Riches and Wealth

December 30, 2016

1 Timothy 6:17-19

17As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment. 18[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed.

Riches and Wealth

A rich man can be poor because he is never satisfied,

He may never get past the poverty that he contains inside.

The poor man can be rich though he has little outward wealth,

He is rich in life, family, God, in love or in health.

Riches and poverty are not really found in what we outwardly possess,

They are found in the heart of man who has found God as His rest.

It is not in what we hold on too, but what we let go of that makes us blessed,

Giving of the riches of who you are, will make you richer, not less.

Consider how rich you are in the promises of God’s Word.

All things that pertain to life and godliness are in what you’ve heard.

Those in Christ truly possess the riches and wealth from above.

They possess the bountiful treasures of our great Father’s love.

Kent Stuck

Blessings,

kent

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All the Promise are Yes and Amen

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

As surely as God is trustworthy and faithful and means what He says, our speech and message to you have not been Yes [that might mean] No. 

19For the Son of God, Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who has been preached among you by us, by myself, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not Yes and No; but in Him it is [always the divine] Yes. 

20For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes

in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God.

God’s Book is a book of promises.  It is upon those promises that our faith has been placed and each day is a day of trust and obedience to the promises of God.  Just as God spoke the universe into existence and the Word that He spoke was Christ, so Christ brought into being that spoken Word of God, for He was that Word.  He was the fulfillment and the carrying out of the Father’s mind and heart.  Even today, all that God has spoken through the mouths of His servants, prophets and apostles are brought to pass in Christ.  God has a time and a plan, but all that He has spoken will come to pass, because in Him there is not a “maybe”, but a definitive “yes”.  With God it is impossible that He should lie for in Him there is no darkness or shadow of turning. ‘ He is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent.’

Hebrews 6:13-20 tells us, “13For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you. 15And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him. 16Men indeed swear by a greater [than themselves], and with them in all disputes the oath taken for confirmation is final [ending strife]. 17Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath. 18This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us]. 

19[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it–a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil, 20Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek”

We have such an assurance that our faith is not just a maybe, but it is the real thing and we have God’s Word on it.  Because we know these promises of God are not just a maybe, but are sure, we press into what 1 Peter 1:3-9 says.  “3For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). 4By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. 5For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), 

6And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), 

7And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love. 8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 

9For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.

The promises of God, and our faith in appropriating them, is the key to our coming into His divine nature.  The promises are given so that we may have a sure hope in that which He has called us too.  It is not in us; it is in living by faith through the Christ in us, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Blessings,

#kent

Called unto Good Works

December 28, 2016

Acts 10:38

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Called unto Good Works

Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”  If that same Spirit that raised up Christ dwells in us then haven’t we, like Him, been called to go about doing good?  You know what is the most disturbing thing about me?  It’s me.  Life becomes so much about my agenda, my desires, my wants, my needs, my comfort, and my appetite.  When you stop to think about it, a whole lot of life is just about me.  Is God anointing us to go about doing ourselves good or others?  

Some might say, “Well, that’s just a works thing.  I live by faith.”  James says faith expresses itself through works and our works are the fruit of our faith.  Some of the basic steps of walking deeper into Christ and to be the greater expression of Him is to be less and less an expression of me.  Some of us want to take that to an extreme “that we are just martyrs for Jesus” type of attitude and really all that is, is just another expression of look and feel sorry for me.  “Me” is a pretty central part of our lives, but if I want to be a central part of God’s life, “me” is not found in the center of that world.  In that world me is the servant that is more concerned about the well being of another than it is itself.  

“Me” isn’t real big on good works unless there is something in it for me, but the Christ in me is the servant of all.  The Christ in me is not there to be served, but to serve.  The Christ in me continually maintains an attitude of bended knee, eyes looking to heaven, hands reached out to serve and feet that carry us to do the good works we were called too.  

If we believe that we, like Jesus, are called unto good works, then the one person we have to leave out of the equation is “me”.  It doesn’t mean we don’t respect and care for the body that God gave us, or that we can never have fun and relaxation, it just means that we are no longer the center of our world; He is and it is all about what is pleasing unto Him.  When we are centered on living out of the Christ in us and that is the One with whom we are identifying day by day, then we can be assured that God will be with us.  We will see His works manifested through us by His power and grace working in us.  It is not about how much I can do or how good I can be; again that is dependent upon me.  As our hearts are fixed and focused on Christ then all that He is begins to find expression through our lives and actions.  God’s life and nature are finding expressions through us and He is the expression of good works. 

Blessings,
#kent

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

Malachi 3:1

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 

When asking the Lord what is the most important message of this hour I believe “preparation” is what He is dropping into my heart.  It is the time of a John the Baptist ministry when He has sent His servants into the Land to stir the hearts of the people to repentance and preparation for the coming King.  

We have all grown so complacent with the lifestyles that we lead.  We truly have far greater riches and blessing than the majority of the rest of the world.  That is wonderful in some ways, but in others we have fallen into the snare of self-reliance and contentment.  I see this in my own heart as well as others.  In the spirit, God is speaking, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”   He is exhorting and warning us to stir ourselves to faith and action.  It is a time to really seek the Lord and what His purpose and plan is.  We may still be in the stages of preparation, but we should be no less diligent in seeking God’s highest for our lives.  Things are boiling beneath surface and there will soon come a time when things will be released upon the earth, no doubt in both realms of light and darkness.  Lethargy and mediocrity will prove to be the ropes that have tied our hands and feet.  Over and over in what we hear the Lord speaking He is saying, “press into Me, repent of your sinful ways and start pressing into the high calling that is yours in Christ Jesus.”  

The book of Proverbs teaches that it is the wise man that listens and takes heed to reproof, but the fool only despises it.  May the Lord heighten our spiritual senses and accountability today as we endeavor to walk the closer to Him and pursue His righteousness.  A shaking has already begun and a judgement has come upon His house, for God first judges His own house.   He is exposing our sin and our corruption.  He is shouting from the rooftops those things that have been done in the closet.  

This is the day for us to get our hearts right again, to purify ourselves and put away our iniquities.  Can we hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches?  More importantly are we willing to act upon and prepare the way of the Lord by first preparing our hearts?  If you had one month to put your life and your house in order what would you change?  What are our priorities in the light of eternity?  The decisions and the choices we make today will ripple through our eternity.  They may make the difference in whether we stand or fall, whether we are honored or dishonored before the Lord.  Many of us are compromising ourselves as King Jehoshaphat did in the Old Testament.  He was a good king and he loved the Lord, but in 2 Chronicles 19:1-3 we see God sending a prophet to warn him about compromising with evil.  “When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD ? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. 3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”  While many of us embrace and believe the principles of righteousness we embrace alliances with those walking in darkness.  The Lord is calling us today unto separation and preparation.  Jehoshaphat met his end because he was in an alliance and relationship that was not in the will and purpose of God.  Be careful whom you build your relationships with.  

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:19-22)

Blessings,

#kent

Love Your self

December 26, 2016

Galatians 5:14

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love Your self

It is interesting sometimes as a photographer to see how people view themselves.  Often, when viewing family or individual photographs people can be very critical of themselves.  Most often it is the women.  They can see and magnify weaknesses or faults that most everyone else considers normal and a part of them.  It is not uncommon that great family portraits will fail because mom doesn’t like the way she looks.  

In today’s age of technology we have the skills and abilities to actually go in and alter the way someone looks.  We can lift and tuck some of the sagging parts, hide the blemishes and soften the wrinkles, but the real issue may not be how we look to ourselves outwardly, but how we perceive ourselves inwardly.  

On the other hand I have photographed attractive ladies who may have had a scar that could have easily been removed but they consider a part of them and want it showing.  I find it is often best to ask people what they do and do not want taken away, because assumptions can get you into trouble.  These women that I refer too wanted their scars to remain, because to them they were a reminder of what they had been through and the gift of life that they still had.  In today’s world many of us feel the pressure to live this façade of a perfect life, have a perfect body, beautiful looks, a perfect home, children and husband or wife.  The truth is that that is not the real world.  We all have scars, wrinkles, handicaps and weaknesses whether they are outwardly evident or not.  Brushing or photoshoping over them isn’t going to take the reality of them away, nor should it.  These blemishes upon our lives are the evidence that we have lived and experienced what life had to offer and that it wasn’t always nice or kind.  

The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but some of us don’t really love ourselves, so how can we love our neighbor properly?  Understand that all real people have weaknesses, faults and frailties.  That is a trait of our humanity.  Don’t be ashamed of yourself and don’t boast in yourself, but rather see the completeness of yourself in Christ.  Christ is not a crutch; He is the fulfillment and the completion of our humanity.  The scars, the wrinkles and experiences that we share all testify that by the grace of God we survived them and we are still taking hold of life.  The wonderful thing about our relationship with Christ is that where we end, He begins and where we are weak, He is strong.  

Don’t be so harsh and judgmental of yourself.  I know that sometimes I think, “God, why am I stuck with being me?”  It is because in my weakness He is made strong and His grace is sufficient for all of my needs, my infirmities and my weaknesses.  If you are down on yourself today it is because you don’t have your eyes on Jesus.  Take courage, take heart and know that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you.   Love yourself as Christ loves you. 

Blessings, 

#kent

Three Dimensions of Jacob

December 23, 2016

Three Dimensions of Jacob

Genesis 32:22-32

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” 

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” 

“Jacob,” he answered. 

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” 

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” 

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Many of us will remember this story of Jacob.  We often say that Jacob wrestled with an angel.  As I was meditating upon Jacob this morning I felt like the Lord gave a little insight into this man Jacob.  Jacob’s life is like our spiritual journey.  Consider with me some of the analogies I felt like the Lord was showing me and I know there is so much more to this than what we will share here today.  

When Jacob came into this world, he came in with his first-born twin named Esau.  Now Esau was hairy, red and ruddy.  He was a man of the earth and field.  You might say he was the Adamic nature.  The scripture that gives us great insight into these three dimensions of Jacob, which is type of us, is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.  “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”  While Esau is a type of the body, which is pretty much self-centered and driven by its needs and wants, Jacob is a little more subtle.  Jacob is a type of the soul.  The soul is where our identity lies.  It is our mind, will and emotion.  It is expressive of who we are as a person.  Like Jacob, most of us have our spiritual side and then we have our fleshly side, for our soul is a mixture of flesh and spirit.  Even the name Jacob means “heel holder or supplanter”.  The truth was he was an artful manipulator.  Even so, Jacob had a spiritual side that hungered for the things of God and the desire for the inheritance or birthright that would normally go to the firstborn.  The trouble with the firstborn is that he had little or no appreciation for the birthright.  Yes, he wanted the blessing that came through the birthright, but he didn’t have a heart or desire for the legacy and the responsibility that it carried with it.  Jacob on the other hand did, but he sought to gain it through unscrupulous means, even though prophetically it had been spoken that the older would serve the younger.  Jacob is like us in so many ways.  He was always cunning and devising in the flesh how he might obtain the things of the spirit.  Whether it was his life, livelihood, his wives or his children, Jacob set about with natural wisdom and understanding to obtain them.  That is not to say that Jacob did not have his spiritual side.  He encountered God at Bethel in the dream of the stairway or ladder with ascending and descending angels.  He experienced God’s blessing, protection and wisdom in his life, but like us, we often seem to struggle and work so hard only to come up so short of our dreams and strongest desires.  We have that Labon in our lives, Jacob’s father-in-law, that is always promising so much and delivering so little.  No wonder, like Jacob, so many of us are frustrated physically and spiritually.  

Even though Jacob knew God and had a relationship with Him, he had his shortcomings, his fears and demons to face.  His biggest fear was his brother Esau, the one he had taken the birthright and the blessing from.  It is like even though we possess the promises and blessings of God we face our own mortality.  Faced with who we are in the natural we fear.  In the natural we perceive our weaknesses, our failures, the ungodly part of our nature.  That is what Jacob faced in Esau.  

In Genesis 32 we see Jacob escaping Labon and his stronghold to return to the promise land, but there he must face his Esau.  In this place of fear for himself and his family, he is crying out for answers and favor from God.  Try and scheme as he will, he fears the strength of the flesh that is represented in Esau and his ability to take all that he has labored to build.  While he possesses the promises and the birthright they are of little value to him in his own identity. He sends his family and the others on ahead and takes them over the ford of Jabbok, which means emptying.  He sent away his family and all that he had and now, empty, he is left alone.  There he encounters this third man.  The scripture doesn’t say it is an angel, but it is definitely an agent of God.  There, Jacob wrestles with this man till daybreak.  Could this be the spirit of Christ in us?  The spiritual man that we need to change our nature?  The first thing that had to happen in Jacob was an emptying and laying down of all that he loved and possessed.  Then there was a battle, the struggle and wrestling with that old nature of Jacob, the heel-holder, supplanter and deceiver.  These two men seemed pretty equally matched for strength for they wrestled through the night till daybreak.  Is this our place of prayer and intercession where we are in a spiritual battle.  Have we come to the place that we are going to lay hold of God and let go of everything else until He blesses us?  Are we the overcomers that will prevail with God and man?

