Roots

January 30, 2015

Matthew 3:7-10
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Roots

Roots in our lives come from seeds that were planted either in our lives or perhaps the generations before us. Roots go down into the recesses of our soul, but they produce fruit upward. That fruit can be good or bad, selfless or selfish, spiritual or fleshly. Like any good garden it is the gardener’s desire to enhance the fruitfulness of the good plants and to pull out the weeds that want to choke out what if fruitful and good. What happens to a weed if we only pull off what we can see? We know that if we didn’t get the root, the weed will grow back. Such are the areas of our lives that the good Gardner, the Holy Spirit wants search out in us and root out.
William Law wrote, “Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state. We are without God, because we are in the life of self. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking, are the very essence, and life of pride; and the devil the first father of pride, is never absent from them, nor without power in them. To die to these essential properties of self, is to make the devil depart from us. But as soon as we would have self-abilities have a share in our good works, the satanic spirit of pride is in union with us, and we are working for the maintenance of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking.” He perceived that the major root of sin and separation from God is self. When Christ came into our lives it should be as John the Baptist said, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” All that was built upon the foundation and has the root of self in it must be cut away. That root must be cut out, along with all of the other off-shoot roots that it produces.
Many of us struggle in different areas of our lives. We may pull them off for a time, but then they seem to continue to come back, sometimes even stronger than before. The question is, “Have we found the root?” Unless we trace these strongholds back to their root they may be hard to get free of. Somewhere we or an ancestor as opened a door for a spiritual attachment to come in and find root. It doesn’t mean that we are possessed or anything, but it does mean that there can be a strong soul tie to something that needs God’s axe to sever and separate us from it. It is something that we recognize the fruit of in our outward life, but we haven’t fully identified the root of it and then renounced and cut off that soul tie to it. Sometimes these roots like those of our wisdom teeth can become candy-caned and intertwined in the areas of our life where it is a process of identifying, renouncing and cutting off these roots by the power and authority we have in Christ Jesus. Nothing ever leaves our lives until we have fully repented of them, renounced them and no longer give them permission in our lives. We can go through the motions, but until our will is one with the Father, these roots will not be fully extracted.
Hebrews 12:15 refers to one such root. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Bitterness, offense, unforgiveness are roots that are prone to try to get a hold of members of the body of Christ. If we don’t recognize and deal with them they can cause division, dissention, backbiting, gossip, slander and all manner of poisonous manifestations that would defile the many. Prejudice is often a root that is passed to us from previous generations.
The Holy Spirit has indwelled us to bring us into the nature, mind and character of Christ. We need to have intimacy with the Father and the time in the Word so that we can say like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)”
It is only as we partner with the Holy Spirit that these roots can be identified and cut out. If we want a weed free garden, then it starts with our renouncement of self in every area of our lives and the full surrender to Christ as our Lord and King. As we give the Holy Spirit permission He will search our hearts and reveal things to us that we then must renounce, repent and surrender to Christ. This is an ongoing process in all of our lives, but the more we work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to give Him place the more freedom and liberty in the Spirit we can come into.
A lot of us want to continue to sweep our issues under the rug and just ignore them, but we are only robbing ourselves of that place of greater fullness through a wholly surrendered life to Christ. Find your roots.

Blessings,
#kent

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The Long and Winding Path

January 29, 2015

The Long and Winding Path

Proverbs 4:14
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men].

Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” How blessed so many of us are that our loving Lord has shown us the strait gate of salvation and life. As we travel this road of life together in the light and truth of God’s Word how prone we are to still want to wander off the paths of truth and righteousness. Seldom do we want to take the shortcut to follow the straight and narrow. We so often want to take the windy path that wants to kind of weave in and out of the God’s way and His path. We always think we are missing something more exciting or more enjoyable if we stay directly on the path and so we run over here and over there. We are like little children, undisciplined to color within the lines of our drawing. Our life pictures are often distorted and not as pretty as they ought to be, because we choose to color outside the lines of God’s will and purpose for our lives. We love the Lord, we know His ways are right and just, but it is so hard for us to let the cross have its way concerning our old nature and desires.
There are those times when we perhaps cross God’s path long enough to truly experience His presence and experience the reality of Psalms 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.” What our foolish hearts blind us to see is that our God is the author of joy and pleasure. The world can only hold up a weak counterfeit to all that we can have in Christ. We don’t always see that right away and being the impetuous and impatient people that we are, we want our candy now. How easily we are often lured away. Proverbs 5 is a story of warning to the wandering and unstable son. “1My son, listen to my wisdom. Turn your ear to my understanding. 2So you may know what is good thinking, and your lips may keep much learning. 3For the lips of a strange woman are as sweet as honey. Her talk is as smooth as oil. 4But in the end she is as bitter tasting as wormwood, and as sharp as a sword that cuts both ways. 5Her feet go down to death. Her steps take hold of hell. 6She does not think about the path of life. Her ways go this way and that, and she does not know it. 7Now then, my sons, listen to me. Do not turn away from the words of my mouth. 8Keep far away from her. Do not go near the door of her house . 9If you do, you would give your strength to others, and your years to those without lovingness. 10Strangers would be filled with your strength, and the fruits of your work would go to a strange house. 11You would cry inside yourself when your end comes, when your flesh and body are wasted away. 12You would say, ‘How I have hated teaching! My heart hated strong words! 13I have not listened to the voice of my teachers. I have not turned my ear to those who would teach me. 14Now I have a bad name in the meeting place of the people.'”
Whether we wander the path of fleshly impurity or spiritual idolatry, we are unfaithful to the lover and redeemer of our souls. Who of us wants to find that at the end of our lives, or even before, our careless actions and wanton ways have brought destruction and heartache to ourselves and those around us? It is because we chose the long and windy path that allowed us to wander out of the path of life into the fields of sin and destruction. This path will have an impact on our lives in a negative way. While God, in His great love and mercy, will seek to correct us and bring us back, our foolishness is often not without its consequences and repercussions.
What is God’s path for us today? Who are we associating with that is leading us out of the will and purpose of God back into error and sin? Proverbs 1:15-16 instructs us, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” God does not want us to be yoked with unbelievers but to be their signpost to the way of life. Proverbs 4:18 instructs us,” But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Our paths must be made straight, for our eye must not be fixed on the temporal, but upon the eternal purposes of God and our part in them. With the vision that we are walking into the perfect day we will set our hearts to follow directly and passionately after Him and not the windy paths that lead in and out of His will. We must grow up into Him in all things concerning this life and that which is to come.

Blessings,
#kent

Shine a Diamond

January 28, 2015

Shine a Diamond

Romans 14:19
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

We live in a very negative world in a lot of respects. Life is often taking twist and turns that can bring us discouragement and despair. Many around us only know how to speak death. They, like many of us, can become cynical, skeptical and suspicious in a world that is always seeking to exploit us in one manner or another. It is hard for us to be real, even with one another, for fear that someone will take opportunity in our vulnerability and openness to hurt us or will despise and not respect us because of some weakness that we allow them to see in us. As a result we become individual sealed houses, our own little islands in some respects, keeping a certain amount of distance and aloofness so that we won’t be hurt. Certainly we have to be careful about who we share the more intimate parts of our lives with. Jesus gives the warning in Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” As it is with the holy and precious things of God, so it is with the matters of our heart. We need to really know the character of those we share our hearts with. If the love of God is truly operating within them, then they understand the grace that not only they have been given, but that which they must extend to others. God wants us to cover one another’s nakedness, not expose it, gossip about it or despise them for it. He wants us to be a people that can truly edify and build up one another. We need to have that place and safety to truly confess our sins and faults to one another without fear of rejection and judgment. James 5:16 tells us, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Does that mean we condone whatever sin someone shares or confesses to us? No, we can’t because then we would share complicity with their sin. The reason for sharing our sins or faults with one another is for repentance, support, help in our weaknesses and restoration of our fellowship with God and one another. If we share our faults with one another it shouldn’t be for approval, neither should it be for judgment but our response to another’s faults should be that of humility and love, knowing that we are also weak and vulnerable to sin. Galatians 6:1 teaches us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” You see we are not one another’s judges, but we are one another’s watchmen. We watch out for one another, because we are of the same body and share the same common faith and purpose, to glorify the Lord. It can be easy for any of us to become distracted and turn aside or grow complacent concerning our faith. This is why it is so important for us as the body of Christ to have personal friendships and relationships with others in the body, not just for fellowship, but also for accountability. We need to be speaking life into one another to build each other up in who we are in Christ. We need to pray for one another and exhort one another, always stirring up faith. A healthy body is one in which individual members and cells are ministering health and blessing into those around them. The words that we speak into one another’s lives should be for building up and not tearing down, even if they must be honest, direct and hard words, the motive behind them should always be love. Sometimes, like Paul, we must tear down to build up, but what are our motives and the end of what we do?
Are you and I the brush that polishes the diamonds of the Lord? Are we causing others to shine in His glory and come forth in the image of who they are in Christ? Remember that the power of death and life are in the tongue. Our actions and our tongue can make or destroy another’s life. Let our lives and our ministry be for building up and not for tearing down, for edifying and not for condemning. You are your brother’s keeper and he is yours. Let us honor and seek to bring forth the Christ in each other. Speak life, hope and blessing into someone today and let it become your lifestyle. Shine a diamond!

Blessings,
#kent

Abiding in the Vine

January 27, 2015

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 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 in Christ. It is Christ in you and His love that now lives through you as you abide in Him.
“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

Psalms 144:1-2
Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. 2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Personal Trainer and Protector

In the Lord we have such a loving heavenly Father who is there for us in every way, even when we don’t see Him or perceive His presence. ‘ The Lord is my Rock.’ Daniel 2:35 says, “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” This was not only prophetic of king Nebuchadnezzar, but it speaks to all of the kingdoms of this earth becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and King. In Revelations 11:15 the heavens declare, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Even in our weakness we are more than conquerors through Him that has loved us and gave Himself for us. Even in our weakness He trains our hands for war and our fingers for battle. It is in those times when we battle through the trials and tribulations of life that He is training our hands for war. In our weakness we find His strength and in our poverty we find His riches. It is as we stand faithful in the battle that we find, as David did, “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” He is able to give us victory in circumstance in which we have no control. He is able to work all things after the council of His will. His will is that we are overcomers of this present evil world and that we prevail in faith until we see strongholds torn down. All it takes is humbly acknowledging Him as the Lord of all of your life. He is the One that goes before us into battle. He is our defender, our protector and He makes us to be a stronghold of righteousness for His namesake. Those who have ruled over you will be subdued beneath you.
Your triumph is in recognizing by faith what your Lord has already done and is still doing on your behalf. This is why the songs of David so magnify the Lord. By all rights David should have been dead, but at every death-harrowing turn He saw the Lord’s divine protection and the anointing that rested upon Him. You are no less His son or daughter. What He has done for David and others He will do for you. Stop striving in your own strength and efforts. Rest in the promises of His Word and what the Holy Spirit is training you to do. He is here today to train our hands for war and our fingers for battle. As we allow Him to train us up, then we will see Him going before us into battle and making our victory sure. God is preparing you for such a time as this. Faint not at that battle that rages before you. Be confident that the Lord, “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” He is your victory today and you stand complete in Him.

Blessings,
#kent

Doors

January 23, 2015

Revelations 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Doors

As I close my eyes I could envision rows and rows of doors in different colors and appearances. As I read the Word concerning doors it became apparent that doors are a place of entrance and exit, not just physically, but spiritually as well. Doors represent the decision making “yes” and “no’s” of our thinking and being. Through our door things come in and go out of our life. When Christ knocked on the door of our heart and understanding, he revealed Himself to us there. Our soul stood at that door and we made a decision to allow Him to come in or we shut Him out. We make that same kind of decision concerning many things that knock at our door, but none so crucial as that decision we made for or against Christ.
Behind every door is a different story, because behind every door is a different life. Each life is made up of many doors that we use to compartmentalize our lives. Jesus isn’t welcomed into every life, but to those lives that He is invited into we bring Him into our living room, the main room of our home. If the Lord is now truly a resident and not just a guest then He will knock on the various other doors within our house as well. Many of us tend to allow Jesus into only certain parts of our house, while we conveniently exclude Him from the others. We compartmentalize our home into categories and it is often this type of thinking that allows us to sin in one area while we tend to be very spiritual in another. This apparent paradox is often do to these closed doors where we don’t allow the Lord to come in.
In order for us to have the most intimate and full relationship with Christ we can have, we must open all of the doors to Him. This is often a process we go through as we mature in faith, because He keeps walking through the house of our life and knocking on all of these individual doors. He knocks on the door of our study for us to invite Him into our business and the financial part of our lives. He knocks at the kitchen for us to invite Him into what we take into our bodies in what eat and drink. He knocks at our bedroom to be invited into the intimate part of our lives and relationships. He even knocks at the door of our closets where we often store our hidden things. He is asking us to open every door to Him that He may come and live in every part of our house. This includes all of the dynamics and dimensions of our lives. At every door there is a decision to be made to open or close that door. Just because we opened the door one time doesn’t mean that we can’t or won’t change our minds and close it to the Lord at another. Every day Christ is knocking at doors and it is not just the door of salvation, it is doors that lead to every dimension of our hearts and lives. What we must realize is that as we open our doors to Jesus we are, in turn, walking through spiritual doors that lead us into greater dimensions of relationship with Him. As we allow Him into the most intimate places of our heart and life, He, in turn, allows us into the intimate places of relationship with Him.
Be careful what doors you and I may be shutting, because we want to hold on to that former life. We must resolve that there will be no locked doors to Him concerning our life. As we unlock our doors to Him we will find Him to be an open door to us. Is your life an open door to Him?

Blessings,
#kent

When Jesus is LiftedUp

January 22, 2015

John 8:3-11
3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

When Jesus is Lifted Up

A characteristic the Holy Spirit brought to my attention about Jesus is that every time that Jesus is lifted up the Father is manifested and glorified. In our passage today we see Jesus taking a lower position than the self-righteous accusers of the woman caught in adultery. When He does lift Himself up it is not to exalt Him, but to exalt the truth. When Jesus is lifted up things can change in the hearts of men. When His truth is exalted and the Father is glorified it brings light and conviction upon the ungodly and the sinner. When He is lifted up His light shines within our hearts to show their true motives.
Further in the chapter in John 8:28 Jesus tells the religious leaders, “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” When Jesus is lifted up the Father is glorified and the truth prevails.
In John 12:22 Jesus declares, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.” Taken out of context this sounds like a prideful statement, but taken in the context of the life and ministry of Jesus we know that His being lifted up on the cross was the greatest act of humility God ever performed towards man. He gave His only Son to die so that His being lifted up in death might result in mankind being lifted up in life. Again, His being lifted up on the cross glorified the Father and exalted the Truth.
Whenever Jesus lifted His eyes, His hands, others or Himself, the result was always blessing and life. His boast was never in Himself, even though He knew who He was. It was always in the Father that He boasted and gave glory. What an example this is for us who know who we are in Christ. It is never about us, but it is always about Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. In Him we are able to do all things through Christ that strengthens us. It should never be about lifting up who we are. That is a sign of one who is a novice and still indulged in self. We know that if Jesus is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. We know that if Jesus be lifted up the Father will be glorified and the truth will be exalted, bodies will be healed and lives will be changed. When Jesus is lifted up the King is exalted and His kingdom becomes manifest. It is to the Lord Jesus that we give all the honor, the praise and the glory. It is His name that we lift up, because it is higher than any other and through the lifting up of His name the works of God are brought forth in the earth and He is exalted through our lives.

Blessings,
#kent

Boys to Men

January 21, 2015

Ephesians 4: 14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Boys to Men

As I was meditating this morning an old John Wayne movie came into my thoughts called “The Cowboys”. Many of you may still remember it. It was about a rancher who had to drive his cattle to market, but he couldn’t get any men to help him so he had to take a group of boys to drive his cattle. Along the drive they are confronted with cattle rustlers who capture them. John Wayne never allows fear or intimidation to be seen on him. He stands up to these rustlers and demonstrates before these boys what a man of courage and integrity is all about. In the process the leader of the rustlers kills him and they go on to take the cattle. The only other adult is the old cook. After John Wayne’s death, these boys rise to the occasion and they no longer see themselves as boys, but as men. They plan their strategy and take the cattle back from the rustlers, defeating them in the process and killing their leader. They then take the cattle on to market and complete their mission.
What I felt the Lord was showing me through this is that we have a man who has walked before us and shown us the true nature and character of God. He has never shown fear or been intimidated by His enemies, but demonstrated before us the greatest degree of courage and self-sacrifice as He gave His life for us. We are like those boys, who have never seen ourselves really as men, but God is placing us in circumstances that we must gird up our loins as men and walk the walk of the Savior. There comes a time we put aside our childish ways and we come into manhood and I speak this figuratively for women as well as men. The Holy Spirit is there to give the wisdom and guidance to grow up into Him which is the head, even Christ. As we come into maturity, we put aside our petty bickering and differences and we function as one man, one team filled with the Holy Spirit, with power and authority. I believe that in this time the Lord is telling us to grow up and go from boys to men. We know the way; Jesus walked it before us, now it is time that we walk His walk, not going where we choose, but where He leads us. Many of us may be weak or of no special ability or strength, but God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to prevail over the strong. It is not because of who we are that we are anything, but it is because of who He is in us that we are everything and capable of anything. It is time we take our eyes off of our immaturity and childishness. It is time we place our eyes upon Him that we have been called to be conformed too and begin to walk in His image and likeness. Faith sees what is not evident and without faith it is impossible to please Him. It is that faith of who He is in us that is taking us from boys to men.

Blessings,
#kent

Everything We Need

January 20, 2015

2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Everything We Need

Everything we need has been given to us by the Divine Power that resides in us. Most of us are more focused on what we think we are lacking than on what we already have. Meditate a moment on what the scripture is telling us here. Everything we need for life and godliness has been given to us, but through what avenue? Through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
What does that knowledge mean? In the Greek their are several words for knowledge.
“Gnōsis” speaks of a general knowledge of something like the Christian religion, general knowledge or intellect. An example in scripture would be 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God.” In verse 3, “known by God” is the Greek word “ginōskō”, it speaks of becoming known even in the most intimate way. The word for knowledge used in 2 Peter 1 is the word “epignōsis” which speaks to a precise knowledge of the those things that are ethical and divine.
The point of this is that it is not just a general knowledge about God and Christian religion that brings us into a partaking of the divine nature. It is specific knowledge and revelation of the promises in God’s word that pertain to life and godliness. It is one thing to know a person by name, it is quite another to know them by their nature and character. The later is gained through a relationship of knowing, not just a general biography. This is how we come to know Christ and become partakers of the divine nature because we come to know Him, whom we have received into our hearts, not just generally, but intimately and specifically. Ephesians 3:19 says, ” And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” This knowing is “gnosis” or general knowledge. In other words that we might have an understanding to know the love of Christ which surpasses general knowledge so that we, “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” That is a pretty powerful statement when you stop to really absorb it.
These exceedingly great promises God has given us through His Word are the keys to bring us into the fullness of the divine nature. In order for us to really know them we must intimately know Him. You see our zeal for God is according to knowledge, the most specific kind of knowledge, where we know Him not just after the letter of the law, but after the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that will lead us on this journey to the innermost recesses of wisdom and knowledge that is contained in the Christ we love and serve. In Colossians 3:2-3 Paul speaks to his purpose, “My 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.” If we want to know that divine nature, it is through that growing, abiding faith that lays hold of God’s exceeding rich and gracious promise. We come to know these promises experientially in the most intimate place of His love.

Blessings,
#kent

The Pruning

January 19, 2015

The Pruning

John 15:1-2
“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.

The true substance and character of a healthy and fruitful branch is not in the outward, but in the inward. The outward is the glory and the fruit of the inward, but it is not the substance of it.
Why does God want to prune us even when we are fruitful? It is so that we can bear more fruit. Our outward fruitfulness may be already abundant and good, but human nature is such that even when we are spiritually fruitful, pride and complacency can creep in. When God blesses our lives with much increase in whatever dimension that takes place, it isn’t long before that little voice starts saying, ‘look what I have done’. Pruning keeps us focused on the vine and the source of our substance and fruitfulness. It creates renewed dependence upon the vine and strips the glory from the self. It helps us to not just dwell and live upon past experiences, miracles and victories. It serves to stretch us and cause to grow when we would be complacent to remain as we are. Without pruning things tend to grow wild. There may be a lot of growth, but not as much fruit. Pruning then brings focus. It keeps our eyes upon the Spirit and not upon the flesh. It causes us to remember our source of life and fruit so that we boast in the Vine and not in ourselves.
Don’t despise the days of pruning. They are the loving hands of the Father at work in you, His children. Left to itself, a branch may produce leaves, but not fruit and eventually even the leaves will die. The branch then must be cut off and cast out. It becomes a detriment to the health of the vine. Thank God He loves us enough that He doesn’t want that to happen to us and so He cares for us in what often may seem to be severe ways. Those who know Him rest in the passage from Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him and called according to His purpose.” Often we don’t understand the why and wherefore of all that takes place in our lives, but our eyes and our hearts must remain steadfastly upon the Vinedresser. He is working all things for His glory and our good. He will never maliciously harm that which He loves and cares for, but do what is necessary to bring it to its highest and best potential and productivity.
What hinders the process of the pruning and in turn our growth, is our self, our ego and stubbornness to pursue our own interest and do our own will. In addition to this we often get offended at God or others that God uses in the process of our pruning. If it doesn’t make sense to us, then it must not be fair or just. God sees the end of a thing and we tend to get hung up and focused on the process. This is why it is so important to have a vision that sees the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus and not let anything or any circumstance detour us from that vision and that goal. Our ability to run the race is in that One who has called us to it and not in ourselves. Our reliance must always remain on Him and not on us.
Just remember Hebrews 12:7-11, “If] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God is training His people up to produce something more than religious flesh. He is preparing a people with the substance and the nature of His Son. So don’t neglect to praise Him even when it hurts. He loves you and He is ever working for your good.

Blessings,
#kent

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