A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

July 17, 2019

How Do We View God's Justice and Righteousness In The 21st Century?

     The concept of Justice and Righteousness can be a confusing issue among both Christians and non-Christians alike. For starters, among the various translations, the two terms "justice" and "righteousness" are often interchangeable. So, at times God's justice is His righteousness, as in the ESV version of Psalm 106:3, which says, "Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!". The structure of the sentence seems to indicate that the two clauses are similar in meaning. Yet the King James translation of that same verse indicates two separate and independent clauses: "Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times."
     Again, we see a confusion of terms in Deuteronomy 32:4, which says, "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he." Yet that same verse, in the King James version reads, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." Is God's justice to be understood as His righteousness, or is it His judgment? No wonder we, in the 21st Century, have a hard time understanding the true nature and character of our God!
     In a very real sense, I believe we have lost our awareness and our perception -- our consciousness -- of what a Just God looks like. We have decided that we like the picture of a loving and kind God better than that of a God who judges and condemns people to destruction. In fact, many have decided to drive a wedge between the Old and New Testaments, saying that Jesus brought Grace and Mercy and Compassion, and there is no room for Old Testament justice as judgment in the New Covenant.
     But, because we know that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New, and that one of His characteristics is that He never changes (James 1:17), nor can Scripture be undone, annulled, or broken (John 10:35); we can confidently declare that His justice is both righteousness and judgment, as He determines.
     One of the hardest accusations against God to answer is why would He command the complete destruction of Canaanite peoples down to every last man, woman, and child? We are asked, "If your God is such a loving God, where is the justice and compassion in that?" What we need to be able to explain is that Israel had a unique calling as God's chosen covenant people. Their assignment was to prepare the way for a pure and just Messiah. That's why God was so careful in establishing purity laws; they pointed the way to the holiness demanded by God to bring the Messiah into the world.
     Jesus Christ must be born through an uncorrupted and pure bloodline. The inhabitants of the Canaanite nations that the Israelites were commanded to destroy were the descendants of fallen angels mating with human women; obviously an unholy bloodline. There could be no intermingling of DNA. God intended for His chosen people to remain pure so Jesus could be born into humanity; while Satan was determined to pollute the gene pool so that our Lord's birth would be denied.
     Furthermore, our just and righteous God instituted sacrificial laws to point the way to the Atonement that Jesus would bring. And the total destruction of the Canaanite societies was both a physical and spiritual war that pointed to God's just judgment against sins such as child sacrifice and cult prostitution. Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman summarizes these points of God's justice and righteousness like this: We must point out that the Bible does not understand the destruction of the men, women, and children of these cities as a slaughter of innocents. Not even the children are considered innocent. They are all part of an inherently wicked culture that, if allowed to live, would morally and theologically pollute the people of Israel.  I would add, spiritually and physically to that list, as well.
     That's a pretty simple example of God's justice and righteousness in the Old Testament. But how are we to look at it in the New Testament, and from a modern perspective? At the Cross, Jesus exemplified and experienced the full measure of God's wrath against sin. And because of His sacrifice, we can be forgiven of our sin, and stand in God's favor by faith alone.
     But the war is not over! God's enemies will not be completely defeated until Jesus returns to establish everlasting justice on the earth. Until then, we are still called to do battle for God; only now it is a spiritual battle against "the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." We are not called to fight and destroy flesh and blood humans today, but to tear down and destroy strongholds and principalities in the spiritual realms!
     But have we stripped our God of His nature of Justice, which includes His administration of a heavenly government on the earth? Do we now interpret everything in the human sphere through Grace or Hyper-Grace instead of a righteous and just governmental lens? I'm not sure that the majority of Christians believe in Justice today. Could it be that we have reduced God to the characteristics that make us feel comfortable; creating a God that fits our image of what He should be -- loving, kind, gentle, merciful, gracious, compassionate, warm, sensitive ... and oh, yes, let's not forget tolerant. 
     Have we forgotten that at the beginning of His ministry, He proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived? Have we ignored the fact that a kingdom is under the legal jurisdiction of its King? Have we read the back of The Book which tells us that He comes to rule and reign; and to divide and conquer; that He is Lord, King and Judge? All that speaks of justice in terms that we don't like to apply to Him ... vengeance is His, and He will repay. 
     It is important to acknowledge that YHWH has not changed. He is the same God in 2019 that He was at the creation of this world. Even in the midst of his righteous judgment, He can be seen as merciful and loving. Through the destruction of the Canaanites, God mercifully protected the Israelites from idolatry and maintained His plan for Jesus to be born pure and holy. God was merciful and righteous in His justice to provide a way for a Canaanite woman (the prostitute Rahab) to repent and join the geneology of Jesus. A righteous and holy God would not be true to Himself if He tolerated sin. He must uphold His holiness. But we can be assured that wrath is not His heart. Because He will not tolerate sin, it shows His righteous mercy for those He loves. David Matthews, Executive Director of desiringGod.org writes, "Severity in God always serves His heart of mercy — to make known the riches of His glory to His people, who are the vessels of His mercy." 
     So, let us endeavor to remember that Jesus reclaimed the earth for the Kingdom of God. Nothing has changed with that profound reality.  We need both His justice in the form of His righteousness and love; but when necessary, we need His judgment, too. It all serves to mold us into the very image of Him, and to see the completion of the restoration of His kingdom on earth.

Proverbs 28:5    Evil men do not understand justice, but they who long for and seek the Lord understand it fully.   

July 14, 2019

The Beauty and Balance of Bold Faith

     In 2008, I received a word that awakened an innate love of writing that had surfaced as a child, and then had lain dormant for over 30 years. A man whom I only met once told me he had a message for me from my Father in Heaven to "be the pen and not the blank piece of paper". Only God could have revealed to him that I was meant to write, since no one -- not even my husband -- was aware that my gift even existed, let alone that it had been inoperative for so long.
     He told me that God wanted me to write because He created me to do it, and that it pleased Him for me to use my gift. That's all it took -- there was no question about it; no hesitancy at all. I was simply going to be obedient. That led to three years of writing every single day for the joy it gave me, and for the pleasure of my Father. The result was a novel that I have yet to publish because the goal wasn't to write a best-seller, but to just develop a discipline of writing ... and to please God, of course.
     Three years later, I heard a word from Him, myself. I was commanded to write a blog -- this very blog -- to calm the fears of women as we faced a radically changing world. I clearly heard in my spirit that women were frightened about the economy, the constant threats of war and terrorism, the transformation of our society and morals, and the structure of the family, just to name a few. But the Lord told me that in all these matters, I needed to point them to Him. In other words, don't shy away from examining world affairs, but give them courage to face an evolving world by looking at it through a lens of faith and the Bible. Thus, began a season of blog posts on looking at subjects like the Hegelian Dialect, Normalcy Bias, World Politics, Isis, and Prepping.
     Then in 2015, God told me to stop looking at the world, and point my audience solely to Him. I wrote about new revelations I was receiving on old, familiar Scripture. And I discussed topics like Occultism and Witchcraft; Power and Authority; and our relationship with the Holy Spirit. And if you've followed the path the Lord has led me on, you now know that He is declaring a new season of writing on the Kingdom of God.
     As you can see, He has been moving in my life and there is a progression towards knowing more of Him and His ways. But I'm not the only one! I have been blessed within the last three days to be among groups of believers just like me; people who are on an individual journey, but one that God has designed to benefit all of us. Our assignments don't resemble each other's. What's more, God is showing me how important it is for those of us who are "watchmen on the wall" to stay alert and aware of not only what He is doing in the world and the spirit realms; but what He is teaching each of us, and what we are encountering and learning; and also what the Enemy is up to in his schemes and strategies to defeat God's agenda.
     And this is encouragement for all of you who read this blog. As we focus in on our individual assignments, we can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture -- all that I mentioned above. And when God has placed you in a remote location to sow seeds for the Kingdom, as He has me and my husband, one can feel isolated and removed from where [we perceive] all the action is occurring. So, it was good for us to travel to Austin a few days ago to be in the company of a diverse group of Kingdom-Seekers and hear what the Lord's been up to, and to get a glimpse of where He's taking us.
     As you know, Mark and I have been given an assignment of working with Jesus to bring Inner Healing and Divine Deliverance to those who are hurting in this world -- the broken-hearted, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. But He has recently added "teaching the Kingdom" to our job description. Those two tasks are consuming both our ministry and prayer time. So we were able to share these experiences with the group and hear how the Lord is working differently in their lives. And that's where it got interesting and exciting!
     We had a Watchman whose assignment is to research and investigate -- and ultimately destroy -- the rapid advancement of technology and how the Enemy is using it in nefarious ways to infect and infiltrate our bodies. I'm not just talking about listening in on your phone conversations or the vaccine controversy, folks. The knowledge that the Lord is downloading to certain Watchmen makes the plots and storylines of TV Shows like the wildly popular Stranger Things seem like fairy tales. I mean, I'm talking about the fact that the Enemy knows Scripture such as 1 John 5:1, which says, This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
     So, imagine if you can, that the Lord downloads a message to you that concerns this topic of light and it has huge ramifications for the human species. I'm going to give you a very condensed science lesson and you will see what I'm talking about. According to Wired.com, an online magazine that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics, all objects produce light. That is, we are matter that consists of energy fields and magnetic fields, which result in electromagnetic waves. All of these electromagnetic waves travel at the same speed (the speed of light). However, they have different interactions with matter. And technically, the interaction with light and matter depends on the frequency of light. And here's how and why that is important to us humans ... What happens, say if there is no light that enters your body through your eyes? What if you are in a place with absolutely no source of light? The correct answer is that you will just see black [or darkness] - forever.
     What if the Lord showed you that the Enemy has co-opted mankind to develop various ways to insert Artificial Intelligence into our bodies that will bend light, so that what is attacking our bodies through allergies, seizures, body aches, profound fatigue, autism etc., cannot be found? When the Light Source is diverted, these attacks on our bodies remain in the dark and are many, many times undiscoverable. But what if God gave you the keys that fit into the locks previously unopened by traditional and non-traditional medicine? What if He showed you that the body could actually speak to you [via muscle testing] and show you what, how, and where those attacks were originating from? Would that fit into your faith grid? Can you trust that the God of the Bible could [and would] reveal something so unorthodox and extraordinary? 
     Picture, if you will, this diverse group of obedient followers of Jesus and how we were able to reconcile our dissimilar, non-traditional paths of faith and obedience. After all, my path certainly has nothing in common with revelations regarding the quantum mechanics of the body. Yet, one could conclude that the goal of both ministries is healing of both body and spirit.
     The point that I want to make by sharing these disparate accounts of journeys with God is that, in the end, the entire group had one thing in common ... despite different paths, we all arrived at the same position of faith: no matter what this world conjures up to try to destroy our assignments from God, the blood of Jesus defeats it. We have been given the power and authority from our Lord over all the power of the Enemy, and ultimately he cannot harm us. Those of us who answer God's call to boldly walk where most people dare not tread can expect criticism and rejection. But that was the beauty of this gathering of the faithful. We were all willing to accept our assignments, even if it meant isolation, condemnation, and the possibility of failures. We might not look like the world, or even each other, but we all recognized that we have the Light in us, and when we expose the Enemy's darkness to the Light of Jesus, we can and will be victorious!
     So, I just want to end this post with this word of encouragement to you ... don't worry about how your assignment from God looks to others; and don't compare or try to emulate another's spiritual walk. There is something uniquely and exceptionally beautiful about how God designates each of us for specific purposes, and how those purposes balance each other out to fulfill His ultimate plan. We don't need to try to figure it all out or how it all fits together; we just need to be bold and persistent. That's the picture of Faith that honors and glorifies our Father in Heaven. May it ever be!

If you would like more information on the ministry of Quantum Mechanics and the healing of the body, visit Natalie Morris at Quantum Command

1 Corinthians 7:17    May all believers continue to live the wonderful lives God has called them to live, according to what He assigns for each person, for this is what I teach to believers everywhere.

