33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33–34, NKJV)
Jesus said we must make the rule and reign of God and His righteousness the priority of our lives instead of the things of this world (Matthew 6:24-32). Daily priorities not only set what we pursue each day but also what we pursue our entire life. Priorities of a day turn into months, then months into years until finally, life ends. We are eager to set a lifetime goal of making God our top priority, yet we may fail to make Him and His will our priority each day. It is far easier to say Christ is a lifelong priority than to live that priority day by day (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21). How can we tell when we have fallen into this deception? By honestly assessing whether we are so worried and anxiously distracted by the troubles of each day that we push God’s rule and righteousness to the side (v. 34; Acts 24:25). When daily concerns are our most urgent priority, we are distracted and deterred from walking by faith. When that happens, God is no longer our priority. We are serving another master instead of the One who provides our daily bread and saves us eternally. Strengthen your faith and trust God every day. As your days turn into months and months into years, you will have eternal rest when death comes. (Sword Tips #1559, revised)
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. (Psalm 33:10–12, NKJV)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” is often cited as a benediction on behalf of nations today (for example, America). It is true that any nation that honors God will be blessed (Prov. 14:34). But, please note the contextual application of the great declaration of this passage. It sets the plans of the nations in contrast with the plans of Jehovah. The Lord rules over the nations of men, and no counsel prepared and executed by men will ever overthrow His sovereign counsel (Jer. 18:5-11; Dan. 4:25, 34-35). The nations and their rulers vainly plotted against the Lord and His Anointed, Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead and crowned at His right hand as Ruler over His people (Psa. 2:1-9; 110:1-2; Acts 2:30-36; 4:23-28). The people God “has chosen as His own inheritance” in today’s passage no doubt initially applied to the nation of Israel (v. 12; Exo. 19:5-6). But now, with Jesus Christ ruling as King of God’s kingdom (the church), “the nation whose God is the Lord” is the church (Matt. 16:18-19; Heb. 12:22-23; Gal. 6:16). The church of Christ is God’s “holy nation,” and therefore, we must honor and obey the Lord’s will to be His blessed people (1 Pet. 2:9-10; Jno. 18:36).
The Lord has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.” (Psalm 132:11, NKJV)
God’s promise to David, while initially kept by the ascension of Solomon to the throne, had a much grander objective (2 Sam. 7:12-13; 1 Chron. 22:9-10; 28:5-6). The Davidic promise of a king from the fruit of his body was fulfilled in the coronation of Jesus. The angel Gabriel announced that God would give Mary’s child “the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:32). On Pentecost, the apostle Peter proclaimed God had indeed fulfilled His promise to David by the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension to the right hand of God (Acts 2:30-36; Psa. 110:1-2). Later, James (the brother of Jesus) said God had rebuilt the ruling monarchy of the house of David, which Amos predicted (Acts 15:13-19; Amos 9:11-12). The kingdom over which the son of David reigns today is the church, composed of all who come to Jesus Christ in faith through His gospel (Matt. 16:18-19; Rom. 1:16-17; Col. 1:13-14). God keeps His word – always. King Jesus reigns today over a kingdom that is enduring, unshaken by “every wind of doctrine” and the “trickery of men” (Heb. 12:28; Eph. 4:14). Salvation is in Christ’s kingdom (Acts 2:30-41, 47). Christ’s kingdom was promised by God, prophesied by His prophets, and proclaimed by the gospel. It fills the whole earth, and it “shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:34-35, 44; Mk. 1:14-15; 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 36-41, 47). The pressing question is, are you a citizen of His kingdom (Col. 1:13; Acts 2:37-38, 47)?
4 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4–5, NKJV)
Jeremiah was unique before his birth. (The unborn baby is new human life, not merely a blob of tissue connected to a woman.) The Bible repeatedly upholds the dignity of life as from God, formed and sustained by Him. In Eden, sin interrupted life and brought death. God’s plan to redeem sinners (us) from death would involve the death of His Son. But, His power of life over death would resurrect Jesus (Rom. 1:4). God chose Jeremiah before He formed Him. He set him in place as a prophet of God’s redemptive purposes. He would speak God’s word to a Judah, a sinful nation on the verge of destruction for her sins (Jer. 1:6-10). Judgment was coming, but divine mercy and redemption would also come (Jer. 21:1-10; 23:1-8). After God’s judgment against Judah (the seventy-year Babylonian exile), God would restore a remnant to the land (which occurred under Cyrus, King of Persia, Jer. 29:10-14; 25:11-12; Ezra 1:1-4). God would send “David” (Messiah) to be their King, vastly different from the kings who rebelled against God (Jer. 22). He would be “a Branch of righteousness” who would “reign and prosper” God’s people with salvation and safety (Jer. 23:1-8; 30:8-9). Messiah indeed came, but they killed Him. Yet, Jeremiah’s prophecy came true – Jesus now reigns over His kingdom at God’s right hand – “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6; Acts 2:30-36; Heb. 1:8-9). Believe and obey the King and share in the salvation Jeremiah anticipated (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 2:36-41).
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13, NKJV)
Have you heard the expression, “he’s not worth his salt?” It comes from the days of the Roman Empire. “A soldier’s pay—consisting in part of salt—came to be known as solarium argentum, from which we derive the word salary. A soldier’s salary was cut if he “was not worth his salt,” a phrase that came into being because the Greeks and Romans often bought slaves with salt” (“A Brief History of Salt,” Time, March 15, 1982). Salt flavors and preserves food. It made a useful antiseptic before modern medicine. Israel offered salt in its offerings to God, perhaps as a token that their sacrifices were seasoned and preserved by the Sinai covenant (Lev. 2:13). Jesus said His followers are the salt of the earth, a timeless and easily understood metaphor. Christians (citizens of the kingdom of heaven), must be influences of righteousness in a world of sin and death. Our lives must flavor the world around us, influencing others to turn to God. We must guard ourselves against sin because it destroys godly influence. As contaminated salt lost its usefulness to flavor food and to disinfect was cast onto the foot trails (to avoid destroying fertile soil), the Christian who loses his godly influence is ineffective (even destructive) to the cause of Christ. A godly influence is needed and powerful. Protect your influence and season the world with righteousness (Eph. 4:20-24).
16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Luke 14:16–20, NKJV)
We are masters at making excuses. The great supper and the invitation to come to the prepared feast is figurative of the kingdom of God and God’s invitation to come to His feast of salvation and “eat” in His kingdom (Lk. 14:15; cf. Isa. 55:1-4). God’s invitation to salvation from sin is sent to every soul, yet few come. Many still say, “I have other, more pressing things to do.” “Necessary” things. “Important” things. “Valid” concerns. Yet, every excuse belies the greater value we place on ourselves instead of on the kingdom of God. (Gaining the whole world is not worth losing your soul, Matthew 16:26.) The host told his servant, “none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” as a result of their excuse-making rejection of his invitation (Lk. 14:24). God has prepared everything for your salvation in His Son (Matt. 11:28-30). Do not refuse His invitation. Believe and obey the gospel, and enter the kingdom of God (Mk. 16:15-16; Col. 1:13-14).
24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. (Acts 20:24–25, NKJV)
Although chains and tribulation awaited Paul in Jerusalem, he would not be deterred from accomplishing the service given him by the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:22-23). He reminded the Ephesian elders that he had testified of God’s grace by preaching the kingdom of God while he was among them. Those who say the kingdom of God has not yet been established have a problem. If the kingdom does not exist now, then how can it be said that grace is obtainable now? In truth, Christians stand in grace now, and those who are saved by grace are transferred from sin’s darkness into the kingdom of the Son (Rom. 5:1-2; Col. 1:12-14). Preaching God’s grace is tantamount to preaching God’s kingdom. The saved are added to the church, which is the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 2:47; 28:23, 28, 31). The kingdom (the church) does exist now (Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). Kingdom citizens have been saved by grace, through faith (Acts 2:47; Eph. 2:8-9). God grace and God’s kingdom are inextricably linked. By God’s grace we are receiving an unshakable kingdom (Heb. 12:28). As a result, we are able (and expected) to “have grace” by which to serve God acceptably. In the kingdom (the church) there is grace and acceptable service to God.
21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21–22, NKJV)
The gospel makes disciples. And, disciples need strengthening to “continue in the faith” (Col. 2:6-7). The reason for exhortation to continue in the faith is given in verse 22 – there are many tribulations through which disciples must pass to “enter the kingdom of God.” Would someone please explain why strengthening the souls of the disciples for these tribulations is necessary if their entrance into heaven is already settled? In other words, if the eternal inheritance of Christians cannot be jeopardized, then why exhort them to continue in the faith? Why the need for strength in the face of tribulations, if entrance into the eternal kingdom can never be endangered? The truth is we can become weak. It is possible for Christians to turn back to sin and no longer continue “in the faith” (2 Pet. 2:20-22; Gal. 5:7). Let us hear and heed the Spirit’s exhortation to “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11). You will face pressures as a disciple of Christ. Be brave, be strong. Your entrance into the eternal kingdom is certain as you “continue in the faith.”
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:12–13, NKJV)
The Passover feast of the Jews was approaching as Jesus entered Jerusalem. People laid palm branches (and even clothing) in His path as symbols of festive joy (Matt. 21:8; cf. Lev. 23:40; Rev. 7:9). The people verbalized their anticipation of victory with shouts of praise from the Psalms: “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psa. 118:25-26). “Hosanna” (“save now” or “oh save!”) punctuated their excitement that Jesus was the “Son of David,” the “King of Israel” (Matt. 21:9). But, Jesus was not riding upon a mighty steed as a conquering hero, but upon a lowly donkey (fulfilling a prophecy depicting the humble nature of the King and His kingdom, Jno. 12:14-15; Zech. 9:9). The salvation He brought was redemption from the bondage and death of sin, not freedom from their oppressive Roman overlords (Isa. 62:11-12). His kingdom is “not of this world,” and when their vision was not realized, they viciously turn against Jesus and shouted, “Crucify Him!” (Jno. 18:36-38; 19:14-16). We must not conjure up false images of Jesus and His gospel. If we do, we join hands with the faithless crowd that crucified the King of Israel, the Savior of the world.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20–21, NKJV)
Citizenship identifies a person as a legal member of a nation. It qualifies that person to participate in the rights and privileges of that nation. In contrast to “the enemies of the cross of Christ” (“whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their minds on earthly things,” Phil. 3:18-19), Christians are qualified “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1:12). By faith, we eagerly wait for the Savior’s return, living in hope of the glorious resurrection in anticipation of our heavenly estate (Heb. 11:14-16). Christ will subdue (subjugate, defeat) death in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Kingdom citizens will be delivered up to God the Father to dwell forever in the eternal city of God (1 Cor. 15:23-24; Rev. 21:22-27). These great assurances compel the wise and faithful of heart to answer the gospel call to be saved, to become citizens of heaven (Acts 2:37-41; Col. 1:13). Christians set their minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2). Let us live for the glory of heaven daily, not for things that end in destruction.