jesus Christ must reign - you can do no better with your life than seeking God's Kingdom and making his Kingdom, his righteousness, and his royal commission your number one priority.  

The next time you hear about the royal family (Prince George will surely be in the news more than once as he grows older!) I want you each to remember; ‘I am part of an even greater royal family and an even greater Kingdom; my father is God, my king is Jesus’.

1 comment:

Darren Patterson said...

Well written Andrew. The Kingdom of God is such a deep and difficult topic to understand in its entirety. You did a great job explaining it.