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

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

True Feasting. A Thanksgiving Reflection on Isaiah 58.

Is not this the kind of feasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

True Feasting

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we feasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your feasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your feasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot feast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of feast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a feast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of feasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to fast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Based on Isaiah 58

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

[Author’s Note: The intent of this piece is not to alter the Word of God, as we are warned against in Revelation 22:19, but to provide a jarring deviation to help the modern Western Christian refocus their attention on the severity of the original text. Many in this day are more familiar with abundance (feasting) than with need (fasting) due to a lack of first-hand experience of real mortal hunger. As such, this piece draws the reader’s attention to familiar acts, such as  Thanksgiving, assumed to be Good but which, in our sinful neglect of Goodness, may be missing the mark of God’s actual intentions for both Feasting and Fasting. The reader is now encouraged to read, again, the original text of Isaiah 58 to come to a more cutting, more humbling understanding.]

 

718 Days of Bible Verses

Congratulations to those who haven’t muted me yet for sharing bible verses, you’re very kind and patient! ;) For the record, since August 2012 when I started, you’ve witnessed about 718 days of bible readings, 453 verses shared, 52 books of the bible cited, 3 books shared from every chapter (Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon), and 2 complete bible read-throughs (sometimes sequential, sometimes alternating OT/NT).

Why would I do this? Because I believe “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) and I trust God when he says “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11).

These verses were shared primarily on Facebook and later ones simultaneously on Twitter (usually in shorter forms) on @Shovas .

Soli Deo Gloria

Without further adieu, 718 days of bible verses…

Continue reading “718 Days of Bible Verses”

Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.

So, the latest intra-Christian controversy to blow up is popular Christian worship act Gungor’s denial of the ‘literal’ reading of scripture, particularly Genesis, the creation account, Adam and Eve, and the Flood. This of course triggering the day before our traditional day of worship when Christians come together to worship God their saviour in spirit and truth. This, of course, all comes on the heels of the Tim Lambesis story who allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to murder his wife. It’s hard to try to move one’s heart towards God when we’re distracted by emotional issues like these. Here’s a few of the articles circulating:

It’s saddening, frustrating, and distracting…

Continue reading “Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.”

Titanium vs Supafly

I’m not a frequent patron of clubs but apparently there’s a popular song making the rounds lately…

Titanium’s a great song, catchy, fantastic vocals, uplifting and inspiring, but I have a complaint: it’s wrong. It’s wrong in its statement and it’s wrong in its message.

It reminded me, by contrast, of a classic Thousand Foot Krutch song, Supafly…

While the former is a big club anthem hit, the latter is a small, eccentric, awkward, left field entry from a decidedly unmainstream and unhip Christian rock band – but Supafly gets it so right.

A few years ago, at one of our company’s Christmas parties, I was talking with two very pretty young ladies, who were the clubbing type, about their boyfriend woes and being unable to find a good man. I don’t know how wise I was then but I asked them a question, “Where do you find guys?” Clubs, was the answer, and I replied, “Well there’s your problem, what kind of guys are you expecting to find there?” There’s a lot of action at clubs and they’re going to attract most the type that are attracted to action for action’s sake. Somehow the conversation settled on recommendations from friends but, really, what I had in mind the whole time was this: the context of where you are defines the kind of people you’re going to meet.

I believed, and I still do, that the Christian has the foundation to truly love another person because they see them for who they really are – a soul, a spirit, God’s very own creation, His son or daughter.

But back to the songs in question. Listen to the lyrics of each. Titanium speaks of inner strength. Actually, more like an inner hardness – an unwillingness to admit personal hurt even if that’s what it actually is. Supafly, on the other hand, delves into the thoughts and actions of “dogs and cats” and, in what I consider its crowning and inspired insight, exposes the pretense,

You think ya somethin’ more ya so supafly,
To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside,
It’s hard for me to get this through to you,
To the fact ya blind, baby, blind, baby

To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside – that’s it. That’s it.

We like to think we’re strong. We like to think we’re invulnerable to the criticisms of others. We like to think a lot of things that aren’t true.

The truth is we’re weak. The truth is we’re broken and easily hurt. The truth is we try to hide the truth.

Supafly’s lyrics contain a reference to Psalms 34 that talks about our condition,

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalms 34:1-7, 15-20

We know that refuge is not found within ourselves. We might not know yet where help is, but God, who created Heaven and Earth, and knit you together in the womb, He’s calling to you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Prayers and Promises

Did you know your prayers are already promised to you? Jesus says, in John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Why, then, have we grown up, from childhood, with the belief that “all we can do is pray about it and leave it up to God,” as if this were some thing to do with a little shame and as a last resort?

Hebrews 4:16 reads, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The King James reads “Let us therefore come boldly.” Jeremiah 32:27 reads, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Again, in Malachi 3:10, God says,  “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Why, then, do we approach God in prayer as if we were troubling Him, pardoning our interruption, and begging for a meager sustenance of small things, as if small and large to us were of any consequence to God Almighty?

I know why we do this. We do this because we have rarely and perhaps never experienced  God’s answer to prayer for the things He seems to want us to pray for and about and to fully expect from Him.

We have never experienced the extent of God’s power, as it is written, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) But not that only, “let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8) And, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)

God’s gift of prayer is not some weak kneed comfort. It is a voice with God Most High, your King, who has promised to act on your behalf,  and to comfort you, to strengthen you, to uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Selah.

Post-Script: I owe James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word podcast for sparking my interest on God’s promises and our prayers. The podcast, part of a series, was called Promise #1 – God Is Always With Me.

Post-Post-Script: You may find this further reading of value for more clarity: Why aren’t my prayers answered? I’m sure a google of the same question will yield great results.