July 11, 2019

A History Lesson: Democracy And A Kingdom

     If you remember your world history, then you are most likely aware that the ancient Greeks are responsible for the concept of Democracy. Nearly 2500 years ago, the great Athenian general Pericles coined the phrase about the government of the nation being "in the hands of the many and not the few". From that moment in time, the idea of a representative government became a subject of much debate and conflict among the major Greek philosophers.
     Aristotle declared that "man is by nature a political animal", but he saw the inherent flaws in a democracy. Plato saw it as a poor form of government, primarily because his mentor, Socrates, was executed by a democracy. They understood that Democracy, by considering the ignorant to be as important as the well-informed, does not guarantee sensible decisions. But the primary goal of all these great philosophers was to determine how to rule effectively. In that vein, they also studied kingdoms and how kings ruled. And what they discovered will have a tremendous impact on how you study and understand the Bible.
     What they ascertained was that a King ruled in a reverse way from a democracy. In a democracy, the people vote [or select] the leader; the leader chooses a cabinet; then the cabinet counsels the leader. In a Kingdom it is reversed. The King chooses the citizens and appoints His cabinet. But the cabinet is not chosen to counsel the King, but to execute the King's will in the Kingdom. The Greek word for that legislative assembly is Ekklesia. Jesus says in John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you might go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last...".
     The Romans implemented this Greek idea of a kingdom cabinet, or Ekklesia, and they called that group the Senate. The Senate in Rome was King Caesar's legislative arm that executed his will throughout the entire Kingdom. They took the King's desires, translated them into legislation and made them into laws, so that the people actually obeyed the King's mind through the work of the Senate.
     Jesus used the Greek word for this legislative assembly in Matthew 16:18, when He said, "I will build My Ekklesia, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it!" It is important to note that the gates of a city symbolized where justice and law was often dispensed. But, unfortunately, we in the 21st Century are still laboring under the wrong translation in the King James Bible, and that verse is rendered "I will build My Church...". Ekklesia, unlike Church, is not a religious group. It is the political agency of a King. It is important to note that the only person who can appoint an Ekklesia is a King. A Prophet cannot appoint an Ekklesia. A Priest cannot appoint an Ekklesia. A Teacher cannot appoint an Ekklesia.
     It is my hope that as you study your Bible and all that is revealed about Kingdom, you will see that Jesus spends the majority of His three-year ministry teaching His disciples everything about THE KINGDOM, over and over and over. He knows that before He leaves the earth, He needs to establish His government. So, it is important for us to see why He asks His disciples "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Because who they say He is [will] determine what He's qualified to do.
     Stop for a moment and contemplate this idea. Muslims call Jesus a prophet in the Koran, and that disqualifies Him from being a King and having a Kingdom. The Hindus call Him a teacher of wisdom. That, too, disqualifies Him to be a King over a Kingdom. The Buddhists see Him as a Wise Man, which also disqualifies Him. None of those terms qualifies Him to be a King and appoint an Ekklesia on the earth to rule in His stead.
     This is why it is so important for this generation [and every generation] to figure out how to properly identify Him! Whatever you call Him determines how He can operate in the world. That's why what I said in my previous post is so important to grasp. If we see Him as only the Lamb (full of Grace and Mercy) and don't see Him as the King [with Power and Judgment] then we will miss our appointments in the Kingdom and He won't have an effective legislative body to carry out His will.
     That's why Jesus asks Peter, "Who do they say I am?" And look at the answers... each answer disqualifies Him as the King of a Kingdom! Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. A prophet is not a King, and a prophet cannot appoint an Ekklesia! And then comes the all-important question, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answers correctly: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" What is lost on the modern church is the fact that there were many men calling themselves Christ in Jesus's day, and all serving dead gods. But Peter qualified our Lord! He said, " You are THE Christ, the Son of the LIVING God"! 
     And I want you to recall the difference between our identities as FAMILY and KINGDOM in yesterday's blog. I want you to see that when Jesus asked Peter, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?", He is pointing to His identity as a member of the Family of God. But when Peter replies, "the Son of the [Living] God", and Jesus tells him he is correct, that is Jesus qualifying Himself as our King and the head of God's Kingdom on earth. The Son of Man is a Family identity; the Son of God is a Kingdom identity.
     I know that I keep hammering home this idea that the Body of Christ is to be more than the Church. But it's true! We don't even know the Biblical implications of the words we use to describe ourselves or our Lord! God chose to send His Son to earth in a time when the people understood the concepts of a Kingdom and an Ekklesia. We have lost not only those original words, but their meanings and significance. We must not try to interpret the Bible through our modern lenses of religious words and meanings. We must seek God's Truth, not our own! Holy Spirit, show us true revelation so that we might be the Lord's appointed ones to carry out our King's will in His Kingdom here on earth.

Thank you to the website, Independent, for the information on the Greek and Roman forms of government. And a special thank you to the late Dr. Myles Munroe for his persistent dedication to teaching the Body of Christ about the Kingdom of God.

Psalm 22:28    For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.

July 8, 2019

Our Two-Sided Commission: Family and Kingdom

     I have not been shy about expressing my frustration over not being able to rightly convey the Gospel of the Kingdom to my fellow Christians. And here's the thing ... once the Holy Spirit opens your spiritual eyes to "see" it, and you know how to "enter" it, you wonder how you missed it all those years during your walk with the Lord. And you wonder why others can't see it as easily as you do! But I believe that the Enemy throws every tactic of confusion and misconception into the arena of our communication, and we Believers end up misunderstanding each other.
     I recently listened to an excellent YouTube video by Dutch Sheets, the Executive Director of Christ for the Nations. The title of the video was The Power of Ecclesia, and it captured every emotion and frustration and disappointment Mark and I have encountered in trying to communicate with other Believers about the importance of understanding the Gospel of the Kingdom, and why it is important that we DO it. But the video showed me so much more. It caused me to humble myself before the Lord and realize that the problem is not just that people won't accept it, or try to understand it, or walk in it -- but that our message has been misinterpreted by the Church. Everything we have said about the Kingdom has been true to Scripture, but how we delivered the message was wrongly perceived by them, and we played a part in that delivery. Let me see if I can lay it out a little plainer....
     Jesus has given us a two-sided commission. The Body of Christ is to act as both an OIKOS, or House of God [think Family] and as an EKKLESIA [think judge and justice]. These two sides of our Commission are to act and work together to accomplish the Father's will "on earth as it is in Heaven". The problem is, the Body of Christ has been grossly out of balance, weighing heavily toward the Family side. We have largely represented Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Groom, and our High Priest (this is the Family side of the scales}. And we have ignored His identity as King, Master, and Commander-in-Chief (the Kingdom side of the scales). Consider these few points in the equation (there are many more):

     • In the Family, we are part of Jesus's flock. In the Kingdom, we are Jesus's army
     • In the Family, we are sheep, and in the Kingdom, we are soldiers.
     • In the Family, our mission is to grow the family of God [Believers] until He comes. In the Kingdom, our mission is to grow and extend the Kingdom and its culture until He comes.
      • In the Family, we pray and petition. In the Kingdom, we war, decree, bind and loose.
      • In the Family, Jesus is our Friend. In the Kingdom, Jesus is our Commander-in-Chief.
      • In the Family, Jesus is Protector and Provider. In the Kingdom, He is our Victor and Sender.
      • In the Family, we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the Kingdom, we need the keys of the Kingdom.
      • In the Family, we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the Kingdom, we need the weapons of our warfare.
      • In the Family, we worship. In the Kingdom, we govern.
      • In the Family, we are healers. In the Kingdom, we are Destroyers; tearing down strongholds
      • In the Family, Jesus is the Son of Man. In the Kingdom, He is the Son of God.
      • In the Family, we need intimacy with God. In the Kingdom, we need knowledge of God and His ways.
      • In the Family, we need love and compassion. In the Kingdom, we need power and authority.
      • Family is the completion of the Genesis Mandate: to reproduce the family of God. Kingdom is the completion of God's restoration of His Kingdom on earth.

     By now, you should be getting the idea. It isn't either/or, and it's not one versus the other. It's not denying one in favor of the other. We are to reflect both Family and Kingdom. And to be honest, sometimes we lump it all under one category called Religion/Church. And for the most part, the Body of Christ has gotten real good at being the sheep, growing congregations, praying, seeing Jesus as our Friend, asking Him for protection and provision, seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and worshiping Him. We've accomplished that assignment. But we haven't accepted our roles as soldiers in His army; or expanding His Kingdom; or warring/binding/loosing; seeing Him as our Commander-in-Chief, our Victor, or our Sender; asking for the keys of the Kingdom or the weapons of our warfare. And we most certainly have not learned how to govern upon the earth. 
     But here is the important point I want you to get. In our zeal to explain the importance of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the need to expand it and extend it not only among the Church, but among the nations, we are not saying or asking that the Family side of our Commission is wrong or that it is to be abandoned. But that is how some of the people in the Church interpret the message! No! We do not abandon the Grace or Mercy or Worship or Salvation messages. Those are all important and the correct message about our Lord. What we are saying is that this is not the complete picture of who we are to be as Followers of Christ. Along with Grace, we need to be walking in Truth ... along with Mercy, we need Justice, and when necessary, Judgment ... along with Worship, we are to Govern ... and by receiving Salvation, we are to Rule and Reign. It is a two-sided commission.
     I want my fellow Believers to understand that when we promote Kingdom, we are not denying any of the components of Family. But if all we concentrate on is Family and a household, called the Church, then someone else will write the laws we live by. And we're seeing that in today's society! We can worship and praise Jesus all we want, but someone else will write the laws that govern us and the lack of Kingdom will be reflected in our culture.
     We have to know when it's time to love one another and worship and teach and equip -- and we have to know when it's time to govern and go to war. We hear lots of talk about the Seven Mountains of Influence: Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Business. We cannot influence those mountains from the Family side of our commission. That doesn't make the Family side wrong or bad! We just need to recognize that we have to do Family AND Kingdom in order to achieve real transformation in all peoples, nations, and tongues. It's not enough to act like His sheep; we must also act like His soldiers.
     The bottom line is this: I have prayed to the Lord about why it's so difficult to be of "one mind" like the Church in the Book of Acts. I clearly heard that He cannot build His Ekklesia until we are of one mind about His Kingdom.  And He reveals His Kingdom in His Word, so the Book of Matthew is where to start in understanding Kingdom as Jesus taught it. I pray and war in the spirit that the Body will grasp their full identity as both Family and Kingdom Citizens. So I plead with you to diligently study Matthew and try to discern the difference between [and acceptance of both] the Biblical concepts of Family and Kingdom, and then ask yourselves if you are out of balance; where do you stand on your understanding of the Family of God and the Kingdom of God? We must come to a mutual understanding that both Family and Kingdom are essential to bringing Heaven's Kingdom to earth. Until then, the Body of Christ will be divided in their commission, in understanding His whole counsel, and in knowing their complete identity. Let's be all we are supposed to be!

2 Chronicles 30:12   Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them one heart to do that which the king and the officials had commanded by the word of the Lord.


July 5, 2019

Walkin' The Line Between Faith and Fear

     This title of this blog is a line from a song that suddenly appeared in my mind this morning, and I think it best expresses what I have been reflecting on for the past few days. There are mornings when my husband and I sit down to pray together and my conversation with God is full of joy and thankfulness for all I see Him doing in the lives of people with whom He is working. Then there are the mornings that we find ourselves discouraged and asking for His wisdom and love to persist in reaching those who are blinded or lazy or disinterested in pursuing Him. Those conversations with the Father are always centered around the assignment He has given us while we are on this earth, and His message we are appointed to deliver.
     Please do not mistake my thoughts for arrogance or pride; we are well aware that we are not the authority or judge of anyone else's walk with the Lord. But when you, yourself, are persistent in seeking that intimate, relational knowledge of Jesus through both experience and the Word, you want everyone to have that same encounter and come to Him in truth and spirit. But there are just times when it is clear that there is a spirit of deception or confusion, and yes, I'm going to say it ... a spirit of religion that is blocking true revelation. Their faith is evident, but so is their fear.
     And I don't use that word fear in the sense of "awe" or "reverence". I mean that they hesitate to consider any new idea or revelation of God's Word because it makes them uncomfortable; it threatens the security of their soul (mind, free will, and emotions). They live in fear of failure (What if I don't get it right, or what if God doesn't work through me?); fear of deception (this is different from what I've been taught. What if it's wrong?); and fear of man (This is stepping away from my religious tribe. Will I be isolated or ostracized? Will I be excluded from the community of organized believers?).
     But Jesus gave us two parables in Luke 18 that shatter these fears. The first is the Parable of the Persistent Widow. He tells of a widow who kept coming before an unrighteous judge, asking for justice against her adversary/oppressor. The worldly judge simply got tired of her repeated requests. He finally granted her petition for justice -- not out of a religious or moral compulsion -- but because "she keeps annoying me, demanding her rights, and I’m tired of listening to her." The point of the parable is soon made clear by Jesus, who says, Did you hear what the ungodly judge said—that he would answer her persistent request? When the Son of Man comes back, will He find this kind of persistent faithfulness in His people? The widow's relentless faith overcame any fear of failure or what the judge thought of her. She was single-minded in continuing to ask for what she needed and desired. Her faith did not depend on social norms or what was expected of her.
     The other parable follows right after the Persistent Widow. It's the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.  Here we have a self-righteous religious leader who confidently stands before God, pointing out all the things he does right to please the Lord, while unjustly condemning the tax-collector, an outsider. On the other hand, the tax-collector, who would have been ostracized for daring to appear before the altar of the Lord at the same time as a Pharisee, practices his faith by humbly asking God to forgive him of his sins, showing not only his reverential faith, but the risk he was willing to take to express it [by daring to remain in the Temple in the presence of such an important religious leader].
     I believe these parables display two of the Keys of the Kingdom that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 16:19.  PERSISTENCE and RISK will propel a Believer into new realms of faith; beyond their comfort zone and scope of routine religion.  Persistent faith ... constant, unending, tireless, determined people who never stop seeking more of Christ and revelation of His Word! They don't fear failure or deception because they hear their Shepherd's voice and are familiar with the Holy Spirit's presence, and are confident of His counsel. They never tire of asking for more and are persistent in their obedience to what He reveals, whether they fail or succeed in their mission. They are willing to take the risk of exclusion or rejection by others in order to receive more of Him. They are willing to run the risk of failure because they know the results are God's, not theirs.
     Because they are persistent in asking for more -- and actually receive more -- they are willing to trust Jesus to take them to new heights of intimacy and authority and power. They don't get discouraged; they keep on knocking, knowing that they are called to endure and persevere. They have lost their fear of man [and what the religious community might say] a long time ago, because the riches of the Lord's revelations have led them to heights never imagined or experienced before they took the risk to trust Him. Walking alone doesn't deter their faith or their obedience. The Word of God is their guide and their foundation.
     And I'm afraid that's where so many Christians fall short. I am amazed as we talk and counsel with people throughout our daily lives, just how many Christians do not read -- let alone experience, comprehend, or take hold of -- their Bibles. How can we profess to walk in faith [standing on a foundation of hope for the divine promises] if we don't even seek the One [who is the foundation] through His Word [which is His revelation of Himself]?  No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 7, Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall.”
     The Scriptures were not written in the day He spoke those ominous words. The teachings were given orally, and one had to be conscientious to hear. Today, we have the benefit of the written Word -- the Word that we can read again and again and again, persistently asking for revelation as to how we are to "act on them" or "do them". There is no excuse for the Body of Christ not to know or do what He says. Are we just spiritually lazy? Or in our fears of becoming deceived, do we cling to what others say about what the will of God is? Remember that Jesus began this conversation in Matthew 7 by saying, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
     That word "lawlessness" is many times translated "iniquity" which is a perverse rebellion against God and His will. These people thought they were doing God's will, with acts that mimicked righteousness. But as the following verses showed us, Jesus wants to be the [good and solid] foundation behind our actions, because we intimately know His heart through the revelation we have received from His Word. He wants authentic followers who know him through experiencing Him, not pretenders of a faith that will not stand against the storm that is coming.
     I will tell you that this kind of deep introspection with Jesus in His Word can leave you walking a narrow and lonely road. But take heart! I am seeing more of His remnant coming out of hiding and out of religion into His Truth and Spirit. The numbers may not be large, but the conviction and the resiliency is steadfast and devoted. The remnant is aligning together and speaking His Biblical Truth, causing lives to be dramatically changed as they walk and talk boldly of the power and majesty and authority of the Lord Jesus to transform the earth for His glory. I pray that the line between Faith and Fear dissolves as He equips those He calls; those whose faith will overcome fear, blindness, laziness, the restraints of religion, and the lies of the Enemy in order to see His Kingdom, His power, and His glory reign forever. Amen!

Ephesians 1:17   I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation [discovery] to know Him through your deepening intimacy with Him [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight into the true knowledge of Him].

July 1, 2019

It's Time For Prayers That Shake Heaven and Earth

     Before reading this article, I suggest that you re-read my post from a few weeks ago entitled The Ekklesia and The Kingdom: A Fuller Understanding. Before we can understand the importance of assertive prayer within the ekklesia, we must comprehend the purpose and mission of what Jesus said He would build: I will build my ekklesia and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. We must grasp the fullness of what Jesus proposed and how we are to administrate the ekklesia's responsibility and function through prayer. Our prayers must shake the very foundations of Heaven and Earth with their power.

     Dan Duval has written a very significant book titled just that ... Prayers That Shake Heaven and Earth. It has been a tremendously important tool in our Inner Healing Ministry. The language of these prayers is crafted directly from Scripture, with mighty and powerful consequences [when spoken] to thwart the tactics of the Enemy to destroy lives.
     And it has become so apparent to me from all my study of the etymology of the word Ekklesia, that prayer is a dynamic part of our duties as the "legislative authority of God's government on earth". I would like to give you a quote from Dan Briggs's important and revelatory book, Ekklesia Rising...
     "God was very specific with names all throughout Scripture, both for Himself and others. Names have meaning. Words have meaning. He even changed people's names to signify a change in their nature. [Think Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah; Jacob to Israel]. Think of it this way: what if the Marines were called ballerinas, and vice-versa? Instead of Semper Fidelis -- a motto reflecting the faithfulness, courage and sacrifice of men who are "first to fight" -- what if their motto was Motu Camena, which is "poetry in motion"? Does it matter that a bear is a bear, and a lamb is a lamb?
      These are not cheeky, semantic questions. Massive consequences hinge on the meaning and intent of this word [ekklesia]. Jesus promised to build something. What is it? Do we know? Is it okay if our replacement word [church] is "close enough"? My friends, I appeal to you, do not stiffen your necks in pride or act like this doesn't matter. Tradition and inculcation [instilling by persistent instruction] have bred a deeply passive familiarity, yet Jesus used a specific word with specific connotations... Can we afford to be casual about this? Do we value our cherished, traditional, substitute word above His word? For generations, the answer has been yes. Our negligence has created a false identity and misguided mission, and we don't even know it".
     Wow! That stings, doesn't it? Yet, it is so true. We accept what we have been taught without questioning it. And it deeply saddens me to realize that not many Christians actually read their Bibles, let alone study it in depth. There is a richness to the Word when you study the history behind it and understand the Hebrew meanings of words that give new revelation to our English mis-translations. And far too many Christians are busy seeking out the "feel good" passages -- often out of context -- and are content to stay entrenched in that spot, rather than read the "hard" passages and try to obtain the whole counsel of God.
     Our responsibilities as an ekklesia have to do with many things, but as Dean Briggs writes, "... perhaps most of all, [it has to do with] authority in prayer. The people of God must begin to pray. Not small, little polite prayers. Not even ten minutes of prayer. Do you read the headlines? The earth is groaning, society is tottering, darkness is exalting itself like never before. Who among the people of God will rise in the Spirit to challenge the rising tide? Supplication, adoration, confession and thanksgiving are regular parts of a prayer diet, but contending prayer must dramatically increase! Day and night, prayer must shake the earth. When we realize we are the ekklesia, a "Prayerdigm Shift" is inevitable because the word itself properly aligns our identity with government and prayer as Jesus intended. There is power in this word ekklesia to correct our function on earth".
     He is correct! On the big scale of things, our prayers have not been effective! And I am not afraid to say that most people don't know how to pray to get the results they seek! They don't speak to God with any power. Oh, I've heard many give fine, eloquent, and long prayers full of doctrinal truths, but they aren't shaking heaven and earth to change attitudes or actions, let alone paradigms.
     What Jesus intended to build was supposed to look different from the world; it was to be an "authority figure", so to speak -- an entity that governed according to God's Word and in compliance with His Nature and Character. What He intended was that those who believed in Him and "saw" and "entered" the Kingdom would create a culture that the rest of the world yearned to imitate. Do you see that happening? Instead, the devil has turned it upside down, and the Church is looking more and more like the culture of the world! How does it govern -- with God's perspective or the world's?
     The Church is in covenantal agreement with the world government system and the god of this world (Satan) through its 501(c)3 tax exempt status. This, in essence, finds the Church serving two masters: Jehovah and Mammon. It allows the world government system to override God's government system [the Kingdom] and has resulted in a powerless Church that won't speak or act [out of fear] on many of the practices that offend and grieve God: abortion; same-sex marriage; the erosion of marriage; children born out of wedlock; ungodly legislation; homosexual priests; and leaders involved in adultery, pornography and various addictions. What was once despised by God is now accepted and tolerated.
     Please, let me be very clear about something ... I do not want the Body of Christ to become legalistic, and unable to extend God's love, grace, and mercy to those who miss the mark! The Bible gives us plenty of examples of Jesus meeting those who had sin in their lives right where they were, and loving them. But then He always told them "to go and sin no more". Are we really following His example if we show the sinner the love and mercy of Christ [which we must!], yet we don't give them His command to acknowledge the sin and change the way they are living?
     Do we pray a comfortable prayer that they will see the error of their ways, or that Jesus will set them free from their sin -- or do we storm Heaven with our prayers of authority and power to break off the ungodly attachments and return them to a discipline of righteousness? Isn't that our real function on earth -- to love as He loved; to show show grace and mercy as He did; and to pray effective and earthly-kingdom shattering prayers, just as He did?
     Our Lord shattered the religious system of the Sanhedrin and the Roman kingdom's government system. And He did it by consistent, persistent, and intentional time with the Father in both prayer and fasting. Isn't it time we got serious about taking a real hard look at what that means for us? Jesus Christ changed the world 2,000 years ago and asked us to continue His work. He brought the Kingdom government of Heaven and He deliberately challenged the kingdom governments of the earth. Where can we wage that same challenge? Let's start with assertive prayer over any areas of our own lives that are submissive to the world system. Once we are aligned with Heaven's system, then we can affect our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. Let's shake Heaven and Earth with prayers that make a difference!

Acts 16:25-26    Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship. Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.

June 28, 2019

Overcoming Leads To These Promises

     In yesterday's post, we took a look at God's desire to give us eternal rewards for doing the good works that result from our salvation; our desire to reflect God's character, nature, and goodness to the world through our actions. That's why we were created in the first place. But Sin entered the Garden and corrupted our original design of perfection. But because our Father in Heaven is Holy and Righteous, He has designed a plan to restore us to the harmony we had with Him when we were created. It is a reflection of the harmony in Heaven.
     But for that to happen we must say "Yes" to Him, and "No" to sin. We must hate sin as much as our Father hates it, and resist its temptation. We must be Overcomers. Just as God counseled Cain [in Genesis 4:7], if we do well [believing God and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Him], we will be accepted and our works found worthy of reward.  And if we do not do well [and ignore His instruction], sin crouches at our door; its desire is [to overpower us], but we must master it. That's called overcoming; conquering sin, prevailing against it; and gaining victory over it.
     Each person who conquers sin in his life is guaranteed rich rewards in Heaven. And there are promises which apply to all who overcome. Jesus, Himself, makes these promises in the Book of Revelation to all the ekklesias [His ruling body in the Kingdom of God on earth] who overcome. Let's consider these 7 promises:

1. We have access to the Tree of Life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7).
     We all know the story of the Garden of Eden. God placed many trees in the Garden, but there were two of special importance to Him -- the Tree of [Eternal] Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil -- telling Adam and Eve they could eat of any of the trees except the Tree of Knowledge. They disobeyed that one simple rule. This resulted in them having knowledge of both good and evil, which allowed evil [sin] to enter the Garden and ultimately, the world.
     Have you ever thought about the fact that if God had allowed them to then eat from the Tree of Life, that sin would have entered into Eternity? But God, in His Wisdom, cut off access to that eternal life and drove Adam and Eve from the Garden, placing His Heavenly guards at the eastern entrance to the Garden to safeguard the way to the tree. They lost their opportunity to eternal life.
    But we have been given a new opportunity to "eat of the tree of life", just as Scripture says. Every time you resist sin, and overcome its temptation, you can take a bite of the fruit of the Tree of Life. You are storing up for eternal life in the Kingdom that Jesus will restore to the earth upon His return.

2. We will not be hurt by the Second Death. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11).
     We all face the first death of our physical body with certainty. We will all die in the flesh and to this world one day. But there will come a chance to be condemned to a second death when we stand before God upon His throne. He promises to make everything "new and fresh" (Revelation 21:5) and promises that those who conquer will receive gifts from Him -- He will continue to be their God, and they will continue to be His children. We will not be hurt by His Righteous Judgment. But then He makes another promise to those who have not overcome sin ... the faithless, the despicable, the murderers, the perverts, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all deceivers -- they will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, which is understandably, a second death.
     The Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom is that for those of us who used our opportunities here on earth to resist sin, and won, we will not be harmed by this judgment.

3. We will be given hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17).
     The hidden manna refers to the Bread of Life and the Living Water that you receive from the Lord in those hidden places where only you and He reside. It is the nourishment, sustenance and power we receive when we pray for help to overcome the temptation of sin in our lives. It is given to everyone who asks for it as they fight to overcome sin.
     In the context of the time the Book of Revelation was written, a stone was given to one on trial. A white stone meant you were acquitted or innocent; a black stone meant you were declared guilty. To receive a white stone means that you are free from condemnation. You have been tried and have been found worthy. This white stone symbolizes your faithfulness and purity before the Lord. We know that here on earth our faith is tested. In eternity, it will have been proved; we have withstood [and overcome] the testing.
     The new name is harder to identify. My own personal opinion is that it will be the name that is bestowed upon us by the Lord; a name that reflects the battles we have encountered and the sufferings we have endured. It will be a name that illustrates your new identity due to your faithfulness and the Father's grace. It will be a name that demonstrates your victory and transformation, and it will be a name unique to you and more precious than gold because it was given to you by your Savior.

4. We will receive Power over the Nations, a Rod of Iron, and the Morning Star. And he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ –  as I also have received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:26-28).
     Those who overcome the tremendous sin that is threatening to envelop this world, and who embrace the works that Jesus did -- confronting injustice, standing up to the religious institutions, healing the sick, casting out demons, etc. -- will be given a special place alongside Him in the Millennial Kingdom [upon His return]. These will be people who will be given the authority to "rule and reign" with the King because they ruled and reigned over sin in their lives and in the world. They will have to "break some vessels" and then "rule with a rod of iron" to re-establish the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth during the Millennial Kingdom. In other words, the King of kings will need people to begin setting things straight according to the Father's will. Those who have learned to rule their own lives with a rod of iron [against sin] will be qualified to do the same in the new Kingdom.
     The morning star is the prophetic revelatory word you hear from the Holy Spirit that shines into the dark areas of your life, exposing the sin. If you are humble and willing to recognize the sin, then the morning star begins rising in your heart, and the light replaces the darkness. As that morning star rises and begins exposing more areas of your life to its light, you shine brighter and brighter until you are the full reflection of the bright morning star of Revelation 22 (Jesus).

5. We will receive White Garments and the Book of Life. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5).
     As the Bride of Christ, we are told in Ephesians 5:27 that we will be presented to our Bridegroom without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but … holy and without blemish. But there is another aspect to the garments we will wear. Revelation 19:8 tells us She has been permitted to dress in fine linen, dazzling white and clean—for the fine linen signifies the righteous acts of the saints. So we can see that our garments will be spotless and wrinkle-free; free from the sin we have overcome, and they will represent our faithfulness to do good works which have been produced as the fruit of our salvation. We will appear in clothing that matches the purity and righteousness of Jesus.
     I want to state that everyone's name is written in the Book of Life. But as established by the Lord in the Book of Exodus, if we become rebellious and do not overcome sin in our life, that sin can cause our name to be blotted out. Exodus 32:32-33 recounts a conversation between Moses and God. Moses says, Yet now, if You will, [please] forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out of Your book which You have written (kill me)!” But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book [not you]. 
     It's pretty simple. If you want to remain in the Book of Life, you must overcome sin. Jesus said in John 10:27-28, My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me. I give to them the gift of eternal life and they will never be lost and no one has the power to snatch them out of my hands.  That verse doesn't say that they can't reject His gift and remove themselves from His hand [by continuing in their rebellion and sin]. The Book of Life is not a guaranteed promise except to those who are willing to follow their Good Shepherd.

6. We will become a Pillar in the Temple of God. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12). 
     Pillars are a support system to the Temple; they bear weight and are immovable, designed to never give way to pressure. If we are overcomers, we will be made into pillars, standing strong against the trials and temptations of this life. We will be able to bear anything that the Enemy throws at us.
     But becoming a pillar is a process. One victory over sin doesn't qualify. You must be a consistent overcomer that becomes shaped into a pillar worthy of being a support system to the Kingdom of God. A pillar is useful to the Lord to sustain His Kingdom.
     The New Jerusalem becomes the Bride of Christ. By writing the name of this holy city, the name of God, and Jesus's own new Name on us, He is laying claim to us. We will belong to Him! When we have overcome this sinful world and our own sinful nature, then we are worthy to belong to our Father and His Son!

7. We will sit with our Lord on His Throne. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21). 
     To reign with Christ will take supernatural wisdom. Who among us can claim that our human nature gives us enough experience to rule with our King? It is only through living an overcoming life that we can hope to have that kind of experiential knowledge. 
     And believe it or not, our wisdom is measurable according to how well you have overcome. Each opportunity to overcome sin is a chance to grow in your faith and become more valuable as a Laborer in the Lord's harvest of souls. I don't know about you, but I want to know that the Lord is counting on me to rule and reign with Him; that He already has a place in His ruling government for me. What a  way to enter into the final stage of my sanctification  -- to be greeted by King Yeshua and taking my place next to Him on His throne -- to know that He is pleased with what I've done for His Kingdom and with my calling.

     These are the extraordinary promises of reward for living a faithful life! God loves us. He has loved us before He created us. But we are born with a sinful nature, and He loves to see us overcome it, and to resemble His Son. There will be more to overcome in this life for some than others. But each of us can receive these glorious promises when we dedicate our lives to Jesus and surrender the sinful desires that the Enemy sends against us. To be an Overcomer is a tremendous privilege that leads to the assurance of eternal rewards. May we all be declared worthy of this title!

James 1:12    Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.  

June 25, 2019

Understanding Our Eternal Rewards

     This is a topic that can become controversial within Christian circles. I have been amazed at how often this subject is either ignored from the pulpit or even discounted as Biblical truth. When I have tried to express that Scripture tells us God desires to reward us for a life well-lived in faith and obedience, I have been met with resistance and told that we are saved by faith, not by works. I agree! But that is not what I am talking about at all.
     I am saying that as a result of recognizing the grace by which we have been saved, we have a "heart change" and desire to reflect God's character, nature, and goodness to the world. We become more like Jesus and continue His work in the world. We will do good works, thereby producing fruit [in our lives] for the Kingdom. That's why Ephesians 2:10 says, We have become His poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!
     You see our good works define our destiny, and result in our rewards. You can't state this much plainer than Revelation 22:12, in which Christ says, Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). So, I don't know about you, but I'm hoping that my righteous works and faith will deem me worthy of rewards. It has nothing to do with earning my salvation; my works are a result of my gratitude for my salvation and my desire to to be obedient to what God has called me. And the prospect of rewards from my Lord is an ever-present reminder to stay focused on Him and set His will before my own. To further expand the understanding of our eternal rewards, I would like to pose a series of questions regarding them that I discovered on the website, Verse By Verse Ministry.
     Are eternal rewards Biblical? I hope I have established that I believe our salvation is only by faith alone [in Christ alone] and never by our works. Salvation is not a reward. But God does enjoy rewarding His children, both now and in the eternal life. He even encourages us to seek after rewards: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21). 
     There again, is the reference to the condition of our heart; indicating that a heart surrendered to Christ will produce good works which store up treasure [rewards] in heaven. And Jesus presents it as a command ... "Store up".
     What are our eternal rewards based on? We know they are based on our good works, which is anything we do in service to the Lord which is from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Scripture reveals this in 1 Corinthians 3:8, Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
     Enduring persecution for the sake of the Lord's Name will also render heavenly rewards: Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.... (Matthew 5:11-12). 
     But there are standards to be met for receiving rewards. We must not do good works to benefit ourselves or for show: But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great... (Luke 9:35). And one can lose rewards if he is not repentant: Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what you have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward (2 John 8).
     How are our rewards conditional? Our rewards must be earned by being committed to the foundation of our faith, Jesus. Paul tells us that there are works truly valuable to Jesus (like silver and gold); while other works, if done in the flesh and for selfish gain, have no value to Him. They were like wood or straw that would burn in the "fires of testing". Paul makes sure we understand that these kinds of works result in a loss to the believer because it's a missed opportunity to be rewarded. But I want to again stress that it does not affect a person's salvation. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and not denied Him, yet produced no good works in service to Him, you will find yourself standing before His judgment seat, where He will evaluate your works in order to assign your individual reward. If no works, then no rewards. But you will still reside in Heaven. I purposely think this is one reason there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" in heaven; the realization of worthless deeds done in the flesh and missed opportunities will be agony for a believer.
     What will our eternal rewards look like?  It appears that we are awarded crowns as tokens of our inheritance and responsibility, as a result of our good works. These crowns will be like badges of honor reflecting the glory of God in our lives; how He worked through us to achieve the good works which He predestined we would do. The beauty of it all is that we will acknowledge His sovereignty by casting our crowns at His feet, showing that He is worthy to receive them. The crowns which we have the opportunity to earn are the Crown of Life, the Crown of Rejoicing, the Crown of Victory, the Crown of Righteousness, and the Crown of Glory.
     And perhaps the reward that intrigues me the most is the opportunity to rule with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. Scripture says in Matthew 25:21, His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’ And what a joy it will be! No sorrow, no pain, no poverty, no disease, no evil... What a joy to be rewarded for being obedient in the here and now, by being rewarded with more ruling responsibility in the Kingdom on earth!
     And here are some of my final thoughts on the subject of our eternal rewards... Every believer is called to serve the Lord faithfully in some capacity until He returns. In fact, the Parable of the Talents reveals that we will be rewarded for our devotion to completing the assignment given to us, regardless of the magnitude of our achievement. If we perform our duties faithfully, according to our abilities, our works will be honored and they will be commensurate with the rewards of others who faithfully served the Lord. The bottom line is that all believers are expected to demonstrate faithfulness so as to receive an equal inheritance. Ultimately, our inheritance in the Kingdom of God will be determined by what we do for Christ in this life. I have no problem imagining standing before my Lord and King and hearing Him ask, "What did you do for my Kingdom?"  What a privilege it will be to lay down whatever crowns I have received at His feet. 

Next Blog post: There are more than rewards for living a faithful life -- there are extraordinary promises!

Matthew 5:16    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.