DO YOU WANT GREAT GIFTS OR THE KINGDOM?

BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO

“NOW Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jahiel, and Zechariah, and Amariah, and Maichael and Shephatiah, all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and gold and of precious things with fenced cities in Judah but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram because he was the firstborn” (2 Chro  21:1-3, KJV).

Do you want great gifts or the Kingdom? From the scripture you have just read, it is stated that Jehoram’s brothers were given great gifts of silver, gold and precious things with fenced cities but Jehoram was given the kingdom because he was the first born of Jehoshaphat. Does that mean anything to you at all? The New Living Translation renders that phrase “great gifts” as “valuable gifts.”

We can make some comparison between the earthly kingdom and the heavenly Kingdom. Jehoram was given the earthly kingdom of Israel but there is something germane that we need to learn from the story. This passage is very instructive.

From the Bible we learn that the man who has the kingdom has the power whether it is earthly kingdom or heavenly Kingdom.  “Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it” (Eccl 8:3-4, NLT). This was true of Jehoram whom the father had given the kingdom to. He eventually used the power the ownership of the kingdom bestowed on him albeit in a wrong way. He killed all his brothers who had great gifts and fenced cities because they only had material possessions but no power. “But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah” (2 Chro 21:4, NLT). Didn’t you hear what 1 Cor 4:20 says? “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (NLT).

There is power in the possession of the Kingdom. A wise man will do everything to have the Kingdom. He will not be deceived by great or valuable gifts and fenced cities. Unfortunately, the brothers of Jehoram had no inkling that their brother would use against them the power that the earthly kingdom conferred on him. What do you have – the kingdom or valuables?

The nobleman and the kingdom

The nobleman in Luke 19 was not satisfied with great gifts, material possession, and he had plenty of them. But he chose to go to a far country. He was already a comfortable man but he was not satisfied that he lacked the kingdom so he went for it. He left behind the great gifts, valuable gifts and fenced cities he had to secure the kingdom. He was determined to have it and despite all opposition from home, he got it. The Bible tells us the story of this focused man who was wise enough to know that the kingdom is the REAL THING. Hear the Bible account: “He said therefore a certain noblemen went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants and, and delivered them ten pounds and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man gained by trading” (Luke 19:12-15, KJV).

This nobleman knew what many people don’t know today. He knew that as good as valuables are, they are inferior to the kingdom which confers power on one. With the power that the kingdom conferred on this noble man, what do you think was the fate of his citizens who had opposed him? The nobleman having received the kingdom dealt with them. “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27, NKJV). They were unfortunate because the man they opposed from getting the kingdom received it and they suffered for opposing him. Did you see a similarity in what 2 Chon 21:4 I referred to earlier said about Jehoram?  The Bible says, “But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah” (NLT). The nobleman also used his kingdom authority to kill his enemies.

 Did you see the difference that receiving just the natural kingdom brought to the life of that nobleman? He showed his enemies that whoever had the kingdom had everything. What do you think will happen to you if you receive the real Kingdom? With Kingdom authority and power, you won’t need to be afraid of your enemies or those opposed to you. But you won’t have to kill them like Jehoram and the nobleman did or like Elisha did to those 42 youths whom he cursed and two female bears came out of the woods and mauled (2 Kings 2:24). And because of the manner of spirit you are of, you won’t have to call down fire to consume them like Elijah did (2 Kings 1) and like John and James wanted to do to that Samaritan village. (Luke 9:54).

 Don’t promote or prefer great gifts, wealth above the Kingdom. “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!’  This amazed them. But Jesus said again, ‘Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’” (Mark 10:23-25, NLT). Luke 18:24-25 also says the same thing: “When Jesus saw this, he said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’” (NLT) Are you going to be like the rich man in this account or like the noble man?

The merchant and the kingdom

The merchant in Matt 13:45-46 had correct understanding of the Kingdom. He was not satisfied with the great gifts – possessions – he had. He sold all his possessions to buy a pearl of exceptional value. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matt 13:45-46, NLT).

These were the same possessions the rich young man didn’t want to give away in order to possess the Kingdom. He went away from Jesus sorrowful because he had become possessed by his possessions. He was satisfied with great gifts and could do without the Kingdom!. “As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus asked. ‘Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ the man replied, ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.’ Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. ‘There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ he told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22 NLT)

Jacob, Esau and the kingdom

Are you satisfied with a blessing or you want, the blessing. Jacob got the blessing; Esau got a blessing. After the blessing had been pronounced on Jacob, Esau was only asking for a blessing. “And he said, is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright and behold now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me” (Gen 27:36-37, KJV) Take note of that phrase “a blessing for me.” Also in verse 38, he asked his father, “Has thou but one blessing?” I can help his father to answer that, and the answer is “yes.” If you’re talking about “the blessing” there is only one but you can have a blessing, uncountable number of them. And Esau received “a blessing” but hated Jacob for “the blessing” he stole from him (Verses 40- 41, KJV). Do you want the Kingdom or great gifts?

Saul and the kingdom

Saul had no sense of the kingdom – political kingdom. Despite what Samuel said in 1 Sam 13:14 that his kingdom would not continue, he didn’t even react remorsefully to such a weighty statement. He must have been contented with just the title – being on the throne physically but he was just living on borrowed time. He continued with his normal life as if Samuel had not said anything.

In 1Sam 15:28, Samuel told Saul the kingdom had been torn from him and given to his neighbour. How did Saul react to that again? He wasn’t disturbed by what Samuel said. But rather than facing the gravity of his sin, he wanted to look good before the people. “Then Saul pleaded again, ‘I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel by coming back with me so that I may worship the Lord your God.’ So Samuel finally agreed and went back with him, and Saul worshiped the Lord” (1Sam 15:30-31, NLT)  Verse 35 is a sad commentary on Saul: “Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel” (NLT). Saul was satisfied with having the status of a king plus all the paraphernalia of office but the kingdom had been taken from him already.

The Kingdom is more important than a title. The Kingdom is more important than an office. The Kingdom is more important than riches and possessions. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt 6:33, NLT). Luke 12:31 also says a similar thing: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”

Don’t be like the brothers of Jehoram who got everything good from their father except the kingdom. Don’t be like Saul that the kingdom was taken from and given to another. Matt 21:43 says, “Therefore say, I unto you the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (KJV). The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People renders the latter part of that verse thus: “to a people who will pay a fair rent for it.”

You and the Kingdom

Luke 12:32 tells us it is God’s desire to give us the Kingdom but we must also desire it above all other things. We’re not disadvantaged like the brothers of Jehoram who were denied the kingdom because they were not the first born but were only given great gifts and fenced cities. We can all have the Kingdom. Jesus told all his disciples (not one of them) that he had appointed unto them a Kingdom (Luke 22:28-29). He says in Luke 17:21 “the kingdom of God is within you.”

But no one can bypass being born again to possess the Kingdom. Giving our lives to Jesus introduces us to the Kingdom. “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ ‘What do you mean?’ exclaimed Nicodemus. ‘How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’  Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” (John 3: 3-5, NLT). And to inherit the Kingdom, one must quit sinning and embrace a life of righteousness. “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,  or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11, NLT). 1 Cor 15:50 also says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

To enter the Kingdom, you must also continue in the faith enduring persecution and tribulation. “After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22, NLT). Mark 10:29 – 30 also points out that the Kingdom comes with persecution though it offers other good things.  “‘Yes,’ Jesus replied, ‘and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.’” Please take note of that phrase: “along with persecution.” You cannot want those other good things and reject persecution that also comes with them. It’s a total package!

Hear what Jesus says again in his interpretation of the parable of the farmer and the seeds with regard to persecution: “The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word” (Matt 13:20-21, NLT). Did you see the word persecution again? You can’t escape it in the Kingdom. Paul, in 2 Tim 3:11, made reference to his own persecution and how God rescued him. “You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it” (NLT). The Lord who rescued Paul will rescue you too. So there is nothing to be afraid of. The Lord is your shepherd, you shall not fear!  You should be able to say like David did: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me…” (Psalm 23:4, NLT).

You must continue in the Kingdom until Jesus comes notwithstanding persecution. That was what Jesus told his disciples with regard to preaching the message of the Kingdom. “When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel” (Matt 10: 22, NLT).

What do you have at present? Great gifts or the Kingdom? You may be saying God has blessed you with riches, possessions, children, etc. but these are all great gifts not to be compared to the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the real thing. Be wise like the nobleman, the merchant and Jacob I referred to earlier. You need the Kingdom, and God is offering it to you now. Will you take it? Why don’t you start by accepting Jesus into your life today and from there go on to possess all that the Kingdom offers you?

TAKE ACTION!

If you’ve decided to give your life to Jesus, you need to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the Lord and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.

Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as   my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God”

I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.

dsc_0581T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org