The Path of Faith

November 14, 2018

 

The Path of Faith

 

Isaiah 30:21

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

 

Imagine the Lord placing you at the entrance of a single lane road.  It is early morning and a fog is encompassing the area.  The lane is lined on both sides by large trees.  The sunlight is soft as it penetrates the fog and filters softly through the leaves of the trees.  As you look up the lane your visibility is limited by the misty atmosphere and you can only see down the lane a short distance.  You have no idea what lies further down the road or what you will encounter as you walk down that lane.  All you have is a Word that the Lord gave you, “”I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me (John 14:6).  Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 31:21).” All that you have is the Word of the Lord and the faith that if you follow this way it will lead you to the Father and His eternal life.

On your side is a pouch filled with seed.  In you right hand is jar of water.  With these you have been given the instruction that as you travel down this road, sow seed along the wayside and when you see seed that is struggling to grow, water it.

And so you begin your journey down the path.   At times it is pleasant and uneventful. There are often many distractions and desirable things that are wooing you away from the path.  Then there are times when the fog moves in even thicker.  The air so damp and heavy and cold it almost pushes you to the ground as you struggle to feel your way along the path that you can no longer see with your eyes.  At times the hardship seems too much and you want quit, get off of that path and turn into some nice warm and comfortable shelter.  But behind you, you hear that still small voice in your spirit that continues to say, “This is the way, walk in it.”  As you persevere, eventually the fog lifts and sun shines and your heart rejoices that you have come through and back into the light.  You suddenly grasp the revelation that the sun never stopped shinning, it had never gone away, the only thing that changed was your perception, it was simply obscured by the clouds of your circumstance and natural surroundings.   There were times the path became very steep, rocky and treacherous.  One slip and you could plummet over the cliff to a sure death.  Somehow you weren’t afraid, your heart was confident and sure, because you knew you were still walking in the “way”, up the path of life.

During your journey you were faithful to scatter and plant the seed that was in your pouch, along the wayside.  You were frustrated as you saw that the birds feeding along the path consumed much of it.  You were disappointed that much of it fell on hardened and rocky soil and while it soon sprang up, it quickly withered, because it had no root and lacked moisture.  Some that you scattered among the weeds and thorns came up but was quickly choked out, but your heart rejoiced when some that you planted fell on good ground and they came up to bear fruit in varying degrees.  You were also blessed when you came to those seeds that were thirsting and withering for lack of moisture.  As you watered them, you saw them regain their strength.  You saw those bowed over in discouragement, encouraged and renewed in hope and in life.  You were blessed that in your journey you could be a part in sowing and watering.   Though your way was often difficult and not without many struggles, you found your greatest joy was what you could impart of the life that had so freely and graciously been imparted to you.

At long last your journey comes to an end as you emerge through the mist and fog to behold the great city to where this path had led you.  As you marvel in awe of its magnificent splendor, you enter through the gate where the Lord, who had first set you on this path, greets you.  There, He lovingly embraces you and says, “…Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).” As you stand there with joy flooding your heart, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2);” you are so thankful that His grace sustained you and that you continued in the path of faith that led you into eternal Life and the arms of Jesus.

Blessings,

#kent

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Today is the Day to Hear His Voice

 

Hebrews 3:7-11

7So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

 

Perhaps the greatest purpose God has for what is written here is to stir us to pursue His highest and to know that we are on the threshold of His hour of visitation.  A situation and event like 9/11 might have been prevented had certain people not have become complacent or more worried about being politically correct than about responding to the warnings and indications of this impending attack.  Today the Lord is giving us warnings to prepare our hearts as never before.

Satan is ever at work to dull down our spiritual nerve center.  We, like our Jewish predecessors have become hardened of heart and dull of spiritual hearing.  Our minds tell us that things will go on as they have been.  Tomorrow we will buy and sell, marry and give in marriage and life will go on as it always has.  Doesn’t Jesus warn us that He will come as a thief in the night?  The people that fell in the wilderness and failed to enter in are the same ones that Moses led out of Egypt with mighty deliverance.  Many of us have experienced salvation, but our hearts have become hardened and we are testing God through our rebellion and disobedience.

“ THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, “TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS…”  The Holy Spirit is blowing a trumpet in our ear, but some of us have become too deaf to hear it.  If this were our last week to live before you died, how would you live it?  Would your priorities change?  Would things suddenly become important that you typically took for granted?  How would our life and outlook change?  Would we be preparing and getting in a state of readiness in the areas of both our spiritual and natural relationships?

The Lord is continually warning us and exhorting us to move our lives into the place of faith and obedience.  He wants us to move into the place of His rest.  That is a place is where we cease with the activities of the flesh and our efforts and we begin to rest our lives in who He is, what He is and what we are in Him.  We all tend to identify and define ourselves by who we are and what we do in this world, but Christ wants us identified with who we are in Him.  The deceitfulness of sin will harden our hearts and prevent us from entering into the rest that God has for us.  Perhaps today is the day you and I need to bow before the Almighty with a heart of repentance and brokenness for where and how we have strayed from Him.  Today is the day to open up our spiritual ears and hear what the Spirit would say to the churches.  The “rest” of God is found in our faithfulness, trust and obedience to Him.  God is calling forth and preparing His overcomers to inherit and possess the riches of His glory, but they have to have ears to hear and a heart that is tender and compliant to obey.

We have entered a new day in the Spirit.  It is a Sabbath day, a Holy day, and a day for the people of God to come and bow before their Maker.  Today is the DAY to begin to hear the voice of the Spirit of God and harden not your hearts

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

 

Aren’t we so often presumptuous to think we have the right or the ability to judge or to speak ill of one another?  Most of us have been guilty of passing judgements at one time or another and then some us make a career of it.  The word teaches us that if we want to judge someone we need to judge ourselves, not to condemn ourselves, but to discern our own hearts and motives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”  There is one Lawgiver and Judge.  His judgements are just and true because He sees the end from the beginning and sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. He sees all that surrounds a person and why they are like they are.  We see through very finite, limited vision and understanding into a person and yet we so often presume we are justified in passing judgements on them.

In Matthew 7: 1-7 Jesus teaches us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “  Jesus is reminding us that each one of us have our own issues we need to deal with.  How can we justify casting stones at others when we ourselves are not without sin?  Oh, I’m sure we are not near as bad as the person that we are judging is, at least not so in our own eyes.

Romans 2:1-4 reiterates the dangers of placing ourselves in the place of a lawgiver and judge, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Our own standards and perceptions often dictate our judgements.  As another man of God pointed out, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is made up of our perceptions and values of right and wrong.  When we judge others we are not judging from the tree of Life, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know that this tree results in death.

When we operate out of the tree of Life then our purpose is to give life in place of death, to offer strength and help where there is weakness, to rescue and restore one another, not to condemn and judge.   We are all experts when it comes to finding fault, but are we as proficient at finding solutions.  Some us  think we are and try and play the role of the Holy Spirit as we try to change and conform others into the image that we think that they ought to be.

Think through your life.  Are you the same person you were when you were eight, or eighteen or twenty-eight and so on.  Think about how your thinking has changed, your maturity, your views, values and understanding of things.  Think about how your walk and relationship with God has changed.  We can easily see that we are always changing, even though many things about us seem to remain the same.  Did others have a right to pass judgements on us as we passed through those changes and stages of life?

Every one of us is a unique individual.  God created us that way.  We are all different and we all have our unique and individual quirks that may rub someone else the wrong way.  That is why love, longsuffering, patience and self-control are all attributes of the Spirit.  They are something we all need in us to get along and tolerate and even love each other.

Perhaps we need to instill more compassion in place of our judgement, words of faith, kindness and encouragement in place of our slander and criticisms.  Give others the same grace and mercy that you would want God to extend to you.

Blessings,

#kent

Windows of God

October 22, 2018

 

Windows of God

 

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

The other day a colleague and friend of mine made a statement that hurt and troubled my heart.  While I wasn’t in a place to really get into a discussion about it, it has continued to disturb me.  This woman is an accomplished artist and photographer who has a heart for others.  She has done and desires to do more of photojournalism that will help the plight of people who are battling disease, poverty or oppression, she cares for them, having grown up in the Appalachia Mountains and experienced poverty herself.  I mentioned she should work for one of the international Christian organizations that help such people.  She made the comment that she considered herself a very spiritual person, but wouldn’t really consider herself a born again Christian.  Then there was some comment about the way they had treated others.  What I was hearing was that she had been hurt, disillusioned and probably disappointed in those who said they represented Jesus Christ.  I’m sure many of us have heard and seen a lot of that sort of thing.  How sad that we, God’s people, are often the greatest stumbling blocks to people in their search for truth and a relationship with God.  We are the window through which people see the heart and nature of God.  If that window is dirty and the glass is distorted, then what kind of view are they going to get of a loving Savior who came and died for them that they might have that relationship with God?  What kind of window am I today; what kind are you?  Are people looking into our lives and seeing us profess one thing and live another?  Are they seeing self-righteousness rearing its ugly head in prejudice, judgmentalism, and condemnation of others?  Are we more concerned about seeing the faults and judging others than we are with seeing past their faults and seeing their need for Jesus?  If we are only condemning everybody to hell that is not just like us, then all we are is a religious bigot who will receive the same measure of judgment that we have doled out to others.  God speaks concerning this area of judgment in Romans 2:1-11, “1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? 5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.”  In verse 28 it goes on to say, “28A 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.”  The same could be said of those who profess Christ, “he is not a Christian who is one outwardly; it is he who is one inwardly, whose commitment is from the heart and by the spirit, not simply an outward form of religion and head knowledge.”  If we are truly Christ’s then the world around us should be seeing the genuine truth and love of who we profess to be.  Far too many have used the profession of Christ as a cloak for unrighteousness, exploitation and self gain at the expense of other’s souls.  How sad when we can better trust and rely on the people of the world in business and in keeping their word than we can in those who profess Christ. 

          We are the windows of heaven.  Unless God’s heavenly light is shinning through us in the face of Jesus Christ we will be the stumbling blocks to the world around us rather than the light to their salvation.  What is shinning out of your window today?  How do others perceive the face and nature of God through you?

Blessings,

#kent

Presumptuous Sin

October 16, 2018

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

 

 

 

Presumptuous Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Sin

 

How many of us walk day by day asking God’s will and purpose to be done in and through our lives?  Most of us already have our agenda’s set, our plans and schedules made and our daily routines formed.  This scripture from James might jar our awareness that the life we live so routinely is not about our plans and agendas, it is about God’s.  How many opportunities and blessings are missed because what we have to do is more important than being in tune with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to move through us in a different direction than what we have planned?  If we ask for God’s will in our lives, but then ignore Him and the Spirit’s leading, then haven’t we fallen into, what might be for us, a presumptuous sin?

We often find ourselves trying to live in two different worlds.  We have our spiritual world where we acknowledge and worship God, but then our daily routine kicks in, it is business as usual and we may hardly give God a second thought.  We don’t think anything of it, because it has become our habit and we have compartmentalized God out of certain areas of our life.

We can never forget that we don’t even have a life outside of what God gives us and blesses us with.  There are no guarantees of tomorrow and of what we think we will do.  We become presumptuous in that we think that we are fully in control of our lives and that it should always go according to our plan.

Who’s are we?  What are we here for?  What is your purpose in life?

As believers in Christ we should realize that our life is first and foremost about God and not about us.  We live, move and have our being for His good pleasure, not just ours.  Romans 12:1 exhorts us to daily present ourselves a living sacrifice that we might prove what is His good, acceptable and perfect will.  Each day should start with us first getting in tune with the Holy Spirit and entering into God’s presence.  It should start with our hearts being open and spiritual awareness that this day is for Him and not just for us.  We may go through a fairly routine day, but somewhere in that day may be an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, to bless someone, to help someone or someone is watching, unbeknownst to you, how you live, speak and conduct your life.  You are first and foremost, God’s ambassador and the expression of who He is to the world around you.  When you are open to God changing your plans or redirecting your path, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by a change in your circumstance, just be keenly aware that He might want to use you in a different way.

A life in Christ is not a living apart from Him, but an acknowledgement of Him in all that we do, no matter how routine or ordinary.  God leads us as we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, as Proverbs 3 tells us.

Let us not fall into presumptuous sin, by making assumptions about all that we will or will not do.  We first submit our plans and ways to the Lord; being open for Him to adjust them to His will and purpose.  When our faith is in God and not in ourselves then we are at peace with the circumstances that face us even when that might seem so negative.  God is able to turn all things for good if our hearts and attitudes are trusting Him.  We are not to boast and brag about what we can do or accomplish, but our boasting is only in the Father and what He can do if we trust and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Blessings,

#kent

In Times of Discouragement

October 11, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

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

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

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

 

In Times of Discouragement

 

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

How did he make it through?

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

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

“We can,” they answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

 

How Will You Weather the Storm?

 

Psalms 94:22 declares, “But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”

Psalms 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalms 20:7 resounds, ” Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

Where then is our place of safety and assurance in this day and age?  It is the same place that David found it when he fled Saul who pursued him to take his life.  David went from hero to number one most wanted in his country.  He was alone. The only ones that would associate with him were criminals, debtors, malcontents and the outcast of society.

What made David so exceptional was that he personally knew God and he knew who he was in God. His faith and trust were not in his strength; neither his abilities or any other natural resource.  His faith and trust were only in God.  Many people are scrambling today, because they see a bleak future.  Some are storing guns, food, water and gold.  Some are building underground bunkers to live in.  Is that where our true protection and security is?

It is not the godly that trust in their strength, their power, riches and arrogance.  It is the wicked.  Psalms 52:5-9 declares their outcome. “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.       Selah

6The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying, 7“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

8But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

9I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.

I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

If you are looking for protection, security and provision then look at God’s Word and you will see it is only complete in Him.  Earthly gold may be a good thing to have, but listen to how Revelations 3:17-19 exhorts us as His body, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Today Christ is at our door, not just wanting to bring us salvation, but intimacy and relationship where we don’t just know about Him, but we know Him.  The more we know Him the more all around us becomes about Him.

Jesus spoke a parable in Matthew 7:24-27 that is a kingdom principle.   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  The key is not in just what we know, but in what we put into practice.

Revelation without realization, is like intent without action; it is like the knowing without the doing.  It is like faith without works.  Many of us know a great deal of the Word, many of us have a set under its teaching a great deal of our lives.  The wise man is the one who implants it into His life and actions.  The foolish man is the one who listens and hears, but doesn’t make it substance.  Which house remained in the day of the storm?  For God to be your fortress He has to be the reality and the realization of your life, without the reality of that truth how will you weather the storm?

Blessings,

#kent

Everything We Need

September 11, 2018

 

Everything We Need

2 Peter 1:3-4

            His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

 

It goes without saying that we as people and as children of God specifically, all struggle with our problems and issues.  They can come in many shapes, sizes, colors and varieties.  As many and varied as they can be, God’s has an answer for them.  When you meditate upon our scripture today, the power and potential of what is said here is almost unimaginable. 

I have to admit that far too many times I am an expert at seeing my glass half empty.  I can see all of the reasons why something won’t work or why I can’t accomplish it, but that is a pessimistic point of view.  We can look at our lives and problems much the same way and determine this is just the cross I have to bear or we can begin to lay hold of the potential powerhouse of the God that has given us all that we need  for life and godliness and that Christ has already hung on the cross for us to provide us with the very great and precious promises that are ours in Him.

How do we lay hold of that “all that we need”?  It says it is “through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness”.  In order for us to truly comprehend and lay hold of who we are and what we have, we have to have knowledge (precise and correct knowledge of those things ethical and divine) of Him. 

            You get a flat tire going down the road, you are in the middle of nowhere and no one else is around.  Now if you don’t know that you have a jack and spare tire, then you are stuck where you are at.  And even if you know that you have it, but you don’t have the slightest idea of how to use it, then you are really no better off.  We have heard that we all have these things that pertain to life and godliness and yet many of us have little clue as to how we can lay hold of them and apply them to our life situations.  As a result we get stuck in our ruts and our problems never get resolved.  How many of us are setting along the roadside of life with flat tires?  The thing is we have the resources to fix the problem, but we need the knowledge of how to do it.  We have the Holy Spirit of God inside of us and within the short reach of most of us there is a Holy Bible, the instruction manual of God’s Word.  If I don’t know how to change a tire, but I have an owners manual that will walk me through it and give me examples and illustrations, then I’m pretty much a fool if I don’t attempt to try to put that knowledge into practice and resolve my problem.  On the other hand I may say, “I don’t understand that stuff”, besides that, “it’s not really even my car, it’s my husband’s car, “besides that “I have my good clothes on” and besides that, “I’ll just pray and ask God to send somebody else to do it for me.”  In affect, isn’t that how we approach a good many of our problems in life?  If we don’t want to solve our problems, God says it isn’t because I haven’t given you the resources; they are all yours, but you have to Know Me to know how to put them into affect.  Along with that knowledge we need the “will and do” of His good desire for us.  The more we know the Lord, not only are we going to know what we have, but who we are.   What does this knowledge of Him empower us to do and be?  “4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  He is saying that He has given you and I the power to put on Christ, the divine nature, and put off sin, the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.  The basics of being a successful Christian is in knowing who you are and what you have.  That comes through knowledge, gained through intimate relationship and understanding, both mentally and spiritually of who you are in Christ.  The biggest reason we are broken down beside the road is because we still haven’t really traded that old Junker in for the vehicle that God wants to put us in.  His vehicle runs on a whole different set of laws and dynamics than the old one and you need to “know Him” to understand how they work.  We have all that we need, we just need to know and learn how to use it.

Blessings,

#kent

Wild Grapes

September 10, 2018

Wild Grapes

Isaiah 5:1-7

Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts [is] the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

 

This scripture could be as applicable to the Church today as it was of Israel of old.  We are His vineyard and are to be the fruit of His vine.  It is to be His life and the sweetness of His nature that is in us.  Would He say today of His vineyard that it brought forth wild grapes.  Are we seeing the true nature and character of Christ in the Church today?  Are we seeing justice, mercy and righteousness as the fruit of our works and lives?  Are we still double-minded and two-faced toward our Beloved, the keeper of the vineyard?  Does it ever amaze us how we can be spiritual around religious or spiritual settings, but then we see all of this worldly talk and attitudes coming out of us when we are around those in the world.  Would the world around us comprehend that we were truly a different type of grape; one that always tasted of the sweetness and flavor of Christ?

In Isaiah 5:11-13 it goes on to say, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because [they have] no knowledge: and their honourable men [are] famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” Is it possible that we still live this double life where we are for God on Sunday and certain occasions, but then we want to party and live the life of the world the rest of the time?  One day we wake up and find ourselves in spiritual bondage and oppression to the spirits of this world.  We find strongholds over our lives that we can’t seem to break out of and we are there because we have become wild grapes.  It says, “my people are gone into captivity, because of lack of knowledge.”  If we are not always focused on the purpose and calling we have in Christ then we will find ourselves drifting off course and left to drift off course we will find ourselves slowly drawn into that great maelstrom or whirlpool that draws us, slowly at first, but then faster and faster circling the drain of the destruction of sin.  “If the honorable men are famished and the multitude dried up with thirst ” what is that saying?  We are in spiritual drought; our spirit is languishing for lack of life and knowledge of God and His ways.  We must catch the vision of where God is going and what our part is in the journey.  We have to have knowledge and revelation of Him.  We have to know who we are and what we are becoming.  Are we becoming what Christ has planted in us?  Are we becoming the sweet grapes of His nature and character or are we becoming wild grapes that have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof?   Matthew 24:12 says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  Sin will always bring separation from God because it draws us away from His presence and fellowship.  On the other hand when we are pressing in to know Him and drawing near to Him, His presence will consume the sin in our lives and purify our hearts.

James 4:1-10 sums it up in a very practical way, “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? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

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

What kind of grapes are we becoming today; the true fruit of His vine or wild grapes?

Blessings,
#kent

Activation

September 3, 2018

Acts 2:1-3

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tonguesa as the Spirit enabled them.

 

Activation

 

At the beginning of this year, what I was hearing the Spirit say was that this is a year of activation in body of Christ.  Quite honestly I haven’t yet seen the level of activation that I had hoped for in myself or others.  I was asking the question, “what brings about activation?”.  I was reminded that the body of Christ, the Church was activated at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 in the upper room in Jerusalem.  We see God activating these ordinary faithful believers in a supernatural way.  Now I don’t think activation for today is about getting goose bumps, and all worked up in our emotions.  I think it is when God really shows up in us.  When the Holy Spirit really shows up in us, things go from the ordinary to extraordinary, because He is an extraordinary God.

When I look at Pentecost I don’t see an organization, a protocol, a program or any one man or group dictating what all the others should do or how they should worship.  I see a 120 people, in obedience to the command of Jesus, going and waiting upon the Holy Spirit to show up.  How many of us ever go to church and wait for that to happen.  No, everyone might get bored and leave or if the Holy Spirit did show up things might get out of control and it could get messy.

What does that say about our desire and hunger for God?  What does it say about our willingness to trust God to show up in us as believers and activate the body again into what it was birthed to be, the living expression of Christ in all of His members.

Yes, I am tired of church, man’s order, man’s ways, one man shows and ministries.  I am so ready to see the body of Christ rise up, be activated and be the Church, the expression of Christ, activated, governed and led by the Spirit of God.  I don’t want to just see another move of God.  I want to see His kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven.

Please excuse me while I am venting a little of my passion today.  I am just so ready for the real thing manifested in power and love through the body of Christ, where it is not about big names or “the ministry”, because that is who we all should be.  I am tired of the impotence that I feel in myself and in the rest of the body.  I am tired of just sitting on a seat or in a pew on Sunday morning.  If I am tired of it, maybe God is tired of it too.  Maybe it is time to take church out of the building and into the streets, the neighborhoods, the nursing homes and even the bars.  Maybe it is time we exercise our faith and all the information that we have been assimilating for all of these years.  Maybe we need to quit waiting for someone to tell us what to do and start being and doing what Christ called us too.

A revolution comes when people become tired enough of the way things have been and are willing to activate to create a change.  That activation first has to happen in our heart and then that fire has to find expression through our actions.  It is time for the Church to look different than it has for so many years.  It was never put in place to just be a social organization where we could all get together and feel good.  It was birthed to change the world and touch the lives of all around it.

This is not to incite you against your pastor or your church, because they probably are as frustrated as we are.  It is time to change our paradigm of what Church looks like if we want to become activated into what God is doing in this hour.  Maybe we need to ask God what that looks like outside of the four walls of a building.  How do we go from ordinary to extraordinary unless we are willing, like the 120, to wait upon the Lord, seek His face and cry out for Him to activate us into who He desires us to be.  I think, that for many of us, this has been our cry and yearning of our hearts.

Father, hear our heart’s cry to be activated into the living organism of Holy Spirit expression that you have created us to be.   Tear down our traditions and remove the complacency of our hearts and all the habits that keep us tied to the old dead ways of our doing things.  Set us free individually and corporately to find afresh the joy of Your presence and the activation of Your Spirit. Amen.

Blessings,

#kent

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