The Pothole of Self Pity

August 31, 2021

The Pothole of Self Pity

Jonah 4:1-4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.  Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

               In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity.  He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see.  He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter, so he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.

While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either. 

               I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated.  That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way.  What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes. 

               The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently.  Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs.  Now, the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems.  So, finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”.  The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did.  Afterwards, I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into.  Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me.  Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is.  I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others.  I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me.  The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine.  How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others.   This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization.  That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others.  The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself. 

               We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do.  Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives?  In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at.  Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition.  We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.”  Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart.  It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values.  Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature what God wants to work in us.  It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it.  There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy.  If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of.  Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ.  If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves. 

               Watch out for that pothole of self-pity.  It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk.  Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”

Blessings,

#kent

Excellence

August 30, 2021

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Excellence

               Life is about excellence.  When we settle for less we rob ourselves, others and God.  It is not about perfection in the sense that we have arrived, but is about perfection in the sense of pursuit of God’s highest and His best for us and for others.  Life is a growing and maturing process and so is our faith.  There is what we learn in our heads and then there is what we experience in real life.  It is knowledge and experience that give us wisdom and wisdom only comes through a lot of hard knocks, mistakes and the grace of God at work in our lives. 

               God isn’t some angry person up there with a big stick ready to smack you when you get out of line.  It isn’t the fear of God that leads us to repentance, it is His goodness.  God knows we are going to make our share of mistakes and gives us correction and discipline along the way because He loves us and wants us to have a vision of His highest for us as we pursue that with all of our hearts. 

               It is not in running away from God that we find our love, joy, peace and righteousness; it is only found as we run into Him.  That is what makes up His kingdom and that is the nature of who He is. 

               Life is hard and there are times we all get tired, discouraged and disillusioned.  Sometimes our hope and faith begin to flicker, but deep within there is the witness of the Holy Spirit that lets us know it is not in what we feel in the moment of what we are going through, but it is in the reality of who He is, beyond what we see, we know that He is.  There are forces at work all around us to rob that reality, that faith, that purpose, identity and destiny from us.  If they can obscure our vision long enough perhaps we will abandon this pursuit of the Most High. 

               God even teaches us through the weather that there will be days obscured with clouds and stormy weather.  Our natural mind says the sun isn’t shining, but in reality we know that it never ceases to shine, it is our perspective and position that obscures our vision of it.  If our Son isn’t shining today then the problem isn’t with the Son, it is with us and our location of observation.  If you want to see the Sonshine press through the stormy clouds of adversity and discouragement.  Press into what you don’t feel like doing.  If you want to see the Son you have to change your perspective.  You begin to speak the Word into your heart, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Psalms is a great book to elevate us back into the place of Sonshine, because David was so often where we find ourselves, but He knew how to find His position where the Sonshine of God’s  hope and love flourishes. 

               It is not the failures that bring us to defeat, it is when we fail to get back on our feet and declare, “You are God, and by Your grace and exceeding great and precious promises I will prevail!”  Our failures only cause us to draw the more from His strength and not our own.  It is the Christ in us that empowers us not the perception of Christ up, out and away from us.  Come back into the identity of who you are in Him.

               Our failures are often just the rungs in the ladder to our victory and overcoming if we refuse to give up and keep pressing in. The way less traveled is difficult, treacherous and costly, but it leads to His highest.  It is the road of excellence.

Blessings,

#kent

The Economy of the Kingdom

August 27, 2021

The Economy of the Kingdom

Matthew 19:21

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

               Most of us are familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and ask the question, “What must I do to have eternal life”?  Jesus’ first response was you must keep the commandments.  Our obedience to God’s Word is our first call to God’s eternal life.  The rich young ruler felt that he had fully embraced this requirement as he replies, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”  I would submit to you that this rich young ruler was not so unlike many of us.  We love God; we try to obey God, what more do we need to do?  In order to answer that question, we must ask ourselves, where is the seat of our affections?  If we are honest about this many of us choose to remain blind or unwilling to acknowledge that we have strong affections for earthly things, but most of us do. 

               Jesus told the rich young ruler in our scripture for today, “If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.”   When the Holy Spirit starts touching the seat of our affection we start to squirm uncomfortably in our seats, because we like our comfort zone.  What Jesus presented to this young man was the cross.  In it He would lose all to gain the treasures of heaven.  Our mentality usually follows the principle that, ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.  Our natural man doesn’t want to let go of what he has gained and thinks that he possesses.  The hardest principle for me to grasp is that the spirit of God and His abundance flows when I let go and release back what He has placed in my hand.  One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the people of God through the ages has been that when God began to bless them with abundance, like many in this country are experiencing now, they came into their most dangerous and vulnerable time spiritually.  It is a cycle that has repeated itself many times over through history.  When we are rich, fat and happy, we quickly start to forget where all this wealth and blessing came from.  We start filling up our barns or bank accounts and pretty soon we start thinking “I’m a pretty shrewd fella, look what I have accomplished in my life and how rich I have made myself.”  Guess who we start to forget in our comfort zone?  Jesus is giving all of us a principle here we would do well to practice and remember.  We don’t any of us have anything that He didn’t give us in the first place and all that He gave us is to be for His glory not ours.  God loves to bless His children, but all of us as parents know what a brat we would raise if the child were given everything their heart desired and it cost them nothing.  There is nothing we have of ourselves that we could adequately give to God, but God has blessed us with gifts of sacrifice.  He placed within our hands, our voices, and our hearts gifts that we can keep solely and selfishly for ourselves or that we can give back to Him.  The economy and wealth in God’s kingdom is in the giving, not in the getting.  That is why Jesus tells us, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:44).”

               In Matthew 19:22-24 we read of the young man’s response to Jesus and what Jesus has to say about it. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  He was a godly young man and had much going for him spiritually, but he, like many of us, wasn’t willing to embrace the cross and pay the price of discipleship. We love God and want to have a close relationship with Him, but when we ask Him how and He touches the seat of our affections, how many of us back away and say anything but that Lord.  It can be a person, a possession or even a stronghold in our lives.  Are we willing to come and truly say from the depths of our heart, “I surrender all”?   If we want to enter the next level of entering in and inheriting the treasures of heaven we must be willing to fully release our treasures of earth.  Just remember no one has ever out given God yet.  We must decide if we are to invest in this world or that which is to come.  We must learn the principle that God has created us to be rivers and channels of His blessing, not lakes and dams.  It is in the giving that we receive, in the serving we are blessed and in the death to self that we experience resurrection life.  This is the paradox and the economy of the Kingdom.

Blessings,

#kent

A Treasure Chest

August 26, 2021

2 Corinthians 4:6-12

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

A Treasure Chest

               When we speak of a treasure chest, what is it we envision?  Is it some old trunk with a lock on it or do we see a chest with the lid open and precious jewels, pearls, coins and metals overflowing out of it?  Do you realize that you are the Lord’s treasure chest?  He has given and wants to fill you with all things that pertain to life and godliness.  You possess the Christ, which is the richest gift of all.  Colossians 2:3 says, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  It is not our container that gives significance to the treasure; it is the treasure that gives significance to the container, these clay jars, which are our bodies.  

               What do people see overflowing out of your clay jar?  Do they see the riches of the treasure of Christ?  What we don’t often see is the cost of the treasure.  When treasures and the riches are collected and placed within a vessel they often come at a great cost.  The life and significance of the vessel is lost so that the treasure can become the object of focus.  The Apostle Paul was a wonderful example of a vessel filled with the riches and the out-flowing of the life of God, but what had to happen to Saul, the man, to bring him to that place?  His personal life was poured out as a living sacrifice, so that others might partake of the in-working of that treasure that was manifest in his life. 

We sometimes question God as to the trials and tribulations that we must endure, but it is through the crushing that the precious fragrance of Christ is released.  The dependence, the glory and the significance of our lives are blended into Him.  We want to be the vessels that when people look upon us they don’t see the vessel, but they behold that rich treasure which we contain; the chest does not distract them, they just see the treasure, but in reality they have become one and the same. 

You are God’s treasure chest and the in-working of His riches and the out-flowing of His life is often going to crucify and pain this mortal man.  “So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”  Be the treasure chest filled and overflowing with His Life no matter what the personal cost.

Blessings,

#kent

Jesus wept

August 25, 2021

John 11:35

Jesus wept

Why did Jesus Weep?

               Well before we can answer that question we need some background about what has taken place.  We need to read John 11 to get the context of what has taken place.  Briefly we will summarize, but there is so much here I fear we do an injustice in doing so.  Many of you are familiar with the story that Larazus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, had fallen sick.  They were all close friends with Jesus.  Mary and Martha had sent a messenger to Jesus saying, “Lord, him you love (so well) is sick.”  When he says sick, he is not talking a head cold, he is talking as in sick unto death.  Jesus then says, “This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it.”  So even though is it says Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus dearly, he staid where He was for two more days before traveling to Bethany.  Now Jesus finally tells His disciples plainly that Lazarus is dead, but then He says this, “And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.”  When He gets there He finds a mournful scene as Lazarus has died and He meets up with Martha who has heard He is coming. 

               Now you can imagine the feelings that Mary, Martha and the rest are going through.  They know who Jesus is as the Messiah, they know He has the power to heal and yet even when they called upon the one who says He loves them, He didn’t show up.  In their hearts and minds they are hurt, disappointed, maybe even angry.  Jesus, you didn’t answer my prayer.  Perhaps there have been times when we have been in that place of Mary and Martha.  We know and love the Lord, but at some crisis or need we prayed, but He didn’t come through for us as we thought He could have and should have.  We have thought, “Lord, if you had only showed up I know the need would have been met.” 

               Martha converses with Jesus saying, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.

23Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.

24Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; 26And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?

27She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.]”  Martha has a revelation of who Christ is.  She knows Him as the Savior and she knows Him as the Healer, but she doesn’t really yet know Him as the Resurrection and the Life.  Sometimes for a new revelation to come forth, the former one has to pass away.  We have to let go of old paradigms and understandings in order to grasp a greater revelation of the unveiling of Christ.  Jesus is speaking to her of this, but she does not fully comprehend it yet.

               Martha goes to let Mary know Jesus is here and she comes running to him, followed by the group that have been mourning with them.  It says in verses 32-38, “When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.

33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]  34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.

35Jesus wept.

36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?

38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it.”  I believe Jesus really felt and had empathy with their sorrow and pain, but I think that it also grieved Him that they could not see beyond their disappointment and they still doubted Him.  It reminds me of the times Jesus would say, “ Oh faithless generation, how long must I endure you?”  Jesus wept because of their sorrow, but He also wept because of their doubt and unbelief. 

               If we really believe Romans 8:28, that,  “all thing work for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,” then we have to be able to rest and trust Jesus even when we don’t understand why things happen as they do.  Sometimes it is those crisis moments that create significant life changing events.  They challenge our faith and belief system.  They stretch us beyond our ability to explain and rationalize what has happened.  Then we are faced with, “do I get angry and turn from Him, or do I trust Him.”  Trust isn’t based in understanding; on the contrary, it is often trusting in what you don’t understand. 

               Jesus then had them roll back the stone where Lararus was buried for four days.  He looked to heaven and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].”  And then He shouted, “Lazarus, Come forth.” 

“44And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.

45Upon seeing what Jesus had done, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Him.”

               The Lord is taking us from glory to glory.  He is resurrecting us into a new mind and way of thinking.  He is loosing us from our formal burial cloth of religious thinking and ideology.  He is raising us up into newness of life. 

On this journey we sometime must relinquish the old so that we can embrace the new.  The worse thing we can do is to believe things are as they have always been.  This is what religion does.  It builds its city on a truth, but becomes so cemented in it that it can never move on in the continual unfolding of the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

               Some of you need a spiritual healing where there has been disappointment, hurt and maybe even anger against God.  God still loves you more than you can know.  Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.  Sometimes it is these seeming failures that really lead us into the greater glory, even as it was with Mary and Martha.  Hold fast your faith.  He will never leave you or forsake you.

Blessings,

#kent

Hebrews 6:13-20 (Amplified)

For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you.

15And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him. 16Men indeed swear by a greater [than themselves], and with them in all disputes the oath taken for confirmation is final [ending strife]. 17Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath. 18This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us]. 19[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it–a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil, 20Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

God’s Unchangeable Promise

               Perhaps few passages in the Word speak more powerfully of God’s faithfulness and commitment to keeping His Word and promises than does this passage.  Here we are given the example of the father of our faith, Abraham, and how God promised that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.  All of God’s promises have their season of fulfillment and in our terms that may be a short time or it could be a very long time.  God’s promises are sure, but in between the promise and the fulfillment faith must stand in the gap.  Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”  God says that Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness because it believed and stood upon what it could not see and what may have seemed incomprehensible to the natural man.  It wasn’t until way past that time of natural fulfillment that God gave Abraham His promised seed Issac; “the pledge of what was to come.” 

               In the fullness of time God brought forth another promised seed in Christ Jesus who brought forth the promise of God’s great salvation.  He was the fulfillment of that which Issac was a type in that He was the seed of promise and the beginning of the blessing that should follow.  What we have seen in Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people and to mankind of His love, salvation and ultimate restoration of all things back to the Father.  Just as Issac was not the completion of the promise, but the beginning of it, so the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus was not the completion of God’s plan of salvation, but only the beginning, the firstfruits and forerunner.  “Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.”  Now if Jesus isn’t the only runner, but the forerunner or front runner, then it is evident that others must follow.  God gave us, as believers in Christ, His full assurance in that He gave unto us the Holy Spirit as the earnest and down payment on that inheritance that stands before us.  1 Corinthians 1: 21-22 states, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Again in Ephesians 1:13-14 we are told, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” God has sealed His promise in us, not only with His Word which cannot fail, but with His own Holy Spirit He establishes us as His own and the partakers of the divine nature through the great and precious promises He has given us (2 Peter 1:3-4). 

               What an assurance to our faith that Jesus never fails, that God’s Word is established in eternity and can not be moved.  In Hebrews 1:1-3 it says of Jesus, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” 

               Because all of creation and the universe is held in place by the power of God’s Word, which is Christ, then it is reasonable to conclude that it is as likely that all of creation will come apart as it is to conclude that God will not keep His word and promises.  “This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us.”   What a powerful statement that should place unshakable faith and confidence in every believer that they can count on the God that they serve and worship.  Now we can understand why the rock of our foundation is Christ Jesus which can not be moved and against whom the gates of hell cannot prevail. 

Colossians 3:1-3 reminds us of where we are in the midst of these great and wondrous promises, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  So great is God’s faithfulness, so unchangeable His ways and promises.  We are a people who are clothed in the great and precious promises of God.  As we hold fast in our faith we, like Abraham, will reap if we faint not and our faith will be accounted unto us as righteousness.  Christ is the forerunner who is bringing many sons into glory, into His likeness and into an everlasting priesthood to the praise of His glory and the fulfillment of His unchangeable promises.

Blessings,

#kent

Liberty

August 23, 2021

Liberty

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.

Liberty is the liberation of the soul from the law of sin and death.  It is emancipation from the bondage of the flesh.  Liberty in Christ is the freedom to live in the calling and destiny our God has prepared for us, to realize His highest and His best for us.  Oppressive forces are continually at work to rob our freedom, to undermine our liberty and to pervert the law of life in Christ Jesus to which we have been called. 

Our liberty in Christ is not found in the freedom to live to our flesh, or in self gain and promotion; it is realized in our dying to all that the world holds dear.  Those former affections are no longer the object of our love and desire.  When we really see Jesus, when the Spirit of God really possesses our soul, then all that is earthly, sensual and devilish will be as dung in comparison.  We will catch the vision that Paul caught and we will run for the prize of the high calling that in Christ Jesus. 

We are living in a day of purification and revelation.  We are being called by the Spirit to come out of our former complacency, our ruts of religious thinking and form, and come into the anointing and calling that Christ has for each of us who are His.  If you are reading these words, it is because you desire something more; you desire more of Him.  God wants to impart more of Himself to us, but in order to impart the new, the old has to pass away or it is only a hindrance and a pollution of the new.  Hebrews 9:8 says, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”  We can not realize the fullness of God’s calling and the holiest of all as long as we are bent on carrying all of our old religious baggage with us.  Do not depart from the Word of God, but put on new ears to hear not the same religious rhetoric that you have heard all of your days, but the sound of a new trumpet in the land. It is calling us up higher, but it is not going to often be all that we thought we understood.  The Lord says in Isaiah 65:16-17, “That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”  The Lord is doing a new thing in the earth.  He is calling us out and up in ways we have not known before.  Know this, that in the way of the cross there is suffering and in the suffering there is loss, but in the loss there is purification and resurrection from the dead.  Don’t fear to let the former things go, for what the Lord is calling you into is so much higher and so much greater, but it is not the way of the flesh, nor of the will of man.  Like Peter in John 21:18, the Lord would say to us, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.””  The calling of God is great upon our lives, but it is not without a price.  Again, we know and believe Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” 

Can you hear the call of God personally upon your life today?  Will you respond by releasing the former things and come to know Him in Spirit and in Truth.  Learn His voice and obediently follow Him, for you are the sheep of His pasture.  He is calling you into the liberty.  When we truly find our liberty in Christ, then we will begin to become the liberators of others. 

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.”  Search out and know your liberty in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

How do I Know that I Know Him?

1 John 2:1-6

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

               Have you ever been around someone, who says they go to church and they claim to be a Christian, but their attitudes, their morals, their integrity and their language all testify against them?  Now the truth is we all fall short of the glory of God and we know that if we sin, Jesus has paid the price and offers us forgiveness when we confess our sins and ask for it.  When we behold Jesus, when we see His life and listen to His Words, is He what you really want to be like? Now our church mentality wants to say, “Oh yes, that’s what I want.  I want to be like Jesus.”  What does your heart say?  What is more important is, what are our lives saying? 

               Have you ever noticed in life that you tend to excel at what your passion is?  When you are passionate about something it is not work, or a burden to you, it is your desire and it is what fulfills you.  If we are trying to serve God out of obligation and duty then we probably won’t do exceptionally well at it, because it is not in our heart.  On the other hand, if Christ is our passion, our love and our desire, then keeping His commandments isn’t that hard.  That’s who we are and what we want to be.  It is our passion and our love, so to do the contrary to that grieves us and steals our joy.  That is why Christ is all about relationship; when we love Him and when we are intimately connected to Him then He is who we desire to please.  His commands aren’t grievous to us, but joyous, because our obedience to them reflect our love for Him and desire to be well pleasing in His sight.  Our obedience is our expression of love back to the Lord.

               Remember your first love?  We could not do enough to try and please that significant other.  They were in our hearts, our thoughts and our conversation; we would doodle their name, we talked to our friends about them, they were the passion and joy of our life.  That is what many of us have had with Jesus, but like that first love, the more familiar it became, the more common it became until it wasn’t so special anymore, it was just another part of life.  Many of us have seen this happen in our marriages and we have seen it happen with our relationship with the Lord.  We still love, but we’ve slipped into a routine of mediocrity.  We are faithful, but our hearts aren’t in it like before.  This condition can and does happen to many of us both in the natural and in the spirit.  In Revelation 2 the Holy Spirit is addressing the seven churches.  When He comes to the Church of Ephesus, He says this, “3I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary. 4But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. 5Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.”  How many of our marriages have had their lampstand removed for this very reason, we forsook our first love?  We lost our passion for love and relationship?  What we have done in the natural, we are doing in the Spirit.  The joy of obedience and service is in love.  When we loose that love, the joy goes with it.  We have to recapture that first love we had for Christ.  Can you remember when He filled your spirit with His Spirit till your joy was to overflowing? 

               While we may be faithful with our bodies or our spirits, our minds and hearts have wandered off to pursue other lovers, but all they are really doing is robbing us of our first love and joy, and they never offer us any long-term fulfillment or faithfulness.  They destroy what we did have to give and leave us nothing but heartache and sorrow.  We are like Israel of old and like Homer, the harlot wife of Hosea.  Hosea writes in Hosea 2:7, “And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.”  Beloved we need to lay hold of her revelation.  We need to return to our first husband, our first love and our first passion.  This can be said to us both naturally and spiritually.  We have to rekindle those fires of friendship and relationship, both with Christ and with our spouses.  Who can measure how much richer our lives will become if we set our hearts to do that.  I know that my wife would say amen to that, how about yours? 

               How do you know that you Know Christ?  The knowing is in the intimacy of relationship that stems out of love and commitment.  It is a dynamic that cannot become stagnant or static or it will wither and die.  Complacency and mediocrity will kill it.  We love Him, because He first loved us.  His passion and His love for us hasn’t changed, if something has changed in our relationship then the problem is with us and not with Him.  Let’s return to our first love.  God’s love is made complete in us through our obedience.

Blessings,

#kent

Spiritual Armor

August 19, 2021

1 Samuel 17: 38-40

Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor.39David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.40He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.

Spiritual Armor

               Many of you will recognize this passage from the story of David and Goliath.  Saul, in his good intentions to protect David, gives him his heavy and encumbering armor.  For David this was very confining, heavy, awkward and not the armor that He had learned to fight with.  Saul’s armor represents the natural efforts of the flesh to defeat a spiritual foe.  It represented why they had suffered defeat, because ‘the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through the Holy Spirit to the tearing down of strongholds’.   In fact let’s take a look at this scripture in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,6and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”

               When we fight with natural weapons, rather they be physical, our words, our actions or our cunning; where are they based and where do they come from?  They stem from fear, jealousy, greed, anger, rage, slander, contempt, unforgiveness, selfishness and natural mentality.  What does James say about us as Christians when we do such things in James 4:1-10, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

               Like David, we have to learn that victory and power is not in conventional weaponry based on earthly design and natural wisdom.  It is based on our faith and confidence in who He is.  I hear a lot of spiritual brothers and sisters talking today about getting guns, concealed weapons permits, storing up goods and finding fortification.  We do live in perilous times and we do have to use wisdom, but Father would never have us to forget that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  Little David was able to overcome and defeat mighty giant Goliath because of the Spirit of God in Him; that gave Him the confidence to know that God would fight His battles and all he had to do was show up and respond in faith.  It wasn’t the natural armor that protected him, it was the spiritual armor of his right relationship with the Father and God’s faithfulness in his life through past experiences.  He knew, not what he could do, but what God could do through him, if he made God his armor and weaponry. 

               Ephesians 6:10-20 instructs us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”  The Word teaches us that our spiritual armament is the strongest and most powerful kind.  It teaches us that our real battle is not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.  This where we must remember that as Ephesians 2 says, ‘we are seated with Christ in heavenly places’.  We are seated in a spiritual position above our foes, even though our natural man may be positioned beneath them.  Where are we living out of, our natural man or spiritual man?  It is the difference between above and beneath, between victory and defeat. 

               No matter what we see in this world, we must maintain our identity and position in Christ.  David won the battle against the giant and the Philistines because he knew his identity in God and his position with Him.  That is where our true victory lies and that is how we will prevail, not with the armor of the natural, but with the armor of the spiritual.

Blessings,

#kent

Delight in the Lord

August 18, 2021

Delight in the Lord

Psalms 37:4

 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

               What is it that we find our greatest joy and delight in?  We love doing and partaking of what we enjoy in life.  What gives us true pleasure and fulfillment?  While we would all like to be spiritual and say, “my delight and pleasure is in the Lord”.  The truth is, for many of us, while we love the Lord and believe in Him, he isn’t our first delight.  The Lord may be on our agenda, but He may not be the One we are completely focused upon and take the greatest pleasure in.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, we have a list of the things we most delight in and they have to do with where our heart is.  Many times we won’t even acknowledge where our heart, desire and delights are because we are in denial of it.  If you ask yourself where do you spend the most of your time when you have a choice about it, what would your answer honestly be?  The Lord isn’t beating us up because we have other interests or things that we enjoy, but His pleasure is in those who delight in Him and have Him at the top of their agenda as the one they delight in the most. 

               The truth be known, it is hard for us to give even one day to really focus and delight ourselves in the Lord.  Sunday comes and we may go to church or have some sort of worship service, but then we go about our day and we do our own pleasure.  We feel satisfied because we have given God His due.  Now it is our turn to delight ourselves in the things we enjoy.  Listen to something the Lord speaks in Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you turn away your foot from [traveling unduly on] the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a [spiritual] delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor Him and it, not going your own way or seeking or finding your own pleasure or speaking with your own [idle] words, 14Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”  As much as we all hate to admit it, so much of what we do for the Lord is token gestures of obligation, obedience or religious habit, but they are not because we truly delight in the Lord.  If we wonder why God doesn’t seem to hear our prayers and why we are not connecting with Him we need to read Isaiah 58.  Our superficial religious actions are no substitute for delighting ourselves in His ways.  The Father is looking for a love, a joy and delight for Him and His ways that comes from our heart, not our sacrifice. 

               Jesus teaches us that ‘where our heart is there will our treasure be also’ and ‘to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.’  He is not trying to condemn us or beat us up because our delight is in other things.  The truth is, it is not always easy to delight yourself fully in the Lord because it is often a death to self.  Our flesh doesn’t want to stay still in His presence very long.  Like a restless child, tt wants to get up and go do what it delights in doing.  Truly delighting in the Lord is an acquired taste.  It comes about through a longing, desiring love toward Him as the lover of our soul.  It comes through an intimate relationship where Christ truly becomes our heart’s desire, our manna and our focus of life and living.  Like any relationship, it must to be cared for and maintained.  Some of us have had that and we’ve allowed other things to come in that have slowly disrupted our flow and delight in the Lord.  We still love Him, but we find that we are not delighting in Him as we once did.  Perhaps the cares of this world and the demands of life have shifted our focus.  The wonderful thing about the Lord is that He is always standing with open arms to welcome us back into His presence.  He is not mad at us, but He does long for that relationship where we can truly delight in Him and in His presence.  Make the time for your intimacy with Him.  Come fall so deeply in Love with Him again that He is the delight of your heart and soul.  “Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Our chief desire should be Him.

Blessings,

#kent

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