Peace of God

May 15, 2019

Phl 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Peace of God

 

The peace of God is like the eye in the midst of the hurricane.  It is an amazing place where the storm often rages viciously all around, but in God there is peace.  Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and as such comes to us as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  It comes to us out of that faith and confidence in us that knows that God is in control.  It knows that even if we don’t understand God’s hand, we can trust His heart.   It is that place where we are no longer fretful, worrisome, anxious, stressed out or fearful.  Our posture is one of prayer, giving our need and concern to God and thanking Him for His faithfulness even before we have seen it manifested in the natural.  It is that place that the natural mind cannot understand where we just relax in Father’s arm and let Him have control.  This is not a quality we can produce, but only comes as our eyes are set on Him. We, like a child learning to walk, forget about our lack of abilities and set our eyes on our Father when He holds out His           arms and say, “come to me, walk, you can do it.”   Even if we fall, He is there to catch us and restore us again.

Today relax, let go of the stress and concern and relax in the arms of Jesus.  He is your peace and rest.  He has your life under control if you let Him.  Just as a little child has total confidence in their parent’s care, let us trust Father to teach us His ways and keep us safe when those storms are there.

Blessings,

Kent

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Kingdom Calling

May 3, 2019

Romans 12:1-2

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.

 

Kingdom Calling

 

Romans 12:1-2 is a scripture that many of us are quite familiar with and yet it is so key to what God is bringing us into in this hour.  The majority of us in the body of Christ aren’t really that much different in our thinking and purpose than the rest of the world.  We hold many of the same values, the same passions, and the same desires to excel and succeed in life.  In many ways we think and act much like the world that we live in.  If we wonder why the church is powerless and ineffectual in so many areas, we have to look at our values and priorities as Christians.  Many of us have compartmentalized God into our God box; that part of our lives and thinking we reserve for God and spiritual things, but then we have all these other compartments that are outside of God.  We may have to be tough in the marketplace so we can’t take God there.  We may be another way socially and so maybe God doesn’t fit so well there.  Our God is relegated to our convenience but He has not been our purpose for living.

God wants to do something through His people in this hour, but He not looking to a luke-warm church of half-baked and half-committed Christians, He is looking for those that are sold out to Him, body, soul, mind and spirit.  That place of full commitment is a place of sacrifice where our will is laid upon the altar and it is no longer my will, but thy will be done, in this earth as it is in heaven.  That place of sacrificial commitment requires a daily maintenance program.  It is a choice and decision we don’t make just once, but every day.  Everyday we give ourselves afresh to Him and we are not praying that God fulfills and meets our purpose, but that He reveals and enables us to fulfill His purpose.  That requires a tremendous paradigm shift and change of mindset for many of us.  Quite honestly, many of us love and want to have a relationship with God, but we want to do what we want to do.  It can no longer be about us.  We are a “called out” people and the destiny that God has called us to is a higher calling requiring a greater discipline.  It is not about dos and don’ts; it is about where our heart and affections lie.  As we purpose our lives to become this daily living sacrifice we are going to see ourselves moving away from the things that formerly held our affections.  Our love of God and His purpose will become so much stronger within us that He is the obsession and full affection of our soul.  Instead of television and movies we will desire the fellowship of the saints and the breaking of bread with our fellow believers.  We will desire to be in His service giving out in the areas of service that express His love for those that are lost, hurting, dying and in need of a Savior.  What is more, He is going to become our fullness of joy.  We are going to become so blessed and enriched through our walk and relationship that we will wonder what these earthly things ever had that attracted us to them.  This comes through the renewing of our mind in the Word and the Spirit of the Lord.  In this place we no longer think like the world or operate out of its mind.  Our mind is set upon things above.  We have caught the vision of the higher purpose and plan of God for us and for those He has called us to minister too.  There needs to be a major shift in the thinking and mind of the body of Christ.  For example, we think of having a business, that it is for us to succeed and get ahead.  Often we find that our business begins to consume our life and everything we do is to make the business succeed and us to prosper.  I learned an interesting concept when I attended a Christian business class one time.  The instructor said, “Don’t allow your business to be your priority, rather let it be the outlet for your priority.”  This is the same type of paradigm shift we need in many areas of our life.  The purpose of God is that our lives might be the expression of Him.  Do our lives express Him or do they express us?  We must define our priorities and line up our lives to fulfill those priorities.  God’s Word offers the definitions of what our life is to be about.  The truth is we are living in an unwholesome and unholy mixture of flesh and Spirit.  God is now defining us in Spirit and the flesh is getting left on the altar.  They say that the biggest problem with living sacrifices is that they want to keep crawling off of the altar.  All the more reason we must reckon ourselves as dead unto sin, but alive unto Christ.

