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Promotion
  • Apr22

    20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20 KJV

    Think about it. It’s common knowledge that, in order to grow in a particular field, we must rely on others who know more than us. So why would our growth in Christ be any different? Let’s learn from each other!

    The truth about the kingdom that Jesus came proclaiming was not an easy-believism kind of teaching. When we act in obedience to reveal the “mystery of the kingdom”, it usually does not come naturally. It takes incremental and courageous steps of obedience to experience the power of the Holy Spirit released in us to advance His will and His ways. When we join with the Holy Spirit to introduce the kingdom to others, it becomes a breathless moment where time and eternity are reconfigured. The Holy Spirit will give gracious germination to the kingdom mustard seed of faith for people individually, and for the people at large whom we are influencing. We truly are attempting to participate in what the Holy Spirit is already doing with people.

    The rule and reign of our King Jesus is first meant to be manifested IN us (Luke 17:21). His kingdom is never meant to be only IN us, but is also to be expressed THROUGH us and FOR others (Matthew 12:28).

    The whole world is pursuing alternatives to the kingdom of God: money, pleasure, power, prestige, relationships, possessions. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that, “What tops your value system wears the crown of your heart.” Jesus said it this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

    The effect of resisting the kingdom of God is that God’s rule becomes obscured. The eye stops seeing it, the ear stops hearing it, and the heart stops treasuring it. When we fix our eyes and our hearts on alternative kingdoms, we act as if the King and His Kingdom ways are irrelevant. No doubt this is exactly what Jesus was saying in Matthew 13:1-23 and following. Do you realize that Jesus taught that the parable of the sower was the key to understanding all the rest of the parables? (Mark 4:13). This parable is also the response and the answer as to why it is so difficult for all of us to allow the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in our lives! When we allow the seed of the word to penetrate the fertile soil of our inner motives (our hearts) we gain knowledge and understanding of the kingdom. When that understanding is accompanied with “fruit” we keep acquiring more ownership of the kingdom of God and His reign flows out of us into our social surroundings with ever increasing fruit. Wow! This is the fun, fulfillment and joy of being used by the LORD to advance His kingdom purposes (Romans 14:17).

    There are those, however, who aren’t receptive to the kingdom of God so it simply does not register with them. The longer they stubbornly stay out of the kingdom, the less they are capable of ever beginning to comprehend it.

    Look closely at a few verses from Matthew 13:1-23. I would suggest that you read and study these verses in detail this week:

    10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” 11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. … 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!””Matthew 13:10-12, 23 NLT

    Over the next week, would you make an intentional effort to extend the kingdom of God in some capacity? It might be a simple word of encouragement, a generous gift, a service rendered, speaking up when you could be silent, or a half a dozen other kingdom moments. Be bold and trust in Christ’s Spirit to lead you!

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

     

     

  • Apr8

    12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” - Matthew 11:12 NIV

    Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 6.02.05 PM

    William Holman Hunt (English Pre-Raphaelite painter, 1827-1910), detail of “The Importunate Neighbor”(1895), oil on canvas,

    Although John the Baptist was confused about Jesus… Jesus was not confused about John. You see in most people’s eyes  John was a mystery. He was not a person you would expect to find when looking for a great spiritual leader. He lacked the religious pedigree for that. John looked nothing like a priest or teacher of the law and, in fact, to most people he came across as just plain weird. John did have something though. John’s faith in God was raw and untamed and he ministered with great spiritual power.

    What I find interesting is that Jesus almost seems to mock or rebuke a crowd who once gathered around John’s disciples. He asked them what they came out to the wilderness to see? “A reed swayed by the wind?” (i.e. Someone easily molded by the expectations of the civilized). Or perhaps, He suggested, they came out to see “A man dressed in fine clothes?” (i.e. Someone seeking to impress the political or religious elite). In essence, Jesus was saying that if it were those kinds of people they sought, then they were looking in the wrong place. But if it was a prophet they sought, then John was their man! (See Matthew 11:7-9)

    In order for God’s kingdom to radically advance, I believe it will take more men and women who are cut from a different cloth.  A different breed of Christ follower who is typically found outside the mainstream of most institutionalized churches. It takes subjects who are assertive, initiators, and rigorous in their kingdom pursuits.

    While antagonism in the world around us intensifies with many Christians seemingly content to watch from the sidelines, I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up kingdom soldiers. (Consider Paul’s estimation of this kind of soldier in 2 Timothy 2:3,4).

