Parameters of Encouragement (2)
…walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.12
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6.33
A calling from God
Let’s imagine a scenario. The phone rings at your home, and someone other than you answers. But the call is for you, so the person who answered finds you and says, “It’s for you.” You reply, “Who is it?”, that is, “Who’s calling?” Let’s say it’s your boss. Your boss wants you to do something right away. Your boss has called you specifically for this task. It’s up your alley, in your wheelhouse, and right there on your job description. And it needs to be done now.
How do you respond?
Now let’s do a reality check. God is calling. God is calling you. He is calling you to live for His glory, and we have considered what that entails – every aspect of your life daily devoted to Him to establish and declare His Presence in all you do.
But God is also calling you to His Kingdom. And God’s own Son has reinforced that calling by emphasizing the urgency of it: You must seek God’s Kingdom first in everything you do. If you heed that part of God’s calling, He will add to your life everything else you may require. You will know full and abundant life as it is offered in Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.10; 14.6).
God is calling you to His Kingdom and glory as the defining motif, organizing principle, driving force, and primary outcome of everything you do in life. And He’s calling you now and always, not merely for some far distant time when Jesus returns in glory.
How do you respond?
The Kingdom of God
Once, when I was a very young child, I was staying with my cousins in another part of our town. My aunt sent me to the kitchen to bring her the teapot. I immediately got up and went to the kitchen, where I realized I didn’t know what a teapot was. My parents didn’t drink tea. I’d never heard the word “teapot” before my aunt sent me to fetch it. So I looked around in the kitchen for likely candidates to fulfill the mission with which I’d been charged.
I brought her a mason jar, which I found on a counter.
Needless to say, my cousins had a great laugh. The point is obvious: If you don’t know what you’ve been sent to seek, you could end up a little embarrassed.
More to the point of our concern, if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be seeking as the primary and overarching and defining aspect of your life, you could miss out on what you’ve been called to in life. If the Kingdom of God is nothing more than an idea or a term to you, and not a reality you can see with your mind, long for in your heart, know as the default value of your conscience, and realize increasingly in every aspect of your life, you’re going to have difficulty fulfilling your calling.
The Kingdom of God is nothing other than the rule of King Jesus, His authoritative governance according to the Word of God. Jesus is now exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords. His Kingdom extends to every place, everyone, and everything. He is Lord and King of all. His rule extends throughout all of creation, the entire cosmos and everything in it. He upholds the cosmos by His Word of power (Heb. 1.3). He rules for uprightness and goodness (Ps. 45.6), to restore all of creation – which He reconciled to His Father by His death and resurrection (2 Cor. 5.19) – to that “very good” condition in which it was first created (Gen. 1.31). Jesus came to earth, as He Himself explained, to “bring near” the Kingdom of God, to begin preparing the soil of the creation for the actual sowing of the Kingdom that would come with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first Christian Pentecost (Matt. 4.17; Acts 2.14-36). Seated at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus has received the Kingdom of God: “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7.13 14).
And Jesus has given that Kingdom to His saints – to all who believe in Him (Dan. 7.18) – that they might seek it, in line with God’s calling, as the defining objective of everything they do in life.
The character of the Kingdom
Paul explained that the Kingdom of God is not just a phrase or idea we as believers bandy about as something yet to be realized. He said the Kingdom of God is power (1 Cor. 4.20), Holy Spirit power (Acts 1.8) which aims to realize more righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit in every facet of our lives (Rom. 14.17, 18). The Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us, uses the Word of God to stir our souls to understand these virtues, to desire them above all else, and to pursue and practice them in all the details of our lives.
We can encourage one another to a greater realization of the rule of King Jesus in our lives. Through our prayers, example, words, and help, we can bring the stirring of God’s Spirit to vital spiritual energy in one another’s lives for the courage to seek and advance the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6.10).
Where the Kingdom of God is present, righteousness, peace, and joy abound. Beauty, goodness, and truth provide the fragrance of life in Christ (2 Cor. 2.15). The fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5.22, 23), the tokens of love (1 Cor. 13.4-7), and the benchmarks of holiness (1 Jn. 5.1-3; Rom. 7.12) blossom and come to fruition increasingly in everything we do. It takes courage to live a Kingdom-seeking life, and God can give us the courage we need to step out in faith, stand against cultural trends, and transform our personal spheres into signs and outposts of the Kingdom of God.
The more we encourage one another in our calling to seek first the Kingdom of God, the more of that Kingdom we may expect to see, coming on earth as it in in heaven.
1. Why do we say that the Kingdom of God is a reality now?
2. What does it mean to seek the Kingdom first in everything we do?
3. How should seeking the Kingdom affect the kind of encouragement we seek or give?
Next Step – Transformation: Ask God to lead you in seeking His Kingdom today, so that, by the end of the day, you can look back with thanksgiving and praise at the progress He has made in and through you.
T. M. Moore
We can encourage people in even small and seemingly insignificant ways. Our book Small Stuff helps you be more aware of the opportunities for encouraging others that God brings to you each day. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.