24-Life in the Kingdom of God - Advancing the Kingdom
There is a definite cost to following Jesus and part of that cost will mean that we'll have different priorities from most of the people we live and work with. They will be accumulating money, things, and status. But we will be focused on doing the will of God. Sometimes that will make us stick out. They will be worried about "what they will eat and drink" and getting money for vacation. We will be trusting God for all that we need, while we set about advancing God's Kingdom. Some of your neighbors and colleagues will be partaking in revelry and immoral behavior. We won't be doing those things and they will notice -- perhaps even being convicted by our lives.
Jesus is up front with us when he says, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). So it's not a light matter to follow Jesus. But if you do so then your life priorities will be different from everyone else.
1. At the formation of Israel as a nation, God wanted Moses to speak to the people about what their role would be in the world. If they obeyed God and kept his covenant, what would He make of them?
"A Kingdom of Priests" -- this idea was repeated to the Apostle John.
Revelations 1:6 / Revelations 20:6
Today we talk about the separation of church and state. But in God's Kingdom the citizens were meant to reign with God (over their daily affairs and circumstances -- not each other) as well as being priests of God. As priests we are to be a bridge between unbelievers and God so that they can come close to Him. And in this way the Kingdom of God grows.
2. As Kingdom citizens, our priorities are different from those in the world as Jesus shows us in this exchange.
It will cost us to follow Jesus and often that will mean keeping our focus on the work in His Kingdom rather than doing what everyone else is doing.
3. Man was meant to reign (be a king) over his life and circumstances.
This is what is meant by the fact that God "put everything under his feet" (in Hebrews 2:8a). But when man sinned, he gave ground to Satan and therefore what is true?
Nevertheless, because of the authority Jesus gives us, we can take the ground back. We can do this for one reason.
Hebrews 2:14-18 (especially verse 14b)
4. Some of us in God's family are in a rut. We need to keep learning the same lessons over and over. This clearly is not how we are meant to operate.
Being in God's Kingdom is not just about being forgiven and saved. The new birth is merely the doorway for us to get back on track to fulfill our role in the Kingdom of God. God has a whole universe to run and we are meant to be part of it.
5. It is Jesus himself that commissions us for our work in this world.
John 17:18 / John 20:21
And Jesus gives us the authority to carry it out.
6. All Kingdom of God citizens will bear fruit for God. In this parable we can see that it's what Jesus clearly expects of us. We are not meant to just be taking up space in the Kingdom of God without being productive.
7. When the first disciples headed out, they shared a simple message. What was that message?
Then, to back up their message how did Jesus work His power through them?
8. One of the ways that the Kingdom of God advances is through our being able to give a reason for the hope that we have within us.
1 Peter 3:15
All of us must think through how to express our faith in Christ. Over the years I have written out answers to hypothetical questions to prepare myself. It's true that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say at the time, but He also expects that we will study the word with diligence and use our minds to understand and explain.
9. As we live and work to advance God's Kingdom, what two things does Jesus warn us will happen?
Why will some people persecute us for living and sharing about Jesus?
John 15:19, 21-23
Why would Jesus scare us by talking about persecution? How will we be able to live in peace if there is a possibility of being harmed by persecution?
What will our problems and trials ultimately be the test of?
1 Peter 1:6-7
When our faith is being tested, what else has a chance to grow?
And to what end?
Therefore what do we need to be ready for?
1 Peter 4:1, 12-19
How are we to endure suffering and persecution for our faith in Jesus?
Revelation 13:10 / Revelation 14:12
A SPECIAL WORD FOR LEADERS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
10. In this parable Jesus is talking about a Kingdom of God citizen whom he has given management responsibilities in the care of other Kingdom of God citizens. Read the entire parable first.
What does Jesus expect from his leaders/managers?
If any of the Lord's leaders abuses or misuses the flock (verse 45) what will be the consequence?
Don't miss the fact that the unfaithful leader will be assigned to the same place that unbelievers are assigned to. Part of the way that the Kingdom of God advances is through good management of the Lord's resources. What will be true of anyone of us who is given much?