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.

 

 

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…)

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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Let God Clear Your Focus

Let God Clear Your Focus

The year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the incredible expanse of marsh grass, the huge Live Oaks dripping with Moss, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes.

Each home was unique – representing the taste of its owner. There were some resembling ornate French palaces. Others exhibiting more of a rustic look. Some extremely modern. Others traditional.

There were also some common elements.

These homes were very expensive – and well-manicured. They were the vacation homes of well-moneyed families, top executives,  greatest philanthropists, and even international royalty.

The richest of the rich. And many of the leaders of our nation.

I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and energizing 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.

I felt a heaviness coming upon me – a sadness. I couldn’t understand why this could be. Suddenly I realized that God was calling me to pray. But why right now?

As we returned home, I went off alone to talk to God and He began to give me some revelation which has continued unfolding through the years.

Those homes were homes of the most powerful leadership in our country. Since they were the leaders, they also made a statement about the spiritual condition of our country.

Then I was in for a surprise.

The Lord led me to Isaiah 46:1,2: Bel bows down, Nebo stoops over…They bow down together. They cannot save, but are themselves going into captivity.

During this season, my husband and I had been studying about the time when Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity. They were captured and carried away to a foreign land – with foreign gods, and foreign customs. We were studying the underlying conditions of Israel which had caused that to happen, realizing that the natural episode was a type for a spiritual condition.

Then the Lord spoke very clearly, “My church has been taken into Babylonian captivity. No longer am I, the One true God, being worshiped, but the Babylonian gods are being worshiped. Bel (Baal) and Nebo are the idols of my church now.”

I knew who Bel (Baal) was: the god of prosperity. But who was Nebo?

I began to do some research. Nebo was the Babylonian god of handwriting, but by extension he became the god of education and the intellect.

Ah, there you have it. I knew what God was saying. He was saying that the church trusted more in money and in humanistic education than they did in Him, the one true God.

This new revelation took some pondering, because I knew that our God didn’t want us to be poor and ignorant. He wants us to be educated and to be prosperous.

But when we don’t put Him first, when we don’t look to God for our answers then the blessings of education and prosperity can become a curse. They can cause us to worship the creature and not the Creator.

We become humanistic in our approach to life.

I started to see how entrenched these idols have become in our culture, and the results are obvious. When we are worshiping ourselves, there are no standards. We think that whatever we desire is just fine. No restrictions. Lust, greed, perversion: no problem.

For many, the rule has become that whatever you can “get by with” is okay. Much hurt and confusion have come as these idols have caused us to trample God’s truth and to trample each other.

But God…

But God is calling back to Him those who will listen. He is calling us out of Babylon. He wants to cleanse us and show us His true nature. Then He wants to show Himself strong to the world.

So am I coming against education? Am I coming against prosperity?

Of course not! These are gifts from our Father.

But we are called to worship the Gift-giver, not the gift. When our hearts are pure and our perspective is clear, these gifts are true blessings.

They enrich our lives and those of others.

It all comes back to the attitude of the heart. When our hearts are in the right place, then we do have standards: God’s standards. And these standards are the foundation for our knowledge and wisdom. They become a base upon which we build our beliefs.

It seems like it’s time for all of us to do a heart check, and to continue to do these checks as we go forward.

There is much for us to do, and we want to have clear minds. We want to represent God’s truth to the world, not a skewed version of it.

Only pure hearts can do that.

It’s time to bow our knee and let God be God.

Let Him clear our focus.

It’s time to cast aside any Babylonian garment we may have acquired, and represent our father in spirit and in truth.