Taking Up an Offense

September 28, 2012

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 of the faults in others. We may be carrying an offense against someone that isn’t even our own. We have taken it for someone else because they were wronged. We tend to somehow feel that we have been given the right some place 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 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 offenders head.
I would just like to end this 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

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The Love of God through Us

September 27, 2012

1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

The Love of God through Us

I would imagine that most of us know John 3:16 by heart. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is interesting to note the parallel between 1 John 3:16 and John 3:16. Both of them deal with the laying down of one’s life. Now, in 1 John it is telling us that even as Jesus did that for us, we now ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Why?
Because this is what love is and this is how love acts. Romans 5:6-8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t just talk about His love for us, He showed it to us in one of the greatest examples and expressions of love a being could ever give, the life of His only begotten son for the life of another. Christ willingly became that sacrifice for our sin. Why? Because of love.
If this same love now indwells us through Christ in us, then it follows that it will demonstrate itself in its willingness to be poured out and to lay down it’s life for others. Self will be poured out in selflessness as it seeks to meet the needs in others.
1 John 3:17-20 further defines itself this way, ” If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
We know that we belong to the truth by the love that is expressed through our actions toward others. God is not just a God of words; He is a God of actions and His actions define His nature, which is love. True Christians are not defined by what they say, but by what they do, because we are becoming like our Daddy. This same Spirit of love now resides in us and it is in the giving of our lives that we define ourselves in Him.

Blessings,
kent

Characteristics of a Fool

September 26, 2012

Characteristics of a Fool

Psalms 92:5-6
O LORD, how great are thy works! [and] thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

We have characterized wisdom, perhaps it is a good time to look at the opposite side of the coin and look at the characteristics of a fool. While it is likely the true fool would not spend their time reading this, let alone taking it to heart, it might speak to the wise. Part of getting wisdom is realizing and correcting our own follies and the error of our ways. While in viewing these characteristics we might be prone to judge some that we may think fit this category, it will probably be far more profitable for us to judge and correct our own hearts where we see some of the characteristic active in us.
One of the first characteristics of a fool is seen in Psalms 14:1 and 53:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.” He is in denial of God and His salvation. A fool can be defined as being pretty much full of themselves, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise.” They are not one to listen to advice, counsel or the admonition of others. Proverbs 15:5 tells us the root of where foolishness begins, “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Proverbs 17:10 says, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” They never learned to receive and heed correction as child. Their nature is stubborn and rebellious. They are a god and an authority unto themselves.
Proverbs 13:6 talks about how most people rationalize and come to conclusions based on facts and evidence, not so the fool. “Every prudent [man] dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open [his] folly.” Ecclesiastes 2:14 says that the “The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness.” There is spiritual and moral ignorance and darkness that is prevalent in their lives. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise.” Proverbs 13:6 tells us, “Every prudent [man] dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open [his] folly.” From these observations it is clear that fools are presumptuous, impetuous, not stopping to consider all the factors in making decisions, poor decision makers and ruled by their own thoughts and opinions which they value above sound judgement, wisdom and instruction. “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)” They are arrogant, proud, boastful, full of themselves, lacking understanding, discernment and wise in their own eyes.
Ecclesiastes 10:3 tells us, “Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.” He is characterized by ignorance and stupidity revealed in actions.
The fool is what we would term the troublemaker, always stirring up strife and contention. Proverbs 10:23 says, “[It is] as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” Proverbs 14:16 says, “A wise [man] feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” The thing about a fool is that there is no reasoning with them as with a rational person, whose mind is open. Proverbs 23:9 says, “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” “If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. (Proverbs 29:9)” “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. (Proverbs 26:4)” The only time that a fool is thought to be wise is when he keeps his mouth shut. “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. (Proverbs 17:28)” Like the saying goes, “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The character of the heart of a fool is readily seen through his words and subsequent actions. Normally the fool has little regard for what he says or how it will affect those around him. Ecclesiastes 10:14 says, “and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming- who can tell him what will happen after him?” The fool likes to hear himself ramble and spout off, but has no soundness in his words, neither does he govern his emotions or anger and is noted for his lack of self control. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)” Isaiah 32:6 says, “For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the LORD; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.” The fool is set in his ways and will always return to his perverse nature. “As a dog returneth to his vomit, [so] a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)” The fool will not remain in a right path, but will go back to the folly and the error of his ways.
The fool is the counter part of the wise man. By his folly we better see wisdom, just as we wouldn’t recognize light without darkness. “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. (Ecclesastes 10:2).” Wisdom takes the high road, but fools will always take the low road. Wisdom is characterized in the godly and the spiritual man, the fool is seen to be sensual, devilish and perverse.
Perhaps in summary Proverbs 28:26 says it best, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” What and whom we trust in says a lot about how wise or foolish we are. We have all grown up in degrees of foolishness, but our wisdom, our safety and our security are realized in our trust and obedience to God’s Word and His ways.

Blessings,
kent

Spiritual Act of Worship

September 25, 2012

As I was preparing to write today’s word and scrolling down through the past Trickles of Truth, my cursor stopped and as I looked at the message upon which it stopped, I was amazed that it used the same scripture and dealt with like issues that I shared yesterday. What a God incidence. I feel this was His prompting to share with you again this word.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Spiritual Act of Worship

Jesus came upon this earth and fulfilled His earthly ministry and then presented His body as a physical sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. Yet each day prior to this He would offer Himself up to the Father as a daily spiritual sacrifice, often forsaking personal desires, comforts and needs to do the will of the Father and to minister to the needs of others. God is love and Jesus is the physical manifestation of that love. His life was not self motivated, but God motivated; always carrying out the will of the Father. Here is our prototype and example of what it is to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. This act of worship is not just about praise, or singing songs or being in prayer, all of which are good and a part of worship. The spiritual act of worship is about taking up our cross daily and following Him, the Shepherd of our souls. It is about hearing His voice and seeking His highest will for our lives and then living in obedience to what He is showing us.
The kingdom of God doesn’t follow the pattern and the ways of this world. Even the good things of this earthly life may not be the best that God has for His people. As we grow up into Him and walk this walk, then He is showing us from glory to glory, His good, then pleasing and finally His perfect will. The way we come into this perfect will is by this spiritual act of worship wherein the mind doesn’t any longer reason after the natural man, but reasons by the mind of the Spirit that is congruent with the Word of God. How can a man not react in retaliation when he is slapped in the face? How can a man give his coat to someone who has already stolen his jacket? How can you bless them that curse you and despitefully use you? These types of instructions don’t follow the reasoning of the natural man; they transcend human reasoning and response. They can only be performed as acts out of the love and nature of God that indwells us. Our flesh still often wants to respond out of the flesh, “an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth.” The spiritual act of worship takes us into a new dimension of living. Our actions become love actions, and not human reactions. Our enemy often becomes the object our ministry, whom we love with Christ’s love, pray for and serve. We learn to retaliate by pouring the hot coals of God’s love upon their heads and by giving back loving-kindness in ways they don’t deserve.
The Word makes it clear here that in order for this to happen there has to be a transformation of our minds. That transformation is from the Greek word “metamorphoō” from which we get our word metamorphosis. It is like what we see when a caterpillar goes into a cocoon state and transforms into a butterfly. It is transfiguring from an earth bound being into a heavenly being. It is the same word that is used when Jesus was transfigured on the mount, changing the state of His being. It is also the same word that is used in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is just like Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Just as we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is we need to be moving from the good, to the pleasing, to the perfect will of the Father. Much like the example of the tabernacle of Moses, there were those who were in the outer court, those who ministered in the holy place and the high priest who ministered into the Holy of Holies. We are being carried into that place as we grow up into Christ, our high priest, in all things.
Today, our lives in Christ are no longer our own. We are His. All that we are and all that we do must now become centered in this purpose. This is our daily act of spiritual worship that is bringing us into His presence and likeness.

Blessings,
kent

Transformed

September 24, 2012

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Transformed

The caterpillar is an earthen creature that eats, devours and destroys that it might live. It is fully consumed with self. Then a transformation comes about, a metamorphosis where an old nature dies that a new might live. Through this transformation of nature a butterfly emerges a new creature with a transformed nature that lives in heavenly places and lands upon the earth carrying life from one flower to the next. Its new nature is a life giver and the heavenly implications it can have on earth can impact nations with its butterfly effect. Such is a life transformed through power of Christ. God is calling us up higher into what He created us to be, not what we’ve been.
In Christ we have come into an exchange of natures and beings. While we may not look so different on the outside, we are a new creation within. Our appetites should be different, our desires, our vision, our goals, our life has just turned a corner at the cross of Jesus and we aren’t headed the same direction any more.
Sure life goes on and natural demands remain relatively the same, but how we look at them and how we approach life doesn’t. When we have fallen upon the Rock of Christ, old desires, old ways. that old nature is crushed. We are emerging into heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Our position has changed, our outlook has changed and our appetites are no longer to devour and satisfy the old self. It died with Christ on the cross at Calvary as we reckon it dead unto Him. It was buried with Him in that tomb and there, a transformation took place, that when He rose, we rose in newness of life; a new creation in Christ Jesus. When Jesus became sin for us, our sin, our old unregenerate self, our degenerated nature was nailed there with Him. We have become and are still becoming so identified with Him that we become partakers with Him through His suffering, death, burial and resurrection and now Ephesians 2:1-10 says, ” As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We were selfish caterpillars that have been transformed through Christ into life giving butterflies that are no longer earthbound in thought or deed, but are heavenward in nature and being.
Does the butterfly any longer want to go and chew the leaves of your tomato plant? No!!
His appetites have changed. Now he transfers pollen from one plant and flower to the next. He has become an instrument of life and not death. He lives to disperse and propagate life, no longer to devour it. It has been transformed, metamorphosed and everything about its nature is different than before. That is us in Christ.
Our lives are no longer unto ourselves, they are spiritual sacrifices lived and poured out unto Him who gave His holy unblemished life for us; that we may be well-pleasing unto Him. We live our lives as a worship unto Him. We don’t just worship Him with our mouths, but our heart, our heartbeat, our desires and our passion. What do we have to do with that former caterpillar state? That is no longer who we are or what we are about. We have been transformed into the sons and daughters of ALL MIGHTY GOD, OUR FATHER. Glory to God! We are now desiring to bring other caterpillars into this transforming experience so that they also may experience and participate in their heavenly estate.
It is a transformation that we can’t do or make happen in ourselves. ‘By grace are you saved through faith, it is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God lest anyone should boast. ‘ While we can’t make it happen, we know it happened because Father had a purpose in those He has separated out into Himself. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Those good works are not self works, they are the works that flow out of a life that is living in the Spirit of Christ. Those works are perpetuated and perfected as each day we come to Him anew, saying, “Father, here I am. Use me. I say yes to you. Use my life for Your glory and help me to live no longer unto who I am not, but live it into what I am in You. Let the world be different because I am in it and You are in me. Perfect me into your highest will, purpose and plan that I might the expression of Your grace into the lives of others. Thank you Father, be glorified through me even as You were through Your Son. Amen.”

