Righteous is the man whose God is the Lord

Genesis 15:6

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

               Man can not truly know righteousness, apart from or outside of God.  He can perform good deeds and may even exceed many of the people of God in good works, but no matter how good, he can not be righteous outside of God.  Righteousness is the byproduct of faith in God.  Genesis 15:6 is the first place that righteousness is used in the Word.  It is used in regards to God speaking to Abraham about giving him a promised son and it says, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  Righteousness is embracing God and His Word in faith.  It is believing and acting upon His Word and that which He quickens to us through the Holy Spirit.  Faith acts in obedience to that which it believes in.  Obedience is the other attribute of righteousness.  Deuteronomy 6:25 says, “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”  You might say then that the formula for righteousness is faith in God plus obedience to God equals the righteousness of God.  We see such a picture of righteousness in the life of Abraham who is like the father of faith.   Abraham knew a closeness and fellowship with God that is rarely paralleled even among the other great men of the bible.  Why was Abraham such a friend of God?  What made him so special?  He was a righteous man.  He was righteous because he believed what God told him and he obeyed whatever God told him to do.  Even when he had Isaac the most precious and beloved gift that God had ever given him, one in which he had believed in faith for, many years; God said I want you to sacrifice him to me.  Abraham didn’t argue, he didn’t bow his neck in rebellion or resentment, he obeyed God. God led him to a place three days from where he was so he had plenty of time to think it over and change his mind.  We see here a picture of full and unconditional surrender of his will to God, a willingness to obey God no matter what the cost and a faith in God that he knew God would fulfill His Word to him regardless of what circumstances told him.  That is the picture of righteousness. 

               The first time the word worship is used in the Word of God is in Genesis 22:5 when Abraham says, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  Even in the words Abraham speaks is the evidence of his faith when he says, “and come again to you.”  The very act of obedience, of faith and the willingness to sacrifice the love of his life was an act of worship.  

               John Bevier brings out in his teaching on “Drawing Near” that God spoke to him one time and said, “Worship is not a slow song”.  Worship is not just singing songs, or going to church or praying.  “Worship is a life!”  It is a life of righteousness lived out in faith and obedience to God in everything.  That is why Jesus says in John 14:12-15, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].  If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  Many of us pray “in Jesus name” today, but we see limited results, why?  Could it be that we are not fully keeping the conditions of the promise?  Like most kids, we want all of the benefits without all of the responsibility, but they go together.  

               Finally, in John 15:10-14 Jesus tells his disciples, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  If we want to move from the status of a servant to a friend it requires faith and obedience, these are the righteous ones that commune with God, who know the Son and have intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  These are the friends of God.  This is the righteousness of God by faith, wherein Christ is our righteousness, not by works of the law, but by a life fully surrendered in a continual living act of worship to Him.

Blessings,

#kent

Has God Forgotten You?

January 13, 2022

Has God Forgotten You?

Psalm 77:6-12

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth [his] promise fail for evermore.  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This [is] my infirmity: [but I will remember] the years of the right hand of the most High. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

               Have we ever had those times when we felt like the Lord was no where to be found?  Our prayers just seem to bounce off of the ceiling and fall to the ground.  Most of us have struggled with those times when the voices came in to say; “do you really think there is a God? How long have you been going through this trial and God hasn’t answered your prayers.  People pray and worship all kind of gods, what makes you so sure you are right and everybody else is wrong.  Doesn’t God see?  Doesn’t He care about the things you are going through?  If so, why isn’t He doing something?”

               Sometimes we feel that spirit of discouragement come over us.  We become disheartened and like David we are saying in our hearts, if not out loud, “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth [his] promise fail for evermore.  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?”  Even David, who had a close relationship with God and had seen God’s mighty wonders through his life, had those moments of discouragement, questionings and doubts. 

               Both hands of God work in our lives to shape and mold us.  There are times we experience the right hand of God’s blessing, health, prosperity, deliverance and salvation.  Then there are times in our life when we might be experiencing the left hand of God.  In Job 23:8-13, Job says, “Behold, I go forward, but he [is] not [there]; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary [food]. he [is] in one [mind], and who can turn him? and [what] his soul desireth, even [that] he doeth.” Even the most prominent of God’s saints have had their dark times when they endured the judgements and testing that God allowed to come into their lives.  Can we always make sense of those times?  No.  Sometimes we feel like the blind man feeling his way around trying to find his way in the Lord. 

               The one lesson we learn from these men of God is that even in those dark times when God seems so far from us He is nevertheless faithful and true.  How did David cope when he could not perceive God?  He began to recall the works of God and praise the Lord for all the mighty things he knew God had done.  He says, “but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”  Remember, recite and give thanksgiving and praise for all the past blessings and miracles God has done for you and for others.  Dwell on His goodness and talk about all His great doings. 

Job, likewise in the midst of his great darkness and adversity, though God’s ways are darkened and hid from him says, “But he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary [food].”  Job, though he doesn’t understand the entire why and wherefore, never questions God’s faithfulness or integrity.  He sees with the eyes of faith that God is faithful and has his highest good at heart even though the natural circumstances and facts would testify to the contrary.  He esteems God’s Word as more important and faithful than even the necessary food of life. 

               When those times of darkness, discouragement and trials are upon us, our spirit within us must rise up to encourage our soul that God is faithful and worthy of all praise no matter what the outward circumstances proclaim.  Our Lord has promised that He would never leave or forsake us, but natural feelings and senses are not the gauge of God’s closeness or faithfulness.  Paul gives us all great words of encouragement to hold on too through these times in Romans 8:33-39, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth,  Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  We must know and believe that our security and confidence in Christ does not rest in what we are going through or what we see around us, or how we feel; it rests in God’s sure Word to us that He will always love us and never leave us.  Whether in life or death, He is ever there with us.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  Encourage your soul in the Lord if you are in this place of discouragement and doubt.  He is forever faithful and true.  You can be sure He hasn’t forgotten you.

Blessings,

#kent

The Dance

January 12, 2022

The Dance

Acts 17:28

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

               Life is like a dance, an expression, if you will, of our emotions, our being, our dreaming, and our every day living.  Our dance can take on many expressions, moods and demeanors throughout our life.  In many ways it is choreographed as life and circumstances unfold.  We don’t always know the setting that we will be placed in or the stage upon which we will dance, but our dance, our life becomes the expression of our soul and what is contained therein.  How it expresses and moves itself is all contained within the individual.  Some will dance to a mournful tune, expressing regret, sorrow, despondency and discouragement.  Yet another may take the same stage and same melody, and dance with hope, faith and love.  How can they both be cast in the same drama and yet dance and express it so differently.  It is all contained in the song that lives within your heart.  It is contained in how you view and see your stage.  Do you only see darkness, moodiness and depression or do you see yourself as that light in a dark place having come in to illuminate your stage, to lift its spirit with hope, joy and a light in you that dances to a higher song. 

               Dances can be soulish, sensual and even devilish, but it depends upon the song you are dancing too.  Your dance can also be spiritual, joyous and the expression of your highest praise.  Psalms 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.”  2 Samuel 6:14 tells us, “And David danced before the LORD with all [his] might; and David [was] girded with a linen ephod.”  What was David wearing in the dance?  It says he was wearing a linen ephod.  Linen speaks of righteousness, a material not causing sweat or that that is not created in self-efforts.  The ephod was a garment worn by priest.  There is a reason the Word has told us what David was wearing.  It is not much of a stretch to see the priestly act of worship and joy that was being expressed through David, who technically was not a priest under the law, but certainly he was one in spirit and in truth. 

               What is the spirit under which we dance and express our lives?  Dance is a communication through action.  What are we communicating through our actions?  What is the music playing in our ears and how is our soul moving to it?  Are we listening and singing the song of the Lamb and His redeemed or are we still dancing to the darkness of the earthly soulish beat?  We have One that has gone before us, masterfully and perfectly choreographing the dance, but only each dancer can give it his or her interpretation and personal expression.  The more we possess the Spirit and mind of the Master Choreographer the more perfectly we can express His dance. 

               How are you dancing today?  Are your feet light and your jumps high?  Are you reaching up, stretching and extending with each movement?  Are your toes on point or are you flat-footed plodding a mournful dance through life.  Life is not in the stage or the setting or the props, it is in the dancer and how they choose to interpret their dance.  Be like David; dress yourself with your linen ephod and dance your life to the Lord with all of your might!

Blessings,

#kent

Vindication for the Upright

January 11, 2022

Vindication for the Upright

Daniel 6:3-5

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit [was] in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he [was] faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find [it] against him concerning the law of his God.

               If we are going to get into trouble for something let it be because of something like Daniel.  The excellent spirit that Daniel possessed was the Holy Spirit.  He walked with such integrity and righteousness that he was like a light in a dark place.  The objective of darkness is to extinguish the light, so men, moved by the unseen forces of greed, jealousy and treachery, sought Daniel’s destruction. 

               Most all of us know well the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den and how these evil men persuaded the King to pass a law to worship only him; which they knew Daniel would have to violate because of his uprightness and faithfulness to God.   It looked like the plan had worked and Daniel, by law was thrown into a Lion’s den to be devoured for his disobedience to civil law.  This was much to the dismay of the King, but he couldn’t go back on his decree. 

               Daniel walked and lived in Kingdom principles.  He obeyed and submitted to civil law in so much as it didn’t cause him to violate the higher law of God.  His integrity and uprightness stood as a beacon and testimony of his commitment and faithfulness to God, as ours should in this time. 

               Many of us have experienced times in our lives when we were persecuted, defrauded and even legally prosecuted for making a righteous stand.  It wasn’t because it was the easiest thing to do, but we knew it was the right thing to do and so we made our stand.  We were in effect, thrown into the lion’s den.  Our confidence is in our God.  We know that whether He vindicates us in this life or the life to come He is our shield and protector.  He is our righteousness and our life is hid in him.  Daniel 6:22 speaks of God’s faithfulness to Daniel’s faith and confidence in Him, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God”.  God can be glorified when we stand for him on issues of righteousness.  Is there a price to be paid? often there is, but Romans 8:17 says, “if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.”  Not all have experienced the miracle of deliverance that Daniel did, but God was no less faithful.  We have confidence that our faithfulness and commitment to God is rewarded with an eternal weight of glory. 

1 Peter 4:12-16 expresses this position so well in that it declares, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  It is often not the easy way when we make a righteous stand.  Often the cost is high and painful, but when we stand in Christ we will never be disappointed, for His Spirit stands with us and His angels surround us.  He will vindicate us in due season if we are careful to not to become reliant upon the flesh and our abilities, but wait upon Him and trust Him through it all.  When God is involved outward circumstances never have the final say.  Let God have control as you make your stand in righteousness and integrity.  The battle is in the spirit and not in the flesh.   

Blessings,

#kent

From Fear to Faith

January 10, 2022

From Fear to Faith

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

            After being away a good part of the day, that night we brought a couple of our grandkids home with us to spend the night.  Before I had finished getting everything out of the car, the wife was telling me the back door was unlocked and open.  She said she was sure that she had locked it.  On the way into the house I grabbed a trusty little aluminum bat and went into to secure the perimeter.  As the grandkids followed we walked all through the house and did a search to make sure no one was there.  Everything was in tact and nothing was disturbed so it appeared to be just an oversight on our part that the door was open.  As the grandkids followed me talking. I could hear the apprehension and a degree of fearfulness in their voices as they wanted us to set the alarm.  Now these grandkids are about six and nine years old.  As we got them ready to put to bed I began to talk with them about fear and the author of fear.  I explained about the One who is our life and security, the One who has His hand upon our lives and all that touches us can only be by His permission.  We talked about “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world”; how we are “more than conquerors through Christ that loved us” and how God has “not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  As I began to speak these things to them, faith began to rise in their hearts as they began to remember and realize that even though they were just children, Someone, much greater, resided in them and watched over them.  I began to recount Bible stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, of Hezekiah when great armies came up against Jerusalem and the Lord told Him to send the praise team and worshippers out first.  I asked them how they would like to go out in the frontlines of battle with just a tambourine or a horn or just their voice.  We talked about how that praise and worship of faith and obedience released God to discomfit and utterly destroy those great armies so that by the time they reached them all there was to do was gather the spoil they left behind.  We talked about the story of Paul and Silas, beaten for their faith and thrown into dark dirty jail, their hands in chains as they began to sing hymns and songs unto the Lord.  Through that praise and worship, in the midst of such discouraging circumstances, God sent an earthquake that opened the cells and freed everybody, but nobody escaped.  As the distraught jailer thought everyone had fled he drew his sword to kill himself, Paul stopped him and assured him all of them were there.  We saw how what had seemed to be a day of utter defeat and failure had been turned by God to result in the salvation of this jailer and his household. 

