Restoration

August 16, 2017

Jeremiah 31:18-20

“I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.

Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented;

after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’

20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.

Restoration

Ephraim, for point of reference, was the younger one of the two sons of Joseph.  Jacob blessed him and his older brother Manasseh and the two were counted as one of the tribes of Israel.  Ephraim, though, he was the younger, Jacob blessed as the older, declaring that in him Israel would be blessed (Genesis 48).  Ephraim is often used as a name synonymous with Israel.  Jeremiah speaks this passage toward the end of Israel’s captivity in Babylon as they look forward to a time of freedom and restoration. 

It is the loving discipline of the Father that prevents us from reaping our own destruction.  If God tears down and destroys, He does it for the purpose of discipline, cleansing and restoration.  God’s discipline deals with the unruliness of our hearts as they stray from Him and forget His precepts and His ways.  It is God’s discipline that leads us to repentance and repentance leads us to restoration of fellowship and relationship lost through our sin and rebellion. 

God dealt very harshly with His nation Israel.  He allowed the destruction of their country, of their city, Jerusalem and even the glorious temple, which Solomon had built.  God will destroy the flesh, so that He may preserve the spirit.  Even in God’s anger, His love runs deep for His people.  We can readily see that in Jeremiah 31: 20 as God says, “Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD.” 

God’s heart is for us even when we have sinned and turned away from Him.  He ever abides faithful, even when we have been faithless.  Hebrews 12:4-12 is such a rich encouragement to us as God’s children that God disciplines us out of His love and not His anger.  “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  Many of us are already in a place of discipline or soon will be.  Judgement begins at the house of God.  God is disciplining and judging us so that His house may be in order before He judges the world.  It is our discipline and godly correction that will prepare our hearts and lives for a great ingathering of souls into the kingdom.  We are His sons and as much as Papa loves us, He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  Let us faint not or feel condemned of the Lord.  God is dealing, exposing and judging us so that our repentance will lead us to a restoration into the fullness of His purpose and plan for our lives.  Father is all about our restoration and not our destruction, but sometimes old things have to be torn down that better things might be built.  If you are undergoing urban renewal in your life then rejoice, for the Father is at work in you to do His good will and pleasure.  You are the son of His love and the product of His restoration and grace.

 

Blessings,

#kent

August 7, 2017

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday.  Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten.  One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly. 

The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior.  That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible.  Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church?  Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions?  We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God. 

Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food.  I’m certainly no exception there.  We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end.  Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices.  And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us.  All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices.  They can be good or bad depending on what they produce.  One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.

Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life.  If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made.  We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come. 

Are you making healthy choices spiritually today?  Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily?  I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chose Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own.  “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).”   May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.

 

Blessings,

#Kent

Pattern Son

August 2, 2017

Pattern Son

Hebrews 8:5

Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

When you look around you today what do you see, but never really think about?  Do you ever think about how we live in a world of patterns?  The tile, the carpet, the wall paper, the china, the cars, the houses, the appliances and on and on it goes.  Most of the things that surround our world are made from an original pattern and template.  What started as an original design is then reproduced in the same image as its original many times over. 

When God took Moses up on the mount it says that He gave Moses a plan, a blueprint, a template and a pattern of exactly what the tabernacle was to contain and how it was to be built down to the intricate details.  God then exhorted Moses to make it according to the pattern that He showed Him.  He wasn’t to deviate from that pattern at all.  Most all of us now know and have seen how this earthly tabernacle was a parallel to the spiritual tabernacle and how in every detail it spoke of Christ in some way.  

God has an original Son who is His pattern for us today.  What the pattern of the tabernacle foreshadowed, Christ came to fulfill.  In doing so He exemplified the pattern and template to which we all, as believers in Him, are to be conformed.  Christ walked out a life in this earth that demonstrated before us the divine expression and personality of God in fleshly form.  Jesus was someone we could touch, feel, see and wrap our natural as well as our spiritual minds around.  We could see how He responded to the daily pressures and demands of life.  We could see the relationship He had and maintained with the Father.  We could see how His life was a channel and conduit from heaven through which the power and love of God could flow into His humanity.  Again, God has given us a pattern after which to build our spiritual house and tabernacle.  Why do we want to spend so much time in God’s Word? Isn’t it because it contains all the details of how our spiritual house is to be built and how it is to function in this world? 

A pattern repeats itself.  When the ladies or men make a garment they are using a pattern or template to repeat and replicate the original design.  As we grow and follow Christ, in effect, our lives become a pattern which, other younger and less experienced ones are looking too in order to comprehend and help them be like the original.  How do children grow up and learn how to be adults and function in an adult world?  Their parents serve as the patterns for them to follow, mirror and learn the ways of adulthood.  They can only teach and bring their children to level they are at and then they must look to another more mature and experienced to take them further.  The apostle Paul acted as a spiritual parent to the early churches and to us to be an exsample of the life of Christ.  He says in 1 Timothy 1:16, “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”  In Titus 2:7 Paul exhorts Titus, who he describes as like his own son in the common faith, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [shewing] uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”  Discipleship is about reproducing the life and example of Christ in others in order that they may grow up being conformed to Christ likeness.  In Luke 6:40 Jesus tells his disciples, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”  The word perfect in this passage carries the connotation of being mature.  We will never be above Christ, but it is God’s will and desire that we are conformed to be like Him.  We are without excuse in that we have the Word of God for a pattern; we have the lives of Christ and the apostles to see how a Christ life is to be lived out.  We have godly men, whom the Spirit has raised up to be examples to us in our Christian living and to whom He has placed in them His anointing and ministry to help the body of Christ to grow up in the unity of the faith.  Ephesians 4:11 tells us, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” May it be our purpose in life and daily living to become conformed to our Pattern Son, Christ Jesus.   Our purpose is that in all of our ways we might ‘come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Our Hopes and Dreams

July 25, 2017

Proverbs 13: 12

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but [when] the desire cometh, [it is] a tree of life.

Our Hopes and Dreams

Part of life and living is having hopes and dreams.  We hope for a happy life.  We hope for health and wealth.  We hope for our children.  We hope for a lot of things, but there are those special hopes and dreams we hope to accomplish and see come true.  These hopes are the elements of our faith.  In faith we believe.  Our faith in Christ leads us to live in hope till we realize by faith the promises we have in Christ Jesus.  If we take all hope from a person, we take away their desire and reason for living.  The reason for life is predicated on hope. 

As a people in Christ, our primary hope and faith is planted in Him.  We base our life on that hope.  Yet within that hope we have in Christ we still have our personal hopes and dreams.  The difference between the world and us is that we want to filter our hopes, aspirations and dreams through the will of the Father for our lives.  Everything we might hope for and dream for might not be according to the will and purpose of the Father.  We might see every reason in the “world” why they should be, but again, it is His will and purpose that is foremost.  So we commit all of our ways, our hopes and our dreams unto Him.  Sometimes we see our dreams and our hopes fulfilled and sometimes we don’t.  Even with our disappointments should come the solace that the Lord is our greatest hope and He will order our steps if we acknowledge Him in all of our ways. 

We can make the mistake of holding on to our hopes and dreams even when God says “no” or sometimes we in the fervency of realizing our hopes and dreams will try and help God out like Abraham and Sarah did.  Then we just end up creating an Ishmael, a work of our flesh and doing.

No matter how great our hope or dream, it is important that it not become our idol and that which we place above the Lord.  In all of our ways we must remain subject and obedient unto Him. 

Have your hopes and have your dreams, but allow the Lord to be Lord of all.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Treasures We have in Christ

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Oh the treasures and the riches that are ours in Christ.  How richly our Lord favors us with His love and blessing.  How often I take for granted how immeasurably rich I am in Him.  It is not because things always go right or because I am wealthy beyond measure or that I don’t have any trials, tribulations or troubles, it because He is, “I AM.”  “I AM” is with you always, through everything and in every need.  “I AM”, is not our magic wand or “get out of jail free” card, but He is always there for us.  His presence and grace are sufficient for every need and trial.   He is there for us, not always to deliver us in a miraculous ways, although that is certainly always within His power and discretion, but to empower us in spiritual flight. He is there to bear us up on eagle’s wings above our life’s storms and to give us vision to see beyond the storm into the peace of a new day. 

Even when I can’t love myself, He loves me.  When sin and shame would cause me to turn and run from Him; He is the glory and the lifter of my head.  He washes me in the water of His Word and cleanses my sin with His blood.  Oh, what a friend I have in Jesus, my Savior forever.  How blessed and highly favored we are in Christ, for He has separated us from the nations and made us a holy nation unto Himself.  He corrects us, patiently loves us and writes His precious ways upon the tablets of our hearts.  Oh the extravagant love of the Father towards us and the tender and extreme love of Jesus.  Who can comprehend the love of Christ, that would experience such suffering and death for us when we were but enemies and aliens to Him, yet with the sacrifice of His own life and shed blood He has reconciled us to Himself. 

God forbid that we should neglect or take for granted so great a salvation as this.  Oh, the riches of His love and the great things He has prepared for those who love Him and embrace Him.  This life’s afflictions and trials are but for a brief moment and should only serve to prepare us for the great things that He is bestowing upon those who love Him and keep His ways.  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” 

Take heart when life is difficult.  You are not alone.  In the storms, press into the inner sanctuaries of His presence.  Meet with Him in the temple of your spirit.  You are exceeding rich and well favored, but gold hidden in the earth is often not perceived by others and too often, not even by us.  Just know that His treasure is stored in earthen vessels and you are such a vessel.  You are a portion of the riches that are hidden in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Delight in the Lord

July 13, 2017

Delight in the Lord

Psalms 37:4

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

What is it that we find our greatest joy and delight in?  We love doing and partaking of what we enjoy in life.  What gives us true pleasure and fulfillment?  While we would all like to be spiritual and say, “my delight and pleasure is in the Lord”.  The truth is, for many of us, while we love the Lord and believe in Him, he isn’t our first delight.  The Lord may be on our agenda, but He may not be the One we are completely focused upon and take the greatest pleasure in.  Whether we acknowledge it or not we have a list of the things we most delight in and they have to do with where our heart is.  Many times we won’t even acknowledge where our heart, desire and delights are because we are in denial of it.  If you ask yourself where do you spend the most of your time when you have a choice about it, what would your answer honestly be?  The Lord isn’t beating us up because we have other interests or things that we enjoy, but His pleasure is in those who delight in Him and have Him at the top of their agenda as the one they delight in the most. 

The truth be known, it is hard for us to give even one day to really focus and delight ourselves in the Lord.  Sunday comes and we may go to church or have some sort of worship service, but then we go about our day and we do our own pleasure.  We feel satisfied because we have given God His due.  Now it is our turn to delight ourselves in the things we enjoy.  Listen to something the Lord speaks in Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you turn away your foot from [traveling unduly on] the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a [spiritual] delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor Him and it, not going your own way or seeking or finding your own pleasure or speaking with your own [idle] words,

14Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”  As much as we all hate to admit it, so much of what we do for the Lord is token gestures of obligation, obedience or religious habit, but they are not because we truly delight in the Lord.  If we wonder why God doesn’t seem to hear our prayers and why we are not connecting with Him we need to read Isaiah 58.  Our superficial religious actions are no substitute for delighting ourselves in His ways.  The Father is looking for a love, a joy and delight for Him and His ways that comes from our heart, not our sacrifice. 

Jesus teaches us that ‘where our heart is there will our treasure be also’ and ‘to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.’  He is not trying to condemn us or beat us up because our delight is in other things.  The truth is, it is not always easy to delight yourself fully in the Lord because it is often a death to self.  Our flesh doesn’t want to stay still in His presence very long.  Like a restless child, tt wants to get up and go do what it delights in doing.  Truly delighting in the Lord is an acquired taste.  It comes about through a longing, desiring love toward Him as the lover of our soul.  It comes through an intimate relationship where Christ truly becomes our heart’s desire, our manna and our focus of life and living.  Like any relationship, it has to be cared for and maintained.  Some of us have had that and we’ve allowed other things to come in that have slowly disrupted our flow and delight in the Lord.  We still love Him, but we find that we are not delighting in Him as we once did.  Perhaps the cares of this world and the demands of life have shifted our focus.  The wonderful thing about the Lord is that He is always standing with open arms to welcome us back into His presence.  He is not mad at us, but He does long for that relationship where we can truly delight in Him and in His presence.  Make the time for your intimacy with Him.  Come fall so deeply in Love with Him again that He is the delight of your heart and soul.  “Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Our chief desire should be Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Having the Same Mind

July 3, 2017

Proverbs 23:7

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.

Having the Same Mind

I’m not sure any other married couples experience this, but I find that Sharon and I often don’t think alike.  Sometimes we’ve even wondered why the Lord put us together when we think so differently.  What makes practical and logical sense in my world is often totally foreign to what her thoughts are on the same subject.  Now it is not really about who is right or wrong, because everyone has their own perspective.  The important issue is how do we come to one mind in a matter? Just because we can have things the way we want them to be doesn’t mean that we are going to be happy because we do.  There is more to consider here than just me.  As I was thinking upon the ways I want to be a better husband the principle came to me this morning, “Remember that in pleasing a woman it is not thinking how you think, but thinking how she thinks.”  That can be kind of foreign to us guys, so it is something that we have to become sensitive too.  The reason we want to please our woman is first of all because we love her and second of all, a happy wife makes for a happy life.

The good thing about Sharon is that she is very honest and straightforward to let me know how she thinks or feels about something.  That is good for a slow-witted guy like me, because even at that I am often slow to get the message.  A lot of women often will say one thing with their mouth while feeling another way in their heart.  They think that he will somehow know how I really feel or what I really want and do it.  Then when he takes you at your word, he finds that you are upset and angry and he is not even sure what has done wrong.  Ladies, most of guys are kind of slow on some things that pertain to female logic.  Help us out by being honest about what you want. 

Let’s make a spiritual application to these principles. The Bible says that we don’t think as God thinks.  Romans 8:6-7 says, “The way a sinful person thinks leads to death. But the mind controlled by the Spirit brings life and peace. 7 The sinful mind is at war with God. It does not obey God’s law. It can’t. 8 Those who are controlled by their sinful nature can’t please God.”  We know that the natural minded thinking is not pleasing to God and when He called us unto Himself, He called us to change our mind to His way of thinking.  Now God’s way of thinking is in conformity and obedience to His Word of instruction and to listening and obeying the Holy Spirit within us.  It is the spiritual mind, which is pleasing to God.  That mind operates out of a faith that trusts in Him.  Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.” 

Many of us still maintain a duality of thinking and being.  Often we give lip service to the Lord, saying all of the right spiritual words, but our hearts are not with Him.  They are set upon our own affections and desires.  We are still of our own mind.  We are as Proverbs 23:7 says, “7For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”  We say one thing outwardly, but in our hearts we feel another way.  The man in Christ must swallow up in ‘Life” that which the man in Adam lost in death.  Only by walking, thinking and being in Life can the Life swallow up the death that has corrupted our thinking and is in opposition to God.  In everything that we are and are becoming, we must have one mind.  Our mind is the mind of Christ, because we are in Him and the cross is at work crucifying that which is not in conformity with His Life.  Colossians 1:21-23 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” 

Our mind and our will are our own.  We can maintain and keep our old way of thinking, but it alienates us from the choice we made in Christ.  We can never have the full peace and blessing of God outside of our obedience to Him and the conformity of our minds to His.   We can’t have the glory without the cross.  They go together.  Our objective is to have the same mind as Christ.  Philippians 2:5-10 sums it up this way, “Think as Christ Jesus thought. 6 Jesus has always been as God is. But He did not hold to His rights as God. 7 He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a man. 8 After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross. 9 Because of this, God lifted Jesus high above everything else. He gave Him a name that is greater than any other name. 10 So when the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow down before Him. 11 And every tongue will say Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone will give honor to God the Father.”  Aren’t you glad that you are loosing your mind? 

 

Bessings,

#kent

Trust

June 29, 2017

Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

As easy as the instruction of this passage appears to be, why is it that it is so difficult to continually implement it into our lives?  Could it be because we have relied on our own understanding in so many circumstances and through so much of life it is hard for us to let go.  We might compare it with parachuting.  Why would a sane person jump out of a perfectly good airplane?  When you do you leave the safety and security of what you know to jump into what you only know and rely upon by faith.  Like parachuting, it can be pretty hard for us to want to let go concerning our faith and full reliance upon the Father.  Why should we be afraid to trust Him?  We certainly can see what a marvelous job He has done with the world that surrounds us, the balance of nature and how he cares for even the most minute of creatures.  Why should we doubt that He has anything but our best interest at heart?   Yet, the greatest stumbling block down through the ages has been that God’s people always eventually want to forsake Him for what they can see, touch, feel, taste and hear.  We are always being drawn back into the five senses of our natural man.  That is the realm in which we comfortably live. 

We have been called out of the comfort zone of our natural living.  We have been called to sky dive into the arms of our God, no longer looking and relying on the natural man.  Until we are willing to do this we will always live under the law of limitations.  Obviously there is a balance to this, but I believe more times than not we error more on the side of trusting in the flesh than trusting in our God.  Abraham is a wonderful example of a man that was willing to trust in God rather than his own understanding.  His faith was accounted unto him as righteousness and we don’t see God failing Abraham.  It doesn’t mean his faith was not tested and he often had to walk only in trust and obedience, but we see an example of a man that was well pleasing to the Lord and God counted Abraham as His friend. 

We see the Apostle Paul coming to this place when he says in Galatians 2:20, ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  This is simply stating in New Testament words the truth of Proverbs 3:3-6.   Christ becomes our all and all.  Life has become for His purpose and for His glory and not for ours.   All of our life is directed around His will and good pleasure.  Our spiritual senses are always attuned to His leading and direction.  The more sensitive, conscious we are and the more time that we are spending communing and setting our minds and hearts on the Father, the more the Holy Spirit will be able to make Himself known to us in our daily lives.  It is the walking in our own understanding that has made our hearts hard and insensitive to the Spirit’s leading and direction. 

We are again reminded of James exhortation to us in James 4:7-10, “7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  We are God’s people and it is essential that we really begin to trust and rely on Him in all of our ways.  If this world, its economy and all of the security we currently trust in were gone tomorrow do you have the trust and relationship with Christ that would sustain you by faith alone?  Is Christ truly our security or is it in all that we have built with our hands and our abilities. 

Today is a day that God wants to bring us out of our understanding into the understanding of who He is and who He wants to be to us and through us.  Let’s press into the understanding of our God and His ways.

Psalms 23:8 says, “But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

The City of our God

June 23, 2017

The City of our God

Psalms 48:1-3

Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.

Most of us understand the concept that when we talk about the church we are not just speaking of physical locations made up of sticks and stones and building material.  We know that when God speaks of His church He is speaking of the organism and a body that functions under the headship and authority of Christ.  The city of God and Zion are the same way.  Yes there is a natural Jerusalem and Mount Zion, but it is much more than a physical location; it is a spiritual location.  Many of us have become so earthly minded that we only see Jerusalem in a natural context.  We fail to fully comprehend that this city is comprised of His people and that King Jesus is upon its throne, ruling out of mount Zion.  Mount Zion was in the older part of the natural city of Jerusalem.  It was a citadel, a high place and a fortress.  It included Mount Moriah where the temple was built.  God has used Jerusalem and Zion as a metaphor throughout His word to speak of the spiritual city of His holy habitation. 

Hebrews 11:8-10 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.”  God founded this city of salvation in Abraham.  It was there that God sent Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Genesis 22:2 says, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”   It was Mount Moriah where Solomon built the temple.  “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah, where [the LORD] appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. (2 Chronicles 3:1)” It was in Jerusalem that God fulfilled His promise of salvation because it became again the place of the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son when Jesus gave His life for our sins.  And finally we see Jerusalem, not the old natural city, but the New Jerusalem which is from above, as being the completion of God’s salvation at Christ’s return.  Revelations 21:2 tells us, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  This is Lord’s church, His Bride, His holy habitation and dwelling.  You and I are a part of that now as Christ indwells us.  The Word speaks to this heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews 12:22-24, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”  This Jerusalem is a spiritual city and assembly whose builder and maker is God.  The natural has been the type and shadow to reveal the real.

Finally we come to a scripture that we have shared many times that so describes the part we play in this city.  1 Peter 2:4-9 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, 8and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  We, the body of Christ are what constitutes and comprises this New Jerusalem.  Out of this New Jerusalem the Lord will reign and govern the earth.  Truly, “great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.  Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the Great King!”  (Psalms 48:1)

 

Blessings,

#kent

My Destiny is the Pits

June 22, 2017

Genesis 37:13-24

[One day] Israel said to Joseph, Do not your brothers shepherd my flock at Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them. And he said, Here I am. 14And [Jacob] said to him, Go, I pray you, see whether everything is all right with your brothers and with the flock; then come back and bring me word. So he sent him out of the Hebron Valley, and he came to Shechem. 15And a certain man found him, and behold, he had lost his way and was wandering in the open country. The man asked him, What are you trying to find? 16And he said, I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, I pray you, where they are pasturing our flocks.

17But the man said, [They were here, but] they have gone. I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. 18And when they saw him far off, even before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19And they said one to another, See, here comes this dreamer and master of dreams. 20So come on now, let us kill him and throw his body into some pit; then we will say [to our father], Some wild and ferocious animal has devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams! 21Now Reuben heard it and he delivered him out of their hands by saying, Let us not kill him. 22And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit or well that is out here in the wilderness and lay no hand on him. He was trying to get Joseph out of their hands in order to rescue him and deliver him again to his father. 23When Joseph had come to his brothers, they stripped him of his [distinctive] long garment which he was wearing; 24Then they took him and cast him into the [well-like] pit which was empty; there was no water in it.

My Destiny is the Pits

Most of us know the story of Joseph who was the favored son of Jacob, but despised by his brothers.  God had his hand on Joseph in a special way and even gave Joseph some dreams that were glimpses into his destiny and calling.

Remember how great it was when we first came to know Christ and experienced the joy of salvation.  Then, as we grew we learned of His exceeding great and precious promises to us in Christ Jesus.  What perhaps wasn’t so real to us at the time was the truth that “if we suffer with Him we shall also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17)”.  Many of us walking this journey of faith and trust in Christ have found and are still finding ourselves in some very difficult places.  Maybe we have even pondered whether God really loves or cares about us.  I believe, like Joseph, the pit we often find ourselves in was really an appointment with destiny.  It may be satan’s attempt to destroy us, but then that was his attempt when he succeeded in crucifying Jesus.  The paradox of our faith is that often the way up is the way down and we often walk through hell in our journey to heaven. 

Joseph, just happened to run into a man that was in the fields where his brothers were suppose to be as he was searching for them and this man just happened to have overheard his brothers saying where they were going.  Joseph’s whole journey that day was the road that would lead him to rule and reign, but between here and there existed a dark and hard path to follow.  It was the road of preparation, the trying of his faith.  When Joseph did come to where his brother’s were camped they plotted against him and even planned to kill him.  Remember the scripture that says, ‘your enemies will be those of your own household?’  Many of us have experienced betrayal, hurt, rebellion and have been forsaken by those of our own family.  They seized Joseph and threw him into a dry well or pit.  Have we ever found ourselves in dry and waterless places, faced with adversity, trials and tribulations and it seems as if God and the Holy Spirit are no where around?  We may not think that we are even going to make it.  Surely this is the end of us; what hope is left? 

Imagine how Joseph felt and the thoughts that went through his head as his brothers spoke of killing him and refused to take him out of the pit?  The fear, the sorrow, the betrayal and the separation he felt not only from his brothers, but more importantly from his father who he may never see again.  His bright future is suddenly turned to darkness and despair. 

If you are finding yourself in the pit today, don’t be discouraged and don’t despair, you may just be finding your destiny.  If we learn one thing from Joseph’s life it is that matter how dark it gets and how far away from God it seems, don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t forsake your faith and trust in God.  God has not forsaken you, but He is there with you every step of the way.  James 1:3-4 exhorts us, “Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Patiently trust God even in the pits of your life because He is active in you performing the will and do of His good pleasure to bring you into your inheritance.  1 Peter 1:3-9 sums all of this up quite well, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

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