The Kingdom Arrives Quietly

wordswag_1516278174219Do you live with an awareness of the Presence and rule of Christ Jesus in your life? Is Jesus present and active today in your life? That is the key to knowing the promise of ‘abundant life’ that is the birthright of those who know Him. John 10:10 is not just a slogan or for the spiritual elite. It is an offer for me, for you. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV) That kind of existence – a  rich, satisfying, free, hopeful, purposeful, and meaningful life – is found when we know Jesus beyond our intellect, when the Spirit makes the message of the love of God our possession.

Luke tells a story that fills me with wonder, one that shows us how an encounter with Jesus can radically change us.  “One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” (Luke 7:36-39, NLT)

Amazing, scandalous, isn’t it? A woman ‘who had lived a sinful life’ meets Jesus, experiences a powerful love, and forgets herself completely! She was likely a prostitute, probably because of some tragedy of the past that had reduced her to that kind of life to survive.  Wherever she went she was an outcast, except to the men who met her in the dark. She did not get invites to public events, she did not met with approving looks in town. Then she met Jesus. I wish we knew more of their interaction. What did He say to her? Had they met before? Had He looked at her unlike any other man, seeing her, not just her body? However it happened, she experienced the love of God which was the reason for Jesus’ coming to earth and that love changed everything.

I often think of the ‘Kingdom of God’ only in terms of power encounters with evil;  healing, being set free from torment of evil, overcoming some fortress of oppression. But this story shows me another kind of arrival of God’s kingdom, a stealthy revelation of love, a heart thing that changes everything about an ordinary life. Do you know that God loves you?  Has an experience of faith allowed the Good News of that love to set you free to live a whole new kind of life, one centered on knowing Him?

Pause here for a moment and pray something like this: “Spirit of God, use the Word to open my eyes to the Truth, to go beyond my mind, and into my heart with a revelation of Your love.”  Now, read on.  “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:6-11, NLT)

God is our advocate, desiring good for us. He pursues us, even while we are in rebellion. Do you believe that? Will you receive it without excuse or rationalization?  “God loves ME!”  He does not just tolerate me, dutifully care for me. He LOVES me! And, He loves you, too.  “For God loved (Jerry) so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that (Jerry) who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT)  Go back and read that passage substituting your name for mine.  There is no truth that the Evil One wants to hide from you more than this because, as we see the story of that sinful woman, when the Kingdom comes with the revelation of the love of God, everything is different.

I close these thoughts today with a passage is on my top ten list of Scripture passages. As you read it, know that I am praying for you – that the love of God will wreck your pretensions, tear down your self-righteousness, and set you free to live “life to the full.”

Here is a word from the Word – “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:14-20, The Message)

____________

Good Good Father

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

 You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am
It’s who I am
It’s who I am

 I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word
You are perfect in all of Your ways\
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

 Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

 Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett

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