Why Should I Drop My Rock?

December 9, 2014

John 8:1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Why Should I Drop My Rock?

The law of sin and death apprehends us in our sin. The accuser comes before the Lord proclaiming our sin and demanding just retribution. “The Law says” and condemnation follows.
There we are, lying in the dust, naked and ashamed, fearing what may soon follow. We can’t justify ourselves. Our sin has found us out and Jesus has every right to say, “do what the law says and stone the sinner,” but He doesn’t. He stoops there, almost oblivious to the crowd, the railing accusation, the demands for justice and in that place of rest and peace He just writes with His finger in the dirt. Perhaps He is listing all the sins of the accusers.
Finally, Jesus speaks one sentence so amazing, profound and convicting that it shuts the mouth of every accuser and a disperses the angry and blood thirsty mob.
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
The law of sin and death has to bow to the law of the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus. If that were us lying there naked, ashamed and in sin, awaiting the rocks and stones to fly and pelt the life out of us, what would it mean to us to be justified by Jesus. He didn’t justify the sin, but He justified the sinner, making it as though she had never done it. Jesus was without sin. He had every right to condemn and judge her. He could have thrown that first stone and yet He chose to throw mercy and forgiveness upon her instead of judgement.
How many times could Jesus have cast me out and cast me off, because of my sin? Instead He has always chosen to forgive me and exhorts me to not live in that place of sin any longer. Are we any different than this woman? Are our sins so much more righteous than hers? Does God really measure sins or are they all a falling short of Him and His highest for us?
I believe that this was a life changing moment for this woman when the kindness of God led her to repentance and change. I believe she saw in Jesus, someone who could do for her what she could not do for herself. She found forgiveness in Him, who looked not upon her shame and failure, but rather saw her value even in her sinful state.
When we read this, we should realize that is exactly what God did for me. He took my sin away, He exonerated me, forgave me and justified me; just as if I had never done it. In the light of that grace, what justification would I have to judge and condemn another? Knowing the debt that Christ paid for me, who am I to hold another accountable for the little debt they may owe me, or the sin they may have perpetrated against me? If God could forgive me so much, why, as His child, am I willing to forgive so little?
Again, Jesus would say to you and me, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
How many of us have failed to drop our rocks and stones of offense and unforgiveness against others? “Father forgive me my trespasses and sins, as I forgive others.”

Blessings,
#kent

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Count it all Joy

December 8, 2014

James 1:2-4
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. 3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. 4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. (Amplified)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (Message)

Count it all Joy

I don’t know about you but I think most of us think about joy and gladness coming with blessing, prosperity, good health and divine favor. So when the Word comes and says count it all joy, a sheer gift, when trials and temptations come upon you, that goes against the grain of most our thinking and paradigms. Why should I be glad about that? That is exactly what I have been praying to get out of.
As much as we all love the good times and the blessings of this life most of us know by now that it isn’t in these places that we grow spiritually. In fact it is in these places that we usually grow complacent and our heart generally moves away from God and onto ourselves. It becomes about us and not Him. The joy of the trials, temptations and tribulations is that it exposes our weakness, but reveals His strength. It forces us into that place of dependence and trust in Him to do in us and through us what we could not produce in ourselves. The “sheer gift” of our trials is the working of the divine nature in us, because we are compelled into a place where we must walk by faith and not by sight.
Does it seem joyful at the time we are going through it? Probably not, until we see God show up. When he shows up in the midst of our weakness, our failures and our struggles then we so appreciate who He is in us and what we are not in ourselves. These trials and testing are the boot camp of our faith. They strengthen our resolve. They train us for war. They teach us how to endure with patience under pressure and hardship. They reveal to us our true nature and where we are at with our walk in Father. When we see where we truly are then we can see where we truly need to be. As we start moving in the direction of godliness and dependence we are being exercised and finding more and more that Father is our strength and provision in these difficult circumstances. The circumstances of life are not our enemy; they are simply the tools to exercise and increase our faith and maturity. The old saying goes we can never have a testimony unless we have first had a test. God wants to show His faithfulness to us. We will never experience His rest until we come to the place where we realize that our self-efforts and abilities can never measure up to produce what only God Himself can produce in us and through us as we yield fully and unconditionally to Him.
I am of the firm conviction that many of us in the body of Christ are going through great financial hardship in this time so that we may learn the rest and faithfulness of Father. It is pressing us into a place of maturing in areas where we may have always had plenty. We have grown up with our dependence upon the economy of this world and now God is weaning us off of that bottle and beginning to feed us the meat of a kingdom economy that operates out of faith and not works. Most of us are out here crying, “Give us back our bottle Father”. The earthly things are passing away and Father wouldn’t be showing us His love if He left us in that desolate place. Rejoice in Him, because He loves you so much He is teaching you a higher way and we have to relinquish the old to embrace the new. While we may be struggling now, we will be those who help others who are struggling when this world economy fails. Your struggles today are God’s answer to someone else’s struggles tomorrow. Because of your testimony to the faithfulness of God and the principles that He has taught you someone else is lifted up to where you are. God brings us into maturity not for our benefit. Maturity means you are moving from selfish to selfless. You are the giver and not the taker. You are the example and not the follower.
Precious people of God, get down and get happy because all of the various trials and temptations are here to perfect your faith, teach you endurance, mature and develop you into your destiny and purpose. Rejoice, for these are the tools that bring forth the Christ in you!

