Love People Where They Are At.

 

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

 

Thumbing back through the files of our life we will probably remember at least a few instances where we treated others with contempt, disdain, dislike or felt we were in some way a bit superior or above them.  There are always those who don’t live within the standards of our values or have characteristics we find annoying and irritating.  Then we can jump over into the memory files of the times when we were treated in this manner.  Maybe we still remember the emotional pain and humiliation we suffered at the comments or treatment we received from those who judged us and treated us in an unbecoming and hurtful manor.  Most of us have been on both sides of the coin at some point in our lives.  What we have experienced or what we have conveyed was a lack of God’s love.  It takes God bringing us beyond ourselves to experience a love that is higher than soulish emotion or feeling.  When we survey the wondrous cross and all of the humanity God’s love reached out too, including our wretched selves, we begin to see an unprejudiced love.  It is a love for the imperfect, the undesirable, the sinner, and even that, which is repulsive to us.  What compels us to love deeper than this shallow human level of love?  It is when we observe God’s unfailing and constant love for us, even when we were at our ugliest, most vile and undesirable state, how He still loved us.  When everyone else may have turned his or her back on us, God’s love was there.  The Word then tells us, ” Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  God’s love is so much higher, so much deeper, and so much wider than our own.  But then we are not our own anymore, are we?  We have made an exchange of our life for His and everyday God wants to work that transaction into the reality of our everyday lives.  Often, at the most inconvenient times and places undesirable people and situations approach us.  It may be the salesman, using up our cell time to persuade us to buy something from him.  It may be the beggar asking for a handout and we’re thinking, “You just need to get a job.”  It may be that critical and demeaning boss, co-worker or even our spouse reminding us how worthless and what a failure we are.  Constantly it is something, that makes us want to act in number of different ways, but love isn’t real high on that list.   In order for us to have God’s love, we have to have God’s mind and His heart for people.  I sometimes think of how many undesirable people came across the path of Jesus.  He was like a magnet for undesirable people, from fault finding religious leaders who sought after His life, to lepers, to sinners and public outcast, to demon possessed.  You name it; Jesus lived anything but a sheltered life.  He was exposed to the darkest and ugliest mankind had to offer.  In each one Jesus didn’t see just a sinner or just the ugly characteristics.  In each person, he saw a spiritual candle that needed to be lit.  His love compelled Him to look past all of the faults and see the tremendous need.  Jesus came as the great light of God’s love to light the light of men’s spirits with truth and salvation.  We have become His light bearers, lifting up the light of God’s unconditional love before men.  Do they see that in us?  Have we shed our prejudices and our superficial “Christian” love for God’s real love?  Why do you think little Mother Teresa made such a powerful statement to the world?  Because she lived God’s true love before men, before the most undesirable of people and she loved them to the laying down of her own life and comforts.  Even unbelievers had to acknowledge something supernatural in the love she displayed.  We need spiritual eyes that see past the outward man, we need ears that hear the inner cry of a person deepest need.  We need understanding of how to effectively minister the true love of Christ to each one.  Sometimes that can take unconventional and unreligous ways.  Most of all it takes us living out of the heart of God and demonstrating a love not our own, but that which was freely and unconditionally bestowed upon us.

Blessings,

#kent

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Who’s Your Daddy?

April 23, 2019

 

Who’s Your Daddy?

