Love that Binds

June 16, 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Love that Binds

Unity in a family, a marriage or in the body of Christ is found when we are all operating out of a communication of love.  People are unique and we will always have our differences from one another.  That is the way our good Lord created us to be.  In our differences He poured into us the bonding and the glue of His love so that we are able to patiently bear the irregularities of all those people that God didn’t make just like me.  Love is never really exercised and grown unless it is stretched and challenged.  People will certainly do that to you.  I personally found that just keeping to yourself and doing your own thing makes it easier to love people, but that is a long distance love.  God’s love is most often up close and personal.  It is often a decision rather than a feeling.  Whatever our relationships with people God knows we are going to have our differences.  Obviously, outside of Christ, we are much different than God.  In fact, He says before we were saved we were His enemies.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  What reconciled us to God was first His love for us, not our love for Him.  This is a key example that we forget in so many of our relationships.  We are most often reactionary, returning kind for kind and love for love or even hate for hate.  God does not just react to our rejection of His love.  If He did the human race would have been extinct long ago.  His love is deliberate and it has purpose.  His love is to gather you in His arms and impart Himself into you. 

That bring us to where God is bringing each of us in our expression of love.  If we are loving out of our human condition and our feelings of love, then our love will always be conditional and full of limitations.  God has called us to live out of His love which is unconditional and loves the unlovely as much as the lovely.   Living a life worthy of the calling is living life out of the foundation of love.  Who is love?  We know that God is love so if we are to love as He loved we can only do that as we submit to His love to reign in our hearts and find expression through our hands. 

The apostle Paul exhorts us here to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He is not saying it is always easy, but in order to do it you have to lose your importance and your impatience.  Humility has been defined as “strength under control”.  That strength and humility of love learns to prefer others above itself.  It becomes more aware, concerned and active in meeting another’s needs than it does its own.  Love makes every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  We soon learn through life’s experiences that even among other Christian not all are willing or wanting to reciprocate your love for them.  Most of us are aware that even in our own selves we often are acting out of our flesh or giving place to an ungodly spiritual influence or spirit.  When that is present we can be quite confrontational, unfriendly and irreconcilable.  When we encounter that reaction towards us from others, even if they are our brothers or sisters, we have to see it with spiritual eyes of love and discernment, not getting caught up in the spirit of division that is at work.  Often times we end up taking some punches we don’t deserve and in love we learn to turn the other check.  It is not about us being right or winning an argument.  It is about the love of God triumphing even in an ugly situation.  Many of us get caught up in our emotions and feelings and if that soulish part of us is not being tempered by the Spirit we will get off into the flesh and certainly will not be known by our love in those moments. 

The stream of God Spirit takes a lot of rough jagged rocks in the river bed and rubs them together until over time they become smooth stones.  That is what we are becoming those smooth stones, but the process is brought about by agitation, irritations, irregularities and confrontations.   It is  the Love of God that is the fluid that heals, blends, forgives and ultimately loves through us in the unity of one Spirit. Perfection takes a good deal of practice.  God has put us with one another to learn to practice His love.  God’s love should be what binds us together until we work out our differences and that may just be loving and accepting the other for where they are at.  God has us all on different rows and we at different places in our walk with Him.  Above all let the love of Christ prevail in our relationships.  If the world is ever to know us by our love, then they first have to see it in action in though our lives and behavior towards one another.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Treasure of Your Heart

June 15, 2017

Luke 6:45

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Treasure of Your Heart

Where is your heart today?  Wherever it is that your words are speaking from, it is speaking to the abundance of what is in your heart.  Do you know that most of us wear masks?  We want to present a persona of how we want others to perceive us. The way we see through the mask in others is by sitting down with them and having a casual conversation about the things that are important to them.  In that unguarded conversation you will get a window into their heart.  You may see things in them that they don’t even see in themselves.  When we wear our masks the one we often most deceive is ourselves.   Our words are the expressions of our heart and even the lack of words can communicate the closed and guarded places of a person’s heart. 

What do psychiatrist do?  They have you come in, lie on the couch and tell them what is on your heart.  They know that your words, your communication, your emotion in communicating are all a window into your soul, that helps them see what we often don’t understand. 

What are your treasures?  What really means the most to you in life?  We may say one thing, but what consumes our passions, our time, our energy and our thinking may be something completely different.  When we really begin to see this, we may even realize we are not who we thought we were, said we were or even believed we were. 

What is in the content of your words,  is it worry or rest?  Is it fear, doubt and unbelief or faith and trust?  Is it murmuring and complaining or is it thankfulness and praise?  Is it negative and fault finding or is it edifying and speaking to the good?  Really listen to your own words and conversation.  Are you speaking life or are you speaking death?  Are you building up or are you tearing down?  Is it the kingdom of God you are living out of or the kingdom of this world? 

Why are words so important?  It is because they are the avenues that speak into and out of our life.  Our communication is the data highway to our heart and soul.  It will carry either good, bad or a mixture of the two.  What we are taking in has a lot to do with what is going to go out. 

Again I ask you, “Where is your treasure?”

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  If you want to evaluate your treasure listen to your communication.  It easy for us to try and judge others,  but God is telling us today to listen to your words, find out what your treasure really is and what you are operating out of.  If you want it to be life, then it has to be the output of His Word and Truth.  Your treasure and value must come from the relationship that you have with the Father through Jesus Christ His Son.  Every principle that works in the earth, whether it is “Christian” or not, comes out of what lines up with the word of God.

Listen to yourself today.  What is truly the treasure of your heart?

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Potter’s Wheel

June 14, 2017

The Potter’s Wheel

Jeremiah 18:3-4

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it].

Today we are on the Potter’s wheel and He is shaping and molding our vessels.  Now there are many kinds of vessels.   The pot doesn’t tell the potter how to make it.  Romans 9:20-24 says,  “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.

[What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”  While the Potter has power over the clay to shape it as He will, He has also given properties to the clay that can help determine the quality and purpose of the vessel.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  We see that the Lord’s heart is not for men to perish or to be cast off.  He has made this abundantly clear through sending His Son to reconcile us back to Himself so that He might form us into the vessels of honor that would glorify His name.  The reality is, not all will turn to the Lord.  Because we have a will we can harden our hearts against the Lord and choose to go our own way, forsaking His salvation or we can turn to Him, repent and be partakers of His salvation.   

In order to make fine pottery you need fine clay.  It has to be one that is free of all rocks and debris so that it will not be marred as it turns in the potter’s hands.  Now there can be vessels made that can serve a purpose that is not as pure, but they will not find their way into the place of the honored vessels.  The principle is that the finer and more pure the clay or the raw material the finer and more honorable the vessel that can be made.  If our hearts are reflective of the quality of the clay, selfishness and willful sin are the impurities that create the mars and flaws in our vessel that the Potter is shaping.  1 Timothy 2:19-21 says this, “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.” 

What kind of vessel are we becoming in the Father’s house today?  We don’t have control of how He has made us, but the Word implies that we do have input into the type of vessel that we can be, one of honor or one of dishonor.  If we want that place of honor, then the Lord is calling us to purity, to depart from all iniquity and to come to Him with a repentant heart that He might repair and remove all of the mars and blemishes that we have created through our sin and rebellion.  We must provide the Potter the right materials in our lives so that He can fashion a vessel of honor for His glory and for His house.

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Thunder of My Presence

Job 26

1 Then Job replied: 2 “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!

3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! 4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth? 5 “The dead are in deep anguish, those beneath the waters and all that live in them. 6 Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered. 7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. 8He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. 9 He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. 10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness. 11 The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. 12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. 13 By his breath the skies became fair;

his hand pierced the gliding serpent. 14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!

Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

How often do we stop and really meditate on the awesomeness of our God, how great His ways and how marvelous His acts?  I marvel at God’s seemingly infinite patience with man and even myself, as I think how such a mighty and wonderful creator endures the insolence, arrogance and foolishness of man.  Especially when we see how God sees mankind in Genesis 6:5 when is says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.” The fact that mankind still exist is a testimony to God’s incredible loving-kindness and long-suffering.  How many times He must have been grieved that the creatures that he created in His own image and honored with dominion and authority over the earth would turn from Him and despise Him through their actions and their deeds.  If our God had not had a plan and a vision wherein He saw the end product of what He was bringing His creation too, surely He could not have endured us. 

It is incomprehensible that the very God who created the immeasurable vastness of the universe with all of its wonders, stars, constellations, planets and all that is contained therein, could care about you and me.  We, who in His sight, would be less than microscopic dust in light of His great creation.   Yet, He tells us that He loves us and His thoughts toward us are more than we could even recount.  Psalms 40:5 tells us, “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” If God showed Himself to us as He did to the Children of Israel we would become as dead men in the fear and dread of His Almighty presence.  Exodus 20:18 tells us about when the people had gathered before the mountain of God and He revealed His holy presence, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance.”  After that, they didn’t want God speaking to them, they wanted Moses to speak to them on His behalf for the fear of Him.  When we get an inkling of the Holiness of God it will make us quake and fear Him.  God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him, for He has not given us a spirit of fear, but we do need to greatly reverence and hold Him in the utmost respect.  Because God’s grace has been so rich toward us, many of us have in our minds and hearts reduced God to someone on our level or who is simply there for our benefit.  We treat God as common and regard Him lightly.  We must realize what an insult and offense this is to the Holy God that has given His all for us.   

Leviticus 10 reveals how God feels about that kind of an attitude when we see what happened when the two sons of Aaron, offered up strange fire before the Lord. They decided they would do things their way, instead of His.  They lost their fear of God and counted His holiness as common.  It says, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ” ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ” Aaron remained silent.”  We see a similar incident in the New Testament church in Acts 5 with Ananias with Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit. 

What we must realize as the people of God is that we have been called apart unto holiness and we must take very seriously the responsibility we have to sanctify ourselves before the Lord.  Why?  Ezekiel 39:27 tells us, “When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations.”  God has purposed us to be the expression of His holiness.  We can not be what He has purposed us to be until we truly see and reverence Him for who He is in the fear of the Lord.  The Word tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.   We can be like the children of Israel and know God from a distance through the revelation of others, but if we want to know Him intimately and personally we must approach in the fear of His holiness with boldness, confidence and full assurance of faith.  Jesus tells us in John 14:21 to whom He and the Father will reveal themselves, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Unity in the Body

June 12, 2017

Colossians 3:12-14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Unity in the Body

I was just thinking about if my right thumb got offended with my index finger and decided to leave my right hand go over to my left.  Now I’ve got two left thumbs.  Then my left big toe has a falling out with my left foot and decides to go join up with my nose.  Now I’ve got my former big left toe trying to function as a nose.  Do we get the picture of how dissension and disunity in the body can quickly bring dysfunction and misalignment?  It doesn’t take long before we no longer have a functioning body, but a freakish mess.  Does that resemble how we see a lot of the body of Christ trying to operate in today? 

Why, because we are all so easily offended and willing to move out of the place where God has set us.  It is important that you truly seek God to place you in a body and that when He does you are not moved except by Him.  Most of us know that when you start rubbing a lot of different personalities together you may well create a blister or a sore spot.  Our first tendency is get up and just move to a different seat or a different church.  Just because our brothers and sisters are Christians doesn’t mean everything in our relationship with them is going to be rosy.  What we may overlook is there is always an enemy at work to kill, steal and destroy and while he may well be at work to cause disunity and division, there is also God that is at work to mature us in our love and tolerance of one another. 

I see people come and go out of our particular body of Christ all of the time.  Most of them are precious men and women of God.  I observe that so many times it is personal dislike, disagreements or offenses with others that make them move on.  Maybe it was in God’s time to move them on, but a lot of times I think it is because we won’t allow ourselves to be perfected in love.  Our love is still mostly about our personal preferences, opinions and how we think things should be.  Because we took up a grievance and moved out of position of where God placed us, how do you think that ends up impacting your ministry for yourself and for others.  Now you move someplace else until you are offended or in disagreement again and so the cycle goes.  Thus so many play the game of musical churches.

What we are missing is some of the spiritual clothing that we are suppose to have put on.  Instead of our suit and tie or our going to Sunday dress let’s put the clothing that the Word exhorts us to be clothed with.  Compassion, having more of a heart for others than we do for ourselves.  Kindness, which extends itself to looking after the interest of others and not just self.  Humility, which is strength under control, so that despite who and what you may be in the Spirit, you are always coming under and lifting others up.  Gentleness, it is not harsh, or brash, but handles others with the love of Jesus.  Patience, last but not least, it is the patience of God that helps us to endure the offenses, misdeeds and issues of others.  Remember that, unless you’ve started walking on water, you have some issues of your own that others have to tolerate in you.  The bottom line is we have to grasp and lay hold of what true agape’ love is, if we are going to start seeing unity at work in the body.  As long the body is always upset and fighting among itself it can never come into the focus of its purpose.  The first revelation we all have to get is that body ministry and functionality is not first about us; it is about Him!  We come together to first worship and serve Him, not just to get our ego stroked and our preferences met. 

We have entered into an hour and season where love and unity in the body is paramount to what God is doing at this time.  He is calling us to be a healthy, living breathing organism ruled and compelled by love, not a misfit organization trying to play church.  We’ve come to treat our relationship with the body of Christ like we do many of our marriages, when it gets to messy we bail out of it. As long we keep running away and moving on, we can’t come into the fullness of unity, love and purpose God has for us. 

I am not going to tell you that everything leadership or somebody else in the body did to you was right or justified.  It probably wasn’t, but what does the Word say?  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Have we all truly done that?  It would be great if we were all perfect in our love and didn’t have to deal with these issues, but the truth is that it takes dealing with these issues if we are going to mature in the love of Christ.  You don’t think there were days Jesus might have felt like kicking his disciples to the curb and saying, “I don’t have to put up with this.” It was because He clothed himself with these very attributes that He not only put with them, but endured the cross for them, as well as us.  If it is our desire to be identified with His nature and character, then we are going to have to endure some of the work of the cross in us.   Be where God places you and stay there until He moves you.  If you are going through some things it is because you need to grow through some of these things.  Remember it is the lowest valleys that prepare you for the highest mountains. 

The body must truly put on the love and humility of Christ if we are to walk in unity to accomplish the purpose of the Father.  He said we would be a bride without spot or wrinkle.  Well, obviously there is a whole lot of cleaning and ironing that needs to go on to get us there.  Allow His love to have its perfect work in you.

 

Blessings,

#kent

A Broken Man

June 9, 2017

Isaiah 66:1-2

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

A Broken Man

There is something powerful about a broken man.  A broken man has no reliance upon his ability or strength or wisdom.  A broken man, in himself is poor, he is undone and his esteem can no longer be found in himself.  A broken man is one that is not defeated, although defeat may have brought him to this place.  He is not a worthless man, even though he has come to realize that his worth is not in himself.  The broken man is not a man given to his own wants and pleasures, but he trembles and has a godly fear before the Lord.  He has come to the end of Himself as He has caught a glimpse of the magnificence of His God.  Now, He bows before his Maker in full surrender, humility and his brokenness becomes his strength.  It is his strength because it has caught the eye and the attention of the Almighty.   The Lord has found a gem that is not given to himself, but is given to the Him and that which pleases Him.

2 Chronicles 2:9a says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him.” He is looking for the broken person in you and me.  He is looking to us to be the floodgates through which His power and life might flow.  He is looking for a people of integrity, faith and obedience.  He is looking for the broken man and woman that know there is no good thing in themselves, except the Christ that indwells them and redeems them.  The key to our being able to release the power of God is not in our prayers, laying of hands or speaking the right words.  It is like it was for Jesus.  It is moving in the will, direction and the power of the Spirit.  It hearing the will of the Father and doing it.  We are simply the gateways and the doorways for God to release Himself to others.  He could adequately do it without us, but He has chosen to use us as the instruments of His expression and love.  The perfect vessel for Him is a broken one, one that is emptied of it’s self so that He may shape it and fill it with Himself.  There is great power and potential in a broken man, because he can capture the eye and the heart of God.

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Spirit that Sets Men Free

Mark 5:1-20

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Here is the account of a man so possessed of unclean spirits that he was no longer his own.  It is obvious from the story that the man didn’t have the goods or the means to contain or control this unclean spirit.  They had tried to chain him and control him, but no man could control or tame Him.  He had become no more than a puppet controlled and tormented by the spirits that inhabited him.  How he must have longed for deliverance and no doubt cried out to God for it.  One day the prayers and the cries of that captive spirit were answered.  Jesus showed up at his front door among the tombs and the dead things.   This man lived in death and death surrounded him.  I believe it was the spirit in the man that ran to worship Jesus.  Here was the deliverer who could deliver him from his tormented state.  I believe the unclean spirits would have ran from Jesus, but here at last was the answer he had cried out for.  Does it not seem strange that Jesus just happened to pick this destination to go to this day?  Was it not the tormented cries of the man’s heart that brought Him there?  This man was the extreme case of demonic possession, a man filled with an army of demons.  One word spoken by Jesus brought these unclean spirits to their knees.  His presence brought them to cry out, for His very presence was their torment and caused them to quake with fear. 

Such is the One that abides in you and I.  When it is the Christ in us that speaks forth an anointed word, then hell and the devil are helpless to stop it.  Jesus showed even a measure of mercy to the unclean spirits by allowing them to go into the swine. 

Jesus brought hope, deliverance and salvation into a man’s life and situation where a moment before there had only been despair.  He is still doing that today and often times, those of us with surrendered hearts and the sensitivity to hear His voice might be the channels He would use to touch some life and bring the miracle that they so desperately need and are crying out for.  Where would He take your life today and how would He use you to bring the spirits of men together with the Spirit of God?  Jesus came to set the captive free.  It is His Spirit that He desires to unite us too and all others must be cast out.  He wants to give us back a right mind, even the mind of Christ.  He wants us to take the good news of what He has done for us and share it with others.  Go forth and bring to others the deliverance of His salvation and the good tidings of peace and joy.

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

Patience in the Midst of Tribulation

 

Romans 5:3-5

And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

There is not one of us who has always seen an immediate answer to our prayers and need.  Many of us may have been trusting the Lord for years for certain things, maybe a healing, a loved one’s salvation or a deliverance from some weakness in our lives.  Perhaps we have become discouraged in the way and have wanted to give up.  Maybe we have.  Isaiah 59:1 says, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” In many cases the Lord says it is our iniquities and sin that has made a separation between us and our God, but that is not the only thing that hinders or delays our answers to prayer.

If you had two boys very similar in most ways, but you took one of them and everything he wanted or asked for he received immediately.  There was nothing denied him, nor did he have to wait for that which he asked for.  On the other hand the other boy was taught that not everything is given just because you ask for it or want it.  In some cases the answer was “no”.  While the boy’s needs were met and he didn’t go hungry some things came after a time of patiently waiting.  Some things were gained through diligence and hard work.  While not everything came to him right away, he discovered that through obedience and trust in his benefactor and provider, most things did come to him in due time.  As the boys grew to be adults who do you think grew to be the most responsible, appreciative, humble, patient, related best with others and had the best work ethic?

Some of us may have a concept of God as a celestial Santa Claus.  What ever we ask or believe for should automatically appear.  God is not a Santa Claus.  He is a loving heavenly Father who loves his children dearly.  Hebrew 12:2-29 is a great account concerning the discipline of the heavenly Father.  Please read it if you can.  It tells us that because our Father loves us He chastens, disciplines and corrects us.  If you are not experiencing this, then maybe it is because you don’t belong to Him and are not His child.  It is this discipline through our trials and tribulations that trains us up in His character and likeness.  It teaches us to trust Him, based not on our sense realm, but on faith in His Word.

Which makes the best stew, one in which all of the ingredients are just added to water, or one in which it is then put upon the stove brought to a boil and then simmered for a good length of time.

What some of us may have considered God’s unfaithfulness or lack of response, may be the test our faithfulness to Him.  Job’s response to God when satan took all that he had and counted dear to him, leaving him desolate, childless and in pain and misery was:  “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1; 20-22).”  In Job 5:17 the statement is made, “Behold, happy [is] the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:”

What we learn in our walk with God is that He is God and we are not.  He sets the conditions and the standards according to His Word.  We have to be willing to count Him faithful even when God doesn’t come through on our terms or way of thinking.  He is the Creator and we are the created.  Will the pot say to the potter, “Why did you make me this way?”  We are being fashioned after the image of His likeness.  He showed us the way in the life of Jesus.  Ultimately that way is leading us to the same end through the cross that we may in turn experience the power of His resurrection life.  In Acts 14:22 it says that Paul was “Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God”.

We are a blessed people.  We serve a great and wonderful Lord.  We have all no doubt tasted of the richness of His goodness and mercy.  While we hear much ministry today about prosperity and blessings which is certainly a part of our inheritance, we must remember also James 1:2-4 which exhorts us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

It may be that we are looking for the prosperity and blessings, instead are finding ourselves in the midst of tribulation and trials.  There are seasons for all things, but know this: Romans 8:28-31 encourages us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?”  Have Patience…

 

Blessings,

#kent

Alive

June 6, 2017

Romans 6:8-14

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Alive

How many of us are alive in Christ today?  I don’t mean going through the religious motions of Christianity, but are experiencing daily the quickening life of a resurrection Christ?  The scriptures use the analogy of life and death in a spiritual sense.  Death, spiritual death, is descriptive of our life before we died to death. 

Some may think, what do you mean died to death?  How can you do that?

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Now these are the basic tenants of the Christian faith and most of us may already know this, but there is something more the Lord is wanting us to get  a hold of.  Because we were conceived in iniquity and all have sinned we grew up, outside of Christ, in a state of spiritual death.  We were dead to God and His Spirit.  Quite literally Christ, took upon His own sinless self the penalty and judgement of all of our sin and died for the death that indwells the unbeliever.  Sin and death were crucified upon that cross in His body. When we came into the light of the truth and gave our hearts to Jesus there was a death, to sin and death, that took place in us.  The spiritual reality of what was taking place is that we identified our former life in this sinful man with Jesus upon the cross.  We were spiritually crucified that day and identified with Christ upon the cross.  There we nailed that former man of sin, which we were, together with Christ upon the cross.  We died to sin and death. 

Through the practice of water baptism we are symbolizing our identification with the death of Christ as we die to the old, go under the water and are buried and then are raised up a new creation in Christ, being made alive in Him.  In that spiritual resurrection of our spirit man there needs to be a revelation and understanding that the former person we had been has ceased to exist and the new man we are is unified and identified in Christ who raised them from the dead. 

The Greek for the word alive here is “Zao”.  Some of its meanings are ” to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead), to enjoy real life, to have true life and worthy of the name, active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God.” You and I were dead in our trespasses and sin.  We were living in spiritual death headed for condemnation, judgement and hell.  Christ interrupted our death with the spiritual awakening of His truth.  In receiving that truth, which is Christ, by faith we were made alive and given the promise of the power of endless life with Him in glory. 

Paul says this again so eloquently in Ephesians 2:1-10, ” As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now the point is this, if Christ has quickened our spirits and made us alive unto Him, why are we still partaking and living in the dead things that are unclean and defile our spirits?  There are areas in our life where we allowing death to be a cohabitant with life.  The Word says, “what fellowship hath light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).”  The Lord’s exhortation to us today is bathe our whole man in the light of His truth and righteousness.  The distinction between good and evil is quickly shrinking the gray areas of our life.  He is bringing us into the more radial distinction of His nature and character.  Allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, quicken and make alive every part of who we are that we might be distinctly His.  We want to see the full salvation of the Lord, spirit, soul and body.  In order for us to experience the fullness of His life, we must experience the fullness of His death to the man of sin and death.  In Christ Jesus you have been made ALIVE!  Let us live fully alive in that Life!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Walk with Me

June 5, 2017

Philippians 3:14

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Walk with Me

Walk with me a little while

Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.

It is in your presence I experience love and grace.

I need your perspective as I run this race.

I covet your fellowship in the early dawn,

As I come to you in prayer and feel your holy bond.

It is your strength I covet in this challenging hour,

It is in identity with your life that I find my power.

The grade is getting steep as we travel on.

The way is more narrow and straight than where I’ve gone.

Those I once called friends now scorn my path.

Because I don’t hold the world’s views I incur their wrath.

So it must be as I look up and see the cross before,

I still believe that you alone are the only door,

That leads to life and the Father I seek.

You are the good shepherd that leads your sheep.

Help me Lord to be all that I must,

Forsaking the world, its vanity and lust.

Setting my eye on the prize that is before,

I press on to the high calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.

Walk with me a little while,

Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.

If so be that I suffer for You I will be glorified with You,

My peace and rest are in You, oh Lord, my faithful and true.

Kent Stuck

Blessings,

#kent

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