In Times of Discouragement

October 11, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But 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.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

In Times of Discouragement

 

As believers we all face those times of discouragement, testing and trial where in the natural we would want to give up, give in and walk away from our faith.  Perhaps none faced more assault in the spiritual arena than did Paul.

How did he make it through?

It was because he knew his identity in Christ that he was able to endure all the assaults of darkness and the daily trials of life.  He knew the “all surpassing power” that didn’t come from self, but from “Christ in him.”  He had a revelation of that being identified with Christ is not just about the blessing, but drinking from the same cup that He drank from.  The cup of suffering.

I had a glimpse of revelation the other day as I was listening to the passage of James and John’s mother asking if her sons could set upon each side of the throne of Jesus. Jesus replied in Matthew 20:22-23 with this statement, “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Jesus’ disciples, like most of us, have the perception that serving Christ is all about the glory.

When Jesus said, “now am I a glorified” in between where he stood and the glory was the cross.  Romans 8:17-18 Paul declares, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The suffering, the death and the cross are all elements that precede the glory.

Jesus finishes this passage in Matthew by saying, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Our faith in Christ is not first about getting, but about giving.  It is not about us being served, but about us becoming the servants of Christ in serving others.  It is in the death of our carnal and mortal man that the life of Christ is released, which we carry.  Paul realized that the troubles, the trials, the distress, the hardship, the death to self are merely the bridge that leads to the surpassing glory of our inheritance in Christ.

When we read this passage in Corinthians most of us have no idea or comprehension of that kind of suffering and sacrifice.  We are so easily discouraged by someone who has offended us or some trial that we pass through.  Men like Paul virtually lived in the place of trial and hardship and they did so because of who they were in Christ and who Christ was in them.  They did so because in the pouring out of their life, others were able to receive the gospel and live.  They truly were living sacrifices poured out to the glory of Jesus.  They didn’t live for the momentary blessings and substance of this world like so many of us do. They were willing to be totally spent in life and substance for the kingdom of God because they saw a greater eternal weight of glory before them that so outweighs these momentary earthly afflictions.

Paul says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

If Paul heard what our complaints are and where our discouragement comes from he would probably laugh and tell us we need to suck it up.  We need to get over ourselves and realize it is not about us, it is about Christ in us and the kingdom that we serve.  We have been so pampered in our faith and theology that we know very little about what it is to drink from the cup of suffering and yet this is a very real part of our faith.

When we are going through our momentary trials and feeling a little discouraged, let’s just look back at Jesus, Paul, the apostles and saints and what they endured and gave up.  Let us remember who we are in Christ and who He is in us that we may be willing to face whatever is before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Let us be encouraged by the lives of the saints that went before us and willingly gave so much at such a great price.  They did not lose heart, how much less should we?

Blessings,

#kent

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Shadow of Death Standing in the Window

 

Proverbs 7

1Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. 2Do what I say and you’ll live well.

My teaching is as precious as your eyesight–guard it! 3Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart. 4Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion. 5They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress– that smooth-talking, honey–tongued Seductress. 6As I stood at the window of my house looking out through the shutters, 7Watching the mindless crowd stroll by, I spotted a young man without any sense 8Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived, then turning up the path to her house. 9It was dusk, the evening coming on, the darkness thickening into night. 10Just then, a woman met him– she’d been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him. 11Brazen and brash she was, restless and roaming, never at home, 12Walking the streets, loitering in the mall, hanging out at every corner in town.

13She threw her arms around him and kissed him, boldly took his arm and said, 14″I’ve got all the makings for a feast– today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid, 15So now I’ve come to find you, hoping to catch sight of your face–and here you are! 16I’ve spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed, colorful imported linens. 17My bed is aromatic with spices and exotic fragrances. 18Come, let’s make love all night, spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking! 19-20My husband’s not home; he’s away on business, and he won’t be back for a month.” 21Soon she has him eating out of her hand, bewitched by her honeyed speech.

