Life is filled with ups and downs, troubles and trials, but it is still life. Jesus said He came to give life ‘to the full’ or ‘abundantly’. He didn’t say what ‘full’ or ‘abundant’ meant, but we can ascertain from His life and the life of the 1st century believers that it was filled with opposition to the good news, overflowing with abuse by religious ones, and targeted by arrows slung from the evil one and……….. a life culminating in overcoming victory!
Paul said it best when he said he was pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.(2 Cor. 4:8,9) This is the man who was flogged with 39 lashes on five occasions, beaten with rods on three occasions, shipwrecked three times, spent a night and day adrift in the sea, imprisoned for his faith, almost starved, stoned to near death, and often lived with little clothing and slept in inhospitable conditions (2 Cor. 11: 23-27). Yet this same man said ‘we will never give up!’ Wow! He was convinced that the good news of grace through faith in Jesus was worth all of the pressing, perplexing, persecuting and striking he experienced. What a testimony to the power of a transformed heart and mind--------he refused to give up when times got really tough!
Many of you have thoughts of giving up in some aspect of life and ministry. You may not have experienced what Paul experienced, yet the pressure and opposition seems too much to bear at times. Be encouraged that you can make it!! The word says that despite the circumstances, Jesus leads us in a triumphal procession of victory as we follow Him. (2 Cor. 2:14) Don’t give up! Whatever is opposing you or pressing on you is temporary!! Get ready for a victory parade!
If we earned eternal life, we would only gain eternal life by our own good deeds thereby being thankful to ourselves and our own ability. If we earned victory over evil we would be thankful for our own power and strategy to conquer the enemy. If we earned favor in the eyes of God we would credit our own wisdom and work in gaining that favor. But the scripture says that there is great thanksgiving and God gets the glory. Why? Because grace comes from what Jesus has done, not from what we have done. Therefore ALL thankfulness goes to Him and He gets the credit for what we have received.
Note that Paul DID NOT say 'as God’s wrath reaches more people, or God’s judgment reaches more people, or God’s punishment reaches more people’. Paul say’s ‘as God’s grace reaches more and more people there will be great thanksgiving’. Who would be thankful for wrath, judgment, and punishment…..except for the self-righteous? It is up to the church to extend the message of grace to more and more people. The church is the messenger of His gift of undeserved favor and blessing. As we extend that message to our friends, family, and nations we help bring forth thanksgiving and glory to the Father. And…..we rejoice with Him!
Leaders; we are held to a higher standard of using our tongue to benefit the cause, especially the cause of Christ. It is one of the costs of being a leader. Ask yourself these questions before entering an intense verbal engagement; (1) is what I’m about to say bringing forth truth? (2)Is what I’m about to say conveyed with an attitude to benefit the hearer, i.e. for their ultimate good? (3)Is what I’m about to say delivered in the correct forum, public or private, that will best benefit the cause?
I’m back on American soil after two weeks in Uganda, a land springing forth with the good news of Jesus. Our powerful team from New Mexico ministered to over 2000 people and 8 different churches. People received Christ. Many were baptized in the lake. Pastors were encouraged and filled with leadership knowledge for the Kingdom. And seeds of grace were planted in Nabusozi village that will soon bring forth a field ripe for harvest. We continued to push back the darkness in this remote part of Uganda with a key local political official accepting Christ. I had the honor of baptizing him in the local lake. Several local Islamic leaders were present during our ministry in the village. They listened to the good news of Jesus as the team revealed the only way, the visible truth and the abundant life available in Jesus Christ. We are seeing a great advancing of the Kingdom in this remote locality with new territory being established for Jesus. Be encouraged that the Holy Spirit is living and moving and having His being in Uganda.
Above: Ugandans worship in their church in Kampala.
