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April 25, 2003

Two Swords

Luke 22:36-38
36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38 So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”
And He said to them, “It is enough.”

Now this is an odd comment for Jesus to make at the end of the Last Supper. Matthew and Mark's accounts of the end of the Supper makes a little more sence to me, all of them heading off to Gethsemane after singing a hymn. So it seems that on the road through Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives Jesus predicts Peter's betrayal. Then Luke's account has this odd statement about "he who has no sword...buy one."

I'm trying to put this all together and make some sense out of it. My thoughts are this. Peter veheminately defends his commitment to the Lord at all cost. Jesus exposes Peter's (and my) limitations, not in an attempt to humiliate Peter, but to prepare him for the impending disappointment with his denial of Christ (for which Jesus restores Peter's honor in John 21). Jesus reminds the disciples that when He sent them out that although thier provisions were limited, they didn't lack anything to complete their assignment. But now the cost is higher and the assignments more serious. What was a joyous experience in God's power working through thier lives (Luke 9:6) now was going to require them to function at another level, because Jesus' assignment on earth was coming to an end. And just like me, the disciples responded to this insight by defaulting to what they thought Jesus was saying.

Jesus promise to the disciples at the beginning was to make them fishers of men - not soldiers. The battlefield was Calvary. The battle against the "power of darkness" (v. 53) was fought and won by Christ. My "two swords" (a metaphor for my own ability and strength) are nothing in a war of this magnitude. When I try to wield them I only end up wounding someone in a foolish attempt to prove my valor (v. 49-51). What I want to understand is the responsibility I have been charged with - not to defend an earthly kingdom, rather the radical commitment to God's reign in the lives of men.

May 12, 2003

Did You See The Sign?

John 6:26
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

Jesus miracles were performed as signs that helped people identify Him as thier Messiah. They were also signs that pointed to the role of the Messiah and the type of Kingdom that had now come. Not an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one. Maybe that's why Jesus didn't heal every person or intervene in every situation. He chose specific moments that would serve this specific purpose. But like most of us, most of them didn't get it.

When God performs a miracle in my life, it is not only about meeting the immediate need of the moment. It serves a larger purpose. When there is miraculous provision, it isn't about what I needed; it is about me understanding that He is my provider. A healing is more than deliverence from pain; it is a reminder that my life has yet to experience the the wholeness I was originally intended to live in. See, my life is governed by another group of laws that supercede the ones I am confined to in my flesh. Yet, I still seek the "stuff" rather than the "sign."

Jesus said that if I would "seek first the Kingdom of God" then all the stuff comes with it. All the "things" will be added as I look to Him not for my "loaves and fishes" but for the signs - the remiders that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

May 17, 2003

Sight and Insight

John 6:31
Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

The man making this statement before the pharisees had just been touched by Jesus. this man who had been blind since birth had just been healed (in front of the disciples). The disciples had been questioning Jesus, blaming the man's condition on "sins" (by his parents or his own). Jesus said that the cause of his blindness was not based on these religious assumptions. Rather that his condition was going to be a sign,"that the works of God should be revealed in him." (v. 3)

Two typical human responses can be seen in this larger story. First is the disciple's assumption that the man's condition was punishment for some action. It was the effect of "sins," not caused by the greater condition of "sin" that is the cause of much of man's maladies. The second human response is seen in the Pharisee's reaction to to the man's healing by trying to discount God's work work because it didn't appen within thier framework (nothing could happen on the Sabbath, not even healing).

While questioning the man, the Pharisees made thier commitment to Moses because, "we know that God spoke to Moses." (v. 29) The basis for thier commitment to thier framework (or filter) was based on this fact. But here is a Kingdom moment. This man recognizes a new dynamic at work - that men can now have direct access to God. And he even has the qualifiers correct: worship and obedience. This is a huge "ah ha" moment. He saw more than the restoration of his eyesight, Through this, he saw that God wants to interact personally with his people.

April 15, 2008

Among and Within

Luke 17:20-21 (ESV)
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21 nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

Mark chapter one says that Jesus came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.'" (v 14-15). The "good news" that Jesus offered was that God's Kingdom was now present. Could have the call to repent ("to turn away from") been an invitation to turn away from thier dependence upon the Law and a new dependance upon the Spirit? How could have they known or understood what Jesus was saying? It was so far beyond thier frame of reference; a radical change of paradigm.

They must have heard Jesus' words about the Kingdom and possibly tried to understand what He was talking about by looking for a point of reference - "Oh, that's what he means by the kingdom." Maybe it's a different way of doing things, or a new set of rules to live by. I would imagine that people were looking intently for the signs of a new regime, even if it wasn't a polictical one. What was completly beyond them is the concept of this Kingdom being inside of them. The power and presence of God indwelling. The King ruling one's heart. God's kingdom is not only "among" you, but to everyone who can let go of thier attempts at self-righteousness, it can be "within" you.

Lord, let your kingdom be present not just around me, or among my life's activities, but let me live with a consciousness of it being resident within me.

Among and Within

Luke 17:20-21 (ESV)
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21 nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

Mark chapter one says that Jesus came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.'" (v 14-15). The "good news" that Jesus offered was that God's Kingdom was now present. Could have the call to repent ("to turn away from") been an invitation to turn away from thier dependence upon the Law and a new dependance upon the Spirit? How could have they known or understood what Jesus was saying? It was so far beyond thier frame of reference; a radical change of paradigm.

They must have heard Jesus' words about the Kingdom and possibly tried to understand what He was talking about by looking for a point of reference - "Oh, that's what he means by the kingdom." Maybe it's a different way of doing things, or a new set of rules to live by. I would imagine that people were looking intently for the signs of a new regime, even if it wasn't a polictical one. What was completly beyond them is the concept of this Kingdom being inside of them. The power and presence of God indwelling. The King ruling one's heart. God's kingdom is not only "among" you, but to everyone who can let go of thier attempts at self-righteousness, it can be "within" you.

Lord, let your kingdom be present not just around me, or among my life's activities, but let me live with a consciousness of it being resident within me.

September 29, 2010

This Present Kingdom

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

OBSERVATION
In chapter 5, Jesus sums up the “gospel of the kingdom.” Although I’m sure He defined it as such, I don’t know if the people were able to hear it. I’m sure they had ideas about the “kingdom;” an overthrow of the oppression of the Romans and a return to self rule, the emergence of the “messiah” and establishing Israel as a world power, even just the freedom from the restrictive religious rituals and regulations. I don’t know what they heard, but we do know what they were hearing – “Ive come to fulfill the law and the prophets” (5:17), “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19), and seeing – people were being physically healed and spiritually delivered.

APPLICATION
It hard for me to keep the “gospel of the kingdom” straight. It becomes so much enterprise and activity that doesn’t often look or sound like the kingdom Jesus was talking about. Building His kingdom degenerates into building my kingdom. It’s faulty to even think that I can “build” His kingdom. In fact, all I can do is recognize it and respond to it. I’m invited to partner with Him in it, but He is not dependent upon me to grow it or enlarge it. What’s interesting is that Jesus talked about the kingdom in the present – it is not something that is coming that we have to wait for. It’s here. It’s real. It’s functioning. I guess that is the good news – no more waiting, no more qualifying, only living and participating, and inviting others to be included in it.

PRAYER
Lord, help me to keep the right perspective on Your Kingdom. Help me to keep things straight. I want to participate in your kingdom, not build my own.

January 26, 2011

"Fair" Wages

Matthew 20:1 (NKJV)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard..."

OBSERVATION
This is the uncomfortable, "unfair" passage where the landowner hire people to work throughout the day. Then at the end of the day, he pays them all the same wage whether they worked all day or only an hour.

APPLICATION
The most important thing to keep in mind when reading this through is the fact that Jesus is describing what the Kingdom of God is like. This parable is painful at so many levels. It goes against my sense of fairness. But in the story, Jesus reminds me that its about the agreement - "‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" (v13-15). God's goodness is not demonstrated in His parity. It is demonstrated in the way He keeps His word.

What this really confronts is my need to find my worth in comparison with others. I know I would have preferred to be the last person hired and received the full wage instead of having to labor all day. Is my effort, commitment, skill, time not as valuable as "Johnny Come-Lately"? I know this is especially true when I look at certain areas in my life: my housing situation, the size of my church, the amount of money I make...all of these things are frustrating because I compare my situation with other people who have something different; what is in my opinion, a "better deal."

What this exposes in my life is my desire to do as little as possible while expecting maximum return. It reminds me that I still base my personal value or significance in a comparison with others. I need to simply keep focused on giving my best effort for my work in God's field. I desire to find satisfaction in the quality of the work I do, instead of looking over my shoulder at what other are or aren't doing. And at the end of the day, God will keep His end of the agreement He's made with me...because He is good.

PRAYER
God, thank you that your goodness is demonstrated by the way you keep your agreements. Thank you for the privilege of working the Kingdom's field.

About Kingdom of

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Kingdom of category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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