One of the biggest corrections that Jesus ever gives is to the teachers and to the Pharisees because they were hypocrites. This should give us all cause to pause a little bit.
He said, if you look at Matthew 23:13, he said, “Whoa to you teachers, Pharisees, your hypocrites. Why? Because you shut the kingdom in men’s faces. You don’t enter it, nor will you let those enter who are trying.” That’s a big accountability, people. If we’re leaders and if we’re pastors, and if we’re about building a relationship with God, we definitely need to be allowing others to enter the kingdom and to live kingdom. It’s an accountability. It’s really not an option.
That’s why in Item B, I wanted to talk about the advantages because I like the advantages. I like the benefits, but it’s also an accountability. It’s really not optional, truthfully, if we look at scripture. I mean, Item D is that there’s a blessing associated with it. In Matthew 6:19, “We’re called to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth.”
Think about this. What we just talked about is where it’s from and who’s it is. As I pursue and seek first the kingdom, as I execute the strategy and plan, and I generate treasures; all the treasures I put into the kingdom and generate from the kingdom are used or stored in heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven! I am operating with Kingdom of God currency.
A struggle that I’ve found in pursuing business is that as I do business well, and I generate wealth and increase, how do I use those for the good of the kingdom, good of heaven? How do I store them in heaven? If I’m seeking first the kingdom, most everything I’m doing that generates wealth and riches is already for the kingdom. I don’t have to wait and then think about, “Hey, I have to give so much money away.” Generosity is a very important attribute of the Kingdom, but the point is I don’t have to give money away as the only means of storing up treasures in heaven. Instead, I use it and invest in for Kingdom purposes. Within the church and outside the four walls of the church.
Kevin’s Comments: That’s a really interesting concept because if you think about any kingdom, if you’re the king, you would desire that the people in your kingdom are being productive and creating goodness and prosperity, and increasing the quality of life, making it good to be under your rule. That’s all throughout the Old Testament. All the instructions given to kings were all about making that their rule should be just and take care of those who are brokenhearted. You could take care of those who have been taken advantage of.
Those who are hurting, you help. Right. And that’s not just through, like you said, just giving money away. It’s about empowering the people who are creating the systems that allow that to happen. That’s getting wealth. If you want people to be able to drive around and be mobile, then you should have an auto repair place that does a really good at that because that makes peoples’ life’s better. As an enterprise that should operate with excellence.
Bringing forth new Treasures and releasing old Treasures
James Barthel: Mathew 13:52 then brings out, so not only are we called to store treasures in heaven, Matthew 13:52 says that for the teachers, the instruction about the kingdom, this is house owner, but it can be business owner, allows the owner to bring out new and old treasures from the storehouse. As we seek first the kingdom, God himself is involved in our impact, influence, significance, and success.
I’ve seen this in my business. You start to enter into new areas that you yourself didn’t necessarily identify or create the opportunity. God himself brings you into a new place of opportunity. As I thought through this, one of the coolest things about the business that I formed, ran, and created, is I didn’t create our main line of business. And I’m not just saying that because God owns everything. Truthfully, we set up to enter into this specific market and that market dried up within a year and a half, maybe two years.
It wasn’t even until four or five years later that I saw that God had transitioned us from the market that we thought we were serving to this new market. And even later after years of running the business, God took us from a market that we then possessed and did well in, and he brought us into additional new markets we were not aware or familiar with. Our prayer and then focus should be to increase the overall capability to successfully manage more, God grants you what you can manage not what will become a train wreck!
What He was doing is He was releasing from his storehouse treasures. I didn’t even have to figure it out on my own. I mean, God himself lead it. That’s part of following and seeking first the kingdom. I always liked the scripture in Joshua 24:13, which is the promise to the Israelites that he will give you land that you did not toil for, cities you did not build. If we seek God’s kingdom and build his kingdom over building our own kingdom, these are the types of breakthroughs that we’re going to start to see.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing what God’s allowing you to do with what God’s allowing someone else to do. It’s a little off-topic, but I see it throughout my entire walk is that we’re constantly comparing what God is calling us, individually, to do and equipping us and sending us compared to what he’s doing for other people. And well, I’ll come back to that at a different time.
But there’s a blessing. The Discussion Item C point is there’s an obedience and accountability that’s required. Discussion Item D is that there’s a blessing to participate in building God’s kingdom over our own personal kingdom.
Discussion Item E Mission
As I said before, 1 Corinthians 15:24 says, “The end will come when he hands over the kingdom to the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power,” which is similar to Matthew 24:14, which says “that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.
We have the great commission! I don’t know what we would term this. It’s the great mission! As we bring forth God’s Kingdom and we’re destroying the dominion, authority, and power of the kingdoms of the world, you’re accomplishing the great mission! I think that’s the gospel of the kingdom. Because the gospel of the Kingdom was preached by Jesus and his disciples before the accounting for sins that was made available. Right? That’s a different thing that was preeminently the purpose of Jesus’ teaching mission. Because that is, you are already under the authority of this kingdom, so you should act that way.
The king of creation has established his kingdom. It’s here. You’re in it.
Now, you need to figure out what that means for you personally if you’re in objection to that, or if you don’t want to believe that, or if you’re not down with that, then you’re an enemy. You should consider that as well. It’s an authoritative proclamation of the teaching of authority of this is the way it’s now going to be.
James Barthel: Right. Well, in fact, Jesus said to Nicodemus that you cannot enter the kingdom. You can’t even see the kingdom unless you’ve been born again. And so that’s part of the challenge is when you’re creating an organization that wants to seek first that kingdom, many of the people that you need to participate don’t see the kingdom.
There needs to be methods and processes and techniques and things you do that they don’t have to see it for themselves, but they can be aware of your values and be aware of how the kingdom gets brought forth. That’s the how that’s coming. I wanted to move forward, we’re out of time. Go back up to B then.
Discussion Item B. Advantages of the Kingdom
What are the advantages to the kingdom? And what does the kingdom look like in business? As I studied that, I was led to Ephesians 4 and 5, which is a great discussion on the unity and maturity in the body of Christ. I’m going to open it up for discussion, but I just give you a little bit of a start here is what would the Kingdom in your business look like?
What attributes, nature, and characteristics? So out of Ephesians 4 and 5 out of our own experience, let me just run through a few things, and then we’ll open it up for discussion. To me, kingdom characteristics in my business, versus the lack of kingdom characteristics, let’s look at the lack of first:
Disorder. It’s one of the biggest challenges to running a business is there’s a ton of disorder in our midst. Some businesspeople believe that it is futile to focus on bringing order. I don’t believe that’s true. Dishonesty, and selfishness would be characteristics of an organization, an environment that didn’t have the kingdom. Inconsistency. It’s the death of any organization, inconsistent execution.
Deception. We can think of that. Another one that I saw routinely was chaos. There are just certain people, certain organizations that just operate with a ton of chaos. It doesn’t have to be. I already mentioned selfishness. Spirit of poverty for another whole discussion. Greed. Greed is a big one.
Without the Kingdom, and I think Parker, you were brought up on that is greed and Mammon become the driving force. On the other side then, what would the characteristics of the kingdom be in our company? It would be peaceful. And I can assure you that, and Mike was around, we would have people visit our company and they’d be like, “I don’t understand. I can’t describe it. There’s so much peace here.” And it’s like a good church. You enter the doors, and you go into the worship center. There’s peace.
Comments by others: Like home, often do you walk into a person’s home, it’s a sense of peacefulness and contentment, and gratitude, just a rich feeling. Right?
James Barthel: And then joy. Right? Well, joy. I mean, when we’re doing God’s work and we’re filled with his spirit, I can think back through my own times, managing the company when I was really close to God and when I was not. When I was really close to God, no matter what the circumstances, I was filled with joy. People would seek you out because you’re filled with joy.
Then honesty, repeatability, selfless. And we could talk more and we will on the how. But in the kingdom, I would be not focused exclusively on my own needs but focused on the needs of others first. And that carries through to how we serve our customers. A team attitude. There would be order.
Every morning when you came into the office, there wouldn’t be a slew of people waiting to come into your office to talk to you about all the issues that were there. In fact, what I found, I had to go find them. I had to seek them out because through the systems and the processes, and the approach, and the atmosphere and God’s presence, there was an order that was brought forth.
There’d be far fewer crises. I said fewer. I’m not certain that there would never be any crises. Maybe there would not be, there’d be fullness. There’d be increase. God’s kingdom is increasing, there is abundance for the things of the Kingdom. You can’t help but increase if you’re doing God’s work over time because we’ve talked about the challenges that come up and those challenges God uses to build us and to refine us, and to refine our organization.
It would be a fallacy, I think, to say that a kingdom business is constantly growing and increasing. It’s not what I experienced. There are seasons. And if you do what you need to do in those seasons, then overall-
Sowing and reaping.
… you increase. Right. You’re sowing and reaping. That’s exactly right. What else? I’d like to open it to discussion? What else would the characteristic and nature of how we operate look like as we seek first the kingdom?
Other comments: Kevin on Zoom said the fruit of the spirit shows up when we seek God’s will and put it in our business. Those are great characteristics that are out there.
Right, right. Good job, Kevin.
I mean, it’s interesting because I think they’re probably parts for each of our businesses that are really, really personal. To some degree, you have to interact with people on a very personal level to help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish in a business sense. I mean, you can probably attest to this when you start talking about people’s owning money, usually the walls go straight up. It’s about love, transparency, and defining purpose. Right. If you can do that, all of these things follow.
James Barthel: Right. Yeah. Well, there is a lot less emphasis on money as the prime factor. Business is, we’ve talked before the parable, the talents, other parables. We are called to increase. In fact, the marketplace is a unique aspect of the kingdom where we are called to feed and finance and increase.
There’s an accountability to figure out how to make your business successful, just as there’s an accountability to make your church successful and your ministry successful because we glorify God through that. But as we talked about before, the focus on money versus the other, and we’ll get into it in the how, but the money obviously becomes an outcome of doing something really well. And it’s managed from a good stewardship standpoint to invest into the kingdom to store up treasures in heaven.
But if the stewardship isn’t defined, I mean, and it’s not just money. If the stewardship and the purpose isn’t defined, and we don’t know what that is, we either tend to operate in this place of outright fear or outright grief. And there’s not a whole lot if you don’t have a foundation of why.
And I like how you brought up the foundation. And that’s what I discovered is to get to the higher horizon, think about a foundation. You don’t see that foundation. You never see a foundation and say, “Wow, what a great foundation.”
But without the foundation, the rest of it doesn’t stand. And so, part of the how is how we go about building and renewing that foundation because often there’s a transformation as we serve the kingdom in our careers and in our businesses that take place just in our lives. Hopefully, we’re growing, we’re maturing, we’re getting revelation. We’re doing more for the kingdom.
But the foundation, what I found is that, I think it applies to ministry, certainly applies to businesses. We had to go back and look at our business foundation (purpose, mission, values the why and how we set up to operate). The earlier ways we had established, had cracks and the Lord showed it to me. Initially we were not focused on the Kingdom, and now it was a primary focus. We had cracks, it had weaknesses. It wasn’t strong enough to grow, as a kingdom business. I’ve shared this story before is we could grow for few years or so to a certain level of performance, but we could never get above it. We would go down, decrease some. Then we’d fix things, then we’d get back up, but not going higher than the prior top level. And I’m like, “Lord,” I said, “this is driving me crazy. How come we can’t get beyond that business size lid? There’s got to be a spiritual reason.”
And he showed me, it was that we needed a foundation change. The foundation was cracked, and it wasn’t solid for what God had in store for us to come. Part of what I want to talk about later in the how you build God’s kingdom, is you’ve got to create the foundation for not what you already have today. You want to build a foundation for what you want to have in the future. And you want it to be Kingdom-oriented so that it can hold up and support more!
Any other suggestions? I encourage you to look at Ephesians 4. I mean, it’s just full of wealth. You were taught with regard to your former ways of life to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your minds to put on a new self, created to be like God.
Verses 28; anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share. It goes on and on. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, along with any form of malice. Be kind and compassion, forgiving each other as Christ forgave you. And in how many organ that don’t have the kingdom have we seen bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, backstabbing?
I think a word we haven’t talked about at all is pride. Pride drives a lot of that.
I mean, if you’re prideful, that almost just blocks you from square one, from even being able to even move the veil to see the kingdom.
Yeah, absolutely. And then the opposite of that then be humble. Jesus came as he humbled himself to establish his kingdom. And so that’s the model he set for us is to operate with a sense of humility that the world sees as weakness, and yet it’s the foundation that you’re talking about, the importance of the foundation, well, that’s it. It’s your humility before your creator.
James Barthel: Because the key is being selfless looking at others more than yourself, but also then in serving others. Jesus was a humble servant. Right? This whole servant leadership thing that was popular 10 years ago is right on. Is if we’re prideful, then we’re going to be self-directed. And if we’re humble, then we’re going to be selfless. And if we create an organization that is also selfless and focused on serving, that’s the key element to the kingdom.
Brians’s comments: The first meeting that I don’t know if it was in the first KBA meeting, the first one I went to was in February of 2007. And I think I shared this with you, Jim, but we talked about committing your business to the Lord and which is such a… I mean, it’s in some ways it feels so hyper-spiritual, but in some ways, it’s very practical.
And I out of the car after that meeting and actually had just started our first business and was this very emotional moment because I didn’t really know what I was doing. And it was like this need for surrender, but there’s also this demand for surrender. And the ongoing nature of submitting and committing what you do to your king, your chief executive officer, your president.
Understanding our God gives us this autonomy and this empowerment and these resources and these abilities to do these great things. He wants to co-create with us. But at the same time, he’s got these fundamental lists of parameters and things that he wants us to abide by. And all the distractions of the world and the things that make us feel like I could go do that, or I need to do that, or my top priorities are profit instead of the profit as the means toward accomplishing what we’re trying to accomplish and all those things.
But a chief commander of an army, the purpose is to go execute what your commander has asked you to execute. But then there are so many times when, if you’re in the army and you’re away from the actual, the castle or the village or whatever. And then usually you’re just out there for long enough and you’re like, “Can I can’t even see it anymore? Where is it? We’re out here battling and in the trenches.” And somebody, then your number three in command has come over and say, “Hey, chief.” He opens the scroll or whatever is like, “Hey, read this again, by the way, let’s just glance through this.”
And you’re like, “Oh yeah, yeah, okay. What’s my top priority here?” And so many times being, going back to committing our business in the Lord and understanding what are we supposed to be accomplishing? There’s nothing that’s a higher priority than what he asks to accomplish. But then there’s this a bunch of this unknown. What is it? This discovery process of walking with the Lord.
Like you said, I mean, you make missteps and God’s like a good parent, he’s like, “I don’t think so. That’s not exactly in your…” And then you feel bad and you’re repenting or whatever it is. But ultimately, a humble heart of servitude when we say walking like this, but it’s ultimately being okay with whatever he wants to have happens.
As I’ve said before if you pray every morning for the Lord’s will to be done, the only two options are that he is God, and he will do what he said he would do. If we trust him, he’ll do that through our lives. Or the other option is he’s not who he said he is. And we’re ultimately in control. And good luck with that is how I see that.
James Barthel: I think that’s a good thing to wrap up on and keep the dialogue, but you don’t have to be the leader in the company. The leader isn’t the only one who could bring forth the kingdom. Let me say it that way. We need other people. Even if the leader isn’t pursuing the kingdom, as an employee, as a participant, I can still bring forth the Kingdom. I can look at the values, the objectives, the mission of any organization I’m part of, even if it’s not Kingdom-based, and I can look at it from a kingdom perspective and I can overlay the kingdom on many of the organization’s objectives.
It’s how I go about doing it versus how the company has set up the objective to do it. Now, sometimes there’ll be a conflict and we have to deal with those. I can tell you stories of senior executives that have dealt with that in a very painful way. We have absolutes, there’s certain things we’re not going to do. I’m not talking about an absolute break the law, “No, I’m not going to do that.” But I just, the main point here is that, yeah, leaders, we need to be pursuing the kingdom. But even if you’re not in the ultimate leadership position, you still can bring forth the kingdom.
The last thing I wanted to share, and then we’ll talk about it next month as to what and building on what Brian said, I’ve been doing some study and reading. And I think this resonates with what I saw is, think about the fact that we say as we manage our company, we’re co-managers with Christ. I think that’s true.
Actually, I think there’s a degree that we are actually co-owners of what we have with Christ. And that changes how we view, how we go about doing this. And I’ll give you one exact example of that is when you sign something as the leader of your organization, if it’s Kingdom-based, you have the authority to commit that organization to whatever you’re signing up to.
You are an owner. Now, you’ve dedicated that business to God. And if you’re seeking first the kingdom that’s under God’s authority, but aren’t you a co-owner then? Since God owns everything, I’m the co-owner. There is an authority. There’s an accountability. There’s a privilege. There’re other things that go with that. And we’re going to talk about that next month. All right.
Others comments: call us from Zoom said we’re the body of Christ. Someone is an ear, someone else is an eye, but we’re all needed to impact God’s will. So that goes right along with what you were just saying right there.
Father, we’ve covered so much ground here. Again, I thank you for your word, Lord, that has been shared. But Father, the beauty of, Jesus, what you accomplished is that your word is alive. And through your spirit, Lord, that you speak to our hearts and our minds. And Lord, I just pray that all the scripture that has been discussed today, other scriptures, Lord, would jump off the pages. Jump into our hearts, jump into our minds, let it be fresh and renewing, transformative, full of energy, Lord, that we wouldn’t see our day-to-day lives as we did before.
But we would see it as a way to seek first your kingdom to do your will and to build and establish your kingdom on earth. Thank you for protecting us and delivering us. And thank you for the personal journey that each of us has with you, Lord, that this is not separate from our own walk with you, Lord, that they’re integrated seeking first your kingdom and seeking our own level of faith and maturity in you are tied together.
I just pray encouragement. I pray increase, Lord. I pray, again, open eyes and open ears. And we bless your word now. And I bless each person here, each leader. I pray for their families, Lord, I pray for their children. I pray health and healing as they go forth and bring forth your kingdom, Lord. And I pray transformation that your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Blessed your people here now in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Meeting Notes: April 1 2022 Kingdom Business Alliance:
Serving God’s Kingdom on earth
By James Barthel, New Horizons LLC
Significance of the Goodnews of the Kingdom
- Repent for the Kingdom of God has come
- Kingdom of Heaven (where it is from)
- Kingdom of God (who’s is it)
Why Kingdom understanding and application is important to me
- Purpose: Who/What are we worshiping/serving
MAT 4 Jesus testing in the wilderness (NIV):
4.8 Satan showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 4.9 “All this I will give you” he said “if you bow down and worship me”
4.10 Jesus said to him “Away from Satan! For it is written”: “worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Dt 6:13)
Revelation: who or what we serve is actually what we are worshiping, what we give ourselves to is what we are serving!
- Advantages of the Kingdom, what are the attributes, characteristics and behaviors
- Discussion on contrasts and overlaps (motive)
- Ephesians 4&5: Unity and Maturity in Body of Christ
Who’s Kingdom are we actually building? If God’s are we Co-Owners and what can stop us???
- Obedience and accountability
MAT 23:13 Woe to you teachers—–you hypocrites, you shut the Kingdom in men’s faces, — you don’t enter nor will you let those enter who are trying. (MK 12:40, LK 20:47)
MAT 6:19 store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth (Kingdom)
MAT 13:52 Instruction about Kingdom allows Owners to bring out new and old treasures from storehouse.
1COR 15:24 end will come, he hands over the kingdom to the Father, after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (similar to MAT 24:14 Gospel of Kingdom)
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