The Greatest Mystery

The Greatest Mystery

A Christian life is a remarkable life – if we live it as God Intended.

Sadly, many Christians never realize what’s within their grasp. But when we pursue all that God has for us, our lives can be radically changed.

We will find out-of-the-ordinary peace. And joy. And wisdom.  And hope.

When we as Christians dig even deeper, we will find a closeness to God for every season. And our own individual purpose which brings an extraordinary richness and meaning to life.

So how is all of this possible?

It’s possible because of the greatest mystery of all time.

In Colossians 1:26-27, Paul speaks of this great mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but has been revealed to the saints. It’s this mystery which makes Christianity so totally different from any other religion in the world. Yet this mystery seems to be misunderstood even by many Christians.

So what is it? It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s right. The Holy Spirit of God dwelling inside your innermost being.

That’s what it means to be “born again.” God’s Holy Spirit brings life to you – and you are a New Creation.

You now have the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in the inner most part of you, leading you, empowering you, changing you, and growing you to reflect the attributes of God Himself.

All other religions have laws – lists of do’s and don’ts – which, if followed, are supposed to bring you into perfection.

But our faith is different. In our faith, our lives of sin are forsaken at the cross of Jesus. We accept His sacrifice for our sinful nature – and then we accept the empowerment of His Holy Spirit to  walk away from sin and into the life He has for us.

We walk away from that old nature, and we walk away from the shame and hurt it has brought us.

That’s why we know that we have power over the dark forces which try to hold us back. The “Greater One” lives on the inside of us and causes us to overcome the evils of the world…if we are relying on Him and not on ourselves.

If we will just live “from the inside out,” many of our problems will be solved. Our innermost part is where we hear from God, because His Spirit actually lives inside of us. We will not only overcome sin in our own lives and receive health for ourselves, but we will have wisdom to pray for those around us. We will have answers which will benefit them and God’s anointing to release them.

Stop and think about it.

Man is the only creature which has a choice about the way he lives his life. Animals instinctively know that they should find food, build nests or dens, mate and raise their young. They have no choice but to live from the inside out. They live from the dictates of their instincts.

In the beginning, man was created to communicate with God and to have His thoughts just as naturally as the animals were to have their instincts.. But an had a choice. Before man sinned, he lived from his spirit, not just from his mind. Then man sinned and he no longer had power over that sinful nature.

Until Jesus came and paid the ultimate price.

Now here we are today: born again and filled with His Spirit, the power is restored – but we still have a choice.

Will we live from the flesh, where there is no power? Or will we live from the spirit, where Christ resides as our Hope of Glory? The choice is always ours and we make it daily.

When Christians rise up to live from the inside out – from the spirit within – our world will be changed. Prayers will be answered more quickly, prophecies will be fulfilled, and the world will begin to see God’s true church rising to its place in the earth.

Therefore, If anyone is  in Christ, he is a new creation,

the old things are passed away; behold new things have come.

Now all these new things are from God. (II Corinthians 5:17-18 NASB)

The glory of Christ in us is what the world needs.

So what do we do to appropriate this power within us? We talk to our Father about it. We read His word and allow that to become part of who we are. We listen to good solid teaching which will help us to grow in our faith.

And we step out in faith, allowing God to do what He wants to do in our lives.

It’s a miraculous life, if we live it that way.

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You

In the last post we talked about being Born Again. That is the Foundation upon which we build our lives a christians.

It’s also what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. All religions have rules of good and evil. Principles for the supposed “Good Life.”

Only Christianity brings us a Savior who died for our sins, and who sent His Holy Spirit to live in us. We are changed from the inside. Truly a miracle!

Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)

By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.

Something similar happens to us when we receive Jesus. We realize that we have been called to a new “place.” A new paradigm. We don’t know exactly what to expect, but we know that we need to know our God. And we know that His plans are better for us than our own plans.

St. Augustine, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries had this experience in a dramatic way.

He had lived a raucous life until he was born again. His life was drunkenness, fighting, and unruly living in general. After his born again experience, he changed completely, and went on to be one of the most important Christian leaders – greatly influencing early Christianity.

He left us some famous quotes:

There’s a God-shaped hole in every man – a hole only God can fill.

We were made for Thee, o Lord, and our souls are restless until they repose in Thee.

Every person on earth is looking for love and acceptance. Especially from God.

The interesting thing is that often people don’t know it. They may think that money will fill that hole. Or fame. Or beauty. Or sex. Or one more vacation.

But none of these fill the hole. Otherwise, you would see all the famous rich people living joyful lives. Yet we know that this isn’t the case. Often they drink and drug themselves in order to dull the pain and restlessness they are experiencing.

There is only one thing which will fill that void. Or one Person.

When we meet Jesus – and receive Him as our Savior – we are changed. From the inside out. Not looking to outward things to bring happiness, but looking to inward, as our spirits come alive.

Several things change.

  • We become aware of God’s great love for us. We realize that He is not holding our sin against us, because Jesus paid that awful price for our sins.
  • We realize that Jesus is indeed alive – and His Spirit has come to live in you.
  • As we read the Bible, no longer do we just see words on a page. These words seem to be written just to us and for us.
  • As we read and study, we come to know that we have entered a whole new realm. The Kingdom of God.
  • We will sense God directing us as we walk with Him.
  • We will be aware of God’s presence and His voice. Sometimes this voice wil be audible, but not often. Usually it will be what we refer to as a “still, small voice.” Something like a gentle “knowing” from Him.
  • We will desire to share our new experience with others.

We have become citizens of a new country. The Kingdom of God.

In II Corinthians 5:16-20 (NIV)

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do no longer.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.The old is gone. The new is here.

All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.

God has made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are Christ’s ambassadors. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

If you were to become an ambassador of your country, you would have to go through training. You would be expected to learn many things about your country as you prepare for your mission. The history. The methods. The plans.

It’s the same with God’s Kingdom.

God has given us a manual: the Bible. And an instructor: the Holy Spirit within us.

As born again believers, we read, listen, and learn about our new Kingdom.

Just as any good ambassador, we don’t want to represent ourselves to others. We want to represent our country – and our King.

We present His plans, and not our own plans, to the world.

Instead of hate, we show God’s love. His mercy. His forgiveness.

Instead of selfishness, we show an attitude of giving.

We are ministers of reconciliation – sharing the love of God with the world.

Over the years, I have seen some of the meanest people turn into the most loving. Some of the most troubled changed to the most stable. Some of the most depressed turned into happy, productive individuals.

God is real and His Kingdom is real. When you and others enter that Kingdom, there are many benefits waiting for you. They are treasures we must dig from His Word and apply to our own lives.

In John 17:14-19 Jesus is praying for His followers down through the ages. He says, They are not of this world, as I am not of this world. But then he says, Don’t take them out of the world, but protect them from the evil one.

He wants us to stay and be His representatives – His ambassadors – to the world. To represent His plans and purposes to those we know.

Thus, we must be listening to God, obeying his word, and allowing His Spirit to be big in us.

With Paul, we say…

II Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) We have conducted ourselves in the world and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and Godly sincerity. We have done so, not relying on worldly wisdom, but on the grace of God

We are representing a Kingdom which will never end. One which is higher than any earthly Kingdom. And one whose King will reign forever – with love, goodness, and power.

What a privilege!

Let’s do this!

Note: This series is an adaptation of a series Ambassadors for Christ, taught by Mickey Estes at Good News Church in Blue Mountain, MS.

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Getting Started

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Getting Started

Do you realize that God’s kingdom is here on earth right now? And do you realize that you have a special place in that kingdom?

Many Christians are confused about this issue. They think that the Kingdom of God is for a future time. Yet when Jesus went to the cross on our behalf, and rose again from the dead, He ushered in this great Kingdom.

We are going to discuss this in the next few posts – and explore the what, the how, and the why.  If you are a Christian, you have a place in this Kingdom. Your Father has a special plan for you and wants you to fulfill that purpose.

So let’s get right to it.

When Jesus walked the earth, He repeatedly emphasized a new kingdom which was coming: The Kingdom of God. Yet then, as now, most people misunderstood.

Some thought that He was talking about Heaven, where people would go after they died. Others just thought he was talking nonsense.

Well, He was speaking about now – and He certainly wasn’t speaking nonsense. He made the way for God’s Kingdom of Heaven to be with us today, and If you are a Christian, you are a citizen of that Kingdom.

In fact, if you are a Christian, you are called to be an Ambassador representing that Kingdom.

What is that Kingdom? What does it mean to be a citizen of that Kingdom? And how do I operate my life so as to live on earth and in that Kingdom also?

Today I want to begin with prayer for all of us. Read the prayer out loud to yourself and concentrate on what you are saying.

Dear Father,

I am asking for our eyes to be opened to what you want to say to us. We know that your Word contains so much more than we have understood or manifested in our lives. Open the eyes of our hearts so that we can truly grasp what you want us to know. We love you. Amen

When you read the Gospels, you see many scriptures which talk about this.

One of my favorites is this one…

II Corinthians 5:16-20 (NIV)

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do no longer.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone. The new is here.

All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.

God has made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews were taught that a king would come to rule and reign forever. Of course, they understood this in earthly terms. They weren’t ready to receive the spiritual significance of what was to come.

But they were looking for this Messiah. A coming king.

So it had to bring lots of confusion to some of the Bible scholars when Jesus came on the scene and began talking about the Kingdom of God. Besides, He didn’t seem like the king they were expecting. He was a carpenter’s son.

What was this Kingdom? What could He mean?

He repeated the term over and over. (That exact term is mentioned 68 times in the Gospels).

There was a Kingdom of God which was about to spring to the earth, and natural men could not enter it – or even understand it.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3 (NIV)

But it was clear that it was Good News that this Kingdom was about to come. Mark introduced it as the “Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom.” Mark 1:15

Today that Kingdom is still here. It has been here for more than two thousand years, and we are still trying to figure it out. Even those of us who know about this Kingdom and are attempting to live there are not fulfilling all that God has for us.

Nobody has grasped all of it yet.

So looking at it bit by bit…

The first requirement is to be Born Again. We have to be Born Again to enter this new Kingdom.

God created mankind in three parts. Spirit, soul and body.

Our spirit is the part of us that communicates with God – hears His voice and understands what God has for us.

Our soul is what most people recognize about us. Our mind, our will, and our emotions. Our personality. Our gifts to excel in math, languages, or sports. Our creativity.

And our body – our “earth suit” is what we need to stay here on earth. When our earth suit gets too damaged, we have to leave the planet.

Now God created man’s spirit to be alive and well, communicating with Him. Yet because of the fall of man, our spirits were disconnected from God. They became dormant. Our spirits were supposed to rule over our lives to guide us into the paths God had for us. But in the absence of God’s connection, our soul became the ruler.

The soul of man can be very gifted, but without God, it is always selfish. Without God’s guidance and empowerment, every man is self-centered.

Even when we are doing heroic things, we want to be noticed. We want people to admire us. We want wealth and we want power.

My husband has a great analogy which compares man’s predicament to an air tool such as an air wrench.

A mechanic, when changing a tire will employ an air wrench. He hooks the wrench to the air hose and uses it to quickly and easily remove the bolts without having to exert much pressure. The power from the air hose does the trick.

If you were to purchase an air wrench from your local store and attempt to use it right out of the box, you would be disappointed. It wouldn’t work.

It looks like an air wrench and connects like an air wrench, but without the power of the air, it doesn’t work.

We people were designed to have God’s Spirit – His breath – blowing through us. The source of wisdom – or power – of true life. When we are disconnected from God, we no longer have that intended power. We are like the air wrench which is not hooked up.

We aren’t working properly.

So when we receive Jesus as our Savior, we get Born Again. Our Spirits come alive and reconnect with God, our source of life and breath. We can see what God is doing for us and through us. We are new creations. Our sins are forgiven. New things have come – and all of these new things are from God Himself.

A new world awaits us. A new Kingdom – with a new King – who happens to be our Father!

Oh yeah! Galatians 4:6 says as new born people, we are children of God and our spirits cry out “Abba, Father”. (Which means Daddy)!

No longer are we selfishly trying to control things to our advantage. We submit our lives to our Creator, who loves us and cares for us.

At that point, there is so much to learn.

Through prayer, spending time with God, and through His Word, we start to understand these new things of His Kingdom.

If we continue in our pursuit of God and His plans, we will continue to grow in our relationship with Him. We never stop learning more. And we never stop needing to feed on His Word.

His Word will bring us understanding and faith. We will be reading His Word and suddenly verses will leap off the page. There will be understanding and direction. Correction when we need it. Encouragement when we need it.

So back to our foundational scriptures: the verses in II Corinthians 5:16.

Paul says, we no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. We don’t look at the outward man.

And we don’t regard ourselves as what others can see outwardly.

We are spirit men. We are new creations. All of the new things are from God, who created us. We have a significant purpose, and as we look to God and His Word for our answers, we begin to see this Kingdom of God we are talking about.

This new Kingdom. Made up of citizens from all nations and all walks of life. All forgiven and made new because they have  received the sacrifice of Jesus as applying to them.

New Creatures. New Kingdom. New Purposes. And now preparing to be Ambassadors for this New Kingdom.

Next we want to take a good look at this Kingdom. What does it entail?

Are there benefits? O course.

Does it mean we have to act spooky or weird? Of course not!

In the next post we are going to delve deeper into this Kingdom of God and remind ourselves of how our Heavenly Father wants us to live.

See you there…

Note: This series is an adaptation of a series taught by Mickey Estes. Ambassadors for Christ, first taught at Good News Church in Blue Mountain, Mississippi.

 

 

Keep the Faith

Keep the Faith

Faith can seem like a strange thing. One day you are on top of the world. You are facing huge obstacles, yet you are trusting God and you know way down deep in that place that’s hard to describe, that you are going to come through this OK.

In fact, you are quite sure that the obstacles are crumbling before you.

Then there are other days. (You know, one of “those” days).

Just getting out of bed in the morning seems like a huge feat – and one that you might not be able to pull off!

So what happened? How can that be?

One day you’re up; one day you’re down. One day you see yourself right up there with David …and Paul! The next day, you’re more like Demas, the loser.

Will you ever be consistent and not wavering? You begin to doubt your ability to walk with God in a reputable way. Can you truly be His person?

Yes, you can. You just have to understand the nature of faith and why it may seem elusive.

One way to grasp the right perspective would be to compare your spiritual strength to your natural strength.

Life is fluid. Health is fluid. Strength is fluid. Strength of any kind is not like an object which you acquire and proudly display. It is part of your living being, and as in any part of life, there are efforts which are essential to maintain it.

Consider an athlete – such as an NFL player. Can you imagine what would happen if he took his strength for granted? He wouldn’t be around very long.

Even when he looks and acts like he has arrived at the zenith of physical perfection, he continues to work out and to practice. And, if he suffers an injury and has to sit out for awhile, his training increases to a new level upon his return. The athlete knows that his strength, endurance, and physical expertise are totally dependent on practice and training. He would never expect to maintain his desired level of achievement while in a total rest mode.

We need to take a lesson from the athletes. We need to honor the precious thing we call faith – our belief in God – our trust in His Word – and our zealous appropriation of all that He has for us. We must realize that our fath is a living thing. It grows or it diminishes. And a lot of the current status of this precious faith is dependent upon our current mindset.

The Bible says that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The nutrition which feeds our faith is God’s Word, and if we aren’t nourishing our spirits with his rich food, our faith will be diminishing. Even if yesterday we considered ourselves spiritual giants, yesterday’s food will not keep us full of faith. It’s like the manna in the wilderness which became rancid on the next day. We need fresh food everyday.

Let’s go a little deeper.

“Word” in Romans 10:17 is the Greek word “rhema.” It means the spoken word. The revealed word.

As you read the Bible, verses will seem to leap off the page and “speak” to you. You will sense that God is speaking those verses to you personally, and your faith will be built up by them.

As you meditate on those words, they will become planted in your heart and your mind. They will become yours to believe and to act upon.

Then in Jude 20, we see that faith is built up by praying in the spirit. So how is your daily prayer life? Do you check in with your spiritual headquarters every day, listening for direction, heeding His nudge, and listening for His voice of encouragement and affirmation?

Do you speak His Word into the atmosphere around you, changing the fog of delusion into the clarity of His vision?

Remember, yesterday’s manna is rancid. (Exodus 16: 15-20). Every day we start with a new need for our Father and His Word. Every day we have an opportunity to build on our strength of the past, or to allow that strength to recede.

Staying the same is never an option.

As a pastor, my husband led those in our church to say often, “I believe God.”

That seems so simple, you might think, well of course we do. But as you say those simple words, you will find your spirit leaping within you. A resounding, “yes!” You do indeed believe God and not man.

All of society around us needs us to be true believers, strong in our understanding and faith.

So let me encourage you. Believe God and strengthen your faith continually.

Read His Word. Pray. Do those things which build up your faith, and those things which cause it to continue.

When you find discouragement creeping into your thoughts, run to Gods Word. Ask Him for guidance in what to read. Then read and meditate. Allow that Word to become part of you.

If you do these things, you will keep the faith!

Do You Hear God’s Call?

Do You Hear God’s Call?

God is calling many people today… Do you hear His call?

You might have to listen closely because there is so much other noise – loud noise.

God’s call is more subtle, but if you hear it, it will be the most powerful sound you’ll ever hear.

Some call it a “still, small voice.”

Others identify it as a dream or vision.

Many more may even think of it as an inner “knowing.”

However it comes, it heralds the same message.

God is calling many to wake up to Him, to their place in the earth, and to a life of tremendous purpose. (more…)