Under God: A Kingdom Calling

 

iStock-848612696 (1).jpg“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

I LIKE COFFEE!! So much so that I drink about 40 ounces of the stuff before I get into work. By the time most of my co-workers have figured out why they came to work in the first place, I’m flat out gone…sometimes to the bathroom…but I’m gone. I also enjoy a special brew called “Valhalla Java” on the weekends. One 4-ounce cup of this stuff is all you need to get your weekend going…without so many trips to the bathroom. But I need to digress before I find an application for the Colony of Mercy in my mailbox one day for my coffee issue.

In his book “Kingdom Agenda” Tony Evans asks, “Have you ever suffered from “same-ole disease?” He goes into a long list of the “same-ole” actions that we go through in a day when we have this spiritual sickness. He then asks, “Have you ever felt like you need a little caffeine in your Christian cup?” Now I’m not gonna say that a cup of Valhalla Java will get you outta your rut immediately (if not sooner) but we do, at times, wonder the same things that Dr. Evans wonders. “Where’s the adventure in this? Where are the thrill and satisfaction that are supposed to come with serving the Creator of the universe?” If you are at this point then everything else in your life is just one same-ole thing after another.

When I take a look at the very beginnings of The Sermon on the Mount, I see ten characteristics that Jesus would expect us to have and if we do exhibit any one or two of those characteristics then it’s safe to say that we can identify ourselves with being a child of His, but then it gets better (after He tells us to rejoice and be glad because prophets were persecuted before us). Jesus tells us that as His children we become salt and light. But He says it in a way that has an underlining intention of confrontation. How is anyone gonna know if your salty if they don’t get a taste of your witness? Or how is anyone gonna know if you are the light of the world if you keep the lamp shade on in their presence?

Ya see, just like Jesus give us two commandments to live by there are two purposes to go along with them. You may the Christian that loves the LORD your God, with all your heart, soul, and might. You may be the Christian that loves his neighbor as himself BUT if you keep that corralled up in the same-ole neighborhood, the salt loses its flavor only to be thrown to the floor and your shining light loses its intensity as it goes under a lamp shade. Then you’ll be finding yourself waking up in the same-ole bed, with the same-ole wife, going into to the same-ole bathroom to look at the same-ole face in the mirror, wander into the same-ole kitchen to eat the same-ole breakfast, drink the same-ole coffee before you get in the same-ole car and head off to the same-ole job….you get the gist, right? Ain’t nothing wrong with a little mundane once in a while but one same -ole mundane after another just won’t cut it.

Now if you’re asking how to get that jolt you need to get you living according to your purpose, the best advice I could give is to go where God is working and make your way into His presence. Back in January, I went outside of my comfort zone of the same-ole things that were my same-ole go-to’s and I found myself in His presence on a beach, in below 32-degree temperatures, with the wind beating in my face and the sun blinding my eyes. That may not be what you’ll have in mind but I’ll tell you this, you ain’t gonna find the purpose you lost, sitting around waiting for it to find you. Jesus said go out so we gotta go out.

I would also recommend spending some time in God’s Word. Waiting to your Pastor to preach a message on Sunday may not help you out if you need a cup of Valhalla Java on a Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, that can seem to be a “same-ole” but if you spend time in those books that aren’t always referred to you might find that God has been waiting for you to get to there so He could speak to your heart and be the REAL cup of Valhalla Java that you’re looking for. Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two grown children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 8-10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Too many Christians are living their lives without a sense of purpose. They’re settling for an existence totally defined by the limits of their houses and jobs and cars and churches. But when we as followers of Christ settle for that kind of life, we miss God’s reason for redeeming us and positioning us here on earth.” — Tony Evans

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

 

 

 

Living Like You Know It’s True

iStock-102773143.jpgIt is when we lose that sense of wonder and magnificence of God; it is then that our confidences and faith wanes.

Isaiah writes concerning the people of God, “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, ‘GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me?’

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

  (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Waiting on God is not sitting around doing nothing; it requires a few things of you. First, is having an intimate knowledge of His nature and character. This is possible as the Psalmist tells us, because “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). Furthermore, Paul indicates that which is known about God is evident within us, and “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20) Beyond this, we have the example of Jesus who is the complete manifestation of all that God is.

The other two things required for waiting on God is a knowledge of His promises, all of which can be easily found in His Word, and lastly, living in a way that says ‘I believe God can and will fulfill every promise He has made, and that there isn’t anything to hard for Him.’

Have you suffered a loss? Look to Jesus. You need employment? Look to Jesus. You have been hurt? Look to Jesus. You are afraid? Look to Jesus. Anxiety has a hold on you? Look to Jesus. Unsure of the future? Look to Jesus. Need strength and wisdom? Look to Jesus. You have been unfairly treated? Look to Jesus. Jesus has already given His life for your redemption… providing for your justification and adoption as a child of God… what of any of these lesser things is He then unable to handle? Jesus has promised to ‘never leave you nor forsake you’ and to provide for your every need; Try living today knowing this is true.

Choose wisely….

Praying U choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Nehemiah 10-13| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Of all the things Christ wants for us, loving Him and focusing our attention on Him are the most important.” – Charles Stanley

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Who Before What

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“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” — John 10:14

I wonder how far you would get if you tried to board a plane but instead of showing your identification, you give them your resume? How long will it take to convince the gate keeper that you are qualified to enter the plane?

There can be much confusion when our walk with the Lord becomes based on our works instead of our identity, who we are in Christ. I can sometimes get distracted and find myself doing something that is uncharacteristic based on who I am in the Lord. I think it’s so important to remember that who I am is more important than what I do. “Who before What” is a process that helps me conduct myself and fulfill the call on my life. I’m not saying that every step I take is ordained by God, but the purpose of my life and the conduct of my character need to be under the power of the Holy Spirit.

I often marvel at when Jesus spoke openly to the Jews in John 10 that they didn’t immediately make the connection to the 23rd Psalm. Even if they we sheep gone astray, why didn’t they recognize His voice?

To know who I am in Christ gives me a security to act out in the confidence that as long as I’m doing the will of God, I’m safe. Safe doesn’t always look safe, but when I hear the call of the Master, He will lead me beside still waters even if I must go through the shadow of death first.

We as believers are certainly called to do good works, but if we don’t keep the order of ‘who we are’ before ‘what we do,’ we can sometimes find ourselves wandering too far from the Shepard’s voice. This is where the institution of repentance is useful, we always have the ability to turn around. When my conduct reflects the old nature, then I must be willing to humble myself, turn around, and recognize who I am. It’s not until my identity is clear that my actions line up.

I remember as a young boy, my Dad always reminded me not to do anything so bad that my name would be in the newspaper. To my Dad, that would bring a disgrace to the family name. There were times I would do something foolish and hear the question, “whose kid is that?” I think the same is true for our walk with the Lord. Our conduct should resemble our Shepard’s by lining up our actions according to our identity.

So, who are you and to whom do you belong? If someone inquired “Whose kid is that” are we known by our works?  Let’s hope it’s because we’re putting the “Who” before the “What.” Amen

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Proverbs 28 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts.” – Tim Keller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1

 

 

 

Already Seated Above the Fight

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It has come these days with new light and power that the first thing we have to see to as we draw near to God day by day is that our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. If we listen in the stillness till our hearts begin to respond to what he is thinking and feeling about the matter in question, whether it concerns ourselves or others, we can, from that moment, begin praying downwards from the Throne, instead of praying upwards from ourselves. ~ I. Lilias Trotter

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Ephesians 2

Oh beloved, it is true.

Life on this plane is so brutally difficult, and there are so many enemies of our soul, that we simply cannot win. We will be disdained, hurt, rejected, and killed by our enemies. And even those close to us, will often swing at us in their pain and fear.

We will be…
Judged
Slandered
Forgotten
Doubted
Blasted
Hated
And purposely misunderstood.

It really is too much. We cannot win, if we try to fight in this theater.

Those who are in the heavenly places see God’s counsels in what to the wisdom of the world is arrogant stupidity.
~Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

And so. It is really a good thing that we are not here. Really.

Can we see it?

G_d understands the battles through which we are passing in this world. He understands how devastating things are in this cosmos. We will have trouble. We will be killed. We will be hurt. But now, thankfully, all of this is irrelevant.

So, He has already seated us above the storm, with Him.

Jesus did not just come to give us a few supplies for the battle, and then give us some remote possibility of everything turning out OK in the end. No, He has already seated us with Him, in Heavenly places, that we might fight the battles we are surely going to face from a completely different stance.

And that stance is as a radical overcomer, saved from our sins, saved from ourselves, and working from a position of His Strength.

Said simply: We have, in Him, already won.

So, are you struggling with all the stuff that is flying at you in this life? It is definitely a problem if you (and this fool of a writer) do not understand our actual position. While it may feel like we are stuck on the ground, the reality is that we are already seated, with Him, in heavenly places.

Maybe it is time we begin acting like it.

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 57-59 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: If all Jesus Christ came to do was to upset me, make me unfit for my work, upset my friendships and my life, produce disturbance and misery and distress, then I wish he had never come. But that is not all he came to do. He came to lift us up to “the heavenly places” where he is himself. The whole claim of the redemption of Jesus is that he can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human soul, not hereafter only, but here and now. ~Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. 1 Peter 1:6

 

Jesus Is The Abundant Life

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“Beware of hindering yourselves with any weight of earthly cares. Examine your hearts most closely, and purge out each besetting sin with a godly prayerful jealousy. Remember that blessed rule, ‘looking unto Jesus.’ Peter did run well for a time, when he left the ship to walk upon the sea to Jesus—but when he saw the waves and the storm he was afraid and began to sink. Thus many a one sets out courageously—but after a while corruptions rise high within, corruptions are strong without, the eye is drawn off Jesus, the devil gets an advantage—and the soul begins to sink. Oh, keep your eye steadily fixed on Christ, and you shall go through fire and water and they shall not hurt you.” ~JC Ryle

“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the Door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.'”
~ Jesus, King of The Universe, in John 10

Oh beloved, it is true.

We are all looking for a fulfilling life. And the joy of this is that G_d has exactly the same idea. Our problem is that we often go looking for this life in all the wrong places. Because, it is not to be found in a place – it is to be found in a Person. Actually, it is not even “in” a Person. This fulfillment we are looking for, IS a Person.

Dr. Peter Kreeft says this so well: “It is so simple that it is like the center point of a circle. It is the whole circle. It contains in itself the whole gospel. The Catechism says: “The name ‘Jesus’ contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation.” Into this name the Christian can pour all of his faith, with nothing whatsoever left over, for to be a Christian is to rest all of your faith on Christ, with nothing left over.”

But, once we realize this truth, we find it. We find that all of the fulfillment we were looking for, in all of the stupid things we used to do (and sometimes still do) were not carriers of the same. We found that, in fact, all of everything else we were doing were actually agents of the evil one, come to steal our joy – and to try and kill us in the process.

Can we see it?

Also, once we realize this truth, we find Him. We find that, though we thought He was far away, and though we thought He was stern and cool and distant – He is not. He, the very Person of Jesus, is (and has been) forever in a passionate pursuit of us. Finally, one day, we just got quiet enough to hear His Voice. And nothing has been the same ever since. He came into us so strongly that it killed us. And we have finally been truly alive from that moment forward.

We find that He is what we have been looking for all along. We find that everything else we have ever been involved in, up to this point, is actually a complete and total waste in comparison to finally just knowing someone, and not being afraid that we are going to be left alone – ever again.

So beloved, does any of this make any sense to you? If not, perhaps you have spent too much effort trying to find hope in your job or your family or your chemicals – or even in your Christianity. Because, none of these things (no matter how good they are) will ever fill you (or this fool of a writer) up. Stop for a moment. Stop, and listen. He is calling you with a voice so loving and real and powerful, that the sound of it alone will fill your heart beyond measure.

Tonight is your night. Time to listen for His voice. Time to look towards Who you hear.

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 39; Proverbs 9

Daily Quote: Do you think that the man-loving God has given you so much so that you could use it only for your own benefit? No, but so that your abundance might supply the lack of others. – St. John Chrysostom

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18