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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Beauty

August 30, 2017

Beauty

Genesis 29:17

Leah [was] tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

Isn’t it amazing today as you see all of the television reality shows and what you hear in the attitudes of women?  So many are enamored with being beautiful and sexy.  Their whole focus is on the outward man.  If they can just have the right kind of looks then everything else will fall into place and happiness will ensue.  The Bible gives an example of two women who were sisters that became the wives of Jacob.  Obviously the natural eye is attracted to natural and outward beauty.  Jacob was no exception; it was Rachel’s beauty that caught his eye.  On the other hand we have Leah.  She was no doubt a nice quiet little gal with gentle eyes, but not in the exceptionally beautiful category. 

The story goes that Jacob worked seven years for Labon, the girls’ father, so that he could marry Rachel.  Come the wedding day, with the veil and all, Labon pulled a fast one and gave Jacob Leah, rather than Rachel.  Naturally Jacob protested, but Labon insisted that the custom was that the elder daughter should marry before the younger and that he could work another seven years and have Rachel as well.  So Jacob ends up with two wives, Rachel the one he loves and is drawn too and Leah, the less desirable one that he is now joined too or stuck with.  It is interesting how God enters into the picture in this marriage.  Genesis 29:31-32 it says, “And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.” 

There are some of you ladies out there that may feel you got the short end of the stick, rather perceived or real, you don’t feel beautiful.  You feel undesirable and unattractive.  The natural inclination for all of us is town to be good looking, well liked and popular with people.  God in His infinite wisdom didn’t make a good many of us to fall into this category.  What we must see is that often what we don’t have in one area God can, and does, make up in another.  Proverbs 31:30 tells the women, “Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”  In God’s eyes there is something far more beautiful and appealing to Him than outward beauty, it is the inward beauty of a godly heart.  Peter bears this out as well in 1 Peter 3:3-5, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”

Today this scripture might read,  “Whose adorning is not in a nose job, breast implants, calogen treatments, whitened teeth, liposuction, cosmetics, hot clothes or a tan and sculpted body.”  Women spend billions of dollars every year in the name of beauty and there is nothing wrong with looking nice within reason, but our focus and emphasis is all wrong.  How attractive do you want to be to your husband, Jesus?  He is not concerned or attracted to what you look like outwardly, He is looking at the condition of your heart and soul.  He is looking for that meek and quiet spirit that is living in submission to the Holy Spirit, led and guided by Him.  He is looking for women that are living in the fullness of the inward beauty.  If outwardly you are beautiful, but inwardly you are rebellious, arrogant, mean-spirited and controlling does that equate to a beautiful woman?  Regardless of what you have in the way of outward beauty, you do have say about the kind of person you can be inwardly.  Develop that beauty.  Cause people to be attracted to you, because of the Christ in you.  That beauty is not vain or selfish, it is in the likeness and nature of your husband, Christ.  If you feel like Leah, then be encouraged that God will make you fruitful, for it was out of Leah that the seed-line of Jesus came, not Rachel.  Let your adorning be of  “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.”  After all, in the end it is that beauty that appeals and attracts our Savior and that we truly desire to possess.  “A woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

August 7, 2017

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday.  Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten.  One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly. 

The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior.  That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible.  Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church?  Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions?  We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God. 

Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food.  I’m certainly no exception there.  We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end.  Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices.  And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us.  All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices.  They can be good or bad depending on what they produce.  One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.

Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life.  If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made.  We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come. 

Are you making healthy choices spiritually today?  Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily?  I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chose Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own.  “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).”   May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.

 

Blessings,

#Kent

The Treasures We have in Christ

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Oh the treasures and the riches that are ours in Christ.  How richly our Lord favors us with His love and blessing.  How often I take for granted how immeasurably rich I am in Him.  It is not because things always go right or because I am wealthy beyond measure or that I don’t have any trials, tribulations or troubles, it because He is, “I AM.”  “I AM” is with you always, through everything and in every need.  “I AM”, is not our magic wand or “get out of jail free” card, but He is always there for us.  His presence and grace are sufficient for every need and trial.   He is there for us, not always to deliver us in a miraculous ways, although that is certainly always within His power and discretion, but to empower us in spiritual flight. He is there to bear us up on eagle’s wings above our life’s storms and to give us vision to see beyond the storm into the peace of a new day. 

Even when I can’t love myself, He loves me.  When sin and shame would cause me to turn and run from Him; He is the glory and the lifter of my head.  He washes me in the water of His Word and cleanses my sin with His blood.  Oh, what a friend I have in Jesus, my Savior forever.  How blessed and highly favored we are in Christ, for He has separated us from the nations and made us a holy nation unto Himself.  He corrects us, patiently loves us and writes His precious ways upon the tablets of our hearts.  Oh the extravagant love of the Father towards us and the tender and extreme love of Jesus.  Who can comprehend the love of Christ, that would experience such suffering and death for us when we were but enemies and aliens to Him, yet with the sacrifice of His own life and shed blood He has reconciled us to Himself. 

God forbid that we should neglect or take for granted so great a salvation as this.  Oh, the riches of His love and the great things He has prepared for those who love Him and embrace Him.  This life’s afflictions and trials are but for a brief moment and should only serve to prepare us for the great things that He is bestowing upon those who love Him and keep His ways.  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” 

Take heart when life is difficult.  You are not alone.  In the storms, press into the inner sanctuaries of His presence.  Meet with Him in the temple of your spirit.  You are exceeding rich and well favored, but gold hidden in the earth is often not perceived by others and too often, not even by us.  Just know that His treasure is stored in earthen vessels and you are such a vessel.  You are a portion of the riches that are hidden in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Love that Binds

June 16, 2017

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Love that Binds

Unity in a family, a marriage or in the body of Christ is found when we are all operating out of a communication of love.  People are unique and we will always have our differences from one another.  That is the way our good Lord created us to be.  In our differences He poured into us the bonding and the glue of His love so that we are able to patiently bear the irregularities of all those people that God didn’t make just like me.  Love is never really exercised and grown unless it is stretched and challenged.  People will certainly do that to you.  I personally found that just keeping to yourself and doing your own thing makes it easier to love people, but that is a long distance love.  God’s love is most often up close and personal.  It is often a decision rather than a feeling.  Whatever our relationships with people God knows we are going to have our differences.  Obviously, outside of Christ, we are much different than God.  In fact, He says before we were saved we were His enemies.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  What reconciled us to God was first His love for us, not our love for Him.  This is a key example that we forget in so many of our relationships.  We are most often reactionary, returning kind for kind and love for love or even hate for hate.  God does not just react to our rejection of His love.  If He did the human race would have been extinct long ago.  His love is deliberate and it has purpose.  His love is to gather you in His arms and impart Himself into you. 

That bring us to where God is bringing each of us in our expression of love.  If we are loving out of our human condition and our feelings of love, then our love will always be conditional and full of limitations.  God has called us to live out of His love which is unconditional and loves the unlovely as much as the lovely.   Living a life worthy of the calling is living life out of the foundation of love.  Who is love?  We know that God is love so if we are to love as He loved we can only do that as we submit to His love to reign in our hearts and find expression through our hands. 

The apostle Paul exhorts us here to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He is not saying it is always easy, but in order to do it you have to lose your importance and your impatience.  Humility has been defined as “strength under control”.  That strength and humility of love learns to prefer others above itself.  It becomes more aware, concerned and active in meeting another’s needs than it does its own.  Love makes every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  We soon learn through life’s experiences that even among other Christian not all are willing or wanting to reciprocate your love for them.  Most of us are aware that even in our own selves we often are acting out of our flesh or giving place to an ungodly spiritual influence or spirit.  When that is present we can be quite confrontational, unfriendly and irreconcilable.  When we encounter that reaction towards us from others, even if they are our brothers or sisters, we have to see it with spiritual eyes of love and discernment, not getting caught up in the spirit of division that is at work.  Often times we end up taking some punches we don’t deserve and in love we learn to turn the other check.  It is not about us being right or winning an argument.  It is about the love of God triumphing even in an ugly situation.  Many of us get caught up in our emotions and feelings and if that soulish part of us is not being tempered by the Spirit we will get off into the flesh and certainly will not be known by our love in those moments. 

The stream of God Spirit takes a lot of rough jagged rocks in the river bed and rubs them together until over time they become smooth stones.  That is what we are becoming those smooth stones, but the process is brought about by agitation, irritations, irregularities and confrontations.   It is  the Love of God that is the fluid that heals, blends, forgives and ultimately loves through us in the unity of one Spirit. Perfection takes a good deal of practice.  God has put us with one another to learn to practice His love.  God’s love should be what binds us together until we work out our differences and that may just be loving and accepting the other for where they are at.  God has us all on different rows and we at different places in our walk with Him.  Above all let the love of Christ prevail in our relationships.  If the world is ever to know us by our love, then they first have to see it in action in though our lives and behavior towards one another.

 

Blessings,

#kent

John 1:12-13

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 

Conformed to the Image of the Son

“Who I am is not what I am in the eyes of the world, but who I am is what I am in the eyes of the Father.  He sees me completed in Him and conformed to the likeness of His Son, because I also have been given the privilege of sonship and He has placed His DNA in me.  I am growing up into His name, His nature and His likeness.” 

Is this your statement of faith, your belief and your conviction?

You may be saying to yourself I would like it to be, but you don’t how I really am and how I struggle with some things.  Faith in Christ is not a statement of your circumstances and how things appear to be.  Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “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.”  What are you fixing your eyes upon today?  Is it your shortcomings, your sins, your failures, your inadequacies and all the reasons and condemnation as to why you don’t feel like a son or daughter of the Most High God?  The Father sees you in the righteousness of His Son, because He became sin for you so that you might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  If you can only see the negative things about yourself then you are only focusing on what the accuser is throwing up before you and not what God is saying and thinking about you.  Jesus Christ is the way past all that we can’t be in our old self.  His blood still stands to wash away all filth and shame, so that we might enter in and boldly come before our God in the righteousness of Jesus name.  A new creation man can make a statement like we began with, because he or she knows who they are in Christ and what their identity is.  Why do we still want to hold on to that which has been crucified with Christ when such a marvelous legacy and identity has been given to us.  Put on Christ and with the mind of Christ put away your former ways of thinking, especially about yourself. 

We are currently in concert with the Holy Spirit to live and bring our lives in alignment with the Christ within us.  Romans 8:12-13 says, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  It is no longer you or I trying to overcome sin in the strength of our flesh.  We now have an ally that makes possible what was not possible under the law.  The law only exposed our weakness and inability to save ourselves.  But now we have the Spirit of God within to enable us in the areas of our weakness and failure.  It becomes evident that this is a journey in which God isn’t going to do it all apart from you just because you made a statement of faith.  That statement and commitment of faith is a covenant.  The covenant is between you and Him.  He will do His part, but it is dependent upon your commitment to do your part.  It is this marriage of your soul with His Spirit that produces sonship as we faithfully abide in Him.

Do you know who you are now?  You need to know who you are in order to become what you are.  He has made you privy to His mystery as revealed in Colossians 1:26-27: “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This a basic revelation truth you must lay hold of if you want to come into the fullness of who you are in Christ.  He has given you His NAME.  Everything He is is contained in that NAME, His character, His nature, His power, His authority and His love.  He has given us the most precious and powerful gift that could be had in the entire universe.  He has given us Himself.  Now He is asking that in the acceptance of that gift you begin to identify and walk in all that is contained in who you now are IN HIM.  

RISE UP IN YOUR SONSHIP AND BECOME CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON!

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 22:24

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

The Despised and the Afflicted

Have you ever looked down on someone who was weaker than you, not as talented, not as good looking or not as good or righteous?  Have you ever despised another because they offended you in some way?  Have you ever regarded yourself above others in your station or position in life?  If we are really truthful and search our hearts I would imagine that we all have had these prejudices.  I am sure for all of us there are people we prefer to not be around or associate with for various reasons.  Maybe there are good reasons that we shouldn’t associate or be around them. 

What the Lord is speaking today is concerning the despised and the afflicted.  Many times we can’t really appreciate or identify with where others are at, because we have never been there or had to really walk in their place or we have forgotten where we have come from.  We judge and make assumption from afar and think that we judge rightly and fairly.  What is God’s heart concerning the afflicted and those whom others may despise?  He certainly doesn’t condone any of us in our sin or favor the unrighteous, but He feels and knows the heart of the afflicted.  He knows their pain and their torment.  He knows their rejection and their low esteem.  Without realizing it we can become like the Pharisees that dwelt in their sterile environment where they didn’t have to dirty their hand or touch the unclean things.  It is safe there and we don’t have to deal with all of the unpleasantness of the humanity that is sick and dying all around us.  We often despise the afflicted because they cause us to deal with unpleasant things; things we would rather ignore and not be concerned with.  Our religious, righteous and sanctimonious heart is not the heart of the Father, because he doesn’t despise or abhor the afflicted.  He doesn’t hide His face from them, but He loves them and cares about them.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘it is not the well who need the physician, it is the sick.’  Jesus has a heart for the despised and the afflicted, because He walked in their place.  Isaiah 53:3 speaks concerning Jesus, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Many of us have become quite comfortable with our religious trappings and comfortable surroundings.  We dress nice, we talk nice and we rub shoulder with like-minded people, but how do we view those who don’t fit within our circle and our standards?  Do we thank God that we are not like them?  Jesus addresses this in a parable that He gives in Luke 18:9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 

13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 

14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Some of us have forgotten who we were when the Lord called us unto Himself.  1 Corinthians 1:26-32 says, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

James 1:5-7 puts this question to us, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?”  Let us be careful whom we despise, reject and judge.   Our ministry and our outreach are to such a people.  Let us honestly search our hearts and our attitudes.  Many of us need to get over ourselves and get the heart of the Father for the despised and the afflicted.  If we are missing that, then we are missing Him. 

Blessings,

#kent

Lending

February 20, 2017

Lending

Exodus 22:25

If thou lend money to [any of] my people [that is] poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. 

What is the Lord’s heart toward lending and loans?  Deuteronomy 15:6-8 says, “For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, [in that] which he wanteth.”  God has promised blessing upon His people who are obedient to His ways.   It is His will that we are the lenders and not the borrowers.  It is His will that we are the head and not the tail.  In this position of blessing, He has given us abundance to be a blessing, especially to our brethren and the saints of God.  If we are in this position He gives us warning about how we conduct ourselves with regards to charging interest or otherwise extorting from those to whom we would lend.  It would appear, according to God’s Word that God has blessed those who are the lenders so that they may be a blessing to help and lend to those who are in a place of need.  With regards to the body of Christ the principle would be that we do not lend for personal gain, but to help our brother in need without charging interest upon the loan.  On the other hand it would be wrong of the borrower to take advantage of the lender and not make good on the loan by repaying it as promptly as possible.  Even if that were the case, the Lord would have us to forgive the debt rather than hold ought against our brother.  Jesus gives us this principle in Luke 6:33-36, “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend [to them] of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”  Our lending is akin to our giving; it is a principle of the nature of who we are in Christ.  This is a different concept than how the world views things.  

Deuteronomy 23:20 says, “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” While Old Testament teaches that it is acceptable to charge interest to those in the world, Christ would temper us by saying “let love, compassion and mercy rule your heart rather than greed and covetousness.  While it is not always easy to apply these principle in the world of business and commerce we must be mindful that our first priority above getting wealth and gain is to have the heart of the Father in all that we do.  There will always be those who have more and those who have less.  If we are in the place of having more then our greater reward in heaven is not by exploiting that advantage for personal gain, but by using it to help the poor and less fortunate.  If we groan about this responsibility, the Lord might remind us that He could quite easily let us switch places and we can assume the place of the borrower and the one in need if we think that would more desirable.  If you are in the place of the lender today rejoice that God has given you the privilege of being in the place of being a blessing to your brother.  He has blessed you in a place of stewardship over not what is yours, but what is His.   “He who is faithful over little, He will make faithful over much.”  

Perhaps there are some reading this today that need to bring these issues before the Lord and get His mind on how they are conducting their affairs in this area.  Philippians 2:4 gives us this principle to guide and live our lives by, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”  Simply put, we are all, “our brother’s keeper” and we all have a responsibility to take care of one another even when it doesn’t benefit us in the natural sense.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)”

Blessings,

#kent

The Touch of God

January 24, 2017

The Touch of God

 Job 5:17-19

Behold, happy [is] the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. 

What is contained in a touch?  A touch can communicate many things.  It can communicate tenderness or affliction, mercy or wrath, healing or wounding, virtue or hurt, both love and displeasure.  In the Law of Moses there were many commandments of touch not and taste not, but in Christ, righteousness is by faith.  Those that Jesus touched and those who sought to touch Him found the communication of His virtue, healing, power and life passed to them.  What is contained in a touch is what is in the heart of the one who touches.  

When God touches the lives of His beloved we know that His heart is love.  It is God’s love that desires to bring our hearts and will into conformity with His nature and purpose within us.  We have learned as parents and as children that love can be both tender and it can be tough.  God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.  The touch of God may not always appear to us to be of love, because sometimes it is severe and our understanding is limited.  While God may afflict us and correct us in one area, in another we may see His hand of blessing and deliverance.  I don’t begin to pretend I know the mind and counsel of God, but what I do know is that God is love, therefore all that He does is motivated out of the attribute of that character.  In Job 5 Eliphaz is giving His counsel to Job and He makes these remarks about His observation of the nature of God in verses 8- 27.  ““But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. 9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. 10 He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. 11 The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. 13 He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. 14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. 15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. 16 So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.17″Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. 19 From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you. 20 In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. 21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. 22 You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth. 23 For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. 24 You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. 25 You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. 26 You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. 27 “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.””  The Lord is our savior, healer, defender and deliver, but He is also our disciplinarian and the corrector of our ways.  We often attribute our trials and afflictions to our sins, but God isn’t just dealing with sin, that was dealt with in the blood of Jesus.  God is preparing us for a much greater calling, as He was Job.  Job wasn’t dealt with so severely because of His sin, it was God working a greater transformation and calling in Job’s life through the fire of testing and trials.  It was Job’s integrity and faithfulness through the trials that he came forth into a place of priesthood ministry and double-portion blessing.  God doesn’t touch you with affliction to bring you down, but rather to bring you up.  Keep your eyes upon His promises and trust His heart.

Maybe you are in that hard place today.  Maybe you don’t understand why and God seems slow to move on your behalf.  Find that place of faith, rest and trust in Him.  Just humble yourself and commit all of you ways to Him.  You can trust that rather in life or death, blessings or affliction, God’s heart for you is love and what He is working is to bring you up and not to bring you down.  Allow God to touch your life to your ultimate benefit that your end may be blessed and fruitful to His glory.

Blessings,

#kent

The Hard Place

January 5, 2017

Lamentations 3:17-25

I cannot find peace or remember happiness. 18I tell myself, “I am finished! I can’t count on the LORD 

to do anything for me.” 19Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. 

20That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. 21Then I remember something that fills me with hope. 22The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. 23The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. 24Deep in my heart I say, “The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!” 25The LORD is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him. 26It is good for the LORD to save us. 

The Hard Place

As I was waiting upon the Lord for what to write this morning, He brought this song to my mind.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  He is new every morning, new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness oh Lord, great is your faithfulness.”  This led me to this scripture in Lamentations, where the prophet Jeremiah is being sorely afflicted.  He feels cast down, abandoned and like the Lord Himself has even turned against him.  In the midst of his discouragement, he does like David; He sets his mind on the goodness of God and His faithfulness.  He remembers that though the Lord may allow affliction and hard times to come upon us, He will never forsake us or leave us.  His mercies are new every morning.  

There are those of us that are standing in the furnace of afflictions today.  There are those of us that will be there tomorrow and there are those of us that have recently come out of that place.  It is a difficult place and a hard place.  It is a place that tries and stretches our faith and questions the goodness and the love of God.  Isn’t it wonderful that as we look back through God’s word we see so many examples of God’s people who were in this place?  They felt the same things you have.  They cried out to God, and many times it may have seemed liked the Lord had become deaf to their cries.  Yet, there was something down in their spirit that wouldn’t let go, they just couldn’t curse and forsake the Lord.  Even Jesus came into the midst of those that mocked Him, cursed Him, spit upon Him, beat, wounded and bruised Him.  Ultimately they crucified Him.  As He hung on the cross, He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”  Have we ever felt that, like you were all alone and God had turned His back on you?  

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:21-24, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”  In this place of affliction I believe God is tempering the steel of your godly character and faithfulness.  In this place God’s purpose is not to destroy you, but only your flesh which hinders you.  In this place you truly grasp the meaning of what it is to be crucified with Christ, yet nevertheless you live, yet not you, but Christ in you.  It forces you to reach down for something greater than yourself and to find a strength that is not your own.  This is when you begin to lay hold of the resurrection life of Christ that is more powerful than the death and pain that surrounds you.  This is the place where you are pressed into Him and a dimension of life you could have never discovered when everything was going well.  It is in that place of death that you find life and faith that sustains you and keeps you in the midst of the fiery furnace.  That is where you look over and find that other person standing with you in the furnace of affliction, like unto the Son of man, that won’t allow the fire to singe your faithfulness, but only consume from you the natural ropes that had bound you.  It is in this hard place that God is raising you up into a life not your own.  What the enemy had determined for evil, God will use for good.  What the enemy thought would discourage and separate from the Lord has only caused you to enter in and experience a greater dimension of His life and grace.  

If you are in this place, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  God loves you and He hasn’t forsaken you.  He is simply perfecting in you the pure gold of His nature and character.  You are precious in His sight and whom the Lord loves He chastens and purifies.  Remember, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercies are new every morning.

Blessings, 

#kent

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