All Dried Up

October 31, 2017

Joel 1:7-12

7He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

8Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

9The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’s ministers, mourn.

10The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.

11Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.

12The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

All Dried Up

The time is coming when the Church as we know it will be dried up.  She will be stripped bare clean.  Her ceremonial functions will cease and God’s people will mourn.  The vine will appear barren and wasted, unfruitful and cast off.

“Lo, the day is at hand, the great day and terrible day of the Lord when the earth and the heavens will be shaken by spiritual forces and sounds.   The waster will come, the destroyer will mount his horse and death will ride in fury and darkness.  As the paps have ceased to suckle so my outward Church has ceased to bring forth the sincere milk and the meat of the Word.  The priest and ministers mourn, for what they once knew is gone. 

The true Church is not that which seen with the outward eye, but that which is hidden in Me.  It is the bubbling streams, fountains and brooks beneath the surface of the ground and hidden from the natural eye.  When all looks lost, when the enemy gloats in his victory then the water of My divine life and power will break forth to water the earth and life will spring forth in the desert places.  First, the wasting must come and the waster will have his season.  Just as the appearance of life is gone in the day of drought and famine, it is not gone but simply hidden awaiting the rain.  When the former and the latter rain do come they shall come with such life that they will dispel and cast out the spirit of death.  Life shall reign, fruitfulness shall abound and your enemies will be driven into the sea. 

Prepare for the day at hand.  Buy from Me true gold tried in the fire.  Get the oil of My Spirit and anointing and fill your vessels, for only the Spirit of Christ in you will sustain you in that day and those that know not my Spirit will perish.  Prepare and make ready.  Set your houses in order and enter into the temple of My presence, under the shadow of the Almighty.  Come and hide yourself in Me till the darkness is past.  The life that you have known shall pass away, but the life that I shall bring forth shall so surpass it.  Remain faithful and true, steadfast and obedient, for I the Lord am the Rock of your salvation and with a mighty hand I will cover My faithful ones.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Called According to His Purpose

At some point in life we all ask the questions about who we really are, what is our purpose and what is my life really about?  I remember going through this in college.  I had grown up in a wonderful Christian home with parents and grandparents that were godly and had always taught me about Jesus.  I had a relationship with Jesus, but it had always been built on mom and dad’s values.  Now I had to figure out, are my values and purpose the same as theirs’?  I went through my times of worldliness and self.  What I found was that I was going through the actions of having fun, partying and living my life, but at the end of the day it left me feeling empty and without purpose.  Fortunately it didn’t take me too long to realize that the same Lord and Savior I grew up knowing through my parents was the same Lord that brought reason and purpose into my life.  As I began to turn my heart back to Him and seek Him for more, what I discovered was there was so much more to the Christ-filled life than just church, messages about salvation and trying to live a good life.  I began to find relationship with Christ in a dimension that I had not previously known before.  I began to get that sense of His destiny and calling in my life.  Many of you may have had similar experiences in how God has called you into His purpose and eternal destiny. It amazes me as I look back over the years and see how many times the Lord has had His hand upon me, protecting and preserving me, teaching and instructing us, keeping us from massive blunders, because we sought His counsel and asked Him to direct our paths. 

I am just speaking from my heart here.  God can be so near and so real at times and seemingly so distant at others.  There are times in your life when you know they are  God moments, events and happenings.  Then there are those times of desperation when we call out to God and it doesn’t seem He hears or answers.  Does that mean His calling or His purpose has changed concerning us?  No,  He doesn’t change, neither does He repent of the gifts and callings He has placed in our lives. 

It is easy to love and trust someone when they are always there, always doing and providing for you, but what about when they pull away, when they disappoint you and you become disillusioned?  Do you still love them the same?  When you are in the heat of the battle and there are no reinforcements are you still as committed to fighting the good fight or do you just want to give up and quit or die? 

There is a vision I heard shared, I believe by Gene Edwards, and the short version went in effect like this.  ‘Jesus came down the road and met three women one day.  The first he embraced, kissed and covered with attention.  His love was so evident to her.  The second He placed His hand on her shoulder  and gave her a reassuring smile.  The third woman He verily glanced at as He walked by her.  When the recipient of this dream or vision questioned the Lord about why He acted differently to the three women.  Why did He seem to love the first one so much and the last one so little?   He was shown that the first woman is like a new Christian.  They need to touch and feel the Lord’s love so they know He is real.  The second woman had known and walked with Jesus.  She knows He is real, but still needs that reassurance of His love.  The third woman knows Jesus so intimately that Her love for Him is not based on His showing outward affection or love.  She just knows that she knows, that she knows.  Rather she sees the evidence of God’s moving or presence, her faith is not shaken, because she simply knows that He is.’  As we mature in Christ that third woman is the place that He is taking us, because she, that was outwardly loved the least was truly loved the most.  She knew her purpose and who she was in Christ.  Outward circumstances could not shake that from her. 

In Jeremiah 1:5 what God spoke to His servant Jeremiah He is speaking to all of us that are called according to His purpose.  ” “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Know that all things are working for the good of those that are called according to His Purpose, even if they don’t seem good at the time.  Know Him, trust Him and don’t allow anything to move you away from your purpose in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Ears to Hear

October 27, 2017

Ears to Hear

Matthew 11:15

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear

There are not a lot of people around that don’t have physical hearing ears.  So why did Jesus so often quote this phrase?  The eyes, the ears and the hearts that he sought in men were not their natural ones, but their spiritual ones.  A lot of people have rejected Jesus for generations, because He didn’t make sense to them intellectually.  They didn’t have spiritual ears. 

God spoke through Ezekiel to the people of Israel in Ezekiel 12:2, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of the house of the rebellious, who have eyes to see and see not, who have ears to hear and hear not, for they are a rebellious house. Spiritual senses have to be attuned to hear spiritual things.  Our spiritual sight and hearing are directly connected to the condition of our spiritual heart.  If we are hardened in matters of the heart, our spiritual hearing and sight will be impaired as well.  Many of us know how to listen with our ears, but we don’t know how to listen with our hearts.  Often words sound like one thing, but that is not the heart.  We often may wonder why we don’t hear from God when in fact He may be speaking to us all of the time.  It is a rare thing to hear God’s audible voice from heaven, but He can speak to us in so many other ways.  He speaks through His Word, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, through circumstances, through others, through examples that we have and a number of ways.  Yet often we don’t hear the Lord speaking, because we are listening with our intellect rather than our heart.  That doesn’t mean that we only hear God through our emotions, because they are from the soul and can deceive us.  We have to get in touch with our spirits, our inner man, that inner voice that is speaking the mind, will and heart of God.   In John 8:47 Jesus  says,  “He that is of God will hear the words of God.”

I remember times when the kids were growing up and they were constantly asking questions, “Can we do this or can we do that and so and so did this.”  As parents you know how emotionally draining children can be.  There were a lot of times that I just zoned them out.  I basically just shut them off.  They could be standing there saying, dad, dad, dad!  I had just shut them off mentally.  That was my way of coping, but at the same time I had shut off my involvement in their lives, as obnoxious as that could sometimes be.  I quit hearing them; my heart was hardened in that area.  We do the same thing to God.  Many times, like my children, we don’t really want to hear God.  He is speaking things to us that we don’t want to deal with.  Quite honestly, we like our way.  We like to do what we enjoy and when we enjoy it.  If that is not lining up with God’s plan, guess who we tend to ignore?  We end up shutting God out of our hearts.  When we close our hearts to God, we don’t just shut out a person, we shut out the love of God to our hearts and consequently the flow of His Spirit and love through us.  That ends up impacting not only our spiritual relationship, but our natural ones as well.  Many of us have done this same thing with our marriages and we are wondering why we don’t feel in love with that person anymore? Our heart connection is the key to our hearing and seeing.  If you want to really hear your wife, stop listening to just her words and listen to her heart.  Sometimes what we hear as just nagging is a plea from their heart, saying “help me, appreciate me, care about me, communicate with me, love me.  I have needs that are desperately needing to be met.”

If we want to hear again what God is speaking through His Spirit we have to open our hearts to Him.  We may be going through all of the right religious protocol and yet totally missing Him.  Our relationship first has to be a matter of the heart, before it has meaning though our works.  Our works must be the outflow of our heart relationship with Father; so many times we have gotten it backwards and try to use our works to find relationship. 

If we ever want to come out of the wilderness and inherit the promises of God, we have to reconnect our hearts with Father.  Deuteronomy 29:4 says, “Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.”  A rebellious heart will keep us the prisoners of our circumstances, it will keep us in the rut of failure and it will leave our hearts lean and malnourished.   

When the Holy Spirit spoke through John in Revelation 3 He repeatedly said at the end of each exhortation, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Let us have the spiritual ears to hear what He is speaking to our hearts in this day, this hour and this minute.  Let us listen and obey.  Let us reestablish that heart connection that has become callused and cold.  In order to hear Him in this hour we have to have that right heart condition.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Green Pastures

October 26, 2017

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest.  It is the green pastures of His rest.  There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth.  There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye. 

Some of us are still searching for this green pasture.  It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life.   Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.   

It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt.  Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them.  When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain.  Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful.  ‘He has led us out here to let us die.  We should have never trusted Him.  We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’  Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts.   In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah.  The waters were bitter and the people could not drink.  Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us?  Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed.  Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts.  Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing?  Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives?  Do we get anxious and panic?   Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need.  Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest.   Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again.  Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Those green pastures speak of His life.  Whatis the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth? 

When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it?  We are testing it for integrity and service.  We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency.  God often proves our faith the same way.  He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts.  He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts.  Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him.  It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test.  When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision.  It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances.  No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful. 

Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness.  Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us.   Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Changing Directions from Death to Life

Romans 5:17

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Christ came to change the direction of our lives and from the moment that we came to the decision to receive Christ into our heart our lives were translated from darkness into light and from death to life.  Outwardly or in our conscious mind things might not have seemed that different, much like when a woman first becomes pregnant she probably isn’t even aware of the life that has just started within her.

We were born into a realm and place of death.  Romans 5:12-14 tells us, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.”  Just as the sin of one man brought all of humanity into this realm of death, the obedient act of righteousness in Jesus Christ has brought back to us an entrance into the realm of life.  These are spiritual principles that work in our lives as we give place to them and as we respond either to life or death.  Romans 8:1-4 identifies these two laws or principles under which all men live, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”  Through faith in Christ we have stepped into a realm of life that should be changing our life and thinking.  Many of us live in the delusion that true spiritual transformation and divine life doesn’t begin till we leave this body and go to heaven.  We continually need to be reminded and aware that heavenly life begins when the Spirit of Christ comes in.  How we experience that quality of life depends a great deal on our faith and vision to recognize who we are in Christ and begin to lay hold upon that as we walk in these principles of life.  We may still inhabit a body of death, but Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  That speaks to me that the law of life can effect even my natural body.  While the Word says that I am to die to the passions of the flesh, God calls us to live unto him using our bodies as instruments of righteousness and no longer of sin.  We can read all of these words and mentally agree with them, but they never really get past our minds and into our spirits.  In order for me to truly live in the law of life that is in Christ Jesus, I have to change the way that I think, no longer reasoning as the world thinks, but bringing my thoughts and thinking into conformity with the mind of God.  Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.“  If we want to dwell in the principles of life then we have to change the direction of our thinking and begin to conform it to what God’s word tells us.  In every place that we find it contrary we are to bring it into conformity through the way that we speak, not just looking to the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.  The realm of life is not a sight and sense realm; it is a realm that operates out of faith in the Word of God. 

Are we experiencing all that we should be in our spiritual walk with Christ?  Are we laying hold of and living out of the principles of life in Christ Jesus or do we just mentally acknowledge it while we continue on living our natural lives.  If we want to see and lay hold of LIFE we have to live out of the life principles of God’s word, bringing ourselves in agreement and alignment with it.  Is there a dimension of life that we are not fully experiencing because we still have a mindset that is still geared and operating out of the realm of sin and death?  Perhaps we really need to be conscious of the need for us to change the direction of our thinking and to conform ourselves to the mind and will of Christ.  That change comes through the meditation and practice of His Word.  It comes as we yield ourselves in prayer and in deed to be the instruments of righteousness that He has called us to be.  Let’s be aware of who we are in Him and what mindset that we are operating out of so that we might enter into, possess and experience God’s life to the fullest, even now in this earth. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

Proverbs 10,12,13

October 24, 2017

Proverbs 10,12,13

Proverbs 10

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;

what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,

but the righteous stand firm forever.

27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous,

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Proverb 12

1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the LORD,

but the LORD condemns a crafty man.

3 A man cannot be established through wickedness,

but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

15 The way of a fool seems right to him,

but a wise man listens to advice.

26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, [a]

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;

along that path is immortality.

Proverbs 13

The righteous hate what is false,

but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity,

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it,

but he who respects a command is rewarded.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,

turning a man from the snares of death.

15 Good understanding wins favor,

but the way of the unfaithful is hard. 16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,

but a fool exposes his folly.

24 He who spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Blessings,

#kent

We are Right in Our Own Eyes

Proverbs 21:2-3

Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Isn’t it a fact that most of us are justified in our eyes for our behavior; the words we speak and the attitude and actions we carry out?  Most likely, if others are offended or hurt it must be their problem, not ours.  That is because we have that wonderful rational mind that is so skillful at justifying what we do, the words and attitudes we communicate and how we live.  Even if we do see and acknowledge some of our faults we may well try and offer a little sacrifice to compensate for it.  We want to give token gifts that cover over our offenses and sins.  We can rationalize “it is okay if I do this and this and the other, if over here I do this and this and the other. “  They will balance each other out and I will be okay.  The mind is a funny creature; it rarely really likes accountability for it’s own actions.  Are you ever amazed with all the excuses we can come up with when things go wrong?

The truth is these games don’t fly with most people very long let alone God.  He is looking into the true motivation and attitude of our heart.  He sees right past all our little diversionary tactics to justify us.   Like the prophet Samuel ask King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:14, ” What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”   The command of God was to utterly destroy the Amelekites and all that belonged to them, but here we find compromise because King Saul had allowed the Amalekite king and the best of the flock to be spared on the pretense of sacrificing them to God.  When I read this I think how many times have I compromised God’s Word, by rationalizing in my own mind why it would be okay or if I did it just a little different.  If you read or are familiar with the rest of this account and exchange you know that Samuel makes the important point to Saul in 1Samuel 15:22-23:

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.”  The lesson is, it can cost you everything to have a heart that is set on compromise and disobedience.   The Lord simply requires of us obedience to His Word.  We must be willing to look honestly at ourselves and our motives in the light of God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to honestly reveal them to us in the light of His truth.  There we must deal with them with the blood of Jesus through repentance,  submission and uncompromised obedience to the will of God. 

“Lord, help us today to have right motives in all that we do and please reveal it to us if we be otherwise minded.  Help us to yield all of our ways and allow You to have your complete way in us through our uncompromised obedience to You.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Christianity from a Distance

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

    26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Many of us are resigned and content to read our Bibles, listen to Christian broadcasting or to the minister.  Mentally we agree with all that is being said, but practically we may want to avoid personal involvement.  Oh we may give our tithes, to that those who “are called” to do the work of the ministry, but then we are just the “laymen”.  Just let us live a quiet Christian life in our suburban lifestyle; let us live in our daily routines and not get too involved in the mess outside.   The truth is we get real uncomfortable when a situation comes along that gets in our face.  Perhaps there is a family crisis and someone in the family needs financial or physical help.  Don’t we kind of want to look to someone else to do that?  After all we are busy with our lives and the responsibilities we have.  We have our own bills to pay and work to do.  We often embrace the Christian message in spirit, but not in reality.  We are those Christians from a distance type of people that don’t want to get personally involved.  After all, we’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with, right?  God forbid if someone should require our help or assistance that we don’t even know.

James really gets in our face about this issue of virtual Christianity, if you will. We put on our Christian face one minute and the next, when we look away; we forget what manner of people we are supposed to be.  We favor the rich, because somehow we think it might benefit us, not likely.  They will more than likely exploit your favoritism and give you nothing in return.  We discriminate and reject the poor, because we think that they are only there for a hand out and somehow we are better than they are.  And James 2:5-11 tells us, “5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” 

Jesus met people where they were at.  He had the capacity, as we should, to look past their faults and see their need.  James 2: 14-17 says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  You see our armchair Christianity doesn’t qualify us before our Lord.  It isn’t the example He taught and lived.  Faith has to be dynamic, moving and alive in our being or it is just a name and a dead religion.  It has no life in it. 

God presents us with enough opportunities to demonstrate our faith and beliefs in action.  Will we continue to turn away and turn a deaf ear, or will we begin to listen and hear what God wants to do through us personally?  Will our actions or the lack thereof testify against us on the Day of Judgment?  God is calling us off the couch and onto the field.  A couch potato sports fan does not an athlete make.  The same is true of Christianity.  Our God hasn’t redeemed us to be spectators, but participators in the expression of His life through us.  It is time we get into the game and are what we claim.    

Blessings,

#kent

The Light before Me

October 19, 2017

Psalms 119:105

Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The Light before Me

This morning, it was before dawn that I was on a little run.  As I turned the corner and headed up the street, straight before me, in the distance on a hill was the lighted steeple of a church.  Immediately I thought of that scripture in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  I thought this is so symbolic of our journey through life.  As I ran on and started up a hill, my breathing became more frequent and heavy as I felt the strain.  Again, I thought how the Lord is with us each step of the way.  We must keep Him as the lamp for our feet and the light unto our path so that we will not stumble, falter or fail in our course.  He is the One who is the inner strength in those times when we are pulling the hills of life and things are hard.  Sometimes we are breathless and we feel we can’t keep going, but we turn within and draw our strength from the Lord.  We tap into that life and source that is not of our flesh, but which is our strength to take us where we could not reach. 

Raise your head and see that beacon on the hill before you.  That is Mount Zion, the city of our God and King.  Keep running, don’t quit, He is the power and life to bring you to your destination.  Our journey is the preparation for what He is bringing us into.

“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. (Philippians 1:6)”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

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