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

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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

Kingdom Calling

May 3, 2019

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Kingdom Calling

 

Romans 12:1-2 is a scripture that many of us are quite familiar with and yet it is so key to what God is bringing us into in this hour.  The majority of us in the body of Christ aren’t really that much different in our thinking and purpose than the rest of the world.  We hold many of the same values, the same passions, and the same desires to excel and succeed in life.  In many ways we think and act much like the world that we live in.  If we wonder why the church is powerless and ineffectual in so many areas, we have to look at our values and priorities as Christians.  Many of us have compartmentalized God into our God box; that part of our lives and thinking we reserve for God and spiritual things, but then we have all these other compartments that are outside of God.  We may have to be tough in the marketplace so we can’t take God there.  We may be another way socially and so maybe God doesn’t fit so well there.  Our God is relegated to our convenience but He has not been our purpose for living.

God wants to do something through His people in this hour, but He not looking to a luke-warm church of half-baked and half-committed Christians, He is looking for those that are sold out to Him, body, soul, mind and spirit.  That place of full commitment is a place of sacrifice where our will is laid upon the altar and it is no longer my will, but thy will be done, in this earth as it is in heaven.  That place of sacrificial commitment requires a daily maintenance program.  It is a choice and decision we don’t make just once, but every day.  Everyday we give ourselves afresh to Him and we are not praying that God fulfills and meets our purpose, but that He reveals and enables us to fulfill His purpose.  That requires a tremendous paradigm shift and change of mindset for many of us.  Quite honestly, many of us love and want to have a relationship with God, but we want to do what we want to do.  It can no longer be about us.  We are a “called out” people and the destiny that God has called us to is a higher calling requiring a greater discipline.  It is not about dos and don’ts; it is about where our heart and affections lie.  As we purpose our lives to become this daily living sacrifice we are going to see ourselves moving away from the things that formerly held our affections.  Our love of God and His purpose will become so much stronger within us that He is the obsession and full affection of our soul.  Instead of television and movies we will desire the fellowship of the saints and the breaking of bread with our fellow believers.  We will desire to be in His service giving out in the areas of service that express His love for those that are lost, hurting, dying and in need of a Savior.  What is more, He is going to become our fullness of joy.  We are going to become so blessed and enriched through our walk and relationship that we will wonder what these earthly things ever had that attracted us to them.  This comes through the renewing of our mind in the Word and the Spirit of the Lord.  In this place we no longer think like the world or operate out of its mind.  Our mind is set upon things above.  We have caught the vision of the higher purpose and plan of God for us and for those He has called us to minister too.  There needs to be a major shift in the thinking and mind of the body of Christ.  For example, we think of having a business, that it is for us to succeed and get ahead.  Often we find that our business begins to consume our life and everything we do is to make the business succeed and us to prosper.  I learned an interesting concept when I attended a Christian business class one time.  The instructor said, “Don’t allow your business to be your priority, rather let it be the outlet for your priority.”  This is the same type of paradigm shift we need in many areas of our life.  The purpose of God is that our lives might be the expression of Him.  Do our lives express Him or do they express us?  We must define our priorities and line up our lives to fulfill those priorities.  God’s Word offers the definitions of what our life is to be about.  The truth is we are living in an unwholesome and unholy mixture of flesh and Spirit.  God is now defining us in Spirit and the flesh is getting left on the altar.  They say that the biggest problem with living sacrifices is that they want to keep crawling off of the altar.  All the more reason we must reckon ourselves as dead unto sin, but alive unto Christ.

As we travel to Zion the way will become narrower and the path more confining.  We are the King’s kids, but we were birthed for kingdom purposes.  May our hearts be drawn to living out this daily sacrifice and the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.  He is the reason that we live, move and have our being.  Let all that we are, and each day that we live, be to His glory and praise.

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

Do We Really Comprehend?

April 10, 2019

 

Do We Really Comprehend?

 

Matthew 15:6

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

 

Maybe it is just me, do you ever think about how many times you hear or read something and it is like we were deaf or you had blinders on.  Something was said or you heard or read something and it just didn’t register.  You may have thought you heard, saw or understood perfectly when in fact you didn’t.  Recently, to my embarrassment, I went to the store and bought a gallon of what I thought I read as weed killer.  Actually I had already selected another one when I saw this in the isle with the neat little battery operated spray nozzle.  “That’s the ticket,” I thought as I made my purchase.  Even as I glanced over the directions about the right temperature to apply it, how long it should be before watering, and such it never registered that this was both a weed and grass killer.  After spraying my weeds individually I had enough to go back over and give it a good overall dose.  I thought, ” I’ll get those weeds this time.”  Sure enough the weeds began to wilt, but then the grass started getting large yellow spots all over it as well.  Still, I thought it must be that weed killer.  Soon it was more of the grass that was yellow and the weeds were bouncing back.  So I thought, maybe I should look one more time at the container before I take it back and complain to the store.  Sure enough, there it was as big as life on the label, “Grass and Weed Killer.”  Why didn’t I see that before?  The point is we get preconceived ideas in our head and then we just quit registering the fact that it could be different than what we thought.  How many times do we do that with God’s Word?  We have been around it so much or heard it preached on so many times, we more or less assume we know what that means.  But do we really comprehend?  Many of us, like myself, need to disengage our “assumers” and really engage our spiritual comprehension and understanding.

We should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.  The Bereans didn’t just take everything as gospel, but searched the Word and established that it was truth before they received it as such.  The Word says that they were more noble than the Thessalonians because they did do this.  As we hear and read God’s Word let’s not take everything at face value, there may be so much more there that God wants us to see and understand.  Maybe our spiritual life is turning yellow and dying for a reason.  Maybe we needed to go back really read the label before we apply something.  We have the Holy Spirit living within us as Christians, how many times as we are reading the Word of God do we ask the Holy Spirit for understanding and revelation.  The disciples didn’t comprehend some of the things Jesus was teaching, so it required greater explanation and clarification for their minds to get around it.  Let’s not just assume we already know all the truth about something, but really examine it in the light of the rest of the Word and the whole council of God as we ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance and teaching.  He is always bringing fresh revelation.

It is one thing to kill your lawn, it is another to kill your spirit.  Let us really comprehend what God wants to speak to us and when we do, let’s apply it with diligence.

Blessings,

#kent

Even Jesus was Slandered

March 27, 2019

John 8:48

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

 

Even Jesus was Slandered

 

Some of us have gotten quite offended because we have been misunderstood or others have taken up an offense against us because we didn’t fit in their belief box.  Here is the truth!  It doesn’t matter what you or I believe if it doesn’t line up with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  If the religious crowd of that day, who supposedly knew and taught God’s ways, were so willing to slander Jesus, The Way, The Truth and The Life, then should it be any surprise if you are misunderstood or you are slandered for teaching truth.  Truth is only evident in the light of the understanding and belief system that we currently have.  How many of us may now embrace what we once thought was in error, because we have come into a greater understanding and revelation of Truth.  Many were blind to the truth of Jesus in His day, even many of His disciples walked away from Him in John 6:66, because of the truth that He spoke to them.   There are things we are going to hear that will go against traditional teaching and paradigms, but they are substantiated by their alignment with the Word of God and the fruit of righteousness that they should produce.

Should we believe and receive every teaching that comes down the pipe?  Of course not.

1 John 4:1-3 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”  If we are walking in the Spirit then the truth will bear witness with the Word and the Spirit, even if it doesn’t fit in our box of current understanding.  Jesus is taking us from glory to glory as we are being transformed into His image.  In each realm of glory is a deeper dimension and revelation of truth.  If we are not sure about something, we put it on the shelf and pray for the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and discernment concerning it.

Men of God can be mentors, lights and examples to follow in the way of truth, but they are never the foundation upon which you build your house.  They can give you guidance and direction, as well help you to grow into your potential in Christ, but they never take the place of Christ.  Even good men are subject to falling or getting into error, so trust first the Word of God and the Spirit of God whom you must come to know for yourself.  Then if good or great men fall before you it won’t shake or move you in your faith.

As you come into deeper truth and understanding it will be a joy and illumination to your spirit, but don’t be surprised if others don’t embrace it with you and may even turn against you.  Be faithful to what God shows you.  We are accountable for what we know.  Love and pray for those that may slander or malign you.  John 15:24 says, “If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.”  The truth should produce and manifest kingdom results as it did in the life of Jesus.  That is the witness that this is the truth.  Jesus told the believers in John 8:31, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Blessings,

#kent

Live unto Life

March 7, 2019

 

Live unto Life

 

1 Samuel 25:29

Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel,

 

There are basically two types of life, natural or soul life and spiritual life.  We know that the clock is ticking on the natural life and much sooner than we might like to think the sand will run out and this natural or soul life will expire.  For those of us who have had God’s grace shed abroad in our hearts and have come into a relationship with the ever living Father and His son Christ Jesus, we live for the spirit life that is eternal.  What we often struggle to keep focused on is that when we have come into this spirit life, we are living to higher principles and purpose.  We have grasped the concept that this present natural life is our stepping stone into the eternal.  What we accomplish and the decisions we make in this natural man, chart our course for eternity and the spirit life that we are stepping into.  But it is difficult to always keep our focus on the things above when we live and walk in the things beneath.

Our scripture today is from the story of when David was being pursued by Saul.  He was highly insulted by a man named Nabal and was on his way with a band of men to slay every male in Nabal’s household when he is intercepted by an intercessor.  Now the name Nabal means fool and this man lived up to his name, but he had a beautiful wife named Abigail who was also very wise.  She gathers up large quantities of food and wine and goes out to meet David and his men before they arrive.  When she meets him and in the discourse of the conversation she makes the statement out of 1 Samuel 25:29 and basically prophesies to him of who he is in relationship to the Lord and what God will do for him.  She reminds him that his life is’ bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  She reminds him that none can prevail against him because that is so with God’s anointing upon him, and she reminds him that even his enemies will be slung away from him as a rock in a sling.  You see, David, in his anger and in the heat of passion had determined to avenge himself against this man Nabal and all of the innocent men that may have been associated with his household.  He has lost his focus and is acting out of his flesh.  How often has that happen to us?  In the course of life an event or an occurrence will totally grab our attention away from who we are in Christ and we pursue it out of the flesh.  Even as God allowed or sent Abigail to check David and warn him, how often has God sent someone, or in some way tried to check our wrong actions by warning us, turning us away and trying to remind of us of who we are in Christ.  Sometimes God will even close doors or allow circumstances to try and turn our wrong course.  If we are wise we come to our senses and discern the warning and correct our wrong course of action.  Unfortunately, we are often prone to be headstrong and determined to go our own way or do our own thing.  Think about all of the men and women in prison.  At some point in their life they probably had warnings and indications that they were headed in a wrong way and to continue would result in consequences, but they chose to ignore those warnings and continued in a path that led to the consequences of their incarceration.  How have their wrong decisions and choices negatively impacted many people’s lives?  We hope that we can all learn to be quick to recognize and repent when we start down these dark trails.  We must always return to our focus, which is not this life, but the spirit life.  It is not just the life to come, it is the life we are entering into now as we live by faith and walk by the Spirit.  We want our lives to every day count toward eternity.  We want our lives, like David’s, to be ‘bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  We want to be bound unto the Lord in the fulfilling of His purpose and calling in our lives.  Are we walking and living in His higher purpose for us today?  The Lord did not create us simply to live unto ourselves.  We have a divine destiny and it can only be realized as we walk and pursue that spiritual life.  Even if we have made a mess of it up to this point, it is not too late for us to change our course.  God still wants to make something good, meaningful and beautiful out of our lives if we will let Him.  If we set our eyes and hearts upon the eternal, upon His Spirit life, then we will begin to walk in the dimension of the spirit even while we are living in the natural.

Let us summarize with 2 Peter 2:1-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

The Struggles with Sin

January 23, 2019

 

The Struggles with Sin

 

John 8:32-34

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: [but] the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

Sin is a word that means to fall short or miss the mark.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  This is where the grace of God has come in, through Christ, to stand in the place of our shortcomings and be our righteousness through faith in Him and the blood that He shed for our sin.

Let me use perhaps a crude example to illustrate a point.  Many of us may not play golf, but probably all of us know the object of the game is to get the little white ball in 18 different little cups by hitting it with various golf clubs in the least number of strokes possible.  Now there have been and are now some extraordinary golfers that could play this better than most anyone else, but I’ve never heard of a golfer who has ever played 18 holes and made all of them on the first stroke.  Even the best of them miss the mark. The fact is, it is humanly impossible to make each hole in only one hit.  What if one day there was a golfer, who did it, he played the ultimate game and did what no man had ever done?  What if he then said, “Everyone that will golf with me and play the game my way even when he misses a stroke it will not be counted against Him.”  Suddenly there is a possibility that we can play a perfect game as long as we remain in the perfect golfer.  The truth is many are more concerned about playing there own game there own way no matter how many strokes it takes them.  These are the servants of sin or missing the mark.  If they were abiding in this master golfer then their strokes would be forgiven and not be counted against them, but because they want to do it their way then their strokes will count against them.  They will be judged and scored accordingly.

A servant of sin is one determined to live life in his own abilities, in his own way and for his own end.  While he may acknowledge the master golfer, he is still determined to play the game his way.  This is the way sin is in our lives.  Christ came to set us free from sin.  We have all played the game of life our own way.  Some of us better than others, but all of us are falling short.  The only way to play the perfect game is to be in the perfect golfer.   We are being made perfect in Christ, not because we never fail or fall short, but because Christ is our righteousness by faith.  When the Father looks upon us He see His Son who is perfect and the fulfillment of righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We are complete in Him.  If we say that we are in Him, but still want to play our own game, by our own rules then aren’t we living a lie?

All of us have struggles with sin.  We all have areas in our lives where we are weak and prone to fall into sin more than others do.  We are pretty good at pointing the finger at the weaknesses and sins of others that we deem worse than our own.  The greatest sin for any of us is an unsubmitted heart to the Father through our trust in the Son.  If we are weak in an area and are overcome by our sin, often we will try to justify it by saying God made us this way, or I can’t help the way I am.  We latch hold of the victim mentality that says it is someone else’s fault.  When we take this position we negate what Jesus said, “.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  When we come to Christ sometimes we are completely delivered from the strongholds in our lives, but more often than not we must learn to overcome and conquer these areas by the strength and life of the Lord in us.  We may spend a good deal of our lives struggling in these areas.  What we find is that our greatest deliverance is losing our lives in His.  When Christ becomes our foremost love and passion, when He becomes more and more, these other passions become less and less.  For anything to have life, it must be fed whether it is the life of God in us or the demons of our weaknesses and sins.  What we feed grows, what we starve dies.  If you are struggling with an area of sin in your life, your victory is not in your strength and ability, your victory is in your identification with His life and relinquishment of your will and desires to His.  An exchange must be in progress, old life for new, death to self that gives place to life in the Spirit.  The reality of our faith is not always seen immediately in the outward realm, it is first at work and reality in our spirit and in our heart before it becomes a reality in the natural realm of our being.  Romans 6:4-7, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

Blessings,

#kent

A Loving Moment

December 24, 2018

 

A Loving Moment

 

1 John 3:18

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

How do we show our love?  Do you find that in the fast paced society we live in?  We are constantly on the move, meeting demands, deadlines and obligations?  In today’s society especially, time is a commodity we seem to have the least of.  Everything around us is in competition for the little bit we have.  I know from personal experience that this is an area we easily get most out of balance within our lives.  Time becomes a day to day scheduling of priorities and often what we put at the top of our list would not be what God would put at the top of His.  God tells us in His Word to seek first the Kingdom of God.  What is the first thing on your priority list each day and where do you spend that time?  While some of us hardly have time for God, others of us are so absorbed with spiritual things we may be failing to really meet the needs of those closest to us for trying to meet the needs of everyone else.   Time management is an issue that I wrestle with even as I am writing this and I am sure it is an issue with many of us.  It is hard for us to be everything to everybody.  While we can tell people and loved ones that we love them, nothing really communicates that like our personal time and attention.  We have all seen instances where childcare, TV, electronic games, computers and other modern day conveniences and inventions raise our children.  Many of us are guilty of this to varying degrees ourselves.

The point of this is not to condemn us for what we have failed to be or where we have failed to demonstrate our love in action.  What we want to do is bring our time and agendas before the Lord and examine them in the light of His purpose and will for us.  It is the investments of our time that are the true currency in making a difference in the ones we love.  When the Word says we are to love “in deed and truth” isn’t it really talking about “quality giving,” whether it is of our time or our substance?  In order to improve the quality of our love, we have to improve the quality of actions and demonstration of what we say with our words.  The greatest testimony against Christianity today is that we are not demonstrating what we say with our words.  We are all talkie, talkie and no walkie, walkie.  As we sincerely begin to seek to move in the Spirit of God, we must constantly be willing to change our thinking, our priorities and our plans.  God is not always going to move according to our agenda and schedule.  We must learn the flexibility of moving to His.  That means we may have to let go of what we are doing, at the most inopportune times.  If you are a person that likes structure and consistency in your life you will find this tuff.  The Lord is shaping and molding our lives to move with the leading of His Spirit and will, not ours.  We have to become like the harnessed horse that is willing to submit to the direction of the bit.  Our life is all about service and surrender.  When Jesus taught His disciples, He didn’t recruit them and send them off to seminary to get a good theological education.  He showed and mentored them through day to day, moment to moment life experience how to walk out the love of God in a practical way.  We see times Jesus and His disciples desperately needed some rest and space to themselves and how Jesus gave up His needs to meet the needs of others.

Time is a precious commodity and we all have accountability for how we use it.  The Word tells us to “redeem the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).”  Let us make the moments of our lives count as we invest them wisely in the lives of others rather than just the business of life.  What is it that we do that will matter a week from now, a year from now, a lifetime from now?  It is my prayer that the Lord will give us all a greater wisdom when it comes to how we spend and invest our time.  We must remember that it is our time that can both build and make a meaningful relationship or the lack of it, which can destroy it.  May our time become a series of loving moments that translate into a lifetime of loving in deed and in truth.

Blessings,

#kent

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