Jesus at the Center of Prayer
Priorities • Message 3
October 29, 2023
How to Respond to God’s Kingdom…
Introduction (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NLT)
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
The Lord’s Prayer begins by establishing the relational nature of prayer. As we continue to learn, we must not lose our understanding of that context.
Jesus starts the Lord’s Prayer by addressing God as Father. He then helps us understand that God being our Father in no way negates His holiness, His otherness.
First and foremost, prayer is about relationship. In the context of that relationship, Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God.
Then Jesus takes the opportunity to explain this otherness to us in greater detail. He is king and He has a kingdom, and it is coming to the earth.
Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“May Your kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
To help us understand this concept today, I wanted to use a verse in Hebrews to lay the foundation for our talk on the Kingdom of God.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NLT)
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
Hebrews helps us by understanding that this kingdom that Jesus is talking about is unshakable.
How to respond to God’s Kingdom…
Kingdom to Seek. (Matthew 6:10a, 33. C/R: Luke 10:9-14; Ephesians 1:13-14)
What did Jesus mean by Kingdom? I am proposing a 3-fold definition of the word Kingdom to fully describe the Bible’s teaching on the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom - Reign of God. Basiliea in Greek.
The first picture of kingdom is the Greek word basiliea. This speaks of a king’s rule or reign. The type of king that he is, the system and structure in which he rules his kingdom.
This verse in the Sermon on the Mount illustrates this very idea.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
We are to seek God’s rule in our life. A question we should be asking is what does God’s Kingdom look like in this situation, in my life?
But that is only a small picture of the Bible’s teaching of the Kingdom of God. Remember that Jesus said this:
Mark 1:15 (NLT)
“The time promised by God has come at last!” He announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
This idea preached by Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is here or near. It is drawing near. But the Scriptures also describe the Kingdom of God as something that is not here yet.
This idea comes out in Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.
Matthew 19:16 (NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
The Rich Young Ruler came asking about the life to come. The future-oriented nature of the Kingdom of God. What did Jesus say?
Matthew 19:21-26 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
Jesus used two phrases here. Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God. Jesus was communicating the phrase Kingdom of Heaven for Jews and Kingdom of God for Greeks. They are interchangeable. But they both here are speaking not only of salvation but eternal life. Life that will come when Jesus comes for the second time on earth.
So, we can see in this chart that hopefully simplifies a very complex word/phrase/concept in the Bible to a bit less complex.
The Kingdom of God is the rule, but it is also a present reality and a future hope.
Let’s talk about the present reality.
We experience a present spiritual reality of God’s Kingdom in this age.
This present reality is a secret and hidden reality working among men and within them.
This present reality is not necessarily an outward manifestation of His glory. Instead, Jesus entered into the world hidden, lowly. This is illustrated in the Parable of the Yeast.
Matthew 13:33 (ESV)
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
This was a struggle for those hoping Jesus would come in and destroy all the other earthly kingdoms and that the Jews would reign supreme over all the earth.
But God’s Kingdom ruling did not enter into the timeline that way. Instead, it came quietly and will remain manifesting itself in that way until Christ’s second coming.
Yet we can experience the reality of the Kingdom today!
The first victory of the Kingdom has already occurred. Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and while we do not enjoy the fullness yet. We do enjoy a portion of the blessing.
We can experience the benefits of Satan’s initial defeat and yet we struggle still with the presence of sin in our lives.
But one day we will experience the future hope.
One day, we will no longer experience that suffering, the presence of sin. One day that all goes away.
The Kingdom of God, fully present, fully reigning on the earth.
Our bodies will no longer decay.
We will be reunited with others who have passed from this earth who are believers.
How do we experience the blessings of the age to come? How do we experience the reality of the Kingdom of God drawing near to our hearts?
Well, we first must experience the blessing of new life available to us because of the resurrection of Christ. We must repent of our sins, accept the gift of faith offered to us, and embrace our new identity.
After that, our role is to participate in the Will of God.
A will to serve. (Matthew 6:10b. C/R: Isaiah 46:9-10; Matthew 5-7)
How do we experience the blessings of the age to come? How do we experience the reality of the kingdom of God drawing near to our hearts?
Well, we first must realize that is about our wills. The will of God our Father and our own will.
Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Jesus demanded a response when He came to the earth. Believe in Him or reject Him.
He asked His disciples to do the same (Luke 10:9-12).
Our will is called to respond or yield to the Kingdom of God entering into this earth.
The response is not to create righteousness on our own. Or holiness on our own. It is not to mend the relationship with the Father that we broke by our own sinfulness.
It is to Repent, Turn, Receive.
God makes us right through Jesus.
And we must make a decision to follow Him. Embrace the Kingdom way of life and not the life of our own will or choosing.
As Christians, we should be asking, what would this look like in heaven? What would our heavenly perfect conduct look like on Earth in this situation? That is what we should strive for.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) illustrates the type of foreign righteousness that God is after. Read the Sermon on the Mount this week. It alters your picture of what righteousness is. It is good, it is holy, it is perfect.
How should the reality of the Kingdom here already and not yet, and a foreign righteousness and the will of the Father affect our prayer life? I think it is meant as an affront to the enemy’s plans.
Praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, is to utilize prayer to make God’s reign tangibly present in our world today.
When we pray, we are calling down to earth what God already planned in heaven.
When we pray, we grow our awareness of the present reality of God’s Kingdom in our hearts.
We need perfection from God in order to bridge the righteousness gap. God offers that to us. In prayer, we should seek from God a reminder of His kingdom and His will being the priority in our lives.
When we pray, we intercede for others to experience this now. We are indwelt by God’s Spirit. This real presence of the Spirit of Christ should pervade our living, but not everyone experiences this, so we pray.
And we pray that they may see the secrecy and hiddenness of the Kingdom of God on earth. So, we pray for salvation, we pray for healing, we pray for nations and their leaders, we pray for Christ’s second coming. We pray for those held in bondage and we pray for those to experience more of the fullness of today’s blessings.
When we pray, we ask for God to complete the mission on His earth. Asking for Christ to return and move us from this age to the age to come. God is moving this planet toward its fulfillment.
Christ is coming again. God is exercising loving patience waiting for those to respond to Him in faith.
Today maybe that is you. Today you might need others to join you in praying for God’s will in your life.
I hope and pray that God continues to grow you and our church in how we pray. I pray that God would show us more of what has been made available to us through Christ.