A Higher Country

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It is perhaps one of the easiest things in the world to find fault with rulers in authority over us. However, place yourself in the shoes of someone of higher authority for a moment. How would you manage in their place, or juggle some of the great and weighty responsibilities of our times?  It is surely no easy task being a king, queen, ruler, prime minister, president, or any great leader in any age, let alone in this complex and challenging 21stcentury.  

And even kings can despair. Consider the fretful thoughts of one of the greatest rulers in earth‚Äôs history, the ‚Äėwise‚Äô King Solomon… The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. ¬†I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind! What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.¬†I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.¬† Ecclesiastes 1:1-2, 12-15; 2:18-23¬†

Solomon realized that in spite of all his efforts, like all people on earth, he would one day leave everything behind. The earth is no one’s permanent home, neither is anything that we have built or established going to be ours forever.

Through our God-given free will, humanity¬†has been blessed with the incredible power of…choice. ¬†We may think we need to ‘legislate’ more choice, but the truth is…we already have it. God said so. He also said we may choose ‚Äėlife‚Äô…or ‚Äėdeath‚Äô… We can choose to live in a way that pleases Him, by establishing and leaving behind our legacies of hope and strength, generosity and goodness for future generations,¬†or we can tear things apart through tyranny, anger, anarchy, and rebellion. It‚Äôs up to us.

Earthly rule and order is God‚Äôs way, and some have been given more than others. That’s the way it is.¬†God‚Äôs divine order of things¬†has established that¬†all order and the rule of just laws is good. When we set things up otherwise,¬†mankind does so at our own peril.

All good and godly authority at work on earth is but a glimpse of God‚Äôs higher rule and His established heavenly Kingdom. God never intended for man to set up¬†our own kingdoms, but to build kingdoms which reflect His heavenly kingdom, ¬†a Kingdom which ¬†Jesus said, is ‚Äėnot of this world‚Äô. In other words, God‚Äôs kingdom ways are not a vanity, man‚Äôs are!

King Solomon figured it out.  Perhaps we need to take time to ponder his experience, and do the same.

Most Christians realize that the peaceable rule of kings, queens and other authorities is no accident. It is a result of God‚Äôs Kingdom being manifested on earth as it is already established in heaven. As Christians, God calls us above all to pray for all who are in authority over us…yes, even if we do not agree with them, and perhaps especially so during such occasions.

As citizens of a higher country, of God’s heavenly kingdom, God calls us to pray. Why? Because prayer ushers in His heavenly authority to intervene in the midst of man’s inevitable imperfections, failures, and limitations.  

If you start your day with prayer, pray first…for those in authority, in order that we may live peaceably in our time…

© 2013 S. Michaels
Following God

A Truly Royal Baby

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The King of all the Ages
Arrived from heaven to earth
Born in a dusty manger
No gilded place of worth.

No fine clothes to his name
Only a blanket roughly worn
No special favours awaiting
But a mother’s tender love.

Holding this amazing child
With awe and gentleness
Mary and Joseph beheld him dearly
Touched by his helplessness.

Angelic hosts rejoiced on high
Simple shepherds gathered near
All creation’s songs rang out
Loud sweet hosannas clear.

Crossing great continents wide
Three wise men of the earth
Followed an ancient directive
Seeking out a royal child’s birth.

Bowing low before the baby’s bed
Dressed in finest kingly robes
They laid rich gifts upon the straw
Of frankincense, myrhh, and gold.

Growing up in an obscure town
A humble carpenter’s son
Young Yeshua was full of wisdom
Astounding the religious, and everyone.

Then departing from his home
And calling poor fishermen his friends
He began an earthly ministry
Healing the sick and raising the dead.

And filled with the Spirit’s power
This King without a crown
In whom was found no sin or guile
Was chased from town to town.

No religious place or earthly kingdom
Seemed to welcome this Shepherd King
And wandering and working wonders
The Lord found no place to lay his head.

Labelled a criminal, and yet a King
He carried a cross to Golgotha
Dying for the sins of all mankind
Upon his last breath, all seemed lost.

Yet on a Sabbath morning bright
As women wept near his grave
The Lord appeared to them
Their King of Kings, alive!

