Posts tagged ‘kingdom of God’

Living in the Kingdom of God

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  1 Corinthians 15:58

My daughter, Sally, has been competing in Ironman events since 2010 with the dream of qualifying for Kona. The Kona Ironman is the Holy Grail of the sport. The only way to compete in Kona is by qualifying at a sanctioned Ironman race, or by invitation. It is very difficult to earn a spot at Kona as evidenced by the fact that were only 50 spots available at the Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2014 for over 2,200 athletes. 

Sally hired a coach after her second Ironman when she realized there would be little chance of training adequately to qualify for Kona without help. And so she has been on a tireless journey since that time to achieve her goal. There have been many weeks and even months when it seemed impossible to keep training. She had some successes in reaching milestones along the way. But there were plenty of failures as well. But on September 7, she reached her goal by running her race, trusting her coach’s plan, and staying focused for the entire 10 hours, 51 minutes, and 54 seconds that it took her to complete the race. This was quite an improvement from her Ironman time of 12 hours, 56 minutes, and 55 seconds in 2011.

Making it to Kona is all about the training and sticking with the coach’s plan. The same is true with God’s Kingdom. The only difference is that there are as many spots for God’s Kingdom as there are people. God wants EVERYONE! He does not want to exclude anyone. We are all called to the Kingdom of God. But what does it look like for us to live in His Kingdom? Paul tells us to “be strong and immovable.” This is easier than making it to Kona because our Coach is the Rock. He is strong. He is immovable. And when you allow Him access to your heart, He gives you all the strength and stability necessary to live in His Kingdom.

The amazing thing about God’s Kingdom is that we are invited to live in it today! We don’t have to wait for the prize. But we do need to submit to Jesus. When we listen to His voice, hear His plan for our lives, and allow Him to lead us every step of the way, we are living the dream! I have found that as I keep my eyes on Jesus, He supplies everything I need to make it through the race of life. Making it to Kona is pretty cool. But living in the Kingdom of God is absolutely out of this world even as we live in this world. 

Who is Your Guide?

For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.  Revelation 7:17

I was in medical school at Loma Linda University when my sister and her family came to visit me during the summer for a week. During that time we went to the usual sites in the area including the mountains and the beach. On one particularly hot day we made the mistake of hiking at Joshua Tree National Monument, which is located in the high desert close to Palm Springs. We shortened our hike to get back to the car where we had left our water. And that’s when I realized I had only brought enough water for one or two people in conditions like this. We were all so thirsty that we had to abandon our plans and drive to civilization where we could find water. It was a painful experience. 

Imagine if I had hired a guide to take us through Joshua Tree that day. She would have brought plenty of water for everyone because she would have been familiar with the trails, the weather, and all of our needs to have a pleasant experience. John paints such a picture of Jesus in Revelation. He came to this earth as a lamb the same as you and me. He experienced the trials and temptations that are present on every hike we take. And He knows exactly what we need. Because He came as a lamb and died for us on the trail of life, He became our Shepherd. He knows the trails, He knows the conditions, and he knows us. And He brings with Him all the life-preserrving water that we need to not only survive, but to thrive every hike we take with Him. 

But there’s more. God the Father is with us too! He is watching over us. When we hike with His Son,  He wipes away our tears. We usually see this as a promise in the future when Jesus comes to take us to our heavenly home. But I have found that He wipes tears away today as well. He wipes away the tears created from our fears, our self-doubt, and the pain from such things as feeling like we are unloveable. Whatever your struggle that is causing the deepest pain, your heavenly Father is there to wipe away those tears and fill you with His love. He knows exactly what you need as your Shepherd empathizes as one who has experienced exactly what you are going through. 

Why not allow Him to wipe away your tears today as you accept the Kingdom of God into your heart? When Jesus is your Shepherd, your Guide, you have an endless supply of water that will transform your life and wipe away your tears.

The choice is ours. We can walk through life on our own or allow Jesus to be our Guide. 

Timeout!

