Build yourself wisely

What did Jesus mean when He said 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock (Matthew Ch 7)? This was the closing of the teaching that He began in Matthew Ch 5.

What is the solid foundation that keeps the house (man) from falling? Is it a big bank account, or 401k? Is it family? Is it spending every spare minute at the church? What is it? I believe that the Bible answers itself, and that the Holy Spirit leads us in understanding. I am going to present a quick summary of these 3 chapters of teaching by Jesus in short statements. (These are not direct quotes from scripture, I am summarizing in my own words)

You are blessed if you are humble, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, if you are merciful and pure in heart, and if you are a peacemaker. You are blessed if people insult, and lie about you. Be blessed. You are the light of the world if you let these things shine before men.

Don’t be angry with your brother, and make friends with your opponent. Don’t operate in sin. Go the extra mile. Love your enemy.

Give to the poor, and fast without making it a spectacle. Spend time alone with God in prayer. Be forgiving.

Treasure in heaven is better than treasure on earth. Your heart is attracted to treasure, so be careful how you define it. You can not serve God and money.

Don’t worry about life, have faith that father God has you covered. Seek first His kingdom, and He will take care of the rest.

Don’t judge people. I would say discern and make decisions; however, Jesus clearly says not to judge.

Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Consistently and continuously.

Treat people like you want to be treated.

Be an outlier in the world. Don’t follow the crowds through the wide gate. The narrow way leads to life.

Learn to recognize good fruit. Just because it looks good does not mean that it is good. There are ravenous wolves in sheep clothing. Just because they look the part does not always mean they are walking in the kingdom.

Then we come back to the hinge statement. Therefore.

Therefore, everyone who hears these things and does them is like a house built on the rock, the solid foundation. If you hear these things, and do these things you will not fall. Even when the storms come.

What does this mean for our lives? I will say this, storms of all types without question will come. Failures, enemies, lies, insults, relational struggles, the allure of money, pride, ego, relational struggles, wolves that look like sheep, and so on. However, the storms will not cause you to fall if you have heard the words of Jesus and put them into practice.

Build yourself wisely.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

A brief word on becoming a son

For a very big part of my life I did things in large part in order to gain approval, or avoid punishment. That was the highest percentage of what motivated me. A couple of simple examples: I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents, or I wanted to get a high five from my boss. It’s a good thing to please your parents and your boss. The problem wasn’t with them, or even in my actions, the problem was in my motivations. This becomes an even bigger problem in our spiritual life, and that is what I will attempt to very briefly explain today.

If I am motivated to serve God because I am afraid of punishment, feel an obligation to serve, seek approval, or feel trapped then I have the mindset of a slave. I know this because all those things are symptoms of slavery. This is very important because if I am motivated by symptoms of slavery, and I have the mindset of a slave, then it means I see God as a slave master. This is a very unhealthy place to be, and a place that will only serve to hinder our spiritual journey.

So how to do we transition from a place of slavery to a place of sonship. The reality is that Jesus has already done it all. Jesus did not partially win a battle, He has the victory in its fullness. This means that if you are in Christ you are no longer guilty, and that is at least one of the key elements. You have to recognize that you are no longer guilty. There has to be a change in the servant’s heart. You have to go from guilt to gratitude. This means that you will no longer be motivated the same way.

It means I am motivated to serve God because of my gratitude for the gift of freedom and redemption. I don’t feel an obligation to serve, I have a desire to serve. I’m not just doing things for approval, I’m doing things out of love. I don’t do things because I am trapped, I do things because I am free to do so.

This change of heart and mindset may only be a part of this transition, but it is a large part. Where a slave has to, a son wants to, and that it is a substantial change within the heart and mind of a person. Where you were once a hindrance to your own spiritual journey, you are now a partner in furthering your journey.

God doesn’t see you as a slave, and I want to encourage you not to see God as a slave master. If you take a look at your life and realize that the things that motivate you are symptoms of slavery, and you want to change that, there is no better time than now. Ask your father God to help you change your mind and your heart in these things. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God is for you, and I am for you!

How to live your life kingdom first part 4

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 3 you can read it here.

The fifth practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to encourage one another.

I think one scripture really sums this up well, and that is Ephesians 4 verse 29. It says 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I will probably come back to Ephesians chapter 4 later in this series; however, for now I will just work with this one verse.

So when we look at this verse we can see that the only thing that should be coming out of our mouths towards, or about others is what will build them up/encourage them. We can also then define what unwholesome talk is, and that is anything that does not build up and encourage. If it tears people down, discourages, judges, ridicules, lies about, gossips about, curses, or anything along these lines then it is unwholesome. This does not mean that you never say anything that challenges someone, or holds them accountable as this will benefit them; however, I will say that for these types of things you should have a solid relationship with someone before you speak to them in such a way. In my opinion, if you do not have a solid established relationship with someone you will have a hard time bringing accountability.

If we are honest with ourselves about these things I would venture to say we all do roughly the same thing when we are on the receiving end of unwholesome talk, we turn those people off, we disregard what they say, or we let their words bring us down. With that we can say that a sure-fire way to NOT reach and connect with people is to speak in ways that discourage, judge, ridicule, etc. This is why preaching anger, fire, and brimstone doesn’t work. It may produce fearful, discouraged, never good enough people, but it will never produce relational, and healthy people.

How we talk to people has a huge impact on how they see us, and how they see God. It could be the difference in a person deciding to always run away, or always run to when they mess up. If they know you will judge them, they will always run away and be discouraged. If they know they can come to you and be encouraged, they will always run to you. It is the same in how they view God, if He is angry judge they will run away, if He is encouraging father they will run to.

It doesn’t matter what the life scenario is you can always encourage someone. You can always encourage someone in the hope that we have in Christ.

Every single one of us talk to people every single day; therefore, we can have an impact on people everyday. Let us do our best to keep unwholesome talk out of our mouths. Let us try to build up and encourage people every chance we get. This series is about living a kingdom first life. This is everyday life stuff, it really isn’t over complicated, you really can live your life kingdom first, and you really can make a kingdom impact everyday.

God is for you, and I am for you!

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!

 

Where do I start?

This post is in response to several readers asking the question where do I start. Specifically they are born again believers that don’t know where to start in reading their bible, and they asked me where they should begin, and what they can do to better understand their bible. I suppose there could be endless responses to this question, but I am going to share with you my response and why. However, before I do that I just want to say that my brief summaries are in no way meant to be commentaries, or anything of that nature. They are just meant to be a simple, and quick view of the content.

My advice was to first read, reread, and study 8 chapters in their bibles with those chapters being Romans chapters 7 and 8, and the book of Galatians. This was my response because these 8 chapters are not overwhelming in content or length, and they will help you understand who God is, who you are, and what covenant you are in. Being confident in these three things will give you the lens that you need to look through when you are in other parts of the bible. It also paves the way for the kingdom first life. If you know who God is, who you are, and what covenant you are in, you can then begin to understand why you are here, what you are supposed to do, how you are supposed to do it, when you are supposed to do it, and where you are supposed to do it in order to advance His Kingdom on this earth.

Let’s take a quick look at the content in these chapters to see where I got my statements of knowing who God is, who you are, and what covenant you are in.

Romans 7

Sin makes you a slave, but in Christ you died to sin. The law makes you a slave, but when you are bound to Christ you are released from the law (old covenant/mosaic covenant). Who are you? You are not a slave, and you are no longer under the old covenant.

Romans 8 (maybe my favorite chapter in the bible, but I don’t know if I can pick just one)

There’s no condemnation in Christ as His spirit has set you free from the law and sin. All of the righteous requirements of the law have been met in you through Christ. Those that are led by His spirit are the CHILDREN of God, no longer slaves, but through adoption are now the CHILDREN of God who call on their FATHER. You are now entitled to the inheritance of your FATHER. As a child of God you have purpose, and your Father works everything in your favor, and He is for you all the time. God is the one who justified you; therefore, nothing can condemn you. You are now a conqueror, and nothing in all of creation can separate you from the love of your Father. Who is God? He is your Father who loves you so much words can not describe it. Who are you? A child of God.

Galatians

There is no other gospel except for Christ, and all He has done. You are justified by faith, and you must not fall back under the old covenant, or place others under the old covenant. You are dead to the law, and the life you live is by faith in the Son of God. Those that place themselves under the old covenant place themselves under a curse. Those that live by faith in Christ place themselves in grace and blessing. It is reiterated that you are no longer a slave, but a child who calls on their Father. In an analogy using the sons of Abraham Paul tells us to throw out the old covenant, and take our place as children in the new covenant. You are free in Christ, do not use your freedom to walk in the flesh as you will reap destruction. Walk in the spirit so that the fruit of the spirit is produced in your life, and you will reap life eternal.

God is your loving Father, you are his beloved child, and you are under the new (best) covenant. It is in my opinion so important to have this perspective as you go about studying the whole bible. If this were the couch to 5k program I would also say that being confident in these things will get you to the 5k much quicker.

Have questions? Feel free to ask, and your questions will never become posts if you want them to be kept private.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi