Years ago, I heard a speaker say that as believers we live in an upside-down kingdom. The kingdom of God has principles that are the total opposite of this wicked world system. Scriptures echoes this idea of an upside-down kingdom. God tells us He considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish; it is the polar opposite His wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19). The world tells us that if we want to succeed, we must put ourselves first. In the upside-down kingdom we are told to imitate Christ and think of others more than we think of ourselves (Philippians 2), and that if we want to be great, we must be a servant (Matthew 20:26). The world tells us we must fight to live and hold on to our lives, the upside-down kingdom tells us we are to die to ourselves so that we can come alive in Christ (Romans 6)! And finally, the world tells us to do all we can to pursue comfort while the upside-down kingdom tells us to rejoice when we experience trials/discomfort because it will bring us to a point of maturity (James 1:2). Through what lenses are we living our life? What blueprint are we following-the world’s script or the word of God? If we truly understood what it meant to be a part of the kingdom of God, we wouldn’t fight as hard for the temporal, that which perishes. We would not be so filled with fear and worry. We would not insist on our own rights and the need to always be right. Take inventory of your actions and thought life. Do they confirm that you truly belong and embrace the principle of the upside-down kingdom, or do they prove otherwise? Simply put, we cannot claim to belong to Christ yet resist the principles of the upside-down kingdom.
It’s been a year since they diagnosed my son with type 1 diabetes and if I am going to be honest, I felt defeated early this morning. Until this point, I was doing well; I was encouraged, but this morning I hit a wall. I woke up at 2am and Elijah’s blood glucose was at a number I thought I would never see again. Until about two weeks ago, we had things figured out. We have been able to accomplish normal blood sugar levels through diet, but the last two weeks things have shifted and we are back to the drawing board, needing to make some adjustments. And there was that high number staring at me & mocking me. Weariness and defeat replaced the strength and encouragement I had been feeling. But as I sit here and type, I can’t help but to think of what the disciples must have felt that Saturday morning over two thousand years ago. They had high hopes and thought they had things figured out; they had seen Jesus do miracles. Certainly He was just warming up, and the best was yet to come. But they were met with His crucifixion and then on Saturday morning, He was still in the tomb along with all their sense of hope. Jesus was not the only death they were mourning. Their hopes, dreams, and faith also died. They laid in a tomb of their own. The beauty of the scripture is that I know how the story ends. Unlike the disciples on that Saturday morning over two thousand years ago, I know that Sunday morning is coming! If they could only see that resurrection was around the corner, they would have been rejoicing instead of mourning. But wait, if I know how the story end, then I too should rejoice in trials and tribulations because Sunday morning is coming. Sunday morning, King Jesus was resurrected, defeating death and the grave! He rose with all power in His hand. He didn’t promise me a life of comfort and ease on this side of eternity. However, He promised that if I place my trust in Him, I too reap the benefits of His resurrection, mainly salvation. But I cannot deny the peace that is also extended because of what took place Sunday morning. Peace in a time when I and the ones I love have to deal with the side effects of living in a fallen world, one of which is sickness. I planted myself in His presence this morning to be reminded of these truths, and it encouraged my heart! What about you, what circumstances are you facing that makes you feel defeated? You do not have to remain a place of despair because if you are in Christ, Sunday morning is coming!
I now know that Jesus is all I need, but this was not always the case. There was a time when my focus was on all God could do to make my life comfortable and make my every wish come true. My prayers reflected my self-centered heart and shallow faith. But something has shifted. These days, Jesus is the more I am asking for because circumstances have taught me, He is the more I need. He is the promise I cling to. Do I pray for other things I desire? Sure I do. However, I am trying to not make these things my focus. Instead, I am trying to remain in a place of rejoicing and magnifying all that I have in Christ. Notice I said, “trying” because some days I fail miserably at this. When I stay in that place of knowing Jesus is all I need, I don’t sit and sulk when my prayers for the temporal are unanswered. I know that I have Jesus and He is more than enough. Saying Jesus is all I need is not just some fanciful statement. It is a statement that is based on who Jesus is! He is the one with all authority (Matthew 28:18). He is the one through whom all things were created (1 Corinthians 8:6). God the Father has appointed Him an heir to all things (Hebrews 1:2). I can go on but I hope you get the point, Jesus has quite an impressive resume that shouts, “I AM ENOUGH!” Having Jesus does not mean there will be an absence of conflict and pain, actually the opposite is true. Jesus promised His followers that we will have to endure difficulty and hardship just because we follow Him (Matthew 5:11-12, John 15:20). But we must not forget that He is there with us in hardship, He is the other that is in the fire with us (Daniel 3:25). There is something about knowing I have Jesus that makes me more willing to walk boldly into the unknown. He has already gone ahead of me! Admittedly, I have moments where I take my eyes off Jesus and the aforementioned is not my testimony. Instead, I give in to fear and choose to pursue comfort because it feels safe. However, once I get my eyes back on Him, I become spiritually realigned and regain proper focus. This heart of mine can be fickle, but I pray for more faithfulness. I pray to consistently walk in the truth, knowing that Jesus is enough, and He is all I need!
When I call my children, I expect them to answer. I am annoyed when they ignore my voice. The other day I had a familiar situation play out in my home. I was calling a particular child, and she totally ignored me. She eventually answered the call but was upset because as she was doing what I was calling her to do, her siblings began playing a game and she could not join them. I explained to her that if she had come when I first called her, this situation would have been avoided. As I was scolding her, the Lord held the mirror up to me and I saw myself… AGAIN! He let me know I have been guilty of ignoring His voice. Sometimes I hear the “voice” of God, not His literal voice, but I sense He is calling me and telling me to do something. I have made the mistake of ignoring His voice if I feel what He is calling me to do is too hard or inconvenient and a disruption to my agenda. When I delay responding to the voice of God, frustration kicks in because ignoring His voice often creates self-inflicted delays in my life.
There are many examples of those who responded to the voice of God. The voice of God came and called Abraham away from what was familiar and asked Him to step into the unknown. That seemed scary. Abraham’s yes made Him a father of many nations. The voice of God came and asked Elijah to confront wicked Ahab, that was definitely uncomfortable and risky. Elijah’s yes lead the children of Israel to repent of their sins. The voice of God came and told Moses to go back to the very place he ran away from to save His life. That seemed unfair and irrational. Moses’ yes helped to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery. The voice of God came and called the disciples away from what they were used to. That was uncomfortable. The disciples’ yes made them fishers of men! Saying yes to God means saying no to something, but it is always the best option! Answering the voice of God is often inconvenient, but we should never put God on hold. When He calls, God requires immediate obedience. When God speaks, we should not ignore His voice, instead we should meet Him with an immediate, “YES!”
We can spend so much time highlighting all the enemy is doing and miss the goodness of God! There is a lot of evil going on in the world today for sure. Scripture tells us that the devil is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and we see the destructive nature of his evil regime all around us. However, even in all of that, my Jesus still reigns supreme. The Kingdom (God’s reign, rule and authority) is still intact. Jesus is the one who rose with all power in His hands. He is the one who reigns with victory. When he was resurrected from the dead, He was given the place of highest honor and in the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that King Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11)! This is who I serve.
This is who I will exalt.
This is who I will focus on.
Take inventory of your conversations. Who do you focus on, the devil and his works or God and His goodness? 1 Peter 5:8 says “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” I will take heed to that scripture and be aware of his evil schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). I will not pretend like the devil does not exist. HOWEVER, I will not make him the focus of my conversation. Instead, I will give my energy and adoration to King Jesus. I will be quick to rehearse His goodness and His faithfulness. Jesus will get the spotlight because He alone deserves my full attention and affection.
The more I see God, the more I see myself, and it is not always pretty. Considering God’s holiness, the ugly parts of me are really pronounced. The more I press into His presence, the more I see my need for Him to transform me. His light reveals the darkness and calls me higher. In the presence of other broken humans, I can convince myself that I am doing fine and even become self-righteous. Using flawed men and women as the standard is never a good idea. But who can contend with a Holy God? In His presence, who can boast of her righteousness that is like filthy rags? I read His word, and it reads me and reveals my heart, and I am aware of my fickleness, and my utter need for Him to continuously transform me. I cry out like David did in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” and I mean it. He shows me myself, not to condemn me but to call me higher. He shows me myself and reminds me He has already offered the remedy to change me-the blood of His son Jesus. This change is continuous. Oh, I am not in despair, I am brought to tears because I realize how deeply and completely I am loved by Him! In my flaws I am loved, and He wants me to continue to come to Him so I can become who He has called me to be-it is a journey. I want to just remain in His presence because it is the safest place to be. I want to remain on the altar, making myself as a living sacrifice, so He can purify and make me look more like Him with each passing day. When God shows us who we really are and areas that He wants to refine in us, we can have one of two responses. We can deny what He has shown us and keep it moving or stop to acknowledge our brokenness and yield to being sanctified. The correct choice is obvious, but sadly it is not the one our flesh wants us to choose. Let us press to see God and as He shows us ourselves, let us make the correct choice and yield to Him transforming us.