Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding;

6in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

8This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

 

 

Distracted, but not Dissuaded

 

 

Have you ever had those time when you were trying to pray or have quite time with Papa and your mind was continually inundated and distracted with other thoughts that you kept trying to put away, but they kept coming back?  It is like you couldn’t focus on prayer or the word, because of these mental imaginations and thoughts that were like magnets pulling your attention in another direction.  Sometime it is brought on by an emotional turmoil or conflict I am having with some person or situation.  I find that this will happen occasionally and sense I seem to have very little control over it. That being the case, I might as well take whatever it is that my mind is distracted with and just give it to the Lord.  He said in all of your ways acknowledge him, so whether my thoughts are spiritually inspired or not, still, all that I am is His.  What can I do, but simply say, “Father, I am sorry for all of this mental distraction, but since I am yours, I give it all to you. Lord, only your Spirit within me can help me to do as 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us to do. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  The primary thing is that I don’t want my thoughts and desires to be opposed to those of the Lord, so I am going to bring Him right into my mental barrage and say, “God here is what I am dealing with, help me get it in alignment with You, Your will and Your purpose.  Help me to cast down and overcome all that is not of Your Spirit and Your will.”   Satan loves to assault our minds and then turn and condemn us for the very thoughts he perpetrated upon us.  These are not my thoughts till I give them ownership by embracing and entertaining them.  Even if I find myself having done that I can repent and ask the blood of Jesus to wash me.  We must refuse to be robbed by the enemies’ condemnation any more.  I am not going to allow myself to be separated from my identity in Christ.  When the enemy attacks me with distracting thoughts or temptation, he is assaulting and attacking the Christ in me as well, because my life is hid in Him.

Satan is always out to Shanghai our identity and our faith in God.  So I will continually remind myself of who I am in Christ and remember that my purpose is for His glory and not my own.

We aren’t immune from the assaults of the enemy, distracting thoughts, temptations and interruptions.  Neither do we have to allow these to be grounds of condemnation and feeling spiritually inadequate.  We just never cease to acknowledge Father in all of our ways, to continually worship our God and magnify Him in all that we do.  No matter how distracted or insistent the thoughts are, keep your heart on Jesus, keep your praise on Him and ask Holy Spirit to give you the victory and peace.  As Romans 8:27-29 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  I will continually acknowledge Him until my paths are made straight!

Blessings,

#kent

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Tragedy to Triumph

January 11, 2018

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50:20

 

Tragedy to Triumph

 

In the process of life many of us will go through tragedies that will be “life changing events”.  These events are something we would never have chosen to experience or go through if given the choice.  They can be incredibly painful and they will forever stain our life.  While they are often horrific, they are a part of the fallen world that we live in.

Could God stop these things?

Yes, but then it would only be His choice and no longer the free will to make our own.  While God can’t remove all the tragedy in the world without violating our free will, He can and often does, take those things that satan meant for evil and turn them for good if we will allow Him to have His perfect work and way.  On the other hand we can circumvent God’s highest when in our pain, we choose to blame Him, others or even ourselves. We hold on to that pain in the form of bitterness, resentment and unwillingness to forgive our perceived offenders.  We hold those offenses in our heart to our own detriment and hindrance to experiencing God’s greater working of grace and good.

We often feel like God could have prevented this if He wanted too.  Yes, and He could have prevented His Son from going to the cross when Jesus cried out to Him to remove that cup of suffering from Him, but He was relinquished to the greater will and purpose of  Father.  Sin took Jesus through the intense suffering and crucifixion, and through His willingness to forgive His enemies and murderers He showed us a higher way of laying hold of God’s redemptive work even through our own tragedies in life.

Through the deep pain that we experience and the suffering we endure we often later find it to be the catalyst that brought us into a greater experience of grace and God’s working through our lives than what we ever would have known without that experience. We have been changed in such a way that it has given us a greater compassion, empathy and passion to change those things that often caused our pain or is causing that pain in others. We can relate with others in ways we never could before and often we find our life purpose out of such tragedies. God can take that which was meant for evil and turn it for good if we are willing to give it to Him, trusting Him to heal us and in the process transform us into someone better and more like Him through things we’ve suffered.

