Spiritual Warfare

April 3, 2020

Spiritual Warfare

2 Corinthians 4:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh  (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

 

As believers in Christ we need to become warriors in the spirit.  So much of our lives have been focused and spent on the conventional weapons of the natural man to resolve problems.  It has been by the activism of the flesh that we have fought spiritual and moral battles. Many of those battles are the strongholds in our own personal lives that we war with constantly and so often defeat us.  This scripture says that we have divine power to demolish strongholds. We have really tried and resolved not to let these strongholds overtake us any longer.  We may have even prayed about it and asked God to help us in these areas, but we are still experiencing defeat and failure.  Most of our failures comes through the assault of our minds.  Our mind gets distracted and begins to entertain the things that we struggle with.  Usually it is not long till the body is following it in action.  Our first problem is that while we may spiritually ascend to the place that we don’t want the stronghold to have place in us, our mind, soul and body are still compromised because they have not been brought to the place of full surrender to the spirit in these areas.  The bottom line is the spirit man in us has to be the one in authority over our being and not our soul man, that which is of the mind, will and emotions.  We want to see the body and soul line up under the spirit, as the spirit is subject to the Holy Spirit.  When our lives are in the right order and alignment we walk and live as the spiritual men and women we are in Christ.  God wants to grow us up to the place where we truly know who we are in Christ and act out of the power and authority we have in Him.  We begin dealing with strongholds at their conception, not when they mature and bring us again under bondage.  This is where we guard our minds and are transformed through the renewing of our minds so that the Spirit and the Word are the guardians of our thought life.  James 1:13-15 says it like this: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  It is at this point of being tempted that we have to deal with it.  If we are still double-minded in our commitment to let the Spirit have full Lordship of our lives in any area then that compromise will carry over into our actions and failure to have victory.  We must take the authority of God’s Word to destroy the areas of strongholds in our lives at the point imaginations or thoughts or desires begin to raise a rebellious head against the knowledge of God and His ways.  Here is where we can’t be passive, but must act out of the Spirit in power and authority to crush every spirit that is not of God.  Satan is a subtle adversary and not one to be reasoned with, but to be taken authority over.  This same principle holds true over the other areas that impact our lives.  God has empowered us with spiritual weapons and authority in Christ to be more than conquerors and have the victory over sin and strongholds in our lives.

Blessings,

#kent

“So then, just as one trespass brought condemnation for all men, so also one act of righteousness brought justification and life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”                                                          Romans 5:18-19

Understanding the “Why” of Being

 

A created being can not know its place, its purpose or the fullness of its reason for being outside the One who created it.  Outside of that understanding it can still function and be, in the fractured sense of its own understanding, but that will always be perverted, distorted and imperfect outside of its true purpose and understanding for its being.  In order for one to truly know the reason for why something was created, one must go back to the creator who created it.  Only in his mind and reason are the answers for His creation.

A Creator creates a being in His image, having a spirit like His creator.  There is imparted to the created a gift of free will to choose to function within the design of the Creator, which is its highest purpose, or to function in another way of its choosing.  When the Creator breathed into its created, the breath of life, it was given the life of the Creator’s own Spirit.  As long as the created only ate of the fruit of the Creator’s design, it would abide, live and continue in the life and highter purpose that the Creator intended for it, but in the day that it chose to willfully disobey and step out of its higher life and purpose by eating of the fruit of self will and knowledge it would die to the higher Spirit life it had had the privilege of partaking of.

Within the design of the Creator. there exist a competitor to the creator; a preditor of His creation.  While he can’t destroy the creation, he seeks to possess it.  The only way he can legally possess it is to get the created to choose, by its own free will, the knowledge of good and evil.  He presents that knowledge of good and evil to the created in such a way that insinuates that the Creator is keeping something from them that would allow them to become like Him, when in fact they were already like Him.  He cloaks the death of this poison apple with the lie that they will live in a greater state than what they have known because they will know both good and evil.  To know what evil is, one must experience it.  One must step out of the light and into the darkness, to know what it is like not to see.  Through the free will consent of the created, to partake of this forbidden fruit, that would be the spiritual death of all of creation to follow, the competitor gained the legal access to control the Creator’s creation.  It was never the Creator’s choice, it was the creation’s choice.

The competitor rejoiced in that day, because now he could begin his work of stealing the true identity of the Creator’s creation, of cloaking the created’s understanding in darkness, perversion, self-will, self-worship.  He could bring the Creator’s creation into the kingdom realms of sin and death.  There it would know wars, famine, suffering, sickness, disease, poverty, fear, bondage and death.  Such was the fruit the Creator had endeavored to prevent His creation from having to partake of.

Since this was a legal transacton of the created’s free-will to partake of this knowledge of good and evil, the Creator could not violate His own decree and gift, to keep his created from the consequences of its choice.  It appeared as if the Creator’s competior had stolen and taken captive His creation.  Yet, even in this bleak moment, when now, the competitor controlled the world, the created still had the freedom to choose. The Creator planted the seed of His truth and light even in the midst of that field of darkness.  Through that seed He would insure that His light and presence were still known and present in this place.  He would show Himself strong in the midst of those that welcomed Him and put their faith and trust in Him by their choice.

The sins of the created could only be placated and satisified by the shedding of blood and the giving of a life.  There could be no attonement for sin outside the life-giving sacrifice.  This spoke to a greater sacrifice of which all others were but a type and shadow.  The sacrifice of the Creator’s own Son to attone for the choice of

death and provide opportunity, through the Son, to choose the path back to the Creator’s original intent for His creation and why they were created.

Blessing,

#kent

Today is the Day

March 27, 2020

Luke 21:25-28

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

 

Today is the Day

 

Most of us that have any spiritual relationship or understanding of spiritual things can see that the atmosphere is changing.  The word of prophecy is prolific and abundant in this day. We may not comprehend fully how all the events are unfolding or all that is really taking place in this day.  That’s okay, we don’t have to understand it all.  It is not our knowing that is our redemption, it is our relationship with Jesus, the Son of God.  If we don’t understand anything else, may we understand this, we are standing on the precipice of these last days.  If we know nothing else WE MUST KNOW HIM!  Heaven and earth will pass away, but only what we have in Christ is eternal.  All material and fleshly things will be consumed, but only that which we have received from the Father by the Holy Spirit will remain.

Many people are seeing the signs of the times.  They are buying gold, silver and precious metals.  They are storing up food supplies and trying to figure out a safe place to go when it all falls apart.  May I suggest that there is only one place of safety and provision and that is in the rest and the source of the Father.  If you are going to store up anything in this hour then store up the knowing and faith in Him to meet all of your needs.

Jesus goes on in verses 34-36 of this passage to say, “”Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Now for many this hour is a time of great anxiety, worry and fear.  That is not what God has for His people who truly know Him.  How does Jesus say that you escape all the thing that are about to happen?  “Be always on the watch and pray.”  In other words, it is in flowing in the river of relationship with Christ that we find our redemption and safety.

The danger is to those of us who are still lukewarm, trying to have the best of both worlds.  We want a comfortable religion that doesn’t infringe too much on our personal lives and values so we can feel like we are all right with God and have everything else we want too.  The Spirit of the Churches speaks to us in  Revelations 3 about this very condition.  “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  For many of us, we have religion and a form of godliness, but in God’s eyes we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  Even though we may lack for nothing in this world we are desperately poor in the economy of God and it is His economy that we must learn to live out of, for the world’s is soon to pass away.  Especially to those who are going to stand in their faith for Christ.  The gold He counsels us to buy is God’s life and nature, we buy that by walking the through trials and testing of our faith; counting Him faithful who has promised.  That is how we become rich in faith and we come to know His faithfulness in our desperate circumstances.  The white clothes are the robes of His righteous imparted to us by faith as we walk in obedience to His Word.  The eye salve is the Holy Spirit anointing to see God’s truth and not a perversion of the truth.

If we don’t understand anything else about these end times let us understand this. Christ alone is the rock of your salvation and on Him alone will you be able to stand.  All else around you is sinking sand and if your dependency is upon your own resource you will sink in that sand.  If you know nothing else come to know Him and have a relationship with Him as you never have before.  He alone remains when all else is lost.  As His sons and daughters, we come to know that it is the Father who preserves and keeps us and none other.  Through the many trials of our faith He is preparing us for a reason and a season.  Today is the day! Act on it.

Blessings,

#kent

Fear in the Mind

March 19, 2020

 

Fear in the Mind

 

1 John 4:14-17

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.

 

 

After this article on “Face your Fears” another writing was shared with me that gave the inclination we needed to go a little bit further with this subject.  Our scripture today is somewhat of a mystery and would appear to be a contradiction to what we have shared about the fear of God.  What we need to understand about the fear of God is that it is what compels us into the nature of God.  The fear of God is one of the spiritual attributes that Christ possessed.  Isaiah 11:2, speaking of Christ and those of Him, says, “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” Fear is something that compels us away from something we are afraid of.  In God, that fear abhors evil and cleaves to what is good.  The aspect we identify with fear gives place to love in relationship with God in Christ Jesus.  The blood of Christ removes all fear of judgement, for it has atoned for our sins and we have right standing and relationship with God because we are “in” Christ.  What we must lay hold of is the strategy of the enemy is always to unsettle us from this place of trust, rest and love we have with Father.  We have come into this place by faith and trust, not by any acts of righteousness on our part.  “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

We said before that while the fear of the Lord draws us into relationship and assurance in Christ, the fear generated in the natural and by our adversary, the devil, draws us out of relationship and rest in Christ.  Mark 4:16-17 says, “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”  What one sister brought out in her writing was the distress that so many of us endure through mental persecution.  She found that this word persecution carried with it the meaning and connotation of dread, timidity, faithless and fearful.  We know that the greatest battleground we face in our Christian walk is fought in the mind.  We are constantly assaulted in our minds with doubts, fears, and feelings of inadequacy, failure, questionings and unbelief.  We can feel so solid and confident in an aspect of our faith and relationship with God and after a barrage of mental assaults by the enemy; we can suddenly find ourselves wondering if there is a God.   This mental persecution is an assault of fear.  This fear will rob our faith, it will rob our joy and peace, and it will destroy us if left unchecked.  What preserves us is our root or our putting on the whole armor of God.  We see the example of Jesus as He is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and the devil begins his series of mental persecutions and temptations, but he couldn’t unsettle Jesus, even in His weakest state, because He was rooted in the Word of God.  While the devil tried to pervert the scripture to unsettle Jesus from His faith, Jesus would give back the Word of God in truth, as His rebuttal.

Many of us struggle in our faith because we are succumbing to the circumstantial reasoning and mental persecutions.  For satan to undermine your faith and confidence in Christ, by first always getting your focus on you apart from Christ is His first and primary strategy for your defeat.  Every time we are dwelling on us, outside of who we are in Christ, it is going to bring us into defeat.  Our victory is in who we are “in Christ”, He is our hiding place, more importantly, our identification, because He has given us His name.  God allows us to be shaken, so that once we are shaken enough, we will become settled in the truth and will be shakable no more.  Hebrews 12:27-29 tells us, “And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God [is] a consuming fire.” The fear of the Lord empowers us with the boldness and authority of the Word and the God who wrote it.  It is the day to break free of the death shrouds of our timidity and fearfulness and a day to walk and live in the authority of who each of are in Christ Jesus.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)”

Blessings,

#kent

Where We Live

March 16, 2020

John 14:1-4

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 

Where We Live

 

Where is the Father’s house and what is the Father’s house?  We know that a house is an abiding place.  Jesus said in John 2: 19-21, “Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”  Jesus is the house and the habitation of the Father.  Jesus says in John 17:20-26, “”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.””

So many of us have grown up with a concept that when we die, if we believe in Jesus, we will go to heaven and there will be this beautiful mansion that the Lord has prepared for us.  Well, I have not yet been to heaven so I can’t speak to the fact of whether there is or isn’t a physical mansion.  What I do know is that there is a much deeper and richer meaning here than just a physical structure.  Jesus is talking about an abiding place, a place where we live and hang out.  Through these scriptures we can see that Jesus is the temple of the Father and that the Father inhabits and indwells Him, just as Jesus lives in and through the Father.  What Jesus has done for us through the cross is to provide for us this same relationship and access that He has with the Father.  As we embrace the truth of the cross and our salvation that is complete in Christ we receive the Holy Spirit and the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us.

The mansion or the room that I am looking for, that Christ has prepared for me, is the one where I am dwelling and abiding in His presence and moving in the office and purpose for which He has prepared me.  Each of us has that place of abiding available to us in the sense that Christ has come back by His Spirit and has indwelt us, He is able to bring us into this abiding place, room, mansion, in other words, our place in Him.   He says in John 14:4, “You know the way to the place where I am going.”  We know the way, because ‘He is the way, the truth and the light.  No man comes to the Father except through Him.’

There is a place that is prepared for you right now in your habitation in Christ Jesus.  Let us get our eyes off of “over yonder” and begin to see who we are in Christ today and where He wants us to be abiding today!  Just as you abide in Him, He abides in you and is with you.  Begin to truly grasp and identify with who you are in Christ.  It has nothing to do with who you used to be or even with much of what you identify yourself with being today.  Begin to see the old man passed away and the new creation you are in Christ Jesus.  Live out of the truth of that new creation man.  This man abides and has his being in the Father’s house, which is Christ Jesus.  He moves and lives out of the gifts, abilities and purpose that the Father has gifted him with and in all of his ways he growing and being transformed from glory to glory into Him.  This is where we are to live.  This is our mansion and abiding place.

Blessings,

#kent

Living is Giving

March 11, 2020

 

Living is Giving

 

John 11:42

But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give [it] thee.

 

Mother Teresa made a statement once to the effect, “If you have never learned to give then you have never learned to live.”  The world we live and grow up in has the mentality of’ what is in it for me?’  What can I get rather than what can I give.  When we study God’s word we see that giving is so much a part of the nature of who God is.  He has given us life and breath and every good thing to enjoy.  God is such a giver that He gave His only begotten Son that through that precious gift we might be given eternal life, have relationship and access to our heavenly Father.  We know that God is love and the nature of love is expressed through giving.  Jesus came into the earth not to get, but to give His life a ransom for many.  His service and His ministry were always about giving.  Through His example we see that even the King of Kings has a servant nature.

God wants us all to be givers, but not from a spirit of coercion and guilt, but rather through the love of His Son that He has placed within our hearts.  He wants us to be givers, because giving is what unleashes the blessings of His kingdom.  When we give to God we know that God doesn’t need what we have, but we need what He has and we open the box by giving.  There is a law of reciprocation that what goes out will come back.  It is like the law of reaping and sowing, giving is our sowing and it doesn’t have to be monetary in nature.  The greatest gifts we have to give are of our time, our resources, our talents and ourselves.  What God is looking for in us is not so much what we give as it is the attitude of our hearts to give. Is it in our nature to bless others and to look to their welfare as well as our own?

Giving is a fountain of life.  It is opening our hand to release what we have, but also to receive back all that God has for us.  If we never open our hand, we never experience this law or reciprocation where there is an exchange of giving out and taking in.  It is like the cycle of life, there is a taking in and a giving out.  When the exchange ceases and we hoard everything in, then things stagnate, putrify and become corrupt.  When God gave the manna in the wilderness, each day they were to gather what they needed for the day.  If they tried to gather more than that it would become corrupt and full of worms.  Each day is a giving of what you have, not what you have not.  Each day we take in from God’s goodness what we need and beyond that we have to share and be a blessing to help in the needs of others.

Mother Teresa was among the richest of all people not because of what she possessed, but because of what she gave.  What she could not receive back in this world must come back to her in the world to come.  Are we learning about living through our giving or do we still want to hold on with clenched hand?  Giving is an exercise in faith.  If we don’t believe God will supply, then we won’t be willing to give what we have.  What we so often fail to realize is that our unwillingness to release and give is the source of our poverty.  God has created us to be a blessing.  We are His wellsprings of life.  Let our lives be rich when it comes to giving and blessing others that all might see the nature and love of the Father in us and desire to know Him.  What are our opportunities for giving today?

Blessings,

#kent

 

Tales of Jealousy, Betrayal and Revenge

 

Matthew 26:6-14

 

6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9″This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

 

The Lord began to open up some interesting parallels in the Word concerning jealousy, betrayal and revenge.  As I read the above scripture I believe it was no accident that the story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet and the decision of Judas to betray Jesus are sequential.  It brought to mind the story of Cain and Abel.  Genesis 4:2-8 gives us this account, “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”

The parallel we see here is that, as the woman was presenting her sacrifice of tears, precious perfume and the washing with her hair, Judas was despising her offering and John 12:4-8 shows his heart as he suggests a better sacrifice and offering than wasting the perfume on Jesus.  “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5″Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7″Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” It may be conjecture, but it seems to me that Jesus’ rebuke to Judas created an offence in his heart much like the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice.  Whenever we hold an offence in our hearts of bitterness, jealousy, and rejection we open our spirit up to the darkness that is waiting to enter in.  Suddenly there is anger, the desire for revenge and the seeds of murder.  What Cain and Judas share in common is a heart that was self seeking and unwilling to give its best and its all to God.  God even spoke and pointed out to Cain the problem with his attitude, “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Had Cain or Judas or the other examples we could give, such as Saul and David, been willing to humble themselves and acknowledge a wrong spirit and attitude in their hearts and repent of it they could have been accepted.  Humility and repentance are the mastery of sin.  These characters chose to hold on to the offense and then act out their anger; giving place to murder in their hearts.

What is the lesson God is speaking?  Offense and unforgiveness in our hearts, that goes unrepented of, will open up our spirit to the darkness of revenge and even murder.  That murder may not be physical, it could come in the form of the words we speak, slander, gossip, betrayal or undermining another in some other way.

There are times in our life we feel rejected, slighted, passed over and we feel it is so unfair and maybe it is, but watch your attitude.  Humble yourself before the Lord and allow Him to show you what is acceptable and good.  When I look back over my life and the times I didn’t get the promotion or I applied for jobs and was rejected, I can see now that God wasn’t rejecting me, He was protecting me and leading me in the way that was best for me.  I can see how through times that I was rejected, in time it led to even better things and greater opportunity when God did open the door.

Let go of any offenses or jealousies that you are harboring in your heart.  Repent of them and trust God, rest in Him, He will show you the acceptable way.

Blessings,

#kent

February 5, 2020

 

Almost There

 

2 Timothy 4:5-8

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

 

 

The apostle Paul has been a mentor and an inspiration to millions of believers over the years since he penned so many of the books of the New Testament.  As we are traveling our road of faith and as we are running our course in this life sometimes it gets pretty rough and hard. We want to give up.  We get tired, we get discouraged and we get worn down through trials and tribulations to the point where we would entertain the thoughts of forsaking our faith and just go with the flow of the world.

