Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
“So shall their blood return on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever; but to David and his descendants and his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD forever.”
“But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.”
“So I will establish his descendants forever And his throne as the days of heaven.
“His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me.
The King Forever
From: Our Daily Journey
On April 30, 2019, Japan’s Emperor Akihito will mark his 85th birthday with a historic act: he will abdicate the throne, something that hasn’t happened in the nation for more than two centuries. While the emperor’s plans are controversial, the larger concern is that the royal line has a diminishing number of heirs, a situation that may eventually develop into a constitutional crisis. These realities are all the more unnerving because the Japanese dynasty is the oldest monarchy in the world, tracing its lineage back to the year 660.
The prophet Isaiah announced that God would send a king into the world to rescue humanity. Isaiah proclaimed that though the people “walk in darkness,” the darkness would not overwhelm them. Soon, they would “see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). And this great light would pierce the oppressive gloom. It would come in the person of a powerful king who would “break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders” (Isaiah 9:4). This king would “break the oppressor’s rod” (Isaiah 9:4).
Shockingly, this King would arrive as a child, a mere baby who would grow up into the fullness of God. And one day, in God’s time, this baby would be our true ruler, and all the governments of the world would “rest on his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6). This means that when the story concludes, every knee (every government, every human institution) will bend their knee before this King of love and justice (Romans 14:11). And, thanks be to God, the reign of this good King “will never end” (Isaiah 9:7). Never.
There’s very little we can count on in this world, but we can rest all of our future and all of our hopes on the reign of Jesus who will be the true King forever.
The Strictest Discipline
Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off his right hand, but that “if your right hand causes you to sin” in your walk with Him, then it is better to “cut it off.” There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says that if it hinders you in following His precepts, then “cut it off.” The principle taught here is the strictest discipline or lesson that ever hit humankind.
When God changes you through regeneration, giving you new life through spiritual rebirth, your life initially has the characteristic of being maimed. There are a hundred and one things that you dare not do— things that would be sin for you, and would be recognized as sin by those who really know you. But the unspiritual people around you will say, “What’s so wrong with doing that? How absurd you are!” There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.
The Christian life is a maimed life initially, but in Matthew 5:48 Jesus gave us the picture of a perfectly well-rounded life— “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11
The Hot Shot Café in Asheville, North Carolina, is where the locals hang out. Old jukebox and all—no pretense—just good old home cooking. A while back I had the chance to eat there. The meal was delicious, and as I was paying my bill, I noticed a shelf full of shiny new Hot Shot Café mugs. I knew I needed one. It was a compulsion I couldn’t resist. So, I forked over a few extra bills and left with the mug.
It may sound weird, but I love heavy porcelain mugs with nifty logos. Over the years I have collected so many you would think I had enough, but no. I needed just one more!
If it were only about the mugs in our lives, or the teddy bears, CDs, or shoes—it wouldn’t really be a big deal. The thing is, it’s about more than that. It’s about this inner dynamic where we need just one more thing all the time. The technophile needs the fastest computer processor; the fashionista must have the latest open-toe sandals; the car enthusiast yearns for the perfect low-profile tires.
I think the issue behind our constant craving for more and more, for the latest and greatest, is contentment. It is easy to let our longings for possessions, relationships, and experiences shape our lives. The danger is, when we’re constantly on the hunt for the next thing, our life circumstances become pumped up with importance, while our Bibles collect dust on the shelf.
When we let the passion to consume crowd out the contentment we have in Christ, the result is an endless chase for the proverbial carrot on a stick. Since we can never have “enough” of what we crave, the emptiness makes us vulnerable to aloneness, and that leads us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of the “next big thing” only to find that we still aren’t satisfied. Jesus alone gives the power to live a life where inner contentment abounds, regardless of our circumstances.
In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Paul listed some of his life circumstances. He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, and shipwrecked three times. He survived a night and a day in the open sea, rivers, bandits, his own countrymen, Gentiles, and false brothers. He had often gone without sleep, food, water, clothing, or heat. And, he lived every day with concern for the churches he planted. He doesn’t even mention the fact that he wrote most of the New Testament from a jail cell!
Despite all of this, Paul wrote these words in the last chapter of Philippians. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:11-12).
What was Paul’s secret for contented living? I’ll tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t his mug collection and certainly not his life circumstances. It was his deep awareness of the supernatural presence of Christ in his life, and an abiding sense of all that Jesus alone provided for him.
The next time you’re at the Hot Shot Café, or wherever it is that you’re tempted to reach for “just one more thing,” remember that Christ alone provides the relaxing peace of contentment. Having Him, we have it all!