Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘kingdom of God’

Unstoppable

They’ve been trying to stop it for over 2000 years, but the harder they try, the more it grows.  What has happened recently in China is an example.  A large new “legal” church building in the eastern province of Zhejiang has been demolished by the government which complained that Christianity’s spread had been “too excessive and too haphazard.”

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But demolishing a building cannot stop God and the growth of His Church.  Someone commented, “History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

A “sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.  Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Back up to the beginning.  The book of Acts chronicles the  beginning of the Church from the day that Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit was about to empower them to take the message about Him “to the ends of the earth.”  (1:8)  The rest of that book gives the details of how that plan unfolded in spite of the opposition of established religion, powerful governments, and daunting physical circumstances.  In fact, the last words of the book (in the original Greek language) refer to Paul’s activity while under house arrest in Rome:  “…proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness unhindered”! (28:20)

And that movement goes on, growing and gaining as godless humanity tries in vain to stomp it out.  Until one day loud voices in heaven will proclaim,

“The kingdom of the world
   has become the kingdom of our Lord
   and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever!”
(Revelation 11:15)

That will be a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus that I don’t want to miss!

 

 Links to articles about the church in China:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10792386/China-accused-of-anti-Christian-campaign-as-church-demolition-begins.html

 http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

The Gift of Tears

Tears don’t come easily for me.  My indignation rises when I hear of  godlessness and injustice, but do my deeply held convictions really grip my heart?  So I was thrilled the other day when God granted me the gift of tears.  I had just been thinking about the travesty of unborn babies being ripped apart for the convenience of their mothers and/or the insistence of family members and for the sake of abortionists’ greed in accordance with our society’s high value of sexual license.   Then unexpectedly I found my tears mingling with the dishwater there at the sink, sobbing at the fate of those precious children!  Thank you, Lord, for giving me tears!

Lord, please give me tears often to cry…

…for my brothers and sisters imprisoned and tortured for your sake.

…for women and children in slavery, exploited by cruel, greedy, and lustful men.

…for hearts so hard as to do these things to others.

…for unborn children bring torn limb from limb every day.

…for people longing for the freedom I take for granted.

…for my self-centeredness.

…for the cold, hungry and homeless.

…for those who have never known the true love of a mother, or father.

…for the poverty of my love for you and others.

…for those existing day by day with no hope of heaven to give meaning to their lives.

Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

When Math Doesn’t Add Up

Here are some amazing spiritual math and science facts:

1 + 1 + 1 = 3   when it’s the Trinity.  God is three in one!  No, we can’t figure it out but God is not limited by the math He invented for us to make sense of our  little world.  I delight in worshiping a God who is great beyond my understanding Smile.

2 wrongs don’t make 1 right.  It’s not like multiplying two negative numbers which gives us a positive. 
For example, 1 unintended pregnancy + 1 abortion does NOT equal one “right.”  (No one has the “right” to kill a baby—including his/her mother!)

Gravity (physical law) always pulls us down.  But glory lifts us upward. Our body is temporal; it has to stay on this earth whether we’re alive or dead.   Our spirit can receive God’s never-ending life that give us supernatural power during this life and eternal hope beyond the grave—a life with no limits, only pure joy. 

The second law of thermodynamics says (in layman’s terms) that things inevitably run down.  But God’s kingdom is gaining power and increasing. I’ve been enjoying the book of Acts in the Bible, the story of the irrepressible power of God’s message to spread all over the world and change lives.  God is building His kingdom, and neither human or superhuman powers can stop it until finally a trumpet will sound and the announcement will be made:

“The kingdom of the world has become
     the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
          and he will rule as king forever and ever.”
                 (Revelation 11:15)

Tools or Weapons?

Within a half hour of reading in the minor prophets (those short books at the end of the Old Testament) I came across these two verses that seem to contradict each other:

Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears..” (Joel 3:10 NIV)

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks..” (Micah 4:3, also Isaiah 2:4)

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I am told that in that day, people could and actually did convert these tools into weapons and vice versa, depending on whether it was a time of peace or war. 

With that insight and looking at the context of these two verses, we see that Joel is warning Israel’s enemies to get ready for the war that God will wage against them.

On the other hand, Micah is describing the state of eternal peace that will be inaugurated when God finally rules all nations and hearts without rival.

God’s arrival can mean disaster or peace, depending on whether we’re on His side or not.  Which side are you on?  Are you looking forward to His direct intervention in world history or dreading it? 

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
     Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  (2 Peter 3:9-13 NLT)

Upside Down

A reality show star who quotes the Bible is taken off the air at the same time that a polygamist is given his own reality show.

Chimpanzees’ “personhood” is being pushed while preborn (and even newborn) humans’ personhood is being denied.

Veterans’ pensions are being cut and money given instead to support those who kill millions of babies.

We are being told that we still have freedom of religion, but we are not allowed to practice it by word or deed that someone else might not agree with.

Evil is being called good, and good is being called evil.  It’s all upside down.

My response is to pray with all my heart:

Our Father in heaven:
May your holy name be honored;
may your Kingdom come;
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:9-10)

It will all be put right when God sets up His just, loving, and beautiful kingdom on earth!

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Peace for our time?

The headline today says “Peace for Our Time.”  When have we heard that before?  Here’s a headline from 75 years ago:

1938: ‘Peace for our time’ – Chamberlain

The British Prime Minister has been hailed as bringing “peace to Europe” after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany.

Look at the date and remember what happened shortly after this optimistic pronouncement.  Think about the trustworthiness of the other party in the agreement.

I’ve been reading the writings of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, in which God says this about the leaders of His people:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.  (Jeremiah 6:14-15)

And within a few years that nation was indeed wiped out by a powerful enemy.

So today do we actually believe that world leaders will bring us real peace?  Only the Prince of Peace can do that—Jesus Christ.  He has come once to capture our hearts, and He will return again soon to capture all nations and set up the only kind of peaceful kingdom this world will ever know.

The Peaceful Kingdom

On a long plane flight the other day, I watched one of those beautiful documentaries about African cats—lions and cheetahs.  Their darling babies and family loyalty on one hand, and their struggles for survival on the other.  Those that prey on them and terrorize them (hyenas, rivals), and those on which they themselves prey.  When the “hero” of the story is a cheetah who needs to feed her babies, I struggle whether to root for her or for the beautiful, innocent deer that she’s pursuing in a life-or-death chase.

But one day that will change.  I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah with its depths of doom and heights of ecstasy, and here at the end I welcome that famous line,

“The wolf and the lamb will feed together. 
The lion will eat hay like a cow…
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.” (65:25)

I really look forward to getting up close with those beautiful animals!

But to be fair, we have to look back at the beginning of the chapter to see just who will be enjoying this new world of peace.  God says that those who have ignored Him and chosen to do what He despises are destined for destruction, starvation, and despair (65:11-14).  It is rather those who are truly God’s servants who will eat, drink, sing for joy, and and enjoy that beautiful new earth where peace and prosperity reign (65:13-25. 

I hope you’ll be there to enjoy it with me—by God’s grace.  It will be worth it all!

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

The World a Chessboard

The other day at a mall we saw hundreds of chessboards set up and young contestants arriving in yellow-and-white t-shirts.  Chess is a game I don’t care for, personally, because it takes too much thinking.  I prefer more relaxing activities in my free time. 

But I did ponder a similarity between chess and real life—the lives of people and nations.  Both are serious, intense.  People and nations, like chess players, are out to promote themselves and their interests at the expense of others. 

Now just imagine a dog or toddler coming along and dumping over the whole board with its strategically placed pieces.  Poof! It’s all gone—unless someone was recording every move. 

The time will come when God will swipe his arm across the chessboard of the world, in one fell swoop dismantling nations, rulers, resources, plans, pride, programs, powers, intrigue, intelligence, human wisdom and achievement.  Then He will set up His own glorious Kingdom, where He will reign unopposed with perfect justice, goodness, power, and wisdom.  His subjects will be those who have gladly accepted His sovereignty over their lives.  I’m so thankful to be one of those! 

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

The Last Laugh

When my sister and I got Monopoly for Christmas one year, we played it every day of vacation.  Each game took hours!  At first it’s fun, but as the balance of wealth begins to lean to one side, it’s just a painful matter of time until the inevitable happens—if you’re losing.  (And if you’re winning, it becomes rather boring.) Monopoly Deal, on the other hand (a new card game that we’re getting our granddaughter Emmeline for her birthday—don’t tell!), is a refreshing change that allows the balance to be upset very quickly and unexpectedly, giving hope to the underdog.  And it takes only 15-20 minutes to play!

That’s what I thought of when I read Psalm 2 this morning. 

Why do the nations gather together?
Why do their people devise useless plots?
Kings take their stands.
Rulers make plans together
against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying,
“Let’s break apart their chains
and shake off their ropes.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs.
The Lord makes fun of them.
Then he speaks to them in his anger.
In his burning anger he terrifies them by saying,
“I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  
      (Psalm 2:1-6, God’s Word translation)

Powerful and ungodly nations and rulers may seem to have the upper hand now, but God is not worried.  The balance of power will change dramatically and He will have the last laugh, punishing those who defy Him and installing the Lord Jesus as the eternal King over all.  This is my comfort and my hope as I live as an alien on this earth, a subject of the Kingdom of God.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

What to Pray for

The Lord’s Prayer has taken on new meaning for me.  It is a concise and beautiful picture of what my true concerns should be as a subject of God’s kingdom.  God takes priority.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
.

God, may You be honored!  People today are ignoring You, denying You, shaking their fists in Your face.  But one day every single person will have to kneel and acknowledge that You are the only true and sovereign Creator and King of the universe.  (Philippians 2:10-11)  I can hardly wait until You restore this earth to what it was meant to be and directly rule it graciously, justly, and powerfully!

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Then my personal concerns—
   provision of my basic needs for life (i.e. food),
   forgiveness of my sins,
   harmony and unity with others,
   protection from Satan and his power.

Nothing here about convenience, choices, safety, health, wealth, prestige, and all the other things we consider so important.  Lord, please keep my eyes on what’s truly important and remind me that this earth is only my temporary home. 

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

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