Posts Tagged ‘seeking God’

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray Jesus gave them a short model of prayer that became known as “The Lord’s Prayer”.  It is recorded Matthew 6 and Luke 11.

‘”And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.‘ Matthew 6:7-13 https://www.bible.com/bible/59/MAT.6.7-13

The first intercession within the Lord’s prayer is for God’s kingdom to be manifest on earth.  Combined with the fact that Jesus repeatedly spoke about the Kingdom of God giving example after example of what it is like, it’s apparent that the Kingdom of God is a big deal in Jesus’ work.  So what is the Kingdom of God?

Simply stated, the Kingdom of God is the entire community of Christ-followers and all that makes up their lives…possessions, attitudes, passions, and occupations living under the dominion or rule of the Lord God Almighty.  While there is a difference between the spiritual realm and the natural realm, with respect to the Kingdom of God, all is to be submitted to the sovereignty of God.

Those who have entered into relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, are made citizens of the Kingdom of God.  But just like foreign born persons who immigrate to the United States, becoming a citizen is just the beginning of the process.  In fact, the appropriate approach to becoming a citizen is to diligently study and learn about your new country so that you are continually more knowledgeable and useful in making your new country great.  I was speaking with a friend yesterday and his wife is from Germany.  She has lived here several years and within the past week she, along with 88 other persons from 38 different countries, became a US citizen.  There are rights and privileges with citizenship, but let us not overlook that there are responsibilities too.

Citizenship in the Kingdom of God also has rights, privileges, and responsibilities.  Fortunately, Jesus promised that citizens of God’s Kingdom would have a helper, the Holy Spirit, Who would live within each and every person who puts their faith in Him.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity of God.  The Holy Spirit knows God’s heart and His unique purpose for each person in the Kingdom.  It is incumbent upon us to learn how to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit if we are to be good citizens in our new Kingdom.

Because of the unique nature of God’s Holy Spirit living within every believer, we have the potential of living life differently or set apart.  While we live in a natural world that does not fully embrace the principles of the Kingdom of God, we are still able to live these kingdom principles through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The definition of holy is set apart unto God.  That is what we as members of the Kingdom of God are called to be – holy or set apart unto God.  While it would be wonderful if every person immediately manifested the radical transformation from self-centered to God centered that occurs when they meet Jesus, submit to His Lordship, and become citizens of the Kingdom of God, it usually is a process.  Oh, a spiritual transaction takes place immediately.  Our eternal destination is flipped in an instant when we give our lives to Christ.  The Holy Spirit is given to every person at salvation as God’s internal guide to truth.  But the process of replacing old habits and thought patterns takes a bit longer.  In fact the process of sanctification will last the rest of our earthly lives.

One of the truly amazing things though about the sanctification process is that it not only changes us individually, but it transforms society around us.  When we look at the march of “civilization”, the good and wonderful elements of society today have been brought forth through people living out their faith in God, i.e. the Kingdom of God.  There was a time when orphans were simply abandoned by society until Christians saw the need, responded, and began taking these children in and giving them love and places to live, eventually developing orphanages.  Hospitals for the public at large were begun by Christians seeing a need and responding.  Throughout history, the frontlines of the undeveloped world has seen the Kingdom of God as the first outreach.  Missionaries bring the Gospel and essential practical care in the form of schools, medical care, agricultural aid, and general parenting knowledge.

The world today exists in the between stage.  There is still much evil that exists.  We’ll discuss the World, the Flesh, and the Devil at a later date, but suffice to say their influence in the world is still strong and the ramifications of that influence are decidedly negative.  But God has a people, the Church, who are also members of the Kingdom of God.  We are dual citizens if you will.  While we live on the earth we have an opportunity, actually we have a responsibility, to live as change agents.  But it all emanates from our intimacy with our Father God and obedience to the prompting of His Holy Spirit.  Jesus taught His disciples to pray knowing that we, His followers 2000 years later would also pray that prayer.  But prayer is to be two-way communication.  When we pray, we must also listen to hear His response.  As we listen we will hear Him say, “Go, show my kingdom to them today.”

God bless you my friend.

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Intimacy with God grows as we are obedient. When we discern His voice, confirm it with the Word, recognize the affirmation in our spirit, and do what He says, we take a step in maturity.  Much of what He asks of us will either align with loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength or loving our neighbors as ourselves.

I once thought this meant a lot of hard work – hours scouring the Word, knees raw from prolonged prayer, exhaustion from tackling every opportunity of service to others. In my exuberance I was the energizer bunny Christian rushing here and there doing everything that I imagined a good follower of Jesus might do.  There were many spiritual high points and I am confident that along the way the Father has taken my offering and used it in furthering His purpose.  But I also see I have sometimes bowled over people, stepped on toes and generally left a wake of damage that I did not intend.

So if hard work was not sufficient to ensure godly growth, what are we to do?  The answer is that we begin by focusing less on doing, at least at first, and we seek to be who God created us and saved us to be – His beloved child.  Like an infant, our growth is a process that is best measured in gradual milestones.  The first step in a child’s development is the recognition and bonding of the child to the parent.  Developing the connection and deepening the familial bond is our first priority.  While this will last our entire life, it is our most important task when we first begin to follow Jesus.  In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians we learn that Paul, one of the most learned of men, headed into the wilderness of Arabia for an extended period immediately after his conversion before launching into full time ministry.  We do well to emulate his progression of seeking God’s face and guidance before jumping into “doing” for the Lord.

In time the child begins to communicate.  Again their primary source of communication is with their parents. Long before the child can begin to verbalize their own thoughts into words, their parents are talking to them, singing to them, reading to them. Our Father God is doing the same with us.  He loves us and He communicates that love in myriad ways.  This past weekend as I finally decided to rise from a particularly restless night, the Lord whispered in my spirit, “Come let me kiss you.” As I slipped into the front room of our house and the warm rays of the early dawn struck my face, I knew my Father was kissing me, His presence overwhelmed me, and it was good beyond description.  As I sit on this plane between two passengers absorbed in their own world, I can still feel the Father’s touch.  I know He is with me.  I know He loves me.  Oh, I am a fortunate and blessed man!

As I basked in the Father’s touch He spoke to me many things. Some were very personal and I don’t need to share those now except to say, He knows us intimately and He will speak to us intimately as we choose to make Him our Lord and the center of our being.  The one thing that He spoke that I recognized as for this blog was His call to obedience.

Continuing the metaphor of a child to parent, as we continue to grow in the Lord, we will be given increasing responsibility.  God will continue to pour into us His life, His light, His wisdom, and His heart.  As these become established in us, His vision and His call arise. There is a universal aspect of His call – reach the lost, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, encourage the down-hearted.  But in our growing intimacy He will be specific with us: the co-worker that the Lord brings to mind repeatedly, the message that powerfully reminds us of a particular need that we can meet, the phone call that comes when you are praying, “Lord use me.”

Response to the universal call is a good thing.  Response to our specific call is the best thing.  As I write this a picture comes to mind.  The Grinch provides an excellent illustration.  He had stolen every single bit the outward manifestation of Christmas from the Who’s.  Yet when he heard the Who’s still singing their joyful Christmas songs, he recognized the reason we celebrate is so much bigger than the gifts and food.   It is the reason for the season – Jesus.  His undersized heart grew 3X at that moment and he responded in abundant measure.  This same thing happens to us.  When, in our intimacy with the Father, He speaks and we enthusiastically receive and respond, our heart grows.  We are blessed as much or perhaps even more than those God has prompted us to love.

Today I encourage you to go deep with God.  Let His love embrace you.  Listen to His whispered words of love and let them wrap around you and fill you.  As you snuggle into His embrace, listen for your next step.  His call is a life in Him and with Him.  As you grow He will give you ”kingdom tasks” to accomplish IN HIM.  He is the King as well as our Father.  As such we are princes and princesses of the kingdom, living and working under our Father’s authority.  That is our blessed privilege.  Our growth and our Father’s favor are the fruit of our obedience.

Have a blessed day my friend as you live in intimacy with the Lord and walk in faithful obedience.

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Last week I was working in Tacoma, Washington.  The weather was dry and mostly sunny.  Consequently Mount Rainier was visible all week long.  Even though the mountain is more than 70 miles away it dominates the view.  At 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and the fourth highest peak in the lower 48 states.

In the early morning the sun hitting the snow and glacier covered slopes produced a beautiful golden glow some 30 minutes or so before the actual sunrise in Tacoma.

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About 15 minutes before sunrise in Tacoma the sun has been glowing off Mount Rainier for at least 15 minutes.

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This shot makes me think of the “purple mountain’s majesty” from America the Beautiful.

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Even from almost sea level with buildings, trees, and man-made structure galore, Mount Rainier is still visible above the distractions.



Another shot across the Tacoma marina.

Across the harbor from a different perspective, a city park across from the Old Tacoma City Hall.

Across the harbor from a different perspective, a city park across from the Old Tacoma City Hall.

I liked how the mountain was framed by the draw bridge in this shot taken from the Park across from the Old City Hall.

I liked how the mountain was framed by the draw bridge in this shot taken from the Park across from the Old City Hall.

Throughout the day the mountain stood majestic in the background.  At mid-day angle of the light hitting the mountain from the backside tended to mute the visible color if not the mountains stature.

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An early afternoon picture from the window in our training room.

In the afternoon and evening with the light striking the mountain from the west, the ice and snow fairly glittered with bright white brilliance.

Later in the afternoon with the sun in a more favorable position.

Later in the afternoon with the sun in a more favorable position.

I can't help but get a selfie with the Majestic Mountain.

I can’t help but get a selfie with the Majestic Mountain.

View from the Cliff House Restaurant across Commencement Bay from Tacoma.

View from the Cliff House Restaurant across Commencement Bay from Tacoma.

Even with a dreadful lack of snow this past season (I was told they got about 15% of normal) the top of the mountain is still blanketed in white.

Even with a dreadful lack of snow this past season (I was told they got about 15% of normal) the top of the mountain is still blanketed in white.

Finally as the sun set and the surrounding city and hills faded to grey, the last rays of light lit the mountain with soft pinks and shades or purple.

Even the hill between the mountain and my hotel can't hide the beautiful sunset on the mountain.

Even the hill between the mountain and my hotel can’t hide the beautiful sunset on the mountain.

View from my hotel room just after 9:00 pm.  The sun has set in the city, but the mountain glowed for another 10 - 15 minutes, gently fading into the night.

View from my hotel room just after 9:00 pm. The sun has set in the city, but the mountain glowed for another 10 – 15 minutes, gently fading into the night.

Whenever I was in a position to find the mountain, I would glance that way and be inspired.  I have no desire to summit the peak, but I will travel to the mountain the first chance I get to visit and get a much closer view.  I am drawn to it.  From one of the windows where we were meeting the mountain was framed in the distance.  When we took a break I would slip up to the window to take a glance.  It seems funny, but seeing the mountain in the distance gave me a sense of awe and wonder that just felt good.

Taking time to sense God’s presence is like sneaking a peak at that mountain.  In fact there are a number of parallels between that can be made between the awe inspiring views I observe and seeking God.

Like that mountain God is majestic.  He is the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth.  He is the Ruler over all the earth.  All power, dominion and honor is due to Him.

The mountain did not move while I was there, but the view of the mountain was constantly changing in subtle ways.  In Hebrews 13:8 we read that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  God does not change.  However our knowledge and relationship with God undergoes a metamorphosis as we seek Him and follow His leading.

While I was blessed with sunny weather and clear views for five days, the locals told me that the mountain is usually shrouded in clouds.  One person even said that the mountain makes it’s own weather with sunny and clear often transformed to clouds and fog around the mountain.  Likewise, God is sometimes hidden from our view.  It is by faith that we “see” the Lord.  As I have shared in a number of stories in my blog, God is actively engaged in our lives and His intervention is often visible.  But there are also times when things happen that can cause us to wonder where God is.  The killing of nine people in a bible study in Charleston, SC a few days ago is one of those times.  Yet even when the clouds roll in and obliterate the view or when bad things happen to good people, it does not change the fact that the mountain and God are still there and they are not diminished.

Another similarity that struck me was how many of the locals seemed complacent to the awesome spectacle of the mountain on their door step.  From a practical point of view, I can understand that we can’t sit and gawk at the mountain all the time.  We have to get on with life, work, and the activities that enrich our lives.  But I think this is precisely where we can err.  When we become complacent about the majesty around us, particularly the Majestic One Who is our life-giver, our savior, and our sustainer, then we have truly diminished the life He has called us to live and enjoy.  God knows we need to eat and drink and work together, but He also knows that abundant life begins in our relationship with Him.  (Matt 6:25-33, John 10:10)  To neglect spending time in His presence, to overlook the majesty of Who He is, to fail to recognize His hand at work in our lives, is to live a life far below what He has called us to.  At it’s least bad, this is to fail to receive the blessing God wants to give us.  At it’s worst, this is an affront to the living Lord.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I will make it my aim to glory in the majesty of the Lord God, to dwell in His presence, and to make much of Who He is and what He has done for us.

Be blessed today and bless the ones God brings into your life today.

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