What is our greatest blessing?  Isn’t it to be delivered of our former nature?

That morning, at daybreak, the man said, “let me go, it is daybreak.”  Jacob said, “I won’t let you go till you bless me.”  In Genesis 32:27-31 it goes on to tell us,” The man asked him, “What is your name?” 

“Jacob,” he answered. 

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” 

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”  It is there that Jacob prevailed with God and received a new name and a new nature.  The new name is Israel, “God Prevails”.  The man touched Jacob in the hollow of his hip, so that the sinew shrank and he crossed over Peniel, which means, “facing God”.  Jacob would always walk with a limp, no longer dependent upon his own strength and ability.  

We have a similar word to us in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”  There is a day for our transformation and new nature to come forth in its fullness, but we wrestle on through the night till we, like Jacob, prevail with God and lay hold of the promises of our inheritance.  Then, no more do we need fear our strongholds like Labon or our mortality and flesh, like Esau.  No longer are we afraid to loose the things we possess and love.  The losses and the wounds we suffer are a small price to pay for what we lay hold of.  God’s nature and character will prevail in us if we faint not.  We will see the face of God, our Lord, and live; no longer after the flesh, but after the spirit.  These are the three dimensions of Jacob, body, soul and spirit.

Blessings,

#kent

Chasing After the Wind

December 22, 2016

Chasing After the Wind

Ecclesiastes 2:11

But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Solomon, the wisest and richest of kings wrote this book of Ecclesiastes.  He was a man who said that he had it all, tried it all and none of the things of earth or the pursuits of pleasure and accomplishment were really worthwhile.  They were like, “chasing the wind.”  

What are we chasing in our lives?  We allow so many things to consume our lives, our time, our efforts and affections, but what eternal value do they possess?  What will become of them when our lives are spent and we are gone?  In Mark 10:21 Jesus says to the rich young ruler, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

This man went away sad and unfulfilled because his possessions possessed him, he didn’t possess them.  How many things in our lives possess us?  Jesus offered the rich young ruler the one thing in life that would fulfill and complete him, but he couldn’t release the natural things for the spiritual.  Jesus was letting him know and in so doing letting us know as well,  if you want to pursue something more than the vanity of this life and all that it possesses there is only one way to store up treasure in heaven, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, andwhere thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).”  Jesus makes it plain to us that wherever our affections are, our values are placed, our importance lies, that’s where our hearts will be as well.  Jesus is giving the same challenge to us as he gave to the rich young ruler, “take up your cross and follow me.”  We process this with our minds, but not our hearts.  We don’t want to, because it means we, like the rich young ruler, we have to deal with our issues, possessions and things we don’t want to let go of, even though they are robbing us of eternal treasure.  That young man was no different than many of us.  He was a good kid.  He loved God and lived a righteous life and no doubt attended synagogue regularly.  He thought he really wanted Jesus till he had to count the cost.  It would cost him everything.  While salvation is free, discipleship will cost you everything.  The irony is that in losing everything this life has to offer you gain the riches of eternal heavenly treasure that has value long after your natural possessions have vanished.  We don’t want to make the same mistake the rich young ruler did and become offended at the gospel. 

Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  If we are really sold out to Christ then we are willing to surrender all our earthly goods, talents and treasures to follow Christ.  That doesn’t mean we all literally go cash in, give it all away to the poor and take a vow of poverty, but we do need to have come to that place in our hearts.  If the Lords says sell it all and give it away we are ready and willing.  Often we can tell what things mean to us by how tightly we hold on to them.  We need to embrace the cross and lightly hold the things of this life for even this is the wisdom of Solomon.  At the end of Ecclesiastes Solomon says this of all that he has learned of life, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).” 

Blessings,

#kent

The Root of Bitterness

December 21, 2016

The Root of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled; 

The “root of bitterness” is something I always felt came from emotional or spiritual wounds that through unforgiveness and unmended hurt became a source of spiritual infection that would turn into a bitterness, a hatred and a wickedness that would defile and poison all around it.  While I still think this can and does happen to some who have experienced traumatic experiences in their lives that they have never been able to release, forgive or heal from.  Their experience, instead of compelling them to draw deeper into God’s love and grace, has instead caused them to reject, turn aside from God, perhaps not outwardly, but inwardly.  Now they have let bitterness of soul not only corrupt and rob their faith and hope, but it’s spirit is like a poison that touches all around them, bringing defilement and unrighteousness. 

While a life experience or emotional trauma can bring us into this state, it is also a spirit of wickedness that can present itself through idolatry and turning away from the faith of God.  Deuteronomy 29:15-21 gives us some insight to this bitterness and God’s viewpoint on it.  “16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison

19 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.  20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.”  We see here that the spirit of idolatry that can cause our hearts to turn away from the Lord and go and worship what the nations worship.  If we give it place it also is like a poison that not only shipwrecks our faith, but can bring down and corrupt those around us.  It seeks to move us away from God’s foundational truths.

The Greek word used here in our passage of Hebrews 12:15 denotes “bitter gall, extreme wickedness, a bitter root, and so producing a bitter fruit or bitter hatred.”   A root is what supports and nourishes a plant, here it is something that can get into our spirits and poison our faith and the faith of those around us.  

We see another example of a man that possesses this quality in Acts 8:18-22, “18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 

20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 

24Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”” 

We see this man’s attributes exemplified with covetousness, power and self-gain.  His heart was not for Christ to be glorified, but self.  

James 3:13-16 also warns about this spirit entering into the body of Christ and defines its origin.  “Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.”  If we are seeing envying and strife in our midst, then it may be a good indication that the root of bitterness is springing up.  How many churches, personal relationships and people’s faith have been shipwrecked due to a root bitterness whose wickedness has manifested through a person harboring that gall of bitterness?  Watch for this deceitful sin that may come in the guise of righteousness, but whose fruit are division, envying and strife.   

Blessings,

#kent

The Substance of a Life

December 20, 2016

1 Corinthians 3:11-13

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 

The Substance of a Life

2 Corinthians 5:13 says, “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We who are in Christ are new creatures.  We have a new recipe and it is not the same as the man of the earth, our flesh and our natural man.  We are now a creation of the Spirit of God, birthed into the nature of God, ‘old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.’  

I remember an illustration once given by a pastor’s wife who had a neighbor that loved her cake and wanted the recipe.  She gave the recipe to her neighbor and her neighbor went home to bake the cake.  Later when she talked to the neighbor the neighbor told her that her recipe was terrible and the cake didn’t taste good at all.  Now the pastor’s wife was surprised at this and began to inquire about how she baked it.  

She asked, “Did you use real butter?” 

The neighbor said, “No, I didn’t have any butter so I used margarine.”  

She asked, “Did you use real vanilla extract?”

“No,” said the neighbor, “I didn’t have that so I used imitation vanilla flavoring.”

“You did use the condensed milk didn’t you?

“No, I didn’t have that either so I used powdered milk.” 

Throughout the whole recipe the neighbor had substituted something else for the true ingredients called for, but in her mind it was the recipe that was bad.  How many times do we do that with God’s Word and His recipe for our lives? We want to substitute natural ingredients for spiritual ones.  We want to do things our way rather than His, then when things don’t turn out we blame God for the bad recipe.  

There is an old adage; “The proof is in the pudding.”  Simply put the proof is what is produced in something.  Our works and our life will one-day stand the fire and judgement of God’s scrutiny.  What proof will be in our pudding?  What will be left standing will be what was built upon the incorruptible life of God.  It will be the ingredients of His recipe.  If we have or are building our life on any other substance than His Word and His Life then the day will reveal it.  We may be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  

We must ask ourselves, “What is our life’s work producing.”  Is it producing a godly seed in our children?  Is it the opportunity to minister and demonstrate Christ in the workplace?  Is it the opportunity taken to pour into the lives of our neighbors and others through acts of kindness and love?  Is it ministering to the needy and less fortunate and supporting ministries that are?  Is it centering our life on the foundation of Jesus Christ and becoming that new creature as we follow the recipe of His Holy Word?  

We all like to hear and interrupt things our way.  We all like to act in our best interest and for our benefit.  When we start building the house of God with the tools of the flesh we aren’t going to get spiritual results.  We are going to get a mixture of flesh and spirit, a pollution of what God has intended.  Many of us can see the results of those mixtures in our lives today.  They have not produced for us lives of power and victory.  Often it has produced shame and defeat.  What is even worse is that so often it has brought shame and reproach upon the name of our Lord.  

God has a recipe and if we want our lives to come forth in the light of His glory, then we need to follow it the best we can as we rely upon the Holy Spirit to direct and help us in implementing His Truth.  For the best results of seeing the promises of God’s Word fulfilled in your life, follow the recipe.  It will produce the substance of His Life in you.

Blessings,

#kent

The Call of God

December 16, 2016

The Call of God

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 

Look beyond the veil into the high places of the Most High God.  Only He can take us there and all of our life is about moving from this life into His.  We have been given eyes of faith that see beyond this natural realm into the realm of what is unknown to natural man.  It is even the Spirit of God that is revealing it unto us from glory to glory.  It is the vision of a resurrection life that gives us our greatest hope in this present temporal life.   We become so caught up in that which is so soon to pass away and will be no more remembered and we so often leave undone the weightier matters, the eternal matters.  We need eyes and hearts that have kingdom understanding and desire.  If we are a people of passion, then it should be a passion for the King.  No wonder the apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17-23, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

  In one phase of our thinking and spiritual mind, God is everything and all that is worth living for, then, we switch back to our natural mind and we might say, ‘where is God?’  Does God even see what I do and think?  Is He really even aware of me in the light of all the vast, seemingly far greater elements of the universe that He must be cognizant of?  We walk with our lives pointed in the direction of Christ, not because of what we see or what science can prove to us, but because of what we believe and the confirmation we have in our hearts through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. 

Do we see God?  No.  Do we hear His audible voice?  Most likely we don’t.  Then the natural man ask, how can you be sure there really is a God, let alone a God that personally knows you and loves you.  What kind of God would send His own Son to suffer and die such a heinous and cruel death?  The natural mind has a hard time wrapping its logic around this concept.  Yet we believe that God did send His only begotten Son in Jesus to reveal the nature of Himself to man, to be the way back into relationship with God that sin has robbed from us.  God is the master designer of the plan He had in Christ.  It is only in the acceptance of His death for our sin and our belief in His resurrection as witnessed by His disciples and after that, more than five hundred who witnessed His presence after His crucifixion as well as His ascension into heaven. It is in these tenants of faith that we have hope of our resurrection in Him.  

It is only as God bears witness in a man’s spirit that this truth becomes real enough that he or she can embrace it in faith.   It is the hope of our resurrection in Christ that compels our lives daily in him.  We begin to comprehend that life is not a dress rehearsal, it is an opportunity to implement spiritual and eternal concepts into our natural life practices and thinking.  It is a foreign concept to the natural mind that one must die to live.  The natural mind thinks that living is all about here and now.  It is all about “me”.  The mind of the spirit comprehends a higher concept.  It comprehends the concept of Philippians 2:1-11 which teaches, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  

Natural man and human thinking will always have us scratching around in the barnyard of humanity, with our heads down looking only to the grub worms of this life.  A call and trumpet of God sounds throughout the heavens and into the earth, “All who will, let them come unto me, my burden easy and my yoke is light.”  Lift up your heads, lift up your hearts and stretch out your faith as wings.  We have not received the call of chickens; we have received the call as eagles.  If God has given us a call as eagles then why are we still acting and behaving like chickens with our heads still down, scratching through the dirt.  Lift up your eyes for your salvation draws nigh.  Stretch forth your wings of faith and allow the mighty Spirit of God and His wind to lift you up into your calling and your destiny.  He has called His people to soar above the earthen realm, to see over great distances and to be hunters that pursue the life of God.  

Lift up your heads you that are downcast and discouraged.  Have hope in your God.  What He has spoken He has not only the power to do, but also He will do, for He has bound Himself to Himself, for there is no greater.  It is a time to arise and shake ourselves from the dust and ashes of our humanity.  We are no longer identified with the first Adam who brought us under the law of sin and death, we are of the last Adam who has and is delivering us into the wonderful law of liberty and life in Christ Jesus.  We have a far greater destiny than this world can hold for us.  This is just our proving ground, the place where we begin to stretch and exercise the wings of our faith.  It is the time we must put on the mind of Christ and a whole new way of thinking.  Lift up your eyes!  Look beyond the veil.  See the heights that God has called you too and be no longer content to live in the confines and filth of the barnyard.  You have a holy destiny and calling in Christ Jesus.  Now pursue it with all of your heart.

Blessings,

#kent

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