The Spirit of Mourning

January 17, 2020

 

The Spirit of Mourning

 

Matthew 5:3-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Compromise

January 9, 2020

 

Compromise

 

Proverbs 7:24-27

Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong [men] have been slain by her. Her house [is] the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

 

Compromise

 

There was a boy, who walked a line along the river’s edge,

He was told to stay back away from it because of it slippery ledge.

But time and again he walked the line because he wanted too,

And more than once he came back home with wet and muddy shoes.

 

Many times, he was corrected and told to stay away,

But he was drawn by strong desire and by its edge would play.

He thought I’m too skilled to fall in, it was as if he were driven,

So he scoffed and heeded not all the warnings that were given.

 

As you might guess one day he didn’t show up at the door,

They searched and found him washed up along the river’s shore.

With grief they all talked and cried of this young man’s sad demise,

And how he wouldn’t stay away from that river called Compromise.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Will and the Way of God

 

1 Chronicles 15:2

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

 

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Amber Alert

December 20, 2019

Amber Alert

 

Mark 10:14

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Spiritual Ignorance

November 12, 2019

Ephesians 4:17-19

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

 

Spiritual Ignorance

 

What causes spiritual ignorance?  This passage in Ephesians gives us a pretty clear understanding that spiritual ignorance is a symptom of the hardening of the heart.  When a life is given over to sin, impurity, sensuality and continual lust for more it brings with it a darkness.  The heart becomes callused and insensitive to the Spirit of God and spiritual truth.  It becomes enveloped in a darkness and perversion of understanding concerning spiritual matters.  This spiritual ignorance is the bondage of sin and strongholds that keeps us captive to the world system of sin and death.  We only know how to operate under that law and paradigm.  We learn here that even for us a Christians whom Christ has delivered out of this darkness that this must no longer be our paradigm or way of thinking and living.  When we let the world come into our lives it will bring with it that veil of spiritual darkness and ignorance.  It will make our hearts insensitive to the moving and speaking of the Holy Spirit.  The apostle Paul strongly exhorts and commands us as the body of Christ to no longer be partakers of this mindset and lifestyle.  We are like fish that have been released from the hook and lure of sin, but if we don’t learn from that and turn away, we will be hooked again.  Once a fish is hooked it loses its ability to chose its own direction, but is led by the angler that has it captive.  Satan still wants to get his hooks in you, but the Word is exhorting us to not even be a part of that pond that is polluted with darkness and impurity.

We have been released through the blood of Jesus to swim in the living waters of God’s life and righteousness.  These waters are washing and cleansing our paradigm of thinking and believing till we come into the fullness of Christ likeness and being.

Ephesians 4:20-32 tells us what that looks like.  “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

We are exhorted here to allow the Holy Spirit  to take us through a transformation process by swimming away from the polluted pond that we once swam in; turning away from those former things that had us in spiritual ignorance and darkness concerning the will and purposes of God for our lives.  All those former strongholds and tendencies we are turning our back on and we are no longer allowing them to exist in the landscape of our lives.

We start by dealing with very practical issues that confront us in our daily lives.  We no longer react out of a fallen nature, but now we choose to respond out of Christ’s nature of holiness and righteousness.  We no longer looks at life through our fallen state of ignorance, but through the illuminating and transforming truth of God’s Words and the nature of Jesus.  The ways of Jesus don’t make sense to this world, because He is not of this world, and now, no longer are we.

As we come into the light of God’s truth and salvation our minds begin to be cleared of the former darkness we lived under and our hearts start to become sensitive again to the moving and prompting of the Holy Spirit so that we don’t continue in those former things.  We are living out of a new nature and new attitude of mind.  We are putting on the new self or person, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”   We know longer walk in spiritual darkness and ignorance as before, but in the truth of His Word and the holiness of His ways.

Blessings,

#kent

Out of the Heart

October 4, 2019

 

Out of the Heart

 

Mark 7:18-22

And he saith unto them, “Are ye so without understanding also?  Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him.   Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.   For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.   All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

 

Man and religion are so often focused on the outward issues of life, the dos and don’ts, the laws and works.  While God often uses outward things to help us understand, He is always first concerned about the heart issues.  He simply uses the natural things to reveal to us the things of the Spirit.  If we miss this, then we have missed the heart of God.

Jesus speaks to us in the scripture above that it is the things that come out of the heart that defile a man and then he speaks of all the things that come out of the heart.  I think all of us can see qualities of these evil things in one degree or another coming to the surface in our hearts.  I guess what it is worse is when they are there and we don’t see them.  Like the Pharisees we can become blind in our own self-righteousness, readily seeing the faults in others, but rarely seeing them in ourselves.  Aren’t our own faults and sins the hardest to own up too?  The ironic thing is when we really begin to seek God and fill our heart with His Word and Truth, sometimes that is when we may become discouraged because then we begin to see all of this darkness of our soul surfacing.  We can feel so defiled and condemned before God.

Have you ever thought about all of the mud that has settled in the bottom of a pond?  The pond looks clear and clean as long as it is still.  What happens when that seemingly clear pond gets stirred up?  All the mud and sediment, the pollution and filth cloud the water and now it appears unclean.  Was it really clean before or did it just carry that appearance?  When we allow the Word and the Holy Spirit to really have place and begin to deal and our lives things are probably going to get muddy.  There are so many layers of sin, wrong attitudes, wrong motives, wrong thoughts and wrong actions that God begins to deal with.  Before His dealings we had them neatly filed away, so that for the most part our lives might appear outwardly to be clean and right.  Now, as all this hidden filth begins to be dealt with, we are sometimes overwhelmed at what begins to be revealed in our hearts and lives.  Have we all a sudden become more sinful or is it God showing us the areas He wants to deal with in us and the areas He wants to us to bring under His Lordship.  The blood of Christ will never lose its power to forgive and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, but we do need to be faithful to confess our sins. (1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. )

The Word and the Holy Spirit have to become the filters through which we pass all our thoughts, attitudes, motives and actions.  They are the purifiers of our soul.  When these sins and impure things come up in our lives don’t despair, but rather thank God that He is faithful to show us our hearts and give us the opportunity to give these things over to Him.  This is a process of purification that God is taking us through.  That is a good thing.  If we hate what we are seeing in ourselves that is a good thing because then we are beginning to hate the things God hates and love the things that God loves.  This is a witness of who we are, the sons of the Most High.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.   And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Enemy of our Complacency

 

 

Luke 21:36

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

Appropriating God’s Power

October 1, 2019

Appropriating God’s Power

 

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

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

 

“GOD’S GREAT POWER WORKING IN US”

 

or

 

“AVAILABLE POWER FOR AVAILABLE PEOPLE”

 

(Ephesians 1:15-23)

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

  1. THE WORDS THAT EXPRESS THIS POWER

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. THE WORKS THAT EXPOSE THIS POWER

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

III. THE WAY TO EXPERIENCE THIS POWER

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Blessings,

#kent

“In Christ”

September 23, 2019

 

“In Christ”

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

What does it mean for us to be “in Christ”?  If most of us were asked if we are “in Christ” we would reply to the affirmative.  Let’s take a closer look at what that implies.  A couple of verses prior to this in verse 15 it says, “And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  “In Christ” is a place that we have come too and embraced by faith.  The question is, has it become the dimension, the dynamic, the purpose and the Spirit that are now existing in our daily lives?  Do we actually identify ourselves with being a new creation birthed in the image and likeness of Christ?   Do we live out of the mindset that the Lord is our all in all?  Have old things truly passed away or are we still holding onto them behind our back while we put on our Christian face in front.  Is Christ a part of all that we think, hope and dream about or is He a Christ of convenience, serving my need and answering my prayers.  Are our lives now all about Him or is it still about us?  These are some of the hard questions I feel the Holy Spirit is asking us today.

The Lord does not seek to condemn us, but to bring us into a revelation of who we truly are.  Most all of us are living way below what Christ has called us too and purposed us for.  The only place we can truly live out His purpose and life for us is in that intimate place of relationship and continual fellowship.  When we are “in Christ” this is where we find the new creation that we are in Him.

In Hebrews 9:6-8 it tells us, “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God]. But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”

If it is in our heart’s desire to enter into the holiest of all, which Christ has opened the access for us, then we need to understand that we can never enter in, in any other way than, “in Christ”.  If we are still living out of the ceremonial religion and the ordinances of men, then we can’t partake of the Holiest of All.  If we are still living in the old man’s thinking, his way of life and old covenant principles, then we are missing what it is to be a new creation in Christ.  The first tabernacles of our carnal thinking and religion have to be torn down before we can fully come into Christ and the dimension of His life.  It is no longer about just service to God; it is in becoming the priestly servants of God.  When we are “in Christ” we are living out of the dimension of Spirit life.  That should not be some mystical thing, but a very practical thing.  Jesus lived to manifest the will, purpose and nature of the Father. Christ has given us the same mandate.  He now lives through us if indeed old things have passed away and all things have become new.  While it is complete in the Father, it is still a process that is taking place in us.  Our folly is that in the process and living in the world and growing up in religion we can lose our bearings of who we really are and what Christ has called us out of this world to be.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 goes on to tell us, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  Christ gave His life to impart His life into you and me.  It is that life that we embraced by faith that makes us a new creation in the image and likeness of the One who has now entered our hearts and lives within us.  We were created and have become this new creation that we may glorify Christ and that we may honor Him by allowing Christ to live His life through us, even as He allowed the Father to live His life through Him.  An ambassador is one who stands in the place of His country and its leaders.  He represents all that they are.  Is that who we are “in Christ” today?  Christ in you, that is your identity that is who you now are and have been called to be.  Embrace and identify with His life in you.  You are no longer to be outside of Him or separate from Him, but you are one when you are “in Christ”.

Blessings,

#kent

Born Free

September 20, 2019

 

Born Free

 

Galatians 5:1

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

 

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

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

Blessings,

#kent

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