Tag Archive: Kingdom of God



“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'” -Luke 9:62

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I’m sure on occasion poets look at the words of Christ and if they don’t admonish or worship Him, they must certainly salivate with envy. I half jest, but indeed Christ’s words are so beautiful they resonate throughout our lives and through all of creation. Yet, Christ came for much more than linguistical aesthetics. Christ’s words are remarkable in that, within such a phrase like this, there are found many different meanings and they hold untold riches for those who seek Him and the wisdom that is found in the Lord. This simple phrase spoken by Christ is anything but. It holds not only a warning for us, but also vast hope for the Christian in regards to their spiritual journey.

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"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," by John Martin. oil on canvas, c. 1852

Genesis Chapter 19 contains the infamous account concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two sister cities were the epicenter for all forms of detestable vileness and evil. The Las Vegas of its day. Or possibly worse. Maybe even Detroit (Kidding). Indeed, the cities were so disgusting that the Lord decided to purge them from the face of the earth forever. However, in Sodom there lived a man named Lot. Lot lived there with His family, and God, in His grace, decided to spare Lot and his family from the destruction that was coming, due in part to Lot’s sheltering of two angels He had sent into the city, and because he was indeed the nephew of Abraham, who was greatly beloved by God. Yet, there were strict conditions. The angels told Lot and his family in Genesis 19, Chapter 17:

“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Despite these pretty straight forward and urgent instructions, Lot’s wife looked back as they fled, and as the angels had warned, she was indeed turned into “a pillar of salt.” Explanations for how this could have occurred range from the natural, the miraculous, and even to ancient technology theories. Yet, the how isn’t as important as the why. Why simply by looking back did she perish and turn into a large pile of the mineral adored by horses the world over?

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Lot’s wife, who some scholars believe was named “Idis,” didn’t merely look back out of some fleeting uncontrollable curiosity, but rather she looked back on the city of Sodom with longing eyes. She saw the sinful city life she was accustomed to being razed to the ground and she felt sorrow and longing. Thus, becoming a large heap of a crystalline preservative was her fate. It is a little bit of a confounding situation, for though Lot was just, as 2 Peter tells us, one wonders why they dwelled in such a detestable place. Furthermore, by the mere fact she looked back, that alone suggests that “Idis” was indeed caught up in the sin of Sodom to some degree or fashion.

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Yet, be that as it may, this example gives us insight into one meaning behind Christ’s words, and that is, when we become a new creation in Him, we should not look back with desire to who we were before, for this can only lead to death. Why run back into the burning ruins of sin that the Lord Himself has delivered you out of according to His grace? You have been delivered, bought with a price, and the Lord has answered your prayer. Why fight the Lord and crawl back towards what would be your demise? A heart that longs for sin has no place in the Kingdom of God. Christ has granted us a reprieve that we may escape the destruction that is to come and even now it is ongoing, so on that date and time, which the Lord has set by His own authority, we may be long afar from that destruction which will cover the whole earth.

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"Sodom and Gomorrah," by Jan Brueghel The Elder

Secondly, realize that no matter where you were and what you were, your Lord has delivered you. You have been deemed worthy by grace to be covered in the blood of the Lamb, thus, again, do not turn around and regret your decisions or the bad choices of the past, for those too are forgiven. Such regrets are like a tether or lead, they may allow us to scamper about and even move forward somewhat, but essentially they still hold us firmly in place. Christ has cut these bonds from us and let not regret, nor worldly sorrow, keep you from partaking and drinking from the Cup of Life. Do not strive to place yourself back into bondage, but rather persevere. Do not tarry or grow weary, keep your eyes on Christ and the prize that is offered, for those who do, their paths will remain straight, but those whose eyes wander, so does the path of their plow, guiding them into rocky soil, danger and eventually death. May The Lord be praised that even wanderers such as myself can be set straight again by His grace and directed out of, and away from, the city of destruction.

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“Looking at His disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'”

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If one has ears to hear, let him hear. Many verses containing the word of Christ, and indeed throughout the Bible, contain some passages that may look curious or downright scary at first glance. Furthermore, they may seem to contradict the rest of what scripture says, though with closer inspection this isn’t the case. Although this section provided me with a lot of comfort, it also alarmed me somewhat.

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It seemed to say that to follow Christ I had to be in a constant state of misery. This obviously isn’t the case. When we look at the example of Paul for instance, we find that he was content no matter what he lacked or what hardships he faced. As he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions in difficulties.” Instead, he had a faith that produced a harvest of contentment and joy no matter what the circumstance. So what is Jesus saying here? Does it contradict the joy that Paul, the apostles, and we have? Not at all, for even Christ Himself tells us to rejoice and “leap for joy” in verse 23.

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"San Paolo," by Pompeo Batoni. oil on canvas, c. 1742

2 Corinthians 5:4 says:

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (See my Note, “On Being Swallowed up by Life”)

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Paul both groans and delights. Using these scriptures, what Christ really means in the aforementioned passage in Luke becomes clear. A Christian is not supposed to be void of laughter, or even prosperity. A Christian is warned in Romans 12:2 to, “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Though we are in the world we are not of the world, for now our eyes are focused on Christ. Our contentment rests not in the things of this world, and those activities and materials man chases after to pacify himself, but rather it rests on Christ. This being the case we ache, or groan, to be in our heavenly dwelling and away from the body and it’s meaningless desires, for we know the things of God are not momentary like those things people find “contentment” in within the world, but rather everlasting and more glorious than anything currently made up of the physical or based upon it.

