Philippians 3:3

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

 

Faithfulness to Gifts and Callings

 

The hands that led me and guided me are the hands that held me, changed me and loved me.

Those hands didn’t have a lot of experience and wisdom when they started.  They didn’t have all of the answers or even know all of the rules, but they were faithful with the entrustment that God had given them.   They weren’t rich, greatly educated and were not of any position as the world regards such things, but they worked hard, they kept the faith and they didn’t give up.  They were faithful in what they knew.  It was that lack of self-dependence and the need for God dependence that taught them faith, trust, and reliance upon the One whom is steadfast and faithful.  It is the struggles, the trials, and the continual reaching out to God that develops that patience and steadfastness that turns into wisdom, understanding, giving and sacrifice.  It teaches us to look beyond ourselves, to place no confidence in our flesh, but to rejoice in Christ Jesus who is our life provision.

God has placed an infant of responsibility into each one of our hands.  We may want to withdrawal from it because we lack wisdom, understanding or natural ability.  We can not withdraw from our God-given responsibilities or we end up denying the gift and the Giver.  When God gives us something or calls us to something, we can depend upon Him being faithful to teach us how to be a good parent and steward over it, if we will simply keep our reliance and faith upon Him.  Sometimes we want to abort or give our infant of responsibility to someone else, because it doesn’t fit into our plans and its not what we want.  Most of us have discovered by now that what we want isn’t always what is best for us even if we think it is at the time.  God gives us what we need, to be who He has created us and destined us to be.  All we have to do, to fulfill His destiny for us, is to be faithful to do what He has placed in our hands to do and be what He has placed within us to be in Him.  The motive in us must be for His glory and not our own.  He didn’t create us for our glory, but for His.

Some of us are still pregnant with the gift and calling of God within us.  If we are to fulfill our destiny and calling we must be willing to enter into labor and by God’s grace working in us, bring it forth.  Which of us feels qualified to deal with all that is entailed with a newborn, especially our first?  Parenthood develops in us as we assume the responsibility and care for that child one-day at a time.  We are so proud of our kids because they are the products of what was birthed out of us and by God’s grace we are raising them or have raised them to maturity where they might continue the cycle.

Don’t be afraid about what you don’t know how to do.  Just do what you know and trust God to show you and teach you how to do the rest.   Most importantly, we must not deny what He has placed within us by the Holy Spirit.  We must do what the Lord has placed in our hearts to do and be what He has placed in our hearts to be.  Just as we must assume responsibility for what the Lord has given us, we must not assume ownership of that gift or calling for which we have been called to be faithful stewards.  When we see the fruition and success of that which God has birthed through us, it is easy for us to lifted up in pride over what we have done.  This will be a stumbling block to us if we allow that to happen.  We have been given the privilege to be an overseer of God’s gift, but always remember that it is for God’s glory and not for our own.  Even Jesus who has been given all authority and power in heaven and in earth, when all things have come to full subjection under His feet, then will He yield it back up to the Father.  All things that come out of the Father must return back into Him. ‘We rejoice in Christ Jesus and place no confidence in the flesh.’

Blessings,

#kent

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Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

 

A Life That Makes a Difference

 

When we reflect upon our lives and their meanings, don’t we all want to feel like our life made a difference in the world and had an impact?  Life is not lived to make a void when it is gone, but to make a difference while it is here.  A selfish life is an empty life.  Life is a gift given to us that we may impart into others.  If we miss our purpose, then we have missed our meaning.

The older I get the less I care about what others think of me or how they view me.  My heart is, “God let every day count and let me live it to Your glory by accomplishing Your will.”  I told my brother-in-law the other day at his birthday,  “You know, I feel like I have reached critical mass and I am accelerating into the Son!”  The older we get the more aware we become of the urgency to impact our world and the lives around us.  This is what Jesus intended us to do.

How often in the past have I sat on my light or muffled its sound for fear of offending or not gaining another’s approval?  Do I represent Jesus before men, as I would want Him to represent me before the Father?

Think about what Jesus said concerning the meaning and direction of our life in Mark 8:34-38, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Doesn’t this say that Jesus wants our lights to shine with a passion?  It doesn’t mean we have to be fanatically strange, but then if we are so like Jesus we are going to tend to stick out like a light in a dark place and that’s okay.  There are those who are drawn to the light and then there are those who will recoil back into the darkness.  We are not here to be conformed to the darkness but to dispel it with the light and truth that dwells within us.  Jesus said as much with the way He lived His life as He did with His words.  It is not about meeting a quota and witnessing to so many people, it is about being a witness through the way you live your life and how you lay it down for others.  Some of us feel condemned because we don’t always know what to say or how to say it.  The fact that you take the time to care about someone you don’t know or who can’t benefit you, speaks to the One in you.  The fact that you would just take the time to tell someone how special they are and that God wants them to know that He really loves and cares about them.  We have made it more about pitching religion and getting someone to pray the sinner’s prayer than about really loving and caring about them in the way that Jesus would.  I have found that when people don’t feel like you have an agenda when you approach them in a sincere and loving way, more times than not they are open to that.  They want to know that God really does see them, care about them and love them.  It can be a real blessing even to have a loving stranger offer to pray for you or meet a need.  So many people out there may be smiling on the outside, but they are crying on the inside.  They need and want answers, not just religion and dogma shoved down their throats.  They want to see the reality of it exemplified in the lives of God’s people.  So often they watch those who say they know Christ, but then become disappointed and disillusioned, because they see God’s people acting and being like everyone else.  There is such power in love to bring light into people’s lives, but it has to be the real deal.  People are fed up with the fake and the insincere.  When we can bring the genuine light of Christ into people’s lives, many will respond to it, but it takes more of us that truly look like Him in the way we live our lives and the love that we carry that so exceeds our own.

Man, in his unregenerate state, is a “self-lover”.  It is always about him.  That man or woman that really is a disciple of Jesus has come to that point where they are willing to lay down their lives so that may become “life givers”, rather than “life takers”.   As Jesus said, ‘If we gain the whole world and lose our soul, its worth is as dust falling through our fingers at the end of life.’  We are left empty, desolate and void, even though we may have thought that we had everything.  Now we face eternity as the poorest among men.  The richest are those who spent all to let their light so shine in a way that it brought others to Christ and imparted His goodness into them.  They may have had nothing in this world, but they face eternity with money in the bank of heaven, a smile on their face and rejoicing in their hearts.  They have gained the fullness of life while lighting the way for others to see.  They are a city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden.  They have lived a life that made a difference.

Blessings,

#kent

Beauty

February 14, 2019

 

Beauty

 

Genesis 29:17

Leah [was] tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

 

Isn’t it amazing today as you see all of the television reality shows and what you hear in the attitudes of women?  So many are enamoured with being beautiful and sexy.  Their whole focus is on the outward man.  If they can just have the right kind of looks then everything else will fall into place and happiness will ensue.  The Bible gives an example of two women who were sisters that became the wives of Jacob.  Obviously, the natural eye is attracted to natural and outward beauty.  Jacob was no exception; it was Rachel’s beauty that caught his eye.  On the other hand, we have Leah.  She was no doubt a nice quiet little gal with gentle eyes, but not in the exceptionally beautiful category.

The story goes that Jacob worked seven years for Labon, the girls’ father so that he could marry Rachel.  Come the wedding day, with the veil and all, Labon pulled a fast one and gave Jacob Leah, rather than Rachel.  Naturally Jacob protested, but Labon insisted that the custom was that the elder daughter should marry before the younger and that he could work another seven years and have Rachel as well.  So Jacob ends up with two wives, Rachel the one he loves and is drawn too and Leah, the less desirable one that he is now joined too or stuck with.  It is interesting how God enters into the picture in this marriage.  Genesis 29:31-32 it says, “And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.”

There are some of you ladies out there that may feel you got the short end of the stick, rather perceived or real, you don’t feel beautiful.  You feel undesirable and unattractive.  The natural inclination for all of us is to be good looking, well liked and popular with people.  God in His infinite wisdom didn’t make a good many of us to fall into this category.  What we must see is, that often what we don’t have in one area, God can, and does, make up in another.  Proverbs 31:30 tells the women, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”  In God’s eyes there is something far more beautiful and appealing to Him than outward beauty, it is the inward beauty of a godly heart.  Peter bears this out as well in 1 Peter 3:3-5, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”

Today this scripture might read,  “Whose adorning is not in a nose job, breast implants, calogen treatments, whitened teeth, liposuction, cosmetics, hot clothes or a tan and sculpted body.”  Women spend billions of dollars every year in the name of beauty and there is nothing wrong with looking nice within reason, but our focus and emphasis is all wrong.  How attractive do you want to be to your husband, Jesus?  He is not concerned or attracted to what you look like outwardly, He is looking at the condition of your heart and soul.  He is looking for that meek and quiet spirit that is living in submission to the Holy Spirit, led and guided by Him.  He is looking for women that are living in the fullness of the inward beauty.  If outwardly you are beautiful, but inwardly you are rebellious, arrogant, mean-spirited and controlling does that equate to a beautiful woman?  Regardless of what you have in the way of outward beauty, you do have a say about the kind of person you can be inwardly.  Develop that beauty.  Cause people to be attracted to you, because of the Christ in you.  That beauty is not vain or selfish, it is in the likeness and nature of your husband, Christ.  If you feel like Leah, then be encouraged that God will make you fruitful, for it was out of Leah that the seed-line of Jesus came, not Rachel.  Let your adorning be “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.”  After all, in the end, it is that beauty that appeals and attracts our Savior and that we truly desire to possess.  “A woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Blessings,

#kent

Endings and New Beginnings

February 12, 2019

 

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.”  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 warns 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 every thing, 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.

Remember that the eyes of the Lord are upon you from the beginning to the end.  Make this a time 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 you be blessed with the rain and the waters of His spiritual blessing and presence as you personally walk, possess the land and live for Him.

Blessings,

#kent

The Value of Service

February 4, 2019

 

The Value of Service

Isaiah 55:6-7

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

 

God’s people that walk after His heart are a service-oriented people.  They live to serve.  First they serve their God through obedience, humility and worship.  They serve Him with lives that are yielded to the accomplishment of His will and purpose.  Each is equipped to fulfill this calling in different ways; nevertheless, each one is called to service.  This service is not a function of the will of the flesh or the will of man, it a response of love and fear of the Lord to the Holy Spirit’s direction and opportunity in our lives to serve Him.   We are servants because it is the heart of God in us.  Though He is God and King, He serves His creation.  None of us can deny that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  We ask for His service when we petition Him for our needs and the concerns of our lives.  Jesus came and died to serve us with all the promises contained in His great salvation.  Likewise we may well be God’s answer to prayers prayed by others, as they may be answers to ours.  When I have an itch, I have a hand that is willing to scratch it.  Whatever my body needs, it has members that address those needs.  If my hand should get all caught up in itself and its importance and now it thinks that it should be the center of attention and ministry.  If pride enters into that member it will cease to function in a way that benefits and flows with the needs and ministry of the rest of the body.  Often we can see such hindrances at work in the body of Christ and perhaps we have even become one.  When it becomes about me first and others second, am I functioning with the heart of a servant?

The Lord has blessed each one of us with the ability to be a blessing in some area of our lives.  Too often we are so busy seeking the blessing, that we fail to be the blessing.  Lord teaches us the truth that in our blessing and meeting the needs of others, our needs are met.

Today is our day to seek the Lord while He may be found.  Where He will be found is in that place of true heartfelt humility and repentance.  This is the day for us to forsake our wicked ways and our unclean thoughts.  The mercy of the Lord is there to pardon.  As we move to draw near to God with all of our hearts and our willingness to repent and change, He will begin to put us in position with where we belong in the body of Christ and the service of the Lord.  Serving the Lord is not just about a lot of doing, or programs or committees; it is about fulfilling our calling and function in the body of Christ.  It is already in you to do it as you yield yourself to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to serve through you.  If we are to be somebody’s answer to prayer we need to be in the place of our service.  We need to be operating out of the gifts and abilities the Holy Spirit has given to us to furnish and complete the body of Christ and the Lord’s ministry to a lost and dying world.  Do you really know the value of your service today?  What might seem insignificant to you may mean the world to someone who needs what you can give.

Blessings,

#kent

Desire Wisdom

January 30, 2019

Desire Wisdom

 

Proverbs 2:1-11

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom

and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

 

Among the things that we covet, desire and pursue in the earth, is wisdom one of the primary things?  Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”  Godly wisdom is a much neglected thing and yet just the word “wisdom” is used some 234 times throughout the Word of God, so one might get the impression it is a more important aspect in God’s eyes than many of us realize.  It is far too exhaustive to cover thoroughly in this brief study, but let’s just let God’s Word instruct us in this area today.

First, what is wisdom?  Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.”  James 3:17 tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  It is godly guiding principles of life that helps one to produce the fruit of godliness in their life and walk.

How does one obtain it?  Job 28:28, Proverb 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 pretty closely agree and bear witness to each other that, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy (to depart from evil) [is] understanding.” It says that fools will despise wisdom and instruction.  So, if you be among the wise, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;(Proverbs 2:2) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly (Proverbs2:6-7).”

Why is it so important?  Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.”  It is so important, because learning wisdom is learning the way of the Lord.  It is our instruction and way of salvation.  It is the path that leads to life.   Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell [it] not; [also] wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”  I think this is a key verse to understanding a couple of passages in the New Testament.  If we think about this wisdom as like the oil of godly understanding, of principled living, of the knowledge which leads us into relationship and intimacy with Him, then we might get a little insight into Matthew 25:1-13.  The parable about the ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish.  We just learned that the foolish are those who despise wisdom.  The reason they despise wisdom is because wisdom demands great reverence and respect for God, as well as obedience.  The foolish want to go their own way, be complacent and do their own thing.  Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly [is] joy to [him that is] destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly” Can any of us see that folly in ourselves?  They were all virgins.  They were all looking for Christ’s coming, but we see two different conditions of the heart, one acceptable and one not.   Wisdom is not something you have in a moment of time, it something that you cultivate, grow and mature into.  Wisdom is revealed to those that love her, seek after, cherish and respect her.  She is a relational creature and one you must grow in relationship with.   Proverbs 19:8 says, “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”  Ecclesiastes 2:13 says, “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”

Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, [and] strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure”  “My son, attend unto my wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1).”  Perhaps through these many passages and exhortations of wisdom we are given even more a sense and gravity to the exhortation of Revelations 3:15, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.  So because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and the miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayes become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest cloth thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.   As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.”  This is the exhortation to the foolish virgin to go get and buy wisdom before it is too late.

Let us pursue wisdom whereby our lamps are filled with oil and we are not filled with a false sense of security and riches; but of a truth, we are rich in the wisdom and the mind of our God.

Blessings,

#kent

The Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

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

Walking as Jesus Did

January 7, 2019

1 John 2:1-6

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

 

Walking as Jesus Did

 

Our purpose as a Christian believers is not what a lot of us made it or thought it to be.  Our purpose as Christians and believers is to “walk as Jesus did.”  As believers, Christ has delivered us out of the law of sin and death with its ordinances and commandments.  When He brought us into the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus He gave us but one law, the law of LOVE.  He taught us that when you truly walk in that law, all the others will be fulfilled.

Love honors its object whether it is God or man.  Honor holds in highest regard.  Obedience to the Word of God is the love and honor to Jesus and the Father.  When we honor Jesus, we honor Father.  When we obey the Word of God, then we walk in the love of God.

Meditate carefully on this previous paragraph, because it is the meat of our Christian faith.  Now, John lets us know this so that we won’t make sin any more a choice or a lifestyle.  But “if” we sin we have our Jesus who stands in the gap for us and atones for our sin.  Sin is the object of God’s wrath,  we are the objects of His mercy and grace.  If we choose to allow sin to abide in us we harbor that which is at enmity with God and that is not love, it is selfishness. Jesus paid everything and suffered everything to separate God’s wrath from our sin.  He became that sin for us and took that wrath for us, upon His own person.  What manner of love and honor do we have for our Jesus if after knowing and receiving this we would continue in sin?

Our objective as believers is no longer about sin and self, it is about honoring the Father by obedience to the Word and living as Jesus did.   Some of us are of the opinion that this isn’t possible.  All things are possible to him that believes and walks no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Holy Spirit is your guide to walk as Jesus walked and even to do the things that Jesus did.  Even as we endeavor to walk this way we stumble and we hit pitfalls.  God is never there to bring us again under condemnation, but always the blood of Jesus is there to wash away our sins through repentance and keep us in a place of restored fellowship and relationship.

Jesus never asked us to earn His goodness or favor.  He freely gave that to us.  He simply asked us to believe in Him who is the Word and obey the things He taught us.  Jesus says in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  Our relationship with God is built on faith in Christ and the Word and our obedience to it.  Through this we demonstrate our love and honor to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is the very one that enables us to do this as we trust and rely wholly upon Him.  If we are not in this place of trust and obedience then we can’t say that we really know Him.  To know Him is to become like Him in all of our ways.  When we are in this place then it should be easy for others to recognize the Christ in us, because our life will be about Him, no matter what our occupation or what we are doing.  He is the object of our love as we are the object of His.  In that place we honor Him by our obedience and by walking as Jesus did.  This is the love and calling of God concerning us.

Blessings,

#kent

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