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.

 

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!

 

Consumer Christianity

I have been humbled in many different ways in my life especially in the last couple of years. Jesus uses the humbling times to change you, and He continues to change me in great ways to which I am thankful. These processes have caused a change in my viewpoint, or maybe just opened my eyes a little wider to consumer Christianity. I have always seen it, but I didn’t always see it in myself, and I didn’t see to the extent that I do now.

Consumerism is always needing or wanting more. Here is a dictionary definition-Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.

When tied to Christianity it is the same definition except we say it’s for His ever-increasing government. The trouble with that is His Kingdom is not of this world, and Jesus said we wouldn’t be able to point at it and say it is here or there, and life is not in the abundance of possessions. Yet we use churches as a way to acquire, and we use verses to confirm our consumerism. We go to church for what we can get rather than to worship God, and serve people. Etc. I aim to keep this short.

The kingdom is within. The kingdom is realizing that if you have Jesus you already have it all. The Kingdom is following Jesus even if you were to lose some of your riches. The kingdom is an expression of the King.

The wealthiest kingdom people are those who need/want the least, and are overwhelmed with gratitude for what the Lord has blessed them with whether it be a little, or a lot. The wealthiest kingdom people are those who have no need to compare and become envious.

DISCLAIMER: I AM IN NO WAY THE ONE WHO DETERMINES WHAT YOU SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT HAVE. THAT IS BETWEEN YOU AND HOLY SPIRIT.

Follow Jesus

This is from Matthew 4:18-22. You can read it here.

There is a difference in being called, and answering the call. Just because Jesus calls for you, does not mean you respond and follow. When He calls He gives you the opportunity to respond, but you are the one that has to go to the call. Jesus is always calling you throughout your life. He calls you from one place, to another place, to another place, etc. He never stops calling you, but not everyone answers the call. Jesus said whosoever will come, let him deny himself and follow me. So anyone can answer the call. The rich or poor, healthy or sick, CEO or unemployed, young or old, it does not matter; however, not everyone will follow because not everyone is willing to deny their own dream, their own wants, or what they had in their own mind to follow the call which put simply is to follow the one who calls.

The first disciples were out living their everyday life just as we do when Jesus came along, and called them saying follow me. Jesus called, and the response from the disciples was to immediately follow Him. They immediately left their families, friends, jobs, their whole life to follow Jesus. They gave up anything and everything to answer the call. This is what the rich young ruler did not do. He got the same call, it just looked a little different because he lived a different life. Jesus said sell your stuff, and follow me; however, the young ruler went away sad because he was not willing to give up his security to follow Jesus. The call to follow, and actually following are two different things. Are you willing to give it all up to follow Jesus? Jesus said in the same parable of the rich young ruler that those who do will be repaid many times over in this life, and have eternal life in the age to come.

Encounters with Jesus seem to cause immediatelies. These disciples immediately left everything. When Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, he immediately began to preach Jesus Christ. When you have your own encounters with Christ it can cause immediatelies in your own life. You may immediately be saved, baptized, healed, set free, or have some other victory. Encounters with Jesus will change you, and that is the next point.

Jesus told these disciples, I will make you. If you do respond to His call then He will make you. This is a continuous transformation process that is not always easy. It will be uncomfortable because He is changing you. As long as you are following, He is changing and making you. If you follow Jesus He can make you a godly person, spouse, and parent. He will make you victorious. He will make you who He has called you to be whether that is a missionary, apostle, CEO, or small business owner.

Jesus told these fishermen that He would make them fishers of men. He just took what they did, and brought them into alignment with Him. He is more concerned about who you are becoming, than what you are doing. The skills, lessons, and everything else they learned as fishermen were just preparation for what He was calling them to step into. However, He took them from a place of comfort and moved them into uncertainty.

Jesus looked at Peter and basically told him that even though he had been a fishermen all of his life, He was changing his name, making him a preacher, and the foundation of His church. You may be scared, you may think it’s too big, you may think you don’t know how, and you may say you can’t, but if you will FOLLOW ME and TRUST ME then I will make you.

