To Love a Woman

March 21, 2019

 

Ephesians 5:25-29

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body.

 

To Love a Woman

 

As I was thinking upon my love and relationship with my wife this scripture was really pressed home to me.  We spend the better part of our lives investing ourselves into the one that we have committed our hearts too.  Aside from the Lord, they are the one that we live with and that we live for.  Most of us aren’t neglectful when it comes to feeding ourselves, clothing and caring for our own needs.  This body of ours is our home and so we spare no expense or investment in making it the best it can be.  Just as we care for and bless our own body, we should care for and bless our wife and our companion.  Her needs, her wants and her dreams may differ from ours, but they should be of no less value or importance than those that we have for ourselves.  She is flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone and we love and care for her as we do our own body.  When I love her appropriately, then I love myself and if I fail her, then I fail myself.

If we, as married couples, could always maintain the mindset that everything we do is to fulfill the need in the other, then we would know no lack.  If I live to fulfill and minister to her needs and she has that same mind then isn’t that how marriage ought to work?  Unfortunately, so many of our marriages fail or get into trouble because we treat our spouse like we treat often treat our Lord.  They become secondary to our ambitions, desires and pleasures.  We treat them as separate from us and not one with us.  Selfishness is a cruel taskmaster.  “I” demands one thing, “Me First!”  One-sided love affairs never work very well.  When self becomes secondary to the pleasing of our spouse and serving the Lord then we find a formula that really serves in the best interest of our well being, because in becoming the blessing we will reap the blessing.  In marriage, our goal is to bless the other and help them to become the best that they can be.  What we do for them, we are doing for ourselves because they are one with us.  There is no greater illustration in the natural world of what our relationship is to be with Christ than marriage in the right context. We, as husbands, really have the responsibility of bringing love into the home and being the example of Christ to our wives.

Today, as we outwardly proclaim our love to our spouse, let us recommit to the unity of oneness, service and living to please and meet one another’s needs.  If success is important to us then let us not fail to succeed in the areas that we often take most for granted.  Husbands, let us love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

Blessings,

#kent

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Still Waters

March 18, 2019

Psalms 23:2

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…

 

Still Waters

 

Isn’t God good to show us that He is a place of peace and rest, safety and provision, direction and purpose.  We don’t often find those still waters in the world around us.  It is always full of activity, striving, trying, taking, wanting, worry and anxiety, but when we get in Jesus, our good Shepherd, He brings us into the place of His rest.  He causes us to lie down in green pastures of His Word and promises.  He leads us beside the still waters of His Spirit and life.

What a contrast with the world at large.  Isaiah 57:20-21 describes it, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

The wicked are always contending with God and so they never find the place of rest, of green pastures and still waters.  Where they will observe them is in you.  It is because you are in relationship with Jesus and have His peace, provision and safety for your life that you become the reality and picture of what they have strove so hard for, but have never found.

Still waters run deep.  It is often those that are of a meek and contrite heart that carry the well-springs of living waters.  I spoke a while back about how the woman at the well in John 4 came to know Jesus as the source of “Living Water”, but after she had drank of Him then she went into her village and she became that wellspring of living water as she gave out the message of Jesus and all the village came out to see Him.  Still waters is that place of walking in the rest of God by the Spirit and no longer striving after the flesh.  It is still and quiet so that it can hear His voice and it is deep because it carries His presence and Spirit.  It doesn’t gain dominion by striving with man, but by simply being the expression of God through what has been experienced in Him as we have laid down in the those green pastures of His life and pleasure and we have drank of the still waters of His Spirit life.  It is an amazing concept that sheep could lead wolves, but the sheep have no fear because they are secure in their Shepherd.  Even if they must give up their life they do so with the assurance of who they are in Him.

Psalms 46:10 exhorts us, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The still waters speak to the calmness and the serenity of our spirit as we know that God is God.  I don’t have to understand everything that He is doing.  I don’t have to know how He is going to do it.  I don’t even have to know when He is going to do it.  All I need to know is that He has led me to lie down in His green pastures and leads me beside the still waters where I don’t have to be afraid, fearful or anxious.  I can simply rest in Him because I know that His banner over me is Love.

Blessings,

#kent

God’s People Feeders

March 11, 2019

 

God’s People Feeders

 

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

 

 

We have these bird feeders in our backyard and it is always interesting to see the habits of the birds as the different ones will come and feed out of them regularly.  You begin to recognize those ones who are there daily and it becomes a way of life and a daily supply that feeds them.  It occurred to me that we are like those feeders to the world and even the other saints around us.  The Master comes and fills us with His life and seed as we abide in our place in Him.  We become the sowers and the people feeders of God’s life to the world around us.  Some of us are mobile and travel carrying that seed to many places.  Some of us are stationary, but we are constant and reliable sources that the people, who God has placed in our lives, can come and feed from.

Have you ever been in that place where you thought you had a good relationship with God where you were blessed, you were trying to be faithful and then it happened?  That bird feeder had been constantly standing.  It has a heavy base and the feeders are suspended from the top of a pole with metal branch hooks extending out from the top.  We’ve never had a problem with it until the morning when apparently a strong gust of wind had blown it over.  It is kind of like what happens to us when we are cruising along life’s highway and suddenly we get waylaid.  Some trial or misfortune hits us out of no where like a Mac truck running a stop sign.  We suddenly find ourselves lying on the ground, the wind totally knocked out of our sails and wondering what happened?  Why did this happen to us?  We were trying to do what we were suppose too, we were trying to be faithful?  God this doesn’t seem fair.  It just doesn’t make sense.

When I went out to pick up the birdfeeder, in the fall, a great deal of the birdseed had spilled out on the ground.  I salvaged what I could, set the bird feeder upright again and refilled it.  What has been interesting is that lately the birds aren’t as prone to fly up to the birdfeeder as they are to feed off of the seed that was spilled out on the ground.  You know Jesus said in John 12:32,  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.”  The world is still feeding off of the spilled blood of Calvary.  It made me realize that what may seem devastating to us, sometimes is the unleashing of God’s life and power in a greater dimension and power than what we had known before, especially in our strength and good standing.  For us it is totally humbling, we are undone and we are spilled out.  Along with that pouring out and breaking in our lives, God’s Word and His life are spilled out as well and it becomes a feeding place that others can relate with and gain strength and nourishment from.  Perhaps we’ve been singing and praying, “let the fire fall,” but when that baptism of fire comes, we’re not sure we like what it is burning.  Sometimes when God breaks our pot we feel like life is over as we have known it and perhaps it is.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to turn and work in a new dimension and new way to bring forth something even more glorious and rewarding in your life than what you had known before.

The key is to always remain the people feeder.  Giving forth the life and blessing of God in whatever dimension He has given you to do it.  Like we always say, “it is not about us, it is all about Him.”  When the wind knocks us over, God will pick us up again.  Just stay faithful to His call and His purpose in your life, but know that He can change your direction at any given moment.  When we are poured out through the trials of life that is where people truly see the substance of what is in us.  Those are the times our lives become naked, our lives become an open book and the reality of who we really are will be seen.   We want to make sure that what they see is what we saw in Jesus on the Cross; a life fully consecrated to the Father and His glory.  We must become and remain in those places where others can come and feed upon the life of God in us, whether we are standing or have been blown over.

Blessings,

#kent

Live unto Life

March 7, 2019

 

Live unto Life

 

1 Samuel 25:29

Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel,

 

There are basically two types of life, natural or soul life and spiritual life.  We know that the clock is ticking on the natural life and much sooner than we might like to think the sand will run out and this natural or soul life will expire.  For those of us who have had God’s grace shed abroad in our hearts and have come into a relationship with the ever living Father and His son Christ Jesus, we live for the spirit life that is eternal.  What we often struggle to keep focused on is that when we have come into this spirit life, we are living to higher principles and purpose.  We have grasped the concept that this present natural life is our stepping stone into the eternal.  What we accomplish and the decisions we make in this natural man, chart our course for eternity and the spirit life that we are stepping into.  But it is difficult to always keep our focus on the things above when we live and walk in the things beneath.

Our scripture today is from the story of when David was being pursued by Saul.  He was highly insulted by a man named Nabal and was on his way with a band of men to slay every male in Nabal’s household when he is intercepted by an intercessor.  Now the name Nabal means fool and this man lived up to his name, but he had a beautiful wife named Abigail who was also very wise.  She gathers up large quantities of food and wine and goes out to meet David and his men before they arrive.  When she meets him and in the discourse of the conversation she makes the statement out of 1 Samuel 25:29 and basically prophesies to him of who he is in relationship to the Lord and what God will do for him.  She reminds him that his life is’ bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  She reminds him that none can prevail against him because that is so with God’s anointing upon him, and she reminds him that even his enemies will be slung away from him as a rock in a sling.  You see, David, in his anger and in the heat of passion had determined to avenge himself against this man Nabal and all of the innocent men that may have been associated with his household.  He has lost his focus and is acting out of his flesh.  How often has that happen to us?  In the course of life an event or an occurrence will totally grab our attention away from who we are in Christ and we pursue it out of the flesh.  Even as God allowed or sent Abigail to check David and warn him, how often has God sent someone, or in some way tried to check our wrong actions by warning us, turning us away and trying to remind of us of who we are in Christ.  Sometimes God will even close doors or allow circumstances to try and turn our wrong course.  If we are wise we come to our senses and discern the warning and correct our wrong course of action.  Unfortunately, we are often prone to be headstrong and determined to go our own way or do our own thing.  Think about all of the men and women in prison.  At some point in their life they probably had warnings and indications that they were headed in a wrong way and to continue would result in consequences, but they chose to ignore those warnings and continued in a path that led to the consequences of their incarceration.  How have their wrong decisions and choices negatively impacted many people’s lives?  We hope that we can all learn to be quick to recognize and repent when we start down these dark trails.  We must always return to our focus, which is not this life, but the spirit life.  It is not just the life to come, it is the life we are entering into now as we live by faith and walk by the Spirit.  We want our lives to every day count toward eternity.  We want our lives, like David’s, to be ‘bound securely in the bundle of the living.’  We want to be bound unto the Lord in the fulfilling of His purpose and calling in our lives.  Are we walking and living in His higher purpose for us today?  The Lord did not create us simply to live unto ourselves.  We have a divine destiny and it can only be realized as we walk and pursue that spiritual life.  Even if we have made a mess of it up to this point, it is not too late for us to change our course.  God still wants to make something good, meaningful and beautiful out of our lives if we will let Him.  If we set our eyes and hearts upon the eternal, upon His Spirit life, then we will begin to walk in the dimension of the spirit even while we are living in the natural.

Let us summarize with 2 Peter 2:1-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Blessings,

#kent

Speculating Evil

March 6, 2019

 

Speculating Evil

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

 

How many wrong concepts of God do we have in our mind and thinking?  Who is God to you?  Is He an angry God with a big stick, ready to bash you when you sin or fall short?  Is He one you feel is out to bring misery to your life and is only interested in your suffering?  Is He one who is looking forward to send all sinners to hell and save a few lucky souls?  Or, is He the all-loving and passive God who knows all men are good at heart and doing the best they can?  “Surely He wouldn’t allow anyone to go to hell, if there even is a hell.”  The truth is you will find many concepts, opinions and speculations about God.  It is always His Word, the Holy Spirit and the example of Christ that best reveals the nature and truth about the character of God.  Here in Jeremiah, for example, it tells us what and how God thinks of us.  He thinks thoughts of peace.  His desire toward all men,              according to 2 Peter 3:9 is, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  While this is God’s will, He has given us a will also that He has chosen not to violate.  Is it God who sends us to hell or our own choices?  Hell is a place prepared for satan and his following.  It is not God’s will or intent that we follow him there.  He has in fact loved us so much that He was willing to give the supreme sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ as the acceptable sacrifice for our sins.  Through faith in Him we might be delivered out of a life bound for hell and have eternal life with the Father.  If God wanted you to go to hell He wouldn’t have made such a great sacrifice of love.  What other deity would suffer and die a cruel and horrible death for those who most often despise Him, reject Him and forsake Him?  Our God’s intent is not evil against us.  The expected end that God wants to give us is salvation and eternal life.  He is continually calling out and inviting all who will to come into His house and partake of His salvation for them through Jesus Christ His Son.

How we respond to God’s calling and offer of eternal life is up to us.  That is a choice that we make for ourselves.  There is an evil one, satan, who knows his latter end and is determined to work the opposite, the antitheses, to take us with him to that place we call hell.  We try to take this lightly, not think about it or dismiss it as already taking place on earth or for a period of time after we die.  Believe the Word of God when it lets us know that no one wants to experience hell.

God has a greater plan for your life.  While we experience the adversity of living in a sin filled world, through that adversity we are being trained up to be overcomers of the world, of sin and all that pertains to it.  Revelations 12:9-11 says, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  Beloved, God’s destiny for the believer is victory.  Because we no longer love that old life of selfishness and sin and are willing to die to it, our God is replacing it with His divine nature, character and life.  Yes, we will face resistance, adversity and trials, but in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who has loved us.  God will rule and reign through a people after His own heart and nature, in the process there is much dross and impurity to burn out of us so that we can be that pure expression of His love.

