Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Not Far from the Kingdom

While I was doing some reading in the Gospel of Mark, I ran across a passage that had me thinking for weeks on end. As I continued to think about the conversation between a religious teacher and Jesus, Jesus’ last words began to really sink into my heart and soul. 

Jesus said to the teacher in Mark 12, “34 You are not far from the Kingdom of God.

Let us look at the context of the entire conversation. A religious teacher asks Jesus which commandment is the most important. Jesus replies that each person must “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.” Jesus is referencing the Book of Deuteronomy, specifically chapter 6:4-5. Almost in the same breath, he adds that it is equally as important to love your neighbor as yourself. He then adds, “No other commandment is greater than these.

The teacher responds, “This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required by the law.

After saying that, Jesus then tells him that he is not far from the kingdom of God. These two simple commandments are the ones that should be the basis not only of our faith but also of our teachings.

When we have an opportunity to share the word of God in its purest form, there are no fancy words or need to begin a dissertation on any other points in the Bible. The truth is the truth and, as Jesus states in John 8, “31 You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

As that teacher proclaimed those words of truth, he realizes that no amount of burnt offerings or sacrifices are as important as those two commandments.

When we accept those truths for ourselves, we free ourselves from the ideas of men and truly live as God intended for us to live which is to live in love not only for God the Father but also for our neighbors. 

Remember what Paul writes Timothy in his first letter in chapter 1, “4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. 5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

Look closely at the two commandments that Jesus talks about. What do they have in common? The answer is very simple. It is love. Our love should come from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith when it comes to God and our neighbors.

Our lives should not be shrouded in endless discussions regarding religion or what things are more important. Jesus has already given us the lesson. Our place in the kingdom is to teach the Word as it was given to us.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, in chapter 5, says in his Sermon on the Mount, “19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” 

In order for us to maintain our great place in the Kingdom of Heaven, we must obey all of God’s laws and teach them as given to all others. We teach the truth, the simple truth given to us in the words of Jesus. We do not add or detract from the Word of God. It is plain, simple and the truth.

Early in the passage, Jesus says, “17 Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

Jesus talks about accomplishing their purpose and achieving their purpose. The purpose of the laws is to help us with our relationship with God the Father and our neighbors. The truth that Jesus reveals to us is the guide to reaching the Kingdom of Heaven.

By following the teachings of Jesus, understanding and applying the Word and teaching others the truth, we are closer to the Kingdom just as Jesus stated when the teacher realized the truth revealed in the words of Jesus. We should never engage in myths and spiritual pedigrees. When we do this, we detract from the Word and push our own ideas and agenda on others. We are not here to do that. We are here to speak the truth as it was revealed to us.

As you continue your walk with the Lord, always remember what we are to work towards. We are to keep God’s law by loving Him without condition or reservation and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we do those things, the other laws are easy to follow and their purpose is achieved and accomplished. It is not enough to hear the words. We must live those words daily by showing them in action.

If you do not have a relationship with God the Father and feel that there is something missing in your life, I ask you to read the words of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. John writes in Revelation 3, “20 Look! I (Jesus speaking) stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

All it takes is a simple knock and opening that door to allow Jesus to come into your life. It is a simple act and response to a simple truth. 

Think about the words of Jesus and the purpose of the laws, especially the ones Jesus tells us are the most important. When we understand those laws, we are a step closer to the kingdom and able to stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment