My Destiny is the Pits

June 22, 2017

Genesis 37:13-24

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

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

My Destiny is the Pits

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Potter’s Wheel

June 14, 2017

The Potter’s Wheel

Jeremiah 18:3-4

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it].

Today we are on the Potter’s wheel and He is shaping and molding our vessels.  Now there are many kinds of vessels.   The pot doesn’t tell the potter how to make it.  Romans 9:20-24 says,  “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.

[What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”  While the Potter has power over the clay to shape it as He will, He has also given properties to the clay that can help determine the quality and purpose of the vessel.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  We see that the Lord’s heart is not for men to perish or to be cast off.  He has made this abundantly clear through sending His Son to reconcile us back to Himself so that He might form us into the vessels of honor that would glorify His name.  The reality is, not all will turn to the Lord.  Because we have a will we can harden our hearts against the Lord and choose to go our own way, forsaking His salvation or we can turn to Him, repent and be partakers of His salvation.   

In order to make fine pottery you need fine clay.  It has to be one that is free of all rocks and debris so that it will not be marred as it turns in the potter’s hands.  Now there can be vessels made that can serve a purpose that is not as pure, but they will not find their way into the place of the honored vessels.  The principle is that the finer and more pure the clay or the raw material the finer and more honorable the vessel that can be made.  If our hearts are reflective of the quality of the clay, selfishness and willful sin are the impurities that create the mars and flaws in our vessel that the Potter is shaping.  1 Timothy 2:19-21 says this, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.” 

What kind of vessel are we becoming in the Father’s house today?  We don’t have control of how He has made us, but the Word implies that we do have input into the type of vessel that we can be, one of honor or one of dishonor.  If we want that place of honor, then the Lord is calling us to purity, to depart from all iniquity and to come to Him with a repentant heart that He might repair and remove all of the mars and blemishes that we have created through our sin and rebellion.  We must provide the Potter the right materials in our lives so that He can fashion a vessel of honor for His glory and for His house.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Alive

June 6, 2017

Romans 6:8-14

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Alive

How many of us are alive in Christ today?  I don’t mean going through the religious motions of Christianity, but are experiencing daily the quickening life of a resurrection Christ?  The scriptures use the analogy of life and death in a spiritual sense.  Death, spiritual death, is descriptive of our life before we died to death. 

Some may think, what do you mean died to death?  How can you do that?

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Now these are the basic tenants of the Christian faith and most of us may already know this, but there is something more the Lord is wanting us to get  a hold of.  Because we were conceived in iniquity and all have sinned we grew up, outside of Christ, in a state of spiritual death.  We were dead to God and His Spirit.  Quite literally Christ, took upon His own sinless self the penalty and judgement of all of our sin and died for the death that indwells the unbeliever.  Sin and death were crucified upon that cross in His body. When we came into the light of the truth and gave our hearts to Jesus there was a death, to sin and death, that took place in us.  The spiritual reality of what was taking place is that we identified our former life in this sinful man with Jesus upon the cross.  We were spiritually crucified that day and identified with Christ upon the cross.  There we nailed that former man of sin, which we were, together with Christ upon the cross.  We died to sin and death. 

Through the practice of water baptism we are symbolizing our identification with the death of Christ as we die to the old, go under the water and are buried and then are raised up a new creation in Christ, being made alive in Him.  In that spiritual resurrection of our spirit man there needs to be a revelation and understanding that the former person we had been has ceased to exist and the new man we are is unified and identified in Christ who raised them from the dead. 

The Greek for the word alive here is “Zao”.  Some of its meanings are ” to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead), to enjoy real life, to have true life and worthy of the name, active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God.” You and I were dead in our trespasses and sin.  We were living in spiritual death headed for condemnation, judgement and hell.  Christ interrupted our death with the spiritual awakening of His truth.  In receiving that truth, which is Christ, by faith we were made alive and given the promise of the power of endless life with Him in glory. 

Paul says this again so eloquently in Ephesians 2:1-10, ” As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Now the point is this, if Christ has quickened our spirits and made us alive unto Him, why are we still partaking and living in the dead things that are unclean and defile our spirits?  There are areas in our life where we allowing death to be a cohabitant with life.  The Word says, “what fellowship hath light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).”  The Lord’s exhortation to us today is bathe our whole man in the light of His truth and righteousness.  The distinction between good and evil is quickly shrinking the gray areas of our life.  He is bringing us into the more radial distinction of His nature and character.  Allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, quicken and make alive every part of who we are that we might be distinctly His.  We want to see the full salvation of the Lord, spirit, soul and body.  In order for us to experience the fullness of His life, we must experience the fullness of His death to the man of sin and death.  In Christ Jesus you have been made ALIVE!  Let us live fully alive in that Life!

