Religion versus Reality

March 31, 2021

Isaiah 58:2-4

For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.

They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.

3‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.

4Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.

You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Religion versus Reality

                Through this passage in Isaiah God teaches us something about the difference between being religious and really walking in the nature of God.  The Israelites can’t understand why God does not honor their fasting, their sackcloth and ashes and their outward showing of humility and sacrifice.  God basically tells them that what you do outwardly is ineffectual if it doesn’t change and truly affect the condition of your heart. 

                God is after the condition of our hearts and no amount of religious ceremony or outward works means anything to God if your heart isn’t changed.  The true fast of God is in walking out in obedience the nature and character of God in every day life.  It is not in all of the super spiritual things that we do, but in the every day application of the love of God toward the people in your sphere of influence. 

                God declares to them the fast that He has chosen: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

8Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.

9Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

10And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

12And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

                It is practical daily living in the nature of Christ that is the true fast and that is what captures the ear and the heart of God.  If we want a real fast, not just a religious one, then let’s walk in the love, power and demonstration of the nature of Christ, then God will hear us out of heaven and will answer our prayer.  He will honor us as we honor Him.  Out of that place we have a spiritual legacy of children that we have built up and restored to the glory of God the Father.

Blessings,

#kent

Why have You Forsaken Me, Oh Lord?

Isaiah 49:14

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”

                How many of us have had experiences in our lives that have caused us to speak these words or ones like them, “why have You forsaken me, oh Lord?”  There are more than just a few believers that have been cruising down life’s road just enjoying getting to know God and His goodness.  They are growing in their faith and were so confident in God when it happened.  They hit that bump in the road that upset the apple cart of faith and blessing, their world was turned upside down and now it seems as though God has failed.  We prayed, but God didn’t meet our expectations or answer those prayers the way we thought He should.  He allowed something in our life that we thought never should have happened.  All the pieces of the puzzle we had put together in our understanding of God and His faithfulness are suddenly scattered from the devastation, trauma or disappointment that has touched our lives. 

                Many times we go from asking, “why God”, to being angry and then walking away from Him.  We feel like whatever it is that has happened to us or someone we love is God’s fault because He didn’t intervene when we prayed and believed Him for it.  We feel like God has let us down, disappointed us or has even forsaken us.  How many of us have gone through our rebellious times when we were angry or disappointed with God?  Maybe some of you still are.  If you still are, why do you think that you are reading these words right now?  Could it be because God has not really forsaken and turned His back on you?  He keeps drawing you back, but like pouting and angry children we keep pulling away.       

                Allow me to share with you God’s response to Isaiah 49:14, following verse 14, “15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. 17 Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. 18 Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride. 19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away. 20 The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’ 21 Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’ ““

You see a faith unproven and without being tempered in the fire is not a faith that will stand, but a faith proven in fire will bear children that we aren’t even aware of.  Our faith has to be able to stand even when our understanding doesn’t.  We have to so know that the heart of the Father is love and grace towards us; even when He doesn’t meet our expectations it is not because He loves us any less or doesn’t care what we are going through.  Our faith must be proven to bring us to the next level in our walk with God.  You might say it is the passing from puberty to manhood in the spirit. 

Maybe now you are feeling like, “ I failed the test, so God probably can’t or won’t use me anymore.”  When Peter failed the test and denied Christ three times, did Jesus cast Him off and tell him he was disqualified?  It was that test that was needed to bring him into the higher ministry that God had for him.  Through that test he realized He could trust in no one, but Christ alone, even if it would lead him down a road and into places that he would not choose to go.  God has not disqualified you, He is telling you to get back up on that horse.  Don’t be afraid that it will throw you again.  Have faith that God is there no matter what.  Just because He doesn’t fit in the box of your understanding doesn’t make Him any less faithful, loving and true.

King David went through those times when he felt forsaken.  Where was God when Saul was seeking his life?  Why was God allowing this to happen to him, after all he had been anointed of God to be king?  David says in Psalms 71:10-15, “For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. 11 They say, “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” 12 Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. 13 May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. 14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.”  David’s faith was being proven and tested before he could rule and reign. 

                Then there is always the faithful story of Job.  Job didn’t just get his apple cart upset, satan hit him square between the eyes with a 4×4.  He lost everything but his life and that was so miserable he would have been happier dead. Yet, what was the testimony of Job?  Even when Job’s wife is telling him to just curse God and die.  His response in Job 2:10 is “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”  When Job had withstood the test and came out the other side we see God placing him in the position of a priest, praying and making intercession for his accusing friends, standing in the gap for his accusers.  It was an example not so unlike the Priest that stands in the gap and makes intercession for us.  Even Jesus didn’t get to take the easy way out.  Why do we think that we should?  God is not trying to destroy your faith, but to take it to the next level.  Let go of your anger, disappointment and your rebellion.  Turn again into His outstretched arms of love and acceptance.  God is not through with you yet, but He is training you for a higher order and deeper walk with Him.

                “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee (Psalms 9:10).”

Blessings,

#kent

Practical Religion

March 29, 2021

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Practical Religion

                Most of us are quite familiar with the story of the “Good Samaritan”.  The Lord began to convict me this morning that what you know and what you practice can be two totally different things.  When we stand before God we won’t be judged for what we knew, but what we did with what we knew.  This story brings this point home when it talks about how the priest and the Levi both saw the man’s plight, crossed over to the other side of the road and passed him by.  These were representatives of the most knowledgeable, pious and masters in religious and godly matters.  Was their knowledge translated into practical application?  No, they, like many of us don’t have time, don’t want to get involved, don’t want to get our hands dirty or don’t consider it our responsibility.  Yet Jesus demonstrates a man that they despise as a heathen and half-breed coming along and giving of himself, his time and personal resources to care for a man that probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day, because he was a Samaritan and despised by the Jews. 

                True religion is practical religion.  James 1:27 says this, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  Doesn’t it strike us as strange that he doesn’t say it is how many times you go to church or how long you read your bible or pray?  It is in the doing.  Often God imparts much to us, but we are like a stream that has become dammed up.  We don’t allow the life of God to flow through us.  We hoard it up unto ourselves so that we can appear religious and pious.  As a result we stagnate spiritually and really benefit no one else but ourselves. 

                I remember a friend telling me his testimony of how he came to the Lord.  He said he was either building or remodeling his house and he had a friend at work that would talk to him about the Lord.  He said what really made the difference for him is when this friend took his personal vacation to come and help my friend to fix his house.  That practical application told him that this Jesus was more than just mere words and an ideology; He was practical love expressed through this man that sacrificed to help him.  That is how our world will know and embrace Christ, when they see the reality of His love expressed in ways that are not natural or normal.  If actions speak louder than words then Christ is amplified and magnified as we live and walk our talk. 

                There are basically two directions that our faith must express itself.  The first is upward in our personal relationship and obedience to God the Father and our trust in Jesus Christ.  The second is in the expression of what we receive in that vertical relationship and then in stretching out our arms to those around us.  This is what Jesus did when He hung on a cross.  His vertical obedience and relationship with the Father expressed itself in His outstretched arms to all of humanity.  He became the intersection where we could turn the corner on our lives and head in a heavenly direction back to the heart of the Father.  We also find that in our identification with Jesus, we also must lay down our lives for others.  Those others, often might be the people we would least care to serve or love in the natural, but then truly loving your neighbor is a God expression and not just a human one.

                How practical is our religion?  Does it really express who we are in Christ or just what we know about Him?

Blessings,

#kent

Seedtime and Harvest

March 26, 2021

Seedtime and Harvest

Genesis 8:22

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

                Mankind is not so different from the other elements of nature.  We are born into the earth, we grow up into maturity and fruition, we give birth, raise children, grow old and pass on giving place to the proceeding generations.  1 Peter 1:23-25 states it this way, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”  We know that our lives on earth are not much longer than a breath of God.  He inhales, exhales and we have expired.  Our flesh is but a short season, but it is a critical season to us.  It is the time that we come to cognizance and understanding of life and its purpose and our purpose in the midst of it all.  Do you ever remember wondering when you were outside of a relationship with God, what life meant to you and what its purpose was for you?  Do you remember wondering, “Do I just live my life the way I want too or the best I can, then die and that’s it?  Soon I would be forgotten and remembered no more.  My life would have just been a little blip on the radar screen of time.  Then, somewhere in our lives, we made an amazing discovery; we discovered the meaning of life when we discovered Christ and the gospel.  When we accepted Him into our hearts, suddenly our lives had new meaning and purpose.  We no longer had just this life and our earthly carnal existence.  We discovered that we also had a soul that contained a spirit and Almighty God wanted to come and live in it.  He gave the hope of an eternity, of a heaven and of a revelation that through faith in Christ we were now a part of His family and His household.  Wow, who can really phantom that?  More than just making us a part of His household, we are His Children and His purpose is to work in us His nature and character and being.  Suddenly we came to the understanding that this outward man is just the haul of the seed that contains perpetual life and blessing.   The true and everlasting life is contained in His Spirit and in His Word.  These abide forever and we are to abide forever in them.  This is the manna of heaven that gives place to eternal life; it is the eternal Word in us through Christ. 

                No longer are our lives insignificant little pebbles of sand. Through Christ in us we become a pebble tossed into the pond of life and humanity and we realize that a Christ-filled and Spirit led life can create ripples from our little splash that can effect generations to come.  In Christ, our lives can make a difference and they should make a difference to those with whom we communicate and come to know. 

                Are we living now in the eternity of God’s Word?  Is the Spirit of God impacting the lives of others as we give place for it to live through us?  You are bigger, greater and more important than you know, not because of you, but because of Him who lives in you.  Have a relationship with Christ that will spill over into your human contacts and acquaintances.  Allow your life to impact the world you live in.  Send some ripples of life and blessing through the pond of humanity.  Allow Christ to make a difference through you because in the few short years that you walk the earth you have an eternal purpose and destiny in God, be faithful to fulfill it.

Blessings,

#kent

More than Enough

March 25, 2021

Malachi 3:10       

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].

Faith needs an avenue of expression to produce substance.  One of my greatest faults is always looking at my need and my lack, rather than my supply and provision.  That is a fault of being naturally minded.  When I set my eyes on the Word of God, what I see is Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Is this always going to happen according to your natural understanding?  Quite often it doesn’t happen in the way we think.  But God has given us spiritual principles that promise us prosperity, provision and blessing.  The first of these precepts and principles is not having any other gods before Him.  He wants us sold out to Him.  He wants our obedience and He wants our trust.  When we were kids, we didn’t get everything that we ever wanted, when we wanted and as much as we wanted.  If we did, we probably were pretty self-centered, spoiled brats.  While God has everything and every resource at His disposal, He loves us enough to train us and mature us in what He has to give us.  He is teaching us to operate out of principles of faith that counts Him faithful before we ever see the manifestation of His faithfulness.   We tend to have a very short memory.  So many times, and even now in the blessing and prosperity so many of us enjoy, we forget where all that we have even came from and why we enjoy the freedom and the blessings that we have.  We soon begin to think that some how we are the ones responsible for our blessings. Generally, we fail to really appreciate all the blessings that we already have because we are so focused on what we don’t have. 

In the above scripture God is teaching us a principle that reaping a harvest of blessing requires the planting of a seed of faithfulness.  In this case it is the tithe, which was considered the ten- percent of one’s earnings.  While a farmer may eat or sell a majority of his crop, if he doesn’t set aside seed to plant, His harvests will cease, and his food supply will dry up.  The same principle holds true spiritually.   We plant our substance back into the kingdom of God, which produces for us not only a spiritual harvest, but a natural harvest as well.  When we fail to tithe in this way, we not only rob God, we rob ourselves of His blessing and provision that comes through this act of obedience.  A lot of people get very protective and defensive about tithing.  The truth is, tithing is first a condition of the heart, before it is a condition of the pocketbook.  God doesn’t want what is not in our hearts to give.  Giving to Him is a physical act of spiritual worship.  Would we give to Him that which cost us nothing?  When we give, it is in effect an act of thanksgiving and acknowledgement for that which He has supplied us with.  We are all just stewards and servants.  God places things in our hands, rather it be talents, gifts, abilities, or finances.  As faithful stewards to Him we have the responsibility of giving a portion of those blessings back to Him and investing them in the Kingdom that they may produce an increase to the glory of God and the increase of His Kingdom. 

                What we have is not always seen in what we outwardly possess.  What we possess is a God that is more than enough for all our needs.  There may well be times that the world around us seems to prosper much more than we are.  Read Psalms 73 to see David’s perspective when he envied the foolish and the wicked that prospered.  The Word speaks to us in Psalms 9:10, “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”  God is faithfully loving us and dealing with us as sons and daughter according to the conditions of our heart.  While everything around you in the natural may be testifying contrary to what the Word of God is speaking to you, Trust God.  Stay obedient and faithful to the precepts and principles of His Word.  It is not about what we see, taste, touch or feel; it is about the truth and faithfullness of God as we stand on the promises of His Word.  He is our portion and our blessing, and He is more than enough. 

Blessings,

 #kent 

Encouragement

March 24, 2021

Encouragement

Romans 14:19

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

                Encouragement is something in life most all of us need and all of us need to give.  It is the edification, the building up of an individual or group for the reason of instilling hope, purpose and comfort.   As emotional creatures we go through highs and lows in life.  Some of us more than others, but there are times when we all need an encouragement.  Unfortunately, many of us too often fall into the snare of being judgmental and critical.  Our words and actions can do more to discourage, condemn and hurt than offer hope.  Most of us inwardly know our faults and failures even though we don’t like to outwardly confess them.  We don’t always need somebody to tell us what is wrong with us.  We do all need positive words of life and hope that can bring sunshine into the gloomy and overcast places in our hearts.  People become what they believe themselves to be.  If we have the opportunity to speak encouragement and life into others aren’t they going to be better because of it.  Do we realize how much that can mean, when somebody believes in us, when maybe we’ve even given up on ourselves?  Obviously we don’t just want to be flatterers that speak a bunch of flowery words that are surface and insincere, but when we can speak into someone’s heart and spirit words of life, hope and promise then we have given them something their soul can lay hold of.  It is a rope that can help pull them out of the quicksand of depression and despair.  It can set our feet again on solid ground and give us a new perspective and outlook that can give meaning and purpose back to our lives. 

                In Acts 5 of the New Testament, there is a story about the apostles after Christ had risen and gone back to heaven.  They were ministering life and people were getting healed and delivered from unclean spirits.  Whenever life is at work, the devil is not far behind to try and rob, steal and kill it.  The religious leaders had the apostles thrown into a common prison because they didn’t conform to the accepted religion and everybody was starting to follow after them because of the power and demonstration of the Spirit of God through their lives.  During the night, the Lord sent an angel that released them and the angel spoke these words to them, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”  He was exhorting them to continue to be bold to speak the words of the life that was in Christ despite the opposition.  God is in the business of “good news.”   He is an Encourager and He has sent His Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers to bring them encouragement, faith and hope.  At the same time I believe He is speaking to us as He did through the angel to the apostles, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”  He wants all of us to be life givers to those outside of the faith in Christ as well as those within the household of God. 

                Jesus said in John 3:17-18, ” For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  It is not God’s will and desire to condemn us.  Jesus’ whole reason for coming was to provide deliverance out of the condemnation we already live under because of sin.  Our acceptance of Jesus and His Words of Life are our encouragement and hope.  They speak into us salvation, healing, deliverance and prosperity.  We could have no greater hope and no stronger encouragement than what Christ has offered us through the sacrifice of His life for us on the cross.  If we embrace these Words of Life, they will bring us the hope and encouragement that we all so desperately need.  They are the words that can bring us out of spiritual death and despair into the marvelous sunshine of His Love and Life.  Be encouraged today in Him.  For those of us that possess Christ, let the Words of this Life flow through us to encourage and build up those around us.  May we be life givers and faithful encouragers, as well as all becoming partakers of the encouragement we have in Christ. 

Blessings,

#kent

The Redeemed

March 23, 2021

Galatians 3:11-14

11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Redeemed

                 Do we fully comprehend the magnitude of what we have?  Many of us know it in our heads, but do we have a revelation of it in our hearts? 

                The definition of redeem is, “by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off.”  When Jesus redeemed us from the law He restored to us the righteousness and blessing received by Abraham through faith.  When we read the blessing of Abraham these are our blessings in Christ in addition to all the blessing and promises given to us in the New Testament, because He redeemed them back for us.  He redeemed us from the curse and the power of sin.  He restored to us what Adam lost, the place of sonship, family and relationship with Abba Father. 

                Galatians 4:4-7 says, “4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”  I have heard this, I have read it, but to fully comprehend the implication of Christ’s redemption, I don’t think I have.  Because we are sons in training we may not fully see the manifestation of all that we are and are heirs of, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the magnitude of our inheritance. 

                Father is grooming us to take over the family business.  That business is the fullness of His salvation brought forth in the earth.  Today we may see it working in one soul at a time, but ultimately we will see it working in all of creation.  God in Christ went into the sin orphanage of which you and I were a part.  He saw the sin, darkness and squalor of our habitation.  He loved us so much He took us out of that place of curse and condemnation and delivered us unto the fullness of His blessing in Christ.  Colossians 2: 9-12 tells us, “9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”  It is with this revelation of redemption in mind that I join in agreement with Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21 for us today.  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Form of a Servant

March 22, 2021

The Form of a Servant

Philippians 2:1-11

If [there be] therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind. [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

                If we would be conformed to the image of Christ we must be fashioned in the form of a servant.  Many who serve Christ and His body think of themselves as menial nobodies, who have no real significance, but are just available and willing to serve in whatever capacity they can.  We should not be deceived.  These are the great ones of God’s kingdom.  It isn’t all the pomp and outward glory that is great in God’s eyes.  It is the humble servant who seeks to glorify not themselves, but those around them and do all for the glory of God.  You might hardly notice who they are there.  They are just the humble servants that get the work done and are truly the nuts and bolts or better said the “living stones” in the body of Christ. 

                The spirit of a true servant is the Spirit of Christ.  It is an attribute we all need to possess as His children, because it is the character of Christ.  Life is no longer all about us, it is about others.  It is about promoting those around you, not yourself.  Christ Jesus, being God, humbled himself in the form of a man.  He made himself of no reputation, but came in the humblest of life’s circumstances to be the servant of men and to offer himself in obedience to God unto the cruelest of deaths, the cross.

The way up is the way down.  It is not about us being somebody.  It is us getting underneath others, building them up to help them realize they are somebody in Christ; that His love and grace extend even to depths of humanity and that He is not a respecter of persons. 

                Vanity, pride and arrogance are diametrically opposed to what the Kingdom of God is about.  When the world looks at the church they should be seeing a unified body of believers operating out of true love and humility, with each esteeming the other as better than themselves.  They should see a body of people that are selfless in their giving, their love and their caring.  Does this represent the picture of what we see in the body of Christ today?  If not, then we are missing the mark. 

                I believe God wants to bless his people to be a conduit of blessing to our world.  The trouble is we get too caught up in our own selfishness and greed to see beyond our immediate family and ourselves.  Mark 10:44 says, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” And again in Matthew 18:4, ” Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” It was the way of the Cross that promoted Jesus to be the name above every name.  The way of the cross is our way of promotion as well.  As we become that grain of wheat, that bread of life, that life giving seed planted in the humanity around us and as we die, the life of Christ within springs forth.  It comes forth to bear the fruit of life and provides the bread of life to a lost and dying world.  It is willing to do what others are not.  It is willingness to lay down your life that others may be lifted up. This is the way of promotion in the Kingdom. 

                “God, make us your servants, poured out as living sacrifices upon the altar of your service, for your glory and for the blessing and promotion of others in your Kingdom.  Help us to truly take on the form of Your servants.  Amen.”

Blessings,

#kent

Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

                As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus.  There are still many parallels of that in the Church today.  On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”.  These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure.  Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation.  In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel.  “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way.  It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.”  It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that. 

                On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”.   These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion.  They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him.  They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have.  They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God.  But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men.  Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into.  There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another.  This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today.  The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one.  As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another.  What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both.  The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring.  It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ. 

                If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted.  If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.

                What are we saying?  God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture.  We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ.  The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet.  Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love.  If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need. 

                I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself.  I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong.  Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.”  It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free.  He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading.  He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Patience in the Midst of Tribulation

Romans 5:3-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

%d bloggers like this: