The High Places

April 19, 2018

 

The High Places

 

2Chronicle 20:23

Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

 

In Old Testament times post dating Moses we know there was an altar of the Lord that dwelt in a tabernacle and later, through David, came to rest in Jerusalem.  For us, who are New Testament Christians, this altar has become the equivalent of Calvary and the Cross.  It is the central altar around which our faith rests and where we find communion with our fellow believers and the Lord Himself.  It is our place of worship.  It is the place where we committed our hearts and souls to the Lord and ask Him to come into our hearts, cleanse us and be the Lord of our lives.  It is that place as Romans 12:1-2 puts it, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   It is that altar where we consecrate ourselves, our worship, our affections and our commitment, first and foremost to Jesus Christ, our Savior.  He alone is the object of our worship, before whom there should be no other Gods.  For it is written, “thou shalt worship the Lord God and Him only shalt thou serve (Matthew 4:10).”

Once again we are asked to go to the places we would rather leave hidden and obscure from the Holy Spirit’s observation.  Today He comes to us to address the “high places” in our hearts and souls.  These were the places, other than the altar at Jerusalem where the Israelites went to worship.  They were places not designated or ordained of God. They were often places of cultic activity, idol worship and perhaps the places more convenient than the altar at Jerusalem.  What are they for us today?  Could they be the places of inordinate affections: our sports, our play, our work, our lust and sensuality, our harbored attitudes of unforgiveness, our movies, computers, games and any number of things that have come into the high places of our heart.  If we are to prepare our hearts before the Lord as our scripture indicates we must deal with and take down the high places.  These things are not easy to let go of.  Our flesh craves and covets them, but they have become an abomination and have brought a separation between our God and us.  They are the idols in our lives, rather we recognize them as such or not and with them we are breaking covenant with God.   These are often things and areas we just as soon stay ignorant of because it will cause us to face areas of our lives we don’t want to face.  It is really those areas where our flesh makes provision for itself to stay alive and active in us rather than going to the cross.  Are we willing like King Josiah, after hearing the Word of the Lord, to go into the high places of our heart and soul and tear down the idols and affections we have built there?  We must be willing to come honestly and openly before the Holy Spirit and ask Him to show us any unclean way in our heart. Then, as He begins to reveal these things, we have to be obedient to put them away from our lives.  Our flesh will cry out and we will still want to harbor and keep some part of it, but when we do we are leaving seed for it to return and it will.   2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds; 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.”  What are the high things in our hearts that exalt themselves against God today?  We must, by the Spirit pull down the strongholds and bring every thought into obedience to Christ.  We must guard where our thoughts take us, because they may well be the seed for disobedience, rebellion and idolatry.  We must guard our hearts and keep them tender in the light of God’s grace and truth.

“God, give us grace and strength to lay it all on the altar of sacrifice and let go of all that would offend You.”

For us to live an uncompromised life we must tear down the high places and deal with the hidden issues of our hearts.  This is what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, it is to prepare our hearts to be pure, consecrated and in right relationship with our Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

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Hebrews 3:15

… “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

 

 

Today is a Day of Encounter

 

Christ has called us out of the world, out of Egypt and while, by the spirit of faith, we have come out of Egypt, the spirit of Egypt and the world has often not fully come out of us.  This is the day and the hour that God wants us to encounter Him and experience His miraculous power, might and deliverance.  Yet there are still too many of us that are in our tents or the tents of our brothers grumbling and complaining about how “God isn’t taking care of this and the church isn’t taking care of that.  If it were me it I would do it this way.”  If that is sounding like us in any way then take time to check your heart.  Oh, it is easy to justify, because “Moses, he just sits up there in his tent all day long and talks to God.  He doesn’t understand what we are going through down here.  If he would spend more time with us and less time with God then he might understand what is going on.  We’ve got all of these great recommendations, but he just wants to hear from God and not from us.  Maybe we need to consider some new leadership or go to a different church.”

