The High Places

April 19, 2018

 

The High Places

 

2Chronicle 20:23

Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

 

In Old Testament times post dating Moses we know there was an altar of the Lord that dwelt in a tabernacle and later, through David, came to rest in Jerusalem.  For us, who are New Testament Christians, this altar has become the equivalent of Calvary and the Cross.  It is the central altar around which our faith rests and where we find communion with our fellow believers and the Lord Himself.  It is our place of worship.  It is the place where we committed our hearts and souls to the Lord and ask Him to come into our hearts, cleanse us and be the Lord of our lives.  It is that place as Romans 12:1-2 puts it, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   It is that altar where we consecrate ourselves, our worship, our affections and our commitment, first and foremost to Jesus Christ, our Savior.  He alone is the object of our worship, before whom there should be no other Gods.  For it is written, “thou shalt worship the Lord God and Him only shalt thou serve (Matthew 4:10).”

Once again we are asked to go to the places we would rather leave hidden and obscure from the Holy Spirit’s observation.  Today He comes to us to address the “high places” in our hearts and souls.  These were the places, other than the altar at Jerusalem where the Israelites went to worship.  They were places not designated or ordained of God. They were often places of cultic activity, idol worship and perhaps the places more convenient than the altar at Jerusalem.  What are they for us today?  Could they be the places of inordinate affections: our sports, our play, our work, our lust and sensuality, our harbored attitudes of unforgiveness, our movies, computers, games and any number of things that have come into the high places of our heart.  If we are to prepare our hearts before the Lord as our scripture indicates we must deal with and take down the high places.  These things are not easy to let go of.  Our flesh craves and covets them, but they have become an abomination and have brought a separation between our God and us.  They are the idols in our lives, rather we recognize them as such or not and with them we are breaking covenant with God.   These are often things and areas we just as soon stay ignorant of because it will cause us to face areas of our lives we don’t want to face.  It is really those areas where our flesh makes provision for itself to stay alive and active in us rather than going to the cross.  Are we willing like King Josiah, after hearing the Word of the Lord, to go into the high places of our heart and soul and tear down the idols and affections we have built there?  We must be willing to come honestly and openly before the Holy Spirit and ask Him to show us any unclean way in our heart. Then, as He begins to reveal these things, we have to be obedient to put them away from our lives.  Our flesh will cry out and we will still want to harbor and keep some part of it, but when we do we are leaving seed for it to return and it will.   2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  What are the high things in our hearts that exalt themselves against God today?  We must, by the Spirit pull down the strongholds and bring every thought into obedience to Christ.  We must guard where our thoughts take us, because they may well be the seed for disobedience, rebellion and idolatry.  We must guard our hearts and keep them tender in the light of God’s grace and truth.

“God, give us grace and strength to lay it all on the altar of sacrifice and let go of all that would offend You.”

For us to live an uncompromised life we must tear down the high places and deal with the hidden issues of our hearts.  This is what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, it is to prepare our hearts to be pure, consecrated and in right relationship with our Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

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Stepping Up

April 6, 2018

 

Stepping Up

 

Ephesians 4:15

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

 

Our walk in Christ is a progressive one; it is a journey that each day should bring us a little more into His character and likeness.  If we charted it on a graph I doubt that for very many of us it would look like this smooth sloped line starting at zero and going up.  The truth is we would probably see dips and rises.  Sometimes it is like we go two steps back to take one forward.  Some days we can be so discouraged with life or ourselves that we just want to give up and sometimes we may even do that for a time.  Life is a series of ups and downs and we all know that on the surface it is easier live a sweet Christian life when things are going well. When we are caught up in the Spirit and we are feeling and experiencing the Lord’s presence and blessing in our lives it can be like we have heaven on earth.  The reality is, we know that we can experience hell on earth well.  There can be those times in life when all that we know and held dear is pulled out from under us.  Our world can be turned upside down in a heartbeat.  One thing you can count on in life is that nothing stays the same.  It is these experiences in our lives that are the testing and proving grounds of our faith.  The adversities in life are what exercise our muscles of faith and sound the depths of our character and integrity.  Often it is when we feel the least spiritual, that we grow the most.  Our Father always sees the big picture where we can only see the next hundred feet.  The one thing we have to be committed too is that come heaven or hell, our lives are wholly His.  We are His garden, to prune, to dig around, to water or however He decides to deal with us individually.  What we can hold fast too are the facts and truths that ‘He loves us with an everlasting love’, ‘He is able to complete the good work He began in us’, ‘He will never leave us of forsake us’ and ‘all things work together for the good of them that are called according to His purpose.’ 

