Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom, Part One: Getting Started

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom, Part One: 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? The next few posts are going to explore the what, the how, and the why – so that you can grasp your place in God’s great plan for your life!

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. 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. God’s Kingdom of Heaven is here 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.

This mean so much more than most people realize. In the next few posts, I want to explore what that does mean.

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

Our foundational scriptures:

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.

What was this Kingdom? What could He mean?

But 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 introduces it as the “Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom.” Mark 1:15

Now 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 let’s look at this Kingdom and what it involves bit by bit. Let’s delve deeper into every aspect of what God wants to say.

The first aspect is to be born again. We have to be Born Again to enter this new kingdom.

How so?

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” which we have to have 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 the Father. 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 was the ruler.

The soul of man can be very gifted, but without God, it is always selfish. Without God’s guidance and empowerment, all of us are 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. Let’s say an air wrench.

A mechanic, when changing a tire will employ an air wrench. He hooks the wrench to the air hose and then can 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 wouldn’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, 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 Daddy!

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 all the days of our lives. 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!

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom, Part One: Getting Started

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…)

Times: They Are A-Changin’

Times: They Are A-Changin’

“Times: they are a-changin.” Bob Dylan made that phrase popular during the 60’s. It may have been true in that season, but it has never been truer than today.

When I say that, you might think that I am talking about the negative changes in our society, with its lawlessness and its rebellion against God and His Word. But that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about some good changes. In fact I believe the changes I’m talking about are gifts from God . Changes to help us navigate the waters of our current society, throwing out life boats to all who will pay attention.

So what are these gifts? Let’s take a little trek back through history, and I think that we will see God’s new gifts with more perspective. Throughout the centuries, God has inspired creativity to flow through the minds of men so that inventions could elevate their lives – bringing comfort and opportunity.

1450 was one of those significant moments for western civilization. Prior to that date, messages were hard to deliver – whether those messages were political, religious, or of newsworthy events. Every message had to be written by hand and even carried by a courier to reach its appointed destination.

In 1450, Johannes Gutenburg revolutionized the world with his invention of the printing press. No longer was the sending of messages so time-consuming. Now books and other writings could be mass produced and distributed with greater ease. Yet the sending of these written materials was still difficult – with couriers on foot, horseback, or in wagons doing the job. The manuscripts could be written, but they were still expensive and hard to come by. Only the elite and educated could benefit from this revolution.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and we see a century which brought more dramatic changes than ever in history. As the nineteenth century turned over to the twentieth, transportation began to come of age. Trains, automobiles, and airplanes introduced incredible opportunities for people to get from one place to another quite quickly – and for the written materials to get from one place to another, as well. Books, magazines, and newspapers gained in popularity.

People could read the messages, but couldn’t hear them. So the inventions which surrounded the ability to transmit sound came on the scene. The telephone, phonographs, and the radio again changed the way people lived. Most of us have seen pictures of a family gathered around a huge radio as they heard  President Roosevelt tell the nation that we were at war. Or as they listened to Orson Wells deliver his drama. So the message could now be heard.

Soon to come was the introduction of seeing the speakers as well. Motion pictures, and then television, transformed society. Even to this day these two inventions are significant in molding the thoughts of people throughout the world. Sometimes influencing for good – and sometimes influencing for evil.

Well, the last of the twentieth century introduced the most amazing discovery of all times. The computer. At first, it was cumbersome and slow – as businesses (and only the largest, at that) had equipment rooms the size of small houses in order to hold the necessary machinery. Yet, as we all know, that too has changed.

Today we are still in the middle of a technological revolution. With the introduction of the internet , the cell phone, and much smaller computer devices, we have access to information from around the world at our fingertips. The most remote parts of the world are available to us in a moment any time, day or night.

When you stop for a moment and think about it, this is truly amazing!

We can clearly see that God Himself has been behind this revolution and  it is so important for us to “get this right.” God has given us an opportunity to reach mankind in an unprecedented way. I want to be a part of His great plan, and I realize that it’s up to me to take that opportunity.

Now all of these inventions throughout the generations have been conveniences which were neither good nor bad in themselves. At every juncture of advancement, there have been some who used the new means of reaching people in a godly way and others in an ungodly way. The same presses which could print tawdry novels, could also print the Bible. The television, which could send pornography to your home, could also allow you to participate in a world-wide revival event.

I remember years ago hearing some Christian leaders lament the fact that Christian groups had not embraced the television soon enough. When TV first came out, many Christians thought that it was a tool for evil, and shunned it altogether. Years later, some leaders thought how different society could have been if the leaders had embraced the technology immediately – bringing God’s message and good Christian programming to the world from the start.

Today, something similar is here. There are those who sit back and see the newer technologies as only evil. They just want their people to stay away from the devices.

I see something different.

I believe that we have an unprecedented opportunity – given to us by God – to deliver His message of hope to all the world.

Not even radio or television had the ability to go into all the world. The internet does. Even the most remote villages around the world are being targeted for some form of internet service.

The internet is more effective than any invention in history when we use it well. And not only is it effective, it’s surprisingly inexpensive.

Publishing books the old fashioned way can be expensive. Running radio or television programs can go into the millions.

The cost of getting your message online can be almost nothing.

What a powerful blessing we have at our fingertips!

So let’s do it! Join me in a mission to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good life which goes with it.

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The Power of Hope

The Power of Hope

There is power in hope. Regardless of the way things may look, when you have hope, you can count on a brighter future.

For 25 years we lived in a house which had been built in 1877. While there, one of my delights was being surprised by many outbursts of color as shrubs bloomed or bulbs suddenly created a splash on the scene.

And there were trees galore – of all sizes and shapes.

One of my favorites was an oddity. There was a tree which had been cut down, but which had refused to quit! It had a stump dwindling away, but right in the middle of the stump, was a tree. Standing tall and proud, this tree had grown right up out of the center of that stump.

Defiant.

Determined.

I loved that tree. It wasn’t really the prettiest one around, but it spoke volumes to me.

Then I ran across these verses.

For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.

Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (Job 14:7-9)

That tree became a picture of hope for me.

Is there something in your life which seems dead? Your career? Your marriage? Your relationship with a child?

If so, pray and ask God to show you how to proceed. He is a God of Hope, and He will begin to impress upon you pictures which are different from what you see with your eyes.

Ask Him to guide you to verses in the Bible which uphold your vision of hope, and start speaking those verses to yourself and to the world around you.

As you do this, you will be developing your very own arsenal of weapons against fear, doubt, and depression. You will find yourself seeing with spiritual eyes more than the natural.

Then do what He says.

That’s how you fight the good fight of faith. And it’s how you turn things around.

Now be persistent and be patient.

Be like that Tree of Hope in my yard.

When that tree first got cut down, I’m certain that it looked completely dead. There was no evidence that any life remained.

But at the scent of water (in your case the scent of the Holy Spirit speaking life to you), the green in the tree began to grow. It had to fight its way to become a tree again. It had to be persistent and patient.

Eventually the shoot overcame the obstacles and won its right to be a tree again.

That’s like you and like me. We are determined not to be cut down and destroyed.

We are coming back. We will make the changes we need to make, and we will come back. Stronger. Taller.

That’s the way it is when we follow our God’s direction. We always have hope for a better day.

Our God is faithful to guide us to that victory.

May your Christmas season be filled with God’s hope!

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