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We should not find contentment or delight in mere things, for as all physicality will disappear to be renewed, so will those things based upon material. In addition, our happiness should not be dependent on man. If one constantly chases after approval of man, then he shifts more often than shadows. Such a person is deceptive to both himself and those he seeks approval from. Contentment in this is just as fleeting, for man’s support will vanish from you at anytime. The reliability of superficial friendships is a farce and often self-serving, ironically to both parties. As it is said, no one can serve two masters.

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Serve God, fix your eyes on His son and you will gain an eternal contentment and joy that is based on the everlasting, not given to decay and abandonment like the things of this world, but instead He who promises to carry you through all things. As Christians we will have heartache, hardships, and insults, but lo, how fleeting these things are, for when the physical as we know it now ceases to be, weeping will be transformed into joy, hunger to satisfaction, exclusion to inclusion, and a lack of possession into great riches within the Kingdom. To this we await and look forward to.

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“God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” -Romans 1:9,10

Paul’s prayers were extremely humble. In his prayers he prayed not only for what he desired, but he prayed that it would come to pass if, and only if, it were in accordance with God’s will. Paul’s prayers were additionally humble in the way that most of them regard furthering God’s kingdom here on earth.

When reading the accounts of Paul, rarely does he pray for himself, that is in a worldly way or for worldly things. That is not to say God is opposed to asking Him for our needs, quite the contrary, but Paul keenly understood motive and the role it plays in prayer. It is an important question to ask, what are our motives in praying a specific prayer?

Paul always remembered to give thanks. At times, I am granted discernment from the Lord to see the amazing work He is doing in people’s lives, and all too often they ask, but never thank. When I realized I was guilty of this, I was shocked that I could be so selfish and thats exactly what it shows, an overbearing focus on self. The Lord loves to hear from us, and like we feel appreciated when someone thanks us, recognize the Lord’s work in your life and thank Him continually as well. It is amazing how such a simple step can further your relationship with the Lord.


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” -Hebrews 12:1

Verse one begins one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture, Hebrews Chapter 12. Despite the subject matter of discipline and judgement, which can have the tendency to make people cringe, especially while they live in sin, it is one of the most beautiful passages in all the bible. Of course, that’s a personal conclusion and not made from any independent study. It could have something to do with the fact that this chapter is the one that led me to the Lord. Thus, it has a deep personal significance for me.

Nobody knows without a doubt who wrote Hebrews, for the writer does not identify himself. Though it was accredited to Paul in the past, he seems an unlikely candidate, due to the style of writing differing from his. For instance, Paul identifies himself in his letters, but Hebrews is void of any such attribution. Yet, there are a couple candidates, and it appears that whoever the writer of Hebrews was, was indeed a close friend of Paul’s. Verse one suggests this by presenting the allegory of an athlete, which Paul was a frequent user of. Paul’s metaphors found in his other books and the allegory used by Hebrews’ author are so similar, it seems logical that the writer knew Paul intimately. Scholars have narrowed authorship down to two possibilities, Apollos or Barnabas. Whoever it was, they wrote a book equal to that of Paul and of vast importance for any Christian. Not only does Chapter 12 remain one of my favorite sections of scripture, Hebrews remains my favorite book outside the gospels. I recommend it to anyone engaged in an in depth bible study.

"St. Jerome in His Study," by Albrecht Duerer. engraving c. 1514

Verse one brings to mind the familiar image of an athlete. The cloud of witnesses, refers to great holy men of the past who gave all for their love of the Lord. Their faith led them to obedience and by that obedience, the Lord’s will became known on earth. These witnesses prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ so that by and through Him we may be reconciled unto God.

Sir Isaac Newton and earlier John of Salisbury brought into the common lexicon the phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” What is meant by this is that progress is made by carrying on those things pioneered by what and who has came before. It is no different in Christianity. The Kingdom of God is not meant to be stagnant, but rather to be forwarded by those who belong to Christ Jesus. Thus, because we are made aware of this by the Spirit and the Word, we are called to remove those hindrances and stumbling blocks that prevent us from doing our part in moving the Kingdom forward.

Sir Isaac Newton

Christ opened up the Kingdom to and for us that we may be admitted by faith rather than by works and He being human for a season, can readily identify with man, for He was tempted by sin as we all are, yet remained in perfect obedience to the Father. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say He must have been tempted beyond all men, due to Satan’s awareness of His true nature.

We have a merciful God who doesn’t just reside in the heavens, but became man, and experienced all the grotesqueness of sin. At the same time He underwent the struggle we all encounter, but was victorious. Amazing as it is, we have a God who knows what it’s like to fight against sin and thus verses that hint at how easily sin overtakes us are not infrequent in the scripture. This should give us hope and we should praise God for this, that He can identify with even the most lowly of us.

Again, the athlete allegory is mentioned at the close of the verse. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Christians aren’t called to just skate by going to church just on Sunday’s and Easter, but to take an active role in the mission God has set out for them. This requires effort and perseverance, for it will not always be easy, for sometimes we will be ahead and other times behind. Yet, we are called to keep our eyes on the goal, and the prize that we will receive when we cross that finish line.

In life, we often convince ourselves that we have to run from something, like a bad circumstance or sin, but we rarely tell ourselves that we need to run towards something. In life, you are always running towards something. Don’t focus on what you are running from, for when running a race, a participant is discouraged from looking back, lest they slow down and stumble. Keep you eyes forward along the track that the Lord has set out for you and the magnificent finish line that marks the end, for it is there we will gather with Christ and all the other racers in the glorious winners circle that is promised to those who run and finish the race.

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