Living Light

Stirring The Deep


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Living in the Kingdom of God NOW

Living in the Kingdom of God

NOW

Beach Walk

The other day as I was walking on the beach, I reflected upon on the bleakness of our times contrasted to the beautiful truth of God’s Kingdom here on earth. I thought about how many people are waiting for heaven when God has given us access to His Kingdom now – something few truly enter into. Most are sitting on the sideline waiting and missing out on an incredible journey now. The reflection took me back to that poignant moment in my walk – the realization of the realness of His Kingdom here on earth and in my life.

The Realness of the Kingdom on Earth

One morning many years ago, my husband came into the kitchen where I was sitting having my quiet time. He said, “Can I interrupt you for a moment?” “Sure!” I said. I’m always ready to hear an insight. He said (paraphrasing) from what he was reading and what the spirit was teaching the Kingdom of God in our lives is just as real as this physical life. Therefore, dwelling it affects our earthly lives now in very powerful and real ways. We are called to a different existence now. His words confirmed what I had been learning. Often God teaches us individually similar truths at similar times – it never ceases to amaze us.

We dived into an extraordinary conversation about the Kingdom. We volleyed back and forth on what God was showing us. Our study, our circumstances, and our conversation were uncovering this mind altering truth. God was unveiling the mystery of His Kingdom. That day catapulted our lives in a new direction. The Kingdom of God became real like the sand that runs through your fingers and the surf that dashes across your feet. We discern it differently than the physical world but its affect on us is more potent than what we see. The impact in our lives from dwelling in God’s Kingdom affects our health, family, marriage, work, everything. It isn’t pie in the sky; it’s pie you eat. We were transitioning from hearing the truth of the Kingdom to it becoming our home. It’s like hearing about a country verses traveling there.

What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is within us. It is God’s Spirit within us. It is Him conquering the territory of our soul and moving in as King and us stepping aside. It is us being reconciled back to God through Christ’s sacrifice and dwelling in the presence of God and all that He is. In His presence, His Kingdom, I’ve experienced in substantive ways His love, mercy, truth, joy, peace, rest, comfort, deliverance, healing, power, strength, protection, provision, purity, goodness, purpose, beauty, wisdom, counsel, freedom, instruction, perfection, and sovereignty – all far beyond what the world offers. And when those things fill your life your life changes dramatically. Meditating on what He has given me in each one of these is something I often do. As we seek God’s face with our heart and soul in the truth of His Word, then these treasures become apart of our lives. It’s tremendous as I’m discovering.

The Focus of Jesus’ Teaching

Luke 4:43 but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent
.”

The Kingdom is the focus of Jesus’ teaching. It is the reason He came to earth. It is the place He opened to us with His eternal sacrifice, as His gift of righteousness opened the door. We need His righteousness because we have none and we only enter this Kingdom if we are spotless. The travesty is many are spiritually born and given this gift, but are stuck in the birth canal. If we neglect to enter in, learn, seek, and explore this new place then we abandon what Jesus brought us, abundant life. For God is life. It’s something we seek with our spiritual eyes, because it isn’t discerned with our physical eyes, but its power in our lives that dominates everything we do see.

The world functions by its wisdom and we, the children of God, by God’s. Just as we are born into the physical world, we are born into this spiritual one. For those who aren’t born into the spiritual, their lives function and are limited by the rules of the physical world. For us who have been spiritually born, we have a new set of rules that govern our lives as we live according to God’s wisdom. How we succeed, fulfill our dreams, define our purpose, make decisions, and obtain wisdom; and what brings joy, pleasure, and happiness are some of the areas where we learn and enjoy a new way of living.

The Journey into the Kingdom

Coming to understand how to live in our new life takes time. Just as we grow physically learning to function in the earthly realm, we grow spiritually. In order to do both we eat. In one we consume food, in the other the Truth, the Word. If we don’t nourish our spirits we won’t mature and will continue to live as we always have, outside His promises. How many mal-nourished Christians do you see? How many do you see feasting on the pure Word, and not man’s watered-down interpretation? If we ate more of His pure truth we would grow and live as we are called in His presence and not as mere men. 1 Corinthians 3:3 Why don’t you see the affects of the Kingdom in people’s lives? Because they aren’t eating or aren’t eating and digesting the pure Word of God.

For us to know and live in the Kingdom was and still is Christ’s passion. We don’t have to wait until heaven to experience a life with God that far exceeds what the world offers. Our response to Jesus’ gift of His life that allows us entrance into this world is seeking understanding and belief in all the promises of our new home. If we don’t take the time to discover its treasures, we never leave the airport. We stay just outside a world that would transform our lives. We remain in the wasteland of endless striving and insatiable hungers. Jesus came to give us life, life in His Kingdom. In it we find the abundant life He came to give. As His bride, it is our part to enter in and explore and we do by stirring the deep.

Verses to ponder about the treasures of God’s kingdom:

1. Blessing

Proverbs 10:22, Psalm 84:11, Psalm 115: 12-15

2. Provision

Psalm 81:10, 16, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-33

3. Healing

Matthew 10:7-8, 2 Kings 20:5b, Psalm 30:2, James 5:15-16

4. Peace with God

Philippians 4:7 , John 14:27, John 16:33, Ephesians 2:14

5. Happiness/Joy

Psalm 144:15 , Proverbs 16:20, Proverbs 3:13, Job 5:17

6. Rest

Psalm 116:7, Psalm 55:2,2 Matthew 11:28, Philippians 4:11-13

7. Protection/Safety

Psalm 50:15, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 91:9-11, Psalm 71:3

8. Freedom

John 8:32,36, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Psalm 119:45, 2 Corinthians 3:17

9. Deliverance

Isaiah 40:4, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 32:10 , Proverbs 13:15

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In God’s Strength, Not Ours

In God’s Strength, Not Ours

 

Some time ago, I read a secular book on writing and attended a Christian writers conference within weeks of each other. I’m going to share with you something that greatly impacted me at that time to remind us of who we are in God and what we have.

What struck me was that the advice from those at the conference and from the author of the secular book was basically the same. Everything about becoming a successful writer stemmed from you and your strength, not God. Why was there no difference? Aren’t Christians to be living in God’s strength, not man’s? Then why was the counsel the same?

Many Christians are living like mere men. God calls us to live in His strength and that shouldn’t look the same as the world’s ways, should it? I speak to myself as a reminder as much as anyone else. There is a better way to live, so why settle?

When you dive into the Bible, what you find is a description of a life with God that varies from what the world offers. Below are some elements of our lives when we are living in His strength:

  • We work in situations beyond our capabilities.
  • We are not limited to what we know; we are limited to what God knows, which has no limit.
  • God accomplishes a lot with a little.
  • God moves in the hearts and minds of others to accomplish His will in our lives.
  • God uses ordinary people to accomplish mighty works.
  • We work yet at the same time rest, because it is His power working through us.
  • We often work in areas or in ways that are specifically our weaknesses so we learn to trust Him.
  • We are prospered beyond our own capabilities.
  • We are asked to do something for which we aren’t prepared.
  • We don’t endlessly strive.
  • Our efforts don’t equal our returns – they equate to God’s work in us, which is much more.
  • There is no rat race in God’s Kingdom.
  • There is balance, rest and satisfaction.

I’m sure there are many more but these came to mind. Each scenario above creates an opportunity for the power of God, not man, to be displayed. God revealing Himself to the world through us is what our lives are about. And that means we will be living beyond our capabilities in many ways – it is uncomfortable and glorious all at the same time.

If you look at the characters in the Bible (Peter, Paul, Daniel, David, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the prophets) they had one or more of these aspects. Their lives showed the strength of God, not the power of man. Often times they got scared, doubted, questioned, but they pushed forward with God.

Makes you think . . . what does your life show? What will be the story of your life? What would it read if it was in the Bible? What does it tell the world about who and what you REALLY trust?

