Heavenly Parenting

Heavenly parenting:

It can be difficult trying to raise kids to walk with Jesus. One thing we’ve learned is that kids are very sensitive to the presence of the Spirit of God and can hear His voice pretty clearly.

Example, our 8 year old was introduced to Harry Potter at school. I don’t know much about Harry Potter so I didn’t know what to tell my daughter when she came home with the book and was asking about it. I knew people in the past who wouldn’t let their kids touch a Harry Potter book, so that was my first inclination. Then I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell Shaandiin to pray and talk to God about it. So that’s what I did.

She heard very clearly from God and He gave her an answer that I wouldn’t have thought of. He told her it’s ok to read the book to the point where Harry goes to the school. (Obviously God has read the book and knows each chapter 😂) So that’s what she did and that was the end of the Harry Potter discussion. We didn’t have to stress out and worry about her being tainted, nor did we have to play the Holy Spirit’s role and decide for her what to do.

If you’re raising your kids to walk with Father, Son and Holy Spirit I would encourage you to try this. This is for kids who are old enough to discern light from darkness. Start askin your kids what they think or what they feel about certain things. And if they’re unsure don’t just tell them what to think, teach them how to think and discern the heart of God in every situation. One day you won’t be around to tell them not to do something, but God will be there to guide them if they’ve been trained to hear.

Let’s raise a generation to know His voice.

Where Justice comes from

Probably the biggest cry in the hearts of people all across the globe is the cry for justice. Here in America this topic is causing many heated discussions on a daily basis.

I saw something online just yesterday that I would say was a legitimate injustice done to a black man by a white man. And let me just say I’m not usually the type to get angry over every seeming injustice done to people of my race because yes, injustice happens to people of all races. But what I saw was a legit injustice in my eyes. You can read about it here. https://babe.net/2018/05/31/matthew-martin-62918/amp

When I first saw the article I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I felt a mixture of emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, etc. But the LORD reminded me of something. When we seek justice from man, be it the police, the government, the president or whoever…we run the risk of being severely disappointed.

I believe wholeheartedly that mankind can only give complete justice when we are in touch with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is only from God that true justice comes. Here are some verses from the Bible that state this very thing: may the Lord bless you as these verses wash over your mind and spirit.

  • Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock and His work is perfect: for all his ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”
  • Psalm 17:2 “Let my vindication come from your presence…” David understood that his justice came only from God
  • Psalm 103:6 “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.”
  • Proverbs 29:26 “Many seek the ruler’s face, but justice from man comes from the Lord.”
  • Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.”

Those are just a few, but the Bible is full of promises like this. God is waiting to pour out justice on the earth. He’s waiting for us to seek His face. I know there are many who do not believe in God and that’s your own decision, but I will say this, whether we believe in Him or not does not change the truth about where justice comes from.

Grace and peace 2u

The Spiritual Kingdom

Before Jesus ascended into heaven He spent 40 Days talking to people about the kingdom of God. Imagine that! 40 days of listening to the resurrected Christ talk about His kingdom.

One of the greatest hindrances to the kingdom advancing is the idea that it hasn’t come yet. People who believe this usually say that in order to believe the kingdom has fully arrived you have to spiritualize everything. The problem with that argument is that when you read the New Testament you find that everything has been spiritualized. Here are some verses that show us that just about everything in the Kingdom is invisible and spiritual:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Ephesians 2:5-6

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

These are just a few verses that show that the kingdom of God is spiritual and invisible. The whole book of Revelation is like this. Some scholars believe that Revelation is John’s version of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (mentioned in Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21).

Trying to interpret Revelation literally will cause you to interject things from our time period, when it was written to people who lived in the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago and the cultural background is people with Old Testament Jewish roots, so the imagery is full of things Old Testament Jews would be familiar with.

If you interpret Revelation literally you’ll think that the New Jerusalem is some magical place that is way out in the future somewhere. When it’s actually a spiritual picture (an allegory) of life in the New Covenant with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Grace and peace multiplied 2u.

The end of kingdoms

One of the greatest proofs that the Bible is true and that God is not a myth is the fact that world ruling kingdoms are no more. In Haggai 2:22 God said that He was going to “destroy the thrones of kingdoms and shatter the power of the kingdoms of the nations.” Before Christ came many kings and kingdoms ruled the world throughout the centuries. In fact, there was always a kingdom that ruled the earth.

OT prophets spoke of a time when all kingdoms would be laid low and that the most powerful kingdom would be the one God’s Christ would set up.

History shows us that the greatest empire was the Roman Empire. After that earthly kingdoms would never be as great again. Their power diminished as the kingdom of Heaven invaded and advanced. Today powerful empires are not even a conversation, but they are a history lesson. The most prominent kingdom on earth now is England, which is far from ruling the world.

The Gospel (good news) of the kingdom is that we have a King who rules in love and extends grace and mercy even to those who call themselves His enemies. We all have been invited to belong to this Kingdom. All we have to do is except His invitation. The good news is that this kingdom continues forever and ever and will never be defeated (Isaiah 9).

The kingdom of heaven is viewed as a spiritual city called the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11-12, Revelation 21-22). It is inside of the hearts of those who have faith in the King and the evidence of this Kingdom is seen in how its citizens live life on earth- with love, joy, peace, hope, faith, authority, humility, etc.

Following Christ means to be part of His Kingdom. It doesn’t mean being a member of a church. Though church is an expression of this kingdom, it is not all it entails. In fact, the majority of the Kingdom should be seen in the secular world as we transform the cultures of earth to be more like heaven’s culture, which is a culture of faith, hope and love.

As we do this we will see “His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Say yes to King Jesus and be part of His everlasting kingdom!

Does God still heal?

It’s always easy to criticize people for taking risks that we ourselves are not willing to take. In Christianity one area we see this more than any is the topic of healing. People who have never participated in healing ministry often criticize those that do. The main criticism we hear is, “If they had the gift of healing then everyone they pray for would be healed.” Then they go on and mention how Jesus and the apostles healed everyone.

First, to say a person who has the gift of healing should heal everyone that comes to them is like saying a person with the teaching gift should perfectly understand the whole Bible. We all know that people who teach the Bible grow more in their gifting the more they study and the more they practice. Why don’t we apply that to all the gifts. We seem to approach the supernatural gifts with this legalistic idea that if someone has one of those gifts they can’t make any mistakes and they must have a perfect record.

This way of thinking leaves no room for Matthew 7:7 which says, “·Ask [Keep asking], and ·God will give [L it will be given]to you. ·Search [Seek; Keep seeking] , and you will find. ·Knock [Keep knocking] , and the door will open for you.” (The Expanded Bible)

Every time we pray for someone to be healed we are knocking at that door. Instead of criticizing those who pursue spiritual gifts we should humble ourselves and learn from them and realize they are stepping out in areas that take great courage. We should also be encouraged to follow in their steps because we’re all called to go after the gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1). Paul says we should “eagerly desire/ be zealous for spiritual gifts” (The Expanded Bible).

Some people have no desire to walk in the gifts and they criticize others because it makes them feel better about their lack of spiritual zeal. That’s cowardly, and there’s no room for cowards in the kingdom of God.

Don’t be a coward. Be childlike. Jesus said unless we become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. When a child sees another child with a cool toy they want to play too. When we see someone going after spiritual gifts we should want to play too and when we don’t see the door opening we should keep knocking knowing that eventually it will.

Lastly, always remember you have to grow in the gifts, whether teaching or prophesying or healing, we receive these things in seed form and God wants us to water them and create a culture inside our hearts for these things to blossom. Just trust that the Spirit will distribute to you as much as He wishes (1 Cor 12:11). We don’t actually decide how much of the gift we get, but we decide how much risk to take and how much we will trust. All glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Grace and peace 2u

Heaven inside us

This morning I woke up and like I do every morning, I made myself some delicious coffee. Then I ran into a huge problem. When I went to grab the half and half out of the fridge I couldn’t find it. This is tragic for a person who drinks about as much creamer as I do coffee. All kinds of thoughts started running through my mind: the first one was, “Where did my wife put the half n half?” Sidenote: I’m working on not blaming her every time I can’t find something. I start frantically looking through the fridge thinking, “She just bought more yesterday. Where is it?!” I’m trying to stay calm. I have to figure this out because it’s like 4:15am and I can’t go wake her up. 

Then suddenly a thought came to mind: the half n half I was looking for ran out yesterday and maybe she bought one that wasn’t the exact same brand as the one I was looking for. As soon as that thought came into my mind I found what I was looking for. I had to let go of what I thought I was searching for and open my eyes. Kind of like how Paul says, “If anyone wants to be wise let him become a fool so that he can be wise.” 

I want to share a few scriptures this morning to reveal the goodness of God and the awesomeness of living in His kingdom and in the New covenant. Before I get into it I want to say that many of us are like Old Testament saints who looked off into the distance for hope to come. Many of us are waiting for the kingdom of heaven to fall from the sky in a visible way. Jesus said “The kingdom does not come in ways that can be observed, but the kingdom is within you.” That’s what I want to draw your attention to this morning. Heaven inside of us who believe. 

Psalm 20:1-2 says

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! – Psalm 20:1-2. 

Here, help from God is seen as coming from somewhere. Help is seen coming from His sanctuary, from Zion. David is praying that God would send help from heaven. In essence that is what Zion is. Zion is the dwelling place of God. In the OT Jerusalem was called Zion because God’s presence was there. It was not the physical city that made Jerusalem Zion, but God in her. 

Now look at what Ephesians 3:20 says:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

This is beyond amazing! In the Psalms we see David crying out to God for help from heaven. Now God says He will help us according to the power that is in us. Why would he say that? Because…

I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:2-4

Zion has come down out of heaven and is inside of us who believe. This is why Hebrews 12:22 says “you have come to mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” 

Some might ask, well it says there will be no more tears, death, or pain. To that I say, in the New covenant we don’t define our lives by these things. And if we truly walk in the New Covenant and dwell in the city death is no more. Jesus said whoever believes in Him will never die. Tears are wiped away and pain is taken away because we now have the Holy Spirit to comfort us. That’s the power at work in us. It’s beyond what we can imagine! If we are not experiencing these things it doesn’t mean they’re not a reality. If we base our belief on what we experience, we bring God down to our level. There’s always more in store for us. 

Paul said in Romans 14:17 that the kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There’s no mention of tears, death or pain. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be sad or hurt. It means that in those times God will comfort you with His presence in you and you can have supernatural peace and joy when most people would have despair. That’s what it looks like to live in the New covenant city, the New Jerusalem and what it means to be a child of God. I hope you are blessed by reading this. Grace and peace 2u. 

The Spiritual Kingdom of heaven on earth: The New Jerusalem 

In the last blog I mentioned that there are  clues in the Bible about the New Jerusalem that point to its reality as a present, spritual reality and not an explanation of eternity in heaven. Heavenly things are mentioned, but I believe they’re allegorical for the kingdom of heaven on earth. 

Before jumping into Revelation 21-22 I want to take a quick look at Ezekiel’s vision of the restoration. Something to keep in mind is that Ezekiel’s vision parallels John’s vision (Revelation) in many ways. Ultimately, they were both shown prophetic visions of Jerusalem’s destruction and the New covenant city, the New Jerusalem. In chapter 40 Exekiel is shown “a structure resembling a city” (verse2). Then in verse 5 he explains it as a temple. 

It’s strange that a temple structure would resemble a city. Was he seeing a temple, or was it a city? I think but was both. The city is the new temple. When you look at art you have to take a step back to see the full picture. That’s how you properly interpret biblical visions, which are given to us like artwork. All the following details and measurements mentioned by Exekiel may have meaning, but for the sake of understanding the visions as a whole, I’m not going to focus on that now because the measurements are not the main point. 

The main point is that the city is the new temple, meaning the New Jerusalem is now God’s dwelling place on earth and no longer the physical city with the physical temple. 

In Him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 (CSB)

In the last blog I wrote about the millennium (“1000 year” reign) and how it is figurative. There are aspects of the New Jerusalem that help us see that it is also a figurative spiritual reality. 

I probably will not cover everything in this blog, but we’ll go through Revelation 21-22 to look at the aspects of the New Jerusalem to see how we are living this out on a daily basis. That is, those who surrender to Jesus and seek to advance His kingdom daily. 

In Revelation 21:1 John writes that he saw “a new heaven and a new earth.” In order to understand this statement correctly you have to put yourself in the shoes of an ancient Jewish person. To ancient Jews, “heaven and earth” was an idiom for the temple (here’s more info on that http://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/when-heaven-and-earth-passed-away-everything-changed879420187179853150181). 

If heaven and earth (aka the Jerusalem temple) had passed away, what then would be the new heaven and earth, the new temple? If you study it out you’ll find that in Jewish literature, the temple was the place where heaven and earth came together. Well, now heaven and earth come together in the children of God, the church who are individually called the temple of the Holy Spirit in the NT and the church corporately is also called God’s dwelling place in the spirit as the above verse states. 

John says that he saw the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God.” To me, that’s a picture of something gradually taking place. It wasn’t past tense, but present tense. I believe there’s a reason it was shown to John in this way. It’s like the leaven Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13 that works itself through a batch of dough until the whole thing is leavened. The leaven is the kingdom of God, the dough is the world being transformed by it. The kingdom of heaven is advancing and has been since the days of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:12). I believe it will continue to advance until the final day when Jesus does come and set His feet on the earth and summon all of the dead to awaken for judgment. Some will be resurrected to eternal life, some to eternal judgment. 

I do not think this is something that will happen imminently (any day) because I know that Jesus will return for a bride who is ready and I believe the world will be as close to heaven as it can possibly be. Jesus’ instruction for us to pray “…on earth as it is in heaven” was not just a fancy prayer. I believe that’s what He really wants, it’s what He had in the beginning and He will have it again. I’m not saying the world will be a perfect place, but the Bible tells us that the “world will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” This may sound crazy, but faith is crazy. If what we’re believing for doesn’t seem totally impossible we need to widen our perspective and realize who our God is. Jesus said, “what’s impossible with man is possible with God.” 

That’s it for now. We’ll pick up this discussion over the weekend or early next week. Grace and peace 2u.