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

Ethics of the Kingdom

September 18, 2019

Luke 3:7-14

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10″What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told

them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

 

Ethics of the Kingdom

 

It is interesting to see here that John the Baptist’s message was not unlike Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount.  John was already teaching practical kingdom principles of behavior and conduct.  People from different walks of life were asking John what they needed to do after they had repented of their sins and been baptized.

We, as the body of Christ, transformed by the power of Christ, still often find ourselves in a quandary concerning our business, financial and ethical dealings.  We most often work in the midst of the world around us and can easily be influenced and adopt those paradigms and business practices that are not kingdom.  Human nature is to normally do what best benefits you.  Am I right?

Kingdom living principles are well expressed in Philippians 2:1-11.  “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We can easily see that kingdom principles run counter to the competitive, ‘dog eat dog’ world that we live in today.  The principles of the world are self-serving, but the principles of Christ are considering the interest of others before myself.  If we want to know and see kingdom principles in action we need to go no further than to look at the King Himself.  He was everything, yet came to us as nothing, that He might impart unto us all the riches of His kingdom.  I’ll never forget hearing what a speaker said many years ago that summarized it so well.  “The Son of God became the Son of man, so that the son’s men could become the sons of God.”  Jesus could have come to make Himself rich and powerful, but that wasn’t His mission.  His mission was to seek and save that which was lost and give His life as a ransom for all.  In that mission He is redeeming a kingdom of kings and priests that will display His likeness and glory.  As we walk in discipleship and relationship with Christ we are putting on His nature as His character is being worked within us.

I feel convicted that the Holy Spirit wants each of us to examine which paradigm and mindset we may be operating under.  How often do we use the devices, manipulation, and wisdom of this world for our own gain, while we often ignore what is in the best interests of others?  For many of us, our method of operation (MO) has become so instilled in us that we aren’t even aware of how we may be very similar in doing the same things these tax collectors and soldiers were doing before they came to repentance.  Many of us don’t really consider how much we still operate out of worldly principles, because it is the way of the marketplace.  Now, He wants us to observe ourselves and consider if we, as a kingdom people, are operating our lives and businesses out of kingdom principles?  Let’s ask Him to put His finger on the areas we are out of alignment with His will as we prayerfully go about our business.

Especially in these difficult times it is hard not to be concerned about the bottom line, but we know that there is a higher road to greater blessing.  Let us consider our ways and turn toward it.

Blessings,

#kent

Effects of Corruption

September 17, 2019

 

Effects of Corruption

 

Galatians 6:8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

 

In this day and age many of us deal with computers.  They are a great tool and instrument of help anda  blessing to our lives as long as they are working properly.  When something starts to go south they can become a tremendous source of frustration.  Sometimes we experience a corruption in our software and it may start as a minor glitch, but it rarely gets better on its own and left to itself it could eventually affect and shutdown our whole system.

The effects of sin work much the same way in us.  When we give place to areas of sin in our lives it is often minor at first, but the more we feed it, the hungrier it gets.  Little by little it leads us down a path of greater and greater corruption.  It is like a cancer that may manifest in one area of our body.  Left unattended it can grow and spread till it can affect other areas of the body as well.  It can overtake us to point that we begin to lose moral compass and control over its direction.  Often times, the Holy Spirit will deal with us about it and even send others into our life to exhort us and warn us of our corruption.  The corruption of sin can again rule over us if it is given place and allowed to have dominion.  That sin will eventually manifest itself to the point that it can be spiritually life threatening and totally destructive to our lives.  That which we sought to hide in the corner may be suddenly shouted from housetops and we can find ourselves publicly naked and humiliated.  Those that once admired us may now despise us because of the reproach our corruption has brought upon us.  All that we had spent years building in reputation and integrity can be destroyed in a moment.  It is vitally important that we judge ourselves, lest we be judged.  Whom the Lord loves He chastens.

If we find corruption in our lives, our remedy is repentance, changing our mind and going the other direction.  This isn’t always easy because of the stronghold that sin can have upon us.  We may well need to humble ourselves and go to other mature members of the body of Christ to help us in these areas of bondage and corruption.  Freedom from corruption will first begin to come with our decision and commitment to get free from it.  We may need some help and deliverance, but we still have the power of Christ within to enable us to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  Perhaps there is corruption at work in many of us that we need to deal with, confess, and get deliverance from, that we might live a life of liberty and freedom in Christ.

Blessings,

#kent

Joy Cometh in the Morning

September 13, 2019

 

Joy Cometh in the Morning

 

Psalms 30:5

For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

 

Where is your life spiritually today?  Would you characterize it as nighttime or daytime?  Most all of us, who have been walking in Christ for a time, know that we go through seasons in a spiritual sense.  There are times we go through such close intimate times with our Lord and sense His presence and love in such a wonderful way and then there are those nighttime experiences.  It may come as a result of allowing sin to come into our lives.  It may be the result of God’s chastening or dealings in our lives.  It may be through persecution or tribulation.   Whatever the reason it is nighttime experience, one in which we fail to sense God’s presence in our soul.  Our prayers may seem hollow and of none effect.  These are times when spiritually we cry out for God, perhaps it is in these times we really begin to seek God’s help, His presence, His deliverance through a trial or tribulation we are facing.  There are times our lives can feel pretty bleak.  Our circumstances are overtaking us.  Where is God?