I am bringing my blog today from Uganda, East Africa. I am leading a team from Gateway Church, New Mexico to minister the life and abundance of the Jesus to a forgotten people. Well…..maybe forgotten by some people, but not by our Father nor by this powerful team of ministers. We are in Nabusozi village in southern Uganda near Tanzania. We planted a new church here in 2010 and are now continuing this apostolic work by watering what was planted and helping to firmly establish these people in the Kingdom of God. Today we are ministering in an open air crusade, teaching people in the church, ministering to children, and bringing natural health in the form of a medical clinic to this remote area. The Lord has declared prophetically that this team will spring up to be the ‘shofar of God’. In turn, this village church will be the ‘shofar of God’ to this area of Uganda. To be a shofar is to bring forth loudly as a trumpet the sound of Jesus Christ in open declaration of His lordship and government to this land. We are going to walk the hilltop where a church building will be constructed for this body of believers. We will pray over the land and sound the trumpet of the King of Kings to be heard from the hilltop to the valley. Can you hear it? Can you feel the sounds of the shofar? Wow! What an awesome time to be living for Jesus!
Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus said those words when asked by his closest followers to teach them how to pray. (Matt. 6:9,10; Luke 11:1,2). I bring closure to my series on ‘The Government of God’ by emphasizing that Jesus desires so much for His kingdom to come to us, individually and corporately. The eight essentials for God’s rule in your life as a leader will be the marks of your effectiveness in leading. We know from scripture that we are already seated with Christ in heavenly places. Our challenge in leadership is to rule from that heavenly position rather than an earthly position. The eight essentials are:
- Grace is your base,
- Righteousness is your identity,
- Love is the connective tissue for the body,
- God’s process of transformation is your cross to bear,
- Giving is your way to make a living,
- Worship is a lifestyle,
- Asserting Godly authority is necessary for ruling your assigned territory,
- The Great Commission is your mission.
Through grace, the gift of God, by faith in Jesus Christ we have receive His kingdom in our spirit by believing in Him as Savior, Lord and Messiah. But in order for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth we must allow the kingdom of God in our spirit-man to infuse every fiber of our soul. As it does, we desire His will more than our will; we make decisions based upon the kingdom; our relationships reflect the kingdom; we lead our ministries and churches into kingdom-minded thinking; we worship from a heavenly perspective; and we govern in grace, mercy, love, and righteousness.
Leaders across the world need God governing their soul. We need His internal government in order to bring forth a righteous, kingdom-minded external government in sphere of influence. Be the answer to your own prayer as you pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. Leaders must lead in this way. First, allow the Holy Spirit access to your soul to reveal the places where He does not govern you and your decisions. Second, repent of holding back and protecting areas of your heart where you have knowingly, or unknowingly, refused to let the Holy Spirit bring truth, healing and alignment with His kingdom. Third, study and become immersed in grace, the base of all kingdom thinking and governing under the New Covenant. Without a generous understanding and revelation of grace you will rule by works having fallen from the kingdom of grace.
Know that your Father is for you, not against you. Know that His grace is not only undeserved favor, but the transforming power of change in your soul. Know that as you submit to His process of transformation you walk into leadership dimensions, understanding, and effectiveness you have never before experienced. And, finally, because Jesus accomplished victory for you and for His kingdom on the cross, He is now leading you in a triumphant procession of victory in your own soul and against any power of darkness that would try to hinder His kingdom will on earth. He forged a path of victory for your family, business and ministry; a victory based in His governing in you and through you.
So I pray “Father, we agree in one accord that Your will is being done on earth as it is done in heaven. Praise be to Your Name forever and ever and ever, Amen”!
For the last several posts on my blog I have revealed seven essentials of the heavenly kingdom; essentials that must be established in each of us in order for God to govern our lives and our sphere of influence on this earth. Those seven essentials are (1) grace is your base, (2) righteousness is your identity, (3) love is the connective tissue for the body of Christ, (4) God’s process is your cross to bear (i.e. transformation), (5) giving as the way to make a living, (6)worship is your lifestyle, and (7) your Godly authority must be asserted over your assigned territory.
Those first seven essentials are critical if we want to be effective in fulfilling the eighth essential of the kingdom; the great commission is our life mission. In Matthew 28:18-20 the Word says; ‘Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” If you truly desire to lead people into a place where the Lord governs their life and their influence on others, you must have an external focus. This external focus must be so well established that you will sacrifice your very life for the sake of ‘going to make disciples of all nations’. The great commission is grounded in a passion to lead people into the kingdom reality of God’s rule in their hearts, their families, their businesses, their civil governments, and their churches.
The Great Commission is the external reality of God’s government established within you. We will never have a passion displayed externally if we don’t have it established internally. We won’t occupy the marketplaces of the world with God’s government if His government does not occupy every fiber of our heart. Every essential of the kingdom of God ultimately serves to fulfill the great commission. The commission MUST become our life mission!!
Leadership is key in demonstrating to the people of God the essentials of God’s government. The Apostle Paul said ‘imitate me’ (1 Cor. 4:16). It starts with those of us in leadership providing the example, showing the way, charting a course in our lives to be the model of God’s rule inwardly and outwardly. Paul told the church in Thessalonica ‘you became the model to all the believers……’ (1 Thess. 1:7). For all of us in positional or relational leadership we must lead the way in establishing a supernatural internal government that is so powerful we will literally sacrifice our natural lives go and make disciples of all nations. It is so powerful that the Commission is our life mission.
To truly take new territory for the Kingdom of God you must assert your authority. ‘In the area of our authority most Christians practice passive neglect or blind denial. Passive neglect is having knowledge of the need to assert spiritual authority but being too passive, too busy, too preoccupied with other things to actually appropriate the victory of Jesus Christ in their territory. They simply don’t consider it a high enough priority to establish the government of God in this area. Blind denial is choosing to deny or ignore the reality of an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8) There is an enemy who has been defeated by the finished work of Jesus Christ, but still looks to feed upon those who don’t open their eyes to see the enemy of the cross. Neither approach will establish God’s governing authority in your territory.
Think of it this way. When the Allied forces won the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, German officials not only recognized defeat but they signed a document of surrender. The Allies freed prisoners of war and those in concentration camps. The German leaders submitted to Allied occupation and establishment of a new government in Germany. The Allies won the war and Nazi leaders agreed to surrender all. The Allies occupied the land preventing Nazi resurgence and instituting new government. The Allies asserted their authority over that territory to establish a new democratic government.
This analogy is important in this context. The devil was defeated by Jesus through the cross and the resurrection. Jesus mediated a contract, or covenant, bringing that victory to all who would sign the covenant. Jesus signed it in blood and we, the believers, signed it through our believing by faith in His victory over death and grave. We gained freedom from the devil’s dominion. The covenant is between the Savior and the saved. Jesus has been given all authority. (Matt. 28:18) We have the authority of Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) We have His authority to make known the wisdom (true nature of things) of God’s rule. (Eph.3:10) The wisdom of God includes the reality, or the true nature of, the devil’s defeat by Jesus Christ.
Christians are the occupying force on earth. However, the devil never surrendered or signed the surrender document. He never agreed to the covenant! We, the church, must enforce his defeat irrespective of his agreement. We are the occupiers of what used to be his territory. He can’t have any territory we do not cede to him through passive neglect or blind denial. If we choose to stand up and appropriate our authority over him, we win!! Jesus always leads us in triumphant procession of victory! (2 Cor. 2:14) To the extent we neglect our authority or deny his activity, he moves in and occupies the vacuum. He can only possess what we choose not to actively possess.
Leaders, teach the people to assert their spiritual authority in Christ! Appropriate the victory won by Jesus. And, as you pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’, you will see God’s government established around you.
Every leader has a sphere of authority, territory assigned to them to influence people for God’s rule in their lives. If you effectively use your authority there will be a legacy for the Lord for future generations. Joshua and the Jewish nation asserted their authority as they crossed the Jordan and spread themselves out over territory assigned to them. This was apostolic territory before we had apostles!!! In more recent history I know of missionaries who have asserted authority in specific areas of the world that today still reflect those efforts.
A couple years ago I was in Tanzania ministering to leaders of a Christian denomination; the Moravian Church. Moravians are few and far between in the U.S. and only a few are scattered across the world today, but they have a presence in select areas. In the 1800’s the Moravians responded to the call of God to send missionaries into western Tanzania. They moved into this new territory for the Kingdom of God. Upon arrival they found the Lutherans were also called by God to evangelize that part of Tanzania. So, in the spirit of unity, they met together to decide where they would place their feet for the gospel believing that the Lord would give them ‘every place they set their feet’ just like Joshua. As the story goes, the leaders simply agreed ‘the Lutherans will go that direction and we’ll go the other direction and wherever we go the Lord will give us the land for the gospel’. So today, if you go to western Tanzania you will find specific tribes predominately Moravian and others predominantly Lutheran. Both missionary groups were effective in asserting the authority of the Lord in such a way that a semblance of those territories remain today. The authority they asserted is a legacy for the governing of God in that part of Tanzania.
You have leadership territory; personal, ministerial, business and family territory where God has given you authority to establish His government. Ask the Lord to define that territory, and then assert your authority with prayer, declaration, teaching and taking advantage of every opportunity to show forth God’s supernatural government. You can do it. You’re a conqueror just as Joshua was a conqueror. The Bible says ‘but thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him'.(2 Cor. 2:14) There is an awesome aroma in the air where you bring God’s authority to your territory.
An essential element of God’s government in you is the concept of ‘giving’. The Father gave His only son so we could live. The son gave His life as a sacrifice so we could live to give. The 1st century apostles gave their lives for the sake of the gospel as models of what it means to ‘give your life’ for the sake of the gospel. Jesus said ‘Freely you have received, freely give’. (Matt. 10:8) It sounds so easy but ‘living to give’ for the sake of the gospel is not easy. It requires losing life as you know it, to find life as you will know it. Leaders, like Paul and other ministers, gave their life to the point of death. There are many contemporary examples of men and women who now live to give, and give to live, whether in money, time, teaching, mentoring, counseling, pastoring, etc. They give their lives freely because they received Jesus’ life freely.
I think of my wife, Deborah, who lives to give. She lives for the gospel. She speaks it, breathes it, and converses about it. It is her lifestyle. It is who she is. From the day she was born-again she was a giver. As she entered full time ministry she was a giver. But it took a dramatic turning point before she lived to give. It was many years ago in Calcutta, India where the Lord had told her to ‘Go and see the work’. She did not preach, teach or do any pulpit ministry. She simply went to ‘see the work’ of an American couple, Mark and Hulda Buntain, who had given their life to ministering the gospel in Calcutta. In only a few days of seeing the overwhelming need and the overwhelming sacrifice required to begin to meet that need, she came to a turning point. It was the turning point of seeing what Jesus sees, the need to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. It was the turning point of seeing that the American perspective of living for the gospel may not fully represent ‘living to give and giving to live’. From that point forward she lives to give for the sake of the gospel.
As leaders in the body of Christ we are called to this higher level of modeling the concept of giving. Giving is an essential element of the government of God within us. It is an absolute in a world that despises absolutes. You might say, ‘but life is so busy already, what more can I give?’ If you, as a leader, desire this aspect of God’s impact within you, simply ask Him to reveal those areas of your life that can be ‘lost’ so that you can freely give. The Holy Spirit is faithful to show you the fullness of giving for the sake of the gospel. And…He has abundant grace to live it daily.
Worship is essential to establishing the Government of God. The Lord’s prayer begins with ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.(Matt. 6:9,10) Jesus taught us that the coming of His kingdom down here begins with recognizing and declaring the Father’s heavenly status and holiness. The word ‘hallowed’ means ‘set apart as holy, honored greatly, revered’. Jesus is saying we are to worship Him for who He is; the awesome, holy, revered Father to be greatly honored!!!
The first time Jesus was truly worshiped as God was after his resurrection when the women at the empty tomb ‘clasped his feet and worshiped him’.(Matt. 28:8) They worshiped Him at his ascension.( Luke 24:53) The divine, messianic fullness of Jesus came forth at his resurrection and ascension. He was worthy of our worship! The fullness of God’s grace became real! There could be no doubt that HE IS GOD.
Worshiping Him is not an event; it’s a lifestyle. As a pastor I greatly value our worship of the Lord through music in our home church. It stirs me, excites me, and releases God’s goodness and gifting from within me every time. We allow freedom in the flow to accomplish the prophetic purpose of our worship through music. I love it!!!! However, I cannot confine my worship or my concept of worship to that brief time on Sunday. Nor can I confine it to any other music related time I spend with Him. That would put worship in a music box. Paul told the Romans ‘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’. (Rom. 12:1) Paul is saying that true worship is the daily offering of ourselves completely in response to the incredible grace and mercy offered to us. As a leader I need goodness and gifting to be released every day of the week. Worship is the outward manifestation of an inward transformation. It is a lifestyle not an event!!
What we treasure is what we worship. The Bible is very clear that anything we truly value in our heart will be revealed outwardly. The treasure of our heart defines our focus and we will seek it and speak it. (Matt.6:21; Luke 6:45) It (whatever or whomever it is) becomes, in a sense, an object of our worship. What is your treasure?
As leaders we are called to lead in worshiping the Father as the treasure of our hearts. We do it sacrificially. We do it outwardly. We do it boldly. It is the lifestyle of worship. In so doing the kingdom of God and His will is done IN US! Then………………. we see His government established in us and flowing through us to accomplish His Kingdom purposes here on earth. Leaders: pursue a lifestyle of worship if you desire the Government of God to be established in your life.
Leaders love the unlovable. Leadership is different than friendship. We choose our friends. We don’t always choose the people we lead. In fact leaders often lead people who seem unlovable. People come into our sphere of influence for various reasons, but two reasons are paramount; to bring influence into their lives and to bring their influence into our lives. This often stretches us as leaders.
As people come into our sphere of influence our intrinsic leadership nature is to impart something to them. However, occasionally we find someone who presents every rough, abrasive element of personality that absolutely grates on us……we feel no warm, affectionate emotion toward them. Let’s be real here! It’s true! Don’t get religious and say you don’t experience this in your leadership! But here’s the revelation …….love does not require affectionate emotion, but it does require benevolent intention.
The New Testament primarily uses 3 Greek words for ‘love’; phileo is an emotional, affectionate love; storge is a familial, brotherly love; and agape is a supernatural, intentional love. Agape is a moral, dutiful benevolence irrespective of emotion or family status. It shows the benevolent in the face of the malevolent. It is intentional. All true, authentic leadership is rooted in agape toward those we lead in spite of emotions we feel. Paul prayed this: ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge---that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’(Eph. 3:17)
If we desire to have the Government of God established in our churches, businesses, and governments, we must embrace the establishment of love (agape) in hearts toward people we lead, especially those who seem unlovable! Very often they are there to stretch and mature US! Loving the lovable is easy, but God asks that we stretch to love the unlovable. Note in this verse that establishing love brings power and the ‘fullness’ of God. The fullness of Christ is the fullness of God’s government IN YOU. Authentic agape therefore requires benevolent intention from YOU. You must decide to S T R E T C H? Decide today to stretch yourself in the loving the unlovable. You will establish God’s government in you and in your governing.
Today I continue the series ‘Establishing the Government of God’. One of the great challenges of leadership is leading people through change. Human nature does not like change, especially personal change affecting hearts and minds. Business and government leaders struggle to motivate people through the change process. Large companies send leaders to weeks of leadership training on how to lead people through change. Why? Because most people will resist change if they think it will affect them in any way.
Church leaders face this challenge as well; the difference being that business and government can and will force the change via organizational rules and job performance standards. Leaders of the church have encouragement, prayer, teaching, casting vision, etc. to motivate people in the direction God would have them go. There are no church member performance standards that say ‘change or we won’t let you tithe here anymore!!!' Many people leave churches and ministries because of change. If ‘change’ requires transformation of heart and mind, there will be resistance!!
Moses had a big challenge getting Israel out of Egypt, even though freedom from slavery was the offered vision. He had great challenges keeping people moving toward the Promised Land rather than moving back to Pharaoh’s land. Paul offered the message of grace to the Jews and was beaten, mocked, jailed, tortured, and finally killed. That kind of change elicited that kind of resistance. Martin Luther offered change to ‘justification by faith’ encountering great resistance in the Catholic Church. The reluctance to change is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. The knowns of the present seem better than the unknowns of the future change process.
A life in God is a life that is always changing; changing toward something better. A life following Christ is a life continually being transformed into His image. He leads us into many uncomfortable places for two reasons; our good and the good of the Kingdom. ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’(Luke 9:23, 24) The cross is the process of change. Change occurs instantaneously in our spirit upon being born-again. It occurs in our soul and body over time as we embrace change; i.e. take up our cross daily. To establish the ‘government of God’ in your life, you must embrace the process of the cross, the process of continual transformation of soul. The human nature will resist it. The spirit nature will embrace it. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, so you don’t have to be the same; same problems….same mindset….same anxiety….same….same …..same. He say’s ‘take up the cross of change and as you change My ‘government’ will be established in you. Be encouraged leaders! The Jews made it to the Promised Land! Martin Luther’s leadership started a change that today has the growth of non-Catholic Christian churches increasing about 4 times the rate of that of the Catholic faith. And, the fledgling church, for which Paul suffered greatly, now comprises 2.2 billion people. Leaders; preach the cross of change; change into the image of Christ; the continual transformation that establishes the government of God in the hearts and minds of the people!
If only we had known what would bring peace! The approach of the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus brings to mind the words of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on His road of destiny. It was a destiny to bring life and peace to all who would believe. He said, ‘if only you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace---but now it is hidden from your eyes.’ A kingdom was coming to bring peace! Jesus knew he was the messiah, the savior, the one who would open the heavens to peace for every man and woman on earth. The people saw him as an awesome man, a prophet, and a rabbi; but did not know him as the one who would bring peace to their hearts. If only they had known!!!
Much of our lives are lived with 20-20 vision as we say ‘if only I had known’. We seek peace in all the wrong places; relationships, entertainment, technology, social media, work activity, and other visible, tangible elements of the culture. We don’t want to say 10 years from now ‘if only I had known what would bring inner peace’.
Christians today, just as the Jews of that day, tend to rely upon the tangible, visible world for their inner reality, believing only what they see. If they see it they believe it. If they don’t see it, they don’t believe it. As leaders in the body of Christ we must communicate the unseen transforming power of grace that brings peace that passes understanding; a stability and tranquility of heart hidden from the visible world.
Jesus knew his death and resurrection would open the heavens to the possibility of PEACE. That peace would be accessible to all who embraced the process of the cross and the power of the resurrection. It created opportunity for people to agree to the process of transformation; a process of old to new, death to life, inner conflict to inner peace. This is the process of the cross, bringing what has been deposited in our spirit at the moment of believing in Jesus Christ, into our soul to the degree it changes how our heart responds to chaotic circumstances in life. It is the supernatural peace of God becoming a natural reality in our hearts.
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus this week, we celebrate peace; the kind of peace that stabilizes our very being. As we embrace the process of the cross, the resurrection power of God brings peace to our soul. The Kingdom comes to our hearts. Jesus made it possible. If only we knew we would choose it! But we do know, therefore we choose to make it reality in our hearts.
Are you a ‘resident’ of God’s Kingdom………. or just a ‘citizen’? Our God is a God that desires to establish His government on earth, but what does it look like? Is it a Christian in every position of authority? Is it a constitution that is a mirror image of the Old Testament law or, maybe, the New Testament law? Or….is it a supreme court of the land occupied only by believers in Jesus? As I travel the world I see more clearly that Christians can be in positions of great influence without governing as Jesus would govern. Christians can even write laws that seem righteous, but merely force modified behavior in the land without modifying hearts in the land. Christians can occupy judicial positions but rule without Godly wisdom.
So, what should we look for as we pray for His government to be established on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9, 10)? A key is found in Romans 14:17 'For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. We also see in Luke 17:20, 21 that Jesus said the ‘kingdom of God is within you.’ While it is good to have believers in positions of authority, how they exert that authority will depend upon their understanding of God’s government in their own hearts. Leaders must understand that God’s government must be established in hearts before it is reflected in nations. When it’s established in us it can then be established through us. We know it’s in us when we habitually experience righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The foundation of this government consists of three essential elements: His righteousness, His grace, and His love. For God to truly govern our hearts on a continual basis we must embrace the concept that we 'are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Cor. 5:21), we are righteous only because of grace, not because we earned it (Eph. 2:8-10), and righteousness and grace are connected by the unconditional love of the Father through Jesus (Rom.10:3). When righteousness, grace and love become established (firmly fixed, settled, permanent) in our soul just as they are established by faith in our spirit, we then live in the operational reality of God’s government. We are literally ‘governed’ by the Father on a daily basis.
Most believers understand they are citizens of the God’s kingdom, i.e. they have a rightful position in the kingdom because of their faith in Jesus. However, for most, that citizenship has not translated to residential living in the kingdom. They occasionally visit the kingdom. They occasionally experience the power of the kingdom. They have an occasional charismatic experience of the kingdom. They even talk the language of the kingdom, but they don’t reside there.
Think of it this way……it’s is like being a citizen of the U.S. but living in Africa. One may have the rights of a U.S. citizen; have the benefits of citizenship and have a passport validating legal status, but they only visit the U.S. occasionally. They don’t live in and occupy their place of citizenship thereby establishing their influence in that country. They reside in Africa!!!!!
For leaders it is paramount that we are not satisfied by knowing about the essentials of righteousness, grace and love, but we actually live them. We must become residents. It starts with us! Only then can His government be truly established in us and through us.
Want to know more about living in God's Kingdom? Check out this post on Kingdom living.
You are established in holiness! Heb. 10:9 says of Jesus, “Then He said, ‘here I am, I have come to do your will’. He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The writer of Hebrews quotes Jesus as saying He came to do the Father’s will. The will of the Father was to set aside the first covenant of the commandments and its regulations and establish a second covenant. Two very key aspects of the gospel come through this verse; first, a new covenant has been established, and second, we are made holy through this new covenant by the one time sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead was to establish a new way of life for all who would believe. The key word here is establish; which means to settle or firmly fix in place so as to be stable or permanent. Jesus permanently settled the issue of how to be ‘holy’. It is only through His sacrifice. No additional ritualistic sacrifices by you, me, or the clergy will make you more holy, more acceptable, or more righteous in the eyes of the Father. If you have accepted and believe in the risen Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have His holiness on the inside of you…in your born-again spirit! Therefore your legal position from the Father’s perspective is that of holiness. It is firmly established, firmly fixed, and a settled issue in His eyes. When we pray the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9 ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’ we already know one dimension of His kingdom to be present; the dimension of legal holiness in our spirit through Jesus Christ. It is fixed in place. Not because you earned it, but because Jesus earned it for you and you accepted Him by faith.
Now what??? Why pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’? Why bother???!!!! Why not just die and go to heaven? Because He desires that that holiness and righteousness permeate your entire soul and body bringing forth His glory and goodness to the people around you. You are His governmental representative! He wants you to represent the new you(Him)…the holy, righteous you(Him) that reflects His governmental principles. That only happens as that same holiness and righteousness becomes established in your soul and body just as it has already been established in your spirit. He wants you to be transformed from a legal position to an operational reality on behalf of His government. So we pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven’ bringing the fullness of His government for all to see.
We pray the Lord’s prayer over and over but seldom pray it from God’s perspective. ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’(Matt. 6:9, 10) This beginning of Jesus’ prayer speaks of a ‘kingdom’ that we pray will come. What is this ‘kingdom’ thing we declare to come? What kind of government is this? With this post I begin a series entitled Establishing the Government of God. His kingdom is coming, but it may not look like what you thought?
The writers of the New Testament wrote of this ‘kingdom’ over 130 times, so it must be very important to our life as Christians and even more important for leaders to understand its meaning. Few nations in the world have kingdoms…there are dictatorships, democracies, theocracies, communist states, and socialist governing systems, but not many kingdoms with a king or queen who actually govern the people. So what does that mean today? Jesus gave us many clues, but he said very specifically in Luke 17:20, 21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘the kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, here it is or there it is, because the kingdom of God is within you.’ Jesus says very clearly this kingdom is an internal supernatural, rather than external natural government. Paul goes on to write in Romans 14:17 'For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. So when we pray ‘your kingdom come’ we are declaring the coming of an internal government that rules within the heart of man. It is a government that does not make rules of what you can eat, how much you can eat, what you can drink or how much you can drink, but a government transforming the heart of man bringing forth righteousness, peace and joy. Righteousness, peace and joy are products of what the Bible calls the ‘fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13) emerging from believers as we are built up, come into unity, and move to maturity. It is a government of the fullness of Christ in the hearts of men and women. It is sustained by the spiritual protein of the Word of God, standing upon the finished work of the cross, administered by the Holy Spirit, and fully governed by the governor….the king of kings and Lord of Lords.
Every leader in ministry, business, and government who is sensitive to world events and the spiritual atmosphere knows we are in a time of accelerated change with potential for new territory for the government of God. As leaders we must establish the internal government of His kingdom if we expect external change in governments around the world. In this case the egg must come before the chicken, so to speak.
I will be encouraging the young CrossFire Church in Nabusozi village in southern Uganda where about 100 received Jesus last August. I will be ministering to CrossFire Church in Kampala which lost their senior pastor to tuberculosis last September. That church now is pastored by his two young sons who have a heart for the kingdom of God and are moving forward to lead that church. It will also be my honor to minister to many CrossFire International Alliance partners, some of whom I will meet for the first time. There are also leaders coming from Kenya to participate in an Alliance fellowship day connecting like-minded leaders who desire to advance the kingdom of God in these last days, reaching people with grace and peace that only comes through Jesus.
As I am here in deepest Africa I send you my love knowing that you and I are fulfilling the great commission with footprints in new territory wherever we may walk this week. The good news within you can make a footprint in someone’s heart today…..look for the opportunity! I pray the footprints we make look more like those of Jesus than our own. Be very blessed and I will continue posting upon my return in mid March.
Tyranny, terror and fear in your life are a choice. The prophet Isaiah gave us powerful words of encouragement in Isaiah 54 as he prophesied to the remnant in Israel, a nation overtaken by Assyrians to the north and compromising with pagan practices in the south. He was speaking to a remnant of believers. The words he spoke have application to the nation of Israel, to the New Jerusalem (see Rev. 21), and to the church today. I will focus only on verse 14 of Isaiah 54to teach a fundamental principle of the faith. Stick with me on this!!!!
Isaiah says in verse 14 ‘in righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.’ Isaiah’s words prophesied from the old covenant to a future time on this side of the cross; to the era of the church immersed in grace and walking in righteousness without fear. He is saying we must be ‘established in righteousness’ if we want to live free from the control of tyranny, fear, and terror. How does that happen?
As believers in Jesus Christ we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Gal.3:27; 2 Cor. 5:21). To be clothed means to be covered so that the Father actually sees us righteous in His eyes. Jesus purchased that righteousness on the cross and established it in His resurrection. Therefore, our position before our Father is that we are clothed, established, covered, immersed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is the essence of grace. We didn’t work for it. We received it by faith. The Father loves us so much he has completely covered us in His righteousness through our faith in Jesus!
But Isaiah prophesied that we would be ‘established’ in righteousness to the point of not experiencing tyranny, fear and terror. To be established means to be firm, secure, fixed, and permanent. Many believers understand intellectually they are righteous only by faith in Jesus, but waver and wobble daily in their thoughts and actions proving they don’t believe it in their hearts. They have intellectual agreement but internal disagreement. They are not ‘established’ in righteousness!! They are saved and have eternal life, but have not come into complete agreement in their hearts to the point of being firm, secure, fixed and permanent in walking that out each day. Therefore they open themselves to tyranny of the old covenant law, wrathful fear of the Father, and terror of man bringing an invasion into their life. They allow the Old Testament law to control their thinking. They embrace an Old Testament fear of God that causes them to run from, rather than run to the Father. They open their heart to terror as they listen to world news, see political turmoil, and experience economic downturn. The new covenant fear of the Father is that of an awesome, worshipful attitude toward ‘Abba Father’!!!
Tyranny, fear and terror becomes THEIR choice. You cannot be controlled by tyranny of the law, fear of the Father, or terror of man unless you choose it!!!! Isaiah prophesied that you can be ‘established in righteousness’ to the point where any kind of tyranny, terror or fear will be far from you!!! It may be all around you but it is NOT near you.
I will close with three points of encouragement. First, come into agreement with Isaiah that ‘tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear and terror will be far removed.’ You are the only one that can make this decision. Second, speak against the demonic powers that try to influence your thoughts and beliefs. Bind them and cast them out from your life. Third, renew your mind by reading and declaring what Isaiah has prophesied; that you are established in the righteousness of Christ and you are clothed in righteousness by faith every day.
Now go forth and be established, you fearless man or woman of God!!