CHRISTMAS: On Earth As It Is in Heaven

Heaven-sun rays

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10)

 

When Jesus came to Earth as a babe in a manger, he brought with him a kingdom.

During his public ministry, Jesus taught more about his kingdom than he did anything else. Yes, he came to make it possible for us to be forgiven and go to heaven, instead of hell, when we die. But that was just the beginning of his purpose for mankind. The forgiveness and reconciliation he won for us is the doorway into his kingdom.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13).

What is this kingdom Christians ask for every time they recite the Lord’s Prayer? It is a heavenly realm that now exists on Earth–a realm people enter when they believe on Christ–a realm in which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

That raises another question: what is his will? Jesus demonstrated the will of God everywhere he went. He healed all the sick who were brought to him. He stopped storms from terrifying his disciples or keeping them from arriving at their destination. He reversed untimely deaths.

His every action showed that it was his will that people live long, healthy lives in a world that is safe for humans. If, as some say, it is not always God’s will to heal people, then Jesus went around opposing God’s will in a big way–because he healed all who came to him.

So if it is God’s will for us to live thoroughly blessed lives, why is there still so much evil and oppression in the world–even for believers?

In one of his parables, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to yeast which is mixed into dough. It causes the dough to expand–and expand and expand. Likewise, the blessed realities of life under Jesus’ benevolent rule gradually take over in those who pray, “Your kingdom come.” That is, if they understand and mean what they’re saying. And if they love and cooperate with the King.

If they do, then the will of God–for everything to be healthy and good–will be done in their corner of the earth, as it is in heaven.

A Healthful Climate

Yesterday the first white, flowery haze appeared in the pear trees outside my window. Won’t be long before the magnolias and redbuds and dogwoods turn the whole city into a garden. A glorious state of affairs for the eyes. But for some people, a time of sneezing and stuffy heads.

Arizona

You probably know people who have moved to Arizona or some other dry climate to escape spring and fall–and any other–allergies. Environmental factors really do make a difference. And that, I realized a couple days ago, explains a lot about miracles and faith.

For many of us, God’s promises to heal us of any disease are too good to be true. “Sure, we’ll be perfectly healthy once we get to heaven,” we say. “But here on earth, there’s sickness. And we have physical bodies that are vulnerable to diseases.”

Here’s a mind-blowing thought: Those who have believed on Christ as Savior and Lord are now in the Kingdom of God. Same bodies, new environment. Yes, we can experience complete health, here and now, by moving to the new climate of the Kingdom of God.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Col. 1:13).

In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray:

   “your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).”

His kingdom operates fully right here on earth, for those who follow the King. Dare to believe it.

Here’s a fun and profound thought from my pastor: the Kingdom of God has an upstairs and a downstairs. They’re both part of the same house.

A Win-Win Situation

Whenever new management comes on board, things change. The old rules no longer apply. That’s how it was when Jesus came saying, “. . . the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

One of the big changes Jesus announced in the Sermon on the Mount was that his followers should “. . . not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . .  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33 NIV).

Have you noticed there’s very little time to visit prisoners or study the Bible? Very little money to support an orphan or go on a mission trip? Why is that? It’s because we’re putting last things first. When we put “making a living” first, there’s never enough time, money, or energy for “seeking the Kingdom of God.” On the other hand, when you put the kingdom of God first—you can still pay your bills. How does that work??

Here are a couple stories: “Suzy,” and her husband “Jim,” decided to send their children to a Christian school. Only one problem—there weren’t any in their city. So Jim, a lawyer and realtor, devoted a year to such activities as acquiring property and getting all the necessary paperwork in order. Suzy wondered how they would live, with Jim using so much of his working time for this cause. She shouldn’t have worried. A steady stream of clients contacted Jim all year long, and Jim made more money that year than he ever had before.

One evening in the 1930’s, R. G. LeTourneau, a manufacturer of earthmoving machines, sat down to complete a design to be used the next day. He remembered he had promised to join some young people from his church at a gospel mission. After a great struggle, he went to the mission, returning at about ten o’clock. Rather hopelessly, he headed to the plant and sat down at his drafting board. . . . Within ten minutes “the entire design flashed before his mind’s eye, complete and perfect.” From then on, all his machines were equipped with this part. It made their power control unit far superior to their competitor’s.1

1Albert W. Lorimer God Runs My Business: The Story of R. G. LeTourneau (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1941), p. 58-61.

 

Making It Personal

  • Which creates a win-win situation: putting “making a living” first, or putting God’s business first?
  • What is keeping you from doing the things that really matter? Will you take a risk and put them first?
  • What did Jesus promise to those who put kingdom business first? Pretty amazing how that works, huh?
  • Would you say daily miracles come into play when we put God’s business first?

 

 

Occupied Territory

My first reminder of the military tension in Israel was seeing a police booth right out on a city street. Then there were the checkpoints before entering Jericho and Bethlehem. And the size of the weapons all the police (or were they military?) seemed to be carrying. They were not mere handguns, let me tell you.

It was a sobering reminder that this kind of tension has reigned in Israel, off and on, for thousands of years. It was worse in the time of Jesus than it is now!

At that time, Palestine—as it called then—was occupied territory. The conquering Romans held all military and political power. Their extensive building projects brought Roman culture to every section of the country. Much of it was offensive to Jewish faith. Roman soldiers could force any man on the street to carry their armor for a mile.  They ruthlessly crushed any sign of revolt, crucifying freedom-fighters by the hundreds and thousands.

It is not surprising that Jesus’ disciples believed he had been sent by God to deliver them from the Romans. In fact, one of the last questions Jesus’ disciples asked him, just before he ascended to heaven was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

But Jesus was a different sort of deliverer than Moses, Gideon, and Deborah. He came because the whole world was occupied territory—dominated by Satan. His kingdom had no visible capital, government, or laws, but had infected the human race with its lies, anger, and hatred—causing turmoil and suffering in every part of the earth.

Jesus paid a high price to re-establish God’s kingdom of peace, love, and goodness which had been forfeited in the Garden of Eden. It too is an unseen, spiritual kingdom, and its effects are tremendous!

For the kingdom of God is . . . a matter of . . . righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17). 

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”  

20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Luke 13:18-21).

Making It Personal

  • Have you ever considered which kingdom occupies your heart?
  • Would you like to know more about getting out from under Satan’s rule and entering the kingdom of God, who loves you and gave his life for you?