Contrasts in Thinking
Sometimes the greatest enemy of God’s best can be our acquiescence and acceptance of the good. Paul wrote ones under his charge of a progression in the thinking tied to God’s will, or His best for them. There is the good, the acceptable and the perfect. In the process of maturing spiritually, these dimensions are not mutually exclusive. Yet, when it comes to the standard for which we reach, the distinction can be significant. Ultimately it bears on the level at which we embrace Kingdom culture. It is the unique quality Jesus engrained into the thinking of those who would take up His mantle following His sacrifice and resurrection.
Paul also enlightened others under his influence, noting that when he was a child, he thought, spoke and reasoned as a child. Then in becoming an adult, he put away his childish thinking and ways. This insight punctuates how we, as a part of the community of God’s people, must face the realities of the world around us as a culture within a culture.
King Saul’s thinking illustrates the childishness in thinking that robbed him. It robbed him of his true identity and destiny in the Kingdom that could have been. Contrasted with King Saul’s thinking is the thinking of Joseph the Patriarch who, despite betrayal and brutal loss, proactively aligned his thinking with God’s. This choice of thinking marks the course one’s life will take, whether it is Kingdom or whether like Saul’s, just a phony religious mask.
Saul’s thinking was described by Samuel after Saul’s series of presumptuous actions. His rebellion was equated with being aligned with witchcraft thinking and his stubbornness with having idols in his mind. That was an incredibly strong indictment. Saul had missed the purpose for which he was crowned to lead. His reasoning and resulting actions were driven by his own needs and the approval of men, more than by the priority given to leading the people as ones spiritually and culturally set apart in God. Saul was no longer a child. He was responsible for his actions and he bore the consequences. His presumption, short-sighted thinking and the stubbornness reflected in his actions removed him from not just the perfect will of God, but even the good.
Jesus warned us about the times upon us and the intensities they would reflect. His warning points to the religious, self-absorbed spirit that seduced Saul and plagues ones today, even within the elect. Obedience requires knowing the Lord and His ways and of hearing His voice. Obedience discerns and supersedes the superficial. Obedience faces the fears and overcomes worry, anxieties and distractions. Obedience is determined by the personal discipline that maintains the process until maturity and faith gain traction. The Kingdom standard is what will mature our faith and thinking spiritually.
The Kingdom Standard
The Kingdom standard defines the culture, and with it, the thinking of its members. That is why Jesus, in His high priestly prayer in John 17, made the point that His disciples would be in the world, but not of the world. Jews have long understood this point, that as God’s people, with our identity in Him and His ways, we need to be aware that we are a culture within a culture. That is the reason, that as king, Saul fell: rather than lead the people in defining the culture, he acquiesced to the substandard desire among the people to be like the cultures around them.
Believers need a full understanding of the Kingdom to better shape their thinking. Far too many have a short-sighted grasp of the Kingdom. The view of the Kingdom for some reduces their faith to a moral standard for living, gatherings to worship and a ticket to heaven. Certainly it involves these things, but it is so much more.
The Kingdom of God is the connection between the natural and the spiritual worlds that transcends time. It is the realm where God rules, evidenced by His supernatural intervention in the events and lives of people reaching for more of Him. It is the spiritual atmosphere and consciousness of His presence surrounding the interaction of the Lord and His people. It is the application of the thinking of God’s people that releases creativity and increase into the world around them. It is the harmony and creative power that brings change to those in its wake when God’s presence is in manifestation among His people.
As His people, we are forerunners pioneering a Kingdom pathway that creates and builds in the face of the force of opposition manifesting from within the cultures and power sources operating within the world. To live a life in this pioneering path requires the recognition of the primary components by which the Kingdom operates: economic, culture, power and the creative. The application of Kingdom strategies within each reflects the entrepreneurial, community, the spiritual and our thinking.
Rebellion and Stubbornness
Yet, for Saul his thinking and his actions were summed up by Samuel as rebellion and stubbornness. Rebellion is a conscious rejection of assigned authority. It begins in the thinking and manifests in actions. It involves an attitude of “I know better.” Stubbornness is the resistance, embracing both subtle and overt refusals to comply with the ways considered as acceptable.
Again, what begins in the thinking, in action becomes the modification and replacement of the right standards and responsibilities. In Saul’s case, the rebellion was tied to witchcraft which employs high levels of manipulation and the stubbornness was as idolatry, which is the step toward choosing a replacement for and modifying the way that is right.
This is why Jesus gave strong warning about the precepts of men and came down so hard on the Pharisees, whose reasonings were generally self-absorbed, interpreting God’s standards with add-ons and modifications designed to support their own self-serving positions and to control those around them.
Life in Kingdom Culture
The life of Joseph the Patriarch represents one of the most dramatic biblical accounts of the way these components of the economic, the culture, the thinking and the creative can bring positive impact to the surrounding society, while advancing the purposes of the Kingdom.
Joseph had every disadvantage in the natural: loss of his freedom, betrayal from and loss of his family, loss of his culture, loss of any position or status. Yet, he chose to direct his thinking to God and His ways. He communed with and spent time with the Lord. He released creativity and brought increase, as he faithfully served his masters and sought God’s blessings for them. He genuinely put into practice the mantle of His great-grandfather Abraham, of being blessed to be a blessing.
Contrary to Saul, Joseph aligned his thinking with God’s standards with what he discerned and heard from God. This gave him the strategy to apply in his service to his masters. As noted in Genesis 39, “Everyone saw that the Lord was with Joseph and made all that he did to prosper.”
The Kingdom Standard, Thinking and Strategy for Application. This way of life, embracing the Kingdom standard, thinking according to God’s ways, which unveiled the specific strategies for living, became foundational to Joseph when a slave in Potiphar’s house, a prisoner and then as Pharaoh’s most trusted advisor and administrator.
Truly Joseph mastered the Kingdom principle of operating as a culture within a culture. In doing so, he changed the course of Egypt, while averting the impact of the famine on his people and advancing the Kingdom of God in the process.
Kingdom Identity. The standard shapes the thinking, which in turn determines the actions. This is the path for those truly embracing a Kingdom identity. Jesus indicated it would come at a cost and wouldn’t necessarily be easy. It would begin with followers who are serious in their faith and who fully embrace their identity in God, pursuing His ways and becoming disciples.
Disciples who put in action the principles of the Kingdom become servants. Then, as servants are deemed good stewards, they graduate to becoming friends of God, ones acquainted with His priorities. When Joseph stood before Pharaoh and gave Pharaoh not only the interpretation of his dreams, but the strategy Joseph gleaned from God, Joseph then recommended that Pharaoh find a trusted one, to administer this strategy.
I’m convinced that the last thing in Joseph’s mind at that point was in seeking that position. Yet, that was God’s intention and a no-brainer for Pharaoh, who recognized not only the Spirit of the Lord operating in Joseph, but the trust factor he could rely upon in seeing this God-strategy implemented.
Those like Joseph, who earn the trust of God at this level become His sons, representing him as ambassadors, as that trust is extended to ones in authority.
Priority Time with the Lord. Knowing the Lord and His ways at the level of Joseph can only come through the priority given to communing with God and prayer. This is where the thinking is reshaped, special gifts are bestowed and the action plan, the strategy for one’s destiny is unveiled.
It doesn’t happen because of one’s natural talents and gifts, but rather in giving those natural talents and gifts to the One who creates and brings increase, which will bring a vital dimension to the equation that never could have happened in the natural. Priority time with the Lord puts us at the gates of uncharted territory and relationships, arenas we might never have considered, yet because God’s ways are higher than the best we might operate in, it opens opportunity that we otherwise would have never considered.
Uncharted Arenas. Scripture tells us that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Joseph’s dreams as a young man gave him but a glimmer of how God intended to use him. Egypt and serving the Lord in Pharaoh’s kingdom was very much beyond the scope of his thinking. It represented uncharted territory with uncharted relationships.
Jesus observed that these higher levels of God’s purposes too often are hidden to the wise and prudent, although grasped by babes. It is in the thinking. It represents the contrast between the thinking of Joseph and the thinking of Saul. The willingness to venture, with God, into uncharted territory becomes the foundation for developing one’s gifts that will bear on walking into that fullness represented by the perfect will of God. Combined with wisdom and testing the spirits, discerning and perceiving beyond the parameters of our natural mind-sets becomes the mark of Kingdom thinking.
Developing the Gifts. Scripture tells us that: God gives gifts to men and that a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. I have observed what I refer to as the combined gifts. Each of us has a natural gift, an ability that comes naturally that we can do a lot better than MANY other people. Then as believers, we have spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts I give special focus to are referred to as the Romans 12 motivational gifts, simply because they enhance and work in concert with our natural gifts and serve to release the Kingdom authority needed for the steps required.
But then, because of the Spirit of the Lord living within us, His nature, His DNA manifests to create and bring increase. So, as these gifts are combined and developed, to where their application is better than MOST other people, we have the means and authority to bring change through our gifts. It is also the foundation needed to commercialize this combined gifting through business. All this merges to serve and build community.
As these gifts are combined, developed and mature, they carry the potential for explosive power in their application that not unlike Joseph, when turned loose by Pharaoh, brought about remarkable blessing and change for both the Egyptians and the Kingdom of God. The process begins with the Kingdom standard, which reshapes the thinking and then releases strategies for application and change.
Bringing Change. Making a difference in community is driven by the mantle of Abraham: of being blessed to be a blessing. Applying Kingdom strategies that result from abiding by the Kingdom standard and Kingdom thinking will demonstrates God’s reality by operating beyond that place of human effort: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us.” Kingdom culture manifests when our lives reflect a harmony with God. The result will be the fruit that comes from being used by God to create and build, as people of influence, those who like Joseph avert impeding disasters through mobilized community strategies.
Distinctives of Kingdom Thinking
Operating as a culture within a culture requires higher standards that direct our thinking and the application of our thinking: an unequivocal identity in God, the priority given to time with Him, the humility in recognizing that His thinking is higher than ours and from that discerning uncharted arenas, the discipline to develop the combined gifts needed to excel and the eagerness and willingness to pay the cost to be used to face the opposition with Kingdom strategies as a change-maker.
All this requires the type of thinking that reflects the wisdom of self-sufficiency, leading as a servant and a life of unquestionably high moral standards in the responsibilities tied to being blessed to be a blessing. Kingdom thinking begins with vision. Joseph’s response to his dreams, were not unlike his great-grandfather’s faith in believing God when told that his descendents would be more than the stars he could count in the night sky. Such faith takes us into uncharted arenas connecting the natural and supernatural worlds.
Yet the faith required for Kingdom thinking also requires the balance of prudence that does it homework well. Proverbs 14:15 indicates that a prudent man is cautious and considers well his steps. Prudence operating together with priority time with the Lord brings one into the place of how Jesus described faith operating in our imaginations. Not to be confused with vain imaginations, the sanctified imagination is that place in one’s thinking where the natural and the supernatural worlds collide and faith takes root.
Again this come from priority time with the Lord and interactive prayer. Journaling can be a vital part of this meshing of our imaginations in prayer with prayerful, God-directed planning that results in the strategy for our actions. David journaled his times with the Lord. Not overlooking the significance of the psalms he scribed, when David turned the reigns of his kingdom over to Solomon, scripture tells us: “David gave Solomon the plans for all that he had by the Spirit. ‘All this, said David, the Lord made me to understand in writing by His hand being upon me, all the words of these plans.'”
Facing Contrasts in Thinking
Kingdom thinking is a requisite to bringing Kingdom change. Bringing change will trigger resistance from both within the community of God’s people and from the world. The disorder and turbulence, both natural and spiritual, playing out in the world today are the result of generations of childish thinking, and of the fruits of rebellion and stubbornness that have taken deep root at the gates of not only the societies of the world, but those among the religious, who like Saul have sought to realign their standards to be like everyone else.
The world is looking for the reality of God as a counter-balance to the forces that erode hope and economic stability. It is a skeptical world and one that has reason, because of the Sauls, to distrust those who raise the banner of religion. The challenges facing modern-day Josephs pivot in demonstrating the reality of God. Yet, when the reality of God is seen within communities of God’s people, it captures the attention of the world and people will come. It is one of the reasons that reconciliation within the community of God’s people is so vital in this hour. It is also why alliances with chosen gatekeepers will trigger Kingdom thinking and the opportunity needed for the challenges of the hour.
Bringing change, not unlike the days of Joseph, is going to require the supernatural hand of God and the sons of God who like Joseph have been prepared to serve at specific gates in society. Being a proactive representative of God’s Kingdom who employs Kingdom thinking releases the blueprint that merges the prophetic, God’s big-picture and strategy that determines God’s destiny.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
Likewise, email us to schedule a seminar for your group’s gathering on the Joseph-Daniel Calling or on anointing the creative in business.
2018 Copyright Morris Ruddick — email@example.com
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