            The kids wanted to hear more and more stories, but finally I said it is time for us to go to bed.  Now there was no more fear or apprehension as we turned in.  It was as the scripture says in Romans 10:17, So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Are you fearful today about some circumstance in your life?  Don’t look at how great the problem or the circumstances are, rather look to the Word of God and see how great your God is.  Look at all the times He delivered His people, because they put their faith and trust in Him.  Don’t look to how great the name is of the disease or burden that you bear, look to the Name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord to the glory of God ( Philippians 2:9-11).  Our God can take us from fear to faith as we read and meditate upon His Word; remembering how great and mighty our God is, how He loved us and gave himself for us and how if we fear anything let us fear the Lord and trust Him.

The Psalmist David says it so well in Psalms 56:11, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Story of a Cripple

January 7, 2022

The Story of a Cripple

Isaiah 30:20-21

And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

               A little girl sits staring out her window.  Her thoughts and dreams take her on journeys that her legs never can.  Struck by a drunken driver while riding her bicycle she no longer knows the pleasures of running and playing with her friends the way she used too.  At first, it didn’t seem real and she thought that surely she would get better and be able to walk again, but she never has.  Then she became very angry with this person who had hit her on her bike, she hated them and wanted them to die.  This person had robbed her of a normal life, of friendships and had forever handicapped her from being like everyone else. 

               Elsa was just eight years old when it happened.  After her body had recovered as much as it was going too, she would spend hours looking out her large second story bedroom window.  Below in the street and yards she would watch the kids play.  Often she would be saddened and angry as she set there, a captive of her circumstances.  Eventually she began to look beyond the neighborhood into the nearby fields and forest that surrounded the area.  She began to observe nature, the seasons, the birds and the little animals.  She began to see that just like humans, animals, birds and even the trees sometimes experienced tragedies, but adjustments were made and life went on. 

        One day when she looked out, the field was on fire and it was quickly moving toward the forest.  She hurriedly dialed 911 and reported the fire.  She observed as the fire fighters arrived quickly upon the scene and as they battled the blaze, doing all that they could to contain its damage.  It went on for some time and the fire had reached the forest, burning a good area of it, before they finally got it under control and put it out.  Elsa was saddened as the landscape had been forever changed and she felt it would never be as beautiful or the same again as she looked out over the charred trees and burnt ground.  As the seasons changed she was amazed the next spring when the grass was actually greener in the burnt area than any place else.  Elsa observed that over time the burnt area filled back in with growth and animals started coming back into the new growth and shrubs.  In many ways it was even more beautiful and lush than before.  The Lord began to speak to her heart and she began to make the connection that bitterness and unforgiveness only will leave your heart barren and unproductive.  It poisons the ground.  Elsa began to here the voice of God telling her and showing her that she was like that burnt ground.  Wonderful things could still happen in her life.  Yes, it might be different than most, but perhaps even more beautiful in some ways because she had a perspective that others didn’t have.  She began to pray and release the anger, bitterness and offense she had so long held inside.  She prayed for the person that crippled her and asked God to make them whole as well.  Elsa came out of her room and began to become involved with life and people again.  She accepted that circumstances beyond her control had forever changed her, but perhaps it could be for the better and not for the worse.  As she began to embrace life, relationships and people again, she felt her life enriched somehow.  She missed being normal; walking and running like others, but she saw opportunities to help people in ways she never had before.  She realized that, like that that burnt field, God was restoring her to be an even better person than she had been before.  She realized her right attitude and God perspective made her grass a little greener than a lot of those around her.  She found herself walking no longer with the natural legs that she was born with, but with legs of faith, trust and dependency upon God to now direct her life in the way and the plan that He had for her.  Now instead of feeling robbed of life, she felt enriched with new meaning and purpose that her new life had found.  Instead of the burnt field of bitterness, hate and unforgiveness she found herself flourishing in the greenery and new life of her relationship with the Lord and with people.  She was learning what it is to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, that even in adversity there is blessing and holding on to offenses is more crippling than physical handicaps. 

Blessings,

#kent

The Labor of Love

January 6, 2022

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

               A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her.  Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring.  Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth.  Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth; the miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents.  This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others.  It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer.  That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended.  That was only the conception.  The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them.  Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith.  No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her.   Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood.  You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them.  All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them.  You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours. 

Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction.  You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways. 

This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others.  Often, it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you, that now take on a different spirit.  Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them.  In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go.  As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ.  It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them. 

               We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us.  Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us or reject us.  They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them.  They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9). 

               Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you.  Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction.  It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did.  Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man.  God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are.  We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,

#kent

Philippians 3:3

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Faithfulness to Gifts and Callings

               The hands that led me and guided me are the hands that held me, changed me and loved me.

Those hands didn’t have a lot of experience and wisdom when they started.  They didn’t have all of the answers or even know all of the rules, but they were faithful with the entrustment that God had given them.   They weren’t rich, greatly educated and were not of any position as the world regards such things, but they worked hard, they kept the faith and they didn’t give up.  They were faithful in what they knew.  It was that lack of self-dependence and the need for God dependence that taught them faith, trust, and reliance upon the One whom is steadfast and faithful.  It is the struggles, the trials, and the continual reaching out to God that develops that patience and steadfastness that turns into wisdom, understanding, giving and sacrifice.  It teaches us to look beyond ourselves, to place no confidence in our flesh, but to rejoice in Christ Jesus who is our life provision. 

               God has placed an infant of responsibility into each one of our hands.  We may want to withdrawal from it because we lack wisdom, understanding or natural ability.  We can not withdraw from our God-given responsibilities or we end up denying the gift and the Giver.  When God gives us something or calls us to something, we can depend upon Him being faithful to teach us how to be a good parent and steward over it, if we will simply keep our reliance and faith upon Him.  Sometimes we want to abort or give our infant of responsibility to someone else, because it doesn’t fit into our plans and it’s not what we want.  Most of us have discovered by now that what we want isn’t always what is best for us even if we think it is at the time.  God gives us what we need, to be who He has created us and destined us to be.  All we have to do, to fulfill His destiny for us, is to be faithful to do what He has placed in our hands to do and be what He has placed within us to be in Him.  The motive in us must be for His glory and not our own.  He didn’t create us for our glory, but for His. 

               Some of us are still pregnant with the gift and calling of God within us.  If we are to fulfill our destiny and calling, we must be willing to enter into labor and by God’s grace working in us, bring it forth.  Which of us feels qualified to deal with all that is entailed with a newborn, especially our first?  Parenthood develops in us as we assume the responsibility and care for that child one-day at a time.  We are so proud of our kids because they are the products of what was birthed out of us and by God’s grace we are raising them or have raised them to maturity where they might continue the cycle. 

               Don’t be afraid about what you don’t know how to do.  Just do what you know and trust God to show you and teach you how to do the rest.   Most importantly, we must not deny what He has placed within us by the Holy Spirit.  We must do what the Lord has placed in our hearts to do and be what He has placed in our hearts to be.  Just as we must assume responsibility for what the Lord has given us, we must not assume ownership of that gift or calling for which we have been called to be faithful stewards.  The ownership is always the Lord’s.  When we see the fruition and success of that which God has birthed through us, it is easy for us to lifted up in pride over what we have done.  This will be a stumbling block to us if we allow that to happen.  We have been given the privilege to be an overseer of God’s gift, but always remember that it is for God’s glory and not for our own.  Even Jesus who has been given all authority and power in heaven and in earth, when all things have come to full subjection under His feet, then will He yield it back up to the Father.  All things that come out of the Father must return back into Him. ‘We rejoice in Christ Jesus and place no confidence in the flesh.’

Blessings,

#kent

In His Image

January 4, 2022

In His Image

John 3:2-3

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

               With the natural mind and vision it seems impossible to come into the likeness of all that Christ is.  Yet, this is what we live for, this is what we endure affliction, hardship, persecution and trials for.  We are so often focused and filled with the concerns of the outward perishing man with all it weaknesses and shortcomings, but inwardly we behold Jesus, the pattern son, the first born of many sons that are coming into glory.  There are those of us who haven’t endured that much adversity in our life, but there are others of us who are tired from a hard road of suffering and trials that they have traveled and it is only the grace of God that they are holding on today.  Some of you have said,  “Just take me home Lord, I don’t want to continue on as I have been.”  Why some of our roads are so much harder than others I can not say, but this I know, what you have suffered and endured is not in vain.  God sees your faithfulness as you have endured, and though you may not see it, you have been walking the way of the Overcomer.   You may laugh and say, “What have I overcome, look at the mess my life is in and the pain, suffering and heartache I am still enduring?”   Abraham was given promises of God that seemed impossible and did he receive them immediately?  Some of those promises are still being fulfilled. 

               Jesus prays for all that believe on Him in John 17:10-16, “”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.””  Have we seen all that Jesus prayed for fulfilled?  We are a people who live by faith and the greatest testimony of our faith is when we can walk in the hope of the promises that are set before us, even when we do not see the manifestation of them.  Some of our promises we carry into glory with us.  Does that mean that God is not faithful to His word?  God is not limited by our natural lifetime. 

               For those of us that are discouraged and tired of life let me encourage you not to give up in the battle.  Your faithfulness and perseverance have not gone unnoticed by the Lord.  You have not suffered in vain.  The enemy is always there to tell you to give up and that God has failed you.  No, God has entrusted you with a walk that most of us couldn’t endure and would fail at, but by His grace you will carry on in faith and you will overcome by your faithfulness and trust, regardless of whether you see the manifestation of the promise or not.  I believe God is a great rewarder of those who are faithful to Him, especially through the fire and trials.  Allow that place you are in to have its perfect work in you.  As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.”  Psalm 34:9 says, “Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”  Come and rest your head upon the breast of Jesus.  Let Him be your comfort and your confidence.  He will give you grace to see you through if you will hold fast to Him and not let go. 

               Hebrews 11:10 says of Abraham, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Hebrews 11:13-16 goes on to remind us that this time, this place this life is not the fulfillment of all of our promises. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

               We have the promise of coming into the image of Christ if we persevere and hold fast the confession our faith.  Let us not become discouraged, but let us remain faithful holding fast the promises as we journey into the place that God has prepared for us, both in this sanctuary and that which is to come. 

Blessings,

#kent

Though He Slay Me

January 3, 2022

Though He Slay Me

Job 13:15

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

            This is for those who are walking through the dark places of the shadow of death, of testing and trials.  Many have good intentions of encouraging us or helping us understand that place, but how can they unless they are where you are and face the fears and the terrors that you face.  The two things that you have, that you are holding on too with all your strength, are your physical life and your faith in the eternal life.  When death, hell and the grave rise up to daily confront us, then all the foundations of faith in God are shaken as it attacks in its pain and fears to separate us, condemn us and crush that hope within.  It can bring us to even despair of this physical life, until all we want to do is give up, let go of it and sleep. 

            Know this; you are not in this place to fail and be defeated, but to triumph through the Resurrection Life within you.  “For the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you! Romans 8:11 declares to us, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”  Wrap your arms of faith and hope around the promises of God and refuse to let go.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.”  The outward man isn’t our strength, it isn’t our hope and it is but the container of the Life out of which we live.  Our life is so much more than even physical life.  Job had a revelation of this.  He knew that as long as he maintained his integrity and hope in God, then even the grave itself could not defeat or rob him.  It was only if he gave up on God and turned his back on the faith that the enemy could triumph.  This is the hope resident in you that is greater than life itself, because it lives beyond this present physical life.  Fear and death may try and wrest it from your hand, but whatever else happens let us all go to the grave with our faith and hope in God intact.  Meanwhile fight the good fight.  Don’t allow condemnation to come in through thoughts or other individuals, for God isn’t here to condemn you.  If you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb then no accuser has grounds to tell you that you are worthless or deserving of what you are enduring.  Your life is hid with Christ in God.  The devil and hell itself will have to come through God to get to you.  You are His.  He redeemed you with the precious price of His blood and you are forever precious in His sight, for you are His possession. 

            Rest in Him.  You are weary in the battle.  Your strength is gone.  So, rest in Him who is your strength; rest in Him who is your life.  Enter into the Christ within; make your abiding and fellowship there.  The Lord wants to lift you above your circumstances today and invite you into the garden of His presence and life.  There you will find rest and refreshment; hope and faith.  There you will rise up to be more than a conquer through Christ who has loved you, for there is nothing that can separate you from His love.  He is your refuge, your high tower, your shield and buckler.  It is the Lion of Judah that has come forth in His holy raiment to fight your battles and triumph through you.  Though the outward man is frail and weak, let the inward  man wax stronger and stronger through faith, having your eyes fixed on Him who is your life and the reason you live and move and have your being.  Everything else is a name whether it is cancer, disease, poverty, afflictions, sickness, infirmities, trial, persecutions or tribulations, but there is a name above every name and HIS NAME IS JESUS!  He is your hope! Your hope is not in man, medicines, finances, or in the technological abilities and provisions of this world; it is still only and forever in Jesus. 

            Rest your life upon His breast. Let go of all your fears and concerns.  Christ is your rest.  He is your life and your victory remains your hope in Him.

Blessings,

#kent

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