The Planting of the Lord

April 11, 2019

 

The Planting of the Lord

 

Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

 

Have you thought about yourself as being a tree planted in the garden and orchard of God, a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord?  Many years ago when we first had moved into our home, I had planted a number of young trees and saplings in a portion of my yard I wanted it to be like a little forest.  As I was looking out the window at it one evening I felt I heard the Spirit of the Lord say, ” Some of those trees you think will live will die and some that look like they will die will live.  If you will faithfully keep your eyes and heart on me and let your roots go down in the good soil of my Word then I will make you like a mighty Oak tree.”  Over the years that has held true, some of the tree grew up mighty and strong, while others wilted and died.  All of those trees were planted in the same ground, but not all of them reacted the same way.

Perhaps some of you today have felt that the tree of your spiritual life has become diseased or is wilting and dying.  Perhaps the winters have been harsh with trials and the summers have only brought drought and dryness to an already wilting faith and life.  Perhaps those around you have been hurt or died and it has brought despondency and sorrow.  There may even be some of you that feel you are already dead or just hanging by a thread of faith.   God’s got a word for you today.  “Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  God has come to comfort you who mourn and are broken hearted.  He is come to bring you beauty for what you have considered burnt up with nothing but ashes remaining.  He is come to restore in you joy and hope and confidence.  You say, ” how can it be, look at my failures, my sins, my unfaithfulness.”  He says,  ” Look at Me, my son, my daughter, I am the ever Faithful One.  I have planted you to be trees of righteousness, my righteousness, not yours.  Look up, for your Redeemer lives and ever makes intercession on your behalf.  Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  If you will put your eyes and your heart back on the Lord today and let your roots go down again into the soil of His Word, He will establish you as the mighty Oak of Righteousness, for you are the planting of the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

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The Struggles with Sin

January 23, 2019

 

The Struggles with Sin

 

John 8:32-34

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

 

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

The Finger of God

January 10, 2019

 

The Finger of God

 

Exodus 8:18-19

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This [is] the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

 

None of us, I don’t believe, would aspire to be like the Pharaoh of Moses’ day.  When we read this account we think how could that man be so stubborn and why would he continue to harden His heart when, without a doubt, the finger of God was moving in these judgements.  Pharaoh could well be looked at as the god or ruler of “Self”.  We have a pharaoh that still wants to set upon the throne of our hearts and be god.  He doesn’t want to relinquish his place and lordship to the Almighty.  We could also say it is a type of satan, but where it affects us personally is in the dominion of our own souls.

If we were to get totally real and honest, just between God and us, most of us could probably identify an area or areas in our lives that we really struggle to relinquish control of.  There are strongholds and bastions of self that still want to bow their neck to the cross.  Our spirit may grieve over them and surely we wrestle with them, but we don’t want to really let go of them even though the finger of God may be upon them and the Holy Spirit is convicting us of them.

There was another young man in Jesus’ day, who truly loved the Lord, but he struggled with this same issue in Luke 18:18-25.  “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none [is] good, save one, [that is], God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Here was a godly man.  Clearly, he loved God and desired to follow Christ, but what happened when the finger of God touched that area that was not submitted to God?  Jesus put His finger on the Pharaoh in His life, the area that would harden in resistance to God.  It says he was very sorrowful.  This word means to be exceedingly sorry, one definition says, “overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death”.  It is the same Greek word used to describe Jesus’ condition in the Garden as He prayed before the crucifixion.  The difference is Jesus faced a Pharaoh of self-preservation as well.  He even prayed, “Father, if there be any way let this cup pass from me.”  Jesus struggled till great drops of blood dripped from Him as sweat, but He overcame His Pharaoh.  He relinquished and laid self upon the altar and said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  The young ruler didn’t experience such a break through, though he loved the Lord immensely, there was something in his life that had a greater hold on him than his love for God.  Do any of us struggle with a similar issue like that today?  Is there anything we aren’t willing to bring to the altar and give totally to the Lord?  We can never be totally free until everything is His.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says, “3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness  is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Most of us see this as satan or the man of sin, but what about the man of lawlessness that wants to set himself up in our hearts proclaiming himself as god.  He wants to usurp what belongs only to Christ.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”  How can this lawless one, this Pharaoh, this usurper of God’s throne in our spirit be dealt with?  It is by the breath of His mouth, the Word of God, the Sword of Truth.  As we call Christ forth in our lives, He is the Lord of the battle.  The Spirit of Christ is the warrior that must rise up within us and come forth in the authority of the Word of God to overthrow this man of sin.  It is a spiritual battle and one that is possible to win as we are “in” Christ.  We also, have the power to overcome even as Jesus did in the Garden.  He is able to turn our sorrow into joy as we gain the victory and give place to the finger of God.

Blessings,

#kent

Endings and New Beginnings

December 31, 2018

 

Endings and New Beginnings

 

Deuteronomy 11:11-17

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

As we end another year and begin anew, remember that the eyes of the Lord are upon it from the beginning to the end.  Make this New Year a year for drawing nearer, living a deeper and more committed life in the Spirit and coming to know your God in a greater and more personal way.  May this coming year be blessed with the rain and the waters of His spiritual blessing and presence in each of our lives

Blessings,

#kent

Our Dark Places

December 13, 2018

Our Dark Places

Who are we willing to allow into our place of undress;

That secret place in our heart where we hide our mess?

Who are we willing to allow to speak to the things amiss;

Those habits, behaviors and places we dwell in darkness?

Allow the Lord to come in and speak to our places of shame;

Not with condemnation, but with the love, blood and power of His name.

He wants to set us free, cleanse our sins and change our hearts;

Invite the Holy Spirit in for the light and transformation He can impart.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Does our Cart Draw our Horse?

December 12, 2018

 

 

Does our Cart Draw our Horse?

 

Romans 8:1-17

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

 

            Romans 8 is perhaps one of the most powerful books in the bible concerning our spiritual man.  It speaks very directly about what a spiritual man or woman should look like and where their mindset and focus should be. 

            There is an old saying that I guess is rather antiquated in our modern age, but its truth still speaks as loudly.  Whenever we would get things out of order or out of balance, someone might say to us, “You are getting the cart before the horse.”  I felt like the Lord was showing me this is exactly what many us of do with our spiritual lives.  If the horse is like the spirit and the cart is like the flesh, then it would only make sense that the horse should be leading and directing the flesh.  A good many of us have our carts trying to pull our horse, most of the time.  We are out of balance and out of order with the spiritual order of things.

God wants us to operate out of the heavenlies and out of the mind of Christ, but we haven’t put on His mind, we still are too attached to our own former thinking.  We are carnally minded.  We are missing the abundant and spirit-filled life of Romans 8.  This lifestyle of Romans 8 will lead us into sonship and being joint-heirs in Christ.  How many of us and how often are we operating out of the mind of the Spirit?

            I was asking the Lord, “How do we really do that when we have to manage all of these earthly affairs in our daily lives.  The Lord reminded me of a time when I worked construction and I would wake up in Christ, praying, praising and worshipping Him.  He was always bubbling just beneath the surface.  My joy, my attitude, my motivation and my purpose were being expressed as He was leading and directing me. My breaks and lunches were often spent fasting and praying or reading the Word.  It sticks in my mind as one of the most joyous and fulfilling times in my life.  Even when I got off of work all that I did was purposed in Christ.  The Lord is speaking to us that this natural life is to be an extension of our spiritual man.  The spiritual man is not to an extension of the natural man. We need to ask ourselves what condition is our spiritual man in today?  Are we getting the cart before the horse?

Blessings,

#kent

 

Are we Listening for Instruction?

 

Isaiah 48:17-20

This is what the Lord says, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:  “I am the Lord God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.  If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river., your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Your descendents would have been like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed before me.  Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians!  Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it.  Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.”

 

Many of us have become accustomed to seeking man and religion for answers and direction in life.  Do we think that Babylon was just some ancient city in Iraq?  The spirit of Babylon or Babel is very much alive today as it was in days of old.  Many of you will recall the tower of Babel that Nimrod attempted to build back in the book of Genesis.  It began with the efforts of men to make for them a name in the earth.  It was an edifice of man built to the heavens.  God thwarted their efforts by confusing the languages of men.  Babel has come to mean confusion or mixing.

What does that have to do with listening to the voice of God?  There are so many voices around us influencing us to do this and to do that, but we have gotten away from the voice that wants to direct us in the way we should go.  There are many things that have a pretence of good and noble gestures.  Does that mean they are of God?  What about all of our religions and even denominations, won’t they take us where we need to go?  Many of these sound good, shouldn’t we listen to them?  Often we hear so many voices saying so many things it is hard for us to know what to believe, who is right and who is wrong.  There are many spirits and voices that have a form of religion and godliness, but are they the voice of God to us?   Many of us have become the occupants of this religious city called Babylon.  We have been caught up and taken captive by religion, led out of the New Jerusalem, which is free and led into Babylon.  We have become so comfortable and adjusted to it that we may seldom even think about what the New Jerusalem is that we have left.

