How Does God’s Kingdom Come?

The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is not the same thing as any of the nations of the world, it is not even precisely the same as the Church. The Kingdom of God is wherever Jesus reigns as King, chiefly in the hearts of believers. In a post-Christendom world we are to do what we should have been doing all along, focus on bearing the light of Christ.

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The Heavens Declare

Did you see the “Christmas Star” a few days before Christmas? Some have speculated that a similar astronomical event may have been what the wise men saw after the birth of Jesus. Is this possible? Probably not. I like to think that God caused whatever it was as a supernatural event to announce the birth of his Son! “The Messiah is here!” was literally written in the sky!

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Meet the Word

John designed his Gospel to introduce people to Jesus and to help them “believe that [he] is the Christ, the Son of God” so that they can “have life in his name” (John 20:31). To really know someone, you have to know their story. How do you introduce yourself to someone you have never met before? What do you say about yourself? What do you want to know about that new person? What is their name? Where do they come from? Who are their people? What are their interests? The prologue to the Gospel of John answers these kinds of questions as it introduces us to Jesus, the Word.

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The Weary World Rejoices!

When things feel hopeless, we need a source of hope. I don’t mean simply saying, “I wish things were better.” Rather, we need something that makes us say “things will be better.” We can find this hope in something that has happened which points to something that will happen. One night, more than 2,000 years ago, hope entered the world in the form of a baby.

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God’s Favor

When a new president chooses his cabinet members, he has to consider the experience of the candidate, their reputation in the political community, their background and any scandal that might result from their selection, and the likelihood that Congress will confirm their appointment! This is now how God chose King David, nor is it how he chose Mary to be the mother of his Son Jesus.

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Decreasing in Order to Increase

It is my prayer for each and everyone of you that you might come before Jesus this week submitting your hearts, lives, and minds to His scrutiny and care. Let Jesus show you where you are missing the mark and need to repent and turn from your sins. Let Jesus show you where you need to be set free from unruly emotions that are not steeped in truth. Let Jesus show you faulty attitudes you have that need to come under the gracious submission of Jesus to be made more like him. And may you know the gracious love of the Father that calls us back and gives us another chance at life.

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Preparing a Highway

In Isaiah 40:3-4 the prophet declares “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” What does this preparation look like? What is the highway for? It turns out that preparing the way of the Lord is not about highway construction at all but about the inward preparation of repentance.

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Awake and Alert

The Gospel readings over the last three weeks have all dealt with the return of the Son of Man. In connection with these passages, we have talked about how we should behave right now to prepare for the return of Jesus. It is important to grow in holiness and discipleship, be diligent in telling others and spreading the kingdom, and care for the poor, the outcast, and the marginalized. Today the instruction is not about something to do, instead, it is a way of being. In the Gospel of Mark (13:33), Jesus says that we should stay awake waiting for the return of the Master. This is attentive waiting, like a watchman or a door keeper.

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Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

This Thanksgiving is likely to be very different for you than the celebrations of years past. You may still have turkey, and stuffing, and cranberries, and pumpkin pie, but you may not see as many people from outside your household, if you see any at all. Not only that, you may find your plans changing at a moment’s notice! This is why Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 – to “Give thanks in all circumstances” is particularly poignant this year.

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Three Kings

Even the best and most revered of Kings in this world are fallible and sinful. The memory of their failings sometimes fades over time even as the memory of their virtue grows. Jesus is different. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Psalm 95:3-5). Jesus cared deeply for those who were poor, weak, or vulnerable. He chose a humble birth to common parents. His early years were spent as a refugee living in a foreign land. He chose fishermen and outcasts as his band of disciples. He healed those who were sick, even touching the unclean. Finally, he cared for you in your spiritual sickness and poverty. Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9).

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