The Spirit of Mourning

January 17, 2020

 

The Spirit of Mourning

 

Matthew 5:3-12

Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth

Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

When we as the people of God approach the presence of God in prayer there is an attitude that we should bring with us.  This attitude works in and out of the prayer closet, but it is an attitude that Jesus lays out for those of us that receivs the blessing o f God.  These are the “BE” Attitudes.  It is a condition of the heart that is in right standing or coming into right relationship with the Lord.  There is an attitude of heart that prepares us for God’s presence and working in our lives.

We have talked about how we enter into the presence of God with the attitude of praise, worship, rejoicing and thanksgiving.  Yet here Jesus is saying, “Blessed are they that mourn: they shall be comforted.”  This is a specific area that the Lord wants to deal with today.  Why do we mourn, lament, wail and are sorrowful?   For many of us, we come by this naturally through the brokeness and disappointments of life.  There is no doubt that there are those who are reading this today who are inwardly grieving and broken.  The hurts of this present world and life’s circumstance are heavy upon your heart and you have come with this attitude of mourning before the Lord.  Central in the heart of Jesus and the ministry of Christ to His people, was the broken-hearted.  Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound.”  It is interesting that the ministry of the Christ was addressed to many of the attitudes, which are addressed here in Matthew 5.   Jesus is very compassionate and is there to put His arms around those whose spirits have been broken and mourn in the natural sense.

There is another reason for mourning and it deals with our spiritual condition.  When we come to a real revelation of ourselves in the light of God’s holiness and calling we can truly be undone.  Some of us have never really come to that place where we have fully comprehended our state of wretchedness and depravity outside of God and His righteousness.  If we have then we know what it is to mourn spiritually.  Many of us know the element of grieving that we carry daily because of our sin and failures in fully walking in uprightness and purity.  We know what it is to be poor in spirit, because we realize how utterly bankrupt we are in ourselves.  Until we have a true revelation of this in our spirits, we will continue on, thinking somehow there is some good or righteousness in us outside of Christ.  A revelation of the true state of our heart and being will make way for the Holy Spirit to really perform His daily work of grace in us.  As we despair of all that is of ourselves and cling and long for the Lord to move and work in all of the areas of our lives that are not subject to His Lordship.  Many of as Christians may have once experienced this, but now we have grown complacent in our lifestyles that cater so much to our flesh and natural man.  Jesus gives us warning in Luke 6:24-26, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”  It is imperative that our heart remains in a right and prostrate attitude toward the Lord.  When we cease to fear and reverence Him, when we become lifted up in ourselves, then we set ourselves on a course of separation rather than reconciliation toward the Lord.  Again James 4:4-10 exhorts us, “4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Today the Lord is concerned with our posture and attitude towards Him.  It is hard for all of us who live in these prosperous times and in the country that we do, not to be caught up in a lot of its ways.  The Lord is clear that we will mourn either in a spirit of repentance or in judgement.  This is a day we must get right within our hearts towards the Lord.  It is a day to mourn over the place we are missing and failing our Lord in our commitment and lives for Him.  It is a day to draw near to Him in brokeness, contriteness of heart and mourning of our sin.  “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Sweet Fragrance of His Beloved

 

Song of Songs 5:1

I am come into my garden, my sister, [my] spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved

 

Recently I had the privilege of photographing a Praise and Worship session that is held once a week during the noon hour.  It is a time when saints gather for no other reason than to just praise and worship their Redeemer.  People come from all different denominations and background and from great distances just for this one sweet hour a week.  While I normally attend as a participant, this day I was in the place of the observer and I think I caught a glimpse of what Jesus must see.  These people don’t come to show off their spirituality.  There is no pretence, pride or thought about themselves.  They are there solely for Jesus, to glorify, honor and magnify Him.  You know that many of them are no doubt going through trials and hurts in their lives, but these outward things only press upon them to bring out the fragrance of love, dependence, and surrender as they lift up their hearts before the Lord.

