Thursday, October 10, 2013

Upside-Down Kingdom

Upside-Down Kingdom

To experience the kingdom here on earth, live by these upside-down concepts. They are only upside-down based on what society deems as right-side up. 

I got this concept from the book Beautiful Battle: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare by Mary DeMuth. She posed a question in her book to help women understand what they focus on. On page 44, she writes, “What is more important to you—maintaining or upgrading your lifestyle or making decisions based on God’s upside-down kingdom?” 

This got me to thinking: Exactly what is an upside-down kingdom? I realized it is living counterculturaly like Mary says. It is doing the opposite of what his world is doing. It is putting our heart into people who the world has forgotten or things is not productive. Here are some Biblical examples.

  1. The last will be first, and the first will be last. Matthew 20:16
  2. Jesus made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant. Philippians 2:7
  3. Jesus was obedient to death. Philippians 2:8
  4. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
  5. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him your other also. Matthew 5:39
  6. Let your giving be in secret. Matthew 6:4
  7. Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble-not demanding your rights) Matthew 5:3
  8. Blessed are those who mourn. Matthew 5:4
  9. Blessed are the meek. Matthew 5:5
  10. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Matthew 5:6
  11. Blessed are the merciful. Matthew 5:7
  12. Blessed are the pure in heart. Matthew 5:8
  13. Blessed are the peacemakers. Matthew 5:9
  14. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
  15. Blessed are you when people insult you because of Jesus. Matthew 5:11
  16. Anyone who loves his father of mother; his son or daughter more than Jesus is not worthy of Jesus. Matthew 10:37 
  17. He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [ any man on earth]. The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. Matthew 11:11-12
  18. For Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. Matthew 11:30

It is not easy to live counterculturaly. I think counter-Satan or counter-evil may be another good way to explain this concept. Forgiving is hard especially when it is a deep wound that oozes continually and Band-Aids have been ripped off taking the hide with it to allow the effects of the environment to thump on the injury.

Next week, I will take these examples and describe the opposite. Til then, let me know other ways you can think of to live counter-society but for the Kingdom.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Different Kinds of Kingdoms

I think there is a difference between 'the kingdom of God' and 'the kingdom of heaven'. Obviously, the kingdom of heaven is in heaven.

I have found two ideas about the 'kingdom of God'. One, the kingdom of God are those of us who are on earth who are God's elect and chosen. We are ambassadors who share the Word and represent God.

 Also, the kingdom of God is Jesus. Mark 1:14 says the kingdom of God has come near. Luke 9:27 says I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

2 Kings 19:15 Hezekiah prayed and said "Lord,... you are the God over all the kingdoms of the earth." We have to be careful that we do not reject the notion that the kingdom of God is on earth fighting for souls, because the kingdom does not look like what we think it should. Isn't that why the Sadducees rejected Jesus because he was not physically sitting on a throne like they thought he should be doing. They could not fathom any other king unless he was on a throne ruling on earth. The kingdom is kind of invisible in the sense that we could walk right by someone in the kingdom and not even know it. That is one of our biggest get all the saints together in our town, in our church, in our community, on our street, in our homes to battle Satan.

Story in 2 Chronicles 13:1
Abijah, the king of Judah was preparing for battle with Jeroboam. Abijah had four hundred thousand (400,000) fighting men. Jeroboam had eight hundred thousand (800,000) able troops. Abijah went to Jeroboam and said, "Don't you know the Lord has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever.... You plan to resist the kingdom of David's descendants."

It is not a good idea to resist the kingdom of God. Jesus will come whether or not some believe it or not. Jesus will come get the people in his kingdom and take them to their inherited kingdom of heaven even if some don't believe it.

Blessings for now!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kingdom of Heaven is Like Little Children

Matthew 19:13-14

Matthew talks about what happened when people brought little children to Jesus. I guess the disciples thought there were more important issues and rebuked them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

So, if the 'kingdom belongs to such as these,' (children) let's explore the character of children that we (adults) should posses.