For the child of God, there is a new way of life. Often God puts us in situations beyond our abilities so we can learn to trust Him. Our trust isn’t in our talents, skills, or gifts, how many extra hours we work, or if we did all the necessary preparations. It’s in God’s ability, power, and strength, because we are here for His glory not ours. In Him, we do what we never could. That is our life.

Running the rat race like the rest of the world isn’t for us. Nowhere in the Bible do I find that to be the case. Look at the Israelites. God established their life full of celebrations and feasts. I have never seen a group of people rest so much and yet accomplish what they did. God provided for their physical needs. He defeated enemies far stronger. He guided them and instructed them in every facet of life. They were living a life that was impossible in their own strength and God was glorified. However, our lives also aren’t about sitting around – but following His lead and moving forward in His strength.

Striving, toiling, and living by the same rules as the world – what is the difference then? What is the abundant life that God brought to us in Christ? His life consumes ours and that means everything changes. Yes we work but it is in a different strength. It isn’t our work, but His in us.

I know it can be extremely uncomfortable living beyond yourself. You aren’t in control so at any moment it feels like things could turn for the worse. Because of this discomfort, we often give into the fear and hold back from moving forward into what God has laid on our hearts. Like Moses, we are full of buts and what ifs. Exodus 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13. It isn’t easy to live in His strength, to make that leap and let go of what we have always trusted in. It takes time. If it was easy we would all be there. But God is offering us a much better way to live. I’ve tasted it. If we feast on His pure Word and seek to do it His way, then He will show us the way and give us the faith to live as He ordained – in abundant life, in His presence. If this life is your desire, then step out and follow Him beyond your strengths into His. Pray to let go of the control and to have a peace about it – God is driving now.

Psalm 21:13 “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.”

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Guarding the Windows to the Soul

Guarding the Windows to the Soul

 

William Shakespeare said the eyes are the windows to the soul. God says they are the lamp of the body. If the eyes are good, the body is full of light. If they are bad, the body is full of darkness. Luke 11:34

The eyes, representing what we focus on and attend to, can fill us with light (goodness) or darkness (evil). They are the opening of our soul through which things flow. Therefore, we have to be very careful what we focus on and bring into our soul because it affects our entire body, soul and spirit.

The past couple of days I have been thinking about the significance of this truth.

What do I focus on throughout the day? What am I taking into my soul? Is it good, helpful, productive or is it negative, destructive, and misleading? What we allow to come into our souls either leads us to or away from God and His truth. And lately little things have been trying to slip in that shouldn’t be.

It is amazing how the world’s philosophies creep into our lives. Constantly the world is pursuing us to trust in its ways, to focus on its concerns, and to be enraptured by its fears. And it is relentless in its pursuit. It wants to own us and take us captive to do its will. 2 Timothy 2:26 And often it is so subtle we don’t recognize it for what it is – contrary to God’s truth. Here are three subtleties that often try to creep into my life.

Our physical health. Who or what do we look to for healing; drugs, pharmaceuticals, doctors, or natural remedies? God is our healer. The things of this world can remedy pains but without God they are useless. Asa, one of the kings of Judah, looked to the physicians and not to God and died as a result. 2 Chronicles 16:12-13. God created many wonderful remedies and often uses them to heal and restore, but without God working in them, those things are worthless. He is their potency. He is life. The only reason they work is His mercy. When we start to trust in them, we lose focus, the world creeps in and darkness starts to take over.

Our soul’s health. What or who do we trust for our soul’s health; self-help books, programs, seminars, or therapists? There are many truths out there about our inner health and what helps and what hurts, but who are we trusting to do that work in us? We are to trust God. Philippians 2:13 He works in us as Master Creator. When we follow the world’s methods it is like putting band aids over gushing wounds. When we trust God He is a diligent surgeon who heals us through and through. I have walked both paths – there is no comparison between the work we try to do and what God does in us. Yet, sometimes the world’s ways still tempt me.

Our provision. Do we trust in this world’s system to provide? When our paycheck comes from our boss it is easy to start trusting in him, our work, our abilities, or our skills to provide for us. When we think God is too slow in bringing what we want or need we become like the Israelites at the bottom of Mount Sinai. Exodus 32 When Moses was gone too long, they made a golden calf to trust and worship. When we feel God takes too long in providing we justify He needs our help and we start concocting our own schemes to provide. God is in control of our paths, not us, and not another man. God gives us a job to do. We need to do that work following His lead and leave the provision up to Him.

Those of the world only have this world for their help and hope. They have to trust it because it is all they have. But as God’s bride, we are called out of this world and are to trust Him for everything. We are no longer alone in this world or left to its whims. As our Husband, God wants to provide all. We live by a different set of rules. We live by a different power and strength – not ours but His. We have God Almighty on our side working for and in us. Therefore, we don’t have to worry and chase after these things as the world does. We are free from being concerned about them because God has moved in as our provider in every area. He takes care of our lives so we can focus on Him. Matthew 6:24-34

When we focus on God and His truth, we are pouring light into our souls. We are filling our eyes with His goodness and our bodies, souls and spirits thrive. If we flood our eyes with the concerns of this world then we are pouring in darkness and our lives will suffer.

Guard your eyes, the windows to your soul, for they determine if you live a life abundantly in Him or a life of lack trapped in the schemes of this world.


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The Greater the Victory

The Greater the Victory

 

The greater the possibility of defeat, the greater the victory.

Soon after we moved to California my husband and I were at a point of having spent all our savings on trying to start a business. We had no jobs and a house mortgage that could cover three houses the same size in Tennessee, where we moved from. Yet, we believed that God put us in this house. A steadily draining bank account with no replenishment in site seemed to be a pending defeat waiting to consume our lives. The waves were crashing into the boat and starting to sink us.

You can look at this experience two ways; one stupidity for not selling sooner or an opportunity to witness the power, mercy and care of God. We opted for the latter. Still green in our Christian walk, this trial went to the depths of our souls. Did we trust God was our provider and not ourselves? Did we truly believe He was in the details like His Word says? Were we going to rely on that still small voice telling us He would provide and there was no need to sell our home? Did we honestly think He cared that much about little ole’ us? Did we think He could provide the money we desperately needed? When you have to act on your beliefs then you know if you truly trust what you say you do.

A month from going under, we took a break from our job search and headed for the beach. We spent a couple of hours talking about our situation, God, and the possibilities of what would happen. There was no question we weren’t selling. We decided to rest in the promises of God we had been studying. No action, no faith. If we not now then when? If we don’t trust Him with our lives, then what is everything we had been learning for? Is He our God or isn’t He? Several times, we paused let the water dash over our toes and wondered at the amazing peace we felt. Shouldn’t we spend every waking hour trying to find some income? Shouldn’t we be nervous wrecks?

We followed the whisper.

God provided. We didn’t have to sell our home. The blessings started to pour into our lives. We trusted Him and He was faithful. That trial put our relationship on a different level with God because acting on our trust in Him breathed life into His promises.

Looking back the choice was between; believe God and enter into His land of promises and rest or stay wandering around in the desert until He provided another opportunity to demonstrate our trust was in Him and not us.

The possibility of defeat was huge as it banged at our back door, but looking back the enormity of the defeat made the victory all the greater and sweeter. It is a time in our life that we often reflect upon to give us peace, a time we felt the caring perfect mighty hand of our Lord.

Our ultimate purpose is to be one with God in truth, will and desire. Everything we go through is for that purpose. These moments when the possibility of defeat are great are the most powerful in increasing our union with Him. We have to call upon like no other time, we have to expand our trust and depend on Him with all that is within us and those acts take us deeper into His presence.

In a boat the waves crashing all around, I sit starring into Your eyes. The storm is great, but You control the storm. It is only a matter of time before You calm the waters. You look at me; what, who am I trusting? Am I scrambling to and fro, calling to others to rescue me, or paralyzed with a panic stricken stare? My eyes remain fixed on you. I see nothing else but you and your love and care for me.

2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect