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Father in heaven, we have gathered here to sit under Your Word and we pray that we would not waste our time by distractions, by disobedience. Give us ears to hear, to obey. Help us whether we are thinking of these words for the first time or we have prayed these words 10,000 times. We ask that You would teach us and change us and that You would do a mighty work in our midst and in our day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For the past few months I’ve been making my way through Andrew Roberts’ biography of Winston Churchill, I’m about halfway through. It’s an amazing biography. It’s very well-written and about an amazing life. Churchill would have made an amazing life if World War II had never happened, he would have been written about and had countless stories to tell, and half of the biography is over and you haven’t even got to World War II yet.
One of the themes running throughout the book is Churchill’s lifelong belief in the goodness and the greatness of the British Empire. Roberts, the biographer, remarks that today we tend to think differently of empire and colonialism and we can see the problems that they had, sometimes evils they perpetrated. But Churchill did not see things that way. When he as a young man was stationed in India for the first time, he couldn’t help but be amazed at the British rule there and what he saw were the railways and the irrigation projects, the education, the newspapers, the aqueducts, the roads, the bridges, the universities, the hospitals, the rule of law, the military protection afforded by the British Navy, the benefits of the English language, the abolishing of some traditional practices, like burning widows on funeral pyres.
For Churchill, all of this confirmed what he grew up believing, as an English aristocrat, namely that Britain was worth living and dying for.
I’m not here to parse out the historical debates about British rule in India or the British Empire, but I want us to notice is what Roberts says about Churchill’s commitments and what he embraced as a young man in his early 20s when he was in India. Quote: Churchill took the firm and irrevocable decision to dedicate his life to the defense of the British Empire against all its enemies at home and abroad. Time and again, throughout his political career, he would put his allegiance to his ideal of the Empire before his own best interests.
So my question is, if Winston Churchill, and many other men and women who are born of that late Victorian age, could make that sort of commitment about the British Empire with all of its may imperfections, how much more should we as Christians be committed to a vastly more gracious, more significant, more eternal kingdom. What if it was said about you, long after you’re dead and gone, that you had taken a firm and made an irrevocable decision to dedicate your life to the proclamation of the kingdom of God and its advancement against all enemies at home and abroad? What if it was said about you, years from now, that time and again you put your allegiance to God and His kingdom, and His will, above your own best interests?
And ultimately, of course, the two don’t diverge, but your own best interest, my best interests, are in God’s kingdom, seek first that kingdom and all these things will be added unto you. If Churchill could be committed to the British Empire, how much more ought we to be committed in our whole lives, with sacrifice and with zeal, to God’s kingdom?
We’re going to look in this message at the second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. You find it there in Matthew 6, verse 10, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I have three questions for us this morning. We will spend most of our time on the first question, so you can plan accordingly, that will be our heavy lifting.
Question number one: What is meant by God’s kingdom and by God’s will in this prayer?
Question two: What are we asking for when we make these petitions?
Question three: How should we live our lives in light of these requests?
Question number one, then, what is meant by God’s kingdom and by God’s will in this prayer? Let’s start with the word “kingdom.” Greek word is “basileia” for kingdom. It occurs 162 times in the New Testament; that tells you something about its importance. The Lord’s Prayer uses the word “kingdom” most often in the Gospels, you’ll find the kingdom of God, or in Matthew’s Gospel in particular, the kingdom of heaven, which is simply a Jewish way of referring to the kingdom of the God who is in heaven. Those expressions, kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, mean the same thing.
A simple definition is to think of the kingdom of God as God’s reign and rule. Another way to think of the kingdom is as God’s redemptive presence brought down from heaven to earth. That phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven,” goes with both of these petitions. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And we can trace this theme throughout the Bible. God’s presence, by that we mean His holiness, His covenant relationship, was with Adam and Eve in the garden, and then because of sin and rebellion, what happened? They’re kicked out of the garden. Out of that earthly dwelling place of God’s kingdom.
Then God promises a holy land. As we’ve been saying throughout Genesis, they looked forward to that land of Canaan. It was supposed to be a type of the garden of Eden. Its descriptions have echoes of the garden of Eden. Why was Canaan said to be a land flowing with milk and honey when, if you know anything about Israel, it’s not flowing with a lot of milk or honey. It’s a pretty hard place to make a living by farming. But it was described in such a way because it was evocative of the garden. This was the promised land that God had made for them, where He would dwell in the midst of them, with the tabernacle and then with the temple, and they would be gathered around His presence.
And then what happens as their sins accumulate? Eventually they are kicked out of the promised land. And where do they go? East of Eden again. They are sent out to Babylon.
Over time, they’re allowed to return to Canaan. They build a new temple. Then Jesus comes and He announces, amazingly, that He’s a new temple, a new Israel, indicating God’s presence on earth would no longer be situated around a geographical region or around a building, but around a person. So now the redemptive presence of God is experienced in the Church. So the Church is supposed to be that place, like the garden of Eden, like ancient Israel, that this is the place where God’s laws are established, where His presence is known, where the heavenly realities of love and forgiveness and salvation are experienced.
And why is that in the New Testament the language of being put outside the camp or even being punished physically as a law breaker, that language is now appropriated in the New Testament to mean church discipline, excommunication, because you’re not physically put to death, but it is like Eden, like Israel, now in the Church, that if you prove to be wicked and unbelieving, you are put outside the camp.
Let me say something more about this relationship between the Church and the kingdom. The two are not identical, but they can’t be separated, and in this life they largely overlap. Think of the Church as a kind of outpost, or an embassy of the kingdom.
What is an embassy? If you’re in London and you are from this country and you need to visit the American Embassy, you know that in going there, though they live in a foreign land, that that American Embassy is to advance the interest of another country and to help the citizens of that country. So you have some trouble or passport or something, you go to the American Embassy.
Likewise, the Church is that embassy of the kingdom. Here dwelling in a foreign land, but ultimately to advance the interests and the allegiance of that other land, the heavenly kingdom, that finds its expression now in the Church. The Church is the place where you can expect to see the values, the rules of the kingdom. The Church is supposed to be that outpost of heaven on earth, which is why the poor are to be cared for in the Church, why the wicked and unbelieving do not belong in the Church.
The reason the Church and its mission is not mainly about societal transformation is the same reason the Church does not throw sinners into the lake of fire, because the heaven on earth we seek to create is the heavenly reality among God’s people in the Church. So we make no apologies for saying yes, we believe in a heaven on earth, but not a utopian scheme of transforming society writ large. You can look at history, is littered with bad example after bad example of people who thought they could create heaven on earth, and it’s littered with lots of millions of dead people.
But we believe that as an embassy, or outpost, of the heavenly kingdom, the Church is to represent those heavenly values, and certainly the more churches, the more Christians, some of that will be felt in the world at large. But this is where the kingdom is known and experienced. The Church looks forward to the eternal life where God’s redemptive presence will finally and fully be enjoyed.
So Eden, Israel, the Church, and then in the heavenly age to come, that’s where there are no wicked and unbelieving and everything is the fullness of God. There will be no need for sun or lamp for God and the Lamb will be its light.
Think of Revelation 11:15, and you don’t know probably that you already know that verse, because it shows up in Handel’s Messiah, “the kingdom of this world is become.” If you’ve ever sung Handel’s Messiah, whenever I’ve done it, the conductor says, “Ok, now you’re going to get real soft. The kingdom of this world is become. Really soft and then a half a breath, and then you explode with the good news of Revelation of 11:15, is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.”
That’s what’s coming. The kingdom of God is the heavenly world breaking in to our earthly existence. We haven’t yet had the fullness of Revelation 11:15 to say that this earth is become the kingdom, but the kingdom reveals the ultimate meaning of history.
Now from this brief survey of redemptive history, Eden, Israel, Church, heaven, we can see that the kingdom is both present and future. In one sense Jesus is already King, in another sense He needs to become the King.
The kingdom can refer to the age to come. Let me give you a couple of verses.
Matthew 25: When the Son of Man comes in His glory, all the angels with Him, He will sit down on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations. He will separate people one from another, place the sheep on His right, goats on His left, and the King will say to those on His right, come, you who are blessed by My Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
That is the kingdom that is coming. It’s the age to come. It’s the heavenly reward.
Similarly, in Matthew 13, Jesus says the Son of Man will send His angels to gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin, all lawbreakers, throw them into the fiery furnace, then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
That’s the age to come. Jesus says in John 18:36: The kingdom is not of this world.
By which He meant that He didn’t come to establish an earthly throne because His kingdom had not yet been established. So the kingdom is the age to come.
At the same time, the kingdom has come. We won’t make sense of the New Testament until we get these two things in our head: The kingdom has come and is coming; it is coming, it has come.
