TRUE JOY – A SIGN OF THE KINGDOM WITHIN
Sunday am 12 March 2017 – Kobus Swart
Series : The Kingdom of God
Acts 1:8; Dan. 2: 31-38, 42-45; Rev. 11:15; John 18:36; Matt. 16:16-19; Luke 17:20-22; (Matt. 6:9-10); Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22; (Phil. 4:4); (John 16:22); James 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13-KJV; (Heb. 5:8); 1 Thess. 1:6-KJV
Jesus said, “You shall be My witnesses…”. The word witness also means martyr (Acts 1:8). It means that there will be times when it will be tough to be a witness. I believe some of the most effective preaching is when the preaching itself is part of a testimony. That is where the impartation is at its highest. The main commissioning we have is to proclaim the kingdom of God. In order to proclaim it effectively you have a taste/experience it first, and then it works in you.
We are talking about the unfolding kingdom of God. The gospel of the kingdom will be the gospel of the 21st century; it will be the emphasis that God will bring by His Spirit. The church in general is in a major phase of migration to a new level. When you pray, “Thy kingdom come” into areas of your life; make sure it comes by revelation. There is a key to praying right, and that is to have a relationship with the King of the kingdom, otherwise your motives will drift into selfishness. Do not just declare your wish, your selfish desire. Find out what is the will of God is.
Many books written on the kingdom of God focus on the political and financial world and it mainly tries to interpret Daniel 2:31-45. Our focus is not to look at the political platform and ask, “How should we bring in the kingdom?” Bringing in a Christian political party has failed. That is not the formula. That is not where it starts. Always remember the final picture where God sees everything from the finish: The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15). That is the finish!
Here is the point Jesus made about the kingdom – it is not of this world (John 18:36). Jesus said, “…and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matt. 16: 16-19). Peter got that by revelation. Peter is petros (piece of the rock); the large rock is petra. The Church was never built on Peter as a person. Jesus said, “I will build my Church”. He is busy building His Church even in the chaos. Are we part of it? Do we have a revelation of who Jesus is? Flesh and blood does not reveal it; it comes from the Father. The keys of the kingdom will be given to the Church that is built by Jesus Himself – to the corporate body of Christ, those who have a revelation of who Jesus is. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to write it on the tablets of our hearts.
Where does it start? When the Pharisees questioned Him, in the answer Jesus did not answer them as to when, He explains how (Luke 17: 20-22). The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed. The correct translation is: the kingdom of God is within you. What does it mean that the kingdom of God is within you? The prayer, Our father (a whole combined family praying) who art in heaven, let Your will be done in earth (within us first) and then on earth (Matt. 6:9-10). First in us and then on earth.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). It starts first on the inside! It not always nice, it can be painful and it can make you uncomfortable especially if you are serious about the kingdom of God. He is going to open you up and He is going to use circumstances to open you up. That is why I am saying the most effective preaching comes in the form of a testimony. We shall be His witnesses, not speaking about, not quoting it, but coming out of the innermost being. What does it mean? The kingdom of God is not in externals. It is not what you eat, what you drink, what you put on, where you go and what you do. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy. Our mind-set has to change because we are looking for the outward, for the spectacular, for the big visible things first but it starts in the invisible, on the inside.
Let us highlight one aspect: Joy! Joy makes up one third of the kingdom of God. Often we confuse happiness with joy. Anything that comes contrary to what you want can rob you of your happiness. True joy is something else, it is much deeper. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Joy remains deep inside in the face of problems and it sustains you. The joy of the kingdom is not dependent on outward appearances or circumstances. Joy is not fed by outward circumstances and events. “Rejoice and again I say rejoice” says the apostle Paul while in prison (Phil. 4:4). When Jesus was facing death on the cross He said, “Your joy, let no man take it from you” (John 16:22).
“This joy of the kingdom is not an easy-going optimism that refuses to face facts. It is not the starry eyed charismatic joy thinks there will be no more trials; no more suffering, no more travail, but only health, prosperity and blessings are the right of every child of God. Kingdom joy is not a pretended mask that hides a sad heart courageous as that might be. Nor it is callous indifference to the suffering around us. It is the real joy which comes from the union with the infinite and the eternal and from the deep knowing that all is in our Father loving hands that come what may that things have not got out of hands that He is working perfectly to bring His highest in every situation and so it will be whether we understand it or not. Only with pure joy of the kingdom can the Scripture be fulfilled that says, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience (James 1:2-3). Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Pet. 4:12-13-KJV). To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not just to give up sin but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. The first thing we must surrender is all our pretence and deceit. We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we surrender…. the awful nature of the pride ….” (Oswald Chambers)
Too many have associated the kingdom of God with power and might and government. Yes, it is about government, but where does it start? I encourage you to submit to God the way you see things, because you may have twisted things in your own favour.