Christianity from a Distance

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

    26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Many of us are resigned and content to read our Bibles, listen to Christian broadcasting or to the minister.  Mentally we agree with all that is being said, but practically we may want to avoid personal involvement.  Oh we may give our tithes, to that those who “are called” to do the work of the ministry, but then we are just the “laymen”.  Just let us live a quiet Christian life in our suburban lifestyle; let us live in our daily routines and not get too involved in the mess outside.   The truth is we get real uncomfortable when a situation comes along that gets in our face.  Perhaps there is a family crisis and someone in the family needs financial or physical help.  Don’t we kind of want to look to someone else to do that?  After all we are busy with our lives and the responsibilities we have.  We have our own bills to pay and work to do.  We often embrace the Christian message in spirit, but not in reality.  We are those Christians from a distance type of people that don’t want to get personally involved.  After all, we’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with, right?  God forbid if someone should require our help or assistance that we don’t even know.

James really gets in our face about this issue of virtual Christianity, if you will. We put on our Christian face one minute and the next, when we look away; we forget what manner of people we are supposed to be.  We favor the rich, because somehow we think it might benefit us, not likely.  They will more than likely exploit your favoritism and give you nothing in return.  We discriminate and reject the poor, because we think that they are only there for a hand out and somehow we are better than they are.  And James 2:5-11 tells us, “5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” 

Jesus met people where they were at.  He had the capacity, as we should, to look past their faults and see their need.  James 2: 14-17 says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  You see our armchair Christianity doesn’t qualify us before our Lord.  It isn’t the example He taught and lived.  Faith has to be dynamic, moving and alive in our being or it is just a name and a dead religion.  It has no life in it. 

God presents us with enough opportunities to demonstrate our faith and beliefs in action.  Will we continue to turn away and turn a deaf ear, or will we begin to listen and hear what God wants to do through us personally?  Will our actions or the lack thereof testify against us on the Day of Judgment?  God is calling us off the couch and onto the field.  A couch potato sports fan does not an athlete make.  The same is true of Christianity.  Our God hasn’t redeemed us to be spectators, but participators in the expression of His life through us.  It is time we get into the game and are what we claim.    

Blessings,

#kent

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Isaiah 55:6-9

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

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

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

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

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

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

Christian Community Living

October 16, 2017

Christian Community Living

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Often we find ourselves a living contradiction to the exhortation of God’s Word.   Most of us have a Christian community among whom we associate and fellowship, It may be in or out of a local church, but we have a family of Christian friends.  It is very easy for all of us to find ourselves making criticisms and judgements about those within our family.  Perhaps they are making the same type of observations and criticisms of us.  None of us are so naïve that we think that our Christian community and even ourselves are without faults and shortcomings.  As long as our humanity exists outside the full redemption and transformation of Christ we will have trouble in paradise. 

We must ask ourselves what is our function in Christ? Is it to tear down or to build up?  Why do we tolerate all of the faults that each one of us has personally within ourselves?  We don’t have a choice while we are living; we either have to change what we can change and give ourselves grace and forgiveness for the rest or end our life altogether.  If Christ has commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves, then don’t we need to extend that same grace and tolerance to others within our Christian circle and especially toward our leadership?  They are not going to do everything the way we would, but they need our prayers and support, not our criticism and condemnation.  The first people that we must extend kindness and the fruit of the Spirit towards is our brethren. 

Sometimes we all need a rebuke or exhortation.  Sometimes we really need encouragement and understanding.  Sometimes we just need those who will love and accept us for who we are.  We should find all of that operating in our Christian community out of love.  We need to take care of and minister to one another as we would our selves. 

Experience the joy of the Lord in your living.  Pray and put the Lord at the forefront of all of your needs or the needs you see in others.   Pray and thank the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving, even before you see the answers to your prayers.  Let faith arise in our hearts from the moment we make our petitions to our Father in heaven. 

Let us not quench the Spirit, but create an environment of worship and praise where the Holy Spirit feels welcome and has freedom to move through each one of us and to allow the gifts that God has imparted unto each one of us to have expression.  We must listen, learn and discern the voice and the word of the Lord.  What we hear may be a new thing, but it will not go contrary to the Word of God, but the Word of God will affirm it if it is of Him. 

God is working His salvation in us spirit, soul and body.  It is a process and we are all at different stages in the process.  Let us extend love, grace, help and mercy to one another.  Let us be long-suffering, over looking the faults and seeing the needs in one another.  Allow God’s life to flow through you to be the blessing to your community: the vessel of peace and love that He has intended.

Blessings,

#kent

Setting your Mind

September 28, 2017

Setting your Mind

Colossians 3:2

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Once there was a little girl who at young age was taken to piano concert at Carnegie Hall where she listened and watched in awe as the master pianist brought the keys alive and made music like she had never heard before.  As she went home the music continued to play in her head and as she closed her eyes she could visualize it all over again.  That day marked a turning point in the direction and the purpose for which that little girl lived.  The next day she announced to her parents that she had decided to be a concert pianist.  Her parents listened with a patient, encouraging and yet skeptical ear.  A lot of kids are impressed with something for a while, but then they grow bored or tired of it and move on to the next thing that impresses them.  This was not the case with this little girl.  She convinced her parents to get her a used piano and give her music lessons.  It became apparent early on that she was passionate in her pursuit and committed to her practice.  Day after day they would see her, without being told or prodded, spend her spare time practicing.  Even when she was not at the piano she was going through the notes in her mind, thinking upon how to better perfect a piece. That day at the concert she had made a commitment and promise to herself that she would one-day play in Carnegie Hall and in other great places around the world.  She held fast to that promise and commitment.  Through much diligence, hard work and practice she began to excel in her music ability and proficiency.  As she grew older she never wavered from her dream.  Along the way she experienced some hurts and setbacks, but it was the disappointments that drove her the harder to be the better.  Finally came the day when her dream was realized and she began to be invited to play at greater and greater venues as her fame and reputation grew.  Then one day, she realized her greatest dream of all when she was invited to play at Carnegie Hall.  No doubt her tenacity, desire and faith inspired other children that they also could strive and position their lives for greatness.

When we read through the Bible and as we commit our lives to Christ may we be inspired as we behold the hand of the Master and His handiwork, as we read the words of Jesus and behold His life.  He is our inspiration and our call to commit all that we are unto Him and begin to practice His presence.  Our goal in Christ will never be obtained through looking at our inability, our sin or our failure.  We set our eyes upon Jesus and commit our hearts to Him knowing that as He has come to live in us, He is also able to live through us in greater and greater ways, as we are able to give over who we were, into what He is.  Like the little girl, everyday means practice.  Every day we learn to walk closer to Jesus and more in tune with the Holy Spirit as we practice being in His presence and living out of His life.  He is the foremost on our minds; He is the motivation and the inspiration behind all that we do.  To be like Him, to be conformed to His image and nature, to give our all for Him as He gave His all for us, that is our dream and that is why we set our affections upon things above and not on things of earth.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Companionships and Friends

September 27, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Companionships and Friends

As you go through life choose your friends and companionships among the people you most want to be like and who represent the highest standard.  Among them you will always be challenged to come up higher and to be more.  From that foundation of godly friends, you can help influence others that need a higher vision and that struggle with baser issues. 

Many times we are drawn into friendships with those we want to help, encourage and bring up higher, but the Word warns us that it can have the opposite effect.  We tend to become like the people we hang out with.  The Word asks us, “what fellowship has light with darkness”.  We can’t bring our light to them by partaking of their darkness.  When we are operating out of a place where our strong friendships are with strong believers then we strengthen each other to minister into those places of darkness where our love longs to help those who are still bound by sin’s cords.  We can never take for granted that we are beyond temptation.  With like-minded companions and a body of believers we can stand together in the power of prayer, the Word and the unity of our faith to bring others up into the light. 

I used an illustration with my children one time.   I put two of them on the stairs with the one up higher trying to pull the lower one up, but when the one on the lower step pulled back, they could easily see that it was easier to pull someone down than it is to pull them up.  I used this to illustrate to them about the friendships they choose.  Our heart and intention can be good, that doesn’t mean we can’t be pulled down. 

When Jesus sent the disciples out, He didn’t send them alone they went in pairs.  In Acts when the apostles went on their missions, they didn’t go alone.  When we want to bring our light into the realms of darkness, it is better that we don’t go alone, but they we take another strong believer or believers.  Together we have each other’s back and can see things that one of us alone may not see. 

Let the company that is in darkness be the ones you reach out to in love, but love doesn’t become a part of their darkness.  It calls others up higher, but doesn’t dwell where they are.  It only identifies with where they are, so that it can bring them into the identity Father wants them to have. 

 

blessings,

#kent

Everything We Need

September 21, 2017

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 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

The Heart of a Servant

September 14, 2017

The Heart of a Servant

Luke 22:25-27

And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’  But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. “For who is greater, the one who reclines {at the table} or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines {at the table?} But I am among you as the one who serves.”

The economy of the Kingdom of God works under different principles than that of the world.  In this passage Jesus makes lordship and the place of a servant a case and point.  In the world we are taught and value that the one who has the greatest wealth, power, dominion and authority is the greatest.  People bow down and worship and admire earthly dignitaries, celebrities and those of world renown.  The disciples arguing about the position and greatness in heaven prompt the remarks that Jesus made here.  Jesus is saying the Kingdom of God doesn’t work like that.  In that place there is only One who is sovereign and Lord of all.  Their greatness, their worthiness or their leadership qualities do not establish those that rule under Him; they are established by their heart as a servant.  For him that would be great in the Kingdom of God, the first order of service and servitude is vertical toward the Almighty Himself, inclusive of Christ, the King of Kings.

If our hearts are not first right before Him it is doubtful that they will be fully right before others.  Deuteronomy 10: 12 says, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”  Jesus declares that this is the first and great commandment. This expresses our worship and service to God, which is foremost and utmost in the heart of a believer.  Then Jesus goes on in Matthew 22:39-40 to express the horizontal aspect of a servant of God, “And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The apostle Paul expresses it like this in Galatians 5:13, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”  The call of God on our lives is not first a call to greatness, it a call to service.  We are called to, “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)”

Indeed our God has called us to greatness, but it is not the way of man, it is the way of the cross.  It is the place where we loose ourselves in the pursuit of being and doing what our God values of importance.  As we come to see even in these two great commandments that He gives they are represented in the vertical and horizontal aspects of the cross, which looks up to God as we reach out to our fellow man.  The crossroad and the intersection of the cross takes place in the heart of each one of our lives as the love of God is expressed through us even as it was through His Son.  We die to ourselves that others may live.  Paul expresses it in 2 Corinthians 5:13-17, “For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

For us to truly possess the heart of a servant there has to be an exchange of our heart for His.  We cease to see and judge men outwardly, but we begin to look into their inward man.  What is the true need and heart cry of each individual and how can we be God’s instrument in meeting that need.  The Lord would have us develop sensitivity in each of us to those within and without the body of Christ.  The way up to greatness is the way down.  Sometimes to find the highest heaven you must be willing to tread through the lowest hell.  Remember even Christ, the King of Kings, took upon Himself the form of a servant. He tasted death and experienced hell for us that He might set the captives free, bring liberty in place of bondage, and through selfless love lift us to be joint heirs with Him.   Would you be great?  Then we need the heart of a servant.  “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.

(Mark 9:35)”  ” And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark10:44-45).”

Blessings,

#kent

Failures that don’t end in Defeat

Micah 7:7-10

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.

We have all known times of failure in our life and most of us have experienced the Lord’s rod of correction.  There are times when we have stubbornly pursued our own interests and pleasures to only find bitterness and sorrow at the end of what we thought we had to have.  Our sin has consequences and many of us can testify of the great pain and suffering we have had to endure because of our foolish disobedience. 

In those moments of failure, when the house that we have built upon the sand is washed away, we may stand in utter shame and humiliation that we have come to this point in our lives.  We may almost think the world and the ones that we loved would be better off without us.  We have had to fully confront our iniquity and the failure which has resulted from it.  How can we even face God or the ones who loved and respected us?   We see failure written all over us, what do we have to live for and have to offer now? 

Our scripture today is one of hope and encouragement to the person who feels like a failure. In this scripture we have a nation of God that failed Him and had to suffer the reproach and the discipline of His correction.  The one thing we have to know about our God is though He will discipline us; He will never stop loving us.  He has a tender heart for the one who is truly repentant and will set their heart upon Him again.  After all, that is what discipline is for, to show us the error of our ways and bring us back to righteousness.  No matter how low we go, God never stops loving us, but a man without hope or faith is dead.  Without hope there is no way but down.  Hope causes us to look up into the loving eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father and say; “Can you still use this broken pot?”  It is our hope and faith in the Lord that believes that though we sit in darkness the Lord will be our light.  Christ will plead our cause and will be our advocate.  He will lift me again out of my place of darkness and bring me back into the light of His salvation.  All those who cursed me and judged me will be put to shame for though I was defeated I don’t have to fail.  The Lord is our victory and He is our good success.  When we were willing, through repentance, to relinquish the failure that we were; God begins to form a new man fashioned in the form of victory and uprightness.  He is a man that rises out of the ashes of failure to find victory and purpose again in His God. 

Only God can take our failures and defeats and turn them for good.  When our enemies think they have nailed our coffin shut, then God will raise us up to their shame.  You can trust that it won’t be in our time, it will be in His time.  No matter how bad we mess up and no matter how bad we fail God, our loved ones and even ourselves, all hope is not lost if we will put our eyes back on Jesus.  His love and forgiveness can reach into the deepest hell and depravity and set the captive free.    No one else and no other God can do that but Him.  Our failures don’t have to end in defeat, in fact they may be what bring us to our ultimate victory in Christ and our enemies will be put to shame before us. God can still brings us back into the light of His salvation and grace.  ‘As long as there is life, there is hope.’

 

Blessings,

#kent

An Act of Obedience

September 8, 2017

1 King 17:8-16

Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ ”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

An Act of Obedience

When Elijah came to this widow woman he asked of her a very hard thing, “take the only food you have and feed me first.”  I guess her only other recourse was to feed it to her and her son and then die.  Often our obedience is an act of faith.  It is something that doesn’t make sense to the natural mind and it may even seem foolish.  Nevertheless, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us do something then we must obey.  That obedience is our seed faith that will produce the miracle that we need.  Sometimes the hardest thing the Lord requires of us is to let go of something that we consider our security and our life.  If this woman had never given what she lacked most, she never would have experienced God’s never-ending supply.

I am the kind of guy that always sees my needs as greater than my resources.  If my needs are not greater right now then I am sure they will be down the road, so I better hold on tight and not let go of what I get when times are good.   If I am my supply then I will always be in want, but if God is my supply, even in hard times I will have enough.  Our obedience in giving to the Lord is an expression of our trust that He is our supply.  We must remain continually mindful that our lives are simply a stewardship of God’s gift and provisions.  It is all His, but He has given us dominion over it.  Most of us have learned that a river flows fresh when it allows what flows into it to flow out of it, but if the water collects and stands it grows stagnant and putrid.  May we be obedient to allow God’s life and provisions to flow through us as He directs.   We are blessed, as we become the blessing.  May we maintain an open hand and an open heart of obedience unto Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Day of Rest

September 6, 2017

Hebrews 4:6-7

6It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

The Day of Rest

Disobedience is what disqualifies us for God’s rest and faith necessitates that we enter into it. 

Joshua was an Old Testament type and shadow of Jesus.  He led the people into the Promise Land, but there they never fully received the peace and rest in the land, because disobedience kept their enemies stirred up against them.  The Lord Jesus has brought us into a Promise Land of salvation, but what is keeping us from laying hold of the peace and the rest that should go with it.  Most of the time it boils down to us not entering fully into the rest of God because of our disobedience.  Rest is dependent up a relinquishment of our self-efforts and doing things His way.  The rest of God comes to us as we enter into that place where daily we live by faith in the Son of God.  That rest isn’t about sitting back and doing nothing until we are supernaturally moved by the Spirit of God, but it does mean that every day we live and move and our have being in Christ.  We are continually cognizant that He is everything and in everything that we do.  He is the focal point of our life and all that we are and do revolves around Him and not us. 

Today, I believe we have entered into the spiritual Sabbath Day of the Lord.  It is a day when our works must cease that His might begin.  This is a day that our fears and worries must be laid to rest as well.  What we behold before us is our Joshua and just as the people of old followed Joshua through the Jordan and into the Promise Land, so has Christ led us through the baptism into His death, which is our Jordan.  We have come out on the other side to possess the land in the newness of His life, not that which we died too.  Many of the enemies of this land are those things that war within our members.  They are constant disruption to our walk and peace with God.  Our rest will only come as we fix our eyes and heart upon Jesus the author and finisher of our salvation.  In Him we fight the battles.  It is not our efforts that overcome the world it is Christ in us.  John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Our peace and our rest are not incumbent upon what is going on around us or in what circumstances that we find ourselves in.  The rest of God is a place we come to within our relationship with Him, where we no longer struggle in the flesh, but we are at rest in God’s provision and promises. 

1John 4:3-4 says, “ And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”  The Spirit of Christ has come in our flesh and we must acknowledge Him over every spirit of antichrist that is of the flesh.   Many spirits war within our members, but our rest is only in acknowledging the Holy Spirit as the Lord of our life.  We are no longer struggling to find God or earn His favor.  We are already in Him, that is where we will find our peace and our rest.  That is why Jesus could sleep peacefully in the bottom of the boat on the Sea of Galilee when his disciples were struggling against a raging storm with all of their might and feared for the lives.  Jesus was a rest because He was in the Father and the Father was in Him.  God was in control even when all the elements without were out of control.  This world can fall apart, but that shouldn’t rob or take away from your rest or your peace, because you are not of this world.  ‘We look unto a city, which has foundations in Christ Jesus, whose Builder and Maker is God.’  Our blessed assurance and that Rest is only found by faith in Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

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