Damage Control

September 21, 2020

Damage Control

1 John 3:18

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

              Have you ever experienced those times either in yourself or in others where your words didn’t always follow through in your actions?  How often in our relationships do we offend one another and maybe we are willing to say, “I’m sorry”. Things are okay for a little while and then we slip back into the same old offenses.  Maybe the guys are spending too much time watching sports or playing golf and the wife gets fed up and then blows up.  In the obviously rational discussion that follows the husband sees the error of his ways, apologizes and promises to do better.  Finally, the wife calms down, accepts the apology and life goes back to normal.  Being the creatures of habit that we are, usually sooner than later the husband has slipped back into his old ways and round 2 and 3 and so on continues.  It could be the other way with a wife that likes to shop or go over budget on her spending, for example.  The husband hits the roof and the same type of scenario follows with the wife apologizing to the husband and promising to change.  This same type of thing can play out at work, or in other relationships, where we continue in a behavior until there is a breaking point. Then we do damage control to try to patch the immediate damage, but we never really repent and turn from the behavior that is causing the real problem.  This, no doubt, has much to do with why our divorce rate is at about fifty percent.  If we do that with one another, how much more do we do it with God and His will for our lives?  When we feel the conviction about something wrong in our lives, we so often are prone to cover it with a quick, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” and then go on our merry way with no real attitude or heart change.  I’m preaching to myself today, because its too easy for us to get caught up in what we are doing and what is so important to us that we fail to see and react to the big picture.  Life isn’t all about us.  It is about family, friends, relationships and a balance in our lives that helps us to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others; the Lord being the first on that list.  Life has many demands upon us.  Most of us are running full tilt boogie just trying to keep up.  We feel the weight and the pressures of all these demands, and it is hard for us to be everything to everybody.  Many of us have become workaholics because there is so much to do and so little time.  As a result, our relationships suffer.  Could this be why the Lord created a Sabbath?  We all need to take that time when we close the work door and say, “this time is set apart just for relationships with God and family.”  We need to do that regularly and purposefully. 

              Damage control only works for so long.  If a ship were in battle and sustained injury, the crew would do what they had to do to get the ship back up and operational, but that wouldn’t be the permanent fix, it would only be temporary till permanent repairs could be made.  If they continued to operate the ship on “damage control” it would probably eventually sink.  That is where many of us are.  Many of us need to do some permanent fixing starting with our heavenly relationship, then our family and then others.  Our words and apologies must be followed with actions of change.  We tend to neglect the more important people in our lives that love us, thinking they will understand.  Occasionally they will, but we have to change our behavior and place our relationships as the first priority on our list instead of the last.  As I’m talking to myself today, I know I’m speaking to a lot of you.  God’s priorities are people and not things.  A lot of us need real repentance in these areas where we offend and neglect.  Instead of “damage control”, let’s work on some permanent changes that will heal our relationships with our God, our family and others.  We need to make commitments to specific times we set apart just for relationships and then follow through with consistent actions. 

” …Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Blessings,

#kent

What does this New Man Look Like?

Colossians 3:9-11

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.

              We have been talking about what this new man, who we are in Christ, is.  What does this “new man” look like?  Well, we know that this new man who is being renewed in the image of Christ is what we generally term a “Christian” or a “born again believer”.  If you went out on the street or to different parts of the world and took a poll of random people, what do you think they would say a Christian should look like?  No doubt we would get multiple answers and opinions.  Some might say it can only be a certain race people, or only males can be Christians, or only certain religions or denominations can be Christians.  What does the Word say a Christian is?  It says it is a person that “is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”  In other words it is one that looks in their behavior to be like Christ.  It is one who doesn’t think like the world thinks, but is aligning their thoughts, goals and lifestyle with the Word and the will of God.  It plainly says here that there is no outward distinction or discrimination of sex, color, race or creed that defines you as a “new man or person in Christ”.  The transformation is within and is expressed without.  The defining factor is that Christ is all and is in all.  In the Christian’s mind and heart, this should be at the forefront of all of our thinking, all of our plans, all of our goals and in all that we are.  Is Christ everything?  If He is everything in you and I, then what are we going to look like, what are we going to reflect, emulate, and express?  What is going to be our nature and character?  It is Christ, for He is all and in all.  He is what our life is all about.  He should now define who we are.

