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SCRIPTURE - Rom 14:17                                                                             SEPTEMBER, 2004

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.


This month's subject, deals with, what is a confusing, yet simple description of the center most part of the gospel, and that is, the kingdom of God. Center most, because Jesus, when explaining the benefit of being 'born again' said, John 3:3 ...., Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Many think that what this is saying, is that a person, that is not 'born again' can't see Heaven. Well, the end result of not being 'born again', does mean that, but, there is so much that is missing from that frame of reference, that it is probably the main reason, many Christians live lives, that fall far short of what God intends for them. Because all that they see, is making it to Heaven. Yet, Jesus, is not talking about Heaven, He is talking about a way of life, for the believer, right here, right now, in this life.

Have you ever heard some Christians say, 'I'm just traveling the King's highway, on the way to making Heaven my home. All I have to do, is just hold on, to God's unchanging hand. He will see me through.' Their attitude, is one of just barely making it through this life, somewhat like, Lazarus, from the story about the rich man and Lazarus, in Lk. 16:19 - 16:31. They accept a defeated life, one of poverty, and suffering, all for what is waiting on the other side.

Yet, Jesus, in the subject verse, is describing the kingdom of God, through a lifestyle that is one of victory, over the troubles and cares of this world system.

In His description, He mentions three things, Righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost.

Well, we are going to look at all three, separately, so you can see the lifestyle that God wants you to have, and therefore, begin to partake of it.

First, Jesus, is letting us know, that in order to partake of this lifestyle, you need the Holy Ghost. It is impossible to experience the totality of the kingdom of God, without the Holy Ghost, as a helper. The Holy Ghost, is not available to those that are not, 'born again.' No man can achieve any of these qualities, on his own.

The first, and most important, because Jesus, mentioned it first, is Righteousness.

Righteousness, for all intents and purposes, is being in a position of right standing before God. That means, standing before God, without any sin for Him to see.

It is sin, after all, that has separated us from God, and His blessings, in the first place. And as long as that sin remains a part of us, we are in a position of being rejected by a Holy and Righteous, God. Sin, cannot stand in the presence of God. It is something that He hates, so it has to be done away with. So, God, knowing that man can't do away with it on his own, gives us a helper, to it, the Holy Ghost.

What the Holy Ghost does, is to first, get us to see, the sin, that is in our lives. Without Him getting us to see this, we will not take the next step, to righteousness, which is, to acknowledge it. This is called, confession.

In the natural way of things, (i.e. criminal situations), if a guilty person, confesses to a crime, the courts tend to look favorably on that, seeing that it saves the taxpayers money, that would be used for investigating, gathering evidence, gathering witnesses, the costs, of attorneys, and trials. So, confession, tells God, that you acknowledge your sin. Now, when you do that, it is usually accompanied by repentance. A person that confesses their wrongdoing, is not going to say, 'yes, I am guilty, but I am not sorry.' That is a sign of defiance. And if it is defiance, then that is another sin.

So, confession leads to repentance, and repentance makes you, righteous (1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) If you will notice, being cleansed from all unrighteousness, makes a person, what?? Righteous. Therefore, the Holy Ghost works with those that are 'born again', to help us live lives of righteousness.

Many well meaning Christians, mistakenly believe, that no one can be righteous, or live a righteous life, but that is not the case. They use the scriptures that say, Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Looking at these two scriptures, without the help of the Holy Ghost, leads one to believe these scriptures are saying that no one can be righteous. But, the problem is, that these scriptures are saying no one can be righteous, out of their own power.

There is nothing, that you or I can do, in our flesh, to make ourselves righteous in the sight of God. Only obedience to the leading of the Holy Ghost, can make us righteous.

Next, is peace.

This is the next important quality that Jesus mentioned. Peace comes to those that, have made their minds up, to follow and obey God, through Jesus Christ. Once again, it is the Holy Ghost that Christ sent to us, to help us obtain peace with God. And, once that peace is obtained, then we can be at peace with this world, and all of its problems.

To those that are not 'born again', there is little reason, to be at peace, with life. There are all of the problems that face us everyday, much less the major problems, that crop up, occasionally, that spell disaster. They, or rather, we, all face the same situations, in one form or another, every day, such as, crime, sickness, disease, accidents, worry about jobs, money, bills, war, and you name it. All of these things cause people to be overcome with fear, and anxiety. And while the world is having conniption fits, heart attacks, ulcers and such, because they see all of these things, the Holy Ghost, shows us that God, has total control over all of them, and that He will bring us out, so we have nothing to worry about.

