Monday, June 18, 2012

Kingdom vignettes

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 4:21-41

TO CHEW ON: "And He said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow and he himself does not know how.'" Mark 4:26-27

I love the parable descriptions Jesus gives of the kingdom of God (also called the kingdom of heaven). There are many sprinkled throughout the gospels. Let's look at a few today to discover more about this realm which Jesus mentioned so often.

  • Jesus described the kingdom of God as rooted in God's generosity and forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35) with its own divine fairness - Matthew 20:1-16.
  • He called it "hidden treasure" and a "pearl of great price." These descriptions imply a search (we dig for hidden treasure, dive deep for pearl-bearing oysters), and great value —"treasure," and "pearls" worth trading everything for - Matthew 13:44-46.
  • This kingdom is available to all who will accept the invitation and fulfill the requirements for entry (put on the wedding garment—the free gift of salvation) - Matthew 22:2-14.
  • Surprisingly, riches may prove to be a hindrance to entry (not on the part of God, but on our part) - Matthew 18:24-25.
  • Our reading today talks about this kingdom's mysterious and inexplicable expansion. The man scattered kingdom seed and without him doing anything more, it took root and grew - Mark 4:26-27.
  • We also read how from small beginnings (a mustard seed) it grows hugetree-sized - Mark 4:30-32.
  • The kingdom of heaven flourishes in the midst of other 'kingdoms' just like wheat and weeds grow together. Only "at the time of harvest" will the two be separated - Matthew 13:24-30.
  • It's as subversive and pervasive as leaven. Just as yeast introduced to a lump of dough eventually disseminates to every part of the lump, so the kingdom of heaven will spread around the world - Matthew 13:33.
  • God expects stewardship and accountability from His subjects - Matthew 25:14-29.
  • He also expects us to live in a state of readiness, waiting for the return of the bridegroom (Jesus' second coming) - Matthew 25:1-13.
  • To sum up, the kingdom of heaven is powerful - 1 Corinthians 4:20.

Some things to think of today in the light of what we've seen about the kingdom of God:

1. Are we a part of it?

2. Is it that valuable treasure to us that prompts us to give up everything else to gain it?

3. Are we involved in inviting others to be part of it, and helping it expand?

4. Are we behaving like stewards, realizing that someday we will need to give an account of how we have used our talents and opportunities?

5. Are we ready if our Bridegroom should return today?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for these wonderful parables of the kingdom of heaven. Help me to know how to transpose what I read in them into attitudes and actions that affect my everyday life. Amen.

MORE: Thank You for Giving to the Lord

The parable in our focus verse today reminds me of this song. It tells the story of someone arriving in heaven and discovering the impact of the life he or she has lived. May that be you and me someday!

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