Citizens of the Kingdom
God’s Great Design: A Supreme Authority
God was not haphazard in anything He created. He had purpose and intentionality to everything, including you. And because He was purposeful in creating man after His image, He set him up to express Kingdom living in His exact pattern: dominion.
Genesis 1:28 (NKJV) - “God blessed them, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God designed man to live from a place of dominion. Psalm 139:14 says that man was fearfully and wonderfully made; God built man with everything necessary to fulfill this purpose. A Ferrari is designed for speed, and, because of this, each element of its construction is designed with a specific function so that it can fulfill its purpose. God constructed man in the same way. It is, therefore, vital that we discover the purpose for each part of our construction so that we can fulfill God’s strategy for our lives.
God blessed Adam and then introduced him to the plan that He had for his life: “be fruitful," allow God’s nature to define your character. Getting established in God’s nature positions us to be entrusted with power. “Multiply” means: don’t be conformed to the reality of the world; allow the Holy Spirit to establish a new power reality inside of you called faith. This is the reality that we are to live from; this is the power base that is to bring about influence in our world. “Fill the earth” means take of our new identity and reality in Christ and use it to populate our world and relationships. When we live from fruitfulness, multiplicity, and filling our world, we live from God’s ultimate design for us: dominion.
The word "dominion" comes from Latin roots and means "to be the supreme authority over a domain." God designed man to be the supreme authority over his life and his world. Because man was given this position, man has the prerogative of choice. But with gifting comes responsibility. God always intended that man would elect to live from relationship with Him and, from this, would flow blessing. Adam abused this option and the consequences were devastating. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death…” We think of sin more in terms of the fruit of a person’s life. However, sin takes place in the heart before the fruit is ever seen. Every time we make a choice that is outside of God’s will, we choose to go the way of sin. The reason that this leads to death is because our choice is devoid of God’s influence: life.
Dominion begins in the heart. The heart is the legislative capitol of our life. Our emotions, our thoughts, our history, our worldly influences and the Word of God all aspire to hold the position of legislator. But our life is not a democracy; since we are the supreme authority, we decide which of these options gets to assume the role of legislator. All decisions are initiated from this place, and each of these decisions introduces us to consequences. Whatever assumes the legislative throne is afforded the authority to influence our life. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says, “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life.” God’s plan was for us to live from relationship with Him, where full provision has been made for us to experience life in all that we do. But the choice is ours.
In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He makes it very clear that the way we demonstrate our love for Him is by reserving the legislative throne for His Word. Living from freedom of choice gives us the prerogative of exercising that liberty as we wish; Jesus says that the way in which we express our love for Him is by giving the Word preeminence in our decision making.
The Father’s design for our lives is that we are established as a unified whole, because “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Any time our thoughts, emotions, or decision making are at odds with one another, it leaves us in a compromised place. God’s intention is that our emotions be fruitful (made new by His nature); our thinking no longer conforms to the world but is made new (transformed by the power reality that the Holy Spirit intends to build inside of us); and our decision making, the legislative capitol of our life, be submitted to His Word. When all these areas of our life come into agreement, we step into powerful living.
Living from dominion, as the supreme authority over our domain, will introduce us to victorious living. God never intended for us to be victims of circumstances. The purpose of supreme authority is to introduce Kingdom influence into our circumstances.
Any time we don’t accomplish purpose, we live in unfulfillment. We were born for dominion. When we play sports, we do all that we can to win - we want to experience dominion. People study so that they can accomplish at academics, so that they can be the best – they want to experience dominion. Business people want to succeed, they want to grow, they have an appetite for more – they want to experience dominion. People have within them an innate hunger to be victorious, to succeed, to accomplish, to experience dominion. We were built for dominion, and we are fearfully made with everything necessary to achieve this goal; yet, people are frustrated. We have the desire but don't know how to give it expression. If we want to realize our purpose, the only way to do this is by becoming acquainted with the mind of the One who made us. When we read the manual, The Word, His plans and purposes are revealed. When we follow the directions of the manual, our purpose will not only be revealed, but we will discover how to activate it.
Moving Out of the Graveyard
Society today often mistakes religion for relationship. For example, if you're a Christian, most of the time you're labeled "religious." The problem is: Jesus came to break the power of religion (really, to kill it) so that only relationship with Him would define us. Religion equates to something that's dead; relationship equates to something that's alive.
Luke 4:42-44 (NKJV) -- “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.”
In Luke 4, Jesus explained that His purpose was to “preach the Gospel of the Kingdom." The gospel is the "good news." In this, Jesus was inviting man to reject religion and move forward to embrace a new life and understanding as Kingdom citizens. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was an exhortation to prepare themselves because things were about to change; the nature of the relationship that they had experienced with God (through the customs of the Law) was about to be reinvented, and good news (the grace of Kingdom living through life in Jesus Christ) was on the horizon.
All other aspects of Jesus' life were intended to lead one to a Kingdom focus: His birth was all about the promise; His life exemplified good news; His death paid the price for our citizenship; and His resurrection ensured that authority was available for us to encounter victorious Kingdom living.
Jesus never preached the Law; He preached the gospel of the Kingdom: grace. Jesus’ intention was for mankind to recognize the limitations and ineffectiveness of self-government. He was seeding the world with a new reality that was to come: the reign and rule of Christ in our lives. It would open a new way of living and introduce us to a victorious lifestyle that was grounded in dependence on the Greater One.
Jesus didn’t come to engage the Old Testament Law and the traditions that used to be; He came to fulfill the Law (Matt 5:17) and introduce the Kingdom. His Kingdom demonstrations disrupted their religious culture and customs. For instance, He healed on the Sabbath, which caused upheaval among the religious people of the day because their religious customs told them this was "illegal." But Jesus was Kingdom-motivated not tradition-bound.
Unfortunately, too many of the religious people at that time missed what Jesus was doing because they were so established in the Law that they couldn’t transition into Kingdom realities. Any time we get caught in tradition, we will end up conforming to expectations. Jesus wants us to be made new, so we adopt and live from a Kingdom reality. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Righteousness is voluntarily submitting areas of my life to the reign and rule of Christ. This is, practically, how I participate in Kingdom living.
Religion is forever making demands on people; unfortunately, it’s just not able to make them new. Most of religion is dried up bones of history that is not empowered to create transformation in our lives or circumstances. Religion will never introduce us to the reality of “Christ in you, the hope of glory”; it will never let one taste of the good news or victorious Christian living. Religion tries to keep things alive that God killed long ago.
• It wants propriety, not His Presence
• It debates doctrine, but never exhibits the power of resurrection
• It is more interested in history than the anointing
• It looks for compliance and conformity, not transformation
• It is focused on building a homogeneous community, not pursuing authority
• Clean appearances are paramount, even if there’s no life
Jesus never came to create good people; He came to preach the good news of the Kingdom. The intention of religion is to create good people; people who do good things, have shiny appearances, and who look a lot like one another. Jesus says in Isaiah 46:6, “Your good works are as filthy rags.” In other words, your good works and appearance will never secure Kingdom citizenship for you. We must come to the realization that we are “sinners saved by grace” (Ephesians 2:8); our introduction to the Kingdom and victorious living is the result of accepting the good news that Jesus paid the price for our citizenship. Religion is fruit-focused; the Kingdom is root-focused. Jesus invites us into transformation as we submit to the rule and reign of Christ in our heart – the Kingdom is within you. Merely looking like a citizen never brings with it the authenticity, reality, or power to make us new.
Not only did Jesus not come to make good people, He never came to establish a new organized religion called Christianity. Religion “has a form of Godliness, but denies the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). This is why Jesus hated religion: it stripped Kingdom citizens of their citizenship and reduced them to followers of an organization; people who have a form of godliness, but who deny the power thereof. Religion will lock one up in the straitjacket of conformity; the Kingdom will give you victory.
Religion differs from Kingdom living in certain key areas:
• Religion has an internal focus, applying traditions inside church; the Kingdom manifests God in the earth.
• Only clergy minister in religion; in the Kingdom, all believers minister.
• In religion, one is taught that God’s presence is at the altar; Kingdom citizens live from His presence wherever they are.
• In religion, ministry time is on Sunday; Kingdom citizens are the light and salt and minister 24/7/365.
• Religion focuses on perpetuating its traditions; the Kingdom wants to transform the earth.
• Religion works at escaping the world; Kingdom intends to engage culture.
• Religion is hierarchical; Kingdom is relational.
When David stepped up to kill Goliath, he was passionate and motivated by the intimacy of relationship that he enjoyed with the Father. However, Saul intended to make David look like a soldier – to conform to what everyone else looked like - in order to win this battle. With that intention, Saul put his helmet, sword, and armor on David, but David couldn’t fight in Saul’s armor; the armor constrained, inhibited, and limited him. David pulled the armor off, went with God, and won the battle with only a rock and a slingshot! In other words, Saul tried to put his traditions on David, but David could only fight and win the battle by engaging what he knew: his relationship and trust with the Father. As long as we are fighting in old traditions, we will never be successful.
We must become aware of religious perceptions and ways that the enemy has used to influence us so that we may completely conform to the ways of the Kingdom. When we stay open to Holy Spirit, we enable Him to show us our areas of misperceptions where religion has confined us; then, we can become free to live authentically by the spirit.
Things Happen When You've Been With Jesus
One of the things people would often notice about Pastor Barry is that he liked his cologne. When he hugged you, his cologne scent would remain on you for the rest of the day. When he would come in the church office, the aroma of his cologne would be left in the air for hours, and everyone knew he had been there. Do you realize the same thing happens when we spend time with Jesus? His characteristics get imparted into us, and we begin to emit Him through our expressions and lifestyle.
Colossians 3:1-4 (Passion Translation) -- “Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!“
When we are told “Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too,” the idea is that we are to be raised up from one state to another. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us we are “new creations in Christ; old things have passed away and all things have become new.” We celebrate that our sins have been forgiven and that our past has been made new. But God’s intention is not to leave us there; we must recognize that we have also been made new creations in Christ and that this is the identity that we are to discover, walk into, and live from – this is the resurrection life that Jesus has prepared for us.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” The moment we were Born Again we not only walked into a relationship with Christ as our Savior, but we became called to identify with Him as our Lord. Salvation introduced us to a mandate that the Christ within us should be evident through us. Christ is going to do something in you so that He can be seen through you. We have a responsibility to take up our cross daily; in other words, submit to His Lordship and influence. The way that we realize this is by placing the Word first in our life. The call is for me and my will to get out of the way so that Christ can be seen in me. It is no longer about my desires, thoughts, emotional preferences; but about Christ taking preeminence.
The foundation to our life is Jesus Christ. We are to build our lives on the Rock: an ongoing revelation of the Christ who lives within. One thing that the world is missing is a solid foundation, and the result is that people are building their lives on indulgent ideas, concepts, and emotional needs. Unfortunately, when we build our lives on anything other than a revelation of Christ, we’re building on sand. Sand is unable to stand against the storms of life, and great will be its fall.
Building our lives on Christ as our foundation is going to set us up for attack. The world doesn’t like the fact that Jesus stands for truth. The world’s design is to attack truth as being unloving because it does not embrace everyone's preferences. But love is not an arbitrary emotion. Love stands for something; love stands for truth and righteousness. Love is the definition of God’s nature.
We are to be governed by a revelation of the Word. Our submission to the Lordship of Christ is expressed by allowing His Word to have preeminence in every area of our life. As we do this, Christ will become evident in how we live, so our lifestyle will begin to reveal Him. Discovering this truth walks us into a life that is Christ-like. More than acting like Christ-like, it’s about being Christ-like.
Example: Football players are given a team jersey as recognition of their skill, ability, knowledge, experience, and talent. It is an indication that the team believes in this player and lives in the expectation that they will make a difference on the field and help get the team to victory. Fans, on the other hand, just buy the jersey. They look like the team, but they are not equipped to make a difference on the field. They will never be champions because victory belongs to the players, not the spectators. The jersey that spectators wear allows them to act like the team, but they are not part of the team. They lack confidence because they are not established in their ability to deliver.
We are called to be Christ-like. Being like Jesus requires that we know Him; acting like Jesus only requires we know a book and some good principles. We don’t have to carry a big family Bible around everywhere for people to know we’ve been with Jesus. We don’t have to put a religious bumper sticker on our car for people to know it. And we don’t have to wear a cross around our neck bigger than the one Jesus carried up Golgotha for people to know it. We are to be transformed into His image. Our walk, words, and ways should make it evident to everyone that we have been with Jesus. It’s all about us getting out of the way so that Christ can manifest Himself through us.
Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus."
My dad loved his cologne, and after the grandkids had met with him and he had hugged them, we could always tell that they had been with Beeps. When people would meet my dad and hug him, people would remark afterwards, “I can smell that you’ve been with Pastor Barry.” When people saw Peter and John, they recognized that they had been with Jesus. What made the difference was their boldness. They were established in and lived from a confidence that was born from a reality that had been defined from proximity to Jesus. 1 John 5:4-5 says, "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” Time spent in the Word is going to reveal Christ to us, and this revelation is going to build a new reality inside of us that will be defined by Christ. As we live from this place, it will instill a new supernatural confidence in us that equips us to have influence in our world.
John 15:5 says, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” God is saying that when uneducated and common men are influenced by the Christ within them, it introduces ordinary people to extraordinary living.
The place where God’s image is conceived in us is our hearts. Our heart is the bedroom of our life; this is the place of intimacy. God created us to conceive and bear fruit; an equipping that gives us more influence over our future than we sometimes realize. If our lives aren’t working out, we should look at what we’re conceiving. If we want to influence our future and legacy, we must start conceiving and giving birth to truth. We cannot control the fact that we were created to conceive and give birth; however, we can influence what is conceived – keep your bedroom door locked! The only one who should have access to our place of intimacy is Christ.
Any child will carry the genetic makeup of both its parents. To get Mary to conceive, the Holy Spirit never used the seed of a man; rather, He used the seed of the Word. The result was Jesus: the Word made flesh. Jesus was part God (the Word) and part Mary (the flesh it was wrapped in). God is going to work through our lives in the same way: the Holy Spirit is going to take the Word and convert it to seed through revelation. When this is deposited in our hearts, we’re going to conceive and ultimately give birth to transformation – in me, and in my world.
The challenge for the Body of Christ is that we have too many promiscuous Christians. Colossians 3:2says, “Feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.” It’s telling us not to be indiscriminately intimate! Don’t allow the thoughts of others, the voice of your challenges, the inputs of your emotions, or the negativity of well-meaning individuals, to gain access to your bedroom - your place of intimacy with Father - because if you do, you’re going to conceive something that is not of Him. By not setting our hearts on things above, we’re being indiscriminately intimate, and the result is that we’re going to give birth to illegitimate offspring – progeny that are conceived outside of our ordained union with Christ. Illegitimate offspring will define our future, which will be outside of God’s design. In other words, the things we conceive outside of union with God will never walk us into His destiny for our life; and they will steal our purpose.
Guarding our seat of intimacy (our hearts) is of utmost importance to living a victorious life and fulfilling our purpose and destiny. Proverbs 4:23 (Amp) reinforces this when it says, "Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." What we listen to and allow into us makes a huge difference in how we walk out our destiny and fulfill our purpose. Keep the bedroom door of your heart closed to anything other than Jesus.
Revolution the Power of Reinvention Part 1
There are times in life where we come to a point of decision: letting go of the old mindsets and ways of thinking and embracing new. In other words, to move forward, we need a revolution! Leaving the past behind may be difficult but adopting the new is powerful.
Acts 1:1-8 (NKJV) -- “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There are several key few fundamental insights that define and give the Book of Acts context. Understanding these are helpful in gaining clarity and insight:
1. The first point is that this is not the end of Jesus’ ministry, but it's about what Jesus is continuing to do and teach. His death and resurrection changed everything. Prior to His death, Jesus was the one who taught and performed miracles; but after the resurrection, the way God was going to work in the earth changed. Christ’s resurrection opened the door for the power of the message to transform the disciples’ lives from the inside, which positioned them to be the conduit through which Jesus would continue to do signs and wonders, as well as teach.
2. Jesus is recognized as King and Lord. Jesus’ victory over sin and death elevated Him to a place where He had become King over a domain called His Kingdom. This was the fulfilment of all that John the Baptist had prepared when he cried out, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Acknowledging Him as Lord is the way in which areas of our lives are introduced into the Kingdom.
3. Jesus is honored, not as a distant memory but as a living and powerful reality – a person who can be known, loved, obeyed and followed. Jesus was a person who continues to act within the real world with a desire to be part of our everyday lives.
4. An invitation is extended for us to become participants ourselves. It is important to read the book because it gives us context as to the developments; but the expectation is that our lives will be wrapped up by the Holy Spirit, and we will become active players in the rollout of this reality. We are to actively participate in the continuing chapters to what Jesus started.
Israel was God’s chosen people living under the Roman Empire. It was a government that made heavy demands, heavy taxes, and kept them under the reign of Caesar. Because Caesar was the one with authority, this gave him the right to rule and exert influence over Israel. Any time we live in a kingdom, the king of that domain holds authority which gives them license to influence.
There are many Christians who have parts of their lives living in foreign kingdoms. People are in kingdoms that are ruled by addiction, depression, and negative self-image. These rulers exercise their authority to have influence over God’s children. They steal their health and happiness and leave them with a compromised self-concept.
Example: There are some things in life that one can’t change; it needs to be reinvented or made new. There is no improving depression, addiction or self-deprecation; it needs to be reinvented or renewed. Sometimes we need a revolution! A revolution is all about death and resurrection; it’s about dying to the old and resurrecting something new. Jesus invites us to step out from the authority and influence of sinful kingdoms to embrace a revolution; to be made new by getting established in God’s kingdom. Because Jesus was victorious over sin and death, He is now King of kings and Lord of lords and all authority has been given unto Him. When we relocate our lives into His Kingdom, He delegates that authority to us. Delegated authority entitles us to influence. Not only does Jesus give us the right to influence, but when we will receive the Holy Spirit, we receive power to support that influence. This is the good news of the Kingdom: “We are no longer slaves to sin…So consider yourselves dead to sin’s power but living for God in the power Christ Jesus gives you” (Romans 6:6).
Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus had signaled that God had called him to renew and restore the people of Israel; however, they were still expecting a king in a natural sense. They believed that when Israel was restored that they would rule over the rest of the world; after all, this is what had been prophesied.
What they hadn’t expected was Jesus' crucifixion, which put everything in jeopardy. But then Jesus rose from the dead. Like everything else, their dream of the kingdom had been transformed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Just as Jesus told them that they would have to lose their lives to save them; so now He had to explain that they had to lose their kingdom dreams to gain them. Jesus wasn’t interested in renewing the Jewish people and forming a restored kingdom as Israel; He was intent on the disciples experiencing a renewal that would form them as a restored humanity. This was a renewal and restoration that they would know within themselves. A new reality from which they could live in relationship with God; a Kingdom that would become a catalyst for bringing heaven to earth.
Revolution the Power of Reinvention Part 2
John 3:1-3 (NKJV) -- "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [a]again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Acts 1:1-4 (NKJV) -- “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me..."
In John 3, we see the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus for insight. Nicodemus was one of the religious leaders of the community, highly esteemed, and very knowledgeable. But he was intrigued by the life of Jesus. He saw the miracles, signs and wonders that Jesus performed and witnessed the power that came forth from Him in His teachings. In recognizing the power, he wanted to know more about it. Going to Jesus in the night hours (because the other religious leaders would not approve of his interactions with Jesus), he asked about this power. Jesus' response to him was this, "...unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Being born again introduces us to Kingdom. Kingdom is the power and authority Jesus walked in and we have access to as Believers. The teachings of the Church have led many to believe that the "kingdom" Jesus was referring to was "heaven." Heaven and Kingdom are different. The Kingdom is within us; heaven is not within us. While you must be born again to live eternally in heaven, what Jesus was saying is that the Kingdom is where the power and authority lies. Nicodemus was searching beyond his knowledge and looking for the source of power that resided in Jesus. Jesus was saying to him that being born again introduces us to Kingdom living. If you want to engage in power and miracles, you must be born again; you must be introduced to Kingdom.
In essence, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that if he wanted to walk in the same power, he needed to kick his knowledge and doctrinal thinking to the side and embrace something new called being "born again." In other words, he needed a revolution.
A revolution consists of a death and birth; a letting go of the old and embracing the new. Many times we hold onto old ways of thinking and believing that preclude us from Kingdom living. For example, who told you healing is not for today? Health is part of God's nature. If health is His nature, then sickness and disease is not. Therefore, He doesn't have sickness and disease to put on anyone. We must be careful about the things we consume and digest. It's imperative that as we spend time in the Word and take in teachings that we invite Holy Spirit to guide us into truth. He is the revealer of truth, the giver of revelation.
Over the centuries, the Church has become divided in its thinking about Biblical truths which has resulted in denominations - each believing various things. Some do not believe that healing is for today, and some do not believe that praying in tongues is for today. Doctrines and beliefs have developed which keeps the Church separated and without a full understanding of what God has provided for us. In other words, old doctrines keep the Church and individual Believers from experiencing life and power -- i.e., the life of Jesus! When Believers are unwilling to allow a revolution to occur in their beliefs, they remain in what they've always known rather than moving into a new dimension of Kingdom.
At some point, we'll be given the opportunity to continue in what we know or to revolutionize our lives and step into what Holy Spirit has revealed to us. When Israel was in the wilderness, they were finally faced with a choice: continue wandering in the wilderness or cross over into the Promised Land. Continue in what they've always known, or enter into a new life.
Revolution introduces us to God in Christ in us. Revolution calls us to Kingdom; a place where we live out of authority and power. Choice is before us. We can keep wandering in the wilderness within certain aspects of our lives or we can bring them into Kingdom living. After all, it is possible to be born again and have the Kingdom within us, but not live Kingdom life.
Power and life are found in revelation. Revelation brings insight and understanding about God's nature and Kingdom living. Nicodemus knew what he wanted his future to look like - he wanted it to look like Jesus. What do you want your future to look like? It's an important thought because what you embrace defines where you're going. Will you let go of the old to embrace the new? The choice is before you.
Show Me the Money
If you own a smartphone, you're most likely familiar with apps. "Waze" is a transportation app that is designed to get you from where you currently are to a desired end point. It's a wonderful tool that helps you bypass traffic jams and other sorts of things along your route that would otherwise cost you time. But the crux of the matter is this: the app is only effective if you're able to define a destination. The same is true in life; if we don’t know where we are going, chances are we are never going to get there by accident. Our journey with God is similar; if we are unable to define our ultimate destination with Him, it will remain elusive.
Acts 1:8 -- “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
God has defined our end destination for us, and it’s called destiny. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God is making it explicit that His intention from the beginning was for us to be God’s image-bearers; people who reflect His image into the rest of the world. Not only has God defined our destiny, but He has placed it inside of us. It is a destiny that was not available to us until Jesus died and was resurrected. Paul says in Colossians 3:10, “...and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." Christ has made it possible for us to put on the new man and walk into our destiny.
God’s invitation is for us to discover destiny before we build our life; to discover the rock of our foundation before we start construction. When we discover our destiny, it acts as a filter for us. When we keep our destiny before us, it will inform our decisions, keep us focused on the goal, and prevent us from being sidetracked.
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He was alive in a transformed body. It was a body that had physical attributes: Thomas could put his finger in Jesus’ nail prints and touch His side. Jesus could eat and drink as well as walk and talk, yet, His body also had different properties: it could appear and disappear and come and go through locked doors. Jesus’ transformed body was the beginning of a heavenly reality which was fully at home in this natural world, and the beginning of a transformed physical world which was fully at home in God’s realm. This was the start of God’s new creation where heaven and earth come together in a new way.
The moment we are born again, the Kingdom of God is created in us. This becomes the window through which God intends to take the things of Him and introduce them into the natural realm. We essentially become conduits that straddle the divide between heaven and earth; we become the catalysts for introducing heaven to earth.
It is important to note that both earth and heaven are realms; however, heaven is never within us, only the Kingdom of God is. The Kingdom is the rule of God through Jesus Christ; it is God’s vehicle for bringing about transformation in us that will result in change in the world. Paul says the Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Righteousness speaks of citizenship. Each time we take an aspect of our life - for example, finances, anxiety, insecurity, etc. - and introduce it to the Kingdom (or, bring it under the reign and rule of Christ), it takes on Kingdom citizenship. Citizenship is very important because it comes with rights. When something has citizenship, it falls under the rule of the governing authority. With regard to Kingdom, it comes under the rule of the King of kings. This gives us delegated authority through Jesus’ victory, as well as the power to make things happen through the Holy Spirit. “Putting on the new man” is what transforms us into the image of Christ. This is why our destiny is the Kingdom, not heaven. Preaching that our destiny is to go to heaven makes our Christian life primarily one of waiting for things to happen sometime in the future. It is a philosophy that works against our growth as Christians.
Entering the Kingdom of God begins the moment we are born again, and it brings forth the new creation that is within us. God’s Kingdom has come, not to take people away from this world, but to transform things within this world; bringing earth into the presence, and under the rule, of heaven itself.
Peace and joy are the fruit of being positioned in righteousness. The biggest killer in America is stress – and stress is usually the result of facing circumstances that we are unable to influence. Kingdom power is what gives us influence; Kingdom living is what transforms us from people of stress to people of peace.
Joy is being grounded in fulfillment. Essentially God is saying that our fulfillment is not going to be found in our environment, but it is within us and will be discovered in Kingdom living. People want to blame their work, their friends, and their partners for their unfulfillment; God is telling us that we’re looking in the wrong places.
When Acts says that “you will be witnesses unto me,” it’s referencing that which is transformed in us and around us that is a testimony of Him. Evidence is how we showcase the power and life. Christianity, the religion, doesn’t work. The Kingdom works. Religion puts us onto a works program of handing out tracts and telling people that they must be saved.
But Jesus doesn’t say that we are to witness for Him; He says that we are to be witnesses unto Him. To be a credible witness of Christ, we need to bring evidence that validates our testimony. People want proof; they want us to show them the money! Many times Christians talk too much and try to convert the world through their insights, spiritual arguments, and doctrines. But words are not where the validation is; it is in evidence - and the key to the evidence is power. The only way we access power is by becoming Kingdom citizens and learning to live in the Kingdom.
The Confidence to Become
When God spoke to Abraham and told him he and his wife, Sarah, would have a son, it was something that was not physically possible. Not only were they both past child-bearing years, but Sarah was barren to begin with. When God told Abram that He was changing his name from Abram ("exalted father") to Abraham ("father of many nations"), it sounded like a ridiculous notion. But supernatural always sounds ridiculous to the natural mindset. God has called us to dream big with Him, and dreaming big involves the confidence to believe that the impossible is supernaturally possible walking in partnership with Him.
Romans 4:17-22 (NKJV) -- “As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
As children, we dream without limits; we can create and live in a dreamworld that is so alive and real to us.
However, as we age, we encounter the gritty and abrasive nature of life. A new reality begins to reveal itself, and we find ourselves straddling two worlds, having to decide which of the two is going to define our future.
Experiences are the point where our senses engage the circumstances of life. They become the bedrock to our reality. Words we hear, the things we see, and the way in which our emotions interpret these events build this foundation.
The time we spend considering circumstances and the way in which they influence us introduces us to reason. This is the mechanism for rationally justifying our new reality and is the method by which trust and confidence are invested in this way of living. As we meditate on our experiences and our interpretation of them, they become the bedrock to future activity and a place where we invest our confidence.
God’s promise to Abram was not to make him a parent, but “a father of many nations."
God’s promises will, at the very least, disturb our reality but may well turn them upside down and on their heads. His promises are an extension of His nature and, as such, are always characterized by His nature – prosperous, expansive, and life-giving. God’s intention is to recalibrate our sense of normal.
God’s plan lies beyond the limitations of our reality; a realm defined by experience, reason, and our senses. This reality will set the boundary to our life; a boundary that will be restrictive, limiting, and debilitating both in terms of our abilities as well as identity.
An established confidence will only be unseated by a new and more persuasive confidence. It took Abram 20 years to deconstruct the confidence that he had in his reality (his age, his old body, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb); and to construct a fresh confidence in a new reality that was built from God’s Word. It was only “when he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform” that Abram saw the manifestation of the promise.
Our futures do not move in the direction of what we know but in the direction of our confidence. It’s because of this that we need to be aware of where our confidence is vested.
1 John 5:14-15 -- “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Romans 1:17 says that the just shall live by faith. Another way of saying this may be: Those who carry the life of Christ will experience life of a superior nature when they are established in and live from a new reality that is built from the Word.
Our natural reality is characterized by fear, limitations, inferiority, and negativity; if we live from this place, we will never realize our full potential in terms of who we are or what we can achieve. This reality is designed to keep us trapped and imprisoned. But John 8:32 says that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The Greek word for “know” is to be established in the Word, or revelation, that flows from the Spirit. This is about getting God’s reality built in us through the Word and then living from this place.
Building this reality takes investment; hearing truth is not enough – we must know the truth, be confident in it, to be set free. There is a process to building confidence. Confidence cannot be created; it is the fruit of trust. Therefore, confidence is produced from the inputs I sow into my life. We’re on a construction project, and what we’re constructing is the reality of our lives. The material we use is either our experience and reason, or the Word of God. Both are available to us, but we select which one we utilize.
Secondly, we need to be diligent in eradicating unwanted material that pops up in the construction of our reality. Any time fear, insecurity or negativity evidence themselves we are to be deliberate in pulling them up and throwing them out. The only material that should be found on our building site is the Word.
Finally, meditate on the Word because meditation cultivates confidence. When we meditate on the things of our natural reality we cultivate confidence in fear and negativity. This is why we are to guard our hearts; what we allow into that space and meditate on will define our confidence and give direction to our lives.
Joshua 1:8 -- “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
The reason that dreams are not sustainable is that they lack substance; they lack the power of endorsement. Substance is the sub-strata of something; it is the foundation.
The problem with dreams is that they don’t have a foundation which supports their promise. The result is that there is nothing on which we can hang our confidence.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is substance, the foundation, that supports the promise. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. The foundation that supports God’s promise to us is His Word.Psalm 138 tells us, “God has magnified His Word above His name.” God understands that the credibility of His name and His reputation is only as good as His Word. Therefore, He will do whatever it takes to ensure that what He has said will come to pass. This is why God’s Word “never returns to Him void but accomplishes that for which it has been sent.” (Is 55:11). The endorsement of God’s promise is His signature – this is something that we can build confidence in.
Confidence is an ingredient of belief. Jesus was the Word made flesh. This is why everything He did and said instilled faith in those who spent time with Him, because faith came from hearing the Word – and seeing, in His case. When people came to Jesus looking for His intervention in their lives, and He said, “Only believe,” what He was saying was, “have confidence in Me,” or “have confidence in the Word.” Faith is the Word established in us; confidence in this Word positions us to walk into the miraculous.
Confidence, or belief, will sustain us when all of reality is positioned against God’s promise – the Word. “Abram did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." When we become fully persuaded in God's Word to us, we maintain a position of confidence and will see the supernatural come to pass.