Life in the Kingdom – We Are One

Jesus Prays for Unity

John 17   

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

In the above block is part of the prayer Jesus prayed the day before his crucifixion.  We as Christians are all one body with Jesus Christ being the head.  Since this is so, Jesus’ desire is that we all become one in unity.  This does not mean we should all believe exactly the same, live exactly alike, or worship at the same church or denomination.  All those who call Jesus Lord–all those who have trusted in Jesus as their savior–are part of the CHURCH.  I don’t believe God sees denominational differences. Just as it is written in Galatians 3:28:

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile”.  This can go on to say, “There is no Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, or Catholic.  We are all one in Christ Jesus.”  

We Are One Experience

I will be a part of a great experience this weekend.  On April 20 & 21 at Trinity Fellowship Church I am privileged to have the opportunity to attend the We Are One Women’s Experience.  As one in Christ of Women are gathering in one place to celebrate Love, Laughter and Legacy.  When I return I hope to share some of the experience with you.

As one Church we all point in one direction:  to Jesus.  As one in Christ, we all worship the same Lord:  Jesus Christ.  As one in Christ, we all share the same news:  Jesus loves you.  And hopefully we all invite people within our influence to join in worshiping Him.

Are you part of the Kingdom of God?  Have you asked Jesus to become Lord of your Life? If so, welcome to the family.  We are all one big body, functioning in many different ways to accomplish one main purpose:  bringing others to Christ Jesus.

 

 

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Life in the Kingdom – From Sinner to Saint

We Were Sinners

Almost all of us would agree that before Christ comes into our lives, we as a human race are sinners.  Because of the fall of man (seen in Genesis chapter 3) we are all born with a sinful nature.  It’s part of our nature now and we cannot help but to be influenced by the world, the flesh, or the devil because at birth, we are not automatically committed to Christ.  Only when we submit to Him and turn our lives over to Him do we have Christ’s influence on our lives.  

We are Cleansed if…

1 John 1:9 states:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (NASB)

And 1 Corinthians 5:21 tells us:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)

This verse really spoke to me.  God made it clear to me through this verse that He not only forgave my sin, but he also removed all unrighteousness (wickedness) from me.  We are saved by grace when we believe in Christ. And through faith, believing in Him, we are forgiven, cleansed, made righteous.  He took our old nature upon Himself and gave us His nature.  Making us a new creation.  All old things have passed and the new has come.  His grace is defined as ‘divine influence upon the heart and it’s reflection in our life.’

New nature in a Sinful World     

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Now that we are Christians, we are righteous and filled with His grace giving us the desire and ability to do His will.  But we still have to guard our hearts.  The bible states this several times.  Guard your hearts, or humble ourselves, or resist the devil.  There are many influences in this life and in this world.  We must remain ready, on guard.  We must read the bible and set our mind on God and His Kingdom.  

We must also know who we are:

I am a child of God. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  I am a new creation. I have the power of God living in me.

We must live according to who we are:

The bible tells us to put off the old nature and put on the new nature.  

Ephesians 4:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT) 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Live according to who we are–righteous and holy. 

Read here to find out what it means to be holy.

We are Saints

We are no longer sinners by nature once we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior because he changes our nature.  We are a new creation.   The wickedness has been removed.  All sin has been erased, forgiven.  We are now children of Godthe bride of Christ, prepared for a future in Heaven.  

Being a saint is not reserved for a special few who have reached a certain level of Christianity.  Saints are all who believe in Jesus and follow Him as their Lord, submitting to Him in all they do.  In many books of the New Testament the apostle addresses the churches as saints.  “To the Saints who are in Ephesus” for example.  For more information here is a link for The bible definition of Saint.

 

Seeking God

In my Christian life many times I find myself going through the day in all IMG_3041it’s busyness and at the end of the day I realize I hadn’t really connected with God.  Even when I do have morning devotional time, the moments with God are sometimes limited to that hour (or 10-15 minutes depending on my schedule) in the morning. But the rest of the day is business as usual. Then I come to the end of the day and wonder why I hadn’t talked to God in several hours. 

When the stress of the day rises, when personalities clash, when bills come, when decisions are made, many times we fail to connect with God at the moment and handle these things on our own.  But there are many benefits to seeking God on a moment by moment basis throughout the day.

Seek God for Joy

One benefit of seeking God that we will always have is the joy of knowing He is right here with us.  Psalms 16:11 states, In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (NASB)  So during the day, when we are going through our plans and activities, knowing that God is there brings us Joy.  He is our best friend.  He brings relief and joy into situations that would otherwise be difficult.  When the child is crying, when demands pursue, when time is limited, acknowledging that God is there available for us relieves some of the stress and replaces it with Joy because we know he will care for us.

Seek God for Wisdom

Moments will come when we have a decision to make.  I find myself making the decision based upon my own knowledge or experience.  Then afterwards I realize I should have asked God first because the decision I made was wrong or just because I would have liked to get His view on the subject before I proceeded.  James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)  So here we see that in all things we should ask God, because we will never have as much wisdom as He does.  He is all knowing and all wise ruler and creator of the universe.  His wisdom will always outweigh ours.  My desire is to remember to seek Him in all my decisions at the time of the decisions.  Not wait until afterwards and ask Him to bless the decision I made without Him.  This is hard for me to remember to do, but it is my desire.

Seek God for Comfort

Stress will come.  It is a part of life.  But God assures us in Psalm 55:22 “Cast  your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (NIV)  At the moment we receive bad news, the moment we stub our toe and feel the pain, if we maintain the habit of seeking God moment by moment, we will instantly feel the comfort of His presence instead of responding with another stress relief option. In my case, this would be grabbing a candy bar or some other form of sugar fix.  For others it may be anger, shopping, gambling, alcohol, and the list goes on.  What a benefit it is, what an improvement it would be to our lives if we seek God for comfort before anything else.  It would improve the quality of our lives.

ps_34_10

There is nothing that we need that we cannot find from God.  He will lead us to the source.  He will show us the way.  He will bring thoughts to our mind that give us insights into our situation.  Those who seek God lack no good thing.  

So why don’t you join me in asking God to accompany you throughout the day, guide you in all decisions and be your comfort in all areas of stress and pain.  Join me in seeking God, moment by moment, day by day.

Seek God First in all you do

Life In The Kingdom – Our Forever Home

A new Existence

My mother-in-law passed away this past week; and as my husband and I prepare to travel out of state to the funeral, I have been thinking a lot about the transition into eternity.  That, after all, is what death is.  It is not really the end.  It is the beginning of a new life in a new place.  It is a new state of existence in the spiritual realm.  All that may sound spooky or maybe almost science fiction to some people; but that is really what life is all about. Our life on this earth is temporary and in preparation for our permanent, eternal home.  And, for those of us who know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior, that eternal home is Heaven.  The Bible states:

life-is-a-journey-to-heaven

 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:18 (NIV)

 

This is the third in a series on Life in the Kingdom.  We have learned that we are part of God’s family adopted as children. We then learned that we as a church are the bride of Christ.  Today I want to share a more personal experience as I learn to deal with the death of my mother-in-law.  

I was running an errand today and as I was driving, I turned on my CD player in the car.  The song that happened to play was The Revelation Song.  I thought about the scripture to which this song is referring:  “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come,” the living creatures proclaim. They do not rest day or night and never cease to proclaim the holiness of God.  And since we are preparing for the funeral for my mother-in-law, I thought of her and how she is present with the Lord at this very moment.  2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (NKJV)  

At that moment, while Kari Jobe was singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, holy is He,” I actually was envious of my mother-in-law.  You see, at funerals, we are sad because we will miss those who die.  031116_1918_TheHalfWasn20But Christians who die are with the Lord and are no longer sad.  There is no more death in Heaven.  No more crying.  No pain.  No sickness.  No sorrow.  No arguing or complaining.  So when we cry at a funeral, it should not be for those who have gone to Heaven.  We cry for us.  We are the ones grieving, but those who have died are rejoicing in the presence of God.  And that, my friend, is something that I certainly look forward to.  That is what I eagerly await–meeting my Savior and Lord face to face.

So now, my friend, let me encourage you to trust in the Lord.  Give your life to Him.  Know for certainty that when your body wears out and you leave this earthly existence, you will find yourself in the presence of the Lord.  

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

 

Life In The Kingdom – The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ

This is the second post in a series about Life in the Kingdom, referring to the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  My last post Life In The Kingdom – God’s Family speaks about how we become a part of the family of God once we give our lives over to Jesus Christ.  In this post I will share another relationship we have with the “Royal Family” of God. 

When Jesus was with His disciples, He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3 NLT)  He came to us, when we did not know him.  He came and showed us to the Father.  Now, as Christians, we are part of the Royal Family; we are children of God.  But the bible also refers to us in Revelation as the Bride of Christ.  God the Father is our heavenly Father and Jesus is the Bridegroom.  

bride of christ

Revelation 19:7-9 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and let us give honor to him.  For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”  For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.  And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

Verse 7 refers to the “wedding feast of the Lamb”.  The lamb is Jesus, the Son of God, who came and died in our place, like a sacrificial lamb, to take away our sins.  He died so we, who are Christians, are now free to live a new life in Him.  The church as a whole is the bride of Christ.  Jesus is now preparing a place for all of us and when it is ready, He will come and take us to Himself as we read earlier in John 14.  

What a glorious, happy day it will be when Jesus comes again to get us and take us to live with Him in Heaven.  Revelation states that we will be wearing white linen.  This represents the good deeds we have done and will continue to do here as we await His coming. Although good deeds alone will not save us, we are instructed to do good deeds for Him. Because of His great love for us, we have a great desire to please Him and honor Him in all we do.

Live Like You Are Loved

Now that we know we are part of the Royal Family and promised to be a bride of Christ, we can live with joy and peace, always comforted because we are loved.  We belong.  We are royalty.  Each one of us can say “Jesus is the ‘Lover of My soul”. 

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

 

Know that you are loved my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  And Live like the Royalty that you are.

Life in the Kingdom – God’s Family

Adopted into the Royal Family

This is the first in a series about life in God’s Kingdom and belonging to His family.

We have the wonderful opportunity of joining the Royal Family.  King Jesus (2)And, no, I am not talking about England.  This Royal Family is part of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  We cannot see it now.  It is in another realm which we will reach after the end of our time here on earth.  But we can become a part of this Kingdom now, once we give our lives over to the leadership of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Then we become children of God. And His Spirit comes to live within us.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.  And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:14-18

So we become part of God’s family through adoption.  Romans 8:29 goes on to say that Jesus is the first of many brothers and sisters.  In addition to becoming adopted as God’s children, we become part of a huge family with many brothers and sisters.

Many brothers and sisters  

I remember first moving to Texas with my husband and 11 month old daughter.  I had lived in Tennessee for 17 years and knew many people.  But in Texas, I didn’t know anyone.  There was great joy and comfort knowing that God was with me.  I felt His presence.  Also, when I joined a church I was immediately with family: a group of many other members of God’s family.  The kinship was immediate. Like meeting family members for the first time.  Even though I didn’t know them personally, there was a connection–a common attachment: God was our Father and they were my brothers and sisters.  

heaven is my home

So come on in, my friend. 
Become a part of the most elite family in the universe.

Coming soon:  Hear more about the Kingdom of God and our part in His family. 

INCREASE YOUR PEACE

REMEMBER GOD…

Dove over Water

God is always with us.  We may not always be aware, but He is always here watching us and waiting for us to call upon Him when we are in trouble.  Peace comes when we remember His presence on a regular basis.  Isa. 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  

This is the key.  Keeping our thoughts fixed on God.  Thinking things like: “What would He do in this situation?” or “Since God is with me I am not afraid.”  If we acknowledge Him in all we do and before any decision we make, peace will always be with us.  

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow his example to run the race with endurance.  

Remember, God is with us.  Remember, God is our peace.  Remember, God is our guide. Remember, God is watching over us and will help us in times of trouble.  This kind of thinking will keep you in perfect peace.

Jesus on benchDON’T WORRY, PRAY

Philippians 4: 6-7 NLT says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” 

Once we have our mind and thoughts fixed on God, we can keep the conversation going with Him all throughout the day.  Sure,  it is important to have our time with God in the morning to start the day.  Many of us have a morning ‘quiet time’ devoted to God and reading and/or praying.  But He wants us to include Him in everything we do.  When stress arises during the day, ask for help.  When you get that promotion, thank Him.  When we feel joyful or happy about what’s happening, share it with Him.  

Don’t worry,  God is here.  Don’t worry,  God has your back. Don’t worry, take all your cares to Jesus.  He will take all your burdens and help you carry them.