 

John 8:42-47

42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

 

 

The question we ask today is “who is your real Father?”  In this passage from the discourse that Jesus was having with the Jews they were quite convinced that they were of the seed of Abraham and that therefore God was their Father.  Jesus was telling them it is not a matter of natural descent.  Many people in this country and even in others think they are Christians by virtue of fact they grew up in a Christian heritage and that is their general belief even though it may have no effectual working in their lives.  Many even call themselves Christians and claim God as their Father because they go to church, or they are involved in church activities or they have a religion.  Muslims believe that God, or Allah, is their Father, so much so that many are willing to sacrifice their lives and yours too for what they believe is His cause.  What Jesus was telling many of these same types of people are that God isn’t your Father, you only think that He is.  If God were your Father, then it would stand to reason you would know His Son.  The reason you would know His Son is because the Son is just like the Father in nature, in character and in purpose.  The true children of God are able to hear the Father.  They are able to receive spiritual instruction, exhortation and even rebuke.  The true children of God embrace the Son of God, for they recognize and acknowledge that it is only by His life we have access to the Father and are adopted into sonship.  The difference is seen in the fact that we have a new nature and what is more, we have put off the former nature with the sins and lusts that it carried.  God’s children no longer pursue the flesh, but walk after the Spirit.  We are as Romans 8:12-17 puts it, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship And by him we cry, “Abba  Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  We live and operate our lives under the influence of who our Father is.  We have to ask ourselves what is the fruit of my life, what am I producing and is it in likeness of God’s character and nature?

The Bible and Jesus himself warns us that in the judgement day, “21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).”  This tells us that it is not even the outward miracles and demonstration of the Spirit that are true evidence of who one’s Father is, it is the faith and the fruit produced by one’s life.  It is seen in whom we listen too, whom we obey and whom we follow.   We, like the Jews, can profess that God is our Father, but how much do we look like the Son; are we like it says in 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  It is not our outward appearance and demeanor that always reveals our true nature and descent.  It is our heart for God, our love and faith in His Son and our obedience to His Word as the Spirit that speaks to His Fatherhood in us, leads and directs our lives.  Who’s your daddy?

Blessings,

#kent

 

Kingdom Principles (Part 5)

Not the Outward, but the Inward

 

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

 

The church is not so unlike the Jewish nation before us.  We have taken the principles of the kingdom of heaven and have fashioned them into laws and burdens that are placed on the backs of men.   So many of our denominations have taken a revelation and a truth, dug their foundations and built their denominations and that is where they have staid.  God is not stagnant.  He is an ever-moving river of truth.  He is continually unfolding and unveiling His plan before us.  His truth is all there in His Word, but the revelation of that truth has not been fully manifested.  It is a progressive thing.  One of the chief kingdom principles is never think that you have it all and never be content to build your faith and religion on present day truth.  That is not to say it isn’t truth, but it may be only a facet and part of the whole.

From the early days of Christianity men have done what the religious leaders of old did with Judaism.  They try and make our faith a mandate of rules and regulations.  Men still try and dictate and control by taste not, touch not and eat not.  If Christ taught us anything He taught us that in order to change the outward there must be a change inwardly.  Jesus once told the Pharisees, “It is not what goes into a man’s belly that defiles him, it is what comes out.”  Jesus knew that unless the condition of the heart is changed no amount of rules and regulations will really change men.  They may try to act correctly outwardly, but inwardly they are still the same.  The kingdom of heaven in us begins with a heart change.  It must change from the desire for earthly enrichment and expression to the desire for the Spirit of God to have expression through us.  No longer my will, but Your will be done.  What we find is that when we really get in step and in sync with God’s heart and the Holy Spirit, we have set out on a God adventure and there is no telling where it may take us.  It is exciting and it is ever fresh and new. The neat thing is we are not struggling to control it, but we have relinquished control to the Holy Spirit.  Now our chief desire and ambition is to flow in harmony and obedience to Him.  It is no longer about religion telling us we have to do this and we can’t do that.  The law that governs us lives within our hearts and we know that our obedience to Him leads to heightened relationship and fellowship.  We have found that our faith is not of the ceremonial outward protocol, it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.  Instead of ceremony we celebrate who and what we are in Christ and all that He is becoming in us.  Perhaps that would explain why there is such a large movement away from traditional religion and more of a move toward non-denominationalism.  The kingdom of heaven is not about the organization it is about the organism in which the Holy Spirit is released and free to move in and through His body according to His will and purpose and not the dictates of men and their programs.  Where the Holy Spirit is free to move is where you will find that it will be as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God [is] not in word, but in power.”  Isn’t that what we desire and seek today?  We have heard countless words, but God we want to behold your power.  We want to see the kingdom manifested in the lives and affairs of men.  This is what we press into as we seek the deeper experience of the kingdom of heaven.  We want to find the lover of our soul, our King.  We want to find the place of intimacy and relationship with Him where we have true communion and dialog with His presence.

May our hearts become inflamed with an everlasting passion for our Christ and His coming as well as His manifest kingdom.  When we are consumed in our love for Him, the things of this world become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  Righteousness then becomes a state of who we are by association and relationship with Him who is righteous rather than something we seek to achieve through outward efforts and works.  The kingdom of heaven in you is allowing and giving place to Christ being all that He desires to be in you.  Allow the kingdom to flood into every part and fiber of your being and your life.  As He is in you, so will you be in this world.

Blessings,

#kent

Feet?

April 19, 2019

 

Feet?

 

Isaiah 52: 7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

 

What do we think of when we think of feet?  Do you think of the often smelly, dirty, corned and callused little members at the bottom of your body that carries you through life?  It has been very enlightening, as I’ve taken some time to go through all of the scriptures in the Word about feet.  These little, often neglected, members of the body are spoken of quite frequently.  They are definitely members of spiritual, as well as, natural significance.  Our feet, so often neglected and taken for granted, carry us through our whole life.  They have to support the weight and burden of the whole body.  If they don’t work or they slip or stumble, they take the whole body down with them.  Spiritually speaking this is significant as well, because the feet represent our spiritual walk.  There are many aspects to the feet, but let’s look at this one first.

We have often heard the term, “to sit at one’s feet”.  Throughout the Word of God it is shown that, at the one’s feet that you sit at, is often the one who determines the direction and the way you walk.  The authority that we submit too, the ones we learn from and how that translates into our lives is our definition of “sitting at one’s feet”.  There are many instances where people would fall at another’s feet.  By that act they were showing submission, obedience, asking for mercy, humbling themselves beneath that one’s authority.

In Deuteronomy 33:3, Moses speaks of God, “Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction.”  As a people of God we have at least mentally assented to the authority of God to order our ways.  Deuteronomy 11:22- 25 tells us the significance of walking in His ways. “If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him- 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the western sea.  25 No man will be able to stand against you. The LORD your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.”  We begin to see a principle unfold that our authority and dominion is dependent upon the way we walk and who we follow.  God is saying, ‘if you follow after me and sit at my feet these are the results you can expect to see.’   In Joshua 10 there is an account of a miraculous battle when five Amorite kings moved into position and attacked Israel.  You may remember that this was the battle in which there was such great victory for the Israelites that Joshua prayed that the Sun might stay still in the sky so that he could finish the battle.  In verse 24-26 the kings have been captured and it says,” When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks. 25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26 Then Joshua struck and killed the kings and hung them on five trees, and they were left hanging on the trees until evening. “This is a type of what the Word of God is instructing us to do with our spiritual enemies and the strongholds of our lives.  We could even see it as being our five senses and living after our natural man.  For it is our flesh that wars against our spirit, but our spirit man must prevail and put to death the flesh.  Through the example of putting their feet upon the necks of these kings we are seeing that our enemies are put under our feet. The condition is that we have to exercise our authority and if we let the flesh live, we will have to come back to fight it another day and it will always plague us and be a stumbling block to us as we see it was for Israel.

Joshua is such a strong type of our spiritual authority because he learned it at the feet of Moses and by seeing first hand the faithfulness of God.  In Joshua 14:7-9 he briefly shares a testimony of earlier days and its lesson.  “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.”  What is the lesson?  Faith, that is steadfast, has the reward of an inheritance.  That faith is demonstrated through a walk that follows after God wholeheartedly.  Fear on the other hand is the contradiction and arch–nemesis of Faith.  If we follow it, then it will be our undoing and our defeat.

Another case for this truth is seen in 1 Samuel 2:6-10, “”The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; upon them he has set the world. 9 He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails; 10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king

and exalt the horn of his anointed.” If we will believe in the Lord and walk in His ways He will guard our steps and bring us to good success and it isn’t dependent upon our might or ability.

We see the spiritual reality of our enemies being put under our feet in Christ.  While satan may have been deluded in that day to think that he had defeated Christ when he nailed Him to the cross, he simply sealed the Lord’s victory and dominion.  When the Lord was resurrected, He ascended into heaven, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.  He took the keys of dominion and authority back from satan and gave them to the church.  He gave gifts unto men.  He gave spiritual gifts and offices to His church for what reason?  Ephesians 4:12-13 says, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  Christ gave us the power to crush the head of the serpent under our feet.  He did the hard part, He gave His life to redeem us back to God and take those keys of authority.  Now He has sat down as it says in Hebrew 10:12-14, “12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”  Christ, the head has done His part, now it is up to the body to complete and walk out what He started.  We are His body and as such, we are also His feet.  It is not finished until satan is our foot rest and he has been put under the least and lowest member of the body.  1 Corinthians 15:26-26 says, “25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  The body must experience and lay hold of the fullness that is in the head.  For it is Christ through His body that must exercise full dominion and power to put all things under His feet.  Ephesians 1: 22-23 tells us, “And 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.”  It has to be completed in us. God, in Christ, shared our humanity with us, so that we might share His glory with Him.  Hebrews 12:5-13 says it so well, “5It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 7You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor 8and put everything under his feet?   In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers;

in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”  13And again, “I will put my trust in him.”   And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”  We are the feet of the Lord, dominion and authority is coming from the head through the body till the feet of Christ are rested fully upon the neck of satan as they were on those Amorite kings in the book of Joshua.  He that makes us holy and we that are made holy by him are of one family and one body.  It is the Lord and trust in Him that gives us strength to walk the path of faith and trust even in perilous and trying times.  It is the Lord who strengthens us and gives us help in the battle to overcome the adversary. David expresses these very thoughts in Psalms 18:31-40, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. 31 For who is God besides the LORD ? And who is the Rock except our God? 32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. 34 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You give me your shield of victory,

and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. 36 You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 38 I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. 39 You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. 40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.”

Blessings,

#kent

Change

April 18, 2019

Mark 6:12

And they went out, preaching the need for a change of heart in men.

 

Change

 

When you think about it a great deal of life is about change.  One thing that is certain in life is that nothing will stay the same.  While that is true in this realm.  It is not true of God.  Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  There is no need to change that which is already perfect.  Our God, who does not change or waiver in His ways and character gives us the stability and confidence to know that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.  His ways are right, good and perfect.  It is in this character, exemplified through the life of the Lord Jesus, that we desire to be changed.  As believers the goal of our change is to be transformed into the likeness, image and character of Christ.  We have come to realize through the Word and through personal experience that the ability to make this change or transformation does not rely solely in our ability to do so.  Thus, we were given the Holy Spirit to indwell us, teach us, correct us and empower us to walk in the direction of change and transformation that is bringing us more and more into the likeness and image of Christ as we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

Now, it should go without saying, that not all change is good.  We can change for the worse as well as the better and we can be as Paul describes in Ephesians 4:14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

Our change began with a heart of repentance, when we came to knowledge that our ways were wicked and out of alignment with the will and purpose of God.  We came to understand that the “wages of sin is death” and the only way to change that is by our repentance from our former life of sin and acknowledgement by faith that Jesus paid the price to redeem us out of that sentence of death and judgement.  We came to understand that by aligning ourselves with Him and the Word of God we could begin to affect change in our life that would bring us more and more into His image and likeness; aligning us with His purpose and design for our lives.  We changed our thinking.  We changed the law and the principles that we live under from the law of sin and death to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

One of the hardest things for us as humans, is to change our old habits and ways.  We so often operate out of that definition of insanity that says, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  We get in these ruts in our lives that are hard for us to break out of.  One preacher said, “A rut is like a grave with both ends knocked out.”  It keeps you in a place of inability to change out of your circumstance.  These ruts or graves, so to speak, are the areas we all contend with and struggle to break free from.  What holds us there are mind sets and dynamics that we may not even fully comprehend or understand.  We may need to go back and seek to discover what it is that inhibits us from moving out of this place.  Sometimes it is a poverty spirit or a spirit passed down from previous generations or any area the needs to be recognized, renounced, repented of and deliverance appropriated through the power and the blood of Christ.  Then we need to begin walking in these right changes by recognizing any time that “old mind set” wants to manifest that it is no longer a part of us and no longer has power over us.  We are free in Christ, we count it as dead and walk in the other direction from how it formerly influenced us.  It goes beyond just our thoughts and regrets to positive action that appropriates that power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the authority we have in Christ that we have been given over every spirit and stronghold that is not of God.  We begin to walk out of these ruts, graves and bondage, affecting change by our actions, choices, confessions, faith and appropriation of who we are in Christ, because of who He is in us.

Paul says this in Philippians 3:12-14 and 20-21, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  As we fix our eyes upon our Lord and Savior, we walk each day out in the transforming power of His Spirit within us and we know that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” and is able to change us into His glorious likeness.

Blessings,

#kent

Labels are for Cans

April 17, 2019

John 8:31

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

 

Labels are for Cans

 

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content.  We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with.  Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.

I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that.  Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination.  Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.

Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”.  What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?

Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples.  A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline.  What was the discipline of Christ?  According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple.  It is a lifestyle, not just a belief.  It is the fabric of what you live out of.

In John 13:35 Jesus gives us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple.  “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ.  Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the ones that fit under your label and even there, there is further divisions and discord.

Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.””  Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered.  It means, as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

How are we doing so far?  Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?

Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”  That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves.  Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him.  In comparison to that love, we hate all else.

It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do.  In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology.  He told us to go make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?

This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay.  Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him?  True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Beyond the Veil

April 16, 2019

 

Beyond the Veil

 

Hebrews 10:19-21

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And [having] an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

 

The term veil is only used about seven times throughout the Word of God.  The first and only time it is used in the Old Testament is in the Song of Solomon.  “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I [am] sick of love. (Song of Songs 5:6-8).”

In Middle East culture we know that the veil for the woman is a sign of modesty and that she would normally only unveil herself before her husband or intimate lover.  The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon is a book that most consider being a symbolism of Christ and the Bride.  Viewing it in this light we see in this passage that the maiden or bride is in pursuit of her beloved who has withdrawn himself.  The watchmen of the city find her.  Now the watchmen might be viewed as the religious ones that had charge of watching over the spiritual affairs of the city, perhaps not so unlike the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Not so unlike Jesus, we find that this maiden is not commended for her pursuit of her beloved, but smitten and wounded.  In addition, the keepers of the walls, those that uphold the religious institution, take away her veil.  Her modesty has been removed and she is exposed and shamed by the watchmen and the keepers of the wall.  It is not uncommon that when one gets passionate and is in desperate pursuit of relationship with God that they encounter persecution.  Most often it is religious persecution.  When you deviate from the mainstream of religious thinking it often leads to paying the price for not conforming to traditional thinking.  Perhaps the greatest fear of the religious people is that someone who is laying hold of the anointing and the presence of God in a way that they are not able to do, exposes how shallow their relationship really is.  There is a jealousy and a fear of the loss of control and honor.

However, all of this does not deter the maiden as she pursues her beloved even among the mainstream of Jerusalem or Christianity.  What motivates this maiden to such extreme action and determination?  She is sick with love.  She is so love struck with her beloved that nothing can separate her from His love and her love for Him.  She willing to pay any price and go to any lengths to lay hold of Him.

Have we ever had those times in our lives when we felt that strong love and desire for Christ, but He had withdrawn Himself?  We sought Him in prayer, worship, in church, but we couldn’t find His presence.  Sometimes our Lord withdraws Himself, not out of displeasure with us, but to prove our love and desire for Him.

Why knock yourself out?  Can’t you just be content being one of the daughters of Jerusalem, just one of the redeemed of the Lord, one the virgins without number or the concubines of the King?  This woman was in pursuit of the most intimate place with her beloved.  She was so love sick that she would settle for nothing less than all of Him.  She desired marriage.  She desired oneness and unity that she could find nowhere else.  She desired a level of relationship that exceeded the normal.  She desired to enter into that place within the veil, in the presence of the Almighty, where her life was consumed in Him.

The passage here in Hebrews tells us that we can have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”  Jesus has made a way for all of us to enjoy and experience His salvation, presence and access to the Father.  There has been a way made for all of us to enter in through the full assurance of faith.  How much do we desire not just an encounter, not just an experience, not just a general acceptance, but an intimate relationship with our Beloved?  How lovesick are we for His manifest presence in our lives and that place where we walk with Him and talk with Him and hear His voice? There has to be a full unveiling of our hearts to Him, before we will fully see and experience His fullness toward us.  What we have formerly seen in a foretaste and in a measure, do we fervently desire in fullness?

Blessings,

#kent

The Deserts of Marriage

April 15, 2019

 

The Deserts of Marriage

 

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

 

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks.  Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears.  Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions.  Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.

Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat.  Is this finally the end of the line?  Has our love totally shriveled up and died?  Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage?  Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?

Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage.  How different it was then.  It was like the Garden of Eden.  They were so in love.  They never wanted to be apart.  They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight.  Things were so perfect.  They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together.  Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy.  They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies.  She would be the perfect submissive wife.  She would live to meet and fulfill all his needs.  She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love.  She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.

She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking.  He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh.  He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off  her feet with romantic ways.  He would be her security, her tower of strength.  He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl.  He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.

As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married.   Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us.  That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right.  We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior.   On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations.  Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less.  We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof.   Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.

Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been.  Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another?  There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus.  Did we have to earn our love from Him?  Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us?  Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be.  The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness.  At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.”  Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet.  They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you.  They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior.  We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love.  He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs.  We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.

When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts.  It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care.  Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it.  We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do.  If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love.  If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love.  Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves?   Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us?  If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?

Don’t lose your hope.  Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage.  Let us come together and commit our hearts as “one”, before Him who is our reconciliation.  What is impossible for man is not impossible with God.  When we become reconciled to God’s will and unselfish love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost.  Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives.  God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.

Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blesssings,

#kent

 

He Must Increase, I must decrease

 

John 3:30

He must increase, but I [must] decrease

 

These were the words of John the Baptist as his disciples questioned him about this other man, Jesus, and why everyone was going over to Him.  John understood his life’s purpose and that all that God had given him and all that he had become was to point the way to Christ.  He was a forerunner sent before to prepare men’s hearts to receive Christ and the salvation only He could bring.  Our purpose is very much the same today.  Our lives are not about us being glorified and put upon a pedestal, it is about bringing Jesus before men that they may see all that He is and all that He has provided.  Sometimes Christians miss this.  They get caught up in what the Lord can do through them and instead of really building His Kingdom, they end up building their own.  We must guard against the glory men may want to bestow on us when they see Christ working through us especially in love and the demonstration of miraculous works.  There are signs that Jesus said would follow His disciples, but in whatever the Lord chooses to bring forth through our lives, we must be careful to give the praise and the glory back to Him.  Isaiah 48: 9-12 tells this about what He thinks of His glory, “For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.  Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.  Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I [am] he; I [am] the first, I also [am] the last.”  When we deserved God’s anger and judgement He did not cast us off, but He is refining us through the furnace of affliction.  If we aren’t trained up in humility and brokenness, understanding the true grace and goodness of God, we will pollute His name.  In fact we are seeing the Lord’s name being polluted in Christendom today.  Much of why the world rejects Christ and Christianity is not because of who Christ is, but because of who we are.  We proclaim His name, but we don’t proclaim His nature.  Because we do not truly live to His glory, we rob from Him the glory and praise due to His name by our selfishness, greed, and worldliness.  Is the world really seeing anything in us different than what they see in themselves?  I believe Christianity spread like wildfire in the early years of Christianity, even in the midst of great persecution, because people saw the glory of God.  It was not because these Christians glorified themselves, but it was because they allowed Christ to be glorified through them.   They truly learned what it meant that He must increase and they must decrease.  Aren’t most of us still caught up in our increase, in our success, our name and our fame?  Who is really being glorified in and through our lives, Christ, or ourselves?   Galatians 5:26 warns us, “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” God has called us out to be a people for His possession and for the praise of His name.  Where is our focus in life; is it on us or on Him?

The greatest honor the Lord could bestow on us is the privilege of allowing Him to be glorified through us.  When He is glorified through us then men no longer see us they Christ in His glory and splendor.  They just see a vessel that is the facilitator of His majestic glory and wonder.   This is the desire and purpose of God, to be glorified in His saints.  2 Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that with the Lord’s coming He will be glorified in us, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”  The Lord may well grace our lives with some miraculous things, but we must never presumptuously take the glory from that to ourselves.  There is only one who is worthy of all the glory and all the honor and all the praise and we simply the lamps that allows His glory to shine forth.  We are privileged to be the instruments of His praise and His glory.  We must decrease and He must increase, so that in all things we point the way to Jesus and defer all praise and glory to His worthy Name.  As we decrease in this life and the things of this world, He will increase within us and His kingdom will come in us.  His will, will be done in us as it is in heaven.  Let us not pollute or diminish that light by allowing ourselves to have the preeminence that belongs only to Him.

Blessings,

#kent

The Planting of the Lord

April 11, 2019

 

The Planting of the Lord

 

Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

 

Have you thought about yourself as being a tree planted in the garden and orchard of God, a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord?  Many years ago when we first had moved into our home, I had planted a number of young trees and saplings in a portion of my yard I wanted it to be like a little forest.  As I was looking out the window at it one evening I felt I heard the Spirit of the Lord say, ” Some of those trees you think will live will die and some that look like they will die will live.  If you will faithfully keep your eyes and heart on me and let your roots go down in the good soil of my Word then I will make you like a mighty Oak tree.”  Over the years that has held true, some of the tree grew up mighty and strong, while others wilted and died.  All of those trees were planted in the same ground, but not all of them reacted the same way.

Perhaps some of you today have felt that the tree of your spiritual life has become diseased or is wilting and dying.  Perhaps the winters have been harsh with trials and the summers have only brought drought and dryness to an already wilting faith and life.  Perhaps those around you have been hurt or died and it has brought despondency and sorrow.  There may even be some of you that feel you are already dead or just hanging by a thread of faith.   God’s got a word for you today.  “Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  God has come to comfort you who mourn and are broken hearted.  He is come to bring you beauty for what you have considered burnt up with nothing but ashes remaining.  He is come to restore in you joy and hope and confidence.  You say, ” how can it be, look at my failures, my sins, my unfaithfulness.”  He says,  ” Look at Me, my son, my daughter, I am the ever Faithful One.  I have planted you to be trees of righteousness, my righteousness, not yours.  Look up, for your Redeemer lives and ever makes intercession on your behalf.  Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  If you will put your eyes and your heart back on the Lord today and let your roots go down again into the soil of His Word, He will establish you as the mighty Oak of Righteousness, for you are the planting of the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

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