Kingdom Surroundings

When you preoccupy your mind with God’s word, you go a long way toward shutting out temptation.

Keeping a preoccupation of God means to be God-conscious as much as possible; reading scripture, studying it with others, writing about your feelings around what you are learning and then practicing how to live what you learn.

“For Behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]” -Luke 17:21 (amp)

This verse can mean many translations of application in many different contexts. On a personal level it means God is ALWAYS with you even when you can’t feel His presence. And yes, even when life isn’t going the way you want or expected it to. It means the Holy Spirit is in you (if you let it) and that nothing is impossible with God. It can also mean, look among your friends, family and influencers; God uses others to speak wisdom and truth to you (be careful though, Satan likes to use these same circles of influence to speak lies and spread disease!)

People also use this verse to illustrate leaders of the church that may be sitting right in front of you. The point with each area of context is this; God surrounds you. To surround is to envelop completely. It means the area in which something exists or lives. If you allow Jesus into your heart, fully, the keys to the kingdom are yours…no matter the outcome.

In the gospel of Luke, this verse is illustrating a question posed to Jesus by the pharisees on the coming of the end of the world (…why does R.E.M. STILL come to mind with this?!) Take a peek at the entire chapter and reflect for yourself. When and where IS the kingdom of God?


More Is Less

Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
-Ephesians 5:14

It often seems like it is human nature to look for the easier softer way. Spending the least amount of money for the best bargain. Put in the least amount of work for the most money. American culture thrives on these concepts. But this idea breeds laziness and complacency and once again we are stuck with too much of a good thing, becoming a culture of low work ethic and a misconstrued sense of entitlement.

In the church we work hard to combat the world’s ideas if they are in direct violation or at the very least misinterpretation of the teachings through Jesus Christ. But we end up fighting laziness with workaholism and thriftiness to the point of miserliness; Pastors finding themselves at burnout at the expense of their emotional and spiritual health. I know first hand the struggle of separating my priority of God first, spouse second, family third and work fourth, confusing work with God more times than I like to admit since I began ministry work as a volunteer.

See, I think we get so caught up with wanting to do good and working hard, that we forget WHY we work hard. Haggai 1:2-9 tells of eating but never having enough, of drinking and never being full, earning wages but putting them in a purse with holes in it. Why? We were too busy with our own house to work in His. We may be busy, but it may be fruitless because it is the wrong kind of busy. We do this even in a church environment. The work we put in may be to satisfy our own ego or making our self-worth be tied to our work. Or because we have a hard time saying NO.This kind of thinking leads us further instead of closer to God.

Doing the right thing is hard. It usually takes more work. More determination. More willpower and more self-control. Don’t spend time worrying. Instead, use that time to develop your personal relationship with God, meditate day and night for continual life-long growth. God will teach you how to create new boundaries and what work should remain priority.

But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. Psalm 1:2 AMP

How do we pray expectantly without the expectation?

Most of us know that God is not Santa Claus. Yet, most of us, if honest, would admit to praying in a bartering, begging, give-me-what-I-want-oh-pretty-please kinda way from time to time (or all the time!)

Only God in his infinite time can determine the future. Does this mean we go through life with no hopeful expectancy, ignoring our hearts? Do we just sit back and exclaim, “well, I am not in control so I’ll be over here in the corner until you decide to make me useful.” Are we not to go forward in faith that God can accomplish HUGE things with HUGE proportions? He can heal the sick and bind the broken. There are miracles abound all day everyday around the world. To move forward without knowing the outcome is the very essence of faith.

But, see, here is where I get tripped up. My expectations. Lately, I say, “Ok God, I’m praying for big things this Easter. We, at EVERGREEN, are going to reach and teach more people for Jesus than we EVER have! Lives will be changed and hearts will be healed and everyone that I invited will come and every current Evergreener will bring people who not only attend our Easter Celebration, but drop whatever their life was before and take up a calling to follow Jesus no matter what!” The problem is, I have now presumed to know the truth without truly knowing the outcome (only God knows outcomes,) so when the outcome is different than what my lil ‘ol head has fantasized, I get discouraged & doubtful and this is a slippery slope down a rabbit hole I’d rather not venture in. Anyone catch what I’m throwing?

Here are some principles I found that explain how to face a future that is unknown.

Planning without Praying is Presumption. We need to set goals according to God’s direction, therefore we need to start by praying, “God, what do YOU want me to do?”

“We may make our plans, but God has the last word.” Proverbs 16:1

Live One Day at a Time. To be mindful of God and organized allows me to do things today that help propel me forward, much of it “failing forward”.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

Don’t Procrastinate. We will never make a difference if we just complain about the state of the world but do nothing to contribute change.

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” Proverbs 12:24

What principles do you follow to face an unknown future expectantly hopeful?

Influence of Destiny

Isn’t it funny that we sometimes need permission before we can make a mind shift? It often takes another’s perspective on our situation or advice before we can take action on a problem or fear we have. Joshua 1:9 grants us the permission that may be holding us in the bondage of fear.

“This is my command- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

The mind shift we are afforded when we get another perspective on our situation is why it is so important to pay careful attention to the influences in our life. If we accept the advice of someone who is far from God, we will be steered far from God. If we inundate our senses with experiences that God would not approve of, we are taken further from the beam and thus further from contentment and fulfillment of our life.

The bible is the BEST way to learn who to listen to and what help we can give others. It can help with our finances (Hebrews 13:5) our relationships (1 Corinthians 13:4) and our work (2 Chronicles 15:7) . It truly is an endless resource to finding that contentment and achievement in all areas of our lives. By utilizing our time with the right influences, it becomes easier to discern any necessary action.

Are the influences in your life bringing you closer to your destiny or further from it?