Your Kingdom Come
Your Kingdom Come
Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, has ruled the United Kingdom for over sixty-five years. She is now by far the longest reigning British monarch. Each year, on Christmas Day, the Queen gives a message to the nation. In her 2018 address she said, ‘Only a few acknowledged Jesus when he was born. Now billions follow him. The message of Jesus is never out of date and is needed as much as ever.’
In a previous year, she said of Jesus, ‘Billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them.’
The Queen of the United Kingdom was pointing to another kingdom, a kingdom that Jesus came to establish, and which he will come again to rule. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10). The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God.
Cry out for the transformation of societyPsalm 10:12-18
‘The Lord is King forever and ever’ (v.16a). God is in ultimate control of the universe. Yet the psalmist also cries out to God: ‘Time to get up, God – get moving’ (v.12a, MSG). He prays, in effect, that God’s kingdom will come on earth. When God gets moving, ‘The reign of terror is over, the rule of the gang lords is ended’ (v.18b, MSG).
The psalmist prays in particular for various groups of people. He prays for those who are:
Homeless (v.18, MSG)
If you want to see God’s kingdom come and society transformed, these are the people you must be concerned about.
Lord, thank you that you’re my King. I lift up to you those who are in need… May your kingdom come.
Keep telling people about JesusMatthew 13:18-35
Every time you have told someone about Jesus and the gospel, you have ‘planted’ a seed in their heart. Not every seed you plant will bear fruit, as we see in the parable of the sower. Some seed never takes root (v.19). Other seed produces only temporary results. We can be drawn away from God by ‘trouble’ or ‘the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth’ (vv.21–22).
Yet if the seed grows well, each of these parables shows us that you can have a huge impact. ‘The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams’ (v.23, MSG).
When I look at the lives of some of those who did Alpha five, ten or fifteen years ago, they have had a massive impact. Some have even started ministries that have had a global influence.
Jesus tells many parables about the kingdom of God (the ‘kingdom of heaven’ is Matthew’s preferred form, following the regular Jewish practice of reverentially saying ‘heaven’ rather than ‘God’).
The kingdom is both ‘now’ and ‘not yet’. Jesus’ parable about the weeds tells us that there is a future aspect of the kingdom. At the moment, the wheat and the weeds grow together. One day there will be a harvest and a judgment. When Jesus returns the kingdom of God will come in all its fullness (vv.24–30).
Jesus goes on to say: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in a field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds come and perch in its branches’ (vv.31–32).
The image of birds in branches appears quite a few times in the Old Testament, where it symbolises people from all nations becoming part of God’s family (see Ezekiel 17:22–24; 31:3–14; Daniel 4:9–23). Jesus was reminding his listeners that the kingdom of heaven was not just for one nation but for the whole world.
There are many different types of planting. For example, one small group plants another and ‘it grows’ (Matthew 13:32). Then there is ‘church planting’. What is planted is often quite small – like a mustard seed. But when ‘planted… it grows’ (vv.31–32).
I look around at some of the ‘church plants’ from our local church and see the huge impact they are having on the area – ‘The birds of the air come and perch in its branches’ (v.32) – with people coming into God’s kingdom who are as unexpected as Gentile believers were to the Jewish nation. All over the world today we see the impact of ‘church planting’. As the church growth expert, Peter Wagner, has said, ‘Church planting is the most effective form of evangelism known under heaven.’
Jesus goes on to talk about the kingdom of heaven being like yeast that works its way all through the dough (v.33). Your influence can be enormous – in your home, family, school, university, factory or office. This is how the transformation of society takes place.
Lord, help me to plant as many seeds as possible as I seek to bring the good news of Jesus to our world. May your kingdom come in my city, nation and throughout the world.
Bow down before the King of kingsGenesis 36:1-37:36
Today we begin the story of Joseph. He was loved more than any of the other sons of Israel (37:3) and his brothers were jealous (v.4). Joseph was famous for his dreams, in one of which he saw his brothers bowing down to him (vv.7,9).
There is no doubt that God does sometimes speak to us through dreams – he certainly spoke to Joseph this way (vv.5,9). Through these dreams Joseph caught a glimpse of what the future held and what God was going to do with his life.
However, it is not always wise to tell everybody about the dreams and visions that you have for your own life. Joseph was aged seventeen (v.2). He was inexperienced. His mistake was to tell everyone about his dreams. This led to further hatred (vv.5,8) and to greater jealousy (v.11). His brothers said, ‘“Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?”’ (v.8a). They hated the idea of Joseph being their king.
Then he had another dream in which he saw them all, in effect, ‘bowing down to [him]’ (v.9). His father, wisely, simply ‘observed’ and ‘pondered’ over what Joseph had said (v.11, AMP). If you are unsure how to respond to a dream or a vision that you think may have come from God, the wisest response is simply to ponder it in your heart (see Luke 2:19).
However, Joseph again unwisely told his whole family. His brothers were even more jealous of him (Genesis 37:11). They plotted to kill him (v.18). Joseph was sold to the Midianites who sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard (v.36). Joseph came under another king of Egypt.
As a result of Joseph unwisely telling his brothers his dreams, he had to go through years of hardship and difficulty. God used all this to develop his character and prepare him for his life’s work.
The kingship we read about in the Old Testament is an anticipation of the kingdom of God in the New Testament. In today’s passage we see a variety of human rulers – from the kings and chiefs of Edom (36:31–43), to the Pharaoh of Egypt (37:36). One of the key messages in these closing chapters of Genesis is that God is ultimately above and behind all human rulers. This comes out particularly in the story of Joseph.
The twists and turns of the story can sometimes seem bizarre and random. Yet, throughout, we read of God’s involvement (such as in Joseph’s dreams), and we eventually discover that everything was working towards God’s purposes (50:20).
Joseph is a ‘type’ of Christ. In other words, his life foreshadows the life of Jesus (as we will see in the days ahead). But here at the start we see a contrast. Jesus also knew how God was going to use him, but he was very discreet about whom he told.
We also see in this passage the beginning of the similarities between Joseph and Jesus. One day, people were going to bow down before Joseph (37:7,9), and one day every knee will bow before King Jesus (Philippians 2:10; Revelation 19:4,6).
It is when you voluntarily bow the knee to Jesus now, and hold him as supreme King in your life, that you are less concerned about the outcomes of various power plays with other human beings that exist in your life (for example, the teacher, the boss and the government).
Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings, thank you that when I follow you I come under your kingship. I bow before you today and confess that you are Lord. May your kingdom come.
Jacob could do with a copy of The Parenting Book. Favouring one of your children causes problems. But God uses even our mistakes for his purposes.
Verse of the Day
‘You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry’ (Psalm 10:17).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.