Never an earthly baby in all of history
Though born in the most opulent of courts
Could compare to this truly royal baby
Jesus, Saviour…born¬†right from heaven above.

He was also called Emmanuel
As prophets had long foretold
An Almighty King forever with us
His story shall never grow old.

© 2013 S. Michaels
Following God

As the world stands in awe of a baby born ‘king’ in Great Britain, I am reminded of the story of a truly royal baby…King Jesus… Prayers for William and Catherine’s new son, their royal baby, ‘George Alexander Louis’…that God’s joy and peace may be made known in his time.

Just DO it…

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Hey!¬† What’s going on? You look a little bewildered. Have you lost¬†something? Have dreams disappeared? Does¬†life¬†seem to be passing you by?

Stop right there.¬†Take a deep breath.¬†And start taking your dreams back! Lay them before God. Dreams¬†may get robbed, but God,¬† the Author, Giver, and Fulfiller¬†of all good and wonderful dreams, is the RESTORER of ALL things. He said it. Believe Him. God cares about your dreams.¬† Perhaps your faith’s been tested. Perhaps you seem to have fallen behind. Perhaps¬†doubt or fear have held you captive.¬†A burden of body, mind, spirit or substance might seem to be standing right in the way of your dreams.¬†Then it’s time… to ask God to raise the level of your faith. It’s time to¬†learn how to¬†speak aloud¬†to that burden or mountain – ‘Be moved! in Jesus Name.’

God’s kingdom is¬†everlasting.¬†Following Him means¬†you have all¬†of heaven’s incredible resources available. God has given people ‘authority’ in His Name. He has given the power of prayer and agreement in prayer. So no matter what things look like or how bad it may appear to be with ‘godly’ dreams being swept aside or trampled underfoot out in the world on a daily basis, get back on track and focus on God’s promises.¬†Following God is about ‘laying hold’ of promises. That means people of faith are people of action and get¬†involved with God, taking hold of¬†His Word as an inheritance which is valuable¬†beyond measure. God’s Word¬†applied to our lives daily,¬†brings heaven’s power into every situation. And God’s Word, unlike everything else…will¬†NEVER pass away.

Always remember that following God is a ‘kingdom’ thing. Always remember that His Kingdom¬†is not of this world, and therefore¬†is not limited by this world or anything it.

Don’t ask, ‘Is it time?’ in your life for God’s dreams to come alive. It¬†IS…TIME. It is time to trust God completely and to know that you know that you KNOW that with God on your side absolutely NOTHING is impossible! God¬† is a champion at removing the¬†‘im’ from impossible ¬†(the ‘i am’, the reliance on ‘self’). He¬†makes ALL things ‘possible’ for those who believe and take hold of the promises He has given, which are power-packed and which we can rely on 100%.

Do I hear any ‘alleluia’! shouts out there? Friends,¬†THIS ¬†is YOUR TIME. There won’t be another moment like it. You’ve been given all the support of God and of heaven you will ever need. You have received this moment, this time to give it your all. It’s God’s great gift. Use it! Get out there in faith and just DO it! Whatever dreams God’s given you,¬† don’t let the dust settle a moment longer. Put¬†feet to your faith.

One more important note which someone once shared. It’s important… “If God hasn’t¬†given you a ‘red’ or an ‘amber’ light along the road to your dreams,¬†assume the light’s green and run the race. Go for it!

© 2013 S. Michaels Following God

Consider it Done

Let it be done to you according to your faith

Faith matters…It matters a whole lot to God because God says faith is¬†so powerful¬†it’s actually the very substance of things hoped for and¬†the evidence of things believed for but¬†not yet seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is a resource of heaven. It’s a tangible force that accomplishes incredible things. Faith moves mountains. Faith raises valleys. Faith believes when there’s no answer in sight. Faith never gives up or gives in. Faith stands in any storm.

Faith isn’t wishful thinking. It isn’t mustered up. It’s a gift straight from God’s heart to yours. God says faith takes hold of His promises and holds onto them and knows that He is the rewarder of all who seek after Him with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength.

Faith isn’t cheap. It’s invaluable. Faith taps directly into God’s promises and believes Him implicitly. Faith refuses to¬†doubt. Faith knows that since God said it,¬†He will do it. Faith¬†is also very pleasing to God because it tells Him something about what you really think and know about Him and about how real and great His love is for you. Faith is so important, Jesus said, ‘When the Son of Man comes…will He find any¬†faith on the earth?”

And although faith is a gift just like love, it should never be simply received and then plopped away on a shelf. Faith must be cultivated and protected. The enemy of our souls loves to try to rob faith. If he can¬†steal your faith, he can¬†take all of God’s promises with it.

So, the same way you care for and feed flowers in your garden, or your own body with healthy food in order to thrive, you need to nurture faith.

If you cultivate your faith through hope in God’s eternal living Word, and if you learn to lean upon and trust daily in His love and promises, as you continue in this¬†‘feeding of your faith’,¬†faith¬†will begin to grow…and abound.

In earthly relationships, if we truly love someone, we believe in them. How much more so should this principle apply to our relationship with the Lord? Get a¬†picture today of God’s great and undying forever love for you.¬†Ask¬†Him to bless your life with a whole new and fresh measure of faith. Then, when you pray and exercise faith in a matter, don’t doubt. Believe God. And consider it done.¬†Then,¬†begin¬†giving God thanks and praise. Believe me, you will be so excited when your faith is at the level God wants it to be, you won’t be able to do anything else but go all out and give Him a shout…because¬†faith¬†jumps, faith¬†celebrates, and faith rejoices!

© 2013 S. Michaels
Following God

Bible references: Luke 17: 11-17, Matthew 17:20, Hebrews 11:6

The ‘Me First’ Generation

wallpaperscristaos.com.brYou once heard¬†a lot about something called the ‘me’ generation. Remember them, the¬†‘Boomer’s’ kids, the radical¬†‘know-it-all’, ‘look out world!’,¬†self-absorbed¬†wannabes who had life by the tail, and¬†don’t you’all dare get in the road! Today of course, the world’s¬†experienced progress. We hear less¬†about a ‘me’ generation.¬† Instead, we have¬†a¬†‘Me First’¬†generation, with almost everyone vying for the limelight.¬†Today’s generation is goin’ viral. They wanna be ‘the best-est and the greatest’.

Stop. Wait a minute.¬†This is no new story. It’s as old as time.

2,000 years ago Jesus walked on Galilean hillsides sharing about His ‘Kingdom’. It sounded great, but suddenly some of His closest followers and buddies¬†began arguing amongst¬†themselves about who was¬†‘the¬†greatest’.¬†The argument might have turned into a shoving match, but¬†Jesus knew the disciples’ thoughts and He stopped¬†and admonished them saying,¬†“Whoever is least amongst you is the greatest…”

Jesus also used the illustration of a little child to teach¬†His disciples the total folly of allowing themselves to¬†be trapped¬†by a ‘Me First’ mentality. Jesus knew where that whole mindset had¬†first come from and where it got its name.¬†He said,¬†“Whoever welcomes this little child welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent me.” (Luke 9:46-50)

You might know where this is headed.¬†Reading God’s Word, you probably know that Jesus¬†knew ‘the’ guy, the very author of the¬†‘Me First’¬†idea. Yep, you guessed it, it was none other than that¬†ol’ ancient serpent called ‘the devil’ or ‘Satan’, ‘the one’ still deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9),¬†formerly the most beautiful and powerful angel in heaven, but that wasn’t good enough, Lucifer (as he was named)¬†decided he wanted to be God himself, (and so began of course, Satan’s terrible ancient descent towards ultimate doom and destruction)…

But getting back to Jesus and His¬†teaching to His disciples about the¬†‘Me First’ thing…what was Jesus really getting at?¬†He was going back to the very beginning of time¬†and battling the ancient foe’s lies with the only thing that ever overcomes the devil – Truth.

The Truth…is that in God’s Kingdom…God always, always, always, always and always…declares that the¬†purest, gentlest, most trusting, humble, caring,¬†hopeful, patient, good, faithful, kind, loving, self-controlled¬†and childlike heart is the true inheritor of His Kingdom. This is who God sees as¬†‘greatest’.¬†Becoming this way doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by choice.¬†By¬†following God, by His grace, and¬†by seeking to become¬†imitators of Jesus…(not ‘the other guy’…)

© 2013 S. Michaels
Following God