22Before you know it, he’s trotting behind her, like a calf led to the butcher shop, Like a stag lured into ambush 23and then shot with an arrow, Like a bird flying into a net not knowing that its flying life is over. 24So, friends, listen to me, take these words of mine most seriously. 25Don’t fool around with a woman like that; don’t even stroll through her neighborhood. 26Countless victims come under her spell; she’s the death of many a poor man. 27She runs a halfway house to hell, fits you out with a shroud and a coffin.

 

How many of us have taken our eyes off of the Lord to look over and see a beautiful silhouette standing in the window.  Our eyes are drawn to her and our heart desires to know her.  We are enticed by our senses to go with her.  Her name is sin and temptation and her ways lead to death and destruction.  She is the shadow of death, standing in the window, clothed in seductive beauty, she calls out to us.  She flirts with us and strokes our ego.  With sweet wine in one hand, she entices us to drink with her, while behind her back she holds a dagger of pain, destruction and death.

Such can be the indiscretions of our life, when we become distracted from the faithful lover of our soul and enticed by the desires of our flesh into areas that can become our ruin and the hurt of many around us.  It is faithful obedience to God’s Word and instruction that warns us.  It is that intimate continual relationship that keeps our eyes only on Him.  We can all play the fool and we know the hurt and destruction that yielding to temptation can bring, yet, too often, we allow our flesh, our passion and desire to overrule the truth we know in our heart.  Just as love is often blind, we allow ourselves to become blind and stop our ears to reason and truth.  Maybe the Lord is speaking to some hearts today that we are heading down this path of sin.  He wants us to see this woman for what she is, an instrument of death and spiritual destruction.  Maybe this is your last warning before it is too late and you make that destructive choice in your life that will destroy you and your family.  God wants to break the spell of bewitchment and turns us back into the way of life.   See the silhouette in the window for the shadow of death that she is and turn back from the fire of her destruction.  Repent and turn back to the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

Dealing with Pain

September 24, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

But 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.

 

Dealing with Pain

 

Pain forces us to pay attention to the members that hurt.  Without it they would be ignored and instead of healing we would have loss.   Pain often causes us to slow down and focus on areas that we have taken for granted before.   It is pain that reminds of us of our weakness and causes us to look to God for strength.  Pain is something that none of us really want, but all of us need to balance and care for those areas that are weak and hurting.

As you go your way be aware of the pain around you and know that you may be God’s instrument and medication to bring comfort and help to that person that is hurting.

Perhaps you are the one that is in pain today, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  Don’t miss what God sends you in the simple things.  Allow your pain to move you into Him.  It is in our place of weakness that we find our greatest strength and it is not in us; it is in the Lord.  Don’t murmur or complain, but begin to rejoice and praise God in the midst of that pain.  Often it is this smith that is firing us and shaping us for our destiny and purpose.  Trust the Lord through those times of tribulation, pain and affliction.  Allow the pains of life to shape you in a right direction and attitude.  Allow it to make you stronger and not weaker.  It is often your pain that makes you most sensitive and responsive to the pain in others.   Pain is sometimes our prison, but praise is our liberator.  If satan would bruise God’s people, then let it release the precious incense and perfume of praise and worship.  Pain often causes us to reach deep within for strength and grace that only God can give us.  Pain and suffering often do a work that perfect health, prosperity and blessing could never do.  The preparation to rule and reign is often through the pain and suffering.

Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  Don’t receive the enemy’s condemnation or the thoughts that God is angry with you or doesn’t love you.  Whom He loves, He chastens that they might bear the precious fruits of righteousness.  Be encouraged if you are going through pain and suffering today.  The way up is through the way down and if you suffer in Christ, you shall also be glorified with Him.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.”  Keep your eyes upon Jesus rather you are in much or little, health or sickness, heartache or joy.  Know that the Lord is sufficient, so find your contentment and grace in Him.  Keep an eternal perspective and not just a temporal one.  ‘Though the outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.’  Live out of the inward man.  Let that which works death in our outward members release the life inwardly and let us become the fragrance of Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Joy Cometh in the Morning

September 14, 2018

 

Joy Cometh in the Morning

 

Psalms 30:5

For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

 

Where is your life spiritually today?  Would you characterize it as nighttime or daytime?  Most all of us, who have been walking in Christ for a time, know that we go through seasons in a spiritual sense.  There are times we go through such close intimate times with our Lord and sense His presence and love in such a wonderful way and then there are those nighttime experiences.  It may come as a result of allowing sin to come into our lives.  It may be the result of God’s chastening or dealings in our lives.  It may be through persecution or tribulation.   Whatever the reason it is nighttime experience, one in which we fail to sense God’s presence in our soul.  Our prayers may seem hollow and of none effect.  These are times when spiritually we cry out for God, perhaps it is in these times we really begin to seek God’s help, His presence, His deliverance through a trial or tribulation we are facing.  There are times our lives can feel pretty bleak.  Our circumstances are overtaking us.  Where is God?

King David experienced this nighttime ordeal before He became King.  Psalm 30:7-9 says, ”

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”  Perhaps you and I have prayed prayers similar to this.  One thing that is so admirable about David and I think a spiritual key to us overcoming in these dark times is that David, no matter how low, remembered the goodness and the faithfulness of GodHe continually brought God’s promises and His benefits before the Lord in his prayers and psalms.   And he never ceased to praise and thank God even in those dark times.  He was quite honest with God about what he was going through and the emotions that wanted to overtake him, but he always brought his thoughts and focus back to a place of faith in the faithfulness of God.  We may go through some long nights that may go for years, but learn those principles that David learned.  They will sustain you in those times. David even says an interesting thing in this passage, he says, ” by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face.”  Have you ever thought of your mountain as favor from God?  Remember that what God is allowing in your life is designed to press you into Him.  He wants us to learn and trust Him for who He is, not what He can do for us.  This is the place of maturing faith where the rubber meets the road.  God has to become very real to us or we give up and turn away.  God is processing us through the hardships of our life.   “The trial of your faith is much more precious than Gold” (1 Peter 1:7a)

In this scripture David says “joy does come in the morning”, our trials, darkness and seeming separation from God won’t last forever.  He is faithful to bring us through if we faithfully hold fast to Him.  David’s next expression after talking of how severe the trial says, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

If you are in your night season, don’t be discouraged, have hope, God has not forsaken you.  He is proving you and bringing you into whom you really are in Him.  Stand the test, stay the course, for joy comes in the morning.

Blessings,

#kent

They that Wait upon the Lord

September 13, 2018

They that Wait upon the Lord

 

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

 

What does it mean for us to wait upon the Lord?  The concordance says this phrase means to look for, hope, expect, to wait, linger or look eagerly for.  Those that have grown mature and rich in the Lord can tell you they have done so with much waiting upon the Lord.  As we wait for the Lord it is done with a heart of desire, expectation, longing, pursuing through prayer, worship, praise, thanksgiving and studying and searching of God’s Word.  They have invested their lives to know Him on a more intimate basis, so they know His voice and are full of the treasures of His truth.  The Lord most often doesn’t come to us on our timetable.  He can often seem illusive and distant, slow to answer by our estimation.  Do you suppose God is searching our hearts in this to find out how determined and in love with Him we truly are?

The society we live in wants everything instantly.  We don’t have time to wait.  Our lives are busy with many demands as we are pulled in so many directions.  It is so difficult for us to make that time just for the Lord.  I believe God sees the demands that are upon us and is not insensitive to commitments we must respond to.  But what about all the hours of leisure time we spend in watching television or our own pursuits.  We don’t think so much about waiting upon God then.

Jesus gives us some very interesting parables in Matthew 24 and 25 in the light of waiting upon the Lord and looking for His coming.  In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the ten virgins who took their lamps.   Five took oil (But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.) and five didn’t.  They all slumbered and slept.  There is time for resting and sleeping for all of us.  The difference comes in the preparation of the five wise.  Matthew 25:5-13, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, [Not so]; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”   We are the lamps of the Lord.  Our lives must be able to illuminate our world through the Spirit and Life that is within us.  If we have not taken the time to wait upon the Lord in the many ways that we build an intimate relationship with Him we’ve missed what it is to get oil for our lamps.  Many may sit in church every Sunday and hear the Word of God, but if it is just a head thing and not a heart thing where that Word gets down into our hearts and transforms us as we apply it, we’ve missed it.  The waiting on the Lord through spiritual acts of pursuit is what gives us the oil for our vessels.  It is in those times that the Holy Spirit comes to quicken God’s Word to our heart and make Himself known in ways we don’t always see outwardly.  The Lord reveals in this passage that He came for the ones who knew Him.  They may have all been virgins or Christians, but if the Lord says, “I never knew you” then you have never come into that place of intimacy that goes beyond a surface knowledge and relationship and into a covenant relationship.  That place where you share His Life, where He becomes the source, strength and dependence of your life.

Waiting upon the Lord is working and living in concert with the Holy Spirit.  If we are not waiting then we are either running ahead of the Lord or we are distracted to other things.  To wait upon the Lord is spend time in the Lord’s presence coming to know Him in the secret place.  It is a place we renew our strength and indeed find strength and abilities that rise above our natural ones.  Let’s find the wisdom of waiting on the Lord.  It is an eternally rewarding experience.

Blessings,

#kent

Wild Grapes

September 10, 2018

Wild Grapes

Isaiah 5:1-7

Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts [is] the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

 

This scripture could be as applicable to the Church today as it was of Israel of old.  We are His vineyard and are to be the fruit of His vine.  It is to be His life and the sweetness of His nature that is in us.  Would He say today of His vineyard that it brought forth wild grapes.  Are we seeing the true nature and character of Christ in the Church today?  Are we seeing justice, mercy and righteousness as the fruit of our works and lives?  Are we still double-minded and two-faced toward our Beloved, the keeper of the vineyard?  Does it ever amaze us how we can be spiritual around religious or spiritual settings, but then we see all of this worldly talk and attitudes coming out of us when we are around those in the world.  Would the world around us comprehend that we were truly a different type of grape; one that always tasted of the sweetness and flavor of Christ?

In Isaiah 5:11-13 it goes on to say, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because [they have] no knowledge: and their honourable men [are] famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” Is it possible that we still live this double life where we are for God on Sunday and certain occasions, but then we want to party and live the life of the world the rest of the time?  One day we wake up and find ourselves in spiritual bondage and oppression to the spirits of this world.  We find strongholds over our lives that we can’t seem to break out of and we are there because we have become wild grapes.  It says, “my people are gone into captivity, because of lack of knowledge.”  If we are not always focused on the purpose and calling we have in Christ then we will find ourselves drifting off course and left to drift off course we will find ourselves slowly drawn into that great maelstrom or whirlpool that draws us, slowly at first, but then faster and faster circling the drain of the destruction of sin.  “If the honorable men are famished and the multitude dried up with thirst ” what is that saying?  We are in spiritual drought; our spirit is languishing for lack of life and knowledge of God and His ways.  We must catch the vision of where God is going and what our part is in the journey.  We have to have knowledge and revelation of Him.  We have to know who we are and what we are becoming.  Are we becoming what Christ has planted in us?  Are we becoming the sweet grapes of His nature and character or are we becoming wild grapes that have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof?   Matthew 24:12 says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  Sin will always bring separation from God because it draws us away from His presence and fellowship.  On the other hand when we are pressing in to know Him and drawing near to Him, His presence will consume the sin in our lives and purify our hearts.

James 4:1-10 sums it up in a very practical way, “1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

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

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

What kind of grapes are we becoming today; the true fruit of His vine or wild grapes?

Blessings,
#kent

 

Never take your Blessing for Granted

 

 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest [when] thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt [therein]; And [when] thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

 

This is the condition we find our county in today.  We are a very blessed nation, like no other in the world.  Those of us, who know our historical roots, know that God has had his hand upon the establishment of this country and even the government that has been put in place.  We have been an example and demonstration of God’s goodness, provision and blessing.  We have been like the new Israel and many early settlers viewed it exactly that way.  God has shown His faithfulness to us time after time as He has kept this nation by the power of His loving hand.

Isn’t it ironic now, that the land of religious freedom and expression can’t even post the Ten Commandments in public places, have Bibles or talk about God in the schools in this country, but they can and now do these things in Russia, a land so long under religious tyranny and oppression?  What abomination is it that has taken hold of us that now we can’t even pray out loud or openly proclaim the God that established and blessed this nation.  Further, we see the efforts to remove, “In God We Trust” from our currency and “One nation under God” from our pledge of allegiance.  What spirit of darkness has come over our land that we legally kill our unwanted babies and want to recognize and sanctify homosexual marriages?   What spiritual blindness has gripped our hearts that we want to call good evil and evil good?  Supposedly we are a people ruled by the majority and polls tell us that there is still a majority in this country that believes in God.  How is it that we are not upholding His values and morals?   Have our hearts become so lifted up, as the scripture warns us, that we have forgotten our God?  Will we have to receive God’s firm correction and judgement because we have allowed our land to become polluted and defiled with ungodliness?  While many of us as Christians don’t like or agree with what we see going on, we are guilty of not becoming actively involved in raising up a voice and an outcry against such things.  Certainly we need godly men that can step into the places of leadership throughout our society and uphold a standard of righteousness and moral integrity.  Let us not be guilty of not participating in a democratic process that God has helped establish to make our voice known.  When we fail to act in righteousness, evil comes in by default.  A quote given by Edmond Burke an eighteenth century British statesman says, “”For evil to triumph it is enough only that good men do nothing”.   Is that about to be our epitaph?  God blessed us in our last election by placing a president in office that upholds these godly values and principles, but no man can do it alone.  We, as a people of God, we must raise up a standard against the spirit of wickedness that pervades our land.  Our complacency will be our demise and the loss of all that we hold dear.  We must establish again our Lord God, as the Lord and sovereign of our hearts and our nation.  Our family units must be preserved at all cost if we are to survive as a nation.  Marriage must again find its place of sanctity and respect that it once held.  We must become a nation that learns again what unselfishness and self- sacrifice is about if we want to our families preserved.  Our selfishness is proving to be our undoing.

With prayer and supplication our request must be made known before God for the state of our nation.  The battle is a spiritual battle, but it is played out in the natural arena of our daily lives, society and government.  James says that, “faith without works is dead.”  It is not just what we believe that is important, it is what we act on.  Each one of us has a vote and say.  Each one of us has representatives that are suppose to be listening to the voice of their constituents.  Are they hearing our voice or are we silent, doing nothing, allowing evil to triumph?

I am not one that is big on politics, but I feel the heart of God is that we need to stand up and be counted.  We have far too long let the voice of evil be vocal and consequently we have lost our spiritual heritage through our silence and passivity.  Dare to take up the weapons of spiritual warfare and fight the good fight both in the spiritual and natural realms.  We can no longer afford to be a silent majority unless we want to be an oppressed majority.

Blessings,

#kent

Sheep or Goat

August 9, 2018

 

Sheep or Goat

 

Matthew 25:32-46

“All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; 33And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left. 34Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, 36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? 38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. 41Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. 44Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? 45And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me, 46Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.”

 

Every day we either minister or fail to serve Christ.  For so many of us, we find ourselves so involved and caught up in what we are doing that we totally miss our mission and calling.  We miss and fail to take the time and invest our resources into others.  Many of us have built up a wall of resistance against those who cross our paths with needs.  Even if we are giving, there are so many people, organizations and causes constantly asking for money and finances for something that we tend to get hardened to the “giving” as a whole.  After all we have our own family to take care and worry about.  While I would agree that there are more causes and people demanding from us than what most of us have resources to meet, are we still staying in tune with the Holy Spirit?  Are we in relationship with Christ where we can move and give ourselves as He leads and impresses us rather than as everyone expects and demands from us?

When we look at the life of Jesus what impresses us about His giving?  Did He raise great sums of money to put in the temple treasury?  Did He get involved with every charitable organization or fundraiser?  The first thing He did is He tuned into the Father and what the Father’s will for Him was and then He carried it out in action.  He gave out of the well of His life and truth.

In John 6 we find that there are those that followed Jesus after He had fed the multitude, because they saw Him as a free meal ticket.  They try and guilt Jesus into giving to them by using scriptural coercion.  In John 6:30-35 we read this dialogue, “Our forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as the Scripture says, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.32Jesus then said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Moses did not give you the Bread from heaven [what Moses gave you was not the Bread from heaven], but it is My Father Who gives you the true heavenly Bread. 33For the Bread of God is He Who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world. 34Then they said to Him, Lord, give us this bread always (all the time)! 35Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time)…. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me.”  The true gifts and service that we offer will be from a heart that is one with the Father’s and that lives out of an attitude of giving and service.  When we live to serve, love and give to those around us then we live to serve and minister to Jesus.  It will be in the random acts of kindness, the times we help those who couldn’t help themselves and in the times when we gave even when others didn’t deserve it.  It is in a life that is lived for others and not just for self.  It is in taking the time and having the heart for others even when our own life is so demanding.  A sheep has a nature of a servant and was born to be a blessing.  A goat may go through the motions, but their heart is not in it.  They will never see the needs in others, because they are always blinded by their own.

Blessings,

#kent

Presumptuous Sin

July 20, 2018

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

 

Presumptuous Sin

 

               How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, they are about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading then haven’t we fallen into what might be for us a presumptuous sin? 

               We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.  

               We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

               Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life? 

               As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way. 

               A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us. 

               Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all of our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Feelings of Unworthiness

 

Luke 15:21-24

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

 

I think there are times when we all struggle with thoughts of unworthiness and condemnation as we approach and acknowledge the Lord.  Certainly there is no worth in our efforts or abilities to please God or appease Him for our sins.  Outside of the blood of Christ we could have no right standing and reconciliation with the Father.  Yet the heart of the Father stands at the window day after day and watches for His prodigal son to come home.  When the son came home the reconciliation that took place between the two of them was possible, because of the attitude of both of their hearts.  On the part of the Father there was the attitude of love, mercy, forgiveness and the strong desire for restored relationship.  On the part of the son, his attitude had changed from the arrogant, self-reliant, self-serving and selfish son that had left the Father to one who was broken through a revelation of his utter worthlessness and unworthiness that he possessed outside of the Father.  When we get a true revelation of what we are outside of the Father and the utter hopelessness and unworthiness apart from Him, we then have come to a condition and attitude that is right to approach Him.  This time we return in total humility, fearing and respecting our Father.  This time our heart is fully aware of its unworthiness of ever again being called a son.  This time we come with a heart that is broken by the awareness of our sin and repentant with the willingness to fully turn from it.  Both heart conditions were present for the full reunion and reconciliation of the Father and son to take place.

Even as believers we come to the times in our lives when we have rebelled, been self-willed or let sin enter in.  One day we wake-up spiritually and realize how bankrupt we have become because we have forsaken the relationship we had with the Father.  We have turned our back on our sonship for selfish pursuits.  Eventually we return to the realization that without the life and the blessing of the Father, we are spiritually blind, poor, wretched and naked.  We have become spiritually bankrupt and void of self-worth.  For a time we are willing to work in the pig pens and the filth of the world we have again partaken of.  Eventually, through the leanness and the spiritual hungering of our soul, we decide that we would like to return to the Father.  We find ourselves living under the cruel taskmaster of guilt, condemnation and unworthiness that is telling us you are totally unworthy and disqualified from ever having a relationship with the Father again.  Maybe you even felt like you had committed the unpardonable sin.  “How could Father ever again love and receive back a wretch and failure like me?”

Our Father is a God of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.  1 Timothy 1:15 says, “This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”  While we may still have to face the consequences of our sin and rebellion the Lord has not shut us out into the cold.  He says, “The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:19)” If we are willing to return to the Lord with the attitude of brokenness and repentance; then the Lord is willing to receive us and deliver from that taskmaster of condemnation and guilt.  John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Don’t allow the feelings of unworthiness and condemnation rob you from a restored relationship.  All who are in Christ Jesus have come to know that none of us have any standing or worth in God of ourselves.  Jesus paid the price for our sin.  He alone was righteous and worthy.  When we become identified with Him and the cross He makes us worthy through His righteous blood.  We must simply appropriate what He has already done by faith in the name of Jesus and the blood of the Lamb.  “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. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”

If you are struggling with feelings of unworthiness or if you have strayed or perhaps have yet to find you way to the Father’s house.  Jesus is still the way.  He is the Restorer and the Redeemer of your soul.  With a right attitude of heart return to Him and He will receive you again to Himself.

Blessings,

#kent

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