Jesus loves you and He totally relates with you in your suffering. Ultimately He wants to take your tragedy and turn it into triumph, even as the tragedy of the cross was turned into the redemptive triumph for all of mankind.

Blessings,

#kent

Despair of Life

January 8, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 

Despair of Life

 

There are times in our life when we can come to the place that we just don’t want to live any more.  Untreated depression is one of the major causes of suicide.  The pressure and trials of life can sometimes become overwhelming.  It can come through illness, divorce, loss, abuse, low self-esteem, the feeling of failure, chronic pain, even genetics, along with many other factors which can all bring despair, despondency, depression and hopelessness.  Even the apostle Paul describes a situation in his life where things became so hard that it seemed beyond his ability to endure.  He says that the pressure was so great that they even despaired of life.  He says that in their own hearts they felt the sentence of death.   I believe there are some of us that have been in this place and the Spirit of the Lord is wanting to minister to some that may be in it right now.  God sees your pain and feels your heartbreak.  He has heard your cry and He is here to tell you and show you like He did Paul that your reliance is not upon yourself, but upon God, who raises the dead.  Even though you have felt the sentence of death upon you, God is going to raise you up.  He is able to deliver you from such deadly peril and He will deliver you.  Continue to set your hope upon God even in the midst or your desperation and despair.  He is your deliver and He will bring you through the valley of the shadow of death.  Gather other believers around that can pray for you and minister to you.  You don’t have to be alone, God has provided someone that can help you, but you must reach out to them.

The Father, who is the author of life, is the one to decide when our life is done and as long as we have life He is able to give us the grace to endure it’s hardships and abuses.  Let faith arise in your heart and confidence that you are not alone, but the hosts of heaven surround you and His angels will minister to you.

There is someone today that needs this encouraging word so that you can go on and not give up.  God knows who you are.  He so loves and cares for you.  When you don’t have the ability to endure He becomes your ability.  In this place you are going to come to know, like the apostle Paul, that your reliance is upon God and not upon yourself.  Place your life in His hands, trust Him and hold fast.  He will see you through your dark hour and bring you again into the sunshine of His love and presence.  He is able to supply all of your need according to His riches in glory.  He is your life and you live for Him and not for yourself.  God is able to take seemingly hopeless and negative situations and turn them for good.  He does it all of the time.  As long as you have breath He is not through working in your life and as long as there is breath, there is hope.

The enemy has such a way of clouding and distorting the truth.  He can fill your head with every thought of why we should not live, but then he came to rob, steal and destroy.  Christ came that you might have life and that more abundantly.  Choose life.  Choose Christ to be your life.  He is with you even in the darkest hour and He sticks closer to you than a brother.

Father, help us in those times in our life when things look so bleak, so hopeless and so unbearable.  Help us in those times to enter into You and into Your hiding place where You would cover us with Your wings of mercy and protection.  Lord surround us in those times with Your power and love.   Encourage us and lift us up.  Set our eyes back upon You and restore the hope that we have lost.  You are our Hope, oh Lord, our Redeemer and our Deliver.  Just as David found consolation and strength as he reminded himself through the Psalms of Your greatness and Your faithfulness, even as he gave praise and worship back to You, he was strengthened in his inner man and given the courage to continue on.  Let all that are troubled and in despair find that in You today.  Amen.

Blessings,

#kent

Alive

June 6, 2017

Romans 6:8-14

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Alive

How many of us are alive in Christ today?  I don’t mean going through the religious motions of Christianity, but are experiencing daily the quickening life of a resurrection Christ?  The scriptures use the analogy of life and death in a spiritual sense.  Death, spiritual death, is descriptive of our life before we died to death. 

Some may think, what do you mean died to death?  How can you do that?

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Now these are the basic tenants of the Christian faith and most of us may already know this, but there is something more the Lord is wanting us to get  a hold of.  Because we were conceived in iniquity and all have sinned we grew up, outside of Christ, in a state of spiritual death.  We were dead to God and His Spirit.  Quite literally Christ, took upon His own sinless self the penalty and judgement of all of our sin and died for the death that indwells the unbeliever.  Sin and death were crucified upon that cross in His body. When we came into the light of the truth and gave our hearts to Jesus there was a death, to sin and death, that took place in us.  The spiritual reality of what was taking place is that we identified our former life in this sinful man with Jesus upon the cross.  We were spiritually crucified that day and identified with Christ upon the cross.  There we nailed that former man of sin, which we were, together with Christ upon the cross.  We died to sin and death. 

Through the practice of water baptism we are symbolizing our identification with the death of Christ as we die to the old, go under the water and are buried and then are raised up a new creation in Christ, being made alive in Him.  In that spiritual resurrection of our spirit man there needs to be a revelation and understanding that the former person we had been has ceased to exist and the new man we are is unified and identified in Christ who raised them from the dead. 

The Greek for the word alive here is “Zao”.  Some of its meanings are ” to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead), to enjoy real life, to have true life and worthy of the name, active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God.” You and I were dead in our trespasses and sin.  We were living in spiritual death headed for condemnation, judgement and hell.  Christ interrupted our death with the spiritual awakening of His truth.  In receiving that truth, which is Christ, by faith we were made alive and given the promise of the power of endless life with Him in glory. 

Paul says this again so eloquently in Ephesians 2:1-10, ” As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now the point is this, if Christ has quickened our spirits and made us alive unto Him, why are we still partaking and living in the dead things that are unclean and defile our spirits?  There are areas in our life where we allowing death to be a cohabitant with life.  The Word says, “what fellowship hath light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).”  The Lord’s exhortation to us today is bathe our whole man in the light of His truth and righteousness.  The distinction between good and evil is quickly shrinking the gray areas of our life.  He is bringing us into the more radial distinction of His nature and character.  Allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, quicken and make alive every part of who we are that we might be distinctly His.  We want to see the full salvation of the Lord, spirit, soul and body.  In order for us to experience the fullness of His life, we must experience the fullness of His death to the man of sin and death.  In Christ Jesus you have been made ALIVE!  Let us live fully alive in that Life!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 91

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

God wants to Reign in You

God has raised you up and it is He that will sustain you.  Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death He walks there with you and His presence overshadows you.   Many are the perils of the righteous, but the Lord sustains them through them all.  The place of rest is the place of total release and letting go into the arms of the Father.  It is so hard for us to stop clinging to human dependence and reason.  Everything in the natural screams if I let go of control I’ll fall to my death.  How can Father bear you up on eagles wings if you never jump with the wings of faith and trust.  Father is training His sons and daughters to soar in the heavenly places, but they can never know that freedom as long as they confine themselves to the nest.  Father is stirring up the nest.  He is making it rough and uncomfortable.  Where it was once a place of comfort and safety it is now a prickly and hard place.  One we can no longer rest in.  That is to cause us to launch out of our nest of self-dependence and world economy. 

Yes. we may flounder as we flap our inexperienced wings of faith, but even as we fall Father is there to bear us up and bring us again to that place of safety.  He is teaching us launch out.  He is coaxing us out of the nest that we might fly with Him in the heavenly places.  Fear is our greatest detriment to faith.  Once fear is overcome faith will abound.  We must learn to stop operating out of the nature of what we had been and start operating in the nature of who we now are in Christ Jesus.  Old habits die hard, but it is a day for a new paradigm in how we live life.  God gave us His life by investing the talent of His Son within us.  How will we invest and use what He has given us?  Will we bury it in the ground and go on with life as usual or will we invest it in faith in the lives of others till we see it increase and multiply?  Christ didn’t put the responsibility of saving souls upon our shoulders, but He did say, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Myself.”  If we will be faithful to lift Him up the Holy Spirit will draw the souls to Himself.  Faith requires us to step into what we can not naturally see.  It requires us to believe what does not naturally exist.  It is making God’s Word the substance of those things we hope for and the evidence of what we do not see. 

It is by faith that we will go and will do as the Father leads us and as we hear the Good Shepherd’s voice.  In Him alone is our safety and our provision.  All that the world offers is so soon fading away.  Your only true place of rest is under the wings of the Almighty.  That rest can only be entered into by faith and obedience.  That is where we will find His highest and that is where we will find our peace.  Proverbs 18:10 says, ” The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”  Today, we as the people of the Most High God, stand, live, move and have our being out of Him and unto Him.  We are become the expression of His life and even as He breathed into unto us His image, we are exhaling in His very nature and life.  Now, unto the God who sits on the throne be glory and honor, power, majesty and dominion forever and ever.  Our God reigns and He will reign through His holy priesthood and His holy nation.  Rise up people of God and shout to the glory of God for He reigns in our hearts and His salvation is unto everlasting. 

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 22:24

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

The Despised and the Afflicted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

A Cry for Mercy

August 8, 2016

 

Psalms 116

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.2 Because he turned his ear to me, 

I will call on him as long as I live.3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.4 Then I called on the name of the LORD : “O LORD, save me!”5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.6 The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.10 I believed; therefore I said, 

“I am greatly afflicted.”11 And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.”12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.16 O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant ; 

you have freed me from my chains.17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

A Cry for Mercy

Have any of us had times in our lives that we didn’t cry out for God’s mercy? It is not usually in the good times, the prosperous times or the times when there is no trouble in our lives.  We would like to accept these times and conditions as the norm, but, rather it is for a short time or long visitation, we all have trouble, anguish, hurt and heartache visit our life.  What is more important than knowing the Lord as our life preserver is knowing Him as our life sustainer.  He needs us to acknowledge Him in the good and the bad, the sweet and the bitter.  He is the source of our blessing and salvation, and He is the mercy and grace in our trials and tribulations.  It is the nature of our natural life and the consequence of sin in the earth that heartache, sorrow, pain, poverty, death and sickness all want to touch our lives to one degree or another.  What other sure resource and provision do we have than the love of God and the power of His Word and promises to us.  In these fiery times of our affliction He is the rock that we lean on and the confidence that we trust in.  David says here, “In my dismay I said, “All men are liars.””  It is not in the confidence of man that we can trust.  Men will always disappoint us, but the Lord is continually our hope and our salvation.  He alone can deliver us out of the impossible for men.  Often our faith is sorely tried and tested.  Will we murmur and complain or will we continue to rejoice in the faithfulness of God?  Faith is able to see and do what the flesh can not see and recognize.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore 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.”  David fixed his eyes upon the living God even when death surrounded Him.  He counted Him faithful who called Him and he found, “The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.6 The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”  

Today the Lord stands with you in your afflictions whatever that may be.  He loves you.  He has called you and He has purposed you for His glory.  Do not grow weary or lose heart.  God is faithful upon the throne of your heart.  He is your hope and salvation.  We can call upon His mercy in those difficult times, but let us not neglect to praise and acknowledge His grace and blessing even in our good times.  “I will call on him as long as I live.”

Blessings,

#kent

Where We Live

July 12, 2016

Romans 2:1-4, 17-24

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? 

Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Where We Live

I believe the Holy Spirit wants to meddle in our hearts today where a lot of us have issues, but choose not to recognize and acknowledge them.  I see them in myself and I see them in my wife, so I know a lot of others have the same issues to one degree or another.  

The first part of Romans here is speaking to this attitude that was in these self-righteous Jewish people.  Let’s take the Jew out of it for a moment and insert Christians.  Have you ever known any judgmental Christians?  More importantly, have you ever recognized this quality in yourself?  If we are truly honest and real, how many of us hide behind our spirituality while we criticize and judge others?  We may call it discernment or spiritual insight.  We must justify sharing the faults of others as, “God showed me we need to pray for this person or situation.”  Even if He did He probably didn’t tell you that you needed to share it with every person in the bible study or the hair salon.  

