Kingdom Values (3)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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When God Calls
As we have seen, God is continuously calling us into His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:12). When His calling becomes a default value in our consciences, it will shape the way that we think and feel about our daily lives, so that seeking the Kingdom and glory of God will become the defining orientation toward all we do.

Human beings live for the future. We’re cognizant of our past, and we make our way in life through the present. But humans are future-oriented creatures. That is, we’re always seeking something that lies just ahead of us a bit. Seeking describes a basic orientation to life.

So the question, where the composition of the conscience is concerned, is not whether we shall have seeking as a value, but, in particular, what we will seek as the defining value for all our seeking.

Happily, Jesus has sorted that out for us, hasn’t He?


Kingdom Values (2)

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 12

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It Matters Who’s Calling
We all get phone messages. And text messages. And email messages.

Sometimes they pile up, clog up, and jam up. Some we never get to; most will just have to wait. We have other things to do, things we value more than responding to every forwarded message, casual caller, or earnest inquirer. We’ll get to them when we can, that’s the best we can do.

We scan or scroll through our messages throughout the day, just to see who’s calling. Because it might matter. If the message is from someone we want to hear from, or someone who has a claim on us that we must heed – like a boss or a child – then we get right on it. Such messages go to the head of the list and are responded to right away.

A Matter of Conscience

Kingdom Values (1)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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What’s on Your Conscience?
The human soul is comprised of three equal and interacting spiritual components. The mind processes thoughts and information. The heart generates affections. And the conscience manages our default priorities and values. What comes to expression in our lives – our words and deeds – is a result of a continuous process in our souls, where what we think, how we feel, and what we value interact to determine what we will do or say.

It’s not quite that simple, of course, but in the most general of terms, this is how human beings function. This is what it means to be made in the image of God, to grow into the image of Jesus Christ, and to image His resurrection life to the world around us.

Destroyer of Kingdoms

The Sovereignty of God in Christmas (7)

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed.” Luke 2:34, 35

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Man of Sorrows
In his great Christmas oratorio, Johann Sebastian Bach includes a lengthy scene of celebration surrounding the birth of Jesus. All the instruments and chorus join in jubilation to acknowledge the birth of God’s Messiah and announce the Good News of the Kingdom to the world.

And then, suddenly, in the midst of all that revelry, Bach inserts the briefest quote from the hymn, “O Sacred Head, now wounded”, based on a poem by 12th century theologian, Bernard of Clairvaux. Jesus is the Christ of God, Immanuel, the Bringer of joy and rejoicing to all who know and believe in Him. But He is also the Man of Sorrows, the Lamb of God Who took upon Himself the sins of the world. It is inevitable that the life and radiance of Christmas should also include, in the sovereignty of God, the message of darkness and death.

Reconciler of Worlds

The Sovereignty of God in Christmas (6)

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:13, 14

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On Seeing the Unseen
The writer of Hebrews explains that true, saving faith is rooted in things hoped for, but unseen. He writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, my translation). We are so familiar with this idea that it’s easy to miss the great significance of what our sovereign God has accomplished through Jesus Christ in reconciling the whole of creation and restoring all who believe to our proper place in the grand scheme of things.

For as the first Christmas makes clear, the coming of the Baby born in Bethlehem signaled the beginning of the restoration of all things, including the reconciling of the material and spiritual worlds. Jesus came down from the heavens in order to make a way for heaven and earth to be united as one, in our souls, in the presence of God, and in a new world coming, and to come.

Christians perhaps take this for granted. And in doing so we miss a good deal of the significance of Jesus’ birth, and neglect to make good use of the benefits afforded us as citizens of the heavenly Kingdom. Let me explain a little more.

Lord of Names

The Sovereignty of God in Christmas (5)

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21

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What’s in a Name?
As I write we’re once again involved in playing the “name game” in the extended Moore family, as our daughter Ashley and her husband David await the birth of our newest grandchild. Whenever we’re together, we bandy about various names, trying to settle on just the right one for the next Durant child.

Names matter, as Paul Tournier explained in his book, The Naming of Persons. And names especially matter in Scripture, at least, certain names. We often find names being changed to express the will and purpose of God. So Abram, the father of nations, became Abraham, the father of many nations. Jacob, the deceiver, became Israel, the prince of God who prevailed to receive His blessing. And so also Hoshea, the son of Nun, was renamed by Moses, Joshua, to indicate that the deliverance of the Lord would come about under his hand (Num. 13:16).

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