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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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

Taking Love to the Next Level

December 20, 2017

Luke 6:32

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.

 

Taking Love to the Next Level

 

Most of us can get along with most people, most of the time, but there never fails to be those “irregular” people in your life that just rub you the wrong way.  Their attributes and characteristics may be many and varied, but bottom line, “its hard to really love them”.  In most cases we steer away from them in as much as it is possible, but like it or not, they are going to be there.  I think  Jesus was addressing our love for some of these irregular people when He spoke these words in Luke 6.  Let’s take a closer look at the context of what Jesus is saying here in Luke 6:27-36.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32″If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Jesus is calling us to a level of love that few have really walked in and put into daily practice.  We would like to think we are there, but how many of us truly love unconditionally?  When we love, it is human nature to want to have that love or goodness reciprocated.  How do we feel and react when it isn’t?  Looking at the divorce rate in our marriages, it obviously shows up there and just about as much in believers as non-believers.  That’s not to condemn anyone, because the point is very few of us are truly walking and responding in this level of love.  This is “agape” or God love.  It is this kind of love that is a decision, not just a feeling.  It is the kind of love that caused Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners and still His enemy.  It is the kind of love that gave us life, when we deserved death and saw past our faults to meet our need.  Is that the kind of love we are extending to the irregular people in our life?  Nothing has the power to change them like that kind of undeserved and unwarranted love.  What we often forget is that love is our greatest weapon against our enemies.  read how Romans 12:9-21 exhorts us to live and walk in love.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Isn’t interesting that this starts out with the phrase, “Love must be sincere” ?  A lot of us extend a pretense or token of love, but when it is pushed or tested it shows itself false or insincere.  I believe God wants to give us the grace of His nature to love the unlovely and to embrace the “irregular”.  Let’s learn to implement the weaponry of love.  Who is that irregular person or persons in your life.  Remember, we are not being asked just to extend our love, but God’s love through us.  Isn’t it time we take our love to the next level?  Supernatural love responds in supernatural ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Every Day

December 18, 2017

 

Every Day

 

Revelations 20:12

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 

It occurs to me as I sit and write that all of us are composing and writing our lives upon God’s books.  Each of us has a life’s novel that tells the story of our lives and what we did with them.  Though the memories of us may fade and we are forgotten in the earth, there is a record that stands, a book that we wrote.

What are we writing in our book?  How will it read back to us as we stand before God and give an account for our lives and what we did with them?  If we feel we have nothing else, our life is our talent, to use for God’s glory and purpose or for our own.  The sad part is, none of us can ever go back and erase what we did the day before or the years before.  The ink is already dry upon the page.  The good news is that today is still to be written and our tomorrows after that.  What are we writing upon the pages of our life?  Will it be a story that pleases the Father or one in which we stand ashamed at a life wasted and that brought forth no lasting value in its life’s pursuits?

All of us have our regrets, our failures and our pages we wish that we could write over.  The important thing for us not to forget is that we are still writing this book.  Ecclesiastes says that as long as there is life there is hope.  Will your book be a story of transformation from death to life?  Will it be a story of how your life was a blessing; not only to God, but also to the lives you touched?  What are we going to write in our book today and through the coming weeks and years?

Psalms 118: 4 says, “This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  There is a Latin phrase, “Carpe diem”, simply, “seize the day”, make the most of every moment that we have breath and life.

Solomon was a man that had and could have all that his heart desired. He set out to find the meaning and purpose of life.  At the end, this is what he had to say and we will conclude with his words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 12.  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”

The Conclusion of the Matter

13 Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

May we consider carefully every day how we write each page of our book.

Blessings,

#kent

War in the Heavens

December 13, 2017

War in the Heavens

 

 

Ephesians 6:10-13

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

 

We experience most of our world through the realm of the five senses.  Based on the input from our senses our brain evaluates that information and outputs response accordingly.  In Christ we come to realize that there is a sixth sense, if you will, that must be developed and exercised.  It is spiritual discernment.  We come to realize that not everything that pertains to life is contained in the natural realm.  Even the natural world recognizes this as evidenced by all the movies that have their basis on spirit type of experiences.  Most are perversions of the truth and yet they have some basis of truth in them.  They often center on the fact that there are evil spirits and influences in the world.  While many of the movies are made to create an atmosphere of fear, God wants to create in us an atmosphere of faith and confidence in His Word and authority through that Word.  God wants His people to be as aware and cognizant of the spiritual realm as we are of the natural realm.  In this earth, through our natural life, we operate out of both realms.  The Spirit and the Word are constantly teaching us how one impacts the other.  Paul is exhorting in this passage to put on a spiritual armor and he goes on to tell what that consist of.  He is letting us know that we are engaging in an arena of spiritual battle that is not flesh and blood, but it well can manifest itself through flesh and blood.  Just as we are yielded to the Spirit of God and the Spirit can move through us to impact our natural world the same is true of the spirit of evil.  Through our faith and prayer life we are actively engaging these forces and are often feeling their resistance.  It is usually when you are really committed to God and living for Him that we begin to feel the evidence of that resistance and opposition to us the most.  This is why Paul is exhorting us not to go out unprepared or without spiritual armor.  It is essential to our being able to stand in the battle.

There is a war going on the heavenlies of our mind today.  We are being attacked constantly and often quite subtly by the powers of darkness.  The enemy is constantly seeking to exploit our weaknesses and desires to gain entrance for the purpose of undermining our walk and relationship with Christ.  It is something we can not take for granted or become complacent about or sin springs up and reaps an evil and destructive harvest in our lives.  Learn what it is to apply the spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6:14-18 and stand, not afraid, but ever watchful of the enemy of your soul and destroyer of your faith.

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.

Many Trickles Make an Ocean

November 1, 2017

Many Trickles Make an Ocean

Isaiah 60:22

A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.

This is the last verse of Isaiah 60, which is a glorious chapter of the glory that shall fill God’s people, and the how the whole earth shall come to the brightness of their light.  Let’s look at the first portion of the chapter to get a flavor of it’s message in verses 1-5:  “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at [thy] side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”  Doesn’t it just blow your socks off that All Mighty God wants to use the likes of us to express His great glory and power?  He wants to use these seemingly weak, frail and cracked vessels to fill with the treasure of His glory and presence that He might draw all nations to Himself.  Most of us look at ourselves and think, “what am I that God should be mindful of me?”  We are the little trickling streams and springs that feed the creeks that feed the rivers that flow into and fill the ocean.

This past weekend we had the privilege of spending a weekend at a ski resort.  Our last day we rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain and down below you could see the pockets of snow melting and releasing their trickles of water down the mountainside. These would in turn join with other trickles, which would flow into streams that ran down and flowed into mighty rivers that were essentially a collection of many small trickles that would eventually run down and fill the ocean.  It was such a beautiful picture of how all of God’s saints have a portion and gift of God to release from their lives.  If we are all faithful to the portion and gift God has placed in each one of us how it all comes together to become a dynamic flow of God’s life that impacts the nations and world around us.  As we all flow in obedience to the Holy Spirit within us there are no limitations to what can and will done through us.  If we hold back and dam up the life giving water within us then we become stagnant pools that become breeding places for insects and disease.  The life flow is hindered and some thirsty souls are robbed of the life you have to give.  We can’t use false humility to say we don’t have anything worthwhile, because that is a lie.  I find that with what I share if I am willing to step out in faith and act on the small portion God prompts in my heart He will give the increase and supply.  I could never boast and say it is because of my great spirituality and knowledge that I write these papers.  That is just God working through a willing vessel.  He wants to do no less through you and in many cases He wants to do much more.  John 7:38 says, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”  We live in dry and thirsty land spiritually.  We are God’s source for watering the earth.  We are the clouds filled with the Spirit of God.  We are the life givers that bring morality, godliness and balance back into an otherwise perverse and sin driven world on its way to the precipice of destruction.  God’s people are the instruments God has chosen to bring restoration and life.  Christ in us, the body of Christ, is what will bring the rule and reign of God’s kingdom in the earth.   What we experience now is a foretaste of what will one day be an outpouring of glory and anointing.  Are you ready?  Are you learning now to live and exercise and give forth what God has placed in you?  God is training His people.  All that He is working in us is to empower these little trickles of His life to become a force of godliness and Christ natured beings to be reckoned with.  You are the instrument of God’s glory, be faithful in His hands.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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