    I think Jesus wanted to make it clear that, the greater the kingdom responsibility, the more a barbarian is required. A barbarian in ancient times was a member of a community or tribe not belonging to one of the great civilizations. Usually they were more uncultured and even brutish. Perhaps this is partly why the writer of Hebrews, as well as Peter, describes Christians using the terms: “strangers”, “pilgrims”, and “aliens” (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). We are meant to be Christ’s kingdom subjects who “advance the kingdom forcefully”!!! (Matt. 11:12)

    In Matthew 11:11 Jesus not only celebrates the greatness of John the Baptist, but He also opens the floodgates of possibilities for the rest of us. Notice the last phrase of verse 11.

    11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11 NIV

    Jesus expected that a barbarian tribe was still to come, who would follow in the ways of John! The Judaism of Christ’s day had been domesticated, institutionalized, and civilized; it was only a hollow shell of what God intended. John didn’t fit into the organized religion of his time, but fortunately neither did God!

    The Holy Spirit is making a “kingdom call” to all those who will listen and obey. Obedience, I have discovered, is not in the sensational but rather in the steady steps of courage amidst the small things of life. If we remain bold and faithful in the little things God calls us to, I believe He will expand our influence in much larger ways (See Luke 19:17).

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Mar24

    Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 8.39.10 PM

    The kingdom of God has at least three necessary components:

    1. There is a King –> The Lord Jesus Christ
    2. There are subjects of the King –> Christ’s followers and…
    3. There is the King’s territory –> Anywhere the rule of the King is extended

    We also see from Scripture that there are three dimensions of God’s kingdom:

    1. The kingdom of God is IN us (John 1:1-8; Luke 17:21).
    2. The kingdom of God is UPON or AMONG us (Matthew 12:28, Romans 14:17; and 1 Corinthians 4:20).
    3. The kingdom of God will be WITH us when we reign with Christ (Luke 1:33; 1 Corinthians 15:24&25; Revelation 21:10; 22:5).

    Again, our working definition for the kingdom of God is: 

    The authority to carry out the will and the ways of our King, Jesus Christ in a particular realm or arena of life.

    But what is the difference between the kingdom of God being “in us” versus, “upon us”? God’s kingdom reigning IN us means we allow His kingship to have free reign in our inner being. We keep in step with Spirit and operate out of His life within us (See Galatians 5:25). When the kingdom is UPON us, we are exercising our Christ given authority in obedience related to a particular arena of life. We are actually advancing His will and His principles into the context of our unique cultures.

    Look closely at Romans 14:17 (NASB):

    17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    Righteousness is doing the right thing.  Not once, not twice, but consistently over and over again. The best way I know how to live righteously is to take small, incremental steps of obedience, day-in and day-out. Usually these steps are not overtly profound but often subtle, intentional, demonstrative, filled with risk, creative, purposeful and respectful of Christ and others. After all, the Scripture is clear that  “Christ’s love [is what] compels us… “(2 Corinthians 5:14). May His love be our driving motivation to carry out His kingdom work!

    Another profound and downright convicting verse was penned by the apostle Paul:

    20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20

    So many of us are expert talkers. We talk, and talk, and then talk some more. But when we choose to step out in dependence upon the “wind and the fire” of the Holy Spirit, we then experience this verse to be true. We start living in the magnificent POWER of God, and as a result walk in His kingdom rule UPON us! The promise of the release of the kingdom of God is for anyone who is subjected to the King!

    Would you agree that we ALL can attempt to be more obedient?

    This week, will you choose with me, to:

    • Act rather than re-act?

    • Obey rather than stay away?

    • Stand UP rather than stand back?

    • Submit to His promptings rather than subvert His promptings?

    In Christ our King,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Mar22

    Jesus told His disciples that he spoke in parables regarding the mystery of the kingdom of God in order to make it more challenging for the casual seeker (Matthew 13:11-13). He was looking for men and women who were truly motivated to obey God (2 Chronicles 16:9). Though Jesus shared these kingdom truths with cloaked language, he still sought to convey important insights about how we can experience God’s kingdom reality in our daily lives.

    Let’s begin by looking at the nature of any kingdom. Every kingdom has at least three central components: a kinga king’s subjects, and a territory, or realm, in which the king’s authority is extended.  Here is a working definition of the kingdom of God:

    The kingdom of God is the right, the power and the authority to carry out the will and the ways of our King, Jesus Christ!

    Living in the kingdom means we are allowing Christ to reign IN US, advance His kingdom principles and practices THROUGH US, and to establish His rule WITH US during His theocratic reign on earth at the end of the age.

    A famous passage about the kingdom of God being “in us” is found in John 3:1-8, in the story of Nicodemus:

    3 In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ 4 ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'”- John 3:3-8 NIV

    Let’s unpack this passage a bit more:

    3:5 In Jesus’ analogy, the fleshly or natural birth corresponds to being “born of water.” During pregnancy an unborn child floats in the amniotic fluid within her mother’s womb. During delivery, this water is expelled. The child is literally born “out of water.” The expression “of water” is used here as a figure of physical birth.

