Shine a Diamond

September 30, 2019

 

Shine a Diamond

 

Romans 14:19

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

 

We live in a very negative world in a lot of respects.  Life is often taking twists and turns that can bring us discouragement and despair.  Many around us only know how to speak death.  They, like many of us, can become cynical, skeptical and suspicious in a world that is always seeking to exploit us in one manner or another.  It is hard for us to be real, even with one another, for fear that someone will take opportunity in our vulnerability and openness to hurt us or will despise and not respect us because of some weakness that we allow them to see in us.  As a result we become individual sealed houses, our own little islands in some respects, keeping a certain amount of distance and aloofness so that we won’t be hurt.  Certainly, we have to be careful about who we share the more intimate parts of our lives with.  Jesus gives the warning in Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” As it is with the holy and precious things of God, so it is with the matters of our heart.  We need to really know the character of those we share our hearts with.  If the love of God is truly operating within them, then they understand the grace that not only they have been given, but that which they must extend to others.  God wants us to cover one another’s nakedness, not expose it, gossip about it or despise them for it.  He wants us to be a people that can truly edify and build up one another.  We need to have that place and safety to truly confess our sins and faults to one another without fear of rejection and judgment.  James 5:16 tells us, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Does that mean we condone whatever sin someone shares or confesses to us?  No, we can’t because then we would share complicity with their sin.  The reason for sharing our sins or faults with one another is for repentance, support, help in our weaknesses and restoration of our fellowship with God and one another.  If we share our faults with one another it shouldn’t be for approval, neither should it be for judgment but our response to another’s faults should be that of humility and love, knowing that we are also weak and vulnerable to sin.  Galatians 6:1 teaches us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  You see we are not one another’s judges, but we are one another’s watchmen.  We watch out for one another, because we are of the same body and share the same common faith and purpose, to glorify the Lord.  It can be easy for any of us to become distracted and turn aside or grow complacent concerning our faith.  This is why it is so important for us as the body of Christ to have personal friendships and relationships with others in the body, not just for fellowship, but also for accountability.  We need to be speaking life into one another to build each other up in who we are in Christ.  We need to pray for one another and exhort one another, always stirring up faith.  A healthy body is one in which individual members and cells are ministering health and blessing into those around them.  The words that we speak into one another’s lives should be for building up and not tearing down, even if they must be honest, direct and hard words, the motive behind them should always be love. Sometimes, like Paul, we must tear down to build up, but what are our motives and the end of what we do?

            Are you and I the brush that polishes the diamonds of the Lord?  Are we causing others to shine in His glory and come forth in the image of who they are in Christ?  Remember that the power of death and life are in the tongue.  Our actions and our tongue can make or destroy another’s life.  Let our lives and our ministry be for building up and not for tearing down, for edifying and not for condemning.  You are your brother’s keeper and he is yours.  Let us honor and seek to bring forth the Christ in each other.  Speak life, hope and blessing into someone today and let it become your lifestyle.  Go shine a diamond!

Blessings,

#kent

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Every Day

September 27, 2019

 

Every Day

 

Revelations 20:12

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 

It occurs to me as I sit and write that all of us are composing and writing our lives upon God’s books.  Each of us has a life’s novel that tells the story of our lives and what we did with them.  Though the memories of us may fade and we are forgotten in the earth, there is a record that stands, a book that we wrote.

What are we writing in our book?  How will it read back to us as we stand before God and give an account for our lives and what we did with them?  If we feel we have nothing else, our life is our talent, to use for God’s glory and purpose or for our own.  The sad part is, none of us can ever go back and erase what we did the day before or the years before.  The ink is already dry upon the page.  The good news is that today is still to be written and our tomorrows after that.  What are we writing upon the pages of our life?  Will it be a story that pleases the Father or one in which we stand ashamed at a life wasted and that brought forth no lasting value in its life’s pursuits?

All of us have our regrets, our failures and our pages we wish that we could write over.  The important thing for us not to forget is that we are still writing this book.  Ecclesiastes says that as long as there is life there is hope.  Will your book be a story of transformation from death to life?  Will it be a story of how your life was a blessing; not only to God, but also to the lives you touched?  What are we going to write in our book today and through the coming weeks and years?

Psalms 118:4 says, “This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  There is a Latin phrase, “Carpe diem”, simply, “seize the day”, make the most of every moment that we have breath and life.

Solomon was a man that had and could have all that his heart desired. He set out to find the meaning and purpose of life.  At the end, this is what he had to say and we will conclude with his words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 12.  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”

The Conclusion of the Matter

13 Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

May we consider carefully every day how we write each page of our book.

Blessings,

#kent

A Healthy Spirit

September 26, 2019

 

 

A Healthy Spirit

 

Proverbs 18:14

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

 

The true life of an individual is contained in their spirit.  The spirit is the center of hope, faith and the reason for living.  A healthy spirit is one that is broken and contrite before God, but whole and mighty concerning the adversities and trials of life.

Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  The full humility and submission of our spirit toward the Lord is the sacrifice that He will not despise.  In that condition we are in alignment and submission to His will and purpose in our lives.  We have positioned ourselves to be reliant upon His strength and live out of the hope and faith we have in Him.

On the other hand there is a broken spirit that is not good and is the most detrimental to our health and our life.  Psalms 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  A merry and joyful heart is like a medicine.  It proceeds out of a spirit and heart that is rejoicing and has found joy in the Lord. in spite of circumstances that might dictate that it feels to the contrary.  That joy and merriment is an expression of faith, not necessarily of feelings, because our heart has its hope and confidence in the Lord.  Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”  We can go through almost anything as long as our spirit is healthy and our hope and confidence remain in the Lord.  Our greatest danger, even over physical or mental illness is when our spirit becomes unhealthy and broken.  Our spirit is our lifeline to God.  It is the medium by which we communicate and maintain relationship with the Almighty.  When our spirit becomes broken then the physical man will dry up as well.  The power cord of our life is maintained through our spirit.  When the conduit and conductor of our life becomes interrupted or broken then we are running on batteries and true life is ebbing away.  It is through our spirit that faith is generated and hope is maintained.  There are times in our lives that circumstances can be so overwhelming that our spirit can be crushed with grief and despair.  We can lose our hope and even our desire to live ceases.  What strikes me in Proverbs 18 is that it is our spirit that sustains us in sickness.  There are many trials in life, including sickness, that can come in like a flood and overwhelm us with a sense of hopelessness and despondency.

I am reminded of the disciples who were crossing the Sea of Galilee when they were caught up in a terrible storm that threatened their very lives, while Jesus lie sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  They had come to the end of themselves and hope was leaving them when they awoke Jesus.  Luke 8: 24-25 says, “And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”  When our spirit becomes broken our faith leaves us.  When we lose faith, we lose hope.  Faith and Hope are always right there in the boat with us in the person of Christ.  He says He will never leave us or forsake us, but He doesn’t tell us that we won’t feel that way.  That is how the disciples felt in that storm.  They felt helpless, afraid and were losing hope when all the while the Author of Life itself was resting in the hull of their boat.  Is any storm or adversity in life greater than He who is the Lord and Master over the winds and the water?  If we perish, we perish, but we must never allow our spirit to remain broken.  When life is overwhelming and it feels as if all hope is gone, allow your spirit to crawl up in DADDY’s lap, hold fast to Him with all of the strength of your being until your storm passes over.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”  Allow the name of the Lord to be the strong tower that protects your spirit from becoming broken.  It is your steadfast faith in Him that will keep your spirit from being broken in those most difficult of times.   Remember what Colossians 3:3 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  You have already died to this outward life, so don’t allow it to rob you of the inward life that is hid with Christ in God.  Maintain a healthy spirit that you might live in hope and in faith.

Blessings,

#kent

Divine Health

September 25, 2019

 

Divine Health

 

Isaiah 53:5

But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

 

There are a spectrum of beliefs about divine healing across Christendom today, ranging from it doesn’t exist to every aspect of health is a matter of faith.  It is not the intent to debate these points, but to communicate what the Word of God has to say on this subject and how the Holy Spirit would help us to believe and appropriate it’s truths.

Most of us, as believers in Christ, if indeed we are believers, have no problem accepting by faith that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. We embrace by faith in Him that He has washed away our sins, casting them as far as the East is from the West, into the sea of forgetfulness, never to be remembered anymore.  I dare say many of us probably struggle more with forgiving ourselves than God does with forgiving us.  This is probably true of the aspect of our healing as well.  If indeed we believe in the cross and the power of Christ to forgive our sins and the truth that we are saved by His grace.  If we can truly believe that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus as the Word declares we are then we can no more deny the other aspects of our salvation.  Isaiah, written hundreds of years before the crucifixion of Christ, prophesies very accurately of this great act of sacrifice and salvation that would come through our Christ.  Part of that salvation encompasses divine healing as our scripture today indicates.  If we don’t want to believe that, then we can make attempts to explain it away as we do with other passages that don’t fit our theology, but the fact is ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).’

God in his covenant with Israel, when He was about to bring them into the promise land, in Exodus 15:26, He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”  If this promise was true of the old covenant how much more so by the new covenant of Christ blood?  The Word of God bears witness that our God is a healing God, healing us physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou [art] my praise.”  David says of the Lord in Psalms 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” He shows how health and salvation are tied closely together.

Now some of you may be saying, “well I prayed and God didn’t heal me”.  Why, because you don’t see the evidence of it?  You believe that you are saved, do you see yourself fully walking without sin and in the full manifest nature of Christ?   This is probably not the case.  We have the foretaste of the Spirit, but it’s fullness we still await.  What can take place in the spiritual realm is not always immediately revealed in the natural realm.  This is where we struggle, because we have to see it to believe it.  Treat your healing as you do your salvation.  If you do not doubt that Christ can and has saved you, then accept and receive healing the same way.  Praise and thank Him for what He has done, not just what you see with the natural eye.

1 Peter reiterates what Isaiah says in 1Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” As much as the nails purchased our salvation, those stripes paid for our healing.  How God works in this area is varied and different.  We can’t put God in a box and regulate his miraculous working with a magic formula, God is God and He works all things after the council of His will and purpose.  This we do know, God is healing and raising people up from sickness and even death, every day.  What He has done for others, He can do for you.  Lay hold of His Word, confess, believe and rest in His promises.  He is the Lord your God that heals you.  May our health trials be but the greater motivation to praise Him, to remember and declare all the areas of His faithfulness.  The greater our pain, the higher our praise as we declare the light of His truth in the face of our darkness.  The victory is won in the heavenlies, before it is revealed in the earth.  God is faithful to see you through.

Blessings,

#kent

Damage Control

September 24, 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.”  We 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

“In Christ”

September 23, 2019

 

“In Christ”

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

What does it mean for us to be “in Christ”?  If most of us were asked if we are “in Christ” we would reply to the affirmative.  Let’s take a closer look at what that implies.  A couple of verses prior to this in verse 15 it says, “And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  “In Christ” is a place that we have come too and embraced by faith.  The question is, has it become the dimension, the dynamic, the purpose and the Spirit that are now existing in our daily lives?  Do we actually identify ourselves with being a new creation birthed in the image and likeness of Christ?   Do we live out of the mindset that the Lord is our all in all?  Have old things truly passed away or are we still holding onto them behind our back while we put on our Christian face in front.  Is Christ a part of all that we think, hope and dream about or is He a Christ of convenience, serving my need and answering my prayers.  Are our lives now all about Him or is it still about us?  These are some of the hard questions I feel the Holy Spirit is asking us today.

The Lord does not seek to condemn us, but to bring us into a revelation of who we truly are.  Most all of us are living way below what Christ has called us too and purposed us for.  The only place we can truly live out His purpose and life for us is in that intimate place of relationship and continual fellowship.  When we are “in Christ” this is where we find the new creation that we are in Him.

In Hebrews 9:6-8 it tells us, “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God]. But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”

If it is in our heart’s desire to enter into the holiest of all, which Christ has opened the access for us, then we need to understand that we can never enter in, in any other way than, “in Christ”.  If we are still living out of the ceremonial religion and the ordinances of men, then we can’t partake of the Holiest of All.  If we are still living in the old man’s thinking, his way of life and old covenant principles, then we are missing what it is to be a new creation in Christ.  The first tabernacles of our carnal thinking and religion have to be torn down before we can fully come into Christ and the dimension of His life.  It is no longer about just service to God; it is in becoming the priestly servants of God.  When we are “in Christ” we are living out of the dimension of Spirit life.  That should not be some mystical thing, but a very practical thing.  Jesus lived to manifest the will, purpose and nature of the Father. Christ has given us the same mandate.  He now lives through us if indeed old things have passed away and all things have become new.  While it is complete in the Father, it is still a process that is taking place in us.  Our folly is that in the process and living in the world and growing up in religion we can lose our bearings of who we really are and what Christ has called us out of this world to be.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 goes on to tell us, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 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.”  Christ gave His life to impart His life into you and me.  It is that life that we embraced by faith that makes us a new creation in the image and likeness of the One who has now entered our hearts and lives within us.  We were created and have become this new creation that we may glorify Christ and that we may honor Him by allowing Christ to live His life through us, even as He allowed the Father to live His life through Him.  An ambassador is one who stands in the place of His country and its leaders.  He represents all that they are.  Is that who we are “in Christ” today?  Christ in you, that is your identity that is who you now are and have been called to be.  Embrace and identify with His life in you.  You are no longer to be outside of Him or separate from Him, but you are one when you are “in Christ”.

Blessings,

#kent

Born Free

September 20, 2019

 

Born Free

 

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 

When we were born again, we were born into a freedom.  The blood of Christ and this salvation, that we richly partake of, washed our debt to sin away.  We were set at liberty from the bondage and stronghold of sin.  Colossians 1:12-14 tells us, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:” What is more is that it has set us free from the law and the ordinances that have served as our condemnation and taskmaster in that our flesh was weak and inept in keeping them.  Romans 8:3 tells us,  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” Now we know that Christ did not set us free for us to come again under the bondage of sin and we also know that we could not accomplish righteousness by the works of the law and the strength of the flesh.  Romans 8:4-8 goes on to explain how we do walk in righteousness, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Our liberation then is obtained and lived out not by our strength or our goodness, but by a whole new mindset that is dependent, reliant and fully yielded to the Spirit of God.  While laws and the enforcement of them may keep order in a society for fear of the consequences, they do not in themselves have the power to change the heart and intent of a person.  Only the Spirit of God can do that as a person yields oneself to His in-working power.

Now the fleshly-minded man is prone to think, “well, if I’m not under the law then I am free to do as I desire and please.”  That is not the mind of the Spirit.  Romans 8:10 says, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” Here again the mind of the Spirit is not to fulfill the desires of the body; that is dead.  Rather, the mind of the Spirit is to perpetuate righteousness in us, which is life.  Romans 6:1-4 tells us, “1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  When we come to Christ we should have come to the revelation that entanglement again in sin is not freedom, but putting ourselves again into bondage.  Now it can be pretty liberating to think that if I am no longer under the law, then all things are lawful for me.  Paul puts that thought into perspective in 1 Corinthians 6:12 by telling us, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  Our freedom is maintained as we walk in the Spirit.  When we fail to walk in that place we become fleshly-minded, at enmity or enemies with God, and become subject to the law and it’s consequences of judgement.  Our freedom is maintained in Christ.  In that place we walk in the liberty of the Spirit, even as Christ did in His day.  Concerning the law, He said, ” Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17).”  Romans 3:31 reiterates this by saying, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  We, as Christ did, establish the law, not by living under it, but by it’s righteousness living through us.  Hebrews 10:16-18 says,” This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering for sin.”  We have been born again as the Lord’s free men.  Free to live by the Spirit, through His power and grace working in us, to live unto righteousness to the glory of His name and for His purpose.

Blessings,

#kent

Temptation

September 19, 2019

Mark 26:21

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.

 

Temptation

 

Temptation seems to always want to come and visit us in our weakest moments, entice us with its sweetest fruit and numb us to the consequences of its poison.  Lust and desire are strong aphrodisiacs no matter what level or place in life they come to us.  They always seek to turn our heads from who we are in Christ to who we were.  In Genesis 3 we see the beguiler as he comes to rationalize with Eve that what God said wasn’t so and God just didn’t want her to partake of what would make her like Him.  God warned Cain in Genesis 6, “… sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”  We all, like Cain and those that have gone before us, are often caught up in our mind, will and emotions where we rationalize and court sin.  It so often starts so subtly with the innocent and seemingly harmless things, just like a fish playing with the bait on a hook until before we know it the hook is set and we are being reeled into the depths of sin that can lead us to strongholds and addictions.

In our passage from Mark 26, Jesus sees this happening even to His own disciples as He cautions them, “watch and pray”.  Like them, many of us go through a time of spiritual victory and strength where we tend to let down our guard and think we are no longer vulnerable to the temptations of sin.  What Jesus speaks to His disciples; He speaks to us.  “Be vigilant, watchful and mindful of the cunning strategies of the enemy.  Your spirit may be strong and willing, but your flesh may not have the resolve that you think that you have in your spirit.  Given opportunity, it will want to indulge itself in those areas where it is weak and vulnerable.

Our spirit, in unity with God’s spirit is the strength we have to reign in the flesh with its desires.  While we no longer have that appetite for sin, we all fall prey to it at various time and in various ways.  What we all now have confidence in, is that even if we make a mistake, we no longer live in the realm of the law of sin and death, but in the realm of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  We know that in Christ we have an advocate with the Father, who, ever lives to make intercession for us and if we fail. 1 John 1:5-8  reminds us of the message we have from Christ:  “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

God warns us even about the company we keep.  Where our hearts are, our actions will follow.  2 Corinthians 6:14 -18 exhorts us, ” Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.

17″Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

18″I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

While we minister the love and righteousness of God to the world, it is no longer the place of our fellowship or abiding.  We are a people separated out of the world and unto Him, so our affections are set on things above and no longer of things beneath.  It is as we maintain the identity of, not who we were, but who we have now come into, that we live in Christ through the power of His Word and Life.  We are no longer conformed to this world as Romans 12 tells us, but we are transformed through the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.

Remember that the war that you are in, is not one of flesh and blood.  The enemy is as 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  He is looking for our places of weakness and vulnerability.  And Jesus says, the mission statement of the devil is “to kill, steal and destroy.”  He will always entice you through logic and lust into sin and then condemn you for it.  Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us that we are in a war and not a casual relationship with this world and the spirits that seek to rule it.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

We must not only be mindful of ourselves, but pray and watch out for one another.  The enemy is always trying to catch us on our blindside and your brother may be able to see what you have been blinded too.  Let us watch one another’s back in love, not in judgement or condemnation.  Together we stand as one man to defeat our foe and overcome temptation.  We need to watch and pray, not only for ourselves, but for one another.  Together we must stand helping, ministering and exhorting one another to be strong, resisting the devil so that he will flee from us.  The serpent only feeds on dust.  Your dust has been redeemed through the cross so that you walk no longer in the former dust and lust of your flesh, but live out of the life of the Spirit of Christ in you.  In that place he has nothing to feed upon.

Blessings,

#kent

Ethics of the Kingdom

September 18, 2019

Luke 3:7-14

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10″What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told

them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

 

Ethics of the Kingdom

 

It is interesting to see here that John the Baptist’s message was not unlike Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount.  John was already teaching practical kingdom principles of behavior and conduct.  People from different walks of life were asking John what they needed to do after they had repented of their sins and been baptized.

We, as the body of Christ, transformed by the power of Christ, still often find ourselves in a quandary concerning our business, financial and ethical dealings.  We most often work in the midst of the world around us and can easily be influenced and adopt those paradigms and business practices that are not kingdom.  Human nature is to normally do what best benefits you.  Am I right?

Kingdom living principles are well expressed in Philippians 2:1-11.  “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We can easily see that kingdom principles run counter to the competitive, ‘dog eat dog’ world that we live in today.  The principles of the world are self-serving, but the principles of Christ are considering the interest of others before myself.  If we want to know and see kingdom principles in action we need to go no further than to look at the King Himself.  He was everything, yet came to us as nothing, that He might impart unto us all the riches of His kingdom.  I’ll never forget hearing what a speaker said many years ago that summarized it so well.  “The Son of God became the Son of man, so that the son’s men could become the sons of God.”  Jesus could have come to make Himself rich and powerful, but that wasn’t His mission.  His mission was to seek and save that which was lost and give His life as a ransom for all.  In that mission He is redeeming a kingdom of kings and priests that will display His likeness and glory.  As we walk in discipleship and relationship with Christ we are putting on His nature as His character is being worked within us.

I feel convicted that the Holy Spirit wants each of us to examine which paradigm and mindset we may be operating under.  How often do we use the devices, manipulation, and wisdom of this world for our own gain, while we often ignore what is in the best interests of others?  For many of us, our method of operation (MO) has become so instilled in us that we aren’t even aware of how we may be very similar in doing the same things these tax collectors and soldiers were doing before they came to repentance.  Many of us don’t really consider how much we still operate out of worldly principles, because it is the way of the marketplace.  Now, He wants us to observe ourselves and consider if we, as a kingdom people, are operating our lives and businesses out of kingdom principles?  Let’s ask Him to put His finger on the areas we are out of alignment with His will as we prayerfully go about our business.

Especially in these difficult times it is hard not to be concerned about the bottom line, but we know that there is a higher road to greater blessing.  Let us consider our ways and turn toward it.

Blessings,

#kent

Effects of Corruption

September 17, 2019

 

Effects of Corruption

 

Galatians 6:8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

 

In this day and age many of us deal with computers.  They are a great tool and instrument of help anda  blessing to our lives as long as they are working properly.  When something starts to go south they can become a tremendous source of frustration.  Sometimes we experience a corruption in our software and it may start as a minor glitch, but it rarely gets better on its own and left to itself it could eventually affect and shutdown our whole system.

The effects of sin work much the same way in us.  When we give place to areas of sin in our lives it is often minor at first, but the more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.  Little by little it leads us down a path of greater and greater corruption.  It is like a cancer that may manifest in one area of our body.  Left unattended it can grow and spread till it can affect other areas of the body as well.  It can overtake us to point that we begin to lose moral compass and control over its direction.  Often times, the Holy Spirit will deal with us about it and even send others into our life to exhort us and warn us of our corruption.  The corruption of sin can again rule over us if it is given place and allowed to have dominion.  That sin will eventually manifest itself to the point that it can be spiritually life threatening and totally destructive to our lives.  That which we sought to hide in the corner may be suddenly shouted from housetops and we can find ourselves publicly naked and humiliated.  Those that once admired us may now despise us because of the reproach our corruption has brought upon us.  All that we had spent years building in reputation and integrity can be destroyed in a moment.  It is vitally important that we judge ourselves, lest we be judged.  Whom the Lord loves He chastens.

If we find corruption in our lives, our remedy is repentance, changing our mind and going the other direction.  This isn’t always easy because of the stronghold that sin can have upon us.  We may well need to humble ourselves and go to other mature members of the body of Christ to help us in these areas of bondage and corruption.  Freedom from corruption will first begin to come with our decision and commitment to get free from it.  We may need some help and deliverance, but we still have the power of Christ within to enable us to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  Perhaps there is corruption at work in many of us that we need to deal with, confess, and get deliverance from, that we might live a life of liberty and freedom in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

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