Take Responsibility

November 2, 2017

Take Responsibility

Genesis 3:11-13

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Even from the beginning of time people have not wanted to take responsibility for their own actions and consequences.  Even as we see Adam and Eve passing the blame for disobedience to someone else, so it continues today.   We are continually reading about lawsuits that people actually win where it is obvious that there own negligence, ignorance or stupidity was to blame, but someone else has to pay for it.  We obviously want to assume as little responsibility and accountability for our actions as is humanly possible.  As a result of the sue-happy society that we live in, insurance companies get rich on malpractice and liability insurance because any little thing gone wrong could result in a lawsuit and someone’s bankruptcy.  Obviously there are many occasions when someone’s omission or commission causes harm or loss to another.   That is where they need to take responsibility for their action or mistakes. 

How does that affect us as Christians?  Do we carry the same mindset and practice of the world?  Jesus gives us principles in the Word that definitely are contrary to the standards and responses of the world.  He says in Matthew 5:38-42, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” “  The standard that Jesus gave was to go beyond what is required to give and forgive.  That pretty much flies in the face of our human nature that wants to do just the opposite and yet that it is a Christ standard of behavior. 

Most of us would say, but don’t you know if you do that you are just going to be a door mat for others to walk all over you?  You have to stand up and fight for your rights.  Is that what Christ taught us?  It doesn’t mean we are without principles and that we don’t stand for our beliefs, but when we go beyond the expected we become empowered because we choose to give beyond what was required. 

Paul addresses an even more disturbing situation that still exists among the church today.  It concerns the lawsuits among believers in 1Corinthians 5:1-11: “1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!  5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!

7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  It is a sad state when brother defruads brother or when we have to go into the world’s court system to seek the world’s justice.  Matters of difference should be arbitrated by the church if, not forgiven altogether. 

Many of us still operate our lives by the natural laws that govern men.  Christ has given us an even higher standard to follow and it is one our flesh probably isn’t going to like, but we need to exercise godly principles.  Maybe you have a legitimate complaint against another but forgiveness needs to be the order of the day, because Christ first forgave us and gave us what we did not deserve and could not earn.  That is the heart He wants for us to live out of.  This is a foreign concept to many of us and not the way we have been brought up to think and believe.  Jesus practiced this principal most of effectively on the cross.  He took responsibility and paid the price for a debt that was not His own.  We will have our crucifixion experiences as well if we are in Him, because “as He is so are we in this world. “  Are we willing to take the responsibility for our actions while at the same time often forgiving the faults and sins of others against ourselves?  Such is the law of Christ.    

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Green Pastures

October 26, 2017

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest.  It is the green pastures of His rest.  There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth.  There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye. 

Some of us are still searching for this green pasture.  It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life.   Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.   

It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt.  Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them.  When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain.  Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful.  ‘He has led us out here to let us die.  We should have never trusted Him.  We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’  Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts.   In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah.  The waters were bitter and the people could not drink.  Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us?  Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed.  Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts.  Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing?  Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives?  Do we get anxious and panic?   Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need.  Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest.   Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again.  Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Those green pastures speak of His life.  Whatis the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth? 

When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it?  We are testing it for integrity and service.  We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency.  God often proves our faith the same way.  He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts.  He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts.  Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him.  It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test.  When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision.  It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances.  No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful. 

Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness.  Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us.   Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

We are Right in Our Own Eyes

Proverbs 21:2-3

Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Isn’t it a fact that most of us are justified in our eyes for our behavior; the words we speak and the attitude and actions we carry out?  Most likely, if others are offended or hurt it must be their problem, not ours.  That is because we have that wonderful rational mind that is so skillful at justifying what we do, the words and attitudes we communicate and how we live.  Even if we do see and acknowledge some of our faults we may well try and offer a little sacrifice to compensate for it.  We want to give token gifts that cover over our offenses and sins.  We can rationalize “it is okay if I do this and this and the other, if over here I do this and this and the other. “  They will balance each other out and I will be okay.  The mind is a funny creature; it rarely really likes accountability for it’s own actions.  Are you ever amazed with all the excuses we can come up with when things go wrong?

The truth is these games don’t fly with most people very long let alone God.  He is looking into the true motivation and attitude of our heart.  He sees right past all our little diversionary tactics to justify us.   Like the prophet Samuel ask King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:14, ” What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”   The command of God was to utterly destroy the Amelekites and all that belonged to them, but here we find compromise because King Saul had allowed the Amalekite king and the best of the flock to be spared on the pretense of sacrificing them to God.  When I read this I think how many times have I compromised God’s Word, by rationalizing in my own mind why it would be okay or if I did it just a little different.  If you read or are familiar with the rest of this account and exchange you know that Samuel makes the important point to Saul in 1Samuel 15:22-23:

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.”  The lesson is, it can cost you everything to have a heart that is set on compromise and disobedience.   The Lord simply requires of us obedience to His Word.  We must be willing to look honestly at ourselves and our motives in the light of God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to honestly reveal them to us in the light of His truth.  There we must deal with them with the blood of Jesus through repentance,  submission and uncompromised obedience to the will of God. 

“Lord, help us today to have right motives in all that we do and please reveal it to us if we be otherwise minded.  Help us to yield all of our ways and allow You to have your complete way in us through our uncompromised obedience to You.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Companionships and Friends

September 27, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Companionships and Friends

As you go through life choose your friends and companionships among the people you most want to be like and who represent the highest standard.  Among them you will always be challenged to come up higher and to be more.  From that foundation of godly friends, you can help influence others that need a higher vision and that struggle with baser issues. 

Many times we are drawn into friendships with those we want to help, encourage and bring up higher, but the Word warns us that it can have the opposite effect.  We tend to become like the people we hang out with.  The Word asks us, “what fellowship has light with darkness”.  We can’t bring our light to them by partaking of their darkness.  When we are operating out of a place where our strong friendships are with strong believers then we strengthen each other to minister into those places of darkness where our love longs to help those who are still bound by sin’s cords.  We can never take for granted that we are beyond temptation.  With like-minded companions and a body of believers we can stand together in the power of prayer, the Word and the unity of our faith to bring others up into the light. 

I used an illustration with my children one time.   I put two of them on the stairs with the one up higher trying to pull the lower one up, but when the one on the lower step pulled back, they could easily see that it was easier to pull someone down than it is to pull them up.  I used this to illustrate to them about the friendships they choose.  Our heart and intention can be good, that doesn’t mean we can’t be pulled down. 

When Jesus sent the disciples out, He didn’t send them alone they went in pairs.  In Acts when the apostles went on their missions, they didn’t go alone.  When we want to bring our light into the realms of darkness, it is better that we don’t go alone, but they we take another strong believer or believers.  Together we have each other’s back and can see things that one of us alone may not see. 

Let the company that is in darkness be the ones you reach out to in love, but love doesn’t become a part of their darkness.  It calls others up higher, but doesn’t dwell where they are.  It only identifies with where they are, so that it can bring them into the identity Father wants them to have. 

 

blessings,

#kent

Failures that don’t end in Defeat

Micah 7:7-10

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.

We have all known times of failure in our life and most of us have experienced the Lord’s rod of correction.  There are times when we have stubbornly pursued our own interests and pleasures to only find bitterness and sorrow at the end of what we thought we had to have.  Our sin has consequences and many of us can testify of the great pain and suffering we have had to endure because of our foolish disobedience. 

In those moments of failure, when the house that we have built upon the sand is washed away, we may stand in utter shame and humiliation that we have come to this point in our lives.  We may almost think the world and the ones that we loved would be better off without us.  We have had to fully confront our iniquity and the failure which has resulted from it.  How can we even face God or the ones who loved and respected us?   We see failure written all over us, what do we have to live for and have to offer now? 

Our scripture today is one of hope and encouragement to the person who feels like a failure. In this scripture we have a nation of God that failed Him and had to suffer the reproach and the discipline of His correction.  The one thing we have to know about our God is though He will discipline us; He will never stop loving us.  He has a tender heart for the one who is truly repentant and will set their heart upon Him again.  After all, that is what discipline is for, to show us the error of our ways and bring us back to righteousness.  No matter how low we go, God never stops loving us, but a man without hope or faith is dead.  Without hope there is no way but down.  Hope causes us to look up into the loving eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father and say; “Can you still use this broken pot?”  It is our hope and faith in the Lord that believes that though we sit in darkness the Lord will be our light.  Christ will plead our cause and will be our advocate.  He will lift me again out of my place of darkness and bring me back into the light of His salvation.  All those who cursed me and judged me will be put to shame for though I was defeated I don’t have to fail.  The Lord is our victory and He is our good success.  When we were willing, through repentance, to relinquish the failure that we were; God begins to form a new man fashioned in the form of victory and uprightness.  He is a man that rises out of the ashes of failure to find victory and purpose again in His God. 

Only God can take our failures and defeats and turn them for good.  When our enemies think they have nailed our coffin shut, then God will raise us up to their shame.  You can trust that it won’t be in our time, it will be in His time.  No matter how bad we mess up and no matter how bad we fail God, our loved ones and even ourselves, all hope is not lost if we will put our eyes back on Jesus.  His love and forgiveness can reach into the deepest hell and depravity and set the captive free.    No one else and no other God can do that but Him.  Our failures don’t have to end in defeat, in fact they may be what bring us to our ultimate victory in Christ and our enemies will be put to shame before us. God can still brings us back into the light of His salvation and grace.  ‘As long as there is life, there is hope.’

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Blood Prevails

September 1, 2017

Leviticus 17:13-14

‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.

The Blood Prevails

Under the Mosaic Law it was strictly forbidden that you should eat the blood of any creature and then it makes a foundational statement of biblical truth, “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  Imagine now how the listening Jews and even the Lord’s own disciples were taken back when Jesus declared in John 6:53-58, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

This shook many of them to their theological core, because it seemed to go against all that they had been taught.  Even many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from Him that day.  It was because they didn’t understand the whole implication of this truth that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  The life or the nature of something is contained and represented in the blood of that creature.  For a person to drink the blood of creatures was in essence for them to partake and embrace a creature’s nature.  Some pagan ceremonies involve drinking the blood of sacrificed animals.  It was never God’s intention that His people would be partakers of a lower nature.  His intention and purpose is that we would be partakers of His divine nature and life.  This is what Jesus was communicating as He addresses these people in John 6.  Don’t eat and partake of the life that is perishing, rather drink of the life and eat of the bread that is eternal life. 

Throughout the Word of God it is communicated that there is power in the blood.  Animal sacrifices and the shedding of blood stood for many years as the type and shadow of the blood that was necessary for atonement and forgiveness of sins.  All of that shed blood pointed to the perfect Lamb of God that gave His life for the sins of mankind.  The embracing of that blood by faith and appropriating it to our life restored our relationship and fellowship with the Father.  We are partakers of the Divine Nature because of that blood that was imparted to us through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus upon the cross.  2 Peter 1:3-4 tells us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  The partaking of an animal’s blood is like partaking of the lower nature with its evil desires that brings corruption.  The partaking of the blood of Christ is the partaking of the righteousness of God in an incorruptible nature.   The blood, the nature and the character of Christ in us is what causes us to prevail over sin and ultimately over death. 

I am reminded of a chorus from a song that we used to sing in church.  “The blood prevails, the blood of the bleeding Lamb, with power to save, just like in olden days.  The blood prevails no matter what men may say. Thank God the blood prevails!”

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”” ~ Revelations 12:10-12

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Problem between Our Ears

Proverbs 23:7

For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he…

Self- perception is based on many things.  It comes from our experiences, our relationships and the input we receive from the world around us.  What we believe about ourselves is not always true, but it is true to us, because that is the reality that we see in our own mind.  What makes a young lady that is bulimic and anorexic to the point that she is skin and bones, continue to believe in her own mind that she is still fat.  It is not a reality issue; it is a perception issue.  As a photographer I have people come in quite often that are very critical of themselves in their images.  They will pick out perceived flaws that no one else would see.  So often our perceptions are formed by the input we get back from the world around us.  We are using that to evaluate if we are acceptable, or smart, or pretty, or successful.  Our dependency upon the world around us to shape our self-perception and values is often what cripples us.  Those we are looking too in shaping our perception are often flawed in their own perceptions so our premise for evaluating our worth based on the input of others is like building a house on sand.  Add to this the condemnation, accusations and the lies of satan, we can get pretty messed up.  The Word tells us that’ faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ (Romans 10:17).  The way we form a well-rounded perception of ourselves is through the Word of God.  If you are going to believe what somebody says about you, then believe what God says about you, because He doesn’t lie. 

There are a lot of us that are carrying a lot of baggage around with us that is tearing us up and it is destroying our relationships with the people that we care about and that we really love.  Sometimes we don’t even understand why we act and respond the way that we do.  This is where the Lord wants to set us free.  Often it is a lot of these misperceptions that we have formed from past negative experiences that we are using to evaluate our relationships now.  Because of the pain, hurt, abuse or disappointment of past relationships and experiences we allow fear to come in and tell us that our current relationships are going to happen the same way. We become convinced that we are going to get hurt, so we transfer that past negative experience into our present one and start responding defensively to protect ourselves from perceived hurt.  Often we can end up sabotaging a meaningful relationship and even marriage, because of these past experiences that we are bringing into the present.

I don’t pretend to be a psychiatrist, but the thing that is going to set us free is when we recognize that our values and perceptions are often warped.  We need a plumb line so that we can establish values and perception that are based on truth and not on a lie.  It is the Word of God that is that plumb line for us.  We have to align ourselves with what God thinks of us and what His values are for us.  Many of us need to really ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and reveal where our values are distorted and wrong.  Sometimes we need to look back at our past to honestly evaluate where certain values and feelings about things were formed.  As the Holy Spirit reveals these things then we can give those issues and perceptions to Him and ask for the Lord’s healing and change in those areas. 

You see, it is not the outward that is really you.  We can outwardly act many different ways.  The true man is as he thinks he is in his heart.  Heart change comes from a heart relationship with the Lord.  He wants to make you and your relationships whole and healthy.  He wants to give right perspective and the perception of who He says you are.  He probably has a much higher opinion of you than you have of yourself.  He values you and He wants you to be able value yourself based on what He is and is becoming within you.  Allow Him the place and open up your heart so that He can come in and begin to heal you and make you whole again.  Feed on what God has to say to you through His Word rather than what others say to you or about you.  Start responding to what the Word says rather than to feelings and emotions that surface in certain situations.  He can give us the balance we need in our lives and He alone can fix that problem we have between our ears.

 

Blessingd,

#kent

Restoration

August 16, 2017

Jeremiah 31:18-20

“I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.

Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented;

after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’

20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.

Restoration

Ephraim, for point of reference, was the younger one of the two sons of Joseph.  Jacob blessed him and his older brother Manasseh and the two were counted as one of the tribes of Israel.  Ephraim, though, he was the younger, Jacob blessed as the older, declaring that in him Israel would be blessed (Genesis 48).  Ephraim is often used as a name synonymous with Israel.  Jeremiah speaks this passage toward the end of Israel’s captivity in Babylon as they look forward to a time of freedom and restoration. 

It is the loving discipline of the Father that prevents us from reaping our own destruction.  If God tears down and destroys, He does it for the purpose of discipline, cleansing and restoration.  God’s discipline deals with the unruliness of our hearts as they stray from Him and forget His precepts and His ways.  It is God’s discipline that leads us to repentance and repentance leads us to restoration of fellowship and relationship lost through our sin and rebellion. 

God dealt very harshly with His nation Israel.  He allowed the destruction of their country, of their city, Jerusalem and even the glorious temple, which Solomon had built.  God will destroy the flesh, so that He may preserve the spirit.  Even in God’s anger, His love runs deep for His people.  We can readily see that in Jeremiah 31: 20 as God says, “Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.” 

God’s heart is for us even when we have sinned and turned away from Him.  He ever abides faithful, even when we have been faithless.  Hebrews 12:4-12 is such a rich encouragement to us as God’s children that God disciplines us out of His love and not His anger.  “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  Many of us are already in a place of discipline or soon will be.  Judgement begins at the house of God.  God is disciplining and judging us so that His house may be in order before He judges the world.  It is our discipline and godly correction that will prepare our hearts and lives for a great ingathering of souls into the kingdom.  We are His sons and as much as Papa loves us, He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  Let us faint not or feel condemned of the Lord.  God is dealing, exposing and judging us so that our repentance will lead us to a restoration into the fullness of His purpose and plan for our lives.  Father is all about our restoration and not our destruction, but sometimes old things have to be torn down that better things might be built.  If you are undergoing urban renewal in your life then rejoice, for the Father is at work in you to do His good will and pleasure.  You are the son of His love and the product of His restoration and grace.

 

Blessings,

#kent

August 7, 2017

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday.  Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten.  One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly. 

The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior.  That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible.  Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church?  Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions?  We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God. 

Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food.  I’m certainly no exception there.  We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end.  Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices.  And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us.  All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices.  They can be good or bad depending on what they produce.  One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.

Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life.  If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made.  We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come. 

Are you making healthy choices spiritually today?  Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily?  I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chose Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own.  “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).”   May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.

 

Blessings,

#Kent

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