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Living as a child of the King

The King’s Daughter

In the fall of 1940, bombs whistled through the cloudy London skies. Explosions decimated the city and left craters where homes and businesses had once stood. Thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth couldn’t hear her mother’s voice over the continual wail of the air raid sirens, but she could read her lips, “Get your coat!

Elizabeth helped her younger sister, Margaret, before wrapping her wool coat around her body. The princesses rushed from Buckingham Palace to a black car parked just outside the gate. A German bomb exploded blocks away, and Elizabeth’s ears rang as the plane that had dropped it roared overhead.

“Keep your heads down!” her mother instructed as the driver put the car in gear. Elizabeth lifted her head to peek through the window. London was on fire. Elizabeth, her sister, and thousands of other children fled the city for safety during Germany’s 57-day campaign to bomb London. This systematic attack against Britain became known as The Blitz. But Princess Elizabeth refused to cower in fear. She was the daughter of the king! She had a purpose—and things to do!


Helping Amid the Hurt

Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King George VI, was too young to join the war effort when Great Britain entered World War II. Instead, she made it a point to send out radio broadcasts and encourage the other children who had evacuated from their homes. When she turned 18, she became the first female member of the royal family to join the active-duty Armed Forces, serving as a mechanic until the end of the war.


Elizabeth, now Queen, painted a strong picture of what it meant to be a child of the king. There are specific ways that a prince or princess is expected to behave, rules for how they should carry themselves, and obligations they must fulfil. Above all, they should be a positive reflection of their father, the king, and do their best to preserve the kingdom.


Unexpected Royalty

During the 1940 Blitz on London, a German bomb landed in my grandparents’ street as they were preparing to evacuate. It failed to explode. My mother and her sister went to stay in a friends home along with thousands of other children, including Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. 


My Nana used to tell us stories of those days over afternoon tea. She used to listen to Princess Elizabeth’s radio broadcasts for encouragement, navigating the daily uncertainty of war, and mustering the courage to make it through with the confidence of a princess herself.


What if my parents were the king and queen? How would I have to behave? In what obligations would I have to invest my time? Would I grow up to be a kind and respected leader, or something quite the opposite? Would I be a positive reflection of my father, the king, and rise to the occasion to defend his kingdom when necessary? I’d probably need to be a bit less muddy and have some proper shoes, for a start.


Little did I know that I was already a prince—a true child of the King.



King of Glory

The Bible describes God as King and Lord in countless places. David says, “Our God is a God who saves. He is the King and the Lord” (Psalm 68:20, NIRV). His Son, Jesus, is “called King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

God’s kingdom is vast. It spans to the far reaches of our abilities to see and understand, and even then, we only catch a glimpse. From mountains to oceans, sprawling galaxies to clusters of atoms, to the heavenly and spiritual realms—God created it all! Heaven itself is a place with many gates and mansions, a city as brilliant as a precious jewel, with streets paved with gold. Can you imagine a place where something so rich as gold is considered as mundane as asphalt in light of God’s glory?


As humans, we are continually discovering the hallmarks of His design. But God didn’t just create the heavens and earth, wipe His hands, and walk away. Instead, He reigns over every nuance of His kingdom. How wonderful that we have a creator and King who is present and engaged!

God promises that Jesus will return and will establish His kingdom here on Earth—the way it was supposed to be before sin entered into our lives in the Garden of Eden. Are we ready for His return?


If we are His children and have a relationship with Him, we shouldn’t fear that day. God not only created us from the dust of the Earth, but He calls us to have a deep relationship with Him. What’s more, He wants to bestow incredible gifts and inheritance on us as His children. Romans 8:17 (NLT) declares, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory.”


As Children of God, We Are Royalty

Logically, it stands to reason: If children of a king are princes and princesses, then because God is King, as His children, we too are princes and princesses!

YOU are royalty in God’s family. You and your children are princes or princesses in His kingdom. See the person next to you? Or the person standing across the room? They, too, are royalty in His kingdom. If we treated everyone around us like royalty, how different would our actions be toward each other?


The problem is that not everyone recognizes that they are royalty. They’ve forgotten that they are children of God and have a royal heritage. They wander through life in rags rather than being sure of their identity in Christ. We can come alongside the people who don’t realize they are children of God and remind them who they are. And it is critical that we teach our children from an early age who they are in Christ. We must raise them to be children of the King!


Be assured that you and your children are dearly loved, deeply cherished and that God esteems you as princes or princesses in His kingdom. By teaching your kids their identity in Christ, you are teaching them that their value comes from being a child of God, not from the world.


Let's learn to live as children of the King of Kings.



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Our identity in times like these

Identifying as a Christian can be tricky, especially when living and working in a culture with an anti-Christian bias. On the one hand, it’s wise to be shrewd and patient in our witness. On the other hand, the gospel is public truth, and Christians are called to public faith.

Plus, when we don’t identify as God’s people, we risk building relationships on false foundations, and it’s only a matter of time before our true identity is revealed. Just ask Esther.


Identity Is Complicated

The book of Esther is a complicated story about identity. In its first few chapters, Esther offends almost everyone. Feminist liberals note her compliance and failure to identify as a strong woman. Religious traditionalists lament her hidden faith, which leads her to break religious laws and sleep with a Gentile who isn’t her husband.

Yet the text doesn’t allow for these interpretations. First, although Esther’s rise to power is remarkable, the author’s main issue isn’t female empowerment, but the death threat faced by God’s people. In other words, the main distinction in the book isn’t between men and women, but between Jew and Gentile.

Second, although we’re told that Esther hides her background, we’re not told why (Esth. 2:20). We don’t know her motives, only know her situation—she’s a young Jewish girl who has been conscripted unwillingly in a pagan king’s harem. The moral ambiguity of her story raises the question, “What real choice does someone in her situation have?”


Make a Choice

There comes a time, though, when Esther is forced to make a choice about her identity. Upon discovering that powerful forces are plotting to kill the Jews, Esther’s cousin Mordecai urges her to use her political connections and risk her place in the palace in order to save her people:

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esth. 4:13–14)


But Esther is afraid. Approaching the king unbidden is a capital offence forgiven only by the king and, although she’s the queen, there’s no guarantee she’ll receive his mercy. After all, he didn’t forgive the last queen, and he hasn’t slept with Esther in a month—and he hasn’t been sleeping alone.

Esther has no prophetic vision or biblical promise to claim for her safety. Without knowing the end of the story, she must decide whether or not to identify with God’s people.


If I Perish, I Perish

Yet Mordecai’s point is clear—her life may potentially be lost if she goes to the king, but it will certainly be lost if she doesn’t. Perhaps with mixed motives of self-preservation and missional calling, she replies:

Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf. . . . Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (Esth. 4:16).

In this moment, Esther goes from being a young woman making compromises to a mature queen giving orders. Her response, Tim Keller notes, is the language of identification, mission, and obedience. Mordecai’s call to action causes her to realize that she’s not in the palace for herself, but for others.


It’s Never Too Late

Some of us are in positions of influence in our culture—whether as public school teachers or public company executives—and we have to navigate questions of identity in complicated situations that might cost us. Does it matter whether anyone at work knows I’m a Christian when my faith isn’t directly related to my work? If I’m seeking a job in an industry that has an anti-Christian bias, like journalism or higher education, should I refrain from putting church volunteer activities on my résumé? Isn’t being present at a company—even if that means engaging in morally questionable activities—better than abandoning it altogether?


To answer these questions, seeing Esther as an example will crush us, but seeing Jesus as a Redeemer will save us. He’s the ultimate mediator who risks the palace and its riches to save us (Phil. 2:6–11). Going before the King, he doesn’t say “If I perish, I perish,” but “When I perish, I perish.” When he’s our security, value, and worth, we can risk the palace—positions, connections, careers, and riches—because, in him, we’re truly free. As the gospel becomes increasingly precious to us, we begin to see that these questions aren’t just about us, but about others, too. When we’re in positions of influence and open about our identification as God’s people, we can be a part of his redemption of his people.


But some of us wonder whether God can use our ambiguous moral pasts or our questionable mixed motives. As Karen Jobes writes:

Perhaps, like Esther, you have been brought to this moment in your life by circumstances over which you had no control, combined with flawed decisions you made along the way. Perhaps instead of living for God, you have so concealed your Christian faith that no one would even identify you as a Christian. Then suddenly you find yourself facing calamity. . . . Regardless of the straights you find yourself in, turn to the Lord. . . . his purposes are greater than yours.


Wherever you are right now, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10). You have certain gifts, abilities, talents, weaknesses, sufferings, and experiences that enable you to help certain people—though it may cost you. No matter how you came to power in your company, church, or organization, it’s never too late to hear and obey God’s call.


If you understand that you’re his child, then your mission isn’t for yourself, but for others. And who knows? Perhaps you have come to your position for such a time as this.



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For such a time as.....?

I re-read the Book of Esther recently. I’m amazed at the truths that I find there.


If you’re not familiar with it, Esther is a fascinating story found in the Old Testament, just after the story of Nehemiah. It’s easily read in one sitting. Interestingly, Esther is also the only Old Testament book that makes no mention of God, but it the story of some Jews and how God used one woman to save the remnant that lived in her area.


This truly is the story of a remarkable woman.


Esther’s parents died when she was young, and she was adopted by her uncle Mordecai, who loved her and was willing to challenge her thinking along the way. As it would happen, the current king, Xerxes, deposes his current wife for not appearing when he called and thus begins a search for a new queen. Beautiful young women are brought in from the whole country to see if one might be the new queen. The person in charge of these women meets Esther and shows her favour. For a year, each girl is pampered with special perfumes and food in preparation for the time to meet the king. Ultimately, Esther is chosen from among the girls as queen.


And then the real drama begins.


Haman, one of the king’s trusted advisors, decides to have all the Jews in the kingdom murdered on a certain day, and the king agrees. Uncle Mordecai goes to Esther and pleads with her to intercede on behalf of her people, the Jews.

Esther’s challenge is twofold. First, Esther has never told anyone she was a Jew and so to advocate for them is to out herself as someone the king has ordered to kill. Secondly, the king has not called for her in 30 days; to enter his presence without an invitation also risked death.


Mordecai then utters the words of Esther 4:14, which says, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"


The story of Esther continues with Esther developing a plan that would expose Haman, save the Jews, and earn her place in history.


For such a time as this

At youth camp decades ago, I was leading a group of young people and the speaker then Ian Green shared a word on "for such a time as this", in that meeting he picked me out of the crowd and prophesied church leadership over me, this was the first time God spoke which was then confirmed a number of times, and now decades later as some say the rest is history.


Talk about a life-defining moment!

From that moment until today, I have kept those words in my heart. As I’ve passed through the various ages and stages of life, I’ve remembered that I have come to this place for such a time as this.


In every stage I remember: I have come to this place for such a time as this.


What Will Your Story Be?

How would you tell your story if you knew this verse was about you?

“Who knows but you have come to this place for such a time as this!”


If you were to look at your current life situation and apply that thinking to it, how would it change your thinking? What would you do differently? How would you treat your spouse, your children, your boss, your pastor, your co-workers and more?


You have come to this place for such a time as this. God’s planning is never random; His purpose for you and your life was set in place before you were born. We’re reminded in Ephesians 1:4, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”


God created you for such a time as this, and He has a plan for you. If you know what His plan is for your life, celebrate it and share it with others. If you wonder about God’s plan for your life, check with your pastor or a trusted fellow believer.

God created you for such a time as this, and He has a plan for you.


Don’t waste a minute! Once you know, really know, that you have come to this place for such a time as this, life and relationships change! You see your life and the people you influence in a different light.


YOU have come to this place for such a time as this! Live into it!



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Be not ashamed of the Gospel

Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV): For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."


God loves us, and God is good, God is just, God is love. And He shows it every day, giving us new breath, new life, second and third chances, open doors, new opportunities, blessings and promises, gifts and talents, purpose and passion, protection and provision. Above all these things though, God gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we truly live and have salvation, redemption, freedom, deliverance, the forgiveness of sin, righteousness, peace, rebirth, life, strength, and light.


For those of us who love God, who have accepted Jesus and have surrendered our whole lives, hearts, souls, minds, and might, and will to Him; to those of us who are filled with and led by the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the goodness, grace, mercy, and love of God and have put our faith, hope, and trust in Him, the gospel is indeed "Good news," and we are not ashamed to tell it, sing it, write it, share it and spread it throughout this city, this country, these nations, this world.


We're not ashamed to read the Bible, have Bible studies or prayer meetings; we're not ashamed to quote scriptures or post verses or devotions on social media, even knowing that some folks won't "like" us or want to read or hear God's message. We're not ashamed to be labelled "holy rollers," "Jesus freaks," or "Bible lovers" because we know who we are in Christ and whose we are for eternity. We're not ashamed to be different—peculiar—unique—nor are we ashamed to align ourselves with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, when it is more popular in this generation for people to align themselves with politicians, leaders, kings, queens, celebrities--the powerful, the wealthy, and the elite.


For those of us who are sold out for God, our worship is sincere; it's for real, and it is nothing to be ashamed of--nothing to hide from our families, friends, colleagues, strangers, or acquaintances. We might not be called as preachers in a pulpit, but if we believe in Jesus, the saviour, redeemer, deliverer, healer, King of Kings and Lord of all, and we read God's word as truth, then we know that all of God's ministers are not confined to standing on a platform, giving a sermon from a pulpit, in a building made with human hands.


We are the Church as well as the body and bride of Christ, and Jesus' great commission was for his disciples--his followers--to abide in Him and in His word and to go outside the box (that seat, that building, that comfort zone) into the highways and byways, into the nations, and fish for the souls of men, women, and children.


So, if we live, we live in faith in Christ, and if we die, we die in the faith in Christ; and this means Jesus is Lord of the living and the dead. And for those of us who have surrendered our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our lives to Christ, the anointed one, and for those of us who have chosen to serve God, living for Him, leaving our comfort zones, going beyond ourselves and our boundaries, and sharing the gospel brings us no shame but give us honour and privilege for which we should thank God daily, for we believe in God, and we know in our hearts, our minds, and our souls like Paul the Apostle that to live is Christ and to die is gain.



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Choose to speak life

"As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed-the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17)


God sees potential, what do you see?


Having children is such a normal part of life that most people take it for granted. I think this is why I love Abraham so much. He faced this reality for 75 years before receiving a promise from God that he would be a father.

The promise wasn’t just that he’d have a son, as it was so much more than that: the world would be blessed through him and his descendants (Gen. 13:3). Meaning Jesus—this promise was significant. But what we often overlook is that Abraham and Sarah still had to wait 25 more years.


Can you imagine waiting 25 years of trusting in a promise before you even see a hint of it happening? That’s the hard thing about promises coming by faith (Rom. 4:16), they’re guaranteed, but when we don’t experience them right away, it’s easy to talk ourselves out of them by thinking it’s not God’s will for us.


In these next verses, Abraham shows us how to unlock God’s promises. The first critical step is that Abraham believed God.


This sounds so simple, yet it is hard when that reliant trust has to wait quietly in the background year after year. It looks passive and hopeless, and speaking from experience, people won’t understand and they’ll do their best to sway you from that trust. I imagine Abraham experienced this, too.


What helped Abraham endure 25 years of waiting?

Simply this, he believed God.


That answer sounds so simple, and yet this can be one of the hardest things to do—simply believe God when circumstances and situations are vastly different than what we are believing and hoping for.


But let’s be realistic as this belief is not passive. In fact, a few verses later states that Abraham was fully persuaded that God would do what He promised (Rom. 4:21). So there is something in having to prepare ourselves to be able to believe God and then fully persuade ourselves, but there is something we need to know about God in order to do this. We need to know God can create life where none exists, and this has to be more than intellectual knowledge, this means there’s practice involved!


Here’s a profound statement: “The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”


Take a moment to think about this scripture.

God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

God started calling Abraham a father when He made this promise to him. Sounds silly to call someone a father who is not. But God went so far as changing Abram name to Abraham, meaning “Father of Many.” All of this happened while he was still childless. He called something out in Abraham that didn’t exist and spoke of it as if it had already happened—we’re talking past tense when the future was still unwritten!


This is so counterintuitive. How many of us when sick would dare say we were well? It seems like a lie to say such a thing! But isn’t this how God’s has always operated? He always looks and speaks of things as if they were already done.

God spoke the world into existence. Genesis says that the earth was formless, empty, and dark until God spoke, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:1-2). 


From the beginning of time, God starting speaking of a Messiah in the same way:

  • To the serpent God spoke and said, there is One coming to crush you (Gen. 3:15).
  • To Isaiah, God spoke and said, a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son called Immanuel (Isa. 7:14).
  • To Mary, God spoke and said, you will be with child and He will save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).


Then John records the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). God took all of those spoken words and used them to create life inside Mary!

All of this took hundreds and hundreds of years, but it was God’s plan from the very beginning (1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8). God’s creative power comes through “Words that give life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”


Where are you sick and in need of healing but speaking death over the situation instead of life?


Do you have a loved one who needs help, but instead of speaking life, you speak hurtful, damaging words to them?


Proverbs says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21). Our tongues like our words have power. We can speak death and destroy all chances of hope or we can start speaking life in order to plant seeds of hope and give them a chance to grow (and we’ll need hope, as that’s going to be an important part of unlocking God’s promises in the next verses, Rom. 4:18).


I believe Abraham took a cue from God and did this as well as a way to start believing God’s promise to Him.


For 25 years, he had to call himself, Abraham, meaning “Father of Many.” He had to tell everybody to call him Abraham. How awkward. I once knew a person who changed her name from Sarah to Daisy and it was so weird having to address her by a new name. I’m sure this is how people viewed Abraham, too—weird!

But every time Abram introduced himself as Abraham, he was agreeing with God that he would be the father of many regardless of the circumstances. My friends, this is hard to do.


I struggled with this, too. It seems like a lie to say something out loud that is not true and more than that is impossible. We call it denial and yet this is the first step Abraham took in unlocking God’s promise to him—he believed in God. He believed Him in such a way that he started calling himself the “Father of Many” because he understood that God creates life where none exists through the power of words.


Wow! What if we tried this in our own lives?

It doesn’t even have to be for something miraculous and earth-shattering, but what if we started speaking about ourselves what God says about us? So instead of saying, “I’m worthless, I’ll never amount to anything, I am broken and sinful,” perhaps we can use the words of Jesus that calls us friends of God (John 15:15), or the words of Paul who tells us we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21).


What if we made this a lifestyle change so when it comes to something like cancer or infertility or broken estranged relationships, we have practised speaking life into these situations and we have a long history of witnessing the faithfulness of God to create life where only death reigns.


Remember Abraham took 25 years to fully persuade himself God would do what he promised. For me, it has taken many years to see some promises fulfilled, so don’t get discouraged, stay hopeful, and condition your heart to start trusting in God’s promises found in the scriptures. Remember “promises come by faith so that they may be by grace and may be guaranteed...” (Rom. 4:16a).


I write this to encourage you. Start practising today! Identify one place you are hopeless and in need of God’s help. Find a promise in scripture and start speaking life into all situations and guess what—faith will come (Rom. 10:17). Whatever you do, stay hopeful!


Make sure you stay tuned. Abraham has a lot to teach us about waiting, promises, and faith. Believing God and speaking of as if things are already done is the first step, but there’s more. The rest of Chapter 4 gives us so many details in seeing the promises of God come to pass.


As Yasmin encouraged this week, lets speak life, lets speak creatively, lets use our tongues for good.



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Letters that say - Your Kingdom come

Have been focused on a line in The Lords Prayer - Your Kingdom Come.


Jesus spent a lot of His time telling us about The Kingdom of God, let us explore this today.


The Kingdom of God Is Progressing


The kingdom of God is going to burst forth in a new heaven and a new earth.

When we pray "Your kingdom come," we are also praying for the fulfilment of the kingdom by the return of Christ and the restoration of all things. The Lord said, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea" (Revelation 21:1).


"He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!' Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true" (Revelation 21:5).


And Paul wrote of that day,

"Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24).


Men of goodwill differ on how this will play out. I only say that He came once and He is coming again. He will appear in the heavens and bring with Him all those who have died in Christ. Their very bodies will be raised from the dead, and body and soul, they will be caught up with Christ forever. Those living, likewise, shall be transformed. Christ shall judge all men in that day, and the kingdom will come in its fullest as all men name Jesus as Lord of lords and King of kings. Then, says Paul, Jesus shall hand over the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all. This is the consummation of the kingdom.


I do not understand the fullness of what this means any more than I can fully comprehend Eden. But I know that when I pray "Your kingdom come," I am praying for the realization of the kingdom of God.


And this is the prayer that is changing the world. It is a prayer that is crying out for that which C.S. Lewis captured so well in his book The Last Battle:


All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; now, at last, they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.


This is what we are praying for.


The Kingdom of God Is Responsive


The kingdom of God comes through prayer.


The very fact that Jesus instructs us to pray for the kingdom to come shows that His rule and reign in our lives and in our world is dependent upon our prayers. This is revolutionary in its self, but true. The kingdom will come through prayer itself. God ought to be able to bring in His kingdom without me, and He can. But he desires that I pray for it. Prayer becomes the engine of the kingdom of God.


When we pray, "Your kingdom come," we are praying for faith to see what is not yet here.


The Kingdom of God Is Personal


The kingdom of God is a present reality that requires your response.

We have learned what the Bible says about the kingdom of God and how this one prayer is literally changing the world. But this prayer is also the gospel for you who need forgiveness. It is the prayer for you, believer, whose soul has unconquered territories — citadels of resistance — that must give way to the loving rule of Jesus Christ. The teaching of the kingdom is imminent, immediate, personal, and urgent and requires your response today.


Joshua, the leader of Israel, had seen the opposing kingdoms and was concerned that Israel be faithful to God.


"Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:14-15).


Who among us will pray, "Your kingdom come" and really pray it with your very soul — to believe that Christ is answering? To do so is to pray a prayer that will change your world.


Let us pray your KIngdom come.

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A blog from the Apostle Paul....?

Epistles are a special-format letter found in the cultures of the ancient near east during biblical times. In other words, this genre of letter-writing was intended to be shared for a particular audience and isn’t only found in the Bible.


Epistles are letters written to an individual, group, or public audience. Some have made a distinction between ancient letters and epistles. Technically, a letter was written to a specific person or person and not for the public in general. In contrast, an epistle was an artistic literary form that was intended for the public.


A letter is generally regarded as a communication of a private, personal, confidential nature whereas an epistle is of a general nature, addressed to all whom it may concern, and intended to be made public. This distinction may be retained for the Bible, although quite a number of the New Testament Epistles contain those intimate touches which are proper to a letter. On the other hand, since the letters are a part of divine revelation they are now of interest to all men.


Given that language and words are elastic in meaning, I think there are enough similarities to say that emails are the digital counterpart to letters and blogs are the digital counterpart to epistles. Letters and emails are basically written from person to person, typically a private correspondence, with occasional formal letters that may be issued as an invitation to events, or to manage a business or legal transactions.


So I am treating this blog, to be a letter to the church, to be shared and talked about (so please feel free to do so)


Writing epistles and blogs are generally intended for a group and/or a more public audience, with flexibility in a blog’s technology to set privacy settings for private blogs or to push a blog post out more explicitly as an “open letter.” Compare the general elements in an epistle and a blog post:


Epistle

  • name of the writer (ex. Paul)
  • name of recipients (ex. church of God in Corinth)
  • greeting (ex. Grace and peace to you. . . )
  • prayer, wish, or thanksgiving (ex. I always thank God for you. . . )
  • body of letter
  • final greetings and farewell


Blog post

  • Title of blog post
  • Author
  • Tags
  • Categories
  • Body
  • Excerpt
  • Footer—add a comment or share


Since a publishing house or printing press wasn’t invented yet, the apostle Paul and other authors wrote epistles to share important and meaningful information with others and it’s been passed on (through publishing) for generations. Similarly, blog posts are shared through social media, to reach many more people than just the initial recipients or subscribers.


Okay, it’s not a perfect one-to-one correspondence between epistles and blogs, but I think the similarities are worth noting.


Cindy Brandt noticed this too, albeit with a little fun irreverence, in her blog post (that also was published at Huffington Post), titled What If the Bible Were Written Like a Blog:


It’s fascinating how literary conventions evolve. Language truly is the basic building block for culture, and how we communicate matters almost just as much as what we say. The blogging enterprise has certainly changed the convention of print, to the point where new phrases and grammar rules are being invented and thriving. Being a faith blogger, I thought it’d be appropriate to imagine what the Bible would’ve been like if it had been written during the blogging era. Just a little bit of irreverent fun to balance out all the Important Issues.


If you have something to say, writing a blog post rather than publishing a book can be an effective way to share your ideas with the world. And when those words are connected to the wisdom of God, found in the Bible, they could have eternal impact for many generations, just like the epistles.


What if the Bible, at least the books known as epistles, were translated and written as blog posts? How would that affect our interaction and engagement with the Bible?




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Go and do likewise

“Go and do likewise,” Jesus directed after he finished the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:37 NIV). What is the likewise we’re going and doing? Showing mercy.


The world today is in desperate need of mercy—in need of God’s blessing, divine favour, and compassion. All we have to do is turn on the news to see the effects of offenders who terrorize others, spread prejudice, incite fear, and kill innocent children of God (Dallas, Orlando, France, Turkey, ad infinitum). And this can easily make us angry. We may feel the need for vengeance. We may want to punish or even destroy the perpetrators. But what example do we want to set for our children? What type of world do we want for them?


In no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that we skip out on justice or ignore terrorists of any kind. Indeed, we must stand up to them with moral courage and might so that we stop them. We must defend our right to a peaceful existence. There are reasons for laws—safeguarding life, liberty, human dignity, harmony. What I’m addressing is how we respond as individuals in our own lives, homes, spheres of influence—how we can show mercy.


Mercy, as it applies to humanity, is “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power … compassionate treatment of those in distress” (Merriam-Webster). Another way of thinking of mercy is being kind to those whose actions aren’t “deserving” of kindness or giving people a second chance.


It would seem easy to treat those in distress with mercy, but not necessarily. Jesus’ Samaritan was an outcast. The Jews were prejudiced against the Samaritans at that time, so why should a Samaritan show any compassion to the distressed Jew who had been beaten and left for dead? Why indeed? Because he was a fellow human. He was not a race, not a religion, not a political party, not even an enemy. The Samaritan saw this downtrodden man as a man, just like himself. A man in need of mercy.


It is this ability to show mercy, compassion, forbearance, tenderness, attentive care to those in distress, as well as to offenders, that Jesus tells us to emulate. Are we doing likewise? Are we following Jesus’ example? What are our children seeing us do?


When children talk back, fight, throw tantrums, lie, rebel, or do any of the various things children may do, what is our response to their distress call? Do we yell, lash out at them, try to teach them a lesson with forms of punishment? Isn’t that saying that it’s okay to yell, lash out, and punish others with anger? That doesn’t mean we let them off the hook for what they’ve done. It’s how we treat them that matters. The law/rule doesn’t change, but how we enforce limits and laws makes all the difference in the world.


Punishment, angry outbursts, vitriolic words and actions just continue the cycle of violence. But mercy, empathy, compassion have the power to lift us out of the vicious cycle and enable us to start over on the basis of respect. Just think about what a compassionate, empathetic response might do for the one who injured us. It may be hard to show kindness to those who are unkind to us. But is there really any other Christian, Christ-like, alternative?


Jesus declared: “I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27, 28 NLT). Jesus led by example. He didn’t say one thing and do another. When he got nailed to the cross, he forgave: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV).


Are we doing likewise? Are we compassionate to our children who, when they act out in anger are acting out their pain and are in desperate need of mercy and love? Are we patient and calm, even silent, when someone attacks our integrity or identity with insults and lies? Are we taking responsibility for whatever is our part in the conflict and also helping the others heal whatever is making them angry by responding with respect, mercy, and love?


The very nature of our world and its existence depends upon our ability to “go and do likewise,” to show mercy, to treat others with kindness even if they don’t act kindly. Our children’s future depends upon us making the merciful choice and making it now.



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Made to be more like Christ

It is only four letters, but most of us know what the abbreviation stands for – WWJD – what would Jesus do? But do you know when that slogan first became so popular? In fact, the current WWJD popularity started almost exactly one hundred years after the first.


When Charles Sheldon became the preacher of Central Congregational Church of Topeka, Kansas in the 1890’s, the church board told him he had to preach two sermons a week. Sheldon preferred that they cancel the Sunday evening service. It was supposed to be primarily a youth service, but hardly anyone came. The board didn’t change their mind so Sheldon adopted Plan B. Instead of preaching a typical sermon, Sheldon decided to tell a story. Each Sunday evening he would tell an episode in an on-going fictional drama. He would end each episode with a cliffhanger designed to draw the young people back to find out what happened next. Eventually, a growing throng of young adults crowded the Central Church sanctuary to listen to Sheldon’s tale. By the time he brought the story to a close, the preacher had spun thirty-one episodes.


In 1896, the story was picked up and ran as a weekly series in a popular religious newspaper of the time. When In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do came out in book form, it swept the world like wildfire. It has sold over thirty million copies making it the most widely published religious fiction book of all time. The book recounts the stories of the people who decided to take that question seriously. A newspaper editor, an actress, musicians, businessmen, parents, students, labourers—all wrestle with the challenge of putting their faith in Christ into practice by asking themselves what Jesus would do before they made any decision. Some succeeded. Some didn’t. All were changed. The title for Sheldon’s book and the idea behind the WWJD slogan comes from 1 Peter 2:21

 

God is more interested in who you are than He is in what you do. We define ourselves by our jobs, our homes, our wealth, our education, our friends. But these are secondary issues. When you die, you won’t take your career to heaven; but you will take your character. Are you becoming more and more like Jesus? God is far more interested in our character than in our comfort – in our holiness than our happiness. The process that He uses to make us like Jesus is called discipleship.

What is a disciple? To be a true Christian – to be a real Christian – means that I am living a life of following Jesus. He takes a step and He leaves a footprint and I put my foot where His was.


Christ… suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. I Peter 2:21


Following Jesus means that Jesus is my pattern. Jesus is my example. I walk in His steps. I say what He would say. I do what He would do. I live how He would live. I go where He would go. I act how He would act. I think how He would think. I feel how He would feel. Christ-likeness –putting my feet where His would be.


To become more and more like Jesus, I will follow Him…


1. … in my relationships.

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. II Timothy 2:2

Paul disciples Timothy. Timothy disciples faithful followers. Faithful followers disciple others. Who’s my Paul? Who’s my Timothy?


2. … in my experiences.

God uses every single experience we have to disciple us. But the types of experiences God uses that I want to mention today are painful experiences. Every problem in your life has a purpose. Like a sculptor, God seeks to chip away everything in our lives that keeps us from looking like Jesus. God uses problems to make you like Jesus.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:28-29


3. … in my practices.

Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. I Timothy 4:7b-8


Practices that produce spiritual fitness…

Worship, including public and private forms of worship

Fellowship, including accountability

Discipleship, including Bible intake and prayer


As Rick Warren says, “We can’t watch television for three hours, then read the Bible for three minutes” and expect to become more and more like Christ. No. That’s just going to make us more and more like the world. “The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the son of God.”


I want to emphasize something that the Bible makes very clear. Christ-likeness does not happen because of imitation, but because of inhabitation. You say, “What do you mean by that?” We cannot become like Christ because we try hard. That’s trying to change from the outside in. It won’t work. We can become like Christ because He lives in us and seeks to live His life through us. That’s changing from the inside out. That’s what works.


For this is the secret: Christ lives in you. Colossians 1:27

 

“Wouldn’t it be better if you pray, Make me like Jesus?” After thinking about it for a few seconds, the man looked up and asked, “Is he like Bill?” We are to so live that our very lives magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. People are to see Jesus in us!



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Made for Purpose

Do you ever feel like life just isn’t working – like life is happening to you, not for you? I know all too well that when complacency sneaks in, it can leave you feeling disempowered, overwhelmed and stuck in so many areas of your life.

So, how do you find balance when life feels out of whack?


The answer: practice intentional living the way God designed.

While there are many coaches and experts who’ll teach you how to live intentionally, most do so from a worldview that leaves spirituality out. I would argue, however, that our being does not make sense apart from the context of God.

Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”


So with that in mind, we are going to examine how you can live intentionally, but we’re going to do it while looking to scripture, God’s Living Word.


What Is Intentional Living?

Literally, intentional living means to live on purpose or to live deliberately with an aim or a plan. It’s about taking a stand for what you believe and pursuing a life that honours those beliefs. That looks like taking leadership of your life rather than coasting on auto-pilot and it requires you to let go of the belief that you’re a victim and life is the sum of your circumstances. 


A definition is that intentional living is co-authoring your life with the Creator of the universe (God) to make your highest contribution to yourself and the world.


Finding Your Purpose

In all of my experience with personal development books, podcasts, courses, and seminars, everything seemed to point to one underlying question: what is your life for? 


When talking about living intentionally though, most of the experts didn’t address that question head-on. Instead, they share tactics and strategies like…


  • How to change your attitude and make better decisions
  • How to find happiness and live with fewer regrets
  • How to “find your why”


While there’s nothing inherently wrong with exploring those ideas, to me, it makes more sense to first identify God’s purpose for your life and allow that to shape your approach to life. (After all, the very definition of intentional living is living with purpose.)


But I also understand that finding your distinct purpose can feel a lot like hunting for unicorns. It seems that at every new phase in life, this question is staring you in the face as if you still don’t have it figured out.


I believe that your life’s purpose will become clear as you begin living intentionally – God’s way.


1. Know God & How He Works

Since you’re designing your life together with God, you need to know His character, His promises, and His plans. 


God desires an intimate relationship with us but we are separated from him in sin. It is through our repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21) that we can restore our relationship to God and experience life to the full (John 10:10).

God has given us the Bible.


In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”


In Romans 12:2 we are commanded, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


It is through a daily practice of reading God’s word, prayer, worship and being involved in a community of believers that we begin to know the Creator of the universe on a personal, experiential level. 


2. Set Your Intention (Goal Setting)

The next step to living an intentional life is to set your intention (or set some goals). That brings us back to the underlying question: What is your life for? 


What do you want to achieve? How are you going to contribute to the world? Life is short, so how are you going to make the most of it?


When I was trying to do it on my own, I noticed that goal setting apart from the context of God meant… 


  • Writing down your dreams and desires 
  • Aligning your energy with your desire to manifest it into reality
  • Creating vision boards
  • Thinking positive


This practice was all about imposing my own will and was completely self-focused. So I did a little research and found that the Bible takes a very balanced approach to goal setting. 


  • In Proverbs 6:6-11 we’re warned against being lazy and failing to plan. 
  • In Proverbs 21:5, it stresses the importance of planning wisely. 
  • In 2 Chronicles 15:7, it encourages us to be strong and not to give up for our work will be rewarded.  

But look what James 4:13-16 says, 

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”


Did you notice the warning against making plans apart from God? 

This isn’t the only place you’ll find this theme in scripture. Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 19:21 all share a common message – we can make plans, but ultimately, it’s the Lord who establishes our steps.  


So when it comes to setting goals, remember, it isn’t just about you. If you’re up for a goal-setting exercise, grab a piece of paper have a go.



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