Forgiveness

May 16, 2019

 

Forgiveness

 

Ephesians 1:7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

 

Forgiveness is a word that we use a lot and often fail to really consider the depth of what it implies and what it accomplishes.  Forgiveness is a necessary ingredient before any true restoration and reconciliation can take place in a relationship where an offence has occurred on the part of one or both parties.  Where an offence remains not forgiven, it may be pushed down or ignored by the offended one, but when forgiveness is not released it is like getting a splinter under the skin.  Even a small splinter that is not released will begin to fester and be a constant source of agitation until it is removed.

God, in His great wisdom, saw all the offences we committed toward Him as human beings.   While we might have good intentions, we have come to realize that God’s standards of holiness and righteousness are not obtainable in our fallen state and so we are a constant source of offense to Him.  We have come to realize that under God’s mandate and law we are all destined for judgement and the eternal consequences for our sins.  This was not God’s plan.  His plan was to provide for us forgiveness.  Through the sacrifice and the shedding of the blood of His perfect Son, He could extend release and pardon to us for our offences and sin.  God’s heart is to reconcile, redeem and restore His creation back to Himself and He paid the ultimate price to do so.  We all know what we deserve, but the mercy and grace of God said, “no”.  He has extended to us the olive branch of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation through the blood of His own precious Son.  God, in Christ, has done all the hard part for us and all we have to do is extend the hands of faith and receive this great and precious gift of forgiveness and pardon.

Imagine that you have murdered someone in the heat of passion, and you have been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Nothing you can do can undo the consequences of your sin.  Then one day the son of the president comes to you and says, “You know that you have committed a crime and the debt and punishment for that crime has to be paid.  I am here to take your place; pay for the crime and let you go free.  It will be just as if you had never committed that crime.  It will be erased from your record.”  If you accept this exchange, then the doors to the prison open and you are free to go.  As if that were not great enough, the president’s son tells you that now that you are free, he wants you to assume the position of the president’s son with all of its rights, powers and privileges.  Wouldn’t we be a fool not to accept such an offer?  Obviously, in turn we would owe the president and his son our lives for that exchange.  Obviously, what he is offering is far better than what we were facing.  We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The point is that if we never accept the pardon and we hold on to our offence then it can never be pardoned or released.  With every gift given there is an exchange, but for the exchange to be complete it must be received.  The gift isn’t mine till I accept it from you, and I can never open it and experience its contents until I am willing to reach out, take it and open it.

In our human relationships forgiveness is an important part of our interactions with one another.  We offend and hurt one another rather intentionally or unintentionally all the time and we need to ask and extend to one another forgiveness.  As Christians we are commanded of God to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and gave Himself for you.  Many of us are struggling with our relationship with both God and man because we have been unwilling to release forgiveness.  It doesn’t mean that we extend forgiveness and are expected to continue in a hurtful or destructive situation given a choice, but we need to forgive to set ourselves free.  It is the only way we can get those splinters of offense out of us.  When we withhold forgiveness, we create a dam that withholds the love of God from flowing through us.  We close our heart and emotionally detach ourselves.

Many of us need the restoration and the reconciliation that can only come, as we are willing to release forgiveness.  We can’t always be responsible for the other party accepting it, but we can release it and thereby release ourselves.  Often pride, on both sides, is the greatest hindrance to our reconciliation.  You can see why God loves humility in us, because it is not too proud to say when it is wrong and it is not to proud to forgive someone, even when they don’t deserve our forgiveness.

Unfortunately, our unwillingness to forgive can become for us a puddle of self –pity that we continue to wallow in and feel sorry for ourselves.   We can do the same thing with our unwillingness to receive forgiveness.  We remain in the bondage of our offenses.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful instruments of love that the Lord has ever given to us.  We all need to take it, use it and exercise it often.  Nothing can set us free and restore right relationships like forgiveness.  It can unlock the many prison doors of our hearts and sets us free to love and be loved with the love of God.

Search your heart and if you find their a hurt, a wound and offense that someone has committed either intentionally or unintentionally, exercise the gift of Father’s love and forgive them.  You are right.  They may not deserve it, but then neither did we.  When we set others free, we free ourselves and become again, an instrument and a heart that God’s love can flow through.

Blessings,

#kent

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Endings and New Beginnings

February 12, 2019

 

Endings and New Beginnings

 

Deuteronomy 11:11-17

11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today-to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you

 

In this passage of scripture, the children of Israel, after forty years in the wilderness are crossing Jordan into the Promise Land of Canaan.  While this land is the inheritance of God’s people it has been possessed by the ungodly nations.  Now has come the time when Israel is to enter in, not by their might and their strength, but by faith in their God.  Many believers today have the mentality that all I need to do is believe in Jesus, live my life and die and go to heaven.  God has used the natural promise land of Canaan to show us that as believers in Christ Jesus we also have a Promise Land to enter into and possess, the kingdom of heaven, that which was lost to us in the fall of Adam. Jordan is a type of that baptism into the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we are immersed in its water and come out the other side, we come out dead and no longer identified with ourselves, but alive unto the newness of life in Christ Jesus.  God is telling us that the land we have now entered into by faith, “It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”  God wants us to know that we are walking in a blessed land, one He cares for and watches over.  He is telling us we can enjoy and partake of the blessings of this land in our spiritual walk if we will faithfully obey His commands.  It will be a productive and prosperous land for us if we are careful to always put God first.

This walk of the Spirit, this possession of spiritual Canaan is not without its pitfalls and dangers.  We are possessing a land that has formally been filled with idolatry and every evil practice.  Even as the Spirit of Christ is fully possessing our souls and we are seeking to yield every area in obedience to Him, we come up against giants and strong spiritual forces in our lives that resist the Holy Spirit.  They are stronger than we are in ourselves, but ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus’.  ‘In Christ we can do all things’, but God would warns us as He did natural Israel, to guard our hearts against idolatry, where we place other things, desires and pleasures before Him.  He desires to bless us, but He requires of us faithful obedience.  It is very easy after we have gone through spiritual battles and experienced measures of victory in our lives to then fall into complacency which in turn lets our guard down and opens us up to falling into sin and idolatry.  That idolatry is anything we put before Him.

God goes on in this passage to tell the people that the way they can guard against this idolatry coming into their hearts is to continually, in every thing, in every way, everyday of the year, put the Word of God before them.   Read the Word, talk about it, tell your children continually about it, meditate upon it, even put it on your person or in conspicuous places where you will be continually reminded of your God and who you are in Christ.  This is imperative to maintaining a God perspective identity and in return, enjoying the fellowship you have with Him in the spirit and the blessings He has for you.  Our purpose in possessing this land is so that He might possess every part of us and we would experience the richness of His fellowship and presence, for that is indeed the manna and the taste of heaven.

Remember that the eyes of the Lord are upon you from the beginning to the end.  Make this a time for drawing nearer, living a deeper and more committed life in the Spirit and coming to know your God in a greater and more personal way.  May you be blessed with the rain and the waters of His spiritual blessing and presence as you personally walk, possess the land and live for Him.

Blessings,

#kent

Desire Wisdom

January 30, 2019

Desire Wisdom

 

Proverbs 2:1-11

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom

and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

 

Among the things that we covet, desire and pursue in the earth, is wisdom one of the primary things?  Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”  Godly wisdom is a much neglected thing and yet just the word “wisdom” is used some 234 times throughout the Word of God, so one might get the impression it is a more important aspect in God’s eyes than many of us realize.  It is far too exhaustive to cover thoroughly in this brief study, but let’s just let God’s Word instruct us in this area today.

First, what is wisdom?  Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.”  James 3:17 tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  It is godly guiding principles of life that helps one to produce the fruit of godliness in their life and walk.

How does one obtain it?  Job 28:28, Proverb 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 pretty closely agree and bear witness to each other that, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy (to depart from evil) [is] understanding.” It says that fools will despise wisdom and instruction.  So, if you be among the wise, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;(Proverbs 2:2) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly (Proverbs2:6-7).”

Why is it so important?  Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.”  It is so important, because learning wisdom is learning the way of the Lord.  It is our instruction and way of salvation.  It is the path that leads to life.   Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell [it] not; [also] wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”  I think this is a key verse to understanding a couple of passages in the New Testament.  If we think about this wisdom as like the oil of godly understanding, of principled living, of the knowledge which leads us into relationship and intimacy with Him, then we might get a little insight into Matthew 25:1-13.  The parable about the ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish.  We just learned that the foolish are those who despise wisdom.  The reason they despise wisdom is because wisdom demands great reverence and respect for God, as well as obedience.  The foolish want to go their own way, be complacent and do their own thing.  Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly [is] joy to [him that is] destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly” Can any of us see that folly in ourselves?  They were all virgins.  They were all looking for Christ’s coming, but we see two different conditions of the heart, one acceptable and one not.   Wisdom is not something you have in a moment of time, it something that you cultivate, grow and mature into.  Wisdom is revealed to those that love her, seek after, cherish and respect her.  She is a relational creature and one you must grow in relationship with.   Proverbs 19:8 says, “He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”  Ecclesiastes 2:13 says, “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”

Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, [and] strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure”  “My son, attend unto my wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1).”  Perhaps through these many passages and exhortations of wisdom we are given even more a sense and gravity to the exhortation of Revelations 3:15, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.  So because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and the miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayes become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest cloth thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.   As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.”  This is the exhortation to the foolish virgin to go get and buy wisdom before it is too late.

Let us pursue wisdom whereby our lamps are filled with oil and we are not filled with a false sense of security and riches; but of a truth, we are rich in the wisdom and the mind of our God.

Blessings,

#kent

The Finger of God

January 10, 2019

 

The Finger of God

 

Exodus 8:18-19

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This [is] the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

 

None of us, I don’t believe, would aspire to be like the Pharaoh of Moses’ day.  When we read this account we think how could that man be so stubborn and why would he continue to harden His heart when, without a doubt, the finger of God was moving in these judgements.  Pharaoh could well be looked at as the god or ruler of “Self”.  We have a pharaoh that still wants to set upon the throne of our hearts and be god.  He doesn’t want to relinquish his place and lordship to the Almighty.  We could also say it is a type of satan, but where it affects us personally is in the dominion of our own souls.

If we were to get totally real and honest, just between God and us, most of us could probably identify an area or areas in our lives that we really struggle to relinquish control of.  There are strongholds and bastions of self that still want to bow their neck to the cross.  Our spirit may grieve over them and surely we wrestle with them, but we don’t want to really let go of them even though the finger of God may be upon them and the Holy Spirit is convicting us of them.

There was another young man in Jesus’ day, who truly loved the Lord, but he struggled with this same issue in Luke 18:18-25.  “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none [is] good, save one, [that is], God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  Here was a godly man.  Clearly, he loved God and desired to follow Christ, but what happened when the finger of God touched that area that was not submitted to God?  Jesus put His finger on the Pharaoh in His life, the area that would harden in resistance to God.  It says he was very sorrowful.  This word means to be exceedingly sorry, one definition says, “overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death”.  It is the same Greek word used to describe Jesus’ condition in the Garden as He prayed before the crucifixion.  The difference is Jesus faced a Pharaoh of self-preservation as well.  He even prayed, “Father, if there be any way let this cup pass from me.”  Jesus struggled till great drops of blood dripped from Him as sweat, but He overcame His Pharaoh.  He relinquished and laid self upon the altar and said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  The young ruler didn’t experience such a break through, though he loved the Lord immensely, there was something in his life that had a greater hold on him than his love for God.  Do any of us struggle with a similar issue like that today?  Is there anything we aren’t willing to bring to the altar and give totally to the Lord?  We can never be totally free until everything is His.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says, “3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness  is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Most of us see this as satan or the man of sin, but what about the man of lawlessness that wants to set himself up in our hearts proclaiming himself as god.  He wants to usurp what belongs only to Christ.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”  How can this lawless one, this Pharaoh, this usurper of God’s throne in our spirit be dealt with?  It is by the breath of His mouth, the Word of God, the Sword of Truth.  As we call Christ forth in our lives, He is the Lord of the battle.  The Spirit of Christ is the warrior that must rise up within us and come forth in the authority of the Word of God to overthrow this man of sin.  It is a spiritual battle and one that is possible to win as we are “in” Christ.  We also, have the power to overcome even as Jesus did in the Garden.  He is able to turn our sorrow into joy as we gain the victory and give place to the finger of God.

Blessings,

#kent

Under the Shadow of His Wing

November 15, 2018

 

Under the Shadow of His Wing

 

Matthew 23:37

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!

 

Is this not a commentary on our nation today as we have little by little removed God from our schools, our government, our homes and our hearts?  The Lord spoke to Israel back in Deuteronomy 8 among other places.  He made promises to them of His provision and protection if they were faithful to not forsake and turn away from Him.  It grieves many of us as Christians to see the state our nation is in and where it is heading.  I can only think that it is because there are still many who do cry out against the abominations we see in our country and that we know grieves the heart of God, that God has mercifully withheld His judgement thus far .  The events of 9/11 and other nation impacting event are a wake-up call to us to bring us to that place of repentance and call us to return to the Lord with our whole hearts.  Thank God He has mercifully given us a godly leader at this time that is bold to hold up a standard of righteousness in strength.  One who promotes justice and truth and the right to life.  God forbid that we continue on as Israel did to their own destruction.  There is a place of protection in God and we have forsaken it.

Under the hierarchy of God there is an order of authority and leadership.  When each one is in submission to their respective head and leadership there is a divine order of protection and blessing.  When that order is forsaken through disobedience, rebellion, self-will and sin, the umbrella of God’s blessing and protection has been stepped out of.  The shield of faith has been dropped and we have made ourselves vulnerable to the mortal wounds of our adversary.  We see this breakdown in God’s order all around us from the individual, to family, to church, to government, to God Himself.  God founded this nation to be a type of New Israel.  He divinely fashioned and established it.  He has blessed it to become the greatest nation on the earth, but we are going the way of our forefathers, natural Israel.  God, through the Holy Spirit is speaking to His Church and to His nation to be gathered in the unity of the faith under the shadow and protection of the wings of our God.  In that place of obedience nothing touches us but what it first has to go through our God, but in our state of rebellion and disobedience we remove the hedge of His protection.

I remember a precious friend and saint of God many years ago was given a vision when her children were still young and in the household.  She saw a horrible and hideous beast around her house checking every door and window, looking for some way in to get to her children.  The Lord showed her that as long as her children remained in submission and obedience to their parents they were protected, but if they refused and chose to go out from the house they removed themselves from the hedge and umbrella of protection and were prey for that beast.   What we sometimes forget and take for granted is that when we get out of order and remove ourselves from God’s protection, then we not only make ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, but also those that are under our authority and responsibility.

The Lord is calling us back to His heart today, to repent and come quickly back under the shadow of His wing.  Let us return to Him with our whole hearts and stand in the place of intercession for the hearts of so many that have grown cold and callused against the Lord.  We can only expect that in the last days the division and the line between light and darkness will become more pronounced and distinct.  This is a day for spiritual battle and we must prepare our hearts and spirits for it.

Blessings,

#kent

Approaching Our God

November 13, 2018

 

Approaching Our God

 

James 4:7-9

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 double-minded. 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.

 

Many of us struggle with approaching God and establishing the relationship with Him that our spirit man longs for.  We want to hear the Lord speak to us, we want His direction for our lives, at least we think we do, and we want a relationship where we have a continual abiding fellowship and dialogue with the Lord.

We keep thinking, “what am I missing”?  Why aren’t I feeling closer to God?  Why don’t I hear His voice and get His direction more?  Our answers could lie in these verses and in this chapter.  For many of us we are loosing the battle to the flesh in too many areas of our lives.  We are back and forth between spirit and flesh.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and so we struggle with living consistent lives in the Spirit.

The first thing God tells us here, that we need to do, is submit.  Literally it means to be subordinate and be yielded to another’s control.  This is the same context of submission as Ephesians 5:22 requires when it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Men we are not really different from our wives. We really want to be in the driver’s seat concerning our lives.  One of the reasons we are missing God is we aren’t fully resigned in obedience to Him.  Wives, if you aren’t really submitted to your husbands, then you aren’t really fully submitted to Christ.  We all have to follow the order of authority that God has laid down for us in our lives.

