May Your Kingdom Come

“Our Father, you are 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 trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil
For thy is the  kingdom,
The power and the glory,
Forever and ever, amen”

In the second line of the Lord’s prayer, we ask for “God’s kingdom to come, for his will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. But have you ever wondered how God will “bring his kingdom”?

In Revelation 1:5-6, the apostle John gives glory to God saying

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood  and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Rev 1:5-6 ESV)

WE are the kingdom of God.  And so, wherever God’s people are, there you will find his kingdom. But what are we asking for when we pray “let your kingdom come?” What do you expect to see wherever the kingdom of God is found? To answer that question, we need to have a look at the greatest earthly kingdom in the bible, the kingdom of David. 1st Chronicles 14:2 tells us that

And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that his kingdom was highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel. (1Ch 14:2 ESV)

And what was David’s kingdom like? The Chronicler gives us a description in chapter 18:13b-14

And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went. 14 So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people.  (1Ch 18:13-14 ESV)

These two verses summarize the message of chapters 14, and 18-29. David managed what all of Israel’s judges and even king Saul had failed to do. He conquered the Philistines, who were sworn enemies of Israel. We read of his victories over them in verse 11 of chapter 14:

“11 And he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck them down there. And David said, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood.”  (1Ch 14:11 ESV)”

And again in verse 16

“And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. (1Ch 14:16 ESV)”

And with his victories came great wealth as he plundered his enemies, and secured trade. In essence, David’s kingdom meant peace, prosperity, justice and fair rule for the people. But remember the time in which and the people to whom 1st Chronicles was written. The Israelites had been back in the land from exile for only a few decades  It was now over 600 years since David had reigned in Jerusalem. Israel had no king, instead they were being ruled by a mere governor who was a puppet of the distant Persian king.

She was just a fraction of the size her territory had been when David extend her borders, surrounded from every side by enemies. There was no wealth to speak of. All that prosperity and peace had long evaporated in the desert of defeat. They were still the people of God, but their kingdom was a mere shadow of what it had once been under David.

Our situation is no less different. When we think of God’s kingdom, we should think of everything that is wrong on this earth being made right. We should think of salvation, prosperity, health, life, peace, love, beautiful green forests and joyful marriages and relationships. But our present circumstances are not so. Some of you who are older have lived in far more prosperous times than we are currently experiencing. We who are younger often hear your nostalgic reminiscing of the days gone by, and we ask, will we ever experience the same?

We see lost sinners, even amongst our own families. We suffer from poverty and sickness. Instead of peace and love, we are more familiar with broken relationships and loved ones who have been torn from us by death.  Will God’s kingdom, with all its blessings and goodness, ever come?

Yes it will. You see, the Chronicler was not reminding the Israelites of their glorious past in order for them to drown in self-pity. He was retelling their history so that they would pray for God’s kingdom to come as it had done once before in David’s time. And the message for you this morning is that you can bring God’s kingdom into your own life and situation.

How? First, it is by through prayer. Pray for the kingdom to come.

 

2     Pray for God’s Kingdom to Come

Barely had David settled in Jerusalem and established it as the capital, when Israel’s enemies of old, the Philistines, heard it, and came to attack. But, instead of rushing out to fight them, David instead went on to his knees before the Lord. We read in chapter 14 verse 9-10:

9 Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the Valley of Rephaim. 10 And David inquired of God, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up, and I will give them into your hand.” (1Ch 14:9-10 ESV)

With God’s blessing, David fought against the Philistines and defeated them. But they rose up again, and attacked a second time. And David, even though he had already won a battle against them, yet again, he went on to his knees and asked God what he should do. We read in verse 14:

And when David again inquired of God, God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees. 15 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” (1Ch 14:14-15 ESV)

Once more, David did as God told him, and he defeated the Philistines. And it was the same with the rest of his battles against the Ammonites, Moabites and Syrians. God gave David victory over all of them and secured peace for Israel. But these victories did not start in battle. No, they were won in prayer. Before each battle, David sought God’s wisdom and presence.

So then, do you want God’s kingdom to come? Do you want to see peace and prosperity in your life? Then you must pray. Do you need work but can’t find a job? Then you must pray. Are you running a business that is sinking under the weight of our current economic burden? Then you must pray. Do you desire change in our political leadership? Are you looking for an end to the greed and corruption that has gutted our nation? You must pray.

Are you grieving for sinners who do not know God and are destined for damnation if their souls are not saved? Are you tormented by the thought of your family, friends and neighbours rejecting God and buying one-way tickets to hell? Then you must pray.

I read a story recently, of a US politician who called a bunch of pastors together to discuss ways of trying to solve the rising number of murders and violence in their city. His solution to them was “let’s organize prayer walks in all the troubled neighbourhoods, and pray for each block until the crimes stop”. You would expect to hear that every pastor there raised his hands and shouted “amen!” but as it turns out, some actually walked out of the meeting. One of those who did so said he wanted to “throw up” and was disgusted by the politician’s suggestion that they use the power of prayer to end the violence, instead of passing more laws.

