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Devotions in The Kingdom of God






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The Treasure Within the Kingdom of God, at Barnes & Noble and all major online bookstores throughout the globe:









1. Abiding In Christ


Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5 (NKJV)

     In.

     Everything that means anything is "in". In is a place. When we abide 'in' Him, it is in that place where He is. Webster's definitions of 'in' include - contained, or, enclosed by, inside; wearing, clothed by; during the course (done in a day); being a member of, or worker at (in the Navy, in business); amidst, surrounded by; engaged, or occupied by (in a storm); as a part of the capacity or function of, belonging to; living or located at. This just mentions a few of the definitions given. But, the point is clearly made here. When we are 'in' Christ, we are contained by Him, enclosed by Him. When we are 'in' Christ, we are a member of Him, surrounded by Him. When we are 'in' Christ, we belong to Him, we live where He lives. It is in Him that we move, and have our very being. All wisdom and spiritual understanding is 'in' Him. (Colossians 1:9). When we are 'in' Him, we have been conveyed into the Kingdom of of the Son of His love., v. 13, "in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." All is at His disposal, and all of this is for us because of His blood being shed on Calvary.
     Where would you rather be, in the place of your flesh, in the stresses of your mind, or, would you rather be dwelling 'in' Christ, abiding and living in Him?
"All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."  (Colossians 1:16-17, NKJV).
     If 'in' Him all things consist, which is my true reality, why then do I try to live outside of Him and His will? Submission is the key here. Simply diving into Him, and staying there. Dive into the pool of His Spirit, where the waters are deep, and let Him enclose you, encapsulate you, surround you fully and completely.
     "For it pleased the Father that 'in' Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on the earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Col. 1:19-20, NKJV). So, when we dive into Him, we die to ourselves, but are raised into life because of the blood of the cross.
     Faith is 'in' Him. Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Again, it is not I who lives , but Christ Who lives in me. That is the mystery that Paul talks about, Colossians 1:27, "...Christ in you, the hope of glory."
     'In' is definitely a place. It is that secret place that is His dwelling place, and the exciting thing here is that in our abiding 'in' Him, He promises to abide 'in' us. He lives in us. (John 15). We are made perfect 'in' Him, Col. 1:28. He does the work, He has done the creating, and He continues to do so in us, v. 29. 'In' Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. 2:3.
     We have spent so many of our days seeking our own wisdom and over-analyzing the stresses of our lives that we think and think, and consult with our minds, or, with the minds of others. We take our troubles seriously and carry heavy burdens of financial responsibilities, guilt from our past sins, the troubles of yesterday, today, and the worries of tomorrow. When, the very Word of God implores us to relinquish all of this at His feet, "...casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7, NKJV).
     Being 'in' Him doesn't remove us from the world, for we still live on this earth, and it doesn't exonerate us from any of our responsibilities, but what it does do is this - He does the work 'in' us. He carries the load. The battle is the Lord's. He fights the fight. A dead man has no worries. A dead man has no troubles. Everything has been made by Him and it is 'in' Him that we move and have our being. So, then, everything is His, including all of these troubles that we claim to be our own.
     We actually take up so much trouble that is not our own, that we become busybodies to ourselves; we cripple ourselves with self-indulgent pain created in the membranes of our minds. Think about it. When you get a telephone call from someone with debilitating news...what is your first response? Thought after thought shoots through your brain. Adrenaline begins to pump through your body. Oxygen becomes scarce in your lungs. Your blood is racing through your veins. Perhaps you choke from the oppression, perhaps you only blink. You gulp, and take a deep breath. Fear, false evidence appearing real, has encapsulated your mind, and is set to take over your body. What do you do then?
     What happens when you have done it again, gone and spent more money than you should have, and you cannot pay the bills that have been staring at you from the stack on your shelf? 'Why have I gotten myself into this mess again?' you ask yourself. It can be any mess. It can be financial, social, family, the careless words spoken in anger, or in fear. Doubt creeps in about my own salvation, 'How could I, if I'm saved, do the things I do?' 'Why do I keep doing the same things over and over again?' 'Isn't this Christ thing supposed to be real?'
     And to that I say an emphatic, 'YES!' It is real and can be for you. Abiding in Him, living in Him, breathing in Him has to become our life. He becomes the air that you breathe. He surrounds you with air, He breathes life into you, and you breathe Him out again. It is this air that sets you free, and enables you to breathe freely and unencumbered by the cares of this world. You are still in the world, but find yourself unaffected by its troubles. For 'in' Him, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. He then is our hope, our deliverer, our source of all wealth. He is our strength. He is my rock and the God of my salvation. He is all in all.
     So then, because of the work that He is doing in us, it becomes easier for us to 'put off' the deeds of the flesh: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language from our mouths, and lying, which are the deeds of the 'old man'. (Colossians 3:6-9). We take off those old clothes and let them drop at His feet, and His work that works within us puts new clothing on/in us: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, forgiving one another...putting on love which is the bond of perfection. And the peace of God will rule in our hearts. (Col. 3:12-15).
     Consider this...it is like diving into a pool of perfect spiritual love, and the moment your body hits the water, you are immediately cleansed of all that was, all that is, and all that will ever be. You are completely washed in His blood. His grace washes every part of your spirit and when you come up for air; the very air that you breathe is the vapor from the water that has cleansed you. You are clean without and clean within.
     You drink a cup and are filled on the inside with the same water that so refreshingly covers your flesh. You stay in the pool, and as long as you stay in the pool, you know that all of your needs are going to be met, 'according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus', Philippians 4:19. 
     As long as you stay in the pool, you know that you are 'no longer anxious for anything, but in prayer you have made all of your requests known to Him, and His peace, which passes all understanding, guards your heart and your mind through Christ Jesus', Philippians 4:6-7. As long as you stay in the pool, you think about things that are lovely, pure, holy, just and true. As long as you stay in the pool, the peace of God is 'in' you and covers you.
     It is at this time that the world, and even religion, looks at you through their eyes and asks,'Why don't you do something, just do something...?' And, all the while, you actually are doing something, you are being in Him.     
  











2. The Door to the Kingdom












Luke 9:62 – ‘But Jesus said to him, “No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Oftentimes we look to our experiences as our guide as to whether we have accomplished a thing, or not. We look back to what we once were, realizing now that we are something different, but not exactly what the Lord is expecting. So, we go back to our ‘experience’, and say, ‘God saved me at this point, so, I know I’m saved. I’m still doing the things I used to do, but I know He saved me, I have the experience to prove it.’ Indeed. What then are we relying upon? Are we relishing in the misconception of a skewed imagination, or, are we vibrantly abiding in the truth? What is the truth anyway, isn’t it what we make of it, our own self-interpretations?

When Jesus said that He is ‘the way, the truth and the life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Me’ (John 14:6), He was proclaiming unequivocally what the real Truth is, and that is Him. Jesus is the Truth. We have to maintain a course of Truth by abiding in and looking to our Lord in all things. We cannot trust our experiences, but we can trust our Lord. It is even this for a Kingdom believer. We must know who the door to the Kingdom is, not, where it is, but who it is, and how we enter into it. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7: 13,14).  “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to you, will seek to enter and not be able.” (Luke 13:24). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:24).

If we keep looking for the location of the door, we will continue to think that it is something that we can accomplish on our own. ‘I found the door, and this is when I found it, and that’s all there is.’ We will be looking for a time, or a place, that we can see, or touch, or remember, that ultimately we come to rely on as our ‘experience’. If we continue to seek the location of the door, we will keep on going from church house to church house in search of that one thing that in all actuality, you can never find…the perfect experience. You say, ‘I’ll know when I’ve found it.’ So, then, you come to rely on yourself and your interpretation of a perceived experience. Is that faith, or self-reliance?

