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

Showing posts with label Kingdom Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kingdom Living. Show all posts

May 9, 2024

A Confession: Longing to Die to this World and Live for Christ

I know the title of today's blog may sound depressing to some. But within it lies the hope and longing for my true purpose in this world. So, as you may surmise, I am in a place of deep contemplation. Maybe this naturally comes with the aging process. When I was young and could only see the value of life in how it served me and my selfish desires, the meaning of death [in all its ways] was not even on my radar. The world was full of prospects and hope for an exciting, profitable, romantic future. I couldn't wait to see what the world would bring to me.

So, therefore I thought the world would bring me adventure and success and love that exceeded all my dreams. And, of course, being the world, it didn't really care whether I succeeded or not. And, in reality, it never had my best interests at heart. It wasn't until my junior year in college that I began to be taught [by the world] that there were forces actively involved in making sure I was defeated. One of the most pervasive lies [that has now exponentially invaded our culture through social media] is the false principle that "you should change everything about you that is not desirable to the world". That includes everything from your thoughts to your profession to body shape, morals, laws, gender, clothing, education, hair color, sagging skin, social status, the car you drive, your ideas, your politics ... EVERYTHING  that society has not stamped with their approval. But that makes you a slave to the world, doesn't it?  

It took a moment of youthful rebellious pride, on my part, during that junior year of college, in which I discovered it was frowned upon to be independent. You had to stay within the strict boundaries of the University code of loyalty to whatever mindset the elite Board of Regents deemed appropriate to satisfy their overlords. As an employee of the institution, one was not allowed to question policy or "color outside the lines". So, I turned in my resignation. I will admit to a spirit of defiance and unrest in my soul. I could have compromised and continued to toe the line, but my heart was uneasy at the subterfuge and deceit that I witnessed, and although my rash decision left me with no financial means to continue my education, and no place to live, I was more unsettled about the state of my spirit. [It didn't help that I heard my father say he was disappointed in me! That was an arrow to the heart for sure!) 

Then the fear of the unknown set in. I instinctively cried out to Jesus! Although I had no personal relationship with Him, I knew of Him, and my inner being knew that somehow He was the answer. I knew I didn't want to fit in with what the world was showing me as "the right way to live". And in the depths of my despair, He slowly began shaping me and speaking to my heart that He was "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". I'm not going to lie -- my transformation saw many ups and downs; one step forward, two steps back; taking wrong turns on the path He laid out before me; and many years of questions and searching for a way, often living with one foot in this world, and one foot in Jesus's domain.

But it was always obvious that when I was tempted by the world, I was miserable. Something profound was missing! I knew Jesus had the answers, but I didn't know how to disentangle myself from the world. It seemed that I was always being overrun with worry about paying bills, and the couple of relationships I had were unhealthy and brought no fulfillment. The Churches I attended preached the message that faith in Jesus would bring you the riches of the world. But I began to realize that I didn't want what the world had to offer! People were miserable whether they had money or not. I didn't see any relationships that seemed satisfying. And the people in the Churches were just as miserable as those outside. How could I get to Jesus? I knew He was there and holding out His hand. Why couldn't I break loose and run to Him? I wanted Him and not the world!

All was not hopeless, because it was as my crisis of faith was escalating that the Lord brought the man whom He had chosen for me into my life. Mark was the light in the midst of the world's darkness. He had a visible faith and a strength in spirit that helped me begin to seek Jesus in an honest, sincere way. After two years, we became engaged. Then one night, I believe the Enemy laid out his plan to keep my union with Jesus and Mark from ever happening. A hit-and run driver slammed into the rear-end of my car on a well-lit [and well-traveled] stretch of a major highway through the heart of downtown Austin, TX, sending my little car rolling end over end up an embankment. I cried out for God with each rotation, glass shattering all over the interior, and the roof caving in just an inch from my brain. No one stopped to help. I was able to climb out of the car through the passenger side and run [with heart pounding and adrenaline skyrocketing] across the highway to summon help at a hotel. I ended up with only a mild headache and only 6 stitches in my head. God had gotten my attention!

To make a long story short that was the beginning of my separation from the world. I had a hunger to know Jesus and His plan for my life. That also meant that I began to feel that I didn't belong to the rest of the world. Both mine and Mark's goals became different and distinct from everyone we knew -- our family and friends struggled to identify with us in the same way they had before. Our life looked different than everyone else's. But I was blessed with a husband who filled His Godly mandate as the leader of our home, and who took his cues [regarding who he was to be in this world] from the Creator of the Universe. We were a team; devoted to encouraging and equipping each other to be who Jesus made us to be, and to have the courage to follow His lead. I will tell you that Mark has never questioned His trust in the Lord, while it has been a lesson in perseverance for me to reach that same level of certainty and freedom of doubt that the Enemy is so good at sowing into our minds.

It's been a life of gaining the knowledge of the Lord and the revelations of His purpose for me.And once I learned that my relationship with Jesus is my answer to the disappointments of this world, I am not afraid of death -- of physical death; of the death of my dreams; of the death of worldly ties and temptations. In fact, when I die to those things is when I will be the most alive. While on this earth, I long for separation from this world and yearn for the excitement and adventure of belonging to Jesus! Because I know that He lives in me, I know the possibilities of all I can receive directly from Him as the Holy Spirit helps me to follow the path He has laid out before me. The riches of a life lived in obedience to Christ overflows into every aspect of this physical world. It colors it vibrantly and dramatically, bringing love, joy, and peace -- even in the midst of the defeat the Enemy is whispering.

You see, I know that as long as I am on this side of Heaven, Satan's forms of physical and spiritual death are always stalking me. They are always fanning the flames of doubt, fear, anxiety, and abandonment; aiming those fiery darts at my heart, causing confusion. But those times of "shaken confidence" are like the shaking I felt in that out-of-control car on that dark night. The result is that I cry out to God, and His Life [in me] rushes in to support my mind, heart, soul and spirit! I know who I am and whose I am! I know that I don't need to change everything about me to satisfy the desires of this world -- I long for the death of all those desires; to die to this world as I long only to change everything in me to please the will of my God, and my Lord and Savior. 

I am not oblivious to the deterioration of this world; of the destruction that may soon come upon my nation and my family. I am very aware that Death is coming for all of us who profess our undying faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But I also know that out of that darkness will spring forth the Light of the Universe; a Love so powerful that Victory is ours! We need have no fear of the sting of death; no anxiety as to our future; no worry about our destiny. I truly believe that the Lord Jesus has prepared a table for us in the midst of our enemies; that He has anointed and refreshed our heads with oil [the Holy Spirit]; and our cups [of spiritual provision] will overflow. As we die, more and more, to the demands of this world, He is preparing us for our service to His Kingdom -- the one presently on this earth, and the everlasting, fulfilled Kingdom when we are re-united with Him in Eternity. So, I glory in the freedom from the demands of this world that comes when I seek to willingly die to self. Each day brings me closer to being in His presence, and absent from this earthly realm. May the Glory and Majesty of the Lord come soon!

Psalm 23:4    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. (Amplified Version)  

September 28, 2023

Change Is Coming To The Kingdom of God!

I want to begin this blog post by visiting the story of Mordecai, the Jew, and his adopted daughter, Esther. According to the Bible, Esther's husband was King Ahasuerus, King of Persia, who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces. Furthermore, the history books also say he was the Achaemenian king Darius I, ruler over what is now Iran. 

Mordecai has gotten wind that there is a plot to kill all the Jews in the kingdom, and while Esther, herself, is a Jew, it's been kept secret from her husband, the king. Mordecai implores Esther to go before the king and plead his favor, asking him to spare her people. But Esther reminds Mordecai that it is the law of the land that if anyone goes before the king unbidden, death is the penalty. Mordecai then tells his daughter that, as a Jew, she cannot expect to escape the destruction coming against all Jews, and that if she chooses to not help, that God will send His relief and deliverance from another source, and her father's house will perish. Then he speaks the words that I believe apply to us in this generation ... "Who knows if you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther's response ... to gather all the Jews together and ask them to fast on her behalf as she approaches the king, even though it is against the law. "If I perish, I perish" are her words that echo across the centuries.

I think it is imperative [in this time and place] that we ask ourselves if we have the courage and faith of Esther. We have to be blind, and far beyond a "normalcy bias" mindset to not see the shifting sands we have been resting upon for the last few decades. If the panic and fear of the pandemic in 2020 wasn't enough for us to begin examining where we are in our Biblical worldview, or to discern the changing winds of world history, then surely we can see the current precipice on which we stand. The growing involvement of AI in our daily lives; the geoengineering of plant and animal life; the promotion of gender dysphoria; the drums of war throughout the world; and the trading of human flesh for the perverted pleasures of men are all birth pains of the intolerable evil which Jesus has forecast.

It cannot be appeased by politics or a new president. And sadly, the modern Western Church is unequipped to face the strategies of the kingdom of darkness. They are unaware of [or choose to ignore] the depth of depravity that is an undercurrent in our society and culture. And believe me, I understand the fear, anxiety, and disquiet in our souls when we dare to look at it. But we can no longer afford to turn away. Our newscasts are full of innocent people being assaulted and killed by random acts of violence as they stand on a street corner, or wait for a bus. The physical and moral evil of the child sex trade is storing up wrath in the Kingdom of Heaven, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. And just this weekend, I met a woman whose husband is using ChatGPT to engage with AI to create monsters that he hopes to interact with! The really sad thing is this man was an innocent child who was exploited and molested as a child, and his life began to spiral out of control until he now finds himself skirting the edges of being lost forever. I ask you ... Is the Church equipped to minister to him?  Would they even try? Or is he just another casualty of a society and religious system that doesn't have any answers to the growing evil in the world?

If you are a Kingdom-believing Christian, where does all this leave you? Once you are willing to "face the monster", so to speak, is it possible to truly live in a "Kingdom mindset", not letting the affairs of the world shake our faith and trust in our Father and King? I can assure you that our Father in Heaven hears our cries. And He is not absent in this situation, just as He was not absent in Esther's plight.

And if you happen to believe that the state of the Christian Church in these modern times is inoculated against the consequences of our mindset [sorry for the pun] -- let me ask you to reconsider. Hear the words of Mordecai to Esther and take them to heart ... "Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish [since you did not help when you had the chance]. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this [and for this very purpose]"? 

Just like Esther, we Christians have to decide what our response is going to be. I cannot answer for others, but I can tell you that I have always felt that there would one day be a tremendous trial come upon the world, and I would have the opportunity to not only experience it, but stand for the Lord. Notice, I did not say that God is necessarily testing us. That infers that God has given His approval for the trials and evil the world is experiencing. 

Instead, I recognize that much of the panic and hysteria that people will encounter will come from their lack of relationship with God, and their misplaced worship of the conveniences that the world offers them. Many Christians are guilty of this! We have fallen into step with society and the culture, and we worship our status, our wealth, our power, and our comfort. Many of us spend more time with our Facebook friends than we do with our Father in Heaven. We have not sought His will in how we should live our lives, OR how we should defeat the evil in the world. We have not fed on the Word of God, but have indulged in our appetites of unrighteousness and greed.

And now that may all come to a halt. There is [once again!] talk of a mandatory shutdown of the nation's government for an undetermined amount of time as our politicians haggle over the national debt, the corruption in high places, and the emboldening of our enemies. Everything in our world could change overnight. There will be people who will suffer if our medical system, transportation system, banking system, food distribution system, utilities system, political system, and yes, even our religious system is challenged -- especially our religious system. 

Will people blame God? Will they curse Him in the midst of their despair? Will they try to bargain with Him? Or will they fast [like Esther and her people] for strength and wisdom, and then humble themselves, and pray and seek His face and be prepared for come what may? Are you honestly prepared to trust God and like Esther, say, "If I perish, I perish", knowing that you have stood righteously against Satan's plans for the world? And will the Church rise up and see this for the opportunity it is? For this is a time when not only can the world reset, and begin to look more like it was created to be, but Believers can begin to walk in their true Kingdom identities and take back Kingdom authority over those worldly systems that have gone so far astray.

This is the time to reclaim the earth for the Kingdom of God! It is a time, in the words of the late Dr. Myles Munroe, to "establish the governing influence of our King over the territory called Earth, impacting it with His will, His purpose, and His intent, producing a citizenship of people who reflect the King's culture, nature, values, and morals". Doesn't the world need that? Doesn't our nation? And don't you want to be a part of that? 

I am watching people expressing their fears over what the future holds while I am calm and filled with anticipation and expectation. I believe the Lord desires to do a great work in the lives of millions of people. And as always, everyone has a free will choice how they will receive His invitation. Whether it is millions who answer Jesus's call, or just a remnant, Satan has had his way for far too long! The battle over mankind is intensifying. But what the devil means for evil, God will use for His good. We can see ourselves as being born for this time and join with God to glorify Him in the midst of the coming trials ... or we can sit back and wait for Jesus to do all the work. But that's not why we're here! This is an amazing time to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom and to be an instrument of God to sow into the hearts and lives of people. 

It is an exciting time to be on the earth. It is a favorable time to be a worker in the Kingdom. It is also a dangerous time. The rulers in the spiritual realms, along with the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places are all going to fight back against the Kingdom of God. We can expect to be embattled and we must prepare for casualties; yes, even martyrdom. I know that's not an idea that brings comfort, but just like Queen Esther, we must stand firm, declaring, "If I perish, I perish". Nothing is secure in this new world we find ourselves -- not even our lives. But there is one thing we can count on for sure... Jesus has paid for our victory! And just as Mordecai exhorted Esther, we can choose to be a part of that victory or not, but we can be assured that if it is not you or me, "God will send His relief and deliverance from another source", and our house and/or nation could perish. I want to be part of that victory source! I was born for such a time as this, and you are, too! Our Father in Heaven, use us to help bring Your Kingdom to earth and heal our land and this world!

