Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 118: Luke 9:1-27 & Psalm 118 - How Does God Advance His Kingdom?

Today's Reading: Luke 9:1-27 & Psalm 118

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How Does God Advance His Kingdom?

"And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal." - Luke 9:1-2, ESV 

How does God's kingdom advance in the world? How does God use His people to bring His kingdom, His will and His glory more and more into the lives and cultures of this fallen, sin-marred world? Every follower of Jesus Christ should be intensely concerned with these questions for they get at the heart of the mission of God's people. Today's passage in Luke 9 shows us a clear and compelling picture of kingdom missions.

According to Luke 9:1-6, kingdom missions involves four key elements:

1. Authority. Jesus gave His disciples real authority. This same authority from Christ is given to His church today and is found in the ministry of the word, which is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). The church of Jesus Christ stands in His world as His kingdom outpost, His mission station, His embassy to a hostile world. We serve with all of His authority, communicated through the word and the Spirit.

2. Gospel proclamation. Jesus sent out the twelve "to proclaim the kingdom of God." The Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - is the proclamation of the kingdom of God, that God rules through Jesus for the saving of all who believe in Him. The gospel of the kingdom, which is a royal proclamation, must be central to the church's kingdom mission. It is not a sales pitch or a plea for a decision, but it is the announcement of what God has done in Christ Jesus and what He requires as a response to His work of salvation. 

3. Healing the sick and releasing the oppressed. The disciples were sent to preach and to heal. For them, the demonstration of their authority as ambassadors of Jesus involved miraculous acts of healing. For us today, we demonstrate the miracle of transformed lives and the the power of the love of Jesus as we heal the sick and serve the oppressed, seeking to set them free. 

4. Total dependence on God. Jesus told His disciples not to take anything with them - no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money - but to trust in God to provide everything. Now, God does not command Christians to give up all earthly possessions, but we are to be just as totally dependent on Him. He is our only source of provision, protection, blessing and fruitfulness in kingdom mission. 

With these four key elements at the heart of the disciples' mission, what was the result?

1. Word spread, vv. 7-9. As the disciples went out in faith, word about their work and about Jesus spread quickly. People noticed that something different was happening, even up to Herod the King. 

2. Crowds gathered, vv. 10-11. In response to the spreading word, huge crowds gathered around Jesus to hear Him speak and to see what He would do. 

3. God provided, vv. 12-17. As people gathered and listened to the good news of the kingdom, God provided for their needs, miraculously feeding thousands. 

4. The disciples came to know Jesus better, vv. 18-20. The disciples themselves grew in their understanding of who Jesus really was. 

We can see the same fruit today, if our mission and ministry in the world is committed to the same four core elements: the authority of Jesus, the proclamation of the Gospel, the healing of the sick and total dependence on God. May the Lord be pleased to grant us a strong commitment to His authority, His gospel, His loving compassion and His provision of our every need! 

Prayer Based on Psalm 118:  

We give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good;
    for Your steadfast love endures forever!

Let Your people say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear You, Lord, say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

When Jesus was in distress in the garden and on the cross, Lord,
    You answered and set Him free.
Like Jesus, I can say, "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me."
Just as surely as Jesus saw victory over the grave,
   so I shall see the salvation of my God.

It is better to take refuge in You, O Lord,
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in You, O Lord,
    than to trust in princes.

All nations surrounded Jesus on the cross;
    in the name of the Lord, He triumphantly cut them off!
They surrounded Him, surrounded Him on every side;
    in the name of the Lord, He cut them off!
They surrounded Him like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the Lord, He cut them off!
Jesus Your Son was pushed hard, so that His life and strength were falling,
    but You, Lord, helped Him,
    and so You also help me. 

You, Lord, are my strength and my song;
    You have become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous:
"Jesus, the right hand of the Lord, does valiantly,
    the right hand of the Lord exalts,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”
He has defeated all of my enemies - sin, shame, condemnation, hell, judgment, Satan. 

I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount Your deeds, O Lord.
O Lord, You have disciplined me severely,
    but You have not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    even my access to You in the Lord Jesus Himself,
    that I may enter through Him
    and give thanks to You, Lord.
Jesus is the Gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through Him.
I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we pray, O Lord!
    O Lord, we pray, give us success!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
You, O Lord, are God,
    and You have made Your light to shine upon us.
Jesus is our redeeming sacrifice, 
    offered freely on the altar of the cross.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to You;
    You are my God; I will extol You.
We give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good;
    for Your steadfast love endures forever!

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