Summary: We are citizens of heaven right now. We don't have to wait until we die because our name was written down in heaven when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our place in heaven is reserved and kept for us by God, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
June 5, 2006
"The Kingdom of Heaven"
Lesson #1: "The King and His People"
Text: Exodus 19:1-9 (NLT)
Today we begin a series of devotions that I have called "The Kingdom of Heaven.".
This series of devotions will cause you to think deeply about your citizenship and the realm in which you choose to live.
I not talking about the citizenship that comes to us because we're Americans; I am talking about a greater citizenship than that, our citizenship in heaven.
Our citizenship in heaven will be the greatest accomplishment of The Kingdom of God.
It's also great to realize that I don't have to die before I receive the Kingdom of God, because it is not only future, the Kingdom is present.
The Kingdom is here and now!
That's what Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:18-20, when he said: "For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior."
We are citizens of heaven right now.
We don't have to wait until we die, because our name was written down in heaven when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Our place in heaven is reserved, and kept for us by God, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom began in the Desert of Judea along the Jordan River as an odd fellow wearing a garment made of camel hair tucked in by a leather belt around his waist, and eating locust covered with honey began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2)
Matthew further states, "People from Jerusalem and from every section of Judea and from all over the Jordan Valley went out to the wilderness to hear him preach. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River." (3:5-6a)
It wasn't John the Baptist's striking appearance or his smooth and soothing words that drew them; it was the great anticipation of the Kingdom of Heaven that was unfolding in their presence.
The Jews had an understanding of God's kingdom, and they knew that one day a Messiah would come to save His people.
John's message was very simple; "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."
It was coming near, because Jesus was coming.
The Bible tells us that one day Jesus came to the bank of the Jordan River as John was baptizing.
When John saw Him approaching, he pointed to Him, and proclaimed, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
The Kingdom of Heaven was exciting and enticing, but living in the Kingdom of Heaven requires us to understand certain principles.
However, before we look at those principles, let's see how God established His kingdom rule with Israel.
The Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Sinai exactly two months after they left Egypt.
Pharaoh chased them all the way to the shore of the Red Sea.
Their backs were to the Sea, and He thought; "Now I have them just where I want them."
But God made a path through the Sea for the Israelites, and they walked across on dry ground.
They escaped, but the Egyptians were drowned when they followed them.
Two months later they came to the base of Mount Sinai and set up camp there.
Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God.
The Lord called out to him from the mountain and said, "Give these instructions to the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle's wings. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.' Give this message to the Israelites." Moses returned from the mountain and called together the leaders of the people and told them what the Lord had said. They all responded together, "We will certainly do everything the Lord asks of us." So Moses brought the people's answer back to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a thick cloud so the people themselves can hear me as I speak to you. Then they will always have confidence in you."