Renegades

January 18, 2018

 

Renegades

1 Timothy 4:1-3

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 

Did you ever think about there being renegades, religious or spiritual outlaws, deserters and traitorous to the faith of Jesus Christ?  The Word of God warns us there is and will be and not only so, but they become the wolves that prey upon the flock.  They know the culture, the language, the scripture, but they have become hypocrites feigning and pretending to be what they are not.  Even as the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy, these renegades have become the agents of satan  to undermine, destroy and put into bondage those who do not discern their workings.  They are manipulators, using and abusing the flock of God to their own end, purpose and glory.  In the end it is all about them and they have become so hardened and callused to the dealings of the Holy Spirit that they completely ignore whatever warning He has tried to give them.

Beware of those who use condemnation and coercion to force their will and ideas upon you.  They put yokes and bondage upon you that Christ never intended that you bear.  They use religion rather a relationship of love to promote their gospel and unholy tidings.  Yes, it will contain truth and much of it will come from the Bible, but the devil is a bottle poison in a lake of truth and so are these agents of his.  These will become more and more prominent in the latter days as the spirit of antichrist is at work in the world and is becoming more manifest.  Guard your hearts with the full knowledge of the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth.  2 Timothy goes on to warn us, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The testimony of a true believer is not just in the rhetoric of their mouth, but in the fruit of their lives.   Many great teachers and preachers and so-called men of God we only see from a distance, living behind a projected front of holiness and religion.  The true man of God won’t put you again under the law of condemnation.  He will declare to you the law of liberty, freedom and righteousness, which is through Christ alone.  The man of God will not manipulate you through guilt, fear, judgement and condemnation, which is a form of witchcraft.  I often find it offensive to receive what can be a moving email and at the end I am condemned and not a good Christian if I don’t send this to at least ten more people.  That’s condemnation and manipulation.  If it is of God then let God move upon the hearts of those who read it to pass it on.  Unfortunately it speaks of the mentality of much of what is at work in Christendom today.  When we have to force it, lay guilt trips and condemnation on people to get them to respond to our ideas and agendas then we are acting out of the flesh and not out of the Spirit of God.  There are sermons I have heard on tithing and giving that would have me feeling like a reprobate if I wasn’t giving more.  Then I have heard sermons and teaching on tithing and offerings that brought me into a greater revelation of the joy and act of worship that is entailed with giving.  It taught me the spiritual and natural benefits involved in giving.  The difference was in one I might have given out of guilt and condemnation, in the other instance I was seeking the Lord on how I could give more, because I wanted too.  It was my joy and worship to do so, not my condemnation.

Many years ago I felt like the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, “in the last days you will see miracles and what will appear to be great works and moves of God.  Don’t look upon the outward things, but look at the heart.  By the heart of a man you will know his nature.”  Satan can counterfeit miracles and Christians, but he can’t counterfeit the love and the fruit of the Spirit, at least not for long.

I’m not sure why the Spirit has led me to write this, but there are those that need to be discerning about who they are following and where they are being led.  The Word of God says in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”  In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  God doesn’t want us to just follow blindly anyone that seems to have a good message.  Make sure the message lines up with the whole counsel of God, that it truly bears witness with your spirit and that you have the complete peace of God as you follow it.  If something seems wrong it may well be the Holy Spirit raising a red flag in your heart.  Beware of the renegades, they may be dressed just like you, but their heart is in a different place.

Blessings,

#kent

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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

Idolatry

December 6, 2017

Idolatry

Colossians 3:5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

This is a subject that we often brush aside as Christians, thinking it only applies to worshipping statues or false gods.  While that is an application, idolatry is a sin that lives a lot closer to us than most of us are willing to admit.  Chances are you and I have both seen it at work in our lives and quite possibly it is still residing in the temple of our soul.

Let’s take a moment to break down the scripture that apostle Paul writes to the Colossians.  Mortify means to put to death.  We have talked about it before as being an act we do in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s strength to help rid ourselves of the flesh.  Here, the “members of our flesh” he is talking to us about, aren’t statues.  The “fornication,” which can be any illicit sexual activity: adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual activity with animals, close relatives, divorced men or women or participating in the sacrifice offered to idols.  I am giving you the definition of the words used here in the Greek so that we can see whether or not they apply.  These are often not words that we are fully familiar with in definition

“Uncleanness” of course, can apply outwardly, but foremost inwardly.  It applies in a moral sense of defilement or impurity, of lustful, luxurious and profligate (recklessly wasteful, wildly extravagant) living.  It deals with impure motives.  An impure motive is one not governed by the love and truth of Christ.

“Inordinate affections” deal with passionate deeds. In the New Testament it is most often used with regard to depraved or vile passions.

“Evil concupiscence” carries with it the unrighteous desire, craving, longing for what is forbidden.  In a word, lust.

Last, but not least is “covetousness” which is simply the greedy desire to have more or the desire to have what doesn’t belong to us.

Any and all of these things add up to be idolatry.  How does idolatry set with God?  The next verse in Colossians 3:6 says, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” It means when we continue to harbor and participate in these things in our lives we are in direct rebellion to God.  Saul, the first king of Israel had a problem with this in his life: “For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. (1 Samuel 15:23).”

Dear saints there are many of us who love God, but we have areas in our lives where we love something else even more. We are unwilling to let it go, our affection for it is too great.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit is bringing things to mind and conviction in these areas as you read this.  We have to let the Holy Spirit in and allow Him to have permission to deal with these areas of our life.  We cannot compartmentalize ourselves and say this belongs to God and this belongs to me.  We are in an all or nothing deal.  God went the whole distance for us on Calvary and He requires no less of us in offering ourselves as living sacrifices.  Our obedience is paramount to our relationship with Him.  While I understand there may be love and affections in our lives we may feel we would rather die than let them go.  In affect we are making ourselves the enemies of God because we are not willing to yield it all to Him.  In Christ is liberty.  He knows your heart.  He loves you more than anyone else can.  Let go of idolatry, put it to death and let God have all of your heart and complete control of your life.  Repent of idolatry in your life before the consequences of sin overtake you.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Repeating Offenses and Failures

 

Romans 7:17-24

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.   Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. or I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

I don’t know that there are any of us that don’t struggle in our lives with our character flaws and weaknesses that seem to want to continue surfacing and have long been a source of consternation and dismay to us.  We don’t like these flaws, habits, strongholds, weaknesses and shortcomings; we hate them.  We know they don’t please God and yet we find ourselves again and again falling back into these snares.  We may even wonder if we could still be saved, as many times as we have failed, repented and then failed again.  This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us in our spiritual walk.  The latter part of Romans 7 deals, I believe, with this very issue.  It really boils down to a warring issue within our lives.  There are two laws that war in our members and while we serve the law of God in our mind, we find the law of sin, still wanting and seeking place in our bodies.  As we seek to ascend in our minds and spirits we have the flesh seeking to pull us back down, bringing condemnation and once again breaking and interrupting our spiritual fellowship with the Lord.  We, like Paul, cry out, ” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he goes on to answer his own question, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  What is he saying, that we can be divided and our mind serves God and our flesh serves sin?  No, he is saying that which ever one we give place too, that is the one we will serve.  Romans 8 really goes on to give the extension to the answer of our dilemma that he has addressed in Chapter 7.  Romans 8:1-2, ” [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”  It is in grasping and laying hold of the higher law that now governs our lives that we begin to walk and live in a new mindset.  It is the mindset that is identified, not with our old man governed by the law of sin, but our new man which is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  One of the greatest reasons for our prayer life and spending time in the Word is so that we can renew our minds in who we are in Christ.  We are no longer that old person, enslaved under the law of sin, subject to its bondage.  We have been set free; the Lord has broken those shackles off of us.  Does that mean that we will never be tempted or influenced by the former things?  Not at all, we know that the flesh, and that former mindset that wants to regain its strongholds in our lives, constantly assault us.  Our freedom is in Christ and in our walk in the Spirit.  Romans 8:5-10, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” If we are the ones still trying to conquer our weaknesses in our own strength then we are doomed for the failure we’ve experienced in the past.  It is the Spirit working in concert with our will and submission to Him that is our empowerment.  Romans 8:13, ” For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Our lives in the Spirit are a continual overcoming of our flesh and the law of sin that wars against our members.  Are we going to loose some battles, yes, we still fall short far too often, but we have set our course.  Our eyes are fixed upon our Savior and “it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).”  That old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, but daily we become a living sacrifice consecrated unto Him.  He is our victory and in Him we are more than conquerors.  Don’t be discouraged, for His blood washes and forgives our failures as we repent and turn back to Him.  The more Christ fills our hearts and minds the less room and place there is for sin as the Holy Spirit is given full place to govern over our souls.  Press on, identified with who you are in Christ.  The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be the sons of God He has called us to be.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Temptation

November 21, 2017

 

Temptation

Matthew 4:1

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

 

Temptation is an issue that we all deal with on a continual basis.  We are all tempted to go against God’s Word and principles.  It is with this issue that we spend a good deal of time, energy and prayer to overcome, especially if those temptations are ones that we tend to yield too on a far too frequent basis.  We should all know that the temptation itself is not sin, but it is what we do with it that allows it to become sin or not.  There are two primary sources of temptation. The first we see in the scripture above where we are tempted of the devil.  We see, often not soon enough, how with subtlety he works his way into our mind to draw us into disobedience to God.  Sometimes it is through another person that has also yielded their members to the tempter.

The second source of temptation is the lust, craving and desires of our own hearts and minds.  James 4:1 says, ” From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members.” Are we not in a constant battle to bring this body and its related attitudes, feelings, and desires under subjection and obedience to the lordship of Christ?  This is our constant dealing with temptation.   Roman 7:22-25 and the passage prior to it discusses the battle we struggle within our bodies against sin:  “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.   O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”   Haven’t we all cried out, on probably more than one occasion, “O wretched man that I am? Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”  Many of us hate the sin that is in us.  And all of us have areas of weakness in us that are more prone to yielding to temptation than others.  But, then Paul in the next sentence declares the answer to our cry; “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Notice he doesn’t say, praise God, I’ll try harder next time.  If you could overcome that sin and temptation, wouldn’t you have already done it?  One of our biggest sources of failure is reliance upon our own strength to fix the problem.  The fix is in Christ not in us.  But you say “I prayed and it didn’t help.”

Some of us have become so guilt ridden and condemned by our sin that we have given up and said “it is no use, I can’t change and God can’t possibly love me like this.”  GOD DOES STILL LOVE YOU AND HE HASN’T GIVEN UP ON YOU!  This is why you need a savior, because you are unable of yourself to change yourself.  The change and deliverance we seek comes from us working in concert and cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 8 Paul starts out by saying, “There is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.  Our faith in Christ has brought us into Him.  In Christ is where we now reside and live out our lives by the Spirit, not in the flesh.  Does that mean it’s okay to sin since there is no more condemnation.  No, it is telling us that our mind and heart are no longer set on the former attitudes and desires for sin.  We are “in Christ”, so our heart is to please Him.  It is not “I’ve got to do this and this and not do that.”  It is by setting my eyes and my heart on Christ.  “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” Galatians 2:20.  Paul says there are two spiritual laws at work here.  “For the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death.” We who are in Christ now live by a higher law, “the law of the Spirit of Life.”   In this law it is not in our self-efforts we overcome temptation, it as we walk in the Spirit (the higher law) that we put to death the deeds of the flesh.  “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Overcoming the flesh is then turning inward to the Spirit of God, into Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to have His expression through us as He becomes everything to us.  We are exchanging our old nature for His divine nature.  We are transformed as we renew our minds to line up with the Word of God in our thinking and walk in the revelation of who we are in Christ.  If the monster of temptation is not fed he starves and withers away.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Focus

November 15, 2017

 

Focus

 

Psalms 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers

 

Don’t you find that one of the most difficult things about maintaining and living the Christian life is focus?  We have minds that are always active and going and often, before we even realize it, they are going the wrong way.  We love the Lord.  We want to serve Him, obey Him and walk in His truth, but sometimes it seems as earnest as we are in our endeavors to live for Christ, we are equally distracted by the world, the demands and the enticements around us.  We often catch ourselves and become frustrated that our lives and hearts can become so fragmented as we find ourselves loosing focus of our full committed walk in Christ.  We find ourselves in the description that Paul gives in Romans 7:14-25, “14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!

“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

Many of us have experienced the frustration of wanting and trying so hard to live godly in Christ Jesus only to turn around and find ourselves blundering in the very areas we want to be free of.   While inwardly we died to sin and our lives are hid with Christ in God.  Outwardly we are continually warring in our members with drawings and enticements of sin and the flesh.  This is an age-old struggle and certainly one that is not original with any one of us.  The question we struggle with is how do I maintain the victory?

Our heart tends to be where our focus is.  There is a reason that the Word exhorts us to meditate on the Word day and night.  What we think upon is what we become.  If our thoughts are often worldly, lustful, contentious, covetous, discontent, rebellious or whatever way they want to take us, they will lead us in that direction if we give place to them.  Paul cries out in his frustration,

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  Then he answers his own question, “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Outwardly we want to be ruled by the natural laws and circumstances of this World, but we live under a different law.  Romans 8:1-4 tells us, “1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 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.  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.”  Our deliverance from our struggles with sin is not found in our efforts to fight it outwardly, but by our turning our focus and attention on the Spirit of God.  It is only as we walk in the Spirit that we overcome in the flesh.  In order to do that we must maintain a focus that is centered in the revelation of who we now are in Christ.  We so quickly forget or let go of the fact that we are not our own, we are His.  As such, we abide in Christ, in His Word, in His life, in prayer and relationship with Him, that we no longer live in our former desires, but our desire is His desire and our will is His will.  We must maintain our focus on who Christ is in us and who we are in Him.  That is Spirit life.

Take Responsibility

November 2, 2017

Take Responsibility

Genesis 3:11-13

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Even from the beginning of time people have not wanted to take responsibility for their own actions and consequences.  Even as we see Adam and Eve passing the blame for disobedience to someone else, so it continues today.   We are continually reading about lawsuits that people actually win where it is obvious that there own negligence, ignorance or stupidity was to blame, but someone else has to pay for it.  We obviously want to assume as little responsibility and accountability for our actions as is humanly possible.  As a result of the sue-happy society that we live in, insurance companies get rich on malpractice and liability insurance because any little thing gone wrong could result in a lawsuit and someone’s bankruptcy.  Obviously there are many occasions when someone’s omission or commission causes harm or loss to another.   That is where they need to take responsibility for their action or mistakes. 

How does that affect us as Christians?  Do we carry the same mindset and practice of the world?  Jesus gives us principles in the Word that definitely are contrary to the standards and responses of the world.  He says in Matthew 5:38-42, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” “  The standard that Jesus gave was to go beyond what is required to give and forgive.  That pretty much flies in the face of our human nature that wants to do just the opposite and yet that it is a Christ standard of behavior. 

Most of us would say, but don’t you know if you do that you are just going to be a door mat for others to walk all over you?  You have to stand up and fight for your rights.  Is that what Christ taught us?  It doesn’t mean we are without principles and that we don’t stand for our beliefs, but when we go beyond the expected we become empowered because we choose to give beyond what was required. 

Paul addresses an even more disturbing situation that still exists among the church today.  It concerns the lawsuits among believers in 1Corinthians 5:1-11: “1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!  5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!

7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  It is a sad state when brother defruads brother or when we have to go into the world’s court system to seek the world’s justice.  Matters of difference should be arbitrated by the church if, not forgiven altogether. 

Many of us still operate our lives by the natural laws that govern men.  Christ has given us an even higher standard to follow and it is one our flesh probably isn’t going to like, but we need to exercise godly principles.  Maybe you have a legitimate complaint against another but forgiveness needs to be the order of the day, because Christ first forgave us and gave us what we did not deserve and could not earn.  That is the heart He wants for us to live out of.  This is a foreign concept to many of us and not the way we have been brought up to think and believe.  Jesus practiced this principal most of effectively on the cross.  He took responsibility and paid the price for a debt that was not His own.  We will have our crucifixion experiences as well if we are in Him, because “as He is so are we in this world. “  Are we willing to take the responsibility for our actions while at the same time often forgiving the faults and sins of others against ourselves?  Such is the law of Christ.    

 

Blessings,

#kent

Christianity from a Distance

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

    26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Many of us are resigned and content to read our Bibles, listen to Christian broadcasting or to the minister.  Mentally we agree with all that is being said, but practically we may want to avoid personal involvement.  Oh we may give our tithes, to that those who “are called” to do the work of the ministry, but then we are just the “laymen”.  Just let us live a quiet Christian life in our suburban lifestyle; let us live in our daily routines and not get too involved in the mess outside.   The truth is we get real uncomfortable when a situation comes along that gets in our face.  Perhaps there is a family crisis and someone in the family needs financial or physical help.  Don’t we kind of want to look to someone else to do that?  After all we are busy with our lives and the responsibilities we have.  We have our own bills to pay and work to do.  We often embrace the Christian message in spirit, but not in reality.  We are those Christians from a distance type of people that don’t want to get personally involved.  After all, we’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with, right?  God forbid if someone should require our help or assistance that we don’t even know.

James really gets in our face about this issue of virtual Christianity, if you will. We put on our Christian face one minute and the next, when we look away; we forget what manner of people we are supposed to be.  We favor the rich, because somehow we think it might benefit us, not likely.  They will more than likely exploit your favoritism and give you nothing in return.  We discriminate and reject the poor, because we think that they are only there for a hand out and somehow we are better than they are.  And James 2:5-11 tells us, “5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” 

Jesus met people where they were at.  He had the capacity, as we should, to look past their faults and see their need.  James 2: 14-17 says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  You see our armchair Christianity doesn’t qualify us before our Lord.  It isn’t the example He taught and lived.  Faith has to be dynamic, moving and alive in our being or it is just a name and a dead religion.  It has no life in it. 

God presents us with enough opportunities to demonstrate our faith and beliefs in action.  Will we continue to turn away and turn a deaf ear, or will we begin to listen and hear what God wants to do through us personally?  Will our actions or the lack thereof testify against us on the Day of Judgment?  God is calling us off the couch and onto the field.  A couch potato sports fan does not an athlete make.  The same is true of Christianity.  Our God hasn’t redeemed us to be spectators, but participators in the expression of His life through us.  It is time we get into the game and are what we claim.    

Blessings,

#kent

The Fingerprints of God

August 24, 2017

Jeremiah 17:7-10

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind,

to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

 

The Fingerprints of God

The fingerprints of God are seen upon our lives,

In ways we may not comprehend or often realize.

From the miracle of our birth and through our lives we see,

The love of God that kept us and how He cares for you and me.

 

Oftentimes we miss Him, because we are focused on our needs.

We think in doing things our ways is how we should do His deeds.

We so often miss His wisdom in this foolishness of ours.

In wanting all our sunshine we miss the need for showers.

 

Often winds of adversity are simply blessings in disguise,

Without them, there are things in us we would never realize.

Yes they may be painful and counter to our will,

But they often stop our busy tracks and cause us to be still.

 

The fingerprints of God are often dusted aside with blatant disregard,

As the deceitfulness of sin works in us and our hearts become so hard.

The touch of God is upon your life to deliver us from sin.

He wants to be the transforming love that changes us within.

 

Look for His fingerprints upon your life today.

Take a moment now to thank Him as you come and pray.

His fingerprints will change your life if you are sensitive to His touch.

He is able to transform your life where you need His change so much.

Blessings,

#kent

Restoration

August 16, 2017

Jeremiah 31:18-20

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

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

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

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

Restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

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