Adapted from a message preached at the Bible Tabernacle in December 2017.
I was thinking recently about the Lord’s Prayer, and I wanted to focus on one or two thoughts that are in there because I felt like there was a particular focus that the Lord wanted me to see.
You know, it’s awfully easy to simply recite the Lord’s Prayer as a form, as mere words. We’re prone to that as human beings. We tend to want to bring the things of God down to a human level: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (NIV). And it sounds like it’s just a nice sentiment that we’re sort of affirming.
But I believe with all my heart there’s a depth, particularly in those last words, that we don’t really get. There’s something more in this that I believe we need to explore.
In the first place, He’s talking about His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. So, this isn’t just something about “up there” or “out there” or something apart from where we live. This is meant to apply to us, in some fashion, now, because God’s kingdom, in its present form, exists in a world that is hostile.
There is a kingdom in this world. It’s ruled over by the Devil. It is a kingdom devoted to rebellion, to self-will, to everything that is opposed to God, His ways and His character. It’s responsible for the chaos, the trouble, the death, everything else that’s a part of life in this present world.
And it’s a real system and not simply a philosophy that men follow. There’s a power behind it that’s very, very real. It’s an unseen kingdom of real beings that rule over the world.
And everyone who’s born into this world, even if they’re born into a Christian family, is born into a world that hates God. It’s a system that will brainwash you, if you let it. It will teach you to be a rebel. Everything about the Devil and the way he works is founded upon lies and deceit. It’s founded upon the principle of self-will being exalted above everything else and every other principle.
It’s founded upon rebellion against our Creator and the effect of this devilish rule and reign in the world is to blind people. It is to turn us all, if he could, into slaves to our own natural appetites in some form or another. If it’s not something obvious like alcohol or drugs, it’ll be pride, it’ll be lust, it’ll be greed. You name it!
Human desires are going to be the driving force in us and we will feel like that is the meaning of life. This is how I’m supposed to live. This is my pathway to meaning and happiness. And, there is no capacity in the natural for us to see or know anything about God or anything beyond what the Devil wants us to know. It’s a real power.
How many remember the event that’s recorded in Daniel 10? Now Daniel was a prophet who was allowed at times to see into the other realm and experience it, with visions and encounters with angels. How many of you remember the time when he was praying? He set himself to pray, and he fasted, at least a partial fast. They call it a Daniel fast. But anyway, he fasted and set himself to pray. For a period of 21 days he kept it up.
There’s a lesson in that. He didn’t give up, did he? He didn’t say, “Oh well, God’s not going to answer this. I guess I’ll just give up and go on about my business.” He prayed and he set himself. And at the end of 21 days an angel showed up and he was allowed to see this supernatural being that other people wouldn’t be able to see with natural eyes.
And, to paraphrase what the angel said, “From the first day you set your heart to pray, your prayer was heard, and I was sent in answer to your prayer.” But what happened? You remember what happened? The prince of Persia withstood him for 21 days. And as I recall, there was another angel who came in to help with the battle.
What’s he talking about there? This was certainly not some human being who stopped an angel. This was a supernatural power, a satanic power that ruled over the Persian empire of that day. And that devil was not going to let this angel in. There was a real battle that had to be fought.
Folks, that’s the world we live in. We don’t see what’s going on in the other realm. There are real battles and real powers at work. We need to be aligned with the one kingdom that will last. It’s very real.
And we know that it’s because of man’s rebellion that power was essentially turned over to the Devil because man was originally given a place of honor and dominion in God’s creation.
I’m so glad that God wasn’t taken by surprise. He understood where this was going and what was going to happen. You remember the prophetic words the Lord spoke when He came to confront them about their sin and He talked about the serpent? What did He tell the serpent? He said, “… he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Gen 3:15. Didn’t that happen in Christ?
Yes! The Devil was allowed to torture Him, to put Him to death as a man, but the end result was Christ’s foot came down on his head and will be there till the end! Thank God!
Christ is here this morning and we need to reckon on that in our lives, and not just sit there and listen to the Devil and be intimidated by him, because he is a defeated foe and we have every right to stand upon what Christ has done, not upon our performance, but upon Him! Thank God!
God’s plan from the beginning was to build a kingdom of people who were called out of darkness into light. In fact, does not Paul use that very language in the first chapter of Colossians? He speaks of the believers there as having been rescued from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.
This is not a matter of adopting a religious lifestyle and then everything’s okay. This is a real, divine rescue, and it requires divine power and divine initiative. God’s got to step into history and rescue you and me, individually. It’s personal. There’s got to come a time when you and I are face to face with Him and the questions of Eternity are put to us and we have to make a choice: am I going to serve myself, which is essentially serving the Devil, or am I going to surrender and become a part of His kingdom?
So anyway, God’s plan was to invade the devil’s kingdom and it took power. It took God to absolutely rule and overrule everything Satan would do! And so, there came a day when, in accordance with the fulfillment of prophecy, His Son came in human form.
Can you imagine the Creator of all things, even of the stars, willing to come down and be born as a baby and live a flesh and blood life and be subject to all of the things that you and I are subject to? That’s incredible! But that’s the length to which God has gone to bring His kingdom, His ultimate kingdom to fruition. He sent His Son.
And one way of looking at His Son would be to say that He was the embodiment of the Kingdom of God! Think about it. What do you imagine when you think about a kingdom? Well, it’s a realm, isn’t it, in which there’s a certain authority that rules, and that authority is called a king. And there are citizens who are the subjects under that authority.
Now, human nature doesn’t like that idea very much, unless you’re in a kingdom where you’re one of the privileged ones that benefits from that rule. But basically, we are so selfish that we don’t want anyone to tell us what to do. We don’t like the idea of anyone having authority over us, in any fashion.
And our experience in this world teaches us that when people get power over other people, what do they tend to do? “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is the saying that’s become so common, and there’s a lot of truth in that.
But when the rule of God comes into play, it’s a whole different thing when we learn the character of the One who rules! Because the thing that defines His character is love. And it’s not what we call love as human beings, because earthly love is about what makes me feel good. It’s very self-centered, focused on me and my needs and desires.
I’ll tell you, divine love is not like that. It’s not selfish. It is all about the joy of giving to someone else for their benefit. It’s pouring out, sacrificially if necessary, for the welfare and the benefit of the person that is the object of that love.
One of the things that comes to me in thinking about His kingdom is the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 — “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I mean, God Himself invaded.
How did He do that, by the way? Jesus came as a man, but did He simply live a life of independence? Did God just give Him an instruction book and say, “Go for it”? No! God was in Him! God is a Spirit. He’s everywhere. But in a most particular way, He lives within the hearts and the spirits and the souls, if you will, of those who are under His rule.
And Jesus Christ gave His life, gave His vessel, entirely for the purpose of allowing His Father to live in Him and through Him. The words and the deeds that people experienced in the life and the ministry of Jesus were not merely the words of Jesus, the man, but they were the words of God himself! Jesus didn’t do anything independently.
Of all the people that ever could have, He certainly would have been the one. He was surely qualified, without sin! I mean, what else does it take to qualify? But that’s not how God’s kingdom works. God’s kingdom is based upon a living union with the King! Think about it.
And so, the God of the universe walked around inside Jesus. Oh, the devils knew it! But how many of you remember the message that He carried, particularly in His early ministry? They went from village to village. What did they proclaim? The Kingdom of God is near! This was the proclamation of a kingdom that was about to be launched, and there was a ministry of preparation!
John went out and said, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is near.” And then Jesus sent the disciples with the same message. And there was an expression of the Kingdom of God and it was with power, wasn’t it? It wasn’t just words and ideas. It wasn’t a new philosophy. There was the living presence of God in Him that infused His words with life, His deeds with power.
Think about how He was questioned by the Pharisees. Some of them figured, well, I know how He casts out devils, He’s in league with the Devil. That’s what’s going on. This is a deception. He’s just trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and we know what’s right. We’ve got the Law of Moses and we’re the keepers of that law and here’s this guy with a different message! It’s got to be the Devil!
You know, we need to have a heart that says, “Lord, we need You to show us. We need you to lead us.” If they had had any kind of openness — but you see the power of deception. It’s something. We need deliverance, folks.
We’re not immune to the Devil pulling the wool over our eyes, in varying degrees. We need the Lord! And Jesus’ attitude was always to seek the Father! He prayed. He looked to God. He longed to hear His Father’s voice and to know what His Father wanted Him to do.
And He never went out and said, “Okay, well, I haven’t heard from Him, I guess I’ll just do stuff.” There was always this sense, “I need Him. My whole purpose in being here is to be a walking, living embodiment of the Kingdom of God.”
And so, when Jesus confronted this idea, oh, you’re in league with the Devil, He simply pointed out that a kingdom divided against itself won’t stand. What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense. The Devil’s not going to cast out the Devil. But he says, “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils…” — then what? — “the kingdom of God is near.” This was God bearing a clear witness.
And you know, some people actually think this way, that oh, the Kingdom of God is all about signs and wonders. Well, the Kingdom of God can express itself in signs and wonders, but what is the purpose of a sign?
If you are on a trip, heading to a certain destination and you run into a sign that points to that destination, do you stop and worship the sign? Is that what your journey is about? Oh, I found the sign! No, the sign is meant to point to something.
So, when God expressed His power, whether it was to heal, to raise the dead, to cast out devils, all those wonderful miracles that He performed, what was the purpose of God? Why was He doing all that? It was to point to who Jesus was so they would listen to His words and believe in Him and the message that He had brought! It wasn’t so they would glory in signs and wonders and think that’s the measure of everything.
But, of course, that is part of it. You don’t jump in the other ditch. There’s got to be some living power and some reality if it’s really the Kingdom of God! Praise God!
Let’s go through the backdrop of this thing, the general context of the Kingdom of God. Jesus, toward the end of his ministry, pointed to the fact that there were some standing there, who, “…shall not taste death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power.”
Now, obviously, they died a long time ago. What was He talking about? He was talking about the Day of Pentecost. He was talking about the day that Christ, who had ascended to Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit down to rest upon and to empower them. He had told them, I appointed you to carry the message to the nations, but don’t go anywhere until I empower you.
But there came a day when the Kingdom of God descended in their midst! They were filled with power! It was not human energy! It came from Heaven itself and it enabled them to stand there, look the religious leaders in the eyes and say, you killed the Son of God and He’s calling unto you to repent. He is the King! He is the One before whom you will all stand! The One you crucified, God has made King!
Well, what was the evidence of that? Obviously, there was an expression of the power and the energy of the Kingdom of God that filled human vessels. It wasn’t just something in the air. This involved a real inhabitation, by the Spirit of God, of human vessels.
And so, we see Him, first of all, embodying the kingdom and talking about it. In fact, during the 40 days that He appeared to them, proving that He was really risen from the dead, what did He talk about? You read the first chapter of the Book of Acts and you will see that He talked to them about the Kingdom of God. He was teaching and preparing them and helping them to understand, God’s kingdom is about to land!
How many of you remember the question the Pharisees asked Him? I think it’s recorded in Luke 17, if you want to look it up later. What was their concept of the Kingdom of God? It was political, wasn’t it. We’re going to rise up once again as a nation. We’ll be exalted among the nations. There’s a Messiah coming who is going to rule from Jerusalem.
It’s the same concept that a lot of Christians profess today. They just figure it got postponed. But in the minds of the Pharisees there was going to come a time when they would throw off the yoke of Rome and once again be the leader among the nations like they were, under Solomon, for a while.
And so, they’re saying, when is this Kingdom of God coming? How many of you remember what Jesus answered? He told them that the Kingdom of God does not come with outward show, with observation. It’s not something you’re going to see with natural eyes. You’re not going to be able to look at an organization or anything outward and say, “There’s the Kingdom of God.”
You’re not going to be able to see something political. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36. It’s not political. It’s not earthly.
But Jesus said, the kingdom of God is — I think this translation says — “within you.” It’s actually “among” you. It certainly wasn’t “within” the Pharisees. But it was here to be among men, even as Jesus was the embodiment of the Kingdom of God and He walked among men. God’s kingdom was there, in that sense. Most people were blind to it, but it was there.
And it’s meant to be that way until the end of this age. God’s kingdom is here! He came on the Day of Pentecost and we are in a period where God is calling people out, making them a part of a Kingdom and then one day — where is this going?
What did Jesus say in that parable, I think it’s in Matthew 13? He talked about the field being the world and Him planting the sons of God in it and the Devil planting his people and then one day there was going to be a harvest. And He even said that the angels are going to gather the Devil’s children out of His kingdom.
Well, the sense in which He’s using the word kingdom there is the fact that He owns it all. He has been made King and Lord over heaven and earth. In that sense, this world is His kingdom, not the world system, but He’s the One that’s the highest authority.
And so, from God’s point of view, God has given Him the job of cleaning out His kingdom of all sin, everything that’s wrong, everything that’s bad. And there’s going to come a time when His angels will be sent forth and they’re going to gather out of His kingdom everything that offends. What’s going to happen then?
Then it says, the saints of God will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father. Everything that God has been doing that is unseen by human eyes will suddenly burst forth into a living, visible reality.
We need to be so tuned into what God is doing that that’s what drives our lives, that’s what defines us. But it’s so easy to just get caught up in life.
But, oh, Jesus is the first fruits of all who will shine forth on that day. Because, when He came forth from that grave, He came forth with a body that is untouchable by death. It cannot die! It is totally loosed from all of the limitations that we experience in these bodies.
And His promise is that when He comes, every one of His own will receive a body just like His! And we will inhabit a world that does not have any of these ills.
In that sense, the Kingdom of God is yet to come. Sometimes the scripture speaks about the Kingdom coming, and that’s what it’s talking about.
But, I’ll tell you, the Kingdom is here now! And that’s what drew my attention to this scripture. What sense would it make for Jesus to say, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” if He’s just talking about something that’s in the eternal future? I mean, that’s going to happen. Why would we have to pray, “Oh God, make it happen”? How can we pray such a thing, without really understanding that God means for that to apply to us in some very personal, present-tense, way?
Now, of course, some folks would pray it in this sense: “God, fix the people in my life so they will stop annoying me! Let your kingdom come, let your will be done! Oh, God, all these bad people are messing with my life! Fix them, Lord, so that I can be free to live my life.”
No! I’ll tell you, if you think that way you need to look in the mirror and have God open your eyes to see that the problem in your life is not the people around you, it’s you! End of story!
But if we’re looking at this prayer and noting that we are to ask about our needs, there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s promised to meet our needs, hasn’t He?
But all of this other is a preface to that and if we don’t get the context, we will live our lives trying to view God as Santa Claus, to give us what we want, to fix all our problems instead of understanding His purpose.
So, He begins with an acknowledgment: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.” Matt. 6:9. That’s the One I need to honor. In the context of my coming to You for my needs, I need to be talking to You and realizing who You are, and respecting and honoring You for that.
But now, when I’m praying, “Your Kingdom come,” what am I really praying? If I’m not praying, “Your Kingdom come in me,” it’s just words. If His Kingdom does not advance in me, then that is just an empty form.
We have noted that Jesus was a living embodiment of the Kingdom of God in this world. His life was devoted to doing the will of the Father, exactly what He tells us to pray.
But why would He tell us to pray that if it didn’t have personal implications for you and for me? What does God want from me? Does He merely want me to live a religious life style and claim citizenship in Heaven someday? Or does He want me, in a real practical sense, to be an embodiment, an outpost, if you will, of the Kingdom of God operating in the world so that I’m no longer a citizen of this world but of that kingdom?
It doesn’t mean I go live in a monastery somewhere. But it means within the particular context in which God has allowed me to live, whether it’s in a home or school or a job or wherever it is, He wants to live in this world by living in me.
Now, how many of you here are full blown expressions of the Kingdom of God right now? No one?! Do you see what we need to be asking God for? We need to be coming to Him and saying, “Oh God, this body, this earthly life has been purchased through the shedding of the blood of our Savior. You bought me. You own me. But the practical reality is there’s a lot of stuff in here that’s not quite subject to You like it’s meant to be. Oh God, work in me. I want that rule. It’s not like I just want You to fix everything out there. I want You to extend Your rule deeper into my heart and into my life.”
See, now it becomes personal. “Extend Your will and Your rule, Your loving rule, deep into my heart.” You know, I started to quote that passage from Isaiah a while ago, and I stopped short. I stopped short of the character of that kingdom.
After telling us that a child would be born, what did He then say? “The government will be on His shoulders.” But then, after that he says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:7. You know what the hallmark of God’s government is when He truly possesses our heart? It’s peace.
That harmonizes very well with what Jesus said in Matt. 11:39, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me … and you will find rest for your souls.” Oh, how we human beings think that being subject to someone else is a bad thing, and yet, here God speaks of a kingdom and a rule that doesn’t grind us down and make us feel like dirt. In fact it sets us free from the very things that would do that.
And the reality is, how much peace do you have? How much peace do I have on a practical level? What do people see? Here’s God establishing a kingdom in the earth. He’s not preaching the gospel with angels. He sent His people to live among men, and we are meant to be outposts of the Kingdom of God.
What is it that people see when they look at us? Do they just see people who profess a religion and practice it? Do they really sense the peace of God in us? Or are we full of strife, fear, anxiety, lust, greed, dissatisfaction, can’t get along with this one, can’t get along with that one, all the things that come out of human nature? What is it that they see? What kind of a spirit do we project when we are out and about?
“Oh God, come. Lord, just come and reign in me.” Don’t you think that we wouldn’t even have to try if we’re out among people and He rules and reigns in here? We wouldn’t even be self-conscious or trying to do stuff. Don’t you think that just the effect of our spirit is going to be felt by people around us?
You can go out and argue doctrine and philosophy and church ideas, all that kind of stuff, all you want to. And you can even convert some people to that. What good is that if He is absent? We need the living presence of God in our midst or it’s not the Kingdom of God! It becomes the kingdom of men.
How many churches are there today where that’s all it is? They’re preserving their way, their beliefs, their convictions, their order. Everything is all, “We’ve got it, we’ve got it, we’ve got it.” And like the church of Laodicea, Jesus is outside at best, knocking to get in, because it’s not about all that stuff. It’s about Jesus coming and eating and drinking with us in the spirit, because we are works in progress.
Until everything here is subdued, we’ve got reason to pray this. “Lord, I need Your rightful rule over my heart. If there are currents that are not peaceable, if there are currents that pull me in this direction and that direction, and there’s strife, there’s conflict, all these things — oh God, I need, on an individual level, to be an outpost of Your Kingdom.”
It’s got to start there. We can’t just pray, “Oh God, your kingdom come,” in some vague sense. Here, now, in me, is where it needs to happen.
But then, it’s not just an individualistic thing either. It’s not a separate thing of me running around under Jesus’ authority and disconnected from everything. God is building Him a house, isn’t He? We sing a song about that. But a house isn’t built out of scattered materials, is it? A house is built with materials that are fastened together in the proper order.
I’ll tell you, God has made every person in whom He lives a part of something that is part of His Kingdom. And we need to be an expression of that Kingdom.
Now, I’ll say this. The October-November-December 2017 issue of the paper was based upon an edited version of a message I preached. And when I put the paper together, I forgot the original title and called it, “God’s Order in the Home.” But the original title was “God’s Kingdom in the Home.”
But that flows exactly into what we’re talking about today, because you and I live in households, don’t we? If God’s kingdom doesn’t work in the household, what good is our profession? We’ve got stuff to pray about. We need to look in the mirror and say, “Oh God, am I really the citizen you want me to be?”
And I’m so glad that the answer to all of this is not simply to try harder. We need to continually say that, because that’s what human nature does. We need to cry out and say, “God, I can’t fix it. But here is my heart. I invite You to come in and shine the light wherever You want to.”
I’m glad He doesn’t do that all at once. But we can pray, “Shine the light where it needs to be shined. Help me to humble myself when You do and to invite You to come in and be the ruler in that area and just subdue the enemies that are in here, Lord.”
You know, one of the scriptures that I’ve thought about is in 1st Corinthians 15. The chapter as a whole is about the resurrection. But in the process, Paul writes about Jesus as the One who was the first to be raised from the dead, and how He’s the pattern and He has a new body now. We’ll get ours when He comes.
But then, he says, “For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.” 1 Cor. 15:25. How many of you remember Brother Thomas using that scripture and applying it to the body of Christ? That may not be the whole meaning, but it certainly is an important part of it. You might feel like you’re the lowest part of the Kingdom of God. You’re the least worthy. You’re the one who wonders if you even belong. “I’ve got to be on the bottom of His feet. I just hope He doesn’t scrape me off! I’ll tell you, the reign of Jesus Paul wrote about is not some future political thing: it’s going on now. The culmination of that reign, as we’ve pointed out many times, is what? The victory over the last enemy.
The last enemy is death. When is that conquered? It is conquered when He comes and when death no longer rules over any of us, because He transforms us and gives us a body like His. He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.
Does that not mean that His reign is happening now, and it’s meant to put our enemies under our feet? The fact is that God has so connected Jesus with His church that when He uses the term Christ, He’s not just referring to Jesus Christ, He’s referring to the whole entity consisting of Christ and every single follower! We share a common life. We’re not the Head, but we are a part. (See 1 Cor. 12:12.)
Every single person here is meant to be an expression of the Kingdom of God within the confines of your world! And the more His government and peace operates in you, there are going to be people who will see that. There’s going to be life that will not only cause you to experience His peace, but it will flow out of you to others.
And there’s light. God will open the eyes of people, and they will see that. Most will be blind, but there will be people who will see it.
Do we have needs in this area? What about our homes? What about your home? What kind of a spirit is there? How much do we model what we tell our kids? Do they see the Kingdom of God operating in us? That doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect. But I’ll tell you, there’s going to be a heart that says, “Oh God, let Your Kingdom come in me. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, with respect to me.”
Of course, on a larger scale, it means the body of Christ in a functioning sense. You look into the scriptures and you see how the church began. It began with a tremendous infusion of the life of God’s Kingdom, the power that came upon that early church.
And it’s not that we seek the feelings and experiences so much as we seek the King Himself to come and be real with life-changing power. However He wants to express that is His business! He’s the King! But we need the same reality they had that enabled Peter to stand up and preach with such great boldness!
Remember what happened after that second sermon we have recorded in Acts 3 when the man was healed who had been lame all of his life. They hauled Peter and John before the supreme council of the Jews, and they wanted to know, “How did you do that? Who gave you authority to do this?”
Peter looked them in the eye and told them the truth: “There is no other name under heaven given unto men whereby we must be saved.” And they’re looking at the guy who had been healed, and they can’t say anything, but one thing they did do, they threatened them and said, “Don’t you talk about this anymore!”
So, they went back and reported all this to the people, to the church. Then what did they do? Did they cry and wail and say, “Call your congressman”?
No! They called a prayer meeting, and the first thing they did was to exalt and confess who Jesus was. They confessed the sovereignty of God. They confessed His purpose. “We understand,” they were saying, “why Jesus had to die. They killed him, but You ordained it! And now, Lord, behold their threats, and give us boldness!”
There’s so much in this. It’s not just, “Suck it up and be tough, guys.” This is, “We need divine infusion of life and power if we’re going to be what we’re supposed to be. This is the Kingdom. Oh God, we have been challenged by the kingdom of darkness! Let the Kingdom of God rise in us and express who You are, so that Your purpose is accomplished! Stretch forth Your hand.”
And what happened? There was a powerful outpouring of life upon that assembly of people. They went out and did the exact opposite of what the authorities said, and they couldn’t do a thing about it. It was just God’s power against the devil’s power.
Folks, that’s what we’re up against! We can’t debate people into the Kingdom of God! We are going to have to have the power! Paul wrote to the Corinthians, and one of the issues he dealt with was the fact that there were some people there who were getting a little bit arrogant, talking and expressing their own opinions.
And one thing he said was, “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1 Cor. 4:20, KJV). It’s not whose opinion is right, it’s who’s got the power. Paul said he was going to come and then they would find out who had the power of God, because God gives His power to people that operate under His rule, that are subject to the King, subject to His will and entirely engaged in what He wants. God, help us.
God, help us as a people. God, help us as a church. We are in far more danger than we think of simply carrying on the outward form of a legacy rather than having a measure of what we’re supposed to have.
How many of you think that what we have is all there is? No, of course not! So, what do we do about it? Do we not cry out to God and say, “God, You have given us so much that we have not even begun to tap into. Oh God, forgive our unbelief. Forgive those parts of us that pull in other directions where we just want our way and want to have a comfortable religion where we have just enough to get by, but we really want to live our own lives.”
Jesus talked about folks that were like that. He said, you can’t serve two masters. He goes on to talk about the fact that people of the world are all consumed with the things of this world. I need this. I need that. I’ve got to — that’s what drives their life.
He says, don’t you get it? Look at the lilies of the field. You think back to Solomon and all of his glory, the greatest king on the planet. And all of his glory didn’t compare to what God had invested in a lily! You think He won’t take care of you? Which of you by taking thought can add one hour to his life? If you can’t do this simple thing, why do you worry about the rest?
But what did he say to do? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all of these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV). Now that doesn’t mean simply going out and trying to collar people and make them like you. I’ll tell you, if they don’t see something that draws them to want to be like you, you had better leave them alone.
I want people, when they come in here, to feel this is not just people: Jesus is here. And He’s here to love me and to help me and to meet my needs right where I’m at. This isn’t conforming to a religion. This is meeting Jesus.
We’ve got needs in our lives. We’ve got needs in our midst. Is His hand short? Can He no longer do the things that He did in the book of Acts?
I want to strike a balance where outward miracles don’t become the central objective. The objective is Him being here, changing hearts, changing lives, changing us, and living in us to the point where that’s what people see when they encounter us.
They don’t see a soul that’s full of conflicts, they’re just out with this one, and there’s no peace in their heart because they’re full of fear. They’re so full of all these things instead of just Jesus, because if He is the center there’s going to be peace. There’s going to be peace that passes understanding.
We all experience things that make us anxious. I understand that; so does God. Of course, what is His prescription for that? If you’re anxious, don’t be anxious, but take your requests to the Lord with thanksgiving, and what? “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7 (KJV).
That’s His desire for you and for me today. This isn’t about coming here to feel good about ourselves and get a spiritual pat on the back. This is about saying, “Oh God, I need You and I want You. But I also get that You want me to want You, Lord.”
He’s not looking down His nose and saying, “What’s the matter with you stupid people?” He’s reaching out because He knows we’re stupid! He knows we don’t understand these things. He knows where we’re at. He’s been here! That’s why the throne is called a “Throne of Grace,” which means He’s very willing to give of Himself out of the riches of His grace to meet us right where we’re at.
And one of the interesting things to me is what He said to His disciples if you look at the Luke 12 version of that business about the lilies and Solomon and seeking first the kingdom. The very next verse says, don’t be afraid, “…little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you…” — to give you — “…the kingdom.”
Folks, this world is perishing under Satan’s dominion. God has opened a way out, but we’re going to have to come under the dominion and the rule, the loving rule, of the King. And my prayer for myself, my prayer for your individual life, for your home, for your job, for whatever your sphere of influence is, for this church, is that we will grow in our becoming that outpost of the Kingdom of God that He wants us to be. We want the Lord to be sending people to us and causing them to cross our path because He lives in us, and He knows that He can help them! We can’t! But He can.
I’ll tell you, there’s no limit to what He can do with a people that will stop merely practicing their religion and just come and say, “Oh God, advance Your kingdom in my life. I need You today. I need You to help me move forward. I understand it’s not going to happen all at once, but I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Oh, it’s okay, or come bless what I do, because I’m doing the right stuff.’ It’s, God, I need You to take me and mold me and make me into what You want me to be.”
He might even change the stuff that I do, but if it comes from Him, that’s okay. So many religious people — and I’m afraid we’re not immune to it — think they have God in a box. “We have defined the faith. Here it is. Come join it.” God is not in your box or mine.
He doesn’t meet people on the ground of their outward observance of whatever they think He’s saying. He meets hearts that are humbled and coming to Him in a contrite fashion and saying, “Oh God, I don’t know anything. I can’t do anything, but I come based upon Your heart and Your promise and Your provision for me. Just come and rule over this heart, and change me, and help me to live for Your will and not my own so that the Spirit that emanates from me, the atmosphere of my life, is more and more You and not me.”
I’ll tell you, that’s what Jesus was telling us to pray. I’m glad His kingdom will come one day in its ultimate form. But the need right now is for us to take this, make this personal and present tense. Your Kingdom come in me, now. Your will be done on earth — and in my earth — as it is in heaven.
The Lord knows how to take hearts that come to Him that way. Don’t be afraid — don’t be afraid — it’s your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. I pray that God will take this simple prayer that’s become such a form and help us to realize what we’re really praying, what we need to be praying, and how we need to be aligning our hearts with what He’s saying. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (NIV). And I’ll tell you, He’ll get the glory, won’t He? Praise God!