Category Archives: Kingdom of God

How many gods? How many worlds?

Meet the BibleA story is told about Rabbi Joseph Schneerson, a Hasidic leader during the early days of Russian communism. The rabbi spent much time in jail, persecuted for his faith. One morning in 1927, as he prayed in a Leningrad synagogue, secret police rushed in and arrested him. They took him to a police station and worked him over, demanding that he give up his religious activities. He refused. The interrogator brandished a gun in his face and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind.” Rabbi Schneerson answered, “This little toy can intimidate only that kind of man who has many gods and but one world. Because I have only one God and two worlds, I am not impressed by this little toy.” ~ Philip Yancey in Meet the Bible

By “two worlds” Rabbi Schneerson is referring to the temporary, physical existence that describes this life up to the grave and the eternal, spiritual existence of our soul which we experience now but which continues beyond the grave.

If our only hope is this present world then the people and possessions of this life will easily become the “many gods” that we cling to at any cost. But if we have a different hope, a better hope that comes from trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord then no circumstance of life will pose a real threat.

None of us can be sure of how we would respond in a situation like the one described here, but we can choose today to be a man or woman with “only one God and two worlds.”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christ, Courage, God, Hope, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Philip Yancey, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

God’s amazing judo move

This Beautiful Mess“The kingdom of God is the kingdom of life, health, beauty, salvation, and freedom (to name just a few of its qualities). The enemy of the kingdom, whom the Bible refers to as Satan, is always attacking that life, that health, that beauty. He attacks spiritual freedom. He wants us to be paralyzed. His relentless attacks are why things are not the way they are supposed to be—yet. But in the midst of all the tensions of life, the kingdom of God comes crashing in. It usually crashes in quietly, though.

…God has this amazing judo move that He uses to attack the kingdom of darkness. He causes all things to work for good to those who love Him, the Bible says. God takes what is meant for evil and turns it for good, if we trust Him at those times and embrace His sovereign goodness even in the midst of our pain and loss. The good He works for us will be a foretaste of the ultimate restoration that will occur when His kingdom comes in all its fullness. It doesn’t make the cost of death less real. But it shows a way through.”

~ Excerpted from This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

The older I get the more I come to realize that every season of life is a new shade of learning to trust God’s “amazing judo move.”

What are you needing to trust Him with today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Faith, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Religion and Spirituality, Satan, Trusting God

Like a Treasure Buried

This Beautiful Mess“Jesus’ kingdom invites us to immerse ourselves in the whole gospel He came to preach. We get to listen and consider and think through the staggering possibilities of kingdom living as Jesus taught it. The practical promise of our faith journey together is this: as we live in fidelity to Christ the King, His in-breaking reign will have a transformational effect on us, our communities, and our world. Anything less is not what Jesus came to earth to tell.

In a mysterious yet absolutely real way, the kingdom of Jesus is here now and in power. Like gravity or high-frequency radio waves, this kingdom doesn’t require our attention or consent in order to exist. It just is. Still, I think you’ll find that we have to learn—and deeply want—to see and imagine in new ways. Otherwise we’ll miss it. So many have. Because it is like a treasure buried.”

~ Excerpted from This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

“Lord, may Your Spirit make me sensitive to your activities today so that I can be a part of furthering Your kingdom here on earth.”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Christianity, Discipleship, Divine presence, God, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation

What will you do?

question mark orangeWhat will you do with your life today
to contribute
to something
bigger than your life?

~ Rick Alvey

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Filed under influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

Having More Than You Need

Having More Than You NeedWhy does God give some of His children more than they need and others less than they need? So that He may use His children to help one another. He doesn’t want us to have too little or too much (Proverbs 30:8–9). When those with too much give to those with too little, two problems are solved. When they don’t, two problems are perpetuated.

God distributes wealth unevenly not because He loves some of His children more than others, but so His children can distribute it to their brothers and sisters on His behalf. Paul said that the God who supplies seed to the sower will increase our store of seed.

Why? So we can stockpile seed or eat it? No, so we can scatter it and spread it out that it might bear fruit. Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s His provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with this money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build His kingdom in heaven.
~ Excerpted fromThe Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

The tricky part is that we often tend to compare what we have to those who have more and feel like we’re missing out. The reality is that we are better off than the majority of the world.

How are we using our resources?

Need ideas on how you can help others?  Check out this blog post.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Generosity, God, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Money, Religion and Spirituality, Stewardship

Love Like Jesus

At the core of God’s identity is a community; an intimate fellowship. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father; and out of that embrace of love comes the Holy Spirit as the breath of life.

The image of God as a Triune God or the Trinity is not something we can completely wrap our heads around, but it does give us the primary context in which to journey with God and others. And that context is relational!

So when Jesus is questioned about what commandment is most important He responds with love God and love others. (Matthew 22)

Elsewhere, Jesus said:

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34

But what does it really look like to love like Jesus?

To love like Jesus is to actively participate in what is best for another person even at great personal sacrifice and even when they don’t deserve it.

We understand the part about actively participate. And we understand personal sacrifice as a part of it. But loving others when they don’t deserve it causes us some struggle.

And yet, that’s how Jesus loves. Listen to how Paul states it in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome.

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. ~ Romans 5:6-8 (MSG)

We might be able to think of a few people – likely family members or close friends – that we would love like this but that’s not really the point. To love like Jesus is to love everyone this way.

As we come to “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) we will be transformed and empowered to love like Jesus.

Is there a better way to influence the world and advance God’s kingdom purpose of inviting others into the dance of the Trinity?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Evangelism, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Trinity

A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God