Kingdom of God 3

Hebrews 12:28-29

The fear of fire is something very real to me. There are many homes in our community which have unfortunately been destroyed by fire over the past several years. The thought of the destruction a fire can bring is very disturbing. What would we do if we had a fire? How could we go on when so many things that are precious to us have been taken away through fire?

The author of Hebrews makes a comment on the Kingdom of God. How is this kingdom described? How should we respond? What is said of God?

Our faith, the Kingdom of God which exists within us, is an unshakable kingdom. No amount of trouble or fear, no amount of temptation or struggle can break the faith that true believers hold. It is this faith that gives us strength to make it through the difficult times in life, and also that adds to the delight of the joys in life.

Knowing this we should give thanks to God. He is the source and builder of this unshakable, unbreakable kingdom of faith.

But God is also described as being a consuming fire. The image of a fire can be disturbing. A fire can rage through our lives and destroy, taking away all that is precious and irreplaceable in our lives.

The description of God as a consuming fire (based on Deuteronomy 4:24) may be intended to strike fear in our hearts. God will consume and destroy those who are not faithful.

But there is a good side to that consuming fire. The Kingdom of God can be a consuming fire – that is, it can consume our thoughts and emotions. It can be the center of our attention, the center of what we think and what we desire.

But like a consuming fire the Kingdom of God, our faith which lives within us, can destroy all the negative parts of our lives and our thoughts. When we are part of the Kingdom of God, when our faith is deeply rooted within us, then all the fears and worries of life can be burned away so that we are left with nothing but that true faith, that deep connection and trust in the Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you allow your faith to consume all that is negative within you?

Kingdom of God 2

Philippians 3:10-11

I recently purchased the best seller The Man from Beijing. An excerpt from the book led me to believe it would be an interesting thriller, a story of intrigue, espionage and murder. But I was sadly disappointed in the book. It left several questions unanswered and led me through a story that wandered far and wide away from what I was expecting.

I think life can be that way. We expect great things. We anticipate some thrills and fascinating revelations. Yet life can take us far from what we expected, and in the end we can find ourselves left with many unanswered questions.

In his letter to the Philippians Paul makes a powerful statement about his desires. What does he desire? What does he hope to attain?

I believe life is something that is a tremendous gift from God. I believe that it is something we should enjoy, something filled with wonderful delights that God has provided. Yet we can often feel that there must be more to existence than the brief years we live on earth. What more is there?

I believe Paul has a special perspective on the Kingdom of God, that faith and godly living we are called to. If we have the Kingdom of God within us, if we are able to have strong faith and to live a life that imitates Jesus, then we will know and understand the power that is Christ. We will be in fellowship with Jesus, sharing in his suffering but also sharing in the resurrection that is sure to come.

What more is there? There is the promise of eternal life through the salvation and grace of Jesus. As we move forward in our lives, as we approach that day when we will be gathered up to God, we must live with the Kingdom of God firmly rooted in our hearts and souls. We must live with a strong faith that trusts in the love and mercy of God, and a faith that knows – is aware of and is in constant communion with – the eternal presence of the Lord.

We can anticipate the glorious reward God has in store for us. And as we wait, as we move through life, we can delight in the constant presence of God, His comfort, His strength, His compassion. And having this awareness, having the Kingdom of God inside us, can make life so much more full and rewarding.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you of the fellowship of Christ which is part of your life today?

Kingdom of God 1

Mark 4:30-32

When I was a child we had a pine tree at the back corner of our house. It was a big tree, one you could see for quite a distance. At that time I believe it was one of the tallest trees on our block.

The tree was the first Christmas tree my parents had when they bought the house I grew up in. My dad said after Christmas he tossed it out in the back yard to wait until the weather warmed up so he could plant it. Eventually he did plant it, after it had weathered a fierce winter. He didn’t expect it to survive, but it did and grew to be a tremendous tree.

This can be like our faith. It is something we are given by God, something important to us, something we may hold onto for comfort and strength. Over time our faith may have to endure the trials of life, the strains of worry and fear. But if we can plant it in our hearts and nurture it, our faith can grow to be something mighty and strong.

Often people will make reference to the Kingdom of God, and it is frequently interpreted to mean “heaven.” But Jesus makes a comment about the Kingdom of God. What does he compare it to? How does the smallest seed grow? What is the result?

This observation from Jesus is clearly not a comment on heaven. It seems rather to be a comment on our faith. Our faith may seem small at the outset. It can be a fragile thing, something we fear we might easily lose. We may have those times when we think our faith cannot survive.

But if our faith is nurtured and allowed to grow it can be like the mustard plant. Our faith can grow to be so big that it is a place of refuge and comfort.

In Luke 17:21 Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is within you.” The Kingdom of God is the living out of God’s love in the here and now. It is not just the glorious reward of God’s grace and mercy – heaven – but the comfort and strength of our faith in God that grows within us and becomes powerful. Our faith can grow to be strong enough to help us endure the assaults and temptations of the world.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can your faith grow?