Christianity from a Distance

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

    26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Many of us are resigned and content to read our Bibles, listen to Christian broadcasting or to the minister.  Mentally we agree with all that is being said, but practically we may want to avoid personal involvement.  Oh we may give our tithes, to that those who “are called” to do the work of the ministry, but then we are just the “laymen”.  Just let us live a quiet Christian life in our suburban lifestyle; let us live in our daily routines and not get too involved in the mess outside.   The truth is we get real uncomfortable when a situation comes along that gets in our face.  Perhaps there is a family crisis and someone in the family needs financial or physical help.  Don’t we kind of want to look to someone else to do that?  After all we are busy with our lives and the responsibilities we have.  We have our own bills to pay and work to do.  We often embrace the Christian message in spirit, but not in reality.  We are those Christians from a distance type of people that don’t want to get personally involved.  After all, we’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with, right?  God forbid if someone should require our help or assistance that we don’t even know.

James really gets in our face about this issue of virtual Christianity, if you will. We put on our Christian face one minute and the next, when we look away; we forget what manner of people we are supposed to be.  We favor the rich, because somehow we think it might benefit us, not likely.  They will more than likely exploit your favoritism and give you nothing in return.  We discriminate and reject the poor, because we think that they are only there for a hand out and somehow we are better than they are.  And James 2:5-11 tells us, “5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” 

Jesus met people where they were at.  He had the capacity, as we should, to look past their faults and see their need.  James 2: 14-17 says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  You see our armchair Christianity doesn’t qualify us before our Lord.  It isn’t the example He taught and lived.  Faith has to be dynamic, moving and alive in our being or it is just a name and a dead religion.  It has no life in it. 

God presents us with enough opportunities to demonstrate our faith and beliefs in action.  Will we continue to turn away and turn a deaf ear, or will we begin to listen and hear what God wants to do through us personally?  Will our actions or the lack thereof testify against us on the Day of Judgment?  God is calling us off the couch and onto the field.  A couch potato sports fan does not an athlete make.  The same is true of Christianity.  Our God hasn’t redeemed us to be spectators, but participators in the expression of His life through us.  It is time we get into the game and are what we claim.    

Blessings,

#kent

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The Light before Me

October 19, 2017

Psalms 119:105

Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The Light before Me

This morning, it was before dawn that I was on a little run.  As I turned the corner and headed up the street, straight before me, in the distance on a hill was the lighted steeple of a church.  Immediately I thought of that scripture in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  I thought this is so symbolic of our journey through life.  As I ran on and started up a hill, my breathing became more frequent and heavy as I felt the strain.  Again, I thought how the Lord is with us each step of the way.  We must keep Him as the lamp for our feet and the light unto our path so that we will not stumble, falter or fail in our course.  He is the One who is the inner strength in those times when we are pulling the hills of life and things are hard.  Sometimes we are breathless and we feel we can’t keep going, but we turn within and draw our strength from the Lord.  We tap into that life and source that is not of our flesh, but which is our strength to take us where we could not reach. 

Raise your head and see that beacon on the hill before you.  That is Mount Zion, the city of our God and King.  Keep running, don’t quit, He is the power and life to bring you to your destination.  Our journey is the preparation for what He is bringing us into.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Divine Health

October 17, 2017

Divine Health

Isaiah 53:5

But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

There are a spectrum of belief about divine healing across Christendom today, ranging from it doesn’t exist to every aspect of health is a matter of faith.  It is not the intent to debate these points, but to communicate what the Word of God has to say on this subject and how the Holy Spirit would help us to believe and appropriate it’s truths.  Most of us, as believers in Christ, if indeed we are believers, have no problem accepting by faith that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. We embrace by faith in Him that He has washed away our sins, casting them as far as the East is from the West, into the sea of forgetfulness, never to be remembered anymore.  I dare say many of us probably struggle more with forgiving ourselves than God does with forgiving us.  This is probably true of the aspect of our healing as well.  If indeed we believe in the cross and the power of Christ to forgive our sins and the truth that we are saved by His grace.  If we can truly believe that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus as the Word declares we are then we can no more deny the other aspects of our salvation.  Isaiah, written hundreds of years before the crucifixion of Christ, prophesies very accurately of this great act of sacrifice and salvation that would come through our Christ.  Part of that salvation encompasses divine healing as our scripture today indicates.  If we don’t want to believe that, then we can make attempts to explain it away as we do with other passages that don’t fit our theology, but the fact is ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).’ 

God in his covenant with Israel, when He was about to bring them into the promise land was this in Exodus 15:26: “He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”” If this promise was true of the old covenant how much more so by the new covenant of Christ blood?  The Word of God bears witness that our God is a healing God, healing us physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou [art] my praise.”  David says of the Lord in Psalms 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” He shows how health and salvation are tied closely together.   

Now some of you may be saying, “well I prayed and God didn’t heal me”.  Why, Because you don’t see the evidence of it?  You believe that you are saved, do you see yourself fully walking without sin and in the full manifest nature of Christ?   This is probably not the case.  We have the foretaste of the Spirit, but it’s fullness we still await.  What can take place in the spiritual realm is not always immediately revealed in the natural realm.  This is where we struggle, because we have to see it to believe it.  Treat your healing as you do your salvation.  If you do not doubt that Christ can and has saved you, then accept and receive healing the same way.  Praise and thank Him for what He has done, not just what you see with the natural eye. 

1 Peter reiterates what Isaiah says in 1Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” As much as the nails purchased our salvation, those stripes paid for our healing.  How God works in this area is varied and different.  We can’t put God in a box and regulate his miraculous working with a magic formula, God is God and He works all things after the council of His will and purpose.  This we do know, God is healing and raising people up from sickness and even death, every day.  What He has done for others, He can do for you.  Lay hold of His Word, confess, believe and rest in His promises.  He is the Lord your God that heals you.  May our health trials be but the greater motivation to praise Him, to remember and declare all of the areas of His faithfulness.  The greater our pain, the higher our praise as we declare the light of His truth in the face of our darkness.  The victory is won in the heavenlies, before it is revealed in the earth.  God is faithful to see you through. 

 

Blessing,

#kent

Christian Community Living

October 16, 2017

Christian Community Living

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Often we find ourselves a living contradiction to the exhortation of God’s Word.   Most of us have a Christian community among whom we associate and fellowship, It may be in or out of a local church, but we have a family of Christian friends.  It is very easy for all of us to find ourselves making criticisms and judgements about those within our family.  Perhaps they are making the same type of observations and criticisms of us.  None of us are so naïve that we think that our Christian community and even ourselves are without faults and shortcomings.  As long as our humanity exists outside the full redemption and transformation of Christ we will have trouble in paradise. 

We must ask ourselves what is our function in Christ? Is it to tear down or to build up?  Why do we tolerate all of the faults that each one of us has personally within ourselves?  We don’t have a choice while we are living; we either have to change what we can change and give ourselves grace and forgiveness for the rest or end our life altogether.  If Christ has commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves, then don’t we need to extend that same grace and tolerance to others within our Christian circle and especially toward our leadership?  They are not going to do everything the way we would, but they need our prayers and support, not our criticism and condemnation.  The first people that we must extend kindness and the fruit of the Spirit towards is our brethren. 

Sometimes we all need a rebuke or exhortation.  Sometimes we really need encouragement and understanding.  Sometimes we just need those who will love and accept us for who we are.  We should find all of that operating in our Christian community out of love.  We need to take care of and minister to one another as we would our selves. 

Experience the joy of the Lord in your living.  Pray and put the Lord at the forefront of all of your needs or the needs you see in others.   Pray and thank the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving, even before you see the answers to your prayers.  Let faith arise in our hearts from the moment we make our petitions to our Father in heaven. 

Let us not quench the Spirit, but create an environment of worship and praise where the Holy Spirit feels welcome and has freedom to move through each one of us and to allow the gifts that God has imparted unto each one of us to have expression.  We must listen, learn and discern the voice and the word of the Lord.  What we hear may be a new thing, but it will not go contrary to the Word of God, but the Word of God will affirm it if it is of Him. 

God is working His salvation in us spirit, soul and body.  It is a process and we are all at different stages in the process.  Let us extend love, grace, help and mercy to one another.  Let us be long-suffering, over looking the faults and seeing the needs in one another.  Allow God’s life to flow through you to be the blessing to your community: the vessel of peace and love that He has intended.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Power of the Life Within

 

Romans 8:1-4

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

 

John 3: 17-18 says, “17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn man; He came into the world to condemn sin in man.  Man could never fulfill the righteousness required of the law because of sin, but Jesus through taking our sin upon Himself and paying the penalty disannulled the power of sin to condemn those who receive the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus by faith.  As long as a man chooses to live in sin, he lives under the condemnation of it, but now we have an alternative lifestyle whereby we might come out of sin and walk in the righteousness of the Son of God.  Jesus became the high priest and the administrator of a sinless life.  His holy priesthood is now about life, righteousness and godliness.  His intercession in that priestly position is in our behalf to bring us into the power and authority of His life.  Concerning the priesthood of Jesus Hebrews 7:15-19 says this, “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

There is a dispensation of power that has been brought unto those that believe through God the Father by way of His Son Christ Jesus.   We, who by faith, trust and obedience have embraced Christ, have received a calling to come up into this priestly calling of an endless and indestructible life.  That life now abides in us through His Spirit.  Romans 8:10-14 tells us, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. ¶ Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  The Lord has called us to walk by the Spirit, for it is in the Spirit that we abide and walk in the life of God.

We have all heard the expression that ‘knowledge is power’.  The power to be partakers of the divine nature is in the knowledge of the Lord.  2 Peter 1:3-4 declares to us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One and His precepts are what anchor us to His life and preserve us in a right way.  This morning, as we read Proverbs 4, it affirms this truth.  Verses 5-15 tells us, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” 10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”  Finally, in Ephesians 1:11-23 the Apostle Paul speaks these powerful words, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. 15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Today has been much scripture that I pray is speaking into our lives a revelation of what it is to know Him.  He has called us unto resurrection power and life.  For this power to work in us we must know Him, not in our heads, but in experience and in our hearts.  God has unleashed an unfathomable power toward us who believe to come forth in the power of His life, but it is only realized as we are caught up into His life by our daily walk and living.  This may seem rather out there and ultra spiritual to some of you reading, but I believe there is a dimension of God’s life that He has called us too and that we aren’t fully experiencing.  It is in the knowledge of Him.  He wants to bring us beyond a superficial knowledge into an intimate knowing of power and life.  It isn’t everyone that can hear this and not everyone that will press into it, but to him that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is speaking.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding God

October 12, 2017

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Finding God

The beginning of truly finding God is in finding the end of you.  We become less as He becomes more.  It is as we open the windows of our soul that He begins to flood it with His light.  His truth searches our inward parts revealing the areas in us that are contrary to His nature.  If He were to reveal the full extent or our wretchedness we would no doubt despair and flee from Him.  In His love, God deals with us through the process of time and life to little by little transform who we are as we will give place to the Holy Spirit to work in us and lead us to repentance in the various areas of our lives. 

Self stands more in the way of our pursuit and relationship with the Lord, no doubt more than anything else does.   This is the reason the work of the cross is so imperative in our lives, along with God’s discipline and correction.  It is the working of death to our flesh that enhances the flavor of His life upon our being.  It only makes sense that the more given we are to ourselves, the less given we are to the Lord.  Romans 8:5-7 teaches us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”  I don’t believe it is God’s desire to afflict us or to try us just for the sake of seeing us suffer.  I believe it is God’s heart to bless and prosper us, but if we are not tempered in Christ we will give way to the glory of this world, rather than use our blessing to be a blessing. 

Everyday, in each one of us, God is moving, shaping, stretching, hammering, firing and working His grace in us.  We are His workmanship in the process of being fashioned in His true image, nature and likeness.  Rejoice in all things.  Find your joy in the Lord through all the stages of your life.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13:20-21

Blessings,

#kent

Do You want more of God?

October 11, 2017

James 4:7-10

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Do You want more of God?

When we work on many things it is hard to do any one thing well.  If we really want to see God showing up in our lives and circumstances, then the one thing we need to do really well is God.  God realizes that we have lives to live on this earth and responsibilities that go with that, but in all that we do He should be in the center of it.  He tells us in the scripture prior to this what is separating us from Him.  “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””  How easy it is for us to get friendly with the world, because the world caters to our flesh, our want to’s and like to’s.   It is like when a good looking woman walks by as we are talking to our wife and our eyes come off of her and start following that woman.  God gets jealous over us, much like our wives do.  That other woman isn’t your business; God is your business.  So when He is exhorting us to ‘submit ourselves, then to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.’  He is telling us to focus with a single eye upon Him.  Don’t get distracted by what your flesh wants to do.  Remember that it is dead and has been crucified with Christ, so it doesn’t get to vote any longer.  We are a new creation, like Christ, in that we are focused on doing what the Father wants us to do, saying what the Father wants us to say and going where the Father wants us to go.  We are always straining our spiritual ears to hear Him and watching with our spiritual eyes to see what He sees.  We do that by coming near to Him, not out of duty, guilt or religiosity, but out of the love and desire for His presence.   He must be like the air we breathe; we will suffocate without Him.  He becomes life itself and all that we do whether in the secular world or the religious world has its anchor in Him.  All that we are in this life is for His good pleasure. 

James then talks to us about how to get down to the business of pursuing God.  First there is the full submission of your heart.  Secondly there is the resisting of the devil and his devices that distract us from Father and then there is our approach to the Father.   First we take a bath, clean up in the blood of Jesus, and throw away our garments spotted in the flesh.  We purify our thoughts.  Philippians 4:8 exhorts us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”  Then we have to trash all of our boxes. 

“What do you mean, trash all of our boxes?”

We have all of these boxes in our lives.  We have a job box, our social box, our sports box, our party box, our serious business box and then our God box.  We often compartmentalize our lives where we function under a different set of rules and standards, depending upon which box we are working out of and which circle of people we are dealing with.  That is a double-minded man.  The man of God has one standard and that is God.   Every area of life for this man or woman of God issues out of God’s standard and His heart.  This is kingdom living.  It is living our life in Christ’s principles from the simplest things to the most complex, from our social relationship and work relationship to our God relationship; we only have one toolbox and it is God’s Word! 

Once we have established that we have a single mind then we deal with our attitude.  God becomes our solemn assembly.  We are down to business with God where nothing else matters but Him.  We come into that place of a repentant, broken and contrite spirit, where “God, I have to have You and Your presence or I will die.  We crawl up on His altar and we become poured out before Him.  All of our dignity and self-respect is cast aside and we are on our face crying out for Him.  Our spirit is yearning and our heart is aching as we pursue His presence.  There is no other agenda, but God Himself.  God tells us, if we draw near to Him this way, then He will look upon us with compassion and draw near to us.  He is looking for a people that really mean business with Him in this hour.  Is that our heart and our passion?  Are we that people?

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Blessings,

#kent

Single Eye, Single Mind

October 10, 2017

Single Eye, Single Mind

Luke 11:34-35

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness.

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

We hear it said, “the eye is the window of the soul.”  Jesus is saying something similar to this in this passage.  The soul is made up of the mind, will and emotions.  The eye really represents the input to what we are feeding into our soul.  Someone could be physically blind and actually have more light in their body than someone who has all of their faculties.  In John 9:39-41 Jesus has a conversation with the Pharisees after healing a blind man and remarks to them,”…For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And [some] of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” Our spiritual sight comes by way of the Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit is what quickens the Word of the Lord to us and makes it light and life.  We become accountable for the knowledge and light that we have. With what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees it is plain to see that just because they had the knowledge of the Word of God they didn’t necessarily have enlightenment and understanding.  How many are deceived today because they think if they know something about God that saves them or puts them in right position spiritually?  Jesus is saying to the Pharisees, if you were ignorant of the Word of God that would be one thing, but because you think you know the truth and because of your knowledge, your sin remains.  Knowing the truth is not necessarily living in the truth.

If there is one thing that I’ve seen through the years, “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1Corinthians 8:1).”  We can have a great command of the Bible and great revelation knowledge, but it is not in what we know, it is in what we are walking in and putting into practice in our lives.  Faith in action according to knowledge and working through love is what produces life and light. 

Jesus is speaking to His disciples concerning spiritual sight in Matthew 13:10-17, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous [men] have desired to see [those things] which ye see, and have not seen [them]; and to hear [those things] which ye hear, and have not heard [them].” 

In order for us to have light it must come to us through the eyes of spiritual insight.  That brings with it not just knowledge and legalism, which is the state we see the people of Jesus’ day in, but it comes through the Word that is quickened by the Holy Spirit who gives life and understanding to our knowledge.  Rather than a head thing, it becomes a heart thing.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The law simply written on pages and administered by men simply becomes legalism, condemnation and death.  The law written upon our hearts by a life changing Spirit becomes to us and those around us, life, liberty and light.

Jesus likens our light as unto a candle set upon a lampstand.  If we have a candle alone, like the Word without the Spirit, we have no light.  If we have a flame with no candle we may well have a fire out of control.  But if we have a candle lit with a flame we have a union that creates balance and produces light.  We are the lampstands that are to carry that light with singleness of purpose.  Our purpose is to be the outshining of His light and the truth of His Word through lives that are lived in the luminance of the light which He brings to us who of a single eye and a single mind.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Flesh and Blood of Christ

 

John 6:53

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

 

This was a hard saying back in the day when Jesus spoke it.  You can imagine the hearers that were processing this through their natural minds.  “What is He saying, that we have to cannibalize Him and drink His blood?”  This would be an abomination to the natural mind of the Jewish person, especially in the light of the teaching of the law about the blood.  Leviticus 17:10-14 taught, “And whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.  For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

And whatsoever man [there be] of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

For [it is] the life of all flesh; the blood of it [is] for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh [is] the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”  From this passage you can see why the many struggled with what Jesus was speaking to them and why many turned away.  So why would Jesus say something so controversial and seemingly contradictory to the law?  We can easily see where the blood of Jesus was the all time atonement for our sins, but why would He say we should drink His blood when it was an abomination to God to drink the blood of animals?  Have you ever heard the saying, ” you are what you eat?”  This has a lot of application here.  The blood represented the life and nature of a creature.  I believe in God’s eyes, for man to drink the blood of animals was for him to, in essence, partake of that lower beast nature.  There was identification and imparting of the nature or the soul that was ingested with its blood.  The blood of the animals was to be poured out and covered with dust, which was the perishable, and corruptible substance from which it came.

Jesus was the beginning of the New Covenant, not one established upon the corruptible and temporal sacrifices and atonement of the blood of goats and calves.  He established the New Testament upon the perfect incorruptible and eternal sacrifice and atonement of His blood and life given once for all, for all of mankind.  Jesus was communicating the spiritual truth that in order to have the incorruptible nature and life of God we had to partake of it through the body and blood of Jesus.  As He said in John 14:6,  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Obviously, it wasn’t the physical ingesting of the body and blood of Jesus that He was referring to in this passage, but the partaking of His life through faith in His word.  We do this symbolically through the communion.  These are small physical reminders of the great truth that without a true participation in our communion and partaking of His Spirit life we are none of His.  Perhaps we begin to comprehend as never before what our Lord accomplished and gave to us through His Passion.  Let us meditate, seek to comprehend and appropriate all that He provided for us through the breaking of His body and the giving of His blood.  As we partake of Him through faith we are partakers of His incorruptible, everlasting soul, His nature and His life.  So let us eat of His flesh and drink of His blood for it is eternal life for all who partake.  He is forever the Bread of Life and His life is in the blood.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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