Not About me, All About Him

November 15, 2019

Matthew 23:5-12

“Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

 

Not About me, All About Him

 

Which of us doesn’t like to be noticed, admired, complimented, liked and appreciated by others?  When a person goes into business, it is all about attention, being noticed and marketing your business to the public.  Most of our paradigm in this earth has focused around us and our persona.  How do others see us and receive us?  Are they impressed by us?  Do we have eye appeal?  Do we have a great personality?

Even in our religious and Christian circles how many of us want others to know we are something?   Being egotistical often masks itself as being spiritual.

Jesus comes along and just blows all of that out of the water.  We see the Pharisees for their religious arrogance and hypocrisy, but do we always see the Pharisee in us?  Do we consider what our true motives are when we are seen by others.  If we are seeking after position and titles then we are missing what it is to be the greatest in the kingdom of God.  When we get to heaven I’m kind of thinking we are going to be shocked by who is sitting in the front row, because most of them we will have never heard of or recognize.  They are the ones that got and understood the memo that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

When we become secure in our identity with who we are in Christ then it is no longer important what men think or say about us.  If we have our security in Papa then that is all that we need and that is all that is important.  When you are the servant nobody notices until they see and taste the fruit of your tree, then they know that they found the real deal.  That is how we want to live our lives, so that Christ is seen and not us.  When you humble yourself before the Lord, it is He that will exalt you.  It won’t be your education, your titles or your list of accomplishments. It will be because when men see you, they recognize Jesus.  They see a servant who doesn’t look down in judgement upon others, but gets under them to bear them up to heaven.  You don’t care if anybody sees the hours you spent in your prayer closet interceding for others or how you gave out of your need to meet a need in another.

James 1:27 says this, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

It is time we take our eyes off of us. Only then can we see the needs of others and how we can be a part of that solution.  Matthew 22:28 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  1 John 2:5-6 says, “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  If Jesus came as a servant to seek and save that which is lost then don’t we have the same mandate?  It’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Enemy of our Complacency

 

 

Luke 21:36

Be 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.”

 

Lately there has been a trumpet sounding in my spirit of which I am not fully responding to, as I ought.  One of the greatest tactical moves an enemy can have is the element of surprise.  We certainly saw this on 9/11 when a handful of men were able to hijack our planes and bring to pass such destruction and mayhem that not only the initial attack crippled and maimed lives, but the resounding ripples impacted every person in this country.  We, as the body of Christ, have fallen into that same kind of slumber and complacency.  We’ve hung our spiritual armor in the closet, kicked off our shoes of the preparation of the gospel and put our feet up as we watch and take in the spirit of this world that is desensitizing us and dulling us down to sin and moral corruption.  Those that are crying out against these things are labeled extremists and religious zealots.

If I can see this in my own life then I know it is typical of a majority of Christians in this nation and abroad.  The question we need to be asking and the response we need to be taking is, “What is God saying, what is the Spirit saying in this hour to the Church?”  The trumpet I am hearing sound is a general alarm for us to get off our spiritual couches and put on our armor.  Be prepared for the battle that is at hand.  It is a day of preparation and especially a time when we all need to attuned to the voice of God in our lives.

This is a day when we need to revisit the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, “1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Many of us have become drunk with the wine of this world and our spiritual senses have become dulled.  It is a day for us to encourage one another, to rouse each other up out of slumber and complacency and into a state of readiness.  Events and things are coming that will change the landscape or our daily lives.  The Lord is warning us that now is the time for preparation and not then.  When it is here it will be too late.

The Lord is sounding a trumpet in Zion, can your hear it?  Will you respond to it?  It is not a trumpet to fear, but to readiness, renewed commitment and diligence to relationship with our Lord.  It is to those that are abiding in Him, that dwell under the safety and shadow of the Most High.

One of our greatest enemies and dangers is our complacency.  We must wake up out of slumber and stupor.  In Matthew 13 where Jesus gives the parable of the wheat and the tares, He says they were both allowed to grow up together until the time of harvest.  This is the state we see the church in today.  It is a mixture of flesh and spirit.  I once heard it explained that these tares were like a plant called darnel.  It looks very much like wheat, but if you eat it, it will make you drowsy.  We must guard against a watered down gospel and a spirit of worldly acceptance.  It is a day to put on the whole armor of God that we may stand in the day of battle.  Christ has provided all that we need to defeat and undo the enemy.  Our problem is not a lack of spiritual weapons and power to overcome, for we operate from a place of victory and triumph in Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified) says, “But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere.   Our problem is that fact that the old identity of self is still at the forefront our thinking and behavior.  We must come to our awareness of our position in Christ and live and operate out of that position.  The scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5 encourages that we are to encourage one another and build each other up in our faith.  Let us be faithful to wake up to our faith and calling, as well as encouraging others to do likewise.  We are not the judges, but the watchmen of one another to keep and restore each other in the faith.