God is the Father who loves us with a Daddy’s heart.  He loves every one of us in spite of our vilest sin.  Jesus paid the price for every one of them.  Today he is calling everyone outside of Him.  His desire for you is peace and not evil, but it is your response, your choice, your trust in Christ and in the blood He shed to cleanse you of your sin, that is the gateway to your salvation and eternal life.  Today, if you feel that tugging and longing in your heart, ask Him to come in and forgive your sins.  Ask him to be the Lord of your life.  That simple prayer and act of faith is all that is required for you to pass from death to Life.  From there you will begin to walk the walk of faith as you grow in Him.

If you have speculated that God’s intent for you was evil, its not, that is the enemies plan, not His. He wants to give you Life; reach out by faith and receive His gift to you.

Blessings,

#kent

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

 

A Life That Makes a Difference

 

When we reflect upon our lives and their meanings, don’t we all want to feel like our life made a difference in the world and had an impact?  Life is not lived to make a void when it is gone, but to make a difference while it is here.  A selfish life is an empty life.  Life is a gift given to us that we may impart into others.  If we miss our purpose, then we have missed our meaning.

The older I get the less I care about what others think of me or how they view me.  My heart is, “God let every day count and let me live it to Your glory by accomplishing Your will.”  I told my brother-in-law the other day at his birthday,  “You know, I feel like I have reached critical mass and I am accelerating into the Son!”  The older we get the more aware we become of the urgency to impact our world and the lives around us.  This is what Jesus intended us to do.

How often in the past have I sat on my light or muffled its sound for fear of offending or not gaining another’s approval?  Do I represent Jesus before men, as I would want Him to represent me before the Father?

Think about what Jesus said concerning the meaning and direction of our life in Mark 8:34-38, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Doesn’t this say that Jesus wants our lights to shine with a passion?  It doesn’t mean we have to be fanatically strange, but then if we are so like Jesus we are going to tend to stick out like a light in a dark place and that’s okay.  There are those who are drawn to the light and then there are those who will recoil back into the darkness.  We are not here to be conformed to the darkness but to dispel it with the light and truth that dwells within us.  Jesus said as much with the way He lived His life as He did with His words.  It is not about meeting a quota and witnessing to so many people, it is about being a witness through the way you live your life and how you lay it down for others.  Some of us feel condemned because we don’t always know what to say or how to say it.  The fact that you take the time to care about someone you don’t know or who can’t benefit you, speaks to the One in you.  The fact that you would just take the time to tell someone how special they are and that God wants them to know that He really loves and cares about them.  We have made it more about pitching religion and getting someone to pray the sinner’s prayer than about really loving and caring about them in the way that Jesus would.  I have found that when people don’t feel like you have an agenda when you approach them in a sincere and loving way, more times than not they are open to that.  They want to know that God really does see them, care about them and love them.  It can be a real blessing even to have a loving stranger offer to pray for you or meet a need.  So many people out there may be smiling on the outside, but they are crying on the inside.  They need and want answers, not just religion and dogma shoved down their throats.  They want to see the reality of it exemplified in the lives of God’s people.  So often they watch those who say they know Christ, but then become disappointed and disillusioned, because they see God’s people acting and being like everyone else.  There is such power in love to bring light into people’s lives, but it has to be the real deal.  People are fed up with the fake and the insincere.  When we can bring the genuine light of Christ into people’s lives, many will respond to it, but it takes more of us that truly look like Him in the way we live our lives and the love that we carry that so exceeds our own.

Man, in his unregenerate state, is a “self-lover”.  It is always about him.  That man or woman that really is a disciple of Jesus has come to that point where they are willing to lay down their lives so that may become “life givers”, rather than “life takers”.   As Jesus said, ‘If we gain the whole world and lose our soul, its worth is as dust falling through our fingers at the end of life.’  We are left empty, desolate and void, even though we may have thought that we had everything.  Now we face eternity as the poorest among men.  The richest are those who spent all to let their light so shine in a way that it brought others to Christ and imparted His goodness into them.  They may have had nothing in this world, but they face eternity with money in the bank of heaven, a smile on their face and rejoicing in their hearts.  They have gained the fullness of life while lighting the way for others to see.  They are a city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden.  They have lived a life that made a difference.

Blessings,

#kent

Endings and New Beginnings

February 12, 2019

 

Endings and New Beginnings

 

Deuteronomy 11:11-17

11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today-to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you

 

In this passage of scripture, the children of Israel, after forty years in the wilderness are crossing Jordan into the Promise Land of Canaan.  While this land is the inheritance of God’s people it has been possessed by the ungodly nations.  Now has come the time when Israel is to enter in, not by their might and their strength, but by faith in their God.  Many believers today have the mentality that all I need to do is believe in Jesus, live my life and die and go to heaven.  God has used the natural promise land of Canaan to show us that as believers in Christ Jesus we also have a Promise Land to enter into and possess, the kingdom of heaven, that which was lost to us in the fall of Adam. Jordan is a type of that baptism into the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we are immersed in its water and come out the other side, we come out dead and no longer identified with ourselves, but alive unto the newness of life in Christ Jesus.  God is telling us that the land we have now entered into by faith, “It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”  God wants us to know that we are walking in a blessed land, one He cares for and watches over.  He is telling us we can enjoy and partake of the blessings of this land in our spiritual walk if we will faithfully obey His commands.  It will be a productive and prosperous land for us if we are careful to always put God first.

This walk of the Spirit, this possession of spiritual Canaan is not without its pitfalls and dangers.  We are possessing a land that has formally been filled with idolatry and every evil practice.  Even as the Spirit of Christ is fully possessing our souls and we are seeking to yield every area in obedience to Him, we come up against giants and strong spiritual forces in our lives that resist the Holy Spirit.  They are stronger than we are in ourselves, but ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus’.  ‘In Christ we can do all things’, but God would warns us as He did natural Israel, to guard our hearts against idolatry, where we place other things, desires and pleasures before Him.  He desires to bless us, but He requires of us faithful obedience.  It is very easy after we have gone through spiritual battles and experienced measures of victory in our lives to then fall into complacency which in turn lets our guard down and opens us up to falling into sin and idolatry.  That idolatry is anything we put before Him.

God goes on in this passage to tell the people that the way they can guard against this idolatry coming into their hearts is to continually, in every thing, in every way, everyday of the year, put the Word of God before them.   Read the Word, talk about it, tell your children continually about it, meditate upon it, even put it on your person or in conspicuous places where you will be continually reminded of your God and who you are in Christ.  This is imperative to maintaining a God perspective identity and in return, enjoying the fellowship you have with Him in the spirit and the blessings He has for you.  Our purpose in possessing this land is so that He might possess every part of us and we would experience the richness of His fellowship and presence, for that is indeed the manna and the taste of heaven.

Remember that the eyes of the Lord are upon you from the beginning to the end.  Make this a time for drawing nearer, living a deeper and more committed life in the Spirit and coming to know your God in a greater and more personal way.  May you be blessed with the rain and the waters of His spiritual blessing and presence as you personally walk, possess the land and live for Him.

Blessings,

#kent

Desire Wisdom

January 30, 2019

Desire Wisdom

 

Proverbs 2:1-11

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom

and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

 

Among the things that we covet, desire and pursue in the earth, is wisdom one of the primary things?  Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”  Godly wisdom is a much neglected thing and yet just the word “wisdom” is used some 234 times throughout the Word of God, so one might get the impression it is a more important aspect in God’s eyes than many of us realize.  It is far too exhaustive to cover thoroughly in this brief study, but let’s just let God’s Word instruct us in this area today.

First, what is wisdom?  Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.”  James 3:17 tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  It is godly guiding principles of life that helps one to produce the fruit of godliness in their life and walk.

How does one obtain it?  Job 28:28, Proverb 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 pretty closely agree and bear witness to each other that, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy (to depart from evil) [is] understanding.” It says that fools will despise wisdom and instruction.  So, if you be among the wise, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;(Proverbs 2:2) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly (Proverbs2:6-7).”

Why is it so important?  Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.”  It is so important, because learning wisdom is learning the way of the Lord.  It is our instruction and way of salvation.  It is the path that leads to life.   Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell [it] not; [also] wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”  I think this is a key verse to understanding a couple of passages in the New Testament.  If we think about this wisdom as like the oil of godly understanding, of principled living, of the knowledge which leads us into relationship and intimacy with Him, then we might get a little insight into Matthew 25:1-13.  The parable about the ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish.  We just learned that the foolish are those who despise wisdom.  The reason they despise wisdom is because wisdom demands great reverence and respect for God, as well as obedience.  The foolish want to go their own way, be complacent and do their own thing.  Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly [is] joy to [him that is] destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly” Can any of us see that folly in ourselves?  They were all virgins.  They were all looking for Christ’s coming, but we see two different conditions of the heart, one acceptable and one not.   Wisdom is not something you have in a moment of time, it something that you cultivate, grow and mature into.  Wisdom is revealed to those that love her, seek after, cherish and respect her.  She is a relational creature and one you must grow in relationship with.   Proverbs 19:8 says, “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”  Ecclesiastes 2:13 says, “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”

Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, [and] strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure”  “My son, attend unto my wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1).”  Perhaps through these many passages and exhortations of wisdom we are given even more a sense and gravity to the exhortation of Revelations 3:15, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.  So because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and the miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayes become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest cloth thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.   As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.”  This is the exhortation to the foolish virgin to go get and buy wisdom before it is too late.

Let us pursue wisdom whereby our lamps are filled with oil and we are not filled with a false sense of security and riches; but of a truth, we are rich in the wisdom and the mind of our God.

Blessings,

#kent

The Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

The Struggles with Sin

January 23, 2019

 

The Struggles with Sin

 

John 8:32-34

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: [but] the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

Sin is a word that means to fall short or miss the mark.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  This is where the grace of God has come in, through Christ, to stand in the place of our shortcomings and be our righteousness through faith in Him and the blood that He shed for our sin.

Let me use perhaps a crude example to illustrate a point.  Many of us may not play golf, but probably all of us know the object of the game is to get the little white ball in 18 different little cups by hitting it with various golf clubs in the least number of strokes possible.  Now there have been and are now some extraordinary golfers that could play this better than most anyone else, but I’ve never heard of a golfer who has ever played 18 holes and made all of them on the first stroke.  Even the best of them miss the mark. The fact is, it is humanly impossible to make each hole in only one hit.  What if one day there was a golfer, who did it, he played the ultimate game and did what no man had ever done?  What if he then said, “Everyone that will golf with me and play the game my way even when he misses a stroke it will not be counted against Him.”  Suddenly there is a possibility that we can play a perfect game as long as we remain in the perfect golfer.  The truth is many are more concerned about playing there own game there own way no matter how many strokes it takes them.  These are the servants of sin or missing the mark.  If they were abiding in this master golfer then their strokes would be forgiven and not be counted against them, but because they want to do it their way then their strokes will count against them.  They will be judged and scored accordingly.

A servant of sin is one determined to live life in his own abilities, in his own way and for his own end.  While he may acknowledge the master golfer, he is still determined to play the game his way.  This is the way sin is in our lives.  Christ came to set us free from sin.  We have all played the game of life our own way.  Some of us better than others, but all of us are falling short.  The only way to play the perfect game is to be in the perfect golfer.   We are being made perfect in Christ, not because we never fail or fall short, but because Christ is our righteousness by faith.  When the Father looks upon us He see His Son who is perfect and the fulfillment of righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We are complete in Him.  If we say that we are in Him, but still want to play our own game, by our own rules then aren’t we living a lie?

All of us have struggles with sin.  We all have areas in our lives where we are weak and prone to fall into sin more than others do.  We are pretty good at pointing the finger at the weaknesses and sins of others that we deem worse than our own.  The greatest sin for any of us is an unsubmitted heart to the Father through our trust in the Son.  If we are weak in an area and are overcome by our sin, often we will try to justify it by saying God made us this way, or I can’t help the way I am.  We latch hold of the victim mentality that says it is someone else’s fault.  When we take this position we negate what Jesus said, “.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  When we come to Christ sometimes we are completely delivered from the strongholds in our lives, but more often than not we must learn to overcome and conquer these areas by the strength and life of the Lord in us.  We may spend a good deal of our lives struggling in these areas.  What we find is that our greatest deliverance is losing our lives in His.  When Christ becomes our foremost love and passion, when He becomes more and more, these other passions become less and less.  For anything to have life, it must be fed whether it is the life of God in us or the demons of our weaknesses and sins.  What we feed grows, what we starve dies.  If you are struggling with an area of sin in your life, your victory is not in your strength and ability, your victory is in your identification with His life and relinquishment of your will and desires to His.  An exchange must be in progress, old life for new, death to self that gives place to life in the Spirit.  The reality of our faith is not always seen immediately in the outward realm, it is first at work and reality in our spirit and in our heart before it becomes a reality in the natural realm of our being.  Romans 6:4-7, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

Blessings,

#kent

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