Forgiveness

May 16, 2019

 

Forgiveness

 

Ephesians 1:7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

 

Forgiveness is a word that we use a lot and often fail to really consider the depth of what it implies and what it accomplishes.  Forgiveness is a necessary ingredient before any true restoration and reconciliation can take place in a relationship where an offence has occurred on the part of one or both parties.  Where an offence remains not forgiven, it may be pushed down or ignored by the offended one, but when forgiveness is not released it is like getting a splinter under the skin.  Even a small splinter that is not released will begin to fester and be a constant source of agitation until it is removed.

God, in His great wisdom, saw all the offences we committed toward Him as human beings.   While we might have good intentions, we have come to realize that God’s standards of holiness and righteousness are not obtainable in our fallen state and so we are a constant source of offense to Him.  We have come to realize that under God’s mandate and law we are all destined for judgement and the eternal consequences for our sins.  This was not God’s plan.  His plan was to provide for us forgiveness.  Through the sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of His perfect Son, He could extend release and pardon to us for our offences and sin.  God’s heart is to reconcile, redeem and restore His creation back to Himself and He paid the ultimate price to do so.  We all know what we deserve, but the mercy and grace of God said, “no”.  He has extended to us the olive branch of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation through the blood of His own precious Son.  God, in Christ, has done all the hard part for us and all we have to do is extend the hands of faith and receive this great and precious gift of forgiveness and pardon.

Imagine that you have murdered someone in the heat of passion, and you have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Nothing you can do can undo the consequences of your sin.  Then one day the son of the president comes to you and says, “You know that you have committed a crime and the debt and punishment for that crime has to be paid.  I am here to take your place; pay for the crime and let you go free.  It will be just as if you had never committed that crime.  It will be erased from your record.”  If you accept this exchange, then the doors to the prison open and you are free to go.  As if that were not great enough, the president’s son tells you that now that you are free, he wants you to assume the position of the president’s son with all of its rights, powers and privileges.  Wouldn’t we be a fool not to accept such an offer?  Obviously, in turn we would owe the president and his son our lives for that exchange.  Obviously, what he is offering is far better than what we were facing.  We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The point is that if we never accept the pardon and we hold on to our offence then it can never be pardoned or released.  With every gift given there is an exchange, but for the exchange to be complete it must be received.  The gift isn’t mine till I accept it from you, and I can never open it and experience its contents until I am willing to reach out, take it and open it.

In our human relationships forgiveness is an important part of our interactions with one another.  We offend and hurt one another rather intentionally or unintentionally all the time and we need to ask and extend to one another forgiveness.  As Christians we are commanded of God to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and gave Himself for you.  Many of us are struggling with our relationship with both God and man because we have been unwilling to release forgiveness.  It doesn’t mean that we extend forgiveness and are expected to continue in a hurtful or destructive situation given a choice, but we need to forgive to set ourselves free.  It is the only way we can get those splinters of offense out of us.  When we withhold forgiveness, we create a dam that withholds the love of God from flowing through us.  We close our heart and emotionally detach ourselves.

Many of us need the restoration and the reconciliation that can only come, as we are willing to release forgiveness.  We can’t always be responsible for the other party accepting it, but we can release it and thereby release ourselves.  Often pride, on both sides, is the greatest hindrance to our reconciliation.  You can see why God loves humility in us, because it is not too proud to say when it is wrong and it is not to proud to forgive someone, even when they don’t deserve our forgiveness.

Unfortunately, our unwillingness to forgive can become for us a puddle of self –pity that we continue to wallow in and feel sorry for ourselves.   We can do the same thing with our unwillingness to receive forgiveness.  We remain in the bondage of our offenses.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful instruments of love that the Lord has ever given to us.  We all need to take it, use it and exercise it often.  Nothing can set us free and restore right relationships like forgiveness.  It can unlock the many prison doors of our hearts and sets us free to love and be loved with the love of God.

Search your heart and if you find their a hurt, a wound and offense that someone has committed either intentionally or unintentionally, exercise the gift of Father’s love and forgive them.  You are right.  They may not deserve it, but then neither did we.  When we set others free, we free ourselves and become again, an instrument and a heart that God’s love can flow through.

Blessings,

#kent

Advertisements

Peace of God

May 15, 2019

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

 

Peace of God

 

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

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

Blessings,

Kent

 

The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

Comfort One Another

May 9, 2019

 

Comfort One Another

 

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

There is such a power in the body of Christ to come along side of those who are weak, suffering and hurting.  Even as the natural body addresses all its attention to a deep wound or injury to itself and then subsequently there are agents of the body that continue to attend and bring healing to a wound or injury, so it is in the body of Christ.

We recently attended a funeral in which one of our relatives’ only son had been tragically shot and killed by police.  As we set through the service of this young man’s funeral there must have been three or four hundred people in attendance.  This young man, while he had been in trouble with the law, apparently had “a real heart of gold” as those that knew him described him.  He cared about people and their souls.  He was active in His church and loved God’s Word.  Somewhere things went wrong, either through wrong associations or other influences and it led to his death.  I was impressed that through the circumstances, people could have judged him or his parents, but they didn’t.  They saw who he was in his heart and saw him through the eyes of Jesus.  There were numerous testimonies to the special qualities that this young man possessed as well genuine compassion and shared grief for the loss of the parents.  Even in all this, the focus wasn’t on the death, but it was upon the life of Christ and throughout that service, the Lord was magnified.  I thought, “what a strong expression of comfort and support this church has given along with the attending relatives and friends.”  Throughout the day people were continually expressing their support and love through hugs and encouraging words.  I was impressed that this should be what we see operating in the body of Christ all the time, not just at funerals, but whenever and for whatever reason another member is suffering and hurting.  We are the instruments of His comfort because we possess the words of life and the Holy Spirit of Life to communicate them.

When we have this same love for one another and are being like-minded, unselfishly serving the another’s best interest, then we are going to feel one another’s joys and sufferings.  We are going to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice, because we are of one body and one mind in Christ.  It is important that we stay in tune and sensitive to the needs, the trials and the sufferings of those around us.  We want to be the heart and hands of Jesus to those who are hurting or in need.  Jesus says to us, “they will know you by your love.”  It is a sacrifice many times for us to give ourselves to others through our time, our finances and emotions.   Sometimes I forget that the reason I exist is to express the Christ that lives in me, not to fulfill my own agenda or just to be concerned about what is best or easiest for me.  Our selfishness can rob us and others of ministry and of being the instruments of comfort that God has called us to be.  Our living for Christ is seen in how we live for one another and how we express that love to the humanity that lives around us.

“God help us to be the instruments of your peace, of your comfort and of your great, genuine love and salvation.  Help us to be Your hands of ministry and healing and allow our words to bring comfort, hope and encouragement.  Please allow others to see You living through us in word and deed.”

Blessings,

#Kent

Kingdom Calling

May 3, 2019

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Kingdom Calling

 

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

A Little can do a Lot

April 29, 2019

John 6:5-12

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9″Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

 

A Little can do a Lot

 

Most all of us, I am sure, are familiar with this story of the little boy whose five loaves and two fishes, fed over five thousand people.  What would have been a staggering task, logistically and monetarily, was taken care of by a little boy’s willingness and a mighty God’s faithfulness.  The message I hear pressing on my heart today in this message is that if we are willing to unselfishly give the little that we have, God is willing to increase it to give back the abundance of what we need.

How many times are we robbed because our vision of faith isn’t great enough to see past the fear of not having enough?  What if the little boy would have refused to give up his meal for fear that he would go hungry, after all, his mom had made it for him, not for everyone else.  Are we willing to put in the Master’s hands what is just provision enough for us?  Are we willing to not only trust Him for our own needs, but the needs of others met through us?  Those are questions we might all like to answer yes, but in reality, when it comes down to it, we are reluctant to let go of what is in our hand.

Five is the number of grace and the bread represents Christ, who is the bread of life.  It is His grace that is sufficient for all of our needs according to His riches in glory.   Two is the number of witness and fish are those which carry provision.  The great fish carried Jonah to Nineveh  and the fish had in its mouth the money to pay the tax for Peter and Jesus.  The fish bear witness that Christ is our provision to do impossible things in impossible ways.  Our eyes have to be opened and our faith vision increased to see what God can do through our apparent little if we are faithful to give it to Him.

This is where we will learn kingdom economy and kingdom living as we are the supply for one another’s needs.  As we meet the needs in others we will see our needs met.  Let us have the faith of this little boy to trust God with our five little loaves and two little fishes.  It is not in seeking the miracles, it is in the relationship that we have with the Person of miracles.  Let us have the faith to put our lunch in His hands.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Love People Where They Are At.

 

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

 

Thumbing back through the files of our life we will probably remember at least a few instances where we treated others with contempt, disdain, dislike or felt we were in some way a bit superior or above them.  There are always those who don’t live within the standards of our values or have characteristics we find annoying and irritating.  Then we can jump over into the memory files of the times when we were treated in this manner.  Maybe we still remember the emotional pain and humiliation we suffered at the comments or treatment we received from those who judged us and treated us in an unbecoming and hurtful manor.  Most of us have been on both sides of the coin at some point in our lives.  What we have experienced or what we have conveyed was a lack of God’s love.  It takes God bringing us beyond ourselves to experience a love that is higher than soulish emotion or feeling.  When we survey the wondrous cross and all of the humanity God’s love reached out too, including our wretched selves, we begin to see an unprejudiced love.  It is a love for the imperfect, the undesirable, the sinner, and even that, which is repulsive to us.  What compels us to love deeper than this shallow human level of love?  It is when we observe God’s unfailing and constant love for us, even when we were at our ugliest, most vile and undesirable state, how He still loved us.  When everyone else may have turned his or her back on us, God’s love was there.  The Word then tells us, ” Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  God’s love is so much higher, so much deeper, and so much wider than our own.  But then we are not our own anymore, are we?  We have made an exchange of our life for His and everyday God wants to work that transaction into the reality of our everyday lives.  Often, at the most inconvenient times and places undesirable people and situations approach us.  It may be the salesman, using up our cell time to persuade us to buy something from him.  It may be the beggar asking for a handout and we’re thinking, “You just need to get a job.”  It may be that critical and demeaning boss, co-worker or even our spouse reminding us how worthless and what a failure we are.  Constantly it is something, that makes us want to act in number of different ways, but love isn’t real high on that list.   In order for us to have God’s love, we have to have God’s mind and His heart for people.  I sometimes think of how many undesirable people came across the path of Jesus.  He was like a magnet for undesirable people, from fault finding religious leaders who sought after His life, to lepers, to sinners and public outcast, to demon possessed.  You name it; Jesus lived anything but a sheltered life.  He was exposed to the darkest and ugliest mankind had to offer.  In each one Jesus didn’t see just a sinner or just the ugly characteristics.  In each person, he saw a spiritual candle that needed to be lit.  His love compelled Him to look past all of the faults and see the tremendous need.  Jesus came as the great light of God’s love to light the light of men’s spirits with truth and salvation.  We have become His light bearers, lifting up the light of God’s unconditional love before men.  Do they see that in us?  Have we shed our prejudices and our superficial “Christian” love for God’s real love?  Why do you think little Mother Teresa made such a powerful statement to the world?  Because she lived God’s true love before men, before the most undesirable of people and she loved them to the laying down of her own life and comforts.  Even unbelievers had to acknowledge something supernatural in the love she displayed.  We need spiritual eyes that see past the outward man, we need ears that hear the inner cry of a person deepest need.  We need understanding of how to effectively minister the true love of Christ to each one.  Sometimes that can take unconventional and unreligous ways.  Most of all it takes us living out of the heart of God and demonstrating a love not our own, but that which was freely and unconditionally bestowed upon us.

Blessings,

#kent

Change

April 18, 2019

Mark 6:12

And they went out, preaching the need for a change of heart in men.

 

Change

 

When you think about it a great deal of life is about change.  One thing that is certain in life is that nothing will stay the same.  While that is true in this realm.  It is not true of God.  Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  There is no need to change that which is already perfect.  Our God, who does not change or waiver in His ways and character gives us the stability and confidence to know that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.  His ways are right, good and perfect.  It is in this character, exemplified through the life of the Lord Jesus, that we desire to be changed.  As believers the goal of our change is to be transformed into the likeness, image and character of Christ.  We have come to realize through the Word and through personal experience that the ability to make this change or transformation does not rely solely in our ability to do so.  Thus, we were given the Holy Spirit to indwell us, teach us, correct us and empower us to walk in the direction of change and transformation that is bringing us more and more into the likeness and image of Christ as we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

Now, it should go without saying, that not all change is good.  We can change for the worse as well as the better and we can be as Paul describes in Ephesians 4:14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

Our change began with a heart of repentance, when we came to knowledge that our ways were wicked and out of alignment with the will and purpose of God.  We came to understand that the “wages of sin is death” and the only way to change that is by our repentance from our former life of sin and acknowledgement by faith that Jesus paid the price to redeem us out of that sentence of death and judgement.  We came to understand that by aligning ourselves with Him and the Word of God we could begin to affect change in our life that would bring us more and more into His image and likeness; aligning us with His purpose and design for our lives.  We changed our thinking.  We changed the law and the principles that we live under from the law of sin and death to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

One of the hardest things for us as humans, is to change our old habits and ways.  We so often operate out of that definition of insanity that says, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  We get in these ruts in our lives that are hard for us to break out of.  One preacher said, “A rut is like a grave with both ends knocked out.”  It keeps you in a place of inability to change out of your circumstance.  These ruts or graves, so to speak, are the areas we all contend with and struggle to break free from.  What holds us there are mind sets and dynamics that we may not even fully comprehend or understand.  We may need to go back and seek to discover what it is that inhibits us from moving out of this place.  Sometimes it is a poverty spirit or a spirit passed down from previous generations or any area the needs to be recognized, renounced, repented of and deliverance appropriated through the power and the blood of Christ.  Then we need to begin walking in these right changes by recognizing any time that “old mind set” wants to manifest that it is no longer a part of us and no longer has power over us.  We are free in Christ, we count it as dead and walk in the other direction from how it formerly influenced us.  It goes beyond just our thoughts and regrets to positive action that appropriates that power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the authority we have in Christ that we have been given over every spirit and stronghold that is not of God.  We begin to walk out of these ruts, graves and bondage, affecting change by our actions, choices, confessions, faith and appropriation of who we are in Christ, because of who He is in us.

Paul says this in Philippians 3:12-14 and 20-21, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  As we fix our eyes upon our Lord and Savior, we walk each day out in the transforming power of His Spirit within us and we know that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” and is able to change us into His glorious likeness.

Blessings,

#kent

Labels are for Cans

April 17, 2019

John 8:31

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

 

Labels are for Cans

 

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content.  We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with.  Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.

I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that.  Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination.  Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.

Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”.  What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?

Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples.  A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline.  What was the discipline of Christ?  According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple.  It is a lifestyle, not just a belief.  It is the fabric of what you live out of.

In John 13:35 Jesus gives us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple.  “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ.  Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the ones that fit under your label and even there, there is further divisions and discord.

Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.””  Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered.  It means, as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

How are we doing so far?  Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?

Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”  That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves.  Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him.  In comparison to that love, we hate all else.

It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do.  In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology.  He told us to go make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?

This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay.  Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him?  True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Beyond the Veil

April 16, 2019

 

Beyond the Veil

 

Hebrews 10:19-21

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

%d bloggers like this: