The One Year New Testament
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18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Someday the kingdom of God will make an unmistakable public appearance, but here we read that there is a sense in which the kingdom’s presence goes currently unnoticed. Rather than being the powerful political and institutional type of kingdom that most Jews were expecting, the current nature of the kingdom is like a mustard seed (Luke 13:19) and leaven (fermented dough that functions like yeast; v. 20). Both of these seemingly insignificant items result in profound outcomes, but neither one appears noteworthy at first. In a similar way, God’s kingdom is currently breaking into our world in a way that seems insignificant and powerless by this world’s standards of what a kingdom should be. The kingdom “is not coming with signs to be observed” (17:20). Nevertheless, when the gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit is bringing human hearts under the reign of King Jesus as people put their faith in him. The transformed lives of God’s people may not seem very impressive right now, but then again, “what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2).
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Paul says that if we have been raised with Christ, then we must seek to live differently (Col. 3:1). However, this new resurrection life requires effort; we must “put on” (vv. 10, 12–17) the “new self” (v. 10) and practice a new way of living that significantly impacts the way we treat others (vv. 12–17). This ongoing process of becoming a Christlike servant occurs only because of the change in identity that God has granted to us by faith alone. Our hearts are changed only as we learn of God’s gracious love for us in Christ, and this is what moves us to obey him from the inside out.
10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Thoughts For Prayer
Do not be discouraged if Christians and their values are not celebrated in popular culture. For now, God’s kingdom does not consist in the transformation of society (Luke 13:18–20), but rather in the transformation of hearts through the gospel. Celebrate the power and presence of King Jesus as he reigns over those who bow their hearts to Christ, and pray for the coming day when all the world will be transformed with the return of our King (Rev. 11:15).
Missions Prayer Requests More
June 27, 2017
Supported Workers: Equipping Servants Internship (ESI)
Countries: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay
Pray for the 3 ESI Facilitator Training weeks they are doing in Colombia, Bolivia and Chile. They’ll be meeting with 10 ESI leaders in Santa Cruz to launch 10 groups for 150 new participants in Santa Cruz in the next few weeks. They’ll train 40 pastors and church leaders in Temuco, Chile June 28- July 1, to begin 20 ESI groups for 300 new participants the first week of August. Juan Cardenas held the Facilitator Training in Bogota in May for 13 new ESI leaders to begin 10 new groups in Bogota with 150 participants in July. Pray for God’s supply for the 2000 ESI Pastor-Book-Sets needed between now and 2022 to start ESI in five new Latin American countries in the next five years. Pray for Pastor Tomas Diaz as he works with five groups of ESI pastors in Loja, and this year begins to expand ESI into Guayaquil, Ecuador. Pray for Pastor Edwin Callejas as he works with four groups of ESI pastors in Huánuco, Peru, and oversees one ESI group in Cajamarca.
Hebei Province (province of China). Hebei is one of the most rigidly policed provinces in China; therefore, Christians have suffered unrelenting and harsh persecutions. Pray for both grace and greater freedom for the Christians in this strategic province.
The One Year New Testament Copyright Tyndale House Publishers, used by Permission. NIV Bible copyright International Bible Society.