Renegades

January 18, 2018

 

Renegades

1 Timothy 4:1-3

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 

Did you ever think about there being renegades, religious or spiritual outlaws, deserters and traitorous to the faith of Jesus Christ?  The Word of God warns us there is and will be and not only so, but they become the wolves that prey upon the flock.  They know the culture, the language, the scripture, but they have become hypocrites feigning and pretending to be what they are not.  Even as the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy, these renegades have become the agents of satan  to undermine, destroy and put into bondage those who do not discern their workings.  They are manipulators, using and abusing the flock of God to their own end, purpose and glory.  In the end it is all about them and they have become so hardened and callused to the dealings of the Holy Spirit that they completely ignore whatever warning He has tried to give them.

Beware of those who use condemnation and coercion to force their will and ideas upon you.  They put yokes and bondage upon you that Christ never intended that you bear.  They use religion rather a relationship of love to promote their gospel and unholy tidings.  Yes, it will contain truth and much of it will come from the Bible, but the devil is a bottle poison in a lake of truth and so are these agents of his.  These will become more and more prominent in the latter days as the spirit of antichrist is at work in the world and is becoming more manifest.  Guard your hearts with the full knowledge of the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth.  2 Timothy goes on to warn us, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The testimony of a true believer is not just in the rhetoric of their mouth, but in the fruit of their lives.   Many great teachers and preachers and so-called men of God we only see from a distance, living behind a projected front of holiness and religion.  The true man of God won’t put you again under the law of condemnation.  He will declare to you the law of liberty, freedom and righteousness, which is through Christ alone.  The man of God will not manipulate you through guilt, fear, judgement and condemnation, which is a form of witchcraft.  I often find it offensive to receive what can be a moving email and at the end I am condemned and not a good Christian if I don’t send this to at least ten more people.  That’s condemnation and manipulation.  If it is of God then let God move upon the hearts of those who read it to pass it on.  Unfortunately it speaks of the mentality of much of what is at work in Christendom today.  When we have to force it, lay guilt trips and condemnation on people to get them to respond to our ideas and agendas then we are acting out of the flesh and not out of the Spirit of God.  There are sermons I have heard on tithing and giving that would have me feeling like a reprobate if I wasn’t giving more.  Then I have heard sermons and teaching on tithing and offerings that brought me into a greater revelation of the joy and act of worship that is entailed with giving.  It taught me the spiritual and natural benefits involved in giving.  The difference was in one I might have given out of guilt and condemnation, in the other instance I was seeking the Lord on how I could give more, because I wanted too.  It was my joy and worship to do so, not my condemnation.

Many years ago I felt like the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, “in the last days you will see miracles and what will appear to be great works and moves of God.  Don’t look upon the outward things, but look at the heart.  By the heart of a man you will know his nature.”  Satan can counterfeit miracles and Christians, but he can’t counterfeit the love and the fruit of the Spirit, at least not for long.

I’m not sure why the Spirit has led me to write this, but there are those that need to be discerning about who they are following and where they are being led.  The Word of God says in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”  In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  God doesn’t want us to just follow blindly anyone that seems to have a good message.  Make sure the message lines up with the whole counsel of God, that it truly bears witness with your spirit and that you have the complete peace of God as you follow it.  If something seems wrong it may well be the Holy Spirit raising a red flag in your heart.  Beware of the renegades, they may be dressed just like you, but their heart is in a different place.

Blessings,

#kent

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Tragedy to Triumph

January 11, 2018

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50:20

 

Tragedy to Triumph

 

In the process of life many of us will go through tragedies that will be “life changing events”.  These events are something we would never have chosen to experience or go through if given the choice.  They can be incredibly painful and they will forever stain our life.  While they are often horrific, they are a part of the fallen world that we live in.

Could God stop these things?

Yes, but then it would only be His choice and no longer the free will to make our own.  While God can’t remove all the tragedy in the world without violating our free will, He can and often does, take those things that satan meant for evil and turn them for good if we will allow Him to have His perfect work and way.  On the other hand we can circumvent God’s highest when in our pain, we choose to blame Him, others or even ourselves. We hold on to that pain in the form of bitterness, resentment and unwillingness to forgive our perceived offenders.  We hold those offenses in our heart to our own detriment and hindrance to experiencing God’s greater working of grace and good.

We often feel like God could have prevented this if He wanted too.  Yes, and He could have prevented His Son from going to the cross when Jesus cried out to Him to remove that cup of suffering from Him, but He was relinquished to the greater will and purpose of  Father.  Sin took Jesus through the intense suffering and crucifixion, and through His willingness to forgive His enemies and murderers He showed us a higher way of laying hold of God’s redemptive work even through our own tragedies in life.

Through the deep pain that we experience and the suffering we endure we often later find it to be the catalyst that brought us into a greater experience of grace and God’s working through our lives than what we ever would have known without that experience. We have been changed in such a way that it has given us a greater compassion, empathy and passion to change those things that often caused our pain or is causing that pain in others. We can relate with others in ways we never could before and often we find our life purpose out of such tragedies. God can take that which was meant for evil and turn it for good if we are willing to give it to Him, trusting Him to heal us and in the process transform us into someone better and more like Him through things we’ve suffered.

Jesus loves you and He totally relates with you in your suffering. Ultimately He wants to take your tragedy and turn it into triumph, even as the tragedy of the cross was turned into the redemptive triumph for all of mankind.

Blessings,

#kent

Despair of Life

January 8, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 

Despair of Life

 

There are times in our life when we can come to the place that we just don’t want to live any more.  Untreated depression is one of the major causes of suicide.  The pressure and trials of life can sometimes become overwhelming.  It can come through illness, divorce, loss, abuse, low self-esteem, the feeling of failure, chronic pain, even genetics, along with many other factors which can all bring despair, despondency, depression and hopelessness.  Even the apostle Paul describes a situation in his life where things became so hard that it seemed beyond his ability to endure.  He says that the pressure was so great that they even despaired of life.  He says that in their own hearts they felt the sentence of death.   I believe there are some of us that have been in this place and the Spirit of the Lord is wanting to minister to some that may be in it right now.  God sees your pain and feels your heartbreak.  He has heard your cry and He is here to tell you and show you like He did Paul that your reliance is not upon yourself, but upon God, who raises the dead.  Even though you have felt the sentence of death upon you, God is going to raise you up.  He is able to deliver you from such deadly peril and He will deliver you.  Continue to set your hope upon God even in the midst or your desperation and despair.  He is your deliver and He will bring you through the valley of the shadow of death.  Gather other believers around that can pray for you and minister to you.  You don’t have to be alone, God has provided someone that can help you, but you must reach out to them.

The Father, who is the author of life, is the one to decide when our life is done and as long as we have life He is able to give us the grace to endure it’s hardships and abuses.  Let faith arise in your heart and confidence that you are not alone, but the hosts of heaven surround you and His angels will minister to you.

There is someone today that needs this encouraging word so that you can go on and not give up.  God knows who you are.  He so loves and cares for you.  When you don’t have the ability to endure He becomes your ability.  In this place you are going to come to know, like the apostle Paul, that your reliance is upon God and not upon yourself.  Place your life in His hands, trust Him and hold fast.  He will see you through your dark hour and bring you again into the sunshine of His love and presence.  He is able to supply all of your need according to His riches in glory.  He is your life and you live for Him and not for yourself.  God is able to take seemingly hopeless and negative situations and turn them for good.  He does it all of the time.  As long as you have breath He is not through working in your life and as long as there is breath, there is hope.

The enemy has such a way of clouding and distorting the truth.  He can fill your head with every thought of why we should not live, but then he came to rob, steal and destroy.  Christ came that you might have life and that more abundantly.  Choose life.  Choose Christ to be your life.  He is with you even in the darkest hour and He sticks closer to you than a brother.

Father, help us in those times in our life when things look so bleak, so hopeless and so unbearable.  Help us in those times to enter into You and into Your hiding place where You would cover us with Your wings of mercy and protection.  Lord surround us in those times with Your power and love.   Encourage us and lift us up.  Set our eyes back upon You and restore the hope that we have lost.  You are our Hope, oh Lord, our Redeemer and our Deliver.  Just as David found consolation and strength as he reminded himself through the Psalms of Your greatness and Your faithfulness, even as he gave praise and worship back to You, he was strengthened in his inner man and given the courage to continue on.  Let all that are troubled and in despair find that in You today.  Amen.

Blessings,

#kent

When People Let You Down

December 26, 2017

 

When People Let You Down

 

2 Timothy 4:14-18

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Without a doubt, most of us can think back in our lives when someone or some group let us down, has judged us, cast us out or otherwise hurt us.  There is a pretty good chance that in a lot of those cases these people may have been fellow believers, people we thought were our friends and people we trusted and put our confidence in.  There are many walking wounded out there who are still carrying the scares, the hurts and perhaps the unforgiveness for those times when we were hurt or forsaken.

There is a truth that we must always keep in mind; people will always disappoint you and let you down, but Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  The evidence of this truth is in the scripture today where Paul stood alone against accusations, judgements and insults.  Those around him left him standing alone; none stood in his defense except Christ.  That’s hard when you’ve had friends that you have been close too, brothers and sister that you’ve loved and fellowshipped with and something comes up where your character is brought into question. Maybe it is something from your past and suddenly you’re standing alone.  You are on the outside of fellowship looking in.  For some reason others won’t believe you, but they will take without question, the words of your accusers.  How many precious brothers and sisters have had their faith shipwrecked because of so called believers who have stood in the place of judgement and condemnation?  Didn’t the same thing happen to Jesus?  Where were his disciples when He was falsely judged and condemned?   “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50).

There are times in life when all we have is Jesus and the Word of God.  While it is very hurtful, our hearts will be tested as to whom we really put our faith and reliance in.    God wants us to retain that spirit of love and forgiveness in those times of hurt and disappointment.  Our natural man wants to lash out, defending and justifying its self.  We want to share with everyone the great injustice that is being done to us.  I have seen times in our lives when we kept thinking a situation couldn’t get any worse and it would get worse and worse and worse.  It was quite obvious that we were under great spiritual attack.  Often that is the time when God asks us to do the hardest thing,  “Shut up and be still.”  We can miss the great salvation that Christ wants to work in our lives, because we are too caught up in trying to save and justify ourselves.  What He wants us to do instead is, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:28)” The love of Christ alone, in us, is our only ability to be able to turn the other cheek, to render blessing for their cursing, to love our enemies and pray for them that despitefully use us and accuse us.  One of the most difficult things for us to do is to act out of the spirit of Christ, rather than to react out or our flesh and render evil for evil.  God has a higher way for us, but to experience the higher we must be willing to die to the lesser.

Through life we are going to encounter injustices and inequities.  How are we going to respond to these?  How are we responding to these now?  In these times, as painful as they are, hide yourself in Christ.  Put Him on as a garment and shield against the personal hurt and pain.  He is our vindicator and He will render righteous judgement in due time.  That may not be in our time, but we need to place it in God’s hands and trust ourselves to Him alone.

Today, if you have passed through this place, or you are in it now, or perhaps it is ahead of you, find your refuge, strength and peace in Christ.  Remember it is not about how you feel, it is about how you obey and respond out of faith and love according to God’s word and not your emotions.  Your feelings will probably be in total contradiction to what God is prompting us to do, but as we respond out of faith, obedience and prayer, he will help our feelings to line up with His will for us, but it may take some time.  People will always let you down, but the Lord will never leave you or forsake you.   “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.  (Colossians 3:13)”

Blessings,

#kent

In Your Anger, do not Sin

December 21, 2017

Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.

 

 

In Your Anger, do not Sin

 

Anger is an emotion that we all experience from time to time.  It is not sinful to be angry and sometimes anger can stir us to take action rather than be complacent, but anger can be a dangerous emotion if left to its own devices.  The Word of God warns us that it is not an emotion that you want to hold on too.  The Word exhorts us not to hold on to it for more than a day.  The warning that follows is an indicator of what anger can give place too.  It can be a foothold for the devil.  Anger can give place to rash behavior, offenses and unforgiveness; all of which the enemy can work through to bring division, strife and discord.  Remember the purpose of the devil; Jesus says he comes to kill, steal and destroy.  Any time the devil gets a foothold then that is his ultimate purpose.

Anger is often the expression of wounds, hurts or disappointment we receive through others.  It is like when you hit your thumb with a hammer.  The pain may cause you to go into a rant of expletives that are the venting of the pain you are feeling.  The expletives were the outward expression of the inward pain.  If that pain needs expression, couldn’t it as well be vented through an outburst of praise to God.  It would seem that an outburst of prayer and praise to God would yield more positive results than outburst of profanity.  So sometimes it is how we train ourselves to react to anger or pain that channels what it produces from us.

The last thing that we want to do is to give the devil a foothold to work in our lives.  Satan is a serpent who feeds off of dust.  Dust is what we have been made from and when we are in the flesh he has permission and opportunity to feed off of the flesh.  That is why Jesus made the statement in John 14:30, “I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me.”  The enemy has no power over us as we walk in the Spirit, but when we get into the flesh, now he has access to get a foothold.  Anger can easily get us into our flesh and provide that foothold.

Are we going to get angry at times?  Of course we are, but we don’t have to allow it get us into the flesh and into a place where hurt, disappointment and offenses begin to rule in our heart.  Just like when we hit our thumb with a hammer we have a choice to curse or praise.  We can have those same kind of choices in how we channel our anger, so be angry and sin not.  Give it to the Lord and get over it quickly.

Blessings,

#kent

Idolatry

December 6, 2017

Idolatry

Colossians 3:5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

This is a subject that we often brush aside as Christians, thinking it only applies to worshipping statues or false gods.  While that is an application, idolatry is a sin that lives a lot closer to us than most of us are willing to admit.  Chances are you and I have both seen it at work in our lives and quite possibly it is still residing in the temple of our soul.

Let’s take a moment to break down the scripture that apostle Paul writes to the Colossians.  Mortify means to put to death.  We have talked about it before as being an act we do in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s strength to help rid ourselves of the flesh.  Here, the “members of our flesh” he is talking to us about, aren’t statues.  The “fornication,” which can be any illicit sexual activity: adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual activity with animals, close relatives, divorced men or women or participating in the sacrifice offered to idols.  I am giving you the definition of the words used here in the Greek so that we can see whether or not they apply.  These are often not words that we are fully familiar with in definition

“Uncleanness” of course, can apply outwardly, but foremost inwardly.  It applies in a moral sense of defilement or impurity, of lustful, luxurious and profligate (recklessly wasteful, wildly extravagant) living.  It deals with impure motives.  An impure motive is one not governed by the love and truth of Christ.

“Inordinate affections” deal with passionate deeds. In the New Testament it is most often used with regard to depraved or vile passions.

“Evil concupiscence” carries with it the unrighteous desire, craving, longing for what is forbidden.  In a word, lust.

Last, but not least is “covetousness” which is simply the greedy desire to have more or the desire to have what doesn’t belong to us.

Any and all of these things add up to be idolatry.  How does idolatry set with God?  The next verse in Colossians 3:6 says, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” It means when we continue to harbor and participate in these things in our lives we are in direct rebellion to God.  Saul, the first king of Israel had a problem with this in his life: “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. (1 Samuel 15:23).”

Dear saints there are many of us who love God, but we have areas in our lives where we love something else even more. We are unwilling to let it go, our affection for it is too great.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit is bringing things to mind and conviction in these areas as you read this.  We have to let the Holy Spirit in and allow Him to have permission to deal with these areas of our life.  We cannot compartmentalize ourselves and say this belongs to God and this belongs to me.  We are in an all or nothing deal.  God went the whole distance for us on Calvary and He requires no less of us in offering ourselves as living sacrifices.  Our obedience is paramount to our relationship with Him.  While I understand there may be love and affections in our lives we may feel we would rather die than let them go.  In affect we are making ourselves the enemies of God because we are not willing to yield it all to Him.  In Christ is liberty.  He knows your heart.  He loves you more than anyone else can.  Let go of idolatry, put it to death and let God have all of your heart and complete control of your life.  Repent of idolatry in your life before the consequences of sin overtake you.

Blessings,

#kent

Be Angry and Sin Not

December 5, 2017

Be Angry and Sin Not

Ephesians 4:26-27

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

 

Anger is a God given emotion.  While it is not sin to be angry, it carries with it the potential for sin.  On the other hand it can be an emotion that motivates us out of a place of passivity and complacency.  Any emotion or feeling we give place too has the potential to lead to sin if it is not brought under the control of the Holy Spirit within us.  Most all of us are aware of what uncontrolled anger can do and the harm it can cause both emotionally and physically.  Many marriages are broken and people reside in prison as a result of anger.  The Word of God gives us some insight into the right place of anger through the example of Jesus when he saw the misuse and abuse of the temple of the Lord by the money- changers.  He saw the greed and corruption at work in the Temple, which was to be a place that was to bring relationship and connection with God.  Jesus didn’t just immediately fly off the handle.  He took the time to make a whip of cords to be the instrument of His wrath to drive the moneychangers out of the temple. His anger had a purpose and was God directed. (John 2:14-17 “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.  And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up”)  We often think of Jesus as just being a man of love and compassion, but there was another side of Jesus that didn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, hypocrisy and abuse of others.  There was a holy anger and zeal of God that rose up in Jesus against such things.  It is this kind of anger that often rises up in God’s people to bring about change in lawful ways.

What about the issues of anger that we may deal with on a daily basis?  They may not be so noble in their cause.  Anger can not always just be ignored or repressed.  That can just place more powder in a powder keg that will one day result in even more extreme consequences if we don’t deal with it.  At the same time anger can’t just be reacted too unchecked.  It should be filtered through the Spirit within us to judge our motives in each circumstance it arises.  While anger may arise at times and can actually cause us to deal with and address issues that we may otherwise avoid, the scripture says it is not something we want to hold on too.  The Word gives us about a day to deal with it.  But it tells us if it is still there when the sun goes down it is time to let it go.  Anger held onto becomes unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness removes us from right relationship with God and blocks the flow of His forgiveness to us.

The spirit of anger and wrath is a fruit of the flesh and not the Spirit and cannot be given place in our hearts because it is sin. (Ephesians 4:31″Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: “)  The theme of the passage in Ephesians 4 that addresses the subject of anger is primarily about being renewed in the spirit of our minds.  While we have emotions, they cannot rule us.  The Spirit and the peace of God must rule in our hearts.  The former areas of emotion and sin that ruled us must do so no longer.  Now we put off these former attitudes and behaviors as we put on Christ and that mind that is in Him.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Repeating Offenses and Failures

 

Romans 7:17-24

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

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

 

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

Temptation

November 21, 2017

 

Temptation

Matthew 4:1

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

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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