When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Wonderful Words of Life."


 ​​​​​​​Kingdom Living
Matthew 9:35-38, Luke 19:10

In Jesus’ time, communities were deeply divided by bitter differences in religious beliefs, political positions, income inequality, and ethnic differences. Sound familiar?

Jesus lived in the middle of a culture war, as do we. And though the political systems were different, the greed, hypocrisy, and oppression different groups used to get their way were very similar.

Jesus was born at the height of the Roman Empire’s power. They’d conquered most of the known world. Unlike previous empires that would try to destroy cultures by displacing conquered peoples’ leaders, the Romans didn’t force people to change their religion or customs as long as they kept their obligations to the empire.

In Israel, political and religious factions were one and the same. Back then, it was Pharisees and Sadducees. Today, we have conservatives and liberals.

The Pharisees were the most religiously conservative leaders. They had the most influence among the common working poor. They believed that a king would come one day to conquer Rome with violence and free their nation. Some preyed upon a mostly illiterate population by adding extra rules and requirements that were designed to force the working poor into a posture of suppression.

The Sadducees were wealthy aristocrats who had a vested financial interest in Roman rule. They were in charge of the temple, and they didn’t believe any savior king was coming.

They made themselves wealthy by exacting unfair taxes and fees from the labor of their own people and by contriving money-making schemes that forced the poor to pay exorbitant prices to participate in temple sacrifice, which was a critical part of their religion.

There were Zealot groups who hid in the hills and violently resisted Roman occupation, and then there were the Samaritans, often oppressed and marginalized because of their racial and ethnic identities.

And so, the common farmer, fisherman, or craftsman’s family lived through a highly unstable political period. Overbearing religious leaders who despised and oppressed them, wealthy elites who ripped them off, racial and ethnic tension with neighbors, and sporadic violent outbreaks between an oppressive group.

So where was Jesus in all of this? Did He align with the religious elites? With the wealthy and powerful? Or did He start an uprising to overthrow them? None of the above.

He went from town to town, offering hope, new life, and modeling a different way to live and to change the world. Instead of pursuing power, money, or religious authority, He shared a loving and sacrificially generous way of living.

He chose not to go along with the schemes others used to impact the world. Instead, He championed a better way.

So each of these political groups saw Him as a threat. The Pharisees recognized His movement as an affront to their authority—exposing the hypocrisy of their practices. The Sadducees saw Jesus as a threat to their power and wealth because He exposed their money-making schemes. The Zealots violently rejected one of the essential themes of Jesus’ movement: love your enemy.

In the end, it took all three of these groups to have him killed. A Zealot (Judas) betrayed His location to those seeking to arrest Him, the Sadducees brought Him before the Romans to be executed, and when the Romans couldn’t find a crime committed, the Pharisees rallied the people to force Rome’s hand.

It’s funny how political foes can come together to destroy a common enemy that threatens their designs. But in spite of their best efforts, His execution was only the beginning of a movement that continues to impact the world thousands of years later.

Jesus’ movement so impacted society because He actively resisted and rejected participating in the culture, wars and politics. He was a good example of Kingdom living.

Have you ever wondered what it means to live according to kingdom principles as outlined in the Bible? Understanding and applying these principles in our daily lives can bring about profound transformation and blessings.  

To begin with, Jesus was no stranger to joy. He went to weddings. He shared lively meals with His friends. He drank with them. He had so much fun and acted so freely around the dinner table that the uptight religious leaders called Him a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus was most always joyful. But what does that mean?

These days it’s very easy to conflate joy and happiness, but Jesus hardly ever used the word happiness (or at least the Aramaic equivalent), and He frequently used the word we translate as joy. That word, in Greek, is “chara,” and it means a feeling of inner gladness, delight, or rejoicing.

You see, the joy Jesus talked about and lived out isn’t dependent on circumstances, and it isn’t a reactionary feeling — it’s a lasting emotion, a deep-seated assurance, and a way of life.

That gives a different perspective to the picture of Jesus eating and drinking with friends and strangers. It wasn’t the food, drink, or company that brought Jesus joy; it’s actually the other way around. He already had it.

It was His joy that gave Him the freedom to hang out with people that others thought were shady. It was His joy that allowed Him to be uninhibited in His pursuit of compassion. It was His joy that let Him throw worry about His reputation to the side as He lived life to the fullest.

And it was that same joy, that deep-seated emotion that works inside out, that allowed Him to forgive His captors on the cross.

In good times and bad, Jesus was joyful, and He wanted the same for the people who would listen to Him. During His last meal with His disciples, Jesus shared plenty of wisdom. He was also sure to explain that He was sharing it all “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” And then, without pause, He continued: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” If you’re looking for the secret to Jesus’ joy, try starting there. He knew what He was doing.

In a world characterized by ever-changing values and ideologies, there exists a realm governed by principles that transcend time and culture, the Kingdom of God. Rooted in Bible, these principles serve as the blueprint for righteous living, offering guidance and wisdom to those who seek to align their lives with divine truth.

Let’s begin as we look into the Scriptures to uncover the foundational principles of the Kingdom of God.

Seeking First the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33):
The principle of seeking first the Kingdom of God emphasizes prioritizing spiritual matters above temporal concerns. Jesus instructs His disciples to prioritize their allegiance to God’s reign over worldly pursuits, assuring them that their needs will be provided as they prioritize God’s Kingdom agenda.        

2) Repentance and Belief (Mark 1:15):
Central to entering the Kingdom of God is the call to repentance and belief in the Gospel. This principle underscores the necessity of acknowledging one’s sinfulness, turning away from it, and embracing faith in Jesus Christ as the path to reconciliation with God and citizenship in His Kingdom.

3) Childlike Faith (Matthew 18:3):
Jesus extols the virtue of childlike faith as essential for entering the Kingdom of God. This principle emphasizes humility, trust, and dependence on God, mirroring the innocence and simplicity of a child’s approach to relationship with the divine.

4) Love God and Love Neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39):
The dual commandment to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself encapsulates the essence of the Kingdom’s principles. Love serves as the point upon which all other principles pivot, fostering harmony, compassion, and justice within God’s Kingdom community.

5) Servant Leadership (Mark 10:42-45):
Contrary to worldly notions of power and authority, the Kingdom of God exalts servant leadership as its foundational principle. Jesus exemplifies this by His own life and teachings, emphasizing humility, selflessness, and sacrificial service as the hallmarks of true leadership within God’s Kingdom.

6) Faithfulness and Stewardship (Luke 16:10-12):
The principle of faithfulness and stewardship underscores the responsibility entrusted to God’s people to wisely manage the resources and talents bestowed upon them. By faithfully stewarding God’s blessings, believers participate in advancing His Kingdom purposes on earth.

7) Forgiveness and Reconciliation (Matthew 6:14-15):
Central to the Kingdom’s principles is the call to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God. This principle emphasizes the transformative power of forgiveness in fostering reconciliation, healing, and restoration within the Kingdom community.

8) Holiness and Righteousness (Matthew 5:20):
The Kingdom of God upholds the standard of holiness and righteousness, calling believers to surpass the external righteousness of the religious elite by embodying a righteousness that flows from a transformed heart—a righteousness characterized by purity, integrity, and conformity to God’s will.

9) Hope and Kingdom Vision (Romans 8:18-25):
Anchored in the hope of future glory, the Kingdom of God inspires believers to persevere amidst present trials and tribulations. This principle invites believers to adopt a Kingdom perspective, focusing not on transient sufferings but on the eternal inheritance awaiting them in God’s Kingdom.

10) Unity in Diversity (Galatians 3:28):
Within the Kingdom of God, diversity is celebrated as a reflection of God’s creative design. This principle emphasizes unity amidst diversity, transcending cultural, ethnic, and social barriers to foster a Kingdom community marked by inclusivity, mutual respect, and solidarity.

Grounded in love, humility, and faithfulness, these principles not only inform individual conduct but also shape the Kingdom community. As believers embody these principles in their lives, they bear witness to the transformative power of God’s Kingdom, inviting others to experience the abundant life found in allegiance to the King and His reign.

God’s government has a foundation. The Bible tells us what that foundation is. We find it in the book of Psalms.

Psalm 89:14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.”

Psalm 119:172, “For all Your commandments are righteousness.” 

All of God’s commandments are the definition of just and righteousness and are the very foundation of His government. 

The foundation of God’s government, His law, is based on two principles.

The first four commandments explain the first principle—to love God above all, the first and great commandment. And the last six commandments explain the second principle—to live to serve and help others, and to love them, affording to them the same value that God places on me (us) (Matthew 22:34–40).

In simple language, the commandments teach us to love God and our fellow man more than we love ourselves, and that we are called to be servants to both God and man.

Christ paid an infinite price to save sinners, all sinners. His painful death on the cross for humanity, no matter how deep in sin we may be, vividly demonstrates the immeasurable value Jesus Christ and His Father places on us.

The basic principle of Satan’s kingdom is self-service. That’s it; and if I am living to please myself, to serve myself, to help myself get ahead, even if I call myself a Christian, then in the books of heaven it will be recorded that I am a member of Satan’s kingdom.

If I am living for myself, I am a member of Satan’s kingdom, and he will be happy.

Conversely, if I love God and my fellow man, living for others and not myself, then it will be recorded in the books of heaven that I am a member of God’s kingdom.

2 Corinthians 5:15 “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ ”

Because of our sinful nature, we need specific instruction on this point, otherwise we would never think of this. The principle of the cross is self-denial, denying myself in order to help someone else. 

Jesus did that. He gave up His throne, power, and glory, and came to this world as a man. God was teaching the principle of self-denial through Jesus’ life here in this world, Matthew 19:29). 

John 12:25, 26 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Jesus is saying that if we want to be part of His kingdom, we must understand the basic principles of His kingdom. Matthew 22:37, 39 “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your, soul, and with all your mind.’ … ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”. 

In God’s kingdom, love reigns supreme, and love does no harm, it sacrifices, restores, and transforms. But in Satan’s kingdom, self reigns and selfishness abounds.

I may profess to be a Christian, but if I’m serving self, it won’t matter what I say, I am a member of Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus came to this world and died to save us from the kingdom of selfishness. Will we accept His sacrifice? Will we come to understand that we must surrender our life to the Lord to be broken and converted? 

God knows the battle that we must fight, and He is ready to provide strength and encouragement to those who choose to follow the narrow way and fight the battle.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14

On the broad road, I can serve myself all I please—that is what comes naturally to me. But the broad road is Satan’s kingdom and I will lose my life when I follow that road.

If I want to be a part of the kingdom of heaven, only the narrow road, the difficult way leads there, and that is the road we must take. Why is the way difficult and narrow? Because we have to overcome our sinful nature and our desire to serve ourselves.

It was the temptation in the Garden of Eden and it is still the temptation today. Satan teaches that if I want to do something I shouldn’t, I should just do it, and that I can do it for my whole life, confess, and do it again … and still be saved. He says I can do as I please and still go to heaven. But that is a lie, a delusion, cooked up in the devil’s kitchen, and it is contrary to the law of God.

People wonder how they can ever resist the draw of their own selfish nature and the temptations that Satan brings to them every day. God knew these awful temptations would come. He provides encouragement through His Word, and this gives us faith and strength to overcome. He gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit.

Revelation 2:7 “ ‘To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.’ ” 

Revelation 3:5 “ ‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’ ”

Revelation 3:21 “ ‘To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’ ”

Revelation 21:7 “ ‘He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’ ”

God says, “If you will choose to love Me with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit, to serve and follow Me, to walk the narrow path, if you will deny self and love and serve your fellow man, if you will, by the power and grace I offer, overcome temptation and sin in the name of Jesus Christ, then I will send the Holy Spirit to work a miraculous transformation in your life, and I will give you the gift of eternal life. And for all your sacrifice in this life, I will repay you a hundredfold.”

Eternal life is a gift. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. You can’t take it by force. The devil will tell you that if you follow the Lord, you will lose all these worldly things. You won’t have fame or money, power, or popularity. You won’t be able to do what you want to do, nor can you do it with whomever you want to do it.

Satan says that if you follow God, you will lose your freedom, but this, too, is a lie. God offers freedom from sin, freedom from the selfishness that rules our nature. Satan offers only slavery. God offers eternal life and compensation for what you sacrificed for Him. Satan offers only death.

Denying self is hard. There is nothing in the world that I will ever be asked to do that is more difficult. So how do I gain the mastery over my sinful nature? How do I continue to walk the narrow way?

We are living in a time when there are more “backsliders” than ever before, many of whom may not even realize they have backslidden. But we have a pattern that God’s Word says we can follow with confidence. Jesus Christ is our pattern—the way we must follow, the truth in which we can place our confidence, the life we receive when we obey and trust Him. Will we stay true to God? Will we follow the pattern that Jesus has given us to follow?

The life of Christ that gives life to the world is in His Word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as He had spoken through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament.

The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Savior’s desire to build the faith of His followers on the Word. When His visible presence was withdrawn, the Word must be their source of power. Like their Master, they were to live ‘by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4

“As our physical life is sustained by food, so our spiritual life is sustained by the word of God. And every soul is to receive life from God’s word for himself. As we must eat for ourselves in order to receive nourishment, so we must receive the word for ourselves.

We are not to obtain it merely through the medium of another’s mind. We should carefully study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand His word.

In His promises and warnings, Jesus means me. God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that I by believing in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.

The experiences related in God’s Word are to be my experiences. Prayer and promise, precept and warning, are mine. ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20.

As faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The Word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.

We must learn the difference between God’s kingdom of love and Satan’s kingdom of selfishness. The primary principle of Satan’s kingdom is “me.” The primary principle of God’s kingdom is love for God and self-denial as demonstrated by loving service to others and by denying self.

The question for today, which kingdom will you be a part of?

In Jesus’ Name, Amen!