Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

 

Gold 17.png

Under New Management © Image created with Blender and Paint.net by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:24-26 – WHAT DO I GIVE UP TO FOLLOW CHRIST?

Jesus tells the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT). 

All his possessions? Is Jesus trying to say that the idea of treasure in heaven rather than riches on earth gives me a greater perspective concerning my money? How do I define rich?

The reward of following Him is invaluable so I don’t want to get this wrong.

In Matthew 19:24 (NLT) Jesus makes an outrageous statement. He says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  

So, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! The rich young ruler was not willing to choose between riches and following Christ. He was a good living man but eternal riches weren’t as appealing as the earthly kind.

So, no-one who follows Christ can be rich, according to Jesus? 

In Matthew 19:25, 26 (NLT) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 

Why are the disciples astounded? Apparently, they presume that riches equate with the blessings of God and therefore it would be easier, in their way of thinking, for a rich man to be saved. A good living person like the rich young ruler seems like the perfect candidate for salvation.

Jesus looks at them intently and says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

Finally, there’s hope for you who are rich! Jesus says it’s impossible for a rich man to be saved, but adds that with God, everything is possible. He deals with human impossibilities. It doesn’t depend on us but upon Him.

Riches should speak of possibility but they are often a liability, depending on whether you submit your life to Christ or not. Those who are in the Kingdom of God ie those who have come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, see the possibility for using riches for the purposes of God for every aspect of life. Those who are not in the Kingdom of God ie who have not come under the authority of Christ, can be consumed by the love of money for more selfish pursuits and sometimes damaging purposes, devoid of the wisdom and direction of God.

Do I have to give away everything to the poor in order to follow Christ? 

No. But when I submit everything I have to His rulership, I am willing to do all He desires with whatever there is in my life for His purposes. What He asks of me may be quite different to what He asks of you.

Coming to Christ means recognising that you have nothing to offer God. You come to him without merit. Despite outward riches and even a good life, our sin has left us destitute. We come to God with empty hands to be saved by grace.

So, the invitation of Matthew 19:24-26 is to do with the Kingdom of God, i.e. It is an invitation to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings and obey His commands concerning your riches, status, abilities and talents, gifting, experience, heart motivations, personality etc. That’s the point! That’s the invitation.  Everything I possess and all that I am is Under New Management.

Submission of everything in our lives to Christ (coming under His Kingdom authority) leaves us in a place where we can receive the grace of God and be saved. Boasting in any way that somehow we had something to do with it is not an option. It comes from Christ alone. It is based on what He has done on the Cross, not on what we bring to the table. 

What do I give up to follow Christ? Everything. It is in giving up our trust in ourselves and instead, submitting ourselves to Christ that we find the truest riches and live life to the full. 

Pastor Ross

Key to the Kingdom.png

Key to the Kingdom domain © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:23 –TRUST RELATIONSHIPS AND KINGDOM.OF.HEAVEN.COM?

In computer terms entering the Kingdom of Heaven is like creating a one-way, outgoing, external trust relationship with another domain.

This new trust relationship will not function until the Administrator for the reciprocal domain uses His credentials to create the incoming side of the trust. God has the administrative credentials for heaven’s domain and the authority to give us entrance into His domain. He has created an incoming side of the trust relationship. It is up to us to respond.

A one-way, outgoing, external trust relationship will allow resources in God’s domain to be accessed by our domain. For example, if God is the administrator of Kingdom.of.Heaven.com and He has resources in that domain of eternal life that you would like to access as an active user (or in the case of followers of Christ, active givers) then you must come under His authority and directions.

  • On the Direction of Trust page, click One-way Jesus: outgoing, and then click Next.
  • Keep following the Kingdom.of.heaven.com domain commands where God allows access.

What does God require to enter His domain?

Matthew 19:23 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

What is the domain of the Kingdom.of.Heaven.com?

We mistakenly think of the Kingdom of Heaven as exclusively talking about the cyberspace domain of heaven when we crash. But a Kingdom does not only refer to a place. It also refers to the domain of the rulership of the King. The Kingdom of Heaven refers to God’s authority to rule, right now, over our lives. We live righteously and Heaven’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We can “enter into” that kingdom domain now and make use of all its resources by coming under the authority of Christ as King.

Colossians 1:12-14 (NLT) says “For He (Jesus) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Paul isn’t suggesting that we all die physically in this process. Not straight away. We come under the authority of the King of kings in our lives, His Kingdom reign and rulership, here and now. The kingdom is among us, now.

Romans 14:17-18 (NLT) says, among other things, “For the Kingdom of God is … living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God…”

The invitation of Christ to the rich young ruler is not only talking about the place called Kingdom.of.heaven.com. Heaven’s domain is merely an extension of Christ’s authority of perfect rulership. It is for those who are willing to come under the rule and reign of Christ in their lives. It is an acknowledgment that He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Christ’s rulership will continue on beyond our physical lives. The eternal kingdom is the realm or domain of the rule and reign of God in a perfect universe for all eternity, (cyberspace to the max) and for us, it starts the moment we come under the authority of Christ and give our lives to Him. Not only Jews but Gentiles. In Matthew 8:11 (NLT) Jesus says, “And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will … feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So Matthew 19:24 says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

Why so difficult for a rich person to enter into Kingdom.of.Heaven.com?

In Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Jesus answers that question by saying, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Judas knew the power of riches to sway the wavering heart. It all has to do with the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not willing to come under the authority of Christ.

This imports fresh understanding into what Jesus invites us to do in Matthew 6:33 (NLT), “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He (God) will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:27-28 – DON’T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE … TOO LATE!

Too Late!

Too Late!

As the first seal is broken an ant trails its way through the polished ridges of the page, across the clear lines of the image; detecting only the light and dark and acute movement of the unrolling scroll, it’s feelers detecting the chemicals of the glue and coloured wax, the air currents and vibrations. It is brushed away as the manuscript is unrolled from side to side across the huge table.

As each section is exposed, another seal is broken, separating each particular aspect of a continuous and meticulously illustrated manuscript. At first, only very limited depictions from the images are understood with any clarity, just ant-like impressions of the page and variations of the artist’s subjects. How is each event depicted on the scroll related? It only makes sense when the last seal is broken. Suddenly, each individual page is revealed to be part of the whole. Undeterred the ant returns to the first page feeling its way along the edge before venturing out across the coloured intricacies of the lines and eventually making its way to a particularly luminous section of the scroll where it stops. At the very end everything is explained, … but not yet to one so small, so limited in understanding, so tiny in the scheme of things.

In Matthew 16:26-28 (NLT) Jesus says to His disciples “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with His angels in the glory of His Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.”

The picture of Matthew 16:28 has proved to be a quandary for many. What does Jesus mean when He says He will judge the world and that “SOME STANDING HERE RIGHT NOW WILL NOT DIE before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28 NLT) The first part about Him coming to judge the world is clear and foreboding, but it doesn’t seem to connect with this last part? What does He mean when He says they “will not die” before it happens? Is He talking about two different events? Coming to judge in the future but coming in His Kingdom now? When did this happen? Has it happened? One thing is sure; it is related to the soul, losing it or keeping it.

We need to get beyond an ant’s eye view to understand the scroll as it is unrolled in the life of Jesus. When He speaks about “Coming in His Kingdom” He speaks about His rule and reign as the King of kings which is relentlessly approaching; a Kingdom which prophets have painted in countless words since ages past. His Kingdom has always been coming and is already here (Luke 17:21) but its expression is not as openly and personally manifest as it will be in the future (Luke 17:22-24).

Peter has already received the keys to such a kingdom as He hears the voice of God rather than the voices of the world around him. His acknowledgement that Christ is the Son of the Living God is tantamount to coming under His authority as the King of kings. Nothing will withstand such a Kingdom. Not the gates of hell. Not death itself. (Matthew 16:13-19).

This kingdom is revealed in the images on the pages of the scroll in a thousand ways, masterfully illustrated, unrolling the mysteries of His reign. We see it in the face of a leper healed, in the hope of a woman who touches the hem of His robe, in the feeding of 5000, in the gracious influence of His teaching, but mostly in the sparks of belief that set hearts on fire for God. It is confronting at the Cross for a thief and Roman soldier, victorious at the Resurrection for a woman at the tomb, empowering for Peter at Pentecost and all-consuming for a world facing His coming judgment. The Kingdom of God is present here and now in the world, but not of this world, and yet it is coming to the world, big time.

When Jesus speaks about the coming kingdom in Matthew 16:28 it is a picture found on that particularly luminous fragment of the scroll in Matthew 17:1-3; His Kingdom would come to a few who were standing there who did not comprehend what was happening yet some of them would personally experience a glimpse of His glory, magnificently revealed in shards of brilliant light at His Transfiguration. They would not be consumed by it as would be expected at such an event. 

The Transfiguration was a foretaste of heaven’s reign; a downpayment of what is to come, an ant’s eye view of something bigger than we could ever imagine, and most of all an invitation for us to come under the authority of Jesus and be saved. Not because an angry Father is saying “Don’t make me come down there!” but because a loving Saviour is saying “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV) “Come to Me … find life … and unfailing love” (Isaiah 55:3 NLT). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:24 – I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE! – Part 8

Dethroned!

He has ruled Egypt for 29 years and has no intention of resigning. Mubarak and his family are incredibly rich. Apparently they have $70 billion due to corruption, kickbacks and some legitimate business activities. His kingdom is vast. Money, prestige, power, an army.

Huge numbers of demonstrators gather in Cairo and throughout the country demanding his resignation. 18 long days of protests, millions of people, chaos in Cairo, bloodshed in the streets.

Mubarak has survived six assassination attempts, but his dictatorship has brought the wrath of Egypts masses against him. They are shouting “We don’t want to live like this, anymore!” For many days Mubarak refuses to step down. Finally on the 11th February, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigns. Afterall, what use is a kingdom without the authority to rule over your people?

In Matthew 13:24 Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. What has heaven got to do with this discussion? A true kingdom is where the king has the authority to rule over his people. The kingdom of heaven stands in stark contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth.

That term, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, comes up a lot in the Bible, especially in the gospels. What is the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God? And what on earth does it have to do with Mubarak?

My freedom depends on which kingdom I seek and no, by seeking the kingdom of heaven I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has nothing to do with dying (except perhaps dying to selfish ambition) and much to do with experiencing life to the full, HERE AND NOW. In John 10:10 Jesus says (NIV) “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      

Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said “The Kingdom of Heaven has come” (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lord’s 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.

What makes it heaven is the fact that God is RULING AND REIGNING. His kingdom is His SPHERE OF AUTHORITY, so in reality, if I come under His authority, I can receive heaven or ETERNAL LIFE here and NOW as well as in eternity. The kingdom has come! It begins now!

But it doesn’t just happen! It demands protest. It demands me declaring “I don’t want to live the way I am living anymore!” It demands a resignation of the present ruler over my life. Hang on a minute – that would be me!

When God’s Kingdom, His rule and reign, is a reality in my life, then things change on the INSIDE. The UNSEEN aspects of my life are now directed by the Lord. My life becomes His throne. He calls the shots so that the kingdom functions as it should. I am no longer bound up with my outward circumstances but with serving Him.

What good to gain the whole world and build my own kingdom on the outward trappings of this world, like Mubarak, only to lose my own soul (Luke 9:25).

Matthew 6:33 says I am to “…Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and His righteousness, and He will give you everything you need.” Romans 14:17 tells me that “…the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The invitation is to be dethroned from the throne of my own making and from building my own kingdom. It is saying honestly to God, “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE!” and accepting Christ as my Saviour and King. God bless you as you come under His authority as the Ruler of your life today.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:18-23 – A JACKHAMMER AND A CONCRETE HEART! – Part 4

The Jackhammer and the Concrete Heart.

Two men have impacted my life. Both of them died of cancer. For many years one of these men allowed his CIRCUMSTANCES to harden him towards those in his family and towards God. I thought my dad was about as far away from God as he could be.

He seemed to be represented by the footpath in the parable of the sower that Jesus relates in Matthew 13:4,19. Jesus speaks of HARD soil, defensive, closed and bitter towards God.

The other man also had cancer. Before he died, Bill (not his real name) said to me, “I’m an atheist and I intend to stay that way!” INTENTIONALLY RESISTANT to considering that the message of Christ might have had any relevance. He was also like the footpath in the parable but it seems to me that he had allowed the cancer to be like a PNEUMATIC SOIL COMPACTER and His heart had set like concrete.

When my dad got CANCER and it was clear that he was going to die. I think he could have responded to God in one of 2 ways. He could have allowed the cancer to harden his heart even further towards God like Bill, the atheist. Instead, he allowed the cancer to be a like a PNEUMATIC JACKHAMMER. Yes, it shook him up but it also broke up the hard places of his heart and enabled God to get through to him. Everyone of us has that choice.

In Matthew 13:19 Jesus says, “The seed that fell on the FOOTPATH represents those who HEAR the message about the Kingdom and DON’T UNDERSTAND it. Then the evil one comes and SNATCHES AWAY the seed that was planted in their hearts.”

Jesus says His message is planted in their hearts but there’s an AUTHORITY issue here. Two KINGDOMS in conflict. What King Jesus wants to GIVE, Satan wants to STEAL. The “message about the Kingdom” speaks of the RULERSHIP of Christ. The degree that things grow in my life is determined by who has AUTHORITY over my ears and my heart.

Acts 28:27 (NLT) says “For the hearts of these people are hardened, … so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.'”

FOOTPATH PEOPLE! Off to the side, hanging around the edges of the crowd watching people’s lives changed but always sitting at the back, unwilling to participate, paying no real attention, uninterested, hear but don’t understand, SURFACE people. NO SPIRITUAL DEPTH. Unwilling to change or grow.

The Pharisees – HARD HEARTED religious people, remind me that I have an opportunity to process what Jesus says but if I let it LIE ON THE SURFACE of my life it will never take root. If I have no real interest it’s really no wonder that what is said by Christ is snatched away. Footpath people don’t think they need it anyway.

When my Dad discovered he had cancer something broke within him and he allowed that cancer to be a Jackhammer. Yes, it hurt! But his heart became fertile soil and he received Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

The invitation Christ gives us is examine our hearts to see if we are ready to receive what He offers. God bless you today as you allow your circumstances to keep you soft towards to the things of God, responsive to the voice of Christ.

Pastor Ross

Part 10 – Matthew 12:24-30 – GOD, YOU ARE SO NARROW MINDED AND INFLEXIBLE!

Narrow Minded and Inflexible?

There’s a fictional story of the soldier in the American civil war who did not want to fight with anyone. In an attempt to remain NEUTRAL, he dressed in Union pants and a Confederate jacket. Unfortunately BOTH SIDES shot at him.

Jesus says “Anyone who isn’t WITH Me OPPOSES Me, and anyone who isn’t working WITH Me is actually working AGAINST Me”(Matthew 12:30 NLT). There is no room for COMPROMISE or equivocation here. When Jesus says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”, He means it! No other way! No other truth! No other life! At first glance this is such an exclusive, elite, INFLEXIBLE kind of statement.

No wonder people see Christians as uncaring when they hear these words used like a sledge hammer against any OTHER RELIGION or against anyone who does not believe in Christ. It implies that God is UNLOVING and rigidly bent on sending people to hell.

If God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), why won’t He accept those who don’t believe in Jesus alone? What about BUDDHISM? What about HINDUISM? What about ISLAM? What about OTHER RELIGIONS? Half the world doesn’t want anything to do with Christ? Isn’t God rather ARROGANT AND EXCLUSIVE? Narrow minded! WHAT IS JESUS SAYING HERE?

On examination of the Bible, Jesus statement is not emphasising EXCLUSIVISM so much as it is defining a REALITY. God so LOVED the world that He has to tell us that there is NO-ONE ELSE there to SAVE us! (see John 3:16). He is saying “I love you and I came to pay the price of sin for you personally so you could experience God’s love.” No-one else did that. No-one else will do that! No-one else could! No other gods are real! BUDDHA didn’t come to save us. MOHAMMED didn’t come to die for us or come back to life for us. SUICIDE BOMBERS don’t die to save us but to kill us.

All the founders of modern day religions are either dead themselves or they are non-existent. The only good thing about all religions is that they are an attempt by us to reach out to God but they will not save us. At best they will lead us to Jesus. At worst they will distract us from the only rescue mission that we have available.

Jesus found a way for you and me to come back to God and enter into relationship with Him. It wasn’t going to happen unless He came and died for us! Jesus is saying, “There is NO OTHER way, truth or life. Life is found in Me. Love is found in Me. The truth is that without Me, you are LOST!”

He draws a line in the sand. There is no SYNCRETISM with Jesus. No room for DOUBLEMINDEDNESS. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile opposing beliefs by combining and merging different traditions and beliefs in “a great big melting pot” to have them come out in all pretty rainbow colours of equal proportion.

Jesus is saying in effect, “Make up your mind about Me, one way or another. Respond to Me! Stop vacillating!” And He loves you enough to give you a choice. As Joshua said of old “… CHOOSE today whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

In 1 Kings 18:21 (NLT) Elijah said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” Jesus doesn’t want us to remain dumb about what we believe.

When Jesus heals a demon possessed man, Jesus makes it clear that He is stronger than Satan, not on equal in terms of power and status. He says “the Kingdom of God has arrived” (Matthew 12:26-30). He is not only speaking of His heavenly kingdom (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven) but of His authority as a King to rule over my life today and always. He is speaking of His victorious power over sin and Satan. And He is speaking of His love for us because there is no other kingdom of God in which we can trust in order to be saved.

God bless you Church as you refuse to compromise concerning your trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Saviour. Allow heaven’s authority to be a reality in your life and experience Christ’s love for you today. In Him God launched the only rescue mission that will ever be able to save you from your sin.

Pastor Ross