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Kingdom Access

The story of the prodigal son is interesting. The brother became angry at his brother’s celebrated return. Had he not been in the field at the time, would he have guarded the doorway to the house? Are you joyfully welcoming others into the Kingdom of God or restricting their access?

As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t you make room for others?

kingdom

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John 2:13-14

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.

Open eyes

As a yearly custom, Jesus celebrated the Passover at Jerusalem. He saw merchants selling and trading goods within the outer Temple area, the Court of the Gentiles. The merchants took up space where foreigners should have had access.

As followers of Jesus, it is important to become aware of what is keeping others to have access to God.

John 2:15-16

Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

That all might hear

Jesus states why he acted so harshly, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” It was not the physical force but the moral power Jesus employed that emptied the courts (Morris, Gospel According to John).

The Messiah’s desire was for everyone to have access to God”

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

John 2:17

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

Messianic revelation

The actions of Jesus remind the disciples of Psalm 69:9 and Scripture is once again fulfilled by Jesus. “The action is not merely that of a Jewish reformer: it is a sign of the advent of the Messiah” (Hoskyns, The Fourth Gospel).

Passion for the lost

Followers of Jesus can inadvertently keep others from access to God by looking down on outsiders. Christians critical of how God-seekers appear and act need to remind themselves of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work. Christ followers should reflect the fruit of the Spirit and accurately display the character of Christ. A life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control provides others with a living gospel witness.

The challenge

Make way for others to have access to God. Be passionate for others to experience the transforming work of God in their lives.

How can you provide greater access to the message of Jesus? Share your comments below.

Promised Persecution

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:10-12

persecution

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Persecution requires others

You cannot do this Beatitude; it is done to you. You can recognize your spiritual poverty, mourn over sin, hunger for God, but persecution comes from others and is not of your choosing.

A double emphasis

Jesus emphasizes the topic by re-stating it: “Blessed are those who are persecuted … Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.”

Choosing the Kingdom

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45-46)

Gaining access to the Kingdom involves being sold out for Jesus.

The cost of Kingdom living

Persecution is a price for living the Kingdom way. Jesus declares,

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18).

Your reaction matters

Reacting to persecution by turning the other cheek reveals Kingdom truths in real terms. Believers are blessed as they maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of personal persecution.

Persecuted for peacemaking

The Beatitude is coupled with peacemaking. Persecution sometimes comes when trying to encourage others to love God and their neighbor.

A coming persecution

“Blessed are those who are persecuted” is written in the future tense.

Persecution may not presently be occurring but can come at anytime.

Being a martyr

The New Testament word translated “witness” is rooted in martyrdom, suggesting total commitment. Many today are experiencing persecution, some giving the ultimate sacrifice.

The challenge

Be joyful in persecution. Persecution connects you with Jesus and the heroes of faith recorded in Scripture. (Hebrews 11) Rejoice, you have great reward!

How has persecution impacted your faith in Jesus?  Share your comments below.

Joyous Mourning

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matt. 5:4

mourning

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Seeing sin through God’s eyes

There is a blessing for those who mourn over sin and feel toward sin as God does – a heart-breaking sorrow, an unhidden sadness.

The cross

Sin, a product of waywardness and rebellion, came with dire consequences; namely, eternal separation from God and the Son of God dying a sacrificial death. The cross reveals the gravity of sin.

Responses to sin

Citizens of the Kingdom of God mourn over sin. Non-citizens respond to sin in multiple ways:

  • deny it
  • justify it
  • laugh at it
  • hide it
  • are apathetic toward it
  • are angry only if stopped
  • are sorry only if caught

Godly repentance and mourning over sin are reflected in Kingdom people.

Hating sin

Misers spend money. Like everyone else, they need food, clothing, and shelter. Misers, however, hate to spend money.
Similarly, believers are miserly about sin. Paul wrote,

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

Believers occasionally act waywardly, transgress, makes mistakes, stumble, willfully rebel. What is your response when this occurs in your life? Do you mourn? Do you hate sinning?

Citizens of the Kingdom of God recognize personal sin is offensive to Him.

Finding joy

Followers of Jesus possess a joy because of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

The word “Helper” is from the Greek word “parakletos,” signifying one who consoles or comforts, encourages or uplifts. The Holy Spirit helps citizens of the Kingdom wholesomely address their sin.

Joy in the morning

Mourning over sin is not joyful but opens the doorway to joy.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

The greater the grief, the greater the joy and the greater the blessing.

Defining Joy

Joy is peace, contentment, and satisfaction, no matter life’s circumstance. Happiness is conditional on events, whereas joy is a fuller expression of inward happiness based on Jesus.

The mourning of Jesus

He wept over Jerusalem, “And when he (Jesus) drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” (Luke 19:41) When crucified He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

People were blind to His identity, the long-awaited Deliverer that was revealing the Kingdom. He mourned, ascended to the right hand of God and was comforted (Acts 2:33).

His mourning is a model you can follow.

The challenge

Mourn over sin. Feel the gravity and sorrow demonstrated by Jesus, then experience unspeakable joy by obediently following Him.

How have you experienced joy by living rightly? Share your comments below.