The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
For the past few weeks, we've been on a journey to learn more about God's kingdom from Scripture. What we've looked at so far is that God's kingdom is more about God's rule and reign in our lives than an actual location or realm. We've looked at how when we believe in Christ and accept the reality of his kingship, we become citizens of the kingdom and ambassadors. What we have yet to look at is the kingdom's value, or rather the value of having Jesus as King over our lives and being a part of his kingdom.
Jesus told parables to help people understand deep concepts, and the heart of the parable is the main point. In the parable above, we see that two men find treasures of great value, and once they find it, they sell everything that they have to obtain it. Jesus is trying to make a point about the kingdom of God in the parables above. In the words of John Piper, a preacher and theologian, the point of the parables is that "the kingdom of God is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. Or to be more personal and specific, we can lose everything with joy if we gain Christ."
These men sell everything to gain the treasure, but the kingdom of God cannot be bought. You can't buy, earn, negotiate, or barter for God's kingdom, because it is received without pay. It is a gift freely given. However, the point is that if it costs you everything in order to obtain it, the cost is completely worth it. The apostle Paul elaborated upon this in his letter to the Philippians:
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul counted knowing Christ as being of greater value that everything, and he counts everything as rubbish (trash, garbage, filthy rags) in comparison to knowing and gaining Jesus Christ.
So why is the kingdom of God a treasure worth giving up everything you have? And how does one receive this treasure? We'll take a look at these questions tomorrow.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
Jesus often used parables to help people understand deep concepts. The kingdom of heaven, also known as the kingdom of God, was the topic of a number of Jesus' parables. In the parable above, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. As we see in the parable, a man finds a hidden treasure, covers it up, and joyfully sells everything he has to buy the field and obtain the treasure.
But why did the man sell everything he had? Because the treasure in the field was worth it. Just as the treasure was worth it for the man, the kingdom of heaven, God's kingdom, is of far greater worth than everything in this life.
Join me tomorrow as we look at why the kingdom of God is of greater than anything in this life.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread,and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”'
When Jesus' disciples asked to be taught how to pray, Jesus taught them a prayer that is now known commonly as the Lord's Prayer. I could spend an entire 31 day series focusing on this prayer and it's implications, but I want to focus on one line from this prayer.
Jesus tells his disciples to pray for their Heavenly Father's kingdom to come, and this supplication is weighty. Praying for God's kingdom to come has three implications for the disciples and for us.
God Is Sovereign
When we pray for God's kingdom to come, we submit to God as our King and sovereign. If God is King, that means He has the power and authority to order our lives, to give us rules, guidance, and direction. He is the ruler and authority over our lives. If God is king, then we are not.
His Kingdom Come, Not Ours
When we pray that God's kingdom would come, we are praying that His rule and reign would be made known among the earth. We are praying for the realization of His kingdom not our own kingdom. When we pray for God's kingdom, we put His kingdom before our fleeting and crumbling kingdoms.
Waiting for a Coming Reality
When we pray for God's kingdom to come, we're praying for an "almost, but not yet" reality. While God is King and sovereign over everything in the world NOW, the knowledge of His Lordship is not a reality in all of the hearts of mankind. One day, the name of Jesus will make "every knee bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11)," That is what is to come, but it is also what is happening now. Knees are bowing and confessing that Jesus is Lord, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. When we pray for God's kingdom to come, we're praying for a coming reality.
I've witnessed these implications in my own prayer life as I've prayed for God's kingdom to come, just as Jesus taught his disciples to pray. When I pray for God's kingdom, I am reminded that He is my King, that His kingdom is more important than my kingdom, and that His kingdom is a present but also a future reality.
Jesus taught his disciples this prayer as a model of what his disciples should pray for. If we are his disciples, this is a model of prayer for us as well. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God's kingdom to come, and we should pray for His kingdom to come as well.
