Spoiled Leftovers

May 28, 2019

 

Spoiled Leftovers

 

Colossians 3:5-11

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 

When we were saved and came into Christ we may have experienced a wonderful salvation and deliverance experience.  While we by faith stepped into Christ and heavenly places not all of our old baggage fell by the wayside at that moment.  While we were forgiven and all of our sins were washed away, it didn’t mean we never sinned or fell short again.  The reality is that God didn’t just take all of the responsibility away from us and say now you are all pure, holy and you are just like me.  In our spirits He did.  In that inner man there is one in the likeness of Christ.  But for that “Christ in us” to possess all of us it is a life-long process and one only fully consummated at His presence or coming.

Meanwhile we are caught up in the battleground of the mind and soul.  Our inner man is intent on holiness, righteous and conformity to Christ, but sin still wants to work in our outward members.  Did you ever have a beautiful refrigerator with great food in it, but you keep smelling this stench and wonder where is that odor coming from?  You keep digging and digging and finally you find a baggy with an old rotten onion, so you throw that out, but it still stinks.  You look some more and you open up this yogurt container that has more hairy mold than you’ve got whiskers.  You grimace and wrinkle your nose as you throw it out.  Still there is this smell, but what you find is that some of the foods you really like are the culprits.  Oh man, you don’t want to throw those out, because you really like them, even if they aren’t good for you, so you tuck them away so they will be less noticeable, but you can still munch on them when you get the urge.  Likely it is not the spirit man that wants to hold on to them, it is the flesh.  We have ways of justifying our flesh and our little stashes where we make provision for those things we outwardly love, crave or don’t want to let go of.

What we deal with is that if we are maintaining a relationship with Christ and seeking to please Him in all of our ways we run into conflict.  The Holy Spirit only allows us to indulge in our little hidden treasures for a time until He begins to put His finger on them.  Now it comes down to our will or His.  The truth is, that to His nose, these things are spoiled leftovers of our past nature and they are a stench to Him, but will we let go of them?  The Cross takes no prisoners in its process of holiness.  It exercises extreme prejudice on those things our flesh holds dear, because they represent idolatry to the Lord.  They are the place where our affections, commitments and loyalties often diverge from the Spirit as we make provisions for the flesh.

Most all of us deal with strongholds, these giants in our land, in one area or another that keep defying the living God.  Only as the Spirit of God rises up in us with dominion and authority will we conquer and overcome the strong will of rebellion that still abides in us.  It must to be our will in union with His.  Only as we relinquish everthing, every emotion, and every desire, can Christ be fully Lord of the land.  Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  What are we going to do with our spoiled leftovers?

Blessings,

#kent

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The God of all Comfort

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

We don’t always have explanations for the things we go through in life.  God does not always move in the realm of our time or our way of thinking.  We obviously would pray ourselves out of every trying and suffering circumstance, but God doesn’t always remove those hardships and the unpleasantries of life from us.  It is reassuring when we look at Paul and the apostles lives to see that though none probably walked closer and nearer to God than they did, they were not immune to hardship and suffering.  Yet here in this passage Paul speaks of our God and Father as being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Yet the God of all comfort spared not His own Son.  Hebrew 5:7-9 tells us, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Even God’s own Son offered up strong prayers to be delivered from death and yet He had to go through it.  It tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered “being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”  So, is God sadistic?  Does He enjoy seeing people suffer?  You know, Adam and Eve didn’t have any trouble obeying and living sinless lives as long as there was no temptation or trials.  The difference is, where they failed in that they had never known hardship or suffering, Christ, the last Adam, overcame through death and suffering.  Trials and hardships are a part of our lives, but they aren’t there because God is mean and sadistic.  The fact is, that there are many times we wouldn’t be able to survive them if it weren’t for His comfort and grace.  Opposition is the element that forces us into a place of strength.  When we face oppositions that are beyond our strength, it forces us into someone stronger than we are.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  It is in our weakness that we find our true strength, which is our God.  Our natural inclination is to want to be delivered and get out of the place of hardship, suffering and pain, but in that place is often the greatest work of transformation in our lives.  As we experience death outwardly, it forces us into life inwardly.  We begin to trust and rely upon God in ways we never would have otherwise.  And God is not insensitive to your pain.  He indwells you, so He is sharing your sufferings, your trials and your hardships.  His Word and the Life of His Spirit are there to comfort and encourage you.  Likewise others who have traveled this road come along side of you and identify with you, encouraging you in the place where you are.  What is being worked in us through our suffering and hardships is working in us the nature of comfort and compassion that we could not have had if we never walked that way.  With our suffering, God gives us comfort and reassurance.  We know that we are His; that He purchased us with a great price of suffering.  We have been privileged to share in that suffering as well as in the blessing, so that we also might learn obedience through the things we suffer and might be made perfect as Christ perfects us.

No precious vessel of honor becomes that way instantly or naturally.  There is a process that takes it from a place of rough raw materials, through crushing, purification and separations, to tooling, hammering crafting and polishing, till finally from the Master’s hand immerges the prize of such intense dealings and pain.  Is God preparing you as His mantle piece today?  See through the suffering into His heart of compassion and love, for whom the Lord loves He chastens.  Know that He is there with us in those hard places and He shares in our hurts, disappointments, sorrows and sicknesses.  See through the darkness of the hardships of this life into the light of His eternal love and comfort.  He has not left you or forsaken you, but is mighty in you to bring you through to victory.

Blessings,

#kent

Comfort One Another

May 9, 2019

 

Comfort One Another

 

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

There is such a power in the body of Christ to come along side of those who are weak, suffering and hurting.  Even as the natural body addresses all its attention to a deep wound or injury to itself and then subsequently there are agents of the body that continue to attend and bring healing to a wound or injury, so it is in the body of Christ.

We recently attended a funeral in which one of our relatives’ only son had been tragically shot and killed by police.  As we set through the service of this young man’s funeral there must have been three or four hundred people in attendance.  This young man, while he had been in trouble with the law, apparently had “a real heart of gold” as those that knew him described him.  He cared about people and their souls.  He was active in His church and loved God’s Word.  Somewhere things went wrong, either through wrong associations or other influences and it led to his death.  I was impressed that through the circumstances, people could have judged him or his parents, but they didn’t.  They saw who he was in his heart and saw him through the eyes of Jesus.  There were numerous testimonies to the special qualities that this young man possessed as well genuine compassion and shared grief for the loss of the parents.  Even in all this, the focus wasn’t on the death, but it was upon the life of Christ and throughout that service, the Lord was magnified.  I thought, “what a strong expression of comfort and support this church has given along with the attending relatives and friends.”  Throughout the day people were continually expressing their support and love through hugs and encouraging words.  I was impressed that this should be what we see operating in the body of Christ all the time, not just at funerals, but whenever and for whatever reason another member is suffering and hurting.  We are the instruments of His comfort because we possess the words of life and the Holy Spirit of Life to communicate them.

When we have this same love for one another and are being like-minded, unselfishly serving the another’s best interest, then we are going to feel one another’s joys and sufferings.  We are going to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice, because we are of one body and one mind in Christ.  It is important that we stay in tune and sensitive to the needs, the trials and the sufferings of those around us.  We want to be the heart and hands of Jesus to those who are hurting or in need.  Jesus says to us, “they will know you by your love.”  It is a sacrifice many times for us to give ourselves to others through our time, our finances and emotions.   Sometimes I forget that the reason I exist is to express the Christ that lives in me, not to fulfill my own agenda or just to be concerned about what is best or easiest for me.  Our selfishness can rob us and others of ministry and of being the instruments of comfort that God has called us to be.  Our living for Christ is seen in how we live for one another and how we express that love to the humanity that lives around us.

“God help us to be the instruments of your peace, of your comfort and of your great, genuine love and salvation.  Help us to be Your hands of ministry and healing and allow our words to bring comfort, hope and encouragement.  Please allow others to see You living through us in word and deed.”

Blessings,

#Kent

Beyond the Veil

April 16, 2019

 

Beyond the Veil

 

Hebrews 10:19-21

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And [having] an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

 

The term veil is only used about seven times throughout the Word of God.  The first and only time it is used in the Old Testament is in the Song of Solomon.  “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I [am] sick of love. (Song of Songs 5:6-8).”

In Middle East culture we know that the veil for the woman is a sign of modesty and that she would normally only unveil herself before her husband or intimate lover.  The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon is a book that most consider being a symbolism of Christ and the Bride.  Viewing it in this light we see in this passage that the maiden or bride is in pursuit of her beloved who has withdrawn himself.  The watchmen of the city find her.  Now the watchmen might be viewed as the religious ones that had charge of watching over the spiritual affairs of the city, perhaps not so unlike the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Not so unlike Jesus, we find that this maiden is not commended for her pursuit of her beloved, but smitten and wounded.  In addition, the keepers of the walls, those that uphold the religious institution, take away her veil.  Her modesty has been removed and she is exposed and shamed by the watchmen and the keepers of the wall.  It is not uncommon that when one gets passionate and is in desperate pursuit of relationship with God that they encounter persecution.  Most often it is religious persecution.  When you deviate from the mainstream of religious thinking it often leads to paying the price for not conforming to traditional thinking.  Perhaps the greatest fear of the religious people is that someone who is laying hold of the anointing and the presence of God in a way that they are not able to do, exposes how shallow their relationship really is.  There is a jealousy and a fear of the loss of control and honor.

However, all of this does not deter the maiden as she pursues her beloved even among the mainstream of Jerusalem or Christianity.  What motivates this maiden to such extreme action and determination?  She is sick with love.  She is so love struck with her beloved that nothing can separate her from His love and her love for Him.  She willing to pay any price and go to any lengths to lay hold of Him.

Have we ever had those times in our lives when we felt that strong love and desire for Christ, but He had withdrawn Himself?  We sought Him in prayer, worship, in church, but we couldn’t find His presence.  Sometimes our Lord withdraws Himself, not out of displeasure with us, but to prove our love and desire for Him.

Why knock yourself out?  Can’t you just be content being one of the daughters of Jerusalem, just one of the redeemed of the Lord, one the virgins without number or the concubines of the King?  This woman was in pursuit of the most intimate place with her beloved.  She was so love sick that she would settle for nothing less than all of Him.  She desired marriage.  She desired oneness and unity that she could find nowhere else.  She desired a level of relationship that exceeded the normal.  She desired to enter into that place within the veil, in the presence of the Almighty, where her life was consumed in Him.

The passage here in Hebrews tells us that we can have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”  Jesus has made a way for all of us to enjoy and experience His salvation, presence and access to the Father.  There has been a way made for all of us to enter in through the full assurance of faith.  How much do we desire not just an encounter, not just an experience, not just a general acceptance, but an intimate relationship with our Beloved?  How lovesick are we for His manifest presence in our lives and that place where we walk with Him and talk with Him and hear His voice? There has to be a full unveiling of our hearts to Him, before we will fully see and experience His fullness toward us.  What we have formerly seen in a foretaste and in a measure, do we fervently desire in fullness?

Blessings,

#kent

Making Things Straight

April 4, 2019

Luke 3:4-6

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.

5Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight,the rough ways smooth. 6And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”

 

Making Things Straight

 

This scripture was spoken and prophesied of John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was like a chiropractor for the kingdom of God.  His job was to bring alignment in the body of Israel; to prepare the nation for the healing and the salvation that was coming through Christ.  He brought adjustment, rebuke and correction, as well as promise.

What happens when our body gets out of alignment or out of joint; when it becomes crooked, twisted or distorted?  It brings pain and infirmity.  It disables us from walking upright and straight.  It perverts our ways.  This is what sin and misalignment with God’s Word does for us, His people, as well as those in the world.

I used to work construction and when we built a wall out of wood studs, we would eyeball down the length of the lumber to check for straightness, if it was too bowed, twisted or crooked, we would toss it aside.  If we didn’t we knew that it would distort what ever part of the building or structure it was incorporated into.  What we often saw was that the lumber that was bound together with other straight lumber was generally straight, but if a board was left to the side in the sun and weather, it would typically become warped and twisted which speaks to the value of being bound together with other aligned members.

We are the lively stones of God’s kingdom, but like that lumber for building, God is looking for uprightness and straightness in our lives in order for Him to incorporate and use us in the building of His kingdom.  If we are twisted, distorted, crooked or perverted in our ways, then we will only corrupt what He would build us into.  Father is setting His house in order.  He is declaring this same word that He declared through John.  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him, be the upright material that He can use to build His kingdom.  He is wanting to align His people in a straight way and an upright path.  He is wanting to make the rough ways smooth.  In order to use us, He must plane us, sand us and align us.

We, His people are the gateways and avenues of how Father is introducing His kingdom into the earth.  In order to be represented and presented properly His kingdom structure has to be made with straight material that is in alignment with His Word and righteousness.   If it is your heart to be used in God’s kingdom then know that God has to do what is necessary to align you with His purpose and we must be willing and inviting that alignment into our lives that all of our ways may be made straight before Him.  Often we get so focused on trying to align everyone else or see the warp in their board when we don’t see and perceive our own.  Let’s get our own beam straight before we start judging the worth of some else’s board.  If you are the heartwood of God’s kingdom then your heart is to be in perfect alignment with His will and purpose for you.  Put your life on the altar of God’s mill and ask Him to straighten and align all of your ways with His.  He is preparing kingdom material and you want to be a part of that.

Blessings,

#kent

Cinderella

March 13, 2019

 

Cinderella

 

Romans 10:19

But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by [them that are] no people, [and] by a foolish nation I will anger you.

 

The story of Cinderella has long been a favorite among the fairytale classics.  Through the years we have seen many movies and takes upon this theme of the poor beautiful girl held captive and slave to the tyrant stepmother and stepsisters.  She represents for us the underdog, the one that doesn’t have a chance in life, the one that, by the world’s standards, will never amount to anything in this life.  She is trapped in an environment that affords her no opportunities for success or hope to shine in a world where she is clothed in rags, covered by the dirt and cinders she is forced to clean.  She represents for us a “rags to riches” story where our heroine is finally set free from her evil captors and oppressors and is clothed with the beauty for which she was created.  We see her being sought out by the prince who is in love with her, desires to marry her and have her reign beside him in his kingdom.

While this is but a fairytale story, it is interesting to think how in many ways it parallels our hope in Christ.   Look for instance at how the Lord chose Israel.  Deuteronomy 4:20 says, “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, [even] out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as [ye are] this day.” In Deuteronomy 7:7-God speaks His heart for His people, “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.”  Even the apostle Paul brings forth this point with those who are called unto Christ.   Did the Lord look for the wisest, the most noble, the most beautiful and the most successful people in the world?  1Corinthians 1:26-31 tells us, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  God has chosen those Cinderellas which 1 Peter 2:10 says, “Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  The King of Kings has sought us out and redeemed us out of our state of poverty and sin to betroth us to Himself that we should rule and reign in His righteousness, by His almighty power.  He has cleansed us with His blood, clothed us with righteousness and given us His own name.  That is why we Cinderellas have reason to sing and praise our King.  “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelations 5:9).”  Even as Cinderella was found, rescued and was married by her prince and they lived happily ever after, we also can have that happy ending.  “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Revelations 21:3-7).” Cinderella, be lifted up in your countenance and put your hope in the Lord.

