Damage Control

January 31, 2019

 

Damage Control

 

1 John 3:18

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

Have you ever experienced those times either in yourself or in others where your words didn’t always follow through in your actions?  How often in our relationships do we offend one another and maybe we are willing to say, “I’m sorry”. Things are okay for a little while and then we slip back into the same old offenses.  Maybe the guys are spending too much time watching sports or playing golf and the wife gets fed up and then blows up.  In the obviously rational discussion that follows the husband sees the error of his ways, apologizes and promises to do better.  Finally, the wife calms down, accepts the apology and life goes back to normal.  Being the creatures of habit that we are, usually sooner than later the husband has slipped back into his old ways and round 2 and 3 and so on continues.  It could be the other way with a wife that likes to shop or go over budget on her spending, for example.  The husband hits the roof and the same type of scenario follows with the wife apologizing to the husband and promising to change.  This same type of thing can play out at work, or in other relationships, where we continue in a behavior until there is a breaking point. Then we do damage control to try to patch the immediate damage, but we never really repent and turn from the behavior that is causing the real problem.  This, no doubt, has much to do with why our divorce rate is at about fifty percent.  If we do that with one another, how much more do we do it with God and His will for our lives?  When we feel the conviction about something wrong in our lives, we so often are prone to cover it with a quick, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” and then go on our merry way with no real attitude or heart change.  I’m preaching to myself today, because its too easy for us to get caught up in what we are doing and what is important to us that we fail to see and react to the big picture.  Life isn’t all about us.  It is about family, friends, relationships and a balance in our lives that helps us to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, the Lord being the first on that list.  Life has many demands upon us.  Most of us are running full tilt boogie just trying to keep up.  We feel the weight and the pressures of all these demands, and it is hard for us to be everything to everybody.  Many of us have become workaholics because there is so much to do and so little time.  As a result, our relationships suffer.  Could this be why the Lord created a Sabbath?  We all need to take that time when we close the work door and say, “this time is set apart just for relationships with God and family.”  W e need to do that regularly and purposefully.

Damage control only works for so long.  If a ship were in battle and sustained injury, the crew would do what they had to do to get the ship back up and operational, but that wouldn’t be the permanent fix, it would only be temporary till permanent repairs could be made.  If they continued to operate the ship on “damage control” it would probably eventually sink.  That is where many of us are.  Many of us need to do some permanent fixing starting with our heavenly relationship, then our family and then others.  Our words and apologies must be followed with actions of change.  We tend to neglect the more important people in our lives that love us, thinking they will understand.  Occasionally they will, but we have to change our behavior and place our relationships as the first priority on our list instead of the last.  As I’m talking to myself today, I know I’m speaking to a lot of you.  God’s priorities are people and not things.  A lot of us need real repentance in these areas where we offend and neglect.  Instead of “damage control”, let’s work on some permanent changes that will heal our relationships with our God, our family and others.  We need to make commitments to specific times we set apart just for relationships and then follow through with consistent actions.

” …Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Blessings,

#kent

Desire Wisdom

January 30, 2019

Desire Wisdom

 

Proverbs 2:1-11

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom

and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

 

Among the things that we covet, desire and pursue in the earth, is wisdom one of the primary things?  Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”  Godly wisdom is a much neglected thing and yet just the word “wisdom” is used some 234 times throughout the Word of God, so one might get the impression it is a more important aspect in God’s eyes than many of us realize.  It is far too exhaustive to cover thoroughly in this brief study, but let’s just let God’s Word instruct us in this area today.

First, what is wisdom?  Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.”  James 3:17 tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  It is godly guiding principles of life that helps one to produce the fruit of godliness in their life and walk.

How does one obtain it?  Job 28:28, Proverb 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 pretty closely agree and bear witness to each other that, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy (to depart from evil) [is] understanding.” It says that fools will despise wisdom and instruction.  So, if you be among the wise, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;(Proverbs 2:2) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly (Proverbs2:6-7).”

Why is it so important?  Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.”  It is so important, because learning wisdom is learning the way of the Lord.  It is our instruction and way of salvation.  It is the path that leads to life.   Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell [it] not; [also] wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”  I think this is a key verse to understanding a couple of passages in the New Testament.  If we think about this wisdom as like the oil of godly understanding, of principled living, of the knowledge which leads us into relationship and intimacy with Him, then we might get a little insight into Matthew 25:1-13.  The parable about the ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish.  We just learned that the foolish are those who despise wisdom.  The reason they despise wisdom is because wisdom demands great reverence and respect for God, as well as obedience.  The foolish want to go their own way, be complacent and do their own thing.  Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly [is] joy to [him that is] destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly” Can any of us see that folly in ourselves?  They were all virgins.  They were all looking for Christ’s coming, but we see two different conditions of the heart, one acceptable and one not.   Wisdom is not something you have in a moment of time, it something that you cultivate, grow and mature into.  Wisdom is revealed to those that love her, seek after, cherish and respect her.  She is a relational creature and one you must grow in relationship with.   Proverbs 19:8 says, “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”  Ecclesiastes 2:13 says, “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”

Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, [and] strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure”  “My son, attend unto my wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1).”  Perhaps through these many passages and exhortations of wisdom we are given even more a sense and gravity to the exhortation of Revelations 3:15, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.  So because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and the miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayes become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest cloth thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.   As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.”  This is the exhortation to the foolish virgin to go get and buy wisdom before it is too late.

Let us pursue wisdom whereby our lamps are filled with oil and we are not filled with a false sense of security and riches; but of a truth, we are rich in the wisdom and the mind of our God.

Blessings,

#kent

One Way Street Called Straight

 

 

Acts 9:11

And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

 

Saul, whom we know as Paul the apostle, at the time of his conversion, had been on his way to Damascus with a commission to persecute and imprison the Christians there.  On his way he had a visitation from the Lord who appeared to him in a bright light, so much so that he was struck blind and then the Lord spoke to him audibly in Acts 9:3-9, “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought [him] into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.” It was here that the Lord spoke to Ananias and told him to find Paul on Straight street and tell him that he is a chosen vessel and what things he must suffer for my Name’s sake.

It would seem that it is not a coincidence that the Word makes specific mention of the name of the street that Paul was on.  It is the same street that the Lord wants to bring us to when we come to Him.  It means a straightforward, upright, true and is a sincere path that He brings us too.  It is like the word of John the Baptist, “Make straight the way of the Lord”.  Straight Street is a condition of our heart where we become blind to the things of the world and our spiritual eyes are opened to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  It is a place where we turn aside from the crooked paths of our walk when sin and self were upon the throne of our hearts.

We put braces on our teeth to straighten them out and set them in right order.  The Cross will work that in our life.  The Holy Spirit is continually here to conform us to this straight way if we are humble and sensitive enough to listen.   Usually our problem, unlike Saul, is that we haven’t become blind to this world.  Our eyes and attention is always wandering off from this place to that.  As a result we suffer a worse state than that of being physically blind.  We become spiritually blind.  What we do see is colored by the tint of our own prejudices, viewpoints and opinions.  It is God’s Word inspired and revealed by the Holy Spirit that leads us upon this Straight Street that leads us to the throne of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

What street are you on today and where is it taking you?

Blessings,

#kent

A Purpose Driven Life

January 28, 2019

A Purpose Driven Life

 

 

Romans 8:28

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

 

Haven’t all of us that have embraced Christ by faith and entered into a relationship with Him, been called according to His purpose.  Often we confuse our purpose with His purpose and they are not always the same.  Many of us have our own agendas, our own aspirations and goals, but they may not necessarily be in line with God’s purpose for your life.  The Lord has given us a will and if we are bent on our ways rather than pursuing what He has for our lives, we can make that choice.

Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  If we truly love the Lord then we need to acknowledge that we are His and no longer our own.   2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of what God’s purpose is, “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  Most of us, quite honestly, tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual, what is God’s and what is ours.   The Lord’s intent is that all that we are is spiritual and belongs to Him, body, soul and spirit.  What are we missing is the purpose and will of God for our lives because we are caught up in our own ways.  How much of our lives do we filter through the Holy Spirit, seeking His direction and council and asking that His will and purpose are accomplished in all that we do and the decisions that we make?  Do we instead, forge headlong into the desires and purposes of our own heart and expect God to be a part of and bless what we have purposed to do?  2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

We can be very thankful that our God is so loving, patient and kind; and that He endeavors to deal with our hearts and speak to us in our times of self-discovery.  We can listen to the gentle dealings of the Lord or we can ignore Him and continue on until one day we must come to terms and the consequences of our own actions.

Father has a purpose and calling for each one of our lives.  Are we embracing and living fully in it?  If we truly love Him and have been called out of the world by Him, then we have the assurance that all that the Lord is working in our lives is for the good.  At times it may not seem good, but that is where we need to trust the heart of God and His promises concerning our lives.

Are we living in God’s purpose today?  Are we living the destiny He has called us too?  Those things can only be discovered and found out in Him through a yielded spirit and a contrite heart.   The Lord will lead and direct our lives if we allow Him to do so.

Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us in this purpose, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Are we living God’s purpose driven life for us today?

Blessings,

#kent

The Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

Changing Garments

January 24, 2019

 

Changing Garments

 

Colossians 3:9-13

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

 

Every day we make a choice when we get up and get dressed what garment or clothes we are going to wear.  Am I going to put back on what is lying at the foot of my bed or am I going to look in the closet and choose to wear a fresh clean set of clothes?  The Word teaches us that when we come into a relationship with Christ and He is abiding in our spirits, we must make an active choice with regard to our wills.  There is an active daily decision on our part to put off the flesh, along with our affection for it, and put on the nature that conforms to His.  When we were kids we were content and happy to wear the old dirty jeans with the holes in the knees and the old ratty tee shirt.  Then mom would lay out a change of clothes and tells us this is what she wanted us to wear.  Normally we rebelled, whined, argued, complained but we eventually complied.  Left to ourselves we might still be wearing those old rags.  Thankfully, most of us had a mom that began to teach us to dress for success.  She taught us that the world evaluates and judges you by what they see you wearing.  Fair or not, that is reality.  As we began to wear those clean and neat clothes we began to perceive ourselves differently and it began to reflect in our attitudes.  This was one of the reasons why, in times gone by, the schools used to have dress codes.  God still has a dress code.  Just like we needed to obey mom, we need to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in regards to our behavior and the choices we make.  Colossians 3:9 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is time to throw out those old hole-filled, filthy jeans and raggedy tee shirts and put on the new garments.  It tells us, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  Do your ever find that what is astonishing and disheartening is that so many who claim to be and represent themselves as Christians have terrible ethics?  They don’t keep their word; they’re often not totally honest and forthright.  Quite frankly, we are often an insult and a slap in God’s face when it comes to our integrity.  Don’t lie and say you are something you are not.  Be what you say you are, in action, word and deed, having “put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  When you change your clothes, change your underwear too!  Be transformed and conformed to the nature of Christ from within to without.  The word tells us this putting on the new man involves several things.  What do the garments of Christ consist of?  “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.”  It goes on to say, “15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name (nature and character) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Everyday we make an active decision about what we are going wear both naturally and spiritually.  Are we choosing to dress for success, by putting on Christ and putting off the flesh with all of its misdeeds?  Our transformation is based upon our union and compliant relationship with the Spirit of God within us and the Word of God that instructs our minds and hearts.  How are you dressing today?  Are you changing garments?

Blessings,

#kent

The Struggles with Sin

January 23, 2019

 

The Struggles with Sin

 

John 8:32-34

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: [but] the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

Sin is a word that means to fall short or miss the mark.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  This is where the grace of God has come in, through Christ, to stand in the place of our shortcomings and be our righteousness through faith in Him and the blood that He shed for our sin.

Let me use perhaps a crude example to illustrate a point.  Many of us may not play golf, but probably all of us know the object of the game is to get the little white ball in 18 different little cups by hitting it with various golf clubs in the least number of strokes possible.  Now there have been and are now some extraordinary golfers that could play this better than most anyone else, but I’ve never heard of a golfer who has ever played 18 holes and made all of them on the first stroke.  Even the best of them miss the mark. The fact is, it is humanly impossible to make each hole in only one hit.  What if one day there was a golfer, who did it, he played the ultimate game and did what no man had ever done?  What if he then said, “Everyone that will golf with me and play the game my way even when he misses a stroke it will not be counted against Him.”  Suddenly there is a possibility that we can play a perfect game as long as we remain in the perfect golfer.  The truth is many are more concerned about playing there own game there own way no matter how many strokes it takes them.  These are the servants of sin or missing the mark.  If they were abiding in this master golfer then their strokes would be forgiven and not be counted against them, but because they want to do it their way then their strokes will count against them.  They will be judged and scored accordingly.

A servant of sin is one determined to live life in his own abilities, in his own way and for his own end.  While he may acknowledge the master golfer, he is still determined to play the game his way.  This is the way sin is in our lives.  Christ came to set us free from sin.  We have all played the game of life our own way.  Some of us better than others, but all of us are falling short.  The only way to play the perfect game is to be in the perfect golfer.   We are being made perfect in Christ, not because we never fail or fall short, but because Christ is our righteousness by faith.  When the Father looks upon us He see His Son who is perfect and the fulfillment of righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We are complete in Him.  If we say that we are in Him, but still want to play our own game, by our own rules then aren’t we living a lie?

All of us have struggles with sin.  We all have areas in our lives where we are weak and prone to fall into sin more than others do.  We are pretty good at pointing the finger at the weaknesses and sins of others that we deem worse than our own.  The greatest sin for any of us is an unsubmitted heart to the Father through our trust in the Son.  If we are weak in an area and are overcome by our sin, often we will try to justify it by saying God made us this way, or I can’t help the way I am.  We latch hold of the victim mentality that says it is someone else’s fault.  When we take this position we negate what Jesus said, “.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  When we come to Christ sometimes we are completely delivered from the strongholds in our lives, but more often than not we must learn to overcome and conquer these areas by the strength and life of the Lord in us.  We may spend a good deal of our lives struggling in these areas.  What we find is that our greatest deliverance is losing our lives in His.  When Christ becomes our foremost love and passion, when He becomes more and more, these other passions become less and less.  For anything to have life, it must be fed whether it is the life of God in us or the demons of our weaknesses and sins.  What we feed grows, what we starve dies.  If you are struggling with an area of sin in your life, your victory is not in your strength and ability, your victory is in your identification with His life and relinquishment of your will and desires to His.  An exchange must be in progress, old life for new, death to self that gives place to life in the Spirit.  The reality of our faith is not always seen immediately in the outward realm, it is first at work and reality in our spirit and in our heart before it becomes a reality in the natural realm of our being.  Romans 6:4-7, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

Blessings,

#kent

Tell Them I Am Coming!

January 18, 2019

 

Tell Them I Am Coming!

 

2 Thessalonians 1:4-12

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We experience tribulations and trials to varying degrees, but we see a level of persecution in the early church that most of us have not yet seen, nor do we hope too.  The truth of the matter is that when the body of Christ begins to move into her position of authority and begins to quit playing church and starts to fulfill her destiny being the church, she will meet again with tremendous opposition.  Currently, in this time and in this nation we see the church sometimes mocked and taunted, but with relatively little true persecution.  Maybe that is because we are viewed as just being another religious form of the world.

When the church truly awakens and comes out of her slumber, the door of true persecution will again be opened.  The reason is because there will be an increased polarization of good and evil.  Today we, the Church, live largely in a place of compromise where our values are not viewed so differently than the world.  Many live together outside of marriage, our divorce rate isn’t any better than that of the world, our integrity is often viewed as less than the world’s and we just project a form of godliness, but too many times with no substance. There is not the action of distinction that sets us apart from the world we live in, so our power and life has been neutralized.  We don’t really offer that much of a threat to the enemy, so why should there be much persecution.  We are often mocked by the world for the hypocrisy that they see in our midst when they see sin revealed and even some of our most prominent leaders fall.  Slowly, but surely we see the darkness overtaking our land as God is removed farther and father from our government and public life.  What we will soon wake up too is a very hostile foe, especially when we begin to stand for who we are in Christ.

Persecution and tribulation is often a sieve that sifts and strains out those who are fair weather Christians who follow Christ just for convenience and blessing from those who are truly committed to Christ in life and in death.

The Word teaches us that Christ is coming to be glorified in His saints and if we suffer with Him we will also be glorified with Him.  Many of us have the concept that when things start getting rough and nasty for Christianity, the Lord will come and rescue us out and take us away to glory.  As I read the Word, I see the pattern being that God will take His people through the fire, but He doesn’t necessarily rescue them out of it.

The exhortation and the encouragement of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians was that they were to be commended for their faithfulness in the midst of the tribulation that they endured.  They continued steadfast and it was their love and charity they had for one another that they were known by.  The Lord is coming soon, but are we the people of God that the Thessalonians were, that are patient and faithful in the midst of great tribulation?  The Lord is giving us many exhortations and warnings to prepare our hearts for the time of His presence.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 says, “1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Regardless of your theology concerning the Lord’s coming, if you are missing the Lord warning and telling you to prepare your heart and come into intimate relationship with Him you are missing the coming of Christ.  We are being called to prepare the temple for the full habitation of the King of Glory.  The Lord is coming.  Stand steadfast and rock solid in your faith, because it will most likely be shaken first.

Blessings,
#kent

Thy Kingdom Come

January 17, 2019

Thy Kingdom Come

 

In Luke 11:20 Jesus says, “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”  It is evident in this passage and others that Jesus was the kingdom of God come upon the earth.  If He was the kingdom come then why did He teach us to pray for it to come?  He was the dispensation of the kingdom of God in that age, but He was speaking to a greater dispensation of the kingdom of God in the earth, the manifestation of the Head and the body of Christ filling the earth.  In Luke 17:20-21 says, “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Even as the dispensation of God was seen through the life of Christ, our prayer should be that His kingdom come forth in this earth that we are and that His will be done in this earth as it is in heaven.  We are the light of God and the city set upon a hill.  The Kingdom of God comes not with observation, but the kingdom of God is within you.

Allow the King to be enthroned in your earth and His will to be done as it is in heaven, for Christ in you is the expression of His kingdom come.

Blessings,

#kent

What is this Grace?

January 16, 2019

 

What is this Grace?

 

Ephesians 2: 1-10

1As 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.

 

Grace is one of those basic principles we tend to assume that we know all that it entails and quickly skip over it.  The definition I have always heard of grace is that it is ‘God’s undeserved favor’.  Indeed it is, but I sense the Holy Spirit saying you need to take a closer look at grace and the part that it plays in your life.  The very fact that we could not have even been cognizant and have come to Christ without His grace makes this quality something that deserves a closer look.  We might tend to acknowledge it and then quickly dismiss it as a fundamental of our faith.  It is kind of like breathing or your heart beating you don’t consciously have these take place, but I’ll guarantee you if they stop working you will be immediately be aware and concerned over it.  Grace is like the loving hands of the Father that caresses His humanity.  It is grace that provides us fellowship and relationship with our heavenly Father.  It was grace in the Father and the Son that extended the sacrifice of Christ’s holy life for our sinful ones.  All the benefits we enjoy in Christ we owe to grace.  The richness of our salvation is the product of God’s grace.  Even the incomparable riches of what God is going to do in and through us in the coming age are the benefits of His grace.  The riches of God’s grace are so much more than tangible elements could ever attain or express.  They are the fullness of God’s favor, His benefits, His mercies, His good will, loving kindness and His love.  Grace is an ocean of God’s blessing directed at mankind.  Like salvation, it is so shallow a small child can wade in it and so deep that the most profound and faithful of men will never sounds the depths of it.  What is contained in God’s grace is the fullness of Christ Himself.  What God has done in and through Christ He is doing in and through us, for the Lord Jesus is our prototype and the image after which our Father has called many sons to glory.  Even now the Word says that through grace working in us by faith, God has made us spiritually alive in Christ Jesus, but beyond that, He has raised us up with Christ and seated us in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Do we begin to catch a glimpse of the potential power and life of God at work in us even now through this grace that we have received?  Grace, by its very virtue, tells us that this is a gift and quality that we could never earn, deserve or merit in our own being.  Grace is all about God’s goodness, His undeserved favor and blessing.  The faith, that is not even what we possess, but that which He has placed in us, is the key to unlocking the riches of God’s grace.  Because God has enabled us to believe through faith in the marvelous thing He has done through Christ, we have the keys of His kingdom.  God is an extravagant giver and He has bestowed upon us such extravagant gifts that we still don’t fully comprehend and realize what we have and what has been so freely given to us.

It might be kind of like you bringing home and giving to your child a fully loaded Mercedes worth a $190,000.  He kind of looks it over and then goes back to playing with his Legos.  What we should be saying is Father, teach me how to drive.  I can never fully enjoy what God has given me until I know how to use it.  The process of our lives is God teaching us about how to drive, how to operate in this grace which He has so richly bestowed upon us.  Let us not be content with our Legos and simple toys of this life, when Father has given and promised us so much more.  Press in that you might know the riches of this grace through faith.

Verse 10 tells us the reason for God bestowing this grace upon us.  “10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  God has given us grace that He might have a people conformed to His image and the expression of the good works that are in Christ.  We are not only the products of God’s grace, we, like Christ, are becoming the expression of God’s grace to the rest of this world.  We are the favored of God to express the favor of God.  Grace has delivered us from the dimension of condemnation, death and the law.  It has brought us into the dimension of Life, liberty and freedom in Christ.  It is the freedom to live out of the life God rather than our former life dictated through lust and sin.  2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work.”  Faith is all about the endeavor to operate this vehicle of God’s grace; for it is grace working in us that will abound to God’s glory and praise and honor.  It is grace working in us that shows forth God’s strength in the midst of our weakness.  Grace must be received in all humility for it not anything that we could ever boast in of ourselves.  It is not the product of our being or doing, but the product of God’s loving kindness and mercy.

God has called us out of this world and into the grace of Christ.  Live out of the richness of the grace, which He has bestowed upon us.  Allow that grace to have its perfect work in you.  Never take for granted the marvelous riches and wealth of the grace God has bestowed and that now works so wonderfully within us.

Blessings,

#kent

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