Posts Tagged ‘challenging’

Kingdom of God: What and Where? {Encouragement for Young Men}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “kingdom”?

 

Maybe you imagine a fairy-tale kingdom…a castle with a long drawbridge, and turrets all around.  With a princess high up in a tower (because they always seem to hang around in those things for some reason), a king and queen seated on their thrones with courtiers and jesters attending to them, and knights just outside trotting around on horses.  Or maybe you’re into a little more ancient historical events and picture cruel Assyria, advancing their kingdom by whatever means necessary, piling up the skulls of their enemies by their gates.  Or perhaps Babylon or Persia, with its funny-looking towers with tear-dropped shaped tops.  Or maybe you see Alexander the Great weeping because there’s nothing left to conquer, or see Augustus Caesar ascending to the throne after Julius Caesar was murdered.  Or maybe you see something from Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or imagine the current United Kingdom, I don’t know.

 

In light of all these kingdoms, let me give you my own definition for kingdom.

KINGDOM – Wherever a king has domain.  The place where a king’s authority is in place and the people are subject to him and his laws.

 

In light of all that, did you know the Bible speaks of a kingdom not ruled by man…but God.  The kingdom of God.  In fact, in the book of Daniel, the king of Babylon has a dream of the kingdoms I mentioned above, and when the prophet Daniel interprets it, he explains about another kingdom…the kingdom of God…that will supersede all of these kingdoms!

Daniel 2:44  And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 

 

That sound pretty sweet!  The God of heaven sets up a kingdom that will NEVER be destroyed!  I kind of want to be on His side!  So when does this kingdom come about?  Let’s fast forward in time to when the Romans were ruling, and Jesus has been born.  In the midst of all this chaos of the Roman empire ruling the Jews, all of a sudden, a carpenter from Nazareth shows up on the scene and begins to preach about a kingdom.

Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (15) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. KJV

The Bible says He came in preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand!

Whaaaa?  What is he talking about?  Is it about to come?  Where is it?  Is He leading it?  That’s the exact question some of the Pharisees had.

Luke 17:20-21  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: (21) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. KJV

 

Jesus was saying the kingdom of God was already here, and that it did not come with observation, where you can just point to a central location, because it is WITHIN you.  Now before you get all disappointed with what may sound like a cop-out answer, think of how brilliant this is.  God doesn’t just conquer lands and forcefully subject people to His rule at this time.  Instead, He has set up a kingdom that can never be destroyed and has been spread out throughout the entire world already as I’m writing this, filled with pockets of people who are subject to Him!

Remember my definition of a kingdom?  It’s wherever a king has authority and people subject to Him.

We choose whether or not we are going to be a part of this kingdom right now.  Jesus told us how:  Repent and believe the gospel.  That makes perfect sense.  Repentance is changing our mindset about how we live.  It’s acknowledging that my way isn’t right, so I’m going to submit to God’s way.  It’s acknowledging Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, meaning that WHATEVER HE says, goes.  No matter what earthly government we are under at the time, are chief loyalty is to our Highest King!

 

What about you?  Are you part of the kingdom of God as is described here, with the King of Kings having ultimate rule in your heart?

Is there anything in your life that is NOT subject to your King?

Discuss Biblically how we become part of the kingdom and how we can tell others to join the kingdom.

 

Waiting {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Girls

Waiting is so hard.  It could be be waiting for that adorable dress to go on sale, it could be waiting for that avocado to ripen (guacamole, anyone?),  it could be waiting for that phone call, a difficult relationship that you’ve been working hard to reconcile, it could be a dream you’ve held forever…whatever it is, no level of waiting is easier than another.

 

I’m stubborn.  I’m a hard nose.  I’m willing to work hard for what I want–even if it kills me.  I don’t care.  I want it, I’m willing to do what it takes to get it.  I don’t care about the pain.  The blood.  The sweat.  The tears.  Bring it on–as long as I get what I want in the end.

 

But that’s not the way that God always works.

 

He does not ask me to practically kill myself for what I want.  He doesn’t want sacrifice, it doesn’t matter how much blood, sweat, or tears I shed–trying to show Him how badly I want something.  He wants obedience.


“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,”

~from 1 Samuel 15:22

 

Sometimes I forget that what want is not necessarily what God wants for me.  Or, if it is something that I believe is within His will, I forget that He is not always working within the time schedule that I want things to occur.

 

“Come on, God!  It’s time for this to happen now!”  I point to my watch, tap my toe.

 

Amy, are you being faithful where I have you right now? 


But Lord, I have been!  And I keep trying, isn’t it time that everything pays off now???

 

Amy, trust Me.  Wait.  Wait upon the Lord.  Remain faithful.


I am reminded of the scene in the movie Fireproof.  Even now, as I write this post, I am blasting the song “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller through ear buds.  So good.

 

Anyway, the scene with the montage showing Caleb, how while he is waiting for the Lord to work he is simply being obedient.  No matter what the outcome appears to be, he does not waver in that which he believes the Lord has called him to.  He just waits.  He keeps pressing in on the commands of the Lord.  He waits.  He remains faithful.  Even if it means forever.

 

Even if it means waiting for eternity.

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

 for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

~Galatians 6:9

 

“At the proper time”–in God’s time.  Even if it means til eternity.

 

God’s timing is always best.  He is omniscient.  He knows the desires of your heart, He will not withhold good things from you, but He will protect you.  And because He is supreme, His will comes before yours.  Is His will first and foremost in your heart?

 

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,

On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

To deliver their soul from death

And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;

He is our help and our shield.

For our heart rejoices in Him,

Because we trust in His holy name.

Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

According as we have hoped in You.

~Psalm 33:18-22

 

What are you waiting for?  

How can you serve the Lord while you wait?  

Talk to God about the things on your heart that you are waiting for.  Are they from Him?  Give them up to Him, trust in His holy name, and bask in His peace as He carries them for you–and be faithful wherever He calls you in the meantime.

Embrace Them! {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Girls

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Colossians 3:14  

Oh, little brothers… and little sisters for that matter!  Don’t ya just love ’em to pieces?  (I can see you smirking!)  Let’s admit it.  Sometimes brothers and sisters get on our nerves… But that doesn’t make it right. Allow me to explain.

The world views us (or at least me) as a teenager that has too much responsibility having to occasionally help mom with the kids.  The world teaches us that we should not have to be helping with laundry, wiping noses, cooking meals–it is too much work for one so young, trying to explore life!   I don’t know if that is you but that is not me!

God intended for you to help your mother with housework, chores, and yes–even the children, so that she could train you for your future roll of being a wife and mother.  Little brothers and sisters are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127) and they should be embraced!  Their talents, their joys, even their shortcomings should all be embraced.  Through your brothers’ and sisters’ shortcomings you are being sharpened and refined for the work that the Lord has for you when you become a mother and have to take care of your own children that will very likely have similar shortcomings.

When your little brother comes and gets in your bed in the middle of the night because he is scared, embrace him!  Cuddle him close, give him a few kisses, tell him you love him!  When your little sister draws you another card- the millionth one and you’re tired of figuring out what to do with them- embrace her.  Thank her, use some double-sided tape and tape it to your bedroom wall, and tell her you love her!  When your other little brother wants to play catch in the backyard but you just started to read that last chapter, embrace him!  Put a mark in your book–for how long will your little brother be nine years old wanting to play catch with his big sister?– and race him to the backyard. Oh, yeah.  And don’t forget to tell him that you love him.

Have you noticed something? 🙂  Tell your brothers and sisters that you love them!  When they walk by, clothesline them and kiss them on the cheek.  Ruffle your brother’s hair as he passes by and say, “I love you!”.

These days won’t last forever, and your brothers and sisters will eventually grow up and have their own families.  Will they be any less fun?  No way!  But imagine what kind of stories they would tell their own daughters, using you as an example (how much of a privilege and delight is that?!?) about how their big sister never turned them away, she was so joyful to do things with them, and how she just couldn’t stop telling them that she loved them!  Embrace your brothers and sisters!  You will have many friends in your life, but your brothers and sisters have been and will be your friends the longest period of time: forever.

What are some ways that you could show your little siblings that you love them?  Read them a book?  Bake cookies together?  Take them out for coffee? (Ha, that’s one of my favorites!)

How might you encourage them in their walk with the Lord?

What do you think you could do to encourage them in the skills and gifts that God has given them?

Are there areas in your relationships with your siblings that you see lacking in which you may need to show them more love?

 

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