Characteristics of a Fool

August 31, 2022

Characteristics of a Fool

Psalms 92:5-6

O LORD, how great are thy works! [and] thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

               We have characterized wisdom, perhaps it is a good time to look at the opposite side of the coin and look at the characteristics of a fool.  While it is likely the true fool would not spend their time reading this, let alone taking it to heart, it might speak to the wise.  Part of getting wisdom is realizing and correcting our own follies and the error of our ways.  While in viewing these characteristics we might be prone to judge some that we may think fit this category, it will probably be far more profitable for us to judge and correct our own hearts where we see some of the characteristic active in us. 

               One of the first characteristics of a fool is seen in Psalms 14:1 and 53:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.”  He is in denial of God and His salvation.  A fool can be defined as being pretty much full of themselves, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise.”  They are not one to listen to advice, counsel or the admonition of others.  Proverbs 15:5 tells us the root of where foolishness begins, “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”  Proverbs 17:10 says, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” They never learned to receive and heed correction as child.  Their nature is stubborn and rebellious.  They are a god and an authority unto themselves. 

               Proverbs 13:6 talks about how most people rationalize and come to conclusions based on facts and evidence, not so the fool.  “Every prudent [man] dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open [his] folly.”  Ecclesiastes 2:14 says that the “The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness.”  There is spiritual and moral ignorance and darkness that is prevalent in their lives.  Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise.”  Proverbs 13:6 tells us, “Every prudent [man] dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open [his] folly.” From these observations it is clear that fools are presumptuous, impetuous, not stopping to consider all the factors in making decisions, poor decision makers and ruled by their own thoughts and opinions which they value above sound judgement, wisdom and instruction.  “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)”  They are arrogant, proud, boastful, full of themselves, lacking understanding, discernment and wise in their own eyes.

Ecclesiastes 10:3 tells us, “Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.”  He is characterized by ignorance and stupidity revealed in actions. 

               The fool is what we would term the troublemaker, always stirring up strife and contention.  Proverbs 10:23 says, “[It is] as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.”  Proverbs 14:16 says, “A wise [man] feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”  The thing about a fool is that there is no reasoning with them as with a rational person, whose mind is open.  Proverbs 23:9 says, “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” “If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. (Proverbs 29:9)”  “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. (Proverbs 26:4)” The only time that a fool is thought to be wise is when he keeps his mouth shut.  “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. (Proverbs 17:28)” Like the saying goes, “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  The character of the heart of a fool is readily seen through his words and subsequent actions.   Normally the fool has little regard for what he says or how it will affect those around him.  Ecclesiastes 10:14 says, “and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming- who can tell him what will happen after him?” The fool likes to hear himself ramble and spout off, but has no soundness in his words, neither does he govern his emotions or anger and is noted for his lack of self control.  “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)” Isaiah 32:6 says, “For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the LORD; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.”  The fool is set in his ways and will always return to his perverse nature.  “As a dog returneth to his vomit, [so] a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)” The fool will not remain in a right path, but will go back to the folly and the error of his ways.

               The fool is the counter part of the wise man.  By his folly we better see wisdom, just as we wouldn’t recognize light without darkness.   “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. (Ecclesastes  10:2).”  Wisdom takes the high road, but fools will always take the low road.  Wisdom is characterized in the godly and the spiritual man, the fool is seen to be sensual, devilish and perverse.

               Perhaps in summary Proverbs 28:26 says it best, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”  What and whom we trust in says a lot about how wise or foolish we are.  We have all grown up in degrees of foolishness, but our wisdom, our safety and our security are realized in our trust and obedience to God’s Word and His ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

August 30, 2022

Finding the Beauty

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

               There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly. 

               Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren. 

               Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes. 

Blessings,

#kent

Passings Judgements

August 29, 2022

Romans 2:1-4

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Passing Judgments

               Most all of us, at times, have adorned ourselves with the robes of self-righteousness and appointed ourselves to the bench of judge to look upon the injustice and the faults of others. There we look down our noses with intolerance at the shortcomings and misdeeds of others.  There, in our infinite wisdom, insight and righteousness we have somehow deemed ourselves worthy of judging the hearts of others.  Perhaps it is because we can focus so prominently upon the offences of others that our own seem so insignificant. 

               Here is what we don’t seem to get, where we set the bar in our judgements and condemnation of others is really setting the bar on how God will judge us.  If we show no mercy, little will be shown to us.  What right do we have to sit in the place of judgement over others when we are all flawed?  We may not have the same struggle with a sin as another, but we can be assured that most likely it is just sin in a different flavor and manifestation.  I have been appalled to see others make railing accusation, judgements and condemnations of others; literally killing with the hate, venom and condemnation of their tongue and yet in their own eyes they stand justified, because they themselves see themselves as the victims or they have taken up the offence of another.  What we may not realize is that in presuming upon this place of judgement and condemnation of others we usurp what God alone is qualified and justified in doing.  Many times we may have promoted ourselves to the position of judge, jury and executioner.  We make the presumption that God is on our side and He must feel the same way we do. 

               Really?

               That is why this scripture is in here to correct us and cause us to know that it is not our right or position.  If we want to ignore that and continue in the role of judge, then it makes it very clear that in effect we are judging ourselves.  We will by no means escape God’s judgement. 

               If God’s own law was not able to change and transform our lives, do we presume that our judgements are so much more righteous?  How arrogant can we be? 

               If we want to error, we want to error on the side of mercy, not judgement.  “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, ‘the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’  If we are operating out of the Spirit of God then we will produce the fruit of God, which is what?  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)”  It doesn’t mention judgement, condemnation, self-righteousness or retribution.  The part of the believer is the ministry of reconciliation and restoration of the sinner to God.  God alone, has the right to judge, because He sees all the motives and the intents of the heart that we could never see. 

               Romans 2:17-24 goes on to say, “Now you, if you call yourself a Jew (Christian); if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

               Those who are the biggest advocates of condemning the sinners are often the ones seen as the biggest hypocrites as they condemn others while still having sin in their own lives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 exhorts us, “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”  The old saying goes that when we point the finger there are thee pointing back to us.  We need to judge our own heart and lives before the Lord and leave the judgement of the rest of the world to God. 

Blessings,

#kent

God Outside Your Box

August 26, 2022

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God Outside Your Box

               Don’t we all tend to like to make nice tidy boxes that we can nicely put God within the realms of our understanding, summations and definitions.  Wouldn’t we all feel so much more in control if we knew that in this situation God was going to do this and in that one He would do that, but we are in God’s box, He is not in ours.  Despite all our theologies we cannot harness God.  He defies our test tubes and analysis.  Yes, there are things that we do know about Him.  We do know that He is love, justice and holiness.   We see so many of His attributes revealed in His Word and know that these wonderful attributes are what He acts out of.  We know His Word is that which we can depend upon and which He will fulfill.  Even though He is the same yesterday, today and forever, we can never limit Him to our understanding or fully grasp what there is to know about Him.  If our God has limitations it is only because He has placed them upon Himself for our benefit and out of love for us.

               Isn’t it ironic that God has given us a free will?  Through that free will we have rebelled and sinned against Him.  We have often denied Him, forsaken Him and judged Him.  Yet when we see the hurt, destruction and death that our sin brings upon the earth we want to turn and blame God for allowing this to happen.  We say He is not doing anything about it and yet He has already done it through His Son Jesus Christ.  He has made a way, but it is still our choice and choosing that leads us out of the path of sin and destruction.  Even though we are Christians and have made the choice for Him it doesn’t negate the effects that this sin-laden world can have on our lives.   We can still experience its calamities and trials just like everyone else, because in this body we are still part of this fallen race. 

               While in this body we still experience the limitations of our humanity, but what is different about us is that within our spirits we also experience an unlimited God.  We often struggle with the fact that God doesn’t seem to act in our behalf the way we often think that He should have or that we prayed that He would.  Does that make God ineffectual or does it just mean that God is working in ways that we don’t understand and fully comprehend?  Is God truly indifferent to our needs and cries or is there something of a higher order at work beyond what we see, feel and experience?  How many times have we looked back in our experience or that of others to see that the tragedy, failure or the calamity that we felt God failed us in was the very thing that shaped our lives? It may have been the very thing that led us into the destiny and calling of what He had called us to be?  This is why, we mustn’t judge God prematurely when we don’t think things are happening according to our understanding and our ways.  Often God is at work outside of the box of our understanding moving in ways that are infinitely higher than our immediate cognizance.  What God asks of us is that we trust Him.  Even when we don’t understand His hand we must trust His heart.  God is working all things after the counsel of His divine will and purpose.  Life will have its tragic and painful moments.  Know that God is not insensitive to those places of our deepest hurts, but those are sometimes the birthplaces of our greatest miracles and triumphs.  It is not necessary that we always understand what God is doing or why He does or does not move in the way that we pray.  We must not make the mistake of trying to limit God to our understanding.  He sees far beyond all that we could ask or think. 

               We often wrestle with why bad things happen to good or innocent people.  Often it has to do with the principles that operate in a world where sin has been sown.  Just as God rains upon the just and the unjust, so sin and tragedy happen to both as well.  What we are learning is that we don’t live according to the principles of this world, but in our spirit and out of our spirit we are living according to principles of the kingdom of God and His dominion.  In that place we trust in His Lordship and His sovereignty, not always according to our understanding, but according to our faith.  Can you still trust God even when you don’t understand, and He doesn’t fit within your box?

Blessings,

#kent

How Sweet, How High, How Rich is Your Love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails.

               When we look over God’s definition of Love, how much of us do we see there?  It is not to condemn us, but to show us the way up is the way down.  The way down is in humility and the esteeming of others above ourselves.  How many of us justify our actions and responses to others based on their behavior towards us?  True love of God is not a response; it is an action to respond unselfishly and unconditionally to another.  It truly must be God’s love in us and through us that brings some into the Kingdom.  Even ones we have loved and cared about may have brought us such heartache, disappointment and hurt, that in the natural, it is impossible for us to love them anymore.  We want to wash our hands and be done with them.  Yet in the back of our spirit arises that scripture from Romans 5:8 that tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  If our God were not a God of tremendous and intense love then surely there would be no human race left.  God would have given up on us long ago and gone with a different plan.  How can a God love us so much that He would be willing to sacrifice His own Son to redeem us from our sin and willful disobedience so that we might return and have fellowship again with Him?  Who can comprehend such a love?  He doesn’t want us just to comprehend it, but to put it into practice in our own lives.  The love of God, that “agape” love, is not an attribute of the natural man, but it is the fruit of His Sprit that He longs to see produced in us.  What is flowing out of our lives today, mercy or judgement, longsuffering or impatience, hope and perseverance or giving up?  Sometimes you have to put some people away from you to avoid being injured or destroyed yourself, but never stop loving them, praying for them, forgiving them and believing for them.  It is that love of Christ in you that covers them with mercy and grace, and extends God’s love to them even though they may fully reject Him. 

               God is wanting to work a greater measure of His love in us than most of us have ever known before, but the exchange for that love happens at the cross.  In order to love with His love we must die His death.  It is a laying down of our life for others, not because they deserve it, but because we are the extension of God’s love toward them and for them.  Jesus tells us in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  After the death and resurrection of Christ, His disciples laid hold of this revelation and their mission became the same as the Master’s, to lay down their lives so that others may know Him, whatever the cost. 

               Do we have that love in us that goes beyond our prejudices that we so often deny, that extends past our comforts and pleasures, that goes even deeper than our limitations can take us?  Only Christ in us can produce that depth and measure of love, but He is taking us deeper than we ever wanted to go and yet at the same time we are going higher than we have ever been before.  The way up is the way down and the highest heaven is often reached through the lowest hell.  Only the love of God in us can take us and preserve us through the extremes of His love. It will never be found in the comforts of our complacency, it can only be found as we get caught up in the radical love of God.  His love will sound our depths, but it will also expand our borders to be what we never thought we could be capable of being.  How deep is the Love of God in us today?  How deep, how wide and how high are you willing to go?

               “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Blessings,

#kent

Changing Garments

August 24, 2022

Changing Garments

Colossians 3:9-13

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

               Every day we make a choice when we get up and get dressed what garment or clothes we are going to wear.  Am I going to put back on what is lying at the foot of my bed or am I going to look in the closet and choose to wear a fresh clean set of clothes?  The Word teaches us that when we come into a relationship with Christ and He is abiding in our spirits, we must make an active choice with regard to our wills.  There is an active daily decision on our part to put off the flesh, along with our affection for it, and put on the nature that conforms to His.  When we were kids we were content and happy to wear the old dirty jeans with the holes in the knees and the old ratty tee shirt.  Then mom would lay out a change of clothes and tells us this is what she wanted us to wear.  Normally we rebelled, whined, argued, complained but we eventually complied.  Left to ourselves we might still be wearing those old rags.  Thankfully, most of us had a mom that began to teach us to dress for success.  She taught us that the world evaluates and judges you by what they see you wearing.  Fair or not, that is reality.  As we began to wear those clean and neat clothes we began to perceive ourselves differently and it began to reflect in our attitudes.  This was one of the reasons why, in times gone by, the schools used to have dress codes.  God still has a dress code.  Just like we needed to obey mom, we need to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in regards to our behavior and the choices we make.  Colossians 3:9 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is time to throw out those old hole-filled, filthy jeans and raggedy tee shirts and put on the new garments.  It tells us, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  Do your ever find that what is astonishing, and disheartening is that so many who claim to be and represent themselves as Christians have terrible ethics?  They don’t keep their word; they’re often not totally honest and forthright.  Quite frankly, we are often an insult and a slap in God’s face when it comes to our integrity.  Don’t lie and say you are something you are not.  Be what you say you are, in action, word and deed, having “put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”  When you change your clothes, change your underwear too!  Be transformed and conformed to the nature of Christ from within to without.  The word tells us this putting on the new man involves several things.  What do the garments of Christ consist of?  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  It goes on to say, “15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name (nature and character) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

               Everyday we make an active decision about what we are going wear both naturally and spiritually.  Are we choosing to dress for success, by putting on Christ and putting off the flesh with all its misdeeds?  Our transformation is based upon our union and compliant relationship with the Spirit of God within us and the Word of God that instructs our minds and hearts.  How are you dressing today?  Are you changing garments?

Blessings,

#kent

Life and Death

August 23, 2022

Life and Death

Deuteronomy 30:19

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

               In the midst of the Garden of Eden were two trees that stood out from all the other trees in the Garden.  In the fruit of these two trees were contained the two great laws and principles of heaven and earth which are life and death.  Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  Later, as God creates and sets man in the Garden, He gives only one simple instruction and rule to the man.  “Genesis 2:15-17 says, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  This is the first introduction of the concept of death.  How could Adam even grasp what the principle of death was when he had never seen what it looked like?  Now there were no restrictions on the tree of life, Adam and Eve had full access to partake of that tree and its fruit.   While abiding in the Garden in obedience to God and partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect bliss and communion with God.  There was no shame or evil; because of yet it had not found its way into God’s creation. As long as Adam and Eve were willing to choose only life they lived out of the life, abundance and supply that God gave them.  Death was not a part of this realm. 

               This tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why was it in the Garden if it would produce death?  The tree alone didn’t produce the death, it was the partaking of it’s fruit that caused them to surely die.  Why?  Because it was a Pandora’s box that once opened could never be shut except by the hand and the will of God.  It opened the door to man making choices outside of the will and purpose of God.  But free choice is a gift that God gave to man and all of man’s choices really boiled down to these two basic principles, life and death.   

               When this Pandora’s box of the knowledge of good and evil was opened through the tempters temptation and the choice of Adam and Eve to partake of it; man fell that day from his heavenly state of life and peace in perfect harmony and communion with God.  Sin was conceived and mankind would never be the same until the time of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).  While Adam and Eve didn’t die an immediate death, the spirit of death was put into motion through sin and began its work of death and corruption.  Within that fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the greatest enemy of mankind was given place, the spirit of death.  Once the spirit of death was unleashed through man’s disobedience, it was the power of the devil to destroy life with death.  We have only to look around us, starting with our own bodies to see the effects of death at work still.  Sin and corruption is all around us touching and tainting everything it touches. 

               God, in His great love, gave man a choice to choose life or death.  Because we all have made choices that were contrary to life and the righteousness of God, we have all sinned and fell short of His glory and His highest for us.  Then man wants to blame God for all the wickedness, sin and suffering in the world and call Him unloving because of the mess we have made.  The state of our world is the fruit of our choices, not God’s.  God has never encouraged us to do anything else but to choose life.

               Christ Jesus is God’s gift of life back to us.  Christ is the tree of life to us again.  He has come to reconcile His creation back to Himself.  Hebrew 2:14 says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” That reconciliation and restoration to life can never come through our self-effort to obtain it.  We find that it is only found in the grace and mercy of God revealed through Jesus Christ His Son.  He alone stands as the door that leads us back to paradise and right standing with God.  Only as we enter through that door by faith in Christ does His righteous blood sacrificed as Calvary make atonement for our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness in the sight of God.  Romans 8:1-4 declares to us, “[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  The knowledge of what is good is a noble thing, but it is not in the ability of man to live up to God’s righteous standards by his own strength.  It is only in our union with Christ and the Spirit of His Life, that we again return to the principles of life.  Only as we submit our hearts in obedience to walk in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, He has imparted to us who believe, do we have the ability to lay hold of the paradise lost and our communion again with Father God.  Christ has conquered death, but He is raising up a body that will follow in His example, for He has set down at the right hand of God, “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool (Hebrews 10:13).”  “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Blessings,

#kent

His Wisdoms

August 22, 2022

His Wisdoms

Job 26:14

Lo, these [are] parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

Never stop being passionate about who you are.

You were created for a distinct reason and purpose

And your purpose can only be fully revealed by the One who made you.

Your gifts and the talents He gave you can be used in many ways,

But they are best used and humanity best served by using them His way.

He has created you unique, special and one of a kind.

There will never be another you and that is why you are highly collectable.

God sees you as His treasure and desires to purify you into your most refined state.

How often do we insult our Maker by despising and disliking what He has made?

If you have weaknesses they can be a blessing,

They keep you constantly dependent and reliant on the One who is your strength.

Not even the best of us are complete in ourselves.

If we become an island, then we become disconnected and disjointed.

We fail to give out and take in the breath of other human lives.

Just like breathing our lives are a series of interactions of giving out and taking in;

It is the breath of life, blessings and struggles of other human beings.

As we breathe God in through our spirit we exhale Him out through our souls.

His people feeding and breathing in His life are the breath of life to the world they touch and live in.

Hope is based not on what we see, but on what we believe.

Faith is the wings that allows hope to fly into our reality.

Love binds the universe.

While hate destroys and tears asunder,

Love is the creative force that brings light out of darkness;

That overcomes and triumphs over all that is evil.

Love is the blood flow of God’s heart and it courses throughout His creation,

The Cross is the doorway through which the blood of Jesus, His Love flows.

God’s heart has been broken by our sin, but His blood poured out to cover them.

Because we are washed in the blood we are the instruments of His love.

He is our destiny.

His life is our reality.

His love is incomprehensible.

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

Running the Race

August 18, 2022

Running the Race

Hebrews 12:1

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

               The race is not to the swift and few, it is to the faithful and true.  The race of life is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  It is ran over the course of a lifetime, over all manner of terrain, weather, and obstacles.  It is a race in which there may be times we grow weary and we want to give up, quit and just be like everyone else.  Somewhere, down in the depths of our soul, there is a strength, a power and a voice that urges us on.  It is that Spirit of Christ within us that compels us to keep running the race even when we are in agony and pain.  There may even be those times when we fall hard and everything around is screaming, “the race is over, you’ve failed, you can’t win now.”  Yet, there is the voice and Spirit of God’s grace that compels us on.  It reminds us that His grace is sufficent and that His blood has covered our failures and shortcomings.  When others have judged us and found us flawed; even when others have disqualified us in their condemnations, the Spirit of the Lord is able to raise us up.  He is able to put us back on our feet and tells us keep on running.  The ones who really lose the race are the one’s who quit, drop out or become the antagonists to those who are still running. 

               We know that this race is our life of faith in Christ Jesus.  The one who is able to run the fastest is the one who is unencumbered.  All he may have is his running shoes, shorts and shirt.  So many of us have not quit the race, but we’ve picked up all this baggage along the way that has so weighed and slowed us down.  All of these encumbrances are the cares and distractions that take our eyes and attention off of the finish line and even the race itself.  Often sin moves in like a fog, making it difficult for us to even see the course, let alone run on it.  All the demands of work, family, maintaining a lifestyle, recreation and sports, mortgages and car payments cause us to lose our way and are like balls and chains around our ankles. 

               Hebrew 12:2-6 goes on to say, “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  Hebrews 11 has just tutored us on what faith is, “the substance of the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  It has encouraged us with example after example of saints who ran before us, not having yet received the promise, they pressed into it with a life of faith and obedience even unto death.  Now we are told how we might persevere to win our race.  It is in fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.  What we could never accomplish in ourselves, He is able to work within us as we hold fast our faith and confidence in Him and His strength.  Is there going to be opposition, obstacles, resistance, hills to climb and rivers to ford?  Yes.  Are we going to be inclined to grow weary and lose heart in our struggle against sin?   Yes.  Yet in all that we endure, it does not compare with what Christ endured and overcame for us.  He is the Hero of our faith, the Champion upon which we look and fashion our lives in the likeness of.  He ran the course, He endured the gauntlet of temptation, ridicule, judgements, condemnation, persecution, affliction and finally death.  Yet, He held true to the course.  He ran the race with patience, and He ended it by saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” 

               Maybe it is time again for us to take an inventory of our lives and assess what kind of weights and sins we are trying to run with.  Maybe we have become so burdened down that we have quit running.  It is time for us to get rid of our baggage and our sin issues and get back into the race.  You can never finish and win what you do not run.  Remember this race is our destiny and its prize we will realize throughout our eternity.  This is no small thing.  This is the race of life and all our eternity is at stake.  We cannot take it lightly and we cannot afford to drop out or give up.  Summon all your faith, gird up your loins and continue to run with all of your heart and mind, soul and strength, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of your faith.

Blessings,

#kent

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