Why is connection so important to your spiritual life? Because you can’t grow spiritually unless you’re connected relationally. God designed you that way. He wants to use other people to grow you, and he wants to use you to grow other people. Growth, accountability, belonging, and care happen in circles, not rows. Discover how building deep relationships with the people in your group and serving the larger community around you will grow your faith.
While we develop relationships with people, we have to make sure we are taking on the posture of a servant daily. Adopt the "it's not about me" mindset. It's a good feeling you get when you know you've done what you can to really help someone else. Let Christ work through you to make positive changes in your community, knowing that God has us at the right place at the right time.Jesus served all the way up to His death on the cross. In a sense, He served us into salvation. All this for what? "What does God want from me?" you might ask. God does not need anything from us, for He is God and is infinite. But God wants something great FOR you: a great love-based relationship with Him and others. No man is an island. We were not made to live all alone. We were made to live in community. We are to show people what it means to be God's Kingdom citizens.
I find it interesting that if you ask some people if they believe in God, or more specifically, if they believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, they'll say, "Well I don't believe in Jesus, but I believe there's a higher power." To those who believe in a "higher power," what I want to know is, does this "higher power" have a name? Do you feel this higher power is worthy of reverence and worship? If so, how do you choose to worship it? Do you pray to it? Do you bow down to it? Do you make personal sacrifices for it? Do you give it glory, honor, praise and adoration? Do you feel like this higher power has a special plan for your life, or do you feel like we are here on Earth just because? Do you feel like you can have a relationship with this higher power? Does it speak to you in your heart? Does it convict you when you have done something wrong? Or it that just your conscience? Does it give you a sense of peace when you are on the right track? Or is it just you giving yourself props? What has this higher power done in your life to even make you notice it's presence in the first place? Does this higher power use certain moral absolutes? Or does it allow you to pick and choose what is right and wrong, so that what's morally right/wrong for you might or might not be morally right/wrong for someone else? Does this higher power even recognize what sin is? Will this higher power eventually have a final day of judgement? Will this higher power restore things to the way it is supposed to be? Does this higher power have a kingdom? Is this higher power eternal or is it only temporary? Is this higher power omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent? Can you say this higher power truly loves you and cares about you and has your best interests at heart? Does this higher power care if you succeed or fail in life?
Look, I could go on and on with these questions, but the truth is this: there is indeed a Higher Power. He is God (Jehovah, and in a later note I will go into more detail about various titles/names of God). To those who ask, "If we were created, then who created God?" He was not created. He is eternal. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He is a heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life so He could be the One to die on the cross, taking on all of our sin, deal with the punishment and the pain, nail the sin to the cross, and rise again in three days.
When we receive Christ, we are born again and are given new life. Salvation is free to us, but it is not cheap. It was very costly. Jesus is God the Son. After His resurrection and ascension to the throne to sit at the right hand of God the Father, He sent His Holy Spirit to abide with us forever. Yes He has moral absolutes. Yes He deals with sin in our lives. He does not want us separated from Him for eternity. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).
Yes God is worthy of worship, honor, glory, and praise. Yes we should pray to Him and bow to Him and reverence Him in our hearts. He does want an intimate relationship with us. He gave us His Word in the form of the Bible to let us know Who and how He is, what life is all about, what has happened in history, what things are happening now, and what will happen in the future, and what He expects from those who choose to follow Him. He gave us His Word to encourage us, to strengthen our faith and trust in Him, to let us know He will always be there no matter what. He does love us and does care if we succeed or fail in life. When you receive Christ He will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. When we do wrong, the Holy Spirit will convict us. But it's for our growth and discipline.
Christ has a name that is above every name because He defeated death, hell, and the grave. He is the Head of the Church, His bride, who should be daily making herself ready for His return. Yes He is coming back for judgement and to reward those who have been faithful to Him. And EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Yes, He has a kingdom, and He wants us to rule and reign with Him. But in order to be a kingdom citizen, you've got to receive Jesus Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Will you choose to put away this abstract "higher power" thinking and receive the real Person of Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord? This decision is so important. Where you spend eternity literally hangs in the balance.
We can choose to be like the people in Capernaum, people of faith and anticipation (Mark 2:1-12), or we can choose to be like the people of Nazareth (where Jesus was raised), whose lack of faith hinders them from receiving the work of God (Mark 6:1-6). If we choose to stand in anticipation, we can expect that we will be led to invite others to our various churches to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, work to make our churches ready to receive them, and expect their forgiveness, healing, and restoration!
We all know at least one person who needs Jesus and if we are in a state of anticipation, we'll believe that He can make a huge difference in their lives. We'll be willing to inconvenience ourselves to share this great news, and we won't fear their resistance. The world needs to see the unity of the Church, the body of Christ, now more than ever. The greater our unity as believers in Christ, the greater our impact for the Kingdom of God.
My faith is not a passive faith, it's an active faith. I am active in using my faith because I have hope. There are some things in life I am looking forward to. Hope says there is an expected end. Without hope, faith has no job.
For example, if you have the hope of being in business (whether it will be a "brick-and-mortar" type of business or an online business) some day, faith says "Go get a building or get a website up and running." You can say you want a business, but if you don't actually step out on faith and go talk to that real estate agent or go find out how to set up that effective website, you won't see your "expected end" realized.
So many people are sitting still, waiting on God to make the first move, when in reality God is waiting on people to step out on faith. When God says in Scripture, "Be still and know that I am God..." He is not saying just be still physically. What God is saying is you don't have to worry. Be still in your soul, knowing that God will move on your behalf as you please Him by faith and that He will be exalted. The Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). You can't be sitting still and be taking something by force at the same time; it just doesn't work that way. It doesn't mean we have to be mean and hurtful in taking what we want. But it does mean that we've got to be active with an aggressive attitude, not taking no for an answer, unless God Himself is saying "No" for a particular reason to show us something.
So where are all the violent believers at? Where are the Christians who are not going to settle for less than God's best? Don't settle for less than the best just because you don't feel like paying the cost for a certain life process that is actually worthwhile. So as you step out on faith, keep hope alive!
(For The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
According to Mark 1:14,15, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,” saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God has to do with God’s rulership and dominion in heaven and earth (Matthew 6:10). To Jesus the kingdom of God was the very essence of life, so much so that He taught more on the kingdom than any other subject. So when Jesus says, “seek first the kingdom of God,” it is not just a statement or part of a sermon; it is His very heartbeat.
Seeking the kingdom of God is the most important choice a person can ever make. In fact, if you have been born again in Christ and you have made it your aim to truly follow Him, then seeking the kingdom of God is your life choice; it is the core purpose of your existence. Seeking the kingdom of God entails focusing on God’s will being accomplished in the earth. How do we help ensure that God’s will is accomplished in the earth? It is by seeking the truth in God’s Word and making ourselves available for His use. It is by understanding He has called each of us to fulfill different individual purposes in light of the greater purpose of bringing Him glory, honor, and praise.
So what are the benefits of being in the kingdom of God? So glad you asked! Here are a few:
1) We have Christ as our King. Now as obvious as that sounds, that truth carries some great weight. If Jesus is King, and we are His people, then what does that make us? That makes us royalty. And what royal figure exists in a poor condition? None, I’d imagine! Believers in Christ should not be struggling, in the sense of “just getting by,” especially since God will supply all of our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
2) We have protection against the kingdom of darkness. Satan would love to sift us as wheat like he wanted to do with Peter (Luke 22:31), but we have Jesus as our great Intercessor. He makes intercession for us without ceasing (Hebrews 7:24-27).
3) We have a family. When we are born again we have God as our Father and fellow believers are our brothers and sisters for a spiritual family dynamic. No one has to go through life all alone. Support for living and doing what God has called you to do is available. Moreover, everyone who has the hope of having his/her child-to-Father relationship perfected when Christ returns is presently making sure their life is purified (1 John 3:1-3). Since he/she bears the family relationship to God, they must also exhibit the family character: “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
4) We have hope. The hope of ultimate salvation not only from the effects of sin, but also this present world, is present. What would be the point of being born again if we had nothing to look forward to? In Colossians 1:27, the Apostle Paul mentions the awesome idea of “Christ in you” being the “hope of glory.”
Prayer Focus: Lord, I thank you for Your Kingdom and everything that comes with it. Give me the strength and the wisdom to operate in it the way You would have me to so I can fulfill the purpose You created me to fulfill.
Study Focus: Matthew 5:19, 6:10, 33, 7:21, 11:12, 13:30-34, 19:24; Mark 1:14-15; 4:10-12, 10:14-15, 10:23-25; Luke 4:43, 9:62, 16:16; 17:21; John 3:1-5; Acts 1:2-4; Romans 14:16-18; 1 Corinthians 4:20, 15:50; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 12:10
Reflection: God has a glorious kingdom and He wants you and I to be in it. In order to be in the kingdom, we must first be born again by placing our faith and trust in Christ Jesus in making Him our Savior and Lord. Once we have been born again, seeking the fulfillment of God’s kingdom agenda should be our top priority. When we make that so, everything else we need will fall into its proper place. God will surely take care of us daily. Although the Gospels focus on the present aspect of the kingdom, it is also clear that the kingdom will be realized perfectly only at the second coming of Christ. In its spiritual nature, the kingdom of God, as a gift, is the ultimate salvation of His people.
I just want to encourage and inspire as many people as I can for Jesus Christ.