Without Arguing or Complaining

Philippians 2:14-18

14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

               This scripture hits upon an area I think may be a real weak point among many of us.  Many of us don’t have to reflect much to remember the strife and arguing with our family and spouses, perhaps others as well.  Many of us are so stressed out, keyed up and agitated that we would bark at anything that would press our buttons or look at us the wrong way.  No one can usually press your buttons more than family.  As a result, many of our homes are filled with tension, arguing and strife.  We are often missing the will and higher intents of the Lord in these areas.  I know, I probably don’t understand the situation, but God does.  He is our peace.  He is our love.  He is our longsuffering, patience and forbearance.   Many of us have gotten in such a habit of just letting our emotions rip whenever we get agitated, irritated and angry that we just go off on those around us, giving little thought to what we are planting with our words of anger.  Obviously, we all have differences that need to be addressed and dealt with, but our anger, complaining and arguing aren’t the resolution, they are only the vent of our frustrations.  The problem isn’t always entirely with the person getting angry, often times we are guilty of provoking anger by our insensitive actions, words, deeds or misdeeds.  So, can we come together to listen and resolve our issues in the spirit of peace, letting the love of Christ rule and moderate in our hearts? 

               What is it about our complaining?  Complaining is like a dripping faucet that you can’t shut off. It wears on you.  What is worse, it is a cancer to our faith, for it focuses and dwells on the negative and always looks at what isn’t rather than what is.  Complaining and arguing are counter-productive to our faith and walk in Christ.  The apostle Paul is communicating to us that if this thing is prevalent in our lives, then we need a change of attitude, because this doesn’t complement our Christian walk and lives.  Paul is saying we are called to be something different than what is typical of the world.  We are to stand out and shine like stars in the universe.  A star can’t shine very brightly if it is always consumed with arguing and complaint.  It’s light, the Christ, is hidden from view.  It becomes like the moon, a reflection of its surroundings rather than a source of light and warmth. 

               The reality is that all our lives will hold elements of adversity, trials and obstacles to overcome.  Rather than becoming just one who reacts to our circumstances, we must choose our actions and our attitudes.  We are the stars that hold out the Word of Life to a dark, crooked and depraved world.  They must see in us something that they don’t see in themselves or the world around them.  There must be a joy, optimism and purpose that shines through even in the midst of adverse circumstances. 

               When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison, they had every reason to be angry, mad and complain.  Instead they chose to sing hymns and songs of praise.  Which attitude rocked their world of darkness, which attitude brought salvation and blessing?  Maybe a lot of us need attitude adjustments today and to repent of those areas in our lives we’ve let the flesh and emotions rule.  We make choices and if Christ is alive and filling our hearts and minds, those choices are a lot easier to make, for then is He our strength and our righteousness.  Be the star and the outshining of God’s glory for which He has called and purposed you to be.  Let the peace and love of God rule in your hearts and minds.  Let this same mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

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Taking up an Offense

February 2, 2023

Proverbs 18:19

An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.

Taking Up an Offense

               How many of us today are carrying offenses in our heart towards another?  They said something to us, they did something to us, they wronged us in some way and now they are on the black list of our heart to stay.  We have all been offended, hurt, disappointed, emotionally wounded and wronged in some way.  I guess that is pretty normal behavior in the world, but what about in the identity that God has given us in Christ.  In our identity with Him, are we still justified in holding on to these offenses, no matter how justified we reason within ourselves to do so? 

               Colossians 3: 13 says, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  That is not a request, but a command.  Have we never offended or hurt anyone?  Are we so unwilling to forgive what we ourselves have been guilty of?

               One revelation we all need to get is that we are not of this world and yet we keep thinking like it and acting like it.  That is not a renewed mind in Christ, it is being conformed to the world which is an offense to God.  When we are unwilling to forgive then we spit in the face of Him who forgave us.  That is strong and it should be, because that is how the Lord takes it.  He forgave us so much, shouldn’t we be willing to forgive little.  Jesus spoke parables about forgiveness and He taught a word concerning it that very few of us are walking in. 

