Isaiah 55:6-9

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

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

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

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

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

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

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Clothed and Walking

August 31, 2017

Deuteronomy 8:1-6

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Clothed and Walking

If we truly want to know God’s provision in every circumstance in our lives then we must experience what it is not to have.  We have to experience the night before we truly appreciate what it is to have the light of day.  Often we don’t always understand the things we must go through, the losses that we must endure and why sometimes God doesn’t seem there for us.  We all have our own wilderness journey in one form or another.  Through it all we have been tested to see what was in our hearts.  Would we continue to trust God, even when He didn’t seem to show up, meet our need or answer our prayer?  When things didn’t go our way, did we blame Him?  Many of life’s heartaches and hardships have really tested us to see when we couldn’t understand His hand would we trust His heart.  Yet in those times as we look back, we see the subtle grace of God at work helping us, comforting us and giving us strength when we had no more of our own. 

Some of us are at this place in our walk right now.  We are struggling with finances, with health, with relationships or job issues.  Sometimes we reach that point where we want to just rebel, get mad or give up.  Your heart is being tested.  It is not out of meanness or lack of caring, but when a muscle is stretched and pushed beyond limits, it must continue to grow in order to meet the demands placed upon it.  It is not easy.  It is painful.  What we forget is that we are not just an ordinary people, we are an extraordinary people.  We are becoming that because God is taking us the extra mile and stretching us beyond our human limitations.  He is preparing us for extraordinary times. Yet as we will respond to Him in faith and obedience, we see His grace at work in supernatural ways in other areas of our life. 

God is separating us from our reliance upon our flesh and our dependence upon this world.  He is stretching us to know supernatural provision and strength.  We don’t find that when we are in pursuit of worldly goods or earthly fame and significance.  We find it in the humility of walking in His discipline and discipleship.  We will never fully appreciate the bread that is our provision until we first pursue and find the bread that feeds our spirit and our soul.   We could say, “seek ye first the bread of life, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Jesus tells the followers that pursued Him after He fed the multitude in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that manna which came out of heaven, the king and the kingdom of God.   It is not in the attainment of physical needs and wants that we are filled and completed, it is in our partaking of Him in personal relationship, faith and obedience that we find the true bread of life.  When you have truly found Him, then all of your superficial needs are met as well.   That need that we have is not always seen and met in the present tense, but it is met in faith as we embrace Him.

God is our loving heavenly Father who disciplines us as His sons.  He is often willing that our flesh would suffer so that our spirits may grow.  Most of us are, a here and now kind of people.  We are most concerned with what we are facing right here and right now.  Be not concerned with the cares of the moment, God is seeing you in a much greater role, one in which you must be tested, tried and proven.  That is just as He was doing in Joseph when through years of suffering and hardship, God was all the time preparing Him for leadership and government.  Could Joseph have faithfully and adequately done what he did for Egypt, if God had not prepared and raised Him in His purpose through strong discipline and adversity?  Like he told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  You may think the devil is out to destroy you, but what he would mean for evil, God will use for good.  Romans 12:12 exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”  If you are enduring the discipline of the Lord, then rejoice, because God has marked you for better things.  What He has called you too, He will prepare you for. 

We are no longer walking in this worldly economy as kingdom people are; we are walking in a kingdom economy and for a kingdom purpose.  In this journey God will clothe you with His righteousness that will not wear thin and He will put the strength in your feet to walk the walk of the cross as He shods them with the preparation of the gospel.  We are people that are rich beyond measure, but our riches are not measured by earthly standards.  God is our standard and in Him there is no lack or weakness.  Let us pursue Him who is our bread of life, provision and godliness.  In Him we will know no lack.  Even in our correction He will sustain us. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