If you have a bible handy, read the story about how two men, faced the exact same situation, and one was about to have a nervous breakdown, and the other, had total peace of mind ( 2 Ki. 6:15 - 17). The man of God, could see, what his servant couldn't. Surrounded on all sides by an enemy, that was out to get them, the man of God, and his servant surveyed the situation, and the man of God said, there is nothing to worry about, because there are more with us, than there are with them. The servant looked at thousands of the enemy, and there were only two of them. But, when God opened the servant's spiritual eyes, he saw the total picture. Likewise, those that are 'born again', can see what those that aren't, can't, because they have spiritual insight as to how God sees things.

When a person is operating out of fear, or anxiety, they usually act and think irrationally. They will usually do things that they never thought they would do, like harm themselves, or others. They have no thoughts of what is right or wrong, therefore, they are the most dangerous person around. But, those that know God, know that they have nothing to be fearful or anxious about, because they know that God is right there, to give them the victory over that same situation, that is driving the rest of the world, mad.

God says, Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isa 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

David said, 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me (Psa. 23:4)'

And finally, the third item, is joy. The bible puts it like this, Neh 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

When you are in right standing with God (righteous), you have no guilt, of standing before Him because there is no sin to be condemned with. And that being the case, you have total peace of mind, in every situation. And with that total peace of mind, and the assurance that whatever the enemy, or the world throws at you, you know that you have the victory over it, you can rejoice, even before the actual manifestation of that deliverance takes place.

You see, any one can rejoice, after healing, or deliverance has taken place. They can go around and tell people, how good the doctors were, or the medicine was, or the person's advice that got them out of debt, or kept them from committing suicide. But, it is a totally different thing, to be confessing those same things, while you are still in the midst of your problem. And, not only confessing them, but, carrying on, like they have already occurred. That means having joy, and praising God, in front of those, that don't see anything to be rejoicing about.

Let's say, you are sitting in your house, looking at an eviction notice, that says you have 1 hour to either come up with $50,000.00, or the bank will foreclose on your mortgage, and you will have to be evicted. You look at your bank book, and all you have in your account, is $100.00. You are not working, your family is starving, and you don't know which way to turn. Then, someone calls you on the phone and says, they have just deposited $75,000.00 in your account. What would you do??? You would probably check with the bank first to see if what the person said was true, then you would rejoice, call the mortgage company and tell them you have the money, and pay what you owe. Right?? But why did you check with the bank first before you did anything?? You wanted to make sure that the person that told you that they put the money in your account, was telling the truth. Right?? Well, when you have the Holy Ghost telling you that God has deposited whatever you need, in to your account, in Heaven, and it is available for your use, anytime you need it, then, you don't have to check up on Him, to see if He was telling the truth. You can act on it, right now

I have known people, that have told me, that they were given only a few days to live, because they had cancer or some other fatal ailment or injury, and they kept their spirits up, and acted like there was nothing wrong with them at all. And, you couldn't tell they were in this condition, because their appearance didn't show anything. And, here it is, decades later, and they are still here, and there is no sign of the disease, or injury, and the doctors, can't explain it. I've known other people, in the same situation, that really didn't care if they got healed or not, and they still had so much peace, and joy, that they too, didn't have any appearance of the approaching end of their lives. But, in both cases, their joy, was such, that those that knew them, but didn't know God, thought they had lost their minds. I guess they thought the person should have been in the 'woe is me' mindset.

Have you ever met a person, and when you asked them how they are doing, they launch in to a long list of what's wrong in their lives? Just recently, I had the opportunity, once again, to let a person like that know, that despite their problems, at least they woke up that morning. That is a blessing. Everything else that happens that day, can be looked at as icing on the cake, or another opportunity, to experience what God can do about your situation. But of course, you have to be born again, so that the Holy Ghost can help you to see that.

But, because of a lack of knowledge, many Christians, go through life, not even knowing that they have all of this available to them. the bible says, (Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:)

It is so bad, that many of them, who are supposed to be setting the example of what being 'born again', is all about, and how Jesus Christ explained, what the kingdom of God is, yet, they put forth an image, that is totally the opposite of that. And in most instances, it is not their fault. It is the fault of the pastors of the churches that they attend. This is why, the bible tells us to study, and that means, not just at church. Study at home. Study when you have a chance, at work. Get alone, in your house, in the car, or somewhere, where there are no interruptions, and seek God, through studying, and prayer, and God will start rewarding you, with experiences that you never even imagined, were possible. It all, depends on you.

Seek the kingdom of God, and leave behind the 'woe is me' syndrome.