King David experienced this nighttime ordeal before He became King.  Psalm 30:7-9 says, ”

LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, [and] I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.  What profit [is there] in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”  Perhaps you and I have prayed prayers similar to this.  One thing that is so admirable about David and I think a spiritual key to us overcoming in these dark times is that David, no matter how low, remembered the goodness and the faithfulness of GodHe continually brought God’s promises and His benefits before the Lord in his prayers and psalms.   And he never ceased to praise and thank God even in those dark times.  He was quite honest with God about what he was going through and the emotions that wanted to overtake him, but he always brought his thoughts and focus back to a place of faith in the faithfulness of God.  We may go through some long nights that may go for years, but learn those principles that David learned.  They will sustain you in those times. David even says an interesting thing in this passage, he says, ” by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face.”  Have you ever thought of your mountain as favor from God?  Remember that what God is allowing in your life is designed to press you into Him.  He wants us to learn and trust Him for who He is, not what He can do for us.  This is the place of maturing faith where the rubber meets the road.  God has to become very real to us or we give up and turn away.  God is processing us through the hardships of our life.   “The trial of your faith is much more precious than Gold” (1 Peter 1:7a)

In this scripture David says “joy does come in the morning”, our trials, darkness and seeming separation from God won’t last forever.  He is faithful to bring us through if we faithfully hold fast to Him.  David’s next expression after talking of how severe the trial says, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

If you are in your night season, don’t be discouraged, have hope, God has not forsaken you.  He is proving you and bringing you into whom you really are in Him.  Stand the test, stay the course, for joy comes in the morning

Blessings,

#kent

The Realm of the Unseen

July 29, 2019

 

The Realm of the Unseen

 

2 Corinthians 4:18

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.

 

Christianity is unique in that we exist and live in a world and reality that is both natural and spiritual.  We operate in two different realms that come together in faith.  We don’t just worship gods or ideas; we worship the one and only true and living God of all creation and glory.  We have seen His face in His Son, Jesus Christ and He not only exist outside of us, but He also inhabits His believers with His Holy Spirit.  The true Christian, likewise, in his spirit, indwells heaven and the touches the dimension of the spiritual realm.  Our faith is all about how these two worlds come together in our daily lives.

How do we know this other world outside of our natural self?  It is revealed to us through God’s written Word and it is made alive within us through the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:24-25 tells us, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].”  A Christian doesn’t worship, serve and hope in a God that he tangibly sees, touches and acknowledges with just their natural senses, but the true believer steps into the dimension called faith where we call things that are not as though they were.  Many of us still struggle with this concept, because our natural mind still wants to operate in a sense realm mentality, touch it, taste it, smell it, see it and hear it.  Many have rejected Christ because they will not allow themselves to believe and enter into the realm and dimension of faith, where realities are laid hold of in the spirit, before they are ever manifested in the natural.  Many of us as Christians are still missing it because even though we were able to embrace Christ as our Savior by faith we fail to carry that on through as a part and portion of our spiritual walk and life.  As a result, we are natural minded Christians who only see limited blessings.  As spiritually minded Christians, the realization is, that the less of the natural man is given place the more the spiritual man, in the image of Christ, can come forth.  It is not like we zombie out and just let the Lord possess our bodies, it is a union whereby the soul gives the place of lordship and dominion over to the spirit which is the habitation of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, by faith and knowledge in the Word of God, we can grow up in Him in all things.  We learn to live and operate out of a place of trust in the Lord as we are obedient to His will and commandments to our lives.  We learn to know, practice and operate out of the principles of the Spirit realm and not just the earthly.  We know that our obedience to the principles and commands of God’s Word will bring forth God’s promised results.  By faith we have embraced them, and our hope stands in the gap waiting for that which we have not yet seen, but believe we have.  The results and manifestation of our faith may be seen in a moment, days or over the course of years.  Sometimes it even supercedes our natural lifetime and extends into generations.  Look at the promises that Abraham believed for.  They are still seeing their fulfillment over the course of thousands of years.   God doesn’t promise a time; He just promises His faithfulness.

We are an impatient people and often we are prone to give up on our faith and let it go.  Some of the things that God teaches us through faith are patience, perseverance, and prevailing in the face of doubt and discouragement.  Often things are established in the heavens long before they are seen upon the earth.  How many things are still in heaven that never made it to earth, because our faith failed, and we gave up.  With our faith we need to release praise and thanksgiving, rejoicing in expectancy for what we hope for, but have not yet seen with our natural eyes.  Here we need our spiritual eyes to see and embrace God’s promises, despite what natural circumstances tell us.  Here, in the unseen realm, we call those things that are not as though they were.

Blessings,

#kent

%d bloggers like this: