Category Archives: Kingdom of God

Delight in God

A Pure Heart Is Yours To Have

Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt 5:8) He wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t possible for us, but so much of living in the kingdom is intentional. It doesn’t always just fall into our laps.

We all know our sins. We know when we’ve screwed up. The question is, what will we do about it? Sometimes we feel so badly about what we’ve done, or thought, that we confess it right away. But there are other sins that we don’t think are that bad, or we’re just not ready to let go of them. You can’t have a clean heart if you hold onto sin.

“Confession is good for the soul” is not just a nice saying, it shows us the way to life. Jesus promised us abundant life. We will never experience that until we lay down everything to Him – both good and bad. Repentance cleans us up. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you those things you need to deal with. Just do it. You can’t move on until you do.

When you have a clean heart before God, the weight of guilt will fall away. You remove anything that blocks your heart from hearing Him. We are still human, so sin will always be something to deal with, but that’s the trick. Deal with it. Repent like David did, immediately and with your whole heart. Then you can stand before God washed in the blood and pure in His eyes. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Psalm 1 – How To Live The Blessed Life

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

There’s so much in this psalm to learn from. It’s simple and straightforward, and so easy to pass by. Let’s look at this.

Don’t follow people who live ungodly lives. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down. You may work with them and live next door to them, but you don’t need to laugh at their crude humor or seem impressed with their sinful life. Be helpful, be kind, but don’t follow them.

Meditating on the law was meant to focus the person on God and keep them safe from sinful influences. The law said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your strength. Just doing that would keep you from straying into dangerous areas. The intentional effort it takes to do that comes back in blessing.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The intentional focus to meditate on the things of God yields strength of soul. God sees that and loves it. He prospers the one who will keep faith strong. Planted by streams of water is refreshing and life-giving.

In our busy, worrisome life today, it’s so easy to overlook the simple things that God intended for our help. Be intentional. Think about the goodness of God and remind yourself to do it as often as possible. See what happens when you do.

Kindness

Do Unto Others Is Not About Your Convenience

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 7:12) The Golden Rule is one of those scriptures as familiar as John 3:16. For many of us, it’s part of our religious DNA. And for many of us, it’s one of those teachings that roll off us like water off a duck’s back. Because it’s so familiar, we stop thinking about it. It’s just something that we know.

This forgetfulness is something Jesus is not amused with. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:4) Doing for others what we want them to do for us was not a new command. It came out of Leviticus 19. God’s been saying that for a while. So why is it so hard to do, because yes, it’s hard to do.

When we’re sitting in church, the Golden Rule sounds right. We should treat others the way we want to be treated, but then we go home. We get on the freeway and go to the grocery store and, hardest of all, we live with family. The business of real life takes ahold of our perspective and all thoughts of that kindness flit away somewhere.

The good news is that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. When we see that we are lacking in this area, all we need to do is ask for His help. The Holy Spirit has equipped us with everything that pertains to life and godliness. He provides. It’s our job to ask. This won’t be a one-time request. It will be one that we ask over and over, because we need to. It’s important to God so it’s really important to us.

It takes mindfulness to treat others the way we want to be treated. It’s not convenient. But of all the laws and the teachings of Jesus, this is the one He said to remember. Let’s be careful to treat others well.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

When The Glory Of The Lord Falls

When Solomon was finished building his extraordinary temple for God, he called up all the heads of all the tribes and all the leaders of Israel and blessed them. Then the priests took the ark and all the implements from the Tent of Meeting in the old City of David and carried them to the new temple with great pomp and ceremony. It was a spectacular event to witness the opening of the house of God. So many animals were sacrificed that they quit counting. The priests placed the ark between the cherubim that had been made to stand over it with their wings extended in covering. “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. ” (1 Kings 8:10-11)

We do not hear of the glory of God filling the temple like that again. It was, of course, an unprecedented occasion, but it is one that I wish to have been part of. I have been in small prayer groups of three or four people and felt the presence of God clearly. Many times in church, when worship seems especially sweet, I have felt His heavy presence. But I always wonder if there could be a time when God would again pour His glory into a place so much that it would literally drive people out. What would that be like? I want to feel it, but I think it would feel like dying to be in such close proximity to that glory.

I look around in church sometimes and wonder what is happening in the hearts of others. I see them checking their phones, staring out the window, whispering to someone, and I wonder if they can feel God moving. In small groups, it’s easier for every person to be engaged in worship, but the larger the group gets, it’s more likely that some portion of them will not engage. I’ve always believed that if every single person would enter into worship with a heart of passion, if the entire congregation was truly unified in worshiping God at the same time, He could not help but answer with some demonstration of His glory like He did in the temple. We should not seek after signs and wonders, we should seek God with all our hearts, but if He should find us fully united in praise, I hope to see His glory fall.

