THE KINGDOM OF GOD
by Sherry Shriner
What is the kingdom of God, and how do we enter into it
and stay in it?
The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are often interchangeable. Sometimes
they refer to heaven and sometimes they speak about earth. What exactly is a kingdom? According to
Webster's Dictionary it's:
1. A political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign.
2. The eternal spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ.
3. The realm of this sovereignty.
3. A realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant
Spiritual sovereignty of God and a realm in which one thing is dominant. A territorial unit ruled by a Sovereign. That jumps out at me. If we're part of His kingdom that means were a part of an area that is ruled by Him and under His sovereignty, His rulership. We are within a realm in which one thing is dominant and this realm is one of Kingship. The Lord is King and we are those who are servants of this king. This is kingdom living. Being part of a kingdom and being under a rulership. And it's voluntary, and in the Lord's kingdom it's because it's one of love. We serve the king because we love him, because we want to serve Him, because we've chosen to become a part of His Kingdom.
Many believe His Kingdom encompasses both the earth and heavenly realm. Does it? Yes. His kingdom is in heaven, and it encompasses those within the earth that are His. For those on Earth, it is WITHIN THEM.
ENTERING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: He came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again (from above). John 3:1-7.
Jesus is talking about an inner transformation. From being transformed from your flesh, into His spirit. No one can enter into the kingdom of God, except by this new birth,or what is called being born again of the Spirit. So how do you make that entrance initial entrance into His kingdom to become transformed by and into His Spirit? It's easy.
Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Confess what? That Jesus Christ, Yahushuah (His real name) is the Son of God. I John 4:15, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus/Yahushuah is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein," Mark 10:15. This means we enter as a child. As someone just born, and new. We have just become born of His Spirit and we are New in Him. We must learn step by step as He teaches and leads us, and as we progress we grow from a newbie/child to an adult, wiser in Him. We start off as a beginner, and advance slowly into a progressive complete fullness of His Spirit.
Getting into the kingdom of God is simple. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, confess and repent of your sins and ask for His forgiveness. And ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Renounce the sins of your past and turn away from them. Repentance means to turn away. Your taking off the old (former self) and putting on the new (self with His Spirit) now. You are acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and you are coming under His rulership and into His Kingdom.
Entering the kingdom of God is by obedience to the will of God, and the new birth is evidenced by obedience, not lip service. "Not everyone who say's to me, Lord Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven." "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," James 1:22
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU
"For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you', Luke 17:21b. How does His kingdom become a part of You? Within You? The kingdom of God is a Spiritual realm, attained by walking in the Spirit, and producing the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These are characteristics that we obtain from walking in His Spirit. And there's others. There's the Be-Attitudes that are results of kingdom living and walking in His Spirit, not suggestions. He says Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness's sake, blessed are those who are falsely spoken of evil against, to rejoice and be glad for our reward is in heaven. Those in His Kingdom are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. His greatest commandment is for us to show love. There is no love in discrimination. God is not a respector of persons. His kingdom is for all and open to all who will receive His Kingship.
The fruits of the Spirit, the be-attitudes, love for all, these are what His Kingdom is about. On earth His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. His Kingdom resides within us. When we leave earth, we will go to live in His physical Kingdom called Heaven. Kingdom living is both spiritual and physical. The spiritual and physical work together, for what is done on earth, is done in heaven. Matthew 16:19 says "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." They work together to produce the results of His Kingdom on earth.
Your Own Signature Relationship
On Earth, kingdom living begins with building a relationship with Him, hearing His voice, being fed and taught by Him in the Spirit as we seek Him in Spirit and in Truth. It's a unique relationship we build with the King that's an individual and personal relationship that just you have with Him. Each person in His Kingdom, has this own unique and individual relationship with Him. He knows how to relate to you, because your His child. We're children of the King. So when you build that relationship with Him, it's unique, because how He relates to you, isn't going to be the same as how He relates to someone else. Your relationship with Him, becomes your own unique signature with Him. Your hand written signature, is your own. It's unique to you, it identifies who you are, it's your name, it's your signature. Every person has their own hand writing. No two people write exactly the same. This is how it is with God. Your relationship becomes your own unique signature with Him.
Since you've entered His Kingdom, have you built a relationship with God? Do you seek Him daily for His voice, guidance and direction? How often do you spend quiet time just waiting to hear His voice? Do you talk to Him and then Listen for Him to talk to you? God speaks to our hearts. It's a two-way building and two-way communication relationship between you and Yahweh. That is the way that you will be able to walk in love and the fruit of the Spirit. He wants to talk to you. He has a lot to say and He loves just being a part of your daily life. When you take time to get to know Him, you'll learn who He is and what He cares about. You don't always have to be in a silent mode of prayer to talk to the Lord. I often talk to Him when I'm driving, or I'll go outside and stare up at the sky, or talk to Him while I'm doing dishes, practically anytime. When you pray or talk to Him, stop talking and start listening. Listen for His voice speak to your heart and spirit. Jesus doesn't speak to our heads, He speaks to our hearts. He can't speak if we're always talking, and we can't hear Him if we're not listening. Talk and Listen. The basic components of relationship building with anyone, especially the Lord who matters most.
As you begin to hear His voice and recognize Him, and start to build a unique
signature relationship with Him, His heart will become your heart, you
will begin to beat as one. To know His heart's desires, for the
church for the lost and dying world, for the hurt, the poor, the hungry,
the destitute, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the prisoner, the homeless. All
those with needs. He cares about all of these things. Not church
programs and building bigger churches, and getting them full. Listen to
the heart of God, you will come to know Him and to know the love He calls us
to, and you will be filled with the fullness of His Spirit. You will become more of Him as you become less of yourself, and you
won't be able to get enough of Him. He will dominate who and what you are.
What is being in the wilderness? The term wilderness here is symbolic of where He takes us after we are born again unto Him. Most people get saved and head to a church to learn about Him. Yahweh desires for us to receive guidance from His shepherds, but He also seeks for us to go into the wilderness with Him where He can reveal Himself to us and show us who He is on a personal level, and teach us His truths. Being in the wilderness is an experience, not a sentence. Wilderness living is symbolic of the children of Israel who went through the wilderness for forty years because they refused to obey God, and to love Him above all else. He proved over and over He was God, and there is no other. Yet many of them continued to make idols to worship and worship other gods (as we put idols in front of Him and let the distractions and cares of this world keep us from Him, our material possessions, entertainment, sports, etc..become the things we place before Him, they become our idols), many were in complete rebellion and in opposition to the living God. Many don't realize they are putting their church in front of Him, and they replace building a relationship with Him with their church. Many let their churches teach them instead of letting Him take them to the wilderness. They allow the church to replace Him. How will you know if you're being fed truth or error from the churches, if you don't know what truth is? Church should reinforce what you already know, and it allows for fellowship with other believers, and be a time of sharing and praising His name. But it should never become your only part of relationship building with the Lord.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me," John 10:27. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" John 10:4. "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep" John 10:7 Jesus is the shepherd and we are His sheep. His sheep know Him, they know His voice, and they follow Him. Frustration sets in for many of those when they jump ahead of Him and then feel alone. They get frustrated because they're eager to jump and run ahead. Jesus says He's the Shepherd....not you. HE'LL LEAD YOU. So don't try to jump ahead and lead Him. He doesn't need your help and when you jump ahead your out of His will. And that's what leads to personal frustration. This is part of Kingdom living.
We aren't perfect. We sin and make mistakes. Jesus says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" I John 1:9. If you sin, confess it, turn away from it, and keep seeking Him. There's power and healing and strength and encouragement praying with each other as well, Jesus says "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth (accounts) much," James 5:16. Those in His Kingdom need to pray together and for one another. There is strength in prayer. There is power in prayer. There is healing in prayer. There is forgiveness and restoration in prayer. And there is peace in Him knowing He hears our prayers. We must learn to cut out all sinout of our lives and the works of the flesh. Inevitably it can be a painful process, depending on how we yield to and cooperate with Him.
. We are to walk in a spirit filled life and not to let sin dominate us. We're not to jump ahead of the Shepherd, and we're to show love to all those around us so that they can see the love of the Father through Us. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.
Living in the wilderness is a time of preparation. A place where we go to put off the old and put on the new. To get rid of the sins in our lives and learn to seek Him in spirit and prayer. It's where He perfects us to become more like Him, often referred to as sanctification. It's where we learn to hear His voice. Some people never even go to the wilderness, some never get out of it, and some are in it for a long, long time. True believers of Yahushuah will have the evidence of Yahweh's Holy Spirit within them and they are in the wilderness being taught and strengthened by His Spirit.
Learning to love and show love to all
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" I John 3:11. Love is important in the Kingdom of Yahweh. In fact, it's the greatest commandment He gave to us, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is your neighbor? The person living beside you, in front of you or behind you. Your friend, your associate, people you know, people you don't know you. It's anyone, it's everyone. We are to love others more than ourselves. He's telling us that we should put others first and show love at all times.
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" John 15:12-14. There's no greater love than laying down your life for your friends as Jesus did for us. He laid His life down for His friends. We are His friends if we do what He commands us to do. If you want to be in the kingdom of God, then you must be His friend. We're not His servants, we're His friends who serve in His Kingdom, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord (boss) doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 15:15.
Why does citizenship depend on love? Because if we don't learn to love, we can't claim to know Him. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" I John 4:7,8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1Jo 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. As He is, so are we. If you're not as He is, you're not His, just fooling yourself with lip service. We must become as He is.
Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is]
the first commandment.
And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Actions speak louder than words. That's why Jesus tells us to not to love in word, but in deed and in truth ( I John 3:18). Don't just give lip service how you love everyone then turn around and speak or do evil things against your brethren or others. Your actions speak louder than your words.In the kingdom we must go through much trial and suffering, so that when we come out we will come out as gold tried in the fire.
Forgiveness is power. Most people don't realize the power in forgiveness. Yah'shuah tells us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and to forgive others when they hurt us or do something wrong to us. If we dwell on the pain caused, or the hurt, we allow anger and bitterness to take root in us. These aren't just adjectives, there's a whole demonic host associated with the terms, which are also names and ranks, of anger and bitterness. And if you are going to hang onto these feelings, trust me you're going to get a lot more than just those feelings. Anyone in deliverance or spiritual warfare has some understanding in how the spirit realm works. We can have complete victory through Jesus at any time, but why bother to have to have a reason to deal with it to begin with. Don't give Satan and his hosts legal grounds to attack and oppress you. They know perfectly well what they can and can't do, even though you may not. Jesus always tells us things for our own good. We just need to listen to Him so we don't have to find out the hard way all the whys.
By forgiving others we aren't giving the evil forces grounds to attack. We are staying in love and love is light which destroys darkness.
The POWER of Prayer
Prayer is truly the backbone of His kingdom, and intercessory prayer and intercessors are the warriors of His strength so misunderstood by many today. Many misunderstand the real power of prayer or intercessory prayer. There is so much Power in PRAYER because it builds and it destroys, it sets up and it tears down, it moves the kingdom of heaven and destroys the gates of hell.
Prayer is POWER. While we're in the wilderness we learn much about prayer because we're always seeking Him, but don't neglect to put Power in Motion, Words in Motion that can affect the little things in life from the small things to the huge. Pray for others, pray for the sick, the homeless, the widows, those in difficulty, churches, our country, our president.
Don't ever think you're prayer wouldn't mean something. It means everything. It puts POWER in the Kingdom of God and within the spirit realm to produce and bring forth results.
Coming out of the wilderness
Sanctification, the process of becoming more like Him, putting off the old and putting on the new, learning who He is, learning how to hear His voice, learning the truth of His Word and Kingdom, becoming as one with Him. This is the wilderness experience. If you're tired of wilderness living then you're probably complacent in your relationship with Him and not moving forward in it. The Lord doesn't force Himself on us. You have to seek Him through prayer to teach you the truth in all things, to teach you who He is, to help you become more like Him, to teach you how to walk in the spirit. You must seek Him while you are in the wilderness so He can lead you through it, and then out of it. I'm talking daily prayer and seeking Him, only Him, replacing your cares of this world with Him. Being focused completely on Him. The keys are persistence and focus on Him.
When you come out of the wilderness you will be fully equipped to serve Him in truth and in spirit. You know His voice, you have a rock solid understanding of who He is and how He works. Your foundation is firm and cannot be moved. You have the power and authority of His kingdom within you that He can use to bring glory and honor to His Name. You have your own signature relationship with Him and you are ready for battle or service in His power and authority. You've learned not to jump ahead of Him but to let Him lead you. Your hearts beat as one, you see with His eyes and you hear with His ears. You've become as One.
He says, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels" Rev. 3:5. There is no license to sin. There is no 'once saved always saved' if your name can be blotted out of the Book of Life. How can we feel free to sin when He's commanded us to be Holy? "Be ye Holy For I am Holy"
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar" I John 4:20a. If you're not showing love and walking in love, God's greatest commandment, then you're a liar and not one of His. If you're not abiding by His commands and seeking Him, and allowing Him to sanctify you and giving up your worldly deeds of the flesh, then you're not His. True repentance is turning away from sin and the deeds of the flesh and seeking Him in Spirit and in Truth. It's a process, but as long as you' re in the process you're His because you're seeking Him. If you're not even trying, if you're not ferverently seeking Him, how can call yourself His? Don't be deceived. There's no room for complacency in the Kingdom of God.
Sitting on the sidelines
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth (driven by impulses, fly in every direction, cut to pieces) abroad," Matthew 12:30. The word "against" is kara denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower. Jesus said He that is not with me is against me, meaning they are in motion away from Him, from the higher to the lower. There's no sitting still. Your in motion for Him either going up toward Him or moving away from Him.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins there were some caught unprepared and left out of the wedding feast. Notice the groom didn't stop to tell them "that's ok, I'll wait for you to get oil for your lamps." No, he left without them! They became complacent and ended up missing out on the event they had been waiting for!
Kingdom Living is being active in good works. In being charitable and helpful, and fulfilling whatever calling He has for you. There's no time to sit and watch everyone else when you yourself will be accountable for your time spent. If you're in or out of the wilderness He will lead you. If you're neither, and sitting on the sidelines looking in, you're in danger of being left behind for not following His orders, you are in opposition to Him. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," James 1:22.