Irregular Relationships

Romans 12:10, 16-21
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Relationships with people can be one of the greatest trials we endure on earth. Some people we can get along great with, but then there are always those “other people.” The irregular people in our life, that are like burrs under our saddle, always pushing our buttons and causing us to feel the way we shouldn’t ought to feel. If it wasn’t for those certain people life would be so much easier and we would certainly be better Christians in our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever felt like that?
People can hurt us deeply. They can disappoint, betray, slander, ignore, lie, cheat us, steal, criticize, despise us, defraud, or just be someone we don’t want to be around for whatever reason. I think much of the time if I could just exist in my own little world and have brief surface relationships with people; I would probably do okay. I can endure. After all, wasn’t it relationships with certain people that put Jesus on a cross? And to be sure, there will be certain people in our lives that will be our cross to bear.
Why does God have people like that in our lives? Because no one can put their finger on the issues in your life that God wants to deal with like an enemy or irregular person. They can bring out in you thoughts and feelings you never thought you could have. Why is that good if they just serve to cause me to sin? They aren’t really causing you to sin, they simply are exposing attitudes of sin, selfishness, hate, unforgiveness, and a lack of God’s love in you. We are often not a very pretty sight when we really see how shallow we really are and how much we lack in the area of unselfish, agape’ type love. For you to really love your enemy doesn’t come naturally to you. There has to be a greater principle of love at work in you to do that.
I am reminded of a passage I read out of the book, “The Light and the Glory” which addresses the hand of God in bringing about the formation of our country. This particular passage was concerning the faith of George Washington. “A turncoat collaborator named Michael Wittman was captured, and at his trial, it was proven that he had given the British invaluable assistance on numerous occasions. He was found guilty and of spying and sentenced to death by hanging. On the evening before the execution, an old man with white hair asked to see Washington, giving his name as Peter Miller. He was ushered in without delay, for Miller had done a great many favors for the army. Now he had a favor to ask of Washington, who nodded agreeably. “I’ve come to ask you to pardon Michael Wittman.” Washington was taken aback. “Impossible! Whittman has done all in his power to betray us, even offering to join the British and help destroy us.” He shook his head. “In these times we cannot be lenient with traitors; and for that reason I cannot pardon your friend.”
“Friend! He’s no friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!”
Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?”
“I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.”
“Why?”
“I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”
Washington turned away and walked into the next room. Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. “My dear friend,” he said, placing the paper in the old man’s hand, “I thank you for this.””
What story, but the story of Calvary could better illustrate the principle in action of loving your enemy? It is the principle of His love and life within us that causes us to endure with patience and forgiveness the offences of others in our lives. God wants to love even the irregular people through us. After all you might be the irregular person in someone else’s life.

Blessings,
kent

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Our Children

May 13, 2013

Our Children

Psalms 127:3
Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.

