Why is it that people can know that something is bad for them and still do it? Or know something is really good for them and yet avoid it?
How come people often resist what is best for themselves at the cost of long term dire consequences?
Isn’t it true that people often choose the thrill of momentary, temporal pleasures at the cost of long term joy and peace? We see it all the time.
What’s going on in the mind and heart of someone making shortsighted choices like this?
How can anyone avoid falling into this kind of trap? How do you teach your children to avoid traps like these?
Our Wednesday evening Proverbs study is loaded with God’s good guidance on this subject. Everyone needs a Father figure who will embed the character of Christ in them. Everyone needs an internal governor, a police within, that will protect them from the lusts of the flesh that so easily devour good character and destroy a good future. All of us need the wisdom and discernment of God’s counsel and hearts and minds that appreciate and follow wisdom and godly understanding. What we all really need is the Lord.
In our group sessions this evening, we will look at John 7. Here we consider how our view of Jesus determines how He influences our lives. If we accept that Jesus is Lord, and we bow to His Lordship in our lives, He is to us the way, the truth and the life. He is to us the Bread of life, the living water, the Good Shepherd, the light of the world. He is the Word of God made flesh, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the resurrection and the life. He is our Savior, Redeemer and Lord. To those who know Him as Lord, Jesus is He unto whom we bow and submit our lives as King. He is the One whose love and grace saves us from sin and leads us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Jesus Christ is all this an much more! But for how long? How long does it last? Is it really worth it to give up all the temporal pleasures of sin and thrills of folly and adrenaline rush of worldliness? Is it worth it to endure the struggle of being a follower of Jesus?
Is there really and truly an eternal kingdom with a genuine “happily ever after?”
The Bible says absolutely and unashamedly, “Yes.” The price has been paid. Our King has already opened the way for us into eternal glory with Him by sacrificing His own body and blood. Jesus Christ is the Lord who redeems us by dying for us. He proved His love for you and I on the cross. He then, three days later, proved His power to deliver you by an empty tomb, by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ IS Lord. He is the King of the everlasting kingdom we seek. He IS the eternal, Son of God, our Prophet, Priest, and King.
Jesus Christ IS also, our brother. He took on flesh and blood and faced the temptations we face. He endured the struggles of life that we endure. He’s been there, done that, and carries the scars of crucifixion and death to prove it.
God planned this for us from before time and throughout history has revealed His plan to us in many ways. One of these is the prophets.
Daniel chapters 2 and 7 prophecy the coming of a kingdom that will never be destroyed. This is the kingdom Jesus came to build. It is being built today, and all of us here that believe and follow Him are part of that kingdom. Let’s walk through some of Daniel together to see what Daniel saw. This week we finished Daniel. Look at chapter 7.
Now, this chapter has been widely interpreted and has lots of unclear features that we might talk about and never resolve. But let’s let the clear things surface and see what we find.
I want to pay special attention to verses 13-14, 21-22, 26-27 with me: (read). What is this everlasting kingdom? To whom is it given? How will it impact the world? In chapter 2, Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and spoke of four kingdoms or world empires. History shows these to be: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Notice what happens during the fourth, or Roman kingdom: see verses 44-45. It was in the days of the Roman empire that God set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Jesus told us in Matthew 16 that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. My understanding of Daniel 2 and 7 is that Jesus Christ came to establish His kingdom, His church, and that this kingdom, under Jesus Christ as Lord and King is eternal. What you and I are part of in this church, is an everlasting institution. It was purchased by the very blood of the Son of God. The church is the living body of Christ, the family of God, the kingdom of His beloved Son. The fullness of this eternal kingdom is yet to be revealed. The ultimate glory in store for us is not yet fulfilled. We are now living in the last days. While we wait for His return we are to be seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, Saving the lost by His grace as we share His word, Serving like Him with His love as His hands and feet. This is our mission!
While here we are still to pray the Lord’s prayer:
Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name!
May your kingdom come! May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen.
This is a “seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first” prayer. Jesus, our King, himself taught us these words.
It may be one of the greatest misinterpretations and misapplications of scripture that the churches of Christ have committed when we turned away from teaching God’s people to pray the Lord’s prayer. All because of premillenial misinterpretations over the meaning of the kingdom. The error that Jesus did not establish His kingdom, but will come back some day and set it up for 1000 years, is matched by the error that we live in the fullness of the kingdom of God here and now as the church, so that we should not pray the Lord’s prayer. Is God’s will being fully done on earth as it is in heaven? No! Did Jesus not teach us to pray that this would happen? Yes! Then… if we are still to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, should we not be praying for it’s fulness to come so that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven?
Daniel reveals that during this earthly time there will be great trials for the saints. There will be great enemies of those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus echoed this exactly saying: In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Jesus also said, “All men will hate you because of me.”
This is part of the reason people don’t follow Jesus today. It can be very difficult, even dangerous physically. There are people who believe in Jesus, but will not confess Him for fear of what may happen to them by those who do not believe. People fear for their jobs. They fear for their reputations. They fear for their political positions. They fear what others will think about them. Fears like these keep us from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. When our fears overwhelm our faith, we bow to the wrong powers and authorities. Is Jesus Lord and King of your life? Or not.
What did Jesus do to earn your submission and obedience and loyalty? What did He do to gain your trust and secure your confession that He is Lord? Did He not do enough? What else does He need to do to establish your devotion?
Is Jesus Lord of your life? Is He your Shepherd? Is He your King? Is He the One you obey above all others? It’s one thing to commit to membership of this church or some other one, it’s another thing to commit to Christ as your Lord and King. Committing to Christ as King is perhaps the true test of whether we are in His kingdom. Jesus’ authority is not limited by what we do here in worship services. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth…” Paul said, “Whatever you do in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, given thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Jesus is King. He is Lord. All who do not surrender to His authority as King will find themselves condemned and cast from His presence when He comes again in His glory, bringing His own into that kingdom that we’ve been seeking all our lives. Everyone else is eternally lost. Listen to Daniel 12:2-4.
He’s the king! Bow to Him now. He invites you to come. Why would you not do what you know is good and right? Come to Him while the door of the kingdom is still open for you.