Love that Binds

June 16, 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Love that Binds

Unity in a family, a marriage or in the body of Christ is found when we are all operating out of a communication of love.  People are unique and we will always have our differences from one another.  That is the way our good Lord created us to be.  In our differences He poured into us the bonding and the glue of His love so that we are able to patiently bear the irregularities of all those people that God didn’t make just like me.  Love is never really exercised and grown unless it is stretched and challenged.  People will certainly do that to you.  I personally found that just keeping to yourself and doing your own thing makes it easier to love people, but that is a long distance love.  God’s love is most often up close and personal.  It is often a decision rather than a feeling.  Whatever our relationships with people God knows we are going to have our differences.  Obviously, outside of Christ, we are much different than God.  In fact, He says before we were saved we were His enemies.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  What reconciled us to God was first His love for us, not our love for Him.  This is a key example that we forget in so many of our relationships.  We are most often reactionary, returning kind for kind and love for love or even hate for hate.  God does not just react to our rejection of His love.  If He did the human race would have been extinct long ago.  His love is deliberate and it has purpose.  His love is to gather you in His arms and impart Himself into you. 

That bring us to where God is bringing each of us in our expression of love.  If we are loving out of our human condition and our feelings of love, then our love will always be conditional and full of limitations.  God has called us to live out of His love which is unconditional and loves the unlovely as much as the lovely.   Living a life worthy of the calling is living life out of the foundation of love.  Who is love?  We know that God is love so if we are to love as He loved we can only do that as we submit to His love to reign in our hearts and find expression through our hands. 

The apostle Paul exhorts us here to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He is not saying it is always easy, but in order to do it you have to lose your importance and your impatience.  Humility has been defined as “strength under control”.  That strength and humility of love learns to prefer others above itself.  It becomes more aware, concerned and active in meeting another’s needs than it does its own.  Love makes every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  We soon learn through life’s experiences that even among other Christian not all are willing or wanting to reciprocate your love for them.  Most of us are aware that even in our own selves we often are acting out of our flesh or giving place to an ungodly spiritual influence or spirit.  When that is present we can be quite confrontational, unfriendly and irreconcilable.  When we encounter that reaction towards us from others, even if they are our brothers or sisters, we have to see it with spiritual eyes of love and discernment, not getting caught up in the spirit of division that is at work.  Often times we end up taking some punches we don’t deserve and in love we learn to turn the other check.  It is not about us being right or winning an argument.  It is about the love of God triumphing even in an ugly situation.  Many of us get caught up in our emotions and feelings and if that soulish part of us is not being tempered by the Spirit we will get off into the flesh and certainly will not be known by our love in those moments. 

The stream of God Spirit takes a lot of rough jagged rocks in the river bed and rubs them together until over time they become smooth stones.  That is what we are becoming those smooth stones, but the process is brought about by agitation, irritations, irregularities and confrontations.   It is  the Love of God that is the fluid that heals, blends, forgives and ultimately loves through us in the unity of one Spirit. Perfection takes a good deal of practice.  God has put us with one another to learn to practice His love.  God’s love should be what binds us together until we work out our differences and that may just be loving and accepting the other for where they are at.  God has us all on different rows and we at different places in our walk with Him.  Above all let the love of Christ prevail in our relationships.  If the world is ever to know us by our love, then they first have to see it in action in though our lives and behavior towards one another.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Protection of Light

March 10, 2017

The Protection of Light

Luke 12:2-3

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.

Light is the guardian and protector of our hearts.  As long as we keep our full face in it, then it will dispel all darkness.  When we begin to turn our face out of the light and regard darkness with our eyes and thoughts, then our body will follow where our eyes and heart lead us.   Outwardly we may maintain a position of light and righteousness, but inwardly light is fading from white, to gray, to black.  A book is often judged by its cover, but its pages reveal its content.  Pages written in the light will reveal light, but pages written in darkness will conceal it.   

Are we an open book today that could be read of any man and no shame would be revealed or are there pages we are writing in darkness that we hope that no one else will see or read.  There is a day the pages of our heart and life will be open and be read of all men.  Regard humility that you do not suffer humiliation.  Fear the Lord, so that you don’t have to fear man.  God gives us grace and a time to repent from our evil and our darkness.  Turn back from darkness and run back into the light.  Let us repent of our darkness, lest our nakedness be exposed.  Let us clothe ourselves again in light and wash ourselves in the blood of His forgiveness.  We must judge ourselves quickly, lest we would be judged and our unclean ways be found out.  Judgement begins in the house of God and it has begun.

A great man who became the victim of his own words used to say, “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”  The word he spoke is true, but only each one of us can apply it to our own lives.  Today is a day to no longer conceal a matter but to repent, turn and run back into the light of God’s compassion and forgiveness.  May we be an open book, read of all men, concealing nothing in darkness.

Blessings,

#kent

God of the Present Tense

February 28, 2017

Psalms 46:1-3

… God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; [Though] the waters thereof roar [and] be troubled, [though] the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

God of the Present Tense

It is often easy for us to relate God with Bible stories and the great works He has done in the past, but the most important thing to our living in Christ is that we know Him in the present tense, in the here and now, today.  God has given His word so that we could see His faithfulness and throughout the history of mankind, but He gives us past examples so that we might make them relevant to our daily life and circumstances.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”  He is with us now as He was with His disciples.  The earth may move and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea, but our God is not moved.  He remains our refuge, our strength and a very present help in time of trouble.  

We can’t see the One who is our confidence, but it is our faith that reaches out to embrace God at His word and cling to it.  The world operates in what they can see.  That is where they place their confidence.  Our confidence is in what we can not see, but what we know in our hearts to be real and true.  

Perhaps you, like me, find that when you are going through the midst of a trial or problem, it is difficult for us to not want to look upon it and judge it by the natural eye and with natural judgements.  It is our faith that reminds us to boldly confront our circumstance in faith and trust knowing that God is our very present help in our time of trouble.  He is working in ways we do not know and by means we can not see.

Our relationship in Christ, our hope and our confidence must be present tense.  It must be what we are living and believing each day as we walk and put our confidence in Him.  We ask Him to order our steps and we seek to acknowledge Him in all of our ways.  We must trust Him when we can not see.  Our life is in His hands.  

There was a time in David’s life that he faced death daily.  The odds were against him.  He was a fugitive and a marked man.  What kept David through all his adversity was that he lived in the present tense of God.  His confidence daily resided in Him who was able to deliver his soul from death.  We must each live in the reality that David found, the present tense of God. 

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 22:24

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

The Despised and the Afflicted

Have you ever looked down on someone who was weaker than you, not as talented, not as good looking or not as good or righteous?  Have you ever despised another because they offended you in some way?  Have you ever regarded yourself above others in your station or position in life?  If we are really truthful and search our hearts I would imagine that we all have had these prejudices.  I am sure for all of us there are people we prefer to not be around or associate with for various reasons.  Maybe there are good reasons that we shouldn’t associate or be around them. 

What the Lord is speaking today is concerning the despised and the afflicted.  Many times we can’t really appreciate or identify with where others are at, because we have never been there or had to really walk in their place or we have forgotten where we have come from.  We judge and make assumption from afar and think that we judge rightly and fairly.  What is God’s heart concerning the afflicted and those whom others may despise?  He certainly doesn’t condone any of us in our sin or favor the unrighteous, but He feels and knows the heart of the afflicted.  He knows their pain and their torment.  He knows their rejection and their low esteem.  Without realizing it we can become like the Pharisees that dwelt in their sterile environment where they didn’t have to dirty their hand or touch the unclean things.  It is safe there and we don’t have to deal with all of the unpleasantness of the humanity that is sick and dying all around us.  We often despise the afflicted because they cause us to deal with unpleasant things; things we would rather ignore and not be concerned with.  Our religious, righteous and sanctimonious heart is not the heart of the Father, because he doesn’t despise or abhor the afflicted.  He doesn’t hide His face from them, but He loves them and cares about them.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘it is not the well who need the physician, it is the sick.’  Jesus has a heart for the despised and the afflicted, because He walked in their place.  Isaiah 53:3 speaks concerning Jesus, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Many of us have become quite comfortable with our religious trappings and comfortable surroundings.  We dress nice, we talk nice and we rub shoulder with like-minded people, but how do we view those who don’t fit within our circle and our standards?  Do we thank God that we are not like them?  Jesus addresses this in a parable that He gives in Luke 18:9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 

13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 

14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Some of us have forgotten who we were when the Lord called us unto Himself.  1 Corinthians 1:26-32 says, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

James 1:5-7 puts this question to us, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?”  Let us be careful whom we despise, reject and judge.   Our ministry and our outreach are to such a people.  Let us honestly search our hearts and our attitudes.  Many of us need to get over ourselves and get the heart of the Father for the despised and the afflicted.  If we are missing that, then we are missing Him. 

Blessings,

#kent

A Heart of Lust

February 7, 2017

Psalms 78:18-42

18And they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their [selfish] desire and appetite. 

19Yes, they spoke against God; they said, Can God furnish [the food for] a table in the wilderness? 

20Behold, He did smite the rock so that waters gushed out and the streams overflowed; but can He give bread also? Can He provide flesh for His people? 21Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was [full of] wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob, His anger mounted up against Israel, 22Because in God they believed not [they relied not on Him, they adhered not to Him], and they trusted not in His salvation (His power to save). 23Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven; 24And He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them heaven’s grain. 25Everyone ate the bread of the mighty [man ate angels’ food]; God sent them meat in abundance. 26He let forth the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by His power He guided the south wind. 27He rained flesh also upon them like the dust, and winged birds [quails] like the sand of the seas. 28And He let [the birds] fall in the midst of their camp, round about their tents. 29So they ate and were well filled; He gave them what they craved and lusted after. 31The wrath of God came upon them and slew the strongest and sturdiest of them and smote down Israel’s chosen youth. 32In spite of all this, they sinned still more, for they believed not in (relied not on and adhered not to Him for) His wondrous works. 33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste. 34When He slew [some of] them, [the remainder] inquired after Him diligently, and they repented and sincerely sought God [for a time]. 35And they [earnestly] remembered that God was their Rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. 36Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouths and lied to Him with their tongues. 37For their hearts were not right or sincere with Him, neither were they faithful and steadfast to His covenant. 38But He, full of [merciful] compassion, forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not; yes, many a time He turned His anger away and did not stir up all His wrath and indignation. 39For He [earnestly] remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that goes and does not return. 40How often they defied and rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! 41And time and again they turned back and tempted God, provoking and incensing the Holy One of Israel. 42They remembered not [seriously the miracles of the working of] His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy.

A Heart of Lust

The account we read here in Psalms 78 is an example of the lust that tends to work in all of us.  Often we only think of lust in a sexual sense and there is certainly that aspect of it, but it is much broader than that.  It was a quality and aspect of humanity that kept the children of Israel in the wilderness, it continually provoked the wrath of God and it remembered not all His benefits because it becomes so focused on its own.  Lust defined is the selfish and self -indulgent desires and appetites of our flesh.  Many of us are still controlled, to a large extent, by an attitude and mindset of lust.  Our focus is so often on what pleases us and what we want, rather than on what is pleasing to our Lord.  Even in our prayers, we are crying out to God to give us meat, give us what we want rather than being content with the provision of God’s hand.  Human nature is usually to always want what it can’t or shouldn’t have.  There are times when God will allow us to have the lust of our hearts.  He will give us what we think we must have.  What we find is that the fulfillment of our desires soon becomes a curse.  What we thought was going to fulfill and satisfy us leaves us empty and lean of soul.  It brings with it consequences that we didn’t anticipate.  Verse 33 of Psalms 78 says, “33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste.”  This is the fruit of our lust.  It is enmity with God and so it brings death to us and not life.  It is the antithesis of faith and trust in God’s goodness, sovereignty and provision.

1 John 2:15-17 tells us this, “15Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 17And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”  We want our lust to be for those things of the Spirit that pertain to life and godliness.  Our desire is for a deeper and more intimate relationship with our Lord that we might know and experience the fullness of His life and blessing upon us.  We must learn from our former examples that the lust of the flesh breeds death, but walking in the Spirit produces life and the attributes of a godly character.  

Blessings,

#kent

God’s Life Map

January 3, 2017

God’s Life Map

Psalms 119:1-16 (Amplified)

BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, to be envied) are the undefiled (the upright, truly sincere, and blameless) in the way [of the revealed will of God], who walk (order their conduct and conversation) in the law of the Lord (the whole of God’s revealed will). 

2Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart. 

3Yes, they do no unrighteousness [no willful wandering from His precepts]; they walk in His ways. 

4You have commanded us to keep Your precepts, that we should observe them diligently. 

5Oh, that my ways were directed and established to observe Your statutes [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]! 

6Then shall I not be put to shame [by failing to inherit Your promises] when I have respect to all Your commandments. 

7I will praise and give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn [by sanctified experiences] Your righteous judgments [Your decisions against and punishments for particular lines of thought and conduct]. 

8I will keep Your statutes; O forsake me not utterly. 

9How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]. 

10With my whole heart have I sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh, let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments. 

11Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. 

12Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. 

13With my lips have I declared and recounted all the ordinances of Your mouth. 

14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. 

15I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways [the paths of life marked out by Your law]. 

16I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

God has a road map for our lives that will help us maneuver and steer through all the obstacles, trials and confusions of life.  A lot of us are prone to wander.  We read the map for awhile and listen to its instruction.  We think we have the jest of it, so often we tend lay it aside, occasionally listen to the instructions of others and think we can pretty well find our way.  So off we go like a prideful man on a journey.  Things are going well for while, but then we take some wrong turns and suddenly we find ourselves off course.  Not to worry, we can find our way back and we only read instructions, consult maps or ask advice when all else fails.  The more we struggle in our strength and wisdom the more lost we seem to become, but I’m sure we will find the way back up at the next corner or just over the hill.  

Does that sound like any of us?  Are any of us off course today and struggling to find our way.  Sometimes we can think we know the Word of God pretty well, we don’t really need to read and study it like we used too, but God’s Word is not just literature, it is food and water to our soul, it is the substance of life.  When we depart from it, we slowly start to drift away from our Lord.  Even as I write these papers and have just tried to listen to the voice of the Lord, He has started to direct me to go back and look into His Word for the inspired word from Him.  God’s Word is a vital part of who He is and what we are.  It is written so that by the Holy Spirit’s understanding we can comprehend it and apply it personally to our lives and circumstances; being transformed by it. 

God’s Word is not only our spiritual food and water; it is our cleansing and washing.  It is what renews our mind, our thinking, our vision and our destiny.  It is the compass that keeps us on course with the will and purpose of God for our lives.  Some of you may be faithful to read these writings, other devotionals or books, but never let these become a substitute for your time and meditation in the Word of God.  

The Word tells us in the above passage that if we desire true joy and happiness, and I presume that we all do, then delight yourself in the Word and the precepts of the Lord.  It is when we are walking in the will of God that we enjoy the greatest and deepest blessings of God.  

Often it is our pride and selfishness that are our greatest enemies.  Most of us know that we, in our soulish and selfish thinking are our own worst enemies.  It seems I am always praying God deliver me from me.  That deliverance is in accordance with filling my mind, my thinking and my being with God’s Word, ordinances and instructions.  Even in this there is a danger, because often times we want to compartmentalize God in one part of our life and our soulish activities in another part of our lives.  We can become this multiple personality and isn’t that what have seen in a lot of in Christianity.  No wonder the world is confused when they look at us.  They see in this pious and holy context on one hand and on the other we are breaking our word, lying, cheating and being every bit as bad, if not worse, than the world.  The world is so disillusioned with that kind of Christianity.  They are hungry for the real, the genuine.  They are looking for the God manifested in people who are not just looking down to condemn them and despise them, but those who are willing to humble themselves, get under them and lift them up.  Those who can look past their sin and faults and see their need as God saw ours.   The true knowledge and wisdom of the Word is not a prideful thing.  It is not a head-trip.  It is place of brokenness and humility, of love and devotion, of serving and pouring out for others.  It is conformity to the image and nature of Christ.  

As the breast of a baby’s mother and their blanky is the security and life of a baby, so let God’s Word be that to us.  Let us crave it, cling to it, live it, breathe it, eat it and drink it.  Let it be our meditation day and night.  It is our map to the center of God’s love, will and presence.  We are lost without it.

Blessings,

#kent

Unfeigned Love

December 13, 2016

1 Peter 1:22-23

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Unfeigned Love

As the Holy Spirit dropped this phrase into my heart this morning, I thought, “What does that mean, “unfeigned love?”  It is described as love without disguise, hypocrisy or ulterior motive.  It is a love that truly operates in the best interest of another and not just one’s self.  It is a sincere love.  So often there is such a difference in what people portray to others through what they say and how they act, but their heart and motives don’t line up with what they are portraying.  We know that as hypocrisy, which is an act of pretending to be something you really aren’t.  

Part of the fruit and action of purifying our souls in obedience to the truth through the Spirit, is to really love others as we would love ourselves. It is to love them out of a pure heart free from bitterness, malice, jealousy, unforgiveness or covetousness.  We are to love one another as Christ has loved us, unconditionally and honestly.  It is important in that relationship of love that we have with our brethren that we can be forthright with one another.  So often we have gotten into the habit of covering our true feelings with some excuse or explanation rather than really being able to share our heart and true feelings.  We find ourselves being deceitful rather than saying anything that might upset somebody and yet we may be speaking evil, gossiping and maligning them behind their back, because of what is truly in our hearts.  When we speak the truth in unfeigned love, our heart and our motives are going to be pure.  We need to be able to work, live and speak to each other in a level of honesty that doesn’t seek to hurt others, but doesn’t hide or disguise the real issue.  We all deal with emotions and feelings about people and situations.  They may not be right, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with them.  Our relationships with one another are the same way, we often need to work through issues we are having with someone concerning anger or selfishness or any number of things.  If we only continue to suppress it, but never deal in love with the problem it only serves to create a root of bitterness that gives the enemy access.  God’s love is honest, open and it lays itself on the line.  When we disguise, hide and conceal our true heart then we create and atmosphere of darkness.  That is the atmosphere that grows the bacteria of satan’s workings.  Honest and unfeigned love keeps us in the light and helps us to work through our issues and struggles with a right heart and a right spirit. 

When we view who we are and what we have been called to be in the light of God’s Word we all need to examine this area of unfeigned love and ask ourselves, “what kind of love am I operating out of in my relationship with others”?  Am I honest and open or am I feigned, disguised and not living in full disclosure.  Ask the Lord to disclose your true heart to you and show you the true attitude and honesty of your love.

Blessings,

#kent

Wisdom from Above

November 14, 2016

James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Wisdom from Above

The wisdom of this world does not fit well in God’s economy.  The wisdom of this world is concerned for what benefits self and to how obtain those benefits.  Its fruit is often that of greed, manipulation, control, jealousy, covetousness and selfish ambition.  It is most often not really concerned with the needs of others unless that somehow benefits the bottom line.  Those who obstruct its path are viewed as the enemy, and are simply its stepping stones to greater power and control.  James teaches us this wisdom doesn’t come from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil. 

God has a much higher order of wisdom for His people.  He teaches us that it is first pure.  With it there are no hidden agendas, no selfish ambitions or objectives, because its objectives are blessing, peace, edification and promotion of others rather than self.  It is contrary to the world’s wisdom in that it promotes and exalts others before itself.  It is submissive, not seeking its own way, power or control.  It is not judgmental, but merciful, looking for how it can help those who are stumbling, struggling or failing in their walk.  It never seeks revenge, but rather healing, reconciliation and restoration.  It is not biased by prejudice either for or against, but it judges all things after the love of God, exhibiting His mercy and forgiveness.  It does not excuse evil, but confronts it with light and truth.  When it judges, it judges in righteousness for the good and not for the evil.  The wisdom from above demonstrates the heart of God toward others.  It is about ending strife and doing what makes for peace and reconciliation. Strife generally comes when we are compelled to promote our agenda of what we think is right and good.  It is the resistance of the will of others.  Jesus, in God’s wisdom, didn’t argue or debate, but in the face of his accusers and tormentors he spoke the truth of God.  The truth brought the judgement and righteous conviction.   We are to stand in the truth even when the lie is exalted all around us.  Wisdom from above is not only seen in how we believe, but in how we live.  When we live and walk in the Spirit, we will produce the fruit of the Spirit and in that is divine wisdom from above. 

Blessings,

#kent

Discipline

November 4, 2016

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, 

but he who hates correction is stupid. 

Discipline

Discipline is not something we often fondly embrace or seek out.  It carries with it the idea of being corrected and doing things we may not particularly like to do.  Thus, discipline often doesn’t carry a real positive image in our minds.  We may even think back to our youth and the punishment and correction we received as children.  The other side of discipline is knowledge, because discipline corrects us out of wrong thinking, wrong motives and wrong action.  In terms of our spiritual walk, a disciple of Christ is a disciplined one; they are ones who learn at the feet of the master through discipline, correction and even chastening.

It is interesting how discipline and knowledge are tied together here in Proverbs 12.  What good is it to know something without the application of the knowledge?  True knowledge is not the mental assent of an idea; it is the induction of its principles into one’s lifestyle and actions.  That is where the discipline comes in.  Discipline is a correction that comes through knowledge.  If we rebel and refuse the correction, the rebuke and the instruction that comes through knowledge, then the Word says we are essentially stupid, not because we can’t understand, but because we refuse to receive knowledge.  God’s knowledge and discipline go hand in hand.

If we want God to teach us His ways and His precepts, then the first thing we must be willing to do is receive discipline.  Only in submission to that discipline through obedience can we be conformed to the knowledge and the instruction of the Lord.  Only then does His laws become written into our hearts and not just comprehended in our brain.  True knowledge is received with the discipline to walk in it and receive the correction when we err from it.  From that type of knowledge do we gain true wisdom and understanding. 

Proverbs 1 starts out telling us the intent and the purpose of the proverbs.  Verses 2 through 7 tell us essentially what this scripture tells us in 12: 1. The purpose of the proverbs is “for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, 

doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance- 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”  We know and I think would pretty much agree that the Word of God is our instruction manual that leads us, teaches us and directs us in the path of true spiritual life.  God says it is the fool and the person who shows stupidity if they reject and refuse to embrace these words of life and the discipline that comes with its instruction. 

Discipline often involves chastening which none of us look forward too but Hebrews 12: 4-12 tells us why it is a necessary part of our spiritual walk and journey.  “In 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.” 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  It is important that we know that with the knowledge of the Lord comes discipline and the discipline comes so that God’s knowledge might be worked into right behavior and character.  It is His character being worked in us.  When you seek to get knowledge also be willing to embrace the discipline that must go with it. 

Blessings,

#kent

Discontentment of the Soul

September 26, 2016

Discontentment of the Soul

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

How many of us like to have fun?  We love what entertains us and provides us with external stimuli that excites our senses and appetites.  Sometimes we think and we do what is in our natural desires to do.  If we are “in Christ” we begin to feel convictions from His Spirit within us.  We might ask, “Why doesn’t God want me to have a good time?”  God does want us to a have a good time in the things that pertain to life and godliness.  There is no joy on earth that is greater than the joy of the Lord and truly experiencing His awesome presence.  Our joy comes from our relationship, but our relationship often becomes stale and unexciting.  

We can liken it to many of our marriages.  We married that person because at one time they were fun to be with.  They were exciting and they were everything that we desired and wanted.  What happens as we go down the road of life and the honeymoon is over?  What happened to those feelings we used to have and the passion we felt?  Hopefully it is still there, but for many if fades as the demands of life take over.  Our weaknesses surface and seem to be glaring blights to our partner who once never even noticed or seemed to care about the faults, perhaps now that is all that they see or all that we see in them.  

Our relationship with God can be a burden to us as well when our hearts are drawn to the glitter and the romance of the world.  We, as people, tend to get into ruts and routines with our religion and our relationships.  In that place we start growing often discontent, disconnected and disinterested in that one which we once loved and cherished.  That can happen to us spiritually as well as in our natural relationships.  

It is said that ‘one thing is certain and that is nothing ever stays the same.”  Many of us have had those time when we had wonderful experiences and feelings and somehow we were under the illusion that this would go on into happily ever after and nothing would change.  “Boy, did we buy into the lie on that one.”  We have found that things do change, circumstances, feeling, attitudes, desires, priorities and a number of other variables have come in to change the dynamics of our relationship with God and with our spouse.  Even God doesn’t always meet our expectations.  

What do we do when we find ourselves struggling in our relationship with God or with our spouse?  Funny how there is often a correlation between those two relationships.  

Life and long term relationships are not about an experience or a feeling that we once had, they are a journey.  On a journey the terrain and surroundings are always changing.  The climate is changing.  Those changes are sometimes good and sometimes bad, but never the less they are changes.  The important part of a journey is that we aren’t aimlessly wandering the countryside, looking for the best place, the best climate or just the good times.  It is important in a journey that we have a fixed destination and a course that we are following to get there.  A lot of things will happen between where we started and where we end up, but it is important that our commitment is to our destination and that everything else becomes secondary to where we are headed.  There will be many other paths to follow in life that will lead us away from our destination and occasionally we take a wrong turn and get off on these, but what do we do when we are traveling on trip and take a wrong turn?  When we discover it and acknowledge it we repent and turn around so that we can get back to the road that will lead us to our destination.  

We are going to face some hard times both in our marriages and in our relationship with God, that is part of the journey, but we can’t quit, we have come too far.  We must make the adjustments in our hearts and attitudes to find joy even in those hard places.  Often our failing relationships are the result of our own hardened heart.  We would like to blame the other, but restoration begins with us.  It is ourselves that we are wholly responsible and accountable for.  Our reward doesn’t come from how well we were able to conform someone else to our will or God’s will, but on how well we were able to offer our will as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  He is our destination and our joy and contentment come in fulfilling the calling He has placed upon our lives.   We can’t be moved by the natural man, that’s a wrong road, we must move according the direction of God’s Word and how the Holy Spirit makes that personal and alive to each one of us. 

Blessings,

#kent

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