Read His Words Before Ours!
It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I trusted in Jesus as my Savior at a young age, but I had gradually given in to cycles of sin and hardness to the Word of God. God had created a perfect storm between my heart and life circumstances.
It all came to a head at summer camp.
By the final session, God had tendered my heart to listen to His calling on my life. When the speaker called those to the stage who were committing to give their lives to vocational ministry for the Kingdom of God, I stood up, tears streaming, and joined the small group on-stage.
I was emotional, but I was thinking clearly.
I knew I needed to lay down my future, devoting it completely to Him.
Over the years, I’ve wondered:
“Did I even understand what God’s kingdom is and what I was committing to?”
“Is the Kingdom of God something only those in vocational ministry work for?”
“Maybe it’s something bigger than that?”
Regardless of where I was then, that moment began a series of opportunities throughout my life to give all I am and all I have for the glory of God and His kingdom purposes.
But what exactly is the kingdom of God?
Simply put, it is where God rules and reigns.
And what does He do as He reigns?
He lovingly redeems and sanctifies His people,
always working for our good and for His glory. (Romans 8:28)
If you haven’t already read Matthew 13:44-50, go ahead and do so now!
Here, Jesus uses three short parables to help us think about the kingdom of God.
Hidden In A Field
Verse 44 compares the Kingdom of Heaven, (synonymous to the ‘Kingdom of God’ in Scripture), to a treasure hidden in a field. Jesus explains that once a man discovered it, he sold everything to buy the field and obtain the treasure.
The point here is not that the kingdom of God must somehow be purchased, (impossible!). Instead, it teaches us the value of this kingdom.
The use of the word treasure is very strategic.
Jesus had already told His disciples in Matthew 6:21,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
He’s urging us to let His kingdom rule in our hearts!
Verse 45 compares the kingdom of God to someone searching for a pearl of great value.
If God’s kingdom is where He rules and reigns,
and if we have eyes to see Him doing so in all of His perfect beauty and glory,
then we will value and treasure this kingdom work as highest priority in our lives.
Likewise, since God’s kingdom is about redeeming and sanctifying lost souls,
then the greatest pearl is Jesus Christ Himself!
Casting The Net
Verses 46-50 illustrates the sobering truth that what we treasure now on earth, will have eternal implications. The gospel of Jesus Christ is thrown out as a net over the entire world. Those who hear the good news, and have eyes to see Christ as Redeemer, are covered with the righteousness of Christ. Those who hear, yet turn away from Jesus, will receive the full punishment of their sins in eternity.
So, what does this mean for my everyday life?
Does a follower of Jesus have a choice to participate in this kingdom?
In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus teaches that to be His follower,
taking up your cross isn’t optional.
Sufferings, celebrations, trials, burdens, joys, sickness, blessings, pain, brokenness, everyday life, are all intended as opportunities for us to follow His example.
What example is that?
Death to sin and self.
Jesus gave Himself up for a greater gain,
that we might be awakened to real life in every part of life. (Philippians 2:6-8)
Does this internal work of God only happen on mission trips,
in ministry teams, and at summer camps?
Is it reserved for the local pastor, the Bible academic, or Sunday-School teacher?
As a follower of Jesus, the kingdom of God has been prepared for our participation
no matter our title, our role, where we live, or occupation.
Kingdom work is for all of us!
Over the past decade I have been schooled in what God’s Kingdom looks like.
His Kingdom calls out for wisdom in the corners of my home, amongst crumbs on our van floor and whining in the back-seat.
It whispers patience to me in the grocery-store aisle with a defiant preschooler, and less than perfect family dinners.
It commands hope amidst a despairing heart, and gives vision for a fully redeemed future.
I’ve been pressed up against a wall with the words the apostle Paul wrote,
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. (Philippians 1:21)
I’ve had to choose to let go of things I thought were a gain; things I thought would be an asset, a help, a strength of mine, and have been shown that Christ is my greatest treasure. (Colossians 3:7-8)
Treasuring God’s Kingdom means you and I will
seek Jesus as our greatest gain and
will die to our own kingdoms of self-love and preservation.
In this dying, He will make us alive to the work Christ will accomplish through us to redeem and sanctify others.
Let us press on to live, move, and breath for this Kingdom;
it will show itself to be the highest treasure!
To God be the Glory!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!