How am I, how are we, to know that we’re living in God’s kingdom, but not in this world? Here are some ways to recognize where we are spending our time. First, do you have a spiritual practice that you do daily for more than 30 minutes? Does it include any quiet time, just sitting in God’s presence? Does it include Bible readings, particularly a lectio divina practice that allows the Indwelling Spirit of God to speak to us through highlighting a word or phrase in the reading for us to meditate about after the reading. Are we able to hear the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God as He leads us throughout each day: that “still small voice” of 1 Kings 19:12?
Do I, do we turn to God/Holy Spirit/Jesus Christ throughout our day to express gratitude and to pray for your own needs or those of others? Am I, are we aware of His presence in our lives? Do I, do we recognize all the help and support and even challenge that the Lord showers us with each day? Do we hear His suggestions, big and small, for what you are to do and recognize them as coming from the Lord? And then do what He suggests?
Are we in a constant dialogue with Jesus Christ, asking for His help, comfort, presence, peace, love, fulfillment, and purpose?
Do we keep our eyes on the prize, faithfully following what Jesus is leading us to do with our lives? Do we lift up any grief or trauma that has not been dealt with in us, pray for forgiveness of any sins we did or continue to commit?
Or do we hear ourselves complaining, expressing fear, contempt, anger, or prejudice, ignoring what is true about lives in favor of any narrative that serves us just where we are and where we want to stay? Or are we growing into the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) becoming more loving, peaceful, joyful, patient with ourselves and others, more good, kinder and gentler, more faithful, and more humble?
So much of what I am writing about is an expression of what it means to be human—not able to perfectly follow Christ in everything we do and all that we are. But when we can catch our violations of His teachings as they occur and lift them up to the Lord of all the Earth, then we are living in awareness of who we are and seeing ourselves clearly. When we are aware of all that He is doing in our lives—His love, support, help, and grace, then we are truly living in His presence.
Am I, are we, able to love and forgive ourselves for all that we are—warts and all, so that we can live in the truth of who we are and Whose we are? Then, at last, we are able to feel God’s love and forgiveness for us and pass that along to everyone we meet. For how can we love others if we can’t love ourselves?
The Sermon on the Mount, which is the great summary of all of Jesus’s teachings, highlights the attitudes we are to not just express on the surface of our lives to look good to others, but which we are called to live from the deepest parts of ourselves. Interestingly, it is in our depths that we find the capacity to live with love and forgiveness, peace and patience, without judgment and prejudice, without fear and anger, for that is where the Indwelling Spirit of God lives in us, once we give up our need to follow the ways of our culture, of our world.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I living in the world or in the kingdom? Am I experiencing the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in me? If not, what would it take to get me on track to follow Jesus and to put God first in my life?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who live in the kingdom, faithfully following Jesus through the direction of the Holy Spirit in all that we do. May we be those who can love ourselves and others no matter what.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.