Spheres

April 28, 2005

In 2 Corinthians, Paul and the others with him said something curious:

 

“...we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment. But he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” (2 Corinthians 10:14-17)

 

What catches my eye here is that Paul spoke of their “sphere”. What does that mean? What is a “sphere”?

 

Literally the word “sphere” can be translated as “rule” as in a “standard of measurement”. It refers to using a ruler to measure out the area in which we have the right of authority.

 

One rule of thumb about this, is that all godly authority is granted and not seized.

 

I say this because in Matthew 23 as Jesus begins His caustic attack on the abusive and neglectful leaders of Israel He begins like this (in the New American Standard) “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses”. He was upset that they were not satisfied with the realm God gave them and seized authority beyond what He wanted them to have.

 

A “sphere”, then, is a realm or an arena assigned by God in our lives. Before we go further, let’s make sure that we understand that God is specific about these things.

 

One of my favorite verses is Acts 17:26 in which it says that God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”  This is important because it shows how deliberate God is in determining where and when we are.

 

We know, then, that we all have a sphere. With all this in mind, what is our first sphere? Which sphere is the most primary one in our lives? It has to do with our very lives.

 

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:27-30)

 

In verse 28 God says that we are to “fill the earth”; that we are to “subdue” it and have dominion”.  One rendering of the word “fill” is to “fence it in” and in the placing of boundaries there is filling and replenishing.

 

The word translated as “subdue” is a Hebrew word that is interesting: “kabash”  (kaw-bash); it means “to tread down; to conquer, to subjugate, to keep under, to subdue, bring into subjection.” In other words it means to exercise authority over. “have dominion” means to “rule and reign over.”

 

So God originally gave us everything over which we were to exercise authority. When Adam and the woman obeyed satan (who was on the earth) they effectively gave their authority away to him. Since then our realm has been considerably smaller than “everything”.

 

Still, in Christ a lot has been restored. Did you know that twice in Revelations we are referred to as being “kings and priests”? (Rev 1:6 and 5:10) Also in 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are told we have a “ministry of reconciliation” and in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9 we are told that all we Christians are a “holy priesthood”. Kings and priests both have spheres in which they are to operate with confidence.

 

Please understand that a Holy Spirit-led king and priest will try to do only as the Lord says to do. This means that sometimes the Lord will say to not do something about an issue in one’s realm. In other words, just because it is in our realm, we cannot automatically assume that we are to do anything about it. Communication with the Father is essential in this Kingdom.

 

We all have a basic realm

 

So, what is our sphere? It would be our very lives. It would also have to do with what we allow into our lives and with what we do with what we have. The Lord has entrusted us with that and He knows what He is doing. This is why passivity is so damaging: it goes against God's plan for our lives – our spheres.

 

We are designed to actively live; so, we are tempted to live lives in which we have things "happen" to us. This leads to passivity ....victimhood and the next thing you know, we're adrift - or worse: driven by what happens to us. Most people don't seem to fight back at all; they let life do what it will to them.

 

When seen in light of our sovereignty in our realms or spheres, doesn't that seem to run counter to God's intentions for us?

 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

These are all, I believe, aspects of the spheres that we are given within which we are to actively live.

 

“But he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)

 

This speaks to the balance we must seek and enjoy. He gives us a realm in which to actively live, so let’s glory in Him in this.

 

“For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:18)

 

We could summarize verse 18 like this: “all that matters is what God thinks of us.”

 

So, how do we apply this in our daily lives? We should live active lives….recognizing that nothing happens by accident. This means that I have a realm…my life..in which I am to live actively. Managing it for the Lord to Whom it really belongs, since He is my Lord….literally my Owner. If I manage it well, my life should resemble Jesus’ life.

 

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

 

“be imitators of God as dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1)

 

We have generally permanent realms

 

In addition to that basic realm I have other generally permanent realms. They are assigned to me for a season. These include my spouse (this realm should last a long time, until God calls one or both of us home) and my children. That part of my realm is temporary, lasting until they emerge into kingdoms of their own. In fact, everything we get from God is for giving away.

 

In order to properly fulfill my destiny as one who rules and reigns I must actively live in these realms. I need to be an active husband and dad. I need to fully operate in that realm I have been given. It is a form of worship to actively watch over, pray for, serve my wife and children on behalf of God. It is a way of interacting with God since He gave them to me and it is His power I want to use to manage my relationships with them.

 

We have a consistently regular realms

 

Then I think there are consistently regular realms. These are found in the places we find ourselves on a regular basis: work place, church, kid’s sports, stores, the bank, etc. I don’t think any of these is an accident and should be considered as a place God has put us to minister and rule in.

 

If we pay attention we will see all sorts of ministry opportunities for us. God has arranged for us to be equipped and in place for just that purpose: to seek Him and find Him.

 

We have temporary realms

 

Finally, there are other realms, very temporary realms - almost chance meetings. Jesus was active in how He lived in these temporary realms. If not, we might not have any apostles in scripture…because most of them were originally drawn to Him when He ran across them and was active in speaking to them.

 

The gospels are full of incidents in which Jesus met someone as He was going along and actively responded to them and it affected them: woman at the well, the disciples, and the rich young ruler. He stepped into each realm given to Him and so should we.

 

God has, as the verse I quoted earlier (Acts 17:26) states, placed us when and where He wants us so that we can experience God wherever and whenever we find ourselves. Yet, I’ve noticed that we tend to live as if all life was by chance and it seems to me that this has led to us being cheated out of many opportunities to practice being who we are in Christ and utilizing our spiritual gifts to further God’s kingdom on the earth.

 

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” (Romans 12:6a)

 

We often do not use our gifts because we just are not ready to do so. We have a habit of seeing our spiritual lives as a series of religious events and it is at those events that we expect to see God do something (often through someone else.)

 

Paul, in contrast, saw it God’s way: “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a.)

 

I challenged a wonderful woman of God once to show me one thing that did not have any spiritual implications attached to it. She could not do it. The reason is that even this physical world was created by and is maintained by a spiritual Being: God.

 

(The Father) “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:2-3a)

 

We Christians are, therefore eternal spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience. Every situation we walk into is known by God. He is never surprised to see us in any circumstance. Sometimes we are to do nothing but often we are to be active in the world around us: observing, praying, intervening, and using the gifts God sowed into us.

 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

It is why we exist on the earth and weren’t taken to heaven as soon as we were saved.

 

When I first began to see this and believe the simplicity of what the Word has to say about it, life became more exciting for me. I live more actively now. I’m more aware. I’m “ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2b)

 

This is our destiny as children of the King. We are to practice the life of spiritual royalty. We have the right to intervene in the world today, bringing His kingdom wherever we, royalty in that kingdom, go.

 

“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21 Jesus speaking.)

 

What is the will of the Father? His will is that we be His children. His children rule and reign in the realms assigned to them by the Father.

 

 

 

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries

Decatur, TX

© April 27, 2005

(For use with permission)

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