The kingdom of heaven is to me the greatest mystery of the universe. No matter which I side I look at, there are a dozen other facets to try to piece together and it makes for a challenging experience.
The disciples thought the kingdom of heaven would conquer the Roman occupation. The ruling of kings was all that they knew. What Jesus offered was, and still is, baffling. This kingdom is transcendental. It’s a living thing. It grows, not like a church grows because more people attend, it grows like a presence in the Spirit. It is a place in the heart that connects to the corresponding place in other believers. It makes a connection place for Jesus to come. Where two or more are gathered in my name…
The kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed, some will receive it and some will not.
It is like a tiny mustard seed that grows to provide shade and shelter.
It is like the innocence of little children.
It is the inheritance of the poor in spirit.
It is like leaven– a small touch of the kingdom can grow into a greater presence.
It is like the great supper where the poor and neglected are honored over those who do not value it.
It is righteousness, peace and joy.
It is not in word, but power.
The Spirit of God is within us to accomplish His will on earth. And to accomplish His will, we need to be poor in spirit, like a little child, yet speak in power, with righteousness, peace, and joy. The kingdom of God is complex, yet stunningly simple. And to become a citizen of this kingdom, you must let go of your humanity. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2Cor 5:17) A citizen of the kingdom is a new kind of creation — human with God living in him. When God moves in, He brings His kingdom with Him.
The disciples did not preach a salvation message to people. They preached the kingdom of God. Living in the kingdom is not about avoiding hell. It is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is a way of life, a destination, a presence, and the hope of a lost world.
Sometimes we have to stop to consider beauty. If you’ve ever stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, on the beach of an ocean at sunset, or a snowy hilltop in the morning, you have the opportunity to see the eternal. Not in the sense that these things will last forever, they won’t. At some point, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. But the serenity, peace, and beauty of a thing comes straight from the One who created it. Look at the pictures of snowflakes and see the delicate creativity of each one. It’s more than impressive, it’s awe inspiring.
I like to spend time by myself in a place that makes me look into the ethereal beauty of something that’s bigger than me, even if it’s the face of a tiny flower. I see the heart and nature of God. I see Him. And one day I will stand before His throne and look into His eyes and recognize that I’ve seen them before.
What does Santa Claus, reindeer, and elves have to do with Christmas? Let’s face it, Christmas is no longer a religious holiday, it’s a retail holiday. But really, I’m coming to terms with that. God instituted feast days, holy days (holidays), for times of remembrance. There were rituals, special food, and gathering of family and community. I think He’s okay with having times of celebration. Christmas may have lost all true meaning of the birth of Jesus, but for the world where people have no honor for Jesus as Savior, it’s still a time of good will for all men. It’s still a time of family and feasting and festivity.
I’ve come to accept that Christmas is not really about God, so I just accept the fun part and enjoy it. And then I go into my room and stand before Abba Father in amazement. He knew, before the first word of creation was spoken that He would sacrifice His Son. He knew the humiliation and torment that would come. I have to ask Jesus, “How? How did You leave the Father? How did you do it? How did You leave all that was holy and bright with glory and praise? How did You come here? Not even as a king, but as an infant?”
And He answers, like He always does, “Because I love you more than you can possibly know. I love you, I love you, I love you. I loved you then. I love you now. And I will always love you.”
Such a weight of love is humbling and so full of life. He came to be born as a human because He loves me so much. It’s enough to make my heart sing and dance. So Christmas is fun for family and friends. It’s something to look forward to every year, even with the stress and frustrations of shopping. But the One who loves me like no other, I will celebrate every single day.
The natural outcome of trusting a good God is blessing. He blesses all the time, we’re just not in the habit of receiving it well. In fact, we can often block it unknowingly. There’s even some danger to receiving blessing. You may have promises that you stand on. You may expect that because of your faith, God will promote you and bless you, but you may not be ready to handle it.
The secret to receiving blessing is to set everything that’s dear to you aside. All your hopes and dreams. All your promises and needs. Set them aside, don’t throw them away. You’re just not ready yet. Direct your full attention to your heart. Your heart must be so full of love for God that nothing that happens in your life matters more than your relationship with Him.
Ask Him for more understanding of His love for you. Ask Him for revelation and knowledge of His love. The more you grasp how much He loves you, the more you can love Him back. Your gifts can be handled dangerously if you don’t love completely. You can get in the way of what God wants to do if love does not come first. Go back and read I Corinthians 13.
Learn to love God and learn to love other people. Be honest with yourself. If you know that you do not love, ask God to fill you and change you. Press into that and you will be more responsible with the blessings that follow.
This may come as a shock, but you are not your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your pastor, or your best friend. The mold that is you won’t fit another person’s mold. Stop trying to be someone else.
The you that God made is unique. Your personality and gifts are unique. They won’t work with another template. But the only way they will work according to the great plan that God designed for you is if you stop looking back. You are a new creation in Christ. The old you is dead. Stop digging him up to look at all the stuff he did. That’s ancient history now. You’re not a kingdom archaeologist, you’re a kingdom trailblazer.
You connect with your unique plan when you turn your heart to God. Let Him walk you through the steps of your life. Listen to His voice in the quiet places. Let His word soak into your spirit and affect your thoughts. Ask Him for revelation on what that plan looks like. It’s probably not as bizarre and wild as you think. It’s probably got a lot to do with what you already love.
Be the you you were meant to be, not the person you admire that you will never be. You are blessed by God in a way that only you can live. If you don’t, there will be people who will never see God because you weren’t there to show them. That’s how important it is for you to be real.
Every time I stop to think about God’s great plan for us, my heart melts. Think about it — He made the decision before the worlds were formed to be your God. He knew you and He made a way to be everything you need. He planned out the role of Israel to establish His name on earth. He planned to send His Son to make an atonement for our sins. And then He planned to send His Spirit to live in us so we could be all that we were meant to be. He thought of all that before He spoke the first word of creation.
Now think about this life you have in Christ. He knocked on the door of your heart and you let Him in. All of Him. He didn’t select some minor aspects of Himself to live in you. You didn’t get “The Human” version of the Holy Spirit. You got GOD. All that Jesus is lives in you. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
That should stun you when you think about that. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. The same Spirit that spoke the worlds into creation lives in you. The same Spirit who brings wisdom, love, joy, healing, and peace lives in you. What on earth are you afraid of?
When you are filled with the presence of God, you become a portal to heaven for everyone around you. How many people do you work with, go to school with, hang out with? Do they all know Jesus? No, but you do. You may be the only connection those people have with heaven.
You carry the kingdom of God with you where ever you go. You’re not just an ambassador, you’re a connection to the eternal, living God. Walk worthy of this calling. If you refuse to honor Christ is your life, He has no obligation to honor you. Your response to stress and pressure should show others that there is another way to live that they can have. You’re life should be so different that it’s obvious that you march to a different drummer, and the sound of that drum should make people want it for themselves.
When you live in an attitude of constant praise and worship, you extend the atmosphere of heaven everywhere you go. It may not be obvious, but others will feel it in their spirit. The more you praise, the wider your portal becomes. Imagine walking into a room and changing the atmosphere by your presence, and Who you bring with you. It’s time to have some fun.
The cry of our heart should be to have more of God, to be filled with Him, to be changed by Him. He said seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened. The more you pursue Him, the more willing He is to be found. But we have to remember that He is God, and His ways are not our ways.
In our desire for holiness, we assume that God will move and act the way we expect Him to, because that’s the way we would do it. We have the Holy Spirit in us, so we expect that His Godliness will emerge in us because we want Him to. To some degree that will happen, but it is more probable that God will move in ways that you are not looking for.
Transformation takes time.
Do you want Him to change your heart so you will be kind and loving and generous of spirit? Don’t be frustrated that it hasn’t happened over night because you prayed, no matter how earnestly. Stop and look at your circumstances. Are you in the middle of a trying situation that you can’t wait to get out of? Bingo. There’s your answered prayer. He will use those circumstances to change you in the way you want and need to be changed. Stop looking at the conditions as something to be free of eventually. Look at them as the tool that God is using to shape you and mold you into His image. Once you see what He is doing, you can be free. This is a journey. The shaping takes time if it is going to be real.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.. (1Peter 1:6-7)
There are times when the only answer is to just set everything aside and go to God. And by that I don’t mean that we don’t go to God when we have specific prayers, or in our time of worship. But we all go through seasons where we feel adrift. We’re not even sure how to pray, or tell others how to pray for us.
God understands that. He’s not judging you for not knowing what to do with yourself. He’s there for you, and the best thing you can do is to get as close to Him as you can.
When You said, Seek My face, my heart said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Ps 27:8)
Don’t look for answers. Don’t try to figure everything out. Just seek His face. The closer you get to the throne, the less confusing everything else becomes. There is peace there. There is comfort, and that’s what you need. You need to know it’s going to be ok. You need to know that He’s got it under control and will never leave you.
Seek His face and it will work out. That’s the promise of God.
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)
It’s obvious that some people have a special relationship with God. They hear Him clearly and move in signs and wonders. Who are these people? What have they got that the rest of us don’t have? They have a desire to know God deeply. And when I see that I think, if they can do it so can I.
I love all the stories of people who became friends with God. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Ex 33:11) This is what I want. And what’s awesome is that we live in a different covenant than Moses did. We can have the Holy Spirit in us for the asking. Experiencing God doesn’t have to be so eventful that it is recorded in history.
Do you want that amazing relationship with God where you talk with Him face to face? Where you feel His presence descend on you with the full weight of His glory? Ask for it. Spend time before Him in worship and praise. Don’t ask Him to answer prayer, just worship Him. Allow your spirit to soar with Him. Be willing to let Him change you. An encounter with the God of the universe is going to change you. If you’re not willing to agree with that, then you’ll be broken in more ways than you know.
Experience God the way He wants to be known — not distant and terrifying, but massively loving and holy. Go after Him. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. (Ps 42:1)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock,and it will be opened to you. (Mat 7:7)