Blessings,

#kent

God’s People Feeders

March 11, 2019

 

God’s People Feeders

 

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

 

 

We have these bird feeders in our backyard and it is always interesting to see the habits of the birds as the different ones will come and feed out of them regularly.  You begin to recognize those ones who are there daily and it becomes a way of life and a daily supply that feeds them.  It occurred to me that we are like those feeders to the world and even the other saints around us.  The Master comes and fills us with His life and seed as we abide in our place in Him.  We become the sowers and the people feeders of God’s life to the world around us.  Some of us are mobile and travel carrying that seed to many places.  Some of us are stationary, but we are constant and reliable sources that the people, who God has placed in our lives, can come and feed from.

Have you ever been in that place where you thought you had a good relationship with God where you were blessed, you were trying to be faithful and then it happened?  That bird feeder had been constantly standing.  It has a heavy base and the feeders are suspended from the top of a pole with metal branch hooks extending out from the top.  We’ve never had a problem with it until the morning when apparently a strong gust of wind had blown it over.  It is kind of like what happens to us when we are cruising along life’s highway and suddenly we get waylaid.  Some trial or misfortune hits us out of no where like a Mac truck running a stop sign.  We suddenly find ourselves lying on the ground, the wind totally knocked out of our sails and wondering what happened?  Why did this happen to us?  We were trying to do what we were suppose too, we were trying to be faithful?  God this doesn’t seem fair.  It just doesn’t make sense.

When I went out to pick up the birdfeeder, in the fall, a great deal of the birdseed had spilled out on the ground.  I salvaged what I could, set the bird feeder upright again and refilled it.  What has been interesting is that lately the birds aren’t as prone to fly up to the birdfeeder as they are to feed off of the seed that was spilled out on the ground.  You know Jesus said in John 12:32,  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.”  The world is still feeding off of the spilled blood of Calvary.  It made me realize that what may seem devastating to us, sometimes is the unleashing of God’s life and power in a greater dimension and power than what we had known before, especially in our strength and good standing.  For us it is totally humbling, we are undone and we are spilled out.  Along with that pouring out and breaking in our lives, God’s Word and His life are spilled out as well and it becomes a feeding place that others can relate with and gain strength and nourishment from.  Perhaps we’ve been singing and praying, “let the fire fall,” but when that baptism of fire comes, we’re not sure we like what it is burning.  Sometimes when God breaks our pot we feel like life is over as we have known it and perhaps it is.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to turn and work in a new dimension and new way to bring forth something even more glorious and rewarding in your life than what you had known before.

The key is to always remain the people feeder.  Giving forth the life and blessing of God in whatever dimension He has given you to do it.  Like we always say, “it is not about us, it is all about Him.”  When the wind knocks us over, God will pick us up again.  Just stay faithful to His call and His purpose in your life, but know that He can change your direction at any given moment.  When we are poured out through the trials of life that is where people truly see the substance of what is in us.  Those are the times our lives become naked, our lives become an open book and the reality of who we really are will be seen.   We want to make sure that what they see is what we saw in Jesus on the Cross; a life fully consecrated to the Father and His glory.  We must become and remain in those places where others can come and feed upon the life of God in us, whether we are standing or have been blown over.

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 Heavens of Desolation

January 25, 2019

 

The Heavens of Desolation

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD , I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

What becomes of our faith and confidence in God in the midst of our trials, testings, and perhaps desolation, even when we have sought to put our faith in God?  Has He failed us, is His arm short that He cannot save us?  Has He forgotten us, forsaken us or cast us aside?  As I read this passage in Habakkuk this morning I was moved by the attitude of the prophet in the midst of his desolation.  Here He is saying if all else collapses, if everything around me fails to produce and if I lose all that I have; “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  One of the biggest hurdles we have, to get over, is that natural circumstances really have nothing to do with God and His faithfulness.  We most often want to use our circumstances as a barometer and thermometer of how close we are to God, by how much we are blessed and how well things are going.  What do we do then with those desolate times, when circumstances would indicate that God has forsaken us?  All the natural indicators around us would tell us God isn’t with you in your desolation.  Was God in Job’s desolation?  Was He in Joseph’s desolation in Egypt?  Was He in David’s desolation as Saul sought and hunted him like an animal to take his life?  Was God in Christ Jesus’ desolation at Gethsemane and the Cross?  Even Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

We have no problem thanking God and recognizing Him in our blessings and when life is good.  What do we do when the times come that try our souls, test our faith and our head is filled with voices of God’s unfaithfulness?  It is the winepress and the crushing of the grapes that determines the true nature of the wine.  These are the times and the places we must, like the prophet Habakkuk, know how to walk upon the high places and in the heavenlies when calamities befall us.  We must come to know heaven even in the times of desolation and despair.  Much of the Psalms were written in this very place.   In them we can hear each one of our own cries to God, as at the same time we are reminding ourselves of God’s great salvation.  In them we can see the encouragement that can be derived and the faith that can be stirred up, by remembering our God and His mighty acts.  We remember that He said He would never leave us or forsake us.  Psalm 73:23 says,” Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We must not ever let the circumstances around us dictate the presence of God in our lives.  Our feelings are not the best indicators of our spirituality.   Our spirit man within us, that in-Christed-One within us, is the anchor of our souls.  It is from the wells of His life within us that we draw forth the living waters in the days of drought. It is the living Word and manna that we eat in the days of our wilderness and hunger.  Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  This is why Habakkuk could sing, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” Only the people of God can truly know the place of heaven in such times.  Only they can know the joy of the their God and rejoice in His salvation when calamity fills the earth around them.  Our circumstances are not our God.  Our God is the Lord of our circumstances no matter what they may proclaim to the contrary.

If your circumstances and desolation are bringing you down today, come rejoice in the Lord, come up into the heavenlies with the spirit of praise, worship and remembrance of His wonderful acts.  Let faith arise in your hearts.  The Lord is your strength and He will cause you to stand.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding the Beauty

November 16, 2018

 

Finding the Beauty

 

Isaiah 68:1-3

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

 

There are a lot of people out there who see their lives as a mound of ashes.  They feel like life has dealt them a bitter hand.  They feel crushed, in despair and discouragement.  They have been hurt, disappointed, and have felt forsaken.  They may have experienced broken relationships, or rejection from others.  If they were to evaluate their lives to you they may only see failure and hopelessness.  Perhaps this might even feel like a good description of someone’s life reading this today.  If it is, the good news is that there is hope.  Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that, “Anyone who is among the living has hope -even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”   We must never come to the place where we allow despair and discouragement to cause us to want to take our life.  Our hope is among the living and not among the dead.  God has written a book of hope and life.  He sent His only Son to preach, live and die for a message of hope and life.  Our very scripture today is the prophetic word that spoke of His coming and His mission.  Jesus has come and His ministry right now is to the poor of spirit, the down and outers who have come to their end.  His mission is giving the hopeless, hope again, to comfort those in heartache and mourning and to provide for those who are spiritually or emotionally bankrupt.  He is here to give you beauty instead of ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and despair.  Jesus came to bear our infirmities.  Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  Jesus literally became ashes for us that we might receive the beauty and hope of His promise and life.  He wore our thorns that we might wear His crown.  All that He suffered on that cross and leading up to it was all on our behalf so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Some of us have found our lives, at some time or other, in the throes of despair and hopelessness.  The Lord wants us to know that nothing is hopeless as long as He sits on the throne.  It only becomes hopeless when we take it out of His hands and try and bear it all ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us what the Lord spoke to Him in that place.  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a beautiful Savior who is here to help us and give us beauty in those ugly times when life seems so bad and meaningless, so hopeless and barren.

Jesus is the redemption that is near to your heart today.  Reach out and receive that hope through faith in His word.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort and help us through.  He will give you the beauty for ashes.

Blessings,

#kent

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