I awoke this morning to the news of the tragedy at London Bridge. Horror, anger, tears and questions - 'why Lord' and then -'how can we stop this senseless violence and what should be our response to it'?
I have been writing a new Bible study called 'Be Ready', a course designed to open our eyes to the reality of the times that we live in - not simply that we recognise world events but that we see them against the backdrop of God's eternal plan and purpose - see them through the lens of His Word and the promise of His second coming to set up His Kingdom on earth.
Years ago as I studied Daniel and Revelation for the first time my mind almost exploded as I sought to understand the things that would be coming - things that to be honest seemed a little far fetched to me then. But now, we are right here - we are on the brink of the time that Daniel calls 'a time of great distress', that John calls 'The Tribulation' - the end time when 'knowledge will have increased and many will go back and forth' Dan.12:4
A time when Daniel said that 'the people who know their God will display strength and take action' Dan. 11:32b
So this morning as I sat and thought about all of this I realised that the only way for us to respond, the only way for believers to react is to look up and know our God, know Him by experience, know Him personally, know Him as our loving Father, know Him as Sovereign, the One who holds time in His hands, the One who knows the end from the beginning, who knows and who cares and who loves.
In Luke 12:32 after a series of instructions to His disciples telling them not to fear, Jesus says that God has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. I was struck by the phrase - 'chosen gladly' - because I realised that very often, especially when things are not happening the way we think they should, we find it difficult to believe that God really is FOR us and that He really does WANT to bless us. We start to believe the lie of the enemy that God only does certain things because He has promised to do so and whilst that of course is true we tend to forget the truth that God longs for us - that He will never leave nor forsake us, not only because He has to be true to His Word but because He absolutely delights to dwell within us! God doesn't keep His promises because He has to, but simply because that is His hearts' desire. Your heavenly Father sent Jesus for the specific purpose that you and He might enjoy wonderful eternal fellowship together - that He might love you for eternity
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly - it is His good pleasure - not his duty, not His obligation, but His pleasure - to give you the kingdom." That is the kind of God He is.
But what, actually is the Kingdom that He promises to give us?
Well He doesn't promise to give us money. In fact, He says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" Luke 18:25.
He doesn't promise popularity or fame or admiration among men. In fact, He says, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they ostracize you and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!"
He doesn't promise security in this life. In fact, He says, "You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and family and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for My name's sake"
So what does He promise to give to His little flock - to prove once and for all that it is not only His good pleasure to give, but that it is His good pleasure to give big?
He promises to give us the Kingdom of God - not just access to the Kingdom but the Kingdom itself. God does not see us as citizens in His Kingdom but as those who actually have a stake in it - we will be co-owners with God of this glorious coming new creation.
What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, God has prepared for those who love him - 1 Corinthians 2:9. And it is the Father's good pleasure to give it to His little flock.
Here in Luke 12:32 - Jesus knowing that we are so easily afraid, wants to free us from fear by telling us the truth about God and He has chosen every word for our joy and peace. It is His will that we know His Word and through that Word that we grow in our experience of Him, not simply so that we deepen our relationship but also so that when trouble strikes, when tragedy hits, when we are called to stand for Christ Jesus we will be able to do so in the sure and certain knowledge that our God has a plan and a purpose and more - that His great desire for us is that we lay hold of the great and glorious blessing that is ours in Christ Jesus. As we grow in our experience of Him you and I will be counted amongst those who know their God, display strength and take action!
Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. When the circumstances and events of life seem to be spinning out of control - look up and see the Lord, high and lifted up - see the glorious King, mighty Redeemer, Deliverer and Saviour of your soul - the One who was and who is and who is to come - the One who has gladly given you His Kingdom.