Musings on the New Year: Digging Deep and Advancing

Well 2010 has came and went and 2011 is now here and under way. For me there are two words that have been resonating and seem central to what God is doing in my life. These words started even back during Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year but seem to be at an apex. The two words are deep deeper and advance. For me these are key to whatever change is coming in the year to come. For all those that read this blog want to challenge you do the same.

Now granted, some of you may be thinking “Um, Tim, your articles and musing can already get deep enough, you encourage going deeper?” Well, the answer is absolutely, for no matter the appearance of depth, compared to the greatness and awesomeness of God the depth is still shallow. Going deeper involves letting God’s truth sink to the depths of my heart and soul. It is drawing deeply from living water. It is being root and grounded at a deep level on God’s word and truth. No matter where we are there is more depth to be found. Take a quick look at Luke 6:48 (ESV)
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
In all my time going over the verse, talking about it, even teaching on it the “dug deep” part is missed. We focus on the rock versus sand, but the rock is down “deep.” Here is the reality, sound and sure faith is one that is deep, for there is support and surety in depth. Whatever we do, whatever fruit we hope for, whatever may be ahead is only sure by becoming deeply immersed in God’s truth. So ask the Lord God to show you ways to grow deeper.

The other word that comes to my mind is advance, moving forward. This is key for me for there is much ahead. The past year was one of a lot of preparation complete with assorted trials in my life and those around me. But God calls not just to prepare and passively sit by. He does not call us to dig deep and rest. He calls us to move ahead, move forward. Again with the thoughts of advance, God leads me to some other words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (ESV)
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. These words perhaps lose significant in the English for we may think in the terms of physical violence and force of will. But if you take time to consider the words, it really speaks to an intensity of moving forward and grabbing hold of that which God sets before us. It is true for walking into God’s kingdom and true for our moving about in the areas God directs us to engage. One way to put the phrase may be the Kingdom of heaven is “Wild” and those energized will seek to seize it. This involves no sitting passively by, it involves energy to grab hold of that which God puts forth, which is not predictable. Now scripture is filled with many action words and directions that entail the seizing such as “reap, sew, love, rise up, take up” and so on. This is a concept beyond “Carpe Diem” of seizing the day. God does call us to live in the moment, but the moment is saturated in Him and His will. And here is the deal, in the moving forward, in the advancing we need one another. We need support and encouragement. For it is easy to get twisted and deceived and there are many traps and we need others to speak us the truth and help us back on the path when we could no longer “grasp hold” and go flailing about on our own way.

My hope and prayer as you read these thoughts is God stirs in you awareness of areas to dig deeper and move ahead. Also please do feel free to check in with me related to my digger deeper and advancing. The starting point is what is God stirring in you. It is a new year, new day, new chapter, and a new beginning. Let God move you deeper and then seize what God has before you and then buckle up, for serving God is always a wild ride.

Helpful articles: Who is the greatest prophet?

One of the ways I am going to improve the site in this new year i by rather then either posting the articles on the forum or simply linking helpful and challenging articles I am going to post them on the blog, at least until I have a more productive web portal going.  Today I received two thought provoking articles via the Revival school email  list.  Hopefully site readers will be challenged and blessed by the article. 

So the first article is titled Who is the  greatest prophet and was written by an S. Hill. The original source of the material is found here: http://www.harvest-now.org/harvest-news/n/archive/2009/april/16/article/the-greatest-prophet/

WHO IS the GREATEST PROPHET?
-by S. Hill.

Would that be Ezekiel due to the intensity of his visions? Would
that be Isaiah due to the accuracy of his revelation of Jesus?
Would that be Daniel due to his wisdom and ability to interpret
dreams that kept him at the power centers of two world empires?
Would that be Enoch who had such a powerful encounter with
God that he literally was not here anymore?

According to Jesus the greatest prophet was John the Baptist who
came preaching “repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.
So far as we know John never had a vision, dream or angelic
encounter. Yet Jesus called him the greatest prophet!

How many prophets do you know who are preaching repentance?

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from the practice of
casual divorce and remarriage since such would close “ministry
doors” to them and offend folks who pay for their conferences and
buy their books.  But Jesus did so in Matthew 19:9!

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from selling the gospel
and making merchandise of the people of God since most have
embraced the same values.  But in Matthew 10:8 Jesus
commanded us to freely give as we have freely received. In
II Corinthians 11:5- 21 Paul said that the  difference between the
true and the false was not in message, anointing or gifting but in
how they related to the people and money!

It is difficult to for them to preach repentance from self
promotion,  the love of position and title since most have
embraced celebrity status but Jesus did so in Matthew 23:1- 12.

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from seeking special
experiences and angelic encounters since those experiences are
their tickets to “prophetic” status in a world that values
experiences above obedience.  But Paul did so in Colossians
2:18- 19.

You cannot preach repentance from inside the camp!  You support
the camp.  You can only preach repentance from outside.  The
court prophets support the court.  The prophets from the wilderness
are free to preach repentance.  That is why Hebrew 13:13 calls us
to follow Jesus outside the camp.

Jesus said that “the pure in heart shall see God”.
The result of true repentance should be a pure heart to see God.

Once you see God the claims for revelation from the prophets will
literally be seen in a different light.  Once you see God all dreams,
visions and words will take their proper place.  That some talk
about third heaven experiences as casually as a trip to Pizza Hut
and claim to be able to teach others how to have them, shows that
they have never been farther than their own imaginations.

Maybe the fascination of the general church world with the
supernatural experiences, dreams, revelations  is simply because
few of them have ever seen God?  Maybe we put prophets in a
wrong place because we do not have God in the right place?

Maybe we would be less fascinated with “supernatural experiences”
if we understood the vision of God that Jesus presented to us?
Yes, He came to show us the Father but He also said that if we
served the least, we served Him.

He placed the face of God on every suffering child.

The pure in heart will see God and when they do the whole
religious game of status, money, recognition, book sales and
numbers will fade away.  They will see God and they will see
His face as the face of human need and they will serve.

Jesus is the greatest Prophet!
Hear Him!

Kingdom building: Who you building for?

Serving and wanting to serve God is a good thing, right?  Overall the answer is yes, however, it is an area where we are all ripe to be tempted and deceived.  It is real easy to get caught up in our own kingdom in the name of serving God. 

Ways we can get caught up in seeking after own kingdom. We can desire God, desire to serve God, desire to reach out to others, but we can let ourselves corrupt matters. Each of us can easily seek to serve God through means of the lust of flesh, lust of eyes, or pride of life. We can easily move from service to and for God, to meeting our own needs for love, significance, and security. There is even a very popular church program around being “purpose-driven” which definitely can move in the direction of self oriented and direct service. 

Now if you look at scripture, what God want most from each of us is surrender. Take a look at Romans 12: 1-2 (NIV): 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

We are called to daily surrender. We are called not to conform to the pattern of this world.  What is the pattern of this world? Seeking self-satisfaction or engaging in need satisfaction. We are called to change our thinking not to ourselves and satisfactions of our wants and needs but focus on God and the Gospel through the Word of God.

There are several ways seeking our own wants, needs and engage in building our own kingdom occur.  One particular way we can shift to building our own kingdom for God is becoming obsessed over a being used in a particular way. Some people may in fact approach God and ask “make me a prophet,” “or make me a healer,” or “make me a revivalist.” God can certainly meet those prayers. But it can turn into an obsession of a particular gifting of God with loss of site of other gifts.  And if God hasn’t called or chosen the person for the particular gifting then it clearly can be something that moves into satisfying own selfish desires or needs.  For example, think of a really bad singer or dancer on any audition for popular reality television shows, the ones that have no talent but are convinced they have talent, sometimes we can be just like them. We can be so enamored with ways we want to be used that we lose site of what God really wants to do in our lives. 

The Bible states in Romans 12:3-9 (NIV): 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

            The passage clearly indicates that God gives gifts as He will.  We are each created differently and He chooses to give us different gifts. Rather then asking God for a particular gift, it is better to ask God to gift use as He will. If there is a desire on the heart, bring it before God in submission and ask Him to reveal to you what His will and gifts are.  Accept the ways God has gifted you and learn to walk in those gifts in surrender. 

            It is important not to forget 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NIV): 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

            We all have roles within the body. We are all a cell in the body of Christ. However, God made us a particular cell and each cell serves a distinct purpose.  The cell doesn’t determine it’s role, it is determined by the creator. Science has even shown this with the discovery of stem cells, which do not take on their function until given the instructions. Per the passage, we receive entrance into the body through the Holy Spirit, and as such it is when we receive our instructions and placement in the body.  True we have gifts and natural skills at birth again given by God, and God takes those things into account in placing us within our place in the body of Christ. God as made us and arranged us as He wants, it is not about what we want. 

            In the passage it is clear another way we each can lose focus, which is to get jealous or envious of another persons gifting or place in the body. We can easily focus on people who God gifts to heal, or God uses to raise someone from the dead, or God uses to harvest many souls into the Kingdom of God.   And according to the above passage, the parts of the body with “dishonor” are given greater honor with God. Yet, we often look at the “attention” getting gifts or the ones that demonstrate power or knowledge.  So think of whomever in the body of Christ that draws no honor, perhaps a handicapped person who simply prays and worships God because of no capacity to anything else. In God’s kingdom and perspective, such a person has a higher honor.  We at times envy and desire things that externally look exciting or note worthy, yet with God it is what happens that goes unnoticed that has the higher honor, yet we don’t envy or desire such gifts.

            When we lose focus on serving God’s kingdom, and view from our own perspective another way to easily get wrapped up in serving self is when it does become about building our own Kingdom’s literally. It becomes about wanting to be a leader or gain power and influence in the church.  Often times it can start out well meaning, wanting to reach others with the Gospel, build a church or ministry that will impact others. However, power is enticing and corrupting.  Once you have a vision of serving God suddenly amassing more power and influence becomes the priority.  The bible says some pretty specific things about leadership.

For example: James 3:1 (NIV):  1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. This passage clearly indicates that teaching and leadership results in greater judgment. It is not to be entered into lightly, for there is greater responsibility. As a leader a person is not just responsible for them selves but those that serve under them.

Also look at   Luke 14:7-14(NIV): 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  The passage clearly demonstrates that we need to not seek honor, not seek to be someone considered important, but rather to humbly serve.  

We also need to consider what Jesus said “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35b NKJV) Jesus demonstrated this consistently. He demonstrated in the washing of the feet. He ultimately demonstrated this at the Cross.

            Now it is possible for us to not be seeking after power or leadership but rather get caught up in looking for external evidence of building the Kingdom of God. Looking for this external evidence can be a snare.  We can look for numbers or external manifestations and look to depend on them or rely on them and get caught up in building our own kingdom in the name of building God’s kingdom.  Things like attendance numbers, numbers of people coming forward at an alter call, numbers of small groups, numbers of programs, and so on. 

            We can get caught up in the numbers game because in our mind the numbers are what shows whether or not there is fruit.  However, numbers are simply numbers and God looks at things differently.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NKJV):11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  This passage clear shows that what stand as good work and good fruit in the end is what passes through the fire.  What we do building our own kingdoms will burn and doesn’t count. So we really cannot get to excited about external appearances.

            Another good verse is 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV):12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. This passage clearly shows that there are limits to pay attention to, that seeing the good that God does certainly can be commended, but when we start comparing to ourselves or others we lose focus and become unwise.  Numbers and externals are really about what makes us feel better. It makes us feel like something is accomplished, but often what God really accomplishes is unseen and unnumbered.

            Another easy way to get caught up in building our own kingdom versus the Kingdom of God is when we get caught up in a particular plan or program. It is real easy to get caught in the method, versus the Kingdom.  There are ways and tools and programs that God has used in varied locations. However, it is a mistake to think that any plan or program or formula will work in all cases with all people.  In the American church, the focus on programs as even gone to the point where there are prepackaged sermons and sermon series.  Now, I can see the value in passing on particular series of messages that God has used. But we make a mistake if we think that God interacts and works with all people in that same manner. 

Jesus himself did not always work in the same way or manner.  He met individuals at there need, at their level of faith.  He met them where they were at and always challenged them to go beyond and enter the Kingdom of God.