Blessings,
kent

Incomprehensible

September 21, 2012

Revelation 4:6-11
… In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
9Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Incomprehensible

How incomprehensible and unfathomable is our GOD? How could we, in our small finite minds, even begin to grasp the greatness of His magnitude and being. We need only look at what we know of the tremendous immensity of the universe to realize that out of Him this all came into being and He is ever continually creating, ever expanding and ever increasing.
Can you imagine sitting before His throne and continually seeing new and awesome wonders expressed through our Almighty? No wonder they never tire of falling down before Him and worshipping Him who lives for ever and ever. Casting their crowns at His feet and declaring, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Can we even imagine the Spirit and Energy, Power and Dominion, Majesty, Glory and Splendor that radiates from His Being. It would be so much more intense than setting before the sun. Can we even imagine that so great a Being could know, understand and care about your every thought and feeling. When we are but a micron in the scope of the universe and His creation. Can we even imagine that He knew us before the foundation of the world and set us apart for His good pleasure to call us sons and daughters.? Can we even imagine that He has called us to be born into His kingdom and be partakers of His very blood and DNA through the blood of Jesus? He knows ever hair on your head and knows all of your life before you even have lived it. Wow!
When we begin to really think upon and comprehend the tremendous enormity, power, authority and majesty it is no wonder that we could bow in presence, forever amazed, mesmerized and astounded at all that He is and all that exudes from His Being and Presence.
Now we turn and look back at our problems and our challenges and realize they are but puffs of dust in the light of the One whom we serve, love and have been called into identification with. When we see who is behind us how can we ever fear again that which is front of us.
Where are we as believers in Christ in all of this? Ephesians 2:4-7 enlightens us, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Even now we are seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. If I am in Christ who is in God looking down upon what I have perceived as my giants, my giants have now become as ants beneath my feet because of where I am positioned in Him. When we get the eyes and the mind of the Spirit and begin to see our natural world in its light, then nothing is too great or too impossible for our God who lives through us. FAITH just arises when we comprehend who we are in the enormity of the God we love and trust. Our Papa is a far greater force to reckon with than any of the other bad boys we know on the block. So let faith arise and your enemies be scattered. Don’t allow the smoke and mirrors of the present world cloud and obscure your vision from seeing all that our God is in the limited amount that we are able comprehend, understand and know Him.
He is so worthy of our continual awareness, gratitude and worship of all that He is. Allow yourself to go to the place of the living creatures, the host of heaven, the twenty-four elders and just ask the Lord to help you see through the eyes of your imagination and Spirit into that place of such magnificent glory in Father’s presence.

Blessings,
kent

Fear

September 20, 2012

 

