Seek God's Kingdom and His Will
“Stop Thief!” You would think that shameful phrase would elicit some response from a thief, at the very least causing them to run away. Not these days. I saw one recently just walk out of a retail store as if he were out for an evening stroll with his dog. He just sauntered through the parking lot, loaded up his stolen goods and rolled on out of the parking lot, unfazed by any shouts to stop. It seems like we are seeing a lot of that kind of thing these days.
I shared another story this past Sunday about a young man, only 18 years old who stole an antique gun of ours just last week from an antique mall where Lori and I have a consignment booth. Amazingly, the police were able to catch him. He was facing a felony charge when his father reached out to me to apologize for what his son had done.
On Saturday, I met with the young man and his dad. God was at work. What happened next reminds me of exactly what Jesus meant when He prayed, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If you haven’t heard the message yet, you can click on it at the end of this article to hear “Jacob’s story”. And I’ll have an update on Jacob this Sunday too! Please keep him in your prayers.
In a time when the world is clearly filled with wickedness and when darkness seems to be lurking in plain sight, what can we do? We may feel helpless, but we aren’t! We can pray with power and purpose in the way Jesus taught us! (Matthew 6:9-13)
Last week, we took a deep dive into Matthew 6:9. In Matthew 6:10, Jesus tells us how God’s name will be “hallowed” or “made holy” when He prays:
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
The truth is to pray for God’s kingdom to come, His will to be done, is radical, revolutionary and even dangerous. It definitely was in Jesus’ time when Roman law ruled and Caesar was worshipped as a god. For Jesus to teach His disciples to pray in this way would have been viewed by the Romans as subversive at best and traitorous at worse. So it was literally a dangerous prayer! And in many ways, it still is dangerous, at least to our comfort and status quo because it causes us to put aside our desires, our agendas, our kingdoms for the true King, His agenda and His kingdom. That is not an easy prayer to pray and really mean it.
We recite those words a lot, but without giving much thought to what they truly mean. What is the kingdom of God and what would it look like for it to arrive on earth? I spent a lot of time answering this in the message, but in summary, the kingdom of God must be understood as something that is already here on earth but not yet fully present. In other words, as scholar and theologian R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes: “The kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated.”
14 …Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14-15
If you’re a Believer, you are now a part of that kingdom. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, Colossians 1:13
Even though we are waiting for the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in power and glory at Christ’s return, as Believers, we are currently living under the reign of God as His people - we are citizens of that kingdom. Through His redemptive work, God continues building His kingdom on earth. (Isaiah 42:6; 2 Samuel 7:11b-13)
In the New Testament, Jesus’ work on the cross is the work of a king who has come to rescue His people. After His resurrection, Jesus declares: 18 …“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18. In Acts 2, it is made clear that Jesus sits on the throne of David, reigning over the universe. His kingdom is unchallenged and His reign is without end!
God’s kingdom in our time is made up of all who believe in Christ, who are gathered together in local churches, and who are living under His leadership. We are still waiting for the day when His kingdom will be consummated. Until then, we as His people, remain at war with spiritual darkness, continuing the call to make disciples of the king and citizens of the kingdom! (Revelation 11:15).
One definition I read for the “Kingdom of God” is: “God’s kingdom is His reign over His people for their good and His glory!” Isn’t that what we really long for in this world?
What does it mean to pray “your will be done?” Theologians agree that “the will of God” can be interpreted in two ways in Scripture: God’s sovereign will and God’s revealed will. When Jesus prays for God’s will to be done, He is referring to God revealed will since His sovereign will is already being done. (Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 115:3; 135:6). The revealed will of God refers to what God expects from you and me. The Ten Commandments are an example of God’s revealed will. It is God’s will that we follow those commands, whether we choose to or not. One of those commands is of course, “You shall not steal.” But there are other examples of God’s revealed will in Scripture, including Acts 17:10 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4.
When we pray this vital phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, it emphasizes the importance of leading lost people to Christ so they too can worship the Father, in the same way the angels of heaven worship and honor Him! But it also calls all who believe to take our focus off our will and put it on His. Is that a prayer you’re willing to pray and really mean it? When you do, you will be praying with power and purpose! For much more, click here to listen to the message… Prayer Matters - Part 5 - Seek His Kingdom and His Will.