The second area is “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Many of us are hit and miss at this as well.  We have good intentions, we mean well, but too many times we miss the mark.  Our resistance must be in direct proportion to our insistence that Christ is Lord.  When Jesus encountered the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, He insisted on the authority of the Word lining up in obedience to God.  Many, like the devil, take the Word and pervert it to try and say what justifies their particular lust and desires.  Resist the devil with the Spirit and the Word.  We are weak, but He is strong.  Our strength is in our abiding, obedient relationship with Christ.  He is the overcomer in us. We have to see ourselves through the lens of who we are in Christ.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  Are we continually approaching God in an attitude of true humility, contriteness and repentance?  Are His praises continually in our mouth, His meditation in our heart and is our purpose to find His will and plan for us personally?  What must we do to draw near?  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 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.”  The first and foremost thing is that we have to be totally serious in our intent to find God’s presence.   God sees right through our heart, our intents and motives.  James 1:4-8 tells us, “4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” If we want God to take us seriously, then we have to be totally serious with Him.  Isn’t it interesting that again in this passage of James 5 he uses this terminology of “double-minded”?  This is where most of us find ourselves, divided between heaven and earth.  We look up at God and say, ” yes, I want you Father,” and then we look back at earth and think, “yeah, but I don’t really want to give that up, lay that down or turn away from that area in my life.”  We are double-minded, torn in two directions, but the Word calls us adulteresses, those of us who break our vows with our friendship with the world. It is this attitude and state of mind that we must grieve, mourn and wail over.  We must hate it so much that it becomes a stench to us.  We must be so grieved at any attitude or behavior that is contrary to the nature and character of Christ in us. He must forever be our all in all.  There must be so much of a humility and brokenness in our hearts that God will lift us up and know that we mean business with Him.  The lower we are willing to go the higher He can lift us up.  The more we are willing to die, the more of the resurrection life of Christ we are able to lay hold of.  How is our approach as we seek to find God’s presence today?

Blessings,

#kent

Compassion or Judgment?

November 1, 2018

 

Compassion or Judgment?

 

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

 

Aren’t we so often presumptuous to think we have the right or the ability to judge or to speak ill of one another?  Most of us have been guilty of passing judgements at one time or another and then some us make a career of it.  The word teaches us that if we want to judge someone we need to judge ourselves, not to condemn ourselves, but to discern our own hearts and motives.  1 Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”  There is one Lawgiver and Judge.  His judgements are just and true because He sees the end from the beginning and sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. He sees all that surrounds a person and why they are like they are.  We see through very finite, limited vision and understanding into a person and yet we so often presume we are justified in passing judgements on them.

In Matthew 7: 1-7 Jesus teaches us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “  Jesus is reminding us that each one of us have our own issues we need to deal with.  How can we justify casting stones at others when we ourselves are not without sin?  Oh, I’m sure we are not near as bad as the person that we are judging is, at least not so in our own eyes.

Romans 2:1-4 reiterates the dangers of placing ourselves in the place of a lawgiver and judge, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Our own standards and perceptions often dictate our judgements.  As another man of God pointed out, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is made up of our perceptions and values of right and wrong.  When we judge others we are not judging from the tree of Life, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know that this tree results in death.

When we operate out of the tree of Life then our purpose is to give life in place of death, to offer strength and help where there is weakness, to rescue and restore one another, not to condemn and judge.   We are all experts when it comes to finding fault, but are we as proficient at finding solutions.  Some us  think we are and try and play the role of the Holy Spirit as we try to change and conform others into the image that we think that they ought to be.

Think through your life.  Are you the same person you were when you were eight, or eighteen or twenty-eight and so on.  Think about how your thinking has changed, your maturity, your views, values and understanding of things.  Think about how your walk and relationship with God has changed.  We can easily see that we are always changing, even though many things about us seem to remain the same.  Did others have a right to pass judgements on us as we passed through those changes and stages of life?

Every one of us is a unique individual.  God created us that way.  We are all different and we all have our unique and individual quirks that may rub someone else the wrong way.  That is why love, longsuffering, patience and self-control are all attributes of the Spirit.  They are something we all need in us to get along and tolerate and even love each other.

Perhaps we need to instill more compassion in place of our judgement, words of faith, kindness and encouragement in place of our slander and criticisms.  Give others the same grace and mercy that you would want God to extend to you.

Blessings,

#kent

 

Never take your Blessing for Granted

 

 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest [when] thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt [therein]; And [when] thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

 

This is the condition we find our county in today.  We are a very blessed nation, like no other in the world.  Those of us, who know our historical roots, know that God has had his hand upon the establishment of this country and even the government that has been put in place.  We have been an example and demonstration of God’s goodness, provision and blessing.  We have been like the new Israel and many early settlers viewed it exactly that way.  God has shown His faithfulness to us time after time as He has kept this nation by the power of His loving hand.

Isn’t it ironic now, that the land of religious freedom and expression can’t even post the Ten Commandments in public places, have Bibles or talk about God in the schools in this country, but they can and now do these things in Russia, a land so long under religious tyranny and oppression?  What abomination is it that has taken hold of us that now we can’t even pray out loud or openly proclaim the God that established and blessed this nation.  Further, we see the efforts to remove, “In God We Trust” from our currency and “One nation under God” from our pledge of allegiance.  What spirit of darkness has come over our land that we legally kill our unwanted babies and want to recognize and sanctify homosexual marriages?   What spiritual blindness has gripped our hearts that we want to call good evil and evil good?  Supposedly we are a people ruled by the majority and polls tell us that there is still a majority in this country that believes in God.  How is it that we are not upholding His values and morals?   Have our hearts become so lifted up, as the scripture warns us, that we have forgotten our God?  Will we have to receive God’s firm correction and judgement because we have allowed our land to become polluted and defiled with ungodliness?  While many of us as Christians don’t like or agree with what we see going on, we are guilty of not becoming actively involved in raising up a voice and an outcry against such things.  Certainly we need godly men that can step into the places of leadership throughout our society and uphold a standard of righteousness and moral integrity.  Let us not be guilty of not participating in a democratic process that God has helped establish to make our voice known.  When we fail to act in righteousness, evil comes in by default.  A quote given by Edmond Burke an eighteenth century British statesman says, “”For evil to triumph it is enough only that good men do nothing”.   Is that about to be our epitaph?  God blessed us in our last election by placing a president in office that upholds these godly values and principles, but no man can do it alone.  We, as a people of God, we must raise up a standard against the spirit of wickedness that pervades our land.  Our complacency will be our demise and the loss of all that we hold dear.  We must establish again our Lord God, as the Lord and sovereign of our hearts and our nation.  Our family units must be preserved at all cost if we are to survive as a nation.  Marriage must again find its place of sanctity and respect that it once held.  We must become a nation that learns again what unselfishness and self- sacrifice is about if we want to our families preserved.  Our selfishness is proving to be our undoing.

With prayer and supplication our request must be made known before God for the state of our nation.  The battle is a spiritual battle, but it is played out in the natural arena of our daily lives, society and government.  James says that, “faith without works is dead.”  It is not just what we believe that is important, it is what we act on.  Each one of us has a vote and say.  Each one of us has representatives that are suppose to be listening to the voice of their constituents.  Are they hearing our voice or are we silent, doing nothing, allowing evil to triumph?

I am not one that is big on politics, but I feel the heart of God is that we need to stand up and be counted.  We have far too long let the voice of evil be vocal and consequently we have lost our spiritual heritage through our silence and passivity.  Dare to take up the weapons of spiritual warfare and fight the good fight both in the spiritual and natural realms.  We can no longer afford to be a silent majority unless we want to be an oppressed majority.

Blessings,

#kent

Sheep or Goat

August 9, 2018

 

Sheep or Goat

 

Matthew 25:32-46

“All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; 33And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left. 34Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, 36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? 38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. 41Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. 44Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? 45And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me, 46Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.”

 

Every day we either minister or fail to serve Christ.  For so many of us, we find ourselves so involved and caught up in what we are doing that we totally miss our mission and calling.  We miss and fail to take the time and invest our resources into others.  Many of us have built up a wall of resistance against those who cross our paths with needs.  Even if we are giving, there are so many people, organizations and causes constantly asking for money and finances for something that we tend to get hardened to the “giving” as a whole.  After all we have our own family to take care and worry about.  While I would agree that there are more causes and people demanding from us than what most of us have resources to meet, are we still staying in tune with the Holy Spirit?  Are we in relationship with Christ where we can move and give ourselves as He leads and impresses us rather than as everyone expects and demands from us?

When we look at the life of Jesus what impresses us about His giving?  Did He raise great sums of money to put in the temple treasury?  Did He get involved with every charitable organization or fundraiser?  The first thing He did is He tuned into the Father and what the Father’s will for Him was and then He carried it out in action.  He gave out of the well of His life and truth.

In John 6 we find that there are those that followed Jesus after He had fed the multitude, because they saw Him as a free meal ticket.  They try and guilt Jesus into giving to them by using scriptural coercion.  In John 6:30-35 we read this dialogue, “Our forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as the Scripture says, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.32Jesus then said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Moses did not give you the Bread from heaven [what Moses gave you was not the Bread from heaven], but it is My Father Who gives you the true heavenly Bread. 33For the Bread of God is He Who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world. 34Then they said to Him, Lord, give us this bread always (all the time)! 35Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time)…. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me.”  The true gifts and service that we offer will be from a heart that is one with the Father’s and that lives out of an attitude of giving and service.  When we live to serve, love and give to those around us then we live to serve and minister to Jesus.  It will be in the random acts of kindness, the times we help those who couldn’t help themselves and in the times when we gave even when others didn’t deserve it.  It is in a life that is lived for others and not just for self.  It is in taking the time and having the heart for others even when our own life is so demanding.  A sheep has a nature of a servant and was born to be a blessing.  A goat may go through the motions, but their heart is not in it.  They will never see the needs in others, because they are always blinded by their own.

Blessings,

#kent

Half Baked

June 26, 2018

 

Hosea 7:8  Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

 

Half Baked

 

 

This passage from the book of Hosea was written during a time when Israel was in a state of rebellion against God.  Ephraim is the description of Israel.  The context of this passage is describing the spiritual condition of the country in that day.

It wouldn’t be a far stretch at all to parallel the condition of Israel in that day with the spiritual condition of the United States in our day.  The attitude and condition of the hearts have become much the same.  Whether we realize it or not, a study of history will bear out the truth that God providentially set the land apart for his Name, a type of Promise Land set apart for a people of His calling.  Its foundation is based on the constitution, laws and government that were mostly forged out of the Word of God and godly principles.   While a majority of the country says they believe in God and many call themselves Christians, what is the spiritual state of the union today?  Let’s get a little more personal.  We, who are the professing Christians of this nation, what is our state?  Have we become like Ephraim who mixed himself among the people?  Is that anything like our mixing ourselves with the world?  It says Ephraim was a cake not turned.  How many of us are half-baked Christians today, spiritual on one side and fleshly on the other?  Many of us started well, but perhaps we have grown weary in well doing or the cares and enticements of the world have come in to corrupt and pollute our spiritual walk and lives.

God loves us.  He has spoken into my heart at times when my eyes and heart were not pure;  ” I have called you for higher things.”  Doesn’t He speak that to all of us who love Him and are called by His Holy Name?

Many of us have been called and feel we have had a vision of God using our lives in some special way for some higher purpose.  Perhaps over the years, through the trials and the tears, our vision has faded and we may be stumbling or losing our way.   God is calling us again to renew our vows, repent of the areas of our lives that are out of His will and return unto Him with our whole hearts.  God has not given up on us.  He wants to finish baking us, which brings more heat, but He wants s a fully baked cake to feed the nations and bring them life and spiritual nourishment.  Let us arise today and turn fully back to our Lord who saved us and trust Him to complete that work He has started in us.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Blessings,

#kent

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