            We can have the most thought out plans and programs and God may not be in it.  Plans and programs are not bad, it is all a matter of what God is doing and how he is acting. For example, Paul had an excellent plan and spoke with all wisdom to the Greeks, yet it went no where. God’s wisdom and plans running contrary to human wisdom is evident in 1 Corinthians 1:17-21(NIV):17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

            Building the Kingdom of God always comes down to what God is doing. He may not make sense to human eyes and human wisdom, but God’s path is clear.  Again programs and plans can work, or the may be works that burn in the fire.  The important thing for each of is to attend to what God is doing.  We need to get beyond ourselves and consider each individual as Jesus did in the Gospels.  A passage clearly outlining this principle is found in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV):19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

            Paul indicated that we have to meet people where they are at, and share the Gospel at a level they understand.  We also can get so caught up not only in programs or plans but our own ideas and agendas about God as well. We each have experience with God, God shows us different things and we can often apply broad brush applications of our experience and demand the same of all, forgetting that God made us each unique.  The Bible is filled with both God and Jesus working in different ways in people’s lives. However, we can instead of continually learning and testing all things, become convinced of an aspect of God and expect all to understand the same way and all that vary are wrong.  We forget the admonition of Romans 12:3(NIV):For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Instead we get grand thoughts that every one needs to understand as we do. We can fail to listen and instead speak at and judge others. 

            However, the fact that we operate often from our own understanding and ideas doesn’t eliminate the fact that truth about God has been revealed through the Word of God.  However we understand God it needs to be based on the scripture.   As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:12(NIV): 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  The passage clearly show that our understanding is limited, partial.  Yet God has revealed Himself and His truth through the Word of God. It is by studying the Word of God that in this life we can know more in full.  We need to follow Proverbs 3:5:6:  5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. and not be like the watchmen of Israel described in Isaiah 56:11(NIV): 11 They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.

            When we don’t understand something about God we need to seek him and seek the truth in the Word of God.  The Word of God is the foundation as seen in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17(NIV): 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   

            God does promises that He will give understanding for example in Proverbs 2:1-51 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. As well as in James 1:5 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  We need to ask God and seek the truth.  Our understanding is in part but God will give us greater understand as we ask and as we set aside our own understanding.

            Now I could identify several other ways the church commonly seeks to build kingdoms in the name of Jesus but not truly building the Kingdom of God.  Building the Kingdom of God is about surrender to the King of Kings.  The bible does give some clear guidelines for building the Kingdom of God. Clear ways to walk in.  1 Corinthians 13 is a good start point. Evidence of building the Kingdom of God is rooted in love. But not only is the kingdom rooted and driven in love. It is the driving factor. It is for love of others that we seek to draw others into the Kingdom of God as shown in 2 Corinthians 5: 12-15(NIV): 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. How that kind of love looks is further expanded in other scripture as in Romans 12: 9-21(NIV): 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Now of course it would be worthwhile to examine each particular aspect of what sincere love looks like in practice but for now will leave the Word of God speak for itself.

            The central point of this article is that we easily, each of us, can get caught up in building kingdoms that are not the Kingdom of God and do so in the name of building the Kingdom of God.  Building the Kingdom of God  starts with surrender and is driven by love.  We each need to examine ourselves and our actions and our theology and our programs and whatever we do in the name of Jesus and see if there is anything that is of self, anything that is not about surrender and not driven by love.  Again much more can be written on this topic and will write other articles fleshing out varied aspects of building the Kingdom of God but it is time for me to draw this article to a close.  I will close this article with another set of lyrics from Daniel Amos that I think makes an appropriate point.  I also recommend reading a parable at http://www.sheeptrax.com/articles/main.html that also makes and appropriate point.  So now until my next article enjoy the lyrics to I Didn’t Build it for Me.

 

I Didn’t Build it for Me

from the album “Doppelgänger”

Words and Music by Terry Taylor and Jerry Chamberlain
©1983 Twitchen Vibes/ Paragon Music Corp. ASCAP

You think I built this for me?
You think I built this for me?
This isn’t mine- it’s yours, it’s really for you
I didn’t build it for me

I don’t have the time to enjoy it
I’m asked why I don’t use the facilities
I don’t have the slightest inclination
I won’t consider it, I didn’t build it for me…

There’s a plaque in the hall
My name’s on the wall
And a statue of my family
It wasn’t my decision
It was all in a vision
I didn’t build it, I never would have built it
I really didn’t build it for me…

One man stood alone
One man did succeed
I’m the man, I’m the one
I didn’t build it for me
One man stood alone
Numero uno
I’m the man, I’m the one
I’m the man of the hour!…

I used to say, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?”
I cried, “Oh, what about this need?”
Then a voice said, “You do something about it”
I said, “Oh woooow you mean me?”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizenship…

Well, today 7/16/8 is an important day for my family. In particular, it is a very important day for my wife. Today, she became a citizen of the United States of America. She is “proud to be an American” even if sometimes she finds what Americans say and do to be stupid sometimes. During her swearing in ceremony today there were 464 other new Americans taking the oath of citizenship, each person having a different story and journey to this road. There were people from many, many prior nations. It is an amazing thing about this country of immigrants constantly blending. My wife’s story is not one of struggle, but of hard work and answered prayers. Others have struggles of financial difficulties, assorted hardships, and some needed asylum. For each person the day was special, each in relation to their own stories.
So this being said, my guess is if you have followed my blog, you may be anticipating my turning attention to some spiritual lesson or use this to talk about Christianity. If so you would be right. A central tenet of Christianity is that we are citizens of heaven. Philippians 3:20(NIV) : “20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The ultimate allegiance to all Christian believers is to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. A person agrees to enter the Kingdom of Heaven when they accept the gift provided in Yeshua the Messiah and turn from our previous allegiance to our own kingdom. The picture of immigration is a good metaphor what happens when someone becomes a Christian and becomes a citizen of heaven.
In hearing the oath of citizenship, I was reminded of three essential principles every citizen needs to follow. Submit to authorities, defend the country, and be willing to serve as required. I believe the same is true for the Citizens of Heaven. We are above all to submit to Jesus. We are to follow what Jesus commands. The essential core of the commands of the kingdom are to love God with the entirety of our being and to love our neighbors are our self. These two commands sum up all the Torah and Prophets. It is following the Word of God. Letting it shine the light before us on the correct ways to walk and as such, wherever a citizen of heaven resides, they are to submit to those in authority over them, even if they act in ways unbefitting said submission, with the exception of being asked to violate the Word of God. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all exemplified that very principle. We are to follow their examples.
We are also to defend the Kingdom of Heaven. Such defense is not a matter of worldly warfare with swords and guns and revolution. The defense of the kingdom of even resides in prayer, in speaking truth and confronting lies, and in loving others. The truth that we speak and use is that of the Word of God. Our defense is our position as a citizen in heaven and all the benefits and responsibilities that entails. So we each have responsibilities in the spiritual war against evil and for the souls of mankind. Each citizen of heaven has a role to play. Some are in support, some are on the front lines, it all varies per the gifts and positions we were given in the Kingdom of Heaven.
We are also to serve the Kingdom of Heaven as required. If God says go, we need to go. We have to be willing to do anything and go anywhere. We are to serve other citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not to sit by and collect the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven and not serve as requested.
These are simple things, yet there are some out there that have a different concept of being citizens of the heaven and see it as our responsibility to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. No while we are to enlarge the kingdom though making disciples as we are going and following our directions in service to the King of Kings . It is not about establishing political power. It is not about restoring all that is evil to good. Jesus will do that when he returns. Rather we are to submit, defend, and serve.
In tying things all together, each citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven does have a different story. No story or picture of how we became citizens will be alike. The process is generally the same, but plays out differently in each life and story. We all have different roles in the kingdom of heaven which follows the essential responsibilities of submission, defense, and service. As always if anyone has anything to say or thinks I am off on any point, or has any questions, please leave a comment. Also another trend is I sometimes will just simply leave some Christian lyrics for thought as I close the commentary. This time I will leave you with Petra’s Not of This World.

Petra Not Of This World lyrics
Words and music by Bob Hartman
Based on 2 Peter 2:11, John 15:18-19, John 16:33, Matthew 16:18, John 14:3
We are pilgrims in a strange land
We are so far from our homeland
With each passing day it seems so clear
This world will never want us here
We’re not welcome in this world of wrong
We are foreigners who don’t belong
(Chorus)
We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world
We are envoys, we must tarry
With this message we must carry
There’s so much to do before we leave
With so many more who may believe
Our mission here can never fail
And the gates of hell will not prevail
Jesus told us men would hate us
But we must be of good cheer
He has overcome this world of darkness
And soon we will depart from here
Petra Not Of This World lyrics