Hey S2P fam! I knew when I finished the last devotional entry that I would need to write part 2 to continue my thoughts. I have a lot of thoughts about the Kingdom, even though I feel like I am on a life-long learning curve, learning what it is. In today’s devotional, I muse on about what my beliefs are as a Kingdom person. Certainly the main tenets of the christian faith have been my guideposts, but I have also had questions and challenges. My thoughts below are reflections on the conclusions that I have settled on in Christ. Have you ever taken an inventory of what you believe and why? Would you do me the honor of reading on to get a glimpse of my thought process? After you read, let me know your thoughts in the comments…
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The Kingdom Journey is not a common Journey.
It’s a peculiar journey for a peculiar people, off the beaten path of the mainstream world
There are so many people out here trying to tell us how to build our own kingdoms
So many voices out here… trying to tell us where the Kingdom is and what it looks like…
So many myths and legends, so many whispers and rumors…
So many assertions and declarations of synthesized alternative realities.
So many people are out here trying to explain who we are and why we are….
So many attempts to make sense of the human experience outside of God,
or within the context of a distorted view of God
Worthless. The theories are worthless, weak, and leave so much wanting.
You wanna lose hope and be consumed by the despair of our trouble-laden existence??? Then try to make meaning of this life without the God of the Bible.
But as for me, I’ve examined my heart and my mind.
I’ve questioned my beliefs and massaged my doubts in the palms of my hands...
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And I’ll tell you this….
I still believe.
I still believe the old story told from 2,000 years ago.
I believe that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to save it.
I believe in Jesus the Messiah…
Born to a virgin teen mother.
Baptized by His anointed cousin- the Great Prophet John the Baptist who said “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
The Holy Spirit bore witness as the voice of the Father came from Heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I believe in the Blessed Display of the Triune God.
I believe in Jesus’ works- His miracles.. how He raised the dead, healed the sick, forgave sins, comforted the poor and downtrodden.
I believe in His teachings- the sermon on the mount, the parables, the discourse He had from childhood with the religious establishment. He challenged everyone’s expectations of what a Savior, a King, and a Liberator would be like.
I believe in His ways- how he loved his friends and his enemies the same, and demonstrated that love in appropriate (and not self-serving) ways. How he broke down ethnic and sexist barriers by consorting with women and gentiles in ways that were forbidden to Jewish men….how He refused to condemn the adulteress and the woman at the well. How He washed the feet of His disciples, with a towel wrapped around His waist. He became a servant of all people, even though all people hated Him in the end. Yet He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His humility cost Him His life, because He refused to assert the authority that was rightfully His. He knew no one could ever take it away because His Father gave it to him. His strength was in His quietness and confidence.
I believe in His death…that it was an atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world, as well as the rite of rescue, reconciliation and restoration for the entire creation. Although Jesus knew no sin, He became sin that human beings would become the righteousness of God. Although He was just, He died for those who were unjust, and took their penalty upon Himself. I believe that His sacrifice served as propitiation of our sins and as a sweet smelling savor to God. He satisfied our debt and He purchased our deliverance through His death.
I believe in His burial…I still believe Jesus’ death was literal and not figurative, and therefore that His body was literally buried. I do not know what happened while He was buried, except that grief and despair overtook His followers, because the Man they thought would bring deliverance to Israel had been executed like a common criminal, and like other earthly-minded revolutionaries who came before, and would come after Him. Although Jesus explained to His disciples that He must be crucified and would rise again, they did not understand, and His burial cast dissonance upon their hopes of a nation and a creation redeemed.
I believe in His resurrection…and I still believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead, that His resurrection was a bodily resurrection (not just a figurative or spiritual resurrection), that His body was raised victorious over sin and death on behalf of all creation…That His resurrection was the First Fruit of the resurrection coming at the end of days- in which the dead in Christ will rise first, and those who are alive in Christ will be transformed in “the twinkling of an eye”-raised with brand new, incorruptible bodies. I believe that “all authority has been given to [Him] in heaven and on earth. In other words- He got UP…and so will WE!
I still believe that Messiah Jesus commissioned His disciples (the apostles) and His followers to share the good news of the gospel, to make disciples, and to baptize them in His Name.
I believe Jesus' words when He said, “...he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:16-18)
I believe in His ascension on high…in the presence of His disciples, as they looked on, and as He gave them instructions about what would come next in the establishment of His Kingdom. He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of Holy Spirit baptism. He told them once again that they were to be witnesses of the gospel both in Jerusalem and all over the world. After this He was taken up into Heaven and sat down at the right Hand of God the Father, with all power and authority in His hand.
I believe in His return…Though Jesus was taken up, He will return! He did not leave His people. He promised never to leave or forsake them, even to the end of the earth. He sent His Holy Spirit to fill every believer so that we can always have union with Him and the Father. When He returns, He will judge the living and the dead, the righteous and the unrighteous, and each person will be judged according to their works. When Jesus returns His reign will be fully consummated- the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. Jesus the Messiah will visibly rule and reign on Earth, as in Heaven.
I believe His kingdom is here Right Now, a New Creation has been made, and a New Heaven and a New Earth are currently in the making. We do not have to wait for Jesus to return to be a part of His Kingdom. He calls each of us “Today” …” Today if you hear My voice, harden not your heart…” Jesus says, “Come, Follow Me!” Not only in the life to come, but NOW. The Kingdom of God is “...righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit…” Now!
See, I still believe that He is who He said He is- The great I AM (The One who Was, Is, and Is to Come…Always has been, Always will be!). That’s why, in the midst of a sea of voices, and theories, and refutations, and explanations, and alternatives, and denials of the truth…. I choose to remain on this Kingdom Journey. There’s an old song that says, “I made my vow to the Lord, and I never will turn back…I will go, I shall go to see what the end is gonna be.” This Kingdom journey requires the tenacity and patience of the Holy Spirit- a Holy Stubbornness.. to refuse to be moved from upon the Rock on which we stand. And, yeah- this may be coming across as a “what we believe” or “statement of faith”, and maybe it is. But I think every Kingdom person needs to take periodic stock and evaluation of where we are in our faith…Are we still in the faith? Have we drifted away from the truth? Are we holding on to Christ, the Head of the Ekklesia? Or are we blending and syncretizing human philosophy with the revelation of God?
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Dear Believer, even if our answers to these questions reveal that we have drifted or lost our focus- we can always renew our blessed hope! The same Jesus who promised to never leave or forsake us stands at the door of our hearts, and knocks- all we have to do is let Him in, and let Him establish His Kingdom reign inside of our hearts once again. Are you tired, weary traveler? Are you worn down? Discouraged? Confused? Turn to Christ once again and be filled with all that He is! Receive His strength! Receive grace! Let us continue this journey, my fellow sojourner- the journey of the Kingdom. Let us deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow the King!