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:7-10)”

Blessings,

#kent

Appropriating God’s Power

October 1, 2019

Appropriating God’s Power

 

This morning as I was in prayer, I was struggling with a sense of powerlessness and impotency I so often feel in my daily walk to live out and exemplify the life and power of God.  Most of us no doubt struggle with that as we realize the potentially great power that is available to us in Christ, but how do we better appropriate it into and dispense it through our lives.

Rather than share my own material today, I will share with you an article from tobemorelikehim.com.  I don’t know the specific author, but I felt he shared some great principles and insights that would be helpful to all of us.

 

“GOD’S GREAT POWER WORKING IN US”

 

or

 

“AVAILABLE POWER FOR AVAILABLE PEOPLE”

 

(Ephesians 1:15-23)

 

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding been enlightened; that ye may know that is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

 

 

Elsewhere, I have called the prayer of Ephesians 1:17-19 “the prayer of the three ‘whats’.”  “I pray . . . that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what (are) the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power.”  The first and second, properly understood, are transcendent in their glory, but they mock us without the third.  In fact, the transcendant glory of the first two sharpens our doubt: “Could I ever hope to reach that?”  The third “what” answers our problem: the transcendent glory of the first two “what’s” is to be experienced and implemented only by the power of God! 

 

The three “whats” of Paul’s great prayer presuppose that man has very real problems that cannot be answered, very great needs that cannot be met, except through the answer to this prayer.  One of these problems is the problem of man’s insufficiency, man’s impotence, man’s inadequacy.  This problem immobilizes men everywhere, and Christians are no exception.  If they never realize the power of God and appropriate it into their lives, they will be as powerless as lost people.  Indeed, a candid examination of the church will show that Christians are often as fearful and as impotent, if not more so, than the lost world around them.  Christians, though without excuse, succumb to the external pressures of the world, the internal pressures of the flesh, and the infernal pressures of the devil, just like lost people do.  So Paul is praying that Christians will have the eyes of their hearts opened and flooded with spiritual illumination that they might “know by seeing” the greatness of the Divine power that is available to them.

 

But is this power truly available to a believer in Christ, and is it equally available to all believers?.  What kind of power is Paul speaking of?  How is it available to each believer?  How is it manifested in our experience?  Paul seems to address such questions as these in this great statement about the power of God.

 

 

  1. THE WORDS THAT EXPRESS THIS POWER

 

First, we must study the words which Paul uses in verse 19 to express God’s power.  No single word is sufficient to describe the power of God.  So Paul borrows several words from the vocabulary of dynamics to describe the power which God employs on our behalf.  He marshals an impressive array of words in one verse to define and describe God’s power.  Paul seems to be straining at the leash of language to picture God’s power.  Even though he was moved by Divine inspiration, Paul was taxed to find words to express the indescribable power of which he was writing.  As someone has said, the words seem to bend under the weight of a giant idea.

 

The four root words he uses for God’s power are dunamis,  energeia,  kratos, and ischos.  Though there are many dimensions to these four Greek words, they essentially define outward and active power (dunamis); the efficient working of energy (energeia); the mastery that rules and subdues (kratos); and inner, residing power (ischos).  Commentator Dale Moody said that “dunamis is the general word that includes the totality of the other three, energeia is the power as it goes forth in action, kratos is the power applied to the task and accomplishing it, and ischos is inherent power.” These words are like ocean billows that keep sweeping in upon the beach of our minds with new content.  No wonder that the English Bible calls it “God’s mighty power”!  And this power became ours (both actually and potentially) when we became Christians!  It came into our possession through the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but it must be translated from potential to practice through our full and regular dependence upon the Holy Spirit at every moment of our lives.

 

I have before me a Bible that is loaded with study notes that have resulted from my own personal Bible study.  If you were to receive my Bible, you would receive all the notes that are in it, too.  When you received the Person of Jesus Christ into your life, you received His power, also.  But just as you would have to exploit the use of the notes in my Bible before they could be beneficial to you, you must exploit the power He has given before it can be beneficial to you.  And it must be exploited on His terms, not yours or mine.

 

Several years ago, while a Rose Parade was in progress preceding the Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, California, a brightly decorated flower-covered parade float suddenly stopped, halting the movement of all the vehicles behind it.  Mechanics worked feverishly to discover the problem.  It was discovered that the vehicle was out of gas.  To make matters worse, the float was sponsored by a major oil company!  Those who had the most fuel available, and knew best how to deploy it, had simply failed to appropriate that fuel to their own need.  We will say more about this in the final point of this message, but this is often true of Christians today.  Even while on parade, and while advertising the available power, they may themselves not use, or abuse, or misuse, that power. 

 

  1. THE WORKS THAT EXPOSE THIS POWER

 

Second, we will examine the works that Paul mentions to reveal God’s mighty power.  The works, respectively, are the resurrection, ascension, and exaltation of  Christ.  That Jesus Christ was enlivened from the dead, elevated to the heavenlies, and exalted above all, are demonstrations of God’s mighty power, the power that is active in the lives of Christian believers.

 

Each of these is a demonstration of the kind of power that has been made available to every  believer.  The three great facts about Christ that are stated here present the pattern-works of the power that is operating in all Christians.  Look at Jesus as He was and where He was, then lift your eyes and look at Him where He is.  The kind of power that brought Him from where He was to where He is, is the kind of power that is available to every believer.

 

The power that made the greatest change for Jesus was resurrection power, and the same is true of us.  Now, resurrection power is different; it is not like any other power.  It isn’t the power of a strong personality nor of an educated mind.  It isn’t the power of a good family background nor of money, numbers, or leadership ability.  It is the power that raised Christ from the dead and thus is able to bring life out of death.  Resurrection power works best in a cemetery atmosphere where death reigns (cf. Ephesians 2:1).  I repeat, resurrection works best in a graveyard!  If you are living in the spiritual and moral equivalent of a cemetery, if everything around you is dead and dull and lifeless, you need this power.  Indeed, if everything within you is dead toward God, it is this resurrection power which is necessary to save you and give you His Life.

 

Resurrection power is not deterred or defeated by obstacles or impossibilities.  Furthermore, resurrection power requires no outside support.  It needs no vote of confidence.  It can operate alone, completely alone, if necessary.  And it makes no noise or display.  Publicity is not necessary to support resurrection power; it supplies its own publicity.  When resurrection occurs, it combines all lesser miracles—the healing of the blind, the deaf, the crippled, etc.  When a person is dead (the major condition), he is also blind, deaf, etc. (minor symptoms).  When the major condition is corrected, the lesser symptoms are corrected, also.

 

The same power is required to convert a sinner which is demanded in raising the dead (cf. 1:20 & 2:1); indeed, the regeneration of a sinner is a resurrection from the dead.

 

Also, the power that is available to every Christian today is a reigning power.  “God seated Jesus at His own right hand in the heavenlies,” the text says.  The Person who was treated like a criminal on earth was elevated by God to the throne of the universe.  His redemptive work was finished.  He had defeated sin, death and Satan.  Verse 21 tells us that He is elevated “far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion”– whatever else these words mean, they certainly mean that He is far above any power that may be considered.  The leaders of this world, the leaders of the underworld, Satanic forces, demonic hordes, good angels and bad—He is above them all.  And the power that accomplished His elevation is resident in us!

 

Paul ascends toward his climax and conclusion when he says, “God has put all things in subjection under His feet.”  Jesus walks over everything you and I fear, and what Jesus walks over, we don’t have to walk under.  If you are in His Body, you are at least as high as the feet, because the feet are the lowest parts of the body.  And He has put everything under His feet!  People have been known to pay unbelievable amounts of money to sit beside someone whom they think to be great.  Christian, what should we think of our seat of privilege, power, purpose, etc., with Christ in the heavenlies (see Ephesians 2:5-6)?

 

So the resurrection, ascension and exaltation are the pattern-works that reveal the kind of power that is available to believers in Christ.  But the question still remains: How is this power activated in our lives?

 

III. THE WAY TO EXPERIENCE THIS POWER

 

According to verse 18, each believer can “know” this power. There is a specified way to receive God’s power.  Two ideas are brought to mind:  (1) Christians must know this power if they are to be a credit to the  God who has saved them.  Remind yourself again that no Christian can live the Christian life or perform as a Christian is supposed to perform in his own power.  In his own strength, any Christian is too feeble for the conflict he is called upon to engage in.  His understanding is too limited.  His heart is too cold.  Trying to be a mature, loving, serving human being on God’s terms while using only human energy is like trying to power a luxury cruise liner with two “C” batteries.  No Christian can live the true Christian life with such a limited, inherently deficient, power source.

 

In his useful book, A Guide to Spiritual Success, Pastor Tony Evans declares this truth by means of this illustration:

 

Suppose you went to Sears and purchased a new refrigerator, the top of the line.  This model has all the bells and whistles and cost you a hefty $6,000.  On your way home you stop at your local grocery store to purchase the food for your new appliance. Later that afternoon your refrigerator is delivered and installed, and you fill it with all the goodies you purchased – your favorite chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate milk, and fresh corn on the cob.  You retire for the night, but when you come into the kitchen the next morning, you experience the shock of your life.  Ice cream is all over the floor!  The milk is sour, and the vegetables are changing color!  It is quickly evident that your brand new, top-of-the-line refrigerator isn’t working!  Angry and disgusted you call Sears to give them a piece of your “Christian mind” for selling you a dud.  The salesperson who sold you the refrigerator is aghast at the news.  He asks you to pull open the freezer door to see if the light comes on.  You do so.  No light.  He then asks you to put your ear to the bottom of the refrigerator to see if you hear the low hum of the motor.  You do so.  No hum.  Finally, he asks you to look behind the refrigerator and see if the electrical cord has been plugged in.  You do so.  Lo and behold the cord is lying on the floor, unplugged!  You return to the phone and inform the salesman that the refrigerator is unplugged but that shouldn’t matter.  You argue that for $6,000 it should work—plugged in or not!  The salesman then explains a very important principle to you – namely, refrigerators are dependent appliances.  They were never made to work on their own. They are built with certain specifications that can only be realized when they have been energized by the power of electricity.  While all the necessary parts are there, they will not work until they get the necessary electrical juice to enable them to be and do what they were created to do.  In this regard, Christians are like appliances.  We are dependent creatures.  When you receive Christ as Savior, He gives you the requisite parts necessary for you to live a victorious Christian life.  But you will not be able to do so until you are plugged into God’s power source, the Holy Spirit.

 

As Pastor Evans said, each Christian is like machinery that stands idle until the electric current is turned on.  When  it is, power is released into the working parts.  Great forces are then set in motion.  When we recognize and receive the power that God waits to release in and through us, our lives will be powerful and productive for Him.  But how?  How do we receive this power?  Not by intellectual perception alone, but by contact and relationship.  This is “acquaintance power,” thus it is character power, not cataclysmic power.

 

(2) Christians may know this power, and the means of appropriation is faith.  Paul tells us in verse 19 that this power is exercised by God “toward us who believe.”  Note that Paul places himself on an equal footing beside his Ephesian brothers and sisters.  So this power is not exclusive or elite power.  It is available (& necessary) for even the simplest believer.  The key word in this verse is the word “believe.”  “Faith” is the noun, and “believe” is the verb, and both convey the same idea.  Following the “machinery” analogy of the previous paragraph, faith is the “switch” we push to release the power of God in and through our lives.  Doubt, fear, and skepticism will short-circuit that power in us.  It is available to faith alone, and must be appropriated by faith alone.  So it is essential that we understand what faith is.

 

Faith is the faculty of taking God into the heart and accommodating Him there.  Faith is God-receptiveness.  Faith appropriates the nature of God into the human heart, and enables Him to transform the believer’s character and conduct (I John 4:8).   Faith, like a narrow channel, conveys God’s ocean fullness into the lagoons of human need.

 

If you should take a boat up the Nile River to central Egypt, you would often see simple farmers with homemade irrigation devices, lifting water from the Nile by buckets affixed on a horizontal pole, which in turn is affixed atop a vertical pole.  As the horizontal pole is rotated, each bucket is filled with the water of the Nile and is manually revolved to be emptied into the ditches of the farmer’s field.  So the mighty Nile River fills an irrigation ditch!  Even so, through the simple “irrigating” device of man’s receptive faith, the mighty power of God will flow into and through a Christian.

 

The late great pastor and author Ray Stedman has this paragraph in one of his books:

 

“I’ve been doing a bit of electrical work in an addition to my home, and I’ve discovered that electricity follows a pattern of its own and takes no notice of how I feel at the moment.  That can be a shocking experience!  Electricity is not in the slightest degree impressed with my position as a pastor of Peninsula Bible Church. It doesn’t hesitate to retaliate for any violation of its laws that I commit.  It is up to me to discover how it works, and then to respect it if I want to use it.”

 

The same is true of God’s great power.  It will remain totally indifferent to me and aloof from me if I don’t discover what it is, what the laws of its operation are, and how to adjust myself to those laws and thus to receive His power.  But if I do learn the “laws” of the Holy Spirit’s operation and adapt myself to Him by means of those “laws,” I can experience His power and can be a channel through which it flows into the world.

 

So each Christian is not only to be a point of reception of God’s power; he is also to be a point of release for God’s power.  According to verse 15, Christians are not storage batteries for God’s power as much as they are relay stations for it.   “According to your faith be it unto you.”  You can (will) have all the power of God that you will   make room for.  The only limit is the capacity of your faith.  Wherever faith links the believer to the  Lord Jesus, His nature begins to flow in to the waiting, expectant heart, and then to flow out toward all the saints and toward the surrounding world of lost people.  May God grant that more and more of His people will awaken to their privileges and their responsibilities with regard to God’s mighty power.

Blessings,

#kent

Divine Health

September 25, 2019

 

Divine Health

 

Isaiah 53:5

But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

 

There are a spectrum of beliefs about divine healing across Christendom today, ranging from it doesn’t exist to every aspect of health is a matter of faith.  It is not the intent to debate these points, but to communicate what the Word of God has to say on this subject and how the Holy Spirit would help us to believe and appropriate it’s truths.

Most of us, as believers in Christ, if indeed we are believers, have no problem accepting by faith that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. We embrace by faith in Him that He has washed away our sins, casting them as far as the East is from the West, into the sea of forgetfulness, never to be remembered anymore.  I dare say many of us probably struggle more with forgiving ourselves than God does with forgiving us.  This is probably true of the aspect of our healing as well.  If indeed we believe in the cross and the power of Christ to forgive our sins and the truth that we are saved by His grace.  If we can truly believe that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus as the Word declares we are then we can no more deny the other aspects of our salvation.  Isaiah, written hundreds of years before the crucifixion of Christ, prophesies very accurately of this great act of sacrifice and salvation that would come through our Christ.  Part of that salvation encompasses divine healing as our scripture today indicates.  If we don’t want to believe that, then we can make attempts to explain it away as we do with other passages that don’t fit our theology, but the fact is ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).’

God in his covenant with Israel, when He was about to bring them into the promise land, in Exodus 15:26, He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”  If this promise was true of the old covenant how much more so by the new covenant of Christ blood?  The Word of God bears witness that our God is a healing God, healing us physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou [art] my praise.”  David says of the Lord in Psalms 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” He shows how health and salvation are tied closely together.

Now some of you may be saying, “well I prayed and God didn’t heal me”.  Why, because you don’t see the evidence of it?  You believe that you are saved, do you see yourself fully walking without sin and in the full manifest nature of Christ?   This is probably not the case.  We have the foretaste of the Spirit, but it’s fullness we still await.  What can take place in the spiritual realm is not always immediately revealed in the natural realm.  This is where we struggle, because we have to see it to believe it.  Treat your healing as you do your salvation.  If you do not doubt that Christ can and has saved you, then accept and receive healing the same way.  Praise and thank Him for what He has done, not just what you see with the natural eye.

1 Peter reiterates what Isaiah says in 1Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” As much as the nails purchased our salvation, those stripes paid for our healing.  How God works in this area is varied and different.  We can’t put God in a box and regulate his miraculous working with a magic formula, God is God and He works all things after the council of His will and purpose.  This we do know, God is healing and raising people up from sickness and even death, every day.  What He has done for others, He can do for you.  Lay hold of His Word, confess, believe and rest in His promises.  He is the Lord your God that heals you.  May our health trials be but the greater motivation to praise Him, to remember and declare all the areas of His faithfulness.  The greater our pain, the higher our praise as we declare the light of His truth in the face of our darkness.  The victory is won in the heavenlies, before it is revealed in the earth.  God is faithful to see you through.

Blessings,

#kent

Born Free

September 20, 2019

 

Born Free

 

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 

When we were born again, we were born into a freedom.  The blood of Christ and this salvation, that we richly partake of, washed our debt to sin away.  We were set at liberty from the bondage and stronghold of sin.  Colossians 1:12-14 tells us, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:” What is more is that it has set us free from the law and the ordinances that have served as our condemnation and taskmaster in that our flesh was weak and inept in keeping them.  Romans 8:3 tells us,  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” Now we know that Christ did not set us free for us to come again under the bondage of sin and we also know that we could not accomplish righteousness by the works of the law and the strength of the flesh.  Romans 8:4-8 goes on to explain how we do walk in righteousness, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Our liberation then is obtained and lived out not by our strength or our goodness, but by a whole new mindset that is dependent, reliant and fully yielded to the Spirit of God.  While laws and the enforcement of them may keep order in a society for fear of the consequences, they do not in themselves have the power to change the heart and intent of a person.  Only the Spirit of God can do that as a person yields oneself to His in-working power.

Now the fleshly-minded man is prone to think, “well, if I’m not under the law then I am free to do as I desire and please.”  That is not the mind of the Spirit.  Romans 8:10 says, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” Here again the mind of the Spirit is not to fulfill the desires of the body; that is dead.  Rather, the mind of the Spirit is to perpetuate righteousness in us, which is life.  Romans 6:1-4 tells us, “1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  When we come to Christ we should have come to the revelation that entanglement again in sin is not freedom, but putting ourselves again into bondage.  Now it can be pretty liberating to think that if I am no longer under the law, then all things are lawful for me.  Paul puts that thought into perspective in 1 Corinthians 6:12 by telling us, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  Our freedom is maintained as we walk in the Spirit.  When we fail to walk in that place we become fleshly-minded, at enmity or enemies with God, and become subject to the law and it’s consequences of judgement.  Our freedom is maintained in Christ.  In that place we walk in the liberty of the Spirit, even as Christ did in His day.  Concerning the law, He said, ” Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17).”  Romans 3:31 reiterates this by saying, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  We, as Christ did, establish the law, not by living under it, but by it’s righteousness living through us.  Hebrews 10:16-18 says,” This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering for sin.”  We have been born again as the Lord’s free men.  Free to live by the Spirit, through His power and grace working in us, to live unto righteousness to the glory of His name and for His purpose.

Blessings,

#kent

Ethics of the Kingdom

September 18, 2019

Luke 3:7-14

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10″What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told

them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

 

Ethics of the Kingdom

 

It is interesting to see here that John the Baptist’s message was not unlike Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount.  John was already teaching practical kingdom principles of behavior and conduct.  People from different walks of life were asking John what they needed to do after they had repented of their sins and been baptized.

We, as the body of Christ, transformed by the power of Christ, still often find ourselves in a quandary concerning our business, financial and ethical dealings.  We most often work in the midst of the world around us and can easily be influenced and adopt those paradigms and business practices that are not kingdom.  Human nature is to normally do what best benefits you.  Am I right?

Kingdom living principles are well expressed in Philippians 2:1-11.  “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We can easily see that kingdom principles run counter to the competitive, ‘dog eat dog’ world that we live in today.  The principles of the world are self-serving, but the principles of Christ are considering the interest of others before myself.  If we want to know and see kingdom principles in action we need to go no further than to look at the King Himself.  He was everything, yet came to us as nothing, that He might impart unto us all the riches of His kingdom.  I’ll never forget hearing what a speaker said many years ago that summarized it so well.  “The Son of God became the Son of man, so that the son’s men could become the sons of God.”  Jesus could have come to make Himself rich and powerful, but that wasn’t His mission.  His mission was to seek and save that which was lost and give His life as a ransom for all.  In that mission He is redeeming a kingdom of kings and priests that will display His likeness and glory.  As we walk in discipleship and relationship with Christ we are putting on His nature as His character is being worked within us.

I feel convicted that the Holy Spirit wants each of us to examine which paradigm and mindset we may be operating under.  How often do we use the devices, manipulation, and wisdom of this world for our own gain, while we often ignore what is in the best interests of others?  For many of us, our method of operation (MO) has become so instilled in us that we aren’t even aware of how we may be very similar in doing the same things these tax collectors and soldiers were doing before they came to repentance.  Many of us don’t really consider how much we still operate out of worldly principles, because it is the way of the marketplace.  Now, He wants us to observe ourselves and consider if we, as a kingdom people, are operating our lives and businesses out of kingdom principles?  Let’s ask Him to put His finger on the areas we are out of alignment with His will as we prayerfully go about our business.

Especially in these difficult times it is hard not to be concerned about the bottom line, but we know that there is a higher road to greater blessing.  Let us consider our ways and turn toward it.

Blessings,

#kent

Joy Cometh in the Morning

September 13, 2019

 

Joy Cometh in the Morning

 

Psalms 30:5

For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

 

Where is your life spiritually today?  Would you characterize it as nighttime or daytime?  Most all of us, who have been walking in Christ for a time, know that we go through seasons in a spiritual sense.  There are times we go through such close intimate times with our Lord and sense His presence and love in such a wonderful way and then there are those nighttime experiences.  It may come as a result of allowing sin to come into our lives.  It may be the result of God’s chastening or dealings in our lives.  It may be through persecution or tribulation.   Whatever the reason it is nighttime experience, one in which we fail to sense God’s presence in our soul.  Our prayers may seem hollow and of none effect.  These are times when spiritually we cry out for God, perhaps it is in these times we really begin to seek God’s help, His presence, His deliverance through a trial or tribulation we are facing.  There are times our lives can feel pretty bleak.  Our circumstances are overtaking us.  Where is God?

King David experienced this nighttime ordeal before He became King.  Psalm 30:7-9 says, ”

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”  Perhaps you and I have prayed prayers similar to this.  One thing that is so admirable about David and I think a spiritual key to us overcoming in these dark times is that David, no matter how low, remembered the goodness and the faithfulness of GodHe continually brought God’s promises and His benefits before the Lord in his prayers and psalms.   And he never ceased to praise and thank God even in those dark times.  He was quite honest with God about what he was going through and the emotions that wanted to overtake him, but he always brought his thoughts and focus back to a place of faith in the faithfulness of God.  We may go through some long nights that may go for years, but learn those principles that David learned.  They will sustain you in those times. David even says an interesting thing in this passage, he says, ” by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face.”  Have you ever thought of your mountain as favor from God?  Remember that what God is allowing in your life is designed to press you into Him.  He wants us to learn and trust Him for who He is, not what He can do for us.  This is the place of maturing faith where the rubber meets the road.  God has to become very real to us or we give up and turn away.  God is processing us through the hardships of our life.   “The trial of your faith is much more precious than Gold” (1 Peter 1:7a)

In this scripture David says “joy does come in the morning”, our trials, darkness and seeming separation from God won’t last forever.  He is faithful to bring us through if we faithfully hold fast to Him.  David’s next expression after talking of how severe the trial says, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

If you are in your night season, don’t be discouraged, have hope, God has not forsaken you.  He is proving you and bringing you into whom you really are in Him.  Stand the test, stay the course, for joy comes in the morning

Blessings,

#kent

Our Balanced Position

September 10, 2019

 

Our Balanced Position

 

Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

All of us know what an old wooden wagon wheel looks like with a hub and spokes that extend out to the outer wheel.  We also know that in order for that wheel to be round and true, all of those spokes have to be of equal length and strength.  If any of those spokes were broken, or too short or too long then our wheel would be out of round and lopsided.   God’s character, truth and provision are much the same way in the way we perceive it and incorporate it into our lives.  Many of the more mature Christians reading this can look back over their walk and probably identify times and areas of their lives that were out of balance.  Many of us have areas in our lives like that right now, but may not even realize it.  Many times when God brings us into the revelation of a truth, it is like this is the greatest thing God could ever do and we take off running with new revelation as it were the whole package in itself.  The reality is that it is a spoke of Truth and not the whole wheel.  It is in these times that we tend to get out of balance, as we are more extreme in one area than another.  Many of our denominations are built and operate out of this premise that we have more of a truth or revelation of God than another does.

We could debate about what is the greatest gifts of the Spirit, or what is the greatest area of ministry or who is the greatest in the body of Christ, or what is the greatest truth of God’s word.  The truth is simply that it is ‘the one most needed at the time’.  All of God’s truth, provisions, the attributes that distinguish His character, whether it is as our savior, healer, provider, deliverer, strength, protector, and all that God encompasses is contained in the hub of who He is.  God is a never-ending circle of completion and fulfillment of all our need.  We don’t have “needs”.  We have one need and that is for our God.  If we possess God and He possesses us then all of our need is supplied according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Wherever we lack in our natural man, our God can supply that need.  Whenever that wagon wheel runs over a rock or bump that tries to compress that wheel by bringing specific pressure to bear, all of the spokes work together to provide strength and unity to provide that the wheel retains its roundness.

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 it says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” We see that there are many diversities in the Spirit, but the Spirit is the one they all originate from and the “manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”  From this analogy it is not hard to see how each of us are like the spokes in the wheel of God’s body.  As we operate out of the Spirit we all supply one another’s needs according to the gift that God has given us.  Each one of us is essential and important in the economy of God.  If we are failing to live in the destiny and purpose of God for our lives then we are throwing things out of balance.  Needs may not be met because we are the missing link and spoke to carry out God’s purpose and plan.  The balance in our walk and in our faith is seeing that all of God’s truth is essential as God’s Word and power is being made alive and having expression, through us His body.  As we dwell in the Spirit of unity and love, everyone’s need is met; balance is complete as we realize that all parts are needed to complete the whole.   “Our God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Place of Loss

September 9, 2019

Job 1:20-22

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

 

 

The Place of Loss

 

 

A very real and painful part of life is sometimes losing the things we have most loved.   Loss has many faces.  It can be a loved one, a marriage, a child, a job, a dream, health, possessions or a loss of an identity in who we thought we were or what we thought we had.  Loss has many faces, but when it touches those areas in our heart that are most dear, it is most painful.

As Christians we are certainly not immune from the experience of loss.  We know how we view loss, but how does God view lose and why does He allow it to touch our lives. Often the losses in our lives, though painful, are necessary to make way for the new chapters that are yet to be written and the purposes that are yet to be fulfilled.

We are line of sight people operating primarily out of what we can see immediately before us.  We don’t have the wisdom and council of God to see the end from the beginning and know why things had to happen as they did.  In our shallow minds and the infancy of our understanding we often become angry and disillusioned with God.  We begin to believe the enemy’s lies that He is against us and not for us.  We begin to believe that perhaps our faith is a sham and we have just become the laughing stock of all who look upon our lives.  Perhaps all we can see is failure, disappointment and loss.

What do you think Job saw when all that he loved and cared for was taken from him in a day and then even his own body was brought into immense suffering.  Here is a man that didn’t have the Word of God to go too or the revelation of Christ to lean on and yet when he lost everything he fell to the ground and worshipped.  “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”  Can we and have we done the same in our loss?  Is our loss of greater value to us than our relationship with Father?

No, we don’t understand.  Job didn’t understand, but understanding isn’t essential to maintaining our faith.  In fact, it is in the times that we least understand that we must have the greatest faith.

Joseph didn’t understand when he was given dreams and visions of God of greatness and then his own brothers sold him into slavery where things went from bad to worse and he ultimately ends up in prison through false accusations.  Now if someone had a right to be bitter, it was probably him.  All he had tried to do is be a man of integrity and faithful to His God and look where it got him.  Yet when we get to end of the story we see how God turned what was intended for evil into what was good; fulfilling a divine purpose through Joseph’s loss.  Often in our lives our losses are not what they seem and they are not about God being against us, punishing us or forsaking us.  It is often our losses that are the preparation for what God wants to bring us into.  Before He can reveal the greater He often must take away a lesser.

This is to encourage you today if you are in that place of loss and disappointment.  Your plans and dreams may be shattered, but the dreams and purposes that God has for you are not.  If you trust Him, lean upon and give your losses to Him; He can take your losses and make them the place of your ministry. your victory and your purpose in God’s kingdom.  Pain often paves the road for a path that we would have never traveled on our own and a vision that we could have never fulfilled without it.  No matter what your loss, never lose your faith and confidence in God.  He is for you and not against you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”  Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings,

#kent

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

 

Trivial words fade quickly from the hearing,

as does the familiarity of life from our memory.

When that which is trivial and familiar is passed away,

is there the substance of faith and reality to take its place?

When all that is known, becomes unknown,

and the life we’ve known comes tumbling down,

is our foundation strong to build again upon

those things which can not be moved, eternally sound?

Heaven and earth will pass away,

but God’s Word will always remain.

He is the confidence that anchors our hope,

when all else is stripped from its context and frame.

 

When Life gets Turned Upside-down

 

There can come a time in our life, and it may have already occurred in yours, when either naturally of supernaturally our world, as we know it, falls apart.  All that was familiar and comfortable becomes unhinged and discomfited.  We may lose our career, a loved one passes, we are bankrupted, our children run away or get in trouble; there are multitude of ways our life can get turned upside down.  While those transitions in life are rarely desirable, they may put to the test all that we have lived and believed.  All of sudden all the beliefs that we had neatly folded in our box become dumped out and the very fabric of all that we called faith is tested.  In those moments of turmoil we may be desperately trying to find God in the midst and thick of it.

“How could He let this happen?”  “Why?” ” Where are you God?”

It is probably much the way Job felt when satan was allowed to touch his life in almost every area.  If we live in our natural mind and reasoning, then all we can see and comprehend are our natural circumstances.  We may have grown so accustomed to the blessings of God that we thought we were immune to the trials of life, but God never promised us a life without trials.  Satan’s purpose through the trials might be to kill, steal and destroy.  Most of all, he wants you to doubt God’s love and faithfulness, so that you would turn from God and count Him unfaithful.  He wants to steal your identity in Christ.

We have to ask ourselves, in the story we see of Job, what was God heart and His ultimate purpose in allowing such calamity, pain and devastation in Job’s life?  In the end it gave Job a greater revelation of God in His holiness and majesty.  In the end, because Job retained his integrity and faith, God promoted him to a place of priesthood where he was interceding and making sacrifice for his accusers and fault-finders and he was brought into a double portion of all that he formerly had, as great as that already was.

Father isn’t out to make us fail or to make our lives miserable, but out of pain is often birthed a greater blessing that can bring us up higher into Him.  We won’t always understand its purpose at the time and it may feel like God has totally abandoned and forsaken us, but He is causing us flex our faith, not our intellect or natural abilities.  He is causing us to trust Him in what we can’t see.  Our response should be to bless the Lord in those times, not to curse Him and turn away.  Even Job, without the Word of God to draw upon, had a revelation of this truth in his heart.

Job 1:21-22 says that after Job heard of all that had come upon his property and family, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Will that be our response if and when our world is turned upside down?  These will be the times when the true metal of our faith will be tested.  It may be so bad, we don’t think it could be any worse and then it gets worse and it continues to get worse, but God never ceases to be God or to sit upon the throne.  If we truly know Him, He will be the anchor in the storm that keeps us from running aground on the rocks of circumstances and unbelief.  He is still there in the boat with us as we are weathering our storm and it may seem He is asleep in the hull of the boat and oblivious to all that is happening around us.  We may be crying out, “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?”.

Just remember if you perish, Christ perishes with you, because He is in you.  In those times, can you still remember who you are, “IN CHRIST”?   Circumstances can change, but God’s word doesn’t change and Jesus doesn’t  change.  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  You are anchored to eternity in Him.  Even if your outward man would perish, you have a building, a tabernacle made by God, eternal in the heavens.

What we must have as saints of God, is an immovable faith and trust that can not be shaken by heaven or hell.  A faith so grounded in Christ that even when our mind can’t wrap itself around it and our reason fails us, our faith remains steadfast and firm.  Either God is who He says He is or we have believed in vain.

There may be or come times in our life when nothing makes sense.  That is when faith in God’s Word is your anchor.  We may be in total disorientation and vertigo, but just as a pilot in darkness and storm must rely upon his instruments to give him bearing and orientation, so we must do with the Word of God.  We can’t trust our senses, our feelings or even our intellect; to do so could prove fatal.  God’s Word must remain the anchor of our soul, because we know that even though all else would pass away, God’s Word remains and He is ever faithful.

Blessings,

#kent

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