(Message given in Ethiopia, June 3, 2012.)
[For a printable version click here.]
So, as I said, we are preaching that God wants sons. We know that when we are born again we become a child of God. When we accept the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins we are a new creature, old things are passed away (2Co 5:17), but we are still a child. If you come to Christ when you are seventy years old – you are still a child. If you came to Christ when you are ten years old and you are now seventy years old and you did not walk in the fullness of Christ – you are still a child. God wants us to be mature. He wants the kingdom of God in us. Amen.
He wants us to begin to be changed into His likeness, into His nature. When God created Adam in the Garden He said, “…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Ge 1:26). So He breathed into Adam, He breathed into him the breath into his soul. He breathed spirit life into him. He didn’t do that for any other animal. The scientists of the world would have you to believe that we are just another animal. But God said that man should take dominion over the earth, take dominion over his environment. But there came a problem – the problem was sin. They disobeyed God. So now they are in the image of God, but not the likeness of God.
We are in the image of God in that we have emotions. Amen. You know God has emotions. There are things that make God angry. Disobedience, rebellion, God becomes angry at that and we have also that nature. Amen. God has love. We have love. Amen. We are made in the image of God, but because we are born into sin we no longer have the likeness of God. We are not like God anymore.
Now if you are born again, if you have accepted the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, the penalty of hell has been taken away from you. He has washed away His memory of your sins, but you are still not in the likeness of Christ. There is a process, God wants you to begin that process – coming further, further, further. Amen. So He wants you to grow from baby child to mature adult. He wants us to behave like Jesus Christ behaved when He was on earth. We can only do that if we get His kingdom in our heart, His kingdom in our mind, His kingdom in our soul, our will, our desires, our emotions. Amen. Everything about our soul He wants to transform into His kingdom.
Now when John the Baptist came on the scene he began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is coming near” (Mr 1:15). Amen. So repent means what? It means to change. When you repent you have been going in one direction and you turn around and you stop and now you go in another direction. Hallelujah. Repent is not just confess and say “I am sorry, I am a sinner”. Confessing is a good start.
You see in the organized Catholic Church where they have priests and this type of thing. They have the people come in and confess their sins. Amen. But it does not change the sin nature of man. Well first of all the man (the priest) cannot forgive you, only prayers to Jesus Christ can forgive you. We don’t go through Mary. Amen. The Word of God says that we have an advocate that we can go to Jesus Christ directly (1Jo 2:1). But just confessing the sin, the man is back again the next week because he has sinned again and he is back again the next week and he is back again and he keeps sinning because it does not bring him the blood of Jesus. It does not bring the life of the kingdom of God in his soul.
So God wants to save our souls. Do you know what I mean by our souls? If you were listening you caught what I said that there are four parts of our soul. It is my will, some of us have a very stubborn will. Amen. Do you know what I mean? I see some women that are very stubborn (not here, I don’t know you). But I think to myself, they are young.
I am thinking, “The poor young man that marries that woman. She is very stubborn.”
God wants to change our will. Do you know that Jesus had to give His will to the Father? Do you know that? What did He say in the Garden of Gethsemane? He said:
“…Father…let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will (my will), but as thou wilt (Father’s will)” (Ref: Mt 26:39; Mr 14:36; Lu 22:42; Jo 5:30;).
Do you know what I mean? Amen. We have our will. We have out mind. Some people have a very strong mind.
“Well I have my opinions.”
“This is the way I believe that.”
We were preaching the message of the kingdom many years ago. We had some women that came from a certain PentecostalChurch. They sat and they listened to the message for seven years from me. Every time, every Sunday when I finished preaching they would come up here. They would put their hands on their hips and they would say:
“Brother Mark, we were always taught thus and thus and we believe thus and thus.”
I said, “Sister, I am just telling you what the Word of God says.”
But she was telling me what their religious belief was. It wasn’t in the Word of God. You see, I am only preaching the Word of God. I am not preaching for your religious traditions. Amen. So brethren, it would be good that you set your mind to obey and to understand the Word of God. Amen. Hallelujah. Yes, your mind has to be change. Some people have got such a strong mind that nothing can change it. Let me tell you, unless you are willing to submit your mind to what the Word of God says, you cannot be among the sons of God. Hallelujah.
Desires, man desires everything. Everything that he sees he desires and there are many things to see, many things to desire. Amen. I want to read you a verse here a little bit later that if the kingdom of God message has quickened in your heart you will desire nothing else except the kingdom of God and you will give everything you have for it.
Let me ask you a question. I see you sitting here in church today. How many Bibles do you have? Let me see your Bibles. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, okay, I see a few. Do they sell Bibles here in Addis? Do you have a Bible at home that you didn’t bring? How do you know if I am telling you the truth? When I read from the Bible are you sure that I didn’t change it? Listen, there are men who are changing words in the Bible. You need to know what God said. You need to believe that this (Bible) is what God said. Do you believe that? Do you believe that this is what God said?
I talked to a man one time, I talked to him about his sin. The man was practicing sin. I don’t mean he just sinned one time, I mean he was continuing to sin all every day. I gave him the verse in the Word of God that says that is a sin.
I said, “God said that this is an abomination.”
The man had been to college. He had been to a Christian college. He had been to seminary training to be a pastor and now he says he chooses to walk in this sin.
I said, “My friend, what are you going to do with the Word of God that says that you are living in sin?” I said, “How did your BibleSchool deal with these things?”
He said, “Well, the BibleSchool teachers told us these are the opinions that the Jews had about God a long time ago. This was Jewish culture.”
So when you can say something like that you are saying that this (Bible) is not the Word of God, this is just some old beliefs and some old culture and some old ideas about God. So if you say that you are then saying that “I will write my own Bible” and that is what men are doing today. Amen. Listen, adultery is still adultery in God’s eyes today. Fornication is still fornication today in God’s eyes and it is still sin. But in our heart, having an unclean mind, having unclean thoughts, it is still sin in God’s eyes and it has to be dealt with in the soul.
How many of you are praying:
“God, give me a clean mind.”
“Give me clean thoughts.”
“Take away my thoughts that are not according to the kingdom of God.”
Are you praying that prayer? Are you asking God to clean up your soul, to clean up my mind? Do you know what? The devil comes against you even in your sleep, even when you dream, if you dream unclean dreams you can come against them even in your sleep.
I remember very well, when I was a young man I heard this word. I remember one time in a dream, the devil came and he brought an unclean thing in my dream and in my dream I rose up and I said, “Satan, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus and I am sending this spirit to the abyss.” In my dream I did that and it was gone.
Let me tell you something. If you are troubled in your dreams and you start taking authority over those spirits and sending them to the abyss, you are going to get a reputation in hell. Devils are going to send the word out to other devils, “Stay away from that woman, she will send you to the abyss.” Amen. You know demons don’t want to go to the abyss. They begged Jesus, “…art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Mt 8:29). “Please send us into the pigs” and they probably killed all the pigs. Amen. No, unclean spirits don’t want to live in pigs, they want to live in men. But you have the power to drive them out of your soul. You have the power to shut the door, shut the windows of your soul.
I said that your desires are going to be changed by the kingdom of God. Let me read you a verse in Matthew Chapter 13, verse 44. It is a parable. Now this is a parable that is only one verse, a very short parable, very powerful. You know brethren, Matthew 13 is all parables about the kingdom of God. Do you know what Jesus’ parables are? Do you know why there are parables about the kingdom of God? Because they bring you up higher into the spiritual level.
You see, many, many people heard Jesus tell these parables. They heard Him talk about a man that goes out and sows seed in the ground. The bird eats some of the seed. Some of it falls on stony ground. Amen. Some of it the sun comes out and it is scorched, you know. But some of it grows and they went home and said, “Oh that was nice. He talked about sowing seed.” But you see, the disciples, the ones that were training to become sons of God, there was something in them. I think this was why Jesus chose them. You know, He is walking one day, He comes into the village and here is this Matthew. Here is this Matthew the tax collector.
Jesus said, “Matthew, come and follow me” (Mt 9:9).
You know He looked into the man’s heart. Jesus said in Himself, “Here is a man that is tired of his old way of life. He is not happy. He is tired. He is a Publican. That man, he is cheating people. He tells them they owe a hundred dollars tax and they only owe eighty, but he puts the twenty in his pocket and they never know the difference. Maybe he writes a little receipt, but the man was tired of his way of life. This man will make a son of God.”
So, here is the parable. Now kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God, it means the same thing. Let me ask you a question. When you hear the word heaven what do you think? When you hear heaven, what is heaven? Where is heaven? Come on, tell me, where is heaven?
Did you say, “Up there somewhere.”
Well, let me ask you another question. Where is Jesus? Is He up there?
Translator: He says, “He is in my heart.”
Brother Mark: Jesus is in your heart, but it is Jesus in heaven. Yes, He is in heaven, but when I ask a little child, “Where is Jesus?”
He says, “Jesus is in my heart.”
So you see, a little child knows this, but now we get the idea that heaven is up there somewhere. Amen. So if Jesus is in your heart, then heaven is in here. If Jesus is not in here heaven is somewhere else. So when He comes in my soul He brings His kingdom of heaven in me. Why do I want any other kingdom? Why do I want the kingdom of Ethiopia? Why do I want the kingdom of the United States of America? I don’t want that kingdom. I don’t want to be part of that kingdom. I wish I could have a passport that says “Kingdom of God”.
Country: Kingdom of God
ID#: 144,000 – 30
Title: Servant of God
But you see, we are still living where these other kingdoms are. You know, man has even made kingdoms of these churches.
“Kingdom of Pentecostal.”
“Kingdom of Coptic.”
“Kingdom of Roman Catholic.”
Name some others for me. You know the names.
“Kingdom of whatever your name is.”
No, no, no, it is not the organizations brethren, it is a kingdom that you cannot see. But sometimes a man sees it, not with these eyes, but he sees it when he hears the word and in his heart he desires that kingdom. We still need to read this verse.
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
Why don’t I read the next verse too, it is very short.
Vs. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly (beautiful, precious) pearls:”
Vs. 46 “Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
Have you found the pearl? Did you find the treasure buried in the field? What do you call that pearl? What do you call it? What is its name? What do you think? Somebody said “Jesus”. Yes. Not just a name, not just something I can write, not just a sticker that I can put on my house or my car.
You know, it’s been a long time ago, back in the 1970’s I went to a church and they had a thing going, a little sticker that said, “I found IT!” Amen.
A certain sister I knew, she said, “No. I’m not going to take that. Jesus is not IT. I found HIM!”
So some people when they see this, they say, “I’m going to have to sell everything that I have.”
“I’m going to give everything. Everything else goes second place, my father and mother.”
“Father, I cannot go into your old business, I have found something else. I have a job.”
“I could climb the big ladder and go up to the top in my job.”
I had a job like that. I had desires like that when I was young. I was thirty years old, I was going to come to the top, I was going to be the chief. One day I discovered that I cannot serve two masters, I’m going to have to sell the other and buy the one. I told Jesus that.
I said, “I want all of Your kingdom.”
Do you know what He began to do? He began to make my path narrower, narrower, narrower, narrower. All the other things that had nothing to do with the kingdom of God had to fall away. In other words, I had to sell all. I didn’t do it all in a day. I didn’t do it all in a year. I didn’t do it all in five years, but in the course of twenty or thirty years I am getting rid of all of the other things in my life. I want the pearl. I want the treasure. I want Jesus. I want Him to control my mind, my desires, my will, my emotions. Amen.
You know, some people have very strong emotions. Some people get very angry. Some people are easily swept away.
“Oooh, I fell in love.”
“But dear little sister, do you see the man that you fell in love with, the boy, there are things in his life that are going to be a problem for you. Do you see that? He is lazy. He doesn’t like to work. Amen. He is not reliable. He doesn’t keep his promises.”
“Oooh, but I love him.”
But come now, Jesus wants these things under His dominion.
Then there is people who have a problem with anger. Amen.
“Well, my daddy was like that.”
“My grandfather we like that.”
“It’s my family.”
Come now, even if it came from the family spirit, Jesus wants His nature to control you. He wants you to overcome. Did I say that we are also preaching overcoming? What are we going to overcome?
What are we going to overcome?
Sure, of course. But you know, the Devil didn’t make you do everything that you do. Sometimes it is my flesh. My flesh rises up. Whether there is devil or no devil, my flesh rises up. So young men, you hear me. You are going to have to overcome your flesh. You are going to have to put it under the dominion of the kingdom of God. What are the three things we overcome? The world, the flesh and the devil (1Jo 2:16). The world presses on us.
“Oh, do this.”
“Oh, everybody is doing this.”
“Everybody thinks this way.”
“Come on, come on, you are living in the stone age.”
“Come on, get with the Twenty-First Century.”
On your calendar, are you in the Twenty-First Century now? We were here five years ago and it was your year 2000, wasn’t it?
Okay, so you are in the Twenty-First Century. So are we. I don’t know whose calendar is right, it doesn’t matter. Jesus knows the right calendar. Amen. The Father knows when it is time to send Jesus back. Hallelujah.
So we are saying that the kingdom of God is like something that you find and you want it with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. Isn’t that how God said we should love Him in the Old Testament? (De 6:5). So it is not something new, is it?
Well, let’s look at something else in Matthew Chapter 20. The disciples have been with Jesus now for at least three years. Three years! Three years! How many of you would like Jesus to stand here and be your teacher for three years? Every day? Every day you would have a chance to walk with Jesus, to listen to Him. Surely you would know all that He is trying to teach you, wouldn’t you? And yet the disciples didn’t understand. They saw that He had great power. They saw that He could raise the dead, heal the sick, open the blind eyes and they thought surely He has great authority. So they are thinking:
“Israel. Yes, the kingdom of Israel. Yes, we are going to have the natural kingdom nation again. “It is going to be like in the days of David and Jesus is the man. We’ll put Him on the throne and He will be the king.”
“Get rid of these Romans, yes get rid of these Russians. Or maybe get rid of these Communists and we will have the kingdom of God, and we have got the king to do it.”
Maybe it’s, “Get rid of these Americans.”
Well, anyway, you see the kind of kingdoms they were thinking about. They wanted their national identity.
“And when we take control of Jerusalem we are going to take the rest of Israel and then we are going to take some other countries and we are going to take the world.”
“Yes, we are going to take it by might.”
So James and John (came and asked Jesus), “Can I sit on Your right hand and can I sit on Your left hand” (Mt 20:20).
Well, the mother is the one that initiated it. And what did Jesus say?
“You don’t know what you are asking” (Vs 22).
“You really want to be on my right and my left in my kingdom? Are you going to drink of my cup?” (Vs 22).
Do you know what the cup was? The cup is persecution, tribulation, betrayal and martyrdom. Oh yes, you are going to lay your life down. Are you ready for the cup? How about my baptism in fire? How many of you enjoy fire? I don’t enjoy fire. How many of you enjoy getting burnt on your hand? I don’t like that. How would you like to have your whole body, your whole soul put into fire? No, it isn’t going to be natural fire, but it is going to be very intense. Do you know why He is going to do that? Because He needs to burn out the flesh.
You see, our human nature is full of wood, hay and stubble. Put wood in the fire and what happens? It burns. Hay will burn; it burns quickly. So the human Adamic nature has to be changed into the nature of Jesus Christ which is gold, silver and precious stones. Isn’t that what you want to bring to Jesus at the end of the day?
So Jesus said to them, “This is not the way of my kingdom; it is the ways of the Gentile kingdom.”
Gentile means what, it means the world.
“In the Gentile world kingdoms they have their princes, they have the great ones that rule over the princes and these rule over the people down on the bottom.”
It is a pyramid, a hierarchy structure of organization. And you know that structure works very well in the world. If you have a national world army, you put the Generals on the top and then the Colonels, Captains, Lieutenants, and down on the lower levels you have the soldiers. That system works well in this kind of army.
If you have a big corporation like Toyota or Ford or General Electric, you have the President on top, then you have all these Vice Presidents, then Supervisors, then all the workers.
And if you are going to role a nation, well let’s say like Ethiopia or America, you have a hierarchy with the President on top, then you have the Ministers of Defense, Finance, Education and others who rule over the various departments.
Now this is what the disciples envisioned. They wanted to hold of these best positions, right hand and left hand. So you see, they had a wrong thinking about the kingdom of God. The sad thing about church history (and church history has brought us right up to today), is that the kingdom of religion has done the same thing. They put a man at the head and Jesus said, “No, no, I am the head and you all are equal.”
Now there is another story in Luke.
Luke 17:20 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:”
In other words, the kingdom of God is not something that you can see with your natural eyes.
It is not something that you can identify and say, “Well, we have the President, an organization, a headquarters, a building and such.”
Or the modern church might even say, “Well we have a Pastor, we have our own nice place to gather, we have this and that and therefore we have the kingdom of God.”
No, that doesn’t make the kingdom of God.
You know, I don’t know what it was like for you people back in the time of the Communists. Do you remember these days? How long ago was that when it ended? It came to an end about 1990 when that system fell, about 21 years ago.
Some of you don’t remember that, do you? If you are under 20 years old you don’t know what it was like for the Christians, but I know that those who wanted the kingdom of God still had it in their heart. Some of you brethren suffered and were persecuted greatly under that system
I went over to Russia to Ukraine and I heard the stories they told me. They didn’t have a place to gather. They didn’t have a pastor. They just had what Jesus said:
“…Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).
Do you know what? They had something better in those days than they have today. Now they gather together in big assemblies and they have no life in the spirit. They go through the ritual, sing the songs, Pastor reads the word, a board of Deacons, Assistant Pastors, but NO LIFE! NO LIFE! NO LIFE!
They can say, “I am Pentecostal”, but when they were living under persecution they had life and they had spiritual ears that heard the Spirit of God.
The Spirit of God said, “We are going to meet over in this little side street. We will go gather in this little house. Today you will gather in the forest.”
They had to hear from God. Do you hear what I am saying? I’m telling you brethren, tribulation is coming in Ethiopia and the whole world. What are you going to have when the government tells you that you cannot gather like this, when they put your leaders in prison? Are you still going to have the kingdom of God in you?
In the next verse Jesus says:
Mt 18:21 “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
The Kingdom of God is not up this street and in that place or tent. It is not down in that building. It is not in that city in America. It is not in some city in Germany. It is not in some city in Canada. No, no, no, the kingdom of God is in your heart because this is where the king lives. The king lives in your heart and do you know what? This is a house, this is a tabernacle, this is a temple (1Co 3:16). This is the temple And He is coming suddenly too. Malachi says that He will come suddenly to his house (Mal 3:1).
Are you going to be ready when He comes suddenly to His (to this) house? You see, there are two comings. There is a secret coming when He comes suddenly to His house and nobody knows except when He comes. Then there is another coming where every eye will see. But first He is coming secretly to His house (His true church). And when we have many houses together we have the city, we have mount Zion. Come on. It is in Hebrews. It says it very clearly that we are mount Zion, the city of the Living God (Heb 12:22).
Well, praise God. I think I told you enough for today and we ask the Lord to bless you. Amen.