It was like walking through the Lord’s Garden where the Spirit of the Lord was.  It has to be so precious to Him when His saints gather for no other reason than relationship with Him and a corporate expression of worship.   There must be such a sweet fragrance and incense that arises from that place to the nostrils of the Almighty.   How our Lord must be moved to love as He sees the heart of the Bride for Him.  When you behold the faces, the expressions, the postures, uplifted hands and the bowed down hearts, you see the true spirit of worship.  It is the release of our spirits unto Him, unashamedly and without pretense or guile.  It is a pure and holy thing.  It is a garden that the Lord can walk in and partake of the sweetness and goodness thereof.  There He can gather the myrrh and the spices.  There He can see the living sacrifices of lives that love Him wholly and completely.  There He can partake of the spiritual fruit, honeycomb with His honey and can drink of the wine of communion with His Beloved as He has relationship with Her.  There, true communion is experienced, as the many pieces become one loaf, one body and expression.  There the sweet wine of His blood is remembered and experienced as that blood is reverenced and so appreciated by the partakers and participants in that place.  Truly it is a garden set apart for the Lord’s honor as His presence is invited into His temple.

True saints of God are so hungry for this place and experience in their spiritual lives.  We enter into it on a personal level, but when a body of like-minded and hearted people can come together for that one purpose of expressing a pure corporate love back to Him you have a precious thing that is rare in the earth.  People come there from literally all nations and countries of the world, because they are so hungry to come into a pure expression of worship where they are one in spirit and purpose and there is no other agenda than lifting up the matchless name of Jesus.  This is the atmosphere where God can birth something out of Spirit and Truth.  This has to be a delight and sweet fragrance to Him.  So much of our religious experience is about putting our eyes on men, about us being entertained and inspired.  It is more about us than about Him.  What happens when the worship leader is yielded to the Holy Spirit and as the Spirit of God increases in that place, he decreases so that the Lord has sole possession of that gathering?  Oh, how we have needed this kind of worship experience for so long and this type of experience needs to fill our land and the whole world.  This is the garden where the Lord hears the love song of the Bride as she lifts up her lovesick voice to Him and expresses her deep passion and groaning within her spirit for Him.  This is the Song of Songs and the love story between our Lord and His beloved Bride.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Will and the Way of God

 

1 Chronicles 15:2

Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.

 

There is a story in 1 Chronicles that tells us of David’s desire and zeal to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.  Here in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10 we read about his first attempt and see that not only was it unsuccessful, but it resulted in the Lord’s anger and the death of a man.   “And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all [their] might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.”  Our reaction to this account might not be so unlike David’s, somewhat shocked, stunned and thinking, “God, why were you so severe?”  When God responds to men’s actions and His judgement results in death, one of the first and foremost things it generates is a fear of God, not just in the “be afraid” sense, but in the sense that we can’t take God’s will and His ways for granted.

Think about if for a moment with me about how we handle the things of God.  When I examine my times that are supposed to be set aside and consecrated for Him, I see my own personal agendas and ways leaving smudgy, dirty little finger and handprints all over them.  Think for a moment of God’s will and way being like this huge plate glass window that is sparkling clean and transparent.  Then here come His kids.  They don’t even think, “I need to really be aware and respect the purity and cleanness of this window.  I can look through it, but I don’t want to put my hands on it or I will dirty it.”  If it was a sliding glass door then there would be a proper means by which we would pass through it, open and close it, without placing our hands on the glass.  This is a rough illustration of what David did and why Uzza died when He touched the Ark.  In Leviticus 20:26 God speaks of His desire for His people, “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD [am] holy, and have severed you from [other] people, that ye should be mine.”

The Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred of the pieces of the Tabernacle.  Its place was in the Holy of Holies and it represented the very presence and place of God.  Throughout the Word there is an awesome respect and fear that is directed toward it, for what it represented.  It wasn’t that David’s heart was not in the right place because He wanted to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem, it was his methods that were wrong.  There are right ways and wrong ways to handle the things of God.  When we get careless and sloppy in our walk with God, we find ourselves incurring judgements and disciplines for the way we are handling the things of God.  Hopefully it won’t be as severe as Uzza, Nadab and Abihu, or Ananias and Sapphira.  These people gave their lives to be examples to us not to take the things of God lightly and not to do things our own way.  Many of us are far guiltier of this than we realize and I’m feeling the conviction that the Lord wants us to really begin to examine our relationship and our action concerning the things of God.  There was a right way that David should have been transporting that Ark.  That was a priesthood function that was laid out very explicitly by God in Exodus.  Do we fully realize that we are the priesthood of God that carry about the Ark of God in our spirits?  How are we handling the precious entrustment God has placed upon us to carry His name and His testimony in our daily lives.  Have we grown careless in our commitment and our obedience to Him?  Are we doing many of the things in our lives, both spiritually and naturally, our way instead of His?  Are we putting our dirty little hands of selfishness all over the window of His Holiness?  God wants us to transport His life in these bodies with immense joy, rejoicing and gladness, but He wants us to take special care that we do it His way and not ours, no matter how good it may seem.  Let’s ask the Lord to show us the areas of our lives where we may be dishonoring and disobeying Him.  Let’s covet His Holiness and Righteousness, seeking to be well pleasing and compliant with His will and His ways.  God has extended much grace toward us, but that is not our license for sin and dishonor concerning the Holy Life He has placed in our keeping.

“Lord, help us not to be foolish concerning our lives and walk in You.  Help us to always look upon You with the utmost reverence and respect.  Help us to honor and obey you, searching out Your will and Your ways of godly and righteous living.”

Blessings,

#kent

Retrospect

December 31, 2019

 

Retrospect

 

1 Corinthians 11:31

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

 

As a general rule I believe the Word of God discourages us from living in the past, but there are times when it is good for all of us to take stock of our lives, past, present and future.  Typically it is something we seem to think more about as we come to the end of one year and are beginning a new one.  That is when we think about making all of our resolutions, about what we are going to change and how we are going to be different than the year before.  It is good for all of us to occasionally take a good honest and introspective look at ourselves in the light of God’s Word and what we know to be truth.  As we shine that light upon hearts we may feel really convicted or condemned if there are areas that we are failing in and missing the mark or we may be little puffed up if we feel we are living an exemplary life.   The point of truly judging our hearts and lives is to take some bearings on where we are and where we are going.  When ship captains sail their ships they occasionally take bearings on their location and heading.  They don’t do it to determine if they are a good or a poor captain, but to keep their bearings and their heading correct.  Obviously, a bad captain would be one that never took stock of his heading or where he was going.  We can all get in that category of complacency where ‘we are doing most things right, so everything must be okay’.  That is usually the mindset we are in when we suddenly find out the ship is sinking and we hadn’t done anything to prevent it.  It is good that we take those times where we evaluate ourselves, both with our human relationships and heavenly ones.    Are we on course with God’s purpose and will in our lives?  Are we in right relationship with both God and man?  What do we need to do make those relationships right and better?  Are we continuing to press more into Christ with each day, listening and obeying the voice of the Spirit, meditating and conforming our hearts to the Word of God and setting our attention and affections upon the things above rather than the things below?  The Word says, “if we judge ourselves, we should not be judged”.   Isn’t it better when I can correct my actions rather than God needing to discipline and correct me?  We all can justify and rationalize a lot of things, but we all know that we aren’t going to snow God.  We may fool ourselves, but we aren’t going to fool Him.  We must use what He has given us to judge and evaluate ourselves.  I know it’s much easier to do that for others, but God’s more concerned about you seeing the changes that are needed in your life, regardless of where others are or what they are doing.  While we evaluate ourselves from our past and present we don’t live there or set up our camp there.  We know that we are sojourners in this earth and we are on a journey to spiritual Jerusalem.  Thus we live with our eyes always looking forward and hearts pressing onward into Him who has called us.  Everything else becomes secondary to that goal and purpose.  We must take care that we do not grow weary or complacent and build our home and our affections here in this place.  For we know that this place will perish with the using and we don’t wish to perish with it no matter how beautiful it looks today.

When we can come to that place where we can honestly judge in ourselves what we are doing right and what we need to make right then we can set our course.  We can begin to set actions that will help us to arrive at our desired port and accomplish the changes we need to make.  We are destined for a purpose and it is important that we stay on course to fulfilling our destiny and calling in Christ.  So I leave you with that oft quoted scripture from Philippians by the Apostle Paul in 3:7-15, “7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Happy New Year!

Blessing!

