Overcoming Sudden Trials

Things are going smoothly. You feel like your steps are being ordered by the Lord as He positions you to move into a new season. You’re receiving fresh revelation and insight on a daily basis, it seems. Then it happens. Some random Satanic dart finds its way into your transition-zone, and it momentarily knocks you for a loop.

It’s nothing major, just a little reminder that there’s still an enemy of your soul who’d love nothing more than to cause a setback on your journey.

Maybe it’s a co-worker’s attitude, or a lying tongue spreading vicious rumors about you or your family. Maybe it’s an unexpected doctor visit and/or X-Ray in the middle of your day, or even a sudden negative report from your banker.

These sudden trials sometimes have a way of making us fear the future and doubt God’s plan for our lives.

In Numbers 13, it looks as if the Israelites are making progress on their journey. So, Moses, at God’s command, sends 12 spies to check out the Land of the Promise.

However, when only two of the 12 come back with a favorable report about the land, it’s setback-city.

The unexpected presence of giants and large fortified cities was enough to cause 83-percent of the spies to give up on the mission, and ultimately to give up on God.

Thank God for two men that continued following God’s purpose for their lives. Joshua and Caleb didn’t allow this temporary setback to deter their vision of the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt.

The enemy always wants you to look at the problem. That’s why sudden, unforeseen circumstances arise in our lives.

How do we overcome the backlash? How do we stay focused when the enemy tries to disrupt our progress?

We look unto Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. The good old KJV translates Hebrews 12:2 this way, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Paul said, “He that began this good work in you will perform it until the day Christ returns.” (Phil. 1:6)

The sudden attack was meant for evil, but God’s still in control. He started it, he finished it. Keep your focus on Him and Him alone.

Living as Kingdom Citizens

I am blessed to be an American. Living in the land of opportunity makes me thankful. Being a citizen of this country leaves me with very little excuse if I don’t follow the plan of God for my life.

There’s very little chance that I could lose my life for proclaiming God’s Word on the streets or from house to house in this country.

Chances are I won’t be arrested, interrogated, or detained for trusting in Christ as my Saviour. That’s absolutely something to be thankful for.

Something even more powerful and freeing than my US citizenship is my citizenship in the Kingdom of God. It’s because of that citizenship that I can keep my US citizenship in perspective.

Many believe their US citizenship trumps everything. Even some self-proclaimed Evangelicals preach and teach from an earthly citizenship perspective rather than the heavenly perspective.

Kingdom citizenship doesn’t require you to weigh-in on every earthly political issue. Sometimes, it’s best to leave that stuff to the pundits.

Is that to say that Kingdom citizens should never deal with the political fray to uphold Kingdom values? Of course not. But we must carefully and prayerfully stay above the fray, from a Kingdom perspective.

In Philippians 3:20, Paul says that our citizenship is in Heaven. In Verse 19, he points out that the enemies of God have earthly thoughts and ideals.

Please don’t have more in common with verse 19 than you do with verse 20.

If we are thinking and dwelling on earthly matters from an earthly perspective more than we are from the Kingdom perspective, something is wrong.

Paul said, “We eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Everything is under His control. How incredible is that thought?

If I truly believe everything is under His control, why would I waste my time on earthly matters and perspectives?

Kingdom people should be compassionate, caring people who love the least of these. We should never approach an issue from a perspective of pride or prejudice.

Christians have dual-citizenship.

Just remember which of the two is most important.

Staying Kingdom-focused in a #selfie -focused world

It’s way too easy to take a #selfie and put it up on every social media platform these days.

Because we are inundated by the #selfie mindset, it’s only natural that this phenomena would creep into the Church.

Am I calling you out if you’ve ever taken a #selfie? Absolutely not.

There is nothing wrong with taking a picture of yourself and posting it online for the world to see (so long as you are clothed and in your right mind). But if the underlying attitude behind that post is “look at how awesome I am” you might want to sanctify your motives.

Self is always the hardest thing to crucify. Add an “H” and spell self backwards and you have “flesh.”

The Apostle Paul continually warned against catering to the flesh. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17, “the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.”

In our day and age, this verse rings even truer.

The spirit wants the things of God. The Kingdom mindset is a spiritual mindset. God desires us to focus on what He wants. However, since we live in flesh and we constantly desire whatever gratifies the flesh.

So, it’s hopeless right?

Not even hardly.

Grace gives us power to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).

Yes, it’s a battle to deny #selfie. There’s enmity between flesh and spirit (Romans 8:7). That literally means there’s hatred between your natural fleshy self and the new man God created you to be. It’s a battle, but grace wins. And grace causes you to win.

Yield to God. Allow His grace to work freely in your life on a daily, ongoing basis.

You can stay Kingdom-focused in this #selfie generation.

Rise up, Kingdom Voices!

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If there’s ever been a time for God’s people to reach out to a diverse and desperate culture that time is now.

I know the world appears hopelessly lost. I realize it looks like there’s no help in sight. But it only appears that way because the church as a whole is not in her rightful place.

In Isaiah 58, God speaks to the prophet telling him to “cry aloud, spare not! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Tell my people their sins.”

What were those sins? The sins of God’s people were many, but God was specifically calling out those who served Him with selfish motives. The people had a spirit much like Cain did in Genesis 4. Offering something of little worth to God and expecting a massive reward for it before grumbling when God had no respect for their offering.

The lifestyle that God has chosen is the Kingdom lifestyle—a lifestyle that includes breaking chains and yokes off of the oppressed, sharing with those in need, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and actively meeting the needs of those within our community.

We’ve seen Kingdom work in progress on world news lately. With the Ebola crisis hitting Africa hard, there has been high profile coverage of missionaries putting their lives on the line actively pursuing God’s call. This obedience has also been seen in places like the Middle East, where men and women of God risk their lives daily to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a culture bound with religious chains.

This Kingdom attitude needs to be the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately, the focus in American Christendom appears to be bigger, better worship experiences from a chosen few mega-ministries. It appears that our pursuit of the “good life now” has replaced Kingdom efforts at changing the future of our communities.

It’s time to rise up, Kingdom voices! We must lead the charge in this hour.

True Kingdom voices have to speak up. It’s time to say something. Challenge church as usual. Be respectful, but rock the boat a little bit.

Speak out on social media. Start a podcast. Lift up your voice for true Kingdom principles. Find hurting people and serve them.

Be the hands and feet of God in the community and the workplace He’s placed you in. Actively pursue after God. Intercede for deliverance on behalf of those who are bound.

It’s a desperate hour and you are needed.

Rise up.