Kingdom Living

What are the most powerful and far-reaching words you can imagine? How about Some of your lives have been changed by the words “I do!” Hopefully not many have heard “Guilty as charged.” Some of you even raised your hand and said,

“I, [insert name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So, help me God ("Oath of Enlistment").”

I believe the most powerful statement we can make is the phrase before us today.  “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But we miss its importance because we don’t know what we’re praying.

What are we asking?

We are asking God’s Kingdom, God’s will, to break into our world and change is so that it would be more like the heaven in which we hope. Dr. Smedes at Fuller use to ask, “Who wants to go to heaven?” We were not all that quick to raise our hands because we knew he had something else to say. His next question was,

“Which of us would like to live in a world where there was no more bigotry? Would we like to be in a place where no child is left behind, where everyone is fed, where drive-by shootings don’t happen and where the world is wholesome, safe and everyone feels good?”

Of course, Dr. Smedes point was, if that is what you want then you want to go to heaven. Contrast this with a statement by author Evelyn Bence who quotes a British visitor as saying, “You Americans are so concerned about being happy as if our kingdoms were the focal point of God’s designs rather than God’s kingdom the focal point of ours (Meyer and Ogden 117).” In other words, do we want our will or God’s will to win out? It’s easy to say but what answer do our actions and choices declare to the world.

What is the Kingdom?

God’s Kingdom involves both the reign of God and the realm of God. God is King and he is in charge, even though, for now, it seems Satan is winning. In the musical Camelot, Arthur and Genevieve sing What do the simple folk do? Each of Arthur’s answer starts with 'so they say', I surmise, 'so I'm told', and finally 'I have it on the best authority' (Lerner). God doesn’t wonder what our life is like. “He became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14)”. “I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Mt. 28:20). God has more in common with Twain’s, The Prince and the Pauper than Richard Burton's Camelot. " For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). And “he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant…” (Phil. 2:6ff).

It’s not only his position as King but His kingdom includes the very realm, over which God exercises this Lordship. The Bible says that that eventually that will include a perfect kingdom for all of the creation. Revelation 21:1-7 describes a new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem coming from heaven,

And as it becomes reality, God declares the promise to Abraham is fulfilled, “they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God.” In verse 5 God declares “I am making all things new”. This new creation is a future certainty, yet for now, exercised within the world. The chief means of this kingdom coming is via His Body—the Church, and the individual lives that have been yielded to God’s control.

Consider this, when you pray this prayer you are asking for God’s reign to become fully exhibited in your life. When you pray this prayer, you’re telling God that your life can become His realm in which He rules. And when you pray and honestly seek God’s kingdom, you are also seeking His will.

What is God’s Will?

God’s Kingdom and God’s will are one and the same. In Hebrew parallelism is a primary way of teaching. You see this in the Psalms where they write something and then immediately restate or expand on their thought in the next line. So, when we read, in Psalm 1 that the righteous one is ‘like a tree planted by streams of water’ it immediately describes the tree as healthy by speaking of its fruit and leaves. Over 40 time ‘God’s will’ and/or “will of” God is used in the ESV version of the New Testament.

Have you ever had trouble figuring out God’s will for your life? Do a Google search for the phrase “Christian books on ‘the Will of God’” and you’ll get over 3 million responses. It is so much easier than this. Here are just a few of God’s will for us and the world.

·         Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Th. 5:18)

·        Abstain from sexual immorality (1 Th. 4:3)

·        Silence foolish detractors by doing good works (1 Pt. 2:15)

·        Those who do the will of the Father enter into heaven (Mt. 7:21)

·        Will of God demonstrates our familial ties to Jesus (Mt. 12:50; Mk.3:35)

·        The children should not perish (Mt 18:14)

·        The sustenance that brings growth to our Spirit (John 4:34)

·        The purpose of Christ becoming human (Jn. 6:38)

·        Everyone who sees Christ should have eternal life (Jn. 6:40)

·        In being changed we are able to ‘discern the will of God’ (Rm 12:2)

·        Jesus died and delivered us into God’s kingdom (Gal. 1:4)

These are some of the clear instructions the Bible gives us concerning God’s will. Consider Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians his concern was with sexual purity because since creation God’s will is for marriage to be the place in which sexual intimacy takes place.

Listen to how Paul instructs these believers, “pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God’s will involves praying and giving thanks in ALL situations, the comfortable ones and the uncomfortable ones. When the kids rebel, the diagnosis is terminal, and the car breaks down on the freeway. J.I Packer, in a CT forum makes the point by reminding us, “It needs to be said loud and clear that in the kingdom of God there ain’t no comfort zone and never will be.”

Doing God’s will marks us as Jesus’ sisters and brothers (Mark 3:35). It marks us to receive eternal blessings. The key to this is keeping Jesus’ command to Love God and Love our Neighbor. If we ask, “who is our neighbor” then it’s a fair bet we’re looking for loopholes, not opportunities.

God’s will chooses people to ministries. Paul is called by God’s will to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.  But it didn’t stop with the death of John. God’s call goes forth to His people, the church, and allows us the opportunity to respond as Christ would. To everyone, He has called His will is for them, [us] to be serving others. God’s will sets us apart for service.

God’s will is tested and proven in the lives that have been given over to Him totally. Listen to Romans 12:1-2,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Listen to Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message reads,

“So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

I will make you a 100% certain promise. If you keep those things that Scripture clearly lists as being in God’s will, the questions you have about God’s will for your life will fade into the background. It is my humble belief that Satan uses such mental meanderings to maintain us a safe distance from God and from those who don’t know Jesus. So that we can get lost in the minutia while missing what is right there in front of us.

Now here’s the best part of all of this. We can’t do this on our own. We can’t gut-it-out and live pure, focused lives in which we pray without ceasing and keep us on task apart from the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts. He makes us able to do it. His Spirit leads us to where we can pray and trust in him more. Let us be about the job of living for our King. Let us pray to our King. 

Works cited:

Lerner, Alan Jay. What Do the Simple Folk Do? 1991. Production.

"Oath of Enlistment." Army.mil. n.p., 2017. Web. 22 Sept. 2017.

Strauss, Valerie. "Probe: Widespread Cheating on Tests Detailed In Atlanta." Washington Post. n.p., 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2017.

"We Can Overcome." ChristianityToday.com. n.p., 2000. Web. 20 Sept. 2017.

Bibliography:

Ladd, George Eldon, and Donald Alfred Hagner. A Theology of The New Testament. Grand Rapids (Michigan): William B. Eerdmans, 2001. Print.

Ladd, George Eldon. The Gospel of The Kingdom. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011. Print.

Lerner, Alan Jay. What Do the Simple Folk Do? 1991. Production.

Meyer, Dan, and Greg Ogden. Leadership Essentials: Shaping Vision, Multiplying Influence, Defining Character. IVP Connect, 2009. Print.

"Oath of Enlistment." Army.mil. n.p., 2017. Web. 22 Sept. 2017.

Strauss, Valerie. "Probe: Widespread Cheating on Tests Detailed in Atlanta." Washington Post. n.p., 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2017.

"We Can Overcome." ChristianityToday.com. n.p., 2000. Web. 20 Sept. 2017.