Still the Wind

August 23, 2017

Still the Wind

Mark 4:37-41

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

This picture of the disciples caught out in the rough seas with all the forces of nature railing against them and filling their boat with water can so typify our lives at times.  Most all of us have had, will have or are having those times in our lives when all the natural elements of heaven and earth are railing against us.  We are rowing for all we are worth, but our boat just seems to keep on sinking.  We can’t bail out the water and the problems faster than they are coming in.  We are using every resource available for our survival and it looks like the end is sure.  Where is Jesus?  Before, we were saying, “Jesus you might want to give a hand up here, it’s pretty rough.”  Then it was “Jesus, this doesn’t look good, You really need to help us out.”  But Jesus is in a deep sleep in the back of the boat and this entire calamity of life and our desperation hasn’t awakened Him.  Finally, we are really desperate.  We are literally fasting and praying as we shake Jesus and cry out, “Master don’t you care that we are about to perish.”  Things have gotten desperate, they’re out of control, there is nothing more we can do and we’re about to go down for the third time.  Then Jesus arises, speaks the word and rebukes the wind and everything goes calm.  All of a sudden that impossible situation isn’t impossible anymore; it just dissipated.  We stand there in utter amazement at the miracle that has just happened.  We knew all along that we had Jesus in the boat, but things got out of control and Jesus was asleep, so we started to panic when it appeared like all was lost. 

Was Jesus ever out of control?  Even while He slept could the storms of life have prevailed over Him and took His life before the Father’s time?  Many of us think we have a pretty strong faith until it is put to the test like it was for the disciples this day.  How many of us could have remained calm and continued to rest in the fact that Christ was still in the boat and if we perished, He perished.

I remember a remarkable man of God telling me a testimony of a time when he and some other pastors were flying in a plane over I believe it was over a jungle area of Mexico.  As they were flying, for some reason they had ran out of gas and all of the circumstances pointed to them crashing and dying.  As the plane started to descend many of the pastor were crying out in fear and desperation.  This brother said, “I just prayed and said Jesus if I die, you die, because you are the life within me.”  Just after He spoke that he said the plane leveled out, the engines were restored and they were able to make it to a safe landing miraculously.  What was the difference between this man and the others?  They were all men of God and in God’s service.  The difference is having the revelation of who you are in Christ and knowing that all of your life is in His hands.  The difference is that we learn and possess this truth as we release our affections from everything that is dear to us in this life, even our families and we commit, without reservation, everything to God.  Will that be tested?  Yes, we will have our Isaac’s that we may have to lay upon the altar. 

Great faith is rested in total God confidence.  Like the Roman centurion of Luke 7 that came to Jesus in need of healing for his servant.  While Jesus was willing to walk the distance the centurion believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, it would be done.  He understood the dynamics of authority.  He knew that when one in authority spoke the word everything under that authority was compelled to obey.  He knew that Jesus had authority over sickness and death, therefore if He would speak the word, it was accomplished.  God wants us to come and know the authority of His Word and rest that He is able to accomplish it.  He is still our Christ who rebukes the winds and calms the sea and storms of our lives.  He is still our Peace that passes understanding.  He is ever the Christ that is in us, that is our life and our authority.

Blessings,

#kent

A Healthy Spirit

July 20, 2017

 

A Healthy Spirit

Proverbs 18:14

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

The true life of an individual is contained in their spirit.  The spirit is the center of hope, faith and the reason for living.  A healthy spirit is one that is broken and contrite before God, but whole and mighty concerning the adversities and trials of life. 

Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  The full humility and submission of our spirit toward the Lord is the sacrifice that He will not despise.  In that condition we are in alignment and submission to His will and purpose in our lives.  We have positioned ourselves to be reliant upon His strength and live out of the hope and faith we have in Him.  

On the other hand there is a broken spirit that is not good and is the most detrimental to our health and our life.  Psalms 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  A merry and joyful heart is like a medicine.  It proceeds out of a spirit and heart that is rejoicing and has found joy in the Lord in spite of circumstances that might dictate that it feels to the contrary.  That joy and merriment is an expression of faith, not necessarily of feelings, because our heart has its hope and confidence in the Lord.  Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”  We can go through almost anything as long as spirit is healthy and our hope and confidence remain in the Lord.  Our greatest danger, even over physical or mental illness is when our spirit becomes unhealthy and broken.  Our spirit is our lifeline to God.  It is the medium by which we communicate and maintain relationship with the Almighty.  When our spirit becomes broken then the physical man will dry up as well.  The power cord of our life is maintained through our spirit.  When the conduit and conductor of our life becomes interrupted or broken then we are running on batteries and true life is ebbing away.  It is through our spirit that faith is generated and hope is maintained.  There are times in our lives that circumstances can be so overwhelming that our spirit can be crushed with grief and despair.  We can lose our hope and even our desire to live ceases.  What strikes me in Proverbs 18 is that it is our spirit that sustains us in sickness.  There are many trials in life, including sickness, that can come in like a flood and overwhelm us with a sense of hopelessness and despondency. 

I am reminded of the disciples who were crossing the Sea of Galilee when they were caught up in a terrible storm that threatened their very lives, while Jesus lie sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  They had come to the end of themselves and hope was leaving them when they awoke Jesus.  Luke 8: 24-25 says, “And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”  When our spirit becomes broken our faith leaves us.  When we lose faith, we lose hope.  Faith and Hope are always right there in the boat with us in the person of Christ.  He says He will never leave us or forsake us, but He doesn’t tell us that we won’t feel that way.  That is how the disciples felt in that storm.  They felt helpless, afraid and were losing hope when all the while the Author of Life itself was resting in the hull of their boat.  Is any storm or adversity in life greater than He who is the Lord and Master over the winds and the water?  If we perish, we perish, but we must never allow our spirit to remain broken.  When life is overwhelming and it feels as if all hope is gone, allow your spirit to crawl up in DADDY’s lap, hold fast to Him with all of the strength of your being until your storm passes over. 

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”  Allow the name of the Lord to be the strong tower that protects your spirit from becoming broken.  It is your steadfast faith in Him that will keep your spirit from being broken in those most difficult of times.   Remember what Colossians 3:3 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  You have already died to this outward life, so don’t allow it to rob you of the inward life that is hid with Christ in God.  Maintain a healthy spirit that you might live in hope and in faith.

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Spirit that Sets Men Free

Mark 5:1-20

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Here is the account of a man so possessed of unclean spirits that he was no longer his own.  It is obvious from the story that the man didn’t have the goods or the means to contain or control this unclean spirit.  They had tried to chain him and control him, but no man could control or tame Him.  He had become no more than a puppet controlled and tormented by the spirits that inhabited him.  How he must have longed for deliverance and no doubt cried out to God for it.  One day the prayers and the cries of that captive spirit were answered.  Jesus showed up at his front door among the tombs and the dead things.   This man lived in death and death surrounded him.  I believe it was the spirit in the man that ran to worship Jesus.  Here was the deliverer who could deliver him from his tormented state.  I believe the unclean spirits would have ran from Jesus, but here at last was the answer he had cried out for.  Does it not seem strange that Jesus just happened to pick this destination to go to this day?  Was it not the tormented cries of the man’s heart that brought Him there?  This man was the extreme case of demonic possession, a man filled with an army of demons.  One word spoken by Jesus brought these unclean spirits to their knees.  His presence brought them to cry out, for His very presence was their torment and caused them to quake with fear. 

Such is the One that abides in you and I.  When it is the Christ in us that speaks forth an anointed word, then hell and the devil are helpless to stop it.  Jesus showed even a measure of mercy to the unclean spirits by allowing them to go into the swine. 

Jesus brought hope, deliverance and salvation into a man’s life and situation where a moment before there had only been despair.  He is still doing that today and often times, those of us with surrendered hearts and the sensitivity to hear His voice might be the channels He would use to touch some life and bring the miracle that they so desperately need and are crying out for.  Where would He take your life today and how would He use you to bring the spirits of men together with the Spirit of God?  Jesus came to set the captive free.  It is His Spirit that He desires to unite us too and all others must be cast out.  He wants to give us back a right mind, even the mind of Christ.  He wants us to take the good news of what He has done for us and share it with others.  Go forth and bring to others the deliverance of His salvation and the good tidings of peace and joy.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Antidote for Fear

May 30, 2017

 

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

The Antidote for Fear

We live and walk in a world consumed by doubt and fears.  Unfortunately it touches many who are believers as well as the world.  It is important that if fear and doubt are a struggle that you have that you will be encouraged and exhorted by this word. 

The only one that God wants us to fear is Him.  When we truly reverence and stand in total awe of who He is then we realize He ultimately has the say and judgement over our life and spirit.   Others may be able to afflict and kill the body, but God determines our eternal destiny.  

When I find myself in fear and doubt, I find that I am not standing and walking fully in faith.  Faith in God’s Word assures me that God is Love.  His love is able to keep me, not matter what circumstances surround me or those I love.  In Romans 8:28 I am given the assurance that, “all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Even when I am faced with tribulation, persecution, afflictions and death, I need not fear.

Why?

Because God’s perfect love drives out all fear.  In Psalms 118:6, the Psalmist declares, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  We have the assurance that as we have received by faith, Christ as our Savior and Lord, He lives in us and we live in Him.  He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  All else, spirit or flesh, is under His dominion.  If we are in Him then anything that touches us must come through Him.  

Our fears come when we lose sight of the identity that we have in Jesus Christ.  When we fully grasp and lay hold of the promises and truth of God’s Word, fear has no grip upon us.  

Why?

Because we are God’s children who abide in the Love of God.  His perfect love casts out fear.  Our lives are His.  Is there any so great as to pluck us out of the hand of God?  

“But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”  If we fear judgement and punishment then we lack the assurance that we have been fully washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus.  We don’t fully understand that we are fully justified in Christ, meaning it is just as if we never sinned.  When we abide in the Righteous One, then we abide in the full assurance of His salvation.  In that salvation is the revelation of God’s holy and insurmountable love for us.  For us to live in fear, means that we have taken our eyes off of who He is in us and put them upon the circumstances that surround us. 

When Stephen was about to be stoned by the frenzied mob of the religious, he didn’t fear what they could do to him.  He only saw Jesus and had set his eyes on things above.  When we, like him, see Jesus setting a the right hand of the Father, then there is no room for fear because Ephesians 2:6-10 assures us, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When we know who we are, where our position is and what our purpose is then what can man do to us.  Our life is hid in Him and He is sovereign over all of the affairs of men.  When we get a revelation of this we will better understand the perfect love of God and that God has designed that we should be made perfect in that love.  “Perfect love drives out fear.”

Blessings,

#lemt

How much does Your Sin Cost Me?

James 4:1-6

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

    4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We know that Jesus paid the price for our sin and the spiritual, eternal consequences they reap.  We know that through faith and calling upon the name of Jesus we can partake of the free gift of His great salvation and goodness.  We know also that through the power of His life that comes to reside within us we can overcome the strongholds and the power of the sin that has operated in our lives.  We also know that even though Jesus paid the price, sin still operates in our world and unfortunately it still operates in us as believers where we give it place.  Sin has natural consequences as well as spiritual ones.  As we survey our world we have no trouble seeing the devastating effects of sin that touches every life on this planet.  While God is merciful to forgive our sins, that sin still produces consequences.  It produces its fruit of destruction and death.  The sad thing about sin, whether it is ours or someone else’s, it doesn’t just cost us, it cost all who are touched by it.  Sin is like a rock thrown into a pond, it produces a big splash where it lands, but it also produces ripples that go out in all directions.  This begs the question, how much will your sin cost me and how much will my sin cost you? 

People ask the question, “How could a loving God allow war, hunger, sickness, disease, poverty and crime?”  I guess it could be said, because He loved us enough to give humanity a free will to make choices whether they were for Him or against Him.  The state of our world is the fruit of many poor choices where man chose sin over God.  God has loved us so much, that in spite of all those wrong choices and in spite of the ones we continue to make we have a way back to Him; back to His righteousness and perfect plan.  Meanwhile, as long we continue in this present evil age of man’s doing the consequences of sin will follow us. 

What does that mean to us on a personal level?  What happens for instance when a person allows alcohol or drug addiction to get a hold of their lives.  The hook is often innocent enough, but the underlying consequences are horrific.  How many of our lives have been affected by these.  A person lusts so much after these strongholds that they will cheat, steal, lie, con and they will become all the things that they once hated and detested in others.  They will beat the wife they say they love, they will abuse their precious children, they rob from their family to feed and satisfy their addiction and even though they hate themselves for it they can’t stop their destructive course.  They go on to beg, borrow, steal, and con their friends, family and loved ones, because of their lack.  They will loose their jobs, their reputation, their self-respect, their dignity and integrity until they either get help or completely destroy all that they had loved and held dear.  They will cost those closest to them untold grief, heartache, pain in many ways: financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually and every other way.  That ripple will continue to radiate out and affect others even beyond their personal relationships.  How many thousands and millions of dollars does it cost a society because of crime and sin.  People are victimized and hurt continually because of someone else’s sin. 

