Living in the Invisible Kingdom

This morning I came across a few great thoughts as I was reading Jack Hayford's Bible Handbook. In the Ecclesiastes section he presents these three keys to understanding life:
    1. Life is fulfilling only when it is given away.
    2. Life in pursuit of excellence without sacrifice will ultimately disappoint.
    3. Life that is solely lived on the earth-plane breeds cynicism.
These three keys give us a picture of what it is to live life in the Invisible Kingdom. I think that number three is the one that I most struggle with. When life becomes difficult ... really difficult ... it is easy to look at the natural aspects of life and living and become despondent, depressed and cynical - it is a matter of focus ... things that you can see are often powerless to help in life's difficulties.

In John 18 Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this (visible) world. When looking for life in the visible we become frustrated because real life can only be found in that which is invisible. Consider this excerpt from Romans 14:
"the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit"
The beautiful thing about the Invisible Kingdom is that it can become visible at any time ... peace and joy can be manifested in our lives even in the most difficult of circumstances ... if our focus is on the invisible ... following Jesus' command in the gospels to seek first this Invisible Kingdom.


A REFUGE acrostic from a message I preached a while back.
R elease control of your life to Him thru prayer
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. PS 62:8

E nter His presence through worship
Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him! PS 64:10

F ear the Lord for Who He Is
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. PS 2:12

U nderstanding from the scripture
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. PS 18:30

G ive Testimony and be real
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. PS 73:28

E njoy the blessings of life
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. PS 5:11

Serenity Now

Ever watch Seinfeld? This video is a few excerpts from the episode where George's father, Frank Costanza, uses a relaxation technique where he is instructed to say "Serenity Now" whenever he experiences a stressful situation. Of course, being a New Yorker of the nth degree, Frank totally screws it up by continually screaming the phrase instead of saying it in a soothing/relaxing manner - quite funny. Years ago I learned the Serenity Prayer. It goes like this:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ever pray this prayer? It is a teaching in and of itself. There are seven words in it that are significant in and of themselves:

God: The first word in this prayer is foundational to all of the other words. The Westminster Catechism defines God as a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. In Colossians Jesus is called the image of the invisible God ... in Jesus, God is personal.

Serenity: Synonyms are calmness, tranquility, peacefulness, quietness and unclouded-ness. Colossians also tells us to "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Serenity is something that we choose though prayer ... it is something that God will grant when we ask Him. Part of serenity is being at peace with God and with others. Thankfulness is key to a serene attitude.

Accept: The night before he would die a horrible death on a cross Jesus Christ knelt to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. Seeing that the cup of death was near, Jesus prayed "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done". After that prayer of acceptance in the garden ... accepting the fate of three nails and a cross ... we find that Jesus moved with much strength through a time of great suffering and trial. Our lesson ... trust is only trust when it involves acceptance of things that we don't understand and cannot change.

Change: For a believer this is one of the most beautiful words in our language. It encompasses repentance, maturity and righteousness. Yet somehow I find myself wanting everything to change but me. You know, we need to change ... we need to be like Jesus and that requires change of the highest degree.

Courage: The dictionary says that this is the ability to meet danger or opposition with fearlessness, calmness and firmness. The apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Sometimes courage requires us to say NO to fleshly desires ... sometimes it requires us to say YES to the wooing and urging of the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom: Discernment, judgment or simply uncommon sense ... any way you say it true wisdom can only come from God. Like serenity, wisdom often comes through patience and experience. It often comes from other people who have “been there” before. The book of James says that "the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

Know: There are people today that say you cannot 'know' spiritual things. The scripture says in 1 Corinthians that "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned". The heart of knowing is prayer and our relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Faith is the key to knowing ... knowing God leads us in paths of serenity and courage.

For Hurting Moms

This is a repost from May 8, 2005 ... as I read that post again I became convinced that this is an important message for hurting moms ... be encouraged ... your labor was not and is not in vain.

This morning in church, as I was lost in worship, I saw a picture in my mind. I first saw a picture of a very beautiful yellow flower ... as I looked the vision seemed to pan out and I saw a golden haired young woman kneeling before the planting ... crying as she toiled ... working the soil with her hands. I then began receiving a few words which I wrote down ... here they are:

The Cultivator

I saw her bowed down before a glorious planting of flowers,

Hands in the soil, tenderly working the roots with water and her hands,

Her flowers are beautiful, her plantings prosperous,

All she plants does very well and nothing withers in the sun,

The Lord has given her favor because she is faithful and a lover of God,

Stooped down, she has taken the position of serving and intercession,

With humility of heart and conviction of soul she is a mighty force,

She is
The Cultivator. She is Mom!

These words are so appropriate for today, Mother's Day. If you are a mom then please take these words of encouragement to heart ... your children appreciate the tears, the words and the deeds that you have cultivated into their lives.

Apologies Meaningless Without Repentance

Chuck Colson
April 28, 2007

In the Christian understanding, apology and repentance are two different concepts.

Apology merely means expressing regret or explanation, which could be for something as minor as a misunderstanding; repentance, on the other hand, is a response to an acknowledged sin and means a total change of attitude. The word in Greek is metanoia, that is, a change of mind, a new way of seeing things. This is not only acknowledging a wrong, but promising to change in the future.

For the Christian, forgiveness is an unconditional requirement -- turn the other cheek, forgive your enemies, etc. But for there to be genuine reconciliation, repentance is necessary. If the person who has wronged you or wronged others is sincerely willing to transform his behavior in the future, then there can be a genuine and lasting healing.

What we see on the part of most politicians today is apology. What would provide real benefit to our national well-being is if people could genuinely repent, that is, express sorrow for sin and pledge not to behave that way in the future. That would have a life- and culture-changing effect.

In 31 years working in the prisons, I have seen the most amazing reconciliation between, for example, a mother whose daughter was murdered and that daughter’s murderer. This is the path to true peace among peoples, something which I have seen the Gospel achieve hundreds upon hundreds of times.

This article was taken from Mr Colson's column in the Washington Post.