MATTHEW 4:17, 23
In these verses, Jesus preaches the kingdom of heaven (kingdom of God). He calls people to repent; he teaches, proclaims, and heals. Jesus would serve the people and meet their physical and material needs, but it was always with the intention of addressing their more serious, spiritual need for salvation.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a matter of being saved so as to escape eternal condemnation. It is about becoming part of a new kingdom–God’s kingdom! This kingdom requires repentance, being born again (John 3:3), and leaving the culture and values of the world behind in our hearts and minds to willingly and faithfully embrace the culture and values of God! (John 15:19; 17:14-16; 1 John 2:15)
In this passage, Jesus describes the characteristics that the subjects of his kingdom must strive to possess in order to fully claim (experience) the blessings of the kingdom. Based on your own walk with Jesus, what are some of the greatest blessings you have experienced being part of the kingdom of God?
Becoming part of the kingdom requires saving faith (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith produces security (Hebrews 11:1). Security produces peace. Peace gives birth to joy. At the end of the day, aren’t these the things all people desire: security, peace, joy?
In the world, the pursuit is empty, with only temporary periods in which a person feels secure and safe. In the kingdom, we can possess these things without fear of any circumstance taking them away (Romans 8:28-39).
In What Ways Must We REPENT to Experience the Blessings of the Kingdom?
REPENT IN OUR VIEW OF PROSPERITY
In this psalm, the psalmist writes that the righteous will “prosper in all they do.” But we know many righteous people who experience hardships; disciples who go through times of financial ruin, health struggles, hurts, failures, etc. How, then, can it be that the righteous prosper in all they do?
PHIL 1:21; 3:10-11; 4:11-13 ; JOHN 6:66-69
What was Paul’s driving desire?
What compelled the 12 to stay with Jesus no matter what?
What is your driving desire? Is Christ your goal?
Is growing to be mature in Christ what you long for and the purpose behind the decisions you make on a daily basis?
Is Jesus the treasure you seek in the way you choose to interact with people and engage in your work, leisure, homelife, neighborhood, role in the church?
In other words, is spiritual growth and increasing Christ-likeness your idea of true prosperity? Or, are you still clinging to a worldly view of prosperity (wealth, comfort, worldly success, achieving what you have pre-determined to define a “happy life” for you? )
To experience prosperity in all you do, you must first have the faith to adopt God’s definition of prosperity. You must embrace his values. When you do, every circumstance and situation presents opportunities to practice righteousness and grow to be more and more like Jesus! THUS YOU PROSPER IN ALL YOU DO!
REPENT IN PURPOSE
What are you living for? What is your motivation in life? Is it Christ? Is it to please the Lord in all you do (Ephesians 5:10)?
If it is, then you embrace his teachings and his example. You engage in what he engaged in. Jesus taught, proclaimed, and healed to introduce the kingdom to people.
Are you teaching people about the kingdom of God (through your example and your words)?
Are you proclaiming Jesus and his kingdom (are you sharing your faith with those who may not be disciples?
Are studying the Bible with the lost? Are you trying to do so?
Are you healing? No, you can’t perform miracles like Jesus, but you can still take time to meet people’s physical, material, and emotional needs as best you can.
We Cannot Live for Sin! One cannot experience the blessings of the kingdom if we continue to live for sin and self.
We Cannot Live for Relationships! To do so is to put your hope and security in people, not Christ. Godly, Maturity-in -Christ- producing relationships are awesome, biblical, and needed. But if we are not careful we can make “having deep relationships” the goal, and thus an idol. Relationships were never intended to be our goal. Rather, spiritual relationships are meant to be the avenue to the true goal, which is maturity in Christ.
What is the difference? How might the response of a person who seeks relationships and gets hurt by a brother or sister in the church differ from a person who seeks Christ and gets hurt by a brother or sister?
When your goal is relationships, you can become very frustrated with people who let you down, and even with God. If you are not careful, you will abandon the true pursuit, which is Jesus, in response to feeling you’ve been denied the relationships you seek.
However, when your goal is Christ, you tend to use even the hurts and frustrated attempts you make to build relationships as opportunities to seek righteousness and imitate Jesus. Thus, you use the hurt and disappointment as an opportunity to move towards your true goal: Christ himself.
Build relationships as a bridge to your destination, which is Christ. Don’t make relationships themselves the destination.
We Cannot Live for a “Certain Kind of Church.” It is good and noble to want the church to do well. It is good to not tolerate sin and pray and strive to keep the church as holy as possible when our objective is to honor and glorify our God! But if we are not careful, we can become so devoted to the idea that the church should look or move forward in the way we envision that we lose our compassion for those who are weak, struggle, or simply think differently. This was the sin of the Pharisees who insisted all interpret the text and Judaism as they did.
It is good to encourage, model, and disciple one another towards convictions and behaviors that imitate Jesus. But let us not lose our compassion, our unity, or our humility before one another (Ephesians 5:21). Let us not abandon Christ in the name of building the church we envision. The church, after all, is his. He died for it and has kept it secure since long before we came on the scene; and he will keep it safe until his return. So focus on being righteous, teaching righteousness, and proclaiming righteousness! Jesus will judge his church.
REPENT IN OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE PAST
What does God tell the Israelites to do after they cross the Jordan? Why does he tell them to do this?
When you study the Old Testament and the writings of the New, you discover only three primary reasons why God wants us to recall the past:
One, to remember the faithfulness of our God
Two, to remember that we have been called to be his people
Three, to remember the destructive nature of sin.
Our past should never become a source of pride (“glory days”). Nor should it become a muck of hurts, failures, etc. that bog us down in our faith, unable to move forward in our walk with God and in the fulfillment of his mission to save the lost.
We must never use our past as a reason for not obeying God today and tomorrow. We must never use our past as a shelter for disobedience.