What is seeking the kingdom?

We’ve finally reached the verse that launched this blog. So what did Jesus mean by “Seek the kingdom”? What is God’s kingdom? How do we seek it?

Open Matthew 6:33.

Because we don’t understand the ancient world of kingdoms, Matthew 6:33 is one of the most misapplied verses in the Bible. It’s very popular in journals, study guides, and spiritual formation books. These writers want to make the application as personal as they can for their individual reader. As they understand it, I enter the kingdom through personal faith, and I seek the kingdom through my devotional life and spiritual disciplines. The goal is to encourage me to personally seek God, so his kingdom comes into my heart and his righteousness comes into my life. Great personal goals, but it’s not the kingdom.

Here’s just one example of “kingdom” applied personally. This is what the Word Bible Commentary series says about the command to seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33): Continue reading “What is seeking the kingdom?”

Stressed about your social standing? (Matthew 6:25-34)

Feel like your worth comes from how people see you? This will help you break free.

Open Matthew 6:25-34.

Our heavenly Father values us more than the birds and flowers, and he will provide for us. These are some of our favourite verses, especially when we face hard times. Without taking anything away from those sentiments, what Jesus said meant so much more. Continue reading “Stressed about your social standing? (Matthew 6:25-34)”

The focus of your life (Matthew 6:19-24)

Open Matthew 6:19-24.

Imagine a king who owns an enormous realm. He appoints servants to manage the realm on his behalf, to make sure all his creatures are cared for. But the servants are seduced by the power placed in their hands. Instead of caring for the realm, they squirrel resources away into their own private hordes, stashing the king’s resources for their own benefit.

Continue reading “The focus of your life (Matthew 6:19-24)”

Unconditional forgiveness? (Matthew 6:14-15)

Why did Jesus say God wouldn’t forgive us if we didn’t forgive each other?

Open Matthew 6:14-15.

If you forgive, you will be forgiven? Jesus words do not sit well with the way we’ve understood the gospel in the last five centuries. We understand God’s forgiveness as unconditional. It is all of grace. It has nothing to do with our works. There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation. So how can Jesus add an “If …” to the message? How can he make God’s forgiveness dependent on what we do? Continue reading “Unconditional forgiveness? (Matthew 6:14-15)”

Good Friday meditation

The tectonic plates of the moral universe ground together in the Middle East, producing this massive clash …

Open Mark 15.

This meditation on Mark 15 is from Tom Wright, Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B (London: SPCK, 2012), 166–168:

How can this be the climax to the royal story, to Israel’s story, to the story of God’s kingdom coming on earth as in heaven?

Perhaps we’ve made a mistake? Perhaps the ‘royal’ theme was only a feature of the earlier story, and perhaps Mark is now moving on to something else? No. Look through it again. ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Do you want me to release for you “the king of the Jews”?’ ‘What shall I do with the one you call “the king of the Jews”?’ ‘Greetings, King of the Jews!’ ‘The inscription read: “The King of the Jews”.’ ‘Messiah, is he? King of Israel, did he say?’ And then—echoing all the way back to the royal announcement at the baptism—‘This fellow really was God’s son.’ No mistake. This is what Mark is telling us. This is where the king comes into his own, enthroned (as he warned James and John) with one on his right and the other on his left.

So what sense does it make? Continue reading “Good Friday meditation”

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)

Jesus’ entire kingdom vision is encapsulated in this prayer.

Open Matthew 6:9-15.

“Our Father…” We’ve recited it, heard it taught, and used it as a pattern for prayer. But for Jesus it was more. In 57 words, he pulled together everything he was working for. It’s a kingdom manifesto. We pray to God as king, for the community he governs (his kingdom). Continue reading “The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)”

What is prayer? (Matthew 6:5-8)

Jesus authorized you to approach the throne of the great king

Open Matthew 6:5-8.

Why was Daniel thrown into the lion’s den? Did that strike you as an excessive penalty for … praying?

Sure, it was a political ploy to bring Daniel down, but how could Darius’ advisors have convinced him to enact such a law? We need to understand how they thought about prayer in the ancient world. Continue reading “What is prayer? (Matthew 6:5-8)”

Voice of an under-shepherd (Psalm 23)

You have people in your care? See yourself as an under-shepherd.

Open Psalm 23.

If you like mysteries, how about the clue above verse 1 in Psalm 23? The compilers who arranged the Psalms after the exile added some clues about how the Psalm was used or understood. Some of these headings are musical instructions. Some provide a historical setting. Almost half the Psalms are labelled “Of David.” What does that mean?

Continue reading “Voice of an under-shepherd (Psalm 23)”