If you have not attended one of our Life Together gatherings, I am officially inviting you! This gathering is unique in the sense that I am providing a context for directed biblical conversation and personal participation. Here are just few comments I’ve heard from the first few gatherings:
• “This was the first time I prayed out-loud with my husband!
• “Tonight I told my redemptive story with my wife for the very first time.”
• “Do you think J.J. (our oldest grandson) would consider meeting with other teenagers to talk about how to engage with our teachers?”
• “I am beginning to understand: I can actually advance Christ’s rule with my friends, family, and the people I work with.”
• “I’m beginning to realize that Christ never meant for me to keep His rule just for my personal growth but I am meant to extend it into all areas of life.”
Our gatherings are filled with depth, challenges to respond to truth, and substantive conversation. I have also heard that some feel intimated by the participation and on that basis, have chosen not to attend. One response I have given to this feeling is that when we open ourselves to the wisdom of others, great things can happen! This is one way we grow. Consider the wisdom of Proverbs…
“20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20 KJV
Think about it. It’s common knowledge that, in order to grow in a particular field, we must rely on others who know more than us. So why would our growth in Christ be any different? Let’s learn from each other!
The truth about the kingdom that Jesus came proclaiming was not an easy-believism kind of teaching. When we act in obedience to reveal the “mystery of the kingdom”, it usually does not come naturally. It takes incremental and courageous steps of obedience to experience the power of the Holy Spirit released in us to advance His will and His ways. When we join with the Holy Spirit to introduce the kingdom to others, it becomes a breathless moment where time and eternity are reconfigured. The Holy Spirit will give gracious germination to the kingdom mustard seed of faith for people individually, and for the people at large whom we are influencing. We truly are attempting to participate in what the Holy Spirit is already doing with people.
The rule and reign of our King Jesus is first meant to be manifested IN us (Luke 17:21). His kingdom is never meant to be only IN us, but is also to be expressed THROUGH us and FOR others (Matthew 12:28).
The whole world is pursuing alternatives to the kingdom of God: money, pleasure, power, prestige, relationships, possessions. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that, “What tops your value system wears the crown of your heart.” Jesus said it this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
The effect of resisting the kingdom of God is that God’s rule becomes obscured. The eye stops seeing it, the ear stops hearing it, and the heart stops treasuring it. When we fix our eyes and our hearts on alternative kingdoms, we act as if the King and His Kingdom ways are irrelevant. No doubt this is exactly what Jesus was saying in Matthew 13:1-23 and following. Do you realize that Jesus taught that the parable of the sower was the key to understanding all the rest of the parables? (Mark 4:13). This parable is also the response and the answer as to why it is so difficult for all of us to allow the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in our lives! When we allow the seed of the word to penetrate the fertile soil of our inner motives (our hearts) we gain knowledge and understanding of the kingdom. When that understanding is accompanied with “fruit” we keep acquiring more ownership of the kingdom of God and His reign flows out of us into our social surroundings with ever increasing fruit. Wow! This is the fun, fulfillment and joy of being used by the LORD to advance His kingdom purposes (Romans 14:17).
There are those, however, who aren’t receptive to the kingdom of God so it simply does not register with them. The longer they stubbornly stay out of the kingdom, the less they are capable of ever beginning to comprehend it.
Look closely at a few verses from Matthew 13:1-23. I would suggest that you read and study these verses in detail this week:
“10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” 11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. … 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”” – Matthew 13:10-12, 23 NLT
Over the next week, would you make an intentional effort to extend the kingdom of God in some capacity? It might be a simple word of encouragement, a generous gift, a service rendered, speaking up when you could be silent, or a half a dozen other kingdom moments. Be bold and trust in Christ’s Spirit to lead you!