Submit One to Another

June 13, 2018

 

Submit One to Another

 

Ephesians 5:21

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

 

We are all about our rights and life is so much about us, but this simple scripture should put it all in perspective from God’s point of view.  It is all about lives in service to the King of Kings and consequently in service to one another.  The members of my body aren’t concerned about which gets the most attention or is most favored, but they are concerned about which one is suffering the most.  The members of my body exist to work together in unity for the good of the whole and not the individual part.  Doesn’t God want us to work together the same way in our marriages, families and relationships with the body of Christ?  We have one Head and none of us are it, so we need to be about the cause of Christ for the unity and wholeness of His body and not our individual agendas and dogmas.  God has an order of authority and all authority under Him should have His will and purpose foremost in mind.  The exercise of submission is an exercise of love.  His Love, expressing itself through us in righteousness, is what we live for.

Blessings,

#kent

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Birthing the Promise

June 11, 2018

Birthing the Promise

 

Ecclesiastes 3:10

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

 

Many of us have been believing and pressing into God for different needs and areas in our lives where we are trusting for a miracle or a breakthrough from the Lord.  Perhaps we have grown weary and have wanted to give up.  It may have seemed everything has been against us.  Though we have sought the Lord we may not have received any distinct word other than “just trust Him”.  Though we have been faithful to try and trust Him it doesn’t mean fear, doubt and unbelief haven’t tried to creep in to unsettle us, discourage us and defeat us.  Perhaps we have tried to do everything right.  We’ve even prayed about anything that may be hindering our answer to prayer.  Still it may seem nothing is coming together, there is no immediate answer in sight and when we do get a hopeful prospect to our answer it falls through and we are left empty and disappointed.  Still we encourage ourselves in the Lord.  We continue to praise Him in our adversity and trust Him in our need.  In the natural you wonder if this dream you have, this vision, this need for God’s touch will ever come to pass.

When a woman carries the promise of baby in her womb she has joy, not because she has seen the face of her promised seed, but she knows that life is growing inside her and in due season it will come forth.  God’s promises to us are often like that fetus in the womb of our soul.  All we have is the promise, the expectation, and the anticipation of what God has promised and quickened in us, that it will come to pass.  Every woman that has born a child naturally will testify that there comes a day when it is time to birth, but in between the promise and the fulfillment is this little thing called ‘labor or travail’.  In that place there is often extreme and intense pain to bring forth this promise that has grown in her womb.  At the time she may feel like there is no way she can handle the pain or that she will make it through the process.  It will often bring her to the end of herself.  This same principle is true for us who are trying to give birth to a vision, a dream or a need that we have in us.  In the process of trying to birth it, everything in the natural is telling us we are going to die and fail in the process.  We are pressed to the extremes of our faith and trust in God, as we are desperately trying to hold fast to His Word and our hope in Him.  The Lord wants to encourage us today to not give up, to continue to hold fast because you are in the stages of travail and our faith is being exercised and stretched like it never has before.  The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are our labor coaches encouraging us that we can make it, that God is faithful, don’t fear only believe.

When we look back through the Word of God we can see so many examples of the trying of men’s faith and the travail they had to pass through.  We see Abraham willing in obedience to sacrifice his only Isaac, Jacob wrestling with the angel, Joseph enduring betrayal, slavery, imprisonment and hardship to finally realize the fulfillment of his dream.  We see David running for his life from Saul and the enemies that sought his destruction.  We see Daniel in the Lion’s den; the three Hebrew children facing the fiery furnace and Jeremiah left in the miry pit.  The examples are many and numerous, but most pronounced we see Jesus enduring the travail of His Passion that He might give birth to the Church and the salvation promised to men.  We are no different in our personal lives than they.  We with patience and steadfast faith we’ll also inherit the promises if we faint not.

Ephesians 6:13 tells us, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”  Our God is raising His people not to be wimps that roll over in the face of adversity and look for the way of escape, but warriors who will stand in the day of battle and travail.  Perhaps you are in that day today with your circumstances.  2 Corinthians 2:14 exhorts and encourages us by saying, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”  Romans 8:37 reminds us, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Endure the day of travail for your joy comes in the morning.

Blessings,

#kent

Living Water

May 24, 2018

John 4:10-15

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

 

Living Water

 

There is something greater than the wells of religion that our forefathers dug for them and for us.  Jesus comes to us as He did to this woman of Samaria who had always drawn and drank from the well that always left her thirsting again and wanting more.  We also have drank from the wells of the in-part realm; as a result we continue to thirst and are never really satisfied.

The Lord speaks through Jeremiah 2:13 like this, “”My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

What we are thirsting for is a fresh revelation and manifestation of the living water that only comes from Christ.  He is the only one that is the perpetual artesian well of living water that comes forth from our spirit, through our soul and into the earth.  His Spirit life in us is that which alone can satisfy where we never long for the natural waters again of religion and dead works.  Jesus speaks to this in John 7:38-39, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

It is in the intimacy with our Lord that we abide in the shade that covers and protects the well of His salvation.  It is there in that secret place of abiding with Him that we continue to drink and find refreshing.  There at that well of His presence is the fresh water of revelation and regeneration.  Abiding there in Him we come to find that we are not only drinking from the well, but we are the well.  Now that living water is flowing out of our belly and we become a source and fountain of the living water’s dispensation.  When others come around or when the Lord leads you into encounters as Jesus encountered this Samaritan woman; you are that well of living water the Holy Spirit desires to flow through to give drink to all who are thirsty.  Once they have drank of the living water will they ever want to go back to that which does not satisfy?

Isaiah 55:1-5 speaks of this ministry of living water.  ““Come, all you who are thirsty,

come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

2Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

4See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.

5Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,

because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

The splendor is the living water that flows from your being, because it is the life-flow of God.  It gives life, encouragement, strength, joy and salvation to all who drink of it.  The way that you become the well is by living in the flow of the river of life.  Out of that place you become the streams in the desert and the dry place.  You cause to flourish again that which others considered dead.  You cause the desert places to bloom and come alive because you are that oasis of living water that Father wants to flow through.

We have settled for the lesser for far too long.  Let’s jump in the river of His divine life and become the expression of all that this river possesses.  We are the conduits and the pipelines to bring living water to the nations.  Can we settle for anything less?

Blessings,

#kent

 

Kingdom of Heaven  (Part 3)

A Matter of the Heart

 

Mathew 13:19

While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside.

 

“Our mind must bring our mortal man into agreement with who we are as a spiritual being.”  Jesus likens the gospel of the kingdom unto a seed planted in the ground.  The type of soil that it falls into has everything to do with its success in taking root, growing up and bearing fruit.  This has to do with the condition of our hearts.  In this parable from Mathew 13 Jesus describes a number of conditions in which the seed doesn’t take root or if it does, why it doesn’t remain and become fruitful.

Our hearts, spiritually speaking, are made up of our soul and spirit.  We have already discussed how Christ came to reside in our spirits when we asked him into our hearts.  Our souls are made up or our mind, will and emotions.  These constitute how we relate to the Lord both initially and throughout our relationship with Christ.  It is the realm of the soul wherein lies the battle for the kingdom of heaven.  A person who has received Christ and given themselves to God, has the desire to press in with their soul and possess what they already possess in the spirit.  This is what the Bible terms walking in the Spirit.  What was not possible before, is now made possible because of the power of Christ in us.  Romans 8:2-5 puts it in this perspective, “2For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], 4So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]. 5For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and  seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.”  Self has been dethroned and Christ has been enthroned in our hearts.  We now operate under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  What we could not do in ourselves, Christ has done for us, so it is now a matter of bringing the soul into alignment with the law that has been written upon our hearts.  It is the law of the kingdom and the Holy Spirit is its administrator.

In this lower realm of heaven where the souls of natural men abide we find that there is still a war going on for our souls.  In this realm we find principalities, powers and rulers of darkness still in operation and launching assaults first to keep us from coming into the kingdom of God, but then once we have, there is still the assaults to rob it from us.  It is our soul that is caught between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.  The difference is that now that we are in Christ we are equipped with spiritual armor, the Word of God and the power of God to do battle with this enemy of our soul.  Still there is a responsibility that lies with each of God’s children to utilize what God has provided us.  There is the need for continual vigilance to align our minds and our thinking with the mind of Christ and the Word of God.  If satan can deceive or get a hold of our minds then he can pull us down from our relationship and intimacy with Christ.  He can pervert and pollute our walk and put us again under the bondage of the flesh.  He desires to bring us back again under the mindset of the law of sin and death.  On one hand he seeks to corrupt us and on the other he seeks to condemn us when we step in his corruption.  The more condemnation we feel and give place too the less faith we have to lay hold of God’s promises and His Word.  There is a war in the heavenlies of our soul.  In this realm of the kingdom of heaven the battle is still going on.  We are in it and we must be mindful of it.  Ephesians 6:10-18 exhorts us, “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace, 16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. 17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God. 18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”  Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.”

The soul is the spiritual battleground where the war must be won and the kingdom of God established.  Christ has given us the victory and He has sat down at the right hand of the Father till His enemies be made His footstool.  We are the feet and the body that must carry out the victory and establish the kingdom of heaven in this earth through the power of Christ within.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Kingdom Principles (Part 1)

Introduction to the Kingdom

 

Matthew 22:2-14

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son

3And sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they refused to come. 4Again he sent other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have prepared my banquet; my bullocks and my fat calves are killed, and everything is prepared; come to the wedding feast.

5But they were not concerned and paid no attention [they ignored and made light of the summons, treating it with contempt] and they went away–one to his farm, another to his business,

6While the others seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and put them to death.

7[Hearing this] the king was infuriated; and he sent his soldiers and put those murderers to death and burned their city. 8Then he said to his servants, The wedding [feast] is prepared, but those invited were not worthy. 9So go to the thoroughfares where they leave the city [where the main roads and those from the country end] and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.

10And those servants went out on the crossroads and got together as many as they found, both bad and good, so [the room in which] the wedding feast [was held] was filled with guests.

11But when the king came in to view the guests, he looked intently at a man there who had on no wedding garment. 12And he said, Friend, how did you come in here without putting on the [appropriate] wedding garment? And he was speechless (muzzled, gagged). 13Then the king said to the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him into the darkness outside; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

14For many are called (invited and summoned), but few are chosen.

 

Perhaps this parable of Jesus is a good overall summary of the kingdom of heaven.   Jesus talks much about the kingdom of heaven and speaks many parables about it, but to many of us it is still somewhat of a mystery.  In this parable and illustration we see the King as Father God, giving a wedding banquet of His Son, which we can easily see is Christ.  Now the kingdom of heaven is not represented specifically as the marriage to the bride, but rather all that are invited to come to the celebration of the union.  In this parable we see the first invitations going out to God’s people who have been invited.  They have been invited through the dispensation of God’s Word, prophecies and promises of a coming Messiah, but they miss it, they reject it, they blow it off because they are to busy with their own things.  In some cases the servants who bring the message are even abused, persecuted and put to death.  This represents the Jewish nation as a whole.  The Light came to them, but in their darkness they perceived it not.

We can look back over history at the plight of the Jewish people and we can see through the destruction of Jerusalem around 70 AD and on, the people of Israel have been a scattered and persecuted people.

Because of Israel’s rejection as a whole the invitation to the wedding banquet or to come into the kingdom was extended to gentiles and to all that would respond, both bad and good.  We then see that as the King (God) viewed the guest that there was a protocol; people permitted to the feast had to have a wedding garment.  We can easily assess from the scriptures that these garment s represented the righteousness of Christ and those who wore them needed to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.  There was none permitted to stay that had their own righteousness or clothing.  Acts 4:12 tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Now we can surmise through other parables that Jesus speaks of the kingdom that there is, for a time, a mixture of those who truly possess the wedding garments and those who don’t.  This one man that was cast out of the wedding may be representative of many who will have to answer to the King in the time of judgement.  We see it in the parable of the wheat and the tares where the two were allowed to grow together until the time of harvest.  Jesus was the kingdom come, but this coming was His first coming as the Saviour and the Redeemer of men.  Through Christ, men could receive the kingdom of heaven into their heart and be recipients of the King and his kingdom.

Here we have an overall view of the kingdom of heaven as being the place to where we have been invited to Christ.  We see that we both have to respond and dress appropriately to be acceptable in this kingdom.  We see that many are called, but few are chosen.  Hopefully we have all responded to the invitation and dressed appropriately through asking Christ into our hearts and are putting on Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

April 5, 2018

1 Peter 1:3-9

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.

 

Scenario of Two Lives

 

There was once a man that lived up in the mountains at the top a steep spire that was very difficult to reach.  Up there he lived alone raising his gardens and small livestock, capturing his water from the frequent  rainfalls.  There he lived isolated from the world and separated unto God, studying his bible and praying daily.  There he endeavored to live his life without sin wholly unto God.

There lived another man who was part of a large family and had many children of his own.  He lived in a crowded city that was full people, commerce and neighbors pressing in on every side.  His means were meager as he struggled to feed and provide for his family.  There were many conflicts surrounding him.  There were many difficulties that beset him.  There were many people continually putting demands upon him and expecting from him.  He also was a godly man, given to God and spending time with the Father in the brief moments he had to himself.  In his life he wrestled with many trials, temptations, persecution and needs that never touched the first man.  Daily he would repent of his sins and failures of living for God, but he would also remind himself of all that Christ was to him, had done for him and was doing in him.  Daily he reminded himself that his righteousness was that of Christ and not his own, that the blood of Jesus covered Him and the Spirit of Christ indwelt Him.  Daily, amidst all of the trials and demands upon his life he endeavored to live in the love of Christ and to share that love with others.

In the end which man accomplished the greater holiness and was most effective for the kingdom of God?  Which man had been perfected more into his image and likeness?

Having that vertical relationship with God is undeniably important.  It is where we draw from the source and the well of His life and strength, but if we never have the horizontal stretching through our relationship with humanity then we can only selfishly accumulate to ourselves, but never give out that which the Holy Spirit is imparting into us.  We can never know the growth we gain through the stretching that we go through in our relationships and the trials of this world.

Through Jesus, we see both the vertical relationship of communion and oneness with the Father and the willingness to be poured out for others that He might release that love into humanity, eventually giving the ultimate sacrifice of His physical life, not for Himself, but for us.  It is all of the trials of our faith that make us much more precious than gold.  Don’t be discouraged by all of life’s problems, demands and woes; this is the place where your faith is exercised, matures and grows.  This is the place where you have the opportunity to live out the things you say that you believe.  If you have your failures, as we all do, know that you are not condemned, but you have an advocate and intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, The Righteous.  As we confess our sins and failures He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  That overcomer lives in you, because Christ is in you.  As we continue to daily identify with Him, we also learn to walk in an overcoming life.  We, like Jesus, learn obedience through the things that we suffer (Hebrews 5:8).

Count it all joy in the race that is set before you.  Run to win and win by faithfully walking in what the Father has called you to be, the continual expression of Him.  He has enabled us by the Spirit of His power and strength to be more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and gave His life for us.

Blessings,

#kent

From a Place of True Humility

February 27, 2018

Romans 12:14-16

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

 

From a Place of True Humility

 

One of the ways you recognize a truly spiritual person is not in what they know, not their spiritual positioning, not their title, not all of the revelations or spiritual experiences they may have had; you will recognize them because of their true love and humility.

Philippians 2:2-11 shows this clearly in the example of Jesus.  “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  If anyone could have ministered from a place of power, authority or exaltation it was Jesus.  He certainly had the right and authority to do so, but he modeled before us a different example.  It was the example of ministering from the place of a servant rather than a lord.  It was learning not to talk down to people of lesser experience, maturity and stature, but rather getting under them and lifting them up, edifying them in the love of Christ.  Many of us, without even realizing it, carry a religious spirit that does just the opposite.  What we perceive as ministering life, rather ministers death and alienates us from the very ones we desire to minister too.  What we perceive as truth and enlightenment is received by them as condescending and condemnation.  It may have to do with the position our spirit is coming from.  Are we talking down to them or are we getting under them and lifting them up, meeting them where they are at rather than where we think we are.  In ministry it is never about us.  It’s all about how we carry and communicate Christ.  That is not always with words.  Often our actions speak much louder than our words.  Our actions should be the confirmation of our words that attest to the truths we seek to communicate.  Like the old adage goes, “People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.”

Paul communicates a very important truth to those of us that think we are spiritual here in Philippians 2:3-5, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus didn’t manifest himself to men from a high position, but from a posture of true humility and love.  He communicated God’s love and truth in a way that even the least of men could perceive and receive.

We read in John 12:23-26, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  Jesus was that kernel of wheat that was willing to die so that He could be reproduced in others.  He lost Himself so that we might live.  That same DNA of humility and servanthood has to reside in us, so that we also must be willing to lay down our lives, so that others may live.

One minister I recalled shared it this way, “Jesus had to go to hell before He went to heaven.  The way up is the way down.  You have to be willing to die that you may truly live and reproduce Christ’s life in others.”

“True Christianity isn’t about us always being right, that comes from religion”, as our pastor has said, “True Christianity comes from righteousness, not ours, but God’s.”  His righteousness reveals itself in humility and love.  It’s not about me being right, it is about loving others into His righteousness through pure humility and love.

Blessings,

#kent

The God of all Comfort

February 16, 2018

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

Colossians 3:1-3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 

Where Your Mind is Set, Your Heart will Follow

 

Even the world has discovered the power of the mind and this principle of where our mind is set.  It is one of the reasons that we set goals and organize our plans.  If our mind is steadfastly set upon something, we are far more likely to accomplish it than if it is a whimsical, “I hope I do that” or “I would like to accomplish this”.   We tend to accomplish and attain that which is of the greatest priority in our own mind.  That can be either good or evil depending upon where our mind and affections are set.  Our affections deal with our heart and emotions.  The heart is usually more subjective in its feelings.  It is like a wife with her husband.  The husband may be responsible for the decisions that are made, but the wife is a strong influence upon the mind.  The mind is always wanting to please the heart and if the heart is set upon the wrong things, then that can get you into trouble and cause you to miss the will and purpose of God.  Here we are exhorted to bring the mind and heart together in one common purpose and that is to seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  We are reminded that we have died to the former affections of this world and our life, along with our mind and heart, is hidden with Christ in God.  This is a key verse, because it tells us where our position and our spiritual residence are.  If we are hidden with Christ in God, then that pretty much lets us know that our purpose and our destiny are centered and grounded in Him.  The exhortation for us here is to make sure that our heart and our mind are in alignment with our position and who we are in Christ.

We remember what Jesus said was the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:26-30, “”Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   Our obedience to the exhortation we have here in Colossians 3 is in direct alignment with fulfilling and walking in the commandments of God.  Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’  These four verses layout an outline, goal and the mindset for our lives.

In 2 Corinthians 10:2-6 Paul differentiates his standards from those of the world.  “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Isn’t this a good explanation of setting your heart and mind on things above?  For most all of us, our biggest stumbling block is our own stinking thinking.  We have to shift our paradigm and way of thinking to line up with who we now are in Christ.  Our greatest victory comes when we are identified with His life and not our former nature.   The enemy’s greatest victory is in keeping us in our former mindset of this world’s standards.  Our thinking, acting and even our reasoning must now come out of a regenerated and transformed mind.  It is just as Romans 10: 1-3 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Where our mind is set, our heart will follow, but if we fail to keep our mind set upon the things above, the things below will distract us and turn our affections and attention to the things that are soon to pass away and upon the things which the judgement of God is soon to come.  Hebrews 12: 1-3 exhorts us this way, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Our lives are now hid with Christ in God; it is God’s will and purpose that we keep our minds and hearts there as well.  Paul described that position so well when he said in Galatians 2: 20,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Blessings,

#kent

True Prosperity

January 30, 2018

Genesis 39:1-6

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

 

True Prosperity

 

Most all of us know the story of Joseph.  He was despised by his brothers who sold him into slavery and deceived their father into thinking that he was killed by wild animals.  Joseph is not just a person, but is representative of a company of people that God is raising up.  Now the Lord is with this people, even as He was with Joseph.  Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.”  Now if Joseph prospered, it is not the way most of us view prosperity.  Life was hard, he was now a slave and just when you don’t think life can’t get any worse than it already is, it does.  Next, he is falsely accused by his master’s wife of rape, because he refused to sleep with her, then he goes from slavery to prison.  So how can the Word say that Joseph prospered?

What we have is what Joseph had, the Lord.  When the Lord is with us He can cause us to prosper even in the most adverse circumstances.  Joseph wasn’t prosperous because his circumstances dictated it.  He was prosperous because the favor of the Lord was upon his life.  We might think, if the Lord favored him so highly why did he have to go through the hell that he did?

He learned a truth.  It is only as we walk through the low places that we develop the humility to rule in the high places.  It is in the low places of injustice, false accusation, imprisonment and rejection that we learn a place of prosperity that supersedes that of the world.  It is in those places that we find a friend that is closer than a brother, a relationship like no other.

Do we relish the pain and the suffering associated with this destiny that Joseph has before him?  No, but like him, we have a dream, a vision and a promise that the Lord has set before us and that He alone is able to bring to pass.  So, like Joseph, we live in the promise of what God has shown us and we count Him faithful who has promised to bring it to pass in its due season. Meanwhile our prosperity is in our daily walk and fellowship with Him.  In that relationship He gives us divine favor and the special grace to despise the shame and continue to walk the walk.  Like Joseph, by faith we hold fast to the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The world around us may have forgotten us, despised us and rejected us.  To them we are hidden, except to those whose lives we touch with the grace and favor that is upon us.  Even they often quickly forget the unique encounter they had with us.  It is like God is marinating us and tenderizing us, so that through the fire we might emerge as the vessels of gold He has prepared us to be.

Don’t be discouraged by your circumstances, because they don’t dictate your prosperity.  Your prosperity comes from the favor of the Lord that rests upon you and orders your step.  Just be faithful wherever He leads and whatever you must go through.  The way up is often through the way down.  Jesus went to hell, before He went to heaven.  It was the sacrifice of death that brought the resurrection of life.  We also may have to lose our life that we may truly find it.  What God is working in you is for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory.  Be like Joseph, be faithful in all that you must endure.  Stay the course and know that your prosperity is not without, but within.

Blessings,

#kent

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