There are perhaps fewer things in life that can bring us greater joy or deeper sorrow than our children. There are perhaps fewer things in life that can help us relate with our heavenly Father than our children. In our children we see the individual and we also see ourselves. Through our children many of us may have tried to live out a part of ourselves, our children thus becoming an extension of ourselves in their youth. We are given the awesome responsibility to raise them up into adulthood, to be their examples, their mentors, their disciplinarians, and the ones they turn too and trust in. Our heavenly Father has given us a role in a much smaller sense, yet similar to the role He plays in our lives.
Our children, while under our authority, still have a free will to make right and wrong choices. Through those choices they can either bless our hearts or break them. The Lord tells us in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 concerning raising our children, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Our foremost responsibility, besides caring and providing for our children is to raise them, seeking every opportunity to instill in their hearts the Word of God. We do this through our personal instruction, our lifestyle, example, and the atmosphere in which we raise them. Hopefully we learn to instruct our children in the love and grace of God, not just in harshness and legalism. In our exuberance to have them conform to godly ways we may use God like a club to beat them over the head, using condemnation and judgmental tactics to try and control them. This may not be so different than what many of you grew up in. On the other hand some may give there children too much lee way, not providing a loving atmosphere of discipline and correction to guide them and train them into maturity. The bottom line is most of us try and do the best we can to raise our children in a right way. Being human ourselves, we are prone to make mistakes along the way and we pray God’s grace will fill in the potholes of our shortcomings.
Sometimes our children grow up fulfilling all of our expectations to our delight and joy. Sometimes our children falter, but then recover to still grow up and bless our hearts. Sometimes our children become headstrong, rebellious and turn away from the principles of right and wrong we endeavored to instill in them. They may reject our values and us to go their own way. As a result many have ended up in trouble with the law, have broken homes and marriages, have children and relationships outside of marriage, or have adopted lifestyles and behaviors contrary to the way we sought to raise them in. They may be the source of our greatest hurt and heartache today. Even as much as we disapprove of their actions we never stop loving them. Our natural tendency is to some how take responsibility for their actions and the choices they made. Sometimes it leads to marital strife and tension because one spouse blames the other because of some weakness or failure on their part. We all have shortcomings, but at some point our children choose to no longer submit to our authority as their parents. At that point they take the responsibility upon themselves for their choices. Many of us know that while we may no longer have control in the natural we continue to take our petition into the heavenlies unto the throne of our Father. We begin to identify with how we must break the heart of our heavenly Father through our own rebellion, self-will and defiance of His authority. Yet, He is our example of patience, grace and love that is unconditional and whose arms are always open to receive us back into relationship with Him.
Wherever you are at today with your children we know that God knows our heart as a parent. Hopefully your children are an area of blessing and delight to your soul, but even if they aren’t you are their greatest ally and intercessor. Rather they appreciate you or curse you, you are still the heart and example of the Father to them. They have to know that your love is unconditional even if your approval isn’t. They have to know that in their darkness you are the one that lights their candle before the Lord through your faithful prayer and intercession. As the prodigal’s father stood believing and watching in faith for his son to come home, so many of us must stand, watching and believing God to bring our children back home. Faint not, the Father knows and feels your heart. If you have planted good seed in their hearts and lives, never give up looking for the harvest. “For as a man sows that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).”

Blessings,
kent

Tenderhearted

May 10, 2013

Tenderhearted

2 Kings 2:19
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard [thee], saith the LORD.

What is the condition and state of my heart today? As you and I ask that question of ourselves today, what is the true answer? Through our life experiences, choices and decisions, we can find our heart in many different states. It can become hardened because of sin and willful living. It can become broken from abuse, disappointment and hurt. It can be elated with life and living or it can become cold and unfeeling. Life and experiences can have a lot to do with shaping the condition of our hearts, but so can the choices we make with what comes to us in life. It would be safe to say that no matter what befalls us in life our safe place is a place of a tender heart before the Lord. That is the condition of the heart that touches His heart.
Sometimes life can be so devastating that we feel like we are like a tree that has been cut down and all hope of life is lost. Yet even Job, in his state of abject suffering and loss makes this statement in Job 14:7-9, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; [Yet] through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” I believe a tender heart toward God is our hope in every circumstance of life. Only the Lord can take that which bad and turn it for good. Only He can bring life out of death. Only He can take the crushed grapes of our life’s sufferings and trials and make sweet wine. James 5:11 makes the observation about the condition of God’s heart toward us when we continue in a place of obedience and tenderness before Him. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
Jesus is the Rock and it says that with Him one of two things can happen, either we are broken upon the rock through a tender and repentant heart or we become broken by the Rock through a rebellious and hardened heart. What is the state of our heart today?
Isaiah 66: 1-2 says, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” The Lord is looking and desires above all our sacrifices and the works of our hands that our hearts are right and tender before Him. If He is ever going to manifest His presence and perform His works through a people, it is going to be a people who have a tender and contrite heart before Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “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… “No matter what life has dealt us let our hearts become tender, broken, pure and right before the Lord. This is the condition of heart we need to have in order to experience His visitation and presence. This is the place where we find the rest and the true fast of God. This is the ground that is broken up and is ready to yield the fruit of His divine life.

Blessings,
kent

John 13:15-17 “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.16“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.17“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” A Few Thoughts on Discipleship The branch can only bear fruit in the vine. The vessel can only pour out as it is filled up. A pen can only write upon the tablets of men’s heart as the love and Spirit of God instruct it. A follower follows. A believer believes, but a disciple follows, believes and gives their life for the One they follow. They live as the Master lives. The love as the Master loves. They forgive as the Master forgives and they do as the Master does. Their heartbeat and passion are one with His. They don’t live separate lives, but rather they live in the shadow and the light of the One who leads them. The disciple and the Master through their relationship become one. Their purpose becomes one and their destiny is charted on the same course. Where the Master has laid down His life the disciple will willingly follow because their life is no longer their own, but they willing give it up to the One they follow. If they lay down their life, then they know that the Master will raise it up again, even as the Father raised up His life He laid down. Even as the Master follows and does as the Father does, so the disciple follows the Master and does what He see and hears the Master do. He is not greater than the Master, but becomes empowered by the Master because their lives become one. The disciple and the Master walk in Spirit, unified in heart and synchronized in purpose. The disciples become the body of the Master to bring His dwelling in man and His kingdom into the earth. The disciple’s life is to manifest in His life all that He gained through that relationship with the Master. The discipline can sometimes be harsh and the blessing are often great, but the greatest treasure is for the life of the Master to glorified in and through the disciple. Blessings, kent

Labels are for Cans

May 8, 2013

John 8:31
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

Labels are for Cans

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content. We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with. Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.
I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that. Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination. Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.
Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”. What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?
Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples. A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline. What was the discipline of Christ? According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple. It is a lifestyle, not just a belief. It is the fabric of what you live out of.
In John 13:35 Jesus give us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ. Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the one that fit under your label and even there, there if further divisions and discord.
Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.”” Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered. It means as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
How are we doing so far? Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?
Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves. Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him. In comparison to that love, we hate all else.
It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology. He told us to go a make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?
This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay. Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him? True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Abiding in the Vine

May 7, 2013

Abiding in the Vine

1 John 2:24
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

John, the apostle and disciple of Jesus, was very passionate about certain things. Two of the things he is most passionate about is love and relationship. I believe John was a man of the heart and when he committed his love to you it was constant from then on. One area of emphasis is the place of “abiding”. This word speaks of a place where we remain; we don’t depart from, we continue to be present. It is a place we last and endure in and a place where we survive and live. It speaks of a state or condition that is constant and a place where we wait for someone. This concept of abiding is one that Jesus is passionate that we catch a revelation of.
Abiding is a two way street. It is a place of exchange of living and giving, and loving and receiving. That place where we live and abide in our heart is the key to what our life produces. Jesus shares the reality of this truth in John 15: 1-8, ““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Our place of abiding in Christ is the place where we grow up into Him in all things. It is the place where He loves us, trains us, corrects us and prunes us. It is the place where He makes us productive and fruitful with regards to the kingdom. It is the place where we learn that our life is one with His and the blood that flows in Him, flows in us. We are of one life and one nature as we abide there. If or when we sever and separate our life from His then that fellowship and circulation of His life ceases to work in us and we begin to spiritually die. Outside of Him we perish spiritually.
God is a God of mercy and restoration and I believe that through repentance and the redemption of the blood we can be restored should we leave this place of abiding. Many of us may have walked away from Christ for a time, but hopefully all of us realize how dead we are inside without His life and fellowship. It is in the place of abiding that we are living in eternal life, for we are living in Christ. 1 John 2:1-2 tells us, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 1:9 has told us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is a place and provision for restoration when we fail, but our heart should be that we don’t want to fail Him. 1 John 2:17 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Our abiding in eternal life is our abiding in obedience to the will and purpose of God. 1 John 3:6-9 tells us about the state of the believer in that place of abiding, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Our continual abiding in Christ is going to make us want to be like Him in every way. We are learning to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We are being conformed to His mind and transformed into His likeness from glory to glory. It is a process and a maturing, but it takes place as we abide in Christ.
It is important that we connect in our understanding of our unity and oneness with Christ, if we are always seeing ourselves as outside of and apart from Christ then we always see ourselves separate and detached from Him. While our unity and oneness may not be in the manifest glory that it one day will be, we are robbed if we see ourselves as anything but one with Him. Otherwise we are trying in our efforts to live Christian lives and looking to heaven for God to help us. He has helped us sometimes more than we comprehend or have revelation of. He has placed His life in us and our lives are in Him so that we might live out of Christ and unto Christ. He is our being, we have become identified with His life in us, and we have disowned and are putting to death the former man that we were before Christ. We have to always remind ourselves that we are dead to our former identity and now our identity is in Christ where we abide in His love and His life. Lay hold of the truth of where you live, abide and have your being. It is Christ in you and His love that now lives through you as you abide in Him.