Let’s get personal and just look within our own marriage relationships.  How often do we use spiritual credentials or intimidation, if you will, to manipulate and control one another?  How often are we critical, cutting and demeaning because we feel we are spiritually justified or superior?  We must realize we are often guilty of the very things that we condemn others for.  Instead of love and grace, we are rendering judgement and condemnation.  Instead of truly finding the other’s heart in a situation we have already made up our minds and rendered our judgements.  For the other person to give an opinion or advice is futile.  We don’t realize how much and many times we control others and judge others with our religious spirit.  

Sometimes it is passive-aggressive.  To my shame, I often find it is in the company of others that I want to expose my wife’s weaknesses or faults, even though it may be in the guise of jesting or fun.  I should be her greatest advocate, defender and protector.  I am being real, because I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to be real with ourselves today as we take a good hard look into our hearts and ask ourselves, “How guilty am I of this and how am I going to change it.”  Perhaps our spouse or others have identified this in us before and we didn’t want to hear or receive it.  Perhaps we only became offended, defensive or hurt instead of truly examining our heart in the light of the Holy Spirit and His Word.  

If we are to be life-givers, many of us must first deal with this religious spirit in us that communicates to others that we more righteousness, have more gifting, spend more time with God or have more revelation than someone else.  We don’t often realize how we speak down to others through our actions and words rather that humbling ourselves, getting under them and lifting them up.  If we truly are more spiritual this is the way that it will be manifested to others far more than our self-righteousness, our condescending tone and our judgmental words.  

If you consider this might be in you and you truly have a heart to get it right before the Lord and others then you need to humble yourself, put your emotions in check committing yourself to not getting emotional, angry or hurt.  The truth is something many of us have a struggle coming to terms with, especially when it deals with our issues.  Make a safe place for your close friends and loved ones to be able to share their true perception of you in these areas.  They are your mirror, if you have the guts to look into it.  They won’t go there if they believe they are going to set you off, or hurt you or offend you.  The truth is that many of us fit this description of Romans 2 and if we want to change it we have to be willing to face the truth about ourselves, repent of our judgements and other offenses in regards to how we deal with others, especially those of our own household.  God wants us to be free to communicate His love and grace in a way that truly expresses His character.  Verse 24 tells us that His name is blasphemed among the gentiles because we haven’t truly done this.  Sometimes it is blasphemed among those of our own household because have used God like a big ugly stick to beat up on those who didn’t line up with our thinking.  Our words and judgements have killed instead of giving life. Where we live is often judging and criticizing the very things that may still be in our own hearts. It is always so much easier seeing the faults in others before our own. Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:37,”Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

Holy Spirit, show us our true heart today and help us to get these things right before you and with others, in Jesus Name.  Amen.

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 118

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the LORD say: 

“His love endures forever.” 5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 

9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. 10 All the nations surrounded me, 

but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” 17 I will not die but live, 

and will proclaim what the LORD has done. 18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

His Love Endures Forever

In these perilous times it is imperative that we are faithful to allow the Word of God to speak life and faith into our hearts.  When we are in a storm it is hard for us not to become distracted with the effects of the storm.  We can quickly become caught up in the panic of those who surround us who are without hope in this world.  God’s love and faithfulness stand as the anchor of our soul.  We rejoice in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.  

This day, turn your face into the wind.  The storm has not come to overtake and destroy us, but to lift us up on eagle’s wings.  He is the wind beneath our wings.   Spread the wings of faith and see how He will lift you up.  “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  All that is being taken from us are the former cares and distractions of life.  Now we will fully set our eyes upon the Lord and behold His great salvation.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His Love endures forever.”

Blessings,

#kent

Strength out of Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9

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. 

Remember when you were a teenager and you knew everything and mom and dad didn’t have a clue about anything?  In your mind they may have seemed pretty dumb and were just a hindrance to the cool lifestyle you were trying to lead.  A few more years down the road, after you had grown up a little and had to experience life more on your own, you may have began to think those people may have known a little more than I gave them credit for.  Then after you were married and had kids of your own you realized what you had put your parents through and may have been thankful that they had the patience and fortitude to allow you to grow into adulthood.  From that perspective of maturity, when you thought you were invincible and you had the world by the tail, you look back and see how weak and foolish you really were.  You took for granted the support system that was in place holding you up and allowing you to try your wings.  It is usually after a few good crashes that reality starts to set in.  

We are often not so much different in our Christian perspective.  We like to see ourselves as having great spiritual wisdom and insight, having faith that can raise the dead and heal the sick and have the devil by the tail with our foot on his neck.  Much like when we were teenagers we sometimes forget the foundation of all that we have.  We get this idea that it is because we are something special and God is lucky to have us on His side.  Then, somewhere along the road we run into a reality check or two that may make us rethink who and what we are.  A lot of us think maybe there must be something wrong with God.  We have to find the truth that God isn’t great in us because of our strengths, talents and abilities; He is great in us because we are weak.  

Our scripture today is about what the Lord spoke to Paul in his infirmity.  Here is a man to whom God has imparted spiritual wisdom, power, and the gospel too.  He has been placed in the office of an apostle.  He has been entrusted with writing over half of the New Testament and he can’t even heal or deliver himself.  Did he miss God somewhere?  Is he out of His will?  Is it because of his sin?  Why won’t God answer his prayer and allow him to walk in perfect health, prosperity and blessing?  Could it be because only God could be glorified out of weakness and Paul could then never boast or be tempted to boast in his ability?  His strength was when his only ability or power to boast was in Christ.  He had all kinds of credentials and credibility from a religious standpoint.  He was like a doctor of theology and had the genealogy to go with it.  In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul lets us know that he can match credentials and even persecution with the best of those who came as ministers of light only to deceive and lead others away from Christ.  Now if Paul was God’s right hand man why did he have to go through all those beatings, those persecutions, hunger, shipwrecks, stoning, and infirmities?  He says in 2 Corinthians 11: 29-30, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not, If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”  Why was Paul focused on his weakness and not on his strength?  It was because his weakness was his strength.  In his weakness he couldn’t identify with his ability, but only the strength and ability of Christ in him.  As he was laid upon the altar then it was only God’s life that issued out of him to raise and bring others up.  In his death in daily living, others found life, encouragement, hope, faith, strength and power.  He was never sitting up on a pedestal telling everyone to look and listen to him, because he was the oracle and God’s man of the hour.  In 2 Corinthians 4:6-12 Paul gives us further insight into this revelation, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you.” 

It is evident that with some Paul seemed to receive little respect because they were so quickly drawn away to those who wanted to put them again under bondage.  Paul’s greatness was in the One he allowed to live through him.  When Paul wasn’t anything, then Christ could be everything.  

Hebrews 11:34 talks about the men and women of faith when it says, “Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”  We have to get a revelation that if we are really going to do anything and be anything for God, it is not going to come out of us, it is going to come out of Christ in us.  

Grapes have to be crushed for sweet wine to be made. Gethsemane means “olive press” and until the skin is broken and the pressure applied the oil won’t come forth.  Often this is true of the anointing we have in Christ.   A diamond is a chunk of coal under great pressure.  Pure Gold is excavated and crushed ore that is then refined in the fire and shaped by the goldsmith’s hammer.  

If you are that person that may think of themselves as passed over by God because you seem to only reap suffering, pain and hardship; you may be the real gems of God’s garden.  The ones that He wants to perfect His strength in, through your weakness.  You have already come to the place where you know that God’s grace alone is sufficient in your weakness, but through your weakness we will see the manifestation of His strength.  Be encouraged and be strong, God hasn’t began a good work in you that He cannot perfect or finish.  Hold fast in your faithfulness and He will prove Himself faithful and mighty through you.

Blessings,

#kent

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