To Walk Worthy of Your Calling

September 16, 2013

To Walk Worthy of Your Calling

Ephesians 4:1-3
1I THEREFORE, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, 2Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. 3Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

Does this scripture describe and define our personal walk with Christ today? The Word of God is often a series of little measuring sticks by which we can evaluate our life, along with its strengths and weaknesses. Here Paul is exhorting us to walk worthy of our calling. Along with this calling there seems to be a frame and attitude of mind that should be characteristic of the walk. It is the attitude of humility and servanthood. It is not looking at self and thinking, “What a great Christian am I.” It doesn’t boast itself or look with contempt and disdain upon others. In this frame of mind we fully acknowledge the grace of God working toward us and as we yield to the Spirit, we see it working through us. We see that to walk worthy of our calling it is about service and serving one another. The only one that we see lifted up and glorified is Jesus Christ and our lives are committed to this purpose, that Christ alone is the One that we boast and exalt in, not ourselves.
When we speak of ministry, we speak of service and the commitment each of has to serve the other. We can see through this that all of us have a calling to the ministry, to walk worthy of our calling in serving the body of Christ with all humility and lowliness. If we are of one mind in this then no one is trying to usurp another’s authority or put someone else down. Our whole function is to lift and build one another up.
Ants are amazing creatures to watch. They labor with amazing tirelessness and I’ve never seen an ant strive or fight with one of its own colony. Each ant functions with total commitment for the good of the whole. Each one has their function and role that they play. Each one is a necessary part of what the whole is made up of. It seems like a good example of what we should be about. Everything is centered around the queen who is producing the life to perpetuate the colony. All that we are about is what furthers the kingdom of God and perpetuates His life.
All of us can be irritating and annoying at times. We can rub each other the wrong way, but it is the grace that works in us and God’s rich love that lifts us beyond focus of faultfinding. Rather we look at how we might minister to one another’s needs so that we might make each other more complete in Christ. The process of unity doesn’t come without trials and challenges, but it can come as each of us keeps our focus on walking worthy of our calling, humbling ourselves as we lift up others and forgiving one another of our wrongs.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).”

blessings,
kent

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Run, Pursue and Overtake

September 13, 2013

1 Samuel 30:1-23
David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”
“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.
11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.
13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”
He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”
15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”
He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”
16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”
21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”
23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

Run, Pursue and Overtake

These were the words I was hearing in my Spirit before I awakened this morning. As I have meditated on what the Lord was speaking, I came upon this passage about when David and his men had their families and goods plundered and taken from them by the Amalekites. This is a type of what the enemy has done to God’s people. They have come in and plundered taken our families, divided our home, robbed our finances and left sickness and death in their wake. God is arousing His David Company as they are sorely grieved at what has been taking place. The prayer of David has gone up, ““Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”
The answer of the Lord has come back, ““Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
Even as I prayed this morning I sensed the Lord reminding me to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). A warrior spirit was arising in my spirit as I began to go in by the Spirit and take back those whom the enemy had afflicted and taken captive.
Warriors of God, I sense this is an hour for us to gird ourselves with the armor of God in the Spirit and arise and pursue our enemies. We have been pursued, attacked and abused long enough. It is now a time for us to take the offensive in the Spirit and pursue the enemy in spiritual warfare. The Word of the Lord is that we will overtake them and succeed in the rescue.
I bring to remembrance a portion of the Song of Moses that the children of Israel sang after they had crossed the Red Sea and their enemies were destroyed behind them in Exodus 15:9-12.
“‘The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’
10But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
11“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
12You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.”
The battle is not ours, but the Lords as we arise in faith and pursue our enemies. It is a day for his back to be broken and the captives released and set free. In Psalms 18:34-42 David writes these words that speak into this hour and this time. “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great. 36You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. 37I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. 39You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. 40You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
41They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—to the Lord, but he did not answer. 42I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud in the streets.”
This is an hour of victory for the Lord’s people that will arm themselves in the Spirit and pursue the enemy. There is no more place for fear or shrinking back. It is a time of retribution upon the enemy of our souls. The Lord goes before us in battle and by the power of His might the enemy can not stand and all of his powers are broken. Enter that spiritual warfare. Arm yourself in Him and the authority of His Word. It is a day wield the sword of the Spirit as we take heavenly authority and mandate to destroy our enemy and the works of the devil. It is fulfilling the very purpose as to why Jesus said He came in 1 John 3:8, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
So today put on your armor, “Run, Pursue and Overtake”, for the battle is the Lord’s and we have the victory! Amen

Blessings,
kent

September 12, 2013

The Blessing of Our Women

Proverbs 31:8
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.

Most all of us have a woman or women that are very special in our lives. They are often so dependable, constant and such a continual source of blessing that we often become complacent and even unappreciative in our attitudes toward them. Much like our attitude can become toward the Lord, we can become very insensitive to their presence, their continual serving and blessing and all that they contribute to our lives. We often are far more acutely aware of their faults, their nagging, and their expectations. Yet it is often some of these little irritating qualities that keep us on track, that help us live up to our abilities and responsibilities, and they are often the cornerstones of our households. These little ladies look after us, pamper us, serve us, bless us, love us, even when we are unlovely and are constantly laying down their lives to unselfishly serve and bless their families.
Often we relegate one day a year to commemorate and recognize these special ones, which is much like just going to church on Christmas or Easter. We should be so cognizant to love and appreciate them every day, in every way and through all of the little actions as well as the larger ones. Sure they have their human side. They can get cranky and irritable and some times hard to live with, but that may be a good indication that we as men and children aren’t doing our part to support, love and care for them.
I know my wife is so giving and far more generous than I am. While I’m always carefully watching the bottom line, if there is something I really need or want, she doesn’t hesitate to try and bless me with it if it is in her power to do so. Time would fail me to tell all of the examples of her giving and blessings in my life. She is such an example of love and Christ to me in these areas. Often, I get irritated with her for always asking me if I remembered this or that, but if she didn’t she knows that there is a good chance I would go off and forget it. What I am saying is that these special women are such a constant source of blessing and help to us, and we usually cop an attitude with them in their efforts to help us keep on track.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” We men and children that have godly women in our lives are very blessed and should never fail to praise and appreciate them. They wear innumerable hats, continually work at daunting tasks and yet manage to love and serve their household in that process. Many of us truly have heroines living among us whom we don’t love and appreciate nearly enough. They deserve our best, because they give no less of themselves.
It is interesting that some of Jesus’ last thoughts and concerns, while hanging on a cross, were for His mother. He delegated her care to the disciple John. If we see Jesus throughout His ministry so tender, loving, forgiving and caring of women should we, as men, be any less so? He valued women as few men did of that time. The Word exhorts us husbands in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
We must ask ourselves, as men, husbands and children, are we really everyday appreciating and showing the women in our lives how special they are? Our encouragement and praise means so much to them and helps them to continue on in their endeavor to serve and bless us. I speak this as strongly to myself as I do anyone else; that the women in your life are an extension of you in one way or another. If we love ourselves then we must not fail to love and bless them as a part of ourselves. Many of our marriages and relationships fail, because we cease to really love and appreciate one another. We become focused on all of the faults and shortcomings and actually cause them to become accentuated through the negative confessions of our lips. What if we were to speak, sometimes by faith, what we see or would like to see more of them, in a positive way? What if we were to be sure and praise and appreciate often the positive aspects of one another while humbly and willingly receiving loving correction and exhortation from one another. None of us are the perfect husband or wife, mother or child, but we can move and encourage one another toward that through the positive reinforcement we can bring to one another’s lives. Let today and each coming day be a day of true appreciation of those special women in our lives. Let us continually let them know how special they are and how much they bless our lives.

Blessings,
kent

Lust

September 11, 2013

Lust

Psalms 81:12
So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

Lust is an area where we all struggle. Many of us automatically associate lust with sexual lust and while that is one arena that it greatly works in, it is by no means that only one. Lust, is much the same as covetousness. It is the strong desire, passion and delight in a desirable thing or object. Typically, what do we have a strong passion and desire for? Usually it is for the things that we can’t have or that we ought not to have. This is what we commonly phrase, “lusting after the flesh”. It is our flesh that is at enmity with God or at war with Him. It is a battle that we fight in our souls, but finds expression through our flesh. Now, lust could have a good connotation, in that “I lust after the Spirit”, or have a strong passion and desire for God. Certainly this is the direction we would want our lust to take us, but more times than not it is taking us in another direction, the way of the flesh.
In our scripture today the context of what is being talked about is when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and was leading them through the wilderness. Lust was a condition of their hearts that led them away from God and the higher purposes that He had for them. It continues on after our theme verse to say in Psalms 81:13-16, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, [and] Israel had walked in my ways I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” If we want to be fed with the finest wheat (the bread of Life) and the honey out of the rock (the truth and revelation of Christ), then we have to hearken unto the Spirit and not unto our flesh when the lust of our desires and want to’s conflict with the Spirit within us.
What is the first thing we want to do when our desires or lust conflict with our spirit? Typically we begin to reason, justify and compromise. Let’s put the old mind to work on it, he’ll come up with a way to make it all right. Isn’t that how we generally try and find peace with ourselves, by rationalizing something in our mind? Or we compartmentalize it and justify it by saying to ourselves, “this is okay in this area of our lives, but not okay over here.” We develop different standards depending on whether we are dealing with family, or business, or social engagements, or spiritual activities. The truth is, God has one standard that applies to every area of our lives. Daniel, in the Old Testament, didn’t cease to pray routinely, just because it wasn’t the politically correct thing to do. He was consistent in every area of his life. We must be no different.
What happens when we start shutting the voice and the conviction of the Holy Spirit out and continue on in the way our flesh wants to go? For one thing, we grow hard of hearing and hard of heart. We have a free will and God will let us go our own way, but the more we go our way the more estranged we become with Him and the less clearly we hear His Spirit’s leading and direction.
Temptation is merely the incitement of my passion, desire or lust for something. James, deals with this issue in a very straight forward way when he says in James 1:12 -16, ”
Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” He lays out the progression of lust from beginning to end and then exhorts us, “don’t fall for it precious saints.”
Again, James deals with lust in James 4:1-5, “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. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” It is the lust of our hearts that entices us away from God to pursue our own passions that are in opposition to His will for us; thus we become His enemy rather than his friend. Our desires become our idol and God is saying, “Don’t you know how jealous I am over you?” God is envious and desirous of us, of our hearts, our affections and our faithfulness to Him. We become like the adulterer that forsakes his relationship to pursue another lover. We grieve the Holy Spirit in doing this.
The apostle John gives us this exhortation in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Peter makes the remark that the corruption that is in the world is the result of lust and the whole reason that God has given us such wonderful and divine promises is to help us escape out of that snare and stronghold that is taking the world to judgement. He says in 1Peter 1:4, “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.” God desires that our desire be first for Him. He loves us with a jealous love and desires that we are faithful. He wants to give us a divine nature that has escaped the corruption that lust brings to our hearts and lives. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so that we would no longer be in bondage to our lust and former desires. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to help us break the strongholds of lust off of our lives. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the more our hearts are set upon Him and the more we are walking after the Spirit, the easier it will become to overcome these areas in our lives. The Holy Spirit will help us, but He will not act against our will. Only we can submit our will to His.

Blessings,
kent

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

This key verse was spoken in an interesting setting. A remnant of the children of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem was in ruin with its walls torn down. Under the leadership that God raised up through such great men as Ezra and Nehemiah the people were organized and the walls of the city were rebuilt through adversity and opposition of surrounding peoples. Now the city, walls and temple of Jerusalem were in ruin because God had brought judgement upon Israel for their sin and rebellion against God. After seventy years of captivity and exile from their country the people have been allowed to return and begin again to pick up the pieces and rebuild their city. When we come to the point where this verse is given we find the walls have been rebuilt and the gates have been hung. The work on the walls is done and all the people have gathered in Jerusalem to hear the Law of Moses read and explained to them. From early morning till noon the people listened attentively as the Word was read and explained to them. The people began to weep, for the verse prior reads, “And Nehemiah, which [is] the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [is] holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” Then, in our key verse, the people are exhorted and encouraged, ” Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Through our lives we are pretty much follow the same pattern as the Israelites of old who tend to go through many cycles of God’s goodness and blessing, then the people would forget and eventually turn from God to pursue sin. God would lovingly and patiently warn them, they would stubbornly and rebelliously ignore Him until the consequences of their sin and unwillingness to repent would bring judgement upon them. Under the hand of judgement the people would repent, turn from sin, and cry out to God. God in His loving mercy and kindness would hear them, restore and again bless them. Eventually the cycle would repeat itself. Have our personal lives been so different? This event takes place at a time the people have just returned from the judgement of God through their exile to Babylon. God has dealt with them even further through Nehemiah and others. They have labored to build up again not only the physical walls, but the spiritual walls of their walk with God. They learned in a practical way to put on the whole armor of God so that they no longer have to fear or submit to the surrounding threats of the enemy. Now as they sat and really heard the Word of God, just as we must sit and really, from a hungry and contrite heart, hear the God’s Word, it breaks our heart, because we realize how much we have grieved the heart of God through our life and our actions. We, like the people of that day, become truly broken and repentant as we are convicted by God’s Word. The Spirit of the Lord that day was not there to bring condemnation, or rebuke. The Spirit of the Lord, that day, was to make glad. We find that when we really come through a place where we have acknowledged and repented of sin in our lives then there comes a day of true joy. We feel the freshness and forgiveness of God’s cleansing. We often will weep for joy at God’s incomprehensible goodness, patience and love toward us in that He still loves us and embraces us back into His fellowship. May there be a day, as we have come through that place of repentance and restoration of right fellowship, that we have a holy day, a day when God dries our tears and blesses us. Let there be a day when we eat of the fat of His blessing and drink the sweetness of His love and mercy. As we are blessed in His goodness, He exhorts us to go our way and make our blessing in Him a blessing to those that have not. We become the portions for whom no portions has been prepared. Our joy is our strength to live, with renewed commitment, a life that is holy unto Him. It is not a day to be sorry, but a day for joy, as we experience God’s renewed presence and blessing, “For the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Blessings,
kent

The Fast of the Lord

September 6, 2013

The Fast of the Lord

Isaiah 58:3-7
Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

The essence of what it is saying to us is this, we seek God in fasting in prayer and we are not hearing Him answer us. This chapter is addressing why we may not be hearing from God and why our prayers are falling to the ground. Many of us, myself included, often equate our spiritual service to God with our spirituality. We may pray, read our Bible, go to church, sing in the choir, serve on committees, we may even be a deacon or an elder, yet when we are seeking the Lord He is silent.
Recently, I heard a sermon from the noted minister, Charles Stanley. He was addressing the subject of knowing God’s will for our lives. The very first point he made I believe ties in with what the Lord is addressing here in Isaiah 58. He said the first step to hearing God is “Clearing the Path.”
If we are still regarding willful sin in our life it will fragment our spiritual mind and hinder us from thinking, seeing, and hearing clearly in the spirit. We have to deal with those sin issues in our lives if we are going to be in the position of hearing the Spirit.
If we are going through the motions of religious service to God as the Israelites were doing here, then we are in affect, just blowing smoke. God says this is a heart issue. “I desire obedience, not sacrifice.” A true fast of God is not about the going without food and afflicting ourselves outwardly, although I believe the Word does teach that this has it’s place. I believe it will not have the effect we desire in touching God until it is matched with the actions of faith and Christian service through true love in word and deed. As we begin to serve others in a practical way, physically, emotionally and spiritually it will, in itself, lead to a spiritual fast because it will cause us to lay down our lives and sacrifice our wills and desires in order for us to meet those needs.
This scripture talks about ministering to the needs of others but the last sentence says, ” and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” The New Living Translation says it like this, ” do not hide from relatives who need your help.” One of the areas I find I can be most neglectful in is really being sensitive to the needs within my own family and especially with my spouse. This is one of the first places we have to address to have spiritual success in the rest of our lives. If our house is divided and our relationships are broken within our homes and among our relatives, walls are built that hinder our spiritual progress and relationship with God. It is true that sometimes there is only so much we can do from our end and having done all we can we must continue in love and faith. I am reminded of the scripture in 1Peter 3:7 that says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” It is vital that we honor our wives and minister to their needs if we are to be successful in our relationship with God, hearing His will for us and receiving His full blessing. Sometimes I believe I have the mindset that if I am doing spiritual things and it is taking all of my time, my wife will understand if I neglect her, because after all it is for a higher purpose. I forget that one of the highest purposes of God is for me to be one with my wife. It is His plan and purpose that I spend time with my wife, children and grandchildren. That time spent with them is my opportunity to plant into their lives the love and ministry of Christ. It is the opportunity to make Christ real and alive to them through my practical application of loving time spent with them. Our families are one of the greatest acts of spiritual service we have and we can not neglect that if we want to maintain right relationship with the Father. They are our first order of ministry next to Him.
Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me through others, that while I may be going through spiritual motions, if I am not lining my life up with practical application through godly living the other is vanity and emptiness. It falls short in reaching heaven and my prayers fall short in reaching the ears of God. Maybe some of you, like myself, have fallen short in this area and are wondering why you are not hearing from God. These are areas of our lives we must objectively examine and judge, without justifying ourselves, but being totally honest and true before the Lord. Are we shutting up our hearts towards our fellow man, our family, and our neighbor? Are we harboring unforgiveness or bitterness? Our right relationship with God is not just vertical, but horizontal as well. If we fail to relate His love and nature to our fellow man then we fail to relate it to Him. May we learn what the true fast of the Lord is in practical daily living as His life is lived through us in true spiritual service to others.
Isaiah 58:8-14, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.
Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
Isa 58:10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday:
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Isa 58:12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. ”

Blessings,
kent

Confronting our Enemy

September 5, 2013

Confronting our Enemy

1 Samuel 14:4-14
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez, and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Micmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come, then; we will cross over toward the men and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the LORD has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

The Lord began to reveal a few things in this passage from 1 Samuel 14. It is best to read the chapter to get the full context. Many of us spend a good deal of our lives trying to avoid confrontation with the enemy of our souls. Spiritually we find ourselves cowered down, hiding, afraid and more or less defeated. Perhaps we keep waiting around hoping God will do some great thing to defeat the enemy and then we can just walk into the victory. This was more or less the state of Israel at the time. King Saul was waiting around under a pomegranate tree and a lot of the Israelites had gone up to hide in the hills, some had even gone over to the camp of the Philistines.
In this story we see a young man that got tired of waiting around and playing soldier in the traditional ways of his father Saul. He was a new generation, a man of faith and confidence in God. He dared to believe God for what He had already promised to give His people. He laid hold of the promise. While everyone was waiting around playing soldier, he decided he would be one. Together with his armor-bearer they decided to test the waters and if God gave them the sign then they knew that the Lord would fight their battle and it didn’t matter the odds. In their approach to the enemy camp there were two significant rock formations. One was called Bozez which means “surpassing white, glistening”, and the other was Seneh which means “thorny”. One cliff stood facing the north toward Micmash, which means “hidden”, and the other to the south toward Geba, which means “hill”. The spiritual significance seen here is that this is that place we must pass through to gain our victories. On one side we have a type of heaven glistening with promise and opportunity, but hidden to the natural eye and mind of man. On the other side we have the place that is thorny, full of trials, tribulations and an uphill battle. It is very evident to the natural man and stands as a monument of discouragement. The significance this has for us is that in our Christian walk we see so much of the thorny side of things we fail to continue to look with the eyes of faith to the heavenly things and the promises of God. This day Jonathan got a hold of a revelation that this was simply a pass he and his armor-bearer had to climb over on their way to experience God’s great deliverance and victory. They could have continued in the comfort and safety of the camp much like our traditional religion, but they only talked about great things, they never did anything about it. Jonathan got stirred up in his spirit and tired of just sitting around, so he spoke to his armor-bearer. I saw him as a type of the Holy Spirit that is ever with us to comfort, encourage and empower us. He is the one who is the resource of the weapons of our spiritual warfare. Together they were an unstoppable team to the Philistines. As the Lord went before to discomfit the enemy, Jonathan, by faith put down his enemies and the armor-bearer followed to put them to death. It was like God was his forward and his rearward. God used this act of faith to not only bring a great victory, but to also stir up faith and confidence in his brethren to enter into the battle and partake of the victory.
Where are we at today? Are we content to dwell under the pomegranate tree with Saul or hide in the hills for fear that the enemy will assault us with more trials and tribulations? Maybe we are even dwelling in the camp of the enemy. Perhaps this is the day to get the heart of Jonathan to believe how great our God is and that he can save by many or few. God is greater than your circumstance. He is the victory in your battle for He has equipped you to win. He has given His armor-bearer to back you up and help you in the battle. You are not alone; God is your rearward and your forward. It is a hard place between heaven and hell that we must pass through, but if God says go up then we know the victory is ours in Christ Jesus. Stir up your faith to believe great things of your God and seek His direction knowing that ‘you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus and greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world, for He overcame the world.’ Let us have the faith and courage of Jonathan, beloved of God, to go up and experience the victory that is ours in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Poor in Spirit

September 4, 2013

Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5:3
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There is a parable that Jesus gave about a young man who thought he was very rich. He demanded his inheritance from his father and then set out to enjoy all that wealth. We find it wasn’t a long time before he had spent up all of his money on wild living and when all was gone, so were his so called friends. In the days to follow the young man came to a startling revelation. He was no longer rich, there was no longer security, there was no longer a family, or even daily provision. He was forced to take a job caring for pigs, just to share corn husks and trash food that was feed to them.
Many of us go through life and as long as our outward needs are met and things are going well we may never come to a revelation of how poor we truly are. It is usually when we come to the end of ourselves, our resources and feel the gnawing of hunger and emptiness in our soul that we make the discovery of how poor we really are. It is in the acknowledgement of this state that we are in a position to do something about it. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, we realize we are feeding on cornhusk and the emptiness of this natural life. Meanwhile our spiritual man is wretched, blind and naked. Even as Christians we can be so caught up in playing church and pretending religion that we think we have it all and yet that isn’t the way God perceives us at all. Religion may be among the things we acknowledge in our lives or a liturgy and practice we perform out of duty to God, but it isn’t our passion, our desire and our greatest need. We may be out of position with God altogether and not even realize it because we are going through the motions of life and spirituality.
How would we evaluate our relationship with Christ today? Would it be hot, lukewarm or cold? Many of us would have to admit that we are somewhere in the area of lukewarm.
“What’s wrong with lukewarm? That’s good enough isn’t it?”
That is not a good place to be, for the Word makes it quite clear that God doesn’t enjoy the taste of lukewarm. Revelations 3:15-19 may be the Lord’s personal rebuke and exhortation to us if we are in this state. “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! 17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. 19Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude].” Our outward perceptions of ourselves are not always accurate and true. Many of us want to live out of a surface relationship with God like we do with many of our friends. You know how you meet an acquaintance on the street and you say, “Hi, how are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m fine. How are you?”
“I am doing well, thank you. Good talking to you. Have a nice day”
That about sums up the depth many of us may have with God. God isn’t real interested in surface relationships. He is a God of intimacy and depth. He wants to know and deal with the true and deepest issues of our heart and life, but we are always going around saying, “I’m fine, you’re fine, everything is fine.” We are living a lie. We are not acknowledging our true state before Him and He can’t meet us at our point of real need until we are willing to acknowledge how poor in spirit we truly are.
In Isaiah 66:1-2, God tells us, “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?
2For 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.” It is only the person that acknowledges how truly broken, wretched, blind and naked they are that is open and ready to allow God to meet their need. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, the Father is ever looking for the return of His son, longing for him and never ceasing to love him. He can do nothing for him until the son gets a revelation of his true state of being where he is disconnected and out of fellowship with the Father; that is us. Only in the revelation of spiritual poverty can we acknowledge our need and know that it is only in intimate relationship with the Father God that our spirits are made rich and prosper.
What is the condition of our spirit today?

Blessings,
kent

The Labor of Love

September 3, 2013

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her. Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring. Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth. Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth. The miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents. This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others. It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer. That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended. That was only the conception. The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them. Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith. No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her. Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood. You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them. All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them. You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours.
Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction. You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways.
This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others. Often it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you that now take on a different spirit. Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them. In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go. As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ. It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them.
We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us. Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us, or reject us. They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them. They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you. Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction. It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did. Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man. God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are. We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,
kent

Rags to Riches

September 2, 2013

Rags to Riches

Colossians 1:27
To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

As kids we often would muse, “if you had three wishes, what would you wish for?” As adults today, if we had one wish, what would we wish for? Would it be fame or fortune, health or peace, beauty or strength? I would say the majority of us, while having our needs met, wouldn’t consider ourselves rich or beautiful or famous or wise. If we stopped to really evaluate the ways in which we are rich or we are poor, what would we conclude? Many of us would smile and say; I’m rich with family, or in relationships I have with others. We might be rich in the joy and satisfaction we receive from serving and blessing others and making a difference in their lives. We have often gotten into the mindset that riches means having millions of dollars, but is a millionaire always rich?
Proverbs 13:7 says, “One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” In order to be rich, must one always have the tangible substance of material things in their possession?
When we discovered Christ, the Son of God that has freely provided so great a salvation, we discovered a vein of the most precious substance known to man. It runs so deep and so wide and it runs from the earth beneath to the heavens above. So many of us still haven’t really grasped how rich we have become in having Christ. Our concept of riches it still focused on outward possessions. It is fine if you have outward possessions and wealth, but if that is all your heart is content with then you are indeed most poor. There is no greater poverty than the leanness and depravity of one’s soul. In Matthew 16:26 Jesus poses the question, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” When we found that relationship with Jesus Christ, we went from rags to riches, rather anything changed outwardly or not. What is the price for eternal life in the riches of heaven with our almighty loving heavenly Father? What is the price for having all of my sins and faults and failures forgiven and my debts cancelled? What would it cost to have the Christ, the Spirit of the living God, dwelling in me? Does anyone possess that kind of earthly wealth that they could purchase these priceless gifts? Yet Christ died to pay the price that He might freely give them to all that would believe. You and I are so rich beyond measure and yet we are so often focused on what we don’t have. If we truly tapped into what we do have we would realize that there are no limitation on what it is possible for us to have or to do? While we are very, very rich through Christ, we have limited understanding and wisdom in how to use the wealth we possess in the fullness of how God has intended, so we are in school. The school of life is teaching us to practice the principles of the Kingdom that is ours. In order for us to come into the fullness of our inheritance we must learn the ways of kingship and godly rule. In order for us to rule like the King, we must come into the nature of the King. How did our King demonstrate His kingdom to us? Philippians 2:5-8 tells us, “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.”
We have gone from rags to riches when we fully comprehend that this Christ is in us. He became poor, of no reputation and endured the death of the cross so that you and I might possess so great a riches. Will we miss the greater by always focusing on the lesser? We spend the majority of our lives and resources pursuing that which is perishing while we neglect that which is eternal and priceless. We are the sons and daughters of Most High God; let us begin to dress ourselves in the rich garments of His righteousness. The world may despise us, but they don’t possess what we possess. We, like our example before us, must become void of self, so that we can bring others up. We want all of those around us to experience this “rags to riches” story. We want them to come out of the poverty and emptiness of their soul into the riches of God’s love and grace. There are not any greater riches in all of earth or heaven than “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Blessings,
kent

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