Friday, November 22, 2013

Left Everything. Receiving More.

The third of three posts on the Kingdom being "Difficult to enter"...

Memory Verse
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age..."  Mark 10:29-30a (NIV)

"We have left everything to follow you!"  Peter sounded pretty upset.  Jesus had just told Peter and his fellow disciples that it would be easier to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom.  He had gone further to say that with man alone it was impossible; only God could make a way.

There's no doubt that entering, experiencing, and extending the kingdom of heaven to earth is difficult, especially for us today.  Why?  Because most of us have become so dependent on ourselves.  We treasure being self-reliant and independent.  In that sense, we have become very rich, and we know what Jesus said about the rich entering the kingdom.

God says that for us to enter, experience, and extend the kingdom of heaven to earth, we must be dependent on Him.  God knows our need for Him, and so He makes a way for us.  Entering the kingdom becomes possible only when we choose to be born anew by embracing Jesus as our King.  We freely give up our old sinful way of living because we have found a much better, more fulfilling, way.  Then God gives us the great gift of His Holy Spirit to live in us so that we can experience the kingdom of heaven every day.  And He allows that same Spirit to work through us so that we can be obedient to His high calling and extend the kingdom of heaven to others.

Acknowledging that it is God's work in us not only keeps us humble, but it helps us to become much more intentional and even bolder in being the means through which that kingdom of heaven can be extended to very difficult places.

Jesus knew Peter had given up everything.  He calls all of us His true disciples to do the same thing.  And then Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples the amazing truth we find in the memory verse above - we cannot outgive God.  When we give up everything, God gives us much more - not only in the life to come, but in the present life as well.

God calls us to do something we think may be impossible.  He does that so that we will embrace Him and not our own strength or the things of this world.  Once we become fully reliant on Him, we appreciate what the kingdom of heaven on earth really is - a place where we experience His amazing reign in our lives, and we cannot help but want to extend that kind of kingdom to others, no matter what the cost.

Difficult to enter?  Yes.  But once you experience it, much more difficult to imagine never having entered.

Questions to Consider
1. Do you find it easier to focus and rely on yourself, your own strength, and your own resources, despite the frustrations and limitations, rather than giving up all you have to embrace Jesus and His kingdom? 

2. What have you received "a hundreds times as much in this present age"?  If you struggle answering that question, could it be that you have not yet really let go of the things you are holding on to and thus not fully experiencing the kingdom of heaven on earth?

Action Steps for the Week
1.  Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to enable you to let go of something you are holding on to.

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