THE KINGDOM OF GODby Sherry Shriner
What is the kingdom of God, and how do we enter into it and stay in it? The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are often interchangeable. Sometimes they refer to heaven, and sometimes they speak about earth. What exactly is a kingdom? According to Webster's Dictionary it's:
1. A political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign.
2. The eternal spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ.
3. The realm of this sovereignty.
3. A realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant
Spiritual sovereignty of God and a realm in which one thing is dominant. A territorial unit ruled by a Sovereign. That jumps out at me. If we are part of His kingdom, that means were a part of an area that is ruled by Him and under His sovereignty, His rulership.
We are within a realm in which one thing is dominant and this realm is one of Kingship. The Lord is King, and we are those who are servants of this king. This is kingdom living, being part of a kingdom and being under a rulership. However it's voluntary, and in the Lord's kingdom, it's because it's one of love. We serve the king because we love Him, because we want to serve Him, because we have chosen to become a part of His Kingdom.
Many believe His Kingdom encompasses both the earth and heavenly realm. Does it? Yes. His kingdom is in heaven, and it encompasses those within the earth that are His. For those on Earth, it is WITHIN THEM.
ENTERING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: He came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:1-7.
Jesus is talking about an inner transformation from being transformed from your flesh, into His spirit. No one can enter into the kingdom of God, except by this new birth, or what is called being born again of the Spirit. So how do you make that initial entrance into His kingdom to become transformed by and into His Spirit? It's easy.
Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Confess what? That Jesus Christ, Yahushua (His real name) is the Son of God. I John 4:15, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus/Yahushua is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein," Mark 10:15. This means we enter as a child, as someone just born, and new. We have just become born of His Spirit, and we are New in Him. We must learn step by step as He teaches and leads us, and as we progress we grow from a newbie/child to an adult, wiser in Him. We start off as a beginner and advance slowly into a progressive complete fullness of His Spirit.
Getting into the kingdom of God is simple. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, confess and repent of your sins and ask for His forgiveness, and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Renounce the sins of your past and turn away from them. Repentance means to turn away. You are taking off the old (former self) and putting on the new (self with His Spirit) now. You are acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and you are coming under His rulership and into His Kingdom.
Entering the kingdom of God is by obedience to the will of God, and the new birth is evidenced by obedience, not lip service. "Not everyone who say's to me, Lord Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven." "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," James 1:22
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU
"For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you," Luke 17:21b. How does His kingdom become a part of You? Within You? The kingdom of God is a Spiritual realm, attained by walking in the Spirit, and producing the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These are characteristics that we obtain from walking in His Spirit. And there are others.
There are the Be-Attitudes that are results of kingdom living and walking in His Spirit, not suggestions. He says Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are they that mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness;, blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the peacemakers; blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness's sake; blessed are those who are falsely spoken of evil against, to rejoice and be glad for our reward is in heaven. Those in His Kingdom are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. His greatest commandment is for us to show love. There is no love in discrimination. God is not a respector of persons. His kingdom is for all and open to all who will receive His Kingship.
The fruits of the Spirit, the be-attitudes, love for all, these are what His Kingdom is about. On earth, His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. His Kingdom resides within us. When we leave earth, we will go to live in His physical Kingdom called Heaven. Kingdom living is both spiritual and physical. The spiritual and physical work together, for what is done on earth, is done in heaven. Matthew 16:19 says, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." They work together to produce the results of His Kingdom on earth.
Building Your Own Signature Relationship With God
On Earth, kingdom living begins with building a relationship with Him, hearing His voice, being fed and taught by Him in the Spirit as we seek Him in Spirit and in Truth. It's a unique relationship we build with the King that is an individual and personal relationship that just you have with Him. Each person in His Kingdom has this own unique and individual relationship with Him. He knows how to relate to you because you are His child. We are children of the King. So when you build that relationship with Him, it's unique, because how He relates to you, is not going to be the same as how He relates to someone else.
Your relationship with Him becomes your own unique signature with Him. Your hand written signature is your own. It's unique to you; it identifies who you are; it's your name; it's your signature. Every person has their own hand writing. No two people write exactly the same. This is how it is with God. Your relationship becomes your own unique signature with Him.
Since you've entered His Kingdom, have you built a relationship with God? Do you seek Him daily for His voice, guidance and direction? How often do you spend quiet time just waiting to hear His voice? Do you talk to Him and then Listen for Him to talk to you? God speaks to our hearts. It's a two-way building and two-way communication relationship between you and Yahweh.
That is the way that you will be able to walk in love and the fruit of the Spirit. He wants to talk to you. He has a lot to say, and He loves just being a part of your daily life. When you take time to get to know Him, you will learn who He is and what He cares about. You do not always have to be in a silent mode of prayer to talk to the Lord. I often talk to Him when I am driving, or I will go outside and stare up at the sky, or talk to Him while I am doing dishes, practically anytime.
When you pray or talk to Him, stop talking and start listening. Listen for His voice speak to your heart and spirit. Jesus does not speak to our heads. He speaks to our hearts. He cannot speak if we are always talking, and we cannot hear Him if we are not listening. Talk and Listen, the basic components of relationship building with anyone, especially the Lord who matters most.
As you begin to hear His voice and recognize Him and start to build a unique signature relationship with Him, His heart will become your heart. You will begin to beat as one. To know His heart's desires, for the church for the lost and dying world, for the hurt, the poor, the hungry, the destitute, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the prisoner, the homeless all those with needs, He cares about all of these things, not church programs and building bigger churches, and getting them full. Listen to the heart of God. You will come to know Him and to know the love He calls us to, and you will be filled with the fullness of His Spirit. You will become more of Him as you become less of yourself, and you will not be able to get enough of Him. He will dominate who and what you are.
Do you have a perfect and complete love for Yahweh, or are you wondering how somebody else is doing it? Do you feel like you are missing out on something even though you are already a professing believer? Many give Him lip service only, and never get to know the Lord they claim they serve. Are you living righteously for Him? Righteousness means right living, living right based on how He wants us and commands us to live. To be Holy, for He Is Holy. To Walk in Love, For He is Love. To Walk in His Spirit, as His Spirit is Within Us. Your love for Him will grow and reach new heights you never expected possible as you seek Him more in a Spirit building relationship. That process is what most believers simply do not understand. They do not know what it means to go into the wilderness and be alone with Him.
What is being in the wilderness? The term wilderness here is symbolic of where He takes us after we are born again unto Him. Most people get saved and head to a church to learn about Him. Yahweh desires for us to receive guidance from His shepherds, but He also seeks for us to go into the wilderness with Him where He can reveal Himself to us and show us who He is on a personal level and teach us His truths. Being in the wilderness is an experience, not a sentence.
Wilderness living is symbolic of the children of Israel who went through the wilderness for 40 years because they refused to obey God and to love Him above all else. He proved over and over He was God, and there is no other.
Yet many of them continued to make idols to worship and worship other gods. As we put idols in front of Him and let the distractions and cares of this world keep us from Him, our material possessions like entertainment, sports, etc., become the things we place before Him, they become our idols. Many were in complete rebellion and in opposition to the living God. Many do not realize they are putting their church in front of Him, and they replace building a relationship with Him with their church.
Many let their churches teach them instead of letting Him take them to the wilderness. They allow the church to replace Him. How will you know if you are being fed truth or error from the churches if you do not know what truth is? Church should reinforce what you already know, and it allows for fellowship with other believers and be a time of sharing and praising His name. But it should never become your only part of relationship building with the Lord.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me," John 10:27. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" John 10:4. "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep" John 10:7 Jesus is the shepherd and we are His sheep. His sheep know Him. They know His voice, and they follow Him. Frustration sets in for many of those when they jump ahead of Him and then feel alone. They get frustrated because they are eager to jump and run ahead. Jesus says He is the Shepherd - not you. HE WILL LEAD YOU. Do not try to jump ahead and lead Him. He does not need your help, and when you jump ahead, your out of His will, which is what leads to personal frustration. This is part of Kingdom living.
We aren't perfect. We sin and make mistakes. Jesus says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" I John 1:9. If you sin, confess it. Turn away from it, and keep seeking Him. There is power, healing, strength and encouragement in praying with one another as well; Jesus says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth (accounts) much," James 5:16.
Those in His Kingdom need to pray together and for one another. There is strength in prayer. There is power in prayer. There is healing in prayer. There is forgiveness and restoration in prayer. And there is peace in Him knowing that He hears our prayers. We must learn to cut out all sin out of our lives and the works of the flesh. Inevitably, it can be a painful process, depending on how we yield to and cooperate with Him.
We are to walk in a spirit filled life and not to let sin dominate us. We are not to jump ahead of the Shepherd, and we are to show love to all those around us so that they can see the love of the Father through Us. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.
Living in the wilderness is a time of preparation, a place where we go to put off the old and put on the new, to get rid of the sins in our lives and learn to seek Him in spirit and prayer. It's where He perfects us to become more like Him, often referred to as sanctification. It's where we learn to hear His voice. Some people never even go to the wilderness, some never get out of it, and some are in it for a long, long time. True believers of Yahushua will have the evidence of Yahweh's Holy Spirit within them, and they are in the wilderness being taught and strengthened by His Spirit.
Learning to love and show love to all
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" I John 3:11. Love is important in the Kingdom of Yahweh. In fact, it's the greatest commandment He gave to us, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is your neighbor? The person living beside you, in front of you, or behind you? Your friend, your associate, people you know, people you do not know you? It's anyone! it's everyone! We are to love others more than ourselves. He is telling us that we should put others first and show love at all times.
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" John 15:12-14. There is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends as Jesus did for us. He laid His life down for His friends. We are His friends if we do what He commands us to do. If you want to be in the kingdom of God, then you must be His friend. We are not His servants. We are His friends who serve in His Kingdom, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord (boss) doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 15:15.
"Beloved let us love one another, , for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." I John 4:7. Love should be our top priority in learning and seeking, not prosperity, not signs and wonders, manifestations, or gifts. We should be studying the love walk and how we are to walk in love as if our Kingdom citizenship depended on it, because it does. To learn how to love, we need to study Jesus. He loved others, He forgave others, He showed mercy and grace to others. He was humble and meek, never arrogant and abrasive.
Why does citizenship depend on love? Because, if we do not learn to love, we cannot claim to know Him. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" I John 4:7,8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1Jo 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. As He is, so are we. If you are not as He is, you are not His, just fooling yourself with lip service. We must become as He is.
Mark 12:30-31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
And you should love your enemies and pray for those who come against you and persecute you. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" Matthew 5:44
Actions speak louder than words. That is why Jesus tells us to not to love in word, but in deed and in truth ( I John 3:18). Do not just give lip service how you love everyone then turn around and speak or do evil things against your brethren or others. Your actions speak louder than your words.
In the kingdom we must go through much trial and suffering; so that when we come out we will come out as gold tried in the fire.
Forgiveness is power. Most people do not realize the power in forgiveness. Yahshua tells us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and to forgive others when they hurt us or do something wrong to us. If we dwell on the pain caused, or the hurt, we allow anger and bitterness to take root in us. These aren't just adjectives, there is a whole demonic host associated with the terms, which are also names and ranks of anger and bitterness. And if you are going to hang onto these feelings, trust me, you are going to get a lot more than just those feelings. Anyone in deliverance or spiritual warfare has some understanding in how the spirit realm works. We can have complete victory through Jesus at any time, but why bother to have to have a reason to deal with it to begin with. Do not give Satan and his hosts legal grounds to attack and oppress you. They know perfectly well what they can and cannot do, even though you may not. Jesus always tells us things for our own good. We just need to listen to Him so we do not have to find out the hard way all the whys.
By forgiving others we aren't giving the evil forces grounds to attack. We are staying in love and love is light which destroys darkness.
The POWER of Prayer
The prayers of His people are POWERFUL. They are ALIVE and move in motion in the spirit realm and accomplish things we will never see, but things Yahweh has made me understand.
Prayer is truly the backbone of His kingdom, and intercessory prayer and intercessors are the warriors of the strength of His kingdom, which is misunderstood by many today. Many misunderstand the real power of prayer or intercessory prayer. There is so much Power in PRAYER because it Builds and it Destroys. It Sets up, and it Tears down. It Moves the kingdom of heaven and Destroys the gates of hell.
Prayer is POWER. While we are in the wilderness, we learn much about prayer because we are always seeking Him, but do not neglect to put Power in Motion, Words in Motion that can affect the little things in life from the small things to the huge. Pray for others, pray for the sick, the homeless, the widows, those in difficulty, churches, our country, our president.
Do not ever think your prayer would not mean something. It means Everything. It puts POWER in the Kingdom of God and within the spirit realm to Produce and Bring Forth results.
Coming Out Of The Wilderness
Sanctification, the process of becoming more like Him, putting off the old and putting on the new, learning who He is, learning how to hear His voice, learning the truth of His Word and Kingdom, becoming as one with Him, this is the wilderness experience. If you are tired of wilderness living then you are probably complacent in your relationship with Him and not moving forward in it. The Lord does not force Himself on us. You have to seek Him through prayer to teach you the truth in all things, to teach you who He is, to help you become more like Him, to teach you how to walk in the spirit. You must seek Him while you are in the wilderness so He can lead you through it, and then out of it. I am talking about daily prayer and seeking Him, only Him, replacing your cares of this world with Him, being focused completely on Him. The keys are persistence and focus on Him.
When you come out of the wilderness you will be fully equipped to serve Him in truth and in spirit. You will know His voice, and you have a rock solid understanding of who He is and how He works. Your foundation is firm and cannot be moved. You have the power and authority of His kingdom within you that He can use to bring glory and honor to His Name. You have your own signature relationship with Him, and you are ready for battle or service in His power and authority. You have learned not to jump ahead of Him, but to let Him lead you. Your hearts beat as one, you see with His eyes and you hear with His ears. You have become as One.
Can We Leave His Kingdom or Lose Our Place?
He says, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels" Rev. 3:5. There is no license to sin. There is no 'once saved always saved' if your name can be blotted out of the Book of Life. How can we feel free to sin when He has commanded us to be Holy? "Be ye Holy For I am Holy"
If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar" I John 4:20a. If you are not showing love and walking in love, God's greatest commandment, then you are a liar and not one of His. If you are not abiding by His commands and seeking Him and allowing Him to sanctify you and giving up your worldly deeds of the flesh, then you are not His. True repentance is turning away from sin and the deeds of the flesh, and seeking Him in Spirit and in Truth. It's a process, but as long as you’re in the process, you are His because you are seeking Him. If you are not even trying, if you are not fervently seeking Him, how can you call yourself His? Do not be deceived. There is no room for complacency in the Kingdom of God.
Sitting on the Sidelines
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth (driven by impulses, fly in every direction, cut to pieces) abroad," Matthew 12:30. The word "against" is kara denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower. Jesus said He that he who is not with me is against me, meaning they are in motion away from Him, from the higher to the lower. There is no sitting still. You are in motion for Him, either going up toward Him or moving away from Him.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins, there were some caught unprepared and left out of the wedding feast. Notice the groom did not stop to tell them "that's ok I will wait for you to get oil for your lamps." No, he left without them! They became complacent and ended up missing out on the event they had been waiting for!
Kingdom Living is being active in good works. It is being charitable and helpful and fulfilling whatever calling He has for you. There is no time to sit and watch everyone else when you yourself will be accountable for your time spent. If you are in or out of the wilderness, He will lead you. If you are neither, and sitting on the sidelines looking in, you are in danger of being left behind for not following His orders. You are in opposition to Him. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," James 1:22.