There is an old saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” That phrase holds a lot of wisdom. Another way of saying the same thing could be, “Those who make an extra effort get the prize.”
I have always been a morning person and I love to get up early enough to see the sunrise! I not only enjoy the sunrise at home, but I have seen it in many countries and other places I have visited. There is something peaceful and promising about the sun rising every morning that ministers to me. Scripture says “It is the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.
There are times when I must make a special effort to get up in time to watch the sunrise but it is never a disappointment because the Lord meets me there.
In Part I of this series, I explained three directions which are distractions that keep us from gaining the “prize of the upward calling of Christ”. They are: Looking back – at our past, Looking around – at our circumstances, and Looking down – at our insecurities and inadequacies. Looking in these three directions keep us in the natural realm, stifling our faith in God and thwarting our ability to walk in the Spirit of God.
Part II began to redirect our gaze by teaching us we must “Look Up”! We need to see the Resurrected Jesus on His throne, ruling and reigning over the Kingdom of Heaven. His desire is for us to bring the atmosphere of heaven to earth to overrule the kingdom of darkness. (See the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13). Those who are really “born again” will no longer move by the dictates of satan’s kingdom (the world). When the impossibilities are removed through genuine worship of Him and true faith in Him, we will be able to “Rise Up”.
The Bible says the whole earth is groaning for the revealing of the sons of God. (See Romans 8:19). Many in the church today do not look or act any differently than unbelievers. They believe Jesus exists but they do not live for Him, by Him or in Him. These are what the Bible calls carnal Christians. Instead of representing the Kingdom of God they are still living in the world’s system. They lack the authority God gave His church to bring the atmosphere of heaven into the earthly realm. Jesus did not commission His disciples to make converts into a social club. He did not commission His disciples to reproduce Pharisees and Sadducees who teach the Word of God but lack intimacy with Him. They denied Jesus was their Messiah because they knew about Him but did not KNOW HIM like Moses did! They had ears but did not hear, they had eyes which could not see. They failed to recognize Him when they had their visitation. That is still happening in many Christian Churches today.
Isaiah prophesied about the Lord being born and coming to earth in Isaiah 7:14. “…Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]. (See also Matthew 1:22-23). Isaiah 9:6 declares, “For unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.
Christ, the Messiah, is God with us – Immanuel. Revelation 17 and 19 declare He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus, the Messiah, God with us, has a kingdom that is separate from the kingdom of this world. When we become born again, we repent of our sins committed while living in the kingdom of darkness. We then ask Jesus, our Savior, to be Lord and King. In essence, we agree to walk in a completely different set of rules for our lives, the rules (or laws) of His Kingdom. We recognize that we are unable to do that in our flesh, but we acknowledge that He is able to do that in us by His Spirit. We must therefore consecrate everything we are and everything we have to Him, and receive His Holy Spirit (God in us) so that transformation can happen.
He broke the power of sin’s control over us, but our victory will only come when we make Him King over our thoughts, emotions, will and bodies. When we have become partakers of Christ, we are to live in the Spiritual realm of His Kingdom, walking in His ways of righteousness and sanctification. When we see His grace and power which He freely gives to us, we will no longer say “I can’t!”
Jesus did not commission His disciples to create a “bless me” club. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not focused on blessing us personally, it is focused upon bringing the Kingdom of God to the lost and broken. As we seek FIRST His Kingdom and His Righteousness, then all these other things will be given to us. (See Matthew 6:33). The blessing and favor of God comes with obedience to the Word and will of God. It comes through intimacy with the Lord, not living for ourselves. Our own comfort and pleasure is not what God seeks for us, it is our transformation into His image, the purifying of our hearts and the consecrating of our lives to His will and purpose. This all happens through intimacy with the Ever-Living God.
Psalm 24:3-6 “Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.”
We may think of idols as statues of false gods and therefore often miss the scripture’s instructions. An idol is anything that has preeminence over the Lord and His will. Materialism is an idol, our family can be an idol and comfort can be an idol as well as many other things. If we allow our insecurities and inabilities to negate the power and plan of God to use us to bring others to the Lord, that is an idol. Fear is an idol. You may ask how? When we believe more in the power of the enemy to hurt us than we do in the power of God to keep us, then we remain in the grips of fear! Deliverance from fear comes when we trust God for everything! (See I Am Your Keeper 5/27/17).
Christianity is a life-long walk of faith and endurance. We are being perfected, step by step. We are being changed from glory to glory but that comes with death to self. Daily consecration to His will and a willingness to submit to His sanctification process leads to holiness. It happens over time but in the process, freedom from bondage, victory over one sin after another, and a greater love and devotion to Him builds step by step.
Matthew 5:8,9,10 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!” These are the result of consecration and sanctification which enable us to “Rise Up”!
Isaiah 60:1-5 “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you, the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
The Lord has called us to be His disciples (followers of Jesus). A disciple was expected to “learn, study, and pass along the sayings and teachings of their master”. (Hollman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Matthew 28 reveals that Jesus instructed His disciples to make more disciples, and to preach the Gospel of His Kingdom throughout the whole earth. The four Gospels and the book of Acts calls every believer a disciple. There is no commission to simply make believers. The Great Commission is to make disciples, followers of Jesus who learn, study and pass on His teachings to others. He has anointed us for a purpose: to get the world out of us and to get the people out of the world. Our perspective must change. We must have a paradigm shift in our thinking. By personally reading and studying the Bible, and praying for His Kingdom to come to us, He will move heaven and earth on our behalf. If we are His disciples, He must be our Lord and King. If He is our Lord and King, we will live our lives by His direction and plans, not by our own. We must examine our hearts and our lives. Are we doing the works of Jesus and that of His disciples or are we doing our own thing? Are we residents in His Kingdom under His rule or do we rule our own kingdom? Are we truly walking in the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence or are we still acting and thinking like the world around us? If we are not, there is good news, He will help us. Paul interceded for the Ephesian churches and that prayer is just as powerful today as it was almost 2,000 years ago.
Ephesians 1:17-22 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He worketh in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 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.”
We have been called to “Rise Up”, to come up higher! God has enabled us to see from His perspective and through Christ Jesus, to participate in heavenly activities. The Lord is not troubled by our lack because He never runs out of provision. He is not disturbed about our inadequacies because He is more than enough. He is not mistaken by choosing us because He uses the weak things to confound the wise. He is not challenged by our weaknesses because He is full of power and might! It is time that we, His disciples, trust Him completely, love Him more than anything else, and follow Him wherever He leads us. To truly serve Him, we must “Rise Up”!