            The important thing for all of us in Christ is that we maintain a focus and vision of continual faithfulness toward the Lord.  The enemy of our souls has continual roadblocks, diversions, disasters, and snares to discourage, get us off track and get us back into that mindset of the flesh and the world.  We must maintain a continual vigilance of our souls and we need one another to help us see the things that we often don’t see in ourselves.  Our spiritual transformation and progression is not something we accomplish in and of ourselves.  Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  That is why our walking in the Spirit is so important.  Walking in the Spirit is where we experience His righteousness, His freedom, His strength and power through us to overcome sin and temptation and deliverance from evil.  It is where we walk in the company of the Strong One, the Wise One, and the Faithful One.  It is in Him and our continual union and fellowship with Him that we experience growth from glory to glory as 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

            Every day should be a progressive walk in the Spirit, regardless of what life circumstances are.  Each day should be a stepping stone of faith and trust that brings us up higher and transforms us into His likeness.  Keep your eyes upon Him and your walk in the Spirit.  Let each day be another step up into the glory that is before us.

Blessings,

#kent

April 5, 2018

1 Peter 1:3-9

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.

 

Scenario of Two Lives

 

There was once a man that lived up in the mountains at the top a steep spire that was very difficult to reach.  Up there he lived alone raising his gardens and small livestock, capturing his water from the frequent  rainfalls.  There he lived isolated from the world and separated unto God, studying his bible and praying daily.  There he endeavored to live his life without sin wholly unto God.

There lived another man who was part of a large family and had many children of his own.  He lived in a crowded city that was full people, commerce and neighbors pressing in on every side.  His means were meager as he struggled to feed and provide for his family.  There were many conflicts surrounding him.  There were many difficulties that beset him.  There were many people continually putting demands upon him and expecting from him.  He also was a godly man, given to God and spending time with the Father in the brief moments he had to himself.  In his life he wrestled with many trials, temptations, persecution and needs that never touched the first man.  Daily he would repent of his sins and failures of living for God, but he would also remind himself of all that Christ was to him, had done for him and was doing in him.  Daily he reminded himself that his righteousness was that of Christ and not his own, that the blood of Jesus covered Him and the Spirit of Christ indwelt Him.  Daily, amidst all of the trials and demands upon his life he endeavored to live in the love of Christ and to share that love with others.

In the end which man accomplished the greater holiness and was most effective for the kingdom of God?  Which man had been perfected more into his image and likeness?

Having that vertical relationship with God is undeniably important.  It is where we draw from the source and the well of His life and strength, but if we never have the horizontal stretching through our relationship with humanity then we can only selfishly accumulate to ourselves, but never give out that which the Holy Spirit is imparting into us.  We can never know the growth we gain through the stretching that we go through in our relationships and the trials of this world.

Through Jesus, we see both the vertical relationship of communion and oneness with the Father and the willingness to be poured out for others that He might release that love into humanity, eventually giving the ultimate sacrifice of His physical life, not for Himself, but for us.  It is all of the trials of our faith that make us much more precious than gold.  Don’t be discouraged by all of life’s problems, demands and woes; this is the place where your faith is exercised, matures and grows.  This is the place where you have the opportunity to live out the things you say that you believe.  If you have your failures, as we all do, know that you are not condemned, but you have an advocate and intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, The Righteous.  As we confess our sins and failures He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  That overcomer lives in you, because Christ is in you.  As we continue to daily identify with Him, we also learn to walk in an overcoming life.  We, like Jesus, learn obedience through the things that we suffer (Hebrews 5:8).

Count it all joy in the race that is set before you.  Run to win and win by faithfully walking in what the Father has called you to be, the continual expression of Him.  He has enabled us by the Spirit of His power and strength to be more than conquerors through Christ that loved us and gave His life for us.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Failures that don’t end in Defeat

 

Micah 7:7-10

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.

 

 

We have all known times of failure in our life and most of us have experienced the Lord’s rod of correction.  There are times when we have stubbornly pursued our own interests and pleasures to only find bitterness and sorrow at the end of what we thought we had to have.  Our sin has consequences and many of us can testify of the great pain and suffering we have had to endure because of our foolish disobedience.

In those moments of failure, when the house that we have built upon the sand is washed away, we may stand in utter shame and humiliation that we have come to this point in our lives.  We may almost think the world and the ones that we loved would be better off without us.  We have had to fully confront our iniquity and the failure which has resulted from it.  How can we even face God or the ones who loved and respected us?   We see failure written all over us, what do we have to live for and have to offer now?

Our scripture today is one of hope and encouragement to the person who feels like a failure. In this scripture we have a nation of God that failed Him and had to suffer the reproach and the discipline of His correction.  The one thing we have to know about our God is though He will discipline us; He will never stop loving us.  He has a tender heart for the one who is truly repentant and will set their heart upon Him again.  After all, that is what discipline is for, to show us the error of our ways and bring us back to righteousness.  No matter how low we go, God never stops loving us, but a man without hope or faith is dead.  Without hope there is no way but down.  Hope causes us to look up into the loving eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father and say; “Can you still use this broken pot?”  It is our hope and faith in the Lord that believes that though we sit in darkness the Lord will be our light.  Christ will plead our cause and will be our advocate.  He will lift me again out of my place of darkness and bring me back into the light of His salvation.  All those who cursed me and judged me will be put to shame for though I was defeated I don’t have to fail.  The Lord is our victory and He is our good success.  When we were willing, through repentance, to relinquish the failure that we were; God begins to form a new man fashioned in the form of victory and uprightness.  He is a man that rises out of the ashes of failure to find victory and purpose again in His God.

Only God can take our failures and defeats and turn them for good.  When our enemies thought they had nailed our coffin shut, then God will raise us up to their shame.  You can trust that it won’t be in our time, it will be in His time.  No matter how bad we mess up and no matter how bad we fail God, our loved ones and even ourselves, all hope is not lost if we will put our eyes back on Jesus.  His love and forgiveness can reach into the deepest hell and depravity and set the captive free.    No one else and no other God can do that but Him.  Our failures don’t have to end in defeat, in fact they may be what bring us to our ultimate victory in Christ and our enemies will be put to shame before us. God can still brings us back into the light of His salvation and grace.  ‘As long as there is life, there is hope.’

Blessings,

#kent

God Centered Man

April 3, 2018

God Centered Man

Psalms 1:1-3

Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

 

Do you want a fruitful and productive life?  David is describing the spiritual man in these verses.  First he tells us what He is not.  He is not man influenced by the world and friendships with others that don’t have the same perspective and position of godliness.  He doesn’t take the same stand or have the same attitude or serve the same things as sinners.  His life outlook, attitude and actions are not about whom he can tear down, ridicule or destroy.

What then is the God centered man and what are the benefits of being that man or woman?  This person gets excited and feeds off of God’s Word, His principles and laws of Life.  His counsel and influence are coming from the Holy Spirit and like-minded believers who share this godly perspective.  This person is learning to live in the presence of God where God is not just an occasional thought, but a continual presence.  The Lord is his abiding place, his position, and his life’s mission.

What are the benefits?  The Word of God is packed full of exceeding great and precious promises.  Guess who these promises are for?  They are for this God centered man or woman.  The Lord delights to establish and bless those who delight themselves in Him and in His ways.

The Lord wants to be so much more to us than an occasional thought, prayer or visit on Sunday morning.  There are places in God few of us ever experience or know because we don’t seek to live in His presence where everything we do and think is centered around His will and His purpose.  What we are missing is the prosperity and richness of a Spirit filled and directed life.  There are heavenly places we can walk in right here on earth, but they only are found in His presence and His Life.  Find the riches of your inheritance in Christ as you begin to experience and live a God centered life.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Will and the Way of God

 

1 Chronicles 15:2

Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.

 

There is a story in 1 Chronicles that tells us of David’s desire and zeal to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.  Here in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10 we read about his first attempt and see that not only was it unsuccessful, but it resulted in the Lord’s anger and the death of a man.   “And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all [their] might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.”  Our reaction to this account might not be so unlike David’s, somewhat shocked, stunned and thinking, “God, why were you so severe?”  When God responds to men’s actions and His judgement results in death, one of the first and foremost things it generates is a fear of God, not just in the “be afraid” sense, but in the sense that we can’t take God’s will and His ways for granted.

Think about if for a moment with me about how we handle the things of God.  When I examine my times that are supposed to be set aside and consecrated for Him, I see my own personal agendas and ways leaving smudgy, dirty little finger and handprints all over them.  Think for a moment of God’s will and way being like this huge plate glass window that is sparkling clean and transparent.  Then here come His kids.  They don’t even think, “I need to really be aware and respect the purity and cleanness of this window.  I can look through it, but I don’t want to put my hands on it or I will dirty it.”  If it was a sliding glass door then there would be a proper means by which we would pass through it, open and close it, without placing our hands on the glass.  This is a rough illustration of what David did and why Uzza died when He touched the Ark.  In Leviticus 20:26 God speaks of His desire for His people, “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD [am] holy, and have severed you from [other] people, that ye should be mine.”

The Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred of the pieces of the Tabernacle.  Its place was in the Holy of Holies and it represented the very presence and place of God.  Throughout the Word there is an awesome respect and fear that is directed toward it, for what it represented.  It wasn’t that David’s heart was not in the right place because He wanted to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem, it was his methods that were wrong.  There are right ways and wrong ways to handle the things of God.  When we get careless and sloppy in our walk with God, we find ourselves incurring judgements and disciplines for the way we are handling the things of God.  Hopefully it won’t be as severe as Uzza, Nadab and Abihu, or Ananias and Sapphira.  These people gave their lives to be examples to us not to take the things of God lightly and not to do things our own way.  Many of us are far guiltier of this than we realize and I’m feeling the conviction that the Lord wants us to really begin to examine our relationship and our action concerning the things of God.  There was a right way that David should have been transporting that Ark.  That was a priesthood function that was laid out very explicitly by God in Exodus.  Do we fully realize that we are the priesthood of God that carry about the Ark of God in our spirits?  How are we handling the precious entrustment God has placed upon us to carry His name and His testimony in our daily lives.  Have we grown careless in our commitment and our obedience to Him?  Are we doing many of the things in our lives, both spiritually and naturally, our way instead of His?  Are we putting our dirty little hands of selfishness all over the window of His Holiness?  God wants us to transport His life in these bodies with immense joy, rejoicing and gladness, but He wants us to take special care that we do it His way and not ours, no matter how good it may seem.  Let’s ask the Lord to show us the areas of our lives where we may be dishonoring and disobeying Him.  Let’s covet His Holiness and Righteousness, seeking to be well pleasing and compliant with His will and His ways.  God has extended much grace toward us, but that is not our license for sin and dishonor concerning the Holy Life He has placed in our keeping.

“Lord, help us not to be foolish concerning our lives and walk in You.  Help us to always look upon You with the utmost reverence and respect.  Help us to honor and obey you, searching out Your will and Your ways of godly and righteous living.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Loving Hand of Correction

February 26, 2018

The Loving Hand of Correction

Hebrew 12:5-8

 

5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.  6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  8 )  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

 

Most of us would rather run away from discipline and correction.  Especially when things are going well the last thing we want is someone to rock our boat, especially heavenly Father.  Every motive and action of God is birthed in love, for He is love.  For God to leave us to our own devices and ways would not be very loving on His part since we are His children and His responsibility is to raise us as such.  While many of us say we love God we can be just as stubborn and rebellious about spiritual things as we can about natural things.  Out of God’s great love for us, because we are His children, He corrects and disciplines us in many different ways.  Even though that goes against the grain of our flesh, what is the greatest hindrance to our spiritual walk if it is not the old natural ways of living and thinking?  The trials and tribulations that touch our lives are exercising our true faith, spiritual obedience and substance.  I find I can think I’m pretty a good egg until the Lord allows me to tested in an area and what comes out of me or how I respond is often a pretty good indicator that a definite work of grace and correction is needed in that area of my life.  Unfortunately for most of us God has to keep taking us around and around some of the mountains in our life, because we still can’t seem to get it right.  How often have we read about the Israelites of the Old Testament and shook our heads at the fact we saw a continual cycle of rebellion and disobedience to God, His warnings and exhortation to turn from sin, their continued path of disobedience, God’s rod of discipline and correction, the repentance and turning again to God.  Then it would start all over again.  1 Corinthians 10: 11 says, “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  Here we have 20/20 hindsight, but do we make any better choices and demonstrate a greater measure of obedience and submission to the Lord than our Israelite predecessors?

Those who have trusted God for their salvation are at the heart of God’s love.  Even Jesus is our example, for it says, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrew 5:8).” Let us not take the discipline of the Lord as a sign of His displeasure or anger toward us.  Though our discipline is not pleasant while we are going through it the Lord does it for our profit and good.  The end result is that it works the peaceable fruits of righteousness in us when we have been exercised by it.  Like the loving Father that He is, He is not allowing us to grow up spiritually being the self-willed, self- serving children we would be inclined to be, but the children that are being conformed to image of the Father by His loving hand and correction.

Let’s thank God He loves us the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Call to Repentance and Preparation

(A word from the Lord)

 

Jeremiah 33:14

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

 

 

Leave the ways of Baal behind you.  Walk out of the darkness and into the fullness of light.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and He will direct you paths.  Open up your heart of compassion and feel the need of humanity, hear their groans and reach out to the down trodden, the poor, the widow and the fatherless.  Be a father, be a mother, be what the need requires you to be.  You dwell in your ceiled and comfortable houses while my house lies in ruin.  See My purpose in that I am about to build my temple and my house of prayer to all nations.  You lack blessing because you focus only on your wants and on your needs.  What is your commitment to Me says the Lord?  I have not birthed you and brought you into the kingdom to serve only yourselves.  I have blessed you and I will bless you to be a blessing.  Christ did not come to do His will, but the will of the Father.  That is your calling as well.  Fear the Lord and despise evil.  Humble yourselves before Me and repent of your ways and your pleasures that you might be to me sons and daughters bearing the mark and the nature of My Son.  You have been called out of darkness into the light that you may be light bearers, torches and flames of truth and righteousness.

When will you put Me first?  When will you love Me as you say you do with all of your mind, strength, heart and soul?   I have called out a people after My name to rebuild My house.  It is a house of prayer for all of the nations and all of the nations will come to My light.  Humble yourselves before me.  Look for the opportunity to share Me with those I am bringing into your life.  Within your lips are the words of life, speak them and live them before all men.  Be not be double-minded and forsake your duplicity of heart.  You have been called out and separated unto me for such an hour as this.  Put on the garment s of praise and righteousness.  Put on Christ.  Shake the dust from your feet and come and follow Me.  You are the servants of the Most High.  This is not a calling that you should dismiss lightly.  I privileged you to be my vessels of living water and to bring the waters of refreshing and salvation into the earth.

Arise my beloved, shake the dust and the earth from you.  Wash yourselves in the water of the word and in repentance from dead works.   It is a time to dress and prepare yourselves for what I am bringing to pass in the earth.  Listen to My call and to My warnings that the day might not catch you unawares and unprepared.   Have you not heard that I come as thief in the night?  Don’t be as the foolish virgins who had no oil.  Prepare your lamps that they may be trimmed and lit in the hour of My coming.  Rise up and prepare for Your master is returning from His journey and will soon take account of His house.  Have it in order that you would be not put to shame.  Faithful is the one who hears these words and does them.

Blessings,

#kent

Colossians 3:1-3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 

Where Your Mind is Set, Your Heart will Follow

 

Even the world has discovered the power of the mind and this principle of where our mind is set.  It is one of the reasons that we set goals and organize our plans.  If our mind is steadfastly set upon something, we are far more likely to accomplish it than if it is a whimsical, “I hope I do that” or “I would like to accomplish this”.   We tend to accomplish and attain that which is of the greatest priority in our own mind.  That can be either good or evil depending upon where our mind and affections are set.  Our affections deal with our heart and emotions.  The heart is usually more subjective in its feelings.  It is like a wife with her husband.  The husband may be responsible for the decisions that are made, but the wife is a strong influence upon the mind.  The mind is always wanting to please the heart and if the heart is set upon the wrong things, then that can get you into trouble and cause you to miss the will and purpose of God.  Here we are exhorted to bring the mind and heart together in one common purpose and that is to seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  We are reminded that we have died to the former affections of this world and our life, along with our mind and heart, is hidden with Christ in God.  This is a key verse, because it tells us where our position and our spiritual residence are.  If we are hidden with Christ in God, then that pretty much lets us know that our purpose and our destiny are centered and grounded in Him.  The exhortation for us here is to make sure that our heart and our mind are in alignment with our position and who we are in Christ.

We remember what Jesus said was the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:26-30, “”Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   Our obedience to the exhortation we have here in Colossians 3 is in direct alignment with fulfilling and walking in the commandments of God.  Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’  These four verses layout an outline, goal and the mindset for our lives.

In 2 Corinthians 10:2-6 Paul differentiates his standards from those of the world.  “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Isn’t this a good explanation of setting your heart and mind on things above?  For most all of us, our biggest stumbling block is our own stinking thinking.  We have to shift our paradigm and way of thinking to line up with who we now are in Christ.  Our greatest victory comes when we are identified with His life and not our former nature.   The enemy’s greatest victory is in keeping us in our former mindset of this world’s standards.  Our thinking, acting and even our reasoning must now come out of a regenerated and transformed mind.  It is just as Romans 10: 1-3 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Where our mind is set, our heart will follow, but if we fail to keep our mind set upon the things above, the things below will distract us and turn our affections and attention to the things that are soon to pass away and upon the things which the judgement of God is soon to come.  Hebrews 12: 1-3 exhorts us this way, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Our lives are now hid with Christ in God; it is God’s will and purpose that we keep our minds and hearts there as well.  Paul described that position so well when he said in Galatians 2: 20,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Blessings,

#kent

True Prosperity

January 30, 2018

Genesis 39:1-6

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

 

True Prosperity

 

Most all of us know the story of Joseph.  He was despised by his brothers who sold him into slavery and deceived their father into thinking that he was killed by wild animals.  Joseph is not just a person, but is representative of a company of people that God is raising up.  Now the Lord is with this people, even as He was with Joseph.  Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.”  Now if Joseph prospered, it is not the way most of us view prosperity.  Life was hard, he was now a slave and just when you don’t think life can’t get any worse than it already is, it does.  Next, he is falsely accused by his master’s wife of rape, because he refused to sleep with her, then he goes from slavery to prison.  So how can the Word say that Joseph prospered?

What we have is what Joseph had, the Lord.  When the Lord is with us He can cause us to prosper even in the most adverse circumstances.  Joseph wasn’t prosperous because his circumstances dictated it.  He was prosperous because the favor of the Lord was upon his life.  We might think, if the Lord favored him so highly why did he have to go through the hell that he did?

He learned a truth.  It is only as we walk through the low places that we develop the humility to rule in the high places.  It is in the low places of injustice, false accusation, imprisonment and rejection that we learn a place of prosperity that supersedes that of the world.  It is in those places that we find a friend that is closer than a brother, a relationship like no other.

Do we relish the pain and the suffering associated with this destiny that Joseph has before him?  No, but like him, we have a dream, a vision and a promise that the Lord has set before us and that He alone is able to bring to pass.  So, like Joseph, we live in the promise of what God has shown us and we count Him faithful who has promised to bring it to pass in its due season. Meanwhile our prosperity is in our daily walk and fellowship with Him.  In that relationship He gives us divine favor and the special grace to despise the shame and continue to walk the walk.  Like Joseph, by faith we hold fast to the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The world around us may have forgotten us, despised us and rejected us.  To them we are hidden, except to those whose lives we touch with the grace and favor that is upon us.  Even they often quickly forget the unique encounter they had with us.  It is like God is marinating us and tenderizing us, so that through the fire we might emerge as the vessels of gold He has prepared us to be.

Don’t be discouraged by your circumstances, because they don’t dictate your prosperity.  Your prosperity comes from the favor of the Lord that rests upon you and orders your step.  Just be faithful wherever He leads and whatever you must go through.  The way up is often through the way down.  Jesus went to hell, before He went to heaven.  It was the sacrifice of death that brought the resurrection of life.  We also may have to lose our life that we may truly find it.  What God is working in you is for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory.  Be like Joseph, be faithful in all that you must endure.  Stay the course and know that your prosperity is not without, but within.

Blessings,

#kent

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