A sermon on Luke 10:21-28
Finding The Kingdom Of God
In the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, one God Amen.
Today is the second Sunday of the new Coptic Year. As you know the Coptic year starts on Nayrouz feast and of course a day that is not forgettable, September 11th, so that's the beginning of the new Coptic year. And today just the second Sunday and the church wants to put something right in front of our eyes in the beginning of the year which is "What is the purpose of this coming year?"
Because, as you know, all of life goes around our Coptic calendar. That's when we decide fastings or feasts and based on that we decide major events in our lives or celebrations or stuff like this. We go around of course the Coptic year and the seasons of the church which is the fasts or the feasts of the church. And this Coptic calendar is made, including the feasts and the fasts and everything, in order to accomplish something, has a purpose. There is something that needs to be accomplished by the end of the year. And the church wants us to make sure that we have a goal, a purpose for that.
And the purpose in every and each year is very simple: that the kingdom of God is revealed in me. I'll say that again, and that's what we're going to talk about today: The kingdom of God revealed in me. What does that mean? Jesus spoke about this in today's gospel.
A lot of times we hear "Christ in me" or the "Holy Spirit in me" and how I'm supposed to live a Christian life and how I should be "Christ like". How could this be? How could this happen? How could be me the person that God created with all my problems, mistakes, everything, be Christ-like? That's exactly what it means by revealing the kingdom of God within me. That doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and it takes building, it takes building. And most importantly it's an internal work, not an external work. And that's something very important that we will talk about. That's why we said the Kingdom of God revealed in me. What does that mean practically speaking?
In order for me to be Christ-like and to be part of the kingdom of God, then God has to own and be a king over every and each part of my life. And I'm not talking about the external I'm talking more about the internal because God said clearly that the Kingdom of God is within you and Christ is in you. That's not on the outside, He is in the inside. So how can every part of my life, my internal being, be owned by God and be part of the Kingdom of God? That's the question. This is something actually the Lord said today that it is a mystery. It is a mystery and it is hidden. There's no easy answer here. And I may tell you the mystery today, you may get it and you may not. It’s all mysteries basically that's what it is. Why is it a mystery? Why is the kingdom of God a mystery? Why changing someone is a mystery?
Jesus said that. He said, when his disciples came back after mission trip, says that Jesus rejoiced in the spirit and said "I praise you Father Lord of Heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes." You have hidden things from the people who know and think they are wise and gave them to babies. Which He means the wise and prudent are the scribes and Pharisees and the babes are the disciples. How God revealed the kingdom to the disciples, poor young fishermen, went around to say "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Wow, the kingdom was revealed to these people. Yes and people repented and people listened to them. Scribes and Pharisees could not turn one person to believe. Why? Because they focused all on the outside, never focused on the kingdom of God. So also in our lives a lot of time we focus on the outside - how can I change this behavior? Well it's not changing the behavior. Or how can I be happy? How can I have better relationships? How can I have this? How can I have that? How can I handle stress? How can I handle an anxiety? How can I deal with certain people, difficult people for example? How can I deal with difficult people?
All these are external things. But every and each one of them has an internal root and the Lord is telling us "I want to give you the kingdom and the kingdom of God is within you. And I want you to have a key to the kingdom, but it's hidden. It's a treasure and usually treasures are not left open. Usually treasures are left in safes or safes, you know you can find the safe and try to steal it, the safe altogether. Where do you usually do it? Used to hide it. Behind the wall, behind the picture, behind all these movies stuff, you know you hide your treasures. So also the kingdom of God is hidden but it shouldn't be hidden from us the children of God.
Jesus took the disciples on the side and said “Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear because then you will see things no one was able to see.” They were able to see Jesus the same way everybody saw him? No, no. They were able to see him with the eyes of the heart, that their eyes were open to the Kingdom; there is something mysterious within them happened and it opened to the Kingdom of God.
Let me give you some more examples. Let me tell you first where this problem came from. We have a huge separation from the inside and the outside. And we tried to do so many things on the outside and it has nothing to do with the outside, has nothing to do with that. That's why year after year we go in circles, we go in circles. We have the same struggles, we go in the same patterns over and over versus the Coptic calendar that is given to us that every single year God is going to take something inside of me, is going to work on it, is going to bless it, is going to give me grace and He's going to own it at the end of the year. So every year God owns a part of me until I am owned totally by God and the Kingdom of God is revealed within me. Or if you say it in other words, Christ is in me, or Christ is revealed in me. Again, it’s an internal thing not an external thing.
It's like a treasure, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, a man found it, sold everything, bought this field in order to get the treasures. Another parable He gave He said the kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins, five foolish, five wise. From the outside all are the same, all are holding lamps, all are going to wait for the bridegroom. But from the inside five of them had things in their pockets, no one was able to see some extra oil - it was internal.
Again every treasure is hidden in a safe. My question to you and to myself - do you have the combination of the safe? Do you have the key? because the key is a key to many things, not just the kingdom, it’s a key to yourself, your inner being, it’s a key to Christ, it's a key to external things it's a key to all that external behavior but it’s inside.
Were you able to find this because Jesus said “Watch out, I may give the combination to the little kids but I might not give it to the wise and the prudent and older people. I might have people in my house, guests, distinguished people, but they don’t have the combination of my safe. But my little children could have this combination.
When the mystery of the kingdom is revealed, if I am able to see it and know it and discover it, it’s the best thing in the world. It's basically having the key to heaven. That’s the kingdom, having the key to joy, having the key to victorious life, having the key to many, many things. Is it easy? Is it easy? It is not easy.
The bible said the heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Who can know what’s in his heart? Except if God Himself gives me the key to the mystery of the kingdom, give me the key to the mystery of the kingdom.
