April 2013: Kindom of God No.3

No, this issue isn’t about a new 3D  science fiction movie in which horrible, giant alien fungi attack planet earth.  But it is about fungi.  Did you know that common household yeast (a form of fungi) is referred to many times in the Bible?  It’s called “leaven,” an older word for yeast.  Jesus referred to leaven in some of his teachings.  For example, on one occasion He warned his followers, “Beware of the contaminating yeast of the religious leaders.”

What did Jesus mean?  He was cautioning his disciples—and us!—to beware of the thinking patterns of some of those people.  Don’t develop their negative mindsets.  Don’t adopt their destructive worldviews. Don’t have “stinkin’ thinkin’” as some religious leaders did.  But Jesus did not mention yeast only in a negative context.  On another occasion He said to his followers, “God’s Kingdom is like yeast that a baker works into the dough so the bread can rise and be tasty and nourishing.”

Kingdom Yeast

What did Jesus mean by that statement?  He meant that the Kingdom of God will spread and permeate our lives just like yeast spreads and permeates bread so it becomes tasty and nourishing.  Okay, by now our regular readers will have caught on that this issue of The Traveler is about the Kingdom of God . . . just as the previous two issues were. 

I’m deliberately emphasizing the Kingdom of God in a number of issues this year.  Why?  Because whenever you’ve prayed the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” each time you’ve prayed that prayer you have prayed “Thy Kingdom come . . .” I want to be sure you know what you’re asking God when you pray “Thy Kingdom come.”  The Kingdom of God is a major theme throughout the entire Bible.  God wants to “grow” and spread his Kingdom in our lives just as yeast grows and spreads in bread.

 How does God’s Kingdom grow and spread in our lives?  Here’s how:  We must renew and change our minds, thinking patterns, and attitudes—empowered by Holy Spirit who lives inside us!

Changes In Our Thinking

1 Corinthians 15: 51 and 52 teach about the Great Change coming when King Jesus will return to earth to usher in his Kingdom:

         “Pay attention!  I am telling you a previously hidden truth.  We will not all sleep in death, but we shall all be changed—in an atomic second, in less time than it takes to blink.  A trumpet will blast and we will be raised from the dead, free from decay.  Yes, we shall be changed and transformed.”

That will be our final change as mortals (when we will be changed from mortals to immortals), but it will not be our final change because we will continue to change for many years to come after that event . . . and then beyond those years when we enter into our eternal state of being.  In the meantime, God wants us to continue to change, grow, and develop in this mortal life before we die or before Jesus returns—whichever occurs first.  

Most changes that need to occur in our lives during this mortal journey are changes in our minds, attitudes, and thought patterns so we see life more and more from the point of view of citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom.  Our “stinkin’ thinkin’” needs to be radically changed.  We need to think more and more like Jesus thinks.  We need to develop “the mind of Jesus” as the Bible puts it.  We need to see our lives as God sees them through Jesus.  The one area of our thoughts that really needs to change is our thinking about religion.  As mentioned earlier, we need to beware of the contaminating yeast of religious thinking and begin to think the way a citizen of God’s Kingdom thinks.

How Do We Change?

How do we learn to think as God thinks?  How do we learn to view life as God views it?  How do we learn to think like Jesus thinks, “putting on the mind of Jesus” as the Bible states?  The first change people need to make in their lives is to be born spiritually (born2), to become entirely new people because they invite Jesus to take up permanent residence in their lives.  That change into a new person—into a newly created immortal being—automatically sets in motion a lifelong process of change, growth, and development.

You became a brand-new creation—a “changeling” when you were born again—and will spend the remainder of y0ur mortal journey here on earth being changed and transformed back into God’s clear image as seen in Jesus.  When we invite Jesus into our lives, He enters in his “unbodied form” of Holy Spirit, takes up permanent residence within our spirits, and then begins the lifelong process of helping us change our thinking, attitudes, and behavior.  

How does all that happen?  It’s so simple millions of people overlook it . . . believing it’s just too simple.  We learn God’s thoughts in the Bible. The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to humankind.  It contains enough of God’s thoughts, attitudes, and behavior so we can learn from Him and change.

The Bible is not a religious book.  It is not a textbook.  It’s simply what God wants us to know in order to change our thoughts and attitudes to be more and more like his thoughts and attitudes.  By reading, studying, and applying the Bible to our lives, we change more and more from contaminated religious thinking to life-changing God thinking.  That’s how the good “yeast” of the Kingdom of God grows and expands in our lives.  That’s how God’s good, LIFEgiving, nourishing, wholesome yeast spreads in our lives, replacing the contaminating yeast of religious thinking.

          Dear reader, being a believer in Jesus is not a religion; it’s a relationship with the one, true and living God through Jesus!  Many people have just enough of a dosage of religion to inoculate them against having a relationship with God!

That’s why Bible reading and study is so vitally important for our lives . . . for our entire lives.  God didn’t give us the Bible merely to inform us, but so the Holy Spirit living inside us can use it to help us transform our lives from the inside out.  The Bible is not merely printed words on paper, but it’s a “living book” God uses day by day in your life to transform you and restore you back into his clear image.  “Living words” leap off the printed pages of the Bible, enter you, and then become real and life-transforming inside you.  Yes, the Bible is LIFEgiving and full of power; it leaps off the printed pages and steps into your day-to-day world right where you live, work, or go to school.

The Kingdom of God is . . .

Here’s what another reference in the Bible states the Kingdom of God is like:

                   “The important things about the Kingdom of God are living right with God, having God’s overwhelming peace, and abundant joy in your day-to-day lives.”

The Kingdom of God is not about external things.  It consists of inner, spiritual realities such as right living in thought and action, peace that seeks harmony among people, and a deep, deep joy that can come only from Holy Spirit within us.  If we understand the spiritual realities of Jesus’ Kingdom, we won’t choose external things that briefly satisfy our self-centeredness.  The essence of sin is to live a self-centered, self-absorbed life instead of a Jesus-filled life.

From Darkness to Light

There’s another aspect of Kingdom thinking and Kingdom living that is not addressed very often by those who teach the Bible.  Essentially, we live in a “kingdom of darkness,” ruled over by a dark being with various names and titles:  Satan, the destroyer, the devil, Beelzebub, the adversary, the Prince of the power of the air, the tempter, etc.  Satan’s dark powers were completely defeated by Jesus when He died on the cross, but Satan still has some residual powers that we “allow” him to have by default.  He’s a defeated foe, but he is still allowed to work in our lives to the extent we relinquish power and authority to him.  

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that when we invite Jesus into our lives, at that instant we are transferred by the power of God from the kingdom of darkness into God’s Kingdom of Light.  We instantly go from being spiritually blind to “seeing the Light.”  We go from stumbling around in the dark to seeing clearly how God is working out his plans and purposes for our lives.

My question is this:  Have you invited Jesus to come and take up permanent residence in your life?  Have you been born again?  If not, why not?  What’s keeping you from inviting Jesus into your life?  If you have invited Him into your life, what is He doing now . . . today . . . this very moment to transform you more and more into God’s clear image?  Each dark place in our lives has God in it, working behind the scenes, orchestrating events that ultimately result in our good.  God promised He will never leave nor forsake his “children of light,” no matter how deep we sink into darkness or how heavy the burdens we are asked to bear . . . nor how dark the darkness.  And there is purpose in that darkness, some plan God is working out for our good.  We recognize the light better for having been in the dark.

God-Caused Events

 Do you remember from last month’s issue of The Traveler the definition of miracles, signs, and wonders?:  They are God-caused events beyond all bounds of human logic and reason, defying our comprehension, experience, and expectation . . . for the purpose of God drawing people to Himself  through Jesus.  Those sorts of events should be occurring regularly and consistently in your day-to-day life and in the life of your church.  If they are not, you may still be living in the kingdom of darkness instead of in God’s Kingdom of Light. 

I’m not judging you or your relationship with God; that’s between you and God.  But you might need a spiritual “checkup” if such events are not happening in your life regularly and consistently.  As I stated last month, historically whenever and wherever the Kingdom of God has “touched down” on earth among humans, such miracles, signs, and wonders have consistently occurred.

 Has the Kingdom of God touched down in your life?  Are you and your church experiencing signs, wonders, and miracles regularly and consistently?  There’s a little “throne” on the inside of each of our lives.  Who is seated on that throne . . . you or Jesus?  Who is in control of your life . . . you or Jesus?  We must each make a quality decision to have God rule and reign on that inner throne . . . instead of our sin-full, self-centered, self-absorbed “self.”

 Each of us must learn to live in a continual state of changing mental awareness where we see life and reality more and more as God sees them, and think more and more like God thinks by continually changing our minds and attitudes, thus keeping God in control, keeping Him seated on the inner throne of our lives.

                   “God rescued us from the dead-end alleys and dark dungeons of life.  He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who lifted us up out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.  After God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, He seated Jesus at his right hand in the heavens, far above all other beings throughout the universe.  And we are seated with Jesus, right there next to Father God!” 
— paraphrased from various biblical references

To Think About This Month

“Daily, I  want to live and experience a sure and certain KingdomDream rather than a far lesser, transitory, and elusive worlddream.”

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December 2020

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