Triumphal Entry

3 Reasons Why The Crowds Turned Against Jesus

When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He was so famous for His astounding teaching and miracles that the people were wild to have him come. They cut branches from trees and laid their cloaks in the road so his donkey wouldn’t have to touch dirt. They shouted hosanna. They celebrated so much that the entire city was in an uproar. And within days, they were shouting for his death. What happened?

The most obvious reason for the change in attitude is that the Scribes and Pharisees were seeding the crowd with lies. They wanted Jesus dead so they incited a riot. Crowd mentality will follow the loudest voice, so when the cry went up, Crucify Him!, it was picked up willingly by those who wanted to be on the accepted side.

The second reason is that these were people who were not completely sold as to who Jesus was. He was a spectacle, someone who could put on a good show. Amazing things happened around Him and it was amazing to watch, but they never went past that. They never pressed in to find out who He really was. His teachings were hard to understand, yet they listened because He taught with so much authority. But when He was arrested, they joined the accusers because it must have come out that He was on the wrong side after all. If the Scribes and Pharisees said He was bad, then how could you argue against that? These were the people about whom Jesus said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? ” (Matt 17:17)

The third reason was that some truly believed He was the Messiah, but it didn’t go the way they thought it would . When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, they cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11: 10) They thought that David’s kingdom was going to be restored and Jesus would overthrow the Romans. When He was arrested, it shook them. It was as if He failed them, personally, because their understanding of His kingdom was completely flawed.

And so the crowd turned, but after the resurrection, things began to come together. His teaching began to make more sense. And those who cried for His death had to come to terms with the stunning gift of salvation that Jesus came to give.

The Centurion Who Honored Jesus

There’s a lovely story in the gospels about a centurion who’s servant was very sick. Matthew (Matthew 8:5-13) said the centurion approached Jesus and Luke (Luke 7:1-10) says that he sent elders of the Jews to speak for him. In both accounts, all he asked Jesus to do was speak the word of healing because he understood authority. “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Jesus was amazingly impressed by this man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In all of the travels that Jesus did up and down the region where people were being healed everyday, he’d never seen this much faith. What’s even more amazing is that the man was a Roman, not even Jewish.

I love this centurion so much because he epitomizes what a believer should look like. According to Luke, he sent others to speak for him because he didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home. I think that kind of humility must have been uncharacteristic for most Romans. And he loved the Jewish people enough to build them a synagogue with his own money. He was humble, loving, and generous–all the qualities that we should exhibit.

On top of that, he was a man who understood power and authority. I don’t believe for a moment that any order he gave was second-guessed or ignored. The Roman army was notorious for its discipline. His orders would be obeyed or heads would roll. Imagine that combination of gentle caring and power. That’s exactly what we are called to live in.

We’ve been given all authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.  (Matthew 10:8) We are to do what Jesus did, and more, but we are to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Gentle, loving, power and authority, working in the kingdom for the sake of others without needing recognition. This centurion has a lot to model for us. I, for one, can’t wait to meet him in heaven.

Seek His face

Work Out Your Own Salvation

When Paul said to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), he didn’t mean to make up your own rules for what salvation is, he meant make sure you know you are saved because the consequences are unthinkable if you are wrong. We know that, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) God didn’t want to make it difficult. The thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise.

But what comes after salvation? How do we “work it out”? Jesus had some very chilling words to say about that, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Think about that! Someone who can prophesy and do miracles in Jesus’s name cannot make it into heaven. Jesus calls them workers of lawlessness because they took the power of God to do miracles without loving Him. Jesus there would be many!

Who then can be saved? “Only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” When we do the Father’s will, Jesus will “know” us because the only way we can do the Father’s will is to be in communion with Him. Jesus is our example. He spent hours and hours in prayer going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as was His custom.” (Luke 22:39) He spent precious time with God worshiping and listening. We have to know how to hear Him if we are going to do His will. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

I don’t believe that God wants us to live in terror not knowing if we are saved. He’s a good Father and wants us to be with Him, but we have the responsibility to be good children. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Do that and you can’t go wrong.

What Is Your Calling?

We all want to know what we were born to do. There’s something inside us that cries out to know purpose. Some of that is born from fairy tales where a poor, insignificant youth is called upon to become a hero and find a great destiny. Those born into a royal lineage know from an early age what they are meant to do. The rest of us have to figure it out. God will direct some through obvious or subtle means as testimonies will show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.

I think that’s because God lets us make choices. We are free to be who we want to be. God doesn’t require that we find His perfect will to go into specific areas of employment. He lets us explore and decide. We can ask for His help and His favor, but He has given us a tremendous amount of freedom to do what we want. Our calling is our own heart’s desire.

As believers, we often rate those in ministry higher than those who work outside the church, but God doesn’t do that. In fact, we are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23) Your work is your calling. Wherever you work, you are a light set upon a lamp stand. You are God’s emissary. Be kind. Be generous. Be patient and compassionate. You are more of an influence working among nonbelievers than anyone working in the church because you are known and they are not.

You have as much access to God as anyone on earth. The time you spend seeking Him and learning from Him is not lesser than the same time spent by great ministers of the faith. You can hear the Lord just like they do. You can glean wisdom from the Bible, be inspired by His voice, and see signs and wonders all in a day at work. Living in the Kingdom is far from dull. Your calling is to live in grace of God to be a blessing to others. Start there and see where you go.

Quit Thinking Of Heaven!

OK, I realize that a Christian blog telling people to quit thinking of heaven sounds wrong, but I do have reasons for saying it. Heaven is not fire insurance. We don’t become saved to avoid hell, we become saved to be with God. Our thoughts should not be so focused on heaven that we neglect what happens on earth.

Jesus said that He wants us to “have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) That can only come through developing a relationship with Him. That abundant life isn’t dispensed from on high, it develops as we spend time in prayer, talking to Him, listening to Him, reading His word, trusting Him all the time. There is so much that He wants to do for you, but if all you’re thinking about is just making it through this life so you can reach heaven, then you are missing the whole point of knowing God the Father. He wants to draw His children to Him and enjoy them just like we do.

It’s about the journey. It’s about all the issues that we face every day and how we respond to them. Do we fly off the handle and stress our way through, or do we turn immediately to God and ask for help? And will we trust Him when He says He will make a way where there is no way, or will we help Him and mess it all up? The journey is about the daily relationship with the Most High who know all our problems and all our joys. He can do what no man can do, but we will never see it happen if all we’re thinking about is a far off future.

And don’t assume that you can’t have that relationship with God because you are imperfect. Pick any hero of faith from the Bible and take a good look at his or her life. No perfection. God is quite aware of our humanity. He made us so He knows what our limitations and failings are, and He LOVES us. He loves us despite our weaknesses. He LOVES us. And the more time we spend with Him, the more those weakness begin to change into strengths. When we trust Him, He shines through us, even if the very next thing we do is something stupid.

Hold the joy of heaven in your heart, but look around today and see the goodness of God and watch for Him to be the Great I Am in your life. Your journey starts now.

When The Enemy Lies

Your know those times when the world is falling apart and everything you do is wrong? You feel like the stupidest person on earth and nothing anyone says helps you in the least. Guess whose game plan that is! Hint, it’s not God’s. Satan’s plan is to kill, steal, and destroy. That means that he will use every device to pull you down, if not physically, then emotionally. The enemy lies.

Granted, we have to admit that we are not perfect, but doesn’t mean that every evil thought that runs though our head, especially when we are stressed, it true. Whether is comes, from your own thoughts, the news, or someone you know, lies will try to take you down; lies that are completely false and destructive.

So what do you do? First, you have to recognize them. Jesus said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He also said, ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) That means that you need to learn to hear His voice and you do that through reading the Word and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Ask Him to help you hear His voice. He wants more than anything to be in communion with you, like any loving parent would. Spend as much time as you can learning to hear Him. He will be surprisingly responsive to encourage you to come closer. Do it! It’s awesome.

After you know that you are hearing God, knowing what is true becomes easier. All you have to do is ask. Even so, when we are under pressure, or have to deal with serious difficulties, it’s not always easy to realize that the enemy is at work. That’s why having a habit of spending time with Jesus is important, especially in the hard times. He will help clear your mind and keep you centered so you can see what is true and what is a lie.

And when you recognize a lie, all you have to do is rebuke it. Rebuke the lies of the enemy and claim the truth of God for your life. Thank God for His goodness and faithfulness and ask Him to lead you in all righteousness. He gave us authority over all the works of the enemy. We don’t have to put up with lies that tear us down. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matt 10:16) Don’t fall for the lies. You are amazing.