Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Acknowledging God as Sovereign King

Question: Is it easier to remember your employer or that God is Sovereign King over the entire Universe?

Who has more influence over your day?

I think that if we are honest, most of us would say that it is easier to consider and remember the direction of our employer or spouse or even children than God because we can tanglibly see, touch and directly communicate with the earthly people in our lives.

The Israelites could relate to this question. The book of Judges repeats several times that “Israel did not have a king, so everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6) The reason that they didn’t have a king was because as a nation, God was their heavenly king, and he wanted them to serve him instead of following an earthly king.

Here’s the story. In 1st Samuel 8, Samuel the Prophet was aging. The elders of Israel gathered and told Samuel: “You are growing old. Appoint a king to lead us like the other nations have” (translation: we want to look like the rest of the world.)

The Lord warned Samuel that an earthly king would put his people in bondage: their sons and daughters would have to serve him, their finances would go towards taxes, their sons would be called to fight for the king in battle.” Even with the warning, the people still cried out, “We want to be like other nations, having a king to lead us and go out to fight our battles.”

Samuel took this desire back to God and I can hear his resignation in his reply: “Okay, listen to them and give them a king.”

I’ve been thinking about the human tendency to settle for what we can see versus walking in the “unseen realm of faith.” Remember, the definition of faith: “being certain of what we hope for, sure of what we cannot see.” It’s hard to work to feel our way in the realm of belief rather than tangible reality. It takes an extra level of attention and a willingness to believe that our hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. We risk a lot by living a life of faith; making statements that could make us look foolish if they don’t pan out. The even bigger risk is to find out that God isn’t trustworthy after all.

This is what I coming to understand, however. The dividing line of adventure and maturity in faith come with this challenge. Those that are willing to trust in the unseen promises and make the promises of the Sovereign King of the Universe their foundation for life will experience the reward** of partnering with Jesus to bring forth his heavenly kingdom to earth.

God didn’t stand apart from the Israelites. He miraculous delivered them from Egypt, fed them with supernatural bread from heaven and prepared them to enter into a Promised Land that would fulfill their deepest heart desires. Even when the Israelites lost sight of the vision for God as their king, the Lord continued to remain very active in their lives as a people.

This is our reality for today.

Jesus told us “The Kingdom of God isn’t outside of you, it is inside of you.” We don’t have to look for evidence of God’s reality externally, we can begin to recognize and make intentional decisions to partner with Jesus to release God’s kingdom into this earth.

How? Well, each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are praying for the realities of heaven to be brought to earth: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it already is in heaven.”

Heaven is filled with the glorious realities of life: health, peace, a perfect earth that doesn’t have earthquakes or fires or hurricanes, deep relationships, joy instead of sorrow, the list goes on.

So, practically, what do you long for to be different in the world in which you live?If you are struggling to accept the massive earthquake in Haiti, pray for Jesus’ presence to be released into Port-au-Prince.

What does Jesus bring? Think about what he did in the Gospels: he healed people, he brought peace to relationships, he confronted worldly powers, he advocated for the poor and the disenfranchised, he fed people real food.

Practically, how can you release heaven into your regular life? Bring peace into your broken relationship. Bring financial provision into your material challenge. Bring healing into your illness. Bring heavenly wisdom into your parenting.

Our faith is meant to be lived where we actually live life. It’s not that “thing over there.” It’s a relationship with the Sovereign King of the Universe who has the power and desire to bring heaven into the challenges of earth. May it become so.

**And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

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