Sunday, May 24

Acts 1:3, 6:  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. ...Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The Lord wants us to gain a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God. It was the theme of Jesus’ teaching over three years, and the special focus of his final sessions with his disciples. As we study his teachings on the Kingdom of God we need to pay attention to major patterns and even the specific phrasing Jesus used, and then seek to imitate his way of thinking. On the one hand, he taught that the faithful will  enter  the Kingdom of God at the end of the age, when he returns in glory to destroy evil and renovate the created order. Entering his Kingdom means living with him in that ultimate, new creation in resurrected, immortal bodies. On the other hand, Jesus taught that God’s Kingdom  comes  into our world now, and the evidence of it is the righteousness, joy and peace that begin to be manifested in the lives of his followers. He taught us to pray for this to happen so that God’s will might be done on earth instead of the devil’s will.

What Jesus did NOT teach is that we build his Kingdom. If anything, his Kingdom builds us, just as Christ builds his Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Kingdom of God is not the same as the church in this age. God’s Kingdom is perfect, but even the best Christian congregations have many faults. Think of the Kingdom of God as the operation of the Holy Spirit who works through the Gospel and Baptism to awaken faith and obedience in those who respond to God’s call.

This is why Jesus redirected his disciples attention to the promise of the Holy Spirit when they asked him about the timing of God’s Kingdom. That same promise is still valid today, and the same encouragement: “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). As you mirror back to God the promises He makes in Scripture, expect your faith to be strengthened and his will to be done in and through you. As you sing worship songs and hymns that give God praise, glory and honor, expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20). 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that after your Son had made atonement for the sins of the world he then ascended to reign with you. Since you are pleased to give the Kingdom to believers everywhere, grant your power and authority to be manifested in answered prayers for your provision, forgiveness, healing, guidance, and deliverance, so that you might receive praise and glory and honor through Jesus Christ our Lord.