We see an example of one who almost gave up and actually did for a time.  His name was John Mark.  Acts 12:25 tells us, “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.”  We gather from what is previously written that he has grown up in a strong household of faith.  We know that a least his mother, Mary, was a devout Christian; for it was her house that the saints had gathered to pray when Peter was in prison.  It was her house that Peter came too after the angel released him from his shackles and imprisonment and they could scarcely believe it was he.  We can see John Mark as having a lot of fervor and sense of adventure, but not a lot of experience when it came to walking in the ways of the apostles.  When he was allowed to travel with Paul and Barnabus he began to experience hardships he had never known.  Trials and persecutions threatened his very life.  He found the walk of these committed men of God was one unto death.  Their safety and well being was not at the forefront of their ministry and walk with the Lord.  We see this becoming a little too much for John Mark.  In Acts 15 we read of this sharp contention that arose between Barnabas and Paul, because Barnabus wanted to take John Mark again.  We read where John Mark had deserted them at Pamphylia, so to Paul, he had disqualified himself and Paul was no longer willing to take him along.  Paul and Barnabus separated and Paul took Silas and Barnabus took John Mark.

I think a lot of us can see ourselves in John Mark.  We start out fervent and are going to win the world for Christ, but after we have warred and walked against the enemy of our souls long enough, sometimes we want too and sometimes we do, desert our calling or our confidence in the Lord.  We find ourselves releasing our grip on the anchor of our souls and drifting back into that which we have been delivered out of.  The thing is, if we have been truly born again we will not be content with this back-slidden or separated state.  The good news is that Jesus is a Barnabus as well as a Paul.  He is a God of second chances.  He will still love and receive us back to Himself even if we have strayed or fallen short along the way.  God placed Barnabus there to come along side John Mark, to encourage him and help him to become again the man of God he was called to be.  We find that even Paul, in time, softens to John Mark and finds him useful. In 2 Timothy 4:11 we read from Paul’s hand, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”  We find that it is this John Mark who penned the gospel of Mark.

Even if we stumble in our walk and commitment to Christ, never underestimate God’s ability to take your failures and turn them for your good.  Sometimes when it is darkest and most difficult, we may well be at that threshold of our breakthrough.  Hold fast and confident in your faith.  Don’t allow your discouragement and trials to overtake you, but even if they should, the Father has not cast you off, but longs for you to return to Him and again run the good race of your faith.  Repentance and reconciliation are the doorways to restoration in our relationship with our Father.  You’re almost there!  Don’t give up and don’t give in, in all your ways acknowledge Him and follow His ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Yielded to Whom?

January 30, 2020

 

Yielded to Whom?

 

Romans 6:12-14

 

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

 

Imagine when you receive Christ as your Savior and the Holy Spirit comes to abide in you.  Before that, you are in this chaotic marketplace of humanity.  It is loud with its music.  There are voices all around you calling you and enticing you to come and partake of their merchandise, while they make all of their promises of how it will fulfill you and satisfy your needs and wants.  Come buy this desire, buy this experience, if you only have this then you will have peace and contentment.  Many of us have spent a good deal of our lives in that marketplace of worldliness and ungodliness.  We have partaken of many of it wares and merchandise, but always we came up lacking, always there was this same emptiness inside.  What brought happiness and pleasure for the moment was always fleeting and temporal, never eternal and continual.

Then, one day, we heard about this Jesus, who was the Son of God.  We heard He could take away all of our sin and bring us into a right relationship with God the Father.  As we listened about this Jesus, it was different than all of the other religions we heard about before where it was up to our goodness and works to get us to heaven.  This Jesus said He did it all for us, not only did he take away our sins and give His life for all our bad, but in its place He gave us all His good.  All we had to do was believe on Him and ask Him to now come in and be the Lord and King of our hearts.  We felt this tugging and drawing in our hearts.  Something in us was saying, “this is right, this is true, I need to do this.”  Yet, there was a part of you that wanted hold back.  It was saying you don’t want to do this, then you will be obligated to live for this Jesus and you won’t be able to buy and sell in the marketplace of humanity like you did before.  There is a lot of good merchandise out there; are you sure you want to give all of that up?  Yet something greater rises up in you, that is greater that the reasoning of your natural mind.  Something in you says, “I need this, this is what I have really been looking for all of my life in all of these other things that never fulfilled their promise to satisfy and give me the peace and contentment I’ve been searching for so long. ”

Suddenly you make the decision and you step forward, by faith, embracing and receiving into your heart this new Savior.  It is like you stepped out of this marketplace of the world and into this sphere, this dimension, this place where the peace and love of God filled the room of your soul.  Suddenly this tremendous weight of sin and condemnation was lifted off of you, your heart and life felt clean and pure again.  You thought, I will never leave this place, this is what I have been looking and searching for.   While the brightness of that experience fills the room it is like the walls or the sides of that tent are somewhat transparent and outside of it you are aware that the former world and marketplace exist.  Over time, as you again are forced to walk and live around the marketplace, its spirit and influences begin to return with their enticing voices seeking to lure you again into its dominion and darkness.

Here is where you can lose sight of who you are and what you have become.  The Lord shows you that you were never just your own.  You were always a slave and a servant; the big difference was who your master was.  When you came through that door of salvation you, by faith, placed your self-life of sin upon that Cross with Jesus.  When it died you traded the master of sin and death for the master of righteousness and life.  Perhaps you, like most of us, are hearing voices from the grave of your old man as he may be trying to resurrect himself in your life.  On one thing you must be clear.  The life of Christ is one that is built upon His Word with absolute faith that He is true.  The sense realm of the natural man will always perceive this outer world as real.  The reality of who you are in Christ is said here in Romans 6:22-23, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Blessings,

#kent

Trust

January 29, 2020

 

Trust

 

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.   In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

 

Trust is the sense of confidence in that which we don’t fully know and understand.  In everyday life we put our trust in many things and never give it a second thought.  We trust our utilities will work, our car will take us where we want to go, an elevator will take us to the highest floor of a building and numerous other examples where trust is an everyday occurrence of our lives.  While we trust in so many things that man has made and even in the works of our own hands, we so often shrink back from trusting God?

I found it interesting that as I looked over the scriptures on trust, in a number of them it referred to God as a buckler, a shield, a mighty fortress.  “But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalms 73:28)”  “I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psalms 91:2)”  “O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield. (Psalms 115:9)” The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower. (Psalms 18:2)”  “[As for] God, his way [is] perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he [is] a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalms 18:30)” We begin to get a picture of how great our God is to defend those who trust Him.  Trust is simply the exercise of faith.  Faith is described in Ephesians 6:16 as a part of the believers armor designed for his defense, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

Some of us get the idea that because we are Christians and God loves us, He should just make our life bliss and take away all of our trials and troubles.  Some of us get discouraged when we begin to try and really walk in the things of God and find ourselves spiritually assaulted and so many natural things seem to start to come against us.  Our mighty God does not want to raise up a bunch of wimpy whiney children.  He is raising up a company and army of saints that have their hands trained in spiritual warfare, who know how to put on and apply their spiritual armor.  One of the foundational keys to overcoming and victory is “trust in God”.  It often takes a lot of repetitious exercise to train us not to trust in ourselves or in the arm of the flesh, but to trust in God.  Psalms118:8 instructs us, “[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”  Fear and unbelief are the natural enemies of faith and trust.  What makes trust hard for us is the fact that it causes us to step out of the comfort zone of having control and being safe in what we know, what we can see naturally and understand.  When we step out in full faith and confidence in God, it is often like jumping off a cliff. It is like a bird falling from the nest with untried and unproven wings.  That bird will never know to what heights he can soar until he first begins to flap and prove those wings that they will bear him up and not allow him to crash.  Deuteronomy 32:11-13 gives us a picture of this concerning the people of God, “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:  [So] the LORD alone did lead him, and [there was] no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.”

Our Father is taking us to places and heights we have not been before.  In order to go there we must trust Him.  Often that requires us to lay aside the security of our natural man as we partake of the adventure of faith.  Those who truly live in faith are never bored with life because they are on the cutting edge of what God is unfolding new and fresh in their lives everyday.  Trust is the challenge to overcome our fears, reservations and phobia.  It is God’s frontier and we are called of Him to come in and possess the land.  “Trust in God” is what pleases Him and moves His hand on our behalf.

Blessings,

#kent

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