               Now someone might be thinking, “Will you don’t know what they did to me, I can’t ever forgive them for that.”

               Jesus said, ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

               Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46)

               Somehow, we can all become self-righteous about things.  We can see all the faults in others.  We may be carrying an offense against someone that isn’t even our own.  We have taken it up for someone else because they were wronged.  We tend to somehow feel that we have been given the right to judge others for their wrongs and are justified in condemning them and holding it against them.

               Jesus said, ” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

               Romans 2:1-4  also addressed this issue, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”  It goes on to say that because of this stubbornness we store up wrath for ourselves, because we are going to be judged by the same standards that we judged others and if we showed no mercy, then we can’t expect to receive mercy. 

               How can we fully walk in who we are in Christ when we hold offense against a brother or another.  God is love.  His love and forgiveness has been shed abroad in our hearts as believers.  Are we now going to annul what He died for?  Listen to what 1 John 2:9-11 has to say about this.  “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”

               Are people, and even brothers and sisters, going to hurt, disappoint and offend us?  You can count on it, but what you do with that offense speaks volumes to how real your identity is in Christ.  If you really know Him, you will keep His commands.  If you really love Him, you will allow His love to dominate and guide your heart.  Your mercy will triumph over judgement and you will be the hot coals of love poured over the offender’s head.

               I would just like to end this with the exhortation given from Roman12:9-21 about how we are to walk in love toward one another.  May the Holy Spirit help us acknowledge, to release and forgive any and all offenses that we have been carrying.

               “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

               Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

               Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Blessings,

#kent

Proverbs 10-13

February 1, 2023

Proverbs 10

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;

what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,

but the righteous stand firm forever.

27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous,

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Proverb 12

1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the LORD,

but the LORD condemns a crafty man.

3 A man cannot be established through wickedness,

but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

15 The way of a fool seems right to him,

but a wise man listens to advice.

26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship,]

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;

along that path is immortality.

Proverbs 13

The righteous hate what is false,

but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity,

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it,

but he who respects a command is rewarded.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,

turning a man from the snares of death.

15 Good understanding wins favor,

but the way of the unfaithful is hard.

16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,

but a fool exposes his folly.

24 He who spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Blessings,

#kent

The Spirit of Fear

January 31, 2023

The Spirit of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind

               There is a fear that is a phobia and a dread; beyond that, it can produce heart-pounding terror.  Fear can be so strong that it can totally incapacitate us.  It can grip us so strong that it will cause us to tremble and shake.  Sometimes we can’t even move or think or we flee in terror.  There is a spirit of fear that can grip our hearts in a way that makes us terribly afraid.  There are varying degrees that this spirit can come upon us, but when it does, it robs us of faith and confidence in God if we only focus on the fear.  Often fear plays upon the imaginations and perceptions of our mind.  When we have experienced nightmares, they weren’t real, but they created such fear and panic in us because they seemed so real. We can experience waking nightmares, as well, that seem just as real.  Fear, itself can’t harm you, but it can create such feeling within your mind and emotion that you often fear for your life and safety.  We can sometimes enter into a tremendous battle with this spirit of fear and just speaking words doesn’t always bring the results of victory we would like.

               Sharon, my wife will share with you a story of fear that affected her for about year.  We hope in sharing this it may help some of you that have had experiences with attacks of fear, panic and terror.  For my wife it was a process of the Lord teaching her how to obtain the victory and sometimes there are areas that we open up in our lives for these attacks to come in that we need to shut. 

For Sharon, it came after a time when we had attempted to trust the Lord for a home birth.   Our son was just too large for my wife and after a long period of transitional labor we had to go to the hospital.  There we felt contempt and reproach from the doctor and medical staff for not having checked in earlier and done things the traditional way.  It was a difficult time, but the good news is that we had a healthy baby. 

               It was shortly after this that my wife began to have a visitation of a spirit that would bring great fear upon her.  This spirit came usually when she was alone and was resting.   It was generally in this state of semi-consciousness, between waking and sleeping that this spirit of fear came.

 Sharon:                “At this point, Kent has asked me to step in and tell my own story.  It was a time in my life I thought I was strong in the Lord.  The Lord had just healed me of breast cancer seven months or so before our son was born.  For whatever reason, the Lord allowed me to go through this experience to teach me many things about my life, where I was with Him spiritually and how I had to change from the bondage my childhood held over me.

               I remember the first encounter; it was in the early morning after Kent had gone to work.  To this day, I don’t know if I was awake or in that semi –conscious state.  It was so real; it felt like I was awake.  I heard a noise downstairs and I remember thinking Kent had gone to work already.  I heard what sounded like someone coming up the stairs, but it was more familiar than that.  Whoever it was, came up skipping a stair, just like my Father used to do when one of us kids were in trouble. When this presence entered my bedroom, I could feel it, but I couldn’t see it.  A fear entered with it that paralyzed me.  This spirit sat on the edge of my bed and I felt strong hands grab me by my throat and it began choking me.  I laid there in unbelief.  I felt like I was going to die. When it couldn’t kill me, it left and went back downstairs.  I laid there trembling, trying to understand what just happened to me.  I could hear my heart pounding; it was beating so loud.  Fear gripped me again, as I heard it coming back up the stairs for the second time.  At this point, I was searching my thoughts wondering what was happening to me?  Its presence entered my bedroom again and this time, it sat down and began beating me about my face.  I felt the blows…and they hurt! When it couldn’t kill me by its blows, it left again.  I heard the familiar sound coming back up the stairs for the third time and I wondered if I would survive this time.  This time, it sat down and began touching me in a sexual way.  It was then that I sat straight up in bed and rebuked it in the Name of Jesus!  It left immediately.

               This presence came and left over the next year.  It came in other forms, taking on the form of my husband once.  It seemed so real.  This wasn’t an experience I wanted to share with people.  Can you imagine going through this sort of thing as a Christian?  There were many times, I would rebuke it in the Name of Jesus and it would laugh at me.  How could I share this with others?

               I will tell you briefly what I learned.  The Lord taught me that it was only a spirit of fear and that it really couldn’t do anything to me, or it would have already done it.  When I understood that, it helped me to enter into the Lord whenever it would make an appearance.  Through this experience, it taught me how to climb up on the lap of my Heavenly Father and allow Him to put His big arms around me to protect me from this wicked thing.  I learned to enter into the presence of the Lord. 

               There were areas of my life the Lord was dealing with at that time.  I was repeating what I had been taught as a child from a stepfather who didn’t know the love of God himself.  God was trying to free me from my earthly father’s example in order to follow my heavenly Father’s example instead.  I was caught up in soap operas at that time and the Lord taught me what we put into our minds and take in through our eyes does affect how we live and think.  I was also taught that we could control even our dreams when we allow the Lord to be the Lord of our lives.  You see, I used to think we could do in our dreams what we couldn’t do in real life if it was sin, but if it were done in our dreams, it was okay.  The Lord taught me, ”as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

               The last significant time it came, I was lying on a couch in our family room.  I heard what seemed to be a herd of these spirits.  By this time in my life, I was so angry at this thing called fear, I grabbed for them and they went screaming.  I remember getting a hold of one of their arms and it took hold of this spirit with both of my hands to break its bone.  I heard it snap!  I also heard great pain coming from the one I grabbed, while it was trying to get away from me.  That evening, a young man came to our house for a Bible study and he prophesied, “Today, has the enemies’ arm been broken.”  He had no idea what had gone on, but I knew exactly what it meant…and from that time on, this spirit of fear has never had the same grip it had, the first time it manifested itself in my bedroom.

               While this was a hard trial to go through, I wouldn’t by pass going through it, when I stop and consider how much I learned from this experience.

               When I got complete victory over it, it was because I learned to turn that fear into trusting my heavenly Father by climbing up on His lap whenever this thing would manifest itself.  Through the years, it has come and left a few times.  I have made comments like, “You again?”  When it realized fear had no grip on me anymore, it came around less and less until I can’t remember when it manifested itself last.

               Fear is not a physical enemy even though it may use physical means or even people to manifest its self.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  This includes that spirit of fear that can grip our hearts.  1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  The place where we find that perfect love is in the heart of the Father.  If fear is your tormentor, then the heart of the Father is your deliverance.  That is the place spoken of in Psalms 91:1-7, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; [nor] for the arrow [that] flieth by day; [Nor] for the pestilence [that] walketh in darkness; [nor] for the destruction [that] wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee.”  Your faith, your abiding and your authority in Christ are your victory over the spirit of fear.

Blessings,
#kent

These Three are One

January 30, 2023

These Three are One

1John 5:7

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

               Unfortunately, this concept of the three person Godhead is a difficult one for some to grasp.    It is not a subject that can be adequately covered in a brief message like this, but let’s take a few minutes to touch on it. 

               First, from this scripture we know that the Word is Christ from what John 1 tells us:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Here it plainly states and establishes that Christ was the Word who was with God from the beginning.  Not only was He with God, but it says that the Word was God.  Why do we struggle so much with one God, three persons?  The Godhead is separate in distinction and office of administration, but always one in mind and purpose.  The Father has the preeminence of the Godhead and yet would you be a whole if you were a head that had no body?  Or would you be alive if you had no spirit or breath of life in you?  Can you take those elements out of your own body and still be complete and a whole person?  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct, yet they operate in oneness to complete the person of God. 

               Even from the beginning of the creation of man God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (Genesis 1:26).”  In the very first chapter of the Bible God establishes His plurality in using “Us” and “Our”.  Indeed, He made us in His image in that we also are a tripartite person made up of body, soul and spirit.  All of which make up the whole man and none of which exist without the other in this life.  Time would fail to speak of the many epiphanies of God appearing to men which could easily be seen as Christ in the Old Testament.  When the three Hebrew children were thrown in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, it was one Nebuchadnezzar described as “One like unto the Son of God” that appeared alongside the Hebrews who walked in the furnace without harm. 

               In the fullness of time, God came down to man as God incarnate in Jesus.  This physical man Jesus housed the Christ, the Son of God.  His Father was God and His mother was a virgin untouched by any natural man.  The offspring was Jesus Christ, God clothed in humanity.  Philippians 2:5-11 says,  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  I like what I heard one time that made it so simple and understandable: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became the son of man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”  Jesus was our prototype, our perfect example of what we are to become as the sons of God.  He showed us that in our natural man we could have communication and fellowship with the Father through our prayer life and our abiding in the Spirit of God.  He taught us by example with a selfless and sinless lifestyle wherein even though He was God, He took the form of a servant even to the death of the cross.  For us to deny the deity of Christ is for us to speak out of an antichrist spirit.  1John 4:1-3 says, ” Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 

               We have merely scratched the surface of the multitude of scriptures that establishes the deity of Jesus Christ and the truth that He is God.  God the Father makes it so clear that when you reject the Son, you reject the Father.  You cannot have one without the other.   John 5:23, ” That all [men] should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” And in John 14:6 where, ” Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

               If this is an area you struggle with, tune out your mind and tune into the Spirit of God for He will bear witness to the truth.  There are teachings out there that want to rob Jesus Christ of His deity.  We must understand that no matter how good these look outwardly at their core they are antichrist in spirit.  Don’t allow any man to rob you through vain deceit from the truth that is essential to your spiritual life and salvation. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:21).”

Blessings,

#kent

Why did Jesus Weep?

January 27, 2023

John 11:35

Jesus wept

Why did Jesus Weep?

               Well before we can answer that question we need some background about what has taken place.  We need to read John 11 to get the context of what has taken place.  Briefly we will summarize, but there is so much here I fear we do an injustice in doing so.  Many of you are familiar with the story that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, had fallen sick.  They were all close friends with Jesus.  Mary and Martha had sent a messenger to Jesus saying, “Lord, him you love (so well) is sick.”  When he says sick, they is not talking a head cold, they are talking as in sick unto death.  Jesus then says, “This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it.”  So even though is it says Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus dearly, he staid where He was for two more days before traveling to Bethany.  Now Jesus finally tells His disciples plainly that Lazarus is dead, but then He says this, “And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.”  When He gets there, He finds a mournful scene as Lazarus has died and He meets up with Martha who has heard He is coming. 

               Now you can imagine the feelings that Mary, Martha and the rest are going through.  They know who Jesus is as the Messiah, they know He has the power to heal and yet even when they called upon the one who says He loves them, He didn’t show up.  In their hearts and minds they are hurt, disappointed, maybe even angry.  Jesus, you didn’t answer my prayer.  Perhaps there have been times when we have been in that place of Mary and Martha.  We know and love the Lord, but at some crisis or need we prayed, but He didn’t come through for us as we thought He could have and should have.  We have thought, “Lord, if you had only showed up, I know the need would have been met.” 

               Martha converses with Jesus saying, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.

23Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.

24Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; 26And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?

27She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.]”  Martha has a revelation of who Christ is.  She knows Him as the Savior and she knows Him as the Healer, but she doesn’t really yet know Him as the Resurrection and the Life.  Sometimes for a new revelation to come forth, the former one has to pass away.  We have to let go of old paradigms and understandings in order to grasp a greater revelation of the unveiling of Christ.  Jesus is speaking to her of this, but she does not fully comprehend it yet.

               Martha goes to let Mary know Jesus is here and she comes running to him, followed by the group that have been mourning with them.  It says in verses 32-38, “When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.

33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]  34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.

35Jesus wept.

36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?

38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it.”  I believe Jesus really felt and had empathy with their sorrow and pain, but I think that it also grieved Him that they could not see beyond their disappointment and they still doubted Him.  It reminds me of the times Jesus would say, “Oh faithless generation, how long must I endure you?”  Jesus wept because of their sorrow, but He also wept because of their doubt and unbelief. 

               If we really believe Romans 8:28, that,  “all things work for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,” then we have to be able to rest and trust Jesus even when we don’t understand why things happen as they do.  Sometimes it is those crisis moments that create significant life changing events.  They challenge our faith and belief system.  They stretch us beyond our ability to explain and rationalize what has happened.  Then we are faced with, “do I get angry and turn from Him, or do I trust Him.”  Trust isn’t based in understanding; on the contrary, it is often trusting in what you don’t understand. 

               Jesus then had them roll back the stone where Lazarus was buried for four days.  He looked to heaven and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].”  And then He shouted, “Lazarus, Come forth.” 

“44And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.

45Upon seeing what Jesus had done, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Him.”

               The Lord is taking us from glory to glory.  He is resurrecting us into a new mind and way of thinking.  He is loosing us from our formal burial cloth of religious thinking and ideology.  He is raising us up into newness of life. 

On this journey we sometime must relinquish the old so that we can embrace the new.  The worse thing we can do is to believe things are as they have always been.  This is what religion does.  It builds its city on a truth, but becomes so cemented in it that it can never move on in the continual unfolding of the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

               Some of you need a spiritual healing where there has been disappointment, hurt and maybe even anger against God.  God still loves you more than you can know.  Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.  Sometimes it is these seeming failures that really lead us into the greater glory, even as it was with Mary and Martha.  Hold fast your faith.  He will never leave you or forsake you.

Blessings,

#kent

The Tender Presence of Jesus

Song of Solomon 7:10

I [am] my beloved’s, and his desire [is] toward me.

               And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8). For those outside of God’s will and salvation, the presence of the Lord can be a fearful thing.  Even we, His beloved people fear Him in loving reverence, adoration and awe.  Psalms 114:7-8 says, “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.”  Our God and Lord is so awesome.  He is so powerful that the simple exhalation of His breath could blow us all away and yet He has a love so great and tender it is like unto a vast ocean with no beginning and no end.  This love is why the presence of God intrigues us so.  We desire to swim out into the depths of His love and mercy, splash in His grace and bathe in His wonderful, wonderful presence.  This why we desire the place of intimacy and relationship where we may more personally know Jesus.  1 Chronicles 16:27 says, “Glory and honor [are] in his presence; strength and gladness [are] in his place.” We never experience God like those times of intimacy in His presence when He just floods our hearts with Himself.  Psalms 16:11 expresses it so well when it speaks, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” 

               Beloved, we are so precious in the sight of God.  We are the heartbeat and the passion of the Christ.  We are His love.  His focus, His eye and His desire is toward His bride.  We run and hide from His presence, because we, like Adam and Eve, are so self-conscious of our nakedness, our sin, our shortcomings and our unworthiness of His love and compassion.  Yet God sees beyond the outward filthiness and nakedness of our humanity.  He sees into the very depths of our heart.  He sees our true desires and longing for Him.  He comes, spreads over and covers us with His righteous garments; those that He has provided for through his own sacrifice and the shedding of His blood.   Adam and Eve only had the skins of animals that had been sacrificed so that they could be covered, but we have the blood and the righteousness of the Lamb of God to cover and clothe us.  God sees His Son in us.  1 Corinthians 1:30-31 tells us, “But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  Indeed, this is what we glory in, His love, His salvation and the multitude of His benefits that would fill volumes.  How blessed and privileged we are in our Lord.  We have an access into the presence of God and the heavenlies that many only imagine.  Those of us that enter into that place of His tender presence know that there is nothing else like it in all of the earth.  In that place, our tears of joy flow as we feel the love the Lord just bathing and caressing our soul.  This is what the people of God are longing for so much.  They have set at the table of man’s religion and have always left with a lean soul and a longing for more.  This is where many of us are at today.  We are looking for the real.  We are looking for that tender presence of Jesus, the lover that is like no other.  When He meets with us, we leave satisfied, fulfilled and changed by His presence. 

               Many people have entered into a second marriage and probably understand when I say that often you bring a lot of baggage with you from that previous relationship.  That was your point of reference.  That was the standard by which you measured what relationship was about.  We who are in Christ have died to that former relationship we had under the law of sin and death.  We still try and compare and measure our relationship with Christ by those lower standards.  He won’t fit in our box.  Christ loves you with an incomprehensible and incomparable love.  We have only touched and skirted the fringes of the love that God has for us.  “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God (1Corinthians 2:9-10).” It is the communion, the fellowship and the intimate relationship we have with Christ that is unveiling and taking us deeper into the revelations of who we are in Christ and how rich He is in us.                 As we are the passion of His Love, He must be no less in our sight and our desire.  As a love impassioned woman, we must pursue our lover, wherever He leads and however that love is tested, it must remain determined, committed and undaunted in its passion.  Many things come before us to turn our eye and heart from our Love, but we must remain true and settle for nothing less than His highest love for us.  This love will be rewarded with His tender presence as we are brought into the intimate place of His Love

Blessings,

#kent

Worthy of this Calling

January 25, 2023

Worthy of this Calling

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

                I would like for us to be very real and practical today as we consider our calling in Christ Jesus.  We often try and talk spiritual and be spiritual around what we consider spiritual people or environments, but what is every day life like for us?  How does our real faith play out in the everyday activities of our lives?  In the light of that, many of us may not feel too spiritual.  We may see ourselves getting angry, losing patience, arguing with the kids and the spouse.  A lot of times we see some pretty unattractive words and attitudes demonstrated in our lives.  Nothing we could really take much pride in as far as being spiritual or glorifying the Lord.  We may get pretty down on ourselves in the light of our many shortcomings and feel there is really no hope that I could be anything in Christ.  “Look what a mess I am and how totally unchristian I can act.”  Most of us can have those “flesh days” when we are just a mess spiritually.  Our spiritual enemy preys on our vulnerabilities.  I believe situations are often set up by the enemy, just to push our buttons and lead us off into unspiritual actions and attitudes.  You may have really felt that you were drawing close to the Lord and then you are attacked in the areas of your vulnerabilities.  You are tempted in the areas of your greatest weaknesses.  As much as you don’t want too, perhaps you fail and stumble again in those areas where you thought you were experiencing victory.  What follows is nothing less than a barrage of condemnation and discouragement as the devil condemns you for your failures.  Perhaps he even uses those around you to assist in heaping on you the condemnation and failure you already feel.  With feelings of shame, disgrace, added failure and guilt we become discouraged.  We think, “Why am I trying to be something I can never be?”  Exactly the state of mind the enemy wants to bring us too.

               Realistically our lives are a never-ending struggle of flesh and spirit.  We hear about who we are and who we should be in Christ, but then we struggle to live our faith in Christ, often with feelings of being so unsuccessful.  These are the reasons why we often grow weary, discouraged and want to just give up.  You know what?  We all have these feelings, discouragement, and setbacks.  Our God is not just writing us off because we do, but He does want to use them to allow us to recognize our weakness, so that we may better lay hold of His strength.   The Word tells us that the efforts of the flesh can never produce the righteousness of God.  That is why religion is so futile.  It is our attempt at finding and pleasing God in our own works.

               We find in life that we are most influenced by those we associate ourselves with.  If we hang around a worldly and ungodly crowd, it is not long before we find our own actions and attitudes becoming more and more conformed to theirs.  It is that same old principle of sowing and reaping.  What we are sowing into our lives is what we are reaping in our attitudes and actions.  Hosea 10:2 tells us, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”  Galatians 5:25 tells us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  While we will have those times where we will experience failure and discouragement we must stubbornly and uncompromisingly not relinquish who we know ourselves to be in Christ.  Our only hope of this is in our identification and relationship with our Lord.  No matter how we may get sidetracked and bushwhacked by the enemy of our soul, our inner man must turn back to Father.  He assures us forgiveness when we repent and promises to wash our sin away.  Christ in you is your hope of glory.  With all that is within us we must cling to Him, relinquish our lives to Him and stay in close fellowship and relationship with Him.  He alone is the one that transforms us into His image and likeness.  In order to be worthy of His calling, it is our patient and enduring faith in Him that is the manifest token of our salvation.  It is maintaining the place of intimacy and relationship that we truly know our God and experience the workings of His righteousness in us.  The reality of our faith and walk in the Spirit must be the greatest reality of our lives.  Even when we wander or fail, it is the faithfulness of His Spirit in us that continually keeps us returning and drawing near to Him.  “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer

(2 Thessalonians 1:3-5)” 

Blessings,

#kent

The Desolate and Empty Times

Job 7:3

So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.

               There are spiritual seasons in our life as there are in nature.  Many of us have come upon those seasons in our lives when we can identify with Job.  Our lives seem so empty, desolate, full of trials and pain.  The Lord we know is real, but He seems to have forsaken us.  Our lives seem unproductive and wearisome to us.  We begin to even despair of life at times as we consider what it is all for.  We wait and wait, we cry out and voice our complaint, but like Job, there is no answer.  “What did we do Lord, that you have forsaken and abandoned us.  Our lives so swiftly pass by and must they be spent this way, in vanity and sorrow?” 

               Praise God, we have an example in Job and in the life of David, Joseph and others that we can see the seasons in their lives when they felt alone and perhaps forsaken.  What we also see in these men is a persistent faith that would cling to God no matter how great their afflictions and testing.  It is in these times that our true character and faith is tested.  It is in these dormant, dead seasons of our life that in the outward bleakness our spiritual roots must go deeper.  With our minds we struggle to understand the significance of it all, but in our spirits we cling desperately to our faith and confidence in God. 

               Perhaps some of you are in this season in your lives and this word is to encourage you that God still sets upon the throne and He hasn’t abandoned you.  He just may be firing you in the oven of suffering and affliction, which will serve to temper and strengthen you for the days ahead.  It is in these times that we must truly exercise our faith in the unseen things, counting those things that are not, as though they are.  It is easy to love God and praise Him when all is well and the blessings are falling, but we must learn the same faithfulness to Him in the difficult and desolate times.  The temptation in these times of weariness and trials is to give up.  The enemy is constantly telling us, “God has given up on us, He is not really real, He doesn’t love you.”  These wilderness experiences will test our metal and we will grow weary as we try and faithfully hold on.  Paul gives several scriptures as He pressed on through these kinds of experiences.  ” For all things [are] for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:15-16).”  In Galatians 6:9 we are exhorted, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  Again, in Ephesians 3:13, Paul says, “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”

               These seasons of winter and testing are the in-workings to bring us into a greater place of ministry and usefulness in our kingdom work.  Joseph eventually persevered to become a savior of Egypt and the surrounding nations, including his own family.  David persevered to become the greatest King of Israel.  Job persevered to receive a double portion and become the priest and intercessor for those that had judged and condemned him.

               Don’t grow weary in your well doing and your faithfulness to God.  In due season you will reap the fruits of your faithfulness.  Hold fast and count the Lord always and forever faithful. 

Blessings,

#kent

Nature is in the Blood

January 23, 2023

Nature is in the Blood

Genesis 2:23

And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

            Is this statement and scripture not true of us, the Church, taken from the side of Christ, birthed through the blood He shed and His life that He gave for us?   When we partake of the communion are we not outwardly identifying with His life within us?  As we remember the cross and the New Covenant sealed with the blood of the Savior, then we should know that we are now bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. 

            Leviticus 17:11 tells us, “For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.”  While the Old Testament commands us not to eat or drink the blood of any beast in Leviticus 17:14, “For [it is] the life of all flesh; the blood of it [is] for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh [is] the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”  Yet what does Christ tell us in the New Testament in John 6:53-54, “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  God’s intent for us is not that we be partakers of the blood of beast and earthly creatures for He has not called us and created us to be partakers of a lower life nature.  When Jesus exhorts us that in order to have divine life you must partake of His blood; He is implying that we partake and become identified to His life and nature.  The unity and intimacy of Christ and the Bride, His Church, is to produce a godly seed in the image and likeness of the Father.  We are all quite aware of what we are apart from Christ and outside of God, but have we truly grasped the revelation of who we are in Christ, identified and one with Him.  Are we still offering the sacrifice of goats and bulls, trying to appease and win God’s favor through our outward expressions of religious piety, duty and ceremony or have we come to the place where we have grasped that the sacrifice that God is hungering for is the sacrifice of obedience and relinquishment of that former man or woman we once were.  The only way we can fulfill that calling is when we grasp that we are no longer our own, but Christ’s.  We are now living, not unto ourselves, but as the extension of His life through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ within us.  That is our power of obedience and victory that,’ it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives within me’.  Yes, I retain an independent will, that still gives me the choice of God or myself, but I have chosen to present myself daily a living sacrifice that I might exchange my life for His.  Through that daily exchange, there becomes less of me and more of Him.  In each situation and circumstance, I no longer face it as my problem, it is God’s problem, because my life is hid in Him.  I am partaking of His flesh and His blood; I am living in a place of identification with His life.  As long as I abide there I can live out of the power of that life and I can become a partaker of His divine nature as 2 Peter 1:4 tells us, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  It is not blasphemy to identify with who we are; it is our divine destiny and calling.  Jesus offered the sacrifice of His life so that we might become bone of bone and flesh of His flesh; identified with His very life.  Are we truly “in Christ” today or are we content to abide in the outer court of the assembly, only approaching God in the outward and natural sense.  We are God’s kids.  God has called us to be a part of His divine family.  He has called us to be joint heirs in Christ.  We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Is that where we are living in our walk with the Lord?  If not, then it is time that we became truly identified with His life and purpose within us.  1 John 4:17 says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”  Who are you today?

Blessings,

#kent

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