Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - January 17, 2017

Today's Reading:

Luke 13:18-35

Genesis 24

Psalm 17

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on today's reading:

Today, the part which especially caught my attention was Messiah's mustard seed analogy, which He used to show what the Kingdom of God was like.

Before we look at the symbol of the mustard seed and what it means to us today, let's begin by defining the Kingdom of God. What is it? Where is it?

The term "Kingdom" means "a country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen". The Kingdom of God is the territory over which He Rules. As He is the Creator of all, He has the right to Rule over every created thing.

The Kingdom of God is to be focal point. Restoring God's Kingship over this rebellious planet - and in our own hearts - is to be our highest priority.

Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

The Kingdom of God applies on more than one level. It actually applies on three levels:

1) In the broadest sense, it applies to the whole Universe, over which God is the Supreme Ruler and Creator.

Hebrews 1:8 "But unto the Son He saith, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a Sceptre of Righteousness is the Sceptre of Thy Kingdom." 

2) Narrowing that scope down and bringing it closer to home, the term Kingdom of God also applies to this earth, which has rebelled against His Authority, but will be made new and reclaimed by Him in the end.

Daniel 2:44 "And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."

Mark 1:14-15  "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus (Yahshua) came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

3) Finally, in the most personal application of all, the Kingdom of God applies to the realm of the human soul. In other words, my heart and yours are the place where God wants to set up His Kingdom and reign supremely.

Mark  9:1 "And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power."

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, Who hath called you unto His Kingdom and Glory."

With this understanding of the Kingdom of God, let's turn our attention to Messiah's analogy of the
mustard seed. 

Luke 13:18-19  "Then said He, Unto what is the Kingdom of God like? And whereunto shall I resemble it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it."

A mustard seed gives a powerful example of what the Kingdom of God is like, when the Spirit comes into our hearts. At first, the seed itself is very small. For scale, consider the image of the tiny mustard seed sitting atop a human index finger. This is what it is like when we first accept Christ as our personal Saviour. Our faith is small at first - untried. But make no mistake - we DO have faith! Every child of God is given a "measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). It starts at a small and seemingly insignificant amount. Yet, it is enough. And it grows!

One of the main reasons that Christ likened the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed must have been that, while it starts out small, it packs a big punch! A mustard seed, when planted, grows to be mighty in size. It spreads out. It flourishes, even in a dry and inhospitable place. Notice the desert-like environment in which the following mustard plant is growing. Notice its amazing size (remembering that it came from such a tiny seed). The man is shown for scale. Notice also how it has spread, taking over a wide range of the area in which it was planted. All of these are illustrations which show us what God will do in our hearts - and with our sphere of influence - if we will invite His Kingdom to be within.

So how does the Kingdom of God grow in the human soul, taking us from a mustard seed of faith (which represents God's initial gift of faith to us - given upon conversion) to a mighty mustard plant? In a practical sense, the Kingdom of God is manifested and grows in us as FAITH.

James 2:5    "...Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?"

In the human soul, the Kingdom of God begins as small, but mighty (like the mustard seed). As we surrender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and align our lives more and more with the Will of God, His Kingdom grows within us, until at last It occupies us completely. And the vehicle which expands the Kingdom of God within us is our faith. In other words, growing our faith directly impacts the growth of God's Kingdom in the soul.


But how does this happen? Is the process of growing the Kingdom of God within us something we must just wait to have happen? Or do we play a part in Its growth and advancement? Actually, while it is God who grows and matures every part of us, we do play a part in advancing the Kingdom of God within our own hearts and souls. This is clear because we do play a part in growing our own faith - by the Grace of God. 

Faith doesn't grow by miracles, surprisingly enough. This is amply clear by the fact that the Children of Israel witnessed miracle after miracle - from the Red Sea parting, to manna falling from Heaven, to a God physically leading them in a Cloud (by day) or a pillar of Fire (by night). Yet, through all the supernatural interventions of God in their lives, they still didn't have any more faith for the next test than they had for the last! But if witnessing miracles doesn't grow our faith, what does?

Scripture tells us that faith comes (or grows) by hearing the Word of God:

Romans 10:17  "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."

The more of God's Word that you hear (read or come to know), the more you understand the Will of God for your life. And the more you understand of the Will of God, for your life (by the Word) the more you prayerfully align your life with what you've learned. This is faith that works:

James 2:17-18 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works."

So what part do you play in growing your faith, personally? Every moment that you spend in the Word of God is a moment of "hearing". And as you spend that time in Scripture and prayerfully make life-adjustments to align with it you are doing your part in growing your faith and advancing the Kingdom of God within you - into a mighty, sprawling mustard tree. And, as you do this - personally - God will use you to do it - corporately. By this I mean that He will work in and through you to advance His Kingdom in the needy lives of people on this rebellious planet....

It is meaningful for each of us to not just know God's part in the mustard seed experience - but to know OUR PART, as well. Thus, we may truly "seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness" (Matthew 6:33) - noting that to "seek" is an action word. 

Be sure to add a COMMENT on this blog, sharing with us anything you found meaningful in your reading of today's Scripture passages. We will all love to hear from you (please keep the Comment relevant to today's reading - Thx!)