A Colony of Heaven - Bob Sawvelle - blue earth in space with rising sun

Have you ever flown a “red-eye”? If you have, then you know how tiring an overnight flight can be. Last week, I flew east for seminary meetings with our Global Awakening church network. My flight Sunday afternoon was canceled due to snow in Chicago. The only flight available was a 2 am flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia, then a noon flight to Harrisburg. When I arrived at 2:30 pm Monday for the meeting, I was exhausted, and probably looked it to.

About an hour later I had the opportunity to exercise my authority as a kingdom citizen. After the lecture and Q&A time, I was helping to pray for students. My body and mind were fatigued, but as I peacefully began to pray, the prophetic prayer began to flow effortlessly.

I’ve learned over the years, that I can be physically tired, but when I began to operate from the Holy Spirit flow within, everything changes.

One of our students and his wife are from Australia. As I began to pray for them, the Lord spoke to me about their teenage son. I had this impression that he was struggling and needed prayer. I wasn’t sure if they had a son, so I asked them, to which they said “Yes, we have a teenage son who has a skin condition he is struggling with.” We agreed together in prayer for him and I also prayed for his safety and protection. Again, I was physically tired, but I know my spiritual rights as a son of the kingdom—God hears the prayers of his ambassadors—despite their fatigue!

Two days later, the wife stops me and gives me an update on her son. She said, “Bob, we found out that when you were praying with us for our son on Monday, around that time in Sidney he had fallen from a city bus as he was getting off and injured his head. It was a serious head injury; my father took him to the hospital and the doctors ran several tests and kept him overnight. He was released the next day, his prognosis had improved dramatically overnight! Thank you for your prayers, we didn’t know what happened to him, but God knew!”

I love being part of the family of God, but I also love the reality that I am a citizen of a heavenly realm. And just as a citizen of a natural country has rights, we have rights and the authority of heaven to aid us as we are busy about the Father’s business.

Did you know that understanding you are part of a colony of heaven on earth helps you to live as an overcomer and remain in God’s peace and joy?

Paul told the Philippians that they were a colony of heaven on earth, citizens of heaven, who are called to live from another world while living in this earthly realm.

But we are a colony of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our life-giver, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our humble bodies and transfigure us into the identical likeness of his glorified body. And using his matchless power, he continually subdues everything to himself.” Phil. 3:20-21 TPT

A colony of heaven, or a commonwealth of citizens of heaven, where we hold tightly to Jesus our life-giver. We eagerly await his return and are anchored in hope of our resurrection. This confidence helps us to remain at peace and live in joy amid a turbulent world. God’s kingdom is free of worry and filled with peace. Understanding this reality should also empower us to follow Jesus faithfully and to help others find freedom who are bound in darkness. When we live like this, we help expand the borders of the colony of heaven on earth.

However, a loose hold of Jesus hinders your confidence in Christ and inhibit’s God’s peace and joy from operating in your life.

Paul reminds the Church at Philippi that although they may be citizens of Rome, who are living in the country of Macedonia, they have a higher citizenship and are only foreigners on earth. The reader of Paul’s day would have understood the concept of a colony in a foreign land and dual citizenship.

Like the Philippians, we comprise the colony of heaven on earth—within this colony or embassy of heaven, a different culture exists. As citizens of another world, Paul was exhorting them and us in three areas.

1st, to walk worthy of this citizenship. Don’t live of the world or be influenced by the world in how to think and act. Change your perspective to a heavenly perspective.

2nd, as citizens of heaven, they had the privilege of representing heaven in this world, to bring a manifestation of God’s kingdom to this world.

3rd, they were exhorted not to worry; but to pray and trust God (Phil. 4:4-9)

You enter God’s kingdom through new birth (Jn. 3:3). You become part of God’s family, a Kingdom citizen, and part of God’s colony—you became a naturalized citizen of heaven!

In his writings, Paul uses the metaphors of family and citizenship to describe our relationship to God and his kingdom. Our born-again experience also affords us adoption into God’s family as well as places us as citizens into the kingdom of heaven.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Eph. 2:19 NKJV

Not only does new birth make you a citizen of heaven, but your citizenship begins immediately. We are kingdom citizens and his ambassadors now. Get more discipleship and training but begin to pray for others and share the good news of what Jesus has done for you and is doing in our world! You are his celebrated ambassador to those who need to encounter his love and power.

So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 2 Cor. 5:20 CEB

Why is this so important? Religion tends to postpone the benefits of our heavenly citizenship to the future. God’s Kingdom is both now and yet to come.

Salvation, healing, deliverance are no good in eternity—we need them now—not later!

The reader in Paul’s day would have understood the might of Rome behind its citizens. As an ambassador for Christ, you live in one world while representing another. We have the culture, economy, and power of heaven presently. When I was in the Navy and overseas, I knew that the might of the United States government was behind me and my fellow servicemen and women. How much greater is the might of heaven behind its citizen soldiers?

Why would Jesus tell us to pray for God’s kingdom to come if it were automatic? Yes, Jesus will come again—this is automatic and sovereign. But God’s kingdom, which is his domain and rule, manifests through family members, who exercise their rights now as citizens of heaven.

You see, we are citizens of heaven, but live in a country called earth. The church (ecclesia) are called out ones, to be like a colony. Or another way to view this is as an embassy-refuge for the persecuted!

Understanding your rights as a citizen of heaven empowers you to live from divine purposeHeaven aids those who understand their identity and purpose. Knowing your citizenship and purpose affects your thinking and your behavior. Your confidence builds and others are set free.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor. 5:16-17 NLT

The Greek words used for new person or new creation convey the idea that you are a new and distinct person through regeneration in Christ. As a new person in Christ, you are empowered by the Spirit to see him and others differently. Your worldview is also different, it’s heavenly now.

We should see everyone (and the world) according to the spiritual realm. “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh…” 2 Cor 5:16 NKJV

Just as we no longer understand Jesus from a fleshly or human perspective, we must recognize the supernatural, spiritual dimension in each other as well. While Paul is stressing the change that has happened to each one of us in Christ, he is also trying to help us see each other differently—from heavens perspective.

Live as a Citizen of Heaven

Paul tells them to, “…imitate my walk with God and follow all those who walk according to the way of life we modeled before you.” Phil. 3:17 TPT

How did Paul live? By forgetting the things of the past (vs. 13) and concentrating on the future—running straight ahead for the heavenly goal and gaining the ultimate prize found in Jesus—His presence and anointing (vs. 14).

Paul persecuted the church; his past was less than ideal—this is true for you and I. Paul doesn’t focus on this; he focuses on his new life in Christ and maintains an eternal perspective.

Your past is the past, but your future you control. Your choices, your attitude, the words you speak affect whether you live as an overcoming citizen, or one who is struggling daily with the affairs of this world.

Paul also reminds us that some are enemies of Christ, living for the world,

there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. Phil. 3:18-19 NKJV

This is a description of those who are not part of the colony of heaven. Those who are outside of God’s colony. They tend to live in turmoil and may reap destruction and unless they repent and follow Jesus.

Jesus came to free humanity from the power of darkness. Many choose the darkness over the light. Their lifestyle reveals their loyalty. Paul tearfully discusses this with the reader because he knows the outcome if they don’t repent.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem; he knew the outcome of their rejection of him. He had compassion for the lost, compassion for those chained in darkness—and so should we.

God desires to reach people with his love. He chooses to use his kingdom citizens to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. We live in a Post-Modern and Post-Christian society, many people are ignorant of the gospel, having never heard—we must go to them.

If you are without Christ, Jesus longs to adopt you into his family. If you are enslaved in sin, he longs to free you as you surrender to him.

Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:16, “from now on”—we no longer view others according to the natural. No one includes you—don’t look at yourself in the natural. See yourself as you are, a new person in Christ, not the old man.

You are an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. You are a citizen of his kingdom, and he promises to care for you. God will care for you, provide for you, and empower you to fulfill your destiny and purpose in life.

Your Citizenship in Heaven Affords You God’s Peace and Joy

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!… Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:4, 6-7 NLT

How can you be full of God’s joy?

First, by remembering you are a citizen and ambassador of heaven. Society and the world is your assignment, but not your permanent home. Secondly, we have an eternal mission—go in faith and confidence that God is watching over you!

Events happen in life, you have no control over most of them. But you do have control over how you react to them. Remember, God works everything for your good. Never lose your praise, never lose hope—it may be midnight but God!

When you allow worry and fear to control, you limit the authority you have as citizens of heaven. I’ll develop this more next week!


For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message: A Colony of Heaven


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