From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Mt.4:17).

We await the coming of we know not what or when. For we know and expect that our Lord will return, and that at His return He will establish His kingdom. But what will take place and when will it happen? We wonder, "What time, what place, and will it be soon?" And with the passing of another day our excitement in the future kingdom becomes replaced by today's cares.
But in the words of Christ we find an urgency, and a crying out to keep us in mind of what is and what will be, lest we become to absorbed by our day to day. His words are gripping. He beckons, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." He encourages, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." He pleas, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
"Repent"--the very word means to turn away from one thing and to turn toward something else. It is a word often associated with "hell and damnation" preaching, and stoned faced preachers ready to beat you over the head with the Bible if you don't follow it. It sounds quick and hard, and makes one often think of the wrath of God in full furry. However, it was a word spoken in Love. For as it was spoken by Jesus, it was as if to say, "My dear child. Don't you see what you are doing to your life. The course you follow will certainly lead to pain and heartache--and in the end--loss. Turn from your ways, so that you won't be hurt; and follow in the footsteps of the Lord so that you will find life, 'and life more abundant.'"
"The kingdom of heaven is near." Nearer than we probably think or know. Such words might be used to twist the indecisive arm into becoming a Christian or into making a choice to live a better life. And many have used the certainty of death and heaven and hell to scare another out of hell and perhaps into heaven. But regardless of Christ's reasons what He said was, once again, said in love. Perhaps He would say it like this, "My dear friend. Just turn around and look. The kingdom of heaven is so close. It is not nearly as hard to find as so many would lead you to think. It is so near to you--just turn around."
We all desire a good life, and I dare say that most of us want a life that could be called full and abundant. But we go about it in such an awkward fashion. We look like a new born dear learning how to walk--so wobbly and weak. We try so many things, yet none seem to truly satisfy us. Yet Jesus holds for us a life full of joy, purpose and abundant living--not as the world would call abundant, for it goes far deeper. And what He holds for us is so near--so close. All we have to do is turn around.
We do not repent (turn around) so we can escape hell; we turn around so we can take hold of the fullness that is so close, and so perfectly nested in the love we come to know as we walk with Jesus for the "rest" of our lives.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Mt.11:28).

Day by Day Devotionals: www.daybyday.org