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

Colossians 2:1-3
I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” Proverbs 4:5 tells us, “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget [it] not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” Psalms 119:104 teaches us, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”
The true treasures that God has for us are not riches of gold, silver and precious stones; they are the riches of wisdom, understanding and the knowledge of the Lord. That is why the Bible is the most precious and priceless book in the world for it contains these riches and the Holy Spirit is the guide that leads us into the depths of His treasure house. Unlike the riches of the world that promote greed, selfishness and lust, these treasures bring us into the character and knowledge of godliness, love and the fruit of the Spirit. What is even more amazing is that the fruit of following and finding these precepts of wisdom with understanding is what often produces the fruit of earthly prosperity and blessing as well. More importantly they teach us not to be looking at those things which are perishing, but rather those things which are eternal. Paul, in this passage from Colossians says the full riches are in the complete understanding, because understanding unlocks to us the full mystery of God, which is in Christ.
Who are you? “You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). It is when we comprehend and fully process this truth of who we are in God that we begin to truly be hid in Him. It is our spiritual ignorance that continues to hold on to an identity that is outside of Christ.
Paul reveals this truth in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Most of us in the mind of our natural thinking have not really gone down into the grave of our earthly reasoning, mentality and natural awareness and so we have never risen in the resurrection of the riches of Christ in spiritual wisdom and the knowledge of who we are in Christ. We acknowledged it by faith spiritually, but have we truly embraced it in reality? When a woman marries a man, in most circumstances she gives up her name and she takes on his, but aren’t most of us like the woman who wants to take on all the benefits of his name, but she wants to keep her own name as well? We still want to be Mrs. Adam-Christ. Isn’t this why we see the carnality in our lives and the mixture of flesh and spirit within the church. God wants to educate us in who we are. He has given us the riches of all that He is in Christ Jesus and we are content with the husks that are fed to the hogs. As we will press into Christ and into depth of His Word we will find the riches that will bring us into the liberty of the Spirit. It has been said that, “knowledge is power.” When you begin to come into the full realization of who you are in Christ and what God has created you for, will that not bring you also into the power of God? God operates through vessels that are in union and in sync with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us into all of the riches of God through His Word and then He begins to operate those riches through us in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. This is where we buy the gold of God, tried in the fire, because the truth of God’s word must become a reality in us and that can only be worked out through experience and the proving of God’s word in our daily lives. This is the oil that the foolish virgins asked of the wise in Matthew 25. It is not something that can just be given to you, it something that you must press into and lay hold of. It is a substance that is brought forth in your life through the trials and tribulations, because this is the place you must lose yourself and find who you are in Christ.
“Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” All of it is found in the riches of Christ Jesus in whom are all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Blessings,
#kent

A Purpose Driven Life

December 3, 2014

A Purpose Driven Life

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Haven’t all of us that have embraced Christ by faith and entered into a relationship with Him, been called according to His purpose. Often we confuse our purpose with His purpose and they are not always the same. Many of us have our own agendas, our own aspirations and goals, but they may not necessarily be in line with God’s purpose for your life. The Lord has given us a will and if we are bent on our ways rather than pursuing what He has for our lives, we can make that choice.
Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 Corinthians 16:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If we truly love the Lord then we need to acknowledge that we are His and no longer our own. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of what God’s purpose is, “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Most of us, quite honestly, tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual, what is God’s and what is ours. The Lord’s intent is that all that we are is spiritual and belongs to Him, body, soul and spirit. What are we missing in the purpose and will of God for our lives because we are caught up in our own ways. How much of our lives do we filter through the Holy Spirit, seeking His direction and council and asking that His will and purpose are accomplished in all that we do and the decisions that we make? Do we instead, forge headlong into the desires and purposes of our own heart and expect God to be a part of and bless what we have purposed to do? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
We can be really thankful that our God is so loving, patient and kind; and that He endeavors to deal with our hearts and speak to us in our times of self-discovery. We can listen to the gentle dealings of the Lord or we can ignore Him and continue on until one day we must come to terms and the consequences of our own actions.
Father has a purpose and calling for each one of our lives. Are we embracing and living fully in it? If we truly love Him and have been called out of the world by Him, then we have the assurance that all that the Lord is working in our lives is for the good. At times it may not seem good, but that is where we have to trust the heart of God and His promises concerning our lives.
Are we living in God’s purpose today? Are we living the destiny He has called us too? Those things can only be discovered and found out in Him through a yielded spirit and a contrite heart. The Lord will lead and direct our lives if we allow Him to do so.
Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us in this purpose, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Are we living God’s purpose driven life for us today?

Blessings,
#kent

A Change of Garments

December 2, 2014

Colossians 3:1-7
1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection,evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

A Change of Garments

So much our faith and the way that we walk in it has to do with a new mindset and way that we view our purpose and being. Before we knew Christ in a personal relationship we were given over to our own unbridled passions and will. We allowed our desires, our passion and flesh to have dominion over us. We lived for the moment and fulfilled the desires of our unregulated and undisciplined body.
When we came into Christ we were still in this same body with all of its same needs and wants, but inwardly something had changed and been transformed. As we came into Christ, we came into the revelation that life was no longer about us, but about Him. We became identified with Him, both in His death and in His resurrection. We realized that the old man of the flesh isn’t to rule and have its way any longer and so we identified it with Christ on the Cross and we crucified the flesh with its inordinate affections and lust. On the other hand we beheld the new creation that we had become in Christ and we identified with His resurrection in a new and incorruptible life.
Colossians 3 is simply a reminder of what has taken place in our hearts and lives. It is a call to action and direction in our life and living unto Christ. We are putting on His robes of righteousness through faith while we are putting off the garment of this former man through a continual putting to death and discarding of that garment defiled by sin and desires that are a stench to the Heavenly Father. We do this through our union and reliance upon the Holy Spirit. We are identified now with the Son. We are dead to that old man and our life is hid with Christ in God. We are incorporated into His life and family. With that adoption should come a new nature which is in the likeness of the One whom has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. As we set our mind, our affection and our purpose on Christ in all that we do we will find that the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Take hold of who you are in Christ and live accordingly out of His life and unto His glory. You will experience that change of garments.

Blessings,
#kent

Peace

December 1, 2014

Peace

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Peace is not righting all that is wrong.
Peace is in knowing that our wrongs are made right,
That even in darkness and tribulation we have a song.
It is in knowing the “greater is He” when we go out to fight.

Peace is not just a quiet morning after a freshly fallen snow,
It is not always sunshine in your face and wind in your hair.
It is confidence in your God and “knowing that you know”.
It is resting in God’s justice when life isn’t fair.

Peace is not a life without opposition or strife,
Peace is in knowing that Christ has overcome the world,
Even in the valley of darkness and death He is our life.
When our enemy attacks like a flood, He is our flag unfurled.

Peace is not always about pleasant circumstances of the day.
When unpleasantness comes, it is upon His strength we rely.
It is in trusting that where a door is shut He will make a way.
He hides us in the cleft of the rock as our storms pass by,

Peace is not just about having any more war.
It is in knowing that He alone can transform the hearts of men.
In due season we will see the world we all long for.
Our greatest peace is in the forgiveness of our sin.

Peace isn’t having lived the perfect life,
It is in knowing His acceptance and the presence of His Dove,
Peace is redemption and mercy, in place of sin and strife.
Peace is our abiding in the riches of His grace and Love.

Blessings,
#kent

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