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Imagine for a moment the sun blazing furiously from its heavenly perch, beating on your brow as you trudge a long, dusty road. You come upon a lake and find yourself hoping to perhaps buy some fish, a real treat for you and your family, but are distracted when you see a crowd gathered on the shore.  You then hear a voice call out with a strange tone of authority.

“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” The commanding voice somehow draws you closer with cords of curiosity. As you near the mass of people who stand almost silently with attentive gazes fixed upon a man whose own eyes seem to belong in a face far older than the one in which they rest, you slow down and nearly stop.

“Kingdom of God?” you muse. “I wonder what He means.” As your own stare joins the stares of those in the crowd, the Man moves to the lake’s edge and solemnly faces two rugged fishermen mending their nets. You recognize them as Simon and Andrew, having purchased fish from them on past excursions to the lake.

The stranger leans forward and says just loud enough to be heard by those standing around, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” He then simply turns and makes His way through the crowd. To your astonishment, Simon and Andrew immediately stand up and hurry after Him, attempting to maneuver through the men, women and children who’ve closed in behind Him. At first, your gaze follows the stranger, but then you glance back at the now empty boats pulled up on the shore, with the un-repaired nets draped over their sides, dangling in the water… forgotten (from Mark 1:14-18).

“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” you repeat to yourself. “Kingdom of God.”

Even today, we may have for ourselves a lot of questions about the Kingdom of God. For instance, “how does one recognize the Kingdom of God?”, “What does it look like?”, and, “If it was ‘at hand’ back then, where is it now?”

Jesus said much about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Chapter 13 in the Gospel of Matthew alone has seven “word pictures” of the Kingdom, not to mention the countless other references throughout the rest of the Gospels. “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…. It is like a mustard seed…. It is like a treasure hidden in the field…. It is like a merchant seeking fine pearls…. It is like a dragnet cast into the sea, gathering fish of every kind.”

The Kingdom of God is nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people!

The Kingdom of God is nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people!

Make no mistake. The Kingdom of God was nothing less and nothing other than the power, provision and presence of God at work in His creation through His people. Think of it! God’s Kingdom, knowing no boundaries in our hearts, transforming our character so profoundly that His presence in us is undeniable and His work through us is unmistakable!

Do you want to make a difference in the world? Then let God transform what you are into something greater than who you are in of yourself. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” said John the Baptist in John 3:30, beautifully surrendering the spotlight of God’s message to Jesus, the One to Whom it truly belonged.

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33 ESV).

Like leaven? Though it is such a little thing it affects the whole loaf of bread; invisibly massaged through the dough, it changes every part by its presence.

Is the Kingdom of God still at hand today? It is… inasmuch as God’s people live lives surrendered to His holiness and love.

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death…. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:14, 16-18 ESV).

I recall an occasion when I was talking with a friend of mine in a missions agency operating in different parts of the world. He mentioned that he had just been on the phone regarding the fate of six orphaned children from Nepal (ages 6-12). They had been taken to an orphanage in India only to be turned away for lack of room and resources. The one who had brought them nearly gave up in despair, prepared to leave them to fend for themselves in a train station. “After all,” he thought, “begging here in this station will be better than the life that they would have had where I had found them.

Then hearing of one orphanage that might yet take them, he led them there. Run by a little woman of God who has a big faith in Jesus, she simply said, “We have no means to care for them, but I cannot send them away. They may stay. Somehow, the Lord will meet the need.”

When I shared this true story from my friend with the people of our church, even the children were moved to begin to work towards meeting this need and began to give so that it might be met. For some reason they sensed that they were called by God to address the physical needs of these six children. And, of course, in the meeting of these physical needs, the love of God is now moving in practical ways so that the spiritual needs, the eternal ones, may also be engaged.

What needs is God wanting to address through you? Are you “tuned in” to God’s work in your life enough to recognize His invitation? Can you recognize the Kingdom of God when you see it? Can it be seen in you?

May it be seen ever increasingly more so in you as you “hunger for more” of God in your life.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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As we enter once again another presidential election process, we can expect that one message that some will toss about is that of “positive change”. So people across our nation begin the process of waiting for the eventual election in order to see if the “good things” they’ve reaped might continue or that new things may soon come their way.

But I cannot help but look on all the impending furor and frenzy with a great deal of sadness for those who put their eggs in the basket of presidential politics. While the process of democratically electing our leaders is tremendously important and while I too feel strongly about the issues at stake and the candidates who will be running, the fact of the matter is that the persons appointed to the various posts of leadership in our government (including the top one) cannot meet the deepest needs of our lives.

What makes me sad is that we tend to collectively spend the energies of our passions on all sorts of causes and pastimes yet neglect the one thing that matters most: our own spiritual condition. Folks hope that those elected to office will somehow fix all their woes and make everything all right, but they still end up empty, frustrated and defeated.

Is it time for a change in America? Perhaps, but whatever changes take place on any political level are going to be incidental to you compared to your spiritual needs. For too many of us such changes are just deferments for the changes that should be taking place in our own individual lives that then bring about change in our small, but important circles of influence. The changes we generally pursue our mere smokescreens to cover gaping lacks of responsibility we each have for our own eternal destinies and the fact of our responsibility for others we could positively influence towards the Kingdom of God.

Is it time for a change in your life? Consider well the questions, “How has God changed my life?”  Or “Is God changing my life?” If we cannot answer either question with a “yes” or if the answer is unclear to you, let your heart open wide to the change that God’s love can bring to you starting now.

Such change fundamentally begins with the moment we surrender our sin and our self-will to God and come to Him in faith.

John chapter 3 records a religious leader named Nicodemus having approached Jesus to discuss the lofty matter of the Lord’s teachings. Nicodemus probably thought himself merely interested in conversing about some of the things that Jesus had been teaching.

Jesus’ response however was to get to the heart of the need of this theologically learned leader: “You must be born again,” He tells him in verse seven. Quite visible to Jesus was Nicodemus’ intrigue with the power and authority of Jesus’ life. Quite evident to the Lord was the man’s hunger for the same meat of meaning and victory in his own experience that he discerned in Jesus.

Have you had a “new birth?” Whatever Nicodemus thought he knew about the kingdom and the things of God, he hadn’t caught on to this basic and yet essential truth. Whatever good things Nicodemus had accomplished in the name of God for the sake of religion or even for the benefit of other people, he had nothing if he did not have this one thing.

Through the grace of God, we can put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were and become new creations!

Through the grace of God, we can put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were and become new creations!

Jesus looks on this tortured teacher and tenderly tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” What a tragedy then if you or I were to choose to continue to live our lives based on religious exercise instead of being “birthed” into relationship with Him! What loss and powerlessness is our doom if we never come to personally know the power and hope of the kingdom of God!

Let it not be so for you and for me! “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:14-18 ESV).

As Jesus proclaims what is ultimately our only hope for life and meaning, let us look upon this One Who was “lifted up, believing in Him that we may receive the gift of eternal life!”  And as we are then “born again”, let us know that we have been gloriously made new! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

Through the grace of God, we may put behind us the wretched and selfish persons we once were (no matter how cleverly we hid our wretchedness behind airs of self-confidence and good works) and become fully the new creations that God is making of us, enjoying the journey of relationship with Him through Christ.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people, the people whom I formed for Myself that they might declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV).

Once we allow the change of God to enter into us through a new birth, we can then allow that transformative power enter into our relationships, homes, workplaces, and culture to affect an enduring kind of change that carries us beyond the short-lived moments of our lives on earth into an eternity with God!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Being passive doesn’t work well in the spiritual realm. Many Christians say that they want to have a more meaningful spiritual life and yet invest no significant effort in the cultivation of that deeper life.

Thronged by people entranced by His talk of a “higher life”, Jesus was often met by folks who wanted only short-cuts and easy access into God’s favor.

But Jesus’ invitation to know God wasn’t at all an implication that God was ready to “wait” upon the table of our dreams and wants, taking our order for spiritual blessings while we sit and gab away our lives, asking us, “Do you want Me to ‘supersize’ that?”

Jesus’ invitation was always on His terms and on His timetable. Furthermore, His invitation always required a response… “Come and see” (John 1:39), “Follow Me” (John 1:43), “Fill the jars” (John 2:7), “Take these out” (2:16), “Give Me a drink of water” (John 4:7); “Go and call your husband” (John 4:16), “Go” (John 4:44), “Stand up” (John 5:8), and so on and on.

The response necessary for us to enter a position to grow spiritually and experience God is first a yielding of our hearts and minds and then a reordering of our attitudes, plans and activities. Real faith, after all, cannot help but manifest itself somehow in our physical lives.

Sadly, when we fail to actively receive His invitation to join Him and know Him, we put God off and miss out on experiencing His work in our lives. When we refuse to walk away from our pasts and our ambitions for the future and choose to live instead on our own terms and on our own timelines, we can simply not experience God as He desires us to and we can never fully know all He could have done had we allowed Him to get us into a position to bless us.

But if we thirst for God’s Higher Life made available to us through faith in Jesus Christ, we must respond and follow. We must get up off our proverbial posteriors and follow Him as He leads us by His Holy Spirit.

“(Jesus) cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38 ESV).

The most “trivial” act of obedience can be a “supersized” opportunity when in the hands of God.

The most “trivial” act of obedience can be a “supersized” opportunity when in the hands of God.

Let us understand that we are challenged to actively pursue a deeper and more vital relationship with God. Let us believe that there is more to this life than the routine of each day. Let us trust that the “trivial” can be “Supersized” opportunities when in the hands of God. And let us embrace the fact that it is the Father’s will for us to have a more exciting life at the hands of the infinite God of the universe then those of a finite world.

Are you ready then to believe that God has more in store for you than you can ever hoped for or even imagined?

As you earnestly and actively work to cultivate a deeper relationship with God (in the context of His Bible, prayer and a church family) expect God to work in your heart in such a way that He’ll lay before you an invitation to get up from what you’ve always been and always known and go with Him.

There will be times when He’ll “wow us” with His presence, love and works and we will hear Him say in the still, small voice He whispers to our hearts, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), while I was still a college student, I gave being a salesman a shot. It proved to not be one of my most successful enterprises in life. Frankly, it’s doubtful if I could have sold a fire insurance policy to a man whose house was on fire.

All these years later, I am still not a salesman. I am far more concerned with the substance of things than I am the appearance. Perhaps too much so. No, I may not be a salesman still, but, by God’s grace, I am a “sharer” who has something, not to sell, but to share in a world that has spent itself on cheap thrills that prove all too costly in the end.

Today, for example, with people running short on hope, wondering if talk about “faith” and “godliness” really means anything, and worrying about what tomorrow will bring, how can one not share with others about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus? How could one not wish to remind Christians of the implications of the resurrection for living life today? And how can one not desire to tell others who have yet to personally become recipients of that hope or not invite them to take that step of faith (no pun intended), trusting Him as their savior?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ should have tremendous significance to you. Why? Well, without the resurrection, our faith in Jesus is vain. While that may sound sacrilegious to you (though it is more sacrilegious in my mind to disbelieve in the resurrection), consider that the Bible itself declares in 1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV, “…If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God's Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God’s Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

First, the fact of God’s restoring Jesus to life authenticates God’s promises of forgiveness of sins for all who will believe. In other words, the resurrection is a physical demonstration of God’s satisfaction with the His Son’s atoning sacrifice. “Jesus paid it all… Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow,” we’ll sing. In Isaiah 53:10-12 (written about 500 years before the life of Christ) the Bible says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

Secondly, the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ validates the significance of the Gospel itself. Gospel means, “good news”, but without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no clear sense that there really is any good news. Without the resurrection, we have no proof that Jesus’ words were anything more than “good words” and “nice teachings.”

But with the resurrection, His words thunder with clarity and power and echo in our hearts when we grasp for hope! God is alive and well today ready to bring men and women, boys and girls into a right relationship with Himself. When we pray, as Jesus taught, “Our Father…”, we may be free from the millstone of condemnation that is unforgiven sin and unashamedly enter His presence in prayer. Our own eternal destinies become clear, too, as we trust Jesus as our only means of entering God’s favor, and Heaven, as promised by God, is guaranteed. Good news indeed!

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus associates the love of God with practical living so that it transcends mere rhetoric. It isn’t just a lot of mumbo-jumbo about something that happened two-thousand years ago, nor is it merely a lot of hooey about something that we tell people happens when you die in order to placate them. It means something about how we live our lives now, too.

“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4 ESV).  God’s intention for you and me is to “live in newness of life” here on earth. The power of sin and the dread of death have been defeated by Jesus through His work on the Cross and His conquest of the Tomb.

Are you living a new life today in Christ? If not, will you yield your will to Him and surrender pride, fear, anger and selfishness to Him? Will you allow Him to “raise you up” with Christ in that newness of life? As the sun rises this Easter morning, celebrate the rising of the Son of God. Let this be a time for God’s love to dawn in your life today.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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