He’s not calling you to do something that you think you can do. He’s called you to do what He has placed in you to do, and to cry out to Him knowing that you can not do it without Him. He is calling you to do something that requires you to look to Him to carry you. He is going to lead you into situations that challenge you greatly, and make you cry out for Him because He is changing you. Peter wasn’t a water walker until he was greatly afraid with waves crashing into his boat thinking that he was staring at a ghost. However, there was a call. Jesus simply looked at him and said COME. Peter immediately got out of the boat and walked on the water, and when he got out in the middle between the boat and Jesus he became distracted by his fear, and he called out to Jesus who picked him up out of his struggle. Jesus may let you sink so that you can learn the lesson, grow, and be changed; however, He will never let you drown.

Answering the call, and following is your job. Making you is His job. All you have to do is follow, and let Him. You don’t have to try to make yourself anything. In reality that is one of our biggest problems as people. We try to be autonomous and create our own dreams, visions, and life stories, but if you are following Jesus you left all that in the boat the day you dropped everything to follow Him. He will make you who He has called you to be. Trust and follow the only one who knows the beginning from the end. His plan for you is better than anything you can come up with, and He will make into someone better than you could ever envision.

Follow Jesus, and live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

 

 

 

 

 

Look at Jesus

What is God like-look at Jesus

How should I interpret the word-look at Jesus

How should I behave-look at Jesus

How should I relate with people-look at Jesus

How do I overcome trials-look at Jesus

How do I walk in victory-look at Jesus

How should I treat my kids-look at Jesus

How should I relate to money-look at Jesus

What is my purpose-look at Jesus

It doesn’t matter what question you ask, the answer is Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Life is not in the abundance of things, there are no answers there, it is in Him. You can’t build something on this planet, and say look there is the Kingdom of God. Luke 17:21 The kingdom of God (YLT says the reign of God) is within you. We are still like the people in 30’s AD thinking we can build places for Jesus to establish His physical Kingdom. He said His kingdom is not of this world, if it was He would not be delivered up. We are looking in all the wrong places like wealth, success, and building programs. That’s not where Jesus is, Jesus went to the solitary places-Luke 5:16. His kingdom is hidden out in a field under all of our stuff, and distractions. His Kingdom is hidden within you. When His life is in you, it doesn’t matter what happens in life around you. If everything is going bad, He is still good.

If you are overwhelmed, tired, sick, seemingly can’t meet people’s expectations, it doesn’t matter what it is, look at Jesus.

 

 

Core Values

I believe everyone should know, or be seeking to know their core values. Your core values help define who you are, what you do, and what you say no to. If you have no idea where to start, here is a link to over 500 core values you can choose from.

Most core value lists are simply words, and I think that is great. However, I also feel like it is incomplete. One of the things my wife, and I have done is to agree on a definition that adds action, and emotion to our core values. I am going to share some of our core values with you, and how we defined them.

The list I will share with you today is the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. This is certainly not all of our core values, but if we are going to live a kingdom first life, I believe the fruit of the spirit better be at our core.

Love-We will lay down our own agenda out of love for our Father, and place others before ourselves. We will love others with no expectations of anything in return.

Joy-The joy of the Lord is our strength. Happiness is temporary as it is based on events. We have joy meaning sheer gladness because Holy Spirit lives in us. Our joy is not fleeting, but permanent because of His goodness.

Peace-We are free from internal struggle because we know Jesus has made us complete, and whole. We are free from external struggle because He is our source, and provider. If God is for us nothing can stand against us.

Patience-We have the capacity to wait upon the Lord, and His will. We will endure without getting angry, or upset. We also choose to exercise this same endurance when people come against us.

Kindness-We will be soft-hearted, warm-hearted, and open-hearted towards others. This internal working of Holy Spirit will be seen in our actions, and reactions towards people.

Goodness-God has made us righteous. Our goodness is His work in action. We will do what is good in the eyes of our Lord, and encourage others to do the same.

Faithfulness-We seek to prove ourselves trustworthy, and faithful to God even in spite of tremendous pressures, weaknesses, or temptations. When know that when we fail, He remains faithful.

Gentleness-We will not come with a whip, but with love and a gentle spirit. We know that no one has it all figured out, and we are all prone to weakness; therefore, we have no right to act harshly.

Self control-We seek to master, and bring our mind, will, emotions, and body under the control of Christ.