#kent

Amber Alert

December 20, 2019

Amber Alert

 

Mark 10:14

But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 

                We have instituted a wonderful system in this country, so that when a child is abducted or kidnapped or lost, announcements are made everywhere concerning their situation.  Information is gathered and distributed to allow people to be on the look out for the things that might identify this child or their abductor.  It is wonderful how there is information, coordination and cooperation on a wide and often national scale to recover our little children.

                If we were to look at this from a spiritual perspective for a moment, many of us recognize that there has been a mass abduction our children spiritually, mentally and morally.  We need a spiritual Amber Alert to awaken us to the fact that our society is being taken spiritual captive and it starts with our children.  Most of us realize the need to monitor the television that they watch, because it can be a strong instrument and influence to ungodly and wrong thinking.   We see agendas being promoted every day that have messages coming through every venue possible to dumb us down spiritually and morally to lifestyles and that are contrary to Biblical principles and values.  The innocent and inquisitive mind of a child is the most susceptible to the influence and the persuasion of the enemy.  Especially if we as parents and adults become careless and complacent concerning our duties to protect them and give them right values. 

                Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:

 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”  This exhortation still stands for us today.  It is so easy in our busy society and the demands of life to allow our children to go unguarded and unprotected simply from the lack of instruction and the influence we can have in their lives.  It is not practical to isolate our kids and keep them from any physical contact with the world.  We can’t practically do that even for ourselves, nor is that God’s intent.  He wants us to be lights in our world.  We must start by lighting a candle in our children, instructing them daily in the Word, and continually talking about the things of God and the goodness of God.  Don’t fall into the trap of using God and His Word like a big stick to threaten, condemn and coerce our children when they sin.  Let them know it is the sin that brings consequences for wrong actions and leads to our hurt.   Instruct them in who they are in Christ and help them daily to grow in a personal relationship with Him as we pray with them and teach them the Word.  Discuss with them these attitudes of the world they are hearing and give them sound Biblical principles as to why they are wrong and the consequences of what they bring. 

                We must have a spiritual Amber Alert sounding right now.  It has to start with us as adults recognizing and addressing the very real attacks and abductions that are taking place with our children everyday in all of the areas that influence them.  Their protection is in bringing them to Jesus and having them sit at His feet.  Instill that Word and the love of God in their hearts daily.  We must be their covering and protection through the influence we have over them.  If we don’t influence them, then we better know that someone else will.  1 Peter 5:8 says,”Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Our children’s young innocent minds are prime targets for spiritual influences of darkness.  As parents, grandparents and adults that have influence in children’s lives, we must be the spiritual guardians of their souls and the protectors of their little spirits.  We want to wake up to the Amber Alert of the Spirit and take action to preserve and instruct our children in righteousness and the ways of Life. 

Blessings,

#kent

 

Building Blocks of Fulfilling God’s Purpose

 

2 Timothy 1:8-10

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

 

Back in the times of the gold rush there were a few men that discovered gold just lying on the surface of the ground or in the water.  Word spread that you could become rich and all that you had to do was just pick it up.  It was just there for the taking.  Men would come from far and wide with the idea of getting rich quick.  They would leave behind all that had been important to them before to come and pursue the gold.  They caught a vision and they believed in a dream.  Some did find the riches that they sought, some met with limited success and many found nothing at all.

When God revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ and manifested the riches of His glory in human flesh.  Men saw the gold of God revealed.   God had given nuggets and revelations of His gold throughout the ages that led up to Christ, but now His gold is revealed as He fully unveils His purpose of salvation through faith in His Son.  Suddenly it begins to become apparent that we can become partakers of the riches of an inheritance in Christ Jesus.  Jesus, and His disciples that followed, laid out the way and the plan for us to become rich.  We have the treasure map of those riches laid out for us in the Word of God.  Many embraced Christ thinking that it was the quick way to having all of their needs met and realizing heaven on earth.  Many have become disillusioned because Christianity wasn’t the quick fix to all their problems, wants and needs.  While the Lord has revealed some nuggets and gold on the surface and has given us the earnest of our inheritance and riches through the Holy Spirit, the greatest treasure realized is through a lifetime of mining into the vein of God’s nature and purpose.

Some of us may have thought that in a few short years we were going to walk into the fullness of Christ and do all that He did.  It is not to say that God can’t and won’t do that through some people, but time isn’t as important an element to God as it is to us.  What most of us come to find, is that the nuggets of God’s truth and purpose need to mined and sought after one day at a time.

A purpose is made up of a reason and goal in mind.  God’s purpose is to apprehend us for His family and for His glory.  Our purpose is to apprehend Him that we might lay hold of a transformed life and be partakers of His divine nature.  Our purpose and goal are met through a lifetime of building blocks; each day is a process and a development into God’s purpose.  Sometimes we may feel there is more tearing down going on in our lives than building up, but sometimes for God’s purposes to be realized the old has to be done away with so that the new can take its place.

The important thing about purpose is to never loose the vision of what your purpose is.  Ephesians 1: 3-14 is one passage the lays out for us God’s purpose. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

You and I may not find ourselves possessing in outward manifestation all the fullness of Christ that we had hoped would be evident by this time in our lives and in our walk with the Lord, but don’t despair.  The important thing is that we run the race well, staying on course and keeping the finish line in sight.  Even if our expectations haven’t been met, it doesn’t mean that His have been thwarted.  Purpose is fulfilled in faithfully living out one day at a time, through His grace and strength, lives that are yielded to God’s purpose.  It as Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Never loose your vision and never forget your purpose.  Everyday that you walk in the faith of Christ Jesus your purpose is being fulfilled.

Blessings,

#kent

Life in the Spirit

November 25, 2019

 

Life in the Spirit

 

John 6:63

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.”

 

We know all about that life in the Spirit.  We have heard it all before.  Then why do we spend so much time still in the flesh, operating out of fleshly mindsets, thinking and behavior?  What we have heard with our ears and received with our minds has it become revelation and truth to our hearts?  Are we going through the motions, but not experiencing and living out the reality of Spirit Life.  John 6:63 says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.” The Word of the Lord must become a quickening fire within us.  It must burn up the chaff and refuse, while at the same time replacing it with Kingdom principles for divine living.  Life change is brought about within us not just by a written word, but by a quickening word, one that brings about change of mind, thinking and doing.

“God, speak into our hearts change from the mundane, the ordinary, the routine and the way we have always done it.”  We need the fire of the Holy Spirit within our bellies; we need joy in our hearts and purpose in our walk.   We need God’s Word for our life and His Spirit power at work in us to bring it to pass.  We are like little ships floating about in the ocean. They need a captain, they need direction and they need purpose.  Some of us feel rather aimless in our lives because we are lacking some of these elements.  We may have prayed about them, but we may feel we are rather clueless as far as where God wants to take us and what He wants to do with us.  Don’t feel bad, that ship doesn’t know where it is going either, but if it has a good Captain, then He knows the destination.  The ship merely has to respond to the Captain’s direction and course.  Our functions and focus in life might change, but our purpose is always to be whatever and wherever our Captain directs for our use.  Where our ship gets in trouble is when mutiny or rebellion arises in our heart and we decide we want to determine our direction and purpose.  Because we have a will and the right to exercise it, we can do that, but then we go off course from where our Captain would take us and how He would use us.  He is the Captain for a reason, because His wisdom and purpose and abilities far exceed our own.

The only way that we can know the direction of the Captain is by being sensitive when He turns the wheel and redirects the rudder or when He increases or decreases our speed.  We have to be in tune with the Spirit, because that is where those directions come from.  God’s Word must be continually before us and the meditation of our hearts, because that is often the medium He uses to put His finger on certain areas He wants to refine or where He wants to increase our understanding or bring new direction into our lives.

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” Our ship has lost if it’s former purpose which was only self-serving.  It now sails in the fleet of the Almighty, under the flag of righteousness and the blood of the Lamb.  The one thing we do know is our purpose is about Him and no longer about us.  “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)”

If we don’t fully know where we are going today, that is okay.  The important thing is that we have the right Captain running the ship.  He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-14, “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. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth. Happy [is] the man [that] findeth wisdom, and the man [that] getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it [is] better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.”  The vessels of the Lord are destined to carry His merchandise and experience His gain.  Keep the vessel clean, keep it seaworthy and keep it yielded to the Captain of our salvation.

Blessings,

#kent

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

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