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Article: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near | Jacob Varghese

Have you ever heard someone telling “my life is a hell” or “I hate my life”? I have heard it a number of times from different people. What to do when these words come out of people’s mouth or when your life is hell? If today our life is hell we need to find our way back to God. We can choose to believe in God. If you and I today can tell we have a limitation in our life, we have a lacking in our life or I have a failure in my past life. You and I must know we are special to God. We are chosen by Jesus. In fact Jesus says He comes not for the righteous, He says, He comes not to condemn us but He comes seeking to save the lost. Halleluiah! Right through wherever Jesus goes, whether it is to the sinful people, whether it was to the godless people, whether He went to the synagogue, whether He went to the sea shore, wherever Jesus went the first thing He would tell the people is the heart of God is open to you, the heart of God is beating for you. Jesus went everywhere telling people the kingdom of heaven is at hand. You know, if you and I are able to stretch out our hands, Jesus is telling- that close is heaven. Heaven is what we are longing for in our lives. We are not talking something that is going to happen after we die. In fact the scripture says heaven is here and now. Let us look at some of the scriptures. Matthew chapter 3 verse2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”, Matthew chapter 4verse 17 from that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” and Mark chapter 1 verse 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near.

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Repent and believe the good news!” All this sums up John the Baptist’s message and it also summarizes Christ’s message. Why do both John and Jesus call all men to repentance? Our texts give us the answer: “repent’ they say, “For the kingdom of heaven is near. That is the same as “kingdom of God’ in the other gospels. Matthew loves to talk about the kingdom of heaven. We find many references to the kingdom of heaven in his gospel. Repentance is an Old Testament idea which simply means to turn from sin and turn to God. Those who repent undergo a radical change in their life; instead of living the life of sin they strive, to live the life of obedience and faith. What is the kingdom of heaven? It is the blessed rule of God in and through the Messiah. Only those who repent and believe, only those who call on the name of the Lord have a place in the kingdom of heaven. To be “at hand” means that it is touchable, and within your grasp or reach. It is here and now. It is before you or in front of you and you only need to reach out to take it and enter it. All who have faith enter it when they confess that Jesus is Lord.

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It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget about our first love-Jesus Christ. We need to pause, examine our life and return to Him, because the end is near and He is coming soon. The Lord Jesus went to every person and this is the first message that Jesus went everywhere speaking. This is the message you and I need to know, God wants to tell each one of us no matter what your family situation may be. No matter what is the hell in your life? What is the hell about your personality? What is the negativity that is going on in your life? What is the negativity in your relationship? What is the negativity that is clouding your career, your studies, or your future? No matter what but the Lord says heaven is a possibility for you. If you would reach out He says heaven is at hand. Halleluiah! We see Jesus going everywhere and one message he wants everyone of us to know that God has a desire, a desire that your life and my life is being transformed into a heavenly experience; that your life and my life can see the power of God. The power of goodness, the power of joy, the power of glory, the power of peace and that is why we see in every page of the scripture that God telling us He wants to bless us. When you hear the words of Jesus, He never rations out His spirit. He never rations out His good gifts. He never tells us, oh you been good for 50% of your life so I will give you 50% blessings. No, He tells us always 100%. John chapter 10 verse 10 we see that “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. He tells us that I come to your life for an agenda, not to condemn us, not to judge us; He says I come that you may have life and have it in all its fullness. Not 95%, not even 99%, He says you and I have a right to have life in all its fullness.
Have you ever seen this advertisement “live life King Size” I remember seeing the bill boards of this in my young days and do you know what it is all about? This term “live life king size” was coined to attract smokers who wanted to project a superior lifestyle- an advertisement of Wills filter. But the one thing interesting which I noticed in that is in small letters it is written ‘smoking is injurious to health’. But the beauty of the word of God is this, there are no cautionary notes. When Jesus says I come to give life in all its fullness He means it. If, we open our life to God He says we have an option. If I can trust God, if I can tell God, God, you come into my life, you come into this relationship, you come in to my way of talking, you come in to the way I use my mind, the Lord assures us we will live our life in all its fullness. The same Bible verse John chapter 10 verse 10 tells us about the other option that I have. The option is this, the enemy of God comes only to steal and kill and destroy. So you and I must know if I want my life to be filled with the goodness, to be filled with all that God want for us, to be filled with the fullness that we are longing for- the one thing we need to do is to open that area of our life to God. If you want your relationship to last for eternity, you have to see that God is in your relationship. If God is not there in that relationship, you can be sure sin comes to destroy, plunder and kill. If you want God to come into your way of making money, in your life style, you must know when God comes in to your life; you will enjoy what you do. If God does not come in to your life, you are going to be ever hungry, ever dissatisfied, ever disturbed, your life may be a hell and you will be a curse to all those around. Now you see Jesus saying in John chapter 14 verse 27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He says I give you the fullness of peace. There are a number of families where there is no peace. It may be that their personality is such that they have never known peace. May be you are such an anxious person, maybe you have messed up so many things and the Lord says with no condition added. It does not depend on your circumstances; it does not depend on who you are. He says when I come into your life, I will give you peace and the word of God says that nothing in this world can disturb that peace. John chapter 15:11 says “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” He says I give you the fullness of joy. I give you my word that your joy would be full. If you are suffering depression, if you are going through brokenness what do we need to do, you open the Bible, you read the word of Jesus and He assures us we will be filled with joy, our sadness will be thrown out. So we see that our God is a God who is waiting to come into our lives. Our lives would be full of all that our hearts could ever desire. Our lives would be according to the plan of God. In Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11, God says I know the plan I have for you. We are busy working out our plans but the Lord is telling us that the God who created us, He has a clear plan. He says I have a plan for you, a plan not to make you a boring person, not to make you a depressed person but He says I have a plan to give you a future; I have a plan for you, a plan for your welfare, a plan to give you a future and a hope. A plan He says in which you will realize only when you come to Him, when you open your life to Him and when you seek Him with all your heart. You can never see God with 25% of your heart. If you seek God, HE is a God of heaven and earth. A big God and for us to receive Him, we need to really open out our hearts, we need to clear the way and that is why Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is at hand. If you want heaven in your life, nothing is an obstacle, if we can turn to God, God wants to bring heaven in our life and nothing can stand against the plan of God. May be we had worked out little plans in our life. Plans for me to be successful, plans for me to be happy, plans for me to be popular, but the Lord God says- you know what He tells us in Isaiah chapter 55 verses 8 &9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We can never reach it without the help of God. You can never reach and touch the heavens as long as we walk on our own ways. In fact if you go up even to the skies, not even the heavens; we will not be able to make out the human beings. Right! Everything is just like a speck of dust and He says so much higher are my plans for your happiness over the little plans you have made for yourself. So much greater is God’s plan for us to do well in life over the plans we have made for ourselves. There is God who is waiting to give us a higher life. A life that we can never work out, ourselves! Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is at hand but He says for that we have to repent. In Matthew chapter 4 verse17, he says repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For you to experience heaven, for you to be a blessing in your family, for you to bring heaven in to your situations of life, into the circle of your friends, in to your life style, you need to repent. When you and I want this great big God to come into our life, we need to clear our life, prepare the way for the Lord. To let God come into your life, for that certain things have to be removed. If God has to pour His grace into our life, we need to remove the dirt from our life. We need to remove the dirt in our relationship, we need to cleanse our mouth of all those foul language we speak, we need to cleanse our mind of all those thoughts and how does it happen? May be in the past we have tried but you and I must know repentance is not about me cleaning myself. We cannot clean ourselves.

Repentance is not about me a messy person going before God and saying that I am dirty so I will clean myself. No, it is not about that. Jesus gives us a beautiful idea of what repentance is not. Jesus gives us a beautiful parable to explain us that. He tells us in the gospel of Luke chapter 11 verses 24 to 26 and this parable is known as the parable of the unclean spirit. Now it goes like this “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through dry places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” If we try to clean our life on our own, this is what is going to happen, the final condition will be worse than the first. So we need to come to Jesus and let Jesus to be the Lord of our life so that He can purify us.
What is an unclean spirit? An unclean spirit is any power of uncleanness in me – A power of uncleanness that controls me. A power of uncleanness when I say I mean where I realize that I do the very things I do not want to do. I do not want to get angry but I get angry, I do not want to be nasty but I get nasty, I do not want to say the words I say but I end up saying it, I do not want to waste my time in any unnecessary things but I end up doing it. It is an unclean spirit and not any of us can say I do not have an unclean spirit because you know why? Paul talks about him having that problem. Paul after his conversion, says in Romans Chapter 7 verses 15 to 24 he says I do the very evil I hate myself for. Have you ever felt that way? I do the very evil I hate myself for after doing it. I just despise myself and he says I am not able to do the good I want to. He says this is because there is a law of evil in members of my body. There is a lot of evil that controls me and Jesus says this is unclean spirit.
We have a God who understands us. We have a God who is waiting to find us. We have a God who does not condemn. We have a God who says if I am on your side who can be against you. Romans chapter 8 verses 31 onwards, we see the word of God says if God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies you then who can condemn you? No one! Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. This God wants to tell you first and foremost at any moment of your life that He is there for you. Sin was about the loss of a relationship. In sin we lost the relationship with God. You and I must know repentance is not merely about making a decision. The scripture reveals repentance is building a bridge, it is about a relationship. Our faith in fact is about relationship and not about regulations. Repentance and our faith are about relationship with God. Now I urge you that it is the time to repent, before it is too late, before you die or the Lord returns. But for one reason or another we all tend to postpone repentance. But I have to tell you, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near”, don’t wait until later. Do it now, for later may be it is too late! JACOB VARGHESE

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