Get out, all you who have escaped the sword! Do not stand and watch—flee while you can! Remember the Lord, though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem.   Jeremiah 51:50

Have you ever needed a “timeout”? Basketball and football teams often use timeouts to change the momentum of the game in their favor. Everyone in the stadium can sense their home team beginning to lose control of the game, and then the coach calls a timeout. He or she uses this timeout to explain the next play. It’s just one play. But if it’s the right play, a successful play, and a play at the right time, then it can change the entire outcome of the game. 

God has used Babylon to give His followers a much needed timeout. They had been worshipping idols of their own making before they were taken captive. They were following their own desires and were not seeking God’s voice, guidance, or will. And so God had told them to surrender to Babylon or they would die by the sword of Babylon. By the end of their 70 years of timeout, they were ready to go home and live as children of God. People like Daniel and his friends had lived by faith during this timeout. They had survived a lions den and a fiery furnace. They had witnessed God interpret dreams that foretold the future of Babylon and of the entire world. 

Prior to this Babylonian timeout, God’s people had lost sight of their true home and identity. We are no different today. We too often see this earth as our home. We lose sight of the Kingdom of God as we focus on our own kingdoms and build our own idols. Idols are anything that becomes more important to us than God. We worship because we are created beings rather than creators. Yes, we can be very creative as we discover new insights in the arts and sciences. But only God is a true Creator who can create something out of nothing. He creates life. He creates new life. He transforms hopelessness to hope, helplessness to strength, and defeat into victory.

He gives us timeouts to refocus our attention on what’s important in life. It’s so easy for us to get full of ourselves and think we create when we are actually discovering what God has already created. We begin thinking that success defined by the rich and famous on this earth is true success. We begin thinking that we can do anything we want because we think we are creators. We think we can create any set of rules that suits us. We think we can create a life apart from God that will be filled with peace, joy, and happiness.

But God says, “Timeout, remember Me!” As sure as God’s message was true in Jeremiah’s day, it is true for us today. He tells us to flee from this kind of thinking. If you’re in a situation that is consuming you and confusing your priorities, then God is telling you to flee that situation. If you are focusing on this earth and the success it brings, then God is pleading with you to remember your true citizenship in His Kingdom.

When temptations come your way to be a creator rather than worship the Creator, take a timeout. When you feel overwhelmed by the pressures of this earthly kingdom, remember the God’s Kingdom. Allow God’s Spirit to live in your heart, reset your priorities, and guide you into His will. You are a child of God, a citizen of His Kingdom. 

Day 59 to Marshall, VA – The Kingdom of God

Today I experienced the kingdom of God expressed through the generosity and love of others. I had a sheriff escort along with 8 other riders for the first 30 miles into Strassburg, VA. And when I say a sheriff escort I mean one sheriff riding his bike with us the entire way and one in a squad car behind us making sure motorists give us plenty of room. It was a delight to ride with people who love the sport and children.

Thanks to Ann McBroom from “A Small Hand” there were children from preschools cheering for us at several locations throughout those 30 miles. Once we made it to Edinburg we visited the site of “A Small Hand” which is in the lower level of a small church. Ann doesn’t let the size of her church or facility limit her ministry as she distributes an astounding 250,000 diapers every year. What an example of the impact one person can have when joining God where He is active. We ended this portion of the ride in Strassburg where there were several preschoolers there to greet us with smiles and lots of questions in addition to a reporter, a photographer, and another sheriff to take pictures for their archives.  

We then had lunch together at an old historic hotel in Strassburg before I rode to Marshall. On this portion of the trip I rode alone, but I still had the children who were cheering, Ann who was organizing, and the other riders who were supporting me in my mind and heart. What a way to end the last day of this ride before the big day into Silver Spring.

This ride has afforded me the opportunity to meet committed, talented, and inspiring people across this country who have witnessed to me that God’s kingdom is alive and well in the hearts of many people. As I contemplate the end of this ride, I realize the journey is just beginning as I will seek to implement all I have learned into my own journey.

Ride Stats: Total Miles- 60   Preschools- 3   Sheriffs- 3   Cyclists- 9  Ann McBroom- 1

 

 

 

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