Jesus says in Matthew 12:28: If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. It’s present.
Luke 17:21. Jesus tells the pharisees, “You are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong ways. You want to see an observable king, on a throne like you had in the good old days with David or Solomon.” But then Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Now that’s an audacious thing to say. If any of you should go around, or your pastor should say, “Oh, no, no, the kingdom is right here in the midst of you.” “Why?” “Because I’m here.” That would be a good reason to make me your former senior pastor.
But Jesus can say it because it’s true. Where He is, where the King is, there the kingdom has come.
Colossians 1:13 says believers have been delivered from the domain of darkness, transferred into the kingdom, of His beloved Son.
So the kingdom is coming and the kingdom has come. It’s already and not yet. It’s present and future. It is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Perhaps rain still has to dissipate. You know the sun is there, it’s not that the sun is going to be something else, it is in the sky. You feel its rays, but as the clouds disperse, you experience more of the sun. So the sun’s here, but it’s coming.
Or to put it in a seasonal perspective, we know, here in Charlotte, that on a morning like this, it was cool, cold, clammy, it was 29 degrees. I could get 29 degrees in Michigan. This is cold. My blood has thinned out over these years. But you know that in the afternoon, maybe it’s 45 and it’s clouded up a little bit, but on a clear day in the winter, you step out and you feel the sun and it’s warm. It’s there, it’s really the sun, but you know that give it a few months, give it six months, and that same sun is going to be much brighter as it hangs straight overhead in the sky and you are going to feel its rays much more intensely. Same sun, different experience. It’s here; it doesn’t change, but the warmth of it…
So in the same way, the kingdom of God has come, it’s broken in, and yet it is coming. I’m belaboring this point because the kingdom is one of those areas that well-meaning Christians can get their theology sideways. We need to be on our guard against certain misunderstandings about the kingdom of God.
Think about Acts chapter 1. Jesus has risen from the dead, He’s ascending into heaven, the disciples have one last chance to ask Jesus a question. What would you want to ask Jesus before He ascended into heaven? Well, they ask Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Now they say there are no bad questions, but this one comes close. I think Calvin said there are as many errors as there are words in the question.
They misunderstood the timing of the kingdom. They are thinking the kingdom is all present, “Will you restore at this time?” when the kingdom is present in future. That’s why Jesus goes on to say, “I’m going to heaven and in the same way I go up, I will also at the end of the age come back.”
There’s another part to this. They misunderstand the domain of the kingdom. They are still thinking of a national kingdom for Israel. Is now the time where Israel gets its king back?
Jesus is talking about a universal kingdom. Membership in this dominion is not by ethnic heritage, it’s not by geography. You enter by faith and repentance, and it is available and extended to all who will enter by faith and repentance. Which is why Jesus again corrects their thinking. In Acts 1:8 He says, no, no, no, you will be My witnesses, Jerusalem, yes, Judea, then Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. This is not a kingdom for Israel, it is a universal kingdom.
Most fundamentally, they misunderstand the nature of the kingdom. They thought it was an earthly and political kingdom, when it was spiritual and heavenly. You see this all throughout the Gospels. People want to make Jesus king by force, or they expect Him to marshal an army to throw off the Romans, to establish a literal and obvious throne.
But the good news of the kingdom would not be good news to Gentiles in Ephesus or Rome if it was a message about an earthly throne in Jerusalem. No, it’s about a universal, heavenly, spiritual kingdom. Matthew 11, Jesus says the violent tried to take the kingdom of heaven by force, but in John 3 He says no one can see the kingdom unless he is born again. Over and over He’s correcting their misunderstanding about the nature of the kingdom. You are thinking that this comes by earthly means; it doesn’t. It comes by the Spirit of God.
We cannot bring about the kingdom by elections, or by enough education, or humanitarian good works, or environmental stewardship, or by the cultivation of the arts. We must not be confused about this. Yes, kingdom values should infiltrate all of that. Kingdom people care about their earthly citizenship, but they care ultimately about their heavenly citizenship. Kingdom living ought to make a difference in our communities. You ought to be able to tell a difference where there are Christians and there are churches because there are kingdom-minded people.
But let us not misunderstand the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom does not advance when trees are planted, or unemployment is lowered, or beautiful art is created, or elections go one way or another. Those may all be good things, important things. They may reflect certain values of the kingdom, but the kingdom comes when and where the King is known. When Jesus is loved and worshiped and believed upon, there they kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
Now much more quickly, we need to understand what Jesus means by the will of God.
