Practical Worship

June 14, 2019

Matthew 25:27-30

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

 

Practical Worship

 

I woke up this morning to an interview on the radio of a young man who purposely became a homeless person for five months as an experiment to see how the church responded to their needs.  I was convicted in my heart as I heard examples that were shared.  In one example there were men who came to the park and handed out sack lunches to the homeless and invited them to hang out with them as they shared the love of Christ. They invited him to church.  When he came, they afterwards gave him a couple of bags of groceries and some money to help him to get to Phoenix.  In another example he hadn’t eaten in about a day and a half.  He had a festering sore on his foot, but was unable to afford the medical attention he needed to treat it.  He went to a church where the people were raising their hands and worshiping the Lord. When he was sharing with some of the people in the church his need, he was told that this was a place to worship the Lord, it was not about meeting his needs.  None of these people knew his true identity and purpose, but he expressed that a part of our worship to God is in how we relate and minister to others.

I began to think about how much of my life is centered around my wants and needs.  I am always praying about how I want the Lord to meet this need and that need in my life, but how much of my energy is spent, how much sensitivity is given to the needs of those that the Lord brings through my life?  Like so many of us, we become hardened and callused at all of the requests we get from the multiple channels of people and organizations calling upon us for financial needs.  The question is, have we become cold and indifferent to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the needy, the sick and the imprisoned?  Have we become so vertical in our worship that there is no more room for a horizontal expression of what that vertical worship should be all about?  If I expect the Lord to meet my needs, what is He expecting of me in ministering to the needs of others?  Am I there and as sensitive to those needs in as much as I can be?  Do I see others as my responsibility or only as a burden and inconvenience?  I became painfully aware of how selfish and self-centered our lives can become.  Why are we so quick to forget it is not about me, but it is all about Him?  Him includes those hungry, thirsty, sick, orphaned, widowed, imprisoned and lost individuals who all need the expression of God’s love and kindness in a very real and practical way.  If I have been created and purposed to be the expression of Him, how is it that I mostly only seem concerned about me?

Perhaps some of you share this same conviction that I feel.  No, we can’t be everything to everyone, but we can be something to those individuals that God brings through our lives.  We can be sensitive to respond to His Spirit’s leading in giving to worthy causes or meeting other’s needs.  After all, this is our purpose and calling in Christ Jesus.

One day we also will stand before the Lord and what will be His response to us for our deeds?

Blessings,

#kent

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Whirlwind

June 13, 2019

 

Whirlwind

 

Nahum 1:3

The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked]: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds [are] the dust of his feet.

 

Are things being stirred up in our lives?  Have you thought of having an orderly life only to find it going in more different ways than you ever thought possible?  There is a whirlwind moving through our lives, a force of separation that is stirring up and sifting all that is chaff in us.  Left to ourselves, we would be content to let the mud settle out in our lives and the water clear.  On the surface we would look pretty clear and clean, but God knows what lies down in the inner recesses of our hearts.  He is not going to leave it alone and let it stay there.  There is often a whirlwind that passes through our lives and circumstances that stir up things in our lives we might not have even known were there.  There are areas of our lives, feelings, emotions, passions, desires and appetites, that may lie suppressed but never dealt with.  Have you ever thought why is it that things are suddenly coming out of my mouth I would have never thought to say, or things are coming up in my soul I thought were gone.   God is often the whirlwind in the storms that moves through our lives and soul.  The purpose of the whirlwind is to deal with the hidden things in our hearts that have been forgotten, repressed or that we weren’t even aware that they had residence in us.  These whirlwinds that move through our soul can be very unsettling because the Holy Spirit is revealing and showing our true heart in areas.  Sometimes that can be a much uglier sight than we care to admit.  He doesn’t do it to condemn us or embarrass us, He does it to purify us and bring into the light those things in all of us that we have cloaked in darkness and tucked away in the closets of our heart.  The Lord is cleaning His house, He is getting into the closets of our hearts and pulling out all that junk that we had so neatly packed away.  We all know that when we clean something out, in the process we can have quite a mess as we sort through and separate the good from the bad, the needed from the unneeded.  Sometimes our lives can get in quite a mess as the whirlwind of the Holy Spirit is moving through areas of our lives and cleaning house.

Is it disturbing, is it unsettling, is it often bringing us shame or feelings of unworthiness?  Yes, it does all of these things.   Once it is out in the light, then we need to decide what we are going to do with it.  Luke 12:2-3 says, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.  Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

An unfortunate part of life to us, is that often, our pain reveals to us a problems that we would continue to ignore if it weren’t significant enough to draw our attention to it.  We know that we can experience more than physical pain.  It is often our heart felt pains, that bring to light our heart problems.  Praise God He loves us just the way we are, but too much to leave us that way.  Don’t despair if you going through this process in your life.   We must be willing to relinquish these areas to the Lord, lay them upon the altar, repent of them and find our right standing in His forgiveness and deliverance that He wants to bring to us.  In God’s process of cleaning us up our waters are going to get pretty murky at times as His whirlwind is passing through, but it is because He is working a deeper and purifying work in you.  1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

Blessings,

#kent

Spoiled Leftovers

May 28, 2019

 

Spoiled Leftovers

 

Colossians 3:5-11

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 

When we were saved and came into Christ we may have experienced a wonderful salvation and deliverance experience.  While we by faith stepped into Christ and heavenly places not all of our old baggage fell by the wayside at that moment.  While we were forgiven and all of our sins were washed away, it didn’t mean we never sinned or fell short again.  The reality is that God didn’t just take all of the responsibility away from us and say now you are all pure, holy and you are just like me.  In our spirits He did.  In that inner man there is one in the likeness of Christ.  But for that “Christ in us” to possess all of us it is a life-long process and one only fully consummated at His presence or coming.

Meanwhile we are caught up in the battleground of the mind and soul.  Our inner man is intent on holiness, righteous and conformity to Christ, but sin still wants to work in our outward members.  Did you ever have a beautiful refrigerator with great food in it, but you keep smelling this stench and wonder where is that odor coming from?  You keep digging and digging and finally you find a baggy with an old rotten onion, so you throw that out, but it still stinks.  You look some more and you open up this yogurt container that has more hairy mold than you’ve got whiskers.  You grimace and wrinkle your nose as you throw it out.  Still there is this smell, but what you find is that some of the foods you really like are the culprits.  Oh man, you don’t want to throw those out, because you really like them, even if they aren’t good for you, so you tuck them away so they will be less noticeable, but you can still munch on them when you get the urge.  Likely it is not the spirit man that wants to hold on to them, it is the flesh.  We have ways of justifying our flesh and our little stashes where we make provision for those things we outwardly love, crave or don’t want to let go of.

What we deal with is that if we are maintaining a relationship with Christ and seeking to please Him in all of our ways we run into conflict.  The Holy Spirit only allows us to indulge in our little hidden treasures for a time until He begins to put His finger on them.  Now it comes down to our will or His.  The truth is, that to His nose, these things are spoiled leftovers of our past nature and they are a stench to Him, but will we let go of them?  The Cross takes no prisoners in its process of holiness.  It exercises extreme prejudice on those things our flesh holds dear, because they represent idolatry to the Lord.  They are the place where our affections, commitments and loyalties often diverge from the Spirit as we make provisions for the flesh.

Most all of us deal with strongholds, these giants in our land, in one area or another that keep defying the living God.  Only as the Spirit of God rises up in us with dominion and authority will we conquer and overcome the strong will of rebellion that still abides in us.  It must to be our will in union with His.  Only as we relinquish everthing, every emotion, and every desire, can Christ be fully Lord of the land.  Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  What are we going to do with our spoiled leftovers?

Blessings,

#kent

Forgiveness

May 16, 2019

 

Forgiveness

 

Ephesians 1:7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

 

Forgiveness is a word that we use a lot and often fail to really consider the depth of what it implies and what it accomplishes.  Forgiveness is a necessary ingredient before any true restoration and reconciliation can take place in a relationship where an offence has occurred on the part of one or both parties.  Where an offence remains not forgiven, it may be pushed down or ignored by the offended one, but when forgiveness is not released it is like getting a splinter under the skin.  Even a small splinter that is not released will begin to fester and be a constant source of agitation until it is removed.

God, in His great wisdom, saw all the offences we committed toward Him as human beings.   While we might have good intentions, we have come to realize that God’s standards of holiness and righteousness are not obtainable in our fallen state and so we are a constant source of offense to Him.  We have come to realize that under God’s mandate and law we are all destined for judgement and the eternal consequences for our sins.  This was not God’s plan.  His plan was to provide for us forgiveness.  Through the sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of His perfect Son, He could extend release and pardon to us for our offences and sin.  God’s heart is to reconcile, redeem and restore His creation back to Himself and He paid the ultimate price to do so.  We all know what we deserve, but the mercy and grace of God said, “no”.  He has extended to us the olive branch of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation through the blood of His own precious Son.  God, in Christ, has done all the hard part for us and all we have to do is extend the hands of faith and receive this great and precious gift of forgiveness and pardon.

Imagine that you have murdered someone in the heat of passion, and you have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Nothing you can do can undo the consequences of your sin.  Then one day the son of the president comes to you and says, “You know that you have committed a crime and the debt and punishment for that crime has to be paid.  I am here to take your place; pay for the crime and let you go free.  It will be just as if you had never committed that crime.  It will be erased from your record.”  If you accept this exchange, then the doors to the prison open and you are free to go.  As if that were not great enough, the president’s son tells you that now that you are free, he wants you to assume the position of the president’s son with all of its rights, powers and privileges.  Wouldn’t we be a fool not to accept such an offer?  Obviously, in turn we would owe the president and his son our lives for that exchange.  Obviously, what he is offering is far better than what we were facing.  We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The point is that if we never accept the pardon and we hold on to our offence then it can never be pardoned or released.  With every gift given there is an exchange, but for the exchange to be complete it must be received.  The gift isn’t mine till I accept it from you, and I can never open it and experience its contents until I am willing to reach out, take it and open it.

In our human relationships forgiveness is an important part of our interactions with one another.  We offend and hurt one another rather intentionally or unintentionally all the time and we need to ask and extend to one another forgiveness.  As Christians we are commanded of God to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and gave Himself for you.  Many of us are struggling with our relationship with both God and man because we have been unwilling to release forgiveness.  It doesn’t mean that we extend forgiveness and are expected to continue in a hurtful or destructive situation given a choice, but we need to forgive to set ourselves free.  It is the only way we can get those splinters of offense out of us.  When we withhold forgiveness, we create a dam that withholds the love of God from flowing through us.  We close our heart and emotionally detach ourselves.

Many of us need the restoration and the reconciliation that can only come, as we are willing to release forgiveness.  We can’t always be responsible for the other party accepting it, but we can release it and thereby release ourselves.  Often pride, on both sides, is the greatest hindrance to our reconciliation.  You can see why God loves humility in us, because it is not too proud to say when it is wrong and it is not to proud to forgive someone, even when they don’t deserve our forgiveness.

Unfortunately, our unwillingness to forgive can become for us a puddle of self –pity that we continue to wallow in and feel sorry for ourselves.   We can do the same thing with our unwillingness to receive forgiveness.  We remain in the bondage of our offenses.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful instruments of love that the Lord has ever given to us.  We all need to take it, use it and exercise it often.  Nothing can set us free and restore right relationships like forgiveness.  It can unlock the many prison doors of our hearts and sets us free to love and be loved with the love of God.

Search your heart and if you find their a hurt, a wound and offense that someone has committed either intentionally or unintentionally, exercise the gift of Father’s love and forgive them.  You are right.  They may not deserve it, but then neither did we.  When we set others free, we free ourselves and become again, an instrument and a heart that God’s love can flow through.

Blessings,

#kent

Peace of God

May 15, 2019

Phl 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Peace of God

 

The peace of God is like the eye in the midst of the hurricane.  It is an amazing place where the storm often rages viciously all around, but in God there is peace.  Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and as such comes to us as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  It comes to us out of that faith and confidence in us that knows that God is in control.  It knows that even if we don’t understand God’s hand, we can trust His heart.   It is that place where we are no longer fretful, worrisome, anxious, stressed out or fearful.  Our posture is one of prayer, giving our need and concern to God and thanking Him for His faithfulness even before we have seen it manifested in the natural.  It is that place that the natural mind cannot understand where we just relax in Father’s arm and let Him have control.  This is not a quality we can produce, but only comes as our eyes are set on Him. We, like a child learning to walk, forget about our lack of abilities and set our eyes on our Father when He holds out His           arms and say, “come to me, walk, you can do it.”   Even if we fall, He is there to catch us and restore us again.

Today relax, let go of the stress and concern and relax in the arms of Jesus.  He is your peace and rest.  He has your life under control if you let Him.  Just as a little child has total confidence in their parent’s care, let us trust Father to teach us His ways and keep us safe when those storms are there.

Blessings,

Kent

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  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.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

Comfort One Another

May 9, 2019

 

Comfort One Another

 

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

There is such a power in the body of Christ to come along side of those who are weak, suffering and hurting.  Even as the natural body addresses all its attention to a deep wound or injury to itself and then subsequently there are agents of the body that continue to attend and bring healing to a wound or injury, so it is in the body of Christ.

We recently attended a funeral in which one of our relatives’ only son had been tragically shot and killed by police.  As we set through the service of this young man’s funeral there must have been three or four hundred people in attendance.  This young man, while he had been in trouble with the law, apparently had “a real heart of gold” as those that knew him described him.  He cared about people and their souls.  He was active in His church and loved God’s Word.  Somewhere things went wrong, either through wrong associations or other influences and it led to his death.  I was impressed that through the circumstances, people could have judged him or his parents, but they didn’t.  They saw who he was in his heart and saw him through the eyes of Jesus.  There were numerous testimonies to the special qualities that this young man possessed as well genuine compassion and shared grief for the loss of the parents.  Even in all this, the focus wasn’t on the death, but it was upon the life of Christ and throughout that service, the Lord was magnified.  I thought, “what a strong expression of comfort and support this church has given along with the attending relatives and friends.”  Throughout the day people were continually expressing their support and love through hugs and encouraging words.  I was impressed that this should be what we see operating in the body of Christ all the time, not just at funerals, but whenever and for whatever reason another member is suffering and hurting.  We are the instruments of His comfort because we possess the words of life and the Holy Spirit of Life to communicate them.

When we have this same love for one another and are being like-minded, unselfishly serving the another’s best interest, then we are going to feel one another’s joys and sufferings.  We are going to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice, because we are of one body and one mind in Christ.  It is important that we stay in tune and sensitive to the needs, the trials and the sufferings of those around us.  We want to be the heart and hands of Jesus to those who are hurting or in need.  Jesus says to us, “they will know you by your love.”  It is a sacrifice many times for us to give ourselves to others through our time, our finances and emotions.   Sometimes I forget that the reason I exist is to express the Christ that lives in me, not to fulfill my own agenda or just to be concerned about what is best or easiest for me.  Our selfishness can rob us and others of ministry and of being the instruments of comfort that God has called us to be.  Our living for Christ is seen in how we live for one another and how we express that love to the humanity that lives around us.

“God help us to be the instruments of your peace, of your comfort and of your great, genuine love and salvation.  Help us to be Your hands of ministry and healing and allow our words to bring comfort, hope and encouragement.  Please allow others to see You living through us in word and deed.”

Blessings,

#Kent

A Little can do a Lot

April 29, 2019

John 6:5-12

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9″Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

 

A Little can do a Lot

 

Most all of us, I am sure, are familiar with this story of the little boy whose five loaves and two fishes, fed over five thousand people.  What would have been a staggering task, logistically and monetarily, was taken care of by a little boy’s willingness and a mighty God’s faithfulness.  The message I hear pressing on my heart today in this message is that if we are willing to unselfishly give the little that we have, God is willing to increase it to give back the abundance of what we need.

How many times are we robbed because our vision of faith isn’t great enough to see past the fear of not having enough?  What if the little boy would have refused to give up his meal for fear that he would go hungry, after all, his mom had made it for him, not for everyone else.  Are we willing to put in the Master’s hands what is just provision enough for us?  Are we willing to not only trust Him for our own needs, but the needs of others met through us?  Those are questions we might all like to answer yes, but in reality, when it comes down to it, we are reluctant to let go of what is in our hand.

Five is the number of grace and the bread represents Christ, who is the bread of life.  It is His grace that is sufficient for all of our needs according to His riches in glory.   Two is the number of witness and fish are those which carry provision.  The great fish carried Jonah to Nineveh  and the fish had in its mouth the money to pay the tax for Peter and Jesus.  The fish bear witness that Christ is our provision to do impossible things in impossible ways.  Our eyes have to be opened and our faith vision increased to see what God can do through our apparent little if we are faithful to give it to Him.

This is where we will learn kingdom economy and kingdom living as we are the supply for one another’s needs.  As we meet the needs in others we will see our needs met.  Let us have the faith of this little boy to trust God with our five little loaves and two little fishes.  It is not in seeking the miracles, it is in the relationship that we have with the Person of miracles.  Let us have the faith to put our lunch in His hands.

Blessings,

#kent

The Planting of the Lord

April 11, 2019

 

The Planting of the Lord

 

Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

 

Have you thought about yourself as being a tree planted in the garden and orchard of God, a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord?  Many years ago when we first had moved into our home, I had planted a number of young trees and saplings in a portion of my yard I wanted it to be like a little forest.  As I was looking out the window at it one evening I felt I heard the Spirit of the Lord say, ” Some of those trees you think will live will die and some that look like they will die will live.  If you will faithfully keep your eyes and heart on me and let your roots go down in the good soil of my Word then I will make you like a mighty Oak tree.”  Over the years that has held true, some of the tree grew up mighty and strong, while others wilted and died.  All of those trees were planted in the same ground, but not all of them reacted the same way.

Perhaps some of you today have felt that the tree of your spiritual life has become diseased or is wilting and dying.  Perhaps the winters have been harsh with trials and the summers have only brought drought and dryness to an already wilting faith and life.  Perhaps those around you have been hurt or died and it has brought despondency and sorrow.  There may even be some of you that feel you are already dead or just hanging by a thread of faith.   God’s got a word for you today.  “Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  God has come to comfort you who mourn and are broken hearted.  He is come to bring you beauty for what you have considered burnt up with nothing but ashes remaining.  He is come to restore in you joy and hope and confidence.  You say, ” how can it be, look at my failures, my sins, my unfaithfulness.”  He says,  ” Look at Me, my son, my daughter, I am the ever Faithful One.  I have planted you to be trees of righteousness, my righteousness, not yours.  Look up, for your Redeemer lives and ever makes intercession on your behalf.  Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  If you will put your eyes and your heart back on the Lord today and let your roots go down again into the soil of His Word, He will establish you as the mighty Oak of Righteousness, for you are the planting of the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

God’s Purpose in You

March 29, 2019

Ephesians 3:10-12

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

 

God’s Purpose in You

 

As I venture out here on this scripture, I do it fully in faith of what God wants to unfold to us about our heavenly destiny and purpose.  As I read the scripture prior to this I find that Paul came to know that his purpose was to unveil the mystery.  Ephesians 3:6 says this is that mystery, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

God also has a design and purpose for the ages. Paul expresses here that the purpose He is unfolding is accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, but the fullness of the mystery is not revealed in Christ singular.  It is revealed in Christ in the plurality of His church.  Amazingly enough this scripture declares that it is through the church that the manifold or multi-faceted and expressive wisdom of God should be made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.  It is not like they already know the mind, the will and the full intent of God’s plan.  That plan is unfolding in Christ, through us, His many-membered body.

That tells us something about ourselves as the church and the body of Christ.  We are the divine expression of God’s purpose in Christ Jesus our Lord. What God is unfolding in His wisdom is being revealed in you and I.  We should quickly realize that church is not a building I attend, it is who I am.  We are the habitation and the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our lives are for the purpose of His expression and unveiling through us the wisdom and the purpose of the Father.  We are not here to just warm the pews on a Sunday morning.  We are here to reveal Him.  That is God’s purpose and His purpose becomes our purpose.  So, know this, you are here to instruct the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms.

How in the world can I do that?

Simply by fulfilling our purpose in God, through Christ.  That purpose is to be the divine expression of what He has uniquely put in you and formed you for.  Knowing and fulfilling your purpose in Christ is part of the larger picture of fulfilling God’s purpose.  You and I are a piece of the puzzle.  Without us it can’t be fully complete.  God doesn’t want us to take for granted who we are.

First of all, we know that who we are is now one in our identity with Christ .

Remember what Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23?  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  What Jesus is praying here is saying that we are a part of the picture.  In Christ, we have been incorporated into the Godhead.  We are there with Him.  Remember Ephesians 2:4-7?  “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Where is our position today in Christ as believers in Him?  Christ’s resurrection was also our resurrection, when we died to sin and were raised anew in Him.  In that resurrection was also our ascension so that where Christ is, there are we also, in Him. Your bodily location might be earth, but your spirit location is in heavenly realms.

Now you have to ask yourself this question, “Do I live out of the flesh or do I live out of the Spirit?  Where you live from is where your true position is.

If indeed, you are living out of the Spirit as Romans 8 says we should be, then our identity is in Christ and our position is in the heavenly realms.  When you have the right identity and the right position then you are in the right place to fulfill the purpose of God for which He created you.  The identity, resources, the authority, the position, everything you need, He has provided you.  Now all we need is the faith, grace and understanding to carry out in this world who we are and what we were meant to be in Him.

This is why we abide in the Vine and snuggle up close to the good Shepherd.  In the place of right relationship He will reveal Himself through us to fulfill His purpose.  It is not given to us ahead of time. It is given to us moment by moment as we abide, trust and obey Him.

You are the divine purpose of God created for good works to reveal God’s wisdom to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

Blessings,

#Kent

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