 

Blessings,

#kent

Restoration

June 2, 2017

 

Acts 1:6-7

6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Restoration

We know that there are times and seasons in the economy of God.  We don’t exactly when they will come into being, but in that hour the Lord will begin to unfold His purpose and plan through His prophets and mouthpieces.   We know from history that when Jesus ascended that it was not the hour when the kingdom would be restored to Israel.  In fact it was the hour when the kingdom of Israel came into judgement and the Israelites were dispersed throughout the nations.  In more recent history we have seen the signs of restoration again as natural Israel has become a nation again and its in habitants have been returning.  It is a sign of the times of restoration.

Before we see the restoration of the nation of Israel in it’s fullness and before we see the restoration that the sons of God will bring in the earth, restoration must begin within us, His people.  We must be restored into right fellowship and relationship with Him again.  Spiritual Israel has become a mixed and polluted people.  We have become integrated and filled with the values and influences of the society in which we live.  God is starting the procedure of restoration, which is first a process of purification and sanctification unto Him.  He starts with judgement and purification of His own house, because the spirit of reconciliation and restoration will flow through His people to the nations.  John the Baptist was a forerunner of Jesus as it says in John 1:23, “He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”  Again the Lord is sending His word forth, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” 

This is a day in which our focus is to see restoration within our own hearts and lives back to a right and close relationship with the Father.  Many things are brewing both spiritually and naturally immediately in front of us.  It is a day of preparation and watchfulness.  Let us not be caught up in just ‘the buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage’.  It is time to turn our eyes from the economy of this world onto the economy of God and where we fit into His plan and purpose.  The wise virgin prepares herself, stores up her oil and is in readiness when the Bridegroom appears.  That is where we want to be.  Draw near to Him and listen to Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart and leads you in His ways. 

Blessings,

#kent

Psalms 71:1-6

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2 Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. 3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. 5 For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. 6 From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.

What Value do we put on Life?

It is God who has given each one of us the breath of life.  He has known us from the foundations of the world and each one is precious in His eyes.  It is God who gives life and unto Him that life returns.  It is He that imparts to us a soul that we may comprehend, know and lay hold of Him.  How it must grieve the heart of God when a people can put themselves in the place of God deciding if a unborn child has the right to live and presumptuously thinking that we have the right to take that life that God has given.  When did God impart to us the right to decide who would have a quality of life worth living or that it could be done away with if it were not convenient to us?  We live in a nation that has legally given us this right to deny any rights to our unborn.  I can tell you that there are many grieving women out there that bought into this lie and have felt the horrible impact of what they have done. They have felt the shame and condemnation of their actions and live with that every day.  Morally, they know within their hearts, that what they have done is wrong, regardless of what our laws allow and now so many live, struggling to forgive themselves and no doubt struggling with the truth that God can forgive them for what they have done.  If you are one of those women, then know that God’s grace and forgiveness can extend to our deepest sin and there is no stain that His blood cannot cleanse if we seek Him in repentance and ask for that forgiveness.  Often it is not God’s forgiveness we struggle with as much as it is forgiving ourselves.  God would not have you continue to carry this burden of guilt, but through that experience may you become His greatest advocate for life and the instrument that can help others from making this same mistake. 

The greatest handicap in our life is not that we are born into adversity, it is that we would not know adversity, weakness or trial.  Some of the most challenged people are the greatest people of character and strength.  Like the psalmist David, in above scripture, adversity makes us cry out for God, it is the travail that births His presence and strength into our weakness and failure.  It is in what we can not be that we can find that He is.  It is through adversity that we become overcomers.  Usually we are praying, “God, deliver me out of my adversity,” but that would only defeat its perfect work in you.  Rather we should pray, “God, be my strength and enablement to go through this adversity and prevail through You.”  We so often have what might be termed a rapture mentality that looks for God to catch us up and deliver us from all tribulation.  The greater truth is to already be entering into the ark of His safety and life that He might preserve you and keep you through all tribulation.  David didn’t see God there when he was fleeing for his life from Saul, but His prayers and faith in God covered him and preserved him in safety.  God was there in the midst of David’s praise and supplications.  He was all that David asked that he would be.  It was through this adversity in David’s life that God was training him up to rule and reign.  It was in this adversity that God was training David that his reliance should never be upon himself, but always upon his God.  It was through this adversity that David could know that his strength, his wisdom and his ability was the presence of God’s anointing upon his life.  God’s favor rested upon David because he did know that and did trust in his God.  Even so, David also knew a time in his life of great failure and sin when he committed adultery, lied and had Bathseba’s husband put to death.  He had to live with the consequences of those actions, but I believe he also found God’s forgiveness and mercy through his repentance for his sin. 

We are all cracked pots, fragile, weak and subject to breaking.  That is why we must put ourselves totally into the Potter’s hands that He may shape and mold and be the glue that fills those cracks of our weakness and failure.

Respect the life that God has given rather it is unborn, old and frail, or lowly and unimportant in appearance.  God is the author of it all and to Him it is all, precious.   Our function is to be a light and serve His creation in the love of Christ.  We are His hands and fingers that holds, cares for and loves all His creatures, both small and great.

Blessings,

#kent

How much does Your Sin Cost Me?

James 4:1-6

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

    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?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We know that Jesus paid the price for our sin and the spiritual, eternal consequences they reap.  We know that through faith and calling upon the name of Jesus we can partake of the free gift of His great salvation and goodness.  We know also that through the power of His life that comes to reside within us we can overcome the strongholds and the power of the sin that has operated in our lives.  We also know that even though Jesus paid the price, sin still operates in our world and unfortunately it still operates in us as believers where we give it place.  Sin has natural consequences as well as spiritual ones.  As we survey our world we have no trouble seeing the devastating effects of sin that touches every life on this planet.  While God is merciful to forgive our sins, that sin still produces consequences.  It produces its fruit of destruction and death.  The sad thing about sin, whether it is ours or someone else’s, it doesn’t just cost us, it cost all who are touched by it.  Sin is like a rock thrown into a pond, it produces a big splash where it lands, but it also produces ripples that go out in all directions.  This begs the question, how much will your sin cost me and how much will my sin cost you? 

People ask the question, “How could a loving God allow war, hunger, sickness, disease, poverty and crime?”  I guess it could be said, because He loved us enough to give humanity a free will to make choices whether they were for Him or against Him.  The state of our world is the fruit of many poor choices where man chose sin over God.  God has loved us so much, that in spite of all those wrong choices and in spite of the ones we continue to make we have a way back to Him; back to His righteousness and perfect plan.  Meanwhile, as long we continue in this present evil age of man’s doing the consequences of sin will follow us. 

What does that mean to us on a personal level?  What happens for instance when a person allows alcohol or drug addiction to get a hold of their lives.  The hook is often innocent enough, but the underlying consequences are horrific.  How many of our lives have been affected by these.  A person lusts so much after these strongholds that they will cheat, steal, lie, con and they will become all the things that they once hated and detested in others.  They will beat the wife they say they love, they will abuse their precious children, they rob from their family to feed and satisfy their addiction and even though they hate themselves for it they can’t stop their destructive course.  They go on to beg, borrow, steal, and con their friends, family and loved ones, because of their lack.  They will loose their jobs, their reputation, their self-respect, their dignity and integrity until they either get help or completely destroy all that they had loved and held dear.  They will cost those closest to them untold grief, heartache, pain in many ways: financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually and every other way.  That ripple will continue to radiate out and affect others even beyond their personal relationships.  How many thousands and millions of dollars does it cost a society because of crime and sin.  People are victimized and hurt continually because of someone else’s sin. 

How much does divorce, unfaithful and broken relationships cost, not only financially, but in terms of suffering, heartbreak, anger, unwillingness to forgive and shattered lives and hearts.  That is something nearly everyone has been touched by since it effects about half of our marriages today; all of it the result of our sin and selfishness.  How much will your sin cost me?  It doesn’t just cost you, it cost everyone around you.  If sin has a stronghold on you, get help!  As painful and humiliating as that may be, it is nothing compared to what your sin will reap.  Remember God loves you.  He is for you and not against you, but He will not make your choices for you.  Only you and I can make right choices.  Let us humble ourselves and return to Him, that we may receive His grace before it cost us all more that we want to pay.

Blessings,

#kent

Unruly Thoughts

May 10, 2017

2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Unruly Thoughts

Flittering mind and wandering thoughts,

Where do I get some of these thoughts that I got?

Imaginations and daydreams catch me away,

Foreign thinking creeps in even when I pray.

Help me cast down these imaginations contrary to You,

Fill my heart with right thinking, thoughts pure and true.

Distractions are like flies buzzing all around,

They draw our attention with their annoying sounds.

Lord quiet me in the spirit of my mind,

There, the tranquility of Your Word, let me find.

Please, let no unclean thought or thing enter in,

Keep my thoughts from impurity and sin.

Let this mind be in me that is in You,

Blood washed and Spirit renewed,

Spirit elevate my thinking to be from above,

Purpose in my heart those thoughts birthed in love.

The mind of Christ is the mind I desire,

That I might deliver my thinking from the muck and the mire.

Help me when I walk in the midst of the world,

That ungodly thoughts and words are not unfurled.

Renew my mind and be the meditation of my heart,

Search me Holy Spirit and cleanse every part. 

Lord, set my mind on things above,

Catch my thoughts up on the wings of Your dove.

Deliver me from this flittering little mind that wanders.

Upon Your Word and all Your precepts may I ponder.

Keep my heart and mind in this dusty world that I trod,

‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart,

Be acceptable unto You, Oh God.’

Kent Stuck

May 3, 2017

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The Beautiful Face of Death

The subtlety of the serpent is to hide the sting of death behind the strong desire that is created in our hearts.  The deception is that it will give us pleasure and fulfillment without consequences.  Temptation is a kin to delusion.  It creates a false sense that the moment is all that matters.  It skews our vision and intoxicates our reason so that we will dismiss the truth to embrace the lie.  It often twists the truth and charades piety to give validity to our temptation.  It comes speaking to us softly, enticingly, stirring our imagination and enhancing our desire.  Our desire will then give way to sin which ultimately results in death.  James 1:13-15 says it plainly, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  None of us, not even Jesus was beyond the place of temptation.   The place of temptation is the place of decision to obey the truth or embrace the lie.  Temptation is like Potiphar’s wife who tempted Joseph to have relations with her.  It is better to flee with loss than to fall into the clutches of death. 

We need only look back at the bones and strewn remains of once great men who gave way to temptation.   She will promise to love you only to pierce you through and mock you as you die.  She is deceitfully beautiful, but it is as Proverbs 7:23-27 puts it, “Now then, my sons, listen to me;

pay attention to what I say. 25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.

26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”

Blessings,

#kent

The Economy of the Kingdom

Matthew 19:21

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and ask the question, “What must I do to have eternal life”?  Jesus’ first response was you must keep the commandments.  Our obedience to God’s Word is our first call to God’s eternal life.  The rich young ruler felt that he had fully embraced this requirement as he replies, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”  I would submit to you that this rich young ruler was not so unlike many of us.  We love God; we try to obey God, what more do we need to do?  In order to answer that question, we must ask ourselves, where is the seat of our affections?  If we are honest about this many of us choose to remain blind or unwilling to acknowledge that we have strong affections for earthly things, but most of us do. 

Jesus told the rich young ruler in our scripture for today, “If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.”   When the Holy Spirit starts touching the seat of our affection we start to squirm uncomfortably in our seats, because we like our comfort zone.  What Jesus presented to this young man was the cross.  In it He would loose all to gain the treasures of heaven.  Our mentality usually follows the principle that, ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.  Our natural man doesn’t want to let go of what he has gained and thinks that he possesses.  The hardest principle for me to grasp is that the spirit of God and His abundance flows when I let go and release back what He has placed in my hand.  One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the people of God through the ages has been that when God began to bless them with abundance, like many in this country are experiencing now, they came into their most dangerous and vulnerable time spiritually.  It is a cycle that has repeated itself many times over through history.  When we are rich, fat and happy, we quickly start to forget where all this wealth and blessing came from.  We start filling up our barns or bank accounts and pretty soon we start thinking “I’m a pretty shrewd fella, look what I have accomplished in my life and how rich I have made myself.”  Guess who we start to forget in our comfort zone?  Jesus is giving all of us a principle here we would do well to practice and remember.  We don’t any of us have anything that He didn’t give us in the first place and all that He gave us is to be for His glory not ours.  God loves to bless His children, but all of us as parents know what a brat we would raise if the child were given everything their heart desired and it cost them nothing.  There is nothing we have of ourselves that we could adequately give to God, but God has blessed us with gifts of sacrifice.  He placed within our hands, our voices, and our hearts gifts that we can keep solely and selfishly for ourselves or that we can give back to Him.  The economy and wealth in God’s kingdom is in the giving, not in the getting.  That is why Jesus tells us, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:44).”

In Matthew 19:22-24 we read of the young man’s response to Jesus and what Jesus has to say about it. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  He was a godly young man and had much going for him spiritually, but he, like many of us, wasn’t willing to embrace the cross and pay the price of discipleship. We love God and want to have a close relationship with Him, but when we ask Him how and He touches the seat of our affections, how many of us back away and say anything but that Lord.  It can be a person, a possession or even a stronghold in our lives.  Are we willing to come and truly say from the depths of our heart, “I surrender all”?   If we want to enter the next level of entering in and inheriting the treasures of heaven we must be willing to fully release our treasures of earth.  Just remember no one has ever out given God yet.  We must decide if we are to invest in this world or that which is to come.  We must learn the principle that God has created us to be rivers and channels of His blessing, not lakes and dams.  It is in the giving that we receive, in the serving we are blessed and in the death to self that we experience resurrection life.  This is the paradox and the economy of the Kingdom.

blessings,

#kent

Discouraged but not Forsaken

Deuteronomy 1:21

Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up [and] possess [it], as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged

How are you doing today as you run the race of faith?  Are you running with the wind in your sails or are you just floating like a sailboat without a breeze?  Are you encouraged and built up in your faith or are you tired, weary and feeling defeated?  Where are you at in your relationship with Christ today?   Perhaps you are where you want to be and growing daily in your faith and obedience to Christ.  That is where we would all like to be, but in reality you may be floundering, experiencing some failures and defeats or dealing with issues that you don’t have the answers for.  

Hopefully, what we have learned so far is that our relationship with the Father, along with His love and desire towards us, doesn’t ride on the coattails of our emotional ups and downs.  It isn’t our feelings that dictate our walk and relationship with the Father; it is our faith and confidence in His Word.  The Father is constant in His love for us, even when we fall flat on our face or back into sin.  The wonderful thing about the Lord is even though he loves us the way we are; He loves us too much to leave us that away.   There are times we hate ourselves; all we can see is the failure, the weakness, the sin and how helpless we feel to change it.  What we do know is that all of our self-pity and defeatism will never allow our life to change.  The enemy has us right where he wants us, in the throes of defeat.   Perhaps you have been experiencing the dealings of the Lord in your life and His discipline has been upon you.  That should be an encouragement to you, because you know He is dealing with you as His son or His daughter.  Don’t allow discouragement to come in and cause you to give up.  There will be times of discouragement where you are tempted to want to give up. 

God loves us, even in the mess we are in.  God has great things for us and great things He wants to accomplish through us.  Hebrews 12:12-15 says, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”  Our greatest failure is not that we have messed up it is when we give up.  Life is a series of battles and we aren’t going to win them all, but our victory is in keeping our eyes upon Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.  We have to keep coming back on our knees and pouring out our heart and soul to Him.  He is what we can’t be in ourselves.  Lest we forget who we are and what we are, we are a new creation that bears the name of Christ.  Let us quit looking at what we have been and where we have come from and start looking at what we are going to be and where we are headed too.  Our identification, our purpose and our reason for living must always be centered in Christ.  When we allow that to be robbed from us, we become the whipping boy for the devil and he will flat beat you up until you feel like a worthless nothing.  Let faith arise in our hearts. Let us believe what the Lord and His Word says about us, “that we are the righteousness of Christ”, that we are, “more than conquers through Christ that loved us” and that “He has raised us up together and made us to sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”  

If the enemy has you in the dungeon of despair and discouragement today, sucking rocks and the putrid filth of his accusations and condemnations, then it is time to lift up your head and look to where your salvation comes from.  It is time to get up and walk out of that prison cell.  Those bars can’t hold you.  Jesus has already unlocked the door.  He has never stopped loving you and all He is waiting for and desiring is for you to come back to Him.  Make the Lord your refuge, your mighty fortress and your strong deliverer.  He is and always will be your salvation, your hope and your strong tower.   “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

Blessings,

#kent

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