    3:6 In this verse, Jesus is declaring that there can be no evolution from flesh to spirit. Just as physical birth is necessary for life on earth, so spiritual birth is necessary for life in heaven. Out of necessity Nicodemus had to be born from above. His Pharisaical self-efforts would not bring him under God’s rule or into God’s kingdom.  He needed a new birth!

    3:7-8 The words “born again” are best translated, as “born again from above.” Because Jesus starts talking about the wind He is giving us an understanding of what it means to be born again from above and born again by the Spirit.

    The wind creates movement. It is powerful, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. So it is with the Spirit! When we are “born again from above,” we are swept up into the “wind” of God’s Spirit. He is all about moving us to action, obedience, power and courage! The momentous movements of God’s Spirit align perfectly with what we know about the kingdom of God. Far too often, however, the words “born again” conjure up nurturing, protective, or tender images. God’s love and care are wonderful aspects of our new lives in Christ, but I believe the tender ideas associated with being “born again” have led Christians (especially new ones) to feel incapable and overly dependent. In fact, the institutional church today tends to coddle and excessively protect new followers of Christ for fear that they may be incapable of adequately living their Christian lives. Older believers are apprehensive about newcomers sharing their faith, and have little confidence in their ability to grasp deeper truths of the faith. Where do you think this lack of trust in God’s Spirit comes from?

    Perhaps if we treated new Christians as though they were “born from above” by the “fire of God’s Spirit” as God’s word says they are, we might see kingdom results from their behaviors! What do you think?

    In my experience, those who are most zealous, eager to grow, and willing to step out in obedience are those brand new to the faith! Instead of babying them, we ought to expect more from new believers. We should challenge them to submit to their King as His obedient subjects and to start advancing His rule and reign in the strategic places God has situated them.

    When I was a young follower of Christ at Oregon State, my campus ministry challenged and expected me to evangelize the third floor of the McNary Dorm. Do you think this forced me to learn and experience the power of the Holy Spirit in me and through me? You bet it did!

    In the coming weeks I will continue to teach about the kingdom of God and specifically that it is not only IN US but it is meant to flow out of us as the kingdom is UPON US. This may seem like a slight distinction, but let me assure you the implications are huge for our lives! 

    To get you thinking in the right direction, take some time to meditate on Paul’s words in Romans and 1 Corinthians:

    17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” –

    Romans 14:17 NASB

    20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” - 1 Corinthians 4:20 NASB

    May the Lord powerfully lead you this week as you keep in step His Spirit!

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Dec16

    Garments for a King

    One of the most illuminating verses in the New Testament surrounds the seven-mile hike to Emmaus and the conversation that two of the disciples had with the Risen Christ.

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted [expounded NKJV] to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 19:27 ESV

    On that trek Christ may have explained a passage like Psalm 45:6-8 which describes the future King of Israel, descended from David’s line, whose “throne would last forever and ever” (v.6). The king is addressed as, “God,” clearly indicating that the Messiah, the “anointed one” (v.7), is God Himself. This interpretation is confirmed by its quotation in Hebrews 1:8, 9. In this messianic psalm, the Father is addressing His eternal Son who is both God and man—the God-man. This is not the only time these two Persons of the Godhead speak with one other (see also Psalm 2:7, 8 and Psalm 110:1, 2).

    “All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, [bark powdered cinnamon]. Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad;…” - Psalm 45:8

    Nothing in the Word of God is wasted. This Psalm is prophetic because it is describing the coming King leaving His abode in heaven and laying aside His perfumed, royal clothing to enter a world of sin. This psalm became reality when He exchanged His regal garments for baby clothes as His poor parents “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes” and laid Him “in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

    Later, as Jesus Christ walked the dusty roads of Judea, we know little of what He wore but we do know that on one notable occasion, He “laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded himself…and began to wash the disciples’ feet – John 13:4-5. A strange garment, and a stranger action, for the King of glory!

    Yet stranger still is the fact that later on men whom He had created “took His garments, and made four parts, for every soldier; and also His coat and they cast lots for it” (John 19:23, 24), leaving Him naked to die a painful death spiked to a tree. Finally, His little remnant of friends took “the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes” (John 19:40) for His burial.

    When He returns to planet earth in glory, remember, He will be wearing garments fitting the occasion, as He returns as a conquering King!

    and in the midst of the seven lamp stands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” – Revelation 1:13 NKJV

    In the last reference in the Bible to the garments of Christ He is a Mighty Warrior of God. Note also from this verse He not only had an imprint on His robe He was tattooed as well!

    On his robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” – Revelation 19:16

    This is the eternal King and future reigning King of Christmas that we ought to Worship (bow to and rise up and obey)!

    Let’s obey together!

    Dale 

    dale@daleebel.org