Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Have you ever been looking for something and decided the closet or drawer was a mess? Or maybe you find something you were looking for before or something that sparks your interest so you become distracted? I set off after one thing and end up with another. Distractions. When I am rummaging through a closet looking for something, my daughter will say, “What are you hunting?” Oh how this chafes me. She learned this from her very Southern grandmother. You do not hunt for things – you look for them. I guess when I became insistent on finding that which is lost or simply misplaced, I really am hunting for it. Perhaps the term implies a little more than looking but pursuing. Just a thought!
It is possible to miss the mark, veer off course and become distracted. In fact, I think the enemy uses our life against us and our best intentions work in his favor. Our hearts come to Jesus broken and in need of repair. As the Lord begins to right our life, we forget the Source of our Power and take back control. Okay, maybe I am the only one. I want God’s Best in my life. I want all to be all that He promised to make me and that I would become. I want His Kingdom. Today, I am reminded what I am after. It’s not the first time I woke up in this place feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. I feel that I might have misplaced Him among the details of my life. I am hunting the Kingdom today.
Years ago when our youngest child started school, I was offered a job beginning the same day. I thought why not. It was working for the school system so I would be off when the children were off but would not be wandering aimlessly the rest of the time. At that point, we were doing okay so money was not a motive just killing time until the kids got home from school. Somehow over the course of a couple of years, I had assumed way more responsibility than I had intended. Promoted to supervising three departments with a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, work slowly began to take over my life. Don’t get me wrong. I was still a wife, mom and Christian just one who worked a lot. When I was at home, I began checking emails and taking care of problems to alleviate the pressure of each day. Suddenly, I was grabbing dinner at the local takeout chicken place every other night and barely keeping up at home because I was working later and later. Antacid became a daily routine as stress eroded my stomach. On top of everything else, my son who was away at college was sick. In and out of the doctors, then the hospital for tests. Finally, I traveled down to see what was going on and take over. A divine appointment no less. It was October. School had started and my tasks piling up. As our son went into surgery for a “tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy”, I will admit that in my head I was already back at work figuring out how to get everything taken care of after missing a few days. All that changed when just a few short hours later, my heart was smashed to the floor and my head sent into a tailspin with the words, “I am so sorry. He has cancer.”
Now one might think that would change everything in a second, but I am not the average bear. For two weeks following his diagnosis, he went back with family to withdraw from school and get ready to begin treatment. I was back at home trying to make “cancer” fit in our life, routine and schedule. Let me help you out – it doesn’t. We were creating a schedule of care but suddenly that job I that was so important was slipping out of my hands. The schedule so well-maintained in chaos. I couldn’t do it. The most important thing at that moment was our son. What I learned over the next four years has changed my life forever. I didn’t begin the job to become a workhorse but slowly over time the enemy slipped the bridle of success over my head and it became my driving force like a noose around my neck. It took one event to change my life forever and put me back on course. Today, I have yet again become distracted with life. No, it’s not work. God gave me a new job where my family comes first. There is not a lot of stress. Nevertheless, I have become a bit distracted.
“Who do you say that I am” changed Peter’s life forever? It did not make him perfect in a moment or even a few days. He would stumble and get up several times. However, in the end, the Lord’s Word is true and on that “rock” He built His Church. He told Peter that in the realization of who Jesus was that he was given the Keys to the Kingdom. This is true for you and me, too. The days when fighting a war with full frontal assaults, we are good at wielding His Power. But what about the subtle skirmishes in life when the enemy uses the “little” things to lead us off into the wrong direction? Those are the most dangerous of all because before we know it – we find ourselves far off-course. This morning my objective is to make sure that I am on track with God’s Word. I want His Kingdom. No more or less. I want it all.
Matthew 18:18 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
We have literally been handed the Keys to Heaven. We can unlock every door and barrier in our life because of faith in Christ alone. We need nothing else except a desire for the Kingdom to permit Heaven to come to earth. What is stopping us? Desire. We don’t want Jesus as much as the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others. Guilty as charged but not anymore. We want things of the earth more than the blessings of Heaven. We want it all right now so we refuse to wait on the Lord to make good on every detail (Romans 8:28) and perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Jesus is not our Source of life but the emergency roadside assistance kit hidden in the trunk of our car who is used when we get broke down and cannot get going on our own. We have all the Power of God who created the entire universe and everything in it. He has the Power and Authority to overstep hell, death and the grave to bring us back out and put us into forever, but we treasure too many other things. Again, guilty as charged but not anymore.
Matthew 5:3-10 (NLT)
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
When I began reading the Beatitudes this morning, I wondered what the definition was of the word “Beatitude”. Maybe you already knew, but the word simply means “blessing”. I am realizing that I have drifted slightly off course, I want the Kingdom of God to manifest in my life every single day. I want His Blessings above anything I can create in this life. As I read them, I began to translate them into what it required of me and here is what I came up with. I need Jesus. (v.3) I must live in repentance because I need Him. (v.4) I must follow the Lord. (v.5) (This means giving up my way.) I cannot get enough of Jesus in my tiny life so therefore must yield more and more of me every single day. (v.6) I must walk in forgiveness or risk rebellion that locks up Heaven. (v.7) Maintain a pure and blameless heart. (v.8) (Which leads me back to verse 4 again and again.) My mission on any given day is peace. Peace at heart. Peace of mind. Peace with others. (v.8) (This can be the toughest one of all.) I must do what is painfully right. (v.10) Why? Why do all of this? I want the Kingdom of God. I want to be blessed. To be blessed is not to have it all but to have all of Him.
Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)
Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
I must not forsake small beginnings. A tiny mustard seed of faith has great potential in my life. To have faith means nothing until I put it all in the ground. It is when I commit my faith to Christ that it grows, develops and matures into something greater. The Kingdom of God manifests in my life through the tiny sacrifices of faith along the way. I must not be distracted but put my faith in Jesus all day every day to live in His Presence and have the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 13:33 (NLT)
Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
The amount of my life given to God is not as significant as what His Kingdom will do when allowed to permeate my existence. I just give Jesus what I can that day and He does the rest. The key is I have to give Him something. Some days it seems easier than others to give Him my all. Other days it is struggle to part with much as my humanity has death grip and will to live beyond my own resolve. What is important I that I keep giving the Lord what I can to permeate my life with His Presence. Every day something. Anything. He will work with it all.
Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
How badly do you want God’s Kingdom? This is not an open conversation but a quiet inspection of each heart by its own person. Do you really want what God has for you or just enough to get by? It matters in the harvest, friend. I have heard people say they want the Kingdom but then live for the world. I have seen people led off believing it really doesn’t matter how they live who are painfully deceived. It is all about what you want in life. You will make time to have that which is desired. I have been the one with every excuse in the book. Until I tried it all and failed, then I realized that I really did want the Kingdom of God above all else. Maybe it was in the realization that my child might have gone there before me, suddenly it became a little more beautiful. If God had stopped working in my heart there, I would have left Him when He healed my son. But through the process of healing our child, the Lord has given me glimpses of the Kingdom that I can no longer live without. Things that make me painfully aware when I have strayed off course. It gives me a strong drive and desire to get back to it.
Heaven is filled with Jesus. He is my treasure. He is my reward. There is nothing that I want more than Jesus. I may not always live like it or do the right things, but He is my great desire. What am I willing to do to have Him? Will I sell everything? Will I give away my life heartbeat by heartbeat and breath by breath to know Him more? I am heartbroken that I missed it and got off course again. His New Mercy met me this morning and reaffirmed that I have hope and the Lord is far from done with me yet. Thank you Jesus for your mercy that comes with each morning even when it finds me far from Home. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
When I walked outside with the dogs this morning, I was greeted by cool morning air. Fall is here. With this new season, hunting season began. All the hunters have been inspecting their favorite hunting spots, planting seed to bait their prey, and preparing for the hunt. Their rifles and bows have sights on them to see the animals afar off and hit their target. Those same sights can be moved askew by carrying the weapon or just from use. The firing of the weapon can move its sight. Without proper sighting, you can keep aiming but you are not going to hit anything. Weird how the Lord works in my mind since we are not a hunting family.
I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith which means not only did He give me faith but now the Lord will show me how to use it to have the Kingdom of Heaven in my everyday life. Jesus wants to be as close to me as possible, what am I doing to make room for Him today? Are there doors in my life locked that will require keys of faith and confident hope to open? Will I step in? Do I want what God wants for me? Christianity is a frustrating endeavor if we do not want the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t look like this world. It certainly doesn’t act like it. It is humility, love and submission to God’s Power at work in us to produce His Kingdom around us. Seeds must die and give their all to produce something far greater than they once were and the same goes for us! I want God’s Kingdom. He has righted my sight today. I am hunting the Kingdom of God full force with all my mind, soul and body! What are you after today?
Matthew 6:20-21 (NLT)
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.