The plan for today was to focus on another aspect of life in which God is sovereign, but I keep coming back to the idea of God being King over my time. They say that you can tell a lot about a person based off of how they spend their time. A person that spends a lot of time exercising values exercise. A person that delights in hours of time in an art studio values creating art. A person that devotes their time to reading the Bible and in prayer values a relationship with God.
When it comes to time, I often feel under a pressure cooker. There's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. However, I have been challenged by the idea of God being the King of my time. If God is King, then he knows how my time should be wisely stewarded so that I focus on the most important things.
I'm reminded of Martha and Mary and their interaction with Jesus. The record of it is short, but it cuts to the heart. Let's look at it together:
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42)
In this passage, we see that Martha was distracted with serving. She has an opportunity to serve Jesus, and she uses the time that she has been given with him to spend it being anxious and troubled about a number of things. However, her sister Mary makes the most of the time with Jesus by sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching. Jesus tells Martha as she complains that "one thing is necessary," and he goes on to say that Mary chose what was best and necessary.
The necessary thing is spending time at Jesus' feet. In a modern context, this looks like spending time with Jesus through reading God's Word and prayer. Jesus tells Martha that there is only one necessary thing, and that same thing is the only necessary thing to this day.
At the end of my life on earth, I won't regret not spending more time on Instagram or cleaning or blogging. What I will regret is not spending enough time getting to know my King and growing in my relationship with Him before I meet Him face to face.
When it comes to stewarding the time given to me by the King, there is only one necessary thing, and it's sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his teaching.
If marriage has taught me one thing, it's that I clench my fist around the illusion of being the master of my own time and schedule. I didn't know this about myself until I married a man that loves spending time with me.
As an extrovert that spent a year having to learn how to be content being by myself, the transition from spending most of my post-grad free time alone to always being with someone was rather difficult. It wasn't difficult because my person was difficult, because I love my person. It was difficult because I learned that I value my "me time" at the expense of "us time". I hold my time with a tight fist, because I believe the lie that it belongs to me, when it actually belongs to another.
We've spent the past two weeks on a journey to seek the kingdom. What we've found is that the kingdom is actually more about the fact that God reigns than where He reigns. We looked at how everything belongs to God, how His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and how His rule should affect the way that we live our lives. If everything belongs to God, then even our time and our days belong to Him.
We see this in Scripture as David meditates on God's workmanship:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139: 13-16)
God made us and gave us days, therefore our days ultimately belong to Him. Not only that, but He has created us to do good works and to make the most of our days:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
While He is the owner of our time, we are the stewards. As stewards, we have been entrusted with our days and our time in order to do good works for the Lord. Stewards are called to manage what they have been given wisely:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
With all of this in mind, my "me time" is actually God's time. Yes, God does call me to rest and to take time to be with Him, but He ultimately calls me to be a steward of the time that He has given me to accomplish the things He wants accomplished. I am not the owner, merely the steward.
Learning this truth has been a hard road for a glory thief like me. I often want time to belong to me, but it belongs to my Maker. It has been given to me to steward wisely. What might this look life in my life and your life?
Living in light of God being the King of time changes the way that we spend the time that we have been given. If we're going to spend time, we should spend it how God wants it spent. Ultimately, God wants us to spend our time loving Him and loving others. What does this look like practically? Here are a few examples:
These are just a few examples of ways to view the time that we have been given as God's time and to steward it rightly.
In my own life, viewing God as the King of my time has led to repentance when I try to control my schedule and my day. If it doesn't belong to me, then I have no reason to get upset when my day is suddenly changed or when more time than expected is taken up by a project, task, or person. I'm more mindful of how I'm spending my time, and I'm looking for ways to eliminate distractions. I've started thinking through ways that I can love people better with my time or view my productivity as a way to love God and others.
At the same time, it is very freeing to know that my times are in God's hands, that my days belong to Him instead of me. I'm a poor steward, and I often need to be reminded of God's grace through Jesus Christ in times when I don't steward my time wisely or when I try to take control of time. Praise God that He is the King and ultimate sovereign of our time.
As citizens of God's kingdom, we need to view our time as belonging ultimately to the King. Our King has given us time to steward for the purposes of bringing glory to His kingdom. How might God be calling you today to submit to His lordship over your time?
For the past fifteen days, we've been on a journey to learn more about and seek God's kingdom. We've looked at how God is the King of everything, how we can be a part of His kingdom, and that if we are a part of His kingdom, we are citizens and ambassadors too. If we are a part of God's kingdom and His citizens, that changes the way we live. No longer do our allegiances lie with this world, they lie with our Maker.
The night I first believed in Jesus as my Savior was also the first night I wanted Jesus to be the Lord and King of my life. That night I offered Jesus his rightful place on the throne in my heart, but in my sin, there are many times when I try to put myself back on the throne, when I try to be my own king.
This next half of the series will be focused on what it looks like in the ordinary and everyday to live with Christ as our king, how it changes our hearts, our behaviors, and our character.
Join me tomorrow as we begin more of the practicals and application of what we have looked at from Scripture so far.
Today, I'm sharing links to posts from Desiring God that are focused on God's kingdom. As we continue on this journey, I hope that these posts are helpful aids on this journey. I found them helpful while thinking through aspects of the kingdom of God that I had never thought about before. Enjoy.
Is My Life Worthy of the King? by Tony Reinke
See the Invisible Kingdom by Ann Voskamp
We Need a Real King by Brandon D. Smith
Kings and Queens in Training by Daniel Hoffman
The Allure of Middle Earth by Tony Reinke
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
He’s the King, I tell you.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This post is part of a 31 day series called Seeking the Kingdom.
You can view the rest of the posts from the series here.
Note: The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
P.S. The above photo was taken my friend Chelsea while we were in Poland. Take some time to visit her blog, Go Giver Collective.
Yesterday, we saw from Scripture that Jesus came to save sinners, and sinners are the ones chosen to enter the kingdom of God, but these aren't just any sinners. The sinners that enter the kingdom of God are those that realize their unworthiness and believe that the blood and sacrifice of Christ is the only thing that makes them worthy of inheriting the kingdom.
Today, we're looking at the character of kingdom citizens. Jesus detailed what it meant to be a kingdom citizen in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). Particularly, Jesus shared that those that are a part of the kingdom are very different from what the world would expect. Here are some of the characteristics:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Do you see the characteristics that Jesus said are blessed:
Those that exhibit these characteristics are given promises from the Lord that relate to the kingdom of God. They shall:
Who wouldn't want these blessings that Jesus promised? However, the people that receive these promises are those that display the characteristics above. The people that display these characteristics are kingdom citizens, and these citizens are far different from the people of the world.
Jesus even continued, calling kingdom citizens the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:13). He called his citizens to be a shining example to the rest of the world so that others may see their "good works and give glory to [their] Father who is in heaven." If we are followers of Christ and citizens of His kingdom, we are called to live out our lives in this way as well.
If as followers of Christ, we are experiencing these things, we know that there is a greater inheritance and kingdom coming. I don't know about you, but this is encouraging to me in the midst of day to day living. We'll explore this more tomorrow.
A few weeks ago, Brandon and I joined a rag tag group of believers that walks around the streets of the city of Lebanon, PA every Saturday to share the gospel with people that happen to be walking down the street. They strike up conversations with people waiting for buses or anyone just walking by. Brandon was assigned to one part of the group, and I went with the other half. As we were walking and connecting with people, I asked one of the men in our group if he would share how he came to believe in Jesus as his Savior. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this man shared with me a story that I would not have expected based off of his person.
He shared that he had a pretty hard background. Abuse which led to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse that led to drug abuse. Drug abuse that led to becoming a part of a motorcycle gang, but this wasn't one of those gangs that goes for joy rides on Sunday evenings down the highway together. This gang hardened his heart to the point where he could shoot a man in the middle of the eyes and then go home and eat a steak dinner. It was desperation and brokenness that led him to Jesus. He and his wife found themselves homeless, living in a park, but a man found them there and invited them into a local church for shelter and meals.
Through the love of the people there, his heart softened towards hearing the gospel. He looked at his life and saw the brokenness and sin, and thought he was too far gone for God's grace. A man shared with him that that was far from the truth. He wasn't too far gone. God wanted him, and Jesus died so that his sins would be white as snow. All he had to do was believe and accept the free gift of God's grace.
This man did accept the Lord's grace, and it was a wonder and a miracle. I was amazed as I spoke with him, hearing his story, and seeing the stark contrast between the man I was talking with.
We later encountered a young man walking down the street, who very much identified with my teammate's past. This young man said that he was too far gone for God's grace. The older man shared his testimony with me, and again I was amazed, watching this young man's eyes fill with life and hope. The older man shared the gospel with this younger man, and he prayed for his sins to be forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Jesus. The older man invited him to join him at church that Sunday to continue their conversation and help the young man learn more about God's grace.
As Brandon and I departed from the group that day, Jesus' words to the Pharisees came to life in my heart:
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
Jesus came to call sinners. As such, the citizens of Jesus' kingdom are sinners. The kingdom is not comprised of those that were good enough or perfect enough or did enough good works in this life. The kingdom is filled with those that have been forgiven and made perfect and righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.
This is why Jesus later tells the Pharisees, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you (Matthew 21:31)."
Those that enter the kingdom of God are those that understand they are the most unworthy. Jesus calls sinners, and their faith in him for the cleansing of their sins is what makes them citizens and welcomes them into the kingdom of God.
I don't often think about my nationality, but when I do, it's usually because I'm in a foreign country. Oddly enough, the first time I thought about the fact that I'm an American was the summer I spent in Poland. For the first time, I felt defined by a culture, and it forced me to think about citizenship and culture in a new and different way. I realized that summer that I am a representative and ambassador for the United States, but I also learned that my primary citizenship is in the kingdom of God and that I'm first and foremost Jesus' ambassador.
The word ambassador has a Latin origin that means servant or minister. If we are in Christ, we are His servants and as such, His ambassadors to the world.
According to the US Department of State's website, there are three main purposes for ambassadors:
I would argue that servants of Christ do these same things. It might look different, but followers of Christ have similar purposes:
Ambassadors for the United States of American make sure that the citizens of the USA are safe in foreign countries. When I spent a summer in Poland, we had to inform the US embassy that we would be there for our safety.
Followers of Christ are responsible to protect other followers of Christ. We remind each other where our true citizenship is, and it's with the Lord in His kingdom. We protect each other from the dangers of sin by pointing each other back towards Jesus and the gospel and speaking the truth in love.
Sending ambassadors for foreign nations opens up the door for more opportunities for trade and travel between nations. This ultimately supports prosperity for a nation.
Ambassadors of Christ support prosperity but in the sense that more people learn about the kingdom of God. Ambassadors of Christ represent Jesus and encourage others to learn more about Him and to even join His kingdom.
Work For Peace
The cornerstone of what ambassadors do is work for peace between nations, particularly peace concerning terrorism, human trafficking, and the drug trade.
Followers of Christ work for peace as well, but primarily the peace that comes when others are reconciled to God through faith in Christ. In representing Jesus, believers also work for peace in the same ways that ambassadors work for peace, but we do so because it brings glory to God. We work for justice when it comes to human trafficking, racial inequality, or making abortion illegal because God made mankind in His image. Therefore, every life is sacred and important, and we desire to see every life valued.
Being an ambassador makes me think of being a disciple of Christ in a different way. I am ultimately Christ's servant, follower, and disciple, but I also get to be an ambassador for His coming kingdom. If you are a follower of Christ, you get to be an ambassador too.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Seeking the Kingdom.
You can view the rest of the posts from the series here.
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear