THE KINGDOM LIFESTYLE
Jesus did not leave his disciples in doubt as to the quality and manner of life they should live here on earth. Clearly on the mount, He spelt out the kingdom principles for living. These are the things to pursue as the end of the age draws close if our life and service will be commended when he returns. In this series therefore, we shall focus on some of these principles as taught by Jesus himself. Let us be resolved in our hearts that Jesus is
the only correct pattern that the Father set before us (Matt. 17:5).
Text: Matt. 5:6
Righteousness is the hall mark of the Christian life. It is the lifestyle of the kingdom. Both in the New and the Old orders, God demands righteousness from any one who will walk with him. (Ps. 15:1-2). Though the present world is in enmity with this lifestyle, the heavens standpoint is clear about it. (2Tim. 2:19). It behooves us therefore, to study this virtue again as we journey towards the celestial city.
1.0 What is righteousness? What does it mean to thirst and hunger for it? Ps. 42:1-2; 63:1.
Righteousness means to be just and good; it means doing right. Followers of Christ must have strong desire to do what God requires of them; they must long and pant for the truth out of a need or an emptiness within them. They love to see right prevail in their lives and in others, in the hostel, class, department, fellowship, community and anywhere they found themselves.
1.1 Building a lifestyle of righteousness.
How can one become hungry and thirsty for righteousness?
i. Humble yourself: Matt. 5:3; 18:3; 1Pet. 2:2.
ii. Ask God to reveal your true inner/spiritual condition to you: Deut. 8:3; Isa. 6:1-6.
iii. Understand God’s purpose for your life, compared with your present state. Rom. 8:29; 1Cor. 2:9.
1.2 The need for Righteousness.
i. Righteousness is the way of life in the kingdom: 1Jn. 3:6-10; 1Pet. 2:24.
ii. It is the bedrock for effective personal communion and walk with God: 1Jn. 3:21-22; Prov. 28:1; Ps. 34:17, 19.
iii. Righteousness exalts and causes fruitfulness: Prov. 14:32-34.
iv. It is an indispensable tool in spiritual warfare: Eph. 6:14; 2Cor. 10:4-6; Acts 19:13-16.
1.3 The Benefits of Righteousness.
From these scriptures, highlight the blessedness that lies in righteousness.
i. Isa. 41:17-18; Ps. 107:19. ii. Phil. 1:10-11; Heb. 12:11
ii. Isa. 32:17; Matt. 6:31-33 iv. 1Pet. 2:19-23; Matt. 5:6, 10.
1.4 Practical Discussions.
i. In what ways can we practice the lifestyle of righteousness in our rooms/hostels, classes, departments, homes, fellowship (in our units or as officials)?
ii. Do you think there are instances (with your experience), when an alternative could be sought for in place of righteousness? Share one of those experiences with us.
iii. Can you justify with reasons why a Christian could seek alternatives to righteousness?
iv. Are these reasons tenable before God?
What is your greatest desire in life? Is it to see right prevail in every sphere of your life or to achieve ‘greatness’ by any means? There is no substitute for righteousness. Even in this perilous time, the only attitude approved in the kingdom is righteousness. Friends, examine your life today. What you are now, the things you have acquired thus far in life, how did they come by? What is your greatest desire? What are you running after? What is the pursuit of your life?
Memory verse: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Mat.5:6, KJV).
TOPIC 2: HUMILITY
Text: Mat. 5:3
The way of life in God’s kingdom is opposite to what it is in the kingdom of darkness. Humility is another attitude that the Master manifested and taught the disciples on the Mount. In this study, we shall trust God to reveal to us the scriptural meaning of humility as opposed to the external humility that is operating in these last days.
What is humility? What other words/phrase are used for humility? Read Mat. 5:3 in several other versions and discuss.
Humility is the first condition of receiving and possessing anything from God. It is to know that you are spiritually poor, to rate yourself insignificant, to know your need of God.
2.1 The Essence of Humility in walking with God
From the following passages, why do we need humility?
i. 1Pet. 5:5-6; Mat. 23:12 ii. Heb. 4:16; Tit. 2:11-12
iii. 1Cor. 15:10; 2Cor. 12:7-10.
2.2 Examples of men who exhibited humility
i. Daniel (Dan. 2:14-23, 27-30, 46-49) ii. Solomon (1Kg. 3:5-13)
iii. Joseph (Gen. 41:15-16) iv. Jesus (Jn. 5:19; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 5:7-9).
2.3 Benefits of Humility (Mat. 5:3)
Read upthe following scriptures and highlights the privileges of the kingdom: Mat. 6:33; Lk. 18:29-30, 10:19; 2Cor. 5:18.
