The Lord woke me this morning with this verse. As I was groggily coming out of sleep, I was aware of a depth of meaning that I have never been taught or even contemplated before. There was an awareness of great darkness concerning how we seek the kingdom. We do not possess the power and manifestation of God in our midst, because we are approaching God backwards. We accept Jesus as our Savior and are then told that we have it all; we have arrived and our place in heaven is guaranteed. Christians today accept what they have been taught as being the truth. We believe that we possess understanding, while what we have actually been fed is a mixture; of truth and the imaginations of men.
When we fully grasp the Words of Christ, we will be changed. As babes in Christ we cannot discern between the doctrines of men (traditions, denominational teachings) and what God is really saying. It takes the Holy Spirit to open our understanding, to reveal the mysteries of God. When a believer begins to hear the Lord within, and tells others what he is seeing, those within the church will stifle and come against the message if it is contrary to their doctrines. "Oh, that can't be God, it isn't in line with what we believe." This happens all too often. I know that years ago the Lord placed a hunger within me that was not being satisfied. I was saved and spirit filled, but I knew that there was more. A leader within the church told me "I had all there was, I should be helping others get to where I was." I remember thinking, "why should I help anyone get to where I was, when I was miserable?" What is lacking in our pursuit of God?
Multitudes come with sincere hearts, and try to do all that they are told they should. They attend every service. They give their time and money to support the work of the church. They do all that they know to do, but they only grow to a certain point and then their spiritual life seems to hit a plateau and stagnates. What happens is that we accept what men tell us, rather than continue to press in to hear from God for ourselves. We get our eyes (our center of attention) on our leaders and all the programs they create to keep their parishioners busy. This is all done under the banner of "The Lord's Work," and few question that it may or may not be the LORDS Work. Subtly our growth is diverted from growing spiritually in a personal relationship, to building up the church. Our priority becomes bringing in new members, witnessing, testifying, and attending lectures and seminars. On the outward appearance this appears to be good. It certainly is the accepted norm. When we don't feel the presence of God in our service, we just sing a little louder, tell a few more gut wrenching stories, work the people up emotionally and tell them they are right on track; God will bless them for their faithfulness.
Jesus Christ saved us: no one else. He commanded us to leave everything we have ever known and follow Him. Jesus never said join a denomination and build big church buildings. Jesus said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God. In fact, the Gospel of Christ is based upon the Kingdom of heaven; what it is and how to enter into it. We cannot afford to be diverted into 'doing good works,' and miss out on growing into the fullness of the stature of Christ. We cannot please God and man. The church today is not looking for (expecting or preparing for) what God is about to do. Jesus is coming back to Judge his Body (church). He is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle. Even though Jesus talked about the Kingdom constantly, the Kingdom of God is the least understood concept in the church today.
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth (executes) the will (determination, purpose) of my Father which is in heaven. Many will be shocked when they discover that they cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. What is the difference here? The difference is doing what some man wants, and doing what God wants. To know the difference, we must know God. We must be able to hear God, and when we hear we must believe and obey.
If we would seek first the kingdom of God, we will do so from our spirit. The people of old desired to see the Kingdom of God established in the world. Initially they followed Christ because they hoped that He would rise up and overthrow the Roman occupation they were suffering under. God had a much bigger plan, but they could not comprehend it. When Jesus did not liberate them the way they wanted to be liberated, they crucified him.
Will we enter the kingdom of heaven? Are we willing to become as a little child that we might enter? Luke 18:17 Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. The nature of man hasn't changed. We are earth bound; our focus is on those temporal things around us. We walk in pride and seek after wealth and power, even within the church. To become as a little child is a foreign concept. How does a child approach life? A child does not have preconceived ideas. A child is open and eager to learn knew things. A child is unpretentious; they are not puffed up with themselves. They are simplistic in their approach to life. Children know that they do not have all the answers; they are full of questions. We must come to God as a little child, if we are to have any hope of entering into the kingdom of heaven. We must seek first the kingdom of God. To seek first means to give the kingdom preeminence in time, place, order and importance. If we will do that, God will in turn give us his righteousness; his character and justification. The admiration, regard, esteem of other men will not get us into the kingdom of God. Only those who are righteous, in right standing with God, will be allowed to enter the kingdom.
Many Christian denominations today teach the Rapture. I grew up believing this doctrine, and assumed that the Apostles of old held the same belief. I will never forget my reaction when I was told that there wasn't going to be a Rapture as I had been taught. It was like blasphemy. I was even more shocked however, having been raised in the church and fully indoctrinated with all of its teachings, when I could not find the word rapture once in the entire Bible. It has great appeal to the fleshly nature of man. The Book of Revelation is the most misinterpreted and fear inspiring Book in the Bible. Yet it is all about the Revelation of Jesus Christ, as He Is. What the Rapture teaching does is prevent believers from pressing in to a personal relationship with God. It proposes that believers will be caught away before the great tribulation comes. Man can find verses or parts of verses to support any doctrine or theory he can devise, if he looks hard enough. When one is initially presented with a predetermined interpretation, it is very easy to read the scriptures used to support this teaching and interpret them accordingly. Just because we have the ability to do this, it does not change what God has said. It merely changes our comprehension of what God is saying. The world today is full of fear. Every nation is crying peace, peace, when there is no peace. What could be more appealing than a teaching that tells us we just have to be saved, and we will be able to escape God's judgment of the world.
Acceptance of this teaching has subtly allowed the church to overlook much of what Jesus really said. Every denomination has their pet excerpts, but few are taking to heart all that Jesus commanded. Matthew 13:41-43 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend (cause disobedience, sin), and them which do iniquity (wickedness); and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Today men are obsessing about the end of the world. We have movies depicting Armageddon and being Left Behind. The basic motivation behind them is fear. When one reads all of the scriptures used to support this teaching in their full context, one sees that it is the wicked who are removed, while the righteous are left behind. Jesus is not coming back to destroy the world. He is coming to destroy all of the systems of fallen man; all the governments, politics, and religions that man has built are going to be brought down. Christ is going to establish the Kingdom of God upon this earth, and it will have one ruler, Jesus Christ. There will be no more churches, no more denominations, because every one will have a personal knowledge of God, from the least to the greatest.
It is imperatively important that we as believers grow in a personal relationship with God. We are not going to be caught away, but are going to walk through what is coming. It is fearful for the ungodly. But for those who believe (all the words that Jesus said) and are walking if fellowship with God, there is nothing to fear. Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Having been born again, we become members of God's household. It is then our responsibility to grow up in that household. To serve God in an acceptable manner; to reverence God and fear disappointing Him. If we spent half as much time seeking to please God as we do trying to please men, we would all be righteous.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The kingdom is not found in ordinances and rituals; it is manifest in our being brought into right standing with God, experiencing peace in our inner man regardless of our environment, and realizing the joy that comes from living by the dictates of the Spirit (Holy Ghost) instead of the flesh.
1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. It is not enough to talk the talk, we must walk the walk.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. The mystery of this is that it is hidden from the wisdom of the world, and cannot be comprehended by the wise of this world. How can the kingdom of God be within you? God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. There is so much more to be found in our Christian experience than we are walking in. Light dispels darkness, and when the light that is in you is Jesus Christ the darkness will be banished forever. Seek the Lord with all your heart. If we will do that, everything else will fall into place.
Romans 13:14 But put ye on (in the sense of sinking into a garment, clothe with) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision (forethought) for the flesh (body), to fulfill the lusts (longings, desires) thereof.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (discipline, instruct, teach), and scourgeth (flog) every son whom he receiveth (accepts, admits, delights in). (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Do not look to the outward, but look within your own heart. Are you fellowshipping with the Lord? Is your inner man growing (spiritually)? If our focus in on a man, an organization, or a movement, we will miss the opportunity before us. We are called to follow Christ. This generation has the rarest of all opportunities. We can participate in the restoration of this world back to God. God is going to do it, with or without us. Diligently search the scriptures for yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your understanding. Now is the time to seek the Kingdom of God. It must first come within the hearts and lives of believers, before it will be made manifest in the world we live in. The enemy knows that he has but a short time, and is working overtime to deceive believers. To avoid the deceptions that are prevalent in the world today, requires walking in close fellowship with the Lord, being led by the Spirit and dying to our flesh. Read for yourself the first three chapters of Revelation. Consider the warnings and exhortations the Lord gave to the churches. The seven churches are representatives of all churches. Take especial note of the promises made to those who overcome. Every believer can be an overcomer, the choice is ours. We ultimately determine who and what we will believe. Our lives evidence the choices we make. The world is watching and waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God. When they look at you, will they see God or religion? May we all seek the Lord as never before. May we submit to the chastening of the Lord, and be conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.