Repeating Offenses and Failures

 

Romans 7:17-24

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.   Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. or I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

I don’t know that there are any of us that don’t struggle in our lives with our character flaws and weaknesses that seem to want to continue surfacing and have long been a source of consternation and dismay to us.  We don’t like these flaws, habits, strongholds, weaknesses and shortcomings; we hate them.  We know they don’t please God and yet we find ourselves again and again falling back into these snares.  We may even wonder if we could still be saved, as many times as we have failed, repented and then failed again.  This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us in our spiritual walk.  The latter part of Romans 7 deals, I believe, with this very issue.  It really boils down to a warring issue within our lives.  There are two laws that war in our members and while we serve the law of God in our mind, we find the law of sin, still wanting and seeking place in our bodies.  As we seek to ascend in our minds and spirits we have the flesh seeking to pull us back down, bringing condemnation and once again breaking and interrupting our spiritual fellowship with the Lord.  We, like Paul, cry out, ” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he goes on to answer his own question, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  What is he saying, that we can be divided and our mind serves God and our flesh serves sin?  No, he is saying that which ever one we give place too, that is the one we will serve.  Romans 8 really goes on to give the extension to the answer of our dilemma that he has addressed in Chapter 7.  Romans 8:1-2, ” [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.”  It is in grasping and laying hold of the higher law that now governs our lives that we begin to walk and live in a new mindset.  It is the mindset that is identified, not with our old man governed by the law of sin, but our new man which is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  One of the greatest reasons for our prayer life and spending time in the Word is so that we can renew our minds in who we are in Christ.  We are no longer that old person, enslaved under the law of sin, subject to its bondage.  We have been set free; the Lord has broken those shackles off of us.  Does that mean that we will never be tempted or influenced by the former things?  Not at all, we know that the flesh, and that former mindset that wants to regain its strongholds in our lives, constantly assault us.  Our freedom is in Christ and in our walk in the Spirit.  Romans 8:5-10, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” If we are the ones still trying to conquer our weaknesses in our own strength then we are doomed for the failure we’ve experienced in the past.  It is the Spirit working in concert with our will and submission to Him that is our empowerment.  Romans 8:13, ” For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Our lives in the Spirit are a continual overcoming of our flesh and the law of sin that wars against our members.  Are we going to loose some battles, yes, we still fall short far too often, but we have set our course.  Our eyes are fixed upon our Savior and “it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).”  That old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, but daily we become a living sacrifice consecrated unto Him.  He is our victory and in Him we are more than conquerors.  Don’t be discouraged, for His blood washes and forgives our failures as we repent and turn back to Him.  The more Christ fills our hearts and minds the less room and place there is for sin as the Holy Spirit is given full place to govern over our souls.  Press on, identified with who you are in Christ.  The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be the sons of God He has called us to be.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Temptation

November 21, 2017

 

Temptation

Matthew 4:1

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

 

Temptation is an issue that we all deal with on a continual basis.  We are all tempted to go against God’s Word and principles.  It is with this issue that we spend a good deal of time, energy and prayer to overcome, especially if those temptations are ones that we tend to yield too on a far too frequent basis.  We should all know that the temptation itself is not sin, but it is what we do with it that allows it to become sin or not.  There are two primary sources of temptation. The first we see in the scripture above where we are tempted of the devil.  We see, often not soon enough, how with subtlety he works his way into our mind to draw us into disobedience to God.  Sometimes it is through another person that has also yielded their members to the tempter.

The second source of temptation is the lust, craving and desires of our own hearts and minds.  James 4:1 says, ” From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members.” Are we not in a constant battle to bring this body and its related attitudes, feelings, and desires under subjection and obedience to the lordship of Christ?  This is our constant dealing with temptation.   Roman 7:22-25 and the passage prior to it discusses the battle we struggle within our bodies against sin:  “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.   O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”   Haven’t we all cried out, on probably more than one occasion, “O wretched man that I am? Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”  Many of us hate the sin that is in us.  And all of us have areas of weakness in us that are more prone to yielding to temptation than others.  But, then Paul in the next sentence declares the answer to our cry; “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Notice he doesn’t say, praise God, I’ll try harder next time.  If you could overcome that sin and temptation, wouldn’t you have already done it?  One of our biggest sources of failure is reliance upon our own strength to fix the problem.  The fix is in Christ not in us.  But you say “I prayed and it didn’t help.”

Some of us have become so guilt ridden and condemned by our sin that we have given up and said “it is no use, I can’t change and God can’t possibly love me like this.”  GOD DOES STILL LOVE YOU AND HE HASN’T GIVEN UP ON YOU!  This is why you need a savior, because you are unable of yourself to change yourself.  The change and deliverance we seek comes from us working in concert and cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 8 Paul starts out by saying, “There is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.  Our faith in Christ has brought us into Him.  In Christ is where we now reside and live out our lives by the Spirit, not in the flesh.  Does that mean it’s okay to sin since there is no more condemnation.  No, it is telling us that our mind and heart are no longer set on the former attitudes and desires for sin.  We are “in Christ”, so our heart is to please Him.  It is not “I’ve got to do this and this and not do that.”  It is by setting my eyes and my heart on Christ.  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20.  Paul says there are two spiritual laws at work here.  “For the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death.” We who are in Christ now live by a higher law, “the law of the Spirit of Life.”   In this law it is not in our self-efforts we overcome temptation, it as we walk in the Spirit (the higher law) that we put to death the deeds of the flesh.  “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Overcoming the flesh is then turning inward to the Spirit of God, into Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to have His expression through us as He becomes everything to us.  We are exchanging our old nature for His divine nature.  We are transformed as we renew our minds to line up with the Word of God in our thinking and walk in the revelation of who we are in Christ.  If the monster of temptation is not fed he starves and withers away.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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

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