Blessings,
kent

Whose Fan is in His Hand

Matthew 3:11-12
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:
Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The Church, in its present state, is a mixture of flesh and spirit. It is composed of the true grain, which contains the life of God and the power within them to reproduce that life in multiplication of that same nature and substance. The chaff is seen in two dimensions. First, we see the chaff in regards to the impurity in the individual’s life as a believer. While the blood of the lamb has redeemed us we know that we who are walking in this life are constantly struggling and warring against impurity and the flesh. None of us are yet walking in the fullness and sinlessness of Christ, except by faith. We as believers groan within ourselves for the completeness of that redemption that sees the fullness of deliverance and overcoming of sin in our lives. So there is a mixture of that which is still being redeemed in soul and body and that which is already redeemed in our spirit that God is dealing with even now as salvation continues to work in us, spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The second dimension of this chaff is seen in those who are identified with the church, but aren’t true believers. They may put on a good religious front, know how to say all the right theology, and have all the wrapping of a Christian; yet, they are in fact, none of His. They may not even truly recognize and discern their state. They think that because they wear the label and have the outward appearance of religious ones, they are saved and are going to heaven. Sadly the Lord makes plain through many parables that the present Church is not made up wholly of believers, but there are a lot of church goers and bench warmers that really don’t have a personal, saving relationship with Christ. The Lord says, “by their fruits you shall know them.” We have all had occasions in our lives to see those who spoke in the name of God, but in no way represented His character and nature in their lives. Do we? Are we of the true household of God, having come in by true repentance in our hearts, whereby it is our desire to forsake sin and unrighteousness because we have asked the Lord Jesus to be the Lord and master of our hearts and lives?
When the world looks at the church, they don’t even realize that they are looking at a mixed bag of sheep and goats. When those who present themselves as Christians, but live a life of hypocrisy, are seen by the world, then all of the Church and God are judged accordingly. Realistically it is not just the unbelievers that are guilty of this, even as true believers we can dishonor the name of the Lord through our behavior and lifestyle that is contrary to the will and purpose of God.
If the Church is the thrashing floor, then it is a place where the Lord Jesus comes in with a fan in His hand. What does a fan do? It creates a wind that blows. John baptized with water, but he said that Christ would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. In Matthew 3:10 he says, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” The true test of everyone one that confesses to be a believer is the fruit that they bear. The way that fruit is tested is when the fan blows the wind of the Spirit and fire across our lives. When adversity and trials come upon us, what is coming out of our lives? Are we murmuring and complaining? Are we cursing and angry with God? Are we forsaking our confession of Christ to go back into the world? What happened to the children of Israel when they were tested in the wilderness? It brought out the true nature of who they were and many were judged accordingly. The Lord’s fan is even now blowing across many of our lives. What it brings up in us is not always a very pretty sight. Often we even see things in ourselves we didn’t know were there. How we deal with these revelations of ourselves is paramount to our relationship with Christ. When the Lord fans our lives it will do one of two things, it will drive us deeper and more committed into Him or it will drive us away from Him. It is separating the wheat and the chaff both in our individual lives and corporately in the Church as a whole. The last thing any of us would ever want to hear is the Lord say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Church, we must know Him, intimately and personally in this hour. We must pursue and press into Him as never before. Allow the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Fire to only blow you further and more completely into Him and fan away from you all that isn’t of His nature and Spirit. All the fire can do is consume the dross and impurities that still want to cling to all of us who are believers. All that we want to remain is a pure faith and a pure nature flowing out of a heart filled with the love of God. We want to be sure we are the real thing and not a cheap imitation, that we are indeed the wheat and not the chaff.

Blessings,
kent

The Hidden Man of the Heart

1 Peter 3:3-4
Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Who is the hidden man of the heart? I heard it brought out in a message the other day that one thing we never really see is our own face. We can see pictures, drawings or even the reflection of ourselves in a mirror, but they are only representations of the real. Perhaps the instrument we rely most upon to show us ourselves is the mirror. Even mirrors have different qualities and can only reflect as well as the light they are under. How do we see ourselves? Is it not a culmination of how others perceive us and reflect us back to ourselves, or the ideas we have about ourselves which are shaped by our culture and world around us? Aren’t we always evaluating who we are based on what we can perceive of ourselves? Often, we even try to present our outward man in ways that are not who we truly are to create an illusion of who we want to be or whom we want others to think we are. Some of us don’t even want an accurate reflection of ourselves, but would choose to live in the imaginations of what we want ourselves to represent.
God has a mirror that he wants us to look in so that we might see ourselves as He sees us. In the Old Testament the priest had to wash himself in a brass laver. This brass laver was like a wash basin made from the brass looking glasses or mirrors of the women. So as the priest washed they had to reflect on themselves. God was showing us in type that when we come to the laver or wash basin where His Word and Holy Spirit reflect to us the true condition of our hearts, ” That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Ephesians 5:26).” God is interested in this hidden man of the heart, because it is what is being formed in His image and likeness, not the outward. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18). We have to begin really seeing ourselves as God sees us, “the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We tend to see only our failures and shortcomings. We often only judge ourselves by condemnation and shame because we still perceive ourselves as sinners. We must begin to look and see ourselves in the light of who we are in Christ. God is dealing with the imperfections of our heart, not in condemnation but in transformation. He is conforming us to His nature in our hearts and character. While we look through the water of the brass laver into our hearts the water is there to wash us of all our impurities and uncleanness. The hidden man of the heart is who you truly are. “Christ in you the hope of glory”(Colossians 1:27). Let that Life be the outshining of what the world sees and let it be drawn to the light of the glory of Christ in you, so that it His image in you that you reflect.

Blessings,
kent

Integrity

May 2, 2013

Integrity

Job 2:3
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

This passage in Job exemplifies what a man of integrity is. This is a virtue and attribute that is lacking more and more in us as individuals and as a society at large. God saw something in Job’s integrity that He wanted to draw not only our attention too, but also the devil’s. Job was a man that even in the adversity and tremendous trial and testing didn’t waiver in his integrity. It was by those principles that he governed his life and not even the loss of all things could move him from the integrity of his heart. How does that contrast with so many of us today that are like the waves of the sea tossed to and fro, shifting our beliefs, doctrines, behaviors and convictions based on what is politically correct at the moment. We’re all for God until calamity strikes and then we turn bitter and resentful toward Him. If anybody had a right to be bitter and forsake God it was Job, yet the calamities that afflicted his life only solidified the uncompromising conviction of his heart. That conviction was basically, “God you are what I live for and who I die for, I didn’t bring anything into this world and I am not taking anything out, though You slay me yet will I love YOU.” What a testimony of surrender, commitment and integrity toward God Job maintained. Most of us would have folded like a house of cards.
Integrity is completeness. Completeness in the sense that God Himself is our fullness and completion as human beings, without Him we are wanderers in a strange land looking for purpose and reason for existence. Job knew what his was. Integrity is uprightness that comes from a consistent and faith filled relationship with our God. It is simplicity and innocence that acts and behaves the same whether others are observing it or not. It doesn’t act one way in the light and another way in the darkness; it is ever a light and a standard that holds consistent. We can only be perfect in our integrity to the extent the Lord is the Principal and the Sovereign of our lives.
David was considered a man of integrity. Now David wasn’t perfect and he made some major blunders, but it was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t this where true integrity comes from, our heart towards God? It is only He that can establish us and keep us in that integrity, but He wants us all to have it and maintain it in our daily lives and walk. It is in our power and free will to desire and pursue the integrity of God’s righteousness. God will honor the desires of our heart when they are pure and sincere toward Him.
Integrity has been a slippery slope for many of us. As God is raising His standard in us, He is calling us to be men and women of integrity and uprightness. He wants us to not just have the shell of integrity, but like Job, it dwells in the innermost parts of our heart and being. It is in practice whether others see it or not, because God always sees our heart. It is uncompromising in it’s commitment to God’s standards of righteousness. Job 31:6, Job says, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Do we want to make that request?
Integrity is much akin to wisdom, it helps us to establish and hold our course in life. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
Recently we talked about the legacy our lives will leave. Integrity is definitely a part of that legacy we want to leave. “The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7).”
Integrity is exemplified in the nature of Christ that God is working in us as we submit ourselves to Him. Even as Job, let’s make it the standard and foundation in our lives.

Blessings,
kent

Take a Moment to Appreciate

Romans 1:21
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

We have one day a year we set aside to be thankful and acknowledge God’s goodness, but our thankfulness and appreciation of God should be a daily continual occurrence. When we fail to acknowledge Him in all of our ways, our ways begin to become perverted and distorted. In America we live with such abundance and blessing that we take so much for granted. Our level of expectation is very high and we often complain or are discontent when it is not met. We most likely don’t really want to view the conditions and lifestyle of third world countries. Maybe somehow we feel we are more deserving of the wealth and abundance that we enjoy because we are a “Christian” nation. It is evident that we richly enjoy God’s blessing and bountiful provisions, but it is becoming continually more evident that many have failed to see and acknowledge where those blessing have come from. More and more there is pressure and movement to rid godly influence from education, government and the public in general. Many are failing to acknowledge and appreciate that we are great for one reason only, because God’s blessing and goodness alone has made us great.
Our scripture today points to a passage that tells about humanity when they fail to recognize, appreciate and acknowledge the Lord in all of their ways. They follow after their vain imaginations and their foolish hearts become darkened. They embrace homosexuality, idolatry, fornication and all manner of perverse things. Is that what we are becoming today as a nation and as a people?
It is so important that we do acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways and that we maintain a continual attitude of humility and thankfulness toward the Lord. What the Lord has given He can take away. We have what we have because of the godly heritage that established this country and did acknowledge the Lord in its founding. The Lord must always be the foundation of all that we do and of all of our ways. Without Him all is lost.
Let us be mindful to not become so busy and full of ourselves that we forget the great and awesome God that has provided all that we enjoy and so often take for granted. If we acknowledge and appreciate the Lord in all of our ways He will direct our path and keep it from perversion and corruption. Take time and with great frequency, acknowledge and appreciate the Lord, for He is so worthy and deserving of all our praise and thanksgiving.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Blessings,
kent

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