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

Tell Them I Am Coming!

August 14, 2017

Tell Them I Am Coming!

2 Thessalonians 1:4-12

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We experience tribulations and trials to varying degrees, but we see a level of persecution in the early church that most of us have not yet seen, nor do we hope too.  The truth of the matter is that when the body of Christ begins to move into her position of authority and begins to quit playing church and starts to fulfill her destiny being the church, she will meet again with tremendous opposition.  Currently, in this time and in this nation we see the church sometimes mocked and taunted, but with relatively little true persecution.  Maybe that is because we are viewed as just being another religious form of the world. 

When the church truly awakens and comes out of her slumber the door of true persecution will again be opened.  The reason is because there will be an increased polarization of good and evil.  Today we, the Church, live largely in a place of compromise where our values are not viewed so differently than the world.  Many live together outside of marriage, our divorce rate isn’t any better than that of the world, our integrity is often viewed as less than the world’s and we just project a form of godliness, but too many times with no substance. There is not the action of distinction that sets us apart from the world we live in, so our power and life has been neutralized.  We don’t really offer that much of a threat to the enemy, so why should there be much persecution.  We are often mocked by the world for the hypocrisy that they see in our midst when they see sin revealed and even some of our most prominent leaders fall.  Slowly, but surely we see the darkness overtaking our land as God is removed farther and father from our government and public life.  What we will soon wake up too is a very hostile foe, especially when we begin to stand in who we are in Christ. 

Persecution and tribulation is often a sieve that sifts and strains out those who are fair weather Christians who follow Christ just for convenience and blessing from those who are truly committed to Christ in life and in death. 

The Word teaches us that Christ is coming to be glorified in His saints and if we suffer with Him we will also be glorified with Him.  Many of us have the concept that when things start getting rough and nasty for Christianity, the Lord will come and rescue us out and take us away to glory.  As I read the Word, I see the pattern being that God will take His people through the fire, but He doesn’t necessarily rescue them out of it. 

The exhortation and the encouragement of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians was that they were to be commended for their faithfulness in the midst of the tribulation that they endured.  They continued steadfast and it was their love and charity they had for one another that they were known by.  The Lord is coming soon, but are we the people of God that the Thessalonians were, that are patient and faithful in the midst of great tribulation?  The Lord is giving us many exhortations and warnings to prepare our hearts for the time of His presence.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 says, “1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Regardless of your theology concerning the Lord’s coming, if you are missing the Lord warning and telling you to prepare your heart and come into intimate relationship with Him you are missing the coming of Christ.  We are being called to prepare the temple for the full habitation of the King of Glory.  The Lord is coming.  Stand steadfast and rock solid in your faith, because it will most likely be shaken first.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so

Psalms 107:2

Let the redeemed of the LORD say [so], whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

Psalms 104:5-7, “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.”  We are the redeemed of the Lord who have experienced His unfailing and undeserved goodness, blessing and deliverance in our lives.  If all of us who read this gathered together, how long could we sit and share testimonies and stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us.  No doubt the stories could continue for hours if not days, for the Lord has been faithful and true to each one of us, sometimes when we least deserved it.  He has loved us with an everlasting, unfailing and undying love.  Chances are we don’t say enough about the goodness and faithfulness of our God.  We are His redeemed, His Children and the apple of His eye.  Do we bless and profess Him with the testimony of our mouths? Do we lift up His name in the earth and before men that He might be our praise, our banner, our song and exaltation? 

The other day we were strolling through some vendor’s booths at a festival held here in town.  My wife had found some dresses that interested her and we were discussing buying them.  In passing,  she mentioned that she had a helium business.  The lady thought she said healing business.  She began to tell her about these special shaped devices that hang and are supposed to have healing power.  Immediately, Sharon said, “The Lord healed me almost thirty years ago from breast cancer.  He is my healer and I don’t need another.”  Needless to say, the lady didn’t pursue that avenue of conversation further, but she heard the testimony of God’s goodness, because the redeemed of the Lord said so.  I was able to share this same testimony of Sharon’s healing with a spiritual healer that I photographed about a week prior to this.  We have testimonies because we have been through the tests and through it we have experienced God’s hand of faithfulness and deliverance.  We have a story to tell and good news to give as the Lord provides us opportunities to share.  We are the ones that must declare His praise in the earth.  We are on our way to Mount Zion, the City of the living God.  We want to take as many as will listen and respond with us.  The world needs to know our God is not dead, but living, active and the same, “yesterday, today and forever”.  Some of us are going through a trial today where the hand of the enemy is out to destroy us, but God is going to give us a testimony, a story to tell of how He redeemed us from the hand of the enemy.  Some of the things we go through are tough and everything outwardly is telling us, “God has failed, He’s not there, He doesn’t care,” but we must have a single eye to see the faithfulness of our God and trust in His character and in His name.  God wants us to give us a testimony to tell, so that His praise can go out through the earth. 

The Lord is speaking to us today to not be silent anymore.  Romans 10:11-18 tells us, “11The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.  12[No one] for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. The same Lord is Lord over all [of us] and He generously bestows His riches upon all who call upon Him [in faith].

13For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved. 14But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]? And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? 15And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [How welcome is the coming of those who preach the good news of His good things!] 16But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 

17So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself). 18But I ask, Have they not heard? Indeed they have; [for the Scripture says] Their voice [that of nature bearing God’s message] has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the far bounds of the world.” ” Let the redeemed of the LORD say [so], whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Power of Touch

June 19, 2017

 

The Power of Touch

Luke 6:19

And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed [them] all.

What is contained in this sense we call touch?  We could make the argument that it was touch that actually caused mankind to die.  In Genesis 3:3 God told Adam and Eve, “’You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” Touch is a powerful thing both in a positive and negative sense.  Through the power of touch we can communicate life and death, healing and wounding, love and hate.  Touch is a sense that both gives and receives.  Touch also carries with it the connotation of how we affect others and how they affect us.  So we can actually touch or be touched without ever physically contacting another person. 

God knows the power of touch and because of that He set boundaries on the things we should not touch.  In these situations, to reach out and touch what God had prohibited could result in death, or in being unclean.  God has commanded us not to touch the things that would result in defilement and negative consequences.  Because of the nature and freewill of man, we have not always obeyed the Lord concerning these things and now we live with death and the consequences of our sin, disobedience and defilement. 

Christ had a ministry of touch.  He first touched this world when He created it through the spoken Word of the Father.  Still nothing has touched humanity more profoundly and eternally than when Christ came forth in the earth in Jesus.  This was like God’s personal loving touch upon the face of all flesh.  In Jesus we saw the manifest nature and purpose of God come among us.  We came to know and understand God in a more personal way than perhaps we ever had.  As Jesus began His ministry we saw Him healing and changing lives by the touch of His hand, but then we saw a little afflicted woman who said to herself, “if I can just touch the hem of His garment I know I will be healed.”  So it was that she reached out in faith and touched His garment she was healed.  After that people weren’t waiting for Jesus to just touch them, they were seeking the opportunity to touch Jesus for their need.  There are many people today that want to touch Jesus in a real and personal way. 

When God gave the commandment in the Garden not to touch or eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, disobedience to that command brought death into all of humanity.  When Jesus lived out the obedience to the Father, the sin of humanity nailed Him to an old rugged cross on Calvary.  That old rugged cross has become to mankind the tree of life and restoration back to relationship with our God.  If we desire life, salvation, healing and restoration we need to first come and first partake of that tree of life at Calvary, touching and laying hold of Christ in faith. 

Colossians 2 tells us that if we have come to Calvary we have also died to the rudiments and elements of this world.  We are no longer bound by the ordinances of taste not, touch not, handle not which all are to perish with the using after the commandments and doctrines of men.  We have now been touched and infected with His very Life.  Disease spreads to destroy and bring death, but the Life of Christ grows and spreads within us to bring life out of death.  In that embrace with Calvary we have touched heaven.  With our one hand touching heaven the Lord has told us to reach back with the other hand and touch earth.  Become the touch of Christ to those the Lord places within your life.  Be the channel and the hand of the Almighty to touch and communicate God’s love and grace to the world you live and exist in.  You are like the hem of the Lord’s garment, as people begin to see the power and love of Christ issuing from your life they will seek you as point of contact to help them receive what they need from the Lord.  Never underestimate the power of touch.  God wants to touch lives through you every day.  Are we a willing and supple hand, willing to stretch forth and offer life to all that we are with?  Touch someone’s life today with the power of the endless life that dwells within you.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Love that Binds

June 16, 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Love that Binds

Unity in a family, a marriage or in the body of Christ is found when we are all operating out of a communication of love.  People are unique and we will always have our differences from one another.  That is the way our good Lord created us to be.  In our differences He poured into us the bonding and the glue of His love so that we are able to patiently bear the irregularities of all those people that God didn’t make just like me.  Love is never really exercised and grown unless it is stretched and challenged.  People will certainly do that to you.  I personally found that just keeping to yourself and doing your own thing makes it easier to love people, but that is a long distance love.  God’s love is most often up close and personal.  It is often a decision rather than a feeling.  Whatever our relationships with people God knows we are going to have our differences.  Obviously, outside of Christ, we are much different than God.  In fact, He says before we were saved we were His enemies.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  What reconciled us to God was first His love for us, not our love for Him.  This is a key example that we forget in so many of our relationships.  We are most often reactionary, returning kind for kind and love for love or even hate for hate.  God does not just react to our rejection of His love.  If He did the human race would have been extinct long ago.  His love is deliberate and it has purpose.  His love is to gather you in His arms and impart Himself into you. 

That bring us to where God is bringing each of us in our expression of love.  If we are loving out of our human condition and our feelings of love, then our love will always be conditional and full of limitations.  God has called us to live out of His love which is unconditional and loves the unlovely as much as the lovely.   Living a life worthy of the calling is living life out of the foundation of love.  Who is love?  We know that God is love so if we are to love as He loved we can only do that as we submit to His love to reign in our hearts and find expression through our hands. 

The apostle Paul exhorts us here to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He is not saying it is always easy, but in order to do it you have to lose your importance and your impatience.  Humility has been defined as “strength under control”.  That strength and humility of love learns to prefer others above itself.  It becomes more aware, concerned and active in meeting another’s needs than it does its own.  Love makes every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  We soon learn through life’s experiences that even among other Christian not all are willing or wanting to reciprocate your love for them.  Most of us are aware that even in our own selves we often are acting out of our flesh or giving place to an ungodly spiritual influence or spirit.  When that is present we can be quite confrontational, unfriendly and irreconcilable.  When we encounter that reaction towards us from others, even if they are our brothers or sisters, we have to see it with spiritual eyes of love and discernment, not getting caught up in the spirit of division that is at work.  Often times we end up taking some punches we don’t deserve and in love we learn to turn the other check.  It is not about us being right or winning an argument.  It is about the love of God triumphing even in an ugly situation.  Many of us get caught up in our emotions and feelings and if that soulish part of us is not being tempered by the Spirit we will get off into the flesh and certainly will not be known by our love in those moments. 

The stream of God Spirit takes a lot of rough jagged rocks in the river bed and rubs them together until over time they become smooth stones.  That is what we are becoming those smooth stones, but the process is brought about by agitation, irritations, irregularities and confrontations.   It is  the Love of God that is the fluid that heals, blends, forgives and ultimately loves through us in the unity of one Spirit. Perfection takes a good deal of practice.  God has put us with one another to learn to practice His love.  God’s love should be what binds us together until we work out our differences and that may just be loving and accepting the other for where they are at.  God has us all on different rows and we at different places in our walk with Him.  Above all let the love of Christ prevail in our relationships.  If the world is ever to know us by our love, then they first have to see it in action in though our lives and behavior towards one another.

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Spirit that Sets Men Free

Mark 5:1-20

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Here is the account of a man so possessed of unclean spirits that he was no longer his own.  It is obvious from the story that the man didn’t have the goods or the means to contain or control this unclean spirit.  They had tried to chain him and control him, but no man could control or tame Him.  He had become no more than a puppet controlled and tormented by the spirits that inhabited him.  How he must have longed for deliverance and no doubt cried out to God for it.  One day the prayers and the cries of that captive spirit were answered.  Jesus showed up at his front door among the tombs and the dead things.   This man lived in death and death surrounded him.  I believe it was the spirit in the man that ran to worship Jesus.  Here was the deliverer who could deliver him from his tormented state.  I believe the unclean spirits would have ran from Jesus, but here at last was the answer he had cried out for.  Does it not seem strange that Jesus just happened to pick this destination to go to this day?  Was it not the tormented cries of the man’s heart that brought Him there?  This man was the extreme case of demonic possession, a man filled with an army of demons.  One word spoken by Jesus brought these unclean spirits to their knees.  His presence brought them to cry out, for His very presence was their torment and caused them to quake with fear. 

Such is the One that abides in you and I.  When it is the Christ in us that speaks forth an anointed word, then hell and the devil are helpless to stop it.  Jesus showed even a measure of mercy to the unclean spirits by allowing them to go into the swine. 

Jesus brought hope, deliverance and salvation into a man’s life and situation where a moment before there had only been despair.  He is still doing that today and often times, those of us with surrendered hearts and the sensitivity to hear His voice might be the channels He would use to touch some life and bring the miracle that they so desperately need and are crying out for.  Where would He take your life today and how would He use you to bring the spirits of men together with the Spirit of God?  Jesus came to set the captive free.  It is His Spirit that He desires to unite us too and all others must be cast out.  He wants to give us back a right mind, even the mind of Christ.  He wants us to take the good news of what He has done for us and share it with others.  Go forth and bring to others the deliverance of His salvation and the good tidings of peace and joy.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Foundation for Faith

May 22, 2017

Foundation for Faith

Psalms 18:2

The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower. 

We find in life that often we are a self-filling prophecy.  We become and are shaped in the image of whom we think and believe that we are.  Maybe we started out in our lives doubtful, fearful, with a lack of confidence and very little faith in ourselves that we could do much of anything or be anything.  As long as we hold on to that mindset and it is coming through in our outward demeanor, do you think we will see much success in our lives?  If we don’t believe in ourselves, then how could we expect others to believe in us?  What if, on the other hand, we dare to believe all that God says about us and dare to believe all that He said He would be for us?  Now we have a foundation for success.  As we believe and then act upon that premise by faith and those beliefs, will our life change?  

King David was a man who is a prime example of one who spoke, sang and wrote what God was to His life.  Even in the deepest valleys of his life he dared not trust his soul, but rather He spoke out of His spirit and ministered to His soul the truths and the realities of God’s Word.  He was constantly meditating, and reminding Himself of the goodness of God, His faithfulness, His power, His salvation and all of the attributes and benefits of God and His nature.  This is what makes the Psalms so powerful.  They are Spirit anointed sonnets and songs of who God is and why life is worth the living because He is in it.  David would recite the Word of God and encourage His soul.  His faith would then lay hold of the truth that He spoke and begin to act upon it.  

Many of us see ourselves as weak, untalented, insignificant people.  That may be you and I outside of Christ, but what can we be in Christ?  Are there any limitations to what God can do in and through us, except in our own mind and thinking?   The foundation of faith is wrapping our mind and heart around God’s Word, assimilating it into our hearts and speaking into our doubtful and fearful souls.  It is so often good just to pray the Psalms, reading and speaking them to God as if they were your own.  It will inspire faith in your heart and courage to your soul as it did for David.  

Who is the Lord and what is that to me?  When we answer that question we find the foundation for our faith.  Upon that foundation we can build a successful life, for our confidence is in Him who is able to do abundantly more than we can even ask or think.  

What is the foundation of your life today?   Is it the Rock or is it the sand?

Blessings,

#kent

How much does Your Sin Cost Me?

James 4:1-6

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You 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.

    4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We know that Jesus paid the price for our sin and the spiritual, eternal consequences they reap.  We know that through faith and calling upon the name of Jesus we can partake of the free gift of His great salvation and goodness.  We know also that through the power of His life that comes to reside within us we can overcome the strongholds and the power of the sin that has operated in our lives.  We also know that even though Jesus paid the price, sin still operates in our world and unfortunately it still operates in us as believers where we give it place.  Sin has natural consequences as well as spiritual ones.  As we survey our world we have no trouble seeing the devastating effects of sin that touches every life on this planet.  While God is merciful to forgive our sins, that sin still produces consequences.  It produces its fruit of destruction and death.  The sad thing about sin, whether it is ours or someone else’s, it doesn’t just cost us, it cost all who are touched by it.  Sin is like a rock thrown into a pond, it produces a big splash where it lands, but it also produces ripples that go out in all directions.  This begs the question, how much will your sin cost me and how much will my sin cost you? 

People ask the question, “How could a loving God allow war, hunger, sickness, disease, poverty and crime?”  I guess it could be said, because He loved us enough to give humanity a free will to make choices whether they were for Him or against Him.  The state of our world is the fruit of many poor choices where man chose sin over God.  God has loved us so much, that in spite of all those wrong choices and in spite of the ones we continue to make we have a way back to Him; back to His righteousness and perfect plan.  Meanwhile, as long we continue in this present evil age of man’s doing the consequences of sin will follow us. 

What does that mean to us on a personal level?  What happens for instance when a person allows alcohol or drug addiction to get a hold of their lives.  The hook is often innocent enough, but the underlying consequences are horrific.  How many of our lives have been affected by these.  A person lusts so much after these strongholds that they will cheat, steal, lie, con and they will become all the things that they once hated and detested in others.  They will beat the wife they say they love, they will abuse their precious children, they rob from their family to feed and satisfy their addiction and even though they hate themselves for it they can’t stop their destructive course.  They go on to beg, borrow, steal, and con their friends, family and loved ones, because of their lack.  They will loose their jobs, their reputation, their self-respect, their dignity and integrity until they either get help or completely destroy all that they had loved and held dear.  They will cost those closest to them untold grief, heartache, pain in many ways: financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually and every other way.  That ripple will continue to radiate out and affect others even beyond their personal relationships.  How many thousands and millions of dollars does it cost a society because of crime and sin.  People are victimized and hurt continually because of someone else’s sin. 

How much does divorce, unfaithful and broken relationships cost, not only financially, but in terms of suffering, heartbreak, anger, unwillingness to forgive and shattered lives and hearts.  That is something nearly everyone has been touched by since it effects about half of our marriages today; all of it the result of our sin and selfishness.  How much will your sin cost me?  It doesn’t just cost you, it cost everyone around you.  If sin has a stronghold on you, get help!  As painful and humiliating as that may be, it is nothing compared to what your sin will reap.  Remember God loves you.  He is for you and not against you, but He will not make your choices for you.  Only you and I can make right choices.  Let us humble ourselves and return to Him, that we may receive His grace before it cost us all more that we want to pay.

Blessings,

#kent

Unruly Thoughts

May 10, 2017

2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Unruly Thoughts

Flittering mind and wandering thoughts,

Where do I get some of these thoughts that I got?

Imaginations and daydreams catch me away,

Foreign thinking creeps in even when I pray.

Help me cast down these imaginations contrary to You,

Fill my heart with right thinking, thoughts pure and true.

Distractions are like flies buzzing all around,

They draw our attention with their annoying sounds.

Lord quiet me in the spirit of my mind,

There, the tranquility of Your Word, let me find.

Please, let no unclean thought or thing enter in,

Keep my thoughts from impurity and sin.

Let this mind be in me that is in You,

Blood washed and Spirit renewed,

Spirit elevate my thinking to be from above,

Purpose in my heart those thoughts birthed in love.

The mind of Christ is the mind I desire,

That I might deliver my thinking from the muck and the mire.

Help me when I walk in the midst of the world,

That ungodly thoughts and words are not unfurled.

Renew my mind and be the meditation of my heart,

Search me Holy Spirit and cleanse every part. 

Lord, set my mind on things above,

Catch my thoughts up on the wings of Your dove.

Deliver me from this flittering little mind that wanders.

Upon Your Word and all Your precepts may I ponder.

Keep my heart and mind in this dusty world that I trod,

‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart,

Be acceptable unto You, Oh God.’

Kent Stuck

The Economy of the Kingdom

Matthew 19:21

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and ask the question, “What must I do to have eternal life”?  Jesus’ first response was you must keep the commandments.  Our obedience to God’s Word is our first call to God’s eternal life.  The rich young ruler felt that he had fully embraced this requirement as he replies, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”  I would submit to you that this rich young ruler was not so unlike many of us.  We love God; we try to obey God, what more do we need to do?  In order to answer that question, we must ask ourselves, where is the seat of our affections?  If we are honest about this many of us choose to remain blind or unwilling to acknowledge that we have strong affections for earthly things, but most of us do. 

Jesus told the rich young ruler in our scripture for today, “If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.”   When the Holy Spirit starts touching the seat of our affection we start to squirm uncomfortably in our seats, because we like our comfort zone.  What Jesus presented to this young man was the cross.  In it He would loose all to gain the treasures of heaven.  Our mentality usually follows the principle that, ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.  Our natural man doesn’t want to let go of what he has gained and thinks that he possesses.  The hardest principle for me to grasp is that the spirit of God and His abundance flows when I let go and release back what He has placed in my hand.  One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the people of God through the ages has been that when God began to bless them with abundance, like many in this country are experiencing now, they came into their most dangerous and vulnerable time spiritually.  It is a cycle that has repeated itself many times over through history.  When we are rich, fat and happy, we quickly start to forget where all this wealth and blessing came from.  We start filling up our barns or bank accounts and pretty soon we start thinking “I’m a pretty shrewd fella, look what I have accomplished in my life and how rich I have made myself.”  Guess who we start to forget in our comfort zone?  Jesus is giving all of us a principle here we would do well to practice and remember.  We don’t any of us have anything that He didn’t give us in the first place and all that He gave us is to be for His glory not ours.  God loves to bless His children, but all of us as parents know what a brat we would raise if the child were given everything their heart desired and it cost them nothing.  There is nothing we have of ourselves that we could adequately give to God, but God has blessed us with gifts of sacrifice.  He placed within our hands, our voices, and our hearts gifts that we can keep solely and selfishly for ourselves or that we can give back to Him.  The economy and wealth in God’s kingdom is in the giving, not in the getting.  That is why Jesus tells us, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:44).”

In Matthew 19:22-24 we read of the young man’s response to Jesus and what Jesus has to say about it. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  He was a godly young man and had much going for him spiritually, but he, like many of us, wasn’t willing to embrace the cross and pay the price of discipleship. We love God and want to have a close relationship with Him, but when we ask Him how and He touches the seat of our affections, how many of us back away and say anything but that Lord.  It can be a person, a possession or even a stronghold in our lives.  Are we willing to come and truly say from the depths of our heart, “I surrender all”?   If we want to enter the next level of entering in and inheriting the treasures of heaven we must be willing to fully release our treasures of earth.  Just remember no one has ever out given God yet.  We must decide if we are to invest in this world or that which is to come.  We must learn the principle that God has created us to be rivers and channels of His blessing, not lakes and dams.  It is in the giving that we receive, in the serving we are blessed and in the death to self that we experience resurrection life.  This is the paradox and the economy of the Kingdom.

blessings,

#kent

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