Beloved, grace is only given to the humble. Those who are full of themselves and strong in themselves are turned away empty. Are you humble?
Memory verse: "Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” (Mat. 5:3, God’s Word).
TOPIC 3: MEEKNESS/GENTLENESS
Text: Mat. 5:5
Brethren, the only task before us is to keep looking at our model, Jesus Christ, until we are conformed to his image. So, again today, we shall be looking at another attitude of the kingdom; a virtue which is fast forgotten in our generation. This virtue is an ornament for the life of a child of God. It is not optional. May the Lord illuminate our hearts as we study together. (Amen).
3.0 What is meekness/gentleness? Read Mat. 5:5; 1Pet. 2:21-23; Lk. 6:29; Phil. 2:2-3. How was it rendered in other versions? Comment.
3.1 What does meekness entails in practical life? Discuss
3.2 Men who exhibited meekness
i. David (2Sam. 16:5-14).
- Shimei was ‘junior’ to king David. He insulted and cursed David.
- What was David’s reaction to Shimei’s action? Compare it with that of Abishai.
- What was David’s decision? If you were the ‘king’, what would you have done?
- Read 2Sam. 19:16-23, what lesson can we glean for our lives?
ii. Jeremiah (Jer. 26:1-15)
- Discuss the situation around prophet Jeremiah.
- What was his reaction? How did he get out of the conspiracy? Jer. 26:16-24.
- In situation like this, can we do otherwise?
iii. Jesus, our perfect example
- From the following scriptures, discuss how Jesus exhibited meekness.
Isa. 53:1-9; 1Pet. 2:13-25.
3.3 The need for Meekness
i. In hearing and learning from the Lord and his word: Jam. 1:19-21; Ps. 25:9; Pro. 3:5-8. A man that is meek can easily discern the mind of God, take instruction without resistance and can easily adapt. He is flexible.
Ii. In teaching and bringing others up for the Lord: 2Tim. 2:23-26; Tit. 3:1-9. Without meekness, you may win an argument but lose a soul. Beware, arrogance, self-defense and rigidity closes the heart of men and shut the doors of ministry. Meekness is the key in restoring backsliders.
iii. In relating with others (whether believers or unbelievers): Mat. 5:39; Jam. 4:7; Rom. 12:18-21; Phil. 2:3-5.
3.4 Cultivating and growing in Meekness
Read the scriptures below and comment:
Zeph. 2:3; Phil. 2:2-3; Col. 3:5-10; Gal. 5:22-26; Mat. 11:29.
Meekness is an attitude of Christ. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit. It can be learnt, it can be cultivated as we daily yield our lives to Christ’s teachings and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But except the flesh is crucified, there is no way for the carnal man to be meek. May we passionately seek for these virtues until we are conformed to the image of Christ.
Memory verse: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Mat. 5:5, KJV)
The theme for the semester is “Redeeming the Time.” Time is a crucial factor on this side of life. Time begin to count at creation in Gen. 1. God, in his sovereign power had ordained seasons and time for everything on earth. (Eccl. 3:1-8). In this series, we shall only focus on the present time wherein we found ourselves. Why did the scripture says the days (time) are evil, what things are peculiar to this present age, how have they affected us and what must be our response? These are the issues we shall be considering. May we find grace to escape the dangers of these present days. (Amen).
TOPIC 4: UNDERSTANDING THE TIME
Text: Eph. 5:1-21
The end-time bell is ringing and the church must be adequately prepared for these uneasy and difficult times. The marks are all around us.
4.0 The Present Time
From these scriptures, what other names are used to describe the present time and what can we glean from these names? 1Tim. 4:1; 2Tim. 3:1; 1Jn. 2:18; Jude 18; Mat. 24:3 (Read from different translations).
4.1 Marks of the End-Time
What are some of the pointers to the End-Time? Mat. 24:3-14, 36-39; 1Thess. 5:1-3; 1Tim. 4:1-3; 2Tim. 3:1-7.
These signs can be grouped into four (2Tim. 3):
i. There would be terrible times (v1) ii. A godless world (v2-4)
iii. A powerless religion (v5) iv. Corrupt ministry (v6-9)
Do you think we are already in the last days? If yes, what are some obvious signs (in our lives, fellowships/churches, school, communities, homes, nation and the world at large) that point us to the end-time?
“In the last days, three things will happen in the great Pentecostal movement: There will be an over-emphasis on power rather than righteousness, there will be an over-emphasis on praise to a God they no longer pray to and there will be an over-emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit rather than the Lordship of Jesus.” (Quote from Prophecy Today’s Magazine). These sings are all around us. Beware!
Memory verse: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. 3:13, KJV).
TOPIC 5: DECEPTION: the greatest tool in the hands of the devil in this last day
Text: 2Pet. 3:1-18
One of the tools in the hands of our archenemy (the devil) in this end of time, to lead many into perdition is deception. The scripture had said concerning him that, he parades himself as an angel of light. Thus, he quietly sneaks into the lives of men and the Church to introduce heresies (errors). Today, we shall focus on some examples of men who were deceived. This is not an attempt to criticize them, rather to learn from their mistakes lest we be caught in the same web and miss out on the last day.
5.0 Examples of men who were deceived
From each of the cases below, identify how these men were deceived. Also point out the ‘objects’ used to deceive them.
- The Samarian believers: Acts 8:4-13.
- The Prophets of Baal: 1Kg. 18:16-22; Rev. 2:18-20.
- Aaron and the children of Israel in the wilderness: Exd. 32:1-35.
- The man of God from Judah: 1Kg. 13:1-32.
- The believers in Galatia: Gal. 3:1-5.
How do these affect believers and the Church of today?
5.1 Dangers of deception
From 5.0 above, mention the danger or effect of being gullible.
5.2 How to Live in this End-Time
- Compare and contrast the stories of “the man of God from Judah” and “the Rechabites.” (1Kg. 13:1-32, Jer. 35:1-19). Would you think other people will see anything wrong in giving into this deception? Be careful not to allow what “Great men of God” in our time approved to confuse you!
- Read the following scriptures and point out what our attitude should be in time like this: 1Pet. 5:8; 2Pet. 3:11-18; Col. 2:8.
Brethren, it is no longer news that the end is at hand and many deceivers are around looking for the simpleton – the easy going, to lure them into ungodliness, unrighteousness, powerless and empty religion. We must be on guard lest we be trapped into what looks like Jesus but which in the standard of God’s word it is not. May the Lord keep our hearts safe under his wings (amen).
Memory Verse: “Dear friends, you already know these things. So be on your guard not to be carried away by the deception of people who have no principles. Then you won't fall from your firm position.” (2Pet. 3:17, God’s Word).
Topic 6: THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
Text: 1Jn. 2:15-17
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” is the standard of God for the called-out ones (the Church). We were not only redeemed from sin when Christ died for us. His death on the cross also liberated us from the flesh and the world system. The writer of the book of Romans was emphatic about this when he wrote to the believers in Romans 12:1-2: “… And be not conformed to this world…“ But is this true of the present-age Church? How has the world affected the Church in this end-time? Is there an escape route for the Church?
6.0 What do you understand as the world? (Read Rom. 12:2; Mat. 4:8; Mat. 16:26; Col. 2:8, 20). The world is not just a physical geographical location but it is a system, a model,
6.1 What are the things in the world? 1Jn. 2:15-16; Gal. 1:4; Mat. 13:22; 1Cor. 1:20; 2Pet. 1:4.
6.2 Who is the brain behind the world system? Eph. 2:2; Jn. 12:31; 2Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 6:12.
6.3 What are the principles behind the world system? Discuss the following practically: Change, competition, rivalry, pride, self, showmanship… How has these principles affected believers and the body of Christ today in these aspects of life? Worship, music, dressing, success, education, relationship, language,… mention others.
6.4 The attitude of the world towards followers of Christ
- The world will hate you (Jn. 15:19).
- The world will persecute you (Jn. 16:33; 17:14).
- The world could make your heart sorrowful (2Pet. 2:7-8).
- The world tries to entice you by its fleeting glories (Mat. 4:8).
6.5 How to relate with the world in this end-time
Read the following scriptures and discuss how a believer should relate with the world: Jn. 17:16; Heb. 11:9-16; Tit. 2:12; Jam. 1:12; 4:4; 1Jn. 2:15; 1Jn. 5:4, 5; Rom. 12:2.
Clearly in 1Jn. 2:15-17, the scripture declared that this world will pass away. Friends, no matter the goodly and wonderful things we see today and those that will spring up tomorrow, we must not be deceived to build our lives on them. We must live in this world as strangers and pilgrims on journey, never to settle down here. The things in this world are meant for our use but they must not use us. They must not dictate to us how we should live.
Memory verse: Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father.” (1Jn.2:15, MSG).
TOPIC 7: BELIEVERS AND DRESSING IN THIS END-TIME
Text: 1Cor. 8:8-13
The subject of dressing and outlook is one that the enemy of the Church has hijacked in these last days to increase the rate of immorality in the world. Many have become casualties as a result of careless and immodest dressings of male and females in our societies. The world has now come up with new and catchy inventions of dresses and outlook, all in the bit to attract us and draw our hearts away from righteous living. The Church also has not helped the matter. Many of the men and women on pulpit today (who are seen as role model by the youths) are great facilitators of this modern trend.
However, God’s standard remained unchanged throughout generations. In this study, we shall look at the stand-point of God’s word on Christian decorum.
7.0 The significance of dresses and outlook
From the following scriptures and examples, discuss the significance of dresses:
i. Widows’ dress (Gen. 38:14-19) ii. Hunters’ dress (Gen. 27:27)
iii. Priest (Exd. 28:1-5) iv. Virgin (2Sam. 13:18) v. Prisoners’ clothes (Gen. 14:14; Jer. 52:33)
vi. Prostitutes’ clothes (Prov. 7:10; Gen. 38:14 – 19)
In 1964, Mary Quant introduced the miniskirt. Hear what she said in an interview: “Miniskirts are symbolic of those girls who want to seduce a man.” (Changing Your World Magazine). Your outlook shows who you are.
7.1 The need for dresses
What are the primary reasons for dresses? Read the following scriptures and discuss: Gen. 3:7, 21; Deut. 29:5; Exd. 28:40-41; 35:19.
- What is nakedness? Who is permitted to see your nakedness?
- What are the reigning dresses and outlooks of male and female today? Mention them and discuss their effects on us and the opposite sex.
7.3 Christian attitude towards dresses and outlook
- Dress modestly and adorn yourself in holiness (1Pet. 3:3-5).
- Do not appear shabbily to show that you are spiritual. God detest uncleanness (Col. 2:23; Jam. 2:16).
- Do not cause your sister/brother to stumble by the way you dress. (1Cor. 8:12-13; Rom. 14:21).
- Do not conform to the styles/fashions of this world (Jn. 15:19).
7.4 Personal Evaluation
- Do my clothes, outlook or dresses reflect godly character?
- Will my dresses cause others to stumble?
- Am I satisfied with the way God created me or am I always displeased with my outlook whenever I see other people?
- Do my dresses attract the opposite sex to me?
- Do my dresses cover my nakedness or expose it?
- Can I preach the gospel to an unbeliever with the way I am dressed?
- Is this style/fashion of dresses accepted in Nigerian culture (where we found ourselves)?
- Am I dressed with God in mind?
Conclusion: To whose image are you conforming? Who is your role model? Will Jesus be bold to introduce you as his brother or sister? The outmost desire of every believer should be to conform to the image of our Lord Jesus and not to the world standards (Rom. 8:29). Friends, therefore, if you are a child of God, you must understand that you have an acceptable standard of dress and outlook that is not dictated by modern designers (from abroad or within). Our designer is the Word of God. Will you make up your mind today to do the will of your father in heaven?
Memory verse: Don't cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. (1Cor. 8:9, CEV).
Topic 8: YOUR THOUGHT AND YOUR LIFE
Text: Proverb 4:23
Your thought determines your life’s action. What you were, what you are and what you will be are all product of your thought. It is only those who can hold grip over their thought and control it that would be able to win all life battles including the fiercest of all the battles, victory over sin. Friend, your Christian life can not grow above your thought-life. So, it behooves us to take a study on how to handle our thought in life so that we do not become a victim of the caprices of the evil one.
8.0 What is/are thought(s)? (Look it up in a dictionary).
Where is the seat of thought?
Thought are the quite (unheard) discussions and imaginations that goes on inside the mind. They could be decision taken, issues from past experiences, mental pictures and images that are created in the mind.
8.1 What are the things that facilitate our thought? Matt. 15:19.
- Dear, dreams, past experience (Eccl. 5:7, Jdg. 16:20, Jam. 1:14-15).
8.2 Entrance of Thoughts
- Eye, hear, nose, skin, tongue (Discuss).
8.3 Types of Thoughts
- Good and thought (Phil. 4:8, 2:5-9, Jer. 9:11).
Some examples are thinking about becoming like Jesus, thinking on how to excel in your academics alongside other colleagues, thinking about serving God, building a happy home, etc.
- Wrong thoughts:- These could be further divided into
Lustful/Impure Thought:- Desire to touch the breast of a girl, to hold her hands, to see her breast, tight, to have sex, to imagine sex, a strong desire to always be around the opposite sex. … (Matt. 5:27-28).
Wandering thought:- Thinking of something else while praying, while studying the Word of God, …
Evil thoughts:- A quite wish to see the downfall of others, a desire to snatch the fiancé/fiancée of your friend, a quite wish for success in a dubious means.
8.4 Effect of wrong thoughts (Rom. 8:5-8)
- It steals your heart from sweet communion with Jesus.
- It breeds quite desire for sin in your heart (e.g. masturbation, sex, stealing, killing,…)
- Finally, it leads to death.
8.5 How to handle wrong thoughts
- Be born again (Jn. 3:3, 5-6)
- Cast down every imagination (1 Jn. 4:1; Heb. 4:12).
- Read, study and fill your heart with the Word of God; sing spiritual songs and make melody in your heart (Eph. 4:17-19, Col. 3:16).
- Learn to meditate on wholesome things (Phil. 4:8).
- Remove and destroy every properties of the old man in your possession (e.g. pictures of naked girls, boys, immodest dress, sexy music and movies).
- Break-up every association with the friends of the old-man and be ye separated. (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
- Walk by the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16, 17).
- Yield your neck to discipleship to learn the life of Jesus (Matt. 18:29).
- Set your mind on things above (Col. 3:1-2).
- Seek counsel from senior believer.
Finally, God will judge every thought and imagination (Jer. 17:9-10, Rom. 6:6,7,11)
Discussion:- One who has no grip over his thought will be restless all the days of his life. Discuss.
Success in all spheres of life is tied to your though-life. A student who is defeated right inside of him will hardly be on top of his academics. Inner defeat is the greatest of all defeat. Likewise, if your heart is filled-up with all sorts of evil, successful Christiana life will be a mirage. Your heart must be renewed if your goal is to be like Jesus and if you must survive the corruptions of this present world. May you yield your heart to Jesus today for renewal (Rom. 12:2).
Memory Verse: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23, RSV).
TOPIC 9: SECRET FAILURES IN THE LIFE OF BELIEVERS
Text: Matthew. 6:1, Revelation. 3:1-2
One of the bane of Christianity is this end-time is public funfair of all sorts. Many believers have lost their personal relationships with Jesus, only to settle for corporate fellowship. There is so much activities going on in the church of our time and in our lives at the expense of a growing intimacy in quite devotions with our Master Jesus. Much of what is done today only takes place outside (in public gaze) and never in our closet. Many will pray in the church but never in their room, much of songs in the fellowship about Jesus, but never on our knees behind the doors. We are gradually losing the secret-life for the open-life and this to our detriment.
In this study, our burden is to show you that God is more interested in the secret-life than he does for the open. May your heart never settle for the common on the plain of mere religion when there is more in the inside to tap from Jesus. Amen.
9.0 What does it mean to have a closet-life? Read Matt. 6:1, 2, 6, 18.
Consider the following as seen in the scripture above: Not to be seen by men, not to announce, not to be noticed and closet.
To have a closet-life means to maintain a functional, private, personal and indoor relationship with Jesus in all you do.
9.1 What are the lifestyles Jesus wants us to cultivate in the secret and how must we do them?
(i) Praying (Matt. 6:5-8) (ii) Giving (Matt. 6:2-4) (iii) Fasting (Matt. 6:16-18) (iv) Reading and studying the Word (Col. 3:16, 2 Tim. 2:15). Mention others.
9.2 Great enemies of the secret-life (Matt. 23).
- Sitting on Moses’ sit (4)
- A quite desire and love for honour (5-6)
- Desire to be noticed (7)
- Love for positions, office, titles, (7-10)
- Religious zeal and activities (15)
- Graceless rigidity (16-24)
- Starving your inner life and paying more attention to the outside (24-25), 1Sam. 16:6-7.
9.3 Jesus, our model (Acts 1:1)
From the following scriptures, discuss how Jesus lived the closet-life: Lk. 5:15-16, Lk. 5:14, 15
9.4 Great Warnings
- Beware of hypocrisy (Matt. 23:21).
- Pay close attention to your own life (1 Tim. 4:13-16, Matt. 7:2-3).
- Do not exchange your personal altar for the corporate altar. (1 Sam. 16:5-13).
- Do not speak/serve above your life (Acts. 1:1).
Do you have this kind of life or all about you is “church/fellowship activities”? How is your inner life? How is your prayer life? What is the heaven saying about you? Do you hallow God in your closet? What is your attendance like in your private fellowship with Jesus?
It is only those who have been tested and found faithful in the secret that God will approve in the open (Mark. 1:9-11, Matt. 6:4). May you heed these great warnings of Jesus and escape from the caravan of empty religion.
Memory Verse: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them: for then you will have no reward from your father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1, RSV).