by Terry Somerville
8. LIVING IN THE KINGDOM IS AN ADVENTURE
When I was saved I received an inner sense of adventure. I was heading into great things with God! I knew He called me to preach, do miracles, and see revival. Where would He take me? What would we do?
At first, God took us into pastoral ministry. Over the years that adventure descended into a secure routine, and often a painful endurance. Yes, God was there, we saw awesome things, and had a reliable income. But I became deeply unsatisfied. I felt like a sick kid looking out the window, longing to play again.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45,46
After twenty-five years I said ” If I don’t “go for it” now and go through the doors in front of me, I never will. I don’t want to be an old man looking back, wishing I had stepped out.” So Karen and I left security and predictability and entered the adventure of the Kingdom.
Shortly after stepping out of the pastoral ministry Karen had several visions.
In the first one she and the Lord were standing in front of a vast green valley. She had an armload of charts and maps and the Lord said to her “You might as well throw these away. You have no clue where you are going. You will have to rely on me for every step you take.” Adventure!
9. LIVING IN THE KINGDOM MEANS ABANDONING MANS SECURITY
A year or so after the first vision Karen saw herself in the valley again, still holding an old fluted map. It was “Total Change Ministries” This map was also of no assistance. When she told me this vision I was upset. I had been holding onto the provision of ‘para-church’ ministry. It wasn’t working and God kept providing in other surprising ways. Finally we abandoned all our expectations and every sense of human security. Now we were just depending on Jesus.
Peter, James and John went through this. When they saw the miracle of a “boat sinking, net breaking load of fish”, they were able to leave it all! Jesus is the source and our security.
So when they brought the boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. Luke 5:11
In another early vision, Karen saw people organizing an old west wagon train. The buckboards were loaded high with furniture, pump organs, and chests full of fancy clothing. The wagon master told the people to dump them and said “You can’t use those things where we are going”. Then he handed them a strange looking bar. No one could see a use for it, but they dropped the other stuff and took the bars. The vision shifted to a later time on the journey. The wagons were stuck in the mud. Out came the bar and it freed the wagons.
A few years into our journey the Lord told us to incorporate a company. For over a year we had no idea what it was for, and it just sat there. Eventually it got us out of the mud and we started our business!
10. DISCOVERING MY FEAR AND GREED – THE FRUIT OF A “SELF MADE MAN”
A year after we formed our company the Lord led me to take a profitable investment and start stock trading. I had visions of a great income for my family and ministry, but God had other plans. I studied diligently and began to day trade. But I was was not free. I was controlled by my fear and greed, I found I could not do what I knew I should do!
I would buy a good stock and watch the technical indicators. When it came time to sell at a profit, I knew it. But, in greed I would hold out for more, then lose it! Or, I would buy a stock, and it would drop. Rather than quickly cutting my loses, I would hang on in fear, expecting a turn around that almost never happened. I knew exactly what to do, but fear and greed overcame me. I had never seen this in myself before! Why couldn’t I do what was obvious??
My wife said she used to get up in the morning and find me praying in the living room in the presence of God. Now she would find me stock trading under a darkening cloud!
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Luke 16:13
Who would have thought stock trading would expose my heart. Fear and greed was a pattern I learned from the world. In my youth I learned to be a “self made man.” and mammon had a grip on me. I would repent and break it off, but I needed to die to the old man!
Mammon and the world are enemies of God’s Kingdom. We have learned their ways and often find them in the church as well. Entering the rest of God’s grace, goodness and love is the real remedy for fear and greed.
11. I NEEDED TO RENOUNCE THE CURSE OF TITHING TO RECEIVE KINGDOM BLESSING
Karen and I desperately needed to know the Kingdom of God lifestyle. We were being pressed into financial dependence on God, and going deeper into debt! We sought God deeply in a two day retreat in the mountains. The main struggle was how to walk in Kingdom finances. Tithing wasn’t working and like layers on a rotten onion, we discovered several reasons why.
First, I discovered genuine biblical tithing is impossible. I’m not jewish. I don’t have agricultural produce. I don’t live in Israel, and there’s no priesthood or temple to take my tithes to. In fact the law imposes a 20% penalty if a person brought money to God instead of produce! What were we doing??? I had been serving a spiritualized religious version of the Mosaic law, and was expecting grace as a reward.
Second, and far worse, I had linked myself to the curse of the law in Malachi 3:9 Since I sought to keep this one point of the law, I had become guilty of the whole law. Our lives, and finances, were under a religious obligation, not grace!
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
Those of you who are trying to be justified by the law have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:4
No wonder I could not receive grace in my finances. I had put myself under “the law of the tithe” and potentially the curse of the whole law. When we said ‘but Lord, we tithed and gave offerings, where are the finances?” we were saying we were justified by our own works. I finally saw this truth but was afraid to renounce tithing. Fear of the law still ruled me! Finally I made a violent breakthrough into the Kingdom and repented.
As we were working through this issue we found some Kingdom teachers saying “the tithe is God’s tax on citizens of the Kingdom”. But, Jesus was clear when asked about the temple tax. The foreigners pay, but the citizens or “sons” are free!
What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Matthew 17:25,26
If you are a member of a church organization, go ahead and pay your dues, it can be a tenth, half or whatever you desire, but never give under compulsion of the law. We are not under the law, we are under grace. Every Christan must renounce the “law of the tithe” to fully participate in the Kingdom of God.
12. MY SPIRITUAL PERFORMANCE DOES NOT RELEASE THE KINGDOM
The truth about tithing exposed my spiritual performance legalism. Religion says “my performance brings God’s blessing” But in the Kingdom, everything comes through God’s grace and love. I had spiritualized works of the law into a Christian theology for victory in life. I was a “self made man”, and this included spiritual things!” I believed my ability to do the right thing released His grace! How wrong I was. That’s not grace at all!
Here are some examples:
- I tied God’s financial blessing to my works of tithes and offerings.
- I tied spiritual freedom to my ability to confess the right words, know the right scripture and do the right program.
- I tied Gods victory over the devil to my ability to identify the strongholds, find and repent of every sin that may bind me. Name the demon, and use my authority.
- I tied God’s ministry and power in me, to my ability to know, speak, walk and work rightly.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Surely my Heavenly Father will provide for me, protect me, and lead me, JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES ME. I needed to repent of my own works of righteousness and become child like. In the Kingdom of God there is a higher road than my fallible ability to do it all properly, it is called faith. Our own righteousness does not release the Kingdom, God’s love does.
13. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS ABOUT JOYFUL RECEIVING AND GIVING
As Karen and I continued to press into the Kingdom we discovered more and more of God’s grace. We are not “paying our dues” hoping God will bless us, but, we live in His security knowing that He loves us and will take care of us.
The Lord gives salvation, healing, deliverance and provision out of His great love! He desires us to do the same. Joyfully! It’s a great blessing!
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons: freely ye received, freely give. Matthew 10:8Every man Each of you must give what you have decided in your heart, not with regret or under compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7
Recently Karen was wrestling over giving $200 to help a needy friend. The Lord said “give $300.” Suddenly there was joy! The larger amount now seemed easy! It was God’s gift to us to give. Kingdom living truly is a life of grace! Grace to us and grace to others.
Even the well used scripture “give and it shall be given to you” has been misused. It is actually about giving to our enemies because that is God’s gracious character, and you belong to God. Check it out.
But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. ….. give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:35;38
To fully enter the Kingdom requires a radical rethinking of how we do things. It requires a radical love of evil men. It is joyful receiving and joyful giving.
14. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT A SYSTEM – IT IS A PERSON
When I began this pursuit of the Kingdom of God, I was looking for a system. I was looking for the proper method to do things. A kingdom program to use in the church. (duhh!) God was drawing me, but I thought the answer was reforming the church and adding the five fold ministry. I looked for the system and principles to operate the Kingdom by. (Thats me in control again…..) The Lord graciously frustrated every effort in this direction. The Kingdom, and the church, are not systems.
I was saved by following a person… Jesus… but I had added all kinds of things to it. Now I began a walk of repentance, laying down my ways and means, to live the relationship once again. The Kingdom of God is simple, the King ruling in the hearts of men. All things will be summed up in that King!
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. Ephesians 1:10
If you want the Kingdom, live with the King. It’s time for His people to leave the outer court behind and enter in.
Parts 15 to 21 in the next issue.