Support and Strengthen

It is no secret that Daniel prayed for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel and for the coming of the kingdom of God.  He knew it was not going to be in his lifetime.  The vision of Jesus and the words spoken to him by the angel were revealed to Daniel with the hope of encouraging him as he faced death.

Daniel was a very old man.  While there was no hope for him to see Israel restored, he placed his hope completely in God’s timetable.  Because he could place his hope in God, he could take his stand beside Darius and support and strengthen him.

We will find ourselves caught in the middle of political and military forces that are greater than ourselves.  We may be considered weak by those in this world, but I think that we are designed to serve and only gives an appearance of weakness.  Let’s face it – the world is not our home – we are pilgrims passing through a foreign land.  Our hope comes from looking to a city whose foundation is righteousness and whose wall are built of God.

It is an indestructible kingdom, that continues on, ever-growing, with the hope of a glorious future in eternity.

So let’s be in the place God has called us to be, let’s serve those He has called us to serve, and let’s come alongside those in leadership to support and strengthen them.

As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to support and strengthen him.  Daniel 11:1

For A Moment – Elevation Worship

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An everlasting kingdom

Around the grand mosque of Damascus there clusters a vast accumulation of history. On the spot where it stands to-day, after a lapse of nearly 1,400 years, there was originally erected, in the first century of our era, a heathen temple. In the middle of the fourth century this temple was destroyed by the Roman general Theodosius the Great, and on its ruins, in the beginning of the fifth century, Arcadius, the elder son of Theodosius, built a Christian house of worship. This latter house, though for 300 years the Cathedral of Damascus, became in the eighth century a Moslem possession, and far some thousand years it has been used as a Mohammedan mosque. No visit to Damascus is quite complete without a sight of this historic structure. The most interesting feature, however, of this curious building is not its age, nor its history, nor its present prominence, but rather a single sentence engraved upon the vestibule. The inscription is in Greek characters and reads thus: “Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endure throughout all generations.” There, on this Mohammedan mosque, and after ten centuries of Moslem occupation, cut deep in the enduring stone, the Christian record remains–a record of faith, of hope and of confidence on the part of the Damascus Christians in the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. Almost 2,000 years have rolled away since Jesus Christ opened in Bethlehem the marvelous scene of Divinity in humanity, and still the Church of His grace abides. Other kingdoms have perished, mowed down by the resistless scythe of time–Babylon, Media, Macedonia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Rome–each swept away almost as though it had never flourished, while the Church founded on the rock by the humble Nazarene lives and grown And the Church of the future will be more glorious than the Church of the past. “Let us believe and know that Christianity is advancing all the time; that, though men’s hearts may fail them through fear, the Church goes on in God-guided and irresistible movements.” To this happy conclusion of Mr. Gladstone’s must come every intelligent student of history.

Daniel chapter seven paints a picture of the end times – he tries to describe four terrible beasts and they are quite the sight. This vision that God has shared with Daniel continues the message of hope in hopeless times because even though the beasts are terrible the end of the vision is the Lord on the throne.  The message of hope for life and the message about who God is and what He does are all here. What I love about this chapter in particular is that the meaning of the beasts are already explained in the chapter – we have no need to make an interpretation of them, rather just read the meaning and listen carefully to the interpretation given. God is painting a picture. Not every detail has significance but is part of the picture to give us the main message that God is teaching.

The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them. – Daniel 7:27

Lord (I Don’t Know)-Newsboys

Kingdom of heaven has come near

When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to do ministry, they had to proclaim only one message – the kingdom of heaven has come near. They preached so that people could have faith, that many would choose to become followers of Jesus, and that hope would come alive in their souls so that there would be inspiration to love the things of God more than the things of earth. The message was only as strong as the authority Jesus gave them to back it up with power – miracles.

When you think about it, these disciples had little to go on.  They really did not know who Jesus was – especially the fact that He had not yet died and was resurrected – which is the core of our message today.  It was the miracles that confirmed their authority and enabled the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts and minds of people with the gospel message.  Hope had been presented, and obedience to follow Christ came with that hope.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the kingdom coming near.  He gave us access to God, all of His grace and forgiveness of sin. Therein lies our spiritual healing and no matter how sinful we are, how separated from God we have journeyed, we can draw near to Him and experience His grace.  Grace is our hope.  Grace lets us view our world and those surrounding us with that same hope.  So we live differently, transformed, gracious, full of who God is.  Thank you Jesus that your death and then resurrection gives us this hope of spending eternity with You.

Therein lies the truth of the Kingdom of God.  Everything changes including our dreams and our hopes.  The gospel that the disciples were given authority to proclaim was one of power – demonstrated and preached – touching everything.  Unshakable and irresistible – it is our ultimate purpose.  

Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,  but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.– Matthew 10:5-8

Rend Collective – Build Your Kingdom Here

 

Radical faith

I had the opportunity of being involved with the production of the Gospel of John. I remember being in the audience during TIFF and seeing the movie for the first time.  Jesus was extreme.  I realized from John’s perspective that is why Jesus requires extreme. Jesus is not one to go half way – it is not  a lukewarm faith. If it is radical it is a radical faith of salvation, transformation, compassion, forgiveness and hope.  Following Christ is everything – it is powerful and thereby, compelling – there is nothing else.

The movie made me think twice about whether or not I would have been a follower Christ if I lived during His time on earth.  It takes courage to live the gospel.  Technically, you live a life of dying even before you die.  Courage is to move forward in hope knowing only one basic truth – whether I live or die, I am His.

That is why our past no longer defines who we are.  We are made new in Christ. My identity is no longer tied to anyone I have associated myself with, nor my experiences in life that I have lived without Christ and most unnerving is that I am no longer identified by my own family.  I am a follower of Christ, defined by the work I am called to do today and for my future hope.

The temptation is to disciple based on a formula or process – a project.  But the person being discipled cannot count on me – they must on their own, come to a place where they renounce all for God.  Looking at the hope of God’s coming reign requires us to look at it through the cross, resurrection, ascension and the power of Pentecost. Renunciation is the beginning, but the first gift is really the call and the hope for the journey.

Why do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross. –  Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. – Luke 14:33

Radical Faith

Practice a Radical Faith

Radical Faith, what does it mean?

 

What is the kingdom of God like?

How bold would I be to say that it is one of hope?

Jesus, in seeing joy manifested in the lives of the people He is talking to felt justified to giving two parables describing the glimpses of hope that comes on behalf of kingdom – the mustard seed and yeast.

If you’re like me, sometimes you get discouraged. What you’ve worked so hard to do seems so small and insignificant — so futile, so hopeless, so tiny. The disciples may have felt that way about the Kingdom of God. Here’s an itinerant carpenter-preacher speaking in villages in a minor Roman province. Not very impressive when you look at the big picture.

This was not the first time Jesus used the mustard seed as an illustration – in fact, both illustrations dealt with hope – He used the image to express the hope that He has on the disciples because with a minimum amount of faith – “faith like a mustard seed” – they could accomplish so much.

This parable of the mustard seed is about one being planted in a garden.  The tiny seed eventually grew into a sizeable bush so that the birds were able to make their nests in it. When these words were written the Church, the agent of Jesus’ mission, was still tiny but it had already begun to grow considerably from its beginnings with a handful of Jesus’ disciples. There is an air of hope and confidence that it will continue to grow in spite of the persecutions and setbacks it is facing and will continue to face. Within a single generation after Christ’s death, Christianity had spread all over the Roman empire and beyond, to India in the East, Ethiopia to the South, and Britannia to the West.  How amazed would those Christians be to know that the seed since has grown not into a shrub but into a huge tree! In our own time, we need to keep fresh the hope and confidence of this parable.

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”  And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” – Luke 13:18-21

What Is the Kingdom of God Like?

 

Hopes being crushed

Psalm 118 might have been one of the scripture references John the Baptist had in mind in regards to the tasks of the coming of the Messiah and the setting of His kingdom.  Verses that suggested that in all the elements of destroying nations, God would protect Him – I would imagine that this is how John prayed for – hoped for – and it was not happening.  Since the opposite was happening, John’s hopes were being crushed – his faith was weak – doubt took over.  Was He Jesus the One who comes in the name of the Lord?  John the Baptist, the greatest prophet since the era of the Old Testament, the one called to prepare the way of the Lord – began to doubt – doubt the very words of Jesus.

One thing that scripture never does – it never hides the saints as ideally faultless – there is no concern to conceal any sign of imperfection or weakness.  In this case, nothing is so naturally laid out than John the Baptist.  To whom received a partial revelation of Jesus as the Son of God – there should have been more calm instead of the deep anguish at the noiseless advance of the Kingdom.  But John was not alone – Elijah struggled in his faith, Job struggled in his trials and Jeremiah did the same when he was in prison.  As John drowned in his brief tragic career, he might have hoped to alleviate, by his question, the anguish that he felt. Maybe his question was more like – If Jesus is the Messiah, why am I, His Forerunner, suffering and worse still, by the hand of an evil tyrant?  Yes, John was just one of the many saints whose careers God, is His mysterious manner, has allowed to suffer and others to end in disaster to show us all how small we are in importance and how little we are to attach to what people may think of us, or for that matter, the rewards this earth has to offer such individuals.

And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?'”  In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” – Luke 7:19-23

Proverbs 13:12-22