The first ingredient for being a King and seeing the Kingdom of God is sharing a sense of destiny in Christ. That means we have a vision or heart’s desire… some design for our future. When we really find that place of intersection between our heart’s desire and God’s heart’s desire, life and work and relationships take on another dimension of adventure, satisfaction and warfare. When we trade just living for ourselves for the joy of living for the Kingdom, it’s not a sacrifice; it’s a trade that our heart was designed to make easily, and it carries a 100-fold return with a one word caveat: persecutions.
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions… Mark 10:28-30 NASU
Why persecutions? – One would think that involvement in the Kingdom would be a “road less bumpy.” However, the road is often winding and confusing because of warfare and because God himself is continually refining and purifying His people with fire. There is a huge amount of “shaking” going on right now and the road is very bumpy for many pursuing the Kingdom. Answers are delayed, visions are cloudy, and we can be subject to discouragement and despair. It’s a perfect storm that touches our national and individual lives, that is designed to perfect us. We are in the process of receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. The way we get there is through shaking! God uses fire to check whether we are made of gold or straw.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb 12:28-29 NIV
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 1 Cor 3:12-14 NIV
Hot summers – I want to suggest that drought and fire go together. Just when it seems difficult to hear God’s voice, a fire starts in our life and something that wasn’t totally real in the Kingdom or on the foundation of Jesus gets burned up. That’s why we worship God with reverence and awe. This process happens in regular, but unpredictable, cycles throughout our life. I’d like to suggest that you can avoid them, but that’s probably wishful thinking… first the fire, then the glory. Character, fruit, promotion, wealth, ministry and anointing all follow the elimination of chaff through the flame. It shouldn’t be a surprise!
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV
Surviving the flame – Watching your dream catch fire and waiting to see what’s left is simply traumatic. We “feel” abandoned by God – why would He try to destroy our dream? We “feel” a sense of being overwhelmed with discouragement and fear – where will it stop? Will anything be left? Will I survive? I want to suggest that these seasons of adjustment have purpose in the Kingdom and generally test our dream instead of trashing it entirely. Here are 4 simple steps you can use to survive your fire.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Prov 4:23-27 NIV
- Guard you heart – allow for adjustments, but don’t give up on the dream God put in your heart. It is your life and wellspring of motivation and purpose. Warfare is all about the enemy trying to get you to give up. Refining fire is all about letting go of the chaff. The same fire does both!
- Watch what you say (perversity) – It’s easy to get discouraged and to speak against your dream. That’s the first step toward giving up. What we say reinforces the desire of our heart. We need to choose our words wisely and speak to our dream in a way that is realistic but not fatalistic.
- Keep your eye on the prize – Some version of the dream God wrote in your heart will survive. Thank Him for the corrections, receive the adjustment, and find the core of your dream. Delays and adjustments are not failures. Don’t give up!
- What you do – Surviving a fire means taking one day at a time and putting one foot in front of the other to continue to make wise choices and to do the right thing to move toward your dream. Just like our heart, words, and vision we have to put our actions on a level path toward our dream… even when we don’t feel like it. That’s faith.