Chill Out

February 28, 2022

Chill Out

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

               Do any of us struggle with anger, irritability, and frustration with others, disappointment?  These are but the catalyst for even more severe symptoms that lead to clamor (yelling, screaming, crying), cursing, saying bad things and attacking the other person, verbally, physically or emotionally.  Sometimes it is all the above.  Then it goes into malice and bitterness.  We want revenge.  We don’t want to forgive.  We’re going to hold on to an offence or offences, resenting and sometimes hating others we don’t like for various reasons.  Are we justified in our feelings?  Well yeah, we sure feel like we are, but then it was those feelings that got us where we are in the first place.  While I won’t take issue with the fact that people can be extremely frustrating, irritating, undependable and disappointing, that isn’t the real issue here.  The issue is us, our emotions and what we do with them.  Are you in control of your emotions or are they in control of you?  How many people lead unhappy lives because they are an emotional mess?  They may have every justification for it, but the bottom line is negative emotions not only hurt others, but they cripple, hinder and afflict us in ways we may not even realize.  Spiritually, unforgiveness of others is closing the door on God forgiving us.  Mark 11:26 says, “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Negative emotions disrupt our spiritual fellowship with the Father.  Do you feel like praying, singing, reading the word or praising the Lord when you are angry or distraught?  Emotionally we can obviously see it is damaging.   We are dealing with feelings that are causing turmoil, unrest and warring in our soul.  We have no peace in this condition.  Often, we just push it down inside of us where those feelings fester, ferment grow cancerous as they infect other parts of our being.  Physically these emotional issues can begin to take effect making us more susceptible to disease, sickness and infirmities.  1 Corinthians 11:28-31 brings this out when talks about believers taking the communion, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”  Discerning the Lord’s body is realizing that brother or sister you may be at odds with is nevertheless a part of Christ and when your attitudes are wrong against them they are wrong against the Lord Himself.  If we don’t deal with that and just go on as if spiritually we are okay, the Word says it can even physically affect your health and well being. 

               Emotions affect us spirit, soul and body.  They are powerful in what they can do to us and to others.  Naturally if the enemy of our soul can push our buttons, which he often does through others,  he can derail us with our emotions.  Emotions are good things, but they have to be controlled.  The Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to help us bring ourselves under His control.  We want the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested through our lives not the fruit of the flesh, which is what uncontrolled emotions produce. 

               What words come out of your mouth when your emotions are unchecked?  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  What is the issue of our mouth when we are ruled by our emotions?  Is it life or is it death?  There is power in the words that we speak and the confessions that we make.  Are we speaking curses or blessings? 

               The sad part about so much of this is that most of it is caused by petty things that in the scheme of life have no real significance.  Yet these little things could be adding up to wreck our lives.  You may say, I can’t help the way I feel.  Maybe you can’t, but you can choose what you are going to do with those feelings.  You can bring them to the Lord and give them to Him.  Instead of letting them take you away from prayer, let them drive you to prayer as you seek the Lord’s forgiveness, release and strength to deal with your emotional turmoil.   He is your peace.  He is your righteousness and self-control.  He can give you the victory where the past has brought defeat.  Lighten up, chill out; don’t take everything and everyone so seriously.  You can choose what you want to take into your spirit.  The Word says, “don’t be easily offended.”  Look at the qualities of God’s love in us through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love will last forever…” The love of God doesn’t hold on to these things.  Life is too short, people are too precious and our own spiritual, emotional and physical health are too important to allow these emotional sins to destroy us.  The second part of today’s passage says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  The person or persons that have offended you may not deserve forgiveness, but then neither did you or I.  Let it go, be reconciled today with broken and hurt relationships.  Let the love and forgiveness of Christ flow through you to bring healing, restoration and blessing.  You will be amazed at what it can do for your life and your relationships, both horizontally and vertically.

Blessings,,

#kent

Balance

February 25, 2022

Balance

Exodus 34:21

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

               One thing my wife is always telling me is that I need balance in my life.  Work and the demands of life can often so consume us that pretty soon, that is all we know and do.  It seems a noble pursuit.  We are trying to work for all of the right reasons, but soon those very reasons can become lost in pursuit of prosperity and success.  This seems especially true since I started my own business.  At least before you generally had the weekends off, but now it seems the demands are greater than ever and so it turns into the proverbial “you don’t run your business, your business runs you.” 

               The Word of God commends diligence and hard work, but it also sets some limitations and balance.  The Lord instituted the Sabbath for the very reason that man should take a break and rest.  I believe it is also a time for us to regain perspective and remember what each day of our lives is about.  Each day should incorporate some Sabbath time when we can get quite before the Lord and have time to worship, pray and acknowledge Him in all of our ways.  Our work is an important and often demanding aspect of our lives, but we must not allow it to become our god or our taskmaster.  It is interesting that the Lord commands that even in the busiest times of the year, during harvest and plowing, that there is still to be that time of rest.  In the Mosaic Law the penalty for not honoring the Sabbath and resting was death. 

               It is important that we endeavor to maintain a right balance in our lives and make time for the important things, the first of which is the Lord and the second is our families.  I know how hard it is to try and get everything done and to keep up with all of the demands, but if you or I were gone tomorrow would the earth stop or would things cease from going on.  We have but one life upon this earth and we won’t pass this way again.  Let’s make sure to balance our lives so that we don’t fail ourselves and even more importantly the ones that we love and cherish the most. Seize the day, but don’t allow the day to seize you.  Let us live with the purpose and direction that God intended for us.

Blessings,

#kent

Healing

February 24, 2022

Healing

Jeremiah 17:14

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou [art] my praise.

               There is a time and season for all things under heaven.  Ecclessiastes 3:1,3 tells us, “To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.”  Our lives are a series of seasons, some of those seasons bring perceived goodness and blessing to our lives, while others we don’t relish or necessarily enjoy and yet all of it is a part of this life, even the dying. We know that we don’t always have a lot of control over the seasons that affect our lives, anymore than we have control over winter, summer, fall or spring.  Through the cycle of life and seasons God has worked all things to bring balance and we see that even winter isn’t the absence of life, it is simply life in hibernation, in waiting for its season and time to bring forth.  Through each season, our circumstances can bring to pass inner workings in our lives that couldn’t be brought forth or worked in us in other ways.  It brings us to the perspective that whether in life or death, He lives and we who are in Christ live in Him.  That is where we live and move and have our being.  When our hearts and spiritual eyes are fixed on Him then what we see, or what man tells us or what natural circumstances dictate to us, does not move us.  Our God is the Lord of the seasons of our lives and just like there is a time for every purpose under heaven there is a time when God alone is God.  He moves as God in our circumstances and trials.  It may be in a moment and it may be in the course of years, but God is the Lord of our seasons. 

               We have the sovereignty of God’s Word concerning healing.  Deuteronomy 32:9 says, “See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand.”  God is the Lord of our seasons, but He also promises provision.  Jeremiah 30:17 says, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, [saying], This [is] Zion, whom no man seeketh after.”  Sometimes there is affliction that moves us to right relationship with God.  God is not sadistic, simply wishing to see us suffer.  Suffering has spiritual medicinal powers to move us often to where we need to be in relationship with Him and His purpose.  Even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered.   He had to willingly come to that place where He was totally surrendered to the Father’s will and not His own.  Ultimately God is moving us in the direction of restoration and wholeness, but the path to getting there may be with suffering.  At the waters of Marah (bitterness) Exodus 15:25-26 says of Moses, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I [am] the LORD that healeth thee.”  God has showed us a tree in this day and we know it is the cross of Calvary.  Because that tree knew the bitterness of suffering and death, when it is cast into the bitter waters of our life’s circumstances it brings sweetness, healing and restoration, but we must guard our hearts that we fall not into the snare of murmuring and complaint while we await our deliverance.

We believe in healing, because the Word of God has promised it to us.  Psalm 103:2-4 encourages us, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”  1 Peter 2:24 speaks to us that life giving promise, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  Christ provided it, we must possess it and God must manifest it, but the promise is ours.  James 5:16 exhorts us, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  Sometimes there can be things in our lives that hinder us from receiving the manifestation of the promise such as sin or unforgiveness.  We must search our hearts to be sure there are no such unconfessed and unresolved encumbrances.   “By His stripes we are healed” for He is the Lord our God “who healeth all our diseases.”  He has healing in His wings for you today.  Make His Word your standard, the continual confession of your lips and the faith that fills your heart.

Blessings,

#kent

In the Midst of the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3:21-25

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their [other] garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king .  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

               Our account today is out of the book of Daniel.  Again, this is a familiar story to many of us, but for those not familiar I will give a brief summation of the story to bring us up to the point we want to address today.  I would encourage you to read this account out of Daniel 3 in Bible if you are not familiar with it. 

               The setting takes place in Babylon.   The children of Israel have been taken captive and some of the choice young men of Israel have been brought into King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and trained up to serve the King.  The chief and most prominent of these men is Daniel who doesn’t happen to be a part of this particular account.  However, three other men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, godly men that Daniel has appointed with the King’s authority to rule over the affairs of Babylon, are the key players of this true drama.  The King erects a huge golden image, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide (roughly ninety feet tall by nine feet wide).  One might note the usage of six as the number of man used in the dimensions of this image.  The King then has a dedication in which he invites all of the officials of his kingdom to come to.  At the sound of the instruments all of these officials are ordered to bow down and worship this image with the consequences being that if anyone doesn’t comply they will be cast into the fiery furnace.  Now, after this dedication, certain Chaldeans, officials of that country, came the King and brought to his attention that these Hebrews didn’t bow down as he instructed.  I’m sure there was no, jealousy, covetousness or malice on their part toward the Hebrews.  They were no doubt just doing their civic duty.  At any rate this enraged the King who had the three Hebrews brought before him.  He asked them if this account was true and then he offered them a second chance to fall down and worship the image with the consequences being the fiery furnace if they refused.  It is a great testimony and example to us in how the three Hebrews replied,” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Hebrews 3:16-18).  They knew God could deliver them, although they did not have a sure word that He would, they never the less, had already resolved their stand in this matter, they would not bow down to false gods even at the cost of death.  Well, this sent the king into a full-blown temper tantrum.  He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal and his strongest men to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, into the furnace. Note that seven is a divine number of God throughout scripture and well may indicate a divine judgement and purification in this case.  The furnace is so hot that the heat consumes the mightiest of the men as they throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound in all of their garments and hats, into the furnace.  As the king is able to look into the furnace, his account is as follows: ” Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Christ?).”  The account of the story finishes by saying he called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace.  ” Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. “

               We have laid this foundation to say this, Hebrews 12:28-29, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God [is] a consuming fire.”  As we look and see what God did for these Hebrew men, we can see what He wants to do for all His faithful servants and children.  The only thing that the fire can really touch is the bonds of the flesh that have bound us.  If we are walking with Christ in us, the judgements and trials that befall us are doing but one thing, they are burning up the areas in our life that bring us into the bondage of the flesh.  1 Corinthians 3:11-16 tells us this, ” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ”  One day our lives will stand in the fiery furnace of God judgement and our works will be tested by His fire.  The exhortation is that God is not trying to destroy us, but He does want to burn up all the areas in our lives that hold us in bondage.  He wants to set us free to truly walk with Christ even through the trials of life.  So, if you are going through the fire today let that be your encouragement, that all that is really being touched are the areas of our flesh while our spirit is being purified and refined.  All of us are building on the foundation of Christ, but how we build and what we produce through our lives will have to stand the test of God’s fire.   Revelations 3:18 gives us this exhortation, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”  That gold, spoken of here, is the pure things of the Spirit that have been worked in us through our trials and testings. ‘ We learn obedience through the things we suffer.’  So hold fast in the place of the fire for in it is where we purchase the gold of His divine nature and Spirit within us. Let us build our lives with the things of the Spirit so they may stand in the day when they are revealed by the fire.

Blessings,

#kent

Welcome to Enter In

February 22, 2022

Welcome to Enter In

John 10:9

 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

               Have you ever had an experience in life where there was something you were going to get around to doing or a place you were going to go sometime and then suddenly the opportunity was gone or unavailable?  Most all of us have missed opportunities in our lives where we took for granted what we had good intentions of taking advantage of and then it was suddenly gone or unavailable.  Often it wasn’t till it was gone that it was impressed upon us what we had missed and sometimes it was with great sadness and regret that we missed out.  We take so much for granted in our lives.  We just assume that life will go on tomorrow the same as it did today.  We assume that our loved ones or friends or neighbors will be alive and well.  We often assume that we will have further opportunities to make relationships right or share Christ with a friend or neighbor, or visit that person who is sick, lonely or in prison.  The reality is none of us have assurance of what tomorrow will bring or who will be here to share it with us, or if we will even be here. 

               The most important reality we can come to is that Christ came, sacrificed His life for our sin and extended His arms to welcome us into the kingdom of God through placing our faith and trust in Him.  While many of us have accepted His invitation, there are those who may be riding the coattails of religion or other Christians, but have never made a personal commitment of their lives to Christ.  It may be that they have a mental agreement of who Christ was and what He has done, but they have never made the commitment of their lives to Him in faith, asking Him into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives.  They take for granted that there will always be time for that or perhaps they just haven’t really taken the time to consider that their life really isn’t where it needs to be in relationship with God.

               In Luke 13:13-28 Jesus gives a rather sobering account that might really touch at the heart of many of us who take our relationship with Christ for granted.   “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.”  Here Jesus is describing the type of scenario that we have been talking about.  We may have attended church or have been around Christians or even thought of ourselves as being one because we ascribe philosophically and mentally with a Christian point of view as well as being a relatively good person.  Just because I can bark like a dog doesn’t make me one.  Jesus says a man must be born again.  That event takes place when a person takes an action of faith and asks Jesus Christ to enter into their heart, forgive their sins and be the Lord and Savior of their lives.  Jesus is standing before us today with open arms, saying, “Welcome, enter into the joy of my salvation.”  That door will not always be open.  Jesus says one day it will be shut.  What you took for granted or procrastinated on will no longer be available and with deepest regret and despair you may find yourself on the outside knocking to come in, but it is too late. 

               The Lord is exhorting each of us today to take stock of our lives.  What relationships are we neglecting and taking for granted?  Foremost, what is our relationship with Jesus Christ today?  Do we have the peace and confidence of our salvation or do we need to get things right with Him?  What relationships are wounded and broken that we need to take the initiative to heal?  What relationships are we neglecting and taking for granted?  If those relationships were suddenly gone out of our lives would we have the peace that we enjoyed and made the most of them while they were there?  Throughout our lives doors open and shut.  We need to do all that we can that if and when they go shut we are not living with regret or that no man’s blood is upon our hands because we didn’t extend the love and gift of salvation.  Enter in while the opportunity prevails.

Blessings,

#kent

Three Dimensions of Jacob

February 21, 2022

Three Dimensions of Jacob

Genesis 32:22-32

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

               Many of us will remember this story of Jacob.  We often say that Jacob wrestled with an angel.  As I was meditating upon Jacob this morning I felt like the Lord gave a little insight into this man Jacob.  Jacob’s life is like our spiritual journey.  Consider with me some of the analogies I felt like the Lord was showing me and I know there is so much more to this than what we will share here today. 

               When Jacob came into this world, he came in with his first-born twin named Esau.  Now Esau was hairy, red and ruddy.  He was a man of the earth and field.  You might say he was the Adamic nature.  The scripture that gives us great insight into these three dimensions of Jacob, which is type of us, is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.  “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”  While Esau is a type of the body, which is pretty much self-centered and driven by its needs and wants, Jacob is a little more subtle.  Jacob is a type of the soul.  The soul is where our identity lies.  It is our mind, will and emotion.  It is expressive of who we are as a person.  Like Jacob, most of us have our spiritual side and then we have our fleshly side, for our soul is a mixture of flesh and spirit.  Even the name Jacob means “heel holder or supplanter”.  The truth was he was an artful manipulator.  Even so, Jacob had a spiritual side that hungered for the things of God and the desire for the inheritance or birthright that would normally go to the firstborn.  The trouble with the firstborn is that he had little or no appreciation for the birthright.  Yes, he wanted the blessing that came through the birthright, but he didn’t have a heart or desire for the legacy and the responsibility that it carried with it.  Jacob on the other hand did, but he sought to gain it through unscrupulous means, even though prophetically it had been spoken that the older would serve the younger.  Jacob is like us in so many ways.  He was always cunning and devising in the flesh how he might obtain the things of the spirit.  Whether it was his life, livelihood, his wives or his children, Jacob set about with natural wisdom and understanding to obtain them.  That is not to say that Jacob did not have his spiritual side.  He encountered God at Bethel in the dream of the stairway or ladder with ascending and descending angels.  He experienced God’s blessing, protection and wisdom in his life, but like us, we often seem to struggle and work so hard only to come up so short of our dreams and strongest desires.  We have that Labon in our lives, Jacob’s father-in-law, that is always promising so much and delivering so little.  No wonder, like Jacob, so many of us are frustrated physically and spiritually. 

               Even though Jacob knew God and had a relationship with Him, he had his shortcomings, his fears and demons to face.  His biggest fear was his brother Esau, the one he had taken the birthright and the blessing from.  It is like even though we possess the promises and blessings of God we face our own mortality.  Faced with who we are in the natural we fear.  In the natural we perceive our weaknesses, our failures, the ungodly part of our nature.  That is what Jacob faced in Esau. 

               In Genesis 32 we see Jacob escaping Labon and his stronghold to return to the promise land, but there he must face his Esau.  In this place of fear for himself and his family, he is crying out for answers and favor from God.  Try and scheme as he will, he fears the strength of the flesh that is represented in Esau and his ability to take all that he has labored to build.  While he possesses the promises and the birthright they are of little value to him in his own identity. He sends his family and the others on ahead and takes them over the ford of Jabbok, which means emptying.  He sent away his family and all that he had and now, empty, he is left alone.  There he encounters this third man.  The scripture doesn’t say it is an angel, but it is definitely an agent of God.  There, Jacob wrestles with this man till daybreak.  Could this be the spirit of Christ in us?  The spiritual man that we need to change our nature?  The first thing that had to happen in Jacob was an emptying and laying down of all that he loved and possessed.  Then there was a battle, the struggle and wrestling with that old nature of Jacob, the heel-holder, supplanter and deceiver.  These two men seemed pretty equally matched for strength for they wrestled through the night till daybreak.  Is this our place of prayer and intercession where we are in a spiritual battle.  Have we come to the place that we are going to lay hold of God and let go of everything else until He blesses us?  Are we the overcomers that will prevail with God and man?

What is our greatest blessing?  Isn’t it to be delivered of our former nature?

               That morning, at daybreak, the man said, “let me go, it is daybreak.”  Jacob said, “I won’t let you go till you bless me.”  In Genesis 32:27-31 it goes on to tell us,” The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”  It is there that Jacob prevailed with God and received a new name and a new nature.  The new name is Israel, “God Prevails”.  The man touched Jacob in the hollow of his hip, so that the sinew shrank and he crossed over Peniel, which means, “facing God”.  Jacob would always walk with a limp, no longer dependent upon his own strength and ability. 

               We have a similar word to us in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”  There is a day for our transformation and new nature to come forth in its fullness, but we wrestle on through the night till we, like Jacob, prevail with God and lay hold of the promises of our inheritance.  Then, no more do we need fear our strongholds like Labon or our mortality and flesh, like Esau.  No longer are we afraid to lose the things we possess and love.  The losses and the wounds we suffer are a small price to pay for what we lay hold of.  God’s nature and character will prevail in us if we faint not.  We will see the face of God, our Lord, and live; no longer after the flesh, but after the spirit.  These are the three dimensions of Jacob, body, soul and spirit.

Blessings,

#kent

The Sweet Fragrance of His Beloved

Song of Songs 5:1

I am come into my garden, my sister, [my] spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved

               Recently I had the privilege of photographing a Praise and Worship session that is held once a week during the noon hour.  It is a time when saints gather for no other reason than to just praise and worship their Redeemer.  People come from all different denominations and background and from great distances just for this one sweet hour a week.  While I normally attend as a participant, this day I was in the place of the observer and I think I caught a glimpse of what Jesus must see.  These people don’t come to show off their spirituality.  There is no pretense, pride or thought about themselves.  They are there solely for Jesus, to glorify, honor and magnify Him.  You know that many of them are no doubt going through trials and hurts in their lives, but these outward things only press upon them to bring out the fragrance of love, dependence, and surrender as they lift up their hearts before the Lord. 

               It was like walking through the Lord’s Garden where the Spirit of the Lord was.  It has to be so precious to Him when His saints gather for no other reason than relationship with Him and a corporate expression of worship.   There must be such a sweet fragrance and incense that arises from that place to the nostrils of the Almighty.   How our Lord must be moved to love as He sees the heart of the Bride for Him.  When you behold the faces, the expressions, the postures, uplifted hands and the bowed down hearts, you see the true spirit of worship.  It is the release of our spirits unto Him, unashamedly and without pretense or guile.  It is a pure and holy thing.  It is a garden that the Lord can walk in and partake of the sweetness and goodness thereof.  There He can gather the myrrh and the spices.  There He can see the living sacrifices of lives that love Him wholly and completely.  There He can partake of the spiritual fruit, honeycomb with His honey and can drink of the wine of communion with His Beloved as He has relationship with Her.  There, true communion is experienced, as the many pieces become one loaf, one body and expression.  There the sweet wine of His blood is remembered and experienced as that blood is reverenced and so appreciated by the partakers and participants in that place.  Truly it is a garden set apart for the Lord’s honor as His presence is invited into His temple. 

               True saints of God are so hungry for this place and experience in their spiritual lives.  We enter into it on a personal level, but when a body of like-minded and hearted people can come together for that one purpose of expressing a pure corporate love back to Him you have a precious thing that is rare in the earth.  People come there from literally all nations and countries of the world, because they are so hungry to come into a pure expression of worship where they are one in spirit and purpose and there is no other agenda than lifting up the matchless name of Jesus.  This is the atmosphere where God can birth something out of Spirit and Truth.  This has to be a delight and sweet fragrance to Him.  So much of our religious experience is about putting our eyes on men, about us being entertained and inspired.  It is more about us than about Him.  What happens when the worship leader is yielded to the Holy Spirit and as the Spirit of God increases in that place, he decreases so that the Lord has sole possession of that gathering?  Oh, how we have needed this kind of worship experience for so long and this type of experience needs to fill our land and the whole world.  This is the garden where the Lord hears the love song of the Bride as she lifts up her lovesick voice to Him and expresses her deep passion and groaning within her spirit for Him.  This is the Song of Songs and the love story between our Lord and His beloved Bride.

Blessings,

#kent

Wounded Hearts

February 17, 2022

Wounded Hearts

Psalms 109:22

For I [am] poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.

               All of us have known those times in our lives when we have experienced a broken heart; the deep emotional wound or pain that tears our world apart.  It most often comes when a strong emotional bond or tie is broken.  Someone we deeply love is taken away from us.  It could be through death or the breaking of a deep emotional friendship or love for another person.  It can also come from a spiritual separation that we feel from the Lord.  Whatever the reason or the cause of our heartbreak, most of us have experienced the immense pain and hurt we feel inwardly and emotionally.  In those times it seems that no words of comfort or sympathetic friends can really touch or remove the pain we feel within us.  Usually, only time can begin to fade and temper that pain we have felt so strongly and so deeply.  Time and God’s ministering Spirit are the two greatest comforters and healers that we have.  We are thankful for the friends and those who care about us and stand by us in those times.  They can try an offer us some perspective and comfort, but they can’t reach in and take away the tremendous pain and loss we feel when our heart is broken. 

               There is no one like a Father, whose lap we can crawl up on when our world falls apart.  There is no one like the security and warmth we feel when our head is buried in His chest and he gently and lovingly holds us in his embrace.  It is a warm and secure place. Somehow, we know it will be okay eventually.  In the interim of that healing we are hid in that womb of love and security.  That is a description of how Father God is there for us who put our trust and confidence in Him.  A part of life is both, the loves and the losses we experience.  Both bring with them strong emotional feelings in opposite directions, but both are a very real part of life experience.  The wonderful thing is that God is always there to add gravity and sanity to what can be an insane world.  He has given us the Comforter, His very own Spirit to be near to us and help us.  He has given us His Son, which has paid the price for all the pain of our sin sick world and ever lives to make intercession for us.  God is indeed near to the broken hearted.

               There is an area in our lives where it is good that we have a broken heart.  When we come to that place of truth and revelation of who God is and what we have been, it breaks our heart.  We truly see what an offense we have been to the God that loves us so through our sin, rebellion and selfishness.   It brings us to a place that we need to all be far more often, the place of brokenness and humility before the Lord.  Psalms 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: “a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” When we maintain an attitude of true brokenness and repentance of our sin and failure before God, He looks compassionately upon us and lifts us up when we are bowed down.  This emotional and spiritual hurt within us is a good hurt that leads us to repentance and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.  It keeps us in an attitude of reverence, respect and humility before Him.  It helps us to put Him in proper perspective in our lives as the sovereign Lord and Savior of all.  It helps us to grasp how great His love, how deep His grace and how merciful His loving-kindness towards us who were once His enemies, but now have experienced the wonderful adoption and inheritance of children of the Most High God through the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son!  Why should we not hate our sin and hurt for its offense to a God that has loved us so?  This wounded heart God will not despise, but He will receive the sacrifice of true repentance and remorse of our sins.   He will heal us, lift us up and set joy back into our hearts.  Only our God could love us and forgive us with such an everlasting and incomprehensible love.  Allow Him to anoint your wounds and heal your heart today.

Blessings,

#kent

As a Man Thinks

February 16, 2022

As a Man Thinks

Proverbs 23:6-7a

Eat thou not the bread of [him that hath] an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he…

               Often, we don’t give much thought to the power of suggestion and the input from various sources that we take into our minds.   Most of us have a belief and value system in place.  Somehow, we think that value system stands as a wall to defend us from wrong thinking and consequently wrong actions.   Termites are just like little ants.  They don’t eat that much individually but given enough time and numbers they can bring down an entire house.  The same is true with our values and beliefs.  They are not impermeable to wrong thinking and influence.  Paul makes this clear when he exhorts the Corinthians in 2 Corinthian 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  As we live and walk among the world we are constantly exposed to the values and the mindset of the world which is most often contradictory to the Word and the will of the Father.  We can’t always avoid all that we are exposed to in the world, but we take in much of it by our own choice or by not actively turning from it.  Paul goes on to share at the end of this chapter in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 

               Initially when we see or hear something that is wrong or offensive our reaction may be one of shock, disdain and turning away.  If we are exposed to these types of things enough times, soon our conscience becomes numbed, our spiritual senses dulled and more or less, we begin to dismiss it as common place, in other words, it becomes acceptable. 

               How do we react to common television shows today that twenty or thirty years ago would have caused a public outcry?   Over time, not only have we as Christians become desensitized to the moral depravity, but also so has our society as a whole.  I was reading about a study this morning where they estimated an 18% increase in teenage intercourse, simply due to the influence of television.  It wasn’t just in what they saw on the programs, but what they heard regarding sexual attitudes.  We generally perceive reality based on what are mainstream values around us.  We who are believers should know better, because our reality should be based on the standard of the Word of God.  Let us not think for a minute that a constant diet of worldly views and influences doesn’t have an effect on our relationship with God and our purity with Him.  When God brought the children of Israel into the Promise Land He commanded them to totally annihilate and destroy the societies that previously existed there.  That wasn’t because He was a mean and vindictive God.  It was because these nations had filled up the cup of His wrath by years of gross perversity and sin.  For them to be integrated into Israel’s society would bring pollution and draw their hearts away from God into the idolatry and perversity that God abhorred.  As we can see in the Word of God, this is exactly what happened causing the judgement of God to come upon the children of Israel many times over their history. 

             There is tremendous power in the words we hear and take into our minds, either for life or for death.  As Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  It not only has power in what we speak, but in what we hear.  We become the products of our input.  Colossians 3:1-4 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”  Again in Philippians 4:8 we are exhorted, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”  We are in a day of preparation for the Lord’s appearing.  The Word warns us in Matthew 24:12 that in the last day, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Our love is waxing cold because we are allowing the spirit of this world to take hold of us through all the things we partake of in the world.  This is not about throwing stones or do’s and don’ts, because we are all guilty to varying degrees.  This is about the mind and the will of God for our lives to be a separate and consecrated people unto Him.  It is a narrow way and few there be that find it.  It is His way, His Word and His Spirit.  We must each one judge ourselves, lest we be judged.  We must be eating a pure manna if we want to produce purity.  We must guard our hearts from the tremendous spirit of corruption and defilement that is all around us.  Let’s seek His grace and entreat the Lord’s help that our eye might be single and uncompromised before Him as we make right choices concerning what we take into our lives.

Blessings,

#kent

Destiny of Greatness

February 15, 2022

Destiny of Greatness

Ephesians 1:3-10

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

               The grace and calling of God toward us who have been called out of darkness and brought into the light of the kingdom of God is so phenomenal that it really staggers our natural thinking to comprehend it.  My guess is that even what we think we know and comprehend, even in the spirit, will be but a shadow in the light of the reality of that whichGod has for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  The Apostle Paul had a revelation of this calling and destiny that is ours in Christ Jesus.  What that revelation did for him was to bring him to the place that his life was totally sold out to Christ.  It was this philosophy and attitude that brought him to declare his mission statement in Philippians 3:7-12, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 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.”

               Paul had grasped and laid hold of a calling to greatness that made everything else in the world as dung in comparison to it.  Some might have considered Paul just a religious fanatic, but for those of us who have studied his writings we know that he was man of intense focus and commitment to the One who had met him on the road to Damascus.  Paul had what we so desperately need more of, a heavenly vision and purpose.  When we grasp and live out of who we are in Christ then our life will take on a whole new meaning and purpose.  We will no longer live for the momentary pleasures of this life, but for the eternal and heavenly calling we have in Christ Jesus.  

               What others would count as gain in this world we would count as rubbish when we see it in the light of our God and His greatness.  Most of us are selling ourselves short and we are settling for cornhusks when our heavenly Father wants to prepare for us the fatted calf.  The paradox of this calling is that the way up is often the way down.  While our spirit is ascending, the body is descending as we walk the way of Christ.   His life was one destined to the cross.  Every step in His life was taking Him there.  What Jesus knew and what  kept Him true and obedient to His course is that the death He would die would be so eclipsed by the life that would result, that it was so worth the price.  If we don’t have a real revelation of our calling and destiny in Christ it will be hard for us to walk in the way of the cross.  Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”  The knowledge and revelation of who we are in Christ is paramount to our identification in who we now are.  We struggle so because we continue to identify with who we are in the world rather than who we are in Christ.  We are who we are and we are becoming what God has called us to be because of the purpose and calling of God upon our lives.  In all humility we need to embrace with all our being this calling and destiny we have in Christ Jesus.  Paul prayed for the people of God in Ephesians 1 that they would comprehend this high calling we have in Christ Jesus.  He prayed, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

               Let’s get in touch with the destiny of greatness that Christ has called us too and has made a way that we might be partakers of the divine nature.  Walk each day in the identification of who you are in Christ, not in this weak and perishable man.  It is not an arrogant thing to embrace what the Word has declared about you.  It is less than faith if we don’t.  You have a destiny of greatness, but you must believe and act upon who you are in Christ.  For it is now His life that we are to be living out of and not our own.   Embrace your destiny of greatness.

Blessings,

#kent

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