The Backside of Love

January 5, 2018

Hebrews 12:14-11

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

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

 

The Backside of Love

 

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

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

Let’s face it, our flesh is self-serving, self-preserving and self edifying.  It is all about me, what I like, what I want, what feels good and what looks good.  The Cross is our instrument of discipline that brings us to the end ourselves and begins shaping us in the image and the nature of Christ.  In order to come into His likeness, my likeness has to be done away with.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

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

so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

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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

 

The Power of the Life Within

 

Romans 8:1-4

Therefore, 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.

 

John 3: 17-18 says, “17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn man; He came into the world to condemn sin in man.  Man could never fulfill the righteousness requirements of the law because of sin, but Jesus through taking our sin upon Himself and paying the penalty disannulled the power of sin to condemn those who receive the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus by faith.  As long as a man chooses to live in sin, he lives under the condemnation of it, but now we have an alternative lifestyle whereby we might come out of sin and walk in the righteousness of the Son of God.  Jesus became the high priest and the administrator of a sinless life.  His holy priesthood is now about life, righteousness and godliness.  His intercession in that priestly position is in our behalf to bring us into the power and authority of His life.  Concerning the priesthood of Jesus Hebrews 7:15-19 says this, “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

There is a dispensation of power that is brought unto those who believe through God the Father by way of His Son Christ Jesus.   We, who by faith, trust and obedience have embraced Christ, have received a calling to come up into this priestly calling of an endless and indestructible life.  That life now abides in us through His Spirit.  Romans 8:10-14 tells us, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. ¶ Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  The Lord has called us to walk by the Spirit, for it is in the Spirit that we abide and walk in the life of God.

We have all heard the expression that ‘knowledge is power’.  The power to be partakers of the divine nature is in the knowledge of the Lord.  2 Peter 1:3-4 declares to us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One and His precepts are what anchor us to His life and preserve us in a right way.  This morning, as we read Proverbs 4, it affirms this truth.  Verses 5-15 tells us, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” 10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”  Finally, in Ephesians 1:11-23 the Apostle Paul speaks these powerful words, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. 15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Today has been much scripture that I pray is speaking into our lives a revelation of what it is to know Him.  He has called us unto resurrection power and life.  For this power to work in us we must know Him, not in our heads, but in experience and in our hearts.  God has unleashed an unfathomable power toward us who believe to come forth in the power of His life, but it is only realized as we are caught up into His life by our daily walk and living.  This may seem rather out there and ultra spiritual to some of you reading, but I believe there is a dimension of God’s life that He has called us too and that we aren’t fully experiencing.  It is in the knowledge of Him.  He wants to bring us beyond a superficial knowledge into an intimate knowing of power and life.  It isn’t everyone that can hear this and not everyone that will press into it, but to him that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is speaking.

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

Be Angry and Sin Not

December 5, 2017

Be Angry and Sin Not

Ephesians 4:26-27

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

 

Anger is a God given emotion.  While it is not sin to be angry, it carries with it the potential for sin.  On the other hand it can be an emotion that motivates us out of a place of passivity and complacency.  Any emotion or feeling we give place too has the potential to lead to sin if it is not brought under the control of the Holy Spirit within us.  Most all of us are aware of what uncontrolled anger can do and the harm it can cause both emotionally and physically.  Many marriages are broken and people reside in prison as a result of anger.  The Word of God gives us some insight into the right place of anger through the example of Jesus when he saw the misuse and abuse of the temple of the Lord by the money- changers.  He saw the greed and corruption at work in the Temple, which was to be a place that was to bring relationship and connection with God.  Jesus didn’t just immediately fly off the handle.  He took the time to make a whip of cords to be the instrument of His wrath to drive the moneychangers out of the temple. His anger had a purpose and was God directed. (John 2:14-17 “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.  And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up”)  We often think of Jesus as just being a man of love and compassion, but there was another side of Jesus that didn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, hypocrisy and abuse of others.  There was a holy anger and zeal of God that rose up in Jesus against such things.  It is this kind of anger that often rises up in God’s people to bring about change in lawful ways.

What about the issues of anger that we may deal with on a daily basis?  They may not be so noble in their cause.  Anger can not always just be ignored or repressed.  That can just place more powder in a powder keg that will one day result in even more extreme consequences if we don’t deal with it.  At the same time anger can’t just be reacted too unchecked.  It should be filtered through the Spirit within us to judge our motives in each circumstance it arises.  While anger may arise at times and can actually cause us to deal with and address issues that we may otherwise avoid, the scripture says it is not something we want to hold on too.  The Word gives us about a day to deal with it.  But it tells us if it is still there when the sun goes down it is time to let it go.  Anger held onto becomes unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness removes us from right relationship with God and blocks the flow of His forgiveness to us.

The spirit of anger and wrath is a fruit of the flesh and not the Spirit and cannot be given place in our hearts because it is sin. (Ephesians 4:31″Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: “)  The theme of the passage in Ephesians 4 that addresses the subject of anger is primarily about being renewed in the spirit of our minds.  While we have emotions, they cannot rule us.  The Spirit and the peace of God must rule in our hearts.  The former areas of emotion and sin that ruled us must do so no longer.  Now we put off these former attitudes and behaviors as we put on Christ and that mind that is in Him.

Blessings,

#kent

Take Responsibility

November 2, 2017

Take Responsibility

Genesis 3:11-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

Green Pastures

October 26, 2017

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest.  It is the green pastures of His rest.  There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth.  There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye. 

Some of us are still searching for this green pasture.  It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life.   Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.   

It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt.  Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them.  When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain.  Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful.  ‘He has led us out here to let us die.  We should have never trusted Him.  We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’  Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts.   In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah.  The waters were bitter and the people could not drink.  Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us?  Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed.  Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts.  Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing?  Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives?  Do we get anxious and panic?   Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need.  Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest.   Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again.  Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Those green pastures speak of His life.  Whatis the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth? 

When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it?  We are testing it for integrity and service.  We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency.  God often proves our faith the same way.  He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts.  He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts.  Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him.  It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test.  When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision.  It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances.  No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful. 

Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness.  Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us.   Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Proverbs 10,12,13

October 24, 2017

Proverbs 10,12,13

Proverbs 10

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;

what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,

but the righteous stand firm forever.

27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous,

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Proverb 12

1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the LORD,

but the LORD condemns a crafty man.

3 A man cannot be established through wickedness,

but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

15 The way of a fool seems right to him,

but a wise man listens to advice.

26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, [a]

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;

along that path is immortality.

Proverbs 13

The righteous hate what is false,

but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity,

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it,

but he who respects a command is rewarded.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,

turning a man from the snares of death.

15 Good understanding wins favor,

but the way of the unfaithful is hard. 16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,

but a fool exposes his folly.

24 He who spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Blessings,

#kent

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Christian Community Living

October 16, 2017

Christian Community Living

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Often we find ourselves a living contradiction to the exhortation of God’s Word.   Most of us have a Christian community among whom we associate and fellowship, It may be in or out of a local church, but we have a family of Christian friends.  It is very easy for all of us to find ourselves making criticisms and judgements about those within our family.  Perhaps they are making the same type of observations and criticisms of us.  None of us are so naïve that we think that our Christian community and even ourselves are without faults and shortcomings.  As long as our humanity exists outside the full redemption and transformation of Christ we will have trouble in paradise. 

We must ask ourselves what is our function in Christ? Is it to tear down or to build up?  Why do we tolerate all of the faults that each one of us has personally within ourselves?  We don’t have a choice while we are living; we either have to change what we can change and give ourselves grace and forgiveness for the rest or end our life altogether.  If Christ has commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves, then don’t we need to extend that same grace and tolerance to others within our Christian circle and especially toward our leadership?  They are not going to do everything the way we would, but they need our prayers and support, not our criticism and condemnation.  The first people that we must extend kindness and the fruit of the Spirit towards is our brethren. 

Sometimes we all need a rebuke or exhortation.  Sometimes we really need encouragement and understanding.  Sometimes we just need those who will love and accept us for who we are.  We should find all of that operating in our Christian community out of love.  We need to take care of and minister to one another as we would our selves. 

Experience the joy of the Lord in your living.  Pray and put the Lord at the forefront of all of your needs or the needs you see in others.   Pray and thank the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving, even before you see the answers to your prayers.  Let faith arise in our hearts from the moment we make our petitions to our Father in heaven. 

Let us not quench the Spirit, but create an environment of worship and praise where the Holy Spirit feels welcome and has freedom to move through each one of us and to allow the gifts that God has imparted unto each one of us to have expression.  We must listen, learn and discern the voice and the word of the Lord.  What we hear may be a new thing, but it will not go contrary to the Word of God, but the Word of God will affirm it if it is of Him. 

God is working His salvation in us spirit, soul and body.  It is a process and we are all at different stages in the process.  Let us extend love, grace, help and mercy to one another.  Let us be long-suffering, over looking the faults and seeing the needs in one another.  Allow God’s life to flow through you to be the blessing to your community: the vessel of peace and love that He has intended.

Blessings,

#kent

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