*Complete dependence- children are dependent for every need in every way and in every area of life: food, clothes, shelter and safety.
*Trusting- I see this during separation at preschool. There is anxiety about being separated from a parent. As the year goes on, they are attached to a teacher and trust that teacher.
*Separation anxiety- There are huge tears and huge feelings of fear when kids are separated from their parents as children.
* Easily led- I sing a marching song and my 7 little two-year old children follow like ducklings.
*Innocent- Life/World has not placed its influence on their life yet.
*Lost without guidance.
*Very persuasive- Ever had a child beg constantly until you gave in? (I'm not the only one right?)

Now, let's look at our character based on these characteristics of children and we should be like children remember. The kingdom belongs to people who have the characteristics like children.

We should be completely dependent on God for our every need in every way in every area of life. We should be trusting and know that God never lies. We should never blame God, but turn to him always knowing he has our best in mind. We should have separation anxiety when the cares of the world take our time away from Him. We should protect that time with God no matter what! We should be easily led by God and not strong-arm Him when we don't think we can accomplish what He has put before us. We should be innocent and try our best to not allow the influence of this world twist our reality. We should always filter our situations through the Word, not through our experiences and our twisted reality. Let's face it, we are all twisted in some way. We are totally lost without God! We need to accept his guidance.

We also need to be very persuasive in two ways. I'm not advocating begging God for anything, but it does say to continually pray. We need to have that never ending conversation with Him. We also need to be persuasive with the poor and the lost and with our neighbors. I want people to say, "She never gave up on so-n-so even when they abused her kindness and turned away and stabbed her in the back." Incidentally, Jesus never gave up on people either. Until the very end people can have a change of heart just like the man on the cross who turned to Jesus during his last breaths on earth. He was just as saved as a man who had followed Jesus for years.

Jesus has the never give up on anyone characteristic and I want that too!

Let's practice that kingdom living here on earth and add to our character the character of the little kids.


Friday, September 13, 2013

#3 Journey throgh my Kingdom Study

Read Luke 22:27-

Jesus was talking to his disciples and said, "But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer ON you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table IN my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

To be a disciple, we have to follow Jesus and his teachings and obey what he has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20.

To confer means to bestow or give.

This passage made me think of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament and before Pentecost when the HS was given, the Spirit was always ON someone. After Pentecost, the Spirit was IN someone. Both ways, the Spirit was a guide and counselor.

The kingdom seems to be similar in a lot of passages I have read in the fact that the kingdom is ON us because we are a chosen people, we are following Jesus. When Jesus comes and we go to heaven we will be IN the kingdom.

I believe the kingdom is conferred ON those who believe so we can experience a little heaven on earth. When Jesus comes, we can take our inheritance, the kingdom prepared for us and live IN it with Jesus.

I guess you can reject the kingdom given to you just like you can reject the Holy Spirit's guidance in your life. Let's take hold of the wonderful gifts that Jesus holds out to us: faith, salvation, inheritance, Holy Spirit, hope, freedom from guilt and condemnation.

Blessings to all!
(Hey, IF I held out 10 bucks, would you make a comment? Hahahaha!)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

# 2 The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Mustard Seed & Yeast

One of my favorite kingdom verses is Matthew 11:12 Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."

I really like what the preacher said Wednesday about all these 'kingdom' parables. He said that they explain what life in the kingdom of heaven was really supposed to be like. Jesus wanted us to visualize it and live it. I've also heard someone ask, "How can you bring a little bit of heaven to earth?" If we apply these kingdom parables to our lives, it is like living with a little heaven here on earth.

Matthew 13:31 The Mustard Seed
*a man took a mustard seed and planted it in his field
*a man took his small amount of faith and began tending it with knowledge

*Even though it is very small, when it grows, it can become the largest of garden plants
*Even though it is small, when it is added to with knowledge and belief, it grows very large

*It becomes a tree
*It becomes something others can see with roots that needs water, sun, weeding and pruning

*birds of the air come and perch in its branches
*other people can benefit from seeing your faith and grow because of you

The parable about the yeast is similar: The kingdom of heaven is like yeast mixed into a large amount of flour.

*yeast is mixed into a large amount of four
*faith is seen by many people

*it worked all through out the dough
*the faith spread to all the people the woman came in contact with

If you take a serious look at how you display your faith to others, what will you find? Will others see your positive attitude? Will others say, "She never says a bad thing about anyone...ever"? Can others say you are gentle, kind, studious? On the flip side: do people see your negative attitude? Do they hear your gripes and complaints all the time? Do they know you are harsh with others, and rash in your decisions?

Apply the Word to your life so a little bit of heaven can be experienced on earth. It will also grow the kingdom on earth for heaven.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

#1 Wheat and Weeds and The Longest 7 Seconds of Silence I Have Ever Heard

Matthew 13:24-30
Title in NIV: A parable: Wheat and weeds.

 This is what the words refer to:
1. The one who sowed good seed= Son of Man
2. Field=world
3. Good seed= sons of the kingdom
4. Weeds= sons of evil one
5. One who sowed bad seed= devil
6. Harvest= end of age
7. Harvesters= angels

The first sentence is from the Bible. The second sentence is translated from the explanation Jesus gave about the parable. Reading them side by side deepened my understanding of what Jesus was saying to the people.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed…

*like a man who sowed good seen in the field
*like the Son of Man who placed his creation in the world

*but while people slept the enemy came and sowed weeds
*but while people did not notice, Satan planted evil people in the world

*wheat sprouted and weeds sprouted
*good people lived for God among the bad people who lived for Satan

*the owner’s servants came to him
*God’s angels came to him

*Do you want us to pull them up?
*Do you want us to get rid of the evil Satan planted?

*No because you may pull up some of the wheat with the weeds
*No because you may destroy some of the good people when you destroy the bad

*Let both grow together
*Let both good and bad live together

*At harvest, I will tell harvesters to gather weeds and tie them for the fire; then gather wheat and bring it to the barn
*At the coming of the Lord, the angels will gather all the bad people who denied Him and were sown by the devil and throw them to hell. Then they will gather the good people and bring them to heaven

?Can an evil person Satan planted ever turn to the Lord and reject Satan, the one who planted him?
?If good people would be destroyed when the bad people were pull up, does that mean that some of the good people are so entangled and associated with the evil in the world that they would be damaged if that part of their ‘world’, ‘self’ were to be removed?
?When I think of God saying let both live together, I can’t help but think of the verse that says God is patient and wants all to turn to him. He is giving those good people time to turn the evil ones to the Lord.

I think it is interesting how God keeps us on our toes in His word. In this parable, the evil people are gathered first and thrown into the fire then the good are gathered to heaven. In other parts of the Bible, the good seem to be gathered first (Mt. 24:31; Mark 13:27). So, when the Lord comes, I’m a little confused to know which group I want to be included in—the first or the second. I just want to go with Jesus and I don’t care which group that is. Maybe the Left Behind books are right and all the good people go first to allow the bad people to change and turn to God. But, I see evidence in the Bible for both scenarios to happen. This is where I think God is testing our faith. He also tests us to see how staunch we are in our understanding of the Word. If someone is truly open to the Lord and his teaching through their personal bible study, they will say, “I don’t know and I am at peace with that.” Many cannot say they are at peace with not knowing.
            In a large bible study I used to attend in Fort Worth, the opportunity presented itself for me to use this example. I think the conversation was heavily on ‘going first’ (ie. Rapture), but, being me and enjoying stretching people’s knowledge, I flipped over to this verse and explained that in this parable, the weeds go first and the good people second. That was the longest 7 seconds of silence I have ever heard. I suppose they were digesting that comment and new insight. My comment apparently did not fit with what they had always been lead to believe or what they whole-heartedly already believed to be true. (Just a side note: I was asked to be a leader of the bible study groups (there were about 10 groups), but I said no because I was being called to write and that particular bible study took up many hours and miles.)

            The point: Be open to new understanding from the Word. Don’t be so staunch in some of your beliefs and think everyone has to have the same view you do. Everyone has a different personal relationship with God.

            Challenge: Think of one of your staunch beliefs you could lighten up on. For example:
1.      People with tattoos are bad.
2.      People should wear a certain kind of dress to church.
3.      It is easy for people to turn to the Lord, I’ve done it. Just do it!
4.      Some people are not worth it.
5.      Worshiping the Lord should be done quietly.
6.      ‘We’ interpret the Bible correctly, everyone else does not. (arrogant!!!)
7.      There is only one translation of the Bible that is approved by God.
8.      If I get involved, I will get ‘dirty’ and God will not approve.
9.      Do not associate with sinners.

Blessings! I pray I have sparked your desire to study. Ponder God’s word.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Journey to my Kingdom Study

Kingdom of Heaven Study: Where I Got the Inspiration

            My journey began several years ago when a sweet young lady came to my door and wanted to share some Scripture with me. Of course, I allowed her to do so. For about a year she would come and share a scripture about every 2-3 months and give me some reading material. Sometimes she had a ‘trainee’ with her. One day she turned to a passage in Daniel (I tried to look up the specific one but there are 53 references to the kingdom in Daniel and I really don’t remember which one). She read about the kingdom and asked my opinion. I told her I believed there is a kingdom of God’s believers on earth that are called to win as many into the kingdom of believers as they can before the Lord returns to take us to the heavenly kingdom. She did not agree with that. She only believes there is a heavenly kingdom. 

            After she left, that got me to thinking. I did a long study on the kingdom and how it IS here on earth and how there is a heavenly kingdom we will go to when we die (or Jesus comes back). The next time she returned, I was armed with scripture. It just so happens that my house was clean the day she and her trainee stopped by. I invited them in and we sat on the couch and all opened our Bibles. I shared with them my scriptures. She shared with me her scriptures. After a short while when I decided this was going no where, I said, “You know, we probably should agree to disagree. Whether you believe your interpretation or I believe what I have found, neither is a ‘bad’ view to hold. Neither is denying God or against his teaching. And, believing that a kingdom of believers is here on earth is not a bad concept, it is just different than your concept.” Well, they really didn't like that, but they were nice about it and the sweet lady expressed that it was really refreshing to actually have someone talk to them and not brush them off. It was nice to know someone took the time to study the scriptures. 

         After that, she did come back several more times but we did not talk about the kingdom any more. What I found to be most interesting came after the visit I had with her about the kingdom. Two older men came to my house. They were obviously from the same church as the sweet lady. It seemed they were ‘checking up’ on me because of something she had told them. God was with me that day!! They asked me questions and I talked with them on the front porch for a short while. At one point in our conversation, I made a comment (I really don’t remember what it was, but it was about my understanding of some scripture we were discussing.) You know that long pause you get when someone is digesting something you said? Well, they paused and stared at me. One finally nodded in agreement with a look on his face like, “I never thought of that before.” I credit God for putting the words in my mouth for that situation and for giving me the opportunity to nicely debate others who have a zest for scripture, too. I like debating. I learn a lot.

            Anyway, I have always been fascinated by the whole ‘kingdom’ concept ever since these encounters. So, I started researching the “The kingdom of heaven is like…” passages in Matthew. Each week I will share one of those with you. And my interpretation is that there has to be a kingdom on earth fighting good and evil. There is also a kingdom in the heavenly realm fighting good and evil. But, Heaven, I think, is were there is no evil and no tears and all is at peace with us worshiping God constantly.

            Next week, I will start with Matthew 13:24-30 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.”

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Ring Are You?

What ring are you?

You have heard the story about the pebble thrown in the lake, right? The rings get bigger and bigger as they seemingly float and bobble to the shore. 
You are one of those rings in each persons life. You are the closest ring for your immediate family. You touch their life daily and are a huge impact. The next ring may be family or friends you see once or twice a week at church.  The next ring may be the people you continually bump into at the grocery store. 

Ring 1: you are an example, you are seen, you are hands-on, you pray with, you give advice, you discipline, you pray for, you make time for. You are meeting their every need.

Ring 2: you are only seen occasionally. And let's face it, you can portray what you want to these people. You see them occasionally and I bet your typical answer is, 'I'm just fine.' It is easy to hide a few things when you only see someone a couple times a week for a few minutes. 

Ring 3: strangers like at the grocery store or bank or favorite restaurant. You may only know their name. All they know about you is your personality of always nice, happy, or complainer and grumpy. 

Ring 4: people you never see but you know they are there.  People who want nothing to do with you. 

Ring 5: society, leaders, world

What can we do? 

Ring 1: pray for, be there, guide,direct, love, sacrifice for
Ring 2: pray for, love, be real!, support by letting them know you are there for them, do unexpected things for them
Ring 3: let them see you give glory to God and when you walk away, let them say that you are always happy and full of joy, pray for them
Ring 4: get into the Word and pray very specific prayers for them!!
Ring 5: pray for them daily

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What To Do When You Are Duped, Cheated or Wronged

I have been duped. I allowed someone to be a part of something because it would have beneficial-if it had worked out. I was warned! This person had duped someone before. I thought I’d be so nice and it would all work out. I’m all about giving people second chances. Like the boyfriend I had in high school who was an alcoholic. I thought I could fix him and give him just one more chance (over and over) to prove he was ‘kicking the habit’. That did not work out.

Well, I won’t be dooped again. I can be nice and genuinely ask how this person is doing if I ever meet them somewhere. However, the trust is GONE! What is the saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

But here is my dilemma. I do not advocate talking bad about anyone. In this group, I only referred to this person as the ‘mystery person’. I never used a name. But, I now know this persons motives are not pure by the two acts that have occurred. So, do I tell others in this group to watch out for So-N-So in the hopes that sabotage cannot be used again on different people? Do I allow it to ‘play out’ in the hopes that it will be different the next time like with my old boyfriend? Hummmmm. I wonder! (Another layer, I think a relative is in the group with us. What then?) I also do not want to be passive aggressive and just let this act go unanswered. I would love to go talk to that person and show them all the false emails and communication in a hard copy and say 'thank you , but no thank you!"  (But I was advised by a VIP to just take person off email contacts.) I hate passive aggressiveness.

I hate those kind of prayers, too, that are wrapped in LOVE. “Let’s pray for (name). She is not wearing her wedding ring.” Okay, let’s acknowledge that is just gossip!! I don’t want to gossip but I want to warn. But warning seems like gossip to me. GRRR!

I also am comfortable with the fact that I tried to give this person another chance. Jesus gave lots of second chances. So, I would rather have 'sucker' written on my character than 'you are not worth it' written there. So, I guess what I am saying is, be open to being duped and cheated and  wronged and don't take it personally when you are. If there is a chance a person will made a different choice and make a good choice, give them the  chance. It may make you look foolish but risk it. Jesus looked foolish to the Sadducees and Pharisees. But Jesus did say, "Go and sin no more!" If  our action enable a person to sin, we are perpetuating the behavior. So, somewhere there is a fine line between giving second chances and helping someone stay in their sin. (That would be an interesting debate.)

1 Corinthians 3:18 If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.
1Corinthians 1:27 God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God choose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 6:7 Why not rather be cheated? Why not rather be wronged?

When I get to heaven, I know all of my life will be laid bare before the Lord and I will have to give an account. I guess I would rather have 'sucker' on my soul rather than 'no chance' written there. 1 Cor. 14:25, 2 Peter 3:10 and Heb 4:13 says everything will be laid bare and and uncovered before the Lord. I sure hope I have bound love, forgiveness, mercy, grace for others, boldness for gospel and other good traits on myself. I hope I have loosed  and scraped off the dross of selfishness, pride, fear, unforgiveness, lust and other negative stuff when my motives and heart are laid bare before the Judge.

What do you have growing in your heart? As much as it depends on you, what has ahold of your mind, soul and heart?