How much does divorce, unfaithful and broken relationships cost, not only financially, but in terms of suffering, heartbreak, anger, unwillingness to forgive and shattered lives and hearts.  That is something nearly everyone has been touched by since it effects about half of our marriages today; all of it the result of our sin and selfishness.  How much will your sin cost me?  It doesn’t just cost you, it cost everyone around you.  If sin has a stronghold on you, get help!  As painful and humiliating as that may be, it is nothing compared to what your sin will reap.  Remember God loves you.  He is for you and not against you, but He will not make your choices for you.  Only you and I can make right choices.  Let us humble ourselves and return to Him, that we may receive His grace before it cost us all more that we want to pay.

Blessings,

#kent

Jeremiah 23:1-7

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2  Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

       “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,

       a King who will reign wisely

       and do what is just and right in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved

       and Israel will live in safety.

       This is the name by which he will be called:

       The LORD Our Righteousness.

7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

A Call to the Scattered

What we are reading in Jeremiah is a prophetic word that is coming to pass in this day.  Many of us may see this applying to natural Israel, but as things are seen in the natural so are they in  the spirit.  Spiritual Israel and her descendants are being gathered are being gathered out of captivity and displacement and put back into their place in Christ Jesus. 

Roman 2:28-29 says, ” A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”  Just as God speaks to the natural Jew, He speaks to the spiritual Jew.  Many of God’s Jews of the Spirit have been displaced by wicked and unscrupulous men who have sought their own gain at the expense of the God’s precious flock.  As a result these shepherds have destroyed and scattered God’s people throughout the land.  They have driven them away from the Lord because they have represented the Righteous One in their wickedness and selfishness.  Many are out in the fields of the world, wandering, lost, separated, wounded and hurt.  They have become fearful and avoid fellowship with the people of God because of the wounds and hurts that they bare. 

This is what the Lord would say to this people; these lost, wounded and scattered ones.  “I am raising up a Righteous Branch out of Zion who will rule and gather my people and my  flock.  I have never cast you off, nor have I abandoned you.  You are still the precious apple of my eye.  I send forth My love to capture your heart again, to dress your wounds and apply My healing salve.  You have been rejected, but not of Me.  You have been wounded, but only that I may bring forth your healing.  Now I would gather you and bring you back to My heart and My throne.  Be not fearful, but listen to the Spirit of My voice within you.  You are still My beloved and My redeemed.  My heart is for you and not against you.  Return unto me for I am bringing you back to the true Israel over which the King of Righteousness rules.  Come unto me and I will give you rest.  I will lead you beside the still waters and make you to lie down in green pastures.”

As surely as the Lord is bringing natural Israelites back to their land, so He is bringing the spiritual Israelites back to their place in Christ Jesus.    This is a day of restoration and healing for the people of God who have been wounded and hurt by those in the church.  Your true Shepherd is calling you back home.  He will heal you and restore you in righteousness and love for His namesake.  Come back now and dwell in the land of the righteous.

Blessings,

#kent

The Peace of God

April 17, 2017

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Peace of God

We can’t say that just because we are Christians we don’t have problems and struggles.  The Lord promises to always be with us, but He doesn’t promise that we won’t have many trials and hardships on our journey.  What we truly need we already have in Christ Jesus.  That is hard for us to reason when perhaps our physical circumstances are so dire.  

We have often used the analogy that gold ore is not gold in its purest state.  It is mixed with much dross and impurities.  It is the crushing, the fire and the smith that smelts the gold, brings it into purity, then shapes it into vessels of honor.  What suffers in the process is our flesh and too often we identify our flesh with our life when it no longer is.  

Such a key part of our faith is the confidence and the knowing of who we are in Christ Jesus.  If we don’t have a revelation of that we are always going to be panicking in the storm.  We can so quickly lose sight of who is in the boat with us, because of the raging torrents that surround us.  The peace of God comes in the security of knowing that your life is hid in Him.  It positions us as Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”  You see, we are in Christ in heavenly realms.  What we possess and will experience in Christ Jesus is beyond compare to anything this world can offer.  Paul says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The peace we possess is the rest that God is in charge of our lives if we have surrendered and relinquished our will to Him.  

What is the first thing the Word tells us to do when we have a need?  “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”  Joy over and over and over again in your God and all that He is and that He has provided for you in Christ Jesus.  Your salvation is your peace, because it is the presence and manifestation of God in all aspects of your life.  One definition of the peace from the Greek word “eirene” says, “of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”  What God has given in us in times of unbearable hardship is His grace.  He is what we cannot be.  Our peace is in knowing that He is, whatever our need.  Whatever our circumstance our peace is in His will and purpose.  He says to make our needs known to Him through supplication and prayer.  Don’t become anxious or distraught about anything.  God is at work in ways that we can not see.  “Cast all of your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”  When you have prayed and made your request known, then begin to worship and thank Him for His answer.  It doesn’t matter that you haven’t seen it yet.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen.  Rest in that you know that God is working in your behalf.  Allow His peace to give tranquility to your soul.  Don’t allow your heart to be troubled about many things, but rather choose to sit at the feet of Jesus.  He will give you rest. 

Blessings,

#kent

Discouraged but not Forsaken

Deuteronomy 1:21

Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up [and] possess [it], as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged

How are you doing today as you run the race of faith?  Are you running with the wind in your sails or are you just floating like a sailboat without a breeze?  Are you encouraged and built up in your faith or are you tired, weary and feeling defeated?  Where are you at in your relationship with Christ today?   Perhaps you are where you want to be and growing daily in your faith and obedience to Christ.  That is where we would all like to be, but in reality you may be floundering, experiencing some failures and defeats or dealing with issues that you don’t have the answers for.  

Hopefully, what we have learned so far is that our relationship with the Father, along with His love and desire towards us, doesn’t ride on the coattails of our emotional ups and downs.  It isn’t our feelings that dictate our walk and relationship with the Father; it is our faith and confidence in His Word.  The Father is constant in His love for us, even when we fall flat on our face or back into sin.  The wonderful thing about the Lord is even though he loves us the way we are; He loves us too much to leave us that away.   There are times we hate ourselves; all we can see is the failure, the weakness, the sin and how helpless we feel to change it.  What we do know is that all of our self-pity and defeatism will never allow our life to change.  The enemy has us right where he wants us, in the throes of defeat.   Perhaps you have been experiencing the dealings of the Lord in your life and His discipline has been upon you.  That should be an encouragement to you, because you know He is dealing with you as His son or His daughter.  Don’t allow discouragement to come in and cause you to give up.  There will be times of discouragement where you are tempted to want to give up. 

God loves us, even in the mess we are in.  God has great things for us and great things He wants to accomplish through us.  Hebrews 12:12-15 says, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”  Our greatest failure is not that we have messed up it is when we give up.  Life is a series of battles and we aren’t going to win them all, but our victory is in keeping our eyes upon Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.  We have to keep coming back on our knees and pouring out our heart and soul to Him.  He is what we can’t be in ourselves.  Lest we forget who we are and what we are, we are a new creation that bears the name of Christ.  Let us quit looking at what we have been and where we have come from and start looking at what we are going to be and where we are headed too.  Our identification, our purpose and our reason for living must always be centered in Christ.  When we allow that to be robbed from us, we become the whipping boy for the devil and he will flat beat you up until you feel like a worthless nothing.  Let faith arise in our hearts. Let us believe what the Lord and His Word says about us, “that we are the righteousness of Christ”, that we are, “more than conquers through Christ that loved us” and that “He has raised us up together and made us to sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”  

If the enemy has you in the dungeon of despair and discouragement today, sucking rocks and the putrid filth of his accusations and condemnations, then it is time to lift up your head and look to where your salvation comes from.  It is time to get up and walk out of that prison cell.  Those bars can’t hold you.  Jesus has already unlocked the door.  He has never stopped loving you and all He is waiting for and desiring is for you to come back to Him.  Make the Lord your refuge, your mighty fortress and your strong deliverer.  He is and always will be your salvation, your hope and your strong tower.   “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

Blessings,

#kent

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