We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This morning, we’re going to take a look at the nature of God’s word. If we are a member of God’s Kingdom, we desire to do God’s will. His word is a light for our path and the standard to which we conform. Due to our love and admiration for our King Jesus and all that He has freely given us, we desire to submit to Him and to do His will because we know that His plans are ultimately plans for our good and His glory. Obedience is the key.
There are, however, many paradoxes within the Kingdom of God. A paradox is a concept that seems to be self contradicting like an oxymoron. To us, these are paradoxes instead of simple truths because our minds have not been fully transformed and renewed. In this flesh, we still see through a veil or mirror and cannot see things fully. Just a few examples of this in the Kingdom of God are how God administers both justice and mercy, how we are exalted through humility, how we gain freedom through submission, how we give in order to receive, how we are strong in our weakness, how life comes through death. Most of us can understand and grasp these truths due to our past experiences which have proven them true. However, we can also easily understand how they seem to be paradoxes outside of our experiences.
Such a paradox that we’re reviewing this morning is how God’s word comes to pass.
We’ll first take a look at what God’s word has to say about itself, confirming that God’s word is always fulfilled.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.
Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So, we begin to get a clear picture that God’s word and His promises are certain and sure. God’s word will be fulfilled, His promises are certain, and His purposes will be achieved. However, God’s word coming to pass in all of the ways in which we just read often seems to be a paradox in our experiences. For example, how many of us here this morning are still waiting on one of God’s promises made in His word to be fulfilled? Every single one of us are!
When it comes to God’s word, His plans, and His purposes being fulfilled in our lives, there is one big variable at play: us! God never changes (Hebrews 13:8), His word is eternal, and what He promises, He always fulfills.
We, however, are ever changing. What we say, we often do not do. What we promise, we often fail to fulfill. What we desire to not do, we usually do. What we hear, we do not always understand. What we know for sure, we usually have wrong in some way. We are broken, sinful, and in quite the wretched state.
God created us in His perfect image including our free will to do what we think best. Sin corrupted our wisdom and so what we do is often destructive and contradictory to God’s wisdom and purpose. In order for God’s word, plans, and purposes to be fulfilled in our lives, we are required to do our part and to cooperate with Him. Most of God’s promises in scripture are conditional. If we do our part, God will most certainly do His part. If are obedient, we will be blessed. If we go our own way, well, we’re on our own. Life and death, blessings and curses all hang in the balance of one thing; our obedience.
To help us to better understand this paradox of God’s perfect world always being fulfilled, yet the need for our obedience, God has given us an analogy. Often in the old as well as the new testaments, God likens His word being fulfilled to that of a seed growing and bearing fruit.
Remember what Jesus said regarding His Kingdom:
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
For any living plant to produce fruit, there are several factors involved. It begins with a seed, then the need for soil rich in nutrients, water, and just the right amount of sunlight. Not only are these factors involved, but there are also animals and insects who love to eat the seeds, plants, and their fruit that can easily destroy or corrupt them. There are also weeds right there alongside of them competing to grow that are ready to steal away the nutrients, water, and sunlight from the good plant. Though the odds may be stacked against it, that little seed has the potential to grow, thrive, produce good fruit, and reproduce itself from now until Jesus returns! That is God’s design at work in creation and His desire and plan for our lives as well.
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
The thing to take note of here is that in all four scenarios, God’s word was exactly the same. God’s word is unchanging and it will always be true and always do exactly what it is intended to do. We don’t have to do anything to a seed, itself to cause it to grow, mature, bear fruit, and multiply. It will do that all on its own because that is what it was created and designed to do. What changes, however, are the circumstances in which the seed is placed. Given the right conditions, that seed will flourish. Given the wrong conditions, that seed may never grow beyond the seed state.
This is also true regarding God’s word growing in our lives. It will grow, mature, bear good fruit, and multiply into the lives of others if we choose to be good soil. It’s up to us to choose to live a life that will gladly accept God’s word and allow it to grow and mature us and to produce the good fruits of God’s Kingdom. We have to do absolutely no work to make God’s word come to pass in our lives. However, we have to do the hard work of to cultivating our lives so that God’s word has the opportunity to do what it was created to do.
When it comes to God’s word being fulfilled in our lives:
The Seed – God’s Word
The Dirt – Us
The Animals/Insects – The Enemy
The Weeds – Worries and Pleasures of This World
The Water – Holy Spirit
An Umbrella – Our Free Will
If any of these elements are missing, God’s Word will be hindered in our lives.
First, if we don’t read and meditate on God’s word personally and get it into our lives, then it has no chance of growing.
(Leave seeds in packet)
Second, if we remain hardened and offended at God’s word, then it will not take root and will die as soon as a season of testing comes as the enemy steals it away.
(Place seed on top of soil, stuffed animal steals it)
Third, if we allow the worries and pleasures of this world that compete with God’s word to overtake His word in our lives instead of growing God’s word in our lives, it will die.
(Place tall, thick plants around soil)
Fourth, if we simply read God’s word, but do not cultivate a relationship with Him, it will die. The Holy Spirit, the author of God’s word, is who helps us to understand and apply God’s word. He takes dead, written text and breathes life into it. If we choose to obey our will over the will of God (as revealed through the Holy Spirit), God’s word will never grow in our lives.
(use umbrella to prevent water from saturating soil)
To have God’s word grow in our lives, we are required to cooperate with God. He will not force His word into our lives and have it grow. He is always faithful to do His part, we must be obedient to do our part.
1. Listen to God’s word
2. Soften our hearts to accept it
3. Do what He says
4. Persevere in doing what He says
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
This entire process can be summarized in one, simple word: obey.
1. Listening to God’s word is obeying Him for it is His desire for us to listen to His voice.
2. Softening our hearts to accept His word is obeying Him for it is His desire that we be cultivated ground for Him to shape and mold.
3. Doing what He says is obeying for He desires to prosper us and not to harm us.
4. Persevering in doing what He says is obeying because doing what is right when it is tough matures and completes us. Perseverance goes beyond simply doing what is right and gets right down to the heart teaching us to do what is right with the right attitude.
Our obedience. It’s how God’s Kingdom comes and His will is done here on the earth even as it is in Heaven!