Well, just as there were ways to think of the kingdom both present and future and coming and has come, so there’s two aspects to the will of God. Two sides of the same coin. You may have heard me give these terms before. You can think of them as God’s will of decree and God’s will of desire.
God’s will of decree refers to God’s sovereign sway over all things. What He has determined from eternity past. In this sense of the will of God, everything that happens is the will of God. You can ask about anything: “Well, was that the will of God? Well, it happened, didn’t it? And everything happens according to God’s will.”
Matthew 10:29-30: Jesus says are not two sparrows sold for a penny and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from Your Father. That is, apart from His will.
Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Ephesians 1:11: In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His will.
So those verses, and there are many others like it, make clear that the will of God can refer to the way in which things happen always according to God’s foreordination. That will of God cannot be thwarted.
But we can also think of God’s will in Scripture as His will of desire. That is, what He commands of us and what He wants us to do as His followers. I’ll give you a couple verses.
Matthew 7:21. So this is in the same Gospel, Matthew 10, and now this is Matthew 7: Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heave.
So in Matthew 10 Jesus says, well, everything happens according to the Father’s will, and then in Matthew 7, He says, well, not everyone does the will of My Father, so this is clearly talking about the will of God in a different sense, His will of desire, His commands.
1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. All that is in the world, the desires of the flesh, the eyes, pride and possession, is not from the Father but is from the world and the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
So there the will of God is the opposite of worldliness. The will of God is something you can abide in or something you cannot abide in. This is different than the will of decree, which always comes to pass. This is what you could think of as His will of desire. This is the will we are praying about in the Lord’s Prayer. It would not make sense to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” as if there was a difference in God’s sovereign decree in earth as it is in heaven.
No, God is not more sovereign in heaven than He is on earth. What we’re praying for is this second aspect of God’s will, His commands, His desire. The difference between earth and heaven is not that God is sovereign over one and not the other. The difference is that every command is fulfilled with cheerful and full obedience in heaven when that is not the case on earth.
Parents, have you found that every commandment that comes from you is obeyed with cheerful, complete, full obedience? Not quite.
Neither does God find the same thing with His children and His people here on earth.
And incidentally, just a little parentheses here, what we often mean when we talk about the will of God is what we might call His will of direction. You say, “I want to know what God’s will is for my life.” What you’re meaning is, “Does God have a specific plan for my life that He means for me to find out ahead of time?” and the answer to that is no. Now listen very carefully. Does God have a specific plan for your life? Of course He does. May it be the case that when you look back you can see, “Oh, well, that’s exactly what He was doing. That’s why I got sick and I didn’t know what was happening and that’s why I moved there and that’s how all the pieces were moving together.” Of course God has a sovereign plan over your life.
But I asked does He have a plan that He means for us to discover ahead of time? A will of direction such that every time we come to a fork in the road, God’s going to give some heavenly message and tell us, “Buy that house, move there, marry him, not her… ”
No, there’s nowhere in the New Testament where we are commanded to seek out this mysterious will of direction whereby God will tell us what to do every time we have a decision to make. Rather, He wants us to grow in wisdom, to be transformed, renewed in our mind, by His Word, listen to good godly counsel.
His will for our lives, 1 Thessalonians 4, is our sanctification, that will of desire, His holiness. And then we trust that He directs our lives through all that, even when He does not show us the next step to take.
So all of that is to say when this will of God in the Lord’s Prayer is, we can think of it, that will of desire. May Your commandments be done, all that You desire for Your creatures be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.
Second, then, and I told you that would be the long one. Second, what are we asking for when we make these two petitions?
I think I may have mentioned before when I was college I kept a prayer journal. It’s amazing how having a whole bunch of kids gives you much less time for self-reflection. After my freshman year, I tallied up what I had been praying for just to see, well, what am I bringing before the Lord? And it was revealing. There were three prayer concerns that came up over and over again; one I was praying for a family member who’d been struggling with some physical issues, two I was praying for running. You say, why were you praying about running? Because I still had this dream that I was going to be a great champion runner, and now that I’m disabused of that notion, I can just put all of that pressure onto my kids. That’s what good parents do. I was praying about that and I was praying about girls, because there was always, you know, a girl that I liked or I thought liked me and there was all this sort of internal drama.
Now were those bad things to pray about? No. I wasn’t praying for a life of crime or assassinations or something. I was casting all my cares on the Lord. And yet, looking back, I realize those weren’t exactly Jesus’ priorities. I was not praying big, God-centered, kingdom-focused prayers.
Let me state this again so you’re clear. You should not feel shame in bringing before the Lord the smallest things. You can’t find your car keys, you want your dog to get better, all sorts of things; cast your cares on the Lord. But recognize that it doesn’t take the Spirit of God to want those things. You don’t have to be a Christian to want sick people to get better. You don’t have to be a Christian to want a job or to get married or to have kids or grandkids, to have your life go well. It does not take the Spirit of God to want any of those things. It doesn’t mean you don’t pray about them.
But it means if we are shaped as Christians, we must be shaped by Jesus’ priorities, to pray, “Heavenly Father, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s praying nothing less than for the in-breaking of the Messianic age. May Your commandments be obeyed promptly and sincerely. Christ, reign in human hearts. May Your redemptive presence be felt and known. Lord Jesus, come quickly,” is what we’re praying.
To pray this petition, D.A. Carson says is to ask that God’s saving, royal rule be extended now as people bow in submission to Him and already taste the eschatological blessing of salvation and to cry for the consummation of the kingdom.
Is that what is uppermost in your prayer life? And mine.
Later on in the same chapter 6, Jesus will tell the disciples seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
The kingdom of God may not be the only thing you ever care about. You care about a sports team, you care about food, you care about a movie or entertainment. These don’t have to be bad things. But they become very bad things if they become first things. We must not allow any other identity to cut in line ahead of our identity as children of our heavenly Father. We must now allow any other identity to cut in line ahead of our identity as citizens of this heavenly kingdom. We are not seeking first the advancement of people with our own skin color, whatever that skin color may be. We are not seeking first the advancement of Western civilization, though I give thanks for it and want people to learn about it. We are not seeking first the triumph of our political party or even of our nation. We seek first God’s kingdom. We pray that His kingdom would come, whatever that means for earthly, tribal, personal kingdoms.
It isn’t to say that every other concern or identity is unimportant, but we must always get the order and the priority, seek first His kingdom. That is our ultimate identity and concern.
One last thing before we move to the final question, and this is important. In the New Testament we see God’s people praying for the kingdom, proclaiming the kingdom. We never see the language that they are building the kingdom.
As you’ve probably heard me say before, we must pay attention to the verbs associated with the kingdom in the Gospels. The kingdom can come, the kingdom can arrive, it can appear, but we do not establish the kingdom, expand the kingdom, grow the kingdom. The kingdom of God is not a society that we go out and built, it is a gift to be received.
It is again like the sun breaking in. You don’t build the sun. You don’t make the sun. You can pray that the clouds would part. You can declare to people about the rays and the warmth of the sun, but it’s not something you can build or bring. It is God’s kingdom. We receive it, seek it, enter it, inherit it; those are the verbs. But we do not create it, bring it, we do not even give it to others.
Luke 12:32: Only God can give the kingdom.
So when praying these petitions, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, we are not laying down a blueprint for cultural renewal or societal transformation, though that may happen as we try to live faithfully. We are, rather, praying for a miracle of God’s regenerating power and redemptive grace. We’re praying for God to do nothing less than a miracle in our lives to bring the kingdom and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Which brings us finally then to this last question: How should we live in light of these requests? Because ultimately Jesus wants us to pray the prayer, but in telling us what to pray for, He’s also telling us what our priorities should be, and He’s shaping the sort of people we should live in obedience to Him.
So how do we live in light of these requests? Three words: Obediently, outwardly, expectantly.
Obediently. We must always remember that in Christian prayer we are not ultimately trying to make God do our will. If that’s all prayer is, to get God to do our will, that’s paganism. That’s magic. There’s nothing Christian about that. Who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want all powerful being at your beck and call? Who would not want a genie in the lamp? Who comes out and allows you to cast any wishes, your wish is my command. No, no, no. We are not praying that God would do our will. In Christian prayer, we are asking that the world and everything and everyone, would be conformed to God’s will. That’s mature Christian faith. That’s what Christian prayer sounds like.
Think of these first three petitions. What are they about? What does Jesus tell us our priorities are? God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will. We’re saying, “Father, may You work in such a way that the world will glorify Your name, submit to Your reign, and follow Your rule.” That’s a big prayer. It’s bigger than what most of us are praying. And if you pray it rightly, it’s a very humble prayer.
J. I. Packer says to pray Thy kingdom come is searching and demanding, for one must be ready to add, “And start with me.”
Isn’t that true? It’s one thing to pray, “God, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, there’s a lot of bad guys out there and they need to be changed.” But if we have a Christian heart, a born again heart, we think, “Oh, Lord, and would You start with me? That I may know Your kingdom. Would You start with us? Would You start with our church? Would You do in our midst? Would You show us our disobedience?”
So we’re praying and looking obediently.
Second, outwardly. We can’t bring the kingdom or build the kingdom, but we can announce the kingdom. One author says what Judaism had believed would come all at once is split into two parts with a mission in between.
I like that. They were thinking this whole kingdom thing comes at once, and Jesus said, “No, it comes and then it comes fully. It’s going to come in two parts, and in between there’s a mission.”
The first thing Jesus says in Mark, the time if fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel.
That’s the message of the kingdom: Repent and believe in the Gospel. That was Jesus’ mission.
His method was proclamation. Jesus never went into a town to set up a healing clinic or an exorcism tent. Now He did those things out of compassion. He did those things to show forth His own identity. But when it came to identifying His purpose, He says in Mark 1:38: I came out in public ministry to preach. That’s My ministry, to proclaim this Gospel of the kingdom.
The presence of the kingdom is always marked by the advancement of the Gospel. If you care about the kingdom coming, you will care about the advancement of the Gospel.
You see this throughout the book of Acts. You want to know how many times the word “kingdom” shows up in Acts? Seven. Seven times. And each time it’s when there is some significant advancement of the Gospel into some new place or people. The book starts and ends with the kingdom. Chapter 1, verse 6, chapter 28, verse 31. Bookended with the proclamation of the kingdom.
The kingdom is entirely up to God. It’s from God in its origin and it’s up to God in its coming. The harvest is in His hands. But note very well, the harvest is in His hands, but He gives us seed to sow. And some of us should be the answer to our prayers. Some from this church should go out to those who have not heard the name of Christ, to sow those seeds, to announce the good news of the kingdom that can be received by faith and repentance.
And for those, many of us who will not go, we ought to send and mobilize that others may sow the seed. And wherever we are in our own Jerusalem or Judea, let us be faithful to sow those seeds, to have a personality and a church that is outward-facing. You can’t pray “Your kingdom come and Your will be done” without thinking about the advancement of the Gospel.
Then finally we pray expectantly. We do not pray as those who have no hope. We believe God is mighty to save.
It does take faith, doesn’t it? It takes faith to pray, it takes faith especially to think that sowing the seed of the Gospel will do anything. You think, “It’s hard soil around me. It never works.” Well, you’re here. You’re a Christian. You don’t think it took a miracle in your life that you would believe? It did. All we’re asking for is miracles. Which is good, because we have a God for whom miracles is not a difficult task.
So let us pray and let us live expectantly, knowing that God will be true to His promises. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Do you want the kingdom of God in you, among you? It comes to the poor in spirit. It comes to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Some empires, Churchill was right, are worth living and dying for. It just so happens there’s an empire, there’s a kingdom, that’s of eternally more significance than the British empire, or the United States of America, or any earthly nation.
Believe that our God, He’s a judging God, He is also an inviting God. Think of those images of the kingdom. It’s a feast, it’s a banquet, it’s a wedding. And you know what? God is sending out invitations, and by His grace, some of those people will receive it. Some will throw it in the trash, some will say not interested, some will be angered, and some will say what is this about? And maybe not the first time, maybe it’ll take 7 or 10 or 20 times to read that invitation, and they’ll say, just like many of you said, “You know what? I want to be at that feast. I want to be a part of that banquet. I want to be in that kingdom,” the kingdom that can only be received by faith and repentance. The God of the universe is inviting people, going into the highways and byways and inviting all the rabble, just like us, to come to His wedding feast.
And let us trust that some will be glad for the invitation. Some will be gathered around the banqueting table because we sent, we went, we spoke, and we prayed.
Our Father in heaven, we come before You now asking for Your grace to be among us, that You would start with us, that we would know in You lies the power of the kingdom, Your will to be done in our families, in our hearts, in our church, here on earth just as it is in heaven. So help us to live in light of these priorities, obediently, outwardly, expectantly, praying for big things, the biggest of things, for the kingdom of this world to become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. May You reign forever and ever. Amen.