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How to live your life kingdom first part 2.

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 1 you can read it here.

The third practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to accept one another. This is not the same thing as the current move we see in the world right now where hateful people are demanding others to accept them. This is us deciding that we know other people are flawed just like we are, and we are going to be patient with them.

We should be willing to associate with the “lowly”, and care for those that receive less honor in the body of Christ.

The word of God says that we should be at peace with one another, that we should live in harmony, and accept one another. It says that we should bear with one another being kind, compassionate, sympathetic, and forgiving. It also says that we should be hospitable without grumbling, but with joy.

God even tells us in His word to confess our sins to one another so that we can pray for each other. There is a really good reason why nobody does this, and it’s because we don’t accept each other. For too long we have been doing things the opposite way. Instead of patience, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, we have jumped to conclusions, been hateful, condemned people, and judged people. Furthermore, we have been this way to people based on things as simple as how they look, or dress. So we now have a built-in fear about sharing our struggles with others. We may even want to share our struggle to ease our burden, but we won’t risk the response we might get.

We have to shift in this area not only as the body of Christ, but individually in our own minds. We need to accept others, but we also need to be willing to share our struggles with others. I myself, I struggle with sharing my burdens with others, but I’m getting better about it.

This isn’t a hard thing, it should not be hard for us to be patient, kind, compassionate, and forgiving toward others in their struggles if we are honest with ourselves about our own. When you know you have a log in your own eye, it’s easy to look past the toothpick in someone else’s eye.

Don’t kick people while they are down, choose to accept them, and help them back up. If you live long enough you will need help yourself someday.

Live your life kingdom first!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Scriptures I used for this post:

Matthew 7, Mark 9, Romans 12, Romans 15, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3, 1 Peter 4, and James 5.

 

How to live your life Kingdom first part 1

This will be the first of many posts on how to live your life kingdom first. This is a journey for all of us, and just like you, I have yet to arrive. Let us be thankful we have a good, loving Father who is full of patience, grace, and favor toward His kids. With so many theological arguments out there, and thoughts about what’s most important, I just want to know God, His ways, and how I should live this life for Him. I believe the Lord revealed this series to me because He knows my Heart for it, and He knows my heart for you.

Most of you that read this blog know that number one we should love God with every part of our being, and seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness. I have already written several things that give us some practical things we can do to put Him first, such as not being autonomous in our life plan, but allowing His plan for us to be our plan.

But outside of this number one thing, how do I live my life kingdom first? What should I be doing in practical terms? Over the next several posts, I am going to present 6 other practical things we can do. In my thoughts, it is out of doing these things that your individual gifts begin to flow out of you.

So much is written and talked about in things such as eschatology, finances, authority, how to interpret, and so on. That is fine, and I like some of those conversations; however, it seems to me that so much of what God is trying to get through to us is our own internal transformation through Christ, and how we treat and deal with other people.

If loving God, and putting Him first is number 1, then the second thing we can do is to love other people.

The commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples in an intimate moment was to love each other as He loved them, and that this love is what would prove to the world that they were His followers. In John chapters 13 and 15, He gave them this command three different times.

In Romans 13:8-10 we see that it is an obligation to love others, that love does no wrong to others, and so it fulfills all requirements. If you love other people you will want to take the gifts that God put in you, and give them to others. This is why I say that your gifts will begin to flow in doing these things.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:12 we see Paul out of his own great love for these people ask the Lord to make their love for each other, and for all people not only grow, but even overflow. In chapter 4 he tells them he really doesn’t even need to tell them to love each other because they already do as the Lord Himself has taught them, but even then he urges them to love even more.

In 1 Peter 3:8 we see that we should love each other like siblings, and be compassionate towards others while at the same time being humble ourselves. Then in chapter 4:8 he tells them that most importantly they should continue to love each other deeply as love covers all.

In 1 John 3:11 we see that the message from the very beginning was that we should love one another. It says this same thing in 2 John verses 5 and 6.

In 1 John 4:7-12 we see that love is from God, that we should love others, and that this is what proves we Know God. If God loves us as much as He does, then we ought to love others. It goes on to say that if we will love others then His love will be perfected in us.

So this not only speaks to how we treat other people, but also our own internal transformation in becoming more like Christ. Loving other people perfects things within ourselves.

It is His command to us, it is evidence that we know Him, it lets the world know that we are His, it fulfills all, and it covers all.

If you want to live a kingdom first life, love others. Even if it is hard. Love covers all including you, for example, if you choose to love rather than hold a grudge, your own soul (mind, will, and emotions) will remain healthy.

Live your life kingdom first!

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Maintain your peace, and joy in Christ…A word of encouragement for you.

No matter how well you do in life, no matter how many successes you have, there will be people who say it isn’t good enough. There will people that focus on your failures. There will be people who focus on your mistakes. There will be people who focus on your bad circumstances. There will be people that say you failed in what they deemed the key indicator. There will be people that discredit you, disqualify you, and look down on you. I will say it like apostle Paul said it, this is a trustworthy saying and everyone should accept it.

However, there is another trustworthy saying….people can’t change, or discredit what God says about you. You are His masterpiece, He has created you to do good things, and you will do the good things He has planned for you. People don’t have the authority to disqualify what God has qualified through His son Jesus Christ.

When people try to disqualify you, they disqualify themselves. When they say you are not good enough, they are saying God’s finished work is not good enough. Keep doing what God has called you to do. Do the right things based on your convictions, and let people do what they do, they are going to do it regardless of how you think or feel about it anyway. Maintain your peace, and joy in Christ.

God is for you, and I am for you.

 

Why Americans are not attending church

While scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday I saw five different links to find out why Americans are no longer attending church. They all listed several points. I am going to weigh in on it, and give my top two points that were not listed. Time, and value. The two go together, and these two are in my opinion, two of the top reasons Americans are not going to church.

Time is very precious, I have written about that before. Many Americans don’t have any time, it is all spoken for. We live in a time where many have to work 6 and 7 days a week in order to survive, and take care of their families. When they do get a day off they would like to see one of their kids play sports, or go see their family. When they do get a day off and go to church they don’t want to be ridiculed for not being there more often.

But isn’t it true that we can all choose where, and how we spend the time that we do have? Yes it is true, and this where value comes in. We choose to go to work everyday because we value the pay check, benefits, etc, or even call it a need. We choose to go see our kids play sports because we find value, and joy in doing so. We choose to spend our time on what we find valuable. So what does that say about choosing to not go to church. It says we don’t value it.

Why do we as a people no longer value going to church? I would say there are many reasons, but one reason that can sum a lot of it up is that we have heard it all before. If it is an old covenant condemning type church we already know we are not good enough. If it is a prosperity get everything you want type church, we live in a consumeristic society, we have been taught to chase the American dream. Where do you think the prosperity movement was born? Combine some scriptures, and the American dream and there you have it. We are burdened by it every day. It breeds endless jealousy, envy, comparison, and burden. If it’s a church where we just have to believe harder, and have more faith in order to overcome life happening to us, we’ve heard that too. We’ve heard it all before.

Why do we hear more about external growth than internal growth? Why are we hearing that profit is more important than people? Business is business right? We hear these things everyday at work, we don’t need to hear it in church. Why are we going to church and never hearing about Jesus, the good news, and His kingdom?

Why is the number of people going to church in America shrinking every year, but some pastors are reporting that 100,000 people are turning to the church every year in China? Could it be that they are presenting what is valuable? Could it be that their message is Jesus the savior, the redeemer, the prince of peace, the provider, speaking the good news gospel, etc? Could it be that they know life happens, and they don’t make people feel guilty about it? Could it be they don’t just tell people to believe more, have more faith, and say they will pray for you, but they actually put their skin in the game and help you while you are down? Could it be that they understand the only thing that makes us Christians different is Christ?

The love of Christ is our litmus test. It’s how we should be identified, and known to be Christians. It’s what should make us different when people encounter us. It should come out of us when we are around people. It’s what is valuable.

I know very little, but I know this….if you can provide a place where people can come in and have an encounter with Jesus, His love, and the miracles and healings, etc that follow….they will make time to come back to Him (not you and your church) over and over again. They will find something so valuable every time that they will keep coming back to Him. Even if they falter. If it’s a safe place, they will come back because they won’t fear judgement.

We can get concerts from the world. We can get motivational speakers from the world. We can get personal finance from the world. We can get condemnation from the world. We can get judgement from the world. The only thing we can not get from the world is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Romans 10:14 “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” This is the value we could offer, an encounter with Him.

New technologies, aging generations, new demographics, etc, it doesn’t matter what you call the issue, encounters with the one true God will transform people. It may be a post-Christian America, but that’s because we decided encounters with God should come second to our own agendas.

I love the church in it’s original purpose, I have hope for the church, I minister in the church. This is my attempt to see things from the other side of the door after studying the reported data on Americans and church attendance. It is also me being transparent about my own thoughts, and things I have worked through.

I hope this didn’t come off as judgmental as that wasn’t my aim. There are no perfect churches as they are led by and full of imperfect people, but there are some really healthy, great churches in America. Jesus said ” ‘I’ will build my church”, I love His church. You will know it’s His church when you are there because He will be present.

If you haven’t been to church in a long time, go out and try to find a place where you walk away knowing you encountered the one true God, it will be worth it.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

This could be controversial in regards to current popular kingdom teachings….

One of the popular kingdom teachings of this day is that we advance the kingdom of Jesus by doing external things. We take territory in order to stake our Christian flag in the ground. We build mini empires in order for Jesus to influence. There may be some truth to this, and I don’t have an issue with there being a this and a that; however, I would at least like to offer a different idea.

I will only use one scripture among many that explain this idea.

Luke 17:20-21. It’s a popular scripture. Here’s the NKJV:

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (my emphasis added)

Now we have to look at a couple things. 1) Jesus is talking to pharisees, and we can safely say the kingdom was not in them. 2) we are dealing with the greek word “entos” in a plural conjunction which gets translated to among, or in your midst.

Here it is in the NASB (the NIV, ESV, NLT, and many others translate it in the same way with slightly different wording):

20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (my emphasis added)

The main reason I am pointing this out is to highlight king Jesus. The kingdom was standing right in front of them. The scripture itself points out that it isn’t about what is seen, or what is external. He was telling the pharisees what the kingdom was, or better yet WHO.

There is no doubt that we are to go and preach the kingdom. We know that the increase of His kingdom, and peace will not end. So then how do we advance the kingdom?

We present the king. We recall what happened to us internally when we found Him. We recall the peace we found when we found Him. We take that and we present Jesus to other people, or even just a person. That person to another person. That person to another person, and so on. Through this His kingdom is always advancing. Through this His peace is always advancing.

It’s never about what you can build on this earth that time will destroy. It is about what you can get inside of someone that is eternal. It is always about Jesus.

You can build whatever you want, and stake a christian flag in it; however, until the people are reflecting the king, until the people are reflecting Jesus and his social norms, it is not His kingdom.

The kingdom can be advanced the next time you are at Walmart. The kingdom can be advanced whether you have a lot, or a little. The kingdom can be advanced whether you are rich or poor.

The kingdom is in Jesus. The kingdom is advanced by presenting Jesus. That’s all you have to do, He will do the rest.

Even one of my taglines for this site, live your life kingdom first, is saying live your life putting Jesus first.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

The turn back…it’s God designed

Have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing? Maybe you thought you finally got away from that issue, but it showed up again. Now let me add to it, have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing when you know, that you know, that you know you are being obedient to God, and doing what He asked you to? I have.

Now I am not talking about repeatedly choosing to sin. I’m talking about when you are trying to do what God wants you to do, but you keep finding yourself under a barrage of attack by the enemy. Almost as if going in circles. A lot of times when this happens we start to feel like we are stuck in a rut, or feel like we are stuck in some kind of bad cycle, and maybe even start being accused of such things.

There is an interesting little piece of text in Exodus 14:1-4 where God tells Israel to turn back. God delivers Israel from slavery in Egypt, and they are on their way to the promised land free and clear. They were moving in a direction that they would not even need to cross the red sea; however, God then tells them to turn back. He says you turn back, I am going to harden Pharaohs heart, you set up camp for about a week and allow him and his army to catch up. (you can read the whole story for full context)

I’m sure the people had some thoughts about this idea. The person they were just delivered from was going to be allowed to catch back up to them, and seemingly capture them again. I’d say they probably didn’t like the plan. However, Moses assures them that God will deliver them.

So moving through the story, God allows Israel to cross the red sea on dry ground, but he drowns Pharaoh, and his whole army. What God actually did was take Israel from being delivered to being free. As long as they were afraid and looking over their shoulder for pharaoh they would never be free. Delivered from his hand, but not free.

So here’s the thing, sometimes God has you turn back in order to thoroughly destroy the thing that keeps chasing you. You may have been delivered from an attack, but not free from the fear. God wants you to be free. More importantly, when He does these things in your life it lets everyone around you know that He is God, and it glorifies Him.

Live your life kingdom first, God really is for you! I am for you!

Why we remain in familiar places…..

Many times we tend to stay in places that are familiar to us, and never change, grow, or move forward. It is very easy for us as people to become stagnate in our life. What started out as a wonderous journey becomes a life of going with the flow, doing what is easiest, doing what we are told we should do, or just giving up and living a life of inaction. But why do we do that? Why did Israel want to return to slavery in Egypt after they were delivered? Why did Peter return to fishing after Jesus was crucified?

I think two of the biggest factors are fear, and pain. Israel was afraid of Pharoah, and death. Peter was dealing with pain. We do the same thing in our life. When we encounter something we are afraid of we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward. At the thought of dealing with things that cause us pain we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward.

Fear and pain will cause you to be stagnate if you let them, but they can also catapult you forward if you move through them.

I used to have a great fear of public speaking, but now I do it everyday, and it energizes me, and brings me joy. I had to do it while being afraid the first several times; however, after I continued to move through it I started to enjoy it, and it became a part of who I am.

When most people exercise they back off when they start to feel a little pain, and most people do not get the results they want when they exercise, and so they quit. You have to push through the initial onset of pain in order to convince your body to come back stronger. (Disclaimer: obviously there are types of physical pain you should not push through)

The same concept is true with internal pain. There are a lot of people who are falling apart internally, and a lot of times the reason is that it causes them a lot of pain to talk about the subject, and deal with the emotions, and so they just keep it in. The problem with that is that the fruit of your life cannot grow with all of those weeds. However, if you push through the pain, and deal with those things they can become fertilizer in your life, and help produce better fruit than you ever have.

God is love which is the opposite of fear, not hate. 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love, and perfect love drives out all fear. If you are trusting God you have nothing to fear, you can walk in victory, and you can have rest for your soul.

If you are following Jesus, He is always taking you forward into the next place He has for you, and transforming you. Move forward, even if it might be painful. Take the path less traveled, even it looks scary.

God is for you, and I am for you!

When it comes to the kingdom first life, looks are deceiving.

Success as defined by the world is not a very good indicator of a kingdom first life. I would even say go ahead and take it off of your key indicators list. The character of a person matters more. If they were to lose it all, what kind of person would be left standing in the middle of their loss? Before you tie yourself to someone consider how they reached their level of success. Did they use and abuse people? Simply put, look past what they have and try to see what kind of person they are. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. There is a lot of deception used that is justified through saying it is for the advancement of the kingdom.

I can see two major things that satan does in order to attack our faith and character, or entice us in a direction we don’t need to go, and he often uses other people to do it. He attacks our stuff, or he offers us a bunch of bling. You can understand how much importance, and unhealthy love people put on possessions just by seeing that is what satan chooses to use in order to either attack us, or entice us.

When we read the story of Job we tend to emphasize all that he lost at the hands of satan; however, satan didn’t really care about Job’s possessions. He was attacking Job’s character in order to get him to lose his faith and curse God.  The attack failed, Job maintained his character, and everything that he lost plus more was restored to him. When things don’t seem to be going your way, when people tell you that you are failing, when people tell you God won’t promote you because your house isn’t in order, when they make accusations against you, when you feel like you are losing it all, etc just maintain your faith and your character.

When you are willing to lose it all to stay true to God, that is when you have it all. If you have Christ you have everything. Your inheritance is not in stuff, or the approval of people, it is life in Christ.

Then we have the temptation of Jesus. “the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” There is nothing to gain in selling your soul. The things of this world are worthless in comparison to life in Christ, and His kingdom. When your hearts are drawn to the things of this world and all of their glory, be vigilant for an enemy could be enticing you. Maintain your faith and character.

Possessions, stuff, money, wealth, etc, they are amoral. They are neither good nor bad; however, how you acquire can be good, or bad. How you use can be good, or bad. How you feel about can be good, or bad. What it becomes to you can be good, or bad. How you present it to other people can be good, or bad.

If satan is attacking you, God will work it all out in a way to benefit you. Romans 8:28

If satan is enticing you onto the wrong path, Jesus is still standing on the right path. John 14:6

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

The fruit of your salvation

Paul makes a couple of simple statements in Philippians chapter 1 that are a great reminder for us as Christians.

We should strive to grow in knowledge and understanding so that we understand what really matters most in order to live pure, and blameless lives. The thing that matters most is that we let our love overflow more and more.

He also reminds the Philippians to remain filled with the fruit of their salvation which is the righteous character produced in your life by Christ. This is what brings glory, honor, and praise to God.

The fruit of your salvation is your righteous character, and the biggest evidence of that character is how you treat other people. Is love spilling out of you? The opposite of love is fear. As people we generally treat people inappropriately when we are afraid of them in some way. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Let your love flow without fear, and let your righteous character shine!

God is for you, and I am for you. Let there be no fear in you.

Prosperity??

In Philippians 2:3 we read that we should not do things out of selfish ambition, and to look out for the interest of others. Even in serving the Lord, it wasn’t until the last few years that I realized that my dreams, and vision for my life were my own selfish ambition. Serving really isn’t meant to build you your own empire, serving is others centered. If you serve in order to obtain a self-centered dream, or vision you are simply self-serving. Serving is looking out for others at the expense of yourself. Serving Jesus even when it costs you something. Serving others even when it costs you something.

Unfortunately one of the things that I see happening all around me is Christians using other people(not just their money) for their own profit. I think it comes out of a twisted version of the prosperity message. It has convinced us that it is ok to use others for profit, and make as much profit as possible at the expense of others. We tell ourselves it’s ok because God wants us to be “blessed” and have the “abundant life”. We look at ROI, profit margins, etc just like the world does. We try to get as much profit as possible rather than the least it takes to keep growing. Let me just say that I believe God does want to prosper us, but I think that simply means He will make sure we have more than enough to do what He has called us to do. That can be relationships, buildings, money, or simply said anything we may need. The more than is not meant to build your empire, it is meant to help others.

This is what I have written down for myself as kind of my motto….whatever I do I will try to make sure the other party gets more value from me than I receive payment from them. I think this fits what it means to serve better than making sure I get more payment from people than the value I give them.

It doesn’t matter if you are a ministry leader, someone who provides a service, someone who provides a product, someone who goes to work everyday, a speaker, a writer, etc…I think the motto will fit the scenario.