John 14:1   Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.

September 5, 2023

Have You Accepted Jesus's Gift of the Keys to the Kingdom of God?

I can remember when I concentrated on studying the Book of Matthew, which I found full of the revelation that Jesus is King of a heavenly kingdom realm that was being established on earth with His birth. With that divine disclosure to the human world, it makes "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" a much more powerful statement. 

I cannot go forward without addressing the differences of opinion [among the Body of Christ] as to whether the Kingdom of God on earth is a future event [at the return of Christ] or whether it is present today. I can only share what my spirit is telling me, and each of you have to study the Word and come to your own theological understanding.

NOTE: And that's why I often return to the same subjects that I have written about years before ... because these truths need to be stated again and again, until everyone has a chance to receive them. And they are a good reminder to established believers [including myself] to review what we believe and why, so that we are ready to "Preach the word; [and] be prepared in season and out of season, [to] reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction, the teaching of God's message".

So, if I had to give you a concise statement as to my belief, it would be this .... Both John the Baptist and Jesus warned those who would hear them to "Repent!" .... John, saying "for the Kingdom of God is near", and Jesus telling them, "for the Kingdom of God is at hand". It is my belief that both John and Jesus were announcing that God's representative from Heaven (Jesus) had come to plant Heaven's flag, so to speak, in the earth, staking territory for the Kingdom of God; in effect, inaugurating [or beginning] the heavenly Kingdom system of government on the earth. So, in that sense, the Kingdom is present now, or "in your midst" (Luke 17:21), but is not yet complete. The Kingdom is here in a partial sense as we Christians continue to take territory from the devil and take back dominion of the earth until the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will return, bringing His Justice and destroying the evil and corruption in the world, while establishing the good and perfect Kingdom realm on earth that God had planned from the beginning. That event will usher in the complete and fulfilled existence of the Kingdom of God on earth.

And one of the reasons that I love the Book of Matthew so much is that it focuses on Jesus's teachings about how people are to behave as citizens of that Kingdom realm on earth, with Jesus as their ruling King. Which takes me to the born again experience that Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about in John, Chapter 3. Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." To me, this says that we come into the Kingdom as a citizen through being born again -- [reborn from above by the Holy Spirit—spiritually transformed, renewed, and sanctified]. 

When we are born again into the Kingdom, with Jesus as our King, we use a key to enter into that Kingdom. Jesus is the door and our salvation is that key. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, "For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation." To sum it up, when you are born again and confess your faith in Jesus, you are saved and become a citizen of the Kingdom. And with that citizenship come keys.

We see this confession/citizenship/keys relationship in Matthew 16:13-20. Peter, who  confesses Jesus as the Christ (Anointed One from God), is given keys of the kingdom of heaven, and now has the authority "to forbid [bind, stop] on earth that which is forbidden in heaven, and to release [loose, permit] on earth that which is released in heaven." Those rights are only conveyed to one who is a citizen of the Kingdom of God/Heaven! And that is the purpose of the keys of the Kingdom -- to transform this earth, so that it looks like Heaven! 

I also want to point out that it is my belief that there is a false narrative that this passage is establishing Peter as the head of the Church; which is a corruption of Scripture promulgated by Constantine. I believe, truth be told, that the keys to the Kingdom are principles given to all who are born again into the Kingdom as citizens; principles to rule and reign until the return of our King. These keys represent our authority and provide access to the Kingdom of Heaven. And that access is initiated through Scripture. It's not enough to just know Scripture ... we must DO Scripture! You see, God is moved by His Word, not our tears. Hebrews 6:17 says, "in His desire to show to the heirs of the Promise the unchangeable nature of His purpose, [God] intervened and guaranteed it with an oath" -- in other words, He says He is bound by His Word. So when we DO His Word, He will move in our lives and in this world; we will see results.

But here's something to think about .... to have a key to the Kingdom and never use it, is no different than never having a key at all. If you don't know the principles or purpose of the keys to the Kingdom then you will likely have no effect [fruit] for the Kingdom.  And something else we need to understand is that the keys are also unique and specific. You can't take one Kingdom key (principle) and think it's going to necessarily work in another place. For instance, Praise is a key that bestows honor upon the one who receives it, and we are to praise our Lord for all He does for us. But I can't praise a demon and expect to throw him out! And I think Jesus exemplifies this when He tells the disciples, "But this kind of demon does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Here, we have two more principles of the Kingdom.

We must realize that there is no Master Key of the Kingdom, and it is inherent upon us to know what the keys are; to understand and employ them to their fullest effect. If not, "my people perish for lack of knowledge", comes to mind. We also need to remember what our Lord tells us in Luke 12:32: "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom". We are to remember that we are citizens of the Kingdom; "sons of Light", and we are to be operating in the Kingdom system, not the system of the world. 

So, here's a truth we need to be aware of ... If we are born again and Saved, we are citizens of the Kingdom. But which system are we operating in? We can be considered citizens of the Kingdom, but still be operating in the world system. I believe we are all guilty of that at one time or another in our lives. For instance, if we get offended by someone [which is one of Satan's favorite schemes] do we withdraw and sulk, or do we work in the Kingdom government system and handle it with a Kingdom principle; for instance praying for those who curse you? We must recognize that the system of this world is not our system! Our system is Kingdom government!

The bottom line is this: we must know that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and walk in our power and authority! Yes, we wait for the fulfillment [completion] of the Kingdom on earth. But we serve our Lord, who is King of that Kingdom, and He has entrusted us to continue His work in establishing the Kingdom He came to inaugurate. Just because He has not yet returned, it doesn't mean we are to remain idle until that glorious Day. When He returns, we will give an account of the fruit we have borne for the Kingdom. I can imagine Him embracing us as Saved Christians; welcoming us as citizens of the Kingdom of God. And then I can hear Him ask, "What did you do with the keys of the Kingdom that I gave you? Did you read my Word? If so, did you seek to understand and experience it? Did you DO My Word?" 

It is my prayer that each of us know that the Kingdom in us is greater than the kingdom of this world. Let us use the keys He has given us in His Word to lock and secure our hearts in His Kingdom system. Let the reality of God's Kingdom be apparent in the present through the abundant and prosperous fruit we bear, in the Name of Jesus.

Luke 17:21      "The Kingdom is not discovered in one place or another, for God’s Kingdom realm is already expanding within some of you."

August 8, 2023

How Do We Live a Kingdom of God Lifestyle?

More and more Christians are coming to the knowledge that there is more than the Gospel of Salvation that we are to share with the world. You will hear various Christian groups and pastors presenting the Good News that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, as well. And as I stated in yesterday's post, it is important for us to understand our position and purpose in this Kingdom on earth. 

Personally, I have spent several years growing my understanding of the concept of God's Kingdom on earth by studying what the Word says throughout the Book of Matthew about His Kingdom. And I gained more than a heart knowledge that came from the Holy Spirit counseling me and teaching me the spiritual ramifications of the existence of the Kingdom here on earth. So, besides head and heart knowledge, I also have knowledge that comes from actually "walking out" or experiencing what living in [and by] Kingdom principles actually does in my life, and how it affects the lives of others. I'd like to share this bigger picture in the context of where we are today.

To begin, when I first came to an understanding of the Kingdom of God, I "spiritualized" it. In other words, my spirit was overcome with the concept that when Jesus announced that "the Kingdom is near" or "the Kingdom is at hand", He was proclaiming that He came to bring the foundation of Heaven's belief and behavior system to earth; that "on earth, as it is in Heaven" was not just a part of a prayer, but a reality that He wanted to establish. The idea that we could participate [as followers of Jesus] in establishing Heaven on Earth was mind-blowing!

But now I can see just how that idea relates to any other kingdom that exists [or has existed] on earth. In fact, the kingdoms of the earth are a mirror of the Kingdom of Heaven -- they have just developed within a corrupt "world system", rather than a righteous "heavenly system". So what is the standard that God has set in His Heavenly Kingdom? What are the principles we should be following?

• Just like any earthly kingdom, the Kingdom of God has a government that maintains order; has dominion or jurisdiction and control; has power and authority. But God's Kingdom acts in righteousness, and for the good of His people. I'm not seeing much order today, nor does the power and authority look righteous. 

• The Kingdom of God has a constitution, which is the covenant He has made with us. This covenant regenerates God's people by his Holy Spirit and renews their hearts so that they obey Him. Our constitution was designed to establish laws that reflected Heaven's justice, peace, welfare, liberty and prosperity. But now it is mocked and scorned. How can we expect to live a Kingdom lifestyle?  

• The Kingdom of God has Law. The Word of Righteousness cannot be broken; not even by God. He established it; it is forever settled and never changes. It is the established foundation of the Kingdom. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). All this language pertains to the laws of the Kingdom of God. But what of our laws? They are anything but perfect, sure, fair, right, or untainted.

• The Kingdom of God has citizens, and to become a citizen, there has to be an entrance system. Our nation originally established an eligibility requirement and a naturalization process to becoming a citizen. Now, like many of our laws, that system has been decimated. In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the entrance; the door to citizenship. Here's the thing, there is only one door into the Kingdom of God [through Jesus], but many doors into Religion (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc), but they don't lead you into the Kingdom. And before you think that just because you are a Christian, you are a citizen of the Kingdom, consider what Jesus said to the religious leaders whom He brought the Kingdom message to .... But woe (judgment is coming) to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so (Matthew 23:13). So, as Christians, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, "Have I entered the door into the Kingdom, or have I entered the door that led to Religion"? Am I showing others the way, or am I shutting the door in their faces?

• The Kingdom has an economy. There is a shared loyalty among the citizens and a sharing of the wealth. In the world this is known as a "commonwealth". In both the world's kingdoms and the Kingdom of God, it is the King's responsibility to take care of its citizens. The economy of the Kingdom of God is the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it is our responsibility to share the wealth of that Good News. Again, our economy is failing, and there is no sharing of wealth. In fact, the distance between the classes is widening in an alarming fashion. 

• The Kingdom of God has its own culture. When we are involved in "Kingdom living" it produces a unique environment by which we should live our lives, and it is not a religious or worldly culture. And it's our responsibility to learn how to live in that culture. What does the Kingdom culture look like? It is the commission that Jesus gave His disciples to establish a culture that observed everything He had taught and commanded them to do: heal the sick (physically, emotionally, and spiritually); cast out demons, freeing the citizens to pursue their purpose in the Kingdom; cleanse the lepers (restore people back to their families and communities); raise the dead (if it is before the time Jesus has written in their Book of Life); spreading the Good News of the Kingdom and what it means in the lives of Believers; make disciples (teaching people to learn of Him. believe in Him, and obey His words); and baptize them (which is an act of declaration to the kingdom of darkness that we have chosen a side) -- Matthew 28:19-20. It makes my heart sad to see how our culture resembles so little of what Jesus commanded.

• The Kingdom of God has keys, or principles of how to live. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells us, I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven. Once again you see that the Kingdom has a foundation of laws that establish the principles of how we are to live. Does our nation [or the world] look like we have taken those keys and bound ourselves to the Kingdom of God? Or have we pledged ourselves to the self-aggrandizing standards of the world?

I will tell you that it is past time that we abandon the corrupt world system of government, laws, economies and culture, and be restored to God's vision of the Kingdom of God on earth! We were made to reflect His attributes and nature, and I want to assure you that it is actually possible to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of God while on earth. Jesus showed us how! Contemplate what Matthew 4:23 tells us: And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people [demonstrating and revealing that He was indeed the promised Messiah]. This verse is telling us there is no disease (such as cancer or diabetes or deadly viruses) in Heaven, nor sickness (spiritual issues like depression, unworthiness, shame, guilt, or anger). Therefore, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, we have been given the keys (power and authority) to heal them just as He did when He represented the Kingdom while He was on earth. We have the Holy Spirit's power in us [just as Jesus did] to transfer ourselves out of the realm of this sinful and corrupted world into another realm -- the Kingdom of God on earth. And our existence can look like Heaven! 

So, why is the world so sick? Because, first of all, we haven't been taught that we have the keys, and secondly, we are scared to use them. What if I fail? What will people think of me? Jesus will find me unworthy! People, that's a lie from the devil! He wants us to try, and keep on trying! If we attempt to live this lifestyle for one day and nothing happens, are we going to quit? Did Jesus quit when His miracles and acts of power failed to change the hearts of the Jewish people, to whom He came with this Good News? Do not fear man! Do not seek the rewards of this worldly culture, but rather seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first! And keep on seeking it! Your rewards in Heaven will far outweigh anything this world offers. 

As I wrap up this post, I want to state that it is important to us, [as the Body of Christ, who is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ], that we understand that if we have not been taught [or are not teaching] within the context of the Kingdom of God, we are teaching another gospel. It is important to know what Gospel Jesus taught. I know that sounds like an indictment of the Church, but here is what I see ... Everything has to fall under the umbrella of Kingdom Living and Kingdom Teaching because that's what Jesus did! 

And lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to be perfectly clear .... If we are preaching/teaching grace and salvation, that is not wrong. Salvation is necessary to see and enter the Kingdom. It is the first step! It is just not an exact representation, nor the fullness, of what Jesus taught! Too many Christians are living saved lives, and offering grace and mercy to others, but are neglecting to teach all of what Jesus came to establish. And the result is that our culture, our nation, and the world, does not reflect "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven". The world certainly does not look like Heaven! And it is increasingly looking like hell!

It's time that we understand the fullness of that verse, and start living it. It's not enough to know the Word, we must experience it; start living in it; and sharing it. It is apparent that too many are still living as citizens of this world, and not as citizens representing the Kingdom. I realize that my message might offend some of the religious Christians who read it. Jesus offended the religious people, too, as He tried to speak about the Kingdom. But it didn't stop Him. May I prove to be worthy to follow in His steps. 

Luke 4:43     But He said, “I must preach [the good news of] the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because I was sent for this purpose.”   

August 2, 2023

Jesus's Warning To Those Who Reject His Message of the Kingdom of God!

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

As I stated in the previous post, there is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in our nation. And the theme of today's post is one that I continue to return to often, because it is so important to our future as individuals and as a nation. We have turned our back on the living God, believing the lie in the Garden that we can be our own god. Many have abandoned the truth, knowledge, and wisdom of the Bible, deciding to depend on themselves to figure it all out. But I caution all who call themselves Americans that there are a lot of quotes from Jesus in that Holy Book that, quite frankly, are alarming and terrifying. And I want to specifically point out to Christians and Believers that Jesus puts us on notice that our professed faith does not make us immune from judgment. But perhaps the two quotes I point to in Matthew 10 and 11 should make us all sit up and take notice.

In Matthew 10:5-15, Jesus sends out His twelve disciples, instructing them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived. They are told to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast our demons. They are told that when they come to a town and find out those "who are worthy", they are to stay with them. They are to let their peace come upon the house if the inhabitants are worthy; and if anyone will not receive them or listen to their message about the Kingdom, then they are to shake off the dust from their feet and leave that town. And here is the warning: Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Before we dissect the meaning of that dire warning, we need to understand what Jesus meant by being "worthy". According to Strong's Concordance it means to be found righteous on the grounds of being fit for the Good News of the Kingdom. And "being fit" means a willingness to receive the Kingdom; to "see" it and "enter" it. And as we know from John 3:1-5, Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. Once Saved, we are called to "do" the works of the Kingdom and take back dominion over the earth [defeating the devil's kingdom], starting in people's lives by healing them, casting out the demons that have kept them in bondage, raising them from the dead [if it is before their time], and teaching them to share this Good News and do the works of the Kingdom themselves, thereby expanding it until it covers the earth. 

But Jesus says that if a town is witness to these evidences that the Kingdom is here, and they refuse to listen or receive it, then they will be judged harsher than Sodom and Gomorrah. Wow! Most of us know that the Bible tells us how wicked and evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and that God destroyed Sodom. But do you know the extent of their wickedness? The ancient Book of Jasher gives us more historical insight into the deeds of Sodom. [NOTE: I am not saying that the Book of Jasher is inspired Scripture! But it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments as a book of historical record. I have found that it fills in some of the gaps in the historical narrative of the Bible, and I believe God inspired the writers to reference it so we would have additional information to illuminate His inspired Word. Remember: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out [Proverbs 25:2)]. 

So, back to the story of Sodom. In the Bible, we tend to see Sodom as one city, but actually it was a kingdom. And our Christian doctrine primarily describes the sin of Sodom as either rape/sodomy, lack of hospitality, or pride. But it was much more! According to Jasher, the cities of Sodom had four judges to the four cities. These four judges issued a decree that beds were to be erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places, the citizens were to lay hold of him and force him to lie down on the bed. They would measure him according to the length of the bed, and if he was shorter, they would stretch him until he died. If he was longer, they would fold the bed up and crush him to death. 

Another favorite pastime of Sodom was equally appalling. If a poor man came to their land and entered their cities, they would give him silver and gold, then decree that no one in the city could give him anything to eat. Should he die from starvation, then the inhabitants of the city would come and lay claim to their silver and gold and fight over the man's clothes and belongings. 

Then there is the story of Paltith, a daughter of Lot that we don't read about in the Bible. During Lot's sojourn in Sodom, one of the men of Sodom takes Paltith as his wife. The Book of Jasher says that Paltith's soul was so moved with pity for a man who was being starved in Sodom that she secretly fed him bread and water, and he was revived. When it was discovered that Paltith was aiding the man, she was seized and taken before the judges of Sodom and was burned to death. Another young woman attempted to aid another traveler in the city of Admah [in the kingdom of Sodom] and her judgment was to be covered with honey from head to foot and placed before bee hives. Jasher records "the young woman cried out... and her cries ascended to Heaven. And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord. And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham's house, "to destroy Sodom and its cities." I can't help but recognize the similarity in our blessings of abundance and tranquility among many in our nation, yet so many others are in need of sustenance. But I digress...

It is hard to imagine anything more despicable than these works of the cities of Sodom, and they will certainly be judged for their evil ways. But what does that say about our sins of mutilating kids to change their genders? And don't you think that making billions of dollars off trafficking children for sex is going to be measured  just as evil?  Jesus [in Matthew 10] says on the Day of Judgment, it will be more bearable for Sodom than for towns where the people will not receive or listen to the Gospel of the Kingdom! The cities of Sodom did not get the opportunity to hear about the Kingdom or see the works of the Kingdom displayed. Today, Christians DO have that opportunity! And I know the frustration of trying to share the Kingdom message and its works with people I think are worthy, and having it rejectedBut when I see the judgment that is coming against those who refuse what Jesus commanded, it breaks my heart.

And if you doubt the truth of this warning, Jesus makes it again in Matthew 11:20-24! He warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because they witnessed the mighty works of the Kingdom of God, yet they refused to repent -- which is refusing to change the way they think and "see" and "enter" the Kingdom of God which was being presented right before their eyes. Again, He tells them it will be more bearable for the evil towns of Tyre and Sidon, and more tolerable for the land of Sodom, than for these cities who were blessed with the confirmation of the Kingdom.

But now, I have to ask ... is it any different for us today? Won't we be held to the same standards as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum? Won't the same judgement be issued for those who have seen evidence of the miracles of healing, and the casting out of demons, yet refuse to step into the Kingdom and continue the works of Jesus as He commands in the Great Commission? Yes, we have the benefit of Salvation, but Jesus commanded more. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He didn't stress Salvation as our goal. We can't even see or perceive or understand the Kingdom without Salvation, so, yes, it is the essential first step. He tells us to seek the Kingdom first! Salvation is a given at that point. There is more to our purpose than getting Saved, and it is to advance the Kingdom through the works He did and to share the Good News that these works are part of the Kingdom; restoring us back to our original state of dominion which He gave men in Genesis 1:26-28 . 

If we are Saved, what's keeping us from taking that next step and seeking the Kingdom? Is it that the teachings of the Church have changed? I ask you to consider that after His resurrection, the Bible tells us in Acts 1:3, that Jesus appeared to the Disciples "over a period of forty days and [talked] to them about the things concerning the Kingdom of God". Acts 8:12 says "they believed Philip as he preached good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ". And Acts 28:30-31 tells us that Paul "lived there [in Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance". Shouldn't we be doing the same? Does the Modern Church need to revive these foundational teachings of the Early Church?

So, here is what I'd like you to understand -- and what I believe the Early Church understood. The Gospel of the Kingdom includes the gospel of Grace, which offers people Salvation, and entry into God's Kingdom of Heaven. God's good news of Grace features the forgiveness of sin, God's redemption, and eternal life. The good news of the Kingdom is about the heavenly ruling of God and His authority over His creation. The good news of Grace, Eternal Life, and Salvation are all aspects of the good news that the Kingdom exists; they are part of the Kingdom and part of Kingdom living!  

It is time we take Jesus's warning in Matthew to heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus sent His Disciples out and instructed them, saying, "proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand". That goes for us, too!  We are to preach it in every town we enter, and if the people will not receive us or listen to our words, then it will be more tolerable for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, Chorazin and Bethsaida on the Day of Judgment than it will be for them. None of us are exempt from the judgments He decreed over the people in the Book of Matthew. 

I pray that a holy fire of revelation and faith in the promises of the Kingdom of God will sweep our land. We have much need of repentance and an acceptance of the Message of the Kingdom. I am happy to see progress being made, in that Believers are moving beyond "Kingdom" as the latest Christian buzzword or part of an advertising campaign to sell the idea of Church and gain new customers. Kingdom is more than creating and packaging the latest image of Christianity. It is a call-to-action, just as Jesus demonstrated 2000+ years ago! We need to not only hear it and receive it, but do it! It is time to preach it, teach it, equip and train! I do not want to see my country fall under the condemnation and judgment that Jesus warns us about! Let us understand, enter, do, and preach the Kingdom of God until it reaches the ends of the earth!

John 12:48    If you reject Me and refuse to follow My words, you already have a judge. The message of truth I have given you will rise up to judge you at the Day of Judgment.   

January 7, 2022

The Kingdom of God Is the Answer To All Things!

As I contemplate all the disorder and chaos that the world has seen throughout time [and in the last two years of our lifetimes], I cannot help but discern how far mankind has fallen from God's original purpose for us. We were designed as images of the Godhead; to be a branch or colony of God's Heavenly Kingdom, maintaining Heaven's order here on earth. It didn't take long for the one who rebelled against God in Heaven to reassert himself here on earth and to infect the nature of man with a disrespect for divine law and moral code. And very quickly, men lost the idea of Kingdom living as they developed societies and cultures that served themselves.

Yet, our Creator never abandoned His desire to reconcile our relationship, nor did He give up on His ultimate goal of establishing His Kingdom colony here on earth. In fact, He was so committed to us and His plan that He sent a part of Himself, His own Son, as a guarantee that those who would believe in Him, and pledge their loyalty, could never be separated from His Kingdom. And no matter what the world sowed, there would be those who would stay dedicated to living, promoting, and executing the Kingdom.

And what exactly does that look like here in the midst of a contentious twenty-first Century? First of all, I think we need to come to an understanding that the "Kingdom of God" is not just a "Church" concept. It was Jesus's absolute goal and the answer to everything in the world! In the Sermon on the Mount, in the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus's treatise on the Kingdom of God. And I do mean "treatise", which is defined as "a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject"; in this case, Matthew exhibits how God orders His Kingdom government in Heaven and intends for it to be mirrored here on earth.

So, all that's conceptual ... what should it look like in reality? Everything in our lives should come under the control of the Kingdom of God. That includes our personal lives and how we live them; our economy; our education systems; our society and how we treat each other; our international relations with other nations -- everything! It's easy, as modern Western Christians, to consign the Kingdom to the Church, but that limits it. The Kingdom, as Jesus saw it, was absolute; it gathered all of life and earth's concerns under its umbrella, and established a divine order by which it all functions -- just as it does in Heaven. 

As I listened to President Biden's live speech on the anniversary of the January 6th event at the Capitol, I couldn't help but think how much we need that understanding of the Kingdom now! Our society needs a transformation to "Kingdom living" in the way we view each other and our differences in politics, lifestyles, beliefs, and opinions. There is room for dissimilar viewpoints, but Jesus introduced ethics and moral law into His discussion of Kingdom on earth. His message in the Sermon on the Mount was grounded in the transformational Kingdom Thought that there is freedom for all men in the principles and solutions of Kingdom living. 

The principles of the Kingdom of God transform hearts, which transforms the social order of all men on earth. We can discover the fullness of life [and all it offers] when we organize and construct our lives around the Kingdom. During the centuries, we have lost the idea that the Kingdom of God provides the answers to all things. Our lives no longer function with the Kingdom as our goal or our main influence. We have given that authority to other men. But I am happy to say that there is a remnant that is re-discovering what man and the Church lost. We are redefining our lives, as our spirits recognize the fullness of all it represents; that it is more than our present sanctuary and security; more than just a future hope. The Kingdom of God contains the totality of God to meet the totality of man's needs NOW!

If we ever discover and step into the truth that the Kingdom of God is the answer to the chaos in the world, and that we can be transferred from that disorder and chaos into the realm and order of God's Kingdom, then the deception of the world will be clearly seen for what it is... the strategies of those who seek their own power and influence over the masses in order to control the way the world systems operate. And they control it through self-centered love, fomenting division on many levels ... race, gender, age, wealth, education, opportunity, and social class. All that creates disorder, and the foundation of God's Kingdom in everything is order.

When we can be true imitators of Christ [which was the goal of our original design] by becoming Kingdom citizens, we will find purpose and order in our lives -- even through our trials and battles. That's what brings meaning to our lives and the answers we seek in the midst of our journey. We are not promised the fullness of the Kingdom until Christ returns and we are translated into bodies as glorious as His, and we enter into our citizenship in the Heavenly Kingdom. But until then, we can be intentional about Kingdom living here on earth ... 1) understanding where we are now and that nothing in this life is accidental or incidental; we are here for a purpose; 2) believing with a spirit of expectancy that God will honor His promises to those who have faith in His Son; 3) stepping out in faith and obedience to God's moral laws; 4) knowing that our names are written in God's Book of Life, along with our victories and His grace in our times of need, which are a part of this life; 5) being willing to live separately from the world; being intentional about being righteous, even when you're swimming against the current of the world; 6) putting God's opinion before man's; refusing to submit to the fear of man, and what people think of us, instead preferring to please God in all matters; 7) and finally, we can choose to act as a Kingdom citizen in all our circumstances -- at our jobs, in our families, in our marriages, and even in the midst of the evil we see in the world.

The bottom line is this ... we are no different than the Disciples and the followers of Jesus in that first Century. We find ourselves as outcasts in a world that defiles the Divine nature of God. But there's good news, too! We are part of the remnant that God has always chosen to represent Him throughout history. We are coming into the fullness of our identity and our purpose, and we are not afraid to be deliberate about declaring that it is the Person of Jesus Christ -- not the religious institutions of Western Christianity, the traditions of Eastern mysticism, nor the New Age belief systems of humanism and relativism -- it is Jesus who is the manifestation of God on earth. It is the Person of Jesus Christ who unlocks the prison doors of spiritual darkness and leads mankind to freedom from his self-imposed blindness. 

Jesus came, bringing the Kingdom of God with Him, and challenged us to establish it and expand it until He returns. I believe our time to capitalize on that directive is now. Have we reached that point in history when His return is imminent? When the Kingdom of God finally overthrows the kingdom of darkness? No one can know for sure. But the distinction between the two kingdoms is clearly understood by those called as Ambassadors to the King here on earth. We must come together in acknowledging that nothing in the world BUT the the King of kings, in all His demonstration -- is the only answer. Politics, religion, technology, science, and the authority of man will never solve our problems. Only our Lord and Savior, Himself! I pray that this generation will be the one that ushers in His power, His glory, and His Kingdom forever! 

Revelation 11:15    “The Kingship of the world now belongs to our Lord and to His Messiah, and He shall be King for timeless ages!”

April 25, 2020

Through A Kingdom Lens: Rediscovering What The Church Lost

     I am proud to announce that my new book, Through A Kingdom Lens: Rediscovering What The Church Lost has finally been published, and is now available on Amazon. I want you to know that it is uncomfortable for me to promote this book for my own benefit. It has always been my purpose to write it to encourage those people (both Believers and non-Believers, alike) who have struggled with knowing their purpose in life.
     So, why does someone like me, just an ordinary follower of Christ, decide to write a book about the Kingdom of God? I will tell you that I am no Bible scholar. I have no religious titles attached to my name and hold no theological degrees. The simple explanation is that I was made to write for the Lord. It delights Him when I use the gift He has given me. In 2008 I received a prompting from the Holy Spirit to write this blog for Him. And now He has given me a new assignment. And with this commandment, comes my intense desire for the Body of Christ to understand the Kingdom of God from His perspective. In fact, it is essential and necessary that we see it, understand it, preach it, enter it, expand it, and establish it!
     I will admit that it has been a long personal journey for me to grasp the significance of the Kingdom in my life. I have spent many hours in deep study of God’s Word. I have engaged in exhaustive dialogues with other Kingdom-seekers, as we try to come to terms with the revelation that “the Church” has failed to equip the saints in this matter. But most of all, I have listened to the Holy Spirit’s counsel and guidance as He continues to teach me the truth of what Scripture says about the Kingdom of God.
     This book represents all that I have learned to date. I do not think the information I bring you is infallible; nor do I think it is complete. I am still on the path of revelation and knowledge about the Kingdom of God. But the impetus for this book does come from a place of deep yearning to share what I have learned because I believe it is of critical importance to the Body of Christ.
    I wrote it with the intention of encouraging all those who have wondered about the "deeper" things of their existence and their relationship with Jesus, just as I have throughout my life. It has not been a question of my faith, but rather a desire to feed that hunger inside of me for "more" than what I received from my Church's doctrine. From the moment I realized I had unanswered questions, I wasn't going to be satisfied until I received the answer from God.
     My questions began with this very important one ... What is the difference between the Gospel of Salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom? What is the Kingdom of God, and what does it have to do with me? What do being "Born Again" and "Renewing my mind" really mean? How am I supposed to interpret Salvation, Grace, Repentance, Inheritance, and Justice in relation to the Kingdom? How do Religion and Spiritual Warfare intersect with the Kingdom? And, here is the real struggle I had ... why aren't these questions being addressed by the Shepherds of the Church, who are supposed to
"equip and train us to come together in unity of the faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ", so that we might mature into the fullness of Christ. The problem was, I was discerning that there was knowledge of Jesus that I was missing... and I was hungry for it; I could not hope to come to the full measure of being like Christ until I received and understand all of Him!
     And, please know, that this is not an attempt to bash "The Church". It is simply a realization that, as I began to dive into Scripture for answers, that our Church and denominational doctrines didn't always accurately represent what the Word said -- or at the least, that our doctrines were based on a single verse, rather than on the context of an entire chapter or Book!
     Mind you, I have had faithful and Godly men and women in the Church who have instructed me to the best of their abilities. But I was surprised to discover that some of these teachings didn't match up with the Spirit of the Word. I don't blame them, and came to the understanding that these teachings were the result of distorted interpretations that have come down to the Church through the centuries. But now God was uncovering His Truth as He lit up the Scriptures like I'd never seen them before!
     Next, He sent people to give me a prophetic word about how He wanted me to share what He was revealing. In the middle of a small prayer group, a Pastor stopped and looked at me, and said, "You are going to write a book for God". It was that simple, yet profound. Nearly a year later, I was commenting to a very dear friend and mentor that every time I wrote about Kingdom on this blog, or walked it out, the devil make it clear he wasn't pleased. Her response? "Then I guess you better write a book!" So, I could no longer ignore God's promptings, and now you see the fruit of my labor.
     So, I hope you will read this little book with the goal of beginning your own journey into studying the Kingdom of God. Do not accept my opinions as the final word on the subject. You will find that I am forthcoming about the authors and teachers who helped me to unravel and clarify my theology. But I always took their teachings back to Scripture and let the Holy Spirit fine-tune my thinking. If nothing else, I hope that your consideration of my analysis will prompt you to do the same and begin your own study and research.
     I promise you, it will be worth your while. Because I now know, in my heart and my spirit, why we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. And I want to share what I have learned from the Father with you. I pray that you will be as blessed by this book as much as I was in the process of writing it. Enjoy!

Here is the link to the book on Amazon: www.amzn.com/1734916133

Proverbs 2:3-5     Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

February 22, 2020

Sowing Into The Kingdom of God

     This is a little bit of a difficult post for me to write. Not because I do not understand the Biblical principle of Sowing and Reaping, but because it involves a struggle I have had in our ministry from its inception.
     The Lord has been good in maturing Mark and I in our ministry; enlarging the number of people who come to receive Jesus's healing at our kitchen table, as He is simultaneously expanding our territory and influence. I say this out of all humbleness, because it is all Jesus's doing. As we've been faithful to bring freedom to the captives and healing to the brokenhearted, He has given us opportunities to share the Gospel of the Kingdom -- beginning with the individuals we disciple after an Inner Healing session, to groups of people who are responding in their spirits and realizing that we are called to more than the traditional evangelizing message of Salvation.
     If you had told us six years ago that we would feel comfortable [or even have a message] to speak to groups of 50-100 people, we would have laughed. But there is a hunger in our spirits to share the direction the Lord is leading us, and it is being met by a corresponding awareness in the hearts of Believers that they want to go farther in their journey. 
     And that leads me to the subject of this post... from the beginning, we have struggled with accepting money for the ministry we provide to others. We have felt that "freely we received; freely we should give", without any thought of compensation. That just didn't feel right to our souls or spirits. After all, it always brought such a spiritual "high" to witness someone have an encounter with Jesus as He showed them He was present in a painful memory, and then walked them out of that place, pouring His blood on the pain and the situation; rendering it incapable of tormenting them again.
     How could any amount of money compare with sharing the Beloved's experience of hearing Jesus give them a new name such as "Beautiful" or "Forgiven" or "My Child"? We never wanted to give the Enemy cause to corrupt our ministry by introducing recompense into our work for the Lord. Then a very dear friend explained that she wanted to "sow into the Kingdom by sowing into our ministry". She justified her desire by saying that she believed we were expanding Kingdom territory in lives on the earth and she wanted to help contribute to that goal -- that in this season of her life, being a single mother with a new baby and a full-time job, she was not yet at liberty to "do the work that Jesus did", but she could align herself with our ministry and help us to accomplish more in reaching people with the books we buy to give during discipleship; to help buy food and supplies for the no-charge teaching/training sessions we do on Inner Healing; and help give us the opportunity to reach more people as we travel farther and farther to deliver the Gospel of the Kingdom.
     Then I stumbled across a passage in Philippians 4:14-20 that changed my selfish viewpoint to align with the perspective and will of God. Paul is writing to the community of Believers in Philippi, and says this: Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
     I began to discern that when a godly person recognizes the fruit that our ministry is producing in the lives of people, and wants to partner with us to see that fruit grow, then it not only benefits those who are receiving the ministry, but also those who sow into it! It is counted as righteousness and recorded as fruit in their account in the Book of Life. Their needs will be met because they are seeking the Kingdom of God through their contribution towards spiritual healing in the lives of others.
     The sacrifice they make through their donations is acceptable and pleasing to God, and it glorifies His Kingdom on earth when territory is conquered in Satan's kingdom of darkness. We are not independently wealthy and cannot afford to fund all that is needed to grow harvesters for God's fields. Just as Paul expressed to the Corinthians, "He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers." 
     I recognize that Mark and I may plant, but sometimes we need others to walk beside us and help us to water, so that we both might see God grow His harvest. Neither of us can take credit for the growth, because it is only God who does the growing. But it can be credited to us both that we are workers for the Kingdom. The bottom line is this: we are all to be sowing into the Kingdom, whether it is with our time, talent, or treasure. That's good ol' Church terminology; used as a vague form of inspiration to urge Christians to serve each other in the Church. 
     But if we ever understand that it could be a viable slogan for going outside the building to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom through the works that Jesus did, and to advance God's agenda among the nations, then we might comprehend just how we can partner to sow what we've been give to steward. Who am I to deny someone who sees God at work through our ministry and just wants to sow into Him? It's not that I will ever solicit their tithe or donation, but rather [like Paul] I delight in seeing them receive their reward for honoring what the Lord has put on their heart. 
     Mark and I have learned to swallow our false pride and accept the occasional donation when it is offered out of a sincere desire to prosper the Kingdom. It is always a pleasure to be able to do more than we hoped, and see a greater outcome than we expected. The truth is, we can reach more people and expand the territory for God, when we partner with others. So, although we are always content in whatever situation we find ourselves, when He blesses our ministry through the generosity of another Believer, we know they are being blessed too. And the Enemy has just lost more ground!

2 Corinthians 9:6     Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.

February 9, 2020

A Restful Soul and a Light Burden

     I sense that many people, like myself, are in need of rest for their souls. In addition, the burdens of this life on earth, let alone the obedience as a Christian, can weigh heavy on our hearts and spirits. Many times, I have gone to Matthew 11:28-30 to find solace: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
     I have never despaired of the calling on my life to bring an encounter with Jesus to the life of someone who needs healing from the wounds of this world. But as a friend reminded me the other day, "Even Jesus had to take a break from the demands on Him, and remove Himself for periods of rest". Don't get me wrong, in no way do I think that my work for the broken-hearted compares to what Jesus accomplished. But, as the Lord increases the number of people who find their way to our door, Mark and I do get weary in our flesh, souls, and spirits. 
     We do recognize that we need rest. And I used to find comfort in these verses, thinking that they were telling me that Jesus invites everyone who senses they can't ease their burdens on their own, to come to Him. He offers rest for our souls, which often overshadow and smother our spirits, limiting our ability to receive the gifts of the Spirit: joy, love, patience,  peace, gentleness, kindness and self-control, or discipline. He invites us to learn from Him as He models how to carry out our work for the Kingdom without feeling like we have a millstone around our neck.
     While I believe that interpretation to be valid, I have recently discerned what I think is another layer to this familiar passage.  Previously in Matthew 11, Jesus had spoken that the Kingdom of Heaven had suffered violence and the violent were taking it by force (verse 12). I believe Jesus was implying that the Kingdom of Heaven was being pressed into by men forcing their way in because they had been denied entrance by the religious restrictions and rules of the Pharisees. This resulted in a religious burden for those seeking to get closer to their God. 
     "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden"... all who feel tired and worn-out from trying to meet all the criteria of being pronounced worthy of entering even the Temple, let alone the Kingdom of God. From the time Moses came down off the mountain with the stone tablets, some 1400+ years before, God's ten commandments for righteous living had multiplied exponentially, being mingled with oral traditions and the rabbi's written commentaries until the burden of meeting the standards of the religious leaders was nearly hopeless.
     "I will give you rest... you can recover your strength from the endless burden of meeting those standards. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls... Submit to His authority (yoke) and learn from Him how to walk out righteousness; sharing not only His Kingdom's system and structure, but the same rest for their souls that being aligned with the Father's kingdom lent Him. Jesus's heart and the Father's are in communion, yielding a gentle, submissive and obedient spirit; unburdened and rested.
     For my yoke is easy and my burden is light... Again, the submission to His authority (yoke) is easy, and His burden (discipleship) is light. Unlike the religious path of the Pharisees, following Jesus is easy and no burden, at all.  
     The fact that Chapter 12 is full of examples of these "rules" that the Pharisees placed on men -- no harvesting of the grain the Disciples ate on the Sabbath; no healing on the Sabbath of the man with the withered hand; no casting out demons by the Spirit of God -- is evidence to me that the "burden" Jesus referred to as being "heavy" was, indeed, all the religious rules that made it difficult for men to seek the Kingdom of God.
     So, as I contemplate my recent weariness, I must admit that a good portion of it comes from the burden of having shown Christians the glory of God healing the souls and spirits of Believers, only to have it embraced as Truth, then watch that enthusiasm evaporate as they slip back into their religious traditions. 
     I should not be surprised, though. As I read the messages to the churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus clearly warns that the Body of Christ will not walk the straight and narrow path. Only a remnant will take His yoke upon themselves and learn from Him. But the harvest is great, so we will continue to labor in His fields, presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom and our King's gentle and humble heart. And we will rest when we can and never resist harnessing ourselves to Him and His authority.

Revelation 3:1-3     I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent...