The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in a way you can observe, nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘Look, there it is!’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21 – EHV)
What is the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer? What are we praying for in this petition? I hope that you already figured out that the second petition (or request) of the Lord’s Prayer is: your kingdom come. The answer to the second question, however, is a bit more complicated.
For the past two weeks our gospel lessons have been from Matthew 13—next week’s will be as well. As I mentioned in Sunday’s sermon, this chapter contains six different parables of Jesus all about the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew typically uses this phrase, while Mark and Luke typically use the phrase, “Kingdom of God” (see Mark 4:26 and Luke 9:2 for just two examples)—both of these phrases essentially refer to the same thing. Many may think that since the word, heaven, is used by Matthew, this phrase refers to heaven. But that’s not really the case—context, as always, tells us what this phrase is referring to, and it’s often not about heaven at all (think of our gospel this past week).
Perhaps the best place to turn to in order to help us understand this phrase is our passage above, from Luke 17. Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical or earthly Kingdom. He was not sent to be the King of Israel to reestablish the monarchy in Jerusalem—as some of the people of his time believed, nor will he come again to set up an earthly kingdom—as some millennialists believe today. No, he already is a king and he has already established a kingdom through the gospel. Christ’s kingdom is his rule in our hearts through faith. Through the gospel, he has worked faith into our hearts and has made us citizens in his kingdom.
And make no mistake about it, we aren’t citizens of this kingdom by birth. No, instead we are born as children of the devil, and we lived (and still do at times) like children of this sin-filled world. We don’t deserve part of Christ’s kingdom, but by the grace of God we are!
Through the gospel he has worked faith into our hearts and through that same gospel he has kept us in the one true faith. And it is through faith in him that we are part of his kingdom. And as citizens of this kingdom, we receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that he has won for us by his death and resurrection. And these benefits we have and enjoy as citizens of Christ’s kingdom won’t just last a lifetime, but for eternity! We enjoy the gift of forgiveness now and forever in heaven we will enjoy living with God himself as we bask in his divine glory! As great as it is to be citizens of this great country—it is far better to be a citizen in Christ’s kingdom!
I am reminded of a few passages: 1 Peter 2:9-10, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people who are God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. At one time you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. At one time you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy. And Philippians 3:18-21, To be sure, many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. I told you about them often, and now I am saying it while weeping. Their end is destruction, their god is their appetite, and their glory is in their shame. They are thinking only about earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the power that enables him to subject all things to himself, he will transform our humble bodies to be like his glorious body.
So, what are we praying for in the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer? We are praying for the spread of the gospel—the means by which Christ’s rules in our hearts. When we pray that God’s kingdom come, we pray that he would first of all, rule in our own hearts through faith, but also that he would bless the spread of his gospel throughout the world so that many others would become citizens in his kingdom and dwell with him in eternal glory. May God bless our efforts to spread his gospel and let his kingdom come!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Vacation Bible School:
Join us for a one-day Vacation Bible School on Wednesday August 12, 2020 from 9:00am-noon. Parents/teens are invited to stay with their children. Weather permitting, most of our VBS will be taking place outside together as families so that we can "socially distance" as much as possible. Everyone is invited to join us for a meal afterward.
Please bring one blanket per family and a plain white t-shirt for each participant for tie-dying.
REGISTER NOW you may sign-up in the entryway at church OR you can fill out this form: https://forms.gle/igRtCUHMiFwxUedg8
This year’s confirmation will take place on Sunday, August 16th at our 10:30 am service. Because of our limited capacity, we are asking only family members of our confirmands attend this service—and keep in mind if you do attend the 10:30 service, the crowds will be larger than normal. If you regularly attend the 10:30 service, please consider attending either our 7:30 or 9:00 services.
Because everything was moved back due to the pandemic, our 2nd quarter voters’ meeting has been moved to Tuesday, August 11th at 7:00pm. We pray that all our voters will join us for this meeting.
We have begun our Summer online Bible study of the book of Ecclesiastes. We are pre-recording these online studies and sending them out via a youtube link along with a study guide. Please contact one of the pastors if you want to be included on the email list.
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it is to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together again! Together with the June Newsletter, you should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4aa9a62ea6fa7-stjohn2
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 7:30 am service which means you can watch anytime after 7:30 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.