Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Christian Community Living

October 16, 2017

Christian Community Living

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Often we find ourselves a living contradiction to the exhortation of God’s Word.   Most of us have a Christian community among whom we associate and fellowship, It may be in or out of a local church, but we have a family of Christian friends.  It is very easy for all of us to find ourselves making criticisms and judgements about those within our family.  Perhaps they are making the same type of observations and criticisms of us.  None of us are so naïve that we think that our Christian community and even ourselves are without faults and shortcomings.  As long as our humanity exists outside the full redemption and transformation of Christ we will have trouble in paradise. 

We must ask ourselves what is our function in Christ? Is it to tear down or to build up?  Why do we tolerate all of the faults that each one of us has personally within ourselves?  We don’t have a choice while we are living; we either have to change what we can change and give ourselves grace and forgiveness for the rest or end our life altogether.  If Christ has commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves, then don’t we need to extend that same grace and tolerance to others within our Christian circle and especially toward our leadership?  They are not going to do everything the way we would, but they need our prayers and support, not our criticism and condemnation.  The first people that we must extend kindness and the fruit of the Spirit towards is our brethren. 

Sometimes we all need a rebuke or exhortation.  Sometimes we really need encouragement and understanding.  Sometimes we just need those who will love and accept us for who we are.  We should find all of that operating in our Christian community out of love.  We need to take care of and minister to one another as we would our selves. 

Experience the joy of the Lord in your living.  Pray and put the Lord at the forefront of all of your needs or the needs you see in others.   Pray and thank the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving, even before you see the answers to your prayers.  Let faith arise in our hearts from the moment we make our petitions to our Father in heaven. 

Let us not quench the Spirit, but create an environment of worship and praise where the Holy Spirit feels welcome and has freedom to move through each one of us and to allow the gifts that God has imparted unto each one of us to have expression.  We must listen, learn and discern the voice and the word of the Lord.  What we hear may be a new thing, but it will not go contrary to the Word of God, but the Word of God will affirm it if it is of Him. 

God is working His salvation in us spirit, soul and body.  It is a process and we are all at different stages in the process.  Let us extend love, grace, help and mercy to one another.  Let us be long-suffering, over looking the faults and seeing the needs in one another.  Allow God’s life to flow through you to be the blessing to your community: the vessel of peace and love that He has intended.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding God

October 12, 2017

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Finding God

The beginning of truly finding God is in finding the end of you.  We become less as He becomes more.  It is as we open the windows of our soul that He begins to flood it with His light.  His truth searches our inward parts revealing the areas in us that are contrary to His nature.  If He were to reveal the full extent or our wretchedness we would no doubt despair and flee from Him.  In His love, God deals with us through the process of time and life to little by little transform who we are as we will give place to the Holy Spirit to work in us and lead us to repentance in the various areas of our lives. 

Self stands more in the way of our pursuit and relationship with the Lord, no doubt more than anything else does.   This is the reason the work of the cross is so imperative in our lives, along with God’s discipline and correction.  It is the working of death to our flesh that enhances the flavor of His life upon our being.  It only makes sense that the more given we are to ourselves, the less given we are to the Lord.  Romans 8:5-7 teaches us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”  I don’t believe it is God’s desire to afflict us or to try us just for the sake of seeing us suffer.  I believe it is God’s heart to bless and prosper us, but if we are not tempered in Christ we will give way to the glory of this world, rather than use our blessing to be a blessing. 

Everyday, in each one of us, God is moving, shaping, stretching, hammering, firing and working His grace in us.  We are His workmanship in the process of being fashioned in His true image, nature and likeness.  Rejoice in all things.  Find your joy in the Lord through all the stages of your life.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13:20-21

Blessings,

#kent

Companionships and Friends

September 27, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Companionships and Friends

As you go through life choose your friends and companionships among the people you most want to be like and who represent the highest standard.  Among them you will always be challenged to come up higher and to be more.  From that foundation of godly friends, you can help influence others that need a higher vision and that struggle with baser issues. 

Many times we are drawn into friendships with those we want to help, encourage and bring up higher, but the Word warns us that it can have the opposite effect.  We tend to become like the people we hang out with.  The Word asks us, “what fellowship has light with darkness”.  We can’t bring our light to them by partaking of their darkness.  When we are operating out of a place where our strong friendships are with strong believers then we strengthen each other to minister into those places of darkness where our love longs to help those who are still bound by sin’s cords.  We can never take for granted that we are beyond temptation.  With like-minded companions and a body of believers we can stand together in the power of prayer, the Word and the unity of our faith to bring others up into the light. 

I used an illustration with my children one time.   I put two of them on the stairs with the one up higher trying to pull the lower one up, but when the one on the lower step pulled back, they could easily see that it was easier to pull someone down than it is to pull them up.  I used this to illustrate to them about the friendships they choose.  Our heart and intention can be good, that doesn’t mean we can’t be pulled down. 

