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

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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

New Creation Man

January 23, 2018

Genesis 8:18-22

So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on the earth—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night

will never cease.”

 

 

New Creation Man

Luke 17:26-27 says, “”Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”  This day is representative of a new creation day when old things pass away and behold all things become new.  The earth has continued on in its daily living, but all along, the earth has travailed to give birth to a new day and new creation man.  Romans 8:19-23 tells us, “19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

For Noah and his family it was a new day.  All of the old, the evil and the corrupt had been washed away and destroyed.  All that was not of God and for God was done away with.  When the water receded and the ark landed there was a whole new beginning and with that new beginning God gave new promises.  The promises of God came as Noah was offering up clean animals in sacrifice to the Lord.  This is what we now do as Romans 12:1-2 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.”  It is this sacrifice of our heart and soul to God that is a sweet aroma and well pleasing unto Him.  It says I love you above myself and I am no longer given to serve me, that which was my former nature, but it is now conformed to Your will to serve You.

It says as God smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart, “”Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.  As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  Noah and His family had just gone through a baptism of water, which was a type of death to the old nature and the old man.  Now he had been raised up in the newness of life, a new creation man.

In Luke 17:20-37 Jesus is talking about the coming of the kingdom of God.  He is saying that we are in the world but not of it, yet there is an old creation man that we still inhabit.  He still vexes our righteous spirit.  While we are still bound to him we are not of him.  We war with him as Jacob and Esau warred within the womb.  There was one womb, but two nations of opposing character and purpose.  Such is our natural man and our spirit man.  We live life going through the motions of life, living, eating, drinking and giving in marriage, but when the kingdom of God comes that day will pass away along with all that is of this world.  Jesus goes on to compare it like unto Sodom and Gomorrah, when righteous Lot was taken out and the city was destroyed.  It is imperative that we do not cling to the things of this world as did Lot’s wife when she turned to look back and was turned to a pillar of salt.  Jesus says in Luke 17:30-37,  “”It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32Remember Lot’s wife! 33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

37″Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

When the kingdom of God comes the old man is destroyed and the new man remains, caught up into Christ.  When it comes suddenly it is not a time to try and hold on to the former life and the former possessions.  It is a time to let them go.  The King James Version says there were two men in one bed and two women grinding.  This speaks of those two nations within us, the flesh and the Spirit.  They are together doing the same thing, but when the kingdom of God comes the man of the flesh is taken and he is destroyed.  The vulture feed upon his carcass and what remains is like Noah, a new creation man brought forth in the image and likeness of Christ.  He is no longer two, but one, transformed and changed, experiencing the full redemption of the body.  Hallelujah!

Blessings,

#kent

Tragedy to Triumph

January 11, 2018

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50:20

 

Tragedy to Triumph

 

In the process of life many of us will go through tragedies that will be “life changing events”.  These events are something we would never have chosen to experience or go through if given the choice.  They can be incredibly painful and they will forever stain our life.  While they are often horrific, they are a part of the fallen world that we live in.

Could God stop these things?

Yes, but then it would only be His choice and no longer the free will to make our own.  While God can’t remove all the tragedy in the world without violating our free will, He can and often does, take those things that satan meant for evil and turn them for good if we will allow Him to have His perfect work and way.  On the other hand we can circumvent God’s highest when in our pain, we choose to blame Him, others or even ourselves. We hold on to that pain in the form of bitterness, resentment and unwillingness to forgive our perceived offenders.  We hold those offenses in our heart to our own detriment and hindrance to experiencing God’s greater working of grace and good.

We often feel like God could have prevented this if He wanted too.  Yes, and He could have prevented His Son from going to the cross when Jesus cried out to Him to remove that cup of suffering from Him, but He was relinquished to the greater will and purpose of  Father.  Sin took Jesus through the intense suffering and crucifixion, and through His willingness to forgive His enemies and murderers He showed us a higher way of laying hold of God’s redemptive work even through our own tragedies in life.

Through the deep pain that we experience and the suffering we endure we often later find it to be the catalyst that brought us into a greater experience of grace and God’s working through our lives than what we ever would have known without that experience. We have been changed in such a way that it has given us a greater compassion, empathy and passion to change those things that often caused our pain or is causing that pain in others. We can relate with others in ways we never could before and often we find our life purpose out of such tragedies. God can take that which was meant for evil and turn it for good if we are willing to give it to Him, trusting Him to heal us and in the process transform us into someone better and more like Him through things we’ve suffered.

Jesus loves you and He totally relates with you in your suffering. Ultimately He wants to take your tragedy and turn it into triumph, even as the tragedy of the cross was turned into the redemptive triumph for all of mankind.

Blessings,

#kent

The Backside of Love

January 5, 2018

Hebrews 12:14-11

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.

 

The Backside of Love

 

When we speak of love it often the warm fuzzy feelings that come rushing to the forefront of our minds and emotions.  Certainly God’s love can be there to warm us with provision, blessing, intimacy with Him and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  What we don’t so often recognize or care to acknowledge is the backside of God’s love.  Love’s desire is to bless, but often in order to bless it has to correct, instruct, discipline and train.  Such is God’s love for us as sons.  We love all of the glory and power that is associated with being sons, but to get us to the nature and character of sons there has to be the Father’s discipline and correction.  God tells us if we don’t go through this then we aren’t really sons; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines and corrects.  This is no less a part of His love than the warm and fuzzy part.

Sometimes it is hard to comprehend with the natural mind how pain, discipline and suffering could be associated with love and yet it is.  These are the tools of our perfecting and instruction.  It is in this humbling place of discipline that we lose ourselves and begin to take on Him.  We learn to identify with the pain and suffering of others and out of that place develop hearts of compassion to minister the love and life of God to a hurting and dying world.  It is not in the high places of recognition, worldly honor, power and position that we carry the image of Christ.  It is in the low places of people’s needs, their hurts, their wounding and brokenness.  There, in these low places, do we learn how to administrate justice, healing, deliverance and restoration to the identity that God has for His humanity.  It says, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.”  His holiness is to be wholly like Him in our being.

Let’s face it, our flesh is self-serving, self-preserving and self edifying.  It is all about me, what I like, what I want, what feels good and what looks good.  The Cross is our instrument of discipline that brings us to the end ourselves and begins shaping us in the image and the nature of Christ.  In order to come into His likeness, my likeness has to be done away with.  “No 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.”

Job 5:17-22 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects;

so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

18For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

19From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you.

20In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword.

21You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.

22You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth.”

God disciplines us to take our confidence out of ourselves and put it into Him.  Hebrews 2:10-11 it says,  “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  If the author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, are we better than He?

Let us bear up under our discipline manfully, acknowledging and praising God in whatever we are called upon to endure.  The closer we are drawn to the bosom of the Father the hotter the flames of His holiness burn, but they will only burn away in us what is corruptible, temporal and what must perish anyway.  For what is burned is only the ropes that have bound us as it was for the three Hebrew children in the Bablylonish furnace in the book of Daniel.

1 Peter 4:12-14 exhorts us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

The backside of Father’s love is not always pleasant, but it is needful for us to come into the sons He has called us to be.  Endure patiently and faithfully, for in due season it will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

Blessings,

#kent

When People Let You Down

December 26, 2017

 

When People Let You Down

 

2 Timothy 4:14-18

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Without a doubt, most of us can think back in our lives when someone or some group let us down, has judged us, cast us out or otherwise hurt us.  There is a pretty good chance that in a lot of those cases these people may have been fellow believers, people we thought were our friends and people we trusted and put our confidence in.  There are many walking wounded out there who are still carrying the scares, the hurts and perhaps the unforgiveness for those times when we were hurt or forsaken.

There is a truth that we must always keep in mind; people will always disappoint you and let you down, but Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  The evidence of this truth is in the scripture today where Paul stood alone against accusations, judgements and insults.  Those around him left him standing alone; none stood in his defense except Christ.  That’s hard when you’ve had friends that you have been close too, brothers and sister that you’ve loved and fellowshipped with and something comes up where your character is brought into question. Maybe it is something from your past and suddenly you’re standing alone.  You are on the outside of fellowship looking in.  For some reason others won’t believe you, but they will take without question, the words of your accusers.  How many precious brothers and sisters have had their faith shipwrecked because of so called believers who have stood in the place of judgement and condemnation?  Didn’t the same thing happen to Jesus?  Where were his disciples when He was falsely judged and condemned?   “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50).

There are times in life when all we have is Jesus and the Word of God.  While it is very hurtful, our hearts will be tested as to whom we really put our faith and reliance in.    God wants us to retain that spirit of love and forgiveness in those times of hurt and disappointment.  Our natural man wants to lash out, defending and justifying its self.  We want to share with everyone the great injustice that is being done to us.  I have seen times in our lives when we kept thinking a situation couldn’t get any worse and it would get worse and worse and worse.  It was quite obvious that we were under great spiritual attack.  Often that is the time when God asks us to do the hardest thing,  “Shut up and be still.”  We can miss the great salvation that Christ wants to work in our lives, because we are too caught up in trying to save and justify ourselves.  What He wants us to do instead is, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:28)” The love of Christ alone, in us, is our only ability to be able to turn the other cheek, to render blessing for their cursing, to love our enemies and pray for them that despitefully use us and accuse us.  One of the most difficult things for us to do is to act out of the spirit of Christ, rather than to react out or our flesh and render evil for evil.  God has a higher way for us, but to experience the higher we must be willing to die to the lesser.

Through life we are going to encounter injustices and inequities.  How are we going to respond to these?  How are we responding to these now?  In these times, as painful as they are, hide yourself in Christ.  Put Him on as a garment and shield against the personal hurt and pain.  He is our vindicator and He will render righteous judgement in due time.  That may not be in our time, but we need to place it in God’s hands and trust ourselves to Him alone.

Today, if you have passed through this place, or you are in it now, or perhaps it is ahead of you, find your refuge, strength and peace in Christ.  Remember it is not about how you feel, it is about how you obey and respond out of faith and love according to God’s word and not your emotions.  Your feelings will probably be in total contradiction to what God is prompting us to do, but as we respond out of faith, obedience and prayer, he will help our feelings to line up with His will for us, but it may take some time.  People will always let you down, but the Lord will never leave you or forsake you.   “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.  (Colossians 3:13)”

Blessings,

#kent

Curse for Blessing

December 11, 2017

 

Curse for Blessing

 

Galatians 3:13-14

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ became a curse for us that in turn we might be the recipients of a blessing.  Verse 14 tells us that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.  In Genesis 22:17-18 God pronounces blessing upon Abraham when He says, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”  Abraham received this promise when, in obedience to God, He was about to offer up his only son.  That act was symbolic of God offering His only begotten Son as our sin sacrifice.  That sacrifice carried with it the end of a curse and the beginning of a blessing.  Jesus became a curse for us in taking the curse of the law against sin and in turn released the blessing of Abraham not only on the Jews but also on the Gentiles.

Galatians 3:16 goes on to say, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”  If Christ was indeed the “seed” spoken of to Abraham then we can easily see where God’s promise of blessing is upon Christ and all that are in Him.  For all that are born again in Christ Jesus are the seed of Abraham by faith in Abraham’s seed which was Christ Jesus.  That promise declares that his seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.  Are we not more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and gave Himself for us (Romans 8:37)?  Is He not greater within us than He that is in the world (1John 4:4)?  The fact that we are blessed through Abraham not only means that satan is defeated and we possess his gate through Christ our Lord.  It also means that in so doing we have the privilege of in turn becoming a blessing to the nations as we share our faith and bring others into that covenant relationship with Christ.  It is a perpetual blessing that flows through Christ and through His body.  It is much as Paul brings out in Romans 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  As Abraham was obedient to be willing to offer his son and as Jesus was obedient as God’s Son to the cross, that act of obedience was our deliverance from the curse of one man’s act of disobedience that brought all of humanity under the curse.

The other part of the promise given in Galatians 3:14 is that  “we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  It is the fulfillment of the promise to give us the Holy Spirit that empowers us to receive and complete the rest of Abraham’s promise, that in him and his “Seed”, Christ Jesus, all of the nations would be blessed.  The Holy Spirit we have received through faith in Christ is our empowerment and provision to go forth and do the works that Christ did and fulfill the Great Commission that Christ gave the Church to go forth into all of the world and declare the Gospel.

We are the recipients of a great and wonderful blessing today.  It is a blessing that is still seeing its completion through us by our faith in Christ.  As we are partakers of such a great inheritance and blessing in Christ Jesus, let us become the fulfillment of that blessing through overcoming lives that bring the light of Christ and His blessing to the world in which we live.

Blessings,

#kent

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