We kept our definitions short. You can make yours long, or even shorter than ours, but I challenge you to define them. Don’t use the dictionary definition to define your core values. Use your resources, but define them in a way that make them real to you.

Comment, or email and let me know if this was helpful. Which one of ours was your favorite?

Live you life Kingdom first!

Levi

 

Discipleship

I think we have a discipleship problem in America. It is my thought that one of the major issues we have is that true discipleship requires a deeper relationship than what we want to commit ourselves to. I think studying Jesus’ life shows this to be true. He had deep relationships with the 12. In a social media world of surface relationships we don’t want to connect very deep. I mean who has time for that in this culture anyway? We have to make an intentional choice to commit ourselves to Christ, and others.

Jesus said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. This one statement shows us a lot about discipleship, but for now we can just quickly and simply say follow Jesus, and He will transform you. This helps us understand what we are supposed to do. Connect people to Jesus, and support them as Jesus transforms them into who He has called them to be. That will be the perspective of this post, and several upcoming discipleship posts.

How do we disciple? There could be a lot of different answers to that question. I have a desire to be able to answer that question, or at least respond with an actual blueprint on how anyone can connect to Matthew 28:19 and go make disciples because we are all called to do it. From my experience I think there are three major stages in the process, and each stage contains three major steps. So lets look at stage 1, step 1 a little bit today which is love.

This is not just love others as yourself. Jesus said in John 15:12 “This is my command, that you love others as I have loved you.” That is a challenging statement. However, from what I’ve learned it’s pretty much impossible to go beyond the surface with someone until they feel like you love, and care about them. Love people in their victories, and defeats. When they are easy to get along with, and when they are hard to get along with. When you like their personality, and when you don’t. When they agree with you, and when they disagree with you. When they tell you what you want to hear, and when they challenge you. Etc.

People may give you their ear, and listen to what you say. They may even give you their mind, and think about what you say. However, until they feel like you love them they will not give you their heart, and take in what you say. Discipleship requires people to take things in and go through a transformation process.

Remember this isn’t about turning someone into who YOU want them to be, it is helping them become who JESUS has called them to be. I would also say you don’t have to feel like you need to disciple everyone, but you should disciple those He has given you out of this world.

Next time we will discuss stage 1, step 2.

Live your life Kingdom first! Love people!

Levi

What are your barns for?

I think that I would be pretty accurate in saying that part of the ‘American dream’ is to work, save, invest, and multiply all you can so that you have enough retirement to kick back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy the good life. It sounds great, it sounds right, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in. I know I have been wrapped up in it, and I’m not even close to retirement. However, Jesus called it foolish in Luke chapter 12. (read it here) I think we have to remember that the American dream, or whichever national dream is not the kingdom dream. I will add a disclaimer and say that I don’t think Jesus was calling the act of planning, being prudent, or being a good steward foolish as there are plenty of scriptures that instruct us to act in these ways. I think Jesus was teaching us about mindsets, heart conditions, and motives.

America is very consumeristic, but not everything God gives you is for your consumption. It’s not for your consumption now, or in the future. Not everything given to you is for you to obtain bigger, and better. Not everything given to you is for future retirement, or generational building. Some things are just put in your hands to give to someone else. The things of God are not just given to you, but are meant to move through you. Everything belongs to God, as in God is the owner. You don’t own anything including your own life. You are a steward, or one who looks after the owner’s stuff. There is nothing wrong with storing things up if that’s what the owner asks you to do. However, if the owner asks you to give it all away you have to be willing to do that as well. I love to talk about dreams, and vision for your life, but it is not something that is done through autonomy. You ask the owner what the vision is, and then you do your best to steward that vision.

In the parable, the rich fool says to himself you have plenty stored away to kick back, and take it easy. The problem is that he was talking to himself. He didn’t ask the owner what he should do with all of his extra. He laid up treasures for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The American christian mindset is much the same. We try to store up what we think is ours in order to make sure we can have the easy life we want in the future. Our minds are set on obtaining, and storing. Our hearts are set on ourselves because of greed. So then our motives are completely autonomous, or self driven. We want to make more so that we can get more rather than asking the owner what we should do, or considering that if we can make more we can give more. The only reason to have overflowing barns is so that you can give the overflow.

We have a tendency to want to build our own kingdoms. It goes all the way back to the tower of babel. Many try to disguise it as for the kingdom rather than for self, but disguises are not the true identity. It would probably be wise for us to insert some firewalls against ourselves when building, and filling barns. Here is a thought to consider….when Jesus was walking the earth one of the things that His followers got wrong was that they thought He came to establish His kingdom on the earth at that time. (His kingdom is established, and ever increasing it just didn’t look like they thought it would) It caused a scattering when it didn’t turn out the way they expected. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth. Are we making the same mistake? Are we trying to build earthly kingdoms more than we are trying to impart, and commission? Jesus spent His time building people. Disclaimer again, I’m not saying things should never be built, established, etc.

I have had a couple major fumbles in this area on my journey. The good thing about that is I am able to learn, and I have found that the fumbles cause me to pursue God’s desires for my life even more. It is a great self check when your realize you have forgotten that you don’t own your money, vision, or anything else. Furthermore, the great thing about fumbles and our loving Father is that he lets you carry the ball again. The great coaches in your life will do the same, and you should do the same for your players. A fumble doesn’t mean a person should be moved down on the depth chart, it just means they need another set of downs.

Back to the beginning. I don’t want to build overflowing barns to kick back, and disconnect. I don’t want to drift out of life, and be retired from serving in the kingdom. However, I do want to transition in what I am doing in the future. I want to transition from being the ball carrier to being on the offensive line blocking, and making a way for others. I believe the Lord will allow me to build and fill some barns, but I also believe it is for the purpose of making sure they are emptied out into others before I go. The sooner I can make a way for others to score the better.

Have you asked the owner if you should build some barns, and why?

 

Give yourself

When you talk about being a giver most people will probably immediately think money; however, being a giver goes way beyond that one expression. Do you give your time, love, energy, attention, thoughts, care, etc to others? I believe that kingdom people have to be givers, and everyone can give others their time, focus, and energy even if you don’t have the ability to give to others financially. God is a giver, and we should be as well. Not with selfish motives and ambitions, but simply as an expression of who we are.

The law of sowing and reaping will always be true; however, you can’t give just to receive, you give of yourself because it is who you are as a son in the kingdom, and it is fulfilling. When you do things that align with who you are it is energizing, and life-giving. Most of us don’t give of ourselves because we think we will be taken advantage of. I think many people come up with a view that the world is a place of competition, extreme limitations, and a place where everyone is against you (I did). But with a shift in mindset it could become a place of limitless opportunities and chances. Instead of withholding out of fear you will be done wrong, you go ahead and give knowing that God gave you that opportunity, and you will reap blessing. You have to make a deposit before you can earn interest.

Most things can be faked, but giving yourself can not. You feel it when people make a withdrawal from you, and you also feel it when people deposit into you. Most of the time connections with people are not gained because of the product, teaching, or gift but the experience you gave them. Money is temporary and emotionless, but great experiences are full of emotion, passion, and remain with you in your memory.

Most people will try to give just enough to get the most back. Good people will give the most they can for the return they get. Kingdom people should try to give in such a way that money could not buy the experience. Kingdom people should strive to give more in value than you could ever get back in payment. If you do it will equal influence for the Lord’s kingdom. If I was rich I could give my daughter a bunch of money and see what she does with it, or I could give her my experiences and allow her to bypass some of my struggles which has a value that money can not buy.

Most people go to work in order to survive, some go to work in order to save, and very few go to work in order to serve and give. The greatest title in the kingdom is ‘greatest servant’. Kingdom people should try to go about their work in a way that they give of themselves in order to see someone else succeed. If you are faithful in helping someone else succeed, you should expect to succeed yourself. In Luke 16:12 we read that if you are not faithful with another man’s why would you be trusted with your own. You can have a dream while helping someone else make their dream come true. I would venture to say that if you place other people’s interests first you will have greater influence with those people.

You can give people all kinds of things, and that is great but YOU are what’s really valuable. You are more valuable than any product, teaching, or money that you could offer. Give yourself.

We are not owners of anything, but stewards of what is the Lord’s. Be a giver, and also be open to receive as sowing and reaping go together.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi