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Back to Basics, Sow the Word of God

Three CrossesBack to Basics, Sow the Word of God

This Bible study, sow the Word of God,  is going to take us back to the fundamentals, the basics. Because, without the basics, the big picture, our ability to learn, understand, and grow, will be lost.

When I was in high school, I participated in marching band. Every upper class man had a certain amount of dread for the first month of the season, because we always had to start the season off relearning the basics.

In June, we began Tuesday and Thursday evening rehearsals and every single practice was the same, “Mark time, mark!” Came the call and we would all count out loud, “1-2-3-4” and then proceed to take eight steps forward, counting aloud the entire time. We would stop for another march in place on the next yard line, and then, “Halt.” The band directors and drum majors would inspect the lines. Who had made it to the yard line correctly? How many people were not in line? How was their “at attention” form?

They would explain how to do it better and off we would go again. Eventually, we’d be able to do two or three sets of eight  before stopping. Then there were the other commands, “Right face!”, “Left face!” and on and on. These were the basic abilities a band had to be able to perform correctly before moving on to the fun stuff.

For those who had done this for two or three years already, it was an annoying exercise, but we knew that without the fundamentals, the big picture is lost.

So, this study is taking us back to the fundamentals. Jesus told parables – stories meant to teach a powerful lesson to help us as we grow in faith and understanding.

A story with a lesson.

Mark 4:26-29, “And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

When seeds are planted, crops grow. This is the natural law that God established in Creation. Jesus used this topic because we can relate to it. Feed Faith Starve Doubts Cross

  1.  Notice, the man has to plant the seed.
    • Mark 4:14, it says, “The sower sows the word.” In order for us to grow in our walks with Christ, we must sow the Word of God into our hearts. And do it regularly. If we aren’t putting it in, we won’t get anything from it.
    • God has a lot of promises written in the Bible. If He didn’t want us to have the things He promised, He wouldn’t have included them in the writing of the Bible, would He? Planting the Word in our hearts is the answer to receiving all that God has and desires for us to receive.
    • Remember this: a farmer doesn’t plant a seed just randomly here and there. He plants thousands of seeds in his well cared for field.
      • Allow the Holy Spirit to care for your heart.
      • Sow the Word into your heart constantly.
  2. The man waits and simply knows the seeds will sprout and grow. He knows the natural law and rests in the knowledge that in due time, it will do what it is supposed to do.
    • It takes time for the Word of God to spring up and start working in your life, but it’s the nature of the Word to produce change. Your labor will be rewarded!
  3. You don’t have to understand the process, you don’t have to “get it”, you just simply have to believe it.
    • The man didn’t wonder or worry about it, neither did he go out and pluck it out every day to see how it was doing. He simply did what he knew to do …. plant seeds, take care of them by watering them and maybe fertilizing the area, and wait.
    • I catch myself trying to pull out what I’ve planted by speaking words that don’t line up with what I say I believe.
      • Example: I’m really good about complaining about my weight and how difficult it has been for me to lose it. And it really has. I eat very well and  exercise regularly. I don’t say this to brag, but to explain my struggle. The thing is, I don’t help myself because I use my words in a detrimental way. I say things like, “I’m never going to lose any weight, I don’t even know why I try so hard.” The Bible says words are very important (that’s for another study), and I use the wrong ones.
    • When you increase your doubt and unbelief, you are essentially plucking the seeds you’ve planted. Wrong thinking, negative words, actions you know are sin, etc. are all things that will de-root the faith you have sown.
  4.  You cannot by-pass the growth cycle. There is a lot that happens before a farmer sends out the harvester to bring in the fruit of his labor.
    • Preparation time is never wasted time. You cannot get the full ear of corn before the first blade has come up. To put this in terms you can better understand:
      • believing God for $1,000 is a lot harder if you’ve never believed Him for $10.
      • believing God for healing cancer is a lot harder if you’ve never believed you could be healed of a cold
    • Don’t get upset because you don’t have what you see in someone else, if you’re not willing to put in the work necessary to obtain it.

The Challenge

For those who have never really made reading the Bible part of every day life, start out small, just a few verses. Don’t stress yourself out thinking you should be reading the Bible all day every day. Find a few minutes and open the Bible, or Bible app, and just read a couple verses, and really think about what you read, trying to apply it to your personal life.  Continue in this way until you’ve read an entire book … I recommend the Book of John as a good starting place.

I found out several years ago, if you will make reading the Bible a discipline, it will grow into a desire. You’ll get to where you miss it if you skit it. (Well, would you look at that? Another example of sowing and reaping.)

No matter if you’re new to this thing or have been walking it for years, it’s easy to get in a rut. To forget to read the Word or spend time with the King. That’s normal. Just dive in. And do your best not to condemn yourself for where you are at this moment of time. Just get at it!

You cannot expect yourself to go from milk to meat in five minutes, but if you will get back to the basics: sow the word of God into your heart, you will reap the reward – a closer, more intimate relationship with God. What could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soften, or Harden, Your Heart

Heart and Cross Love

Soften, or Harden, Your Heart

I believe you are able to soften, or harden, your heart in regards to God. He has a plan for your life, has blessed you by His Word, and promised you a lot of amazing and wonderful things. Have you softened your heart to receive those things?

My yard is pretty rough, it is so hardened by the gravel in it, I find it difficult to get the bare spots filled in with grass. I think I would have to bring a dump truck full of good soil in if I ever wanted to have a soft, lush yard. But, I dug through all that gravely, nasty ground in order to plant  bushes in my front yard. I covered their roots with good healthy soil to give them a fighting chance.

As I stood there allowing a gentle mist to give them the drink they need to keep flourishing, I thought about my heart. As long as I keep a gentle flow of good thoughts going in there, I feel close to God. I hear Him whispering His love deep in my soul and I know that when I need something, He is there meeting my needs.

When I water my heart with negative hurtful thoughts, I feel like God is nowhere near me. The loving whispers are drowned out by the hailstorm of doubt and unbelief.

I was driving down the road one day and my mind’s eye formed a car coming through an intersection and slamming into the side of the van I was carrying instruments in for church. I started imagining what that would be like and then the Holy Spirit let me know that was crazy. Why would I carry the thought into a whole vision? I laughed out loud and said, “Ha ha devil, I’m safe in the arms of God.” The trip went on without a hitch and I was able to see how far I’ve come and how much growth I still need in the area of my thinking.

I control my own thoughts. I know that is true. I realize that thoughts often come out of nowhere, like the auto accident I imagined, but I also know that those thoughts that come out of nowhere can be thrown out just as quickly. It’s a choice to discard negative, detrimental thoughts … or to just follow them along until they become a living fear within you.

Thoughts, pondering, meditation … all of these bring a hardening or a softening to the heart. Either way you look at it, hard or soft, whichever word you choose can be negative or positive. It just depends on your point of view.

Jesus spoke of the disciples and their hardened hearts twice fairly close together in Mark. The first one we see is Mark 6:52, “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” The second 8:17, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?'”

In both instances, bread enters the picture .. why? I don’t have a direct answer to this question, but I have a thought: maybe because a little leaven leavens the whole loaf? (Galatians 5:9) If you allow the enemy a crack in your life, it quickly takes over. A little thought of fear soon creates an anxiety you cannot control.

In the first passage, Jesus has fed the 5,000. After completing the miracle of ministering to the entire crowd, He wants to get some alone time with the Father. So, He tells the disciples to get in the boat and go before Him to the other side. Notice, He didn’t say, “Start crossing and get stuck in the middle somewhere.” He tells them to go ahead of Him to the other side. Then He sends the multitude away and heads for His prayer time.

The disciple head out. It says Jesus made them go … in the King James Version,  it uses the word constrained for this same story. Constrain means to compel or force someone toward a particular course of action. Now, why would He have to force them? I wonder if they were looking at the sky and resisting getting into that boat. After all, they were mostly fisherman and knew the signs of bad weather.

After His time in prayer, Jesus decides to join the disciples … by walking across the sea to the other side. He sees them out there straining to row the boat because of all that wind fighting against them. How often are we straining to get to the other side?

This interests me, why does it say, “He would have passed them by”? If they had not called out to Him, He would’ve just kept on going, but why would He do that?

Skip forward to verse 52 … they had not understood about the loaves because their hearts were hardened. I believe Jesus wanted them to remember the miracles they had seen and put their trust in Him, since He told them to cross all the way over. They shouldn’t have feared the wind, because He had given them directions and if He gave them directions, He would give them what they needed to complete the task. (This story is found in Mark 6:45-52)

Often, when we’re straining to get to the other side, when we feel like we’re being beat down or sent backwards by the winds, we simple need to remember Who is with us and what power He has already provided for us. He has given us the tools to overcome, we just have to know deep down that we have those tools and that He is ever-present to get us where we need to be.

Let’s head over to Mark 8:17-18, again we find Jesus commenting on their hardened hearts. And then He follows it with, “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?”

So, what is a hardened heart? I think it’s being insensitive to what God has for us. Or it could also be described as being closed minded to what God wants us to learn. It’s not seeing the truth in the Word, but instead being controlled by the things of the world. The disciples weren’t able to look past saving their own lives to see and know that God had a way for them. They were controlled by the wind, instead of by the Word … “Go to the other side” was a word from the Lord.

A hard heart is simply a heart that is more sensitive to other things than to God.

It is caused by what we focus our attention on, and it dictates the level of unbelief in our lives.

Interesting that they had seen Jesus save them from a storm already and so quickly forgot His power. So, He commands the wind and waves with “Peace by still,” and it happens. Let’s just look what is between Mark 4:35 and Mark 6:52 … the two storms.

Storm number 1, “Peace be still.” Then, a demon possessed man is healed, a woman  touches His garment and receives healing, Jairus’ daughter is raised from the dead, and other people who were sick receive healing. The disciples themselves hav been given the power to cast out demons and heal the sick! They actually do miraculous things of their own. Then there is the feeding of the 5,000. And then … storm number 2, “I think I’ll just walk on over and meet my disciples across the sea.”

It’s amazing to me how much the disciples had seen and experienced and yet they got freaked out so easily. It was only a storm … they’d been through storms before and survived them. They’d seen and done miracles. And yet, they had a crack of unbelief … they had their minds focused on fear, rather than on God.

This just lets me know how easily we all forget how amazing, big, and powerful our God is – and that He lives inside of us who believe.

What happens when our hearts are hardened:

  1. Hard hearts keep us from receiving spiritual truths.
    • After a church service, some people are able to talk for a long time about what God did in them during that service. Other people walk away the same as they walked in, and they’ll often comment about how they get nothing out of church. Why? The condition of the heart.
  2. Hard hearts stop us from understanding spiritual truths.
    • 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
  3. When we don’t understand God’s Word, Satan finds no resistance when he comes to steal it away.
    • Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”
  1. Hard hearts keep us from remembering, or relating what we learned to our own everyday lives.
    • The disciples remembered the facts about feeding the people, but they had forgotten any spiritual lessons they may have learned. They didn’t relate it to their own lives and so they got stuck.

A hardened (or softened) heart is based on sensitivity.

One reason people who know what the Word says, still don’t see it work for them, is their sensitivity. They are more sensitive to fear and doubt than they are to the truths of God’s Word … because they have thought more about things that minister fear and doubt than they have meditated on God’s Word.

I believe we can harden our hearts to doubt and fear by considering only God’s Word. We can become just as sensitive to God and faith as we have been to Satan and doubt.

Stated from the softened heart perspective, I believe we are quite able to soften our hearts to doubt and fear, by following those negative thoughts. Or we can soften our hearts to love and peace, by being focused on the Word of God and building ourselves up in the most holy faith.

I have created a list of amazing thoughts, with verses to go with them. This list will lift you up. It will soften your heart to receive from God all that He wants you to have. You can have that list by simply clicking here.

I recommend reading it regularly aloud. And, may I tell you something that sounds a little bit crazy? If you stand in an authoritative pose and say it like I imagine David did as he headed out with that stone in his sling, it will have a more powerful affect on you and your belief.

 

 

Amazing Grace Cross Heart Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #3

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #3

Today, we’re going to continue our study about the Kingdom of God. Remember, the Kingdom of God is wherever He rules and reigns. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God … let Him rule and reign in our lives .. and when we do, He promises everything we nee,d to live a good, full life, will be provided for us. We don’t have to even ask for it, it just happens as we allow Him that highest place in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)

We are going to look at what happens when we ask for another king. That doesn’t mean we verbally say, “Hey God, I want another king, I’m not happy with the One I have.” Rather, it means we allow something else to work it’s way up higher and higher, until it takes it’s place as ruler in our lives. This is usually a result of believing something contrary to the Word in some area.

We’re going to head on over to 1 Samuel 8. The Israelites have decided they want a king to rule over them. They want to be like the nations around them.

Picking up in verse 9 – 22: God is speaking to Samuel in verse 9,”Now, therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

After verse 9, Samuel delivers a message to the Israelites, telling them just what they would give up by having a king.

  • Family (children): verse 11-13 – to serve him
  • Food/drink (fields, vineyards, olive groves): verse 14-15
  • Livelihood (donkeys, sheep): verse 16-17
  • Freedom: verses 11-22

When we open ourselves up to allowing something or someone else to take lordship of our livGod's Masterpiecees, we are giving up all of those things. We give something lordship when we consider it more than we consider Him. This often happens when we believe our circumstance over the Word.

For example: Just last week, I caught myself believing I’m pretty much of no value to anyone or anything. That I screwed up my life, my kids, and generally just have no worth in the world. Had I continued down that line of thinking, it would have taken over and I would have found myself defeated, depressed, and falling down into a pit I couldn’t crawl out of. Negative thoughts and self-deprecation would have quickly become lord of my life. It would have ruled everything I did. Every decision I made would have been influenced by this way of thinking. Thankfully, I knew the right thing to do when those thoughts invaded my mind: I pulled out my list and began reading it out loud. Making those negative thoughts disappear, and filling my head with what the Bible says about who I am – opening my heart and mind and placing God right back in that top place.

How much are we willing to give up when we give something or someone else rule and reign in our lives? Family? Job? Prosperity? Health?

Having a king, other than The King, is a sin. 1 Samuel 12:12, Samuel is speaking to the Israelites, “And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammorites came against you, you said to me, ‘ No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.”

The Lord was already their king. They didn’t need a human king. In the next few verses, we find out that God allowed it, provided them with their king, but gave them a warning. 1 Samuel 12:14-15, “If you fear the Lord and serve Him and ovey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”

The good and the bad was dependent on their choices. We get to choose to receive God’s blessing and favor into our lives, or not. It’s completely our choice.

Does that mean we will always have perfect lives with no difficulty in them? no. We live in a world surrendered to Satan at it’s infancy, but it does mean that God will see us through all things. It does mean that we will know how to defeat the enemy and stand strong in Him. It means when we are attacked, be it by just normal, living in a broken world attacking, or by the devil’s schemes, we are well equipped to handle it. When cancer strikes, we are able to stand on the Word of the Lord and receive the healing He wants us to have. When the mortgage is due, both vehicles break down, and the washing machine quits, we are able to stand on the Word of the Lord and see Him provide each and every one of those needs.

One time, in a church small group, a young lady described how she imagines heaven. I’ve never forgotten it, “There is a warehouse with my name on the front, when I walk up to it, an angel opens the door and reveals to me all the gifts God had prepared for me. All the things I could have received and didn’t because of my lack of faith, my unbelief.”

I want my warehouse to be empty. I want to know that I served Him with my everything. That I sought Him as rule and reign over my entire life and in that seeking, received everything He yearned to give to me. How about you? Will you surrender to Him? Will you let Him take His place as King over your life?

To wrap up this part of our Kingdom series, let’s look at 1 Samuel 12:20-25. Through these verses, we can learn some valuable lessons.

Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

  • Don’t fear, God loves you. He’s still the Lord, so even when you mess up, just get back at it. Serve Him with all your heart.
  • Don’t turn aside. Those things you’re putting higher than the Lord are just empty, useless things.
  • Remember daily (more like hourly, even minute by minute), the great things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for and in you.
  • Don’t get swept away, both you and your king. If you allow something or someone else to take a higher place in your life than the Lord, it will begin pulling you away from Him. It will continue to pull you further and further away, the more you follow it. God never will pull away from you, He never leaves or forsakes His kids, but we pull away from Him by choosing to take the reign from Him.

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #2

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #2

There are two things I think are very important to know about the Kingdom of God: It is progressive, and it brings opposition.

  • John taught the Kingdom of God is at hand …. he lost his head.
  • Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God … he caused a bit of a stir.
  • The disciples taught the Kingdom … 10/12 were martyred.
  • Paul taught it … he was stoned.

Let’s take a look at Acts 14:19-22 (If you haven’t read “The Kingdom #1” yet, you should read it first.)

“Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'”

In the first part of this study, we talked about what the kingdom of God is, and defined it as, “Where God is ruling and reigning,” and to make it more personal, “His rule and reign in our hearts.”

  • You enter the Kingdom of God, submitting to His reign, and resist the many kingdoms of this world.
  • As soon as you give more of your heart over to God’s reign, you’ve taken it from the devil and he will oppose!

How often does your flesh rise up and take the reign from the Lord? I know mine does a lot. The Lord whipsers to your heart, “Give $50 to that ministry.” Your flesh says, “Now way, man. I need that $50 to pay this bill. It’s already behind, I can’t be foolish with the money God has given me.”

Another area the flesh will rise up and try to take over is the mouth. We open our mouths and spew seLove Wins Jesus Crosseds of anger and bitterness. That’s not what God would have us sowing in the fields of our own hearts and the hearts of others. Every time I think about this, I see an image in my head of words flowing from my mouth. Each word is a seed and each seed gets thrown out into a field. Which ones are going to bear fruit?

When you get determined, saying, “I am going to obey God. I am going to allow Him to rule over every kingdom I have within me,” you will be hitting resistance at nearly every turn and you must be ready for it.

Have you ever picked up you Bible and read a verse you’ve read a hundred times, but this time it penetrates your very being? Like, suddenly you know without any doubt what God wants you to get from that particular verse? At that moment, it comes at you like a tidal wave, and you absolutely know it’s true and powerful.

Five minutes later, yoWalk By Faithu’ve set your Bible down, still thinking about how awesome God is to show you something so amazing, and suddenly a thought pops into your head. “Wait, was that really God? Was I just imagining it? Did I make it up?” These types of things hit you and, because you know opposition will come, and you’ve prepared yourself for it, you’re able to stand firm against:

  • Your own doubt and unbelief
  • Your friends/family’s doubt and unbelief

That doesn’t mean you get up there on your little soap box and start preaching to everybody, but it means, deep within you … in your heart and in your life … you stand on the revelation from the Word of God. Speaking the Truth when it is necessary, but out of love, not in a hurtful or condemning way.

Our world is falling apart because not enough Christians are willing to stand firm – allowing God to truly be Lord of their lives. We’re manipulated, controlled, and owned by someone/something else taking over as lord.

Matthew 11:11-12 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

Let me encourage you. Jesus said, in the verse above, that we are greater than John the Baptist. We have so much value as God’s sons and daughters, and you need to remember that. Here is a great list of things God has declared about you: I call it, “The List.”

If you’ll yield, you have the power to overcome anything of this world that comes at you.

When oppostion does come, do not back down! So many times, Christians have missed out on the power God wants them to walk in for one simple reason, they don’t want to pay the price. There’s a price to be paid … why read the Bible, learn what God is saying, get the revelation from the Holy Spirit, and then back down because someone else doesn’t agree? Or allow doubt and unbelief to rule when life smacks us in the face? Get up and declare the Word! It is the truth, whether we see it with our natural eyes or not.

Matthew 12:22-28

  • The Kingdom is near when the devil is cast out. His kingdom will beat anything that comes against them, when His people will believe and pray for it. And when the Kingdom is near, the devil leaves.
  • Another way to see it, when Jesus is lifted up and glorified, everything else starts sliding down.

Luke 10:8-11

  • Healing becomes available as we pray the Kingdom come. Healing is always available when the Kingdom is near … whether there is belief or not. But when there’s not, results will not be seen.

Isaiah 9:6-7

  • When you’re born again, the Kingdom of God pops into your heart and life in seed form. You’re not going to be fully committed or persuaded to give him absolute reign right away. It increases and increases as it is watered. You have to take care of your seeds. And it will not end … there is no end to where He wants to take you in His kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-33

  • Don’t ever give up! Keep on praying, seeking, and receiving. Keep pressing in, believing the Word. The Kingdom is progressive and it is growing. And as you yield more and more to His rule and reign, you’ll see those things you’ve dreamed of becoming reality in your life.

God rules. God reigns .. with our participation, our willingness to yield.

Other lessons in this series: #1, #3.

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

and all these things shall be added to you.

 

 

 

God Rocks

Understanding the Kingdom #1

Kingdom of God

Understanding the Kingdom #1

Have you ever opened up your Bible, read a verse, and went, “Huh?” Yeah, me too. But, you know, God is faithful to give us understanding if we search for it. So, let’s dive into this series and find out what we can learn about the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:25-33:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

I had read this section of verses many times. I had even quoted the last verse to others quite often, and had been trying to live it. Then it occurred to my that I didn’t really have an understanding of what I was supposed to be seeking.

I have been taught and led to “trust God” or “seek God” many times over the years. What job should I have? “Seek God.” How am I going to get through this month’s bills with all this extra stuff going on? “Trust God.” Christians are really good at throwing out those little pieces of advice, and while that is what we should do, most of us don’t really know what that means. Most of us feel like we’ve sought God and that we are trusting Him, but then our words of worrying come out and we pretty much prove our lack of trust.

Here’s the thing, we don’t really know what it means to see the kingdom of God. We just take the “seek God” part and decide, “Okay, I’ll read my Bible, maybe a little more than usual … if I have time … and I’ll pray, asking Him what He wants.” And then we just go about our day.

So let’s dive into this and try to break it down into something we can grasp. Something we can pursue as a reality in our lives, and then get to where we see “all these things” just added to our lives as a by product of our surrender.

What is the Kingdom of God? In Daniel 4:1-3, 34-35 and in 6:26-27 (please read them before moving on) we can see that God’s kingdom was recognized and reigning in the Old Testament. In verse 3, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”

This is King Nebuchadnezzar, a king that believed mostly in himself, and that’s it.  He was very aware of what it meant to rule a kingdom and rise in power. In verses 34-35, we find the same great king speaking of God, “He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”

In chapter 6, we are reading about King Darius, and because of Daniel and his stand, as a servant of God, the king recognizes God’s reign, “His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.”

In all of these passages, we find out that men of the world recognize that God has a kingdom. That He is the ruler of the Earth, and that He has and will always reign. Just remember, His reign doesn’t mean everything that happens here is a result of His hand or His will. While He does reign overall, He doesn’t control every detail in our lives. After all, He gave that job to us … when He told Adam to take dominion … and then Adam turned it over to Satan.

Turn over to Matthew 3:1-3, 4:17 & 23. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Do we understand what this is saying? It means the kingdom of heaven isn’t some far off future event. Nor does it mean the kingdom is way out there somewhere in the sky. It means it is here and it is now and, it is good news! The word Gospel means “good news.” It really means, “too good to be true news.” The kind of news we tend to not believe. And Jesus, according to Matthew 4:23 went about teaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and as a result, people were healed and delivered.

Luke 17:20-21, “The kingdom of God is within you.”

So, Matthew 6:33 … Here is the definition of the kingdom of God that made it all make sense to me.

The Kingdom of God is wherever God is ruling and reigning.

You see, God owns the world and everything in it, but He doesn’t just beat us into subjection. He loves us too much for that. So, we have to allow Him to rule and reign. To fully learn about the Kingdom of God, you’re going to need to read the other blogs in this series. But, more important than reading my blog posts, you are going to need to ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind and give you revelation knowledge. Because, without His help, you’ll just never truly walk Matthew 6:33.

Here are a few things that will help you, though:

  1. Pray the kingdom come. In Matthew 6:9-10, we find Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray. And He includes telling them to pray that the kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. Listen, if we didn’t need to ask for it, Jesus wouldn’t have said to pray for it. God’s will is not just automatically done. Now, I know that goes against a lot of beliefs about the sovereignty of God, and I don’t have space here to get into that, but just look at this one verse and give it a ponder: 2 Peter 3:9 … if God always automatically got His will, no one would ever perish.
    1. Taking this to a personal level, when you pray His kingdom to come, it’s asking Him to rule and reign over the many areas in your life. Your relationships, finances, health, decisions, attitudes, mouth, thouights, etc. It’s relinquishing your control and allowing Him to rule.
      1. I think one of the hardest places for me to let go and let God is in my thoughts. The Bible tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2Cor. 10:5). That means, not allowing negative, hurtful thoughts to fill your brain. It means countering thoughts that are contrary to what God says in His word and not allowing the enemy and the world to control what you’re thinking about, because believe me, if the enemy can get you to focus on some past mistake and get you to allow that to rule your life, he will. And your past will then be guiding your future, instead of God.
  2. Prefer God’s will over your own. His agenda over yours.
    1. Don’t pursue stuff … pursue His rule over your life. He wants you to have the stuff, He really does, but He doesn’t want you chasing the stuff.
    2. Be careful that you’re not getting into religious rule, instead of God rule. Religious rule is like, “tattoos aren’t Godly,” or “the clothes you’re wearing are too showy,” that type of thing. You see, religious rule, those things you may have heard growing up, that aren’t offering grace to those around you, often causes you to become just judgmental and dogmatic, and that is not how God is or how He wants us to be.
  3. Heed the voice of the Lord.
    1. Hebrews 12:27 (start in 21 and read to get the whole thing), God wants to shake us up. He wants to be able to teach us and shake the bad out and fill us up with goodness. His goodness. And the great thing is, He is patient and full of grace.
      1. Let Him teach you and guide you little by little. One “yes, Lord” at a time. Progressively changing you as you learn to hear and follow His voice.

Consider, really ponder and think about, what the Kingdom of God really is. Let Him take the rule and reign, and see the power released in your life. It’s going to be an amazing ride!

 

Other lessons in this series: #2, #3.

For your free copy of “The List“, click here.

 

 

 

God Rocks

Making the Main Thing, the Main Thing

Main Thing Jesus

Making the Main Thing, the Main Thing

There was this couple at my church that had it all together, they clearly had made God the main thing in their lives. I watched them. Admired them from afar. Wanted to be them.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now. That couple, that had God first, seemed to be leaps and bounds above where I was spiritually. From where I was standing, they were the epitome of what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t understand that my perception probably made them greater than they were. That I really had no idea where they were in their relationship with God, I just knew what I saw at church on Sunday.

It didn’t really matter, in the long run, what unrealistic perception I had of them. What did matter, however, was how my perception of them drove me to move God into a higher place in my life.

It hit me that if I didn’t change something, I would never get there, and that I needed to start somewhere. As much as I hated it, I had to admit that I didn’t even think about God or Jesus much. So, I decided to do something about it; He would become the main thing I would think about.

I needed and wanted God to be my main thing.

I decided to begin by writing Jesus on several sheets of paper. “Jesus,” rather than “God,” just seemed a little bit more personal to me at that time in my life. I put the sheets all over the place. I was home more than anywhere, as I was a mother of three, and two of them were still in diapers. So, I put them all over the house.

Pretty soon, I had Jesus on my mind all the time. He was right there when the joys of motherhood brought tears to my eyes, as well as when the tears weren’t from a happy place. He was there in front of me as I swept the floors and washed the dishes. Every time  I turned around, He was there in the front of my mind. Smiling with me, crying with me. Picking me up and cheering me on.

Making God the main thing is an intentional pursuit, it doesn’t just happen.

In Luke 12:29-32, Jesus tell his disciples to stop worrying about the things they need in this life, but to put God as their main concern, and they’d have their needs met. And verse 32 particularly blesses me, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God WANTS to bless us, and all He wants from us is for us to give Him place in our daily lives.

What does it mean to make Him the main thing? It means He is at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom of my list. I’m aware of His presence constantly and remember to thank Him for it regularly. When circumstances come my way and I need Him to carry me through, I know that He is.

I can see God in every single thing I do or am a part of. When I’m running my fingers around on the piano, He is with me. When I lift paint brush to canvas, He is there guiding my hands. When I drive down the road, or push the cart through the store, He is there.

Why you should consider where God is in your life.

When you make Him the main thing in your life, you find joy in even the most tiresome or uninteresting things in your life. It’s comforting to know He is with you while you do the ordinary day to day cycle of life. If you know He is there for all the small things, you’re prepared for the big, hard things, because you know He is there, too.

When He becomes greater, your faith becomes stronger. Your attitudes begin to change and you start getting answers to questions you’ve had about your life. You start to see yourself through different eyes, the eyes of the Almighty. Your whole world changes.

A few tips to getting God up that rung so that He become the Main Thing:

  • Get His name in front of you.
  • Put up art that reminds you of Him.
  • When you are reminded by Him, or a bumper sticker you see on your drive home, don’t ignore it, talk to Him.
  • Open the Bible regularly, or your favorite Bible app. Love Jesus
  • Turn on some good music, close your eyes, and get wrapped up in His love.

I challenge you.

I know it seems tedious, and maybe even a little silly to you, but when a person becomes truly serious about growing in an area of their lives, they’ll do the silly. So, here it is: Get a piece of paper, or better yet, start a journal and at the front, write a declaration something like this:

Today I make a commitment to myself and to God Almighty, to take whatever steps are necessary for me to elevate Him to a place of greater importance in my every day life. I recognize the benefits of doing so are greater than my mind can comprehend and I look forward to becoming stronger in my faith as a result.

Sign and date it. If you are starting a journal, make sure you add to it regularly and include what you see changing within you. And don’t forget to write about the great things He has done for you along the way.

If you’ve found this post helpful or encouraging, please pass it on to others. Hit me up in the comment section for any lingering questions or thoughts.

 

God Rocks

Everybody’s Momma

Everybody’s Momma

When Simon answered Jesus regarding who he saw Him as, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus responded with how blessed he was to have received the answer only God could give, and then spoke into his life, not only who he would become, but also the importance of his name, “Peter.”

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18

When God told Abram he would become the father of many nations, (Genesis 17:4-5) He changed his name to Abraham. Why? Because Abram means, “father of many,” But Abraham means, “father of many nations.” Do you see the difference? God was making a promise, a covenant, with Abraham and sealing it with a name change.

Lo-Ruhamah, a name given by God to the daughter of Hosea, (Hosea 1:6-7) announcing that He was tired of the house of Israel and was giving them, “No mercy.” – The meaning of the name.

Lo-Ammi, another child of Hosea to which God declared the name. It means, “Not-My-People.” You can probably make a fairly accurate assumption as to the reason He chose this name. (Hosea 1:8-9)

Turn a few pages and you’ll find God bringing a change to those names, making them simply Ruhamah and Ammi. Why the change? Hosea 2:23 – God states that He will have mercy on them and they will become His people once again.

What’s in a name? In Bible times, and even in some cultures today, a name is super important. It means something. In the world I live in, however, a name has become just something someone says to get the attention of the person they need to speak with.

It seems to me a nickname tends to hold more meaning now. I mean, people beg for a nickname. Sometimes they don’t even care if it’s a good one or not, they just don’t want to be left out. I hear my given name and it doesn’t stir anything within me, I just respond to the person and go on with my day.

My nicknames, however, impact me. I’ve been given some interesting ones over the years. I was called “Frog” by friends that thought I bounced around a lot. That is kind of funny, now that I think about it, because these days I bounce between things way more than I did when I earned that nickname. I guess I have always been that way, though I couldn’t really see it back then. Now I find myself bouncing between creating, learning new things, and becoming better at the things I already know.

My hubby calls me “Sunshine” because he sees me as a great light in his life, and when I hear it, I am encouraged to remain that light to not only him, but all those around me.

My mom has a few names she likes to call me, each one endearing me to her. Moms can call you whatever they wish, out of love, and it just screams into your heart, “I am so loved!”

I’ve been called “Herc” because I’m not afraid to do the heavy lifting when it needs done. I call my kids by nicknames more often, I think, than I say their actual names. Even our dogs get nicknames – which only tends to confuse them, lol.

Nicknames are a result of being who you are. A person sees something about you that strikes them as funny or interesting or admirable and they find something to call you that recognizes that quality.

Perhaps the most precious of names I’ve been given is “Momma.” I know what you’re thinking … that’s just the name kids give their moms. But, that’s not the case in my experience. I was given the name Momma by a beautiful young lady who was searching for someone to help fill the void in her life. Someone to love her as she needed to be loved, accepting her for who she was and giving her guidance when she needed it most.

When I think of a “Momma,” I think of a person who gives of herself above and beyond the normal. Someone who puts others needs in front of their own. Someone who helps others be strong during the hard times in life. Encourages them to reach for the stars. And constantly pushes them to become more … to grow steadily in their walk with the Lord.

I asked for a quote from one of my kids, not the blood ones that are required to call me Mom, but the ones that have become my kids through relationship.Best Friends Jesus

The question: Why am I “Momma” and what does that mean? The answer: “You’re Momma because you came alongside me at my darkest and wouldn’t give up until I came to the light. Because you loved me enough and saw enough value in me to not only be a friend, but a mentor. You care, you guide, you encourage, and you love. You want nothing less than the best for me, and you keep pushing me to pursue nothing less.”

Interestingly, my own kids started calling me “Momma” instead of the usual “Mom,” or “Mommy.” My grand babies call me “Gmomma.” And each time I hear the term, it softens my heart to the roll I tend to take and hope I can become better at.

I want to be your “Momma,” your mentor. The person you turn to when you need to find strength during the storm, or encouragement for a broken heart. Maybe you just want to dive deeper, draw closer to God, and you need a bit of guidance.

You can come to me to get the support you need for all your daily struggles in life, knowing that I will help you get back to Who is really your source, your support.

You have the freedom to create your own name for me, I’m cool with that. What I wonder is, will you allow me into your life as someone who has your best interest at heart?

You see, it’s my nature. I just love to help others be the best they can be. Are you struggling to see where you fit in this great big world? Have you been cast aside by your friends and family and are suffering the deep hurt and anxiety that causes? Have you lost someone dear to you and need help overcoming the despair?

Do you want to learn more about seeking the Lord? Do you want to become stronger in your prayer life? Do you need help learning how to make the stories in your Bible relate to you and your life? There are so many questions I want to help answer, with the Lord’s guidance.

I hope you will leave your email for me, or just check back in often. There are answers, and I know the Lord will show me things to write that will speak to your heart. That will help you to heal and to grow.