Can I share something with us I feel the Holy Spirit is speaking into my heart.  “Today is not about me”.  It is not about my opinions, my likes or dislikes; it is about setting my eyes upon Jesus and being obedient to where He has placed me in this hour and for this time.  It is about walking and operating out of a love that covers a multitude of sins and sees beyond my brother’s faults.  Where that brother is at, is between him and God.  When we start meddling in everybody else’s business besides where God has us and what he has us there for, we can easily get caught up in this sin of rebellion and discontentment.  Our hearts can get hard and rebellion ensues.

No, we don’t operate in a perfect body yet.  That is why Paul gives us this exhortation in 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.”  There is no mention in this scripture about keeping your eyes on any man.  It is not any man that has called you to who you are, it is the Holy Spirit that has called you into Christ. It is the bond of that love and commitment that enables us to bear with all those others in the body that rub us the wrong way.

Joel 2:13 says this, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”  This is not a day we want to find ourselves in rebellion, no matter how justified we may feel.  We must bring our heart and attitudes before the Lord and there rend our hearts and ask Him to show us any unclean or unloving way.  This is a day of encounter, but before we can begin to encounter Him in unprecedented ways, there has to be an unprecedented rending of our heart where we are willing to give over any pride, self-will, rebellion or sin.  When we enter into the Master’s house we have to take off our shoes and wash our feet of all the unclean places that we have walked.

This word is not where I had expected to go today, but where the Lord has led me.  You see if we are out of alignment physically, mentally or spiritually with where God would have us to be, we are going to miss the fullness of His visitation and manifestation.  Be sure that your heart is aligned with where God would have you and not where your feelings and emotions would lead you.  He places us where He will for a reason.  When we are out of His placement we are in rebellion.

Obviously this word isn’t for everybody, but God has it for someone.

What we all must know is that He is placing us in strategic places in this hour.  We may not fully grasp the importance of that right now, but it is important and I say this by the Spirit, that we be submitted in the place where He has led us and placed us to be unless He gives you the release or direction to be somewhere else.  Remember it is about being aligned with the will of the Father and not our will.  For a body to function in health and unity, all of the parts have to be in right alignment and location to function properly.  The strategy of the enemy is to bring as much disruption, dissention, disunity and discord, in order to move the body out of alignment to bring dysfunction, ineffectiveness and powerlessness.

Body of Christ line up with the will and purpose of God.  Rend your hearts and not your garments.  “Be 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.”

Blessings,

#kent

Responding to a Calling

April 17, 2018

Roman 9:15-18

15For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

 

Responding to a Calling

 

The Lord has called His own from the foundations of time.  He knows His own long before they ever know Him.  Why He has chosen some and not others only He knows.  Many of us have testimonies where we have seen the grace and calling of God upon our lives.  We have seen Him, in many cases, miraculously save us and draw us to Himself.  There are a people on the earth that have a calling and election upon their lives.  If God has given you a calling, having given you spiritual ears to hear and a heart to receive, how are you responding to your calling?  Do we believe because we have a calling that there is no responsibility on our part?

2 Timothy 1:8-10 exhorts us, “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  That holy calling upon our lives solicits a response on our part to not be ashamed of the gospel, but to join in the suffering it often brings with it.  Why would we want to suffer? If we are willing to suffer with Him we will also share His glory as Romans 8 tells us.  It is because we have seen that Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  We, His people, His called ones, echo that calling we have in Christ Jesus throughout the world so that as many as are called, the Lord might show forth His mercy and compassion upon them in the face of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”  We, who are in Christ, share this common calling, because He placed a faith in us to respond to it, because we are the Lord’s house.  Verse 6 goes on to say, “But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”  “If” always brings a condition with it. In this case it is in our faithfulness and courage to continue in the hope in which we boast.  2 Peter 1:10-11 reinforces this by saying, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

We will never understand in this life why God in His sovereignty decided to have mercy upon us, but He did.  May we never take that for granted because it was not something that we earned, but a grace that He gave.  He has placed within us a calling to conform us unto His glory and likeness.  We have a tremendous challenge before us.  Let us respond as Paul did in Philippians 3:12-15 when he says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”  It is our time to come into maturity by pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.  We have received the mercy of God, now let us respond to that mercy in an obedient and faithful commitment to press into Him with all that He has placed within us.  Responding to His calling will bring you into your purpose for being.  To God be the glory for ever and ever.  Amen

Blessings,

#kent

Love is not Always Easy

April 16, 2018

Ephesians 4:1-3

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

Love is not Always Easy

 

A part of the calling that we have as Christians in Christ Jesus is to walk in love.  If we are going only by emotions, there will be a lot of times that we won’t feel love.  We may feel everything but love.  The first thing we have to realize is that while love may carry with it emotions and strong feelings, the emotions and feelings aren’t the love.  Love is a decision of your heart.  True love is a commitment in the good times and the bad, in the sweet and the bitter, for the better or for the worse.  Therefore love is not always about how we feel.  God first loved us when we were sinners, estranged and in rebellion to Him.  His love wasn’t in response to our love; it was in spite of the fact that we didn’t love Him.  God has chosen to love us and His actions toward us were deliberate and not just responsive to us based on what we could give back.  This is the love that Christ has placed in our hearts because He is in us.  We are to choose to act out of love, not to just love others when they love us or love the people that are nice and pleasant, or that we have feelings for.  Love is often a hard choice.  It is often not easy to love certain people.  It is our calling, in as much as is possible, to be a peace with all men and to live and act out of the attitude of love.  Love needs to be what powers us, motivates and drives us in the will of God.  When we begin to think upon the vastness and the magnitude of God and how insignificant and minute we are in comparison, it just blows us away that He even would acknowledge us, let alone give His only Son to die for us.  How can we truly comprehend that kind of love?  Yet everything God is and does is motivated out of love, because God is love.  That same force, that is God’s source and power, now indwells us.  It must be what drives and motivates us to love God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and strength.  It is also what empowers us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We know how hard it is even within our own marriages to always love our spouse.  They can be so irritating, inconsiderate, unappreciative, stubborn, insensitive, lazy and any number of other adjectives and nouns.  In the beginning we were moved by great emotions and feelings, but after the honeymoon was over that perfect person can turn into one of our greatest trials in life.  What we forget is that love is still a choice.  We start responding to our spouse like we did in the beginning, out of feelings and emotions; only this time they are negative instead of positive. Our love and hate are a response of our flesh and soul and not a choice of our spirit.  Love doesn’t react because someone is pushing our buttons; it is a choice based on our commitment, vow and promise.  It doesn’t return insult for insult, hurt for hurt, cursing for cursing.  It chooses to act and respond out of the nature of Christ.  It also must be willing to accept valid criticism, correction and look at what can best meet the other person’s needs.  We are all unique and different individuals and none of us were made or designed to fit perfectly within someone else’s box.  There are a lot of times we don’t even like who we are, so how is someone else always going to please us?  This is where the lowliness, gentleness, forbearance, longsuffering and the fruit of the Spirit enter in.  This is the place where we get to practice living the nature of Christ.

The root of most ended marriages is selfishness of one or more of the individuals.  Love is not selfish, it is self-sacrificing and it takes both parties giving and compromising to create the best environment to be able to live in enjoyment and in peace with one another.  It is always work and most of the time it is not easy.  It is only successful through the commitment of both parties and their choice and commitment to love the other.  The same principle holds true in our relationships with others.  It is God’s love that must possess you; our love always falls short.  Love is not always easy, but it is always God.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Garbage:  Destructive or Constructive?

 

Matthew 5:38-48

“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. 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Which of us doesn’t deal with garbage in our lives?  When I say garbage I am talking about all of the offenses, insults, persecutions, inequities and evils that come at us in life.  We all deal with it on some level and some more than others do.  Life inherently holds hurts, disappointments, pain, frustrations and offenders of our person.  Most of these come directly or indirectly through people that touch our lives in a negative way.  Mostly we brush it off and go on, but there is garbage that can emotionally cripple and traumatize us.  There are some offenses that are gut-wrenchingly hard to deal with, let alone let go.  All of this is the garbage that gets dumped into our life.  Even in the good things there are by-products that must be passed and flushed down the toilet of forgiveness and forgetfulness.

Here’s the thing, if we don’t pass the poop in our life, it will back up on us.  It will eventually make us sick and can even become septic, especially if gets into the rest of our system.  It not only makes us sick, but it can begin to poison our other relationships that were healthy as well.  It changes our state of emotional and spiritual health.

In the scripture that Jesus gives here in Matthew 5 we find some principles that in the natural are kind of hard to swallow, because they seem unfair.  There is an old saying, “No one can get your goat unless you have one to be got.”  Jesus is simply saying get rid of your goat.  These principles that Jesus speaks of are hard, because we are still holding on to us, our rights, our goods, our dignity and pride.  You see, a dead man can’t be hurt.  If we are truly dead to this old man and alive unto Christ, then our life is hid with Christ in God and living a life pleasing unto Him is all that matters.  Most of us aren’t there yet. We are still struggling with the garbage.

Garbage or dung can have a positive and a negative side.  We have just spoken to the negative effects it can and does have on us such as bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, envy, gossip and the like.  It feeds upon the flesh like bacteria.   On the other hand if we can process our garbage and our dung in a healthy way, then it can become the fertilizer for a productive and godly life.  If we ask ourselves, “Where do we grow spiritually”?  Is it when everything is roses, prosperity, health and great relationships?  No.  We grow out of adversity, trials and tribulations.  These are what stretch and exercise our faith.  These are what cause us to lose ourselves and press into Christ.  The law of our mind wars against the mind of the Spirit, because it still wants the law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  The kingdom we are entering into is not one in which we seek to preserve this life, but we willing lose it for Christ’s sake.  We are to be using our garbage to grow from and not to be allowing it to pollute and defile our lives.   Your garbage must become your fertilizer.  It must become the fabric for growth and not destruction.  It is out of this garbage that we can see the fruit of the Spirit produced in us, but if we hold it in and allow it to become septic and toxic, it will poison us.  It will feed the fruit of our flesh and it will produce death and not life.

Be careful how you process your garbage.  Don’t hold on to it.  Process it and pass it.  Use it as the fertilizer for your spiritual growth and health in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Death of the Saints

April 12, 2018

Isaiah 57:1-2

The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away,

and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.

2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

 

Death of the Saints

 

You know as the Lord gave me this scripture today I struggled with it.  Out attitudes toward death first may be fear of death and then that death is not in the will of God for His people even though the scripture plainly states Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  You know we are spirit people contained in terrestrial or natural bodies.  This container of our flesh is but a temporary container of the eternal spirit that we are.  As we come to know Christ we come to realize that our fleshly man is not the means for which we live, but it is our means to the end for which we live.  By that I mean that we know longer live after the flesh for the flesh, but our bodies are to instruments of righteousness for His name sake.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 speaks to us this way, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  The point of what Paul is sharing with us here is that it is not as much about the quantity of earthly life that we possess, but the quality of the life that we live.  We know by faith in Christ that when this earthly tent passes away we have a building from God, an eternal house.  It is our faith and vision as we look beyond death to walk into that with which we desire to be clothed upon, even the fullness of resurrection life in Christ.

Many of us will go there by means of the grave, but God is saying that it is not a fearful thing.  In our scripture today He is saying that many don’t understand why the righteous are taken.  He says they are taken to spare them from the evil that is to come.  When the saints enter into death, they can enter into to it with peace.  They rest in the fact they have lived a good life and fought a good fight.  Whenever their time here is done the Lord stands at the threshold ready to receive them into life.  Paul says that is even more desirable than this life.  Many times it is the fear of uncertainty that is our greatest fear of death.  It is the loss of what we have always known to be life that we are reluctant to let go of.  What we do know as saints of God is that what is on the other side of death is far more glorious and sublime than what this earthly existence could ever offer, when we are in Christ.

Psalms 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints.”  Death should hold no fear for those of us who know who we are in Christ.  Most will face this at some point in life whether it be sooner or later.  The important thing is that we stand fast in the identification with His life.  While we yet live and breathe the breath of this earthly life let us fight the good fight of faith, living even now out of the life of His Spirit and power.  It is the Lord that numbers our days on earth, let us seek to live each one faithfully to His glory.  Have no fear of death, but have purpose and meaning in the life you now live.  There will be a people in the timing of the Lord that will not see a physical death as Christ comes forth with and within His people.  Whether we are that people or not we will live out of the life of Christ, submitting our body to Him if He calls us home before that time.

Blessings,

#kent

A Time to Speak

April 11, 2018

 

Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken [is like] apples of gold in pictures of silver.

 

A Time to Speak

 

There is a lot of verbiage that goes through our mouths during our life.  Most of it, in the light of eternity is virtually meaningless.  We also know from Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  The tongue has the power to kill and it has the power to bring life.  We have no doubt all been around individuals that rattle on and on and never really say anything of substance or value.  We’ve been around individuals that could use their tongues to cut like a sword and with one sentence they could leave you feeling like the most worthless individual that ever lived.  Occasionally, we come across those individuals that may not be very outspoken, but when they do speak their words are those apples of gold in pictures of silver.  They speak a word that doesn’t just flatter you, but it speaks faith, confidence and gives you sense of value and purpose.  Their words are rich with life and substance.  Often they can be missed because those who are doing all of the talking are so full of themselves, they are all that they can hear.  How often do we not hear the Holy Spirit, because we never give Him an opportunity to speak or when He does speak the sounding brass of our own thinking and speaking drowns him out?  If we don’t hear Him it often may be because we don’t shut up long enough to listen.

The difference between what Jesus spoke and what the religious leaders spoke was quite different.  They both spoke from the Word of God, but Jesus spoke as One having authority.  We are around many that go through the religious motions and ceremony.  They have knowledge of the Word, but what they are speaking is more often than not a regurgitation of something they have read or studied from someone else.  On the other hand when we are listening to someone who has been in the presence of the Lord and is speaking out of His anointing those things which God has placed within their heart there is substance and depth that we so often long for, but so rarely find.  Proverbs 16:1(Amplified) says, “THE PLANS of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue.”  What we want coming out of our mouths is the wisdom from above, not just our earthly wisdom and knowledge.  It takes us being in the presence and seeking the heart of God for us to begin hearing the words He is speaking to us and through us.  It is from the richness of God’s presence and the life of the Word within you that you will begin to speak fitly words that glisten with God’s nature and are framed within His redemptive character and likeness.  They are words that will not just address the situation, but words that will speak to the motives of the heart.  Within the root of a tree is found the substance of what it is, so is the root of a man’s heart.  It is the fruit of that tree that reflects its root.

Blessings,

#kent

A Heart of Lust

April 10, 2018

 

Psalms 78:18-42

18And they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their [selfish] desire and appetite.

19Yes, they spoke against God; they said, Can God furnish [the food for] a table in the wilderness?

20Behold, He did smite the rock so that waters gushed out and the streams overflowed; but can He give bread also? Can He provide flesh for His people? 21Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was [full of] wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob, His anger mounted up against Israel, 22Because in God they believed not [they relied not on Him, they adhered not to Him], and they trusted not in His salvation (His power to save). 23Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven; 24And He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them heaven’s grain. 25Everyone ate the bread of the mighty [man ate angels’ food]; God sent them meat in abundance. 26He let forth the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by His power He guided the south wind. 27He rained flesh also upon them like the dust, and winged birds [quails] like the sand of the seas. 28And He let [the birds] fall in the midst of their camp, round about their tents. 29So they ate and were well filled; He gave them what they craved and lusted after. 31The wrath of God came upon them and slew the strongest and sturdiest of them and smote down Israel’s chosen youth. 32In spite of all this, they sinned still more, for they believed not in (relied not on and adhered not to Him for) His wondrous works. 33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste. 34When He slew [some of] them, [the remainder] inquired after Him diligently, and they repented and sincerely sought God [for a time]. 35And they [earnestly] remembered that God was their Rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. 36Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouths and lied to Him with their tongues. 37For their hearts were not right or sincere with Him, neither were they faithful and steadfast to His covenant. 38But He, full of [merciful] compassion, forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not; yes, many a time He turned His anger away and did not stir up all His wrath and indignation. 39For He [earnestly] remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that goes and does not return. 40How often they defied and rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! 41And time and again they turned back and tempted God, provoking and incensing the Holy One of Israel. 42They remembered not [seriously the miracles of the working of] His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy.

 

A Heart of Lust

 

The account we read here in Psalms 78 is an example of the lust that tends to work in all of us.  Often we only think of lust in a sexual sense and there is certainly that aspect of it, but it is much broader than that.  It was a quality and aspect of humanity that kept the children of Israel in the wilderness, it continually provoked the wrath of God and it remembered not all His benefits because it becomes so focused on its own.  Lust defined is the selfish and self -indulgent desires and appetites of our flesh.  Many of us are still controlled, to a large extent, by an attitude and mindset of lust.  Our focus is so often on what pleases us and what we want, rather than on what is pleasing to our Lord.  Even in our prayers, we are crying out to God to give us meat, give us what we want rather than being content with the provision of God’s hand.  Human nature is usually to always want what it can’t or shouldn’t have.  There are times when God will allow us to have the lust of our hearts.  He will give us what we think we must have.  What we find is that the fulfillment of our desires soon becomes a curse.  What we thought was going to fulfill and satisfy us leaves us empty and lean of soul.  It brings with it consequences that we didn’t anticipate.  Verse 33 of Psalms 78 says, “33Therefore their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste.”  This is the fruit of our lust.  It is enmity with God and so it brings death to us and not life.  It is the antithesis of faith and trust in God’s goodness, sovereignty and provision.

1 John 2:15-17 tells us this, “15Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 17And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”  We want our lust to be for those things of the Spirit that pertain to life and godliness.  Our desire is for a deeper and more intimate relationship with our Lord that we might know and experience the fullness of His life and blessing upon us.  We must learn from our former examples that the lust of the flesh breeds death, but walking in the Spirit produces life and the attributes of a godly character.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Zechariah 4:10

For who hath despised the day of small things?…

 

Small Beginnings can lead to Great Endings

 

There are many of us out here in the sea of humanity that feel obscure, overlooked and of no seemingly great significance.  Perhaps we are a people who have embraced God’s truth.  We have loved Him, sought Him, praised Him and tried to walk in obedience to Him.  Perhaps we are facing discouragement in our life, because as hard as we have tried to be faithful, we still are struggling with feeling small, insignificant and of no great worth.   We seem to have been forgotten back on the far side of the mountain and maybe even God doesn’t seem very near to us.  We’ve been tempted to give up.  “Maybe I’ve missed God.”

I wonder if young David ever felt that way as he was sent out to pasture and care for His father’s sheep.  When Samuel came to anoint one from the house of Jesse as King, it seems David was the last one on anyone’s mind.  This little ruddy runt of a kid, what could he be?  It seemed he had been forgotten and not counted as anything in the eyes of man, but God was looking at hearts.  What is your heart?

The road to rule and reign is often paved with adversity and pain.  David didn’t spend his time on the backside of some forsaken mountain feeling sorry for himself, because he wasn’t appreciated like his brothers were.  He spent that time building a relationship with God.  In those times of loneliness, it was God whom he counted as his friend and companion.  It was God he would minister too in song, psalms and praise.  It was God that he walked with day by day down those lonely mountain paths and back pastures.  As he learned how to shepherd, protect and care for those sheep, God was training him up to care for His flock.

Often in our daily walk with God, we can become weary, beaten down and discouraged.  Often in our eyes we feel like a failure.   The enemy sits on our shoulder whispering the condemnation where we have fallen short, pointing out all our shortcomings and weaknesses.  As he paints this negative picture before us he is saying, “Who do you think you are that you could be anything for God or anybody else?  Look at what a failure you are.”  Sadly we begin to listen to this voice and believe about ourselves what it is saying.  We feel like giving up, “what’s the use, I might as well just go back and live like the rest of the world.”  That is the recipe for defeat and I would dare say that most of us have felt or been in this place at one time or another.  Perhaps some of us are here now.

God’s got a word for us, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”  No matter how insignificant you feel, God has a plan for your life.  In ourselves we could never fulfill the plan God has for us, but in union and relationship with Him our mountains will become plains.  Zechariah 4:6 says, “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of host.”  God is the one who makes the small things great and the great things small.  God is the one who orders our steps as we walk in His ways.

Isaiah 60: 22 says, “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.”  We all have to learn to operate and live in God’s time and not our own.  God’s plans rarely operate according to our schedule.   What God is looking for in us is that heart that He saw in David.  He is not looking for the best looking, the strongest or the person of greatest natural abilities.  He is looking for the one who has a heart after Him; who is willing to endure the hardship and disappointments in life and still love Him, praise Him and trust in Him?

We may never be anything that the world esteems as success and that is okay, but what are we in God’s eyes.  He is the one that counts.  We labor not for the things that perish, but for the things that are eternal.  Don’t give up.  Don’t become discouraged.  Fix your eyes on Him who is able to make your small beginnings have a great ending.

Blessings,

#kent

Stepping Up

April 6, 2018

 

Stepping Up

 

Ephesians 4:15

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

 

Our walk in Christ is a progressive one; it is a journey that each day should bring us a little more into His character and likeness.  If we charted it on a graph I doubt that for very many of us it would look like this smooth sloped line starting at zero and going up.  The truth is we would probably see dips and rises.  Sometimes it is like we go two steps back to take one forward.  Some days we can be so discouraged with life or ourselves that we just want to give up and sometimes we may even do that for a time.  Life is a series of ups and downs and we all know that on the surface it is easier live a sweet Christian life when things are going well. When we are caught up in the Spirit and we are feeling and experiencing the Lord’s presence and blessing in our lives it can be like we have heaven on earth.  The reality is, we know that we can experience hell on earth well.  There can be those times in life when all that we know and held dear is pulled out from under us.  Our world can be turned upside down in a heartbeat.  One thing you can count on in life is that nothing stays the same.  It is these experiences in our lives that are the testing and proving grounds of our faith.  The adversities in life are what exercise our muscles of faith and sound the depths of our character and integrity.  Often it is when we feel the least spiritual, that we grow the most.  Our Father always sees the big picture where we can only see the next hundred feet.  The one thing we have to be committed too is that come heaven or hell, our lives are wholly His.  We are His garden, to prune, to dig around, to water or however He decides to deal with us individually.  What we can hold fast too are the facts and truths that ‘He loves us with an everlasting love’, ‘He is able to complete the good work He began in us’, ‘He will never leave us of forsake us’ and ‘all things work together for the good of them that are called according to His purpose.’ 

            The important thing for all of us in Christ is that we maintain a focus and vision of continual faithfulness toward the Lord.  The enemy of our souls has continual roadblocks, diversions, disasters, and snares to discourage, get us off track and get us back into that mindset of the flesh and the world.  We must maintain a continual vigilance of our souls and we need one another to help us see the things that we often don’t see in ourselves.  Our spiritual transformation and progression is not something we accomplish in and of ourselves.  Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  That is why our walking in the Spirit is so important.  Walking in the Spirit is where we experience His righteousness, His freedom, His strength and power through us to overcome sin and temptation and deliverance from evil.  It is where we walk in the company of the Strong One, the Wise One, and the Faithful One.  It is in Him and our continual union and fellowship with Him that we experience growth from glory to glory as 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

            Every day should be a progressive walk in the Spirit, regardless of what life circumstances are.  Each day should be a stepping stone of faith and trust that brings us up higher and transforms us into His likeness.  Keep your eyes upon Him and your walk in the Spirit.  Let each day be another step up into the glory that is before us.

Blessings,

#kent

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