Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Kingdom Taken -- The Kingdom Given

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Saturday, February 1, 2014:  Matthew 21:23-46

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”  Matthew 21:43-44 (NKJV)

Fig Trees and Transformed Lives

Wherever Jesus went, things happened.  He provoked change.  When He walked up, everything got rearranged.  He does that in our lives.  He does that in our world.

He walked up to a fig tree looking for something to eat (Matt. 21:18-19).  The fig tree had nothing but leaves to offer.  As a result, Jesus declared that the little fig tree would remain barren forever.  That's an unusual story. 

It's a lesson to us.  It's a lesson to the church.  God is not really interested in fig trees; He is interested in transformed lives.

Israel's Missed Opportunity

The Jewish nation had the opportunity to bear the fruit of the Kingdom of God.  John the Baptist had preached about this (Matthew 3:8).  He told the Jewish leaders who came to him at Jordan that they should "bear fruit worthy of repentance." 

It is incredibly easy to play religious games.  We all tend to go through the motions with standard-brand "spiritual" activity.  We resort to rule-keeping and business as usual.

Because Israel refused to repent, Jesus made a dramatic declaration.  He said the Kingdom would be taken FROM them and given to a nation (the Gentiles) who would bring forth the fruit of the Kingdom. 

The Evidence of the Kingdom

The fruit of the Kingdom of God is TRANSFORMED LIVES.  That is what God is after.  He cares little for religious ceremony or powerless performance.  He looks for the breaking of darkness and the increase of light.  He places premium on radical redemption. 

I am not speaking of simply walking the aisle at church or even praying the sinner's prayer.  Far too many individuals have been inoculated with minimal spiritual experience that they mistake for the end product.  "Getting saved" is not the end; it is the beginning!  God desires full life transformation.  That is the evidence of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Fall On or Be Fallen On

So, He gives us two options:  fall on Him, or He will fall on us.  If we fall on Him, we will be broken. This is the brokenness of repentance that leads to true faith, love, peace, and hope.  It is wonderful.

If He falls on us, we will be pulverized in judgment.  Israel chose this second option.  They refused to throw themselves on the mercy of God, but instead remained proudly resistant.  As a result, the Jewish nation experienced nearly two millennia of scattering.

The blessing of the Kingdom calls for our brokenness.  The greatest BLESSING comes from the deepest BROKENNESS.  That makes not natural sense, but it makes great Kingdom sense.

This is our prayer.  Lord, I want to fall on You.  I want to lay down my will and my way.  I want to come to You.  I do not desire that you fall on me in judgment.  Therefore, I, by my own will, choose to submit myself to You.  Amen.

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