As we travel to Zion the way will become narrower and the path more confining.  We are the King’s kids, but we were birthed for kingdom purposes.  May our hearts be drawn to living out this daily sacrifice and the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.  He is the reason that we live, move and have our being.  Let all that we are, and each day that we live, be to His glory and praise.

Blessings,

#kent

Beyond the Veil

April 16, 2019

 

Beyond the Veil

 

Hebrews 10:19-21

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And [having] an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

 

The term veil is only used about seven times throughout the Word of God.  The first and only time it is used in the Old Testament is in the Song of Solomon.  “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I [am] sick of love. (Song of Songs 5:6-8).”

In Middle East culture we know that the veil for the woman is a sign of modesty and that she would normally only unveil herself before her husband or intimate lover.  The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon is a book that most consider being a symbolism of Christ and the Bride.  Viewing it in this light we see in this passage that the maiden or bride is in pursuit of her beloved who has withdrawn himself.  The watchmen of the city find her.  Now the watchmen might be viewed as the religious ones that had charge of watching over the spiritual affairs of the city, perhaps not so unlike the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Not so unlike Jesus, we find that this maiden is not commended for her pursuit of her beloved, but smitten and wounded.  In addition, the keepers of the walls, those that uphold the religious institution, take away her veil.  Her modesty has been removed and she is exposed and shamed by the watchmen and the keepers of the wall.  It is not uncommon that when one gets passionate and is in desperate pursuit of relationship with God that they encounter persecution.  Most often it is religious persecution.  When you deviate from the mainstream of religious thinking it often leads to paying the price for not conforming to traditional thinking.  Perhaps the greatest fear of the religious people is that someone who is laying hold of the anointing and the presence of God in a way that they are not able to do, exposes how shallow their relationship really is.  There is a jealousy and a fear of the loss of control and honor.

However, all of this does not deter the maiden as she pursues her beloved even among the mainstream of Jerusalem or Christianity.  What motivates this maiden to such extreme action and determination?  She is sick with love.  She is so love struck with her beloved that nothing can separate her from His love and her love for Him.  She willing to pay any price and go to any lengths to lay hold of Him.

Have we ever had those times in our lives when we felt that strong love and desire for Christ, but He had withdrawn Himself?  We sought Him in prayer, worship, in church, but we couldn’t find His presence.  Sometimes our Lord withdraws Himself, not out of displeasure with us, but to prove our love and desire for Him.

Why knock yourself out?  Can’t you just be content being one of the daughters of Jerusalem, just one of the redeemed of the Lord, one the virgins without number or the concubines of the King?  This woman was in pursuit of the most intimate place with her beloved.  She was so love sick that she would settle for nothing less than all of Him.  She desired marriage.  She desired oneness and unity that she could find nowhere else.  She desired a level of relationship that exceeded the normal.  She desired to enter into that place within the veil, in the presence of the Almighty, where her life was consumed in Him.

The passage here in Hebrews tells us that we can have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”  Jesus has made a way for all of us to enjoy and experience His salvation, presence and access to the Father.  There has been a way made for all of us to enter in through the full assurance of faith.  How much do we desire not just an encounter, not just an experience, not just a general acceptance, but an intimate relationship with our Beloved?  How lovesick are we for His manifest presence in our lives and that place where we walk with Him and talk with Him and hear His voice? There has to be a full unveiling of our hearts to Him, before we will fully see and experience His fullness toward us.  What we have formerly seen in a foretaste and in a measure, do we fervently desire in fullness?

Blessings,

#kent

The Planting of the Lord

April 11, 2019

 

The Planting of the Lord

 

Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

 

Have you thought about yourself as being a tree planted in the garden and orchard of God, a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord?  Many years ago when we first had moved into our home, I had planted a number of young trees and saplings in a portion of my yard I wanted it to be like a little forest.  As I was looking out the window at it one evening I felt I heard the Spirit of the Lord say, ” Some of those trees you think will live will die and some that look like they will die will live.  If you will faithfully keep your eyes and heart on me and let your roots go down in the good soil of my Word then I will make you like a mighty Oak tree.”  Over the years that has held true, some of the tree grew up mighty and strong, while others wilted and died.  All of those trees were planted in the same ground, but not all of them reacted the same way.

Perhaps some of you today have felt that the tree of your spiritual life has become diseased or is wilting and dying.  Perhaps the winters have been harsh with trials and the summers have only brought drought and dryness to an already wilting faith and life.  Perhaps those around you have been hurt or died and it has brought despondency and sorrow.  There may even be some of you that feel you are already dead or just hanging by a thread of faith.   God’s got a word for you today.  “Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  God has come to comfort you who mourn and are broken hearted.  He is come to bring you beauty for what you have considered burnt up with nothing but ashes remaining.  He is come to restore in you joy and hope and confidence.  You say, ” how can it be, look at my failures, my sins, my unfaithfulness.”  He says,  ” Look at Me, my son, my daughter, I am the ever Faithful One.  I have planted you to be trees of righteousness, my righteousness, not yours.  Look up, for your Redeemer lives and ever makes intercession on your behalf.  Though you were dead, yet shall you live.”  If you will put your eyes and your heart back on the Lord today and let your roots go down again into the soil of His Word, He will establish you as the mighty Oak of Righteousness, for you are the planting of the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

Endings and New Beginnings

February 12, 2019

 

Endings and New Beginnings

 

Deuteronomy 11:11-17

11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today-to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you

 

In this passage of scripture, the children of Israel, after forty years in the wilderness are crossing Jordan into the Promise Land of Canaan.  While this land is the inheritance of God’s people it has been possessed by the ungodly nations.  Now has come the time when Israel is to enter in, not by their might and their strength, but by faith in their God.  Many believers today have the mentality that all I need to do is believe in Jesus, live my life and die and go to heaven.  God has used the natural promise land of Canaan to show us that as believers in Christ Jesus we also have a Promise Land to enter into and possess, the kingdom of heaven, that which was lost to us in the fall of Adam. Jordan is a type of that baptism into the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we are immersed in its water and come out the other side, we come out dead and no longer identified with ourselves, but alive unto the newness of life in Christ Jesus.  God is telling us that the land we have now entered into by faith, “It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”  God wants us to know that we are walking in a blessed land, one He cares for and watches over.  He is telling us we can enjoy and partake of the blessings of this land in our spiritual walk if we will faithfully obey His commands.  It will be a productive and prosperous land for us if we are careful to always put God first.

This walk of the Spirit, this possession of spiritual Canaan is not without its pitfalls and dangers.  We are possessing a land that has formally been filled with idolatry and every evil practice.  Even as the Spirit of Christ is fully possessing our souls and we are seeking to yield every area in obedience to Him, we come up against giants and strong spiritual forces in our lives that resist the Holy Spirit.  They are stronger than we are in ourselves, but ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus’.  ‘In Christ we can do all things’, but God would warns us as He did natural Israel, to guard our hearts against idolatry, where we place other things, desires and pleasures before Him.  He desires to bless us, but He requires of us faithful obedience.  It is very easy after we have gone through spiritual battles and experienced measures of victory in our lives to then fall into complacency which in turn lets our guard down and opens us up to falling into sin and idolatry.  That idolatry is anything we put before Him.

God goes on in this passage to tell the people that the way they can guard against this idolatry coming into their hearts is to continually, in every thing, in every way, everyday of the year, put the Word of God before them.   Read the Word, talk about it, tell your children continually about it, meditate upon it, even put it on your person or in conspicuous places where you will be continually reminded of your God and who you are in Christ.  This is imperative to maintaining a God perspective identity and in return, enjoying the fellowship you have with Him in the spirit and the blessings He has for you.  Our purpose in possessing this land is so that He might possess every part of us and we would experience the richness of His fellowship and presence, for that is indeed the manna and the taste of heaven.

Remember that the eyes of the Lord are upon you from the beginning to the end.  Make this a time for drawing nearer, living a deeper and more committed life in the Spirit and coming to know your God in a greater and more personal way.  May you be blessed with the rain and the waters of His spiritual blessing and presence as you personally walk, possess the land and live for Him.

Blessings,

#kent

The Finger of God

January 10, 2019

 

The Finger of God

 

Exodus 8:18-19

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This [is] the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

 

None of us, I don’t believe, would aspire to be like the Pharaoh of Moses’ day.  When we read this account we think how could that man be so stubborn and why would he continue to harden His heart when, without a doubt, the finger of God was moving in these judgements.  Pharaoh could well be looked at as the god or ruler of “Self”.  We have a pharaoh that still wants to set upon the throne of our hearts and be god.  He doesn’t want to relinquish his place and lordship to the Almighty.  We could also say it is a type of satan, but where it affects us personally is in the dominion of our own souls.

If we were to get totally real and honest, just between God and us, most of us could probably identify an area or areas in our lives that we really struggle to relinquish control of.  There are strongholds and bastions of self that still want to bow their neck to the cross.  Our spirit may grieve over them and surely we wrestle with them, but we don’t want to really let go of them even though the finger of God may be upon them and the Holy Spirit is convicting us of them.

There was another young man in Jesus’ day, who truly loved the Lord, but he struggled with this same issue in Luke 18:18-25.  “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none [is] good, save one, [that is], God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Here was a godly man.  Clearly, he loved God and desired to follow Christ, but what happened when the finger of God touched that area that was not submitted to God?  Jesus put His finger on the Pharaoh in His life, the area that would harden in resistance to God.  It says he was very sorrowful.  This word means to be exceedingly sorry, one definition says, “overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death”.  It is the same Greek word used to describe Jesus’ condition in the Garden as He prayed before the crucifixion.  The difference is Jesus faced a Pharaoh of self-preservation as well.  He even prayed, “Father, if there be any way let this cup pass from me.”  Jesus struggled till great drops of blood dripped from Him as sweat, but He overcame His Pharaoh.  He relinquished and laid self upon the altar and said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  The young ruler didn’t experience such a break through, though he loved the Lord immensely, there was something in his life that had a greater hold on him than his love for God.  Do any of us struggle with a similar issue like that today?  Is there anything we aren’t willing to bring to the altar and give totally to the Lord?  We can never be totally free until everything is His.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says, “3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness  is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Most of us see this as satan or the man of sin, but what about the man of lawlessness that wants to set himself up in our hearts proclaiming himself as god.  He wants to usurp what belongs only to Christ.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”  How can this lawless one, this Pharaoh, this usurper of God’s throne in our spirit be dealt with?  It is by the breath of His mouth, the Word of God, the Sword of Truth.  As we call Christ forth in our lives, He is the Lord of the battle.  The Spirit of Christ is the warrior that must rise up within us and come forth in the authority of the Word of God to overthrow this man of sin.  It is a spiritual battle and one that is possible to win as we are “in” Christ.  We also, have the power to overcome even as Jesus did in the Garden.  He is able to turn our sorrow into joy as we gain the victory and give place to the finger of God.

Blessings,

#kent

The Inner Workings of Peace

December 17, 2018

The Inner Workings of Peace

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

One of the attributes that so characterizes God is the attribute of peace.  We think of God as being many things, but I don’t know if I personally stop to dwell on the fact that He is the God of peace.  In the tumultuous world that we live in, peace is a commodity that is often a fleeting thing.  One of the things we as a people need and desire for our happiness and fulfillment is this attribute of peace.

Peace is more than a feeling or an emotion.  It is a Person.  The Holy Spirit within us is the Person of Peace that abides within the believer.  Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Jesus made it clear that the peace that He left with us was not the world’s peace that was a feeling or a condition one minute and gone the next.  God’s peace isn’t fleeting, it is eternal, and it is a part of who He is.  Outwardly we are often troubled about many things.  All of hell may be breaking loose around us and we ask how can we have peace?  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” One of the things Jesus suffered and died for was our peace.  Without peace we will never be content, happy or fulfilled.  One of the basic needs a man has is for peace and security.

The question many of us are asking ourselves is, if I have Jesus why aren’t I experiencing His peace.  It is the same reason you are not experiencing the fullness of your salvation.  Godliness and peace can only fill us to the extent that we are allowing God to fill our lives with Himself as we are in relationship and intimacy with Him.  As we see here in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, peace, which is a portion of our salvation, is seen in the three dimensions that make up man, spirit, soul and body.  When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into abide, possess and fill the spirit.  While we possess that inner peace and assurance of our salvation we know that our soul is that battleground where we fight the spiritual and emotional battles in the turmoil of everyday life.  Our body is then often directly affected by how the battle is going within the soul.  There will most likely be days when all of us get rattled, frazzled, shook up, stirred up and feel our life is upside down.  The place of peace is still there.  It hasn’t left us, but we must enter into it.  It is synonymous with the rest of God.  We often get caught up in fighting battles and struggling with issues that God alone can resolve.  Our hiding place, our refuge is in that sanctuary of His peace.  When everything is falling apart around us our victory is turning into Him that is our peace, declaring and exalting His Lordship over our circumstances and building our faith and confidence through the promises of His Word.  God sees the world in the light of eternity; we see the world in the light of the moment.  Circumstances, like the weather, change.  His peace will fill us more and more as we live out of that inner sanctuary of the spirit.  As we find that place of intimacy with Him we will also find the security of knowing that He is in our boat and it doesn’t matter how great the storm, how strong the gale or how much it appears that we will perish.  What happens to us must first go through the Master.  Even if it appears He is asleep in the bottom of the boat, He is still in control of all that touches our lives and is working ‘all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).’

Today, if you are struggling with a lack of peace, bring a peace offering before the Lord.  Repent of your fears, unbelief, wrong feelings and attitudes.  Just come and place it all at His feet.  Lay your head on the lap of Jesus and let Him fill you with His rest and peace.  It is only in living out of the Spirit of God that we can have the peace and rest of God.  Allow the God of Peace to fill and possess you, spirit, soul and body.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  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.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

Many of us struggle with approaching God and establishing the relationship with Him that our spirit man longs for.  We want to hear the Lord speak to us, we want His direction for our lives, at least we think we do, and we want a relationship where we have a continual abiding fellowship and dialogue with the Lord.

We keep thinking, “what am I missing”?  Why aren’t I feeling closer to God?  Why don’t I hear His voice and get His direction more?  Our answers could lie in these verses and in this chapter.  For many of us we are loosing the battle to the flesh in too many areas of our lives.  We are back and forth between spirit and flesh.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and so we struggle with living consistent lives in the Spirit.

The first thing God tells us here, that we need to do, is submit.  Literally it means to be subordinate and be yielded to another’s control.  This is the same context of submission as Ephesians 5:22 requires when it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Men we are not really different from our wives. We really want to be in the driver’s seat concerning our lives.  One of the reasons we are missing God is we aren’t fully resigned in obedience to Him.  Wives, if you aren’t really submitted to your husbands, then you aren’t really fully submitted to Christ.  We all have to follow the order of authority that God has laid down for us in our lives.

The second area is “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Many of us are hit and miss at this as well.  We have good intentions, we mean well, but too many times we miss the mark.  Our resistance must be in direct proportion to our insistence that Christ is Lord.  When Jesus encountered the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, He insisted on the authority of the Word lining up in obedience to God.  Many, like the devil, take the Word and pervert it to try and say what justifies their particular lust and desires.  Resist the devil with the Spirit and the Word.  We are weak, but He is strong.  Our strength is in our abiding, obedient relationship with Christ.  He is the overcomer in us. We have to see ourselves through the lens of who we are in Christ.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  Are we continually approaching God in an attitude of true humility, contriteness and repentance?  Are His praises continually in our mouth, His meditation in our heart and is our purpose to find His will and plan for us personally?  What must we do to draw near?  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  The first and foremost thing is that we have to be totally serious in our intent to find God’s presence.   God sees right through our heart, our intents and motives.  James 1:4-8 tells us, “4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If we want God to take us seriously, then we have to be totally serious with Him.  Isn’t it interesting that again in this passage of James 5 he uses this terminology of “double-minded”?  This is where most of us find ourselves, divided between heaven and earth.  We look up at God and say, ” yes, I want you Father,” and then we look back at earth and think, “yeah, but I don’t really want to give that up, lay that down or turn away from that area in my life.”  We are double-minded, torn in two directions, but the Word calls us adulteresses, those of us who break our vows with our friendship with the world. It is this attitude and state of mind that we must grieve, mourn and wail over.  We must hate it so much that it becomes a stench to us.  We must be so grieved at any attitude or behavior that is contrary to the nature and character of Christ in us. He must forever be our all in all.  There must be so much of a humility and brokenness in our hearts that God will lift us up and know that we mean business with Him.  The lower we are willing to go the higher He can lift us up.  The more we are willing to die, the more of the resurrection life of Christ we are able to lay hold of.  How is our approach as we seek to find God’s presence today?

Blessings,

#kent

In Times of Discouragement

October 11, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

In Times of Discouragement

 

As believers we all face those times of discouragement, testing and trial where in the natural we would want to give up, give in and walk away from our faith.  Perhaps none faced more assault in the spiritual arena than did Paul.

How did he make it through?

It was because he knew his identity in Christ that he was able to endure all the assaults of darkness and the daily trials of life.  He knew the “all surpassing power” that didn’t come from self, but from “Christ in him.”  He had a revelation of that being identified with Christ is not just about the blessing, but drinking from the same cup that He drank from.  The cup of suffering.

I had a glimpse of revelation the other day as I was listening to the passage of James and John’s mother asking if her sons could set upon each side of the throne of Jesus. Jesus replied in Matthew 20:22-23 with this statement, “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Jesus’ disciples, like most of us, have the perception that serving Christ is all about the glory.

When Jesus said, “now am I a glorified” in between where he stood and the glory was the cross.  Romans 8:17-18 Paul declares, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The suffering, the death and the cross are all elements that precede the glory.

Jesus finishes this passage in Matthew by saying, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Our faith in Christ is not first about getting, but about giving.  It is not about us being served, but about us becoming the servants of Christ in serving others.  It is in the death of our carnal and mortal man that the life of Christ is released, which we carry.  Paul realized that the troubles, the trials, the distress, the hardship, the death to self are merely the bridge that leads to the surpassing glory of our inheritance in Christ.

When we read this passage in Corinthians most of us have no idea or comprehension of that kind of suffering and sacrifice.  We are so easily discouraged by someone who has offended us or some trial that we pass through.  Men like Paul virtually lived in the place of trial and hardship and they did so because of who they were in Christ and who Christ was in them.  They did so because in the pouring out of their life, others were able to receive the gospel and live.  They truly were living sacrifices poured out to the glory of Jesus.  They didn’t live for the momentary blessings and substance of this world like so many of us do. They were willing to be totally spent in life and substance for the kingdom of God because they saw a greater eternal weight of glory before them that so outweighs these momentary earthly afflictions.

Paul says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

If Paul heard what our complaints are and where our discouragement comes from he would probably laugh and tell us we need to suck it up.  We need to get over ourselves and realize it is not about us, it is about Christ in us and the kingdom that we serve.  We have been so pampered in our faith and theology that we know very little about what it is to drink from the cup of suffering and yet this is a very real part of our faith.

When we are going through our momentary trials and feeling a little discouraged, let’s just look back at Jesus, Paul, the apostles and saints and what they endured and gave up.  Let us remember who we are in Christ and who He is in us that we may be willing to face whatever is before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Let us be encouraged by the lives of the saints that went before us and willingly gave so much at such a great price.  They did not lose heart, how much less should we?

Blessings,

#kent

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