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.
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.
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.
“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 year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. This is where I had spent my “growing-up” years, and I loved it. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the huge Live Oaks, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, the meticulous landscaping, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes. Each home was unique, but each was manicured to perfection – and very expensive.
I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and intriguing to see the variety of homes and landscapes, and awesome to think of the money required to maintain such a lifestyle. Splendor and more splendor…
But this time it seemed different. (more…)
I often tell a story about my granddaughter, Lauren. When she was in second grade, as a school project, Lauren had to give an oral report on her favorite state. Since she lives in Atlanta, we were flattered that she chose Mississippi, where we live. Her accompanying prop was a white poster board with many symbols of our state. The symbols included a Magnolia blossom, items related to the zoo we visit, certain facts, and a tiny (and I do mean tiny) dot with the words “Blue Mountain,” our town. The dot and words were cut out of a map and placed right in the center of the poster.
We couldn’t help but chuckle. From the display, there was no context at all. Just a tiny dot and tiny words. There was no way of knowing where the town was located, or anything else about it – except that it was small.
I think that we are like that about the Bible sometimes. We pull verses out of the Bible and put them on the refrigerator. Without the proper context, there are times when we totally miss the meaning. The words would mean so much more if we would read them in the framework around them.
Thus my 2013 project. I want to read the Bible through with a group of people who want to discuss it. If we break it down into daily bites, it’s a doable project even for the busiest among us.
So starting January 1, we will have assignments of our daily reading. I will have a group going on Facebook and we will do it here also. I would love to have you join us. Just check in, read with us, and add your comments, if you like.
I think that 2013 is going to be a significant year for those who want to follow God. I believe that we will see many dreams come into fruition – many dreams that have seemed elusive for a long time.
Hope you can join the venture.
Many blessings, and forever upward!
So what is a nephron? A kidney cell. Strange, huh? What kind of spiritual lessons could we learn from the kidney cell? The answer: lots.
I have found – as I’m sure that you have- that God teaches us by what we already know. In other words, if we are farmers, he’ll teach us lessons using the soil, the seed, planting,etc. If we are fishermen, he’ll use that imagery to show us other important concepts. O.K., so why the nephron?
A few years ago, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative in the Atlanta area. Part of my training was a “crash course” in pharmacology presented by the Medical College of Philadelphia, and since one of our drugs was a diuretic, I had a “crash course” in the kidney and its function. I was absolutely amazed with this important organ.
Years later, after I had left the job, and my husband and I were preparing for ministry, I had a very unusual day with the Lord. He reminded me of the nephron, the kidney cell, and He began to speak to me all day relating the concepts with His church.
The kidney is made up of very specialized cells called nephrons. Each kidney has between 800,000 and 1.5 million of these cells, which are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you go to Wikipedia, you can learn more about these, but I want to concentrate here on the spiritual concepts.
The kidney has many functions which are life and death matters for our bodies. Every ounce of blood in our bodies, goes through the kidney every day to be cleansed and regulated. Waste products are removed, and electrolytes are balanced so that our other organs can function properly.
I had always thought of the kidney as functioning as a whole. I had thought that the organ worked like a muscle, to perform all of its functions. But no. That’s not the case. All of the functions which are done by the kidney are done on the cellular level. What do I mean? I mean that each nephron, so small that we cannot see it, removes waste, regulates, sodium, potassium, and other ions, regulates blood pressure, etc. In fact, as blood passes through the nephron, certain places on the cell perform each of the tasks. Everything is very specialized.
So what are the lessons? As a body of Christ, we think of all of our work as occurring by the whole. We think sometimes that while we are in church we are accomplishing all that God wants. But this is not the case. The true work of the church is accomplished by each cell – each person – as they are performing their function in the world. They may be so small that no one even sees them, just as the nephron, but their work is important. In fact, the very life of the body depends on the work of all of these no-name, faceless members of His body.
So often, we gather and have wonderful meetings and feel so revved up and energized for the Lord. But if we are truly the Body of Christ, we need to go out and perform our function. That’s really the only way anything gets done. God is a one-on-one God. Whether we are going to change our churches or change our communities, everything is personal. Even when we talk about “taking mountains,” the culture only gets changed by individuals turning to the Lord and changing their mindsets.
But there’s more. Even though the work of the kidney – or the ministry- is done on a cellular level, by each one doing his part, if you cut some of the cells away from the kidney, they will die. Even though they do the work themselves, they depend on the blood flow from the kidney as a whole to survive. They don’t work or even survive alone.
So is the Body of Christ. Though the work of the ministry is done by each individual doing his part, that individual needs the corporate anointing, as the church comes together, to fulfill his call. The anointing, the teaching, the sharing,and the “iron sharpening iron” that goes on as the church meets as a whole, are absolutely essential for each member to thrive in his calling.
We need each other, but each one is important. I believe that in this time in history, we are going to see individuals rising to their place like never before. We will come together; then we will go out. We will be refreshed and energized by the anointing and by the words; then we will go out into the world, carrying the torch of awakening. We know our significance – and we see the significance of those around us. We are all important.
After all, together, we make up the Body of Christ, and we have an important work to do for Him.
Let’s do it!