Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus often spoke to people in parables. Once, the disciples asked Him the reason for it. He gave a lengthy answer to their question.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:11-17, NIV)

In Matthew's account, there are several of Jesus' parables regarding the kingdom of heaven.

A former minister at my local church described the kingdom of heaven as a different reality which is true. It definitely is a different reality. Once you see something new and different, you cannot unsee it. It's like trying to describe an old black and white television program in color to someone who has never seen the color version of that particular program. It cannot be done very well.

However, we can tell people what we see and know ourselves. We can share our own personal experiences, insights, and knowledge. We can also hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will open their spiritual eyes---give them eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind and heart that's open and receptive to Him and His truth.

Here's a great example of His truth.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:16-30, NIV)

To much of the world, the kingdom of heaven may sound like an upside down reality. However, in truth, it is a right side up reality.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

When we first seek God, His truth, His ways [of doing and being right]; everything else will also be given to us.

In essence, that is heaven on earth.  (Matthew 6:10)

Copyright 2014 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

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