“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:5-13 ESV)
“Your KINGDOM come.”
Here is our now familiar word as we have been teaching on the kingdom of God for several months.
We have to understand the kingdom of God to ever properly understand the kingdom of man. We were born in the kingdom of man. Raised in it. It feels normal to us. The kingdom of man is also known as the kingdom of Satan. Remember, this rebellious kingdom began in the heart of Satan as he rebelled against God. He birthed it by temptation in the heart of Eve and then Adam and his rebellion against God spread and infected the cosmos. Satan became the king of the universe:
- The prince of this world (John 14:30 NIV)
- The god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)
- Ruler of this world (John 12:31)
- The power (kingdom) of Satan (Acts 26:18)
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. Jesus didn’t dispute they were his to give.
If you were Jesus, who would you put forward as the quintessential example of the kingdom of God? Jesus had some choices at hand. How about brash, self-confident Peter? Jesus didn’t point to him. How about well-known followers like Nicodemus or James and John? Again, there were serious problems with all of them and Jesus didn’t point to them. So who do you put forward and say, Everyone, when it comes to my kingdom, this is what I am talking about?
How to Have a Kingdom-First Marriage
Be clear with each other what the purpose of your marriage is
People get married for all kinds of reasons, but a Christian marriage must have one purpose as the guiding and uniting principle of their marriage—to honor and glorify Jesus through their marriage.
Talk about the King (spiritual conversations)
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV)
Talking to our family members happens naturally. Having spiritual content to those conversations doesn’t. God knew this and made it a command in Israel. We can talk about the weather all we want, but bring up something spiritual and you get…crickets. Kingdom culture requires kingdom conversations. Not only is it an opportunity to teach our children, but the conversation itself elevates the culture of the home toward the things of God.
How often do you talk about spiritual things? Talk about what God’s doing in your life or our church? How often did you talk about it this past week?
Cultural Indicators That Jesus is King of Your Castle
His kingdom is the first priority
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
This key verse in Matthew summarizes the whole Christian home culture well. There is a higher purpose to the family than just the family itself. Too many families fail on this point when they elevate the purpose of the family to be the family or the success of the family. We will talk about this more in the coming weeks. Marriages fail when the marriage is the first priority of the marriage. No marriage can sustain that high of an expectation and it devastates the couple when the marriage fails to deliver. Family is the same. Make your family the purpose of your family and it can only deeply disappoint. God designed family to be deeply satisfying as long as the family is not looked to as an ultimate standard.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23 ESV)
Are you familiar with the show Undercover Boss? This past week’s episode the undercover boss was the Mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson. I really enjoyed watching it because Mayor Wilson has been a very helpful partner with our Gary campus and the City Life Center. So it was fun to watch someone local on the show. She cleaned up the beach where we do our baptisms each summer. The way the show works is that the boss, CEO, or president of a company goes undercover and works alongside unsuspecting employees to see what it’s like to work on that level of the organization. Then in the end there is the unveiling of who he or she really is and they give out gifts or not depending on what the boss saw. Some are praised. Some are fired.
Imagine the waste treatment plant of Gary on Thursday, the day after the show. The mayor was here? Really? Or in the maintenance shed, the mayor drove the trash pickup? Can you believe it?
Why does the show work? Nobody expects the mayor to stir the human waste in the waste treatment plant. Mayors aren’t known for lowering themselves to do such things.
The manger was just like that only on a much grander scale.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
Am I Like the Wise Men?
The wise men put to shame the Jewish Scribes and the King of Israel. How? They aren’t supposed to be here in the first place. They are Gentiles. They are the people group that destroyed the temple and kidnapped the nation’s leaders and wealth. They are pagan idol worshipers by birth, not good Jewish boys. They practice astrology, which is condemned in the Old Testament.
But who did Jesus come to save? Who flocks to him while the religious types resent him? It’s the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the Gentiles, and yes, the astrologers. The Gentile astrologers bowing before Jesus were a microcosm of all that Jesus’ story would unveil.