When Jesus sent the disciples out, He didn’t send them alone they went in pairs.  In Acts when the apostles went on their missions, they didn’t go alone.  When we want to bring our light into the realms of darkness, it is better that we don’t go alone, but they we take another strong believer or believers.  Together we have each other’s back and can see things that one of us alone may not see. 

Let the company that is in darkness be the ones you reach out to in love, but love doesn’t become a part of their darkness.  It calls others up higher, but doesn’t dwell where they are.  It only identifies with where they are, so that it can bring them into the identity Father wants them to have. 

 

blessings,

#kent

Failures that don’t end in Defeat

Micah 7:7-10

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.

We have all known times of failure in our life and most of us have experienced the Lord’s rod of correction.  There are times when we have stubbornly pursued our own interests and pleasures to only find bitterness and sorrow at the end of what we thought we had to have.  Our sin has consequences and many of us can testify of the great pain and suffering we have had to endure because of our foolish disobedience. 

In those moments of failure, when the house that we have built upon the sand is washed away, we may stand in utter shame and humiliation that we have come to this point in our lives.  We may almost think the world and the ones that we loved would be better off without us.  We have had to fully confront our iniquity and the failure which has resulted from it.  How can we even face God or the ones who loved and respected us?   We see failure written all over us, what do we have to live for and have to offer now? 

Our scripture today is one of hope and encouragement to the person who feels like a failure. In this scripture we have a nation of God that failed Him and had to suffer the reproach and the discipline of His correction.  The one thing we have to know about our God is though He will discipline us; He will never stop loving us.  He has a tender heart for the one who is truly repentant and will set their heart upon Him again.  After all, that is what discipline is for, to show us the error of our ways and bring us back to righteousness.  No matter how low we go, God never stops loving us, but a man without hope or faith is dead.  Without hope there is no way but down.  Hope causes us to look up into the loving eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father and say; “Can you still use this broken pot?”  It is our hope and faith in the Lord that believes that though we sit in darkness the Lord will be our light.  Christ will plead our cause and will be our advocate.  He will lift me again out of my place of darkness and bring me back into the light of His salvation.  All those who cursed me and judged me will be put to shame for though I was defeated I don’t have to fail.  The Lord is our victory and He is our good success.  When we were willing, through repentance, to relinquish the failure that we were; God begins to form a new man fashioned in the form of victory and uprightness.  He is a man that rises out of the ashes of failure to find victory and purpose again in His God. 

Only God can take our failures and defeats and turn them for good.  When our enemies think they have nailed our coffin shut, then God will raise us up to their shame.  You can trust that it won’t be in our time, it will be in His time.  No matter how bad we mess up and no matter how bad we fail God, our loved ones and even ourselves, all hope is not lost if we will put our eyes back on Jesus.  His love and forgiveness can reach into the deepest hell and depravity and set the captive free.    No one else and no other God can do that but Him.  Our failures don’t have to end in defeat, in fact they may be what bring us to our ultimate victory in Christ and our enemies will be put to shame before us. God can still brings us back into the light of His salvation and grace.  ‘As long as there is life, there is hope.’

 

Blessings,

#kent

Meddling Hands

September 4, 2017

Meddling Hands

Proverbs 26:17

Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

This is an interesting proverb like so many of them are.  What happens when you seize a dog by its ears?  There is pretty good chance you could get bit.  Dogs are rather sensitive around their ears and so are people when others meddle where they have no business.  We often get rather wise in our own eyes and think we have the insight and answer into another person’s problem.  It may seem so obvious to us, so why shouldn’t we just go and set them straight?  God wants us to learn a principle through this parable; not everyone else’s business is our business.  There will be times He may use you to council and offer insight to someone that is seeking advice and help, but often we get a little premature with our opinions and our perceived wisdom.  We are going to set someone straight rather they have asked us too or not.  There are times we need to bite our tongue and just stay out of someone else’s affairs.  We may end up causing more damage than good.  Even if you have the right answers, there is wisdom in letting others learn from their own experience. 

There have been times when my wife and I have been fussing with one another in the presence of our parents and we may have been hoping that mom or dad might jump in on our defense.  There have been many times that I have seen my mom, especially, bite her tongue.  I knew she had an opinion, but there was a wisdom that kept her from sharing it.  She knows that the minute she sides with my wife or myself, she is going to alienate the other.  She has no doubt learned from experience that it is better that we two work it out than that she interjects her opinion.  She has learned not grab the dog by the ears.  Too many times we can end up causing more damage than we do good by getting involved in things that don’t directly concern us. 

Take care in the advice and the opinions you give.  Use wisdom and discretion when dealing with the affairs of others.  The better council might be as Jesus offered the two brothers who came to him arguing of their inheritance in Luke 12:13-15, “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”  Jesus didn’t meddle in who was wrong and who was right; He spoke to the spirit that was at work in both of their hearts, the spirit of covetousness.  Rather than getting involved in the issues of others we may be wiser to reinforce the principles of God’s word.  Usually our issues are with the heart and not with just surface agendas.  Be careful where you meddle. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

Clothed and Walking

August 31, 2017

Deuteronomy 8:1-6

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Clothed and Walking

If we truly want to know God’s provision in every circumstance in our lives then we must experience what it is not to have.  We have to experience the night before we truly appreciate what it is to have the light of day.  Often we don’t always understand the things we must go through, the losses that we must endure and why sometimes God doesn’t seem there for us.  We all have our own wilderness journey in one form or another.  Through it all we have been tested to see what was in our hearts.  Would we continue to trust God, even when He didn’t seem to show up, meet our need or answer our prayer?  When things didn’t go our way, did we blame Him?  Many of life’s heartaches and hardships have really tested us to see when we couldn’t understand His hand would we trust His heart.  Yet in those times as we look back, we see the subtle grace of God at work helping us, comforting us and giving us strength when we had no more of our own. 

Some of us are at this place in our walk right now.  We are struggling with finances, with health, with relationships or job issues.  Sometimes we reach that point where we want to just rebel, get mad or give up.  Your heart is being tested.  It is not out of meanness or lack of caring, but when a muscle is stretched and pushed beyond limits, it must continue to grow in order to meet the demands placed upon it.  It is not easy.  It is painful.  What we forget is that we are not just an ordinary people, we are an extraordinary people.  We are becoming that because God is taking us the extra mile and stretching us beyond our human limitations.  He is preparing us for extraordinary times. Yet as we will respond to Him in faith and obedience, we see His grace at work in supernatural ways in other areas of our life. 

God is separating us from our reliance upon our flesh and our dependence upon this world.  He is stretching us to know supernatural provision and strength.  We don’t find that when we are in pursuit of worldly goods or earthly fame and significance.  We find it in the humility of walking in His discipline and discipleship.  We will never fully appreciate the bread that is our provision until we first pursue and find the bread that feeds our spirit and our soul.   We could say, “seek ye first the bread of life, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Jesus tells the followers that pursued Him after He fed the multitude in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that manna which came out of heaven, the king and the kingdom of God.   It is not in the attainment of physical needs and wants that we are filled and completed, it is in our partaking of Him in personal relationship, faith and obedience that we find the true bread of life.  When you have truly found Him, then all of your superficial needs are met as well.   That need that we have is not always seen and met in the present tense, but it is met in faith as we embrace Him.

God is our loving heavenly Father who disciplines us as His sons.  He is often willing that our flesh would suffer so that our spirits may grow.  Most of us are, a here and now kind of people.  We are most concerned with what we are facing right here and right now.  Be not concerned with the cares of the moment, God is seeing you in a much greater role, one in which you must be tested, tried and proven.  That is just as He was doing in Joseph when through years of suffering and hardship, God was all the time preparing Him for leadership and government.  Could Joseph have faithfully and adequately done what he did for Egypt, if God had not prepared and raised Him in His purpose through strong discipline and adversity?  Like he told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  You may think the devil is out to destroy you, but what he would mean for evil, God will use for good.  Romans 12:12 exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”  If you are enduring the discipline of the Lord, then rejoice, because God has marked you for better things.  What He has called you too, He will prepare you for. 

We are no longer walking in this worldly economy as kingdom people are; we are walking in a kingdom economy and for a kingdom purpose.  In this journey God will clothe you with His righteousness that will not wear thin and He will put the strength in your feet to walk the walk of the cross as He shods them with the preparation of the gospel.  We are people that are rich beyond measure, but our riches are not measured by earthly standards.  God is our standard and in Him there is no lack or weakness.  Let us pursue Him who is our bread of life, provision and godliness.  In Him we will know no lack.  Even in our correction He will sustain us. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Problem between Our Ears

Proverbs 23:7

For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he…

Self- perception is based on many things.  It comes from our experiences, our relationships and the input we receive from the world around us.  What we believe about ourselves is not always true, but it is true to us, because that is the reality that we see in our own mind.  What makes a young lady that is bulimic and anorexic to the point that she is skin and bones, continue to believe in her own mind that she is still fat.  It is not a reality issue; it is a perception issue.  As a photographer I have people come in quite often that are very critical of themselves in their images.  They will pick out perceived flaws that no one else would see.  So often our perceptions are formed by the input we get back from the world around us.  We are using that to evaluate if we are acceptable, or smart, or pretty, or successful.  Our dependency upon the world around us to shape our self-perception and values is often what cripples us.  Those we are looking too in shaping our perception are often flawed in their own perceptions so our premise for evaluating our worth based on the input of others is like building a house on sand.  Add to this the condemnation, accusations and the lies of satan, we can get pretty messed up.  The Word tells us that’ faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ (Romans 10:17).  The way we form a well-rounded perception of ourselves is through the Word of God.  If you are going to believe what somebody says about you, then believe what God says about you, because He doesn’t lie. 

There are a lot of us that are carrying a lot of baggage around with us that is tearing us up and it is destroying our relationships with the people that we care about and that we really love.  Sometimes we don’t even understand why we act and respond the way that we do.  This is where the Lord wants to set us free.  Often it is a lot of these misperceptions that we have formed from past negative experiences that we are using to evaluate our relationships now.  Because of the pain, hurt, abuse or disappointment of past relationships and experiences we allow fear to come in and tell us that our current relationships are going to happen the same way. We become convinced that we are going to get hurt, so we transfer that past negative experience into our present one and start responding defensively to protect ourselves from perceived hurt.  Often we can end up sabotaging a meaningful relationship and even marriage, because of these past experiences that we are bringing into the present.

I don’t pretend to be a psychiatrist, but the thing that is going to set us free is when we recognize that our values and perceptions are often warped.  We need a plumb line so that we can establish values and perception that are based on truth and not on a lie.  It is the Word of God that is that plumb line for us.  We have to align ourselves with what God thinks of us and what His values are for us.  Many of us need to really ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and reveal where our values are distorted and wrong.  Sometimes we need to look back at our past to honestly evaluate where certain values and feelings about things were formed.  As the Holy Spirit reveals these things then we can give those issues and perceptions to Him and ask for the Lord’s healing and change in those areas. 

You see, it is not the outward that is really you.  We can outwardly act many different ways.  The true man is as he thinks he is in his heart.  Heart change comes from a heart relationship with the Lord.  He wants to make you and your relationships whole and healthy.  He wants to give right perspective and the perception of who He says you are.  He probably has a much higher opinion of you than you have of yourself.  He values you and He wants you to be able value yourself based on what He is and is becoming within you.  Allow Him the place and open up your heart so that He can come in and begin to heal you and make you whole again.  Feed on what God has to say to you through His Word rather than what others say to you or about you.  Start responding to what the Word says rather than to feelings and emotions that surface in certain situations.  He can give us the balance we need in our lives and He alone can fix that problem we have between our ears.

 

Blessingd,

#kent

Restoration

August 16, 2017

Jeremiah 31:18-20

“I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.

Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented;

after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’

20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.

Restoration

Ephraim, for point of reference, was the younger one of the two sons of Joseph.  Jacob blessed him and his older brother Manasseh and the two were counted as one of the tribes of Israel.  Ephraim, though, he was the younger, Jacob blessed as the older, declaring that in him Israel would be blessed (Genesis 48).  Ephraim is often used as a name synonymous with Israel.  Jeremiah speaks this passage toward the end of Israel’s captivity in Babylon as they look forward to a time of freedom and restoration. 

It is the loving discipline of the Father that prevents us from reaping our own destruction.  If God tears down and destroys, He does it for the purpose of discipline, cleansing and restoration.  God’s discipline deals with the unruliness of our hearts as they stray from Him and forget His precepts and His ways.  It is God’s discipline that leads us to repentance and repentance leads us to restoration of fellowship and relationship lost through our sin and rebellion. 

God dealt very harshly with His nation Israel.  He allowed the destruction of their country, of their city, Jerusalem and even the glorious temple, which Solomon had built.  God will destroy the flesh, so that He may preserve the spirit.  Even in God’s anger, His love runs deep for His people.  We can readily see that in Jeremiah 31: 20 as God says, “Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.” 

God’s heart is for us even when we have sinned and turned away from Him.  He ever abides faithful, even when we have been faithless.  Hebrews 12:4-12 is such a rich encouragement to us as God’s children that God disciplines us out of His love and not His anger.  “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  Many of us are already in a place of discipline or soon will be.  Judgement begins at the house of God.  God is disciplining and judging us so that His house may be in order before He judges the world.  It is our discipline and godly correction that will prepare our hearts and lives for a great ingathering of souls into the kingdom.  We are His sons and as much as Papa loves us, He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  Let us faint not or feel condemned of the Lord.  God is dealing, exposing and judging us so that our repentance will lead us to a restoration into the fullness of His purpose and plan for our lives.  Father is all about our restoration and not our destruction, but sometimes old things have to be torn down that better things might be built.  If you are undergoing urban renewal in your life then rejoice, for the Father is at work in you to do His good will and pleasure.  You are the son of His love and the product of His restoration and grace.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Tell Them I Am Coming!

August 14, 2017

Tell Them I Am Coming!

2 Thessalonians 1:4-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

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