Monday, April 19, 2010

Thirty One Days of Prayer -- Day 12

Thy Kingdom Come...

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
Hebrews 12:28

The Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven as Matthew calls it, was deeply on Jesus' heart.

John announced Jesus coming with the words, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2.

Likewise, Jesus begins his ministry with the message of the kingdom. Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:14. See also Matthew 4:17, Matthew 4:23

The sermon on the Mount describes the values and citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven stands in opposition to the values of the kingdom of this world. It took some time for the followers of Jesus in his day to realize that the promised kingdom is a spiritual one, rather than the physical one that they had expected. In fact, not until after Jesus died and was resurrected did they fully understand.

During the time between Jesus' resurrection and his ascension, he was still teaching his disciples about God's kingdom: To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

Jesus had said that he would give Peter the keys to the kingdom. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18ff

Peter preached the first sermon of salvation to the Jews, opening the door for them to enter the kingdom of heaven. Acts Chapter 2 Likewise, he also preached the first sermon to the gentiles, opening the door for them to come in, as well. Acts Chapter 10.

The apostles of Jesus preached the message of the kingdom. For examples, see Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts, the gospel is often referred to as being the gospel of the kingdom. See Matthew 9:35 for an example.

Throughout the new testament, the kingdom is spoken of as both a present event and a future event. In one sense, the kingdom of God has come to us in Jesus and his church and wherever Christ reigns in the lives of men and women. In another sense, we are still waiting for the fullness of the kingdom, which we will experience when the Lord returns again.

As mentioned earlier in this series, the Christian's true citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. Our values are to be heavenly ones, not worldly ones. Likewise, our actions should reflect hearts set on being ambassadors of God's kingdom. We want others to know the goodness of God's kingdom and for them to be rescued from "the domain of darkness, and the kingdom of His beloved Son". Col. 13

Jesus tells us in Matthew 13 that "...the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." The kingdom of heaven is worth more than the sum total of everything we think we possess in this world.

If the kingdom is so precious to the Lord and to us, should it not be a great subject of our prayers? If we are unsure about how to pray for the kingdom, we can begin by studying Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God. (Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of Heaven. Some scholars think this is because Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience who would have had such great respect for the name of God and such a reluctance to use it too frequently that they would be more comfortable with the term "Kingdom of Heaven". The intended readers of Mark, Luke, and John, on the other hand, might have needed the term spelled out more specifically as the "Kingdom of God".)

"Thy kingdom come" is not just a phrase to be said, but is to be, along with knowing and honoring the Lord, the chief concern of our lives. When it is so, then we will naturally pray about it.

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..."


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