Thus far in our journey to discover how God intends us to be light that dispels the darkness, we have learned through verse 1-2 that light does not fret over the dark. Light just is what it is, a direct opposite of darkness. By just being light, light penetrates the night to overcome and dispel the dark.
In verse 3a we discovered that good is in God alone and only with full trust in Him to flow through us with His goodness do we have any hope of accomplishing true good in the earth.
Returning to verse three, as we continue our trek to learn how we become His Light in the earth to dispel the darkness, we break down the second half of that beloved verse as stated in the New American Standard version of scripture: “…Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (vs. 3b).
Yesterday as we touched on part b in the Amplified version of scripture, we discovered that as we trust in the Lord, we have the promise of His faithfulness toward us. Today as we look at this passage, we see our roll in our need to dwell and be faithful. Thus we begin with: “Dwell in the land.”
The first question that comes to my mind is what is the “land” in which we are to dwell? Are we to dwell in the lands of the earth where we reside? Well, yes, but as I look at this, I believe there is a deeper understanding to be had here.
The land spoken of in this passage was the Promised Land from God to Israel. They were to dwell in the land of promise as God instructed. So, as believers in Christ, what is our Promised Land in which we are to dwell? May I suggest that it is the Kingdom of God?
How do we live in the Kingdom of God while still in the world of mankind? Scripture tells us what that looks like and how we are to dwell there. Let us look at a few passages to see what Scripture teaches about the Dwelling place of God’s Kingdom on earth—living in the Kingdom of God while in this life:
† When we seek after and run hard to do the will of God, we dwell in His kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Note that Jesus always makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father. Yes, He is somehow Very God in ways beyond our complete understanding. But He is the Son of God and He obeyed the Father as an example to us, and He calls us to do the same. We are never told by Jesus to pray to Him. We are called to pray as representing Jesus—being in His name, but we are to pray to the Father. We are also instructed that it is the Father we are to seek to obey. It is Father’s will we are after. (Hang in there with me. We are going someplace awesome in the days to come.)
† When we walk in unity with the brethren in Christ, we dwell in the Kingdom of God: “And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand’” (Matthew 12:25).
† When we experience the power of God at work in our deliverance and our ministry on His behalf, we dwell with Him: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).
† When deeper truth and understanding opens up to us on personal levels, we dwell in the Land of Promise, feasting on the food of God’s provision: “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted’” (Matthew 13:11).
† When we hunger and thirst for Him, searching for God as for hidden treasure, seeking for Him with all that we are as our first and most vital need and necessity, running after Him as our deepest desire, we dwell in the Secret Place of His habitation: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. …”
† We dwell in His Kingdom when we discern the bad from the good; the good from the better; and the better from the best. Choosing the best is living life more abundant and full in Him: “…Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away” (Matthew 13:44-48).
† When we can grow strong and be encouraged by reminder of truths long known and observed, and add to it deeper truths in newness of understanding, we experience the greater knowledge of the Kingdom of God: “Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51-52).
† When we find the pathway of righteousness in Christ, are umpired by peace that is beyond full understanding, and have joy within that is not dictated nor disturbed by circumstance, we know the Kingdom life: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:16-18).
† And the greatest of these is love. When we know how to love with God’s love, even knowing how to love our enemies, we walk with God day by day and know well the streets of gold in Kingdom paths: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:13-24)
When these truths become our life experience, we dwell in the land of our God’s promise and provision for us, and we do so by walking out the second half of today’s verse: “Dwell in the Land, and Cultivate Faithfulness”.
In understanding how to cultivate faithfulness, I was drawn of Spirit to look up the definition of the word “cultivate”. Following is what I found to be required of us who would cultivate faithfulness in Kingdom living:
† “To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops”: Kingdom Living cultivated through faithfulness will bear a crop to the glory of God.
† “To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants). To grow or tend (a plant or crop)”: Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness knows when to give focus to needed growth in a particular area where fruitfulness needs to increase.
† “To promote the growth of. To nurture; foster”: Kingdom living seeks out opportunity for growth. Also Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness is not self-centered to the exclusion of others. It will promote growth in the lives of those in ones sphere of influence.
† “To form and refine, as by education”: Kingdom Living, cultivated by faithfulness, is always growing and maturing. So long as we are in this earth, “we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”. By this we know that there will always be room in our lives for more spiritual growth and maturity. We will not arrive on this side of eternity (2 Corinthians 13:9-10).
† “To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with”: We know we have attained to a level of maturity in Kingdom Living when we become friends with the lifestyle practice of faithfulness. Faithfulness is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile, as faithfulness, properly cultivated, will not fail to bear much fruit to the glory of God.
“Dwell in the Land and cultivate faithfulness.” It is an awesome and abundant life indeed. And in the pursuit of this ideal Jeremiah 17:9-10 gives us a warning worth heeding and takes us back to remembrance of yesterday’s blog excerpt on part 2 of this series. The Lord warns through Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and BEYOND CURE. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” Jeremiah 17:9-10.
We can only know how to live and grow and bear fruit as we trust and follow the one who knows our hearts better than we do our own selves. So trust in the Lord and do good by dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness through leaning on, relying on, and being confident in Him. He is the source of our light that will dispel the darkness not only in our part of the earth, but within our own hearts.