This is perhaps why so many folk give up after a while in their Christian walk. In our minds we believe we have accomplished something by finding the right door. Then, when the trials of life occur, whether in storms, or even, in prosperity, we look to our current experience and decide that God must not be in this thing because I should be prospering, or not going through this bad experience. We think, ‘God has left me and is not taking care of me, why should I trust in something I cannot see?’ Or, just as severe, we become blessed in His presence, and we think that it is something that we have done, and we no longer need Him, for we have His blessing, thinking, ‘that’s all I really wanted anyway.’ In that, we walk away from Him. This flies in the face of faith itself, we want to trust in ‘our’ faith, and when push comes to shove, we become faithless. ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ (Hebrews 11:1).  What is it that we are supposed to do then, when all hell breaks loose around us and we go to wondering and screaming, ‘God, where are you?’
Sickness and death crouch at the door to our hearts. Financial woes due to bondage suffocate the very life of our existence and we think, ‘I gave my life to Christ, why is He doing this to me?’ Or, worse, we think that the devil has his hand in the matter and we blame everything on him, and say, ‘What’s the use, I just can’t win no matter what I do!’


If I have truly come to the right door, Jesus, the Christ, and have denied myself, ‘checked myself at the door’, ‘left all behind’, and have walked into the kingdom freely under His blood drenched door (Exodus 12:23) knowing that it is He who has saved me and nothing that I have done (Ephesians 2:8); I walk about in His kingdom setting my hand to His plow (His work to be accomplished in my life)  and never looking back to my old life (2 Corinthians 5:17), or even my experiences, (ie., the day He saved me), then, and only then do I come to the realization that it is He who has done all these things. And it is He who will keep on doing all these things (Philippians 1:6) to keep me in Him. I am His and nothing can separate me from the love of God, ‘For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38,39).

‘In’ is a place. The place is the kingdom of God. I abide ‘in’ Him. I rest ‘in’ Him. I walk about ‘in’ His Kingdom, having set my hand (my work) to His plow, and His plow does the work. The Word is the seed. He knows the soil, and He plows the soil. I hang on for His dear life for where He is taking me, I do not know. But this I do know…I am in His kingdom and His kingdom is in me (Luke 17:21). He is His kingdom. He is the very life that I live and the air that I breathe. He is larger than air, however, for He says, ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.’ (Isaiah 66:1). How great a God is He in whom I can depend, for I am no longer. ‘I have been crucified with Christ (checked at the door); it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith (not by my experiences) in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine).

So I do not trust in myself, my experiences, my past, or my perceived future. I trust in Him. In Christ alone…in Christ alone. 




 

3. Pervasive Penetrating Presence











Pervasive, all encompassing, penetrating, through and through, Presence.   The Holy Presence of God…is.  Am I absorbed by myself, or, will I yield this moment, this life, to wait in His Presence.  I must take the first step and find that He is with me all the while.  I acknowledge Him, He is here.  He is risen in me.  I am no more.  The pervasive atmosphere of spiritual Presence is inhaled.  The air is thick with power.  He is calmness and peace, in Him there is no darkness at all.  I love You, Lord.  I wait on You, Master.  My heart is the pen of a ready writer.


Ready to write Your will, ready to be here with You. What shall We do today?  Where shall we go?  The plans that you have laid up for me are now in the seen.

        Father, do not let my eyes fail me, nor let my ears hear anything but what You are saying. Your Word is Truth.  Let Truth be draped around my head; Your Truth guard my heart.  Lord, let Your peace guide my steps today and be as honey from my mouth.  I accept You and receive.

        Your water washes my eyes as your blood cleanses my heart.  Your blood flows through my veins; I breathe You in.  In the stillness, in the quiet I rest in You and await the dawn.  Your son has risen over Your creation.  You live…in me.