I want to do this and what to have that. What is the key, what is the mystery?
Well I know one thing, that these keys were given to simple people. These keys were given to the disciples. “Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.” Cause we could be hearing the same thing, but it is not the same translation going into our heart. Someone can read words and store it and someone can find treasures in the Word of God. Someone can find external comfort in prayer – it feels good to pray – but someone can find the presence of God in prayer. What is this? It’s a mystery, it’s a mystery. It’s not an easy thing, it’s not a simple thing. What do I do? What do I do to get that?
Want me to give you the combination? I don't have it. I'm still figuring it out. I don't have this combination but I know one thing, when I am a disciple I will be able to get it. When I sit at His feet and tell Him “Lord I know nothing, I've got nothing.” Pharisees, scribes have good life, good people, we try to be better. NO, I got nothing if I don't get all of You, I got nothing. I think if I was still looking for the external things, I’m looking at the wrong place and I may never find the combination. It is something hidden. It’s not the outside, it’s inside.
Maybe the combination that I don’t have good listening ears, maybe I don't know how to listen to God. Maybe I am tuned off His voice at all. Maybe my heart doesn't want that and my heart still wants the outside and wants the external and want things external, and as long as I have this I may not find the combination. And I may not find the key.
“I thank you Father Lord of heaven and earth for You hide these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”
Are you willing to be a babe? You willing to be a babe with Christ, when you open your bible as you’re opening it for the very first time. You know what's unique about kids or babies, babies tell the word that Jesus used, that they are always hungry, they're always hungry, their always getting, they’re always receiving. They can never claim that they have it all or they know it all!
Unfortunately after we learn a little bit of things we think that we know something. I have read the bible. As a matter of fact I've read the bible twice or three times. Yeah but it's locked, it's locked. Who cares? I know all the stories of the bible. Great! But it is locked! And evidence is your life is still the same, there’s no change. YOU DON’T HAVE THE KEYS!
Jesus told that to Peter “I’m going to give you the keys of the kingdom.”
It is a mystery. But we live in a very busy world on the external and we may not even have time for the internal. We want to be like babes, going to Him hungry, thirsty for Him, thirsty for the kingdom. Lord, fill us, give us, give us more of You.
Why my heart is still aching? You think still because of people? You think still because of the outside things? You think it's because of circumstances? You are far away from the truth and from the kingdom. It’s all internal. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU. It's inside of you! You just need to unlock that. You just need to unlock that.
It’s not just reading and it’s not just praying. But Lord, give me, I’m a kid, I’m a child.
Also something very, very important with babies, that when they grow, you cannot measure the growth innocently, meaning there are babies of course eat above average, you know they eat and they eat a lot. And the parents feed them and they eat feed them and they eat more feed more all of this. And after a week of feeding you feel like you’ve fed the baby the whole world, like he’s been eating non-stop. Did he become an adult in a week, or in a month, or in a year? No, it’s a slow process and it’s an internal process that will be revealed externally later on.
Same thing as growth and the extension of the kingdom of God. The problem is I want results, want things to change. How come I prayed, I fasted, I did, I went to Church and I’m still not happy, still not satisfied? No, that’s not internal work. Internal work takes time, it takes growth, takes a long time of eating small meals until you grow up and until this is revealed on your body.
That is growth and this is the kingdom. That's what Jesus said, He said the kingdom of God is like a seed. You put it, you close it the tree grows and you don’t know how its growing its growing. Maybe you don’t see it on the outside but I’m still eating every single day, so many meals like a baby, feeding on the Word of God. Lord, reveal the kingdom to me. I want the secret. I want the combination.
He’s not going to give it to me right away. He’s going to see if I’m a good disciple or not. Am I faithful to entrust me over the keys or not? And when I prove it He gives it to me. And it’s so blessed, it’s so great, it’s so transforming to the person and to the outside. That’s when the outside has no effect on the inside. The outside circumstances have no effect when internal peace. Jesus said that on that day I will give you joy and no one can take the joy away from you. Why? Cause it’s hidden in a safe, no one has the combination but you. No one knows the secret but you.
The persecutors who persecuted the martyrs, they were going crazy. “We did everything possible to them. Why are they still holding their peace as nothing is happening? Are they crazy? Are they senseless people?” No, you can take everything from them but you cannot take the kingdom from them. You can never take the secret. You can never take the combination away from them.
That's what we're looking for. That's a slow process. I'm telling you something, PURPOSE, not for this year, or next year or the year after, but every year, Lord take something, take this emotion, take control over my emotions, take control over my anger, take control over my insecurities, take control over this. Let me, when I sit with You in Your presence, that I really, in Your presence, that I am totally Yours. Give me to be always in Your presence Lord. Give me that.
Give me when I read Your words that it becomes life for me, becomes transformational. Give me to read as the first time every time as I understand nothing. Give me when I pray like a little kid coming and saying “Fill me… and give me …and I need You and I'm totally dependent on you day after day.”
You hide this from the wise and prudent and gave them to babes. Babies don't have answers, they don’t have answers BUT they have a Father. They are not independent, they are very dependent on their Father. We want to be also dependent on Him, and on His Word, and on His presence, day after day, filling, keep feeding like little children, like disciples and He will entrust us over the keys. That’s the goal.
May God make this time a time of preparation. A time where God reveals to you what is the area that He wants to work in your life during this year. What is it that He wants to fill you? What is it that He wants to heal? What is the part that He wants to reign over, that in the end you have a part in the kingdom. At the end of next year you’ll have another part of the kingdom within you and so on.
May God give us and reveal to us His mysteries. Glory be to God forever and ever.