Restoration

August 16, 2017

Jeremiah 31:18-20

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

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

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

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

Restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#kent

August 7, 2017

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,

#Kent

More Precious than Gold

July 14, 2017

Psalms 19:7-14

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

More Precious than Gold

All of the keys of the kingdom are found in the King’s book.   His law, statutes, precepts, commands, the fear of the Lord and His ordinances.  All these things He has provided us that through them and His promises we might become partakers of the divine nature. 

Many of us know the value of education.  We have been taught from our youth up that it is education that will help you to get ahead in life and make you successful.   Knowledge alone is not what makes you successful, it is the proper application of the knowledge gained that gives you value in the marketplace.  Education only has value when it is acquired and applied.  This same principle holds true concerning these precepts that God has given to us.  As Christians they are all around us.  We hear them in church, we read them in the Word, we hear them through God’s people and we hear the Spirit speaking them into our heart, but do we have ownership of them?  I can be the most educated of men and still be a fool, because a fool is one who doesn’t apply knowledge.  Wisdom is only seen in those who apply wisdom.  The Father is giving us His wisdom here in these scriptures and is telling us these are more precious than gold, than even pure gold.  They are sweeter than honey straight from the honeycomb.  They are able to make you wise unto salvation.  Apply them and they will richly reward you.  Know them, neglect them and they will bear testimony against you.  You will be as the servant who buried his talent.  These precepts only have value and give increase when they are applied, practiced and used to put on the mind of Christ and carry out His will and purpose through you.  The knowledge of these precepts gives us warning, but in the keeping of them there is great reward. 

It is these precepts that show us the error of our ways.  It is the blood of Christ that can forgive our hidden faults as we openly confess them.  Often it is our willful sins that are the strongholds that we allow to rule over us. 

“Lord keep us from our willful sin that the precepts of your Word, statues, laws, commands, ordinances and the fear of You might be what rules and establishes our hearts and lives in righteousness.  If you cleanse us then are we clean indeed.  Make us blameless before you and innocent of great transgression.   May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing and acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.”

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Well

July 10, 2017

John 4:8-17

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

The Well

This morning as I was praying I envisioned an open well with a pulley hung over the center of it.  Through the pulley was a rope on one end of the rope was a rock tied on to it for a counterweight, but on the other end was a wet rock tied to where a bucket should have been attached.  As I pondered this, I thought of this Samaritan woman coming to this same well everyday to collect water that never satisfied, but always left her empty and coming back for more.  She came in the sixth hour, which speaks of man and his works. 

I think about how many times we go through life doing the same thing over and over again with the same results.  We have our religion, our routines, our secrets, our sins, our same old way of being.  Are we like that wet rock that I saw that keeps being lowered into the well, but has no capacity or ability to take within itself the life of the water, it only comes up wet?  It is the same as the one tied on the other end.  The rock is like our flesh and our soul, it can assist us in getting where we need to go, but it can never be the substance of life that will fill us and transform us.

After this woman had met Jesus and He had spoken to her heart about who she truly was and what He had for her.  He told her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  I wonder sometimes, “which well am I still drinking from?”  Am I still coming up empty and unsatisfied?  I have access to a water with which I will never thirst again, but if I am still thirsty then maybe it isn’t the water that is the problem, but what I am trying to collect it with.  Flesh will never beget Spirit, only Spirit can beget Spirit.  Maybe I need to trade out that rock for a spiritual bucket called faith, trust and obedience. 

After this Samaritan woman had spoken with Jesus it says she left her water pot and went into the city to share the news about Jesus.  I have a feeling that leaving your water pot is not something that you normally did.  The difference in this woman is that she got a revelation of who the real water of life was and she realized that the old water pot isn’t what she needed anymore.  It was the Christ that she now had drank from and that satisfied her soul till she was overflowing to share the wonderful news of the Messiah. 

The second thing that I saw or envisioned was a man with one hand tied to the rope where the bucket was normally tied, as he was lowered down into the well and in his other hand a large water pot.  I saw him being lowered into the well to draw from the deep waters and the cool water that it contained.  He had to become completely emerged in that water and he was a part of that means of collecting the water to bring it up and give it to those who thirst. 

God is speaking to our hearts to leave our old water pots, our old ways of doing things that continue to yield the same results.  Through Christ we are a container of His life.  We are a part of the distribution system of His grace and mercy.  We are the priest and the ministers of His salvation.  It is only new wineskins that can contain the new wine.  Leave your old water pots.  Cease from being a wet rock and begin to open up your spirit so that the Lord may enlarge your spirit to better contain and release Him. 

This woman was concerned about the right place to worship God.  Jesus was revealing to her that it isn’t so much the place, it is the attitude of worship with which you come before the Father.  He is looking for those that will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.  Those are the vessels that He desires to fill and make the fountains of His life.  Discard the old and renew your minds in the mind of Christ.  See your world through His eyes and with His heart.  Allow the Spirit to be the means with which you address your world rather than your flesh and your soul.  Envision yourself lost in Him.  You are simply the vessel of His life and presence.  Allow Him to increase your capacity, fill you and overflow with the life of God toward others around you.  He has called us to be the fountains of living water.   

 

Blessings,

#kent

Having the Same Mind

July 3, 2017

Proverbs 23:7

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

Having the Same Mind

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bessings,

#kent

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

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