Suffer the Little Children

October 15, 2019

 

Suffer the Little Children

 

Mark 10:13-16

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and [his] disciples rebuked those that brought [them.  But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  And he took them up in his arms, put [his] hands upon them, and blessed them.

 

Our children are so often ignored and neglected in spiritual things.  We are faithful to feed them, cloth them and provide them with all manner of toys and devices of entertainment, but in a world that is rampant with perversity and sin are we providing what they need most?  I believe Jesus has time for no others like He does for children.  Their simplicity, their trusting innocence, their complete confidence in us as parents to provide and care for them is exactly what the Lord is looking for in all of us that come to Him.  These are basic Kingdom principles.  The wonder years of our children are the fertile ground in which the love and relationship with the heavenly Father needs to be nurtured and grown.  If we are not planting Life in them, then something else is replacing it and the fruit of it will be death.

Sometimes our children grow up and even though we were faithful to plant the Word of God in their hearts and teach them the ways of the Lord they seem to walk away and turn their backs on the Life we labored to give them.  That is when we stand upon the promise of Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.”  I don’t believe God’s Word comes back void, especially when it is combined with prayer and faith.  So if you have children that have walked away from God, take encouragement from God’s Word and never give up praying and believing.

Let’s be vigilant to nurture and feed the most precious treasure you and your child posses, their soul.  I am so thankful for a mother that nurtured that in me, that taught me about Jesus from an early age and prayed with me every night as a small child.  Through the years of my life there have been times I have walked away and been unfaithful, but the roots of God’s Word and Love have grown deep in my soul and His Love continues to draw me back to Him.  Be faithful in this area with your children and grandchildren.  There is not a more precious investment you can make, than in bringing them constantly to Jesus.  He wants to sit them upon His lap and bless them.  Let us not error as the disciples and hinder them from that place of relationship and time in His presence, but let us be diligent to nurture and develop them to really know their Savior.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Enemy of our Complacency

 

 

Luke 21:36

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

Lately there has been a trumpet sounding in my spirit of which I am not fully responding to, as I ought.  One of the greatest tactical moves an enemy can have is the element of surprise.  We certainly saw this on 9/11 when a handful of men were able to hijack our planes and bring to pass such destruction and mayhem that not only the initial attack crippled and maimed lives, but the resounding ripples impacted every person in this country.  We, as the body of Christ, have fallen into that same kind of slumber and complacency.  We’ve hung our spiritual armor in the closet, kicked off our shoes of the preparation of the gospel and put our feet up as we watch and take in the spirit of this world that is desensitizing us and dulling us down to sin and moral corruption.  Those that are crying out against these things are labeled extremists and religious zealots.

If I can see this in my own life then I know it is typical of a majority of Christians in this nation and abroad.  The question we need to be asking and the response we need to be taking is, “What is God saying, what is the Spirit saying in this hour to the Church?”  The trumpet I am hearing sound is a general alarm for us to get off our spiritual couches and put on our armor.  Be prepared for the battle that is at hand.  It is a day of preparation and especially a time when we all need to attuned to the voice of God in our lives.

This is a day when we need to revisit the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, “1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Many of us have become drunk with the wine of this world and our spiritual senses have become dulled.  It is a day for us to encourage one another, to rouse each other up out of slumber and complacency and into a state of readiness.  Events and things are coming that will change the landscape or our daily lives.  The Lord is warning us that now is the time for preparation and not then.  When it is here it will be too late.

The Lord is sounding a trumpet in Zion, can your hear it?  Will you respond to it?  It is not a trumpet to fear, but to readiness, renewed commitment and diligence to relationship with our Lord.  It is to those that are abiding in Him, that dwell under the safety and shadow of the Most High.

One of our greatest enemies and dangers is our complacency.  We must wake up out of slumber and stupor.  In Matthew 13 where Jesus gives the parable of the wheat and the tares, He says they were both allowed to grow up together until the time of harvest.  This is the state we see the church in today.  It is a mixture of flesh and spirit.  I once heard it explained that these tares were like a plant called darnel.  It looks very much like wheat, but if you eat it, it will make you drowsy.  We must guard against a watered down gospel and a spirit of worldly acceptance.  It is a day to put on the whole armor of God that we may stand in the day of battle.  Christ has provided all that we need to defeat and undo the enemy.  Our problem is not a lack of spiritual weapons and power to overcome, for we operate from a place of victory and triumph in Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified) says, “But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere.   Our problem is that fact that the old identity of self is still at the forefront our thinking and behavior.  We must come to our awareness of our position in Christ and live and operate out of that position.  The scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5 encourages that we are to encourage one another and build each other up in our faith.  Let us be faithful to wake up to our faith and calling, as well as encouraging others to do likewise.  We are not the judges, but the watchmen of one another to keep and restore each other in the faith.

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:7-10)”

Blessings,

#kent

Ethics of the Kingdom

September 18, 2019

Luke 3:7-14

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10″What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told

them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

 

Ethics of the Kingdom

 

It is interesting to see here that John the Baptist’s message was not unlike Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount.  John was already teaching practical kingdom principles of behavior and conduct.  People from different walks of life were asking John what they needed to do after they had repented of their sins and been baptized.

We, as the body of Christ, transformed by the power of Christ, still often find ourselves in a quandary concerning our business, financial and ethical dealings.  We most often work in the midst of the world around us and can easily be influenced and adopt those paradigms and business practices that are not kingdom.  Human nature is to normally do what best benefits you.  Am I right?

Kingdom living principles are well expressed in Philippians 2:1-11.  “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We can easily see that kingdom principles run counter to the competitive, ‘dog eat dog’ world that we live in today.  The principles of the world are self-serving, but the principles of Christ are considering the interest of others before myself.  If we want to know and see kingdom principles in action we need to go no further than to look at the King Himself.  He was everything, yet came to us as nothing, that He might impart unto us all the riches of His kingdom.  I’ll never forget hearing what a speaker said many years ago that summarized it so well.  “The Son of God became the Son of man, so that the son’s men could become the sons of God.”  Jesus could have come to make Himself rich and powerful, but that wasn’t His mission.  His mission was to seek and save that which was lost and give His life as a ransom for all.  In that mission He is redeeming a kingdom of kings and priests that will display His likeness and glory.  As we walk in discipleship and relationship with Christ we are putting on His nature as His character is being worked within us.

I feel convicted that the Holy Spirit wants each of us to examine which paradigm and mindset we may be operating under.  How often do we use the devices, manipulation, and wisdom of this world for our own gain, while we often ignore what is in the best interests of others?  For many of us, our method of operation (MO) has become so instilled in us that we aren’t even aware of how we may be very similar in doing the same things these tax collectors and soldiers were doing before they came to repentance.  Many of us don’t really consider how much we still operate out of worldly principles, because it is the way of the marketplace.  Now, He wants us to observe ourselves and consider if we, as a kingdom people, are operating our lives and businesses out of kingdom principles?  Let’s ask Him to put His finger on the areas we are out of alignment with His will as we prayerfully go about our business.

Especially in these difficult times it is hard not to be concerned about the bottom line, but we know that there is a higher road to greater blessing.  Let us consider our ways and turn toward it.

Blessings,

#kent

Effects of Corruption

September 17, 2019

 

Effects of Corruption

 

Galatians 6:8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

 

In this day and age many of us deal with computers.  They are a great tool and instrument of help anda  blessing to our lives as long as they are working properly.  When something starts to go south they can become a tremendous source of frustration.  Sometimes we experience a corruption in our software and it may start as a minor glitch, but it rarely gets better on its own and left to itself it could eventually affect and shutdown our whole system.

The effects of sin work much the same way in us.  When we give place to areas of sin in our lives it is often minor at first, but the more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.  Little by little it leads us down a path of greater and greater corruption.  It is like a cancer that may manifest in one area of our body.  Left unattended it can grow and spread till it can affect other areas of the body as well.  It can overtake us to point that we begin to lose moral compass and control over its direction.  Often times, the Holy Spirit will deal with us about it and even send others into our life to exhort us and warn us of our corruption.  The corruption of sin can again rule over us if it is given place and allowed to have dominion.  That sin will eventually manifest itself to the point that it can be spiritually life threatening and totally destructive to our lives.  That which we sought to hide in the corner may be suddenly shouted from housetops and we can find ourselves publicly naked and humiliated.  Those that once admired us may now despise us because of the reproach our corruption has brought upon us.  All that we had spent years building in reputation and integrity can be destroyed in a moment.  It is vitally important that we judge ourselves, lest we be judged.  Whom the Lord loves He chastens.

If we find corruption in our lives, our remedy is repentance, changing our mind and going the other direction.  This isn’t always easy because of the stronghold that sin can have upon us.  We may well need to humble ourselves and go to other mature members of the body of Christ to help us in these areas of bondage and corruption.  Freedom from corruption will first begin to come with our decision and commitment to get free from it.  We may need some help and deliverance, but we still have the power of Christ within to enable us to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  Perhaps there is corruption at work in many of us that we need to deal with, confess, and get deliverance from, that we might live a life of liberty and freedom in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

 

Trivial words fade quickly from the hearing,

as does the familiarity of life from our memory.

When that which is trivial and familiar is passed away,

is there the substance of faith and reality to take its place?

When all that is known, becomes unknown,

and the life we’ve known comes tumbling down,

is our foundation strong to build again upon

those things which can not be moved, eternally sound?

Heaven and earth will pass away,

but God’s Word will always remain.

He is the confidence that anchors our hope,

when all else is stripped from its context and frame.

 

When Life gets Turned Upside-down

 

There can come a time in our life, and it may have already occurred in yours, when either naturally of supernaturally our world, as we know it, falls apart.  All that was familiar and comfortable becomes unhinged and discomfited.  We may lose our career, a loved one passes, we are bankrupted, our children run away or get in trouble; there are multitude of ways our life can get turned upside down.  While those transitions in life are rarely desirable, they may put to the test all that we have lived and believed.  All of sudden all the beliefs that we had neatly folded in our box become dumped out and the very fabric of all that we called faith is tested.  In those moments of turmoil we may be desperately trying to find God in the midst and thick of it.

“How could He let this happen?”  “Why?” ” Where are you God?”

It is probably much the way Job felt when satan was allowed to touch his life in almost every area.  If we live in our natural mind and reasoning, then all we can see and comprehend are our natural circumstances.  We may have grown so accustomed to the blessings of God that we thought we were immune to the trials of life, but God never promised us a life without trials.  Satan’s purpose through the trials might be to kill, steal and destroy.  Most of all, he wants you to doubt God’s love and faithfulness, so that you would turn from God and count Him unfaithful.  He wants to steal your identity in Christ.

We have to ask ourselves, in the story we see of Job, what was God heart and His ultimate purpose in allowing such calamity, pain and devastation in Job’s life?  In the end it gave Job a greater revelation of God in His holiness and majesty.  In the end, because Job retained his integrity and faith, God promoted him to a place of priesthood where he was interceding and making sacrifice for his accusers and fault-finders and he was brought into a double portion of all that he formerly had, as great as that already was.

Father isn’t out to make us fail or to make our lives miserable, but out of pain is often birthed a greater blessing that can bring us up higher into Him.  We won’t always understand its purpose at the time and it may feel like God has totally abandoned and forsaken us, but He is causing us flex our faith, not our intellect or natural abilities.  He is causing us to trust Him in what we can’t see.  Our response should be to bless the Lord in those times, not to curse Him and turn away.  Even Job, without the Word of God to draw upon, had a revelation of this truth in his heart.

Job 1:21-22 says that after Job heard of all that had come upon his property and family, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Will that be our response if and when our world is turned upside down?  These will be the times when the true metal of our faith will be tested.  It may be so bad, we don’t think it could be any worse and then it gets worse and it continues to get worse, but God never ceases to be God or to sit upon the throne.  If we truly know Him, He will be the anchor in the storm that keeps us from running aground on the rocks of circumstances and unbelief.  He is still there in the boat with us as we are weathering our storm and it may seem He is asleep in the hull of the boat and oblivious to all that is happening around us.  We may be crying out, “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?”.

Just remember if you perish, Christ perishes with you, because He is in you.  In those times, can you still remember who you are, “IN CHRIST”?   Circumstances can change, but God’s word doesn’t change and Jesus doesn’t  change.  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  You are anchored to eternity in Him.  Even if your outward man would perish, you have a building, a tabernacle made by God, eternal in the heavens.

What we must have as saints of God, is an immovable faith and trust that can not be shaken by heaven or hell.  A faith so grounded in Christ that even when our mind can’t wrap itself around it and our reason fails us, our faith remains steadfast and firm.  Either God is who He says He is or we have believed in vain.

There may be or come times in our life when nothing makes sense.  That is when faith in God’s Word is your anchor.  We may be in total disorientation and vertigo, but just as a pilot in darkness and storm must rely upon his instruments to give him bearing and orientation, so we must do with the Word of God.  We can’t trust our senses, our feelings or even our intellect; to do so could prove fatal.  God’s Word must remain the anchor of our soul, because we know that even though all else would pass away, God’s Word remains and He is ever faithful.

Blessings,

#kent

 

 

Righteous is the man whose God is the Lord

 

Genesis 15:6

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

 

Man can not truly know righteousness, apart from or outside of God.  He can perform good deeds and may even exceed many of the people of God in good works, but no matter how good, he can not be righteous outside of God.  Righteousness is the byproduct of faith in God.  Genesis 15:6 is the first place that righteousness is used in the Word.  It is used in regards to God speaking to Abraham about giving him a promised son and it says, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  Righteousness is embracing God and His Word in faith.  It is believing and acting upon His Word and that which He quickens to us through the Holy Spirit.  Faith acts in obedience to that which it believes in.  Obedience is the other attribute of righteousness.  Deuteronomy 6:25 says, “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”  You might say then that the formula for righteousness is faith in God plus obedience to God equals the righteousness of God.  We see such a picture of righteousness in the life of Abraham who is like the father of faith.   Abraham knew a closeness and fellowship with God that is rarely paralleled even among the other great men of the bible.  Why was Abraham such a friend of God?  What made him so special?  He was a righteous man.  He was righteous because he believed what God told him and he obeyed whatever God told him to do.  Even when he had Isaac the most precious and beloved gift that God had ever given him, one in which he had believed in faith for, many years; God said I want you to sacrifice him to me.  Abraham didn’t argue, he didn’t bow his neck in rebellion or resentment, he obeyed God. God led him to a place three days from where he was so he had plenty of time to think it over and change his mind.  We see here a picture of full and unconditional surrender of his will to God, a willingness to obey God no matter what the cost and a faith in God that he knew God would fulfill His Word to him regardless of what circumstances told him.  That is the picture of righteousness.

The first time the word worship is used in the Word of God is in Genesis 22:5 when Abraham says, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  Even in the words Abraham speaks is the evidence of his faith when he says, “and come again to you.”  The very act of obedience, of faith and the willingness to sacrifice the love of his life was an act of worship.

John Bevier brings out in his teaching on “Drawing Near” that God spoke to him one time and said, “Worship is not a slow song”.  Worship is not just singing songs, or going to church or praying.  “Worship is a life!”  It is a life of righteousness lived out in faith and obedience to God in everything.  That is why Jesus says in John 14:12-15, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].  If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  Many of us pray “in Jesus name” today, but we see limited results, why?  Could it be that we are not fully keeping the conditions of the promise?  Like most kids, we want all of the benefits without all of the responsibility, but they go together.

Finally, in John 15:10-14 Jesus tells his disciples, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  If we want to move from the status of a servant to a friend it requires faith and obedience, these are the righteous ones that commune with God, who know the Son and have intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  These are the friends of God.  This is the righteousness of God by faith, wherein Christ is our righteousness, not by works of the law, but by a life fully surrendered in a continual living act of worship to Him.

Blessings,

#kent

Whirlwind

June 13, 2019

 

Whirlwind

 

Nahum 1:3

The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked]: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds [are] the dust of his feet.

 

Are things being stirred up in our lives?  Have you thought of having an orderly life only to find it going in more different ways than you ever thought possible?  There is a whirlwind moving through our lives, a force of separation that is stirring up and sifting all that is chaff in us.  Left to ourselves, we would be content to let the mud settle out in our lives and the water clear.  On the surface we would look pretty clear and clean, but God knows what lies down in the inner recesses of our hearts.  He is not going to leave it alone and let it stay there.  There is often a whirlwind that passes through our lives and circumstances that stir up things in our lives we might not have even known were there.  There are areas of our lives, feelings, emotions, passions, desires and appetites, that may lie suppressed but never dealt with.  Have you ever thought why is it that things are suddenly coming out of my mouth I would have never thought to say, or things are coming up in my soul I thought were gone.   God is often the whirlwind in the storms that moves through our lives and soul.  The purpose of the whirlwind is to deal with the hidden things in our hearts that have been forgotten, repressed or that we weren’t even aware that they had residence in us.  These whirlwinds that move through our soul can be very unsettling because the Holy Spirit is revealing and showing our true heart in areas.  Sometimes that can be a much uglier sight than we care to admit.  He doesn’t do it to condemn us or embarrass us, He does it to purify us and bring into the light those things in all of us that we have cloaked in darkness and tucked away in the closets of our heart.  The Lord is cleaning His house, He is getting into the closets of our hearts and pulling out all that junk that we had so neatly packed away.  We all know that when we clean something out, in the process we can have quite a mess as we sort through and separate the good from the bad, the needed from the unneeded.  Sometimes our lives can get in quite a mess as the whirlwind of the Holy Spirit is moving through areas of our lives and cleaning house.

Is it disturbing, is it unsettling, is it often bringing us shame or feelings of unworthiness?  Yes, it does all of these things.   Once it is out in the light, then we need to decide what we are going to do with it.  Luke 12:2-3 says, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.  Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

An unfortunate part of life to us, is that often, our pain reveals to us a problems that we would continue to ignore if it weren’t significant enough to draw our attention to it.  We know that we can experience more than physical pain.  It is often our heart felt pains, that bring to light our heart problems.  Praise God He loves us just the way we are, but too much to leave us that way.  Don’t despair if you going through this process in your life.   We must be willing to relinquish these areas to the Lord, lay them upon the altar, repent of them and find our right standing in His forgiveness and deliverance that He wants to bring to us.  In God’s process of cleaning us up our waters are going to get pretty murky at times as His whirlwind is passing through, but it is because He is working a deeper and purifying work in you.  1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

Blessings,

#kent

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

Labels are for Cans

April 17, 2019

John 8:31

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

 

Labels are for Cans

 

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content.  We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with.  Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.

I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that.  Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination.  Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.

Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”.  What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?

Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples.  A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline.  What was the discipline of Christ?  According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple.  It is a lifestyle, not just a belief.  It is the fabric of what you live out of.

In John 13:35 Jesus gives us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple.  “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ.  Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the ones that fit under your label and even there, there is further divisions and discord.

Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.””  Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered.  It means, as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

How are we doing so far?  Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?

Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”  That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves.  Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him.  In comparison to that love, we hate all else.

It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do.  In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology.  He told us to go make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?

This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay.  Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him?  True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Do We Really Comprehend?

April 10, 2019

 

Do We Really Comprehend?

 

Matthew 15:6

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

 

Maybe it is just me, do you ever think about how many times you hear or read something and it is like we were deaf or you had blinders on.  Something was said or you heard or read something and it just didn’t register.  You may have thought you heard, saw or understood perfectly when in fact you didn’t.  Recently, to my embarrassment, I went to the store and bought a gallon of what I thought I read as weed killer.  Actually I had already selected another one when I saw this in the isle with the neat little battery operated spray nozzle.  “That’s the ticket,” I thought as I made my purchase.  Even as I glanced over the directions about the right temperature to apply it, how long it should be before watering, and such it never registered that this was both a weed and grass killer.  After spraying my weeds individually I had enough to go back over and give it a good overall dose.  I thought, ” I’ll get those weeds this time.”  Sure enough the weeds began to wilt, but then the grass started getting large yellow spots all over it as well.  Still, I thought it must be that weed killer.  Soon it was more of the grass that was yellow and the weeds were bouncing back.  So I thought, maybe I should look one more time at the container before I take it back and complain to the store.  Sure enough, there it was as big as life on the label, “Grass and Weed Killer.”  Why didn’t I see that before?  The point is we get preconceived ideas in our head and then we just quit registering the fact that it could be different than what we thought.  How many times do we do that with God’s Word?  We have been around it so much or heard it preached on so many times, we more or less assume we know what that means.  But do we really comprehend?  Many of us, like myself, need to disengage our “assumers” and really engage our spiritual comprehension and understanding.

We should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.  The Bereans didn’t just take everything as gospel, but searched the Word and established that it was truth before they received it as such.  The Word says that they were more noble than the Thessalonians because they did do this.  As we hear and read God’s Word let’s not take everything at face value, there may be so much more there that God wants us to see and understand.  Maybe our spiritual life is turning yellow and dying for a reason.  Maybe we needed to go back really read the label before we apply something.  We have the Holy Spirit living within us as Christians, how many times as we are reading the Word of God do we ask the Holy Spirit for understanding and revelation.  The disciples didn’t comprehend some of the things Jesus was teaching, so it required greater explanation and clarification for their minds to get around it.  Let’s not just assume we already know all the truth about something, but really examine it in the light of the rest of the Word and the whole council of God as we ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance and teaching.  He is always bringing fresh revelation.

It is one thing to kill your lawn, it is another to kill your spirit.  Let us really comprehend what God wants to speak to us and when we do, let’s apply it with diligence.

Blessings,

#kent

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