At first I was surprised and disappointed by how a pastor could have such a low view of prayer. But then I considered how I am no different. I often pray as a last resort, and not as the first form of attack when I encounter hardship. Or sometimes I do not pray at all. When I look at the monthly prayer diary, it is filled with need after need, not only our needs as a church, but those of our country and the world around us. It’s two pages long and it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problems we face. And unless we pray, and ask God for wisdom to know what to do, and for walls to be broken down, then we will not know the salvation and the peace and prosperity that comes with the kingdom of God.

Therefore, let us pray together as Jesus taught us “may your kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven”.

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But, we know that faith without deeds is rarely, if ever, pleasing to God. So, just as you spend time on your knees praying, God also expects you to bring his kingdom to earth through action. Therefore you need to play your part, which is the second point of our sermon this morning.

Play Your Part For God’s Kingdom To Come

I’ve been trying to think of reasons why the pastors who walked out of the meeting asking them to pray for the violence to end in their city did so. Perhaps it was because they felt the politician was calling them to only pray, but then do nothing practical about it. The bible is quite clear that God more often than not, expects our faith to be followed by action. James asks the question in James 2:14

“What good is it my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them “Go in peace, be warmed and filled” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 ESV)

It is right that we should accompany our prayers of faith with actions. We see it in the way God established David’s kingdom. After each time he prayed, David acted. In verse 11 of chapter 14 we hear that:

11… he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck (the Philistines) down there. (1Ch 14:11 ESV)

And in verse 16

16 And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. (1Ch 14:16 ESV)

And it wasn’t just David alone, his men also stepped out and acted in faith. In chapter 20, the Chronicler tells us that another war rose up between the Israelites and the Philistines. We read in verse 4:

4 And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued.  5 And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.  6 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants.  7 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down.  8 These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (1Ch 20:4-8 ESV)

The Philistines sent out three giants, one of whom was the brother of Goliath, whom David had killed in that epic battle we know so well. But this time, it wasn’t David who fought them, but it was his men, Sibbecai, Elhanan, and David’s nephew Jonathan.

I think at times we look at the situations around us and you think, surely, there is nothing I can do that can change this or make an impact. We think only David can defeat Goliath. Only a charismatic and powerful big shot politician can change Zimbabwe’s economic situation. We think the only way we will see the fruits of God’s kingdom on earth, is if he sends another Abraham, or Moses or Elijah. That he will not do.

Instead, he has sent you. Do you want to see sinners saved? Then go and tell them about Jesus, and God will do it.

Do you think the church could be doing a much better job of sharing the gospel? Then come on-board and join the team.

Are you pained by the poverty and want to see jobs created? Then go ahead and start a business, however small, and you will create employment. God will do it.

Do you want to see people healed of their diseases and sickness? Then study hard and become a doctor. God will do it.

Are you tired of the corruption and selfishness of politicians? Then put your name down and become a councillor or a lawyer, and run for political office.

You can bring the kingdom of God by playing your part, by acting in faith. You think you are small, and yes you are. You think you are one person, and indeed you may well be. But how many matches does it take to burn down a forest?

James 5:17-18 answers and says

“Elijah was a man just like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months, it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit”.

And in chapter 2:18 he says:

“Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”

Do you want the kingdom of God to come into your life and into this nation? Are you longing for salvation, peace and prosperity? Then not only pray in faith, but also go out and act in faith. Play your part, even if you are one man or woman. And God will do it.

But there is a sobering reality that we need to come to terms with. Even though praying and acting in faith will bring about God’s kingdom, we will not see it fully until Jesus comes. There will always be wars, there will always be sickness, and there will always be suffering in this present life. Even the kingdom of David did not last forever, and so we must wait patiently for the eternal kingdom of God to come in its entirety when Jesus returns, which is our third and final point.

Patiently, Wait for God’s Kingdom to Come

Reading about how great they had once been must have been really tough for the Israelites who were now reading and hearing 1 Chronicles. They were back in the land, but their borders were tiny. They were still the kingdom of God, but they had no king. They would never again know the same kind of peace and prosperity that David had brought.

The reason why the Chronicler reminded them of the greatness and prosperity of David’s kingdom was not only so that they would pray, and act, but also so that that they would wait patiently for the one whom God would send, the one who was greater than David, and whose kingdom would be vastly more powerful and vastly more prosperous, and unlike David’s kingdom, his will never ever end. Jesus’ kingdom is the kingdom that will end all other kingdoms.

We see it now, but we do not yet see it completely. The extent to which sin ruined humanity and the entire earth is such that this present world will never be perfect. It is such that even if you were to have the life of that person whom you envy so much, even if our country was to become like the rich and prosperous nations we covet to be, still you would find suffering and hardship.

But do not lose hope. Continue to pray fervently, the prayer of a righteous man will accomplish much. Continue to act in faith, David was but a boy, and he killed the giant Goliath with one stone. Do not despair, but receive this encouragement from 2 Peter 3:4,8-13

“They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2Pe 3:4 ESV) 

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2Pe 3:8-13 ESV)

You can bring the kingdom of God here and now. Therefore pray in faith, and play your part. But only Jesus can bring it completely and forever. Therefore wait patiently for him to bring it when he returns. Amen.