We are currently in a sermon series during the morning services called ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. We spoke last week about the concept of the kingdom. The ‘kingdom’ represents God’s rule or reign. Where the will of God is done, the kingdom of God is present. Jesus announced its arrival in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, and brought the kingdom through his life, death and resurrection. The arrival of the kingdom of God was life-changing news!
We discovered last week that the arrival of God’s kingdom is good news for everyone. Jesus’ announcement in Matthew 4:17 meant that the defeat of God’s enemies was imminent – Satan, sin and death would be conquered. It meant that God’s long-awaited restoration plan had begun (Isaiah 52:7; Ezekiel 11:19-20) – and that he was going to restore the broken image of God in us (Genesis 1:26-27). The restoration of this image means that we can finally rule over creation as God intended us to. Instead of being enslaved to created things, bowing down to them and worshipping them (Deuteronomy 4:19). We are free to rule over them for God’s good purposes.
God’s reign is here. Yes, we still await its final consummation, but it has broken into this world and it changes our lives in concrete and practical ways. The big questions we are going to be answering over the next two weeks of the series are: “How do I respond?”, “What should life look like now?” and “How can I embrace the kingdom of God and live under God’s rule?”. We will explore this more over the next two weeks. In the meantime, however, I wanted to encourage you to set aside some time for prayer. Embrace God’s rule in your life this new year. Spend some time before God and ask him to lead you in the life of the kingdom. Tell him that you give up ‘running the show’ and that you want to live for him – under his rule. Here is a list of things that you can bring under his rule through prayer:
- Your time – how do you currently spend your time? Does it reveal your desire to pursue God’s agenda in this world?
- Your money – how have you structured your budget? Have you put aside money for generosity, for the poor, for hospitality, for the work of the church?
- Your relationship with Jesus – do you have rhythms in your life that help you abide in his love? How do you ensure that your relational intimacy with him doesn’t come down to chance?
- Your relationships with others – do you pray regularly for your wife/husband, your children, your friends and church? Is there something you need to say no to in order to say yes to those relationships that require time?
I pray that you will experience the joy and the peace that comes through embracing the kingdom of God.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)