The End is Near: Seeing the Kingdom that is near, here, within, and coming.

The Kingdom of Heaven is more than meets the eye: The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you, it is here, it is within you, and the Kingdom of Heaven is coming.

I was struck by an idea presented in a recent church service: The Kingdom of Heaven is more than meets the eye: The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you, it is here, it is within you, and the Kingdom of Heaven is coming. We tend to think the Kingdom of Heaven as something in the future that we’re all waiting for, and that’s partly true, but it also carries other profound dimensions.

The phrases Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God refer to the same thing. Jesus used both phrases one right after the other in Matthew 19:23-24, explaining to His disciples how difficult it was for people to enter the Kingdom of God/Heaven.

The End is Near

When Jesus sent out the disciples ahead of Him to the places He would soon visit, he told them, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 10:8-9)

Jesus had been teaching His disciples about the kingdom of Heaven and now the disciples were preparing the people to hear about it, as well.

You and I are those people and God has sent out his disciples to reach us. Will we welcome his servants? Or, will we reject them and have it said against us,

Say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.Luke 10:10-11

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How can I give charitably? #Charity365

‘God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Acts 10:30-31

Recently, I checked off a to-do I’ve been meaning to-actually-do for some time: I added two local organizations to my charitable giving to complement my regional and international charitable giving.

I say this with some trepidation because I don’t want to attract praise for doing so–“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”–but what I do want even more is to encourage everyone to consider starting to give charitably so that we can help out those who really need it on an even bigger scale. We are wildly, fantastically rich, in all ways, in first world countries, start giving now and you will begin to see all kinds of personal benefits.

Start anywhere. Really, don’t sweat it.

It’s so easy to start. I started giving $10/month to three charities – less than one percent of my income. As I continued, and realized I could give more, I started increasing my giving and expanding the scope of those I was donating to.

This time around I want to focus on the immediate how-to because it’s so easy and so convenient and is so rewarding to know that, yes, while you are incredibly blessed in your country, you do want to help others and you are trying and you have tangible actions that show your heart is in the right place.

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How to Help ISIS Persecuted Christians #Charity365

The latest atrocities by the Muslim group, ISIS, includes a video of the shooting or beheading deaths of thirty Ethiopian Christians. In previous posts, Charity 360 and Charity 365, I laid out my experience in charitable giving. In the latter post I talked about expanding to include more global and humanitarian groups. If you don’t know how to help here’s a few organizations to support that are helping persecuted Christians in general or are in the Syria/Iraq area directly affected by ISIS…

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Happy Easter

So the LORD God said to the serpent [in the Garden of Eden], “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

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Sarcastic Jesus

I came across Luke 13:31-34 today, an account of Jesus’ remarks about Jerusalem when he was told to leave because Herod was looking to kill him,

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! Luke 13:31-33

I was mildly amused at Jesus calling Herod a ‘fox’, you don’t hear that kind of language very often from Him, but I was really surprised at Jesus’ painfully sarcastic comment, “for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” Jesus was heading to Jerusalem in the full knowledge that He would die there.

Isn’t it amazing thar our Lord and Saviour, Who died by crucifixion for our sins, was able to maintain a sense of humour about it all. Then again, perhaps, that old saying, ‘if we didn’t know how to laugh, we wouldn’t know how to respond to some things’ may apply here.

Note, also, that His use of sarcasm was directed at Himself. It is our modern use of sarcasm against others that can hurt so very deeply.

Lest we overemphasize Jesus’ sometimes flippancy, His very next words leave no room for trivializing his remarks or deeds,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Luke 13:34

To me, reading the gospels again and again has shown me something new each time. I’m always hit — hard —  by some sections and I always seem to come out with something new. It’s a gold mine in there. In this case, I see again just how completely human Jesus was alongside his wholly divine nature.

G.K. Chesterton, of course, might suggest that what we think of as completely human may be more like God than we suppose…

There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth. (Orthodoxy, 1908)

Selah.

Was it “very good”?

In the beginning, God created on six different days. On the sixth day, it is written: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noted that “very good” isn’t “perfect.” Why didn’t He just say it was perfect? If it wasn’t perfect, it sounds like it needed some work. Seems like it needed some changing. A little more time. Sounds like a job for…evolution. As it turns out, though, He did say it was perfect, you just have to connect the dots. Don’t worry, there are only two dots and we’ve just discussed one of them.

The Gospels are probably more read than any other part of the bible and, surprise, surprise, it is here that Jesus, Himself, reveals the answer. In Luke 18:19, Jesus replies to a man, “(18) And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ (19) And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.'” (emphasis added) Considered in modern times, our first question is, “God is merely ‘good’?” Think about it a moment. Can we really consider ourselves “good” next to God? Compared to the next human being, maybe, but to the God of the universe who is Perfection personified? If Jesus says no one is “good” except God, then that must mean something beyond what we consider merely good. And that is our answer to the Genesis dilemma.

If only God can be called good, as Jesus said, and God called His creation “good”, then a good creation must be perfect. A “very good” creation? We can only speculate what that means in the light of Jesus’ words.

Selah.