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Archive for the ‘Kingdom of God’ Category

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God

People can be persuaded to do certain things or believe certain things by the power of suggestion from other people, especially those who have a charismatic personality.

persuation

There is nothing wrong with listening to others. We can learn from others by listening and we can encourage others by talking together. Yet we do not want to depend on what others say putting all our faith and trust in their words and opinions.

Our faith needs to be based on more than just the power of words. Our faith needs to be in the living God and the power of his Spirit. Paul tells us that when he spoke it was not by natural wisdom of men but by power and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit.

Even today there are many people who can talk and persuade others by the power of their message. We do not need more powerful man-made messages or the opinions of others to guide us. Now more than ever we need to seek and listen to the wisdom of God presented through the Holy Spirit. The powerful and life changing guidance of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that will make a difference in our lives today.

We need to be careful who we listen to and what message they are presenting. There are many people with their own agendas and who are way off base from the message the Holy Spirit wants to give. Love God, love one another and seek first the kingdom of God are not common messages in our world today.

Remember, John wrote in his epistle that we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we have no need for anyone to teach us what is true.

Abide in Christ and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit within you to lead and guide you. Let the love of God flow from you daily to help and encourage others along the way.

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It can be hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. For years we were taught God is in heaven and if we follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with him face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne in heaven and we are far, far away down on earth.

god is here

Pastors will tell us that God will show up now and then at a special meeting, or when a special service is planned and the Spirit will fall upon us. Yet we know that God is with us all the time and the Spirit fell on the human race two thousand years ago.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come and restored fellowship between God and people we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and we are children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky and speak words to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will continue to change over the next few years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely change as we continue to walk under the guidance of the Spirit. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize is happening now.

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As the Christmas season progresses I have noticed spending time reflecting on memories of past Christmases. Have any of you done that? Maybe I should say any of you who are say, fifty-five or over.

Sometimes my mind starts to wander off into years past and I see myself with my parents. I can actually see it in my mind like I was there and I can sometimes smell some of the good smells of Christmas cookies baking in the oven.

ChristmasMemories

It actually can get a little depressing when I wander off like that if I concentrate on the past to long. Not because I did not enjoy that period of time, but because it is only a memory. Even while I am lost in thoughts from those years gone by, I am still aware of being in the present time. All those loved ones are now gone and are only memories.

I can also envision years not quite as far back when I was younger and had small children of my own. I can remember that excitement of my kids wanting to get up early and open their presents. Yet even thinking about those times to long gets a little depressing because again, those cute little kids are all grown up and have kids of their own. Again, the thoughts of joy and excitement are just memories.

It is funny how memories can be so uplifting and encouraging and bring so much joy, and at the same time can be a little depressing. So many pleasant memories and happy times of past friends and family being together. Then it all disappears as reality sets in and you know those times are gone.

Of course the good part about all of this are the new memories being made with friends and family of the present time. Memories are great but spending to long in the past is not good when there are so many new memories to be made and enjoyed now.

In Philippians 3:13 it says ‘forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal’. I say live by Hebrews 11:1 … Now faith. We are Now living in the kingdom of God. We Now have the Spirit of God living within us. Enjoy your memories, learn from the past but do not dwell there. Move on and keep looking forward to the goal and live each new day with our Father.

So yes, Christmas time is a time of excitement and happy times. It is also enjoyable to drift back into the past and remember all the good times with friends and family. Yet if you let it, it can be a hard time of year.

Am I saying we should not enjoy past memories? No, not at all. Enjoy the past but do not dwell in the past. The best thing I have found is to enjoy the good times with friends and family in the present. Do not let anything keep you from participating or ruin the time you can spend with them. All to soon they will be but memories, but thank God for the memories.

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For those of us who have left the traditional church system, there can be times of discouragement, questioning and just plain not knowing what to do. Do not feel guilty for having such feelings.

I know that my wife and myself became fed up with the religious church system after spending over fifty years in it. Week after week we went to a pre-planned service, sat and watched only a few select people participate and listened to one person talk and tell us about God.

If was obvious there was a divide, a group of people who participated and a group of people who sat and listened. I remember thinking how spiritual the leaders of the church must be and how knowledgeable they were to hold positions in the church. I always thought I had nothing to say that would be important or helpful and I was so thankful for the pastor and the elders who seemed to have it all together.

As time went on I began wondering about certain verses in the bible that talked about each person having a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Or what about verses talking about us as living stones being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. To me this says that all Christians are a holy priesthood and can offer spiritual sacrifices to God. All have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ our High Priest.

We are told that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

All these verses and many others sure sounded to me that we were all capable, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, to be equals with all others who followed Christ. All can serve and fulfill a purpose in the Kingdom of God.

My wife and I came to believe that the divide we see in the Christian church was really very unbiblical. There are no first and second-class citizens of the Kingdom. There should not be a clergy-laity divide within the true Church that God is building through Christ.

church-people-or-building

We were always taught that the church, the brick and mortar building people attend once a week, was the house of God. Yet the bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Finally making the choice to leave the church system, we decided to walk with God outside the walls of religion. This of course is a very unpopular decision in the Christian world. People have lost friends and fellowship with other believers because of this choice because those who are in the system feel leaving it is wrong.

I have heard of many people after leaving became known as back-sliders, people fallen from their faith and who have lost their relationship with God. When people find out we no longer attend a church they do their best to reason with us and try to get us back in line and back in the church system.

After three years being out of the institutional church, neither of us want to go back. We have found a freedom to live with God apart from the denominational requirements, various doctrines, the many man-made ways of following God and the thousands of interpretations of the bible that differ from church to church.

Over time God has brought people into our lives in ways we never expected. We are finding many new relationships online with people who have also left the church system. Fellowship is needed among us followers of Christ but that does not have to be done in a building on a set day and being face to face. In fact, we have had more meaningful relationships being outside of church then we did in it including online and face-to-face fellowship.

MindofChrist

If we believe the Holy Spirit lives within us, that we have the mind of Christ, and that the kingdom of God is within us then we need no man to teach us. The Spirit will guide each of us in the way he has for us to go. We are not going to all agree and walk in perfect agreement, but God leads each of us on separate paths yet leads us all into a close fellowship with Him.

For those with young kids it can be even more troubling because you are not sure what to do with the kids. Yet I believe that God will guide you and bring ways of showing the love of God to your kids whether it be in a group or in your family at home. I do not want to give out ideas for you to try because I believe the Spirit of God will guide and direct you in the way you are to go in teaching your children.

I do believe that God is big enough and personal enough to guide us outside the traditional church and the clergy system we have all know all our lives. It is a difficult road to go but it certainly seems to me a much better way to follow God and live for Him.

What decision you make in regard to attending church or walking outside the walls, remember both groups are children of God and trying to follow Him the way they feel is best. In church or out of church we all make up The Church, each of us equally important and equally able to let God love through us.

Focus of following God in the way he leads you, love others equally, do not think more highly of yourself than of others. Be open to let God lead you on the path he has for you whether it is in traditional religious ways or the unpopular way of living outside the walls of church and religion. Love and accept others as they are and let the love of God touch everyone you meet along the way.

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This hit me one evening as my wife and I sat listening to one of our grandsons play in the school concert band. The band was an example of what the Church should look like. When I say Church I do not mean a building under the direction of a pastor but a community of believers, each with a part to play under the guidance of Jesus.

There were many people from many different backgrounds playing various instruments. As they played different songs some of them moved to another instrument playing two or three different instruments.

Each participated using the talents they were given. They blended together as a unit when they were under the leadership of the director.

Concert Band

If only one person played and all the others just sat there, we would be missing out on a beautiful sound. Or if each person played what they wanted, separately doing it their own way we would get many people playing different tunes and styles without direction. It would sound terrible.

Even though each individual had their own gifts and part to play, they all kept their eyes on the director who brought it all together in perfect harmony.

As the Church, each of us come from many different backgrounds. We all have a gift, talent or various talents given to us by the Spirit. We have different parts to play but each of us participates.

Imagine if we all came together and only one person participated. We would be missing out on a beautiful experience of the complete body participating and using their God-given talents for the good of the group.

Church is not a place to go where everyone sits down and just listens to one person, but it is people who are equally functioning parts of the body under the direction of Jesus who is head of the body.

Each of us make up the body of Christ, and as we keep our eyes on the director, Jesus, he will bring everything together in perfect harmony for the good of the body.

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Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We were created in the image of God. This means we were created by a perfect, loving God and we were good in the sight of God. We are made in the likeness of God, that is, three in one, spirit, soul (mind) and body.

Unfortunately evil entered the human race and we lived under the curse of the law because of the fall of man through Adam. Our spirit, soul and body were then subject to trying to earn salvation by following the law which we could not do, eventually leading to death.

Because of the fall of Adam and sin entering the world we lost the fellowship with the Father that we were intended to have. That does not mean that God stopped loving us. That does not mean that we became terrible people who were seen as nothing but sinful and incapable of doing anything good. Yet the fellowship between our loving Father and the human race was broken and needed repaired. Something we could not accomplish by good works and effort.

The answer came through Christ and the grace He provided. Because of the work of Christ we were made new creatures in Him. Our old sinful spirit was crucified and buried when he took our sins to His cross.

We now have a new righteous spirit within us and our fellowship with the Father has been restored. We still have a soul (mind) that needs renewed and an earthly body that will one day be changed into a spiritual body, yet at this moment God sees us as the righteousness of Christ who lives within us by His Spirit. The goodness and fellowship with the Father that we were originally created with is restored, not by anything we can do but because of the love of the Father for each of us.

Naturally speaking we will never be perfect on this earth, but because of the grace of Christ God sees us spiritually perfect already.

This does not mean we should do whatever we want because there are earthly consequences for our actions, but now we live for God and do what pleases Him out of love and not out of obligation. We now take up our cross daily and follow Him allowing Him to increase as we decrease.

We now have a restored fellowship with the Father that was intended from the day God created the human race. When you make a mistake it is covered. We do not have to repent each time but we can acknowledge we made a mistake and thank God for His grace that covers it.

I have found a good thing to do after allowing my mind or body to take control is to verbally or mentally confess ‘I am the righteousness of God’. Doing this will help us to remember God’s gift of grace and get us focused on our spiritual position in Christ.

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Growing up in the organized church, we were taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit came to reside within us once we accepted the grace of Christ.

Many times in the written word of God we are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit lives within us and we have no need that any man teach us.

Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice, yet most of us were taught that the voice really means the words written in the bible.

We have heard it said that if it is not in the bible it is not of God. We are told God only speaks through the written word, yet there are so many interpretations, various doctrines and so many verses that were written to a specific person or group of persons. These writings were often for a specific time period that no longer relates directly to us except as an example to learn about the nature of God.

I feel so much has been lost over the many years from when the original writings were done. So many of the translations have changed the original meanings because of changes in times, word meanings and such. Without the Spirit bringing to life the words we read and through confirmation through his voice within, we are really left to our personal views and opinions of what others have told us the written word means.

The bible is not God and it is not a god. The bible was inspired by an infallible God yet written by very fallible men, men who were inspired yet wrote with their personal views and ways of writing. The bible is about people trying to find, follow and fellowship with God and clearly teaches us how to do that. The written word leads us to the Living Word, who is the Christ.

So many times it is mentioned that the Spirit now lives within us. Yet so often, even though we say it, we do not act like we really believe it. Time and time again the bible says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit and the Kingdom are within you. And time and time again we seem to go right on thinking God is far away from us and all we can do is read from his word.

Sure, there are many people who say they speak from God and yet are nowhere close to being a godly example. It is easy to say God told me this or that, or say God told me to tell you something yet the person saying such things is only going on their personal feelings and interpretations. Anyone can say God told them this or that and expect us to do what they say, but we need to listen to the Spirit for ourselves and listen for the confirmation from within as to what is of God and what is not.

I believe if God says the Spirit lives within us and we can hear his voice, then it is something not to be taken lightly. As followers of Christ we can rely on the Spirit within us to teach us and guide us into his truth. We have to be listening and open to God to know his voice, but we can hear it and know it is from our Father. To say that we can only hear from God through the written word is to miss a more intimate fellowship with our Father.

Is the bible to be ignored? Are we to stop reading the written word and only follow what we feel is the voice of the Spirit. No, both the written word and the Living Word that lives within us are important, The written word is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Yet without the Living Word bringing those words to life, it is just a book that is good for teaching and learning. We need to be listening for the quiet voice of the Spirit of Christ who actually lives within us for truth and guidance. Sometimes he will speak directly in our spirits, sometimes he will speak through his written word.

Also remember that God is alive and his Spirit is within us. Do not think that He can only speak through one particular means. Just do not jump at every voice you hear, make sure it is the voice of His Spirit. His sheep hear his voice, which to me says we can hear and know it is from our Father.

Obviously this is not to say that you should immediately react to any thought that pops into your head. Although the bible says we have the mind of Christ we also have the mind of Jim, or Sam or Jane. We are still human and need to be sure we are hearing from the Spirit of Christ and not our natural spirit.

We also know that the Spirit can speak to one person one way and another person in a different way. Just because the Spirit is speaking to me does not mean he is telling you the same thing. Just because I hear the Spirit say something to me does not mean it is something that has to be announced to everyone. It may be that he is speaking to me for something I need to do or learn and it is not meant for others to hear.

We are told the Spirit lives within us and that his sheep hear his voice, so we know we can hear and know the voice of God. So many of us have the thought that God is way up in heaven somewhere and all we can do is read his word or listen to pastors to know what he wants us to do. The truth is his word says that he lives within us through the Spirit and he speaks to us through the Spirit.

My friend Michael Clark wrote about this also and said in his article: “Jesus is the Word of God! He speaks to those who are His sheep. They know His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers (read John Ch. 10). Yet, so many Christians have said to me, “How can I know when Jesus is speaking to me?” To many of them the answer is, “Unplug! You are listening to and reading too many teachers. Break this habit of heaping to yourself teachers who tickle your ears. Get alone with God for a few months until you start hearing His whispered voice. Talk with Him and let Him be your friend above all friends.” (https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/words-words-words-or-will-we-be-one/)

Just as we think of the church as a building with an organized program, it is so much more than that. The Church is a community of people daily following the Spirit and living within the kingdom of God during our life now. We also think of the word of God as a book, yet the true and living Word of God is so much more than that.

Jesus is the Living Word of God and we can hear the voice of the Spirit which is within us. We can hear his voice through the written word also, but keep in mind that God speaks in more ways than one.

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