        Utter through your servant today the love that is only possible in you.  Proclaim the impossible.  Create and re-create.  Let this vessel be transparent in your sight so that you are seen, heard, and felt.  Love through this vessel as You have loved outside of time.  Prevail, O God.  You are.

        Let the dark side not be seen; let it be vanquished forever.  Become evident in this vessel.  Let me never doubt Your pervasive penetrating Presence dispels all darkness. 

I thank You.  I love You.







4. Walk With God



         Living relationship; living communion

Nevertheless I am continually with you; You hold me by my right hand.  You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart

And my portion forever.  For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;  You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.

But it is good for me to draw near to God;  I have put my trust in the Lord God.  That I may declare all Your works.  (Ps. 73:23-28)



        The uninterrupted Presence of God is presented as a miracle, but need not be.  In the walking with God, the uninterrupted Presence of God is the common-place being with Him, Who He, above all, is uncommon.  It has become uncommon to walk with God, or has it?  There have been few men in the history of the earth who have walked with God.  Is it possible for me to follow in the line of men who have set their face towards God, not looking away, but being continually with Him.  I know when I do, and I know when I do not, it is always a choice.  Distractions always come, however, the distractions are a part of life, and need not deter us from our focus.  Focus is a choice.

        My claim to my right to myself is a choice.  I will choose my right to choose, or I will not.  The denial of self is not only the first requirement, it is required continually.  There is a point in time when I no longer look to pick myself back up, but after having continually presented all to Him; why would I go back to what has been burned up?

        No one knows but God what has been burned up and left behind, even my future.  It is a wonderful thing to believe in a God who can forgive and erase a past of sin and horrible experiences; but it is also a wonderful thing to trust in One so dearly that all of your future plans are burned up as well and it is to be said of you and of me, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.”  (Gen. 6:22)     



5. Theory or Practice



        “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24)

        “This is the genealogy of Noah, Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations, Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9)

        It is truly a different kind of life of the one who walks with God in practice, in word and deed, as opposed to the one who merely says that he does.  For to walk with God in Truth, is to literally walk out a continual life of faith never forgetting who is walking with you and, all the while, knowing that He is in control.  It is His plans that I choose to follow; His path is my path, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; I know that You are with me.  You comfort me in and through all things.

        The promises of God are in His Presence.  In Him, every promise is fulfilled. I choose to believe that.  The person who needs to be convinced is the one who lacks faith relationship.  I know by experience.  I know by faith. I have walked my own paths…alone.  I know the difference.  The fascinating thing about the theory, or practice of walking with God is that trouble, trial, temptation, and tribulation are all involved for the one who chooses to walk with God, as well as, the one who chooses not to.

        It is where the inner man meets God in the secret place and doesn’t leave Him there where theory turns into practice.  Have I met God?  Have I soared on the wings of eagles to the heavenly places where I am seated and rested in His peace?  Have I chosen to abide there, to live there, no matter what comes against me?  When I daily choose to walk with God, it is very possible to be chastised, belittled, disrespected, and/or persecuted and plausibly be allowed to come from His hand.  Will I still walk with God through it?  He has promised to never leave me, or forsake me; is my faith synonymous with His promise?  Can I promise Him to not leave Him?  Is that a vow I should not make?  Otherwise, the cock may crow three times before the day is through and I will have forsaken Him all the while.

        When I go into the court of worship and make my commitment to adore Him, be with Him, and do what He says, but then, I leave Him there, going my own way, my walk is only in theory, a lie and a sham.  In this, I am the hypocrite.  The religious facade has its hold on me,  a religious stronghold that is not easily broken.  James said: “I prove my faith by my works.”  Can I walk out this faith life with Him all the day long, and not just for an hour, or so, once a week?  The latter is not real.

        The practice of walking with God endures the trial of the faith.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you, but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy…”  I Peter 4:12-13          

        The problems arise when we don’t get the “victory” that we believe we were promised at the altar, then we want to quit, and say, “This doesn’t work!”  When what you were promised at the altar, if it was truly from God, was a spiritual, “heavenly places type of victory” that you will only attain in your proper seat in the heavenly realm.

        We get so caught up in our religious trappings that we think everything is going to be all right one day, and it isn’t…Jesus was beaten, and crucified, John was beheaded.  Stephen was stoned, Paul was continually persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, and killed.  Where is the trial of your faith?  Is it in your selfish ambitions?  Is it in anything other than Him?  Where did “you” leave “Him”?

        I will acknowledge Him in all of my ways, and He will direct my paths.

 (Prov. 3:6)  In every way and in every path that I am led of Him, it may take longer, it may mean difficulty and dealing with mean people, but the still waters are there for me to rest in.  It is in the still waters of Him that I have peace and contentedness.

“For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.  Then I will give them a heart to know Me; That I am the Lord; and they shall be My people and I will be their God, For they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”  Jeremiah 24:6-7




6. What Shall I Speak This Day?



If you spend much time at all with a person, and truly listen to what they have to say, it won’t take long to surmise many things about that person. If you allow them to speak their minds, their hearts will be revealed all the while. Proverbs 4:23-24 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.”    So, as I listen to others, I get a sense of their heart. I get a sense of their maturity, their intelligence, their sympathies, what makes them ‘tick’; what drives a man will eventually spill out through his mouth.

We often get disturbed by the extreme in people. If someone is overly hateful, we disdain it. If someone is passionately zealous about a good thing, it usually bothers us just the same. The older I get, the more I continue to come to the realization that I really do not know a whole lot, thereby causing me to refrain from speaking ‘my mind’ about a thing until…. until, indeed.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.” Proverbs 10:19-21.

So, what shall I speak this day? Shall I speak an oracle too lofty for man to glean? Shall I speak of a controversy and cause pain to a man who already has enough for a lifetime? Shall take a man to task for work uncompleted? Shall I?

Shall I speak from the hallowed halls of ingenuity that those who hear my words, marvel at what they hear, but lack complete understanding? Shall I be revelatory, shall I be plain? What is in my heart will most certainly come out of my mouth. If there is love in my heart, it will be revealed today, and, if not, that as well.

Shall I frustrate my wife with my impertinence? Shall I ‘talk down’ to my daughter with commands lacking compassion? If I am a man of God, will I reveal the peace of God through my lips this day? If I truly am a man of God, truly, it will be revealed this day.

So I shall speak peace. I shall speak with a ‘tongue of men and of angels’ having love seasoned my every word. It is possible, you know. It is possible to, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) And it is possible to, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31) And, again, it is possible to, “…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)   All of this is possible in the Kingdom of God. For when I walked through the door into His Kingdom, I was released from myself and all that I hold dear. All is His in His Kingdom. I own nothing, and am nothing. I become a vessel to His bidding. His words speak through my mouth. His touch, touches through my hands. His embrace embraces me to embrace others in His love. He loves through me.

In this is where I find myself this day. What shall I speak today? Shall I “…speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in my heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19)  You see, this life isn’t just for Sunday show. This Kingdom life is for now, it is for forever. If I truly am a child of His, I will reflect the King that He is, and all that He is will be reflected in my mouth, my speech, my behavior. Loving, careful thoughts breed loving, careful (full of care) words. We will reap what we sow.

Declare in this moment, that this day will be the day to sow love. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is discord, let me sow peace. Where there is sorrow, let me sow joy. Where there is bitterness, let me sow forgiveness. Where there is no hope, let me sow the only hope for all of mankind, let me sow Jesus. And, in so doing, the work of the cross is at work in my flesh, ‘…for I am crucified with Christ, it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.’

I come to Christ as a child, ‘Therefore who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:4)  I wait on Him as my Father. And when it is time to speak, I will speak what the Father has elected to say. That is my hope and my prayer…this day.

I love you.


































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