Chapter 1 of My New Book: The Importance Of Responding To The Influences Of God

This blog post is a free look at the first chapter of my new book, “Studies In The Kingdom of God”.  I have included the footnote scripture references, identified in the book, at the bottom of this post.  Let me know what you think and leave me your email address so I can let you know when new blog posts and other promotions are available.  Thanks and enjoy.

Tom Casey


 

Volume 1:  Chapter 1:  The Importance Of Responding To The Influences Of God

 

Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will
be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our
debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation but
deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Mathew 6:9-13

 

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the
heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1Corinthians 2:9

 

These are two wonderful passages of scripture. One, we know as The Lord’s Prayer. The
other is taken from 1Corinthians 2, where Paul is expounding on the wisdom of God, which He
displayed through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and then expounded on, further,
through the Holy Spirit. Both of these scriptures are indicative of the tremendous blessings and
inheritance we have been given by our heavenly Father, as believers in Jesus and heirs of the
Kingdom of God through Jesus.

 

After following Jesus, observing His lifestyle and participating with Him in His ministry, the
disciples recognized that Jesus was a praying man and, even more significant, that God
answered His prayers. As a result, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. They wanted
to see the same results from their prayers that Jesus saw from His.

 

As Jesus began to teach them about prayer, modeling it for them, He started with the phrase,
“Our Father.” This phrase was not some ritual introduction to a formal prayer Jesus prayed
every day, hoping that His Father heard it. Nor was it part of a spiritual formula to coax the
Father to do something for Him. Jesus knew who He was praying to and He had established an
intimate relationship and spiritual connection with His Father, as He grew from a small boy into
an adult. In this phrase, “Our Father,” Jesus acknowledged His relationship with His Father and
called on this relationship for the purpose of personal interaction, fellowship, and co-laboring
with Him, as Jesus engaged in His daily activities. Not only was Jesus recognizing His
relationship with the Father, He was acknowledging the fact (by saying “Our Father”) that this
relationship with God as Father was available to all who pursued this same intimate relationship
and spiritual connection.

 

In His model prayer, Jesus continued by making specific requests of the Father, not as “scatter
shots”, hoping to mention one that happened to “hit” on something that was already on the
Father’s agenda for that day. Jesus interacted and communicated with the Father concerning
what He needed, as the Father’s Kingdom representative to the earth and to humanity, as well
as acknowledging the Father’s character qualities and Jesus’ devotion to His Father’s will and
purposes. Jesus’ prayers communicated His love, honor and respect for the Father and what
the Father means to Him, in His personal experience. Effective prayer is not about saying the
right words in the right way at the right time. It’s about engaging in and expressing the realities
of an intimate relationship that has been and continues to be developed over time, and drawing
upon these relationship realities when the need or opportunity calls for it.

 

Jesus modeled what prayer was to be like – not in word only but in heart attitude and in personal experience.
When we read or say the Lord’s Prayer and we finish the phrase, “…and lead us not into
temptation but deliver us from evil”, we tend to “coast” to the end of the prayer. We say or read
the remaining words as if they are simply the formal closing to the prayer because (we assume)
we have just completed the most important part. But, if we look carefully at what Jesus said
following His requests, we discover that He expresses what He believes to be the foundational
reality for why He knows His prayers will be answered.

 

The simple word “for” is the key. This small word “for” can also be expressed by the word
“because”. Whatever follows the word “for” or “because” provides us with the premise or reason
for the expectation that what was previously requested will be answered. What Jesus said after
“for” is the reason He knows His prayer will be answered. What follows is, “…Yours is the
kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.”

 

Focusing on, “yours is the kingdom…”, what does this phrase mean? In Jesus’ mind, it is the
foundational truth and reality for believing that His prayers will be answered by the Father. Not
only is God Jesus’ Father but His Father possesses the Kingdom. If Jesus knew and
declared that His prayers were going to be answered because God, His Father, possesses the
Kingdom; it makes sense that this is also the foundational reason for why we can believe our
prayers will be answered.

 

Now, concerning the second scripture, above, from 1Corinthians 2:9; the Apostle Paul in his first
letter to the Corinthians reveals much of what God has given to us as our inheritance, as
followers of Jesus Christ. Paul refers to this spiritual activity and inheritance, and the means by
which God gave it to us (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus), as the wisdom that was
hidden in ages past but has now been revealed to us by His Spirit. “Things which eye has not
seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has
prepared for those who love Him.”  This is not wisdom that has been hidden for a future age,
though there is wisdom for future ages that He has kept hidden and has yet to reveal. This
wisdom Paul speaks of is for and pertinent to this present age in which we live. To relegate this
wisdom to the future, only, is to cut ourselves off from what God intends for us to know and
experience now, in this age. Paul didn’t say, “…that God has prepared in heaven and in the
ages to come, for those who love Him.”

 

In regard to these two scriptures, there are three questions we need to ask ourselves; 1) “Do I
know God as my Father, experientially, as Jesus did?”; 2) “Do I understand and experience the
reality that my Father “possesses the Kingdom”, so that I have the assurance that my prayers
will be answered?”; and, 3) “Do I (predominantly) relegate to heaven and to the ages to come
the unimaginable things that God, in His wisdom, has prepared for us who love Him?” What we
often consider to be a simple, formal closing to the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus considered to be the
foundational reality for why He expected His prayers to be answered. What we tend to relegate
to “after we die”, Jesus and the early church believers understood as relevant and available to
them to experience in this life. The Holy Spirit has revealed these things to us, now, in this life
and for this life.

 

When we observe in the scriptures, the lives of Jesus and the early church believers, we see
the truth and reality of the Kingdom of God as being foremost in their lives, message and
ministry. We see that the effectiveness of Jesus’ prayer life and ministry activities depended on
the reality of the Kingdom of God being present with Him where He lived.2 We are told by Luke
that when Jesus began His ministry, He went from village to village proclaiming the Kingdom of
God.  When Jesus cast demons out of people, He declared that He did so by the Kingdom of
God.  Jesus told His disciples that the Kingdom of God must be forcefully engaged and
passionately embraced as a precious prize.  When Paul neared the end of his life and he was
being held under house arrest, he continued to preach the Kingdom of God to those who came
to him.  When Jesus was teaching His disciples about the things that would take place before
His return to the earth at the end of the age, He told them that this gospel or good news of the
Kingdom of God must be preached throughout the world, as a witness to all the nations, and
then the end of the age would come.

 

This word witness (Greek. marturion) means to observe and experience something first-hand and to
give testimony to its reality. In other words, to be a witness of the Kingdom of God we must
observe and experience its reality first-hand in our lives and be able to demonstrate and give
personal testimony to that reality. If we don’t have that first-hand experience and observation,
we aren’t witnesses; we are simply giving hearsay testimony based on what we’ve heard from
others who may or may not have experienced it. How can I demonstrate and give testimony as
an eye-witness of something that I haven’t observed or personally experienced?

 

As we will see, the Kingdom of God is to be observed, personally experienced, and its reality demonstrated by
the followers of Jesus. Otherwise, there is no real testimony of its reality and presence.
“Our Father…Yours is the Kingdom!” If this simple statement was the foundational reality for
Jesus’ life, ministry and relationship with the Father, how much more should it be for our lives?
Sadly, many of us in the Body of Christ today have little or no understanding of the Kingdom of
God, much less first-hand experience with its reality. We can’t fully grasp and accomplish our
purpose on the earth, as human beings and as followers of Jesus, without a clear understanding
and first-hand experience of the reality of the presence of the Kingdom of God and its activities
in our lives.

 

The New Covenant scriptures tell us that the gospel message of the Kingdom of God is good
news.  Do we, as followers of Jesus, truly believe that the Kingdom of God is real, that its
influence and activities are present with us, and that they are “good news” to us? In Psalm 19,
King David, a believer in and lover of the Kingdom of God, boldly proclaims the affections of his
heart when he declares his love and fascination for God and His Kingdom in these statements:
• vs.7 – “the law of the Lord is perfect…the testimony of the Lord is sure.”
• vs.8 – “the precepts of the Lord are right…the commandment of the Lord is pure.”
• vs.9 – “the fear of the Lord is clean…the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous.”

 

David declares that everything God is, does and says is perfect, good and right. All of it is good
news to him. These words aren’t simply an intellectual agreement or an emotional reflection on
David’s part. David is convinced in His heart that these statements are true and are good news
to him. He has observed and experienced them in his life and, as a result, has submitted
himself including his lifestyle, beliefs and passions to God and His Kingdom. David has
embraced the Kingdom in order to see this “good news” impact and guide his life. He has no
reservations in believing and living according to these realities of God and His Kingdom.
The question is what do we think about these statements David made in Psalm 19?

 

Do we share the same sentiments as David did about God and His decisions, words and actions? Do
we agree with, embrace, and confess these same Kingdom truths in our lives? For instance,
even if we don’t understand all of the decisions and activities that God declares and carries out,
do we love them, embrace them as precious and perfect, and consider them to be good news to
us? Do we willingly submit ourselves to them, knowing that they are righteous and good
because they come from God and His Kingdom? Or, do we doubt Him and them? Do we put
up resistance to them because they don’t seem to agree with what we think God is like or what
we believe is true about God? Are we resistant to God and His Kingdom because what He
does and says don’t agree with what we think should be done or said; being different from how
we would do or say it, or how we view ourselves, the world, and people around us? Does God’s
“worldview” seem to clash with our own?

 

How we respond to God’s revealed nature, actions, words, and decisions may very well tell us
what we truly believe about God and whether we consider the realities of His Kingdom to be
good news. If our perception of God, His words and His activities are different from how God
has revealed them to us, we may have a skewed perception of God, or we may not have truly
embraced Him and His Kingdom with all of our hearts. There is nothing wrong with having and
asking questions about what God says and does but once we are confronted with the truth of
what He has revealed, how we respond could reveal the true condition of our hearts.
There is an important principle in the Bible we must understand. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul
explains the process by which people become reprobate in their attitudes, thinking, and actions
towards God. This act of reprobating is resisting or responding in unbelief (not responding in
faith) to the influences of God in our lives, over time. It is the willing resistance to the revealed
nature, attributes, will, purposes and activities of God, over time, as He directly or indirectly
influences our lives. The longer we knowingly or unknowingly resist these direct and indirect
influences and activities of God, the more calloused toward God we become.

 

We, by an act of our will, as we engage in the daily decision-making processes of life, can
eventually become completely hardened in our heart and mind toward God.  We find it more
and more difficult to distinguish the difference between good and evil. We can become so
morally and spiritually blind and bankrupt, we will consider evil to be good and good to be evil.
Paul tells us that God has and continues to reveal Himself and His Kingdom to us through what
He has made, so that none of us has any excuse before Him.  This process of reprobating
does not happen overnight but it does happen, if we consistently resist the influences of God in
our lives.

 

We are told that Satan blinds the minds of the unbelieving.  We are also told that anyone can
think and act in opposition to God and His influences, in his or her life, through unawareness
and deception.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God because everyone who comes to
Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Unawareness and deception do not excuse us from, and are not a defense against the
consequences of resisting and rejecting the influences of the Kingdom of God in our life. In fact,
unawareness and ignorance are the major reasons why we engage in the process of
reprobating to begin with. This process of reprobating does not happen overnight; it takes time.
God will continue to encounter and confront us with His Kingdom activities in order to get our
attention, to turn us toward Him. This process of reprobating is slow but sure, if the influences
of God are resisted or ignored.

 

As followers of Jesus we need to recognize that we, too, can engage in this process of
reprobating by not responding in faith to the influences of God and His Kingdom. We can resist
God and His influence in different areas of our life. This spiritual activity of not responding in
faith to the influences of God will slowly harden our hearts, deafen our spiritual ears and blind
our spiritual eyes to what He wants to reveal to us or accomplish in our lives. The more we
resist His influence the more difficult it becomes next time to discern and respond to His
influence in those areas. He may determine that it is necessary to go as far as to “shock” us,
through an activity of His Kingdom, to get our attention so we realize that He is endeavoring to
influence our lives. God works in response to our faith and our faith response is a voluntary act
on our part.

 

As an act of our will, we can embrace the activities and influences of God and His Kingdom in
our life. Or, as an act of our will, we can resist or ignore these same activities and influences.
We make decisions every day as to what we will do and not do with the physical influences and
information we receive through our five physical senses. We also make decisions as to what
we will do with the spiritual influences and information we receive from God and His Kingdom.
We choose if, when, and how we will respond. God has sovereignly established it this way.
God created us with a free will and He will not violate our free will. If we resist and ignore God’s
activity and influences in our life, He will let us go down the path we choose. We can be
reprobating in some areas of our life and not in others. These areas where we are unaware of
or resist His influences can keep us from experiencing all that God has for us, as His Kingdom
people.

 

Paul went so far as to pose the question directly to the Galatians, when they began to “move
away” from their intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit and the activities of the Kingdom of
God in order to embrace Jewish legalism, ritual, and faithless ceremony. Paul chastened them
by asking them several questions, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you… did you
receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Having begun by the Spirit,
are you now being perfected by the flesh? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit
and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  The
Holy Spirit used Paul’s letter as an influence or activity of the Kingdom of God in the lives of the
Galatians, to chasten them, in order to see if they would respond to it in faith or resist it.
It doesn’t have to be religious ritual and legalism that sets us on the path of reprobating. It can
be anything that we willingly or naively allow to turn our affections, passion and focus away from
responding in faith to the influences and activities of God’s Kingdom in our life. Paul referred to
the Galatians’ embrace of Jewish legalism and ritual as “a work of the flesh”, or that which is
opposed to the work of the Spirit. Anything, if it turns our affections, passion and focus away
from responding to the activities of the Kingdom of God in our life, is a “work of the flesh”.

 

The “flesh” (our unbridled physical and soulish desires) and the Spirit are in opposition to each other
in our life.  God bought us with a price; the life of His dear Son.  As a result, He doesn’t want
anything or anyone to draw our hearts, affections and passions away from intimate fellowship
with Him and the influence of His Kingdom activities. He doesn’t want us to give it or them a
higher priority and place of prominence in our life. Our God is a jealous God.

 

Yes, there are many reasons why we may not always respond to God’s influence in our life. It
could be that we are unaware of the methods by which God influences us, or our inexperience
with recognizing when God is influencing us, or our unwillingness to respond because of a fear
of failing, or we may have willingly resisted His influence, previously, and therefore have
become more resistant to Him influencing our life in this area in the future. Regardless, we
willingly choose our response to the influences we receive.

 

As followers of Jesus we can engage in reprobating and be deceived into doing so; being
unwilling to respond to what God is endeavoring to do in our life. We can hinder Him and the
activity of His Kingdom in our life through our unawareness, deception, or through attitudes and
misconceptions we develop. Through the process of reprobating we can find ourselves
suffering from a growing lack of desire, passion, and experiential knowledge and authenticity
when it comes to our relationship with God and the workings of His Kingdom in and through our
life. He still loves us and desires to work in our life but He will not violate our free will.
God is a patient and loving Father who helps us in our weakness. He understands that we are
weak and need His grace and ability in our lives.

 

This is true with developing an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit and responding to the influences and activities of the Kingdom of God in our life. He knows that before we became His Kingdom people, we were so
accustomed to the ways of this world and living our life according to our five physical senses
and our untamed physical and soulish desires. Now that we are citizens of His Kingdom, we
don’t just flip a switch and have an established relationship and fellowship with the Holy Spirit,
and are able to respond effectively to all of the influences and activities of the Kingdom of God
that take place in our life. He knows it takes time for us to train our spiritual senses in order to
move from simply responding to the desires of our bodies and souls to responding to the
influences of the Holy Spirit and the activities of the Kingdom of God. This is all part of the
“purifying” or sanctifying process. It begins when we are born again by the Spirit of God and is
completed when we receive our new, glorified bodies at the end of the age.

 

In the meantime, the Spirit of God teaches, trains and mentors us as we make the transition to
living by the “flesh” (our soulish and physical desires and passions) to walking in the Spirit
(responding in faith to the influences of the Holy Spirit and the activities of the Kingdom of God).
This is the purpose and work of the Holy Spirit in our life in this age. It is those who are being
led by the Spirit of God who are sons of God.  God knows we will make mistakes along the
way as we learn to respond in faith to the Spirit of God and His Kingdom activities in our life.
We can’t be afraid of failure or making mistakes. It is a completely different orientation for us;
living for what God wants for us instead of what we want for ourselves. Yet, He hasn’t left us
alone, powerless ,and without resources to make this transition. He has given us His Spirit and
Kingdom resources to successfully make this transition in our life. The influences and activities
of the Kingdom of God are prophetic in their nature and operation in this age and we must be
taught and trained to prophetically recognize and respond to His influences as we make this
transition. We can’t do this if we continue to be dominated by our physical and soulish desires,
while being unaware of or resisting the influence and activities of the Spirit.

 

God looks at our heart and gives us His grace, forgiveness, and ability to make this transition to
living as His Kingdom people, when we make mistakes and experience failures. As long as we
don’t give up and keep our eyes and hearts focused on “the prize”, He will work with us and help
us grow and mature spiritually (making the transition from walking in the flesh to walking in the
Spirit; seeking to know Him and living our lives for Him). This is a life-long process and
endeavor and we won’t reach completeness or full maturity in this life. But, we can make great
strides in our fellowship and relationship with the Holy Spirit and responding to the influences
and activities of the Kingdom of God in this life. These influences and activities are prophetic in
nature, in this age but we are prophetic people and we can learn to recognize and respond in
faith if we set our hearts to learn and grow.

 

Now, we not only need intellectual knowledge about God and His Kingdom, which comes
through reading the scriptures. We also need revealed knowledge that comes through the
revelatory influence of and personal experience with the Holy Spirit. We cannot rely on
intellectual, sense-based knowledge and understanding of God, alone, if we are to establish an
intimate relationship with the Spirit of God, experience the activities of the Kingdom of God, and
resist the deceptions of our spiritual enemy, Satan. There are many people who know what the
Bible says but have no experience with the presence and activities of the Holy Spirit and the
Kingdom of God.

 

It is the difference between knowing about someone from a book and knowing someone
experientially through personal relationship and interaction. We need to pursue the intellectual
knowledge and understanding of God and His Kingdom but we also need to pursue the
revelatory knowledge and understanding of God and the activities of His Kingdom. It is our
engaging with the living and active Word of God and experiencing God’s Kingdom activities in
our life that gives life to and transforms our spirit, soul, and body. Again, Paul tells us, “…all
who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

 

Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus recognized and acknowledged that the Kingdom of God
was the foundational truth and reality for all that He thought, said and did. How can we expect
to effectively understand and experience the truth of the scriptures if we don’t comprehend,
embrace and experience the reality of God and His Kingdom, on which the scriptures are
based? How can we expect to accomplish the plan of God for our lives if we have no
understanding and personal experience with God and the present realities and activities of His
Kingdom?

 

“And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to
see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear
the word of God and do it,””.  The word hear in this verse means to actively hear, as
opposed to passively hear. To actively hear is to hear with the intent to immediately respond
and act on what is heard. Jesus tells us that it is these who actively hear – who hear and
immediately respond and act who are truly His family.

As a result, the Kingdom of God and our relationship with the Holy Spirit is the foundation on
which everything else is built, especially as it involves our life as a follower of Jesus. It has
been this way from the beginning and it will be this way for all eternity. Even Jesus’ mission on
earth, including His redemptive death, burial and resurrection, finds its purpose in the Kingdom
of God and His reliance upon the Holy Spirit in His life. We must comprehend, embrace and
experience the realities of the Kingdom of God and of the Holy Spirit in this life, if we are to
effectively proclaim the good news of this same reality as a witness to the nations.
“My people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.”

 

This is a true statement made by God to His people and it has been true throughout the history of humanity. This word destroyed can also be translated cut-off or silenced. The enemy of God and His people, Satan, is always
at work to minimize, confuse and deceive (silence) God’s people in an effort to distract us and
keep us (cut us off) from the foundational truth and reality of the Kingdom of God. Yet, God is at
work to restore the truth of His Kingdom to the lives of His people. This Kingdom reality will
engage the passion of His people, confront the onslaught of evil, and bring forth a Church that is
“a mature man…the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”.

 

This book focuses on the Kingdom of God; its nature, presence, and activities in the lives of
God’s people in this age. We will discover the nature and presence of the Kingdom, how it
engages and confronts each of us, and how we can see and experience the activities of the
Kingdom in our life and the lives of those around us, as we bear witness to the good news of the
Kingdom of God to all nations. Only then will Jesus return to establish the complete
manifestation of the Kingdom of God when He comes back to rule the earth.

 

1 1Corinthians 2:9

2 John 11:38-44; Luke 5:17; Matthew 12:25-28
3 Luke 8:1
4 Matt. 12:28
5 Matt. 11:12
6 Acts 28:16-30
7 Matt. 24:14
8 Luke 4:43;

9 Ephesians 4:17-19
10 Romans 1:20
11 2Cor. 4:4
12 2Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 2:8; Ephesians 4:22-27

13 Hebrews 11:6
14 Galatians 3:1-5

15 Galatians 5:16-17
16 1Corinthians 6:17, 20
17 Exodus 34:11-14
18 Romans 8:12-14

19 Rom. 8:14
20 Luke 8:20-21

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