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

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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

My Rights

December 14, 2018

James 4:2-3

You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

My Rights

 

Isn’t it interesting that James would be writing this, not to the people in the world, but to God’s people?  James isn’t mincing any words.  He is speaking to attitudes that can be found today in the heart of believers.  How do we approach our world?  Is it about getting our way whatever means that it takes or is it about each day kneeling in surrender before the throne of Jesus and saying, “Lord have Your way, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Many of us, especially as Americans, are really big on “our rights”.  If we think we have a right, God help the person that tramples or violates it.  We’ll be all up in their face big time.  After all, you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t fight for it.  So we will do whatever that takes, we’ll slander and kill with our words, we’ll gossip and turn others against those who oppose us.  We’ll even often reject those who won’t pick up our offense and take our side.  After all, that is our “right”.

We do exactly what James is talking about here.  “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  You can go to a lot of churches and see the division and the dissention, because someone isn’t getting their way.

Do you think we might have missed something when we read what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount?  ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)”.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)”

What do you think should come first, “our rights” or God’s righteousness.  When we wonder why our prayers are so impotent and God doesn’t seem to hear us or be close to us perhaps we should examine more closely the spirit and the attitude we are living out of.

I believe God has given us some rights that are precious and worth fighting for, but it is not just about our self-rights.  Jesus had rights as well, far more than we do, but what did He do?  He willingly laid down those rights.  Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!”  Was Jesus more concerned about preserving His rights or in imparting His righteousness to us?  Our attitude, it says, should be the same as His.

Before we get on our high horse and go to battle for our rights, perhaps we should ask the question of God, “Father what is going to best work your righteousness?”

Don’t allow the lack of character in others cause you to lose yours.

Forgive them and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s not always about being right, but about being righteous.

Blessings,

#kent

Our Dark Places

December 13, 2018

Our Dark Places

Who are we willing to allow into our place of undress;

That secret place in our heart where we hide our mess?

Who are we willing to allow to speak to the things amiss;

Those habits, behaviors and places we dwell in darkness?

Allow the Lord to come in and speak to our places of shame;

Not with condemnation, but with the love, blood and power of His name.

He wants to set us free, cleanse our sins and change our hearts;

Invite the Holy Spirit in for the light and transformation He can impart.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Lord of the Storm

December 7, 2018

Matthew 8:23-27

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

 

Lord of the Storm

 

Waves are crashing, wind, lightning, thunder,

At any time it looks like we will all go under,

Desperate measures to save our ship,

As the storm blows, tosses, tears and rips.

 

One sleeps peacefully in the hull,

Nothing seems to bother Him at all,

“Lord don’t you care that we all can perish,”

We are about to lose all that we value and cherish.

 

“Why are you fearful, oh ye of little faith?”

“When will you come to know your place?”

He rebuked the winds and there came a calm,

Mighty is He that rights the wrongs.

 

“What manner of man is this within our hull?”

“In Him there are no limitations at all.”

“He speaks and the winds obey,

What will He do if we believe and pray?”

 

The storms of life are tossing us to and fro.

Evil reports are found wherever we go.

Will we not believe the Lord’s report?

In time of need will we find the Lord’s support?

 

Know Him who calms the seas!

Know Him who has the power to make you free!

Know Him who hears you when you call!

Know Him within you, who is your all!

Kent Stuck

 

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

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

 

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

Many of us struggle with approaching God and establishing the relationship with Him that our spirit man longs for.  We want to hear the Lord speak to us, we want His direction for our lives, at least we think we do, and we want a relationship where we have a continual abiding fellowship and dialogue with the Lord.

We keep thinking, “what am I missing”?  Why aren’t I feeling closer to God?  Why don’t I hear His voice and get His direction more?  Our answers could lie in these verses and in this chapter.  For many of us we are loosing the battle to the flesh in too many areas of our lives.  We are back and forth between spirit and flesh.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and so we struggle with living consistent lives in the Spirit.

The first thing God tells us here, that we need to do, is submit.  Literally it means to be subordinate and be yielded to another’s control.  This is the same context of submission as Ephesians 5:22 requires when it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Men we are not really different from our wives. We really want to be in the driver’s seat concerning our lives.  One of the reasons we are missing God is we aren’t fully resigned in obedience to Him.  Wives, if you aren’t really submitted to your husbands, then you aren’t really fully submitted to Christ.  We all have to follow the order of authority that God has laid down for us in our lives.

The second area is “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Many of us are hit and miss at this as well.  We have good intentions, we mean well, but too many times we miss the mark.  Our resistance must be in direct proportion to our insistence that Christ is Lord.  When Jesus encountered the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, He insisted on the authority of the Word lining up in obedience to God.  Many, like the devil, take the Word and pervert it to try and say what justifies their particular lust and desires.  Resist the devil with the Spirit and the Word.  We are weak, but He is strong.  Our strength is in our abiding, obedient relationship with Christ.  He is the overcomer in us. We have to see ourselves through the lens of who we are in Christ.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  Are we continually approaching God in an attitude of true humility, contriteness and repentance?  Are His praises continually in our mouth, His meditation in our heart and is our purpose to find His will and plan for us personally?  What must we do to draw near?  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  The first and foremost thing is that we have to be totally serious in our intent to find God’s presence.   God sees right through our heart, our intents and motives.  James 1:4-8 tells us, “4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If we want God to take us seriously, then we have to be totally serious with Him.  Isn’t it interesting that again in this passage of James 5 he uses this terminology of “double-minded”?  This is where most of us find ourselves, divided between heaven and earth.  We look up at God and say, ” yes, I want you Father,” and then we look back at earth and think, “yeah, but I don’t really want to give that up, lay that down or turn away from that area in my life.”  We are double-minded, torn in two directions, but the Word calls us adulteresses, those of us who break our vows with our friendship with the world. It is this attitude and state of mind that we must grieve, mourn and wail over.  We must hate it so much that it becomes a stench to us.  We must be so grieved at any attitude or behavior that is contrary to the nature and character of Christ in us. He must forever be our all in all.  There must be so much of a humility and brokenness in our hearts that God will lift us up and know that we mean business with Him.  The lower we are willing to go the higher He can lift us up.  The more we are willing to die, the more of the resurrection life of Christ we are able to lay hold of.  How is our approach as we seek to find God’s presence today?

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

 

Aren’t we so often presumptuous to think we have the right or the ability to judge or to speak ill of one another?  Most of us have been guilty of passing judgements at one time or another and then some us make a career of it.  The word teaches us that if we want to judge someone we need to judge ourselves, not to condemn ourselves, but to discern our own hearts and motives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”  There is one Lawgiver and Judge.  His judgements are just and true because He sees the end from the beginning and sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. He sees all that surrounds a person and why they are like they are.  We see through very finite, limited vision and understanding into a person and yet we so often presume we are justified in passing judgements on them.

In Matthew 7: 1-7 Jesus teaches us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “  Jesus is reminding us that each one of us have our own issues we need to deal with.  How can we justify casting stones at others when we ourselves are not without sin?  Oh, I’m sure we are not near as bad as the person that we are judging is, at least not so in our own eyes.

Romans 2:1-4 reiterates the dangers of placing ourselves in the place of a lawgiver and judge, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Our own standards and perceptions often dictate our judgements.  As another man of God pointed out, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is made up of our perceptions and values of right and wrong.  When we judge others we are not judging from the tree of Life, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know that this tree results in death.

When we operate out of the tree of Life then our purpose is to give life in place of death, to offer strength and help where there is weakness, to rescue and restore one another, not to condemn and judge.   We are all experts when it comes to finding fault, but are we as proficient at finding solutions.  Some us  think we are and try and play the role of the Holy Spirit as we try to change and conform others into the image that we think that they ought to be.

Think through your life.  Are you the same person you were when you were eight, or eighteen or twenty-eight and so on.  Think about how your thinking has changed, your maturity, your views, values and understanding of things.  Think about how your walk and relationship with God has changed.  We can easily see that we are always changing, even though many things about us seem to remain the same.  Did others have a right to pass judgements on us as we passed through those changes and stages of life?

Every one of us is a unique individual.  God created us that way.  We are all different and we all have our unique and individual quirks that may rub someone else the wrong way.  That is why love, longsuffering, patience and self-control are all attributes of the Spirit.  They are something we all need in us to get along and tolerate and even love each other.

Perhaps we need to instill more compassion in place of our judgement, words of faith, kindness and encouragement in place of our slander and criticisms.  Give others the same grace and mercy that you would want God to extend to you.

Blessings,

#kent

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