Follow Peace with All Men

September 26, 2022

Follow Peace with all Men

Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

               Often our relationships with others reflect the true condition our soul.  Just as our words are the reflection of our heart, our relationships with people should be the expression and the root of our relationship with our heavenly Father.  So often there is such a contradiction between what we want to think we are our as Christians and how we really treat other people.  Can we say that we are at peace with all of those that we have been in relationship with?  Have we ended up offending, hurting, betraying, backbiting, gossiping or taking advantage of someone we have been relationship with at some level of social interaction?  Have we found people that, for some reason, no longer want to associate with us or have turned against us?   Unfortunately, we aren’t often as pure and godly as we would like to think we are.  Through careless words, deeds or acts of selfishness, we can offend and hurt others without even realizing it.  This is especially true of the ones we say we love; our families, spouses, children or parents.  Loving and close relationships are much like our reputation, we can spend years building them and in one careless moment we can destroy them.  Perhaps some of us have issues like that today.  We may have even acknowledged our offense, repented of it, but maybe the person we have offended won’t allow us to mend that fence.  They may still carry that hurt and offense. 

               It is so important for our spiritual lives and social relational lives to line up with one another.  We say we love and serve God, but do we most often work in our self-interest or the interest of others?  Are we willing to truly live Christ before men and especially toward the irregular people that most push our buttons and whom we have a hard time dealing with? 

               We are all like a bunch of rocks in stream.  As the turbulence of life and trials pass over us we rub against each other with our sharp edges, we offend and hurt each other.   Over time the ruff edges begin to wear off and instead of rough rocks we become smooth stones.  Are you still rough around the edges?  Are you still wearing on and irritating those around you?  It is often ironic how God can turn the tables to allow us to experience from others what we ourselves have been guilty of.  When we judge others, do we first judge ourselves and see how, we too, have been guilty of many of the same offenses?  All of this is a part of growing up and maturing in Christ.  The end of the matter is that if we are truly pursuing holiness with God as the Word says we should, that also reflects on our human relationships and how Christ comes out of us with regards to others.  Our fruits of actions, words and deeds should bear out who we are in Christ; by the way we treat and respond to others.  Colossians 3:17 exhorts us, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  1John 3:18 likewise encourages and commands us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”  Our actions speak louder than our words.  What have we promised our children or our spouse that we never follow through with?  Are we a people whose actions verify their words? 

               Sometimes we create offenses that we can’t fix or make right, ‘but as much as possible live peaceably with all men.’  Roman 12:16-21 leaves us with this instruction about our human relationships, “Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

               Let’s be right and make things right as much as possible with others.  Let us really walk in love toward our neighbor and fellow human beings.  May they truly see Christ and not us.  This is pursuing holiness in the fear of God.

Blessings,

#kent

Fear Not

September 22, 2022

Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Fear Not

               The Lord reminds us today how many times He has exhorted us through His Word not to fear.  Fear takes place when we see our surroundings from a position of the natural and not a position of faith.  When God exhorts us to “fear not”, He is exhorting us to get our eyes back upon Him who is our strength and our salvation.

               The Psalmist, King David expresses this in Psalms 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”  David expresses here an important principle to victory in our lives and circumstances, “In God I will praise His Word.”  Exalting God’s Word and promises over our trials and afflictions is the greatest weapon that we have.  Then we are making the declaration of faith by the authority of God’s Word and our trust is in Him.  This has far more power than we often realize.  There are times we might expect immediate results.  That can and does happen, but many more times we have released a dynamic in heaven that goes to work in our declaration of faith according to the Word and the will of God.  That dynamic may work through the natural realm to affect our circumstances according to what we have praised God’s Word for.   It doesn’t mean that God didn’t hear and honor His Word.  Often it is when we look back in our past we can see how God has worked in our life those things we didn’t see any change in at the time.  Never take lightly the authority and the power of God’s Word.  We only live in a free and democratic country today because of it. 

               Our fears are often present when our eyes are upon others and what we fear of them, rather than God.  This where it is imperative that we know who we are in Christ and take our stand and authority as believers and witnesses of the MOST HIGH GOD!  In Psalms 118:6, David says, “The LORD [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”  We must realize that our life is hid in Christ, in God (Colossians 3:1-4).  For satan to touch us, he first must go through the Lord to do so. 

               Remember that God has created you for a purpose and God will protect and even allow the enemy permission in the areas that will prepare you to fulfill your mission.  Listen to what David told his son Solomon when he passed the torch to him.  1 Chronicles 28:20 says, “And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do [it]: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, [even] my God, [will be] with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.” When we become secure in Christ in our revelation and in our faith in Him, we truly have no need to fear the world.  God has a purpose for our lives.  As we walk in obedience and faith to seek out and fulfill that purpose, we can know that God’s is moving on our behalf.  If God be for us, who can be against us? 

               Put away all your fears today.  Fix your eyes and your heart on Christ.  Fear not what men can do to you and praise God in His Word for it is your power and your authority.  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and gave Himself for us (Romans 8:37).”

Blessings.

#kent

This Day

September 22, 2022

Psalms 118:24

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This Day

               This morning when the alarm clock went off or you woke up and rolled out of bed, did you do it murmuring and begrudgingly or with a “Thank you Jesus for another great day with you?”  The attitude and spirit with which we start our day often determines our outlook and the mood we are in.  I’m sure we all remember with others in our household or ourselves, many times that we have resentfully gotten up in the morning full of bad attitudes and negativism.  Wasn’t that a delight? 

               When I used to go into work the standard greeting was, “Hi, so and so, how’s it going?”  Invariably you would hear back murmuring and complaining about having to come to work.   I decided I wanted to look at my day with a little more positive attitude than that.  When people would ask me, “How’s it going.”  I would reply with a smile and enthusiasm.  “It’s just another great day!  It’s great to be back isn’t it?”  I found that in that attitude, I not only encouraged myself, but I encouraged them to view their job from a different perspective.

               Everyday should be a new adventure in God, a new opportunity to succeed at what we maybe failed at yesterday, another opportunity to love and appreciate the people that God has placed us with.  In our daily routines we tend to lose our freshness, our spontaneity and our zest for life.  Lamentations 3:32-36 exhorts us this way, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, or his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; herefore I will wait for him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” 

               God is so good to every one of us.  Even in our times of trials and testing, He is with us and He sustains us.  He is so worthy of our continual praise, adoration and thanksgiving.  Try starting your day out from the moment you awaken, praising and thanking Him for His goodness.  You are going to find your day a lot brighter and your attitude much better. 

Blessings,

#kent

The Peace that Passes Understanding

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

               There is a place in the secret garden of God’s presence in us where we find of a refuge of His peace.  It’s a peace that we find only when we have found that place of full confidence and rest in the Father and all that He says He is and all that He has provided for us.  Philippians 4:3 exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”  The joy of the Lord is what brings us into peace.  The joy of the Lord is what dispels the dark clouds of doubt, fear and unbelief.  The joy of the Lord is what instills in us confidence, assurance and yes, “peace”.  When the enemy, or circumstances, or other people can rob our peace, then they can defeat our faith.  Faith stands strong in the midst of peace.  Our peace is often quickly shattered because it is vulnerable to conditions and emotions that surround us.  Our peace can quickly turn to insecurity, doubt and fear, but not God’s peace. 

               A great example of this personal peace and God’s peace is seen in Jesus as He wages that great spiritual battle within for God’s comfort and peace.  We see the tremendous anguish of soul that beset Jesus as He is faced with the greatest, most terrible and horrifying task ever required of an individual.  He is staring in the face of insurmountable suffering, pain and anguish physically.  But beyond that suffering He is looking at the darkness of becoming sin and bearing the sin for every inhabitant of the human race, all of this from Him who knew no sin.  Worst of all, He is looking at a period where the Father Himself must turn away and separate His presence.  I doubt that few of us could even begin to imagine or grasp the tremendous weight and burden that was upon the Lord at that time.  It is no wonder that He sweat great drops of blood as He struggled with what He was facing. Everything in His mortal man must have been crying out, “NO, Anything but this.”  Yet He was not a man given to the outward man and the dictates of His own will, He was and ever would be completely and totally sold out to the will and purpose of the Father.  Through that spiritual battle that took place there in the garden where Jesus went to pray, Jesus found that peace that passes all understanding.  It was that peace, that complete rest in Father’s will and purpose that enabled Him to face and go the way of the cross when everything within His natural man wanted to turn away.  That is the kind of Peace that I believe Jesus left us when He told His disciples in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  There is a peace that Christ has left us in this world.  It is a legacy of His salvation and impartation of His great love.  It is a peace unlike the world’s peace that is fleeting and temporal.  It is a peace that cements us to the heart of God and the assurance that His presence abides with us always.  It is the assurance and comforts that Romans 8:31-39 speaks to us, “31What can we say about all these things? Since God is for us, who can be against us?

32God did not keep His own Son for Himself but gave Him for us all. Then with His Son, will He not give us all things?

33Who can say anything against the people God has chosen? It is God Who says they are right with Himself.

34Who then can say we are guilty? It was Christ Jesus Who died. He was raised from the dead. He is on the right side of God praying to Him for us.

35Who can keep us away from the love of Christ? Can trouble or problems? Can suffering wrong from others or no food? Can it be because of no clothes or because of danger or war?

36The Holy Writings say, ‘Because of belonging to Jesus, we are in danger of being killed all day long. We are thought of as sheep that are ready to be killed.’ (Psalm 44:22)

37But we have power over all these things through Jesus Who loves us so much.

38For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot!

39The world above or the world below cannot! Any other living thing cannot keep us away from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have the peace that our lives are hid in Him and nothing in heaven or earth can rob that from us who believe in Him.  Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

               Some of you are there in that garden today, like Jesus, struggling with tremendous tribulation and trials.  The Father wants you to find this place of peace that passes all understanding where you will find your rest in Him.  You can rejoice, even in the midst of the fire, because your heart has the assurance that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your situation.  It doesn’t matter if you understand how; it only matters that “HE IS”.  Your life is hid in Him and whether in life or death He is the peace that passes understanding.

Blessings,

#kent

Faith That Separates Us unto God

Hebrews 11:24-29

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

               There is something in most of us that causes us to shrink back from the rejected, the unacceptable or unpopular ones of our society.  We may even have a compassion for them, but we don’t want to be identified with them because by association we fear the same rejection, ridicule and reproach they are suffering.  Our inclination is to be among the acceptable, the popular and well regarded of people.  We have seen this type of social behavior from the time we were little children all the way through into adulthood.  Think how Jesus’ life might have been different had He not chose to associate with sinners and tax collectors, if he would have just hob-knobbed and got in good with the upper religious class of His day.  Perhaps life would have not turned out so harsh for Him and perhaps we would still be perishing in our sins because we would have had no Redeemer of all of mankind.  If our Lord had been a respecter of persons, where would that have left many of us?

               In this passage in Hebrews 11 we view an example of an individual whose whole life was a diadem of faith.  Often, we associate Moses with the law and legalism, but his life was an Old Testament parallel of Christ.  Moses, even like Christ, had it all, authority, power, riches, might and dominion concerning earthly kingdoms.   Even like Christ he chose to be identified with the slaves and downcast people of God rather ‘than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.’  It says, “accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”  Egypt was a representation of the world and all that it has to offer us.  Many of us spend our whole lives trying to gain what Moses already had and gave up. 

               Moses was a man of vision.  If we have no vision then we will only pursue that which is directly in front of us.  Faith gives us vision to see with the mind and heart of God in order that we may pursue that which is eternal, but which is often ludicrous to natural minded men.  When by faith we begin to gain a God perspective of our world, our values and our goals change.  We begin losing our fear of what men think, what is popular or what will get us into the right social circles.  All of that becomes shallow, empty and hollow in the light of God’s vision.  By faith, we too, can begin accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.  The world is caught up in the lie that life is all about our personal success and us, when nothing could be further from the real truth.  Moses truly discovered life when he discovered a relationship with All Mighty God.  The world could have never given him, what he gained and experienced in God, but it personally cost him everything.  He bore the reproach of men, even the people of God, but the favor of the hand of God rested upon him.  He knew a relationship and friendship with God, that most men can only dream of, but Christ has made it possible for each of us through the Cross. 

               Today God’s call upon our lives is not to pursue the world or the things of the world, but to pursue Him and seek first the kingdom of God with all of our heart.  Jesus tells us in John 15:18-25, “18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

That badge of rejection and shame in the world is a badge of honor in the kingdom of God, for it declares that we love and care more of the praise and approval of God than we do of men. 

               Faith has the vision to bear the reproach and separation with the world that it might be identified with Christ and His eternal kingdom.  Our faith must not be one duplicity, but singleness of heart and purpose.  He bought us with the price of His blood.  We are no longer our own, but His.  Draw near in full assurance of faith, despising the shame and looking unto the ‘recompense of reward’ even as Moses.

Blessings,

#kent

Practical Application for a Holy Life

Colossians 3: 1-3

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

       The first thing we need as Christians is a revelation of who we are in Christ.  In Christ, the former man with its natural affections has passed away and we are putting on a new man renewed in thought, purpose and deed; reflecting and producing the image of Christ.  Colossians 3 is a great application for who we are and what we are becoming, as well as what we need to be doing to get there. 

We start out by realizing positionally where we are at, “raised with Christ” who is seated at the right hand of God.  We are in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God.  We aren’t going to find many positions higher than that.  We, who are in that position, have come to a new mindset different from the one we formerly carried.  We must be a heavenly-minded people whose affections are on things above and not on things below, who walk after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh.  Many of us are still holding on to that old unrenewed mind and earthly affections.  It is bringing us down and robbing us of who we are and what we have “in Christ”.   It is only as we behold Him that the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

Colossians 3 is an instructional in the practical ways we are to become heavenly-minded and have a renewed mind.  The first thing that it instructs us to do is often the hardest for us to put into practical application.  Verses 5-11 instruct us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming, 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  Do you happen to recognize any of these attributes still lingering around your life?   The hardest thing to put to death is our flesh.  It has an instinct for survival and it will do anything, compromise anyway, promise to be good, it just doesn’t want to die; yet it must.  We can see the value of keeping Christ and the Word of God constantly in front of us, so that we have a mirror of who we are in Christ and we don’t loose vision of where we are going and what our purpose now is.  These little daily devotionals are just one more means I pray the Holy Spirit uses to continually prompt and exhort us in His ways and not our former nature.  We tend to want to turn away and ignore the things that put a finger on our sin and our reluctance to yield certain areas of our lives to Christ.  We all have our little weaknesses, our idols, and those things that our flesh covets and doesn’t want to give up.  Yet, if we are unwilling, then we are living in rebellion and disobedience to Christ, we are not being true to who we are “in Christ”, thus we deny His best and His highest for us.

               These scriptures tell us what we must take off, but what about what we must put on.  God never takes anything away but what He doesn’t give us something better to replace it with.  Verses 12-17 instruct us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God is in affect telling us to be clothed now with His nature, which is the holy apparel that is consistent with heavenly citizenship.  The world around us must see something unique, different and special about the people who bear the name of Christ.  If we are no different than the world, then we haven’t really changed identity or clothing.  We are still living in the same old unredeemed man.  Its not all about us going to church, or just talking about Jesus, or telling the world they are sinners bound for hell unless they repent; it is about a lifestyle and behavior that exemplifies who and what we are in Christ.  That speaks so much more loudly than words.  Give me a person that truly lives Christ before me and that will more quickly move me to change than all the words and arguments they could give.  When you put on Christ you don’t just put on different behavior, you put on a holy presence.  It is a presence that exudes the love and power of the Spirit that you are of.  God now has place and platform to glorify Himself through you. 

               Colossians 3 concludes by these instructions to the households of believers and the reminder that at the end of this natural life there is a reward and an inheritance.  A reminder that it is Christ we serve and that if we choose to do wrong, that wrong bears its consequences without respect of persons.   Verses 18-24 instruct us, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

Thus we have simply laid out for us the guide for living the practical Christ centered life that is consistent with whom we now are.  Daily we present our bodies a living sacrifice and daily we renew our minds in Christ.  We apply these practical instructions with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, that in all things we might be conformed to His life and live consistent with the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

“In Christ”

September 16, 2022

“In Christ”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

               What does it mean for us to be “in Christ”?  If most of us were asked if we are “in Christ” we would reply to the affirmative.  Let’s take a closer look at what that implies.  A couple of verses prior to this in verse 15 it says, “And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  “In Christ” is a place that we have come too and embraced by faith.  The question is, has it become the dimension, the dynamic, the purpose and the Spirit that are now existing in our daily lives?  Do we actually identify ourselves with being a new creation birthed in the image and likeness of Christ?   Do we live out of the mindset that the Lord is our all in all?  Have old things truly passed away or are we still holding onto them behind our back while we put on our Christian face in front.  Is Christ a part of all that we think, hope and dream about or is He a Christ of convenience, serving my need and answering my prayers.  Are our lives now all about Him or is it still about us?  These are some of the hard questions I feel the Holy Spirit is asking us today. 

               The Lord does not seek to condemn us, but to bring us into a revelation of who we truly are.  Most all of us are living way below what Christ has called us too and purposed us for.  The only place we can truly live out His purpose and life for us is in that intimate place of relationship and continual fellowship.  When we are “in Christ” this is where we find the new creation that we are in Him. 

In Hebrews 9:6-8 it tells us, “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God]. But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” 

If it is in our heart’s desire to enter into the holiest of all, which Christ has opened the access for us, then we need to understand that we can never enter in, in any other way than, “in Christ”.  If we are still living out of the ceremonial religion and the ordinances of men, then we can’t partake of the Holiest of All.  If we are still living in the old man’s thinking, his way of life and old covenant principles, then we are missing what it is to be a new creation in Christ.  The first tabernacles of our carnal thinking and religion have to be torn down before we can fully come into Christ and the dimension of His life.  It is no longer about just service to God; it is in becoming the priestly servants of God.  When we are “in Christ” we are living out of the dimension of Spirit life.  That should not be some mystical thing, but a very practical thing.  Jesus lived to manifest the will, purpose and nature of the Father. Christ has given us the same mandate.  He now lives through us if indeed old things have passed away and all things have become new.  While it is complete in the Father, it is still a process that is taking place in us.  Our folly is that in the process and living in the world and growing up in religion we can lose our bearings of who we really are and what Christ has called us out of this world to be. 

               2 Corinthians 5:20-21 goes on to tell us, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  Christ gave His life to impart His life into you and me.  It is that life that we embraced by faith that makes us a new creation in the image and likeness of the One who has now entered our hearts and lives within us.  We were created and have become this new creation that we may glorify Christ and that we may honor Him by allowing Christ to live His life through us, even as He allowed the Father to live His life through Him.  An ambassador is one who stands in the place of His country and its leaders.  He represents all that they are.  Is that who we are “in Christ” today?  Christ in you, that is your identity that is who you now are and have been called to be.  Embrace and identify with His life in you.  You are no longer to be outside of Him or separate from Him, but you are one when you are “in Christ”.

Blessings,

#kent

In the Interest of Others

September 15, 2022

In the Interest of Others

Philippians 2:3-5

Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

               Perhaps the one ingredient in human nature that is the most detrimental to our living in peace and harmony is our selfishness.  The more inclined people are to live only for their self-interest the more it breaks down the harmony of relationships, of families, communities and society as a whole.  It is interesting to see the evidence of this in our own society even through the last century as we have moved from a more rural society to a more urban one.  The basic values of our society have changed and of course I speak in generalities.  We see it in the areas of basic honesty and integrity, in our willingness to serve others, in our work ethics and in our general outlook and philosophy of life.  It has become much more about looking out for “number one” than what can I do to help others.  The golden rule we learned was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We jokingly heard it changed to “Do unto others before they can do it unto you.”  Unfortunately, it has become more of a reality than a joke.  So often I think many of us are guilty of hurting and offending people and we don’t even realize that we have done it.  Even in the little things, I see myself so often guilty.  When people send an invitation to me for some event, do I always bother to respond?  When I set an appointment, do I always keep it or notify them if I can’t?  Do I give my word I’ll do something and then back out or make excuses as to why I can’t?  Am I as courteous, thoughtful, and giving to others, as I would want them to be to me?   Our selfishness is not always about the big things in life.  More often than not, it is about a culmination of little things that are inconsiderate or self-centered.  Why is our divorce rate at around 50% for Christians and non-Christians alike?   The root of it is in our selfishness. 

               If we could all begin to lay hold of the principle that the apostle Paul is communicating here in Philippians, we would be living out so much more of the nature and character of Christ.  If others were at the forefront of our interests and their well-being was as important or more so than ours, then we would be walking in love and living out the golden rule.  The sad thing about our selfishness is that when good and giving people are taken advantage of and used often enough because of the selfishness of others, they too, begin to withdrawal and become less giving.  They become hurt and offended at the selfish attitude of others who only want to take, but rarely give back.  Everyone wants to be appreciated and respected for what they give.  It’s not that they need great recognition or accolades, as much as they just want to know that it is appreciated, because it meant self-sacrifice in some area for them. 

               As the body of Christ, we are the ones responsible for setting the standards in these areas.  If we are all in a mindset of watching each other’s backs and not just our own, we will all be more fully and richly blessed.  At the heart of this attitude of looking out for others is the Love of Christ.  His love is never demonstrated in our selfishness and self-will.  He demonstrated it to us throughout His life through His self-sacrifice.  Even when He was weary, tired and hungry, His love for others overruled His own needs and wants.  Herein lies the irony of our God.  Though our God is Lord and Master over all, He is a servant God, continually serving His creation, because His nature is love and love seeks not it’s own, but the good of others.  He loved us so much ‘He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would believe on Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).’  If God is willing to lay down His life for us, does He expect any less of us in regards to others? 

               Let us all examine our hearts today with regards to looking out for the interest of others.  It is not about condemnation for our selfishness, but in reality, we will only work to change that which we are aware of.  If we judge ourselves, most of us will see areas of selfishness we all have that are obstructions to the love of God flowing through us.  There may also be some that are out of balance the other way.  They are giving themselves so much to things or people that they are robbing their own well-being or that of their family.  There is to be a balance in all that we do.  May the Lord lead each one of us into a greater depth of His love to truly serve, care for, honor and respect one another.

WWJD (What would Jesus do?)

Blessings,

#kent

The Seed of Heavenly Life

September 14, 2022

The Seed of Heavenly Life

Matthew 13:37-38

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked [one];

               This parable of Jesus concerning seed is a principle that runs through the Word of God.  Here, He plainly says what the good seed is, that it is the children of the kingdom.  In John 12:23-26 Jesus teaches His disciples this principle about seed as He is preparing for the cross.  “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour” The principle of seed is that it lives to die to bring forth life more abundantly and in an increase that it could never see if it only lives to its self.  Jesus tells us we are the good seed and that when good seed loses its natural life it gains life eternal. 

               1 Corinthians 15 teaches us some more along these lines.  It deals with a great many of the principles of life, death and resurrection.  In this limited commentary we would glean just a point or two from it.  The first point is this; death isn’t often a pleasant process.  We can see throughout the New Testament and throughout the Word of God that men and women of God often suffered hardships, persecutions and trials as they walked out their faith.  Many even gave their natural lives for their faith.  Paul makes the statement in 1Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”  Why did Paul make this statement?  He was a seed planted in the ground who was dying, literally pouring out His life, for the lives of others.  He makes another statement in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” The reason for dying and the reason for resurrection are so that death gives place to life, weakness gives place to God’s strength and corruptible gives way to that which is incorruptible. 

               1Corinthians 15:42-49 goes on to make this point, “So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that [was] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven. As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 

We are God’s seed that He is planting in the field of this world.  The end is that it works the life of Christ in others as we are poured out unto Him.  In the process of our dying or being poured out, there is a transformation that is taking place from the earthly to the heavenly.  While we see only now in part, Christ shall complete that process when corruption puts on incorruption, when death is swallowed up in life and when we fully bear the image of the heavenly, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

               If we are experiencing the death today, be of good courage, it is giving place to His life. 

Blessings,

#kent

Our Elderly

September 13, 2022

Leviticus 19:32

“‘Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”

Our Elderly

               God seemed to be putting the elderly upon my heart this morning and as I looked and saw this scripture in Leviticus 19, it reminded me that how we treat our fellow man or woman, no matter their time or station in life, is how we treat the Lord.  It reminds me of Proverbs 19:17 where it says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD–and he will repay you!”  When we show respect, patience and honor to our elderly then we are honoring and revering God. 

               Sometimes as older children who have aging parents we can get very impatient, indignant and curt with older parents.  They no longer operate, function and process at our pace, so we quickly lose patience and feel we don’t have much use for them.  Now, we would never admit that, because that would sound horrible, but it may be what you are carrying in your heart.  They have become our burden rather than our joy.

               My middle son, when he was around five years old, made an astute observation.  He said, “I understand, you take care of us when we are young and we take care of you when you are old.”  What could be simpler and more profound than that?  We must remember when we were the children and the investment our parents made into us to raise, teach and help us become what we are today.  So many elderlies are more or less warehoused in nursing homes and senior facilities, rarely to be visited by relatives of friends.  They are the forgotten and the neglected.

               You know, most all of us are going to get to that age sometime in our lives and how will we want to be treated or remembered.  Even a person who doesn’t have a lot of abilities still needs love.  They need our kindness, our respect and our honor.  When we dishonor them, we dishonor the Father, for He is much older than they and He did create them in His image. 

               Sometime we grow to view as a chore, what should be considered an honor and privilege that we at a place in our lives that we can return the good, the love and the patience our folks showed us as we were growing up.  I believe what my young son said those many years ago is a basic principle of the kingdom,  I only hope he remembers that when I reach that stage in my life. Care-giving is a place of self-sacrifice and its greatest motivation needs to be the love of Christ operating through us, not guilt or obligation.  Remember Him, who is our strength in time of weakness, our provision in time of want, our riches when we are poor and His faithfulness to never leave us or forsake us.  Let this same mind be in us that was also in Christ Jesus. 

Blessings,

#kent

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