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.”

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That poor widow

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As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:38-43

How many of us have heard the story of the widow’s mite as an example of sacrificial giving?  Jesus made the observation that she gave more than all the rich people.  He did not commend her for that.  He just stated a fact after warning about the Teachers of the Law, who liked to devour widows houses!  (Mark 12:38-43)

When he did talk about commending people, he used the example of the unjust steward! (Luke 16) Really?  How does that work?  I asked the Lord for his wisdom on that, because it appeared he was being contradictory.

I was at work, so he gave me an example from my business.  Say I order a really expensive computer part, but the customer doesn’t follow through on the order and I can’t return it.  I’m going to be in trouble with Bert, my husband and business partner, because I didn’t get a 50% deposit and it has to go in stock.  I decide to sell it at cost.  I tell the next customer that I’ll give them a 30% discount on it.  I’ve lost my profit on the item but Bert is happy because he’s got the money back, and the customer is happy.  That’s what the unjust steward did after getting into trouble with his master.

Jesus said the master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (Luke 16:8)
He certainly wouldn’t have been commended if he’d used the master’s money to curry favour for himself.

We’re told to use unrighteous mammon (worldly wealth) to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it is gone, we will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  But we’re not to serve mammon.

How can the use of unrighteous mammon welcome you into eternal dwellings?  Well, if it’s used to build on God’s foundation, the builder will receive a reward, when the day brings our work to light.  1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

When Jesus warned you can’t serve two masters; God and mammon, he said to lay up treasures in heaven; Matthew 6:19

plater_02The Bible warns about being exploited by false teachers who will make merchandise out of us.  They are ferocious wolves, not sparing the flock.  You’ll know them by their fruit.  They will look like sheep, nice guys who identify with the common people – but they’ll love money, just like the Pharisees of old.  Listen to what they’re preaching, and have a look at their lifestyles.

The historian Josephus (himself a Pharisee) claimed that Pharisees received the full-support and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees, who were the upper class.  (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees.)  The Pharisees loved money. (Luke 16:14).

With feigned words they’ll make merchandise of you.  They talk about the law of sowing and reaping.  Money doesn’t grow on trees and I haven’t seen a harvest after people “sowing” it.  If you sow money into their ministries you’re sowing your talent into the ground, where it’s not going to yield any fruit.  Well, it will yield fruit for them in the form of cash.  There is a proverb that says “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.”  Proverbs 18:21

They trot out Malachi 3:8, knowing that it’ll work.  After all, no one wants to rob God!  They should be reading the previous chapter Malachi 2:1-9.  The one that starts “And now, you priests, this warning is for you.”

Here’s what the New Testament has to say about sowing and reaping;
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Galations 6:7-8.Malachi 3-8

So if a person sowed for financial abundance, they’re sowing to please their flesh.

Another verse about sowing is in the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-29) where the master came and settled accounts with his servants. The one who’d only had one talent had buried it in the ground.  He sowed it, so to speak. Through fear!  Because he thought the master was harsh.  What was he afraid of?  Robbing God?  But Jesus pointed out that this master does not obey the law of sowing and reaping!  “He reaps where he has not sown and gathers where he has scattered no seed. (Matthew 25:24-26, said twice)

Did you know Baal is the god of prosperity?  I believe the devil is trying to get believers to sow into the natural (the flesh) so they’ll build on a foundation that is not Christ, thus affecting their treasures in heaven (spiritual inheritance).  And it will frustrate God’s purposes by diverting funds away from the Kingdom of God.  And THAT is robbing God.

Now who do you think encouraged the poor widow to give?  The Teachers of the Law!  Oh by the way, true religion is taking care of widows and orphans.  James 1:27.  What’s wrong with this picture!

Now I’m not against giving.  I’m for being wise, being a good steward of my money, and having the freedom to give joyfully.  I love investing in the kingdom of God.  Did you know you can even loan God money?
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.  Proverbs 9:17

But I’m not going to allow religious leaders to take away my freedom, or my riches in heaven.  We are not under law when it comes to our giving.  Anyone who references the Old Testament law to compel giving is a Teacher of the Law.  Watch out for them.  And don’t “sow” into their “ministries”.

God bless.  I’d love to hear your comments.  Next chapter, I’m going to tell of my own experiences with the tithing and sowing doctrine.