Category Archives: Kingdom of God

I’ve Been Reading Scripture Selfishly

I think I’ve been guilty of reading scripture to my benefit, not necessarily the way it was intended. For instance, Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I’ve trusted this scripture to be true for a very long time. And it has been. God has been faithful to supply all my needs. Some how I’ve always been cared for in all the ups and downs in my life. But now I read more into that passage and I wonder how I’ve missed it.

To read that verse in context, Paul is thanking the Philippians for sending him aid when no other church did. He was grateful for their generosity and said that God would supply them with all their needs. The implication is that God will repay their generosity.

Give because you've been given.This is not a new concept. Jesus said in Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  The command is to first give.

We love the part where God says that He will supply all that we need with overflowing blessing. It’s unfortunate that we gloss over the part where we need to be generous ourselves.  Many people are good that way, but I know that personally, I need to be better. I admit that when it comes to giving, I feel a catch in my spirit that I have to overcome. There is some inner selfishness that doesn’t want to let go. But when I do, I know that God smiles because He knows that it was an act of will on my part.

I pray that God will make me more and more generous. I want a heart like His heart. I want to give because I have been given so much. It may take work, but it’s all part of God shaping me into His image, and that’s  my heart’s desire.

Why I Love Home Churches Over Denominations

Perfect church can be at home.We are way too concerned about what churches we belong to. We ask people what church they go to and we size them up, like we determine who we agree with based on their politics or fashion. Do we agree with that church’s teaching, type of worship, formality/informality? So we rate them. Some are awesome, and some are woefully misguided, according to us.

I love home churches. I love the intimacy of the fellowship, the worship, and care. I belong to two different home churches. One was formed on purpose, and the other by accident.

A few years ago, I had three different people ask to meet with me regularly for fellowship/prayer/friendship. It felt like mentoring and I didn’t feel that I had the bandwidth to meet with each of them separately, so I suggested that we meet as a group and we could encourage each other. Two of the three agreed to do that, so we did. At first it was awkward because we had no agenda or format, but soon we were a tiny home group fitly knit together.

In this little group, our main reason for meeting is worship. We sing out of tune with a freedom that blesses my heart. Our worship is passionate and honest. Then we pray over each other with love and kindness. We talk about what we have learned from God and how He is blessing and teaching us. Then we share communion to honor Jesus and all that He did for us.

And it recently came to me that what we had was church in it’s purest form. We didn’t mean to start a church, we just wanted to get together to encourage each other and worship with a freedom that we don’t get in churches with agendas and time schedules. Sometimes others will join us when they can. It doesn’t matter. We’re not trying to grow. It doesn’t matter if we never do. What we have is fantastic and blessed with the presence of God every time we get together.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that traditional churches have a lot to offer, especially with the ability to touch the community, but they will never be for me what my small family is.

It’s All About Love, Whether You Like It Or Not

It's All About Love, Whether You Like It Or NotIt’s all about love. Full stop. It’s about you knowing how completely, and divinely loved you are, and how to love everyone. The first part gets you to the second part. Until you get how much God loves you, you’ll never really love others like you could, and should.

Does that make you squirm a little? It did me, because I wasn’t a natural lover. I put people at arm’s length and smiled from a distance. But then I started reading the Bible like my life depended on it, because it does. I learned some things.

Like: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt 7:21-23) You can’t know Jesus and not love. The very reason He sacrificed Himself was out of love (John 3:16). If you know Jesus, then you are connected with His love and it will be part of you.  If you don’t love, then take a good, hard, reality check look at your faith and ask yourself if Jesus knows you.

Then take a look at I Corinthians 13. Read that a few times and let it sink in that God values love over just about everything. How do you walk the extra mile? How do you give your coat, your sweater, your jacket and your shoes? How do you forgive over and over and over again? It’s not about scoring Brownie points; it’s about living out of love because you honestly feel it.

But what if you come to that scary realization that you don’t love at all? Maybe be a tiny bit, but not like 1Cor 13? You repent. You hit the floor on your knees and you pour your heart out to God and tell Him what’s really inside you. You ask Him to forgive you, then you hand the whole mess over to Him. Then you ask Him to fill you with His love, everyday. Ask Him to show you what His love looks like. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Then look for situations where you consciously respond in love. Don’t do it because you think you’ll score points with God. Look at that person and see how your kindness will help them and bless them. Let it touch your heart.

Taking a good honest look at your soul should compel you to ask God to change you to be more like Him. And that will always look like love.

Is It Possible To Live A Perfect Life?

Jesus said that we are supposed to be perfect. Yikes! That’s a tall bill. Who can do that? Do you know anyone who is perfect? No, I didn’t think so. Yet Jesus said we should be.

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

The thing is, God’s definition of perfection is different from ours. We think we would be perfect if we never made a single mistake, never said the wrong thing, and every single project we attempted came out, well, perfectly. But we fail and fail and beat ourselves up because our humanity gets in the way.

And that’s where the definition of perfection diverges. What we believe and what God believes are two different things. See, He knows we’re human, believe it or not. He has no expectations that we will be “perfect” in everything we do. He’s not as interested in that kind of perfection as you may think. God is more interested in our heart.

In the scripture quoted above, Jesus was talking about loving our enemies. That’s not at all what we think of as living perfect lives, but it’s everything to God. His idea of being perfect is being changed by the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Him.

Can you suddenly start loving your enemies? Probably not. So how do you become perfect in the way God is asking you to? Seek first the kingdom of God. Everything you need in life, and everything God is asking of you is in Him. Discover the Lover of your soul. Delight yourself in Him. Be hungry to know Him more. Spend time in worship and praise. Be still and listen with your heart.

Can you live a perfect life?The more time you spend in His presence, the more you are changed by Him. As you are changed by Him, and become able to love your enemies, you become more and more perfect in your spirit. Your heart responses become like His. You begin to see glimpses of His ideas and ways that are clearly not yours. His perfection radiates through His love. This is not a sudden transformation that happens in our heart. We learn line upon line. We grow from glory to glory. That’s His plan. That’s He way. And don’t try to measure yourself to anyone. Your journey is personal and your lessons are for you alone. When you put yourself completely in His hands, perfection is happening. Thank Him for it.

The Opinion of Other People Doesn’t Matter

The opinion of others doesn't matter.There is such a danger to arrogance. We are essentially selfish people. It’s our natural instinct to think of ourselves all the time. But it’s just as dangerous to consider the opinions of others. How many times have you made decisions because of how you thought you’d be seen by other people? Think about the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, friends you hang out with. We can be absolutely controlled by what we think others will approve of. And it’s wrong.

There is only one opinion that matters, and that is God’s. His opinion of you is given in love. He loves you, end of story. Take it to the bank. You are loved. There is no higher opinion than that. The opinions of people are fickle, but God’s is eternal. It is steadfast! Meaning firm and dependable. Knowing that you are loved and that you do not have to live and die by the opinions of other people is absolutely freeing.

Be who you were meant to be, not what you think others want you to be. It may be hard to do if those other people happen to be your parents, with very strong opinions. Listen to your heart and trust God. That’s the key. Defiance in itself is a bad thing. If you are not hearing God, then nothing you do will make you happy anyway.

And what happens when you begin to do what you love and start to get praise for it? Be careful! That’s where arrogance can slip in and take root. There has to be a balance between doing what is excellent and walking in humility. Do all things as unto the Lord. If you boast in anything, boast in God. He loves an excellent spirit, but He also hates arrogance. There is beauty in being excellent with grace.  Ask God to teach you how to do that. Know when to keep your mouth closed. Know when to give God the glory. You don’t have to deny that you had anything to do with doing well, just go to your quiet time and give the praise to God. If what you’re doing is all about you, then you’ll want more praise for yourself. Seek to be humble and be excellent in what you do. Public opinion, good or bad, shouldn’t matter.

Are You Actually Living What The Scripture Says?

When we have the Bible available to us, we have no excuse for not obeying it. The problem is, we are so familiar with it that we forget to live it. Take for instance, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3) Another way to look at that is, if you are not poor in spirit, you have no part of the kingdom of heaven.

Love requires humilityBeing poor in spirit does not mean being spiritually destitute. Think in terms of opposites. Poor in spirit is opposite of arrogance, pride, and selfishness. We have to be told to be poor in spirit because our natural tendency is to be selfish. We are born “me first”.  To live counter to that inclination takes work and thoughtfulness. Are you doing that? Do you have an interest in living in God’s kingdom, that very place of salvation? Then you’d better consider your attitude in life. God smiles on humility. If the Son of God, the magnificent Son, could be born in a barn, then we can live humbly before Him.

That, however, does not mean that you lose out on anything. Jesus said to take the lowly seat and you will be invited by others to sit in a higher place. (Luke 14:10) Bless are those who are poor in spirit. Blessed! What God gives is highly valued. Don’t assume that what you can acquire for yourself is better than what God will favor you with. You’d be wrong.

Pay attention to the scripture and consider how you live it. You may have an eternity to wish you did.

The Kingdom of God Is Like Nothing Else In The World

The kingdom of God is within usThe 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.

Your kingdom come, your will be done…

The Secret To Blessing and Promotion

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.

Learn to love before asking for blessing.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.

Stop Trying To Be Someone Else — Be The Real You

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.

Be the you you were meant to be.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.

When You Live In Praise, You Are A Portal To Heaven

You are a portal to heaven.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.