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This past Sunday, as we continued our study in the book of Acts, we read Acts chapter 14.  In this chapter, we saw Paul and Barnabas continuing on their journey to proclaim the gospel.  When they arrived in Lystra, Paul encountered a man who had been lame all his life.  As the man listened intently to Paul, it became clear to Paul that the man had the faith to be healed.  When Paul instructed the man to stand up, the man arose and began to walk.  The story continues in verse 11:

Acts 14:11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”

What is important to note here is that these people, who were not Jews, assumed that their gods had descended to earth and appeared in human form. They referred to Barnabas as Zeus, and Paul as Hermes, because Paul did most of the talking.  Contained within this portion of the story is a foundational truth – you relate only to those things with which you can identify.  Since these people knew nothing of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when they saw Barnabas and Paul they immediately identified them as two of their own gods.  What is interesting to note is that Hermes was a herald for Zeus, who was the king of all of the gods. Apparently, they were able to properly discern that Paul was a herald based upon his speaking.
Why is this principle so important for us today? Because it shows us that we too will perceive God through the lens of our experience, which for each of us is a very narrow lens.  While this is certainly the fault of no one, both Christ Jesus and Paul made it very clear that if we desire to experience God to a greater degree, our minds must be transformed.  Christ Jesus said that a man must be “born again” just to see the kingdom of God.  Additionally, Paul instructed us to be transformed from this world by the renewing of our minds.  In other words, unless our minds are truly changed, we will continue to perceive God through that same lens we were taught to see him, which may very well be a very distorted lens.  So what lens do we need to perceive God to a greater degree?  We must have a kingdom lens.  This was the only doctrine that Christ taught – the kingdom doctrine.  So the principle is simple but important – the more we learn and understand about the kingdom of God, the better we can identify with it.  And the more we identify with the kingdom, the better we can relate to it.  Here is a simple test to measure how you relate only to that with which you can identify: if someone were to ask you to describe what the Lord Jesus may have looked like, how would you describe him?

1 Cor. 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

“God, if you get me back to Cincinnati, I promise I won’t leave!”  This was my plea to the Lord around 1993.  Ironically, Cincinnati was the last place I wanted to be.  My family and I left Cincinnati in 1985, and I swore I was never returning.  The last image I wanted to see of Cincinnati was out my rear view mirror.  Yet, in New Jersey, here I am crying out to the Lord to get me back to the city I despised.  Why? I had no idea.  There was simply something in my heart that was telling me I was not in the right place.  So the Lord opened the door, and we returned to Cincinnati in 1995.  I didn’t return because of a fantastic job opportunity; I didn’t return because of family.  I returned because in my heart, I knew this was where God desired me to be.  I knew it in my heart, even though I wasn’t aware of the passage in 1 Corinthians.  Within two years, however, the picture became clearer.  I needed to be in Cincinnati to hear a man from Texas proclaim and teach about the kingdom of God.  I would not have heard that distinct voice had I remained in New Jersey.  I needed to be where God set me, and I needed to be there at the proper time, in order to hear the message of the gospel.  Is it important to be where God has set you?  It is more than important; it is vital to your spiritual health.  Remember, however, that God sets members in the body where it pleases HIM, not you.  He doesn’t set you where all of your family is; he doesn’t set you where you are comfortable.  He doesn’t set you where it is convenient for you; he doesn’t set you where the best jobs are.  It may please him to set you in the midst of a crime-ridden community; you may be set in the midst of people whose faith is not like your own.  While you may desire to fellowship with a large group of people, God may set you in a body of three or four.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges saints of God face in a country where we value our right to choose.  Now, our Lord is saying “in my house, you give up your right to choose, and I choose to set you where I am pleased.”  Understanding this truth cannot occur absent a renewed mind.  Yielding to this truth is not a work of the flesh; it must be a work of the Spirit.  Have you felt an uneasiness in your inner being, have you heard that voice of distinction that is telling you where you are to be set?  If you have, don’t try to muffle that voice.  Don’t let other voices distract you from being set in the proper place.  Submit to the rule of God, for he knows what you need in order to accomplish his will.

Matt. 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

In one sentence, the Lord Jesus provided one of the most powerful, relevant, contemporary metaphors of the kingdom of heaven.  What is leaven?  Today, we call it yeast.  But whether you call it leaven or yeast, it is a bacteria. How do we define bacteria?  The definition of bacteria from vocabulary.com is:
Bacteria are microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere. They can be dangerous, such as when they cause infection, or beneficial, as in the process of fermentation (such as in wine) and that of decomposition.” What is interesting about bacteria is that you don’t see it working, you see the EFFECTS of it working.  In other words, you don’t see the leaven working in the meal, or dough, you see the EFFECTS of the leaven in the meal.  And this is what happens with the kingdom of God in a person’s life.  You don’t see the kingdom at work in a person, you see the EFFECTS of the kingdom in a person.
But leaven has another quality that makes it like the kingdom of God.  Like all bacteria, leaven is a contagion, meaning it spreads by contact.  Here are two definitions from vocabulary.com for contagion:
“Any disease easily transmitted by contact.”
“The communication of an attitude or emotional state among a number of people.”
Vocabulary.com uses this example to describe the phenomenon of contagion:
“Have you ever noticed how when one person yawns, the people around him tend to do so as well? This phenomenon can be described as a contagion, the spreading of an emotional or mental state (in this case, fatigue).”
So contagions spread by contact.  Even in the example, the people affected by the yawning person were the ones around him, the ones who were close enough to see him.  Others, not close in proximity, may have seen or even heard him from a distance, but were not affected.  What then, does this mean for us today?  It means the gospel is still spread through close contact.  It isn’t spread by being seated in a large gathering or assembly once a week; it is spread in your day to day contact with your co-workers, with your classmates, with your neighbors, and with your friends.  The kingdom within you is supposed to be contagious; those around you don’t see the kingdom in you, they see the EFFECTS of the kingdom in you.  They see the change in you; they see the patience you are exhibiting; they see how you esteem others higher than yourselves.  These are all effects of the kingdom working its way through your life.  Are you contagious?

As we approach the end of the calendar year 2016, the question is asked “what can we expect in 2017?”  Before we take a moment to look ahead, let’s take a moment to see what occurred in 2015 and 2016.  In these two years, we were able to read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome and the letter to the Hebrews from a kingdom perspective.  And, in 2016, we have been studying the kingdom of God in a more detailed way through the book “The Kingdom of God” by John Bright.  This teaching has been a blessing to those who have devoted their time to reading and studying this book.
So what will we do with the foundations that have been established?  We will finish the study on the book “The Kingdom of God,” which occurs on Wednesdays, and we will begin a very important teaching on Significance and Adoption.  Beginning Sunday, January 8, we will study Kingdom Economics, which will be followed by a review of the book A Glimpse of the Kingdom.  After the review, we will begin an in-depth study on the apostle Paul.  Understanding the apostle Paul is crucial to a kingdom understanding of his letters.  And don’t forget, Peter stated that Paul’s writings were hard to understand.  This series will help you unravel the complexities of God’s servant to the Gentiles, and enable you to read Paul’s letters from a kingdom perspective.
We pray that you are enjoying this season, and we look forward to sharing more with you in 2017!

Screenshot (3146)I am very excited about our advanced class on the Kingdom of God!  Beginning next Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., we will conduct our class based on the book The Kingdom of God by John Bright.  The book, written in 1953, is a wonderful expository on the concept of the Kingdom of God, how it originated with the nation of Israel, how this concept endured through the centuries, and how it impacts us today.  It is essential reading for those who desire to learn more about the Bible and this Kingdom that Christ Jesus instructed us to seek first, above all else.  The class is free of charge; however, you must purchase your copy of the book.  A syllabus will be provided at the first class, which will be held at 4230 Hamilton Ave. in the Northside community of Cincinnati.  If you haven’t already confirmed your enrollment, call (513) 541-0030 today.

If you desire a greater understanding of the very Kingdom that God promised, the Kingdom that was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, then you must enroll in this class!  For those unable to physically attend, the class will also be recorded on Free Conference Call and on Periscope.  We look forward to you joining us on Wednesday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Peter preachingActs 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

This account has become the gold standard for preaching today.  I know I have heard it exclaimed from pulpits in different congregations that the speaker desires to speak so that thousands would hear the preaching and be saved.  But should this account be used as a type of measuring rod to determine whether someone’s preaching is effective? Let’s examine this account closer to obtain a greater understanding.
One of the first questions that we must ask is who were these 3,000 souls?  If we go back a few verses, we discover who they were:
Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
These were the same people who had previously approved of the execution of the Lord Jesus.  Imagine what that must have felt like.  Just days before, these people were content with seeing the Lord Jesus crucified as punishment for the sin that He was charged with, which was blasphemy.  Just days before, these people did not believe that Jesus was the Christ.  Now, Peter appears before them, and in a moving speech, convinces the multitude that this same man which days before they were happy to see punished, was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Israel.  How they must have felt! How would you feel?  One day, they are adamant in their unbelief; now, they were pricked in the heart, convinced that they were wrong, that this Jesus truly is the Christ!  These 3,000 were those to who God gave the covenants of promise.  These were not Gentiles, men and women who were alien to the covenants of promise.  These people were part of the nation of Israel, the only nation of people on this earth that God declared to be holy! So, what accounts do we find of groups of Gentiles being added to the church?  Interestingly, we see no similar accounts of groups of Gentiles of any size being converted.  The Gentiles we see being converted were individuals.  If we use the accounts in the Bible as a standard, then, we see more instances of individuals being converted than we do groups.  Perhaps it is time for us to truly accept the fact that the kingdom of God will permeate through man much like yeast works its way through dough, causing the dough to rise.  We don’t see it working its way through the dough; rather, we see the effects of the yeast in the risen bread.  Don’t seek to speak to a group of 3,000; seek to speak to the one that God has put in your path.  If every saint does what God requires, then the gospel will be preached in all the world. Let obedience to the Holy Spirit be your standard.

angryEph. 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

This year, the United States will elect a person to be President.  We are in the midst of a campaign season, and we have ringside seats as we watch the opponents trade punches with each other, hoping to knock each other out in order that one may stand alone victorious in the ring.  We have become so accustomed to this process; indeed, we have become so comfortable with this process, that we give no thought or consideration to the above exhortation.  Today, we are going to carefully examine this passage.  Consider first the phrase “put away.”  The word means to move from its place or to take off or away what is attached to anything.  Now, consider what Paul is telling us.  He is telling us that bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking were attached to us, in our old form.  We are naturally disposed to exhibiting these character traits.  Now, however, Paul is instructing us to intentionally detach these traits from ourselves.

Remember the video of the backwards bike?  Remember how Destin took eight months to learn how to ride the backwards bike, but when he got back on a conventional bike, it took him about 20 minutes to remember how to ride the conventional bike?  Think of putting off these traits like riding that backwards bike.  It will take a great deal of time to successfully put off the above traits, but given the right situation or set of conditions, only a few minutes to remember how to attach those traits to ourselves again.

Next, let us consider the word “malice.”  The word means ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, or depravity.  The wickedness is further described as a “wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws.”  How do we interpret that in our world today?  We call it boldness.  There is an adage that says “it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”  In our society, we admire people who are risk takers, those who are openly willing to break laws.  Yet, this is the very trait that Paul tells us to detach from ourselves.  We are further instructed to be kind to one another; we are admonished to be tenderhearted and forgiving toward one another.  It is in this way that we are to be light in a dark world.

Now, after reading this, your first inclination may be to reflect back to the beginning of this devotional and think “that is true!  Those candidates need to clean up their act.”  Resist that urge.  Look inward.  Ask yourself “Am I guilty of exhibiting any of these traits?”  If you are, then begin with yourself. Begin today to choose your words wisely.  Guard your heart today that malice does not creep in.  Intentionally be kind toward others today.  Will you be challenged in these areas?  Absolutely.  And this is why we must intentionally walk in our renewed minds, and not according to our old selves.

Book coverI was blessed to open my email and receive these comments from a person who recently purchased A Glimpse of the Kingdom at a book signing:
“It was inspiring, thought-provoking, and enlightening all at the same time.  I applaud your persistence in never giving up on the vision gifted to you to research this information, I applaud your determination never leaving the ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘but’ questions hanging unsolved, and I applaud your courage having the guts to do the work needed to disseminate these unasked questions to an audience hungry to learn about our Lord, the Kingdom and how we fit in. 

“Your demeanor and teaching style says you walk by Faith and you send constant praises to the Lord no matter where you are or where you go.” 

The reader went on to say “as I was reading your book at my church one of the senior participants asked if they could borrow the book and read it.  Hopefully, the seed you nurtured while writing this documentation will strike a heart-touching moment and allow a venue of asked questions concerning our kingdom and our destiny.  I thank you for reaching out to us, individually, and empowering us with new questions to research.  Prayer for a blessed life to you and your family.”

If you haven’t purchased your copy yet, you need to do so!  You can order either paperback or hardback edition by visiting www.ronmosbybooks.com.  You can also order directly from us by emailing your request to info@fogocinti.org.  We will then send you a PayPal invoice.  

“Jesus’ claim to Messiahship must therefore be interpreted in the light of his whole conception of the Kingdom.  While he starts from the hope of a new age he thinks not so much of an outward change as of the spiritual conditions which will obtain in the future.  To have a will in harmony with God’s will, to enter into fellowship with God, is to possess the Kingdom.  The work of the Messiah is to make this new life possible.  Through the Messiah men will attain to the Kingdom in the sense that they will apprehend the higher world, they will receive power to do God’s will, they will know God as Father.  This is not to import a fanciful allegorical meaning into Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, but only to explain it in accordance with his own teaching.  Everywhere in Jewish thought the idea of Messiah is determined by some given view of the Kingdom of God.”

12189642_10207861272279269_1783680335148987763_nWe are blessed to announce that the book is finally published!  Here is today’s excerpt from the book:
“When you see the term “kingdom of heaven” in the Bible, it is a term used to describe where the kingdom is located.  When you see the term “kingdom of God,” it is used to describe who it belongs to.  It would be similar to asking a person where they live.  The person could say “I live at 1460 Tyler St.,” or the person could say “I live with my father in his house.”  The former describes where the house is located; the latter describes who owns the house.  It is important to note that the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are two different descriptions of the same kingdom – the former describes the location; the latter describes ownership.  God did not promise Israel more than one kingdom.  All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah, and submit to His authority are citizens of the kingdom of God.”

Email us at info@fogocinti.org to place your order for either a paperback or hardback edition.  The price is 15.99 for paperback and 24.99 for hardback.  The price includes shipping and handling.  If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, then this book is a must for your library!