              Now being honest for just a moment, how many of us can say that is totally where we are at in our thinking, in our lifestyles and in our behavior?  What we have to grasp and get a hold of is that Christ wants Christians who are wholly identified with Him.  In other words, He is to become our identity.  What does Christian mean?  It means “little Christs”.  In the Old Testament to be one of God’s people you had to be one of the circumcision, that defined you as set apart for God. The New Testament tells us in Philippians 3:3, “3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— ”  Natural circumcision could only apply to males, but spiritual circumcision, which is the removal of our fleshly heart and attitude, giving place to the headship of Christ in our lives, knows no gender, but is applicable to all.  This new garment we are putting on is a spiritual garment that is in the likeness of Him who created us.  That is our purpose and our reason for being.  We are to be the expression of Christ in the earth.  It is Him living through us.  Is that what our world is seeing in the majority of Christianity today?  Do they really see anything that looks much different than them except in name only?  Are they able to see the difference in our behavior, our integrity, our divorce rate or family life?  The truth we face is that most all of us are missing the mark.  Christ really isn’t our all in all, He is only part of our all.  We must all come to the place of prayerfully, honestly, and with a broken and contrite heart defining who we really are.  Maybe we are somewhere between dirty underwear and blue jeans and a clean shirt, but we haven’t fully put off the old man with his former deeds.  There is a tremendous work of transformation that needs to take place in most of us.  God can only work in us, as we are willing to relinquish our will to His.  James says, “a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.”  How many of us are abiding in that place of only being lukewarm for God?  He is not our everything; He has become our occasional, our “when I feel like it”, if it is convenient, and when it is acceptable in my circle of friends.  What is Christ to us?  Is He the garment that we put on every morning and wear everyday or has He become something much less?  God has called us and provided for us to be so much more than we have been.  It is time for us to rise up and answer the trumpet that is sounding and calling us back to our faith, our full commitment and confidence in Christ.  He must be our all and who is in all. Christ in us, is our hope of glory.

Blessings,

#kent

Our Hiding Place

September 17, 2020

John 3:19-21

19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Our Hiding Place

              You know what is strange is that most all of us say we want more of God.  We want His presence, we want to see His power and we want to see the Holy Spirit moving among us.  The truth is that many of us really don’t want God to move much in our lives. Why is that?  Because we have found our comfort zones.  Our lives may be a mess, but we are comfortable.  It is what we know and are content with and even though we know that we need so much more, our flesh withdraws from it.  Why is that?  It is for the very reason stated here in John 3; we fear the light lest our deeds be exposed.  We are much more content to hide in our comfort zones, play church and feign religion than to let go and come out of our comfort zones and into His presence.  So even if God is willing to meet with us, we are so often unwilling to meet with Him.  Even as Christians we often love our darkness and the comfort of where we are.  There we can live, as we want too, do as we want too and still be religious if we want too, but God don’t shine your light on me.  We have become complacent and apathetic, blinded to our own darkness and state of impotence.

              Sometimes it is guilt and condemnation that keeps us away from God.  We believe the lie of the enemy that God would never love us or accept us for who we are.  If God doesn’t love you and won’t accept you for who you are then why did God so love the world that He gave His only Son?   While we were yet sinners and enemies of God He loved and gave Himself for us.  How could He love you and accept you any more than that?  God loves the sinner, but He hates that sin that is the cancer destroying our lives.  His desire is not to beat us with a big stick of condemnation, the devil does that.  What we are blind too is that we already stand condemned outside of Him.  God in His infinite love is simply trying to save us from our own destruction.   God doesn’t send us to hell.  We send ourselves to hell by refusing His mercy and truth that can save us and bring us back into right fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. 

              How long are we going to keep running away from the love of God?  While we are looking back and worrying about avoiding God we are running headlong into the oblivion of destruction.  God is not your enemy; He is your advocate, your deliver and your friend.  It is His mercy and love that He wants to pour out into your life.  It is the liberty and deliverance of His Spirit that He wants to bring you into.  True abandonment to God is extreme life.  It is living life on the edge with full confidence and trust in Him and not in ourselves.  If we remain content to live in the darkness of our sin then we will end up dying in our sin and the consequences will be reaped from what we have sown. 

              God has a better way for us.  Remember the little boy that gave up his five loaves and two fishes that Jesus used to feed a multitude of people?  What if the little boy hadn’t been willing to give up his lunch?  What if he said, “Sorry, they should have packed their own lunch?  They will just have to go hungry.”  God is not asking us to be anything that He hasn’t made us to be.  He is simply asking that we be available to allow Him to manifest His strength and purpose through us.  In our weakness He is made strong.  We will never be good enough to deserve God, because it is God’s goodness that we need in us and that is only a gift that He can give as we come into His light and allow Him to have our lives just as they are. 

              If we don’t come into the fullness of God’s light soon the darkness of this hour will overtake us.  God is calling for us with outstretched arms. 

“Come out of your comfort zones and become available to Me.  I will be a light unto your path and a lamp unto your feet.” 

Submit yourselves to the love of God and to the light of His truth.  There you will find true life and liberty.  There you will find His life and purpose for you that is so much greater than you ever imagined or have ever lived in.  In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy.  Come out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.

Blessings,

#kent

Forgiveness

September 16, 2020

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness

              I would dare say that all of us have had experiences in life where others have wronged or hurt us and in some cases quite severely and repeatedly.   It is often these experiences, wounds and hurts that we can not seem to release.  They are a trauma upon our lives.  It is in these adverse life experiences that we are confronted with a choice to forgive and release an offense or to hold on to it and maintain the unforgiveness.  When we are hurt it is our natural inclination to want to hurt back. 

              In the natural we often are wounded through life and most are superficial.  In most cases they require a little attention and then they heal and we go on.  There are those times when we are wounded more deeply and without cleansing the wound and putting something on to disinfect, we can get it infected.  When infection sets in the wound festers and will not heal.  In fact, untreated, it will become worse and more compromising to our health.  It can actually be the infection that comes into us through the wound that could end up killing us rather than the wound itself.  That is what unforgiveness is like.  With emotional hurts and wounds there is a natural healing process and with the right heart and attitude those wounds will heal.  They may leave some scars, but life goes on.  Unfortunately, for some of us, there are places and ways that we have been hurt where we let the infection of unforgiveness come in.  It is a form of hate and it can even be toward ourselves as well as others.  It is the love of God that is the antibiotic that heals the infection of unforgiveness.  It is when we see Jesus, unjustly accused, mocked, ridiculed, beaten to the point of being unrecognizable and then nailed to cross who can, before he breathes his last breath, say,” Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” that we see what forgiveness really looks like.  It is only as we are willing to apply that same forgiveness of love toward our offenders that we can receive the forgiveness of our offenses.  Before God, we stand no less guilty of sin and offense than those who have wounded us.  What we ask of God, we must be willing to extend to others. 

              It is the love released through making the decision to forgive, not just the feelings, that is the antibiotic that will bring healing and restoration.  First it restores our relationship back to Father and then it works to restore our human relationships.

              You may be saying, “yeah, but you don’t how many times this person has hurt me.”  Peter addresses this question unto the Lord in Matthew 18:21-22, ” Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  You see sin kills, but God’s love is the multiplication of forgiveness that triumphs even over the depth and death of sin.  It is the grace of God’s forgiveness that brought each one of us into a place where can know the restored fellowship and relationship with the Father.  We receive that only through His forgiveness for us, because we all deserve condemnation and death.  Luke 6:37 exhorts us, ” Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” 

              For some of us it is time that we examine our hearts and lay down this cross of unforgiveness that we have been carrying.  We must realize that the unforgiveness is doing far greater damage to us than even the offense.  It is keeping us from our own forgiveness and right relationship with the Father.  Ask the Father for His love in you to release the unforgiveness you have been carrying, no matter how awful the offense.  As He forgave us, we ought also to forgive others.  How can we have Christ come forth in us if the very prominent part of His nature is forgiveness?

              First come and release it to the Father and then release the individual or individuals.  When you release you will be released from the judgement that unforgiveness can hold over us.  ” If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36).”  Isn’t it time to come into the freedom and the release of His Love?

Blessings,

#kent

Descended to an Ascended Life

September 15, 2020

Descended to an Ascended Life

Ephesians 4:7-10

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Jesus came down that He might bring us up.  The Son of God became the son of man so that He might bring the sons of men to be the sons of God.  Christ came down and imparted Himself into humanity that He might bring us into His ascended life.   It is a life that is marked by the same attributes as the One who has gifted and imparted it to us.  It is a life wherein we die to live, a paradox that the world doesn’t comprehend.  Just as a caterpillar dies to its old ways in the cocoon of transformation, so we are transformed and changed from glory to glory, even into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).  While we live the blessed life, in the favor and fellowship of the Spirit of God, we, at the same time, may be living out the trials and tribulations that are facing us in this world.  Again, we find a paradox that we can find peace and joy in the midst of trials and tribulations.  While we descend in a spirit of humility into the lives of those that God has placed within our influence, loving them in Christ and meeting them where they are at, we are living an ascended life that is drawing us into the presence of the Father.  With eyes and heart set upon things above, we are not an island unto ourselves we are a light and a ladder to bring others to ascend with us in hope and in faith.  

The Lord, when He ascended up on high, led captivity captive and gave gift unto men. These gifts He gave us, were not for our glory, but for His.  He is glorified when these gifts serve to bring others into this ascending life.  While we are ascending up into Him in spirit, we are being poured out and offering up a spiritual sacrifice in the natural.  The abundance of God’s glory is manifested in our weakness.  When we are operating out of an ascended life then others will see Christ; they will not see us, because the ascended life is not about us, but about Him.  We become a usable commodity spent upon a higher good and calling.  We spend and are spent that others might taste and partake of that ascended life.

Allow me to leave you with the Apostle Paul’s definition in 2 Corinthians 4:7-19, of the ascended life and how he also descended that he might ascend, but not without hope and not alone.

“7But this precious treasure–this light and power that now shines within us–is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.

8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.

13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.”  14We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. 15All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

Blessings,

#kent

This Day

September 11, 2020

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

Unto Good Works

September 10, 2020

Unto Good Works

Titus 3:1-8

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

            How has our nature changed with regards to how we view and relate with others?

Do we still have a spirit of political dissidence?  Are we still tuned into the all the little faults of those around us?  Do we still gossip and offer our expert opinions about how others should change their lives? 

              If so, we need to be reminded of whom we were before Christ and what we would still be outside of His mercy and grace.  Paul is telling Titus to remind the body of Christ that Christ has not saved us to sit in judgement of others, but to be the extension of His love and mercy through good works.  It is the humility and the evidence of a transformed life living through us that is most going to impact our world for Christ.  The Holy Spirit is looking for vessels that are not intent on their agenda and not just full of their opinions and feelings.  He desires vessels that are offered up to Him willingly and are open channels for Him to live and move through.  We are encouraged not to fall into the pitfalls of those that are contentious and only want to strive with us and get us to operate out of the flesh rather than the Spirit.  It is the power of the godly life we lead in word and deed that is our greatest testimony and witness of God really living in us and through us.  Many of us only want to talk about our faith, but really have no substance when it comes to living it out in our day to day world. 

              Are we mummers, complainers, discontents, political activist, always unhappy about the way things are and the laws and policies we must live under?  Or… do we see that we are strangers and sojourners in this world.  Yes, we speak out against social injustice and sins of society, but we realize that the only way men will change in their hearts and thinking is when they also are partakers of Christ and the Holy Spirit transforms their heart and thinking.  Yes, we cast our vote for righteousness and have our say in government and the laws of our land as long as we have the freedom to do so.  What we must realize though is that we, by our godly lives and good works, should be the thermostats of our society, setting the standard not just by laws, but by example. 

              Many of us are guilty to one extent or another of saying one thing but living another.  That obviously lends very little credibility to what we preach and teach about Christ.  Christ is more than rhetoric; He is a lifestyle.  We will change the world around us when we all come into conformity with how Christ wants to live through us with regards to our good works and attitudes toward those around us. May we prepare our heart unto every good work as we give our hearts and lives for the Holy Spirit to live through, showing all meekness, humility and gentleness toward others.

Blessings,

#kent

Word of Christ

September 9, 2020

Word of Christ

Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

              How wonderful to know and daily experience the living Word of Christ.  It is no longer the dead letter of liturgy written on the pages of the book, but it is the living dynamic of Christ in us, the Holy Spirit having expression through us as He lives in us tooling and fashioning us in the image of His likeness.   The Word of God is like the wood or the coal we place within the furnace of our spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the catalyst that transforms that written word into the living Word, which is alive, relevant and personal to us.  The wonderful thing is that as He is working that in each one of us, we are in turn using that revelation truth and experience to encourage one another. The Word says we are to take the wisdom that the Holy Spirit is teaching us and share it with our brothers and sisters to help them to grow and encourage their faith.  This scripture encourages us that even our expression of worship and song is a form of building up the body even while we magnify the Christ that provides all for us.  The songs, the hymns and spiritual songs are means of communication and expression that invite the Lord’s presence into our midst.   As we are recounting to the Lord His great and wondrous acts it is magnifying Him, while it is building greater faith and confidence in our hearts toward Him. 

              This is the richness and value of the body of Christ.  None of us are complete in ourselves.  If we were there would be no need for fellowship and relationship with one another.  We could just simply go off by ourselves with God and be complete, but individuality does not a body of make.  We are all pieces of the puzzle that make the whole. We are a living dynamic organism, not organization, that makes up a living functioning body wherein each member is built up and edified in serving the other.  Our increase is in our giving.  Without our giving out of that which God has placed in us we become stagnant pools of water.  That is the place where disease can culture and grow.  We need exchange; we need to give out even the little things that God is working in us to others.  God is giving each one of us a part.  As we give our part and receive the other’s parts we are made complete and built up in the most holy faith. 

              My tendency is to try and be self-sufficient, but in doing so I can rob myself of the blessing God has for me through the lives of others.  The Lord is encouraging us to embrace the body today, to love and share with one another our gifts and strengths in Christ.  Even the least of us has something of importance that the rest of us need.  No, God didn’t leave any of us out.  If you don’t know what it is that Christ has placed in you, ask Him to show you.  It is in blessing one another that we are blessed and built up in the unity of the faith in Christ Jesus. 

Blessings,

#kent

Pride and Humility

September 8, 2020

Pride and Humility

Zephaniah 3:11-13

In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.  The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

              Pride is the arrogance of man usurping the place of God.  Psalms 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts.”  What is the place of God in our lives?  Isn’t it to be in every pattern of thinking, demonstrated in our motives and revealed in our actions?  Every place in our lives that we rob and exclude from God becomes a place of pride.  Pride is our self -exaltation over the will and mind of God.  Sometimes we have taken pride to the other extreme of being self-abasing.  Declaring how worthless and evil we are and how we don’t deserve God for He could never love someone like me.  We have declared God a liar because we have taken upon ourselves such condemnation that we refuse the goodness, forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ. 

              Humility and meekness, the counter parts of pride, simply places our heavenly Father in the place of Lordship in all areas of our lives.  If we are gifted or blessed above others in areas it is a place where God is to be exalted, not us.  I think of Jesus and the potential power He had resident within Him.  How destructive He could have been if He had ever let pride have place in His life.  In His meekness, He was strength under control and in submission to His Father.  He never had to exalt Himself for the Father affirmed and exalted Him.  In His greatness He became lowly and showed himself to be the servant of men.  He was not lofty and condescending even to sinners, but gently got underneath them and lifted them up in His love and truth. 

              The “afflicted and poor people” referred to in this scripture from Zephaniah carries the connotation that these were people who constantly saw their need and weakness outside of the Lord.  They were people not so much outwardly poor and afflicted, but it spoke more of the condition of their hearts, much like Jesus addressed in the beatitudes of Matthew 5.  It is an attitude that, “Lord you are everything: every provision, every strength, every direction and purpose, every ability I have or can have is found in You.  Without you Lord I am poor and afflicted in my own state of being.” 

              Pride will always turn away the face of God, but humility and meekness are an open invitation to His presence.  It is the condition of our heart that allows Him to be God in us and to be all that we need to be in Him.  It allows Him to have His expression of love and grace through us, because we are not in the way to mire it up.  This is the state of the God’s true flock and the sheep of His pasture.  They know the Shepherd and are totally reliant upon Him.  Thus, He cares for them and makes them to lie down in His green pastures of rest.   Their confidence is in their God and in Him alone.

Blessings,

#kent

Maintain His Standard

September 4, 2020

Maintain His Standard

2 Chronicles 14:-2-12;15:1-8,

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest. 7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. 8 Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men. 9 Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with a vast army and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.

11 Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” 12 The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the LORD and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the LORD had fallen upon them. They plundered all these villages, since there was much booty there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herdsmen and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD’s temple.

              In these scriptures we see a man given to doing right in the Lord’s eyes and in trusting Him. We see that the Lord honored him with peace and prosperity.  We see that when evil forces rose against and even though their numbers were great, they put their trust in the Lord, the Lord fought their battle and gave them great victory.  The prophet speaks the word of the Lord to Asa and says, “The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”  These are good words for us to take to heart as God’s people and as His nation.  We have seen our nation’s history was founded on men who put their trust in God and who sought His wisdom when founding and creating the constitution that has been its foundation.  The foundational truth that was established and that which has even been printed on our currency is “IN GOD WE TRUST”.  What do you think will become of us as a nation and as a people when we depart from this foundational principle.  If we look further into the end of Asa we will see. 

2 Chronicles 16

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.

2 Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 3 “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”

4 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. 6 Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen ? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.

11 The events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. 13 Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor.

              I believe this is prophetic of our nation in this day and this hour.  It is not just how we start the race, it is how we finish it.  Asa started well, but he finished foolishly and to his own demise.  Our nation started well and even though we were but a weak struggling infant nation God delivered and gave us victory over England, the strongest nation of the world at that time.  Now we, as the people of God, must intercede for our nation and its leaders as we see it quickly descending into this path of forsaking the Lord.  As you exercise your freedom to vote and be heard, hold up the standard of the Lord in all that you vote for.  Those who put their trust in the arm of the flesh will fail, but those who lean wholly and fully trust in the Lord will not be disappointed.  If we, as the people of God, will not lift up His standard then who will?  The spirit of darkness is strong all around us.  We can see it even in the media and news.  We are the light of the world, so let our light shine before men.   If we forsake the Lord, He will forsake us.

Blessings,

#kent

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