Friday, January 24, 2014

Kingdom Vision

  Good morning! I hope that is cold January morning is finding you in a warm place. It's cold here and our kids don't have school's going to be a great day!  No really it is. We will play some games, do some laundry, maybe a sleepover.  I have learned, over the last few weeks, that I love snow days and having my kids home, we have had a few days off from school lately.  I am sure that is because there are no more diapers to change and babies to feed, everyone is pretty independent now. Sad, but for sure a new chapter in our lives.
     I have struggles posting this post for awhile.  I haven't wanted to offend, but I really believe that American churches have been asleep. Not all of them of course, but we have kind of misses the Great Commission here. We are pretty good about going overseas to minister, but we don't often go out into the streets to tell people about Jesus, or share with those who are in the church but have missed who Jesus really is. My heart breaks for them.  To sit every Sunday and listen to pastors talk about reading our Bibles and spending time in prayer, listen for that voice that come from the Holy Spirit, is a hard thing when you open your Bible up and struggle to read. Being a child of God's was never suppose to feel like you are banging your head on the wall, not getting anything out of the Book.  But I have a feeling that for many people in the church this is what it feels like.  And you could get very discouraged because the pastor, and that crazy woman in the corner, they make it seems so easy. The talk about hearing from God like He was sitting on the couch with them.
   But beloved, it should be that easy. That was how God designed our relationships with Him. He created a garden in which He would come and stroll with us. But we live in a fallen world. And that means we have to work a bit harder on our relationships. In a similar manner, if we never talked with our spouse how would they know what we were having for dinner?  What bills were paid?  That we loved them?  Just as we talk with our spouses we need to talk to God, that is how He designed us.  When we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives we are invited in to a relationship with God, a walking, talking relationship.  Here is a "vision" God gave me to share with a friend, I have asked if I could share it with you. It is a great picture of the Kingdom, if you are struggling...

  Imagine a large, beautiful, city surrounded by a metal bar fence. In the front of the city is a Golden door. There are people inside the city, and there are people outside the city. Some of the people outside the city are reaching their hands in through the fence, trying to touch something, anything from inside. Some are wandering around the city, looking for anyway in other than the Door. They look up, thinking that maybe they could climb the fence, but it appears to go up to the sky. They look down, but can not dig under the fence. Many look at the Door, knowing that the only way into the city is to walk through the door and yet they shake their heads and continue to look for other ways into the city.  For some they boldly walk up and open the door and walk through the Door into the city, and when they do a party erupts at their entrance.

    The city is Heaven, the Kingdom of God. The Door is Jesus. There are many who have asked Jesus to be Lord of their lives, but there are many, many "Christians" who are wondering around the outside of the city, wanting to be party of the city, but things like pride, deception, and religion have kept them out.
There have been too many laws and expectations that no one could meet the standard (except Jesus). That is why sin is hidden, why people get burn out and leave.  I personally believe that we have made religion so difficult, because Jesus is so simple. We had to add some laws or some pride, because it couldn't really be that simple.  It couldn't be as simple as saying "Jesus, I have sinned. I want to be washed clean, and I want you to be Lord of my life." There just has to be more to it than that, right?

Romans 10:9-10
9 If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. 10 By believing you receive God's approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved.

And yet, there are so many people who call themselves Christians, but have missed that very first step. Maybe because no one explained it, maybe they felt they didn't need to "walk through the Door". We can't expect lives to be changed until they have exchanged their heart condition for Jesus heart.
I was recently reading in Mark about the moments leading up to Jesus being arrested, and it made me think about some of this religious spirit inside the church.  I was thinking specifically about Judas Iscariot. He walked with Jesus, he got to be apart of the miracles that Jesus preformed, but when it came down to religion or relationship, he unfortunately,  chose religion.  We often think to ourselves, if I just walked with Jesus in when He was on earth it would be easier for me to believe. But here we see one who walked in the shadow of Jesus chose the religious over relationship. Many didn't come to know God through Jesus because of religion then also. Again not a new problem.
     The people who are wondering outside of the city could be like myself where I understood God was a rule making God who see your life, but refused to become involved in the messiness of my life. The spirit of religion will do that to you. Flip you upside down and inside out so that you never understand the simplicity of Jesus blood in our lives.  I struggled with that idea . I loved Jesus, but His father seemed unloving and didn't seem to care how hurt or sad I was. It is hard to struggle with this duality of Jesus who died for my sins and God who created the world, but don't care about me. Maybe this is how Judas felt. He walked in the shadow of Jesus and still didn't believe what He taught. .
     Let me say to you, if you are one of the ones who are wondering around outside of the fence, longing to get in, it is simple. Jesus came to make an exchange of your old nature for His new nature by asking Him to become Lord of your life. He will give you  His nature.  Here is the secret, it is a heart condition exchange. It will, for most, take time for things like sins to change in your life, but even sin is a symptom of your heart condition. (Another whole post itself.)

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if  anyone is in Christ, he is a new creations; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

  I really believe that God is moving and working in the hearts of the people represented walking around outside the city gate.  I hear over and over from people in other parts of America that God is moving in the church. "Sleeping" hearts are being awaken and the realization that they have to walk through the door of Jesus in order to have that walking, talking relationship with God. I thank God that He loves us so much to not let us sleep, but awakes us even if it hurts for a bit to realize that what we thought was a relationship was a missed opportunity but the Door is always there and there is no condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1). If you have missed the relationship, don't look back, look forward to what a new life with Him as a friend looks like, not what your past has told you, your relationship with look like.  Ask God to make is Word come alive for you to really see all that He has for you. 

Seeking a pleasing aroma!