Tag Archives: kingdom

The Big Picture

It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life.  I find myself thinking way too much about things that really don’t matter.  Things like: what’s for dinner, have I filed that paperwork, did I remember to put the washing on?  Some of these things do have to be dealt with of course, they are part of life, but if we’re not careful life turns into one big anxious to do list. 

Every now and again we just need to step back, take a deep breath, and remember the bigger picture.  For those of us who believe in God and trust in His word, the Bible, the big picture means thinking about God’s ultimate plan – the return of Jesus Christ to earth to set up His kingdom and rule over the world.

Contemplating the big picture also makes those more significant worries easier to deal with.  Perhaps you know of someone who is ill, perhaps you yourself suffer with ill health.  Maybe you have financial worries, or employment worries or other family problems. 

Knowing that we only have to get through this life a day at a time, with the promise of Jesus’ soon return, is a great comfort. 

In the meantime to ease our worries, and help focus on the kingdom to come and make it a reality in our lives, we can pray to God for strength and ask him to send His Son soon. 

We can also try and occupy our time in a way that will help us to become better future citizens of the kingdom.  We can help others; we can do God’s work, and try to tell more people about him.  If our afflictions are too great, we can try and wait in patience for that day to come knowing that in the kingdom there will be no suffering.

Many of these things are easier said than done, especially if we are troubled, ill, or in pain – or even if we are simply very busy people with hectic lives.  If we forget to look at the big picture on a particular day however, it will always be waiting for us the next; all we need to do is take that one minute to stop and think.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. – Isaiah 35:10

Everything works together for good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

This is a great Bible verse that reminds us that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason.  It’s a particularly good verse when things are going well for us…however there are many times in our lives when things do not go so well and we can wonder what God is trying to tell us.  We can even start to wonder if He is really there after all.

If we lose our job, or have sudden health problems, or a family crisis, or maybe our plans for the future fall through, it can be very easy to say to God, “Where are you now that I need you?”

Its like that quote we often hear, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  And I can add to that, how exactly do the bad things that happen to us fit in with that Bible verse from Romans quoted above?

I’m going to make some suggestions about how we can know that God is working in our lives whatever happens to us.

Firstly, we know that God has a plan for the earth.  His ultimate plan is to send his Son back to the earth to put things to rights and set up his kingdom here – and for us to be there with Him if we want to be.

So whilst God is still concerned with our daily welfare, the big picture involves Him preparing us for the kingdom.  To this end He may choose to develop and shape our characters using our life circumstances.  Its certainly true that looking back at a particular life event one can often realise its purpose in directing us to our current position which is somehow helping us to serve God more effectively, but at the time the trial may have seemed both stressful and pointless.

We must also remember that God works on a different timescale to us.  A thousand years to Him is as one day.  It may seem to us as if our patience needs to be everlasting and we may wonder how we can keep going, but to God the kingdom is just round the corner.

Think about how long Abraham waited to receive the promise of his son Isaac, or how long David had to wait to become king after being anointed.  Many Bible characters had long trials to overcome – some found it hard and constantly asked God for reassurance whilst others were patient and continued in prayer.

However hard we find our life circumstances we must try to focus on the fact that God is leading us to His kingdom, and that He loves us and wants us to be there.

For I an convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38/39

The Lord is my Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23

The above Psalm is probably the most well known Psalm of David, and one of the most popular Bible passages.  But what does it really mean, and how have so many people in different lands and times found inspiration from it?

My first thoughts on reading this Psalm were to think about what it means to have God as our shepherd.  Shepherds provide for the flocks they look after; they give them food, water, shelter, safety, healing, and comfort.

This encompasses all the basic needs we have in this life, not our wants, just those things we need for survival.  The shepherd treats his sheep like his little family, and to him, their needs are the most important part of his job.

This is all very well in practice but where I have a problem is that it’s not always true.  I mentioned how many people throughout the ages have drawn comfort from these words – but what about people who live in times of famine?  What about people who suffer in war, who lose their homes and belongings and struggle to survive?  Whilst we know God looks after our everyday needs, and many of us are lucky enough to have our daily bread provided there is no doubt that some people who trust in God suffer great hardship.

So maybe my initial thoughts, whilst valid, are not the only interpretation of this passage.  I think it is also helpful to view this Psalm in terms of the journey we take through life.  If we follow God, he is always one step ahead of us leading the way, like a shepherd.  Now for some flocks, the way will be easy.  The shepherd will lead them on sunny days, through green meadows and past running water.  But for other flocks on other days, the weather might be bad, there may be wild animals on the way, and the way itself might be hard going, stony, full of thorns, or with obstacles in the way.

However for all these flocks the end result is the same.  The shepherd leads them safely into the fold – just as we know that our path will eventually lead us to the kingdom if we follow God faithfully.  Regardless of how easy or difficult the way has been, we will all come safely into that haven and our shepherd will welcome us in.

The lessons we can take away from this Psalm are valuable.  Those of us who are blessed with our everyday needs should thank God for his provisions, whilst not forgetting to pray for those who are not so well off as ourselves.

Most importantly, we can all look forward to that day when the shepherd will lead us into his fold with open arms, and say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”.

What can God offer me?

So you’re looking for God.  You think you know where to find Him – and you’re doing what you can to look for Him.  You try to pray, you try to read a bit from the Bible, and you’re trying to meet some friends who believe in God too. 

But what do you want to get from your relationship with God?  Why did you decide to look for Him in the first place?  We all know that relationships have to go two ways – its not just about what we can get from God, its about what we can do for Him as well – but quite often the motivating factor for us human beings is what benefits we personally will gain from our actions.

Yes, it may sound selfish that we are looking for God because we want to know what he can give us, but this is not a material desire along the lines of looking for a new car.  We have an inbuilt need for meaning, for hope, and for reassurance that there’s more to life than this.  That’s why people start looking for God – to find out the truth.

Once again, let’s have a look at the Bible.  After all, the Bible is God’s thoughts written down, so somewhere in there it’s bound to say what He can offer us: 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

This is something that Jesus says, and we know that Jesus’ purpose was to do his Father’s work.  The work of God involved sending his son to die for us, in order that we can have a chance of eternal life.  Not only that, but the verse above implies to me that we will receive blessings in this life if we follow God and do what He asks.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Jesus tells us that God is going to give us His kingdom!  From other places in the Bible we learn that this kingdom is going to be set up on earth, following the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection, and that the world will be transformed into a beautiful place, where we can live and reign with Jesus for eternity.

So what can God give us?  Blessings in this life, and eternal life in His kingdom – that makes it worthwhile putting the effort into looking for God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.