First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, May 15, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“The Kingdom is at Hand!”
1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Luke 17:20-21
It seems to me that the Kingdom of God was so central to the life and mission of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Mark gives us a glimpse of the early beginnings of Christ’s public ministry. This is what Mark says in Mark 1:14-15 “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Jesus makes the connection here between His public ministry and the nearness of God’s Kingdom ~ the inauguration of “βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.” In teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus instructed us to always pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it’s in heaven.”
In order to show us how central the Kingdom of God was to the Resurrected Lord, Luke gives us another insightful passage in Acts 1:3, “After his suffering, Jesus presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Luke tells us that the solo subject of Christ’s teaching during the fort-day period after His resurrection and before His ascension was the Kingdom of God.
If the Kingdom of God was so important to our Lord, it should be the same to us. So today and through the end of May, I will be preaching on this topic. My hope, as we revisit our understanding of this foundational and transformational topic, that our passion for God’s Kingdom will be ignited.
This morning, I would like to define what do we mean by God’s Kingdom and underscore one single thought about how this Kingdom is manifested.
What is God’s Kingdom?
So, what is God’s Kingdom? Simply put, God’s Kingdom is God’s rule over our lives. This kingdom has no physical territory. Its realm is the whole world. It gathers all the redeemed through the ages. God’s Kingdom has a spiritual nature. This kingdom is born in the hearts of those who had heard the good news of the gospel and believed it. This kingdom is the already, but not yet. Christ is King right at this moment, yet we still await the time that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
The difficulty comes from the fact that we, as Christians, are called to live as citizens of heaven while we are still here on earth. We are to seek, to be loyal to, to strive for God’s Kingdom. The community of Christ in the world is supposed to embody the values of God’s Kingdom. We are in the world but not of the world. The Scriptures has much to say about God’s kingdom, but I would like to underscore a single thought this morning about how it’s manifested.
First: God’s Kingdom is Manifested in the Most Unlikely of Places
There is a thread in Scriptures about how God’s Kingdom is manifested. Over and over again, the Bible tells us that God’s Kingdom is manifested in the most unlikely of places. The good news of the gospel and the inauguration of God’s Kingdom first took place in Galilee. Galilee witnessed the beginning and the fulfilment of the Christian story.
Not so many people expected the good news of God’s Kingdom to come out of the small region of Galilee. From a human perspective, it should’ve been Jerusalem that first witnessed the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom. Yet this kingdom manifests itself in the most unlikely of places, in Galilee. The Kingdom dawns on the least of the least; the simple, the poor, the uneducated, the unworthy, the crushed Galileans. God shows up in the most desperate and hopeless situations and places in our lives.
I wonder if some of us today are travelling some rough roads. I wonder if some of us are navigating some uncharted waters. I want you today to lift up your heads for the Kingdom of God is among us. It’s during those dark and sleepless nights that the light of Christ’s Kingdom shines on us. God’s Kingdom has come and it comes amongst us every day in mysterious and supernatural ways. In our brokenness, God’s strength is given to us. In our failures, God’s love and grace overwhelm us.
It's when we least expect it, God’s love finds us. It’s in the most unlikely of places and the most unlikely of circumstances that the joy and peace of God’s sovereignty strengthen our feeble knees. In response to a question from the Pharisees in regard to when the kingdom of God was coming? Jesus answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Friends, in an assembly and gathering such as ours this morning, the seeds of God’s Kingdom are planted and established in our hearts. In the simplicity of our life together as a congregation, our eyes are opened, and our hearts are encouraged to seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.
May we never forget that God’s Kingdom is manifested in the most unlikely of places. So regardless of where you’re in the journey of life, whether you’re at the top of the mountain or at the valley of the shadow of death, God is sovereign. He got your back. “Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all,” prayed King Solomon in 1 Chronicles 29:11. The time has come for us to live the fullness of God’s Kingdom and reign. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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