The Kingdom within

When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21.  Some translations have him reply “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.”

How could the Kingdom of God be within the legalistic Pharisees – religious leaders who shut people out of the Kingdom?  Jesus said “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13

How could the Kingdom of God be within them, or in their midst?  Well, they had the Word of God.  That’s it, plain and simple.  They were the scribes.  The Word was in the scrolls they read and taught from in the synagogues and temple. As for the Kingdom of God in their midst – they should have known from the Word who the King was.

The Kingdom of God is accessed from the Word of God.

The Bible is no ordinary book, as I discovered.  It’s a door.  Reading and seeking the Kingdom of God through the Bible will change you.  What does it look like when a person travels through the Word of God?  Come with me and find out.  I wrote what I learned and experienced in my story “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.”

god-s-word-translation

Advertisements

The Kingdom of God – Whiteboard

Many scenes in my book “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams” take place in the Kingdom of God.  What is the Kingdom of God?  It’s hard to explain because the Kingdom is both personal and all-encompassing.  It’s not about church – although church can be part of it.  This short whiteboard explanation is worth watching.

The Keys of the Kingdom – true confessions at the Gates of Hell

Key to the KingdomI found a key with ‘J’ on it in my sleeveless vest pocket.  I don’t remember acquiring it.  It must have been after I helped set up the sound equipment for my church, but I can’t find the owner of the key.  It’s funny because my initial is ‘J’ and I’d been reading in the Bible about the Keys of the Kingdom.

Where do these keys fit and what doors do they unlock?  What did Jesus mean when he said He would give the keys to Peter, the apostle who declared he was the Messiah?  The promise of authority came with a question; Who do you say I AM?”  Jesus asked.  Simon Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16).

Upon this rockAs servants, binding and loosing depends on the master’s will; as Jesus taught us to ask “Your Kingdom come, your will be done.”

Jesus still lends His authority to His true ministers today to do the same work. Sadly, many falsely claim this authority and misuse it.

The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Keys of the Kingdom were handed to the Popes through Peter.  The keys are on the Vatican coat of arms.  That’s easily refuted.  The early church began in Jerusalem, not Rome.  It never had a Pope – from the early 3rd century the title was a general term used to refer to all bishops.  The title “Pontiff” belonged to Rome and the old roman gods.

This argument is made for one purpose: to give credibility to the idea that Peter was the first Pope in Rome.

Let’s give the scripture some context – the who, what, where and why;

Who was Jesus asking about before he spoke of the rock? 
Himself.
Jesus asked “Who do you say I AM?” and Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God, ”

What did he say he would build on the rock?
His church.
Jesus said he would build His church upon that confession, and the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it.

Cesarea Philippi

The Gates of Hell at Caesarea Philippi. The niches in the wall held images of the gods Pan, Echo and Hermes.

Where was he when he said that? 
He was at the Gates of Hell.  They were in Caesarea Philippi, a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship.  There was a huge rock there, at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, with a grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan.  (Pan has horns and hairy legs like a goat).  The locals called it “the Gates of Hell.”

Why did he go there?
Jesus made His declaration at Caesarea Philippi to declare war on the gates of hell.  When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he said; “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

He did not mean a sword like Mohammed’s.  The sword he spoke of is the Word of God.  In Isaiah 49:2 we read, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword”.  When Jesus returns to our world leading the armies of Heaven the sword will be in His mouth. (Revelation 19:15)

The Confession; The Rock; The Church
I recommend the page on this site: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-matthew-16-16-18.htm

The Confession

For the question Jesus asked; “Who am I?“, the confession is all important.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
In fact, we know that the person who refuses to acknowledge this truth is refusing to be saved! Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”  John 8:24.

I hope you have made this confession.  They are the most important words you will ever speak.

The Declaration

The declaration is “I will build my church on this rock.”  Jesus did not have the Vatican or any other powerful religious structure in mind when he made that statement.  He is the rock.  Peter is simply named after him.  Jesus is going to shake the world like he shook Hell.
The prophet Daniel had a vision of the end times, where he saw a rock not made by human hands knock the statue representing the final world empire off it’s feet.  The New World Order was broken to pieces and swept away without a trace, but the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.  Daniel 2:34-35
God said there is no other rock beside him.  He said it twice in Isaiah 44:8 and 45:5;
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

The Church

Ekklesia means “called out ones”, the Church.  It is a nation of priests, of servants, built for faith, called out of darkness, wrested away from the Gates of Hell.
We become part of the Ekklesia when we confess Christ as our Lord.  His Church is built on that confession.
We are fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  (Ephesians 2:20).
NicolaitansWe were not made to be cogs in the wheel of an authoritarian,  man-made power structure.
Jesus hates that.  He spoke against it twice in his letters to the seven churches;
“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  Revelation 2:6, letter to the Church at Ephesus.
Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”  Revelation 2:15, letter to the Church at Pergamum.

Who are the Nicolaitans?  ‘Nico’ means rule and ‘laity‘ means clergy.  Get it now?

The devil wants to render us powerless, but consider this; “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5)
Jesus said “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.  And then He said, “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Matthew 11:11-12.
They take it by force because they want to take the authority away from God.

Jesus delegates authority – just like He did with the twelve disciples, and He has given the Keys of the Kingdom to His Church, His called out ones.

Within ancient ink there is a living God

2015

Happy New Year!

Before Christmas I wrote about Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith. 

I wrote about his nail scarred hands writing and turning the pages of the Bible, the book he inspired.

The day after I wrote about it, this video clip was played at church;
https://skitguys.com/videos/item/study-says-the-writer

I like how it says; “Within ancient ink there is a living God.”

The author and finisher; and the race

Did you know the author of the Bible wrote about a race?

Heb12-prv“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:1

We’ve all got a race to run, a race that we were entered in before we were even born.  Think about that!

Do you know the race is on; and the author has got his eye on you?

It’s no ordinary race. Some of you may be already running. You may be the first in your family line to run, or you may be the last.

Sometimes you will run, sometimes you will walk, sometimes you will stumble and fall, and sometimes, you will rise on the wings of an eagle. Those are the best times, when you can stop running, wing it and see what the eagle sees.

I’ll leave you with this verse for the times when you feel discouraged
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I’ve written about my own race in Chapter 79 The year of inheritance, in case you are interested.  I have referred to myself in the chapter as “the Princess”, but I will be changing her to myself in accordance to the advice I got from Publishers. Anyway, here it is;
https://kingdom777.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/chapter-79-the-year-of-inheritance/

The kingdom of God – not a matter of talk but of power

“Who of you here are in ministry?” Chuck Missler asked everyone gathered at the auditorium last time we heard him speak in Auckland.  A few people put up their hands.  He then asked “Who of you here are Christians?”  Hands went up everywhere.  Then he asked again who was in ministry?  This time our hands stayed up.

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  The trouble is we’ve been taught how to be led by priests.  We haven’t been taught how to be priests.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk 
but of power. 
1 Corinthians 4:20.

We carry the power, if we have the Holy Spirit.  To walk in it, we just need to step out, but that’s scary.  We have to be honest as well, and ask the Holy Spirit for His wisdom, guidance and power.   God promised that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name …” John 1:12

What does this power we carry look like?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

My husband Bert pretending he can explode boulders. Taken at Moeraki Boulders, South Island, NZ.

This is a picture of my husband at Moeraki Boulders, pretending to explode rocks.  (I asked the Lord for a man who would make me laugh, and he does.)  This is what the power does not look like!

All joking aside, the power that God gives is grounded in His will, the authority of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

I think we would all agree we need to know the Lord better.  This prayer to the Ephesians says it all;

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  Ephesians 1:17-19

Did you know this power is the same power 
God used to resurrect Jesus?

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  Ephesians 1:19-21

The Servants’ Supper

Luke 12-37 lampBy the time I was born, the people on the English side of my family had been in New Zealand for generations.  I asked my Grandmother, who had been educated at a private school, where her ancestors came from.  “Oh, they had a big house in England” she replied.  I learned later on in life that her ancestors were servants from Ham House in Surrey.  Something got lost in translation!

ham-house

Ham House in Surrey

The seven servants of Ham arrived in NZ on May 18 1841 after five months in cramped conditions below decks on a ship called the William Bentinck.  Ann Howell, my Great-Great-Great Grandmother sat on the beach at the ends of the earth and cried, probably for a lot of reasons.  No longer would they be servants.

They did not know the New Zealand Company’s policies were designed to reproduce and export England’s capitalist class structure.  (I’m not saying capitalism is wrong – just the exploitative kind).

Ann could not read or write.  They had signed their marriage certificate with an X.  The schooling that the servants of Ham, and their children, received before emigrating was intended to impress upon them the importance of “knowing their place” in the British rural hierarchy.

Fortunately God got to New Zealand first.  The Christian Missionaries in New Zealand had encouraged a rapid uptake of literacy amongst Maori during the 1830’s, a decade before formal colonisation.  Early in 1842, the editor of Wellington’s Gazette contrasted Maori literate activities with that of recent labouring immigrants:  “They read with ease, and with far more rapidity than the poorer classes who have been taught at English charity schools.”

The British social class structure was challenged in the new environment where education was made available to everyone.  I grew up in a free country because of the foundation that Christianity had laid.

Sadly all the work done by previous generations over the last 200 years has been undermined by neo-liberal economic policies begun in NZ in the 1980’s and 1990’s, designed to benefit the top 10%.  It has affected our standard of living.  We now have a widening gap between rich and poor – because of our government’s foolishness.  Thieves in high places break in and steal.  As I write this, our arrogant government is subjecting us to the Trans Pacific Partnership – without telling New Zealanders what the details are.

“What can we do when the foundations are being destroyed?” Psalm 11:3

In these uncertain times, what should we do?  Jesus said ;  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6

While I am sad at seeing my country wrecked, I have been investing in a different Kingdom.  Investing in the Kingdom of God will be different for everyone.  For us, we were instructed by the Lord to go back to college, gain a Diploma of Business and enter self employment.  Since then we’ve been able to support ourselves and help various Kingdom initiatives with the company we’ve set up.  It hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it.  If you read my story that chapter is here: https://kingdom777.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/chapter-78-the-seed/

One of our customers we have helped has set up a rice company in Papua New Guinea.  Another customer I help is an editor for a Christian Newspaper.  These are just some of the initiatives the Lord has bought our way.  And of course we have the example of the earlier work the Missionaries did in evangelising and educating the Maori.  God is at work and He invites us to join Him in that work.

The Master’s House

There is a bigger house than the one my ancestors came from.  What is “the house?”  I’ll start with what it is not.  The house is not the big mega-church with it’s rock star pastors who love to quote the scriptures about “bringing your tithes into the house”.  Run from them, they will only exploit you.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.  By covetousness they will make merchandise of you with feigned words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”  2 Peter 2

A master who dresses Himself to serve.

The house the Lord speaks of is His Kingdom.  In His absence He has left us, His servants, in charge.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.”  Luke 12Luke 12-37

The master will return.  The signs of His coming are near.  Jesus is a servant leader.  For the servants He finds waiting for Him – He will dress himself to serve, have us sit at a table and He will come and wait on us.  Imagine that.  Actually, I can’t.  That’s out of this world.

What is the Kingdom of God like?

The Kingdom of God is likeThe Kingdom of God is like a teacher and a pastor who became a truck driver …

God now has him on the road, searching for the lost.
He said;
“Truck driving is like life in a microcosm, you see people at their best, you see them at their worst.”

He found that God is alive and well outside the walls of the church.  He had to adopt the attitude that the joy is the journey, not the destination.

These are some of the other things he said;
“God is present out here … working.  He is everywhere.”
“It’s not about where you are or what you are doing, the Kingdom of God is about getting in touch with God right here and now … 24-7.”

As he rested he wondered what fellow travellers the Father would bring across his path that day.  God spends much of His time outside of the religious institutions – just like His Son did.  “I guess it runs in the family.”