Fear


Hebrews 11:7
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Fear most often carries with it a negative connotation, something to be avoided and something we don’t want to have.  Let’s speak for a few minutes on the positive aspects of fear.
First, let’s define what fear is as used in the Word of God.  Certainly it can carry the meaning of terror, dread or to be made terrified, fearful and afraid.  It can also carry the meaning of standing in awe, to cause astonishment and awe or be held in awe.  It can mean to fear, reverence, honor and respect.  Fear can be one of those two edged swords that can be good and it can be bad.  Pain is often the same way.  We don’t like pain, but without it how would we know when we were injured or when something wasn’t right or that we need to pay attention to some aspect of our body?  Fear likewise is a natural sense that causes us to be cautious, to respect something or someone who could hurt us, it can even be there to help insure our survival because we fear what could kill or harm us.
All through God’s Word we are exhorted to fear God.  Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.”  Does God want us to be afraid of Him?  Through Christ we have grown to know God as the God of Love, as indeed He is.  1John 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.” Now we say Lord, I don’t understand, first you say that we are to fear You and then You say there is no fear in love?   How can it be both?  “If fear is the beginning of wisdom, then perfect love is the fulfillment of it.”  We would agree that hope is not faith, but it stands in the place of faith until faith is brought into fulfillment.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1).”  We fear God why, because He is the awesome, all-powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent, creator God of all of Creation.  In the Old Testament, to look upon God was to die; to experience His presence was almost beyond human ability to abide in it.  Many of us have grown up with a watered down version of whom God really is and as such treat Him as almost common or matter of fact.  God should never be seen in this light.  We who are in Christ have an assurance in our hearts where we know God through the love of Christ, but I think we have become disconnected sometimes with true honor, reverence and respect which He is forever worthy of.  This is the fear of the Lord.  We know that in Christ, we are in God and while He still deals with us in loving discipline, we no longer dwell in the fear of judgement that those outside of God must deal with.  When we come into the love of God through Christ, we come into a place where there is no fear in the sense of terror or dread because we come to know Father as Abba (Romans 8:15) or Daddy God.  Still we honor Him in His awesome greatness and yet we experience the acceptance and love of a Father for His Children.  We are able to climb up on His lap, so to speak, in that place of prayer and worship and sense the caress of His wonderful presence and love.  There is no fear in that place of unselfish exchange of love and relationship.
Let’s take a moment to look at the negative side of fear.  Our life is a system of balances.  When something gets out of balance it gets out of the will of God for us.  Fear is such a thing.  There is a spirit of fear that satan uses to torment us, make us afraid and paralyze us from accomplishing God’s will and purpose for us.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  It doesn’t say that He hasn’t given us any fear.  It does say that He hasn’t given us a “spirit of fear”.  A spirit of fear is a demonic thing that is a phobia of something that robs you of your faith and confidence in God.  It exalts some terror, apprehension, or fear above our confidence, peace and security in Christ.  Against such a spirit God has given us love, power and a sound mind to stand in faith and confidence in the Word of God and His Life that is in us.  Does that mean nothing bad can happen to us or that we can’t die?  No, it simply means that when we really have our confidence that God is our all in all and nothing touches us outside His will and purpose, we have peace not fear.  We know, that according to Romans 8:28, “… that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”  When the disciples were rowing for their lives and crying out in the stormy sea for fear that they would perish, Jesus rebuked them because of the little faith.  The more the spirit of fear grips you and finds place in you, the more it will rob you of your faith and confidence in God.  This is the fear that God has given us the victory over through love, power and a sound mind.  Our faith overcomes our fears as we trust Him in the unknown, dreadful and uncharted places of our lives and life’s circumstances.  We have a hiding place in the abiding place of God.  He is a shelter from our storms; He is our deliverer and our salvation.   No matter what satan or life brings, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4).  Courage is a quality that rises up in the face of danger and denies fear its due.  Let us be God’s people of faith and courage that rise to every test in the fear of God, overcoming, “the spirit of fear.”

Blessings,
kent

Separated unto Him

September 19, 2012

 

Separated unto Him


Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.

We know from scripture what causes our separation from God.  It is sin.  We have been rich and fortunate in that God has revealed the way of reconciliation to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  While many of us have experienced His grace and have come into the general assembly of the Firstborn, there are those He is calling up higher.  Many of us have been content to love and serve Christ at a distance.  It is kind of like when the president comes to town and we go to see him.  He is our president and we may have voted for him, but how well do we really know him.   Can we really converse with him?  Can we share our heart and concerns with him?  Do we know him in a sense that we are his friend, that he can trust us, rely on us, use us for his purposes.  While all Americans have the same president, only a few really are in relationship with Him.  Many of us know Christ the same way.  Yeah, He’s my God. I acknowledge Him. I go to church.  I talk the Christian talk, at least around other Christians.  I give some of my money.  I play the part of a Christian, but do I really know my God?  Am I really in relationship with Him in that I know and sense His inner workings and dealings in my life.  2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”  James 4:1-4 addresses the spiritual aspect of these wars, “From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” This is really a description of where a good part of the Christian world is today, us included.  Why is it every time I turn around and really see myself, I find my life is still all about me?  What is God looking for?  He is looking to show Himself strong on behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him!
We are living in a day and an hour when the chasm between good and evil is increasingly getting greater.   It is causing us all to evaluate our true values and priorities and make decisions upon which way we will choose to go.  God has been sending a purifying fire into many of our lives.  We are being brought out upon the threshing floor where the Lord is separating wheat and chaff in our lives.  There is a fire of separation burning in those who are called up into Him.  We may be experiencing intense trials and testings in our lives.  God is dealing with the motives and intents of our hearts.  He is touching the unsanctified areas of our lives where we haven’t yet relinquished and yielded to His Lordship.  He is bringing us to the valley of tough choices and decisions rather we will hold on to our idols and affections or rather we are willing to say, “Yes Lord, please take me higher.”  It is still sin and iniquity that separates us from God.  While God has made the provision through the blood of Christ for forgiveness, the choice of sin is still held in the palm of our will and desires.
The Word tells us that to whom much is given, much is required.  Are you and I a canadate for much or little?  God is separating a holy priesthood unto Himself to carry out His holy works, to perform the will and do of His good pleasure and to offer up spiritual sacrifices and praises to the honor and glory of His name.  He is looking for a holy and sanctified people.  He knows that we can’t change ourselves, but we can give Him our entire will and being, for Him to take us through the fires of sanctification and bring us into Holy presence and relationship.  He tells us to count the cost, for it will cost everything we hold dear in the earth.  For us to answer the high calling is to come into His death, for only through that death can we experience the resurrection life out of death.  Is He dealing with you through fire in your life?  Are you experiencing the purgings and dealings of the Holy Spirit as He is seeking to bring you and I to the end of us?   It can no longer be about religious names, traditions and games we play.  This is the day of separation unto Him and unto His holiness and high calling.  Will we hear it?  Will we answer and press in, or will we turn away?

Blessings,
kent

Closing the Gates

September 18, 2012

Proverbs 4:23-27
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
24Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
26Make levelb paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
27Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Closing the Gates


This morning as I was meditating on what the Lord would have me to write. I saw like a story above me a ledge much like a balcony that was filled with flower pots.  The flowers had been covered with clear plastic and a cold wind was blowing.  From where I was looking the plastic was loose and the wind and cold air was able to get to the flowers and quite possibly freeze them, not because they weren’t covered, but because there was an entrance open through which the cold air could get to them.
What I was seeing through this that there are gates and the openings we may have in our lives that allow the enemy access to touch our lives with his death and destruction; not because we are not covered with the blood of Jesus, but because there areas in our lives we have left unguarded and open for the enemy to come in.  These openings are what the enemy looks for to gain entrance and establish strongholds in our lives.  Often, they may be subtle, verily noticeable and maybe even quite acceptable to the world around us.  Jesus said even a tiny mustard seed can grow into a great tree.  If that is true about faith, then it can be just as true about doubt, fear, unbelief, unforgiveness, impure thoughts, desires and motives, along with numerous other seeds of the flesh that we can allow access if unguarded.
The garden is a good analogy here, because in it we plant good seed of specific plants that we desire to grow to maturity and fruitfulness.  It is like the fruit of the spirit that we desire to cultivate through our relationship with Christ and the body.  For all of us that have ever planted and tried to raise a garden we find that along with the good seed that we planted something begins springing up along with our good plants.  They are called weeds.  While they are uninvited and we didn’t purposely plant those seeds, yet there they are competing for the water and the good soil we provide for the good plants.  One of the necessities of a good garden is not to only water and fertilize or feed it, but to weed it.  It is one of those chores that requires continued diligence, for when we become complacent the weeds can come up and quickly take over; choking out the good plants and stunting their growth and fruitfulness.  We know that we have to frequently go in and weed that garden, get the weeds when they are young and before they have a chance to grow up and go to seed.  We know that if we just pull the tops off, we’ve just dealt with the surface issues and they will soon be rearing their ugly heads again.  As long as the root is still there we haven’t effectively dealt with the weed.  Sometimes, as our garden is immature and still growing it is hard to discern the good plants from the weeds.  We may see the same principle among younger Christians or even in discerning our own behavior.  It may be hard to tell sometimes what is of the world and what is not.
What helps us to discern the difference, even in our own lives, of what is of God and what is not?  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  It is the instrument and tool that we use to uproot those weeds and bring separation between what is acceptable, good and perfect before God and what is not.
Open areas in our lives, unguarded, unprotected and untended can allow the enemy an access to come in.  Most all of us have our areas of weakness and vulnerability.  These are the areas where we need to be particularly vigilant.  Remember who you are and your identity in Christ.  Renounce in the name and by the blood of Jesus any such thing that endeavors to rob that identity from you.  The enemy is always after our identity and if he can cause us to believe the lie then he can cause us to operate and act outside of who Christ has redeemed us to be.  Guard your heart, weed your garden and make sure the covering of the blood of Christ  is secured in all areas of your life.

Blessings,
kent

John 12:1-3
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Mark 14:3
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Guilt and Shame
My choices have filled me with guilt and shame,
Now pursues me mental torment, anguish and pain.
How could God forgive all that I’ve said and done?
Could there truly be complete forgiveness through His Son?
Though His gift is something I could never deserve or earn,
Because of His grace, from darkness to light I’ve now turned.
Washed in the blood of Christ I’m now set free,
Guilt and shame no longer have a hold on me.
Kent Stuck

Shame and Guilt Anoints Love and Mercy


Mary was a product of God’s grace and love through Jesus.  It becomes evident as we read further in the scripture that Mary was a woman of reproach, looked down upon by many of those who thought themselves far more righteous than she.
I saw Mary here as that alabaster jar.  Beautiful stone, but hardened by sin, shame, guilt and rejection.  We can only guess at what might have brought her to this place, but what Mary illustrated for us is that those who are forgiven much, love much.  As I see Mary here breaking this alabaster flask, I see her braking open her very heart.  Out of that formerly hardened heart flows a fragrance so rich, sweet and fragrant that the whole place is filled with it sweet aroma.  Mary doesn’t stop there.  She demonstrates the fruit of true repentance, humility, brokeness, love and adoration.  She pours out upon Jesus not only the sweet fragrance of this perfume, but the deepest expression of worship she could hope to give to Him and show Him.  It wasn’t just about the costliness of the perfume for Jesus, it was about a life, so precious to Him that would be purchased and fully redeemed through Calvary as He became that alabaster container that would be broken and the fragrance of His precious blood would be poured out to anoint all of humanity with the gift of forgiveness from guilt and shame.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I’m not guilty any more because the sweet fragrance of His mercy and sacrifice eradicated forever the stench of my guilt and sin.  When we get a real revelation of what that is then we will feel what Mary felt as she anointed Jesus and washed His feet with her hair and tears.  We will become worship poured out on the One who is so worthy of all of the praise, glory and adoration that we can pour out upon Him.  We will no doubt be ridiculed and resented by the crowds and the religious without who operate out of pretense, rather than heartfelt worship. They have no real clue of what this love affair is about.
Mary gave materially, without reservation, of the most costly possession she owned because it represented the gift of herself, her all, her very heart and soul poured and given to Him who alone was worthy.  Shame and guilt had come to anoint Love and Mercy, because Love and Mercy no longer regarded or held her guilt and shame against her.  If ever there was a love story this is it.  It is a spiritual love exchange like no other.  Instead of her body, she comes to express the giving of all of her heart and soul.  She shows all of us that higher level of worship where what we do is no longer to earn or please, but to express gratitude and worship to the One who took all of our guilt and shame upon Himself and in exchange, allowed us to become partakers in His righteousness, which alone is acceptable to the Father.
Are we willing that our lives would be broken open for Him that all that we are might be dispensed to His glory and honor?  Do we have that heart of immense gratitude, love and worship for all that He has done for us?  Mary was an example to all us how that former guilt and shame can anoint Love and Mercy.  It is loving Him, even as He first loved us, giving Himself for us.  We are the products of the Lord’s grace and mercy.  No greater love should we have than for Him who withheld nothing, and gave everything for us.  Should our lives, like Mary’s, be any less for Him?

Blessings,
kent

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