The Pruning

July 17, 2020

The Pruning

John 15:1-2

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

              The true substance and character of a healthy and fruitful branch is not in the outward, but in the inward.  The outward is the glory and the fruit of the inward, but it is not the substance of it. 

Why does God want to prune us even when we are fruitful?  It is so that we can bear more fruit.  Our outward fruitfulness may be already abundant and good, but human nature is such that even when we are spiritually fruitful, pride and complacency can creep in.   When God blesses our lives with much increase in whatever dimension that takes place, it isn’t long before that little voice starts saying, ‘look what I have done’.  Pruning keeps us focused on the vine and the source of our substance and fruitfulness.  It creates renewed dependence upon the vine and strips the glory from the self.  It helps us to not just dwell and live upon past experiences, miracles and victories.  It serves to stretch us and cause to grow when we would be complacent to remain as we are.  Without pruning things tend to grow wild.  There may be a lot of growth, but not as much fruit.  Pruning then brings focus.  It keeps our eyes upon the Spirit and not upon the flesh.  It causes us to remember our source of life and fruit so that we boast in the Vine and not in ourselves. 

              Don’t despise the days of pruning.  They are the loving hands of the Father at work in you, His children.  Left to itself, a branch may produce leaves, but not fruit and eventually even the leaves will die.  The branch then must be cut off and cast out.  It becomes a detriment to the health of the vine.  Thank God He loves us enough that He doesn’t want that to happen to us and so He cares for us in what often may seem to be severe ways.  Those who know Him rest in the passage from Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him and called according to His purpose.”  Often, we don’t understand the why and wherefore of all that takes place in our lives, but our eyes and our hearts must remain steadfastly upon the Vinedresser.    He is working all things for His glory and our good.  He will never maliciously harm that which He loves and cares for, but does what is necessary to bring it to its highest and best potential and productivity.

              What hinders the process of the pruning and in turn our growth, is our self, our ego and stubbornness to pursue our own interest and do our own will.  In addition to this we often get offended at God or others that God uses in the process of our pruning.  If it doesn’t make sense to us, then it must not be fair or just.  God sees the end of a thing and we tend to get hung up and focused on the process.  This is why it is so important to have a vision that sees the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus and not let anything or any circumstance detour us from that vision and that goal.  Our ability to run the race is in that One who has called us to it and not in ourselves.  Our reliance must always remain on Him and not on us. 

              Just remember Hebrews 12:7-11, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  God is training His people up to produce something more than religious flesh.  He is preparing a people with the substance and the nature of His Son.  So, don’t neglect to praise Him even when it hurts.  He loves you and He is ever working for your good.

Blessings,

#kent

The Loving Hand of Correction

Hebrew 12:5-8

5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.  6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  8 )  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

              Most of us would rather run away from discipline and correction.  Especially when things are going well, the last thing we want is someone to rock our boat, especially heavenly Father.  Every motive and action of God is birthed in love, for He is love.  For God to leave us to our own devices and ways would not be very loving on His part since we are His children and His responsibility is to raise us as such.  While many of us say we love God we can be just as stubborn and rebellious about spiritual things as we can about natural things.  Out of God’s great love for us, because we are His children, He corrects and disciplines us in many different ways.  Even though that goes against the grain of our flesh, what is the greatest hindrance to our spiritual walk if it is not the old natural ways of living and thinking?  The trials and tribulations that touch our lives are exercising our true faith, spiritual obedience and substance.  I find, I can think I’m pretty a good egg until the Lord allows me to tested in an area and what comes out of me or how I respond is often a pretty good indicator that a definite work of grace and correction is needed in that area of my life.  Unfortunately for most of us, God has to keep taking us around and around some of the mountains in our life, because we still can’t seem to get it right.  How often have we read about the Israelites of the Old Testament and shook our heads at the fact we saw a continual cycle of rebellion and disobedience to God, His warnings and exhortation to turn from sin, their continued path of disobedience, God’s rod of discipline and correction, the repentance and turning again to God.  Then it would start all over again.  1 Corinthians 10: 11 says, “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  Here we have 20/20 hindsight, but do we make any better choices and demonstrate a greater measure of obedience and submission to the Lord than our Israelite predecessors? 

              Those who have trusted God for their salvation are at the heart of God’s love.  Even Jesus is our example, for it says, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrew 5:8).” Let us not take the discipline of the Lord as a sign of His displeasure or anger toward us.  Though our discipline is not pleasant while we are going through it the Lord does it for our profit and good.  The end result is that it works the peaceable fruits of righteousness in us when we have been exercised by it.  Like the loving Father that He is, He is not allowing us to grow up spiritually being the self-willed, self- serving children we would be inclined to be, but the children that are being conformed to image of the Father by His loving hand and correction. 

              Let’s thank God He loves us the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way. 

Blessings,

#kent

Celebrate Life

July 15, 2020

Celebrate Life

Psalms 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

              If ever a people had reason to celebrate and be joyful, it is the people of God.  Who is blessed like us in all the earth?  Who else are the recipients of such great promises as given in 2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  Who else has been called to be joint-heirs with Christ and to be seated with Him in heavenly places at the right hand of the Father?  Who else has had the Lord of the universe come and give His life a ransom for our sins that we might be partakers of His life and kingdom, that we might have fellowship and unity with the Creator of all.  All that we have is by the goodness of His hand and all that we are is by His grace and sufficiency that works in us.   

              This morning as I was reading 1Chronicles 29 about how the house of God was a labor of love for David.  He laid up tremendous wealth in materials to build the house of God.  It says in verses 2 and 3, “Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for [things to be made] of gold, and the silver for [things] of silver, and the brass for [things] of brass, the iron for [things] of iron, and wood for [things] of wood; onyx stones, and [stones] to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, [which] I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.”  David has made it his joy and purpose to bless the Lord back with the abundance that the Lord has blessed Him with.  This joy in giving and in blessing God through the preparation of building His temple is contagious even among the people.  Verses 6-9 shows us how this became also the heart of the people, “Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And they with whom [precious] stones were found gave [them] to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”  These people had laid hold of the joy of giving unto the Lord and they were making a celebration out of it.  And why did they want to give so much to the Lord?  They gave, because they acknowledged and appreciated how much the Lord had given unto them. 

              Listen and read how David then blesses the Lord at this time, “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who [am] I, and what [is] my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things [come] of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we [are] strangers before thee, and sojourners, as [were] all our fathers: our days on the earth [are] as a shadow, and [there is] none abiding. O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name [cometh] of thine hand, and [is] all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee.”

              This was also the time of  Solomon’s coronation when David handed over the kingdom to him and the great task of building the temple.  Isn’t it interesting to note that in this great giving from a right heart and attitude of the people that Israel never prospered more greatly in its history than it did at this time?  Wasn’t it because the leadership and the congregation of the people all had a heart of thanksgiving and appreciation for all that God had done?  It says of Solomon in verse 25, “And the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him [such] royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.”  We know that we can never out-give God, but isn’t it wonderful that we can give something back to a God that has blesses us so.

              The Lord has committed the task of building the house of God into the hands of the church.  We should know that we only labor in vain if we are building after the flesh and not after the Spirit.  For we are the workmen and the instruments of God for the building up of His house to the glory and honor of His great name.  What a privilege and honor to know and serve Christ.  We have great reason today to celebrate.  May we always have the heart to bless Him as He has blessed us through uprightness of heart and willingness to give. 

Blessings,

#kent

Where and What is our Treasure?

Luke 12:34-36

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

              Before we talk about where and what our treasure is, let’s take a moment to look at our God and what His treasure is.  Do we really grasp and understand that we are God’s treasure?  Exodus 19:5 says, ” Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:” Again, in Psalms 135:4 He speaks of what would apply to both natural and spiritual Israel in this sense, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, [and] Israel for his peculiar treasure.”  God’s treasure are those who love and obey Him.  He delights and takes great joy in those who treasure Him and have set themselves apart for His purpose and good pleasure.  1Peter 2:9-10 tells us, “But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  The very fact that you are reading, receiving, and obeying His Word is an indication to you that you are set apart to be a treasure unto the Lord.  Think about it, there is none that God treasures above His own Son and yet Romans 8:15-19 reveals to us, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” We are not only His people, but because we are His treasure He has made us joint-heirs and partakers with Christ.  If we are willing to pay the price to go all of the way with Him, He will even reveal His glory through us.  Through this treasure of His peculiar, blood bought children; He will deliver His creation.  You and I have been called to be partakers, not only in receiving God’s deliverance from sin and bondage, but also in being we His instruments of deliverance for all His creation.  If we can see how much God treasures His people that are set apart unto Him, then it is not difficult at all to see why He must be the treasure of our hearts as we are of His. 

              Our scripture today says that, ‘where our heart is there will our treasure be also’.   Your heart is the center of your affections and desires.  It is this center of affection and desire that motivates and propels us in the direction of fulfillment to whatever the affection and desire of our heart is.  What is the affection and desire of your heart today?  If you had the power and the gift to have the thing you want most, what would it be?  That is your treasure. 

              Most of the world is under the illusion that if I just had this or I just had that, or I just had this much money; I would have everything I want.  Solomon, the wisest man in the world, said this in Ecclesiates 2:8-11, ” I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, [as] musical instruments, and that of all sorts.  So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun.”

              The truth is that if you possess Christ and are sold out to Him, then you already are the richest person in the world.  You are a child and heir of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You possess what no earthly riches can compare too.  The treasures of heaven far exceed those of earth even if we don’t see fully their benefit in this day.  1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  “Christ in you” is the greatest treasure ever possessed.  He would have us come and know the richness of that which we possess in Him.  He must ever increasingly be the joy, the desire and complete affection and treasure of our heart.

Blessings,

#kent

Orphan, Son and Father

July 13, 2020

Luke 15:11-31

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Orphan, Son and Father

              Many of us have read or heard sermons on this parable many times before, but the Lord was dropping into my spirit just a few key principles from this example that I don’t know that I had ever heard or thought about before. 

              In the midst of Christianity today, there are many of us that have an orphan spirit.  It is one that really doesn’t know its identity.  It is one that is not secure in who they are in Christ and they don’t often have a good sense of what the nature of their Father is.  They are often only looking after their own best interests; they like to hoard and keep things for themselves and they really lack that security of just being loved and accepted.  As a result, most of their world is pretty much about them.

              In this younger son we see such a spirit.  He had everything and yet all he could see is what he thought he didn’t have.  He didn’t want to build into his father’s house but wanted to take his inheritance and use it to his own self-indulgence which is another quality of an orphan spirit.  So, father gave him his inheritance and let him go.  Now, an orphan spirit, isn’t interested in legacy or building and sowing into something greater than himself.  All he really sees is himself and often carries a victim mentality and sense of entitlement.  After all, his father “owed him” his inheritance because it was rightfully his.  He had a “right” to be free and spend his inheritance how he wanted.  What an orphan spirit does is take us down a road of perpetual poverty, because we never see beyond ourselves.  All that we think we have or gained becomes dust and blows away, because we don’t have a vision to see our Father’s heart.

              Now this orphan spirit son finds himself where this spirit will always tend to lead you, being dependent upon others to feed you the pig’s food. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.”  Finally, he gets a revelation that even his father’s servants are living better than he is and it would be better to go back to father as a servant than to live starving and dwelling among the pigs.  He now sees the fruit and the consequences of his orphan spirit.

              Then we see the heart of the Father as he comes back home.  ““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” 

              You see the Father’s heart is always for restoration and legacy.  He was willing that his son departed for a time that eventually he might come to repentance and be restored.  The Father never saw this boy as any less than a son when he left and when he returned.  His love, his heart and longing was always for him.  The father didn’t receive him back because he deserved it.  He didn’t kill the fatted calf and celebrate because of his great choices and he didn’t put the ring on his finger because he deserved to be a part of the family any longer, but because the father wanted him to know who he was to him and know that he still belonged to the family not just as servant, but as a son.

              Now we see the spirit of the son. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

              The older son has been faithful to his father and to his father’s house.  He has staid the course and paid the price, so this causes a great offense in his heart when he sees how his younger prodigal brother is received back with celebration and royalty.  He becomes very angry.  For those that are in the Christian faith who have been sons and have walked the walk and staid the course, take note, because the day is coming when the prodigal is going to come home and your hearts are going to be tested in similar manor.  The son sees from the perspective of what is deserved, but the Father’s heart is one of grace and restoration.  Just because we are sons doesn’t mean that we have a father’s heart, but God wants us to get His heart, because it is the next level of maturity.  It is where we understand that it is not about us and never has been.  It is about the kingdom.  It is about restoration and reconciliation of that which was lost being restored back to the Father.  It is not that the father didn’t already love the older faithful son, but what did he tell him?

              ““‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”  This is what we must understand as sons; all that that the Father has is ours and it is ours for a reason, so that which is lost may be found and restored back to the Father.  As sons we have to catch the Father’s heart or we will be offended.  Just like Jesus, we must descend so that we can ascend and bring others up with us.  It is not about us, it is about the Father’s house and kingdom, His love for the lost and His desire for legacy which is a lasting representation of His nature and character in the earth.

              Thus we see the Father’s heart to restore the orphans to sonship and the sons to fatherhood, so that Father God’s kingdom will come and His will, will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Blessings,

#kent

Yielded to Whom?

July 10, 2020

Yielded to Whom?

Romans 6:12-14

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

              Imagine when you receive Christ as your Savior and the Holy Spirit comes to abide in you.  Before that, you are in this chaotic marketplace of humanity.  It is loud with its music.  There are voices all around you calling you and enticing you to come and partake of their merchandise, while they make all their promises of how it will fulfill you and satisfy your needs and wants.  Come buy this desire, buy this experience, if you only have this then you will have peace and contentment.  Many of us have spent a good deal of our lives in that marketplace of worldliness and ungodliness.  We have partaken of many of it wares and merchandise, but always we came up lacking, always there was this same emptiness inside.  What brought happiness and pleasure for the moment was always fleeting and temporal, never eternal and continual. 

              Then, one day, we heard about this Jesus, who was the Son of God.  We heard He could take away all our sin and bring us into a right relationship with God the Father.  As we listened about this Jesus, it was different than all the other religions we heard about before where it was up to our goodness and works to get us to heaven.  This Jesus said He did it all for us, not only did he take away our sins and give His life for all our bad, but in its place He gave us all His good.  All we had to do was believe on Him and ask Him to now come in and be the Lord and King of our hearts.  We felt this tugging and drawing in our hearts.  Something in us was saying, “this is right, this is true, I need to do this.”  Yet, there was a part of you that wanted to hold back.  It was saying you don’t want to do this, then you will be obligated to live for this Jesus and you won’t be able to buy and sell in the marketplace of humanity like you did before.  There is a lot of good merchandise out there; are you sure you want to give all of that up?  Yet something greater rises up in you, that is greater than the reasoning of your natural mind.  Something in you says, “I need this, this is what I have really been looking for all my life in all of these other things that never fulfilled their promise to satisfy and give me the peace and contentment I’ve been searching for so long. “

              Suddenly you make the decision and you step forward, by faith, embracing and receiving into your heart this new Savior.  It is like you stepped out of this marketplace of the world and into this sphere, this dimension, this place where the peace and love of God filled the room of your soul.  Suddenly this tremendous weight of sin and condemnation was lifted off you, your heart and life felt clean and pure again.  You thought, I will never leave this place, this is what I have been looking and searching for.   While the brightness of that experience fills the room, it is like the walls or the sides of that tent are somewhat transparent, and outside of it you are aware that the former world and marketplace exist.  Over time, as you again are forced to walk and live around the marketplace, its spirit and influences begin to return with their enticing voices seeking to lure you again into its dominion and darkness.

              Here is where you can lose sight of who you are and what you have become.  The Lord shows you that you were never just your own.  You were always a slave and a servant; the big difference was who your master was.  When you came through that door of salvation you, by faith, placed your self-life of sin upon that Cross with Jesus.  When it died you traded the master of sin and death for the master of righteousness and life.  Perhaps you, like most of us, are hearing voices from the grave of your old man as he may be trying to resurrect himself in your life.  On one thing you must be clear.  The life of Christ is one that is built upon His Word with absolute faith that He is true.  The sense realm of the natural man will always perceive this outer world as real.  The reality of who you are in Christ is said here in Romans 6:22-23, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”        

Blessings,

#kent

Places of Position

July 9, 2020

Places of Position

Matthew 23:8-12

But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

        Deep down, or not so deep down, in most of us is the desire for recognition, honor and appreciation.  It is a healthy thing that we do honor and appreciate one another.  Beyond that there is the desire to be exalted above others and to have others look up to you.  It was this spirit that I believe Jesus was dealing with in this passage of Matthew 23.  He is speaking to the Rabbis, Teachers and “so-called” spiritual Fathers of the people.  They are characterized and revealed in the haughtiness and importance of their position.  They loved the power they had over the people.  The people feared and respected them.  If you got on their bad side they could excommunicate and damn you to hell, in addition to cutting you off from spiritual fellowship and social acceptance.  These were powerful people and they didn’t take to kindly to people like Jesus that were not intimidated by their social and religious status. 

              Jesus draws from their example to give us an example of what we don’t want to be like.  The greatest power on earth is love and the person that best demonstrates and puts that love into practice is the greatest one in the eyes of God.  That person is characterized by much of what we see in Jesus.  They are a person of compassion, humility, generosity, hospitality, meekness and kindness.  They love and practice righteousness, integrity and faithfulness.  You will recognize them not because they proclaim or exalt themselves to be anything, but because they excel in service and in recognizing and meeting the needs in others.  There last concern is for themselves, it is God and then others that they live for.  They do not seek honor for themselves, but rather always seek to transfer that honor to the Lord who alone is worthy of all glory, honor, dominion and power.   Chances are you won’t see them on a podium, but more likely stooped over in service to someone or some need.  Their vision, their purpose, their reason for living is in giving in all the ways they have a capacity to give. 

              How do we compare to that kind of a standard of greatness?  Is it our ego that we are trying to promote or the kingdom of heaven?   God is looking to our hearts.  He is not judging our outward by what we have and have not.  What are the motives that govern our hearts?  Are we self-serving or selflessly giving?  Most of us can see that we fall very short of these kinds of standards, but it should awaken us to what Christ is looking for in His people.  As we are daily humbling ourselves before Him and seeking His face, let us rise up and carry with us His nature and character in our lives.  The way up is the way down and the most fruitful branches hang the lowest.  May we all be great as demonstrated through our lives of love and service.

Blessings,

#kent

The Labor of Love

July 8, 2020

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

              A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her.  Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring.  Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth.  Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth; the miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents.  This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others.  It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer.  That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended.  That was only the conception.  The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them.  Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith.  No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her.   Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood.  You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them.  All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them.  You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours. 

Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction.  You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways. 

This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others.  Often, it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you, that now take on a different spirit.  Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them.  In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go.  As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ.  It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them. 

              We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us.  Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us or reject us.  They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them.  They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9). 

              Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you.  Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction.  It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did.  Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man.  God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are.  We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,

#kent

Joel 3:13-14

13Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

The Valley of Decision

I believe the day is fast approaching where the line of demarcation is becoming more sharply defined and we all must decide if we are in or out when it comes to our faith and trust in Christ.  We are coming to the valley of decision before a day of judgement that must come.  We have come to the threshing floor where the wheat is being separated from the chaff.  Hopefully we know with assurance where we stand in Christ and if that would cost us our life then so be it.  Many others are not so decided.  They are the fair weather Christians or believers in God that are here for the blessing, but are very questionable when it comes down to the sufferings. 

              I see the Lord having a tremendous harvest of souls before His coming so that all that will may come in.  The valley of decision is where we choose not only physical life and death, but more importantly, our spiritual life or death.  The Lord wants to prepare our hearts and our lives to be the instruments that would bring in this great harvest of souls.  He has prepared many of us for such a time as this.  These many new believers will need someone to mentor and disciple them.  Their lives depend upon it. 

The Word of God is sharper than a two edged sword, let us use it in the love of God to bring in the harvest of souls that are prepared.  We will see the Spirit of God begin to move in a mighty way upon the face of the deep.  The seas of humanity will be stirred up and the hearts of many will turn to Christ and the hearts of many will become hardened against him.  Then will come the day of the Lord and judgement will be pronounced, justice will be brought forth. On which side of the valley do we stand and what will we do to help others to reach the Lord’s side.  Let us ready our hearts for the day at hand.

Blessings,

#kent

Beware of the one who seeks to take your Life

Luke 2:1-15

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5″In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6″ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'” 7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the eastwent ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

              We have often read and seen the nativity of Jesus most generally around Christmas time.  It is easy to see by this account that the Magi or wise men were not at the stable where Jesus was born in Bethlehem like many of our plays would lead us to believe.  That was when the Lord’s star appeared in the heavens signifying His birth and arrival in the earth.  It was the beginning of a two year pilgrimage for the wise men of the East that brought them first to Herod to inquire and actually enlighten him to this future King’s presence. It was the star that continued to lead them to the house where Jesus was living with His parents.  They had come such a long way to worship this “King of the Jews”, but more than that, the King of all Kings.  They had a revelation of what most of the Jew’s didn’t even know.  Now Herod knew, but he saw it in the natural as a threat to his earthly throne.  Herod serves as a type of satan, the god of this world.  He is threatened still not just by the Jesus Christ of this day, but by the Christ that is birthed into a people of faith and who are starting to mature in authority and power.  The objective is to destroy the life before it can come into maturity and then end the power and dominion of its authority and life.  Satan fears what has been birthed in us.  We are not ignorant of his devices to rob, kill and destroy the life of the spirit.  He uses temptation, manipulation, intimidation, deceit, trials and tribulation and even physical death.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “And fear not them which kill the body (satan and his agents), but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him (God) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

              We see this scenario played out again in Revelations 12:1-7, “1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. 7And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

The point I believe the Lord wants to make to us in the simplest of terms is this.  There is a divine life that has been maturing in the womb of the church and is seeking to come to birth.  There is an evil one who knows this will be his final demise for it is the union of Christ coming forth in fullness within His body.  This union of Christ manifest in His body is the start of the final nail in satan’s coffin.  The great red dragon is desperate to destroy it before that life can really manifest.  God wants us to recognize, not only what it is that He is doing in this time and place in history, but what is taking place is being birthed out of eternity.  He is speaking to us that if we will walk in obedience and faithfulness to the calling that is within us and the life that He has birthed, He will preserve that life.  Our hiding place and protection is in Him.  Satan can’t touch what is God’s, without God’s permission and if we are allowed to be touched then it is for a reason that God is working.  Our umbrella of protection is living in the center of God’s will.  Outside of that umbrella we open ourselves up to the attack of the enemy in our lives.  It is the time that the Lord is gathering His own unto Himself and they that are His own will hear His voice and will not listen to the voice of another.  There is one who seeks to devour and destroy the precious life that has been birthed within you. If you and I will return to the Lord with all of our hearts and with repentance He will be our fortress and protection in an hour of the great outpouring of satan’s wrath.  As the Redeemed of the Lord we must walk as Jesus walked receiving our instruction from the Father and hearing Him for ourselves.  It is no longer about us listening to everyone else and all of the voices of Christendom, it is about a personal relationship between you and God where you come to hear and obey Him as your Shepherd.  Beware of those that seek your life and lure you into complacency and worldliness.  They are as the harlot in Proverbs 7 that would lure your soul to hell.  Be wise and seek the Lord’s instruction.  Press into to know Him now like you never have before.  Our time grows near. 

Blessings,

#kent

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