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SEEKING THE RIGHT KINGDOM
She is filled with bitterness as she speaks to me. Jillian (not her real name) has suffered from a stroke and her tears run freely as she recounts once again her desire to live at home.
Those who have power of Attorney have decided that she is best cared for at Shalom, but she doesnít want to spend the remaining years of her life in an Aged Care Facility. She doesnít like the room, the people, the food. She has money, so much money, "thousands of dollars," but it is no good to her now.
She looks at me through tears of sheer frustration as her kingdom is beyond her reach. She is bereft and disinherited, with all her money just lying in the bank. In building a kingdom of outward luxury, she has forgotten the kingdom of her heart, those inward resources that would enable her to give thanks in all circumstances and to experience inward joy no matter what she encounters in life. She kicks against the goads and says "I DONíT WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS!" I can understand that. Iíve exclaimed these words with the same anguished vehemence, only she is in danger of losing her sanity and even worse, her own soul.
Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven in contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth in Matthew 13:24. Jillianís freedom and contentment depends on which kingdom she seeks and no, I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has little to do with dying and much to do with experiencing life to the full, here and now.
Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said ďThe Kingdom of Heaven has comeĒ (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lordís prayer. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We pray that the will and authority of the Kingdom of Heaven will be translated into the everyday things of earth, here and now.
In an earlier century, there lay a large boulder in the middle of the roadway. Traveler after traveler walked past the boulder, veering off the side of the road to get around it. All the while, they were shaking their head and muttering, "Can you believe that? Someone should get that big thing out of the way. What an inconvenience!"
Finally, a man came along and, seeing the boulder, took a branch from a tree and pried the boulder enough to get it rolling and rolled it off to the side of the road. Lying underneath the rock, he found a small bag with a note. The man picked up the note and read it. It read as follows:
"Thank you for being a true servant of the kingdom. Many have passed this way and complained because of the state of the problem and spoken of what ought to be done. But you have taken the responsibility upon yourself to serve the kingdom instead. You are the type of citizen we need more of in this kingdom. Please accept this bag of gold that traveler after traveler have walked by simply because they didn’t care enough about the kingdom to serve."
I wonder what "bags of gold" we’re missing each day, simply because we don’t bother to get involved in serving our heavenly kingdom. Are we the type of heavenly citizens our Father needs more of?
THE PERSON OF THE BOOK
GENESIS: Promised Seed
EXODUS: Passover Lamb
NUMBERS: Brazen Serpent
DEUTERONOMY: Great Lawgiver
JOSHUA: Prophet, Priest and King
JUDGES: Judge of All the Universe
RUTH: Kinsman Redeemer
SAMUEL: Anointer of Kings
KINGS: King of Kings & Lord of Lords
CHRONICLES: Great Historian
EZRA: Rebuilder of the Temple
NEHEMIAH: Rebuilder of the Wall
ESTHER: Saviour of the Jews
JOB: Friend that Sticketh Closer than a Brother
PSALMS: Song of the Ages
ECCLESIASTES: Great Preacher
SONG OF SOLOMON: Wonderful Lover
ISAIAH: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and The
Prince of Peace
JEREMIAH: Weeping Prophet
LAMENTATIONS: Street Preacher
EZEKIEL: Rebuilder of the Kingdom Temple
DANIEL: Stone Cut Out Without Hands That Will Someday Come Back to
Earth and Establish a Kingdom as Supreme Ruler and King
HOSEA: Forgiving Lover
JOEL-MALACHI: One Coming in Bethlehem Judea
MATTHEW: King of Kings
MARK: Suffering Servant
LUKE: Son of Man
JOHN: Son of God
ACTS: Power of the Church
ROMANS: Dynamite of the Gospel
CORINTHIANS: Restorer of the Carnal Nature
GALATIANS: Rent Veil and Overcomer of the Schoolmaster
EPHESIANS: Heavenly One
PHILIPPIANS: Our Sufficiency
COLOSSIANS: The Shadow
THESSALONIANS: The Great Coming Christ
TIMOTHY: Our Great Appearing God
TITUS: Blessed Hope
PHILEMON: Great Master
HEBREWS: Best of All
JAMES: Fulfiller of the Law
PETER: Rock of Ages Cleft For Me, Let Me Hide Myself in Thee
JOHN: Assurance of our Salvation
JUDE: One Able to Keep Us From Falling and Present Us Faultless
Before Christ in Glory
REVELATION: One Saddled on a White Horse Coming Back to Set Up His
HEíS THE PERSON OF THE BOOK!!
Dr. S.M. Lockridge was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953 - 1993. He entered heaven in 2000. He is well-known for a passage out of his sermon titled ďHeís My KingĒ:
ďHeís enduringly strong, Heís entirely sincere, Heís eternally steadfast. Heís immortally graceful. Heís imperially powerful. Heís impartially merciful. Heís Godís Son. Heís a sinnerís savior. Heís the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. Heís unparalleled. Heís unprecedented. Heís supreme. Heís preeminent. Heís the loftiest idea in literature. Heís the highest idea in philosophy. Heís the fundamental truth in theology. Heís the miracle of the age. Heís the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. Heís available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers. He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?
Well, my king is the king of knowledge, Heís the well-spring of wisdom, Heís the doorway of deliverance, Heís the pathway of peace, Heís the roadway of righteousness, Heís the highway of holiness Heís the gateway of glory, Heís the master of the mighty, Heís the captain of the conquerors, Heís the head of the heroes, Heís the leader of the legislators, Heís the overseer of the overcomers, Heís the governor of governors, Heís the prince of princes, Heís the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Well. I wish I could describe Him to you. But Heís indescribable. Yes. Heís incomprehensible. Heís invincible, Heís irresistible. Iím trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You canít get Him out of your mind. You canít get Him off of your hands. You canít outlive Him, and you canít live without Him. Well. The Pharisees couldnít stand Him, but they found out they couldnít stop Him. Pilate coul...
"Most everyone knows of the newspaper comic strip called ďFamily CircusĒ. It pokes fun in a gentle way at the typical family life in a home with several very young children.
I remember one that started out with the mother giving the oldest boy, who appears to be about 6, something to take to the neighbor next door. Then the next frame is from a birdís-eye view, and there is a dotted line showing the route the boy took to get next door. The line takes him across the street, through a park, stops at a swing set and slide, moves on to a brick wall that he apparently scaled and walked like a tightrope, around several other houses, stopping to talk to little boys and girls in the neighborhood, and finally stops at the front door of the next door neighborís house with the item he was to deliver.
I think that sometimes our days are much like that, except that at the end we havenít delivered anything of value at all. I wonder how fruitful and prosperous, both for ourselves and the Kingdom of God, our lives would be if we prayed well into the night for the Fatherís direction for the coming day?" -c.e.t.
ILLUS p. 800 Ė It is observable that God has often called men to places of dignity and honor when they have busy and honest employment of their vocation. Saul was seeking his fatherís donkeys and David his fatherís sheep when called to the Kingdom. The shepherds were feeding their flocks when they had their glorious revelation. God called the 4 apostles from their fishing and Matthew from collecting taxes. Amos from the horsemen of Tecoah, Moses from keeping Jethroís sheep, Gideon from the threshing floor, Elisha from the plows. God never called a lazy man. God never encourages idleness and will not despise persons in the lowest employment. D.L. Moody
John Williams III
There are times when we get in Godís way when He is trying to tend to the business of His kingdom here on earth. "A man was struggling with a large box at the back edge of his truck. A passing neighbor saw his plight and came over to help him. He put his shoulder to the box. After a few tiring moments the neighbor exclaimed, "Whatís in that box anyway? I donít think we will ever get it on the truck." "Get on!" the exasperated man shouted, "Iím trying to get it off!" Ö Well-meaning Christians can be Godís worst enemies. When we judge and condemn others, when we set up our own standards of what it means to be saved, when we claim absolute knowledge of Godís will and of his Scriptures, we take over Godís role and attempt to run his business" (Hoefler, p. 47). That is the very reason that we sometimes fail to see that we are trying to put the box on the truck when God wants the box off the truck.
On April 28, 1999, just eight days after the Columbine shooting, shock rock singer Marilyn Manson was scheduled to perform a concert in Iowa City, Iowa. And since Mansonís music
was prominent in the lives of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, there was a lot of emotion surrounding his concert. Mark Forstrom, a local Youth Minister in the area wrote about what happened.
He wrote, "The police, the media, and the community began to prepare for angry protests and ugly brawling between Christians and Marilyn Manson supporters."
Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened. Emerging thru the vehicle of e-mail, another local movement suddenly sprang to lifeó that the only way to truly change our moral climate is to soften hard hearts. (The hearts of Manson fans have been hardened by
their perception that Christians are mean-spirited, hateful, and judgmental.) Thus, the idea was birthed to unravel that stereotype by encouraging Christians to show the pure LOVE of Christ to these fans in tangible ways.
Concert day finally arrived, and tension filled the community. The media geared up for an ugly battle between Manson fans and the Christian opposition.
Instead, what they observed here was an amazing testament to the power of and love of Christ! Scores of Christians from churches all over Linn County and as far away as Des Moines (2 hours away) converged on the sidewalks outside the Five Seasons Center, to do
two POSITIVE things: pray, and to show unmistakable love. It was a sight to behold.
~ Groups conducted "prayer walks" around the arena.
~ People prayed in huddles on the sidewalk.
~ Churches around the city held special prayer eetings.
As for showing LOVE to the fans,
~ One church purchased 100 pizzas, which were freely given away to the fans in line and bystanders.
~ Cookies and over 1,200 cans of soda were purchased or donated and distributed.
~ Someone made turkey & cheese sandwiches and gave them away.
~ One pastor asked Manson fans who passed by how he could pray for them--about 20 shared specific things & were prayed for on the spot.
~ After the concert, about $200 in cash (collected mostly by a local youth group) was given out to pay for parking in the parking ramp.
The Christians involved said, "Weíre Christians and weíd like to show you Godís love by paying for your parking tonight." The
immediate results of this love in action were phenomenal:
~ People continually asked, "Why are you doing this?" and then listened to the answer. ~ Two "live" radio reporters (one inside the stadium and one outside) discussed--on the air--how preferable it was to be outside with the generous Christians.
~ At least 3 people gave their lives to Christ through the loving care of the Christians.
~ At least one other fan that we know of chose...
Though the following story comes from the distant past, it speaks forcefully to the present: King Henry IV of France once asked the Duke of Alva if he had observed the great eclipse of the sun that had recently occurred. "No," said the duke, "I have so much to do on the earth that I have no leisure to look up into heaven." Commenting on this, Thomas Brooks said, "It is sad to think how heart and time are so taken up with earthly things that we have no leisure to look to Christ and the things that belong to everlasting peace." Yes, how foolish is the person who caters entirely to this temporal world! It gives only momentary pleasure, and cannot bring the eternal rewards of Heaven. Jesus told us, "...seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mt. 6:
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You just know that some things are going to happen sooner or later.
That’s the way it was with Michael Parfit, a writer for Smithsonian magazine. For a feature article on the mighty Mississippi River, Parfit rode in a twelve-foot rubber dinghy down the Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Parfit learned of the incredible power of this giant river. The Mississippi gathers its water from 41 percent of the continental U.S., catching water from Montana to New York. Half a trillion tons of water flow down the Mississippi every year, carrying downstream sixty-three thousand tons of soil a day.
A river this big is a threat to the surrounding countryside. That’s why engineers have built levees to pinch the mighty giant and keep it from flooding the farmland and towns nearby. The levees on the lower Mississippi stand, on average, twenty-five feet high and run 2,203 miles on both sides of the main river and its tributaries.
"As the wall was built over the years," writes Parfit, " people came to live under its protection. They tore down the forest and planted cotton, and the floodplain of the Mississippi became the expanse of farmland known as the Mississippi Delta."
More than eight million people live in the Delta. But at what risk? Parfit flew in a plane over the Mississippi Delta and saw plainly the river’s tracks on the land, where it once had flooded the delta.
"The levee…cages the giant, or appears to," writes Parfit. "And no one but birds and an occasional light-plane pilot notices the long sweep of the river’s indelible script. What the river has written in the mud again and again is simple: ’Someday soon.’ "
Someday soon will come another flood. That’s what Parfit warned in February of 1993. Someday soon will come another devastating flood like the ones in 1882, 1927, and 1973.
"People in this valley get a sense everything is totally controlled," one engineer told Parfit. "That’s a false sense of security. We haven’t seen anything yet in this valley as to what this river can do. We’re not in control of anything."
"The river," wrote Parfit in February 1993, "moves brown swift, unpredictable, enormous, always murmuring ’Someday soon…’"
In February 1993 when his article was published, Parfit could not have imagined how right he would be. Only months after the publication of the article, in the summer in 1993, came one of the worst floods of the history of the Mississippi.
God’s Word warns that someday soon, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Christ will return to the earth, bringing the terrible wrath of God on all who have not prepared their lives for His coming. Nothing can stop Him. The wise person gets ready.
SOURCE: Jack Voss, Crossroads Christian Center, Collinsville, OK. God’s Secret(A Study On The Book Of Acts).