Throughout the Word of God we are hearing the exhortation, “Come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing.”  Here, in this scripture, we are hearing the exhortation of the Lord to come out and flee Babylon.  Babylon has become a mixture of flesh and spirit.  When we look at Christianity today and our religion as a whole are we not seeing a mixture of flesh and spirit.  Why is so much of the world turned off to Christianity?  Isn’t it because they see the hypocrisy of our lives in the light of what we profess to believe?

What is the answer, to forsake all of our churches and be by ourselves?  No, there is more to it than that.  Babylon begins in our own mentality and thinking.  The Babylon first must come out us before it will ever come out of the church.  Praise God we are seeing the Spirit stirring in the hearts of true believers that are grasping and laying hold of the concept that to come out of a religious Babylon we have to come into a place of relationship with Christ.  Herein lies the answer to our coming out of Babylon.  In that place of personal relationship and coming to know our Lord intimately and personally we are separating ourselves from mere religion and coming back to the place where God has called us to live and inhabit.  We are to come back to that New Jerusalem that is free; the city of our God where we walk in the light of the Word of God and are directed and led by the Spirit of God.  We stop listening to all the external voices and we first listen to the inner voice of the Spirit of God within us, but we will only really hear that voice as we are abiding in Him.  The Lord is calling us out of Babylon today.  He is calling us out of the confusion and many voices of religion and back into that place of personal relationship and communion with Him.  Then when we gather with like-minded believers we corporately enter into that place of intimacy and worship where His Holy Spirit desires to dwell and He alone is glorified and not man.  Come back to that place where we learn to listen to Him again and not the many voices of confusion.

Blessings,

#kent

The God of our Blessing

December 11, 2018

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

 

The God of our Blessing

 

As I look back and survey the Old Testament and follow it up, into and through the New Testament I see a God working on behalf of the good of His people and His elect.  Through all of the examples that have gone before us I can’t think of any that were just storybook happy ever-after tales.  Each life faced triumph and tragedy, victories and trials.  When God says He is working for our good, does that mean that life will not be without its difficulties?  How can God raise up a people that are overcomers unless there is something they must overcome?  Even God teaches in these very passages that, in order to partake of His glory we must be willing to endure the suffering.  We live in a world that still abides under the curse of sin and death.  We, the people of God have come into the liberty of the Sons of God in our spirits.  We are partakers of the life and promises in Christ Jesus, but in the midst of our soul these two worlds and economies clash.  On this front there are storms going on, both natural and spiritual.  Here is where the kingdom of God meets the kingdoms of this world.  Here is where we pray that God will be at work within us, both to will and to do His good pleasure.

Romans 8:1-2 teaches us that we are no longer of this world cast down under the wheels of its condemnation, but ‘the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’.  “The righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)” He removed the curse and the burden of the law over us which we tried to accomplish in our efforts.  He is now writing His laws upon our hearts so that in our love, desire and spiritual relationship with Him we would abide in lawfulness and righteousness by the Spirit and no longer through the strength or rather the weakness of our flesh.  Our hearts are now set in Him to walk by the Spirit so that we no longer fulfill the lust of our flesh.

While we know this in our spirits and we endeavor to walk in it, we still experience the economy of the world we still must live in, along with it influences of sin and death.  Each day we are faced with the personal challenge and decision to take up our cross and follow Him.  There is a continual death and circumcision that God is working in our hearts as we walk in obedience to Him.  It would be great if we had no more desires or temptations from this world, but in reality we do.  Herein the conflict of flesh and spirit are at odds.

Each of us is different, but in reality we have times of victory and we have those times of defeat in the midst of this battle.  Sometimes we can even bite the dirt pretty hard and we wonder, “Can God still forgive me”?  Can He still use me?  Look at the mess I have made and the wrong choices that have caught up with me.

The amazing thing about our God and the thing I am in such awe of, is His amazing patience, love, grace and kindness toward me, even when I fail.  I know that He doesn’t condone my sin, but like the woman caught in adultery, He doesn’t just give me over to condemnation.  He still loves me no matter what I have done or what sin that I have committed.  His love is unconditional towards me.  Make no mistake, sin has its consequences and it will exact its price, but God’s love and amazing grace can still forgive my sin and restore my fellowship with Him if I will humble myself, repent and call upon His name.  His blood is still sufficient to wash and cleanse my unrighteousness.   Though I may endure the hardship and the consequence of my actions, God is able to still work all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  That hard fall I just took may have brought me to a place where I can encounter an even greater victory.  God is at work within us both to will and work His good pleasure.

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST.  The world and the enemy are always trying to rob that identity away from you.  It is identity theft and if you let him he will strip you of your power, your faith, your authority and your worth.  In place of it he will plant fear, doubt and unbelief wrapped up in condemnation and guilt, overshadowed by death.  Know who you are people and never let the enemy steal your identity.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  We are righteousness in Christ Jesus.  Seal yourself in the blood and identity of all that Christ is and all that He suffered and died to provide for you.  The last thing we want to do is to make His suffering and death for us of none effect.  1 John 4:17 says,  “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”  That is His identity in you.  Finally Romans 8: 31-38 Paul concludes by giving us this wonderful reassurance of God’s love and keeping, knowing that we are more than conquerors through Him that has loved us. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The God of all blessing is working for your good.

Blessings,

#kent

Foolishness

December 3, 2018

 

Foolishness

 

Ecclesiastes 7:25

25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

          Folly and foolishness is bound up in the heart of all of us. What motivates one man to pursue wisdom and another to pursue folly and foolishness?  What is folly and foolishness?  In this scripture it is defined as the “stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.”   Stupidity isn’t just ignorance or not knowing.  It is knowing what the right choice is and still choosing the wrong one.  None of us have ever been stupid or foolish have we; knowing what is right and choosing to do the wrong thing anyway?  We do it far more than we would like to admit.  What motivates us to sin?  It is foolishness.  Now why are we so stupid?  I guess it is what our stubborn flesh wants to do and the desire to satisfy it is stronger than the desire to be obedient to the mind and will of God. 

          The book of Proverbs spends quite a bit of its content addressing the contrast between wisdom and foolishness.  Wisdom is the pursuit of life and the knowledge and understanding of it.  It opposes foolishness, because wisdom’s direction is grounded in the principles that lead us to understanding and embracing the mind, will and purpose of God.  Proverbs says that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  As God’s children and even as adults we want to hold on to a lot of our foolishness.  We can be wise in some areas, but there are other areas we don’t want to let go of folly.  As a result we see the fruit of it in our lives.  It affects our relationships, our finances and taints so much of our life.  Why are we so stupid we won’t let go of it?  Usually it has become a stronghold in us that now rules over us instead of us over it.  These strongholds of foolishness can destroy us if we let them.  We know what is right, but seem helpless to be obedient to the truth in certain areas.  Here again the wisdom of the Lord is our deliverance.  The first act of wisdom is when we acknowledge that these areas are wrong and we no longer want to be a slave to them.  In our repentance we must seek God’s help; for it will not be conquered in our own power.  It is wisdom to seek the help of trusted brothers or sisters who will pray with us, stand with us and hold us accountable.  Our deliverance is when we come out of the darkness and into the light.  In the light, satan is powerless and all his deceitfulness is exposed.  It is in the darkness of our minds and the privacy our own thoughts he works to deceive and entice us to sin and folly. 

          Wisdom is known, not by her knowledge, but by her works.  Many are ever learning, but never able to come to knowledge of the truth.  Wisdom is spiritual and practical application of godly principles.  Foolishness is poor judgment and wrong choices motivated by selfishness.  All of us have a certain amount of foolishness left in us, but what are we pursuing today?  Are we hungry and passionate about laying hold of the mind of Christ which is wisdom in circumstances of life or are we given to folly and just going with the flow?  1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us; For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  Our foolishness is bound up in the heart of our selfishness, only the cross at work in us will deliver us into the wisdom of the life and mind of God.  Are we willing to release the stupidity of our folly and pursue wisdom at all cost to us? 

            Paul exhorts the Colossians, as well as us in Colossians 2: 1-4, For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and [for] them at Laodicea, and [for] as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  Christ is our wisdom and the standard against our folly.  He is the deliverance from our foolish ways as we apply the principles of wisdom He is teaching us daily through our obedience.   Remember, “The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise. (Proverbs